Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why I'm Not Making a Resolution This Year

I don't like resolutions.  I'm usually good for a week or so, and then I fall of the wagon and feel bad about myself.  In an effort to avoid all that madness this year, I'm not making a single one.  I am, however, going to make a conscious effort to become my best self; someone I like better than the person I am now.

  • I want to be a better Saint, a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.  
  • I want to attend the temple more with my husband.  Not too long ago, we were going every week.  What happened?  
  • I want to learn to organize my home WITHOUT  spending a fortune at Ikea.  
  • I want to start exercising and eating better, not to lose weight, but simply to feel healthier.  
  • I want to not beat myself up when I decide to have a cookie, rather than a piece of fruit.
  • I want to get better at crochet.  
  • I want to be more self-reliant.  
I intend on starting out small.  Maybe my list should look something more like this:

  • Attend the temple once a month as a patron.
  • Put items in their proper room (at least!)
  • Walk the dog around the block, not just to her favorite spot.  
  • If you want a cookie, have a cookie.  Not 6.  
  • Find someone who can show you how to count your stitches so you end up with a rectangle-shaped blanket, not a flat-topped pyramid.  
  • Consider putting in some hours at the Bishop's Storehouse, or bite the bullet and become a Shelf Reliance consultant.  
If you have any ideas for me, feel free.  I am currently on my sixth day of service to others, and I could use some ideas for that as well!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I feel a bit like Elizabeth this morning.  You know, Mary's cousin?  Let me explain. 

When I was younger, I overheard my dad say "If Katie ever gets pregnant out of wedlock, I'll start going to church, because it means that Jesus Christ is coming back."  While I've always appreciated what he was implying, part of me thought that when I did get married, getting pregnant would be so easy. 

This morning, after another negative test, I soaked in a spearmint-eucalyptus scented bath and tried to quell the nausea that has been plaguing me lately.  After I stared so long at that test that I began to see a line where there was none, wavering between disappointment and acceptance, I had an epiphany. 

In saying "no," Heavenly Father is not saying "not ever."  He is saying "not now."  It is in His forbearance that He is showing His love.  Chris and I are nowhere near ready for a baby.  We have next to nothing in savings.  Neither one of us is as healthy as we could be.  And, to be honest, there are a few habits we ought to have before we start a family in which we have been remiss.  Scripture reading, for one.  Family prayer, for another.   My personal opinion is that when we have truly tried our hardest, we will be blessed beyond measure.  How I look forward to that day! 


Yesterday, I read a post by a friend of mine, a gentleman whom I have known since high school.  Ordinarily his blog has a decidedly political bent, but yesterday he was focused on regaining an appreciation for the true meaning of Christmas.  Please read his blog here

As a result of that well-timed post, I have decided to embark on 40 days of mindful service to others.  If after that time I am not more fully taking upon myself the name of Christ and further upholding the covenants I have made in His name, well, then there is something wrong. 

This (early!) Christmas morning, I would like to share my testimony with you.  I know that God lives, and that He loves us, so much so that he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins.  I know that Jesus Christ Who humbled Himself to come to earth  and be born in a lowly manger is the same Jesus Christ Who is my Lord and Redeemer.  I am thankful for the incredible work He has done in my heart and in my life, and I wish for His peace, which passes understanding, to come upon you all this day as we celebrate His birth. 

In Jesus' name, amen.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Funny Dreams and Preparing for Christmas...

This morning, I had a dream.  It wasn't prophetic, in fact, it was rather stupid.  Because of it, though, I woke up very thankful that Chris and I had been sealed in the temple.  We had been married, and we had set a date to be sealed, but we weren't there yet.  Instead of our little two-bedroom apartment, we lived in a cottage on the edge of a cranberry bog, and our neighbors were J.K. Rowling and Martha Stewart.  The morning of our sealing, my dear friend and favored Elder shows up on my doorstep all anxious because he has to tell me something.  "Kate!  I have to tell you..." and at this moment, Chris' alarm went off, which is currently "I Like to Move it, Move it"

Really, Steven.  I don't CARE if you like to bust a move every once in a while... don't we all?


