Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Plan of... Happiness? Pt. 1: Consecrated Trials

The two biggest lies that we profess as truth:

1. If we pray, everything will be ok.
2. We will be happy if we do what we are supposed to do.
 
I know I'm being pretty bold, and pretty frank, and not saying your typical Sunday School answers, but that's just how it is.
 
I'm not saying that I don't believe in prayer, and I'm not saying that I don't believe in being obedient. On the contrary, actually. Those who really know me know that that is not the case. What I am saying, though, is something that we may not always want to hear. 

Life is not fun and dandy just because we do good things. In fact, most people who do good things and try their best tend to be the ones who struggle or are slammed with the hardest things. Now, surely, that is not always the case. There are many stories where people do what they need to and things go according to their plan, for lack of a better way of explaining it. And yes, in the end, everything will eventually turn out if we do what we are supposed to do. But, perhaps, before you get to the "eventually" part, there's all the "crap, 'why me's', what did I do wrong, I'm doing everything right"... The list could go on and on.


In short, life is not always happy.
Which is weird, because the plan is called "The Plan of Happiness."

And I'm pretty confident in say that everyone who has ever lived would agree with me that life is not always happy. Even the most positive people would say that there are times where it's not too happy.


Why though? This is a question that has been impressed on my mind for the past few weeks. Why is the Plan of Salvation is known as the Plan of Happiness when sometimes, it's not really happy? Yes, I know, in the grand scheme of things, at the end of it all, we can be happy and be with families forever and all that jazz. But there's got to be more to it than that, right? What is it about The Plan that makes it happy? That made all of us here want to join in on it?

And so, for the next while, I'm dedicating my studies and this blog to that topic.
Starting now.
 
 
PLAN OF HAPPINESS: Day 1
...
 
I am an introvert. More so now, anyways. I don't know if people understand that. Perhaps it's a choice thing, but after that first week, and the many interviews and speaking events after that, the comments I get from customers at work, sometimes it's nice to just be... alone.
 
When I'm alone, my mind wanders. Sometimes, they are happy thoughts, and I think about things that used to be, or how it will be to see them again. Sometimes, I think of the typical girly things, like my wedding day, or when I graduate, or when I'll have my own little family. Sometimes, I think about the opportunities that I've experienced from this, the missionary opportunities I've experienced, the career path I've chosen.
 
And sometimes, they are not so happy thoughts. Many times it goes back to that first initial night. That first initial week. Sometimes, it's "How dare I be alive?" or "I'm alive, but for what?" Sometimes, it's the feelings of failing, or not being everything that I could be or should be. 
And the pain that I feel in those moments is indescribable. No one would know what those feelings are like, unlike you have literally experienced losing such impactful people in your life in such a fleeting of a moment, so unexpectedly.
 
The pain is the worst. 
And lots of other pains stem from that initial pain.
Sometimes, in consequence, my attitude, or my instinct, is irrational. It's not really me. I find myself literally talking to myself through my thought process. "Jensen, you have no reason to be angry right now, you're just hurt, you need to calm down, count blessings, today you have a job, today you have family, you are done with the semester, you have food on the table, you have people who love you and care for you..."   
But, if the downward spiral has already started, it is difficult to climb back up right away.
 
Why do we hurt?
That was my first question.
I decided to read 2nd Nephi chapter 2. And in that chapter, there was a specific verse that stood out to me. Verse 2.
 
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
 
 (Hint Hint. Focus on last part.)
 
You know, sometimes you will read things a million and one times, and it's more like a skim. But every so often, something will just pop out at you. And for me, that was the word, "consecrate."
 
I was curious what that word meant. Well, scratch that. I knew what it meant, but I didn't KNOW what it meant. And that is when the dictionary is most helpful.
 
WORD OF THE DAY
Consecrate: dedicated to a sacred purpose
 
I replaced the word with the meaning.
 
Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall DEDICATE TO A SACRED PURPOSE thine afflictions for thy gain.
 
It really made me think.
 
So... this pain that I feel, these trials that I face, (and others as well) can be literally DEDICATED to a SACRED purpose for my own gain?
So, that means... these trials AREN'T random?
So, that means... they are very SPECIFIC?
 
Ah ha...
 
But then, the question still stands...
What, exactly, is "the gain?"
 
It's to be like him.
It's to experience the happiness that he experiences.  
It's also to experience, perhaps, some of the pains that he experienced.
 
"God doesn't do random."
It applied to my mission, it still applies now. Nothing is coincidence. Take that or leave it. But that's what I believe.
 
I also think, that ya, I'm doing what I can, and life is still hard. I pray, and sometimes, answers take a while to come. I do what I'm supposed to, and no, they aren't coming back. At least, not now.
So no, we won't ALWAYS experience happiness. We will have sadness. That's life. It's how we grow.
But, we won't ALWAYS experience sadness, either. We will have happiness. That's life. It's how we develop.
 
But, thanks to what I just learned just from studying the scriptures, I personally think that these things that I feel, and these trials I deal with, and the worries, and the strife, and whatever else, are consecrated.
 
And if I will allow myself, I can gain.
 
If we allow ourselves to really grow, to really develop, to really take what we can from our experiences...
Wow.
We can be so incredible.  
 
And maybe, that's just a little bit of a reason why it's called the Plan of Happiness.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm feelin' good

It is times like these when I just need to remember to count my many blessings.

You know those times. Those days where your first class drags because the monotone speaker drones on and on and on about things that you can just look on a paper yourself. Those times where you forgot an important assignment, so you can't even be in class, because there is no point. Those times where you work most of your week, not being able to do homework until later, but then, being so exhausted, which already adds to the mental, and not to mention, physical exhaustion of just living.

There. That felt better. I needed to get that out.
I'm not perfect.
And I'm not great all the time.

I think that makes me secretly sad. I want to be great all the time. I want to feel the way that people view me to feel; spunky, lively, independent, adventurous, happy go-lucky. I want to be like my heroes. I want to always be smiling. I want to be positive.
But, more often than not, I'm just not.

I think, quite honestly, it's always been a struggle for me. Even when I was younger, I was not always the most positive. Mostly about myself. I always picked on myself.
But, I have this ability to "fake it till I make it." Which helps sometimes.

And then, I have days when I just want to crash and burn.
So, I do.
I crash and burn.

Sometimes, it comes in outbursts and angry words. Sometimes, it's holding in feelings of frustration when random people are annoying me with their constant prying into my life with questions while I am just trying to sell them some rolls. Sometimes, it's when I'm crying to my boyfriend about how sad my life is without them, and how I want to move on but I don't feel like I can.

So, I let myself feel those moments. I eat them up. Spit it out. Engulf in the moment.

And somehow, I always feel worse.
It's not necessarily a great way to live.

And so, I count blessings.
Here we go.
...

