Monday, June 28, 2010
For the last 8.5 years, I have not spoken in church. Now, before you get up in arms about the universe being cruel and unusual, I HAVE spent nearly the entirety of that time with at least 2 callings, one of which has ALWAYS been playing the cursed, cold, unfeeling, beastly organ. I always thought it my "Get Outta Jail Free" card. However, having to play the organ AND speak on the same day??? More like being tried for the same crime twice. ;0)
I've known exactly what I was to speak on long before I got the invitation: Doctrine & Covenants 122:7, wherein the Lord tells the imprisoned Joseph Smith, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
Basically, I spoke on Learning Through Adversity.
**DISCLAIMER: This is only about 2/3 of it...I have just a smidge too much self-respect to put my nerdy, feeble attempts at jokes in the actual document...It was WAAAY funnier in person, but don't take my word for it...;0)***
Signed, Levar Burton.
(Ahh. Who doesn't love a good Reading Rainbow reference? No one? Oh. Okay then. Moving on...)
Since we were teeny, tiny mini-Mormons, throwin' down over the coveted nursery dumptruck, we've been taught life’s two purposes: 1) Gain a body and 2) Be tested.
If you're reading this blog today (arguably against your better judgment), put a big, red Sharpie checkmark by 1. No church talk required, there. ;0)
During PA school, sometime around the day I officially lost the ability to spell and the day I had a nervous breakdown in front of my program director and almost cried crocodile tears in front of him, I had an epiphany:
LIFE IS LIKE SCHOOL.
o New and scary.
o Favorite subjects and places we excel,
o Difficult subjects that make us cry into our textbook,
o Make friends, lose friends, gain friends (hopefully a net gain, there!),
o Endure finals week, questioning whether our bodies will withstand the pressure for one more nanosecond,
And then we're graced with:
o Sparse vacation periods, when we're at one with world because for the first time in recollection, we're not studying.
But no one's exempt from:
o Really difficult times, that feel like we're switching schools, starting all over again, shaking the very foundation of who we are…which are part of everyone’s life, but hard nonetheless.
And it wouldn't make much sense to show up on the first day of high school and, right there on the spot, take the tests to get our diploma, now would it? Yeah, didn't think so.
So, if the sum of life is a test, how can we get passing grades?...or at least stay out of principal’s office...
One of my favorite quotes is, “The more I learn, the more I know I don’t know anything.” After "completing" (...haha...funny how loosely a term can be used...) 88.5 credits in the past year, I know but one thing: how to be a student.
So, I spelled out the necessary steps! (...as some general authorities and various prophets see it, anyway...)
How can we succeed in school of life?
Step #1: Come to class...and stay awake.
David A. Bednar stated, “You and I are here on the earth to prepare for eternity, to learn how to learn, to learn things that are temporally important and eternally essential, and to assist others in learning wisdom and truth.”
The best way to make sure you get adequate exposure to all the subject material that will be on the test is to come to church. Come to sacrament meeting. Stay for gospel doctrine, relief society and priesthood meetings. Cultivate a habit. Get to the point where it feels uncomfortable to miss a Sunday of church. If you’re one of our precious and remarkable youth, come to mutual. Attend seminary. Everyone, participate in other church activities wherever possible: it’s like extra credit. Come to church: your kids will always remember your faithfulness. Weekly attendance can only benefit your spiritual comprehension and improve your celestial GPA. Plus we like you and want to see you here.
Gordon B. Hinckley encourages us, “These are the great days of your preparation for your future work. Do not waste them. Take advantage of them. Cram your heads full of knowledge. Assimilate it. Think about it. Let it become a part of you.” I believe he instructed us to do so because, as Brigham Young said, “We are in the school [of mortality] and keep learning, and we do not expect to cease learning while we live on earth; and when we pass through the veil, we expect still to continue to learn and increase our fund of information...we are not capacitated to receive all knowledge at once. We must therefore receive a little here and a little there. We might ask, when shall we cease to learn? I will give you my opinion about it: never, never.”
Step #2: Choose good study-buddies.
There are all kinds of people on this Earth. We need to seek out those that are healthy for us. Neal A. Maxwell very astutely warned us of those, stating, “Such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.” Choose carefully the kind of people you want to surround yourself with, and choose the kind of person YOU want to be accordingly! Be friends with people who make you feel like the best version of yourself, and BE that kind of friend to others. Surround yourself with people who will buoy you up, and watch out for those more like an anchor.