The Christmas season can be a difficult time for me.  Since I grew up Catholic, I'm used to a lot of emphasis being placed on symbols.  I miss Advent, and was unable to stop myself from purchasing an Advent calendar this year.  At least I didn't give in to the wreath, right?  I'm very grateful indeed that Christmas falls on a Sunday and that we will be having Sacrament.  I loved participating in as many Christmas services as I could; it helped me to put things in perspective.

As a convert, around what would be considered high holy days in the Catholic Church, I have to consistently remind myself of all I have gained as a result of my conversion.  I often think of the Christmas before I joined the Church.  I was very active in the ward, and everyone was wondering when I would be baptized.  I remember being early, and walking into the chapel and just sitting there.  There was a table of poinsettias in front of the stand, and they looked so pretty... it was just enough to remind me of the simplicity and purity of the gospel.

Occasionally, I pay homage to my Catholic roots in little, silly ways; I buy Pazcki and eat more seafood during Lent, not because I feel I should, but because it's what I enjoy.  Cheap little Advent calendars find their way into my home because they remind me of my childhood.  Every once in a while, I take out my Rosary and use it to count my blessings.  My husband calls me a Mormolic.

My Heavenly Father knows me, and I know He understands how difficult it was for me to leave the Catholic Church.  He also understands the depth of my testimony and how completely I love His Church.  He knows, too, that I spent a great deal of my lifetime considering monastic life as a Carmelite nun, and how much I yearn for structure in my life as wife and someday mother in a world in which I never really pictured myself living.

In this, the week of Christmas, I rededicate myself.  I'm not going to put it off until New Year's, it's happening now.  I would really appreciate some advice, however, on how to incorporate some order into my life.  As it stands, I exist in chaos.  I am going to be a better wife, a better member of this Church, and I am going to prepare myself for the day when I become a mother.  Please join me in the journey. 

As for you, dear reader, may the peace of Christ be with you, now and always.

Check out the Book of Mormon Forum's Christmas Blog Hop here!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This past week...

I know I promised a recap of what went on while I was gone, and I will try my best.  On December 11th, we packed up and left directly after Sacrament meeting (I know, we're awful).  Due to the fact that I had packed nothing the night before, and the cat refused to cooperate, we did not leave until 3:30. 

Fast forward six hours, and we are finally arriving at my mom's.  I had a moment of pure naivete when I assumed that our dog would remember her crate training.  Silly me.  A few hours later, Amber is bathed and retrained, and Chris and I are finally able to get some sleep.  The next morning, I wake up when my mom comes in from work.  She is super sleepy, so Chris fixes breakfast, and we drag the tree up from the basement.  I can safely say that this is the first year I have ever gotten away with not fluffing the branches of one of the four trees Mom puts up. 

That afternoon, we ran some errands and put flowers on the graves.  I don't have high hopes that those flowers will make it to Christmas, but it was something I felt I should do.  I introduced Chris to the awesomeness that is the Salsa Cafe's spinach burrito with mango salsa, and we headed home

Tuesday, my husband took the car and got lost.  I was very grateful that we had no plans, and chilled at home with my mommy.  That night, we decorated the tree.  It took forever; my mom has 2.5 million bulbs, but by the time we were finished, it looked sooo pretty!

Wednesday, we went to Silver Chopsticks with Dad and Shannon, then went to see "New Year's Eve".  After that, we picked up craft supplies for wreaths and went to Longhorn for dessert.  Word to the wise:  the Chocolate Stampede should be shared by 2-4 people.  Chris almost managed the whole thing on his own, but regretted it greatly afterwords.

Wednesday night, we finished our Christmas shopping and I wrapped gifts until 1:30 in the morning.  I don't know that it was because I had so many to wrap, but rather that I was so tired and wrapped very slowly. 