Today, I woke up in a bed.
Today, I have a car to drive.
Today, I am able to go to school.
I won't be going hungry today.
I have family.
I know what it is like to love.
I know what it is like to be loved.
I won't be alone for the holidays.
The gospel is true.
Families are forever.
I'm learning about something that I truly love to do.
I'm learning about things that I truly don't love to do, but I'm still learning, and that's what matters.
I have friends. Lots of them, that would do anything for me, and I for them.
I'm wearing clothes.
I have a phone.
I'm using talents to help people.
People are using talents to help me.
Music filled my ears today.
I don't have to work today, and I get to work to tomorrow.
Heck, I have a job.
I'm dating an amazing awesome guy.
I live with funny people who entertains me all the time.
I get to see my brother in 4 DAYS!!
We will be together during the holidays.
I can always start over.
I read scriptures this morning, and learned awesome things and got answers.
I'm warm.
It's Thanksgiving Break! HALLE-FREAKIN-LUJAH!
I survived school.
Heck, I'm living life!
I'm doing hard things that most people my age will never have to deal with, and I'm growing and developing from these things.
I have people who help me with these things.
God is patient, which is a blessing, because heaven knows he needs it with me.
Christ is patient, which is a blessing, because sometimes, I am a brat.
My body functions fairly well. Better than most.
I can run.
I can walk.
I can jump.
I can play.
Christmas is coming.
Outside is pretty.
I'm sealed to my family.
...

I did that just now, no pre thinking. Just sat and wrote for 5 minutes.
And now, the day doesn't seem so bad.
I really do have it good, don't I?
I'm feelin' good.

So, a cliche' (LOL, if you know me, you know how much I just LOOOOVE cliches'...) Thanksgiving challenge for you. Especially if you had a not so great morning like myself.

Set a timer. 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, I don't care. But set it, and start writing. Write all the blessings you can think of. Temporal or spiritual. Today or yesterday's. Whatever you feel.

See how much the Lord really does.
You'll be amazed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Realization

December 25, 2013 was the last time I saw them.

It was via Skype, for which I am eternally grateful. I remember being so excited to talk to them and see their faces. Keegs hair was out of control long and curly. Liam looked not so little anymore.

They wanted to talk to me the most. They wanted to hear all about the mission. I told them all that I could. I showed them their sign names.

I talked to Mom and Dad next. I told them about my mission. I updated them on things that they asked about.

But, I didn't tell them too much.
Because I knew I'd see them just a few short months later.

"Man, I can't wait to serve a mission." Words spoken by Keegan Parrish.

I realized something today.
Unless you have served a mission, it is more difficult to listen to the missionary stories. Maybe not hard, but I've come to realize that the people who have served missions are the ones that really connect to your stories. They know what you've gone through. They understand your "missionary vocabulary." They get it when you talk about the struggles. They really understand your joy when even just one person comes to church.
I don't know, they just understand.

And that was something that I was super excited to talk about with them.
Especially Dad. Because he would have understood.
Keegan and Liam were planning on being able to understand when they turned 18.
Dad and Mom were planning on being able to understand when the time was right.

It hit me today, how badly I had wanted to share those experiences with them. How badly I wanted to reminisce and remember and reflect with them. How much I wanted to tell the boys, and get them excited about their own missions. It was going to be so cool! We would have all served.

I wish I could have known that that was going to be the last time I would see them. I wish I could have known that it was my last chance to verbally tell them.

Patience is such a virtue. The unknown may frighten us. The possibilities keep us on our toes. And the yearning within us causes us to wonder. And sometimes hurt.
Patience is definitely a virtue I have yet to achieve.

I like this description of patience:

Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept his timing, When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith- you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled. (Preach my Gospel, page 120)

So, I'll wait.
And one day, I'll be able to tell them everything. And one day, they will be able to tell me about their missions.
Because that is what they are doing. They are doing missionary work.
That's what it's all about.
It's all about the work, and learning, and growing, and developing. It's a constant, strait path.

No, not straight.
Strait.
It's a one way road, and so narrow, and requires our absolute best. Not perfection. That's impossible. But our best.
And our best is always possible.

I can't wait to have that time again.

I can't wait when we are all sitting together, and we can share everything that we learned from our missions.

"And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions... But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." Alma 34:40-41 

The longer the wait, the sweeter the reunion.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fish and Lambs

October is a lot like July.

Which is a shame, because October is my favorite month. It's so pretty.

We were sitting together, not saying anything for a while. I was too upset and depressed to talk. I had been crying a little. He asked, "What is going through your head?

My response surprised me.

Nothing you don't know. Just the normal stuff.

...

This is just normal me. The feelings I feel are becoming more and more "normal." The home that I live in is becoming my "normal" comfortable place of refuge. The thoughts that I fight everyday is just a "normal" everyday inner battle that I have within myself.

I want to defy this normal.

.......
 
A couple of days ago, I felt impressed to read John 21. I thought that there was something that I was supposed to get out of it, that some scripture would pop right out at me. Maybe it would be a life changing phenomenon that I needed.
 
 
But, nothing happened. It was strange.
 
I've heard the story so many times. I understand the concept of "Feed my sheep" and "Feed my lambs." I understood that Christ was telling Peter to be a missionary and to follow His example. But, I didn't really feel like that's what I was supposed to learn.
 
It kind of bothered me.
 
.......
 
October is another July. It's been kind of tough. I can't pinpoint why, although I do have my speculations.
 
November first is the start of Christmas for Ross Parrish. That's just how it is. Yes, we were that family that some people think is weird and start getting ready for Christmas before Thanksgiving happens. (Which, by the way, I don't understand why people are like that. It's the HOLIDAYS. I say celebrate what you want when you want.)
November is Ross Parrish's birthday month.
November is when the boys would eat lots and lots of food.
November is when Bill Parrish started putting up the decorations.
December is when the kids would watch all of those Christmas specials, regardless of how old we are getting. Because we are all still young at heart.
December is the big family celebration.
 
This November and this December, they are not going to be here.
Or next year.
Or the year after that.
 
.......
 
What am I supposed to learn about fish and lambs??
 
.......
 
 


Sometimes, you just can't help but ask, "Why?" It's just a natural thing to do. Humans have done it since the existence of time.
 
Sometimes, there are answers that we receive right away. (Why am I coughing so much? Oh, because I am sick, and I need to go to the doctor.)
 
Sometimes, there are answers that we don't receive right away. And those are the kinds that can eat away at us.
 
Which is probably why October is a lot like July. I've asked "why" way to many times.
 
And we all know that "why" can be a dangerous thing to ask.
 
.......
 
And then, it dawned on me...
 

... It's not about fish. Or lambs.
 
It's about Peter, and the disciples.
 
I love Elder Holland's talk about this story from the October 2012 General Conference. He said something that impacted me when I first heard it, and it came back to my mind as I was pondering out what I needed to learn from these scriptures. He spoke about the conversation that the Savior has with Peter.
Jesus asked, three times, "Peter, dost thou lovest me?"
To which, Peter responds, three times, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee."
I add Elder Holland's words and insight:
 
 "To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
 

That section hit me again today.

Now, if I may explain why this impacted me.

October is a lot like July. (I think I've pounded that enough.) Those unhappy thoughts, those feelings of depression, those days when I just want to give up, and give in... I've allowed them to take over me the majority of the month.

On my mission, I had learned the tools that I would need if and when these kinds of feelings occur. When I came home from my mission, I had received so much strength for me to continue pressing forward.

And yet, this October, I had forgotten these moments of strength and joy, and given in to my natural man to pity and feel sorry for myself.

That's not what the Lord wants for us. No, he does not expect us to be perfect all of the time. But, he does expect us to keep going. And when we do relapse, we need to remember that IT'S NOT THE END. We need to remember we ARE STRONG.  He needs people who are strong, who will rely on Him.

It is in our human nature to feel weak.
It is in our spiritual nature to be strong.