And when it comes to our eternal study-buddy, it’s even more critical to choose wisely. A bazillion different factors come into play when we choose whom we want to trek through life with, and how to choose a mate is another church talk altogether. However, the one key element is to pray for answers. If we are living righteously and we pray before we plunge, the swim will be more leisurely.
Gordon B. Hinckley instructed us, “Be worthy of the mate you choose. Respect him or her. Give encouragement to him or her. Love your companion with all your heart. This will be the most important decision of your life, the individual whom you marry. Be fiercely loyal one to another. A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it. You have to forgive and forget.
Remember Spencer W. Kimball’s insightful challenge, “Don’t just pray to marry the one you love; instead, pray to love the one you marry.”
Gordon B Hinckley once quoted Deseret News columnist Jenkin Lloyd Jones, who observed, “There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young . . . that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks, to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and beautiful wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear, the divorce courts are jammed. . . . Life is like an old-time rail journey–delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
Step #3: Read the textbook.
We need to read the scriptures. We simply cannot learn all that we need to know if we neglect scripture study. (Gordon B. Hinckley – Life’s Obligations) “We’ve been instructed in Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 to “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom” and to acquire knowledge “by study and also by faith.”
We’ve also been taught that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” (D&C 130:18.)
With regard to learning from the scriptures, Gordon B. Hinckley remarked, “The older I grow, the more I enjoy the words of thoughtful writers, ancient and modern, and the savoring of that which they have written.”
If we really thought about it – if we studied prayerfully and sought the personal implications of what we’re reading in the scriptures – we’d realize that there’s NOTHING we can go through that someone didn’t go through in the scriptures. Of course, our struggles might have a modern twist, but the principle is the same. Heed the advice of those who have gone before. When they all tell you the value of a mighty change of heart, realize that your own “mighty change of heart” can help you overcome whatever you’re struggling with right now, in 2010, in these painfully modern lives of ours.
Stanley G. Ellis of the Seventy admonished, “The scriptures warn us that not knowing is not an excuse for not doing. The Lord expects us to inquire, study, and act—even though there are some things we may never know in this life.” The point of such studying is that in working hard to gratefully glean all the life lessons we can from the scriptures, our Heavenly Father will see that we can handle further knowledge, and He’ll give us more.
Step 4#: Do your homework.
This is where I pitch serving in the nursery. Ten years ago, I turned 18 and got my first church calling – in nursery. I’ve been in a primary calling 9 out of the last 10 years. I’d be lying if I said there’s never a time I miss being a Sabbath day grown-up, but I have a strong testimony of callings, even the ones I hated at first, and some of my most spiritual experiences have come while being taught by your kids.
Accept callings. They’re callings, not requests. Each calling you take, especially when you feel totally unqualified, will expand your abilities, broaden your horizons, bring you new friends, teach you a greater appreciation for others, increase your love of the Lord, and make you more like Him. President Hinckley said it best: “There is no small or unimportant calling in this Church. Serve wherever you are called to serve. Do what you are asked to do. Every position you hold will add to your capacity. Make room for the Church in your life.”
Step #5: Keep track of your grades.
In the school of life, we all have solid semesters, and some semesters we just blame on life. We are mortals. Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes we fall. And sometimes, we have what feels like a head-on collision with a train. Though these simple truths don’t justify or excuse poor choices, they help remind us of why we need to forgive ourselves and exhaust our efforts to improve ourselves. When you’ve painted yourself into a corner, remember how that corner felt and what got you there, and commit to never paint in that pattern…or simply abandon the painting profession altogether.
There will be, if there haven’t been already, times in life where you wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” God designed us to learn best and remember most vividly from painful experiences. Science has proven that each time we learn something new, the new info cycles in a region in our brains called the hippocampus, and it’s laid down into permanent memory while we sleep. In contrast, experiences that are especially challenging and emotionally charged are stored in a different area called the amygdala, and there it becomes stored forever and is much more easily provoked and recalled in detail. Why would God give us multiple pathways for life’s information if some lessons weren’t more important than others? We must learn the lessons of life’s pain and use our stumbling blocks as stepping stones. Jeffrey R. Holland reassures us, “God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go.”
