Sunday, December 16, 2012

There’s still light, even in darkness

Like millions of others across the nation, I was sickened and horrified to hear about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut this last Friday.

The loss of life was so tragic and for it to be innocent children and teachers who were seeking to protect their precious charges only makes it worse. Of all places, elementary school should be a place where you don’t have to stress that your children won’t come home when you send them each day. And now that safety has been violated … for children and their parents.

I’ve been inspired to hear stories of teachers finding ways to protect their children, some losing their own lives in the process. My heart truly goes out to all those affected by this tragedy, children, parents, families of the victims. It’s Christmas and should be a time we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, not have our hearts broken with news of a senseless tragedy and families now in mourning.

The situation is brought home for me in that I have not only many dear friends but numerous family members who are teachers. My own mother is a kindergarten teacher … so her classroom could’ve been one affected. And while my dad is now retired, he is a popular substitute teacher, so he could’ve been affected too.

While I’ve watched news and stories of this tragedy unfold, my heart has felt heavy with the darkness and evil in our world today.

Until a friend shared a beautiful thought on Facebook, one I passed along to my roommate earlier today.

She shared the third and fourth verses of the hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The words are as follows.

“And in despair I bowed my head:
’There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
’For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
’God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

Yes, bad things happen every day and will continue to happen because we live in a fallen world. But God will not leave us comfortless. He’ll be with us, all of us no matter who we are. And it never ceases to amaze me as I watch tragedies unfold how the goodness of people comes through and the strength of the human spirit. We are far stronger than we think we are, and we can find light in the midst of darkness.

I wish light and comfort for all the families affected by this tragedy for the hours, days and weeks to come. I hope they can feel the prayers and love of so many and more than that the love of God.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Embrace the Curves!

Sometimes it really bothers me that we live in such an appearance-obsessed culture. Every day there are articles detailing why this person is so great because of their choice of clothing or hairstyle for that day. Or why this person needs to quit wearing *gasp* mom jeans! Or what in the world were they thinking by stepping outside the house that way?

I will admit, I am often amused by the “what were they thinking?” articles. At the same time, it bothers me too. I don’t want people to judge me only because of how I look, and I would hope that I have the grace to extend others the same courtesy.

It’s not all bad because it does encourage people to take an active interest in how they look. It’s important to take care of yourself and try your hardest to look your best. I’m a strong supporter of that idea.

What I don’t like is when looking your best becomes an obsession, when it becomes your sole focus. Because you feel the press to look and act a certain way. It puts beauty into a little box that only an exclusive club of people can ever reach. And so many spend their lives trying to make their ideal of beauty.

It’s sickening really.

What I’ve spent most of my life learning, while I tried to fit into this self-imposed notion of beauty, is that to be truly beautiful, I need to accept myself. I have to find my own definition of beauty and learn to be okay with it.

That doesn’t mean I have to be the type of beautiful that culture tells me I need to be. It means I must be my own kind of beautiful. For example, I am a curvy girl. When God made me, He gave me hips. It doesn’t matter how much weight I lose … I’m still going to have hips. But that’s what makes me who I am, right? And curvy girls are beautiful girls. Smile

This idea seems simple, but at times it’s very hard to remember. Then I find myself obsessing once again and trying to be the beautiful others say I should be.

Until I take a step back and remind myself that I am beautiful because of who I am, not because of how I look. And that means embracing the curves! You should try it sometime. It’s very liberating.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Butterfly Kisses

Once upon a time I thought it would be a wonderful experience to decorate a tree and put it in the Festival of Trees. It’s been one of my favorite holiday traditions for a long time, and since the Festival is a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Medical Center, it seemed like the perfect fit. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. . .

That’s why on Monday I delivered this beauty to the Festival. The theme is Butterfly Kisses, in case you’re wondering.


This is my second attempt at decorating a tree, and I think it turned out well. I was so very stressed on how to get my tree from looking like this


and turning it into something beautiful someone would want to buy. With a little maneuvering here, a bunch of butterflies from Hobby Lobby there and finally getting my ornaments figured out, it finally all worked out. I’m sure you can’t see inside the balls, but there are pictures of famous kisses.


Look it sold!!


Here I am with the finished product. And my roomie was kind enough to come help me finish it up and get everything set up on Monday. I very much appreciated her help because I was stressed about getting everything ready to go.


The spread that went with the tree. I guess I missed getting a close up of the other side. Dang it!