I feel that Christ does not want us to go back to what or who we were. He wants us to remember our progress. Sometimes, that is difficult.
Seriously, so difficult.

But, we were made to be able to master difficult things.

We can do hard things. Isn't that so cool?

.......
 
 

This "new normal" thing is difficult. And it might be for a little while longer.

And through difficulty comes strength.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Through a Father's Eyes

I believe in fate.
I don't believe in coincidence.
I believe that when something sporadically comes into your head, you're meant to remember it, and ponder it. There is something that someone wants you to remember.

So, last night, when this memory came into my head at 3 in the morning, I knew it wasn't just a coincidence.
And when it was still there when I woke up at 8 in the morning, I knew there was something I was suppose to remember.
It's one that I hold dear and near to my heart, one that I've shared many times, and feel that I need to share again.
I very well possibly may have shared this before. But I hope to share something new. Something that can help someone out there, as it has helped me today.

...

June of 2009

I was 17. It was my last ward youth conference for my church.

We were at Scout Mountain, Camp Taylor. There were a lot of youth, and a few leaders. Whoever was in charge that day had planned an activity. The activity was suppose to be a representation of listening to the Spirit, even when life is crazy and loud.

The Activity:
Blindfold all the youth. Take them into the big field. Have the leaders play different noises: tambourines, whistles, and whatever else.
Have one leader ring the jingle bells.
Allow the youth to find the jingle bells, despite all the other noises.
 
 
We were all excited to participate! It was going to be fun, and probably really funny to watch.
 
I had disregarded the fact that I am hard of hearing. I had also not thought about my hearing aid, and how it would amplify ALL the noises that would be played.
 
But, that wasn't going to stop me anyways.
 
We were all blindfolded. (Check)
We were led to the field. (Check)
The leaders took out their instruments and started to play them. (Check)
 
 
And we started to listen for the bells.
 
Everything was black. I couldn't see anything. But, happily, I started listening as hard as I could.
I listened...
And I listened some more...
And more.........
 
I don't remember how long I was out in that field, but I was definitely out there longer than everyone else. My hearing aid caught all the sounds, so much so, that it drowned out the bells, which was exactly what my hearing aid was meant to catch anyways! I tried to play it cool though.
 
No big deal, I'll find them eventually...
 
I realized that I was taking a while though, when some people played less of their loud instruments and the person with the bells was trying to be louder.
 
Embarrassment started to rise within me. I was the only one out there now, and I was beginning to feel like a failure. But, I would never show it...
Although I knew that I wasn't getting anywhere.
So, I tried to play it cool.
 
Um, help?? *Sarcasm*
 
And the youth laughed. Not sneeringly. Not in a mocking manner.  I think it was suppose to be encouraging in a way.
But, it wasn't helping.
I wasn't getting anywhere...
 
I should just stop now. They've been waiting long enough... It's time to move on.
 
As I was just about to take off my blindfold, I heard a voice. A voice that was the most familiar of all the teenagers in that group. It was coming towards me.
 
"Here, Jense, take my hand. I'll help you find the way."
 

And Ian did take my hand. He didn't take off the blindfold. But I knew that wasn't necessary.

He wouldn't lead me astray.

 ...

Most of those guys learned how to listen to the Spirit that day. They learned how to listen carefully, and to follow it.

I, on the other hand, learned that we can't do things on our own. We need a Savior. We need our older brother to guide us...

...

February 28, 2014

Ian and I sit side by side. The 4 caskets sat in front of us. Everyone was sitting behind us, listening to my dad's older sister speak.

She spoke about this story.

And she shared the part that came from my father's eyes.

*A conversation between a sister and a brother*
The Sister: "How could you stand not rushing out to help her? Wasn't it hard?"
The Brother: *Choked up* "I knew Ian would get her."
 
...............................................................................................................................................................
 
 
There was more that I was suppose to learn about that experience.
 
Perhaps, this can be a parable for a lot of things.
 
We are here. We are struggling. We ask for help. We do all that we can. And sometimes, we just don't feel like we are getting answers.
 
Does that mean that Heavenly Father doesn't love us?
No.
 
Heavenly Father is a celestial, immortal being. We are imperfect, mortal beings. And when we came here, we lost that ability to physically speak to him. We lost the ability to physically hear him on a regular basis.
 
It's not that he doesn't want to. I truly believe that if he could, he would. I truly believe that he hates to see us this way with whatever we are struggling with, whether that's financially, whether that's not knowing what career path you need to take, whether that's high school drama, or whether that's losing a family.
 
Because of the Laws of Heaven, he is unable to do that.
 
But... because of the Mercy of the Atonement, we have an advocate.
 
Christ came down to suffer those pains, so that when we struggle, we can be helped and guided.
 
What if my dad came and rushed to my side and said, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quit right now. You did enough."? Why didn't my dad come to me, take off the blindfold and let me just walk to everyone?
 
Because my dad understood that regardless of my hearing impairment, I can still do it.
And even more importantly, he knew that my brother knew.
In his eyes, I was able to finish it. He knew I wouldn't quit.
And he knew that my brother would be there to help me when he couldn't.
 
And now, he is physically gone. He can't physically come to me, take my hand and say, "Oh Jens, you shouldn't have to do this. You have limitations, so it's ok if you quite right now. You've done enough."
Even if he could, he wouldn't.
 
Because he knows that Ian and I are quite capable.
 
Even moreso, Heavenly Father knows it, too.
 
I've got 2 fathers who have my back.
As well as 4 brothers. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blessings on an Autumn Day

Some days are hard.

Some days, the tears keep coming and won't stop. It's a never ending gush. There are breaks, but they always come back to finish the job.
Some days, the body is achy. Muscles are sore from walking, spinning, working. They scream for rest. Yet even rest doesn't seem to cover it.
Some days, the road of nostalgia is long and tiring. But it's impossible to get off that road. Because if you get off that path, where will you go?
Some days, even just to smile takes all the effort that is required, let alone being happy. It would be so much easier to just be angry and sad and depressed.
Some days, "Why?" is always going through the mind.

...

Today was not a some day day.

Today, the weather was beautiful. Autumn is here. One day, it will be winter. An entire cycle of seasons will have run its course, and the year mark will come.

But, it's not here yet. So, be happy today.

Today, the leaves were brown and red and orange and yellow. They are beautiful and fun. Some hang on for dear life, while others float to the ground.

But, I am stronger than those little leaves. So, be happy today.

Tomorrow may be hard. I might cry, or become angry. Maybe I'll stress over all that needs to be done. Maybe it will seem like more than I can handle.

But, tomorrow is not today. So, be happy today.

The holidays will be here soon. It will be hard not having them here. It will be a different holiday season, as will be the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. I'll be with other family members. We might cry. We will laugh. We will remember good times. We might ask why.

But, the holidays aren't here yet. And we still have each other. So, be happy today.

...

I drive down the road of my old neighborhood. I see the house.
It is empty.
It hurts a little bit.
I pass the house. I don't look back.
Because looking back stops me from looking forward.

Life moves on fast.
So, be happy today.
Someday, it will be ok.

"Men are, that they might have joy."



Friday, September 12, 2014

A Long Road

It started out as a normal day. Normal morning. I actually was going to be on time! Class one was normal. Class two was normal. Lunch was awesome! And I was happy.

Class three started.
She is so cute, with her girly dresses, and tights. She's always smiling, her hands always waving. She always has to have a pen in her hand.