Thursday, we slept in late and went to Bella Via for lunch.  Chris and I then went to the Highlands where I finished shopping for his stocking stuffers and we saw "Breaking Dawn".  After this, we went to Shannon's and had dinner and made cookies with Cece.  Shan showed me how to make a wreath with floral mesh and we watched the end of an awful movie ("Christmas Buddies, anyone???).

Friday came too soon, and we just made it to Cece's Christmas pageant.  All the kindergarten kids were adorable, and Cece was so glad to see us... especially her Uncle Chris!  We then went to Cheddar's for appetizers.  After lunch, we said our goodbyes to my Dad and went to pick up our anniversary cake.  Coming home, we somehow got lost and ended up coming into Bridgeport via some pretty scary switchbacks uphill, and then traversing 250 as we came down.  Thankfully we avoided meeting Jesus face to face and made it back to Mom's in one piece. 

Shan and Cece arrived in time to give us our Christmas/anniversary present, and we said our goodbyes and were off to Alliance.  Two hours later, we were having Chinese food with my BFF Jessy, but I wasn't feeling all that well.  I managed to put off getting any closer to Michigan until 11 or so, then I climbed into the car, snuggled my pillow, and slept until we hit the turnpike.  We made it back into town around 3:30AM.  Chris brought all the necessary things upstairs, and we were out of commission until 12:30. 

Saturday afternoon, we headed out to Frankenmuth to celebrate our anniversary.  The food was great, the room was amazing, but the thing I will miss most of all is the 2-person whirlpool tub. 

I do have to say, the bed was much too big.  I am used to being able to find my husband in the night when I need a hug; not so with this bed!  Sunday, we were lazy.  I looked for a close meetinghouse, but Chris insisted that since it was our anniversary we could skip.  I disagreed and pouted, but it did no good.  I was so tired that I pretty much sleepwalked everywhere we went, and was so grateful to be able to sit down at dinner.  An hour-and-a-half of awesome German food later, we were on our way home. 

This is what I've been doing while I haven't been posting.  I will do better this week, though I'm pretty certain Christmas Day's post will be a bit late.  :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Home again...

Well, we are back in Michigan.  I growled and hissed at the state sign as we left Ohio, but it didn't help me feel any better.  At least Chris and I get to spend some time in Frankenmuth this weekend celebrating our anniversary.  I am looking forward to good German food and time in the hot tub!  :)

I have to hurry to get ready, or I would write more.  Sunday when I get back, you will all receive a much more detailed report of our vacation.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Self Acceptance?

I cannot sleep.  I have not felt well since around 8PM last night, and woke up around 2:30.  I have been thinking quite a bit about self-acceptance.  I doubt that I am there yet; heck, I just ate a handful of cookies simply because they were there.  And they were awesome.

Of course, now I feel bad about it.

Every morning, I look in the mirror and think "God, why did You make me this way?"  I think I would honestly be more okay with myself but for the surgical scars that crisscross my abdomen.  I understand completely that the doctors who worked so valiantly to save my life were not in the least concerned by the awkward bulge that resulted from cutting into my oblique muscle.  How were they to know that the preemie they were trying to save would grow into a fat girl?

Every year, I diet.  I try not to go to any extremes, and I usually lose 30-50 pounds.  Eventually, it all comes back, and I think it's got something to do with the fact that I refuse to be okay with the way I am at this moment.  For some people, negative reinforcement works.  I AM NOT one of those people.  I don't appreciate being called fat or ugly; it will just make me sad, and I will eat.

I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father.  I am made in His image.  There is a divine nature within me that makes me beautiful.  When I work in the temple, my husband says that he can see me glow.  I am fully aware that I must take care of the body I have, and I don't make excuses for the fact that stress, depression, anxiety and uncertainty make me do stupid things like mack on homemade cookies at 5 in the morning.  But I am working on it.  All of it.  As I come to understand the Atonement, I more fully rely on my Savior and my Heavenly Father.