These are the trees my aunt and cousins made in honor of two loved ones who passed away earlier this year.


I was quite stressed about this tree, but in the end, it all came together. I’m grateful to once again have the experience of creating the tree, seeing it sold and knowing it will benefit someone else. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also doing it in honor of our beautiful angel. I hope she liked it too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Wow! The month of November has just flown by this year, and now I find myself almost at the end of the month wondering where in the world it went.

Despite the swiftly passing time, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a minute to write a Thanksgiving post. The trend this year seems to write something different every day that you’re thankful for. I can be into trends sometimes … but in this case I decided the bandwagon wasn’t for me. That’s not to say I’m ungrateful, but sometimes I just have a need to be different is all.

I am grateful for so, so many things! I can’t do my gratitude justice in just one post, whether it by on Facebook or here in my blog. I can give a few highlights. Of course one of the top blessings in my life is my wonderful family. I would not be the person I am today without them. They support me, love me, believe in me and encourage me. And I do my best to do the same for them.

I have wonderful parents, and it’s been a great blessing in my life that I’ve never had to wonder for even one minute if they loved me because I know that they do.

I’m close to all my siblings and love them for who they are and the great example they have always been for me. We’re so close that one’s sorrows or triumphs become our own, and we’re always happiest when we’re together. So many wonderful adventures I’ve had with my siblings.

Along those lines … I sure love my nieces and nephews too. They make my life happy, they amuse me, sometimes they frustrate me and it never ceases to amaze me to see their understanding and depth of knowledge. I kind of like that they love me too because, well, I love them too.

I’m grateful for wonderful friends, a great job, the opportunity to improve, exercise, a healthy body, knowledge of who I am, a strong religious background, being able to ride the train instead of drive to work, a reliable car to get me where I need to go, books (oh the adventures I have with them!) and great conversations. I’m happy to have a wonderful place to live and a very comfy new bed. Smile

I’m grateful for seasons (even if I don’t really love one of them), rain, fresh fruit and veggies, grocery stores with basic necessities, a great gym to work out in, my iPhone (as both a tool and a toy) and the opportunity to develop a new goal for me to work towards. It still scares me a little bit, but I feel like it is the right decision.

I could go on for pages and pages, but I don’t want to bore anyone. Suffice it to say, I’m a very grateful girl, and I had a fantastic Thanksgiving with my family.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Of the things I can’t control . . .

A long time ago I used to have a notebook with the Serenity Prayer on it. In case you’re not familiar with it, this is what it says, “God grant me the will to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s been an important mantra for me throughout my life, even though I sometimes have a hard time living it.

Tonight as I’m supposed to be falling asleep, I find myself struggling with insomnia. The culprit for this problem? Issues affecting people I care deeply about and can do nothing about.

While I tend to use my blog as my sounding board for thoughts and experiences, I try hard not to use it as my personal place to air dirty laundry. As such, I’m not going to talk about the specific issues on my mind this evening. Suffice it to say, they’re fairly serious issues affecting people I care about whom I want to help but can’t.

Certain of them I just want to shake and am having lectures with inside my head, lectures that I know I’d most likely never say for real unless I felt very strongly impressed to do so. I’m not sure that I think the probability of that is high though.

So, what’s the solution to my overthinking, especially for when I need to be sleeping? I think the best course of action is to pray with all my heart and to have hope that things will work out the way they’re supposed to. I must also always have faith to know that people can change, and God works in mysterious ways. He loves all His children and wants the best for them, and I do believe He directs our lives.

All those I care about who are struggling will be taken care of because Father in Heaven has not forgotten them, just as He will never forget me. As long as I remember that (and continue to do what small things I can), I know it’s going to be okay, even if it isn’t for awhile.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Fun 2012

Once again it’s that special time of year when we get to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve and dress up as something we’re not. I was determined to make this one a fun one, and I’m pretty sure I succeeded.

My problem this year? A costume conundrum.

I’m unimpressed with most of the costumes they make for women because they’re … well, trashy. That or expensive. So, that means I have to create my own. That’s not a problem unless I don’t know what I want to be.

An awesome pair of fake eyelashes from my dear roommate inspired me last Friday, so I chose to be a beautiful butterfly.


A close up of those cool eyelashes. And a self portrait too.


It was a fun costume, if a messy one. The glitter on those wings gets everywhere. But I sure had fun wearing it!


This year I had a creepy cube with plenty of spider web. On the fly (haha!) I thought it would be funny to pretend I was a butterfly caught in a spider’s web. I’d say it worked out.