Step #6: Take notes.
Perhaps the best way to remind ourselves where we’ve been and where we’re going is to write it down. Brothers and sisters, journal. We’ve been commanded to do it. It is cathartic. It helps us organize our thoughts. It gives us something to reflect on. It can remind us what we’ve been through so we don’t have to learn hard lessons in perpetuity. Some of our greatest epiphanies can be found in the scribblings of our own journals...and it’s good to be reminded of what got you through...and that you DID, indeed, get through.
Step #7: Don’t disrupt your classmates.
Much to some people’s surprise and displeasure, we ARE here on Earth with other people. Like it or not, we must interact with others, and the possible outcomes of those interactions are infinite. There’s a reason we call each other “brother” and “sister:” we are an Earthly FAMILY. That means we’ll have history and drama, good memories and bad, some siblings we wish we could bunk with and stay up all night with giggling and sharing our worlds, and other siblings we can’t legally divorce fast enough.
When we have a bad experience with one of our siblings, may we remember how our older brother loves us ALL and listen to Jeffrey R. Holland’s advice, when he said, “I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead.”
He goes on, “When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ.”
He continues, “If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, “Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?” Splat. And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.”
Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 reminds us, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
President Holland concludes, “Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war and leave them buried. Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.”
Step #8: Get a tutor.
One thing I’m truly, deeply passionate about is learning from others. Just as I said about the scriptures, there is nothing we can go through that someone else hasn’t gone through in a similar degree.
If we could see into people’s past experiences, we would find that there are people all around who know very well, if not exactly, what we’re going through. Too often during our struggles, we feel completely and utterly alone on this Earth. It’s during these times that we can and should look to others for help, comfort, advice and understanding. I promise you that no matter what you’re going through, there is someone who can help you better cope. And when your burden is one you must bear in silence, and these are usually the heaviest burdens, this is when we learn to be more sensitive to others and more reliant on the Lord for our deliverance.
Step #9: Ask the teacher for help.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently instructed, “We need to stay close to the Lord every day if we are to survive the adversity that we all must face.” No one knows us better than our Heavenly Father and our elder brother, Jesus Christ. No one knows us – our joy, our pain, the sum of our existence – better than those two. When we feel like we have nowhere else to turn, to THEM is precisely where we should be turning, whether through scriptures, prayer, temple attendance, or simple meditation. Through the still small voice, we are never truly alone.
So many people love to say, “Life is a Journey.” I disagree. Life is NOT a journey...life is a TRIP! There are lessons that can be learned no other way than by being mortal. That’s why we’re here! It’s not always fun or easy or even comfortable, but it is part of the process, and it always has been the plan. We should do our best to pay close attention to the experiences we’re having and the lessons they offer us. Some lessons come through routine life experiences. Some lessons come through the consequences to our actions. And some lessons come through no fault of our own, wherein we feel like we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time…or the unluckiest person on the planet. However, how our lessons come to us is nowhere near as important as WHAT we learn from them…and, on a larger scale, IF we learn from them at all.
Again, in the words of the Lord as He is speaking peace to Joseph Smith’s soul in Liberty Jail, “If the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give the experience, and shall be for thy good. Therefore, hold on thy way….Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”
In closing, life may be more easily viewed if we think of it like the Arizona monsoons. Some years we’re kissed by the sunshine nearly every day and we think a little rain might spice things up a bit. Other years, sprinkles come and go, but never enough to even form a puddle we can splash in. Some years, monsoon season hits when we expect it, and we do our best to wear waterproof shoes and keep an umbrella in the car, or at least have good windshield wipers. And occasionally, a year comes along that brings seemingly relentless monsoon storms in the most bizarre and unusual seasons, with nighttime thunder that continues into daytime cloud-cover and ambient gray that just won’t quit. But when the sky seems set on being the boss of us, we should remember what lies just above the apparent ominous layer of gray…crystal blue skies, with white, billowing clouds and an infinite view that God himself designed and intended us to keep in our perspective. No matter how hard that flimsy, lowest, gray layer of sky intends to pour down on us, just above it, it’s always blue.
And then I bore my testimony...that I know the Church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ and our savior. I know that the scriptures are the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith, Thomas S. Monson, and all other prophets, latter-day and ancient, are true and inspired men of God.