As she is waving her left hand, pen zooming with it, something caught my eye. Her wedding ring. It's bigger. It stands out.

And once again, my mind instinctively takes a trip down memory lane.
Only, this memory was not one I was anticipating.

It's just like the movies. Once you start thinking, you can't stop. Once you're there, you're not where you were before. Once that door is cracked, it will swing wide open, and it's hard to turn around.

..................

I'm at the funeral again. Keegan's and Liam's casket were already closed. Tears had been welling in my eyes, and I had already pushed everyone out of my path and booked it out the doors, out the church building, and hid behind a wall. I sobbed... I knew that they wouldn't continue without me, but at that moment, I just needed to be by myself. No hugs. No tears. Just me and the cold air.
People found me and coaxed me back into coming back. I walked slowly. I let the tears stream.
He was there at the door, holding it. He had seen me run. He was a hug that I wanted at the time.
People put their hands on me.
"Please. Don't. Touch. Me." Release.
Next was Mom. She was still beautiful. Her nails were just done. Her hands were stiff, and still soft. Her left hand was over her right. Her ring was bigger. It stood out.
"Jensen, I think you should take her ring."
People began coaxing me.
"No, I can't! That's not right! No."
"You will want it later..."
They lift her stiff soft hand. They are tiny fingers. It takes a little while before they get it off. They hand it to me.
I hold it tight.


.........................
 
I force myself to remain in class. It's been almost 7 months. Just face the reality already.

But, that door has already been opened. Just a crack is enough.
And they are there again.
When I saw them for the first time. When the crowd was suffocating. When I saw Daddy. Mom. When I saw Keegan with his basketball teammates. Liam in his brand new suit that was bought for his first time to pass the sacrament.

And I cry.
It's all within seconds.

I still have a lot of life to live. Hopefully anyways. And that's a long time without them. When I think about that, it makes it harder to see the bigger picture.

The road to eternity is a long one. It's a specific one. And the steps must be thorough. There's not shortcuts. There's not breaks. It's just moving on, enduring on, and relying on faith.

It's not easy. Faith is just. Not. Easy.
But it's the only way.
So, that's why I take it.

Not because I'm so great and inspirational. Not because I want people to think I'm so strong. Not because it's easy.
Because there's only one thing that's important to me. And that's to be with them again.

Faith is not the easy road. But it is the road that gets you where you essentially want to go.
Faith is an action. It's a choice.
You can choose to be stronger.
You can choose to start now.
You can choose to change things that you don't like.
Life was not meant to be easy.
Don't choose the easy way out.
Do the hard thing.
Rewards are given to those who work. Those who try. Even better yet, those who stumble and get back up.

I've had to make changes. I've had to let things go. And it was very difficult.
But if you want the prize, you have to be willing to change.

And I know what I want.

"Grief does not change you... It reveals you." -John Greene

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sealings and Tears and Happiness

I went to Seattle this past weekend.
It's been years.
Last time I went, it was with them.
So many memories...

.............................
 

One of my best of friends got sealed to the love of her life. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

Two weeks ago, I went to my trainer's wedding sealing. They got married early in the morning. It was wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

In three more weeks, I will go to my closest companion's wedding sealing. It will be wonderful, being there, with her, and him, and with friends and family.

While I'm there, in the sealing room, I tear up. Most people may think it's because I'm so happy for these guys. That is true! I am so ridiculously happy.
But, I also can't help but think...

My parents won't be there.
Will it still be wonderful, being there, with me, and him, and friends and family?
But not with them?

If I get sealed, they won't physically be there. And that is hard. Really hard.
And so, I cry.
I just let the tears flow.

But as I'm sitting there in that sealing room, I realize.
This is what it's all about.

My family is all good. They are secure. They are happy.
And thank goodness for saving ordinances.
Or else, where would I be?

Matthew 16:19-
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Happiness is not meant to only be temporal.


Monday, August 18, 2014

"That Girl"

Believing is just the first leap of faith to knowing.
Just let that sink in.

When I was on my mission, I became known as, what a lot of people called, "That Girl." I was "That Girl" who bore her testimony every fast Sunday since Primary days. I was "That Girl" who knew all the answers during the Primary lessons. I was "That Girl" who loved to go to Seminary, and, lo and behold, I knew all the answers there, too! I was "That Girl" who read her scriptures, and loved analyzing them, and knew all the stories, and understood doctrine. I was "That Girl" who gave a million and one devotionals, (all voluntary, by the way) and lessons, and whatnots. I was "That Girl" who never really questioned anything that was told to me.

I was "That Girl." That girl who never had a reason to question anything. I was "That Girl." That girl who never had any real trials. Oh ya, sure, there were those ridiculous moments when I thought I was ugly, or didn't have friends, or had a hard time during school. But, none of those ever made me second guess things or doubt things.

I had it good. There was no reason to. I just kind of naturally "knew."

...

I've been thinking a lot. I think more than I speak nowadays. Since everything has happened, I've been REALLY thinking about "The Eternal Plan of Happiness." How families can be together forever, being married with the right authority. How death isn't the end, but just another step in the grand spectrum of things. How there's even more to it that I don't even know.

That's the thing. There's so much that I don't know.

It's not a doubting factor. It's more of I just don't know a lot of things. I don't know where Heaven is. Ya, we as people fabricated this idea that heaven is the sky, but if that was the case, wouldn't we see angels all the time, dancing around in their white robes, playing their harps? And even then, do we know if that's what angels do? I, personally, have a hard time believing that. My father, as well as my mother, were not lazy people.

(Plus, none of the four of them know how to play the harp...)

The point of the matter is, I DON'T KNOW. I don't know EXACTLY where Heaven is, or what we do, or when we become resurrected, or yada yada yada.

I do, however, have faith. That those kinds of things exist and those kinds of things happen.

I was reading my scriptures the other day, in Mark. (I tend to jump around.) And something caught my eye. It was Mark 6:6. This is what it said:

"And he (meaning Jesus, as he is trying to heal people,) marveled because of their unbelief. And he went around the villages, teaching."

Understanding that the verses before that were talking about how he couldn't do any miracles because no one had faith, I footnoted the word "unbelief." This is what it said:
 
UNBELIEF: Lack of faith
 
I'm not really sure why, but my mind started racing as I continued to read. It's kind of ironic, really, because later on in the chapter, it tells the story about the miracle of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and because of the faith of the 5,000+ people there, Christ was able to feed them all, with just that much food! (Blows my mind, by the way.)
 
What was the difference between these two groups of people? The group that couldn't, or perhaps even wouldn't, be healed, and the group that was able to witness 5,000+ people be fed with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes? Well, when first reading it and thinking about it, the answer is the latter group had faith...
 
 But here was where my mind started going...
If you refer back to the footnote, according to this, and if I understand this correctly, Christ was dumbfounded by the lack of FAITH the first group had.
If you continue to read in all kinds of scripture, he always require people to have FAITH.
Miracles happened when people had FAITH.
 
He never reprimanded people that didn't have KNOWLEDGE.
He never marveled because of the lack of KNOWLEDGE that people had. (Not including people who had ALREADY RECEIVED that knowledge, who needed constant reminders. Which were a rare group of people.)
In short, He doesn't expect us to have FULL KNOWLEDGE. Not right now.
 
How could he? We are so imperfect!
 
Faith is a power. Awesome things happen when you have faith. Miracles happen.
And faith is developed when one BELIEVES first.
 