I'm finally realizing that I am safe.  I don't have to rely on food for comfort or escape anymore.  As I live worthily, it will get better.  I am surrounded by love and acceptance of the person I am AND the person I want to become.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hurry, hurry, hurry!

It seems as though I've been doing a lot of hurrying these days.  Yesterday, I got most of the gifts wrapped, did 3 loads of laundry, decided what clothes I was giving to the church clothing barn, delivered dinner to a sick friend, came home, fixed my computer and went to bed around 11:30.  Today, I'm finishing up chart review, cleaning the office, writing instructions for the person who's filling in for me, going home, cleaning, doing more laundry, and baking cookies and a cake for the Christmas party on Saturday.  Friday, I think I can relax, but I'm probably just fooling myself for the moment.

I used to wonder why my parents got so stressed around the holidays.  Christmas seemed to take forever to get here.  Now I know.  I have just about two weeks to get everything straightened up, and so I'm rushing around like a madwoman.  There is a rational part of me that's saying "slow down!," but I'm not exactly inclined to listen. 

I understand full well that this season commemorates the birth of Christ.  As a believer, I try very hard to put commercialism on the back burner and turn a deaf ear to all the ads that scream at me about all the stuff I need to accomplish a memorable holiday.  I truly hope that no one is expecting that one spectacular gift to come from me, but I do feel that it is my obligation in this season most of all to be present and joyful.  It's my way of making restitution for those Christmases in years past when I was so miserably unhappy and worried everyone sick. 

It is this time of year that I can really, truly see the work that the Atonement of Christ has done in my life.  Where once there was sickness and sadness, there is health and joy.  The dark, cold days still bother me, but not nearly as much as they used to.  I am productive; my life has become meaningful and immensely happy.  I am so grateful this week to be able to provide service as a Relief Society member and as a friend, and am looking forward to making dinner for my husband and helping him make his favorite cookies this evening.  To be honest, hurrying around and keeping busy keeps my mind off the fact that there are STILL 17 days until Christmas.  :)   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thoughts of a Boring, Chubby Girl

I am a little upset with myself.  I have gained 35 pounds in the last year.  Chris and I were discussing this last night, and we both have the same problems.

1.  We show love with food.  You're sad?  Let me bake you a cake and help you eat it!  Celebrating?  Let's break out the ice cream!

2.  We eat when we're depressed. 

3.  We eat when we're bored.

4.  We eat when we're stressed. 

It's getting old.  I am 29 and dealing with acne spots from too much chocolate.  I'm pretty sure my insulin resistance is linked to my inability to get pregnant.  I have no energy.  Most days, I get up, go to work, where I physically pine for my bathrobe and slippers, come home, get comfy, stay comfy, and go to bed. 

I never thought I would be a boring, chubby girl.  One or the other, fine.  Not both!  I'm not sure if the physical pain I'm dealing with is a nerve condition or just my joints SCREAMING at me to drop some hug-fluff. 

And another thing... I'm tired of wearing frumpy clothes.  In order for me to embrace my curves and feel awesome about what I'm wearing, I have to embark on a trek Lewis and Clark would have applauded.  Regular stores generally don't cater to short, plus-sized women unless you want to wear

A:  Chunky sweaters

B:  Mom jeans

C.  Cartoon character sweatshirts

I will be the first to tell you that I adore chunky sweaters.  My favorite jeans ever made are a pair of boot cut medium rise with quite a bit of spandex woven in.  (They always fit.  If there ever comes a day when they do not fit, I shall cry a river.)  However, I have a hard time with the cartoon characters and personally, they are on my DO NOT WEAR list. 

But what if I want to feel honest-to-goodness elegant?  What then?  What if I want to go out and shine just a little more than usual?  My options then are:

the church dresses and sets that are already in my closet, because in order to find something spectacular, I need the opinion of my mommy, my sister, or both, and it's a little too difficult to justify driving 6+ hours to buy a dress just because it will make me feel pretty. 