Aaaaand if you need me, I'll be lounging in a hammock for another 8.5 years... ;0)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Dana, Darling -- You're a saint.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Since I'm more consistent at studying than I am blogging...(brownie points for the RIGHT order???)...let's recap the 2009 Plays of the Year.
EARNED MY WHITE COAT!
That's right, Folks. This meaningless, ceremonial act of minionism hereby bequeaths upon us the authority to, uhh, wear a white coat, while we awkwardly perform our first pelvic exams and hernia checks on paid actors, ALL with quasi-professionalism!!!...???...
HAD A BIRTHDAY!
Nothing helps you celebrate your whitetrash roots like a hearty dose of MY DREAM CAKE (Thanks, Katie!), demolition derby championships, and Swine Flu via a trip to the State Fair! Hands-down the best birthday I've had ALL YEAR!!! I've come a long way in 26 years...
Not really. I'd still sell what's left of my soul for those SUH-WEET specs!
Oh, and for those who persist in asking where my kids got their blonde hair:
FOR THE LAST TIME, I USED TO BE BLONDE!!!!!!!!
Meanwhile, back at the blog...
WENT TO MY 10 year high school reunion! GO COYOTES!!!
(L->R: Me, Lisa, Rebecca & Kacie)
Equal parts thrilled to see my best friends from my past, tickled frickin' fuschia to weigh less than I did when I graduated (...& yet, no pic sans buffalo biceps?! What's that about?!), and heartbroken/entertained by my drunken classmates, trapped in their respective stages of accepting that they peaked in high school. There. I said it. C'mon, we were ALL thinkin' it!
WENT TO CALIFORNIA!!!
(L->R: Courtney, Noelle & Baylie.)
Saw cousins and my Bobbie Dearest, who live in Rancho Cucamonga (LA). Had my dad's planner stolen. No worries, though. It only held EVERYTHING he owns of value, including his social security card, ALL bank cards, check book, temple recommend, account numbers, and the social security number of all of his children. Good times were had by all.
Eh. Silver linings, a-plenty, right? Like that I'm an insomniac, so I wouldn't have been sleeping anyway, had I NOT been on hold with all the credit reporting agencies to put a block on my SSN. My poor dad, though! Almost feel as bad for the dirty thief/thieves who'll be eternally Hades-incinerated for buying a welder on his Home Depot card. Hope their most critical welds fail them at the most inopportune moment. RRRGH!!!
WENT TO UTAH!!!
If you squint your eyes and cross your fingers and click your heels three times and use your imagination (...you know, like my EKG professor tells me to when interpreting strips...to the tune of #32,500 a year tuition...AWESOME...), you can see my babies catching the first flakes of Noelle's first snow. Minutes later, the POURING ENSUED!!! Take my word for it. (As the sun shines fearlessly--misleadingly--in the photo.)
As much as I despise the state for stealing too many of my best friends and having the gloomy feel of a giant parking lot...some of its inhabitants are FANTABULOUS!!!
HUNG OUT WITH THE EVANSES!!!
We had a BLAST stayin' gold, rockin' Kari's grandma's house with our sparkling personalities and my killer sweet potato fries recipe. (C'mon, Gram-Grams, you know you loved us. Admit it.) Anecdotally, consult your friends before you cook something that no one in their family will eat. :0)
Sidenote: Egad, Crimony, and Hot dang! If you're a Surprise runner like me, you haven't run until you've tackled the inclines of Rancho Cucamonga, California and Brighton, Utah. With pharmaceutical assistance, the burn I feel is starting to fade...
HUNG OUT WITH THE MAUGHANS!!!
(NOT pronounced 'maw-OO-guh-hawn'...'cuz Cory's right: English IS hard!!!)
DANG, I miss them and our silly joint-family antics! Freaking peeing my pants with laughter. Ahh, good times with coagulated butt sauce. (I don't care. It was worth it to publish online, just to make Rachel laugh.)
Then they came and saw us!...aaaaand the creep-tastic look on Quinn's face almost made me pee my pants, yet again.
SAW NEW MOON!!!
Fo reals, yo, it's all about the company you keep. Kari & Rachel, you're the reason for any/all warm fuzzies surrounding the flick.