This life is all about believing and developing faith. More often than not, we will not have the FULL KNOWLEDGE of things here on Earth.
But believing, which develops into faith, will eventually become knowledge.
Will it happen while you're here in this life? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot say.
 
To all those who may feel like you don't know things, you're not alone. You don't need to know everything right now.
But just exercising your beliefs to become faith is the first step.
 
I don't know exactly where my family is. I don't have that full knowledge. I don't know where Heaven is, or Paradise. 
But, I have a whole heck of a lot of faith that they are happy. And things are going well, wherever they are.
They were just those kinds of people. They make wherever they are a better, happier place.  
I believe I will see them again. I have faith that the gospel will enable me to have that opportunity.
 
And, I also believe that someday, I'll understand and know why things had to happen the way they did.
 
I'm not "That Girl" who knows all the answers.
I'm "That Girl" who believes the answers will come.  
 
 




 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Now, it is August

July was a tough month.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because it would have been the month that I would finish up my mission. The way that I planned to, that is.
Maybe it's because it would have been when I saw them all again. At the airports with their signs and smiles and hugs.
Maybe it would have been when I would come back to the life that I loved and left for a time, and I was would have been excited to be back.

I can't pinpoint exactly.
But, for whatever reason, July was hard.
Extremely hard.

And now, it's August.
And it's still hard.
Mainly because of how I was in July.
Angry. Depressed. Apathetic. Rude. Inconsiderate.
(I'm in that phase of grieving, I guess.)
I'll be the first to admit it. I've been a pain. I know I have. I've avoided people like the plague, for fear of hurting them or exploding at them, or just because I'm annoyed at them and don't want to deal with them. As for those that I do indeed let in, I just become angry and frustrated when they try to help.

It doesn't matter how many words of advice I hear, or bars of chocolates I eat, or martini glasses I smash.
That helps the exterior me.
It does nothing for the interior me. And, unfortunately, the interior me is what demands the most attention. The most healing. And people try.
And try.
And try...

I've shut down. I've set a barricade around me. I want people to come in, but I don't know how to help them through the wall, because there is no door. I forgot to add that part when I was creating it. It's high, and it's hard to get out, and it's hard for people to come in.
And so, what do I do? Yell. Scream.
If they can't feel it, then I will let them hear it.
Which results to... confusion. More hurt. More fear. More exhaustion. And more helplessness.
And not just for me.
More importantly, for those who try to help.
And you can only try getting through a barricaded heart for so long before you have to just move on.

All the negative build up from July caused the most hurt and exhaustion I've ever experienced. The load is so heavy, but I don't know how to give it up. It builds upon me, to the point of exhaustion so severe that I shut down.
I stare at people as they speak to me.
I tune out a lot more than I take in.
It's hard for me to listen to other people's problems.
I watched people became lost for words, after hours of coaxing me. Counseling, spiritual experiences, opinions... nothing worked.

I became selfish.

And now, it is August.
And as I sit in the corner of my barricaded heart, I realize.
I AM NOT WHO I WAS.
My heart is hard. It is not what is was.
I don't LIKE this me.
And, I highly doubt that they do, either.
Or them...

Why do I write this?
One.
I'm sorry to all who have tried, and felt like they failed. Because you didn't. I love you more than you realize. And you help more than you will ever realize.
Two.
I'm deep into this. And it's the worse pain and worse feeling I've EVER experienced. And it's going to take more than a few days to get out. It's going to take a while.

A wise man once told me a phrase that forever changed my perspective on life. I forgot it for a while, but I'm reminded again:
"God doesn't do random."

No. No, he doesn't.
There is no growth in the comfort zone.
I'm going to get out of this barricade.
I'm going to start building a door.
It's not going to happen overnight.
And I'm not doing it alone. I'm going to require a lot of divine help. I want to be who I was before.
I take that back.
I want to be better than I was before.
That's going to require a lot of trust, a lot of change, and a lot of patience.
It's going to require the Atonement, which I know I need in my life again. I'm not a perfect person. I've stumbled a lot lately. But I'm going to keep going forward.

July was tough.
Now, it is August.
What better time to change?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

JULY 22, 2014
**EXPECTATION**
Best friend and I will be up all night, excited, maybe crying.
We will drive to the airport together.
We will sleep on the plane. Maybe, if we were up the night before.
Both our families will be there, together, with their balloons and "WELCOME HOME" signs.
We will sign. Throw them off.
When we can't stand it anymore, we will run to them.
I will run to them. Hug them all.
Probably Mom first. Mothers get first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
Say goodbye to best friend. Drive home. Tell them everything.
 
*******************************
 
JULY 22, 2014
**REALITY**
Wake up.
Clean.
Apply for classes.
Appointment.
Work.
No hugs.
No brothers. No Mom. No Dad.
Drive around alone.
 
......


Sometimes, you just want to escape.

No, I'm not talking about going on a trip, or going to another state.

I'm talking about that confinement that you feel by just being you.
The realization that you are you and you won't ever be anyone else but you, and you have to live with being you.
Your struggles. Your weaknesses. Even your happiness and triumph.
It's all exhausting sometimes.
Escape would mean just having a brief moment of freedom of being you. Almost like as if your spirit could just leave your body for a few moments.

Not like death.

More like a jump. A jump through space. Matter. Time. A jump through your story.
What will I become? I need to know the end of my story...

Or perhaps, more like a dream. An escape from reality.
I love dreaming. It gives me a chance to be away for a little while.

It's interesting how many forms that confinement can be.

..................................................................................................................

This is a trial of faith.

I won't say the trial of faith. There may be more.

And from this, many things have happened.
Tears.
Trials.
Miracles.
Smiles.
Stumbles.
Triumph.
Confusion.
Inspiration.

The following does not happen in the above order.

..................................................................................................................

"You're an inspiration!"

You'd think I'd be used to hearing it. But I'm still not.
I appreciate it very much.
Although, I am still trying to see it.

Very few people see what happens behind the closed door and pulled curtains. All the suppressed feelings that build up. Even all the "what ifs" and "whys". They still happen.
I think, to some degree, they always will.
Confinement.

How is that, pray tell, an inspiration??

....................................................................................................................

I'm not the inspiration. As much as you all think.
It's not me.
Can't you see that? I'm just a normal girl, going through a crazy, unexpected ordeal.

The inspiration is the Atonement. The inspiration is that the crazy, unexpected ordeal can be fixed in due time.
No, they won't come back. Not anytime soon, anyways.
But we are a forever family.
THAT, my friends, is the inspiration.

Or, perhaps even, the inspiration is that we won't be completely and utterly alone. Ever. Although, maybe at times, we may feel that way.
You won't know how I feel, and I won't know how you feel. Even if we switched our circumstances, it would never be the same, because you are you, and I am me, and you and I handle things even slightly differently.
But we are never alone. Because that price has *touch finished* been paid.

Perhaps, the inspiration comes from that in a very small town in this gigantic earth, where things are becoming crazier by the minute, there is a girl who still believes that there is a God. One that can do miracles.
And there are so many more of the like.

Shouldn't that be SAYIING something?

My family were who they were.... who they ARE... because of the Atonement of Christ. My brother is back on his mission, sharing his experiences, regardless of how hard it may have been to leave, because of the Atonement of Christ. I am who I am because of the Atonement of Christ.