I wish I knew where to start, but honestly, I'm lost.  I obey the Word of Wisdom as much as I understand it.  Is there something I'm missing?  I'm so tired of feeling (and looking) like this.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Morning has Come!

Yesterday seemed very long.  The plan was that we would get up early so that we could go to the temple as patrons.  We got up, got dressed... and I had a raging headache.  Recently, my husband purchased a new temple dress for me, so I decided to take it.  As I was putting it in my temple bag, I noticed that some very important things were missing.  Frantic, I started to look around the spare bedroom.  No dice.

On the way there, my headache was getting so bad that I thought I might be sick.  We decided to stop and grab something quick for breakfast. When we got to the temple, the matron helped me look through the lost and found.  Hours later, once I was home, I recognized that I was so frazzled, I may have overlooked my own things, not recognizing them as mine.  In the locker room, I cried out my frustration as Sister June hugged me and told me her own lost and found story.

For the next half hour, I went about the Lord's work, but my heart was heavy.  I'm sure the Adversary was pleased that I was hurting so much.

After we got home, I wrapped a few presents, then crawled into bed for a nap.  When I woke, it was almost 6, and poor Amber was doing a pee dance.  I took her out, then talked to Mama Jane on FB until Chris came home.  My good husband brought me ice cream and a cute movie ("Rio"), and then we went to bed.

Around 4 AM, we woke up.  The apartment had gotten too warm.  After I got us something to drink, we stayed up and talked for a while.  Before long, I was crying out my frustration, lamenting that no matter how hard I try, I can't get back to the relationship I had with my Heavenly Father when I was a child.  At some point, I realized that I was blaming Him for some things that have happened in my life, where I should have been blaming Satan.  I fell asleep for a few moments, and had a dream. I recognized my Lord Jesus Christ, Who told me that He and Heavenly Father wept as I was being hurt.

As a child, I always thought of myself as special.  I felt that Heavenly Father walked with me, guiding my steps.  Where I fell short was in not recognizing the agency of others to go against the plans of God.  I have blamed Him for not protecting me.  Now, I understand much better, and I thank Him for carrying me through those dark days.  I blame the Adversary for the addictions and sin that he spawned in the hearts of those who hurt me.

Thanks to the diving guidance of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of my husband, I have recognized the flaw in my understanding of the Atonement.  Complete healing is truly possible.  Morning has come!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moroni on My Tree and Other Christmas Awesomeness

Last night was date night, the first one we have had in a long while.  I tried very hard to be sneaky and dropped Chris off at Target so that I could pick up his birthday gift.  I don't think that worked as well as I thought it would, but what's a girl to do?  He is my eternal companion; God hath joined us, and I think as a couple, we take that to a literal extreme.  It makes our lives a little difficult, but a lot of fun, especially around Christmas and birthdays.

After eating too much, we stopped to pick up some lights for the tree.  My awesome husband picked up a box of C-7's and said "I like these!"  For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm talking about, C-7's are your traditional, large-bulb Christmas lights.  They adorned every Christmas tree my mom ever put up until my freshman year in college.  That is to say, I think they were as old, if not older, than me. 

My sister was checking the lights.  What happened next has gone down in history as an Unfortunate Event of Illumination.  There was a spark, a flame, some singed paint on the wall, and a very loud expletive.  Thankfully, Shannon wasn't hurt, but since then, Mom's house has been decorated with tiny twinkle lights made after the year 2000. 

We faced a bit of a conundrum when it came to the angel.  The tree-topper angel I had hoped to use was, in fact, made more for a twelve foot tree.  When I put her on the top of our little five-footer, her skirts swallowed up nearly a third of the branches.  It looked awful.  I picked up the figure of Moroni, and before I could utter the words "Wouldn't we be Mormodorks if..." he was blowing his trumpet from the top of the tree.  It's awesome.