The movie was, well, rich in comedic value, as was the first. I have to say how impressed I am that, on such a modest budget, they snagged a Wayans brother fresh of the set of 'White Chicks' to play Rosalie.
SERIOUSLY!!! Tell me I'm NOT the only one who sees this!!!!!!!!!!!!
SCORED NEW TUNAGE!!!
It was with a heavy heart that I composed yet another Craigslist ad and sold my beloved iPod...
...because I had to UPGRADE!!!
...To the 160G iPod!!!
...Jason got me for Christmas!!!
CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT?!?!
...Because I've been collecting on my own (Thanks Cory & Wal-Mart)...
...and because my very dear PA school friend, Chad, hooked me up with a plethora of musical deliciousness. (Chad, if you ever marry, have that vasectomy reversed, and need a surrogate because your wife is unable to bear you children, you just let me know.)
Drum roll, please...I now have...wait for it...~36G of music. Nothing like exorcising the demons in your current collection with some fresh blood. (Dang, I could really go for a super-smiley emoticon right now.)
GOT PULLED OVER...WHILE I WAS RUNNING!!!
Seriously, Officer Potbelly von BaldyMcNothingBetterToDo. Cut the crap. By telling me how I was 'violating city code' and other such nonsense, you "singlehandedly made real criminals' lives easier." -Officer Buhanan. Back all up off my nighttime-running-in-reflective-gear grill. Deuces.
MADE J'S CHRISTMAS WISH COME TRUE!!!
OK, so he had to work two months worth of overtime, and we spent an entire Saturday resurrecting a Franken-center for it:
...SonOfA..................The camera just misses ALL of the blood, sweat & tears, I tell you!
But my husband has what he's been wanting for years!! No...not a medicated wife. Okay. I guess he got his SECOND WISH then. Semantics.
Surefire way to get me to buy into anything? Put rappin' Johnny Mayer on it. Survey says......I'M IN!!!
...and speaking of deliciousness...Review of his new album, Battle Studies?
The best way I can sum it up is this:
- If you went to Wal-Mart, paid the $9 plus tax, peeled off the impenetrable wrappers, opened it up, pulled out the cover insert, and threw the rest away...it would still be worth what you paid for the sheer poetic value of the lyrics alone.
I don't know if I'm biased. (Okay. Strike that. Of course I am.) I don't know if I've just been abysmally depressed because of the most difficult experiences of my life. (Translation: I am.) I don't know if we're just two peas in a tall, awkward, under-appreciated pod. But if it's possible to have a soul mate in a musician/artist, he's mine. That album...sigh...it's just SO VERY MUCH my life right now that if you buy it and aren't completely, 100% satisfied, I'll give you your money back...just to surround myself with the soundtrack of my 2009.Some other must-have gems?
- The Script
- Wheat (Per Second, Per Second, Per Second...Every Second)
- Kings of Leon
*A word of caution: The aforementioned albums will incite...
PARTYING LIKE ROCK STARS!!!
Here's to having the entire year of 2010 to recover!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
(Taken in January, 2003, south of Phoenix.)
Shows up every year -- just before my birthday.
The "Orionoid Meteor Shower" peaks every year -- on my birthday -- sprinkling the sky with up to 20 meteors per hour.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This has been another...
This past week, my family and I ENJOYED!!! (and there simply aren't enough syllables in 'enjoyed') some time together and AWAY from any and all medical school-type facilities, in their entirety. CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES!!!
Cleaned our house better than it has been since we moved in. Didn't last long. Wah-WAAAHHH!!!
Met Hubby Dearest for lunch on Monday--sans children. SWEET VICTORY!!! Hmm. Sweet & Sour Chicken, too, now that I mention it. NOT one of the Top 100, incidentally. ;0) (Inside joke just went outside, just for you, Bubba.)
Pulled Quinn out of school and met Daddy for lunch at Oregano's in Tempe. BEST DINING EXPERIENCE EVER! Take your kids. They give the weasels pizza dough to play with. Brilliant!
The moral of the story? Never trust your valuables to a friend's cleavage...however ample it may be. (...Jealous much, Mandie???...)
But I digress.
Guess the camerapunk was feeling lucky.
Hmmm. Actually, no. It wasn't cold outside. At all. Try again.