And when I remember that... I don't feel so confined anymore.
Because I know that Christ died for us, so that we wouldn't be.

.........................................................................................................

Confinement takes on many forms.

But so does freedom.

The freedom of being happy. Being with family. The freedom of togetherness.

...........................................................................................................

I wonder...

HEAVEN
**EXPECTATION**
Maybe, it's like a homecoming.
Everyone is excited.
Maybe they have signs that says, "WELCOME HOME!"
I hope they are there. I'll run up to them and hug them.
Probably Mom. Mothers get the first call.
Then, the boys.
Then, Dad.
 
 
That would be nice... 




Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Amazing Bell Collection

When I was really little, I had a bell collection.

It all started years ago, in a random little gift souvenir shop in West Yellowstone National Park. I felt the need and desire to buy SOMETHING. Something that would forever remind me of this, in my little 8 or 9 year old mind, best trip ever. I walked up and down the aisles, searching and observing.

And that's when I saw it.

It was big. It was white. It had paintings of buffalo and deer and an eagle. "West Yellowstone" was printed nicely in yellow. The glass was thick. And I could even hear the jingle when I rang it.
It was perfect in my eyes.

In my excitement, I ran up to show my Dad. He could see how excited I was, and suggested that I start a collection. Anywhere that I go in the world, I would buy a bell, as a token and memoir.

Pure genius!

And thus, my amazing bell collection began! Anywhere we went that was outside of Pocatello, Idaho, I would buy a bell. Big ones, little ones, tall ones, small ones. Ones that rang, and ones that clicked. Ones made of metal, and ones made of glass.
The list could go on.

Soon, my whole family knew about it! Everyone was in on it. Grandmas and Grandpas knew, aunts and uncles knew. Mom and Dad clearly knew. I would get them for birthday presents. I would get them when people would go on trips and bring me back a gift. The collection grew and grew. And I loved it so.

They all were placed on a little pretty wooden shelf that was placed on the wall. If I rolled over onto my right side right before I went to bed, I would see them there, standing tall and pretty.

I had one bell that I especially loved. It was one from my grandmother, my mother's mother. It was pure glass, with some flowery printing on it, that was pink (back when I loved flowery pink things). I can't remember why she gave it. (Probably because I'm her favorite granddaughter. Or maybe a present.) But, regardless, I loved that bell more than all the others, because not only was it beautiful, but it was also the only one that I received from her. It was placed on the shelf so that I could reach for it whenever I wanted to...

... Which, as fate would have it, was towards the right end of the shelf. Next to the book shelf. The very high book shelf, in my little 9 to 10 year old mind.

And, as it turned out, was also in my little 8 to 9 year old brother's mind.

One day, for whatever reason, he decided it needed something from the top of the bookshelf. (I'm assuming he either wanted a book, or that creepy furby that Mom had placed on the top of the shelf.)

(Sidenote: Yes. I did own a creepy furby doll once upon a time. It was blue.)

For a little boy who hasn't grown into his shoes yet, the only solution to reaching an object that was about 6 feet above him, just so happened to be to stand on the rocking chair and climb.
He didn't mean to do it right by the shelf, I'm sure. That didn't even cross his mind. He didn't plan for the chair to rock, and fall backwards, bringing him with it, and knocking the Amazing Bell Collection.

And. Well...

Surprisingly, not a lot of them broke. I hadn't even realized that he was climbing the chair. I was alarmed to hear clamoring and commotion. Then heartbroken as I realized, my shelf was no longer on the wall, but rather, in the floor. Mom came down, and we started gathering the bells...

And that's when I saw it.

A piece of glass. With a pink twisting flower.
Then, another piece.
And another.

It was destroyed. Not broken up. DESTROYED.

I was so upset. I was angry. Of all my bells, THAT one??? Seriously?? I remember feeling the anger well up in me.
And it was at that point, I looked over at Ian.
Oh, the look on his face...

It's seems good to point out, that at this point, Ian and I DID NOT get along very well. You know, one of those sibling phases where you push buttons to the limit, and walked along the edge.

So, when I saw that face...
I couldn't take it.
I remember I walked upstairs while my parents talked to him.

I went into the hallway, and paced back and forth. Over and over. I was so mad. And I wanted to be mad.
But that face of hurt was sewn into my brain.
But I was so mad.
...

Conflicted.

There was a full length mirror. I liked to look into it when I was thinking. So...

I'm pretty sure I had a primary lesson in church about forgiveness. Or maybe it was a Family Home Evening lesson. It's been so long, I don't recall everything. But for whatever reason, the term "forgiveness" was in my little brain.
And I already knew what I had to do.

It was hard. I've never really done something like this before. (The littler version of me didn't realize that forgiveness, was another word for, "It's ok.") I remember praying, asking for help.

Maybe it's cliché, but even at a young age, I understood that my relationship with my brother was far more important than a pretty glass bell.

I walked out of the hall, down the stairs, through the door, and there was our piano.

And sitting on the bench, head down on his arms, on the keys, was my brother.
Crying.

It was super awkward for me.
But I walked up to him.
Placed my hand on his shoulder.
I forgive you. 

The rest is history.

....................................................................................................................................

Sometimes, I feel that we get foreshadows in our lives.

Almost like Heavenly Father lets things happen, then say, "Hint Hint, you're going to use this way later."

I'm coming to find that life is a collection of moments sewn together to create of collage of memories. And those memories become our eternity.
The collage of memories somehow fit itself into the deepest pocket of our brain and stays there, hidden. We almost forget about them sometimes.
Well, maybe not forget, but we don't necessarily go looking for them. Maybe we take them for granted.

And then, something happens.

And it's like the memory jumps out of the brain pocket and says, "BAM! Remember that one time you did yada-yada-yada? Ya, you need to use this."

And, for some reason, this memory jumped out at me a couple days ago.
The memory of the bell.
The memory of my first actual, real life, non-primary lesson of forgiveness.

......


It's kind of hard when there is no actual source for the reason for your pain.
There was no mindless drunk driver.
There was no ax murderer.
No stop lights.
No warnings.
Nothing.

Nowhere to direct the blame.
Just dumb luck.

And. That. Hurts.
I want to blame someone. I want to place my anger somewhere. But I can't.
So, it's directed everywhere. Anyone. Anyone who crosses my path. I yell at someone. I hit something. I run away just for the sake of getting away. I cry into the pillow. I break a plate. A martini glass.
But, in the end, it doesn't take the pain away.
And I feel worse later.

Why do I still feel this way? Why can't I just get over myself? More people suffer worse than me. My life isn't even hard.
Yet, it is.
No, it's not.

I know this is normal. I know there's no limit in the grieving process.
Happiness is a choice. I GET THAT.
But that doesn't mean that I won't have hard days. Or angry days. It doesn't mean that I won't get frustrated.
I hate the feeling.

So. Why the bell memory?
Perhaps, it was a foreshadow for later? Or maybe it has nothing to do with foreshadowing. Maybe it's a lesson I need to remember.

Forgiveness is just better. Maybe not necessarily easier.
But better.
You are happier.
Because, some things are just not worth the grudge.

Confliction will come up. Your mortal nature will fight with your spiritual nature.
It's kind of interesting how opposite they can be.
But also, how similar they can become.
And in the end, you can decide.
Over time.

Some things just take time.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pawns


"What are you up to these days?"

Living life. Figuring it out.

That's what I've started to say every time I'm asked.

But hey.
It's better than, "How are you?"