Yes, that's Maggie, our cat, underneath the tree.  She likes the warmth of the bulbs and the soft velvet blanket we're using as a tree skirt.  Silly kitty.


Oh, and... do you see the packages in this picture?  Those are gifts for me, from my husband.  He says that because they are in decorative boxes, they're wrapped already.  I disagree.  Who's right?  (Not that it matters, I pouted for about five minutes.  For once, it didn't work.)

How are your preparations going for the holiday?  I have a long ways to go.  Somehow or other, my house kind of exploded again after Thanksgiving.

I am ashamed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joseph and the Chocolate Bar

A few days ago, I was reading a blog post by my friend, a very prolific, funny, middle-aged Mormon man (see his blog here) and the question he posed struck a nerve.  I asked my husband what he thought of it, but it was late, we were both sick, and our brains were fuzzy. 

In his post, my friend noted that Joseph Smith had most likely never tasted chocolate, and then proceeded to tell what he would do if he could have a day with Brother Joseph, and what kind of chocolate he would offer him.  I have thought about similar things before, wondering in the days before my baptism how my hot chocolate habit would seem if seen through Joseph's eyes. 

My life is boring.  I am a bit more straight-laced than I would like, but not nearly as domestic as I want.  Around 9PM most nights, I start whining to my husband that I am sleepy.  I fear Joseph's day with me would consist of baking quickbreads and Christmas cookies, a temple session, a drive in the new car (with Joseph in the passenger seat!), and I would probably be kind and try to set up a ward meeting, or at least a meeting with Bishop Brooks.  Most of all, though, I think I would ask him for a blessing.  I was told once that as a member of the old Kirtland stake, I was specifically chosen by Joseph Smith to accept the restored gospel and join this Church.  In that moment, I felt ashamed that my testimony of Joseph was the very last thing to fall into place before my baptism, and indeed, it took a visit to Kirtland to do so.  As I sat in the school of the Prophets, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I was made to know that Joseph Smith was (and is!) the Prophet of the Restoration.

Since then, he has become my hero, and my friend.  I have had dreams of walking and talking with he and Emma, and woken with a better understanding of the doctrine of the Church, and deeper patience with myself.  Most days, I'm not sure why he chose me, but sometimes, especially in the temple, I get a sense of my best self, and realize that she was whom he chose.

As for the chocolate, he would probably point me toward the Word of Wisdom and ask that I rein in my chocaholism a bit.  I think I would make him a hot fudge cake, or take him for a trip to Alliance to meet my best friend Jessy and go to Andrea's for Divine Delight (or, as it's better known, Sex on a Plate)...

If we were in a time crunch, I'd get him a bag of Dove Promises, the dark chocolate ones.  They're awesome.  :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baby, it's COLD Outside!

I thought for sure that I would wake up feeling better this morning.  Instead, this cold has settled into my chest like a bucket of wet cement.  Outside, it's icy and miserable, but I intend to stay in and drink soup and take NyQuil, and get rid  of this once and for all... or at least get better to the point where I am not constantly praying for a soft place to lay down and sleep.

When I called work, the line was down.  I called Mama Jane to find that there is no power at the office, so I would have had the day off anyway.

All my life, it seems that I have gotten sicker and stayed sick longer than most people.  It's a definite plus to be in the medical profession now, where the extent of an illness and its contagion potential are realized, even if it's "just" a cold.  This is beginning to feel like the illness that usually plagues me during the week of Christmas; a regular cold that sinks to my chest, worsens by a factor of 10, and stays there a while.  Somehow or other, I end up with an ear infection as well, and I can feel that coming on as I type this.  Generally, it's the sickest I get all year, but at least I know how to care for it. 

I am blessed today to have my husband home.  He is feeling much better, so I have a soup chef!  I am going to stay in bed for a while under two big comforters and be thankful that I don't have to go anywhere. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taking my Own Advice

I have a hard time telling people to do things that I am unwilling to do myself.  Today, I am going to try and look at the positive side of what seems to be a not-so-great day. 