Here’s the signs I made and hung up.


I won an award for my trouble—Most Kid Friendly Office Space for “Butterflies Are Free.” I was actually aiming for “Best Use of Spider webs” but okay.


Some of the fun Halloween treats of the last few days.


Before I close … a few other fun Halloween costumes, starting with Glinda and Elphaba.


Finally, here’s another cute butterfly.


Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Following Frankenstorm, also known as Hurricane Sandy

I don’t’ know what it is about New York City, but somehow it seems like in every movie involving some type of natural disaster or alien invasion, New York City is always one of the first targets.

As one of the largest and most famous cities in the world, not to mention one of the financial capitols of the United States, I suppose it makes sense why it would be one of the first cities hit. And because so many people live there, the victims pile up quickly.

But it’s always just fiction. Until this week.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Cuba before setting a course straight for the Eastern United States. It’s always terrible anytime a hurricane makes landfall, but especially in highly populated areas. I don’t recall a hurricane having hit this particular area before.

I’ve been so struck reading stories, watching the news and looking at pictures online of famous landmarks that have been hard hit with Hurricane? Superstorm? Sandy in the last few days. Stories of mandatory evacuations, homes destroyed, taxis floating in water, etc. kept me spellbound at work today. I’d try to post them here, but I don’t wan to violate copyright laws or anything so I won’t.

I suppose this just goes to show that nowhere is safe from natural disasters. As a good friend pointed out today, someday it’ll be our turn here to have a natural disaster. Most likely an earthquake, but I’d rather not dwell on that.

In any case, my heart and prayers go out to all the victims of this terrible disaster. I wish them luck and good fortune as they put their lives together and begin the hard work of restoration.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

And the adventure for this week is . . .

This week I had an interesting experience that I wanted to share here, in my blog. I haven’t ever been through anything quite like it, which is why it struck me the way it did.

So, the month of October was a busy one for my department at work with several trips planned. One of them got moved to November, but the other one this week, an Idaho market visit following my supervisor’s presentation on Wednesday, has been in the works for awhile. I’ve been anticipating this trip for weeks because not only would it give us much-needed Idaho business, it was also a chance to visit my sister and her family.

I scheduled all the visits a week ago, and we were good to go. My only hang up was whether to drive my car or get a rental since I planned to stay through the weekend.

Except things didn’t quite turn out as planned.

I was talking to my aunt on Sunday night about the trip when I suddenly started feeling really nervous and sick to my stomach about it. I knew what it meant: something about the trip wasn’t right.

For anyone who is of a different faith, I believe that God protects us and gives us warnings when something we’re going to do will put us in danger. This was clearly that type of warning.

Since the trip was for work and all set up, I was distressed at the idea something was wrong and I shouldn’t be going after all. I tried hard to shove the thought down, but it wouldn’t go away. The more I thought about it, the sicker and more anxious I felt. And I had no idea how to explain to my supervisor, who doesn’t share my faith, that I had received a prompting from God not to go so she’d have to handle the visit on her own since I wouldn’t be there to help coordinate.

I had a conversation with a good friend who offered me some great insight. I followed her advice and had a nice conversation with my supervisor, who was very understanding, although the way I explained it to her, she kept referring to it as anxiety, when I knew it was more than that.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t end up going. Whatever the reason why I wasn’t supposed to go (most likely I’ll never know), both my mom and my grandma also had impressions of the danger to me if I made the trip, so it must’ve been something fairly serious. However, I am happy to report that I’m safe at home as I write this, so it’s a good thing I recognized a prompting and heeded it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tiptoe through the pumpkins, through the pumpkins . . .

It’s that special time again, when I get to the North Logan Pumpkin Walk. Yippee!

This year’s theme was “Let the Games Begin” … and boy did they ever. I was worried every other scene was going to be The Hunger Games, but I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. I never cease to be amazed at the creativity (and time) people put into these.

Take this one for example. It’s an entire scene based upon I Spy.



How about some classic board games—like Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Twister, Life and Candyland?



Or Clue?! LOVED this one!



Don’t worry — there was one fairly extensive scene involving The Hunger Games.


What Pumpkin Walk would be complete without some people pictures?


What a lovely day it was, in case you can’t tell from the thousand and a half pictures that I took. It’s a great fall tradition, I’m happy to share through my blog. Oh, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. A lovely 70 degrees in mid October? Yes, please. Winking smile