...........................................................................................................................................

"Asking 'why' can be a frustrating, and even dangerous, thing to do."
Wise words of a wise seminary teacher.

The walls have started growing. I can feel them being built around me.
I don't know why.
Maybe because I'm tired of the questions.
Maybe I'm tired of the answers.

There are days when I close up. It happens more often than not.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

There are days when after I've held it in for so long, I blow up. And scare people away.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

There are days where I will randomly cry for no reason at all. A song. A picture. A memory.
I don't think I mean to.
It just happens.

And people get that. They understand. I think, in some ways, they are more patient and understanding about it than I am.

I want to be done with the grieving process.
I know some day, I will be.
It's just a matter of when.
In the meantime...

..............................................................................................................................................

I used to think life was a chessboard.
We were pawns.
We were here, doing our thing, waiting for some higher being, (whoever or whatever that higher being is in your head) would tell us what to do, and where to go, and who to love, and what to study, and what job we should get.
You know, that we would pray and ask, and just be TOLD what to do.
He would place us where we needed to be.

How wrong am I.

I realized it one day.
We teach that concept totally and completely wrong.
Ok, maybe not totally and completely.
But slightly.

I've been home for... what? Almost 5 months? We will say 4 1/2.
I came home. Vulnerable. Terrified. Uncertain.
So many nights. So many prayers...
No direct answer.
Only comfort.

Everything that I had planned for myself was gone in an instant. As I am sure it was for a lot of different people. My future for myself, where I would go, what I would study, what job I would get...
Gone.
Not gone, sorry.
But more or less put on hold.
As the days morphed into weeks, then months, those thoughts of the future started to take its toll on me.

What will I do?
Where will I go?
Do I go here?
Of course, I was there before.
I'll study this.

And it didn't seem right.
So.
I adapted. Changed things up.
MADE SOME DECISIONS.
That is the key...

Here I am now. 4 1/2ish months later.
Different plans. Different directions.
But it's still good.

.............................................................................................................................................

If there is anything that I have learned this week, it's that we are not pawns.
We will more often than not NOT be told what to do.
But we will be led.

At the moment, it seems that the world has stopped. And you're alone. And the road is foreverrrrrr long, with no shades and no resting places, and you feel inclined to keep going in order to catch up. And you want to run down it, get it done, get it over with.

But then you look back, and you realize... ya. The road is still long. It never shortened.
But you definitely had some help along the way.
Perhaps nudging.

You will always be led, even when you don't think so.
You're not stupid.
You have a brain.
Make the choice.

You may just shock yourself with how much you can do.
And you may just shock yourself with how much you can't do.
And that's ok.

.....................................................................................................................................

4 1/2ish months.
I still have bad days.
I have weak spots.
But I am a whole heck of a lot stronger than I was.
And I have a much better idea of what I will do.

Not overnight.
But time.

...

Living life. Figuring it out.

That's what I've started to say every time I'm asked.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Unseen Side of a Hero

Life is unfigureoutable.

So, why is it that I am still trying to figure it out?

.........................................................................................................................................................

They were so young.

I really miss Keegs and Lemur. A lot.
It's not that I love them more or less.
I think they were just the most shocking to me.
They still had a whole lot of living to do.

Sometimes, I feel really cheated. Which is probably not the best way to feel.
But I'm beginning to understand that it doesn't really matter if it's wrong or if it's right.
It's how I feel.
It just is what it is.

It was during that year that I was gone that they both began to really grow. When I left, they were just kids.
Well.
When they died, they were just kids...

......................................................................................................................................................

I went to my home ward at church to attend a missionary farewell. I got there a little late. They were passing the sacrament.
Liam's best friend came out. Holding the tray.
For some reason, it just hit me hard.
Really hard.

I went outside.

Liam never even got that opportunity.

I cried a little.
Then, I was frustrated at myself for crying.

FINISH!!

.............................................................................................................................................................

I'm never going to understand this.
When will I just accept that?
It hurts not knowing.

................................................................................................................................................................

Today.
Is.
Not.
A.
Good.
Day.
Today.
Is.
Hard.
Why.
Is.
It.
So.
Hard?
Why.
Are.
They.
Not.
Here?
Why.
Are.
They.
Gone?
All.
Of.
Them.
Even.
Ian.
No, he's not dead.
But he's not here.

They
   should
     not
      be
       gone.
Why
  am
   I
   still
    here?
I
should
  have
    been
      gone
        a
         long
           time
             ago.
               But
                 I'm
                   still
                     here.
                       WHY...

...

Today, I've got nothing.

No words of advice.
No words of encouragement.
No words of hope.

Today, I just can't give it.

Today, I need it.

Today, I just need to write it out.

Get it out.

...

When the day is done,
And the cape comes off,
And the crowd is gone,
Is this what it's like
For the Hero?



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Test the Limits

I miss them.
Bottom line.

People don't tend to ask me how I am doing anymore. I think I'm past that point of being asked. But, I started picking up the habit of asking myself.

"Today, I feel ok."
"Ugh, I do NOT want to get out of bed."
"Today is SUCH a good day!! Can't get much better than this!"
"I hate my life."

It's becoming pretty normal to me now...

.........................................................................

"BATTER UP!"
I really don't want to do this...
"Come on, go bat! It's your turn!"
"No, thank you, I don't play baseball."
"We are all doing it! Come on!"
I can't hit the ball I can't hit the ball I don't play please don't make me do this please don't they are all watching me I can't handle the attention I'll make a mistake I'll look like a fool I can't do this I really can't I hate the attention Don't watch me Don't watch me Don't watch me....
"Your turn, Jensen!"
I'm already at the home base, bat in my hand, not knowing how to position myself. I felt stupid. I could feel the heat of my blushing face getting hotter and hotter.
And for a split strange 5 seconds, my mind thought back.
The viewing.
The funeral.
The news channel.
Work even. Panic began to swell a little.
But only a little.
Because the ball was coming towards me.
Focus, Jens...
I swung. I heard the hit.
I dropped the bat and ran.
Stupidly ran.
Or so I thought...
"That was the best hit of the night!"
"Girl, you did it!"
"Way to go, Jensen!"
"Did you see it fly!?"
Well. No. No, I didn't. I was focus on running to the next base.
Turns out I really can kinda sorta hit a baseball..
Who knew?
He came up to me and gave me a hug.
"I knew you could do it..."
....................................................................

People used to always tell me, "Heavenly Father does not give us more than we are able to handle."
It's kind of like the scripture 1st Corinthians 10:13:
There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
I like to replace the word "temptation" and replace it with "trial."
There is no trial taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tested above that you are able; but will with the trial also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
And before, I used to believe it.
My mission taught my otherwise.
Heavenly Father doesn't give us a limit on what we can and can't do. Why would an eternal, immortal, infinite being give us, his children, limitations? That seems kind of seems conflicting, don't you think?
No.
I believe Heavenly Father gives you trials, of which they are a little bit more than you feel that you can bear, so that you stretch yourself.
I believe that Heavenly Father gives you those opportunities to rely on the Savior.
Then, when you look back, you realize how much capabilities that you truly have!
And then, he gives you another one. It's a little bit more of a stretch. It's more complicated. And you keep going. And you keep relying.
It's uncomfortable.
It's not fun.
And you panic and you think, "There is NO way that I can do this!"
But then, somehow, you always do.
Because you have the Lord on your side.
Then you look back and think...
Way to go!
I did it!
Did you see me fly?   
That was my best job yet!
This is a stretch.
This is hard.
The future is somewhat foggy.
But...
I've made it this far.
I think I can go a little bit further.
One day at a time.
And I'd like to think, that one day, when I meet Him, He'll give me a hug and say...
"I knew you could do it."