Yesterday, I woke up with the beginnings of a bad cold.  So did my husband.  Last night, I tossed and turned as my temperature spiked and dropped, and this morning, I woke up groggy from the TheraFlu I had taken to help me sleep.

I woke up.  I was given another day to strive toward exaltation, another day to be thankful for the covenants I have made.  My sinuses don't feel so great, but I have never had to have surgery on them, unlike my sister Shannon who has undergone at least three painful procedures and been told to move to Arizona.  There was DayQuil in the medicine cabinet, so I could make it through my day with minimal sniffling.   

My last patient is scheduled for 3:00, which means the doctor will be out of my hair by 3:15. 

Today, Chris and I are getting a new plate and tags for the new car, a feat made possible by an early Christmas gift from Shannon.  I never thought in all my wildest dreams that it would be so expensive to get the car tagged and titled, but at least we have support and won't be biting our nails until I get paid on Thursday.  And, I just remembered, Chris and I have a date at the temple this evening. 

From where I'm sitting, in this moment, today seems a little bit better than it did 20 minutes ago.  

Well, we never did make it to the temple; there is an ice storm going on outside.  Still, we were blessed today; title and tags for the car only came to $94.  I had been quoted $124 and $286.  We are sitting at home while the wind howls outside, and I am nursing a cup of TheraFlu.  Chris is doing much better, but I am still sneezing my head off and sniffling.  At least I'm home where it's warm!

Monday, November 28, 2011

You (yes, you!) are beautiful!

Yesterday, something happened that got me thinking.  I was headed to Relief Society and had stopped to wish my visiting teacher a happy birthday.  One of the brethren walked up and, looking at me said "People like you and I do not deserve to stand next to people like her."  He then looked at my visiting teacher and said "You are beautiful."  This brother is an immigrant, Slovak or Ukraine  I think, and his grasp on the finer nuances of the English language is tenuous at best.  I got the impression that he didn't mean to hurt me personally.  I simply smiled and walked away, but inside, I wilted. 

My husband tells me that I am beautiful every day, sometimes multiple times a day.  I know it's not because I'm the only girl in the room.  He thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world because his love for me has made me beautiful.  I look in the mirror and see plain and frumpy, but he stands beside me and sees his queen. 

My question to you then, is this:  Why do we place so much emphasis on people who know and love us least?  Why do the negative comments scar our souls, while the positive ones get brushed off before they are allowed to comfort and heal? 

I love my husband.  He is the kindest, most sincere man I have ever met.  I ask his opinion on pretty much everything because I love to hear what he thinks.  He has never lied to me.  Why then, do I act as though he is only kidding when he tells me that I'm (pretty, beautiful, talented, amazing, etc.) ?

Speaking divinely, it is the same.  Every day, we walk out into the world, and our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are shouting out "Don't you see how much I love you?  See this day I have made for you?  It's my gift to you.  Can't you see how precious you are to me?  I hate to see you cry, but my Spirit will give you comfort."  How slow are we to recognize this, but how quickly sometimes the Adversary's fiery darts can pierce and wound us. 

Today I challenge you to find comfort in your blessings, whatever they may be.  Look for ways that God is proving his love to you.  Try to let the negativity slip away.  It's more than just "lightening up."  I know how hard it can be to be optimistic and positive when you are not naturally so.  Just give it a try, and see how much closer the Holy Spirit draws to you. 

Have a blessed day.  You are beautiful. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The plans of heaven...

"When men make plans, God laughs."

What do we know of the plans of heaven?  If my "plans" had gone off without a hitch, I would have a doctorate in sacred theology.  I would be a professor at a prestigious Catholic university.  I would be a wife and mother... and I would be miserable.  The man I would have married had nothing in common with me other than politics and religion, and was a verbally abusive philanderer. 