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Destroyed Glass, a Shattered Phone, and a Stretching Arm

Tonight, I smashed a martini glass from the dollar store.
It's kind of healing, smashing things.
But I didn't just throw it to the ground.
I stood on the little wall, stared at the concrete, and declared my reasoning.
"Freaking A, I want them back!!"

Chuck. Smash. No sound.
Or at least, I thought so.
But then I realized that I wasn't wearing my hearing aid.

"You had a lot of aggression in your throw. It was very loud."

I wish I could have heard it.
I stared at the destroyed glass.
It kind of felt good, seeing something broken.

Later on, the phone fell from my hand.
The screen shattered...

It's 11:30 at night. And I am tired.
But not sleepy tired. It's more than that.
It's exhaustion tired.
Tired of trying to be strong. Tired of trying to be ok. Tired of the constant bills and reminders. Tired of missing them. Tired the hole in my heart. Tired of feeling sorry for myself. Tired of thinking about the future. Tired of avoiding the future.
Tired of not knowing.

It doesn't hurt to breathe. Breathing actually feels good.
It doesn't hurt to move. Moving allows my mind to run.
It doesn't hurt to be around people. Socializing is a great distraction.

It hurts to think. It hurts to feel.


Sometimes, it's ok to break down.

So many people want to help. So many people reach out. And you take what you can, and you extend when you have the physical and mental capacity to reach. But you only have two arms and two hands, and there's so many hands that you can take. So much help. It's almost too much.

The reaching is feeling longer and farther away. It's not even reaching anymore. It's stretching.
And sometimes, it's the stretching that scares me.

I take that back.
It doesn't scare me.
It just plain exhausts me.

How much more must I stretch? I see the goal, and I'm moving. And not getting anywhere. It almost seems that the more I move forward, the farther away the goal is. And the farther away the goal, the fuzzier the image becomes. And the fuzzier the image becomes, the darker the hope is.

I know you're there. I know it's possible.
But I can't do it alone.

The darker the hope, the scarier the future becomes. The scarier the future becomes, the weaker the faith.

I'm not perfect.
I'm not even whole.
I'm scared to make those mistakes.
I don't want to disappoint you...

The weaker the faith, the more I realize...

I'm broken.
I need help.

I realize that this is going to define me. My life is different. It will never be the same again. A broken vessel can be fixed, but it's never that same vessel. It has its cracks. It has its chips.

How is it that the hands of the Divine Potter allows that?

I think He loves broken things.

Not in the sense of loving to destroy things.
It's more in the sense of loving to fix things.

I always used to think that He loved me when I did everything right. When I knew all the answers in seminary. When I obeyed the commandments.

But, I think He loves me even more when I wasn't doing everything right, and I came back. I think He loves me when I'm here, trying to push forward, and praying... no, begging for some sort of comfort, knowing and understanding that it's the only comfort that will make me whole.

Because that is when I put aside my pride, and my fear, and just allow Him to fix me.

And gosh dang it, I need a lot of fixing.

 NOTHING in this world, no matter how great it is at the moment, is going to give us that kind of comfort that we all so desire. And though I'm surrounded by many hands, there's only One hand that I really should reach for.
Or stretch for.

You can't fix a vase with Elmer's glue and tape.

We are all broken. Imperfect.
And He loves us all the more for it.

It's now about 12:15 in the morning.

I'm broken.

But not destroyed.








Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Opportunity

3 months = 1/4 of a year = X amount of a lifetime.
Time is weird.

Why is it that when we want Time to go fast, he tends to slow down? Almost like he's saying, "Look, I can only do so much, and I can't please everyone!"
But then, when we want him to slow down, he overworks, overtime, much too fast? Yet, it's all the same. 24 hours. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds everyday. It's a weird concept to me. Just plain weird.

On Memorial Day, Time hit me hard. He reminded me how much I need to do. And he forced my mind recall how much time I possibly have before I will see them again. And looking down at each of their designated spot in the ground, I could almost feel him say, "Life is shorter than you will ever realize."

Yesterday, Time hit me hard. I have an unknown amount of it.

He likes to tease me.

...

(It's no fun realizing that when you want to visit your family, you have to go to the cemetery...)

I realized that I was secretly angry. Angry that Time continued to go his merry way, expecting me to keep up with his time schedule. And everyone else was going along with it.

But I don't want to move. I want the world to stop.

"Why are you still moving?? How can the world possibly go on, when mine has completely fallen apart? Time, just stop, for 5 minutes! Please!"

Or maybe it wasn't such a secret...

But, Time can't stop. That's not his fault. Which leaves only one option.

I have to move on.

And I realized that. Looking at the graves. No headstones yet.

I have to go on. I need to catch up. It can't stop.

I can't stop.
............

If there's anything that I learned from my mission, it's that the gospel is a verb, more so than a noun. It looks forward. It works. It's something you do.

It's a lifestyle.

It's not something that's stagnant. It's not something that waits. It's more than just hope. It's more than just a belief.

"The gospel is another word for opportunity." -Ephraim's Rescue

THE opportunity to change. THE opportunity to change yourself to become who you are MEANT to become.

Yesterday was hard, but today doesn't have to be, because of the gospel. Because Heavenly Father loves me so much, I have the knowledge that I'm going to see my family again. You have the hope that you will see your loved ones again. That is stemmed because of the Atonement of Christ, who suffered not only the penalty of our sins, but also, the pains that we feel EVERY DAY. So that is covered, when we CHOOSE to accept it. +

So, why would I not move forward? Why would I just stand here, when I could be moving, doing everything I can to make that happen?

Why wouldn't I live my life, knowing that it is short, and precious, and sweet, and I only get one mortal life? How am I going to exemplify my life?

When you think about it, you will realize that the greatest people who ever walked on this earth, never stopped. They were not stagnant, and they didn't let the situation get the better of them. Not only did they keep up with Time, they looked past it. Forward and onward.

I realized that, yes, this is the biggest trial of my faith thus far in my life. We are all guaranteed at least one of those sometime in this life. But, with this trial, I have received some of the greatest blessings. I have been given so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I have the ability to look past this, and understand that there is a far more infinite meaning for it all.

Our trials are given to us to give us the opportunity to shine.

Why would I not be happy? I have the choice.

Everyday, we have a choice. (Another gift from the gospel.) We have choices. We have the choice to break down, or rise up. We can be sad, or we can be happy. We cannot choose our consequences, but we can choose our outlook.

We can choose to fall and be alone, or we can choose to rely on the Lord.

Which is a much better choice.

Life isn't so bad with the Savior near.

 So. I choose to be happy. I choose to be hopeful. I choose to try to find blessings everyday.

Sometimes, days are harder and more stressful. I choose to be sad, and grumpy. I choose to fall short. And those days aren't happy days.

Those are minutes wasted. That's Time being wasted.

.......

This week, I have a lot to do. And it might be stressful.

But that's ok, because I am moving along. I can't be stagnant.

They wouldn't want that.

I don't want that.

I'm trying. I'm DOING.

I'm seizing this opportunity.