By contrast, having given my plans over to my Heavenly Father, I am very happily married.  I am a card-carrying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an affiliation which probably would have dissolved my tenure anyway.  Maybe I don't teach deep theology, but I will one day teach my children the simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I'm not a mother yet, but I will be when the Lord knows I am ready.  It's up to me to stave off the impatience and continually hand my life off to the One Who knows me better than I know myself. 

Today, I attended a funeral for a 24-year-old girl.  She was a friend of Katie's when they were younger; she was married and had a young son.  I am relatively certain that in all the days she imagined her life, she never thought it would be taken from her so soon.  I hope now that she can see the plan set before her, a plan far greater than any of us could ever imagine. 

It is difficult, whether we are blinded by grief or our own narrow-mindedness, to see the plans that our Heavenly Father has made for us.  May we be able to open our hearts and surrender a little more.  Even when life doesn't go as we plan, He will use all things for good.  We only have to trust that He will not let us fall.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fixing what's wrong...

Today, I am trying very hard not to be disappointed.  I married my husband, understanding that he wanted a large family.  That was okay with me as long as he understood that I needed time for myself, or time to spend with horses.  Seven months after we made the decision to start trying, here I sit, ultimately confused by my inability to bear a child. 

I feel as though I have been selfish somehow; that my love of horses and riding masks some sort of mortal flaw on my part.  I have tried to let it go for the sake of our budget, but in the back of my mind, there is still the hope that I will one day find my perfect horse and be able to afford him.  To admit to myself that my last ride was September 24, 2011 makes me want to cry. 

I have had opportunities to ride since then, but always, the fear strikes as I step up that mounting block.  Fear of what, I'm not sure.  Once I am in the saddle, everything is fine.  It's not as though I have fallen recently, but more that I have been in so much pain that the idea of actually getting my body to cooperate enough to have a successful ride seems impossible. 

I thought I could throw myself into being an awesome wife, grow up a bit and finally leave the horse craziness behind.  The problem is, I don't think that I can.  My physical pain is getting worse, but it's no match for this depression that dogs me month after month as we remain childless.  I need to cry on the shoulder of someone much stronger than I, someone who can carry me beyond the fear and the pain and help me to feel brave again.  Maybe I haven't met him yet, but when I do, I'll know him by his kind eyes and soft nicker. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


 I'm not sure if it's because it's the holiday season, or because last weekend's visit was so short, but I really miss my family back home.  This picture to the left is of my dad and me on the day of my First Communion. 

 My brother and sister may, in fact, kill me for posting this next picture.  Keep in mind, it was the 80's.
 Here are a couple pictures of me and my Mommy at Christmas. 
 ...and in the summer...
 No, I didn't get into a barroom brawl... I fell off of a bed and landed on my face.  Ouch... just the thought hurts!
There are a few more that I want to post, but I'm running short on time.  More tomorrow, including the new pictures I just took last weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanks, Dad!

This past weekend, Chris and I went home to finalize a car sale with my dad.  Everything went well, and the car is awesome.  It's quiet and comfortable, and really good on gas mileage.  Plus, it's pretty!  :)  I'm so glad to have a reliable vehicle.

It was also good to spend some time with my family.  I have missed them very much lately. 

I have not done well with posting my photos of thankfulness; I will catch up tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things are getting hectic...

Today, Chris and I are going to get my new driver's license (finally!), buying car insurance, and finishing up everything with the bank.  Tomorrow, we will be heading to Ypsi where my awesome friend Rachel is taking over the task of transporting us to WV so we don't kill poor Shelby (the old blue car).  Then... I am going home!!!  It feels like it's been forever.  It's a short visit, but luckily we'll be back in December for an early Christmas. 

This morning, I read an article about how to get through the holidays without too much stress.  So many people commented that they just didn't spend the holidays with their families anymore, and it made me sad.  I can't imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas being just Chris and I.  Granted, not everyone's families are as functional loving as mine, and we really do manage to have a great time when we are together.

Starting today, I am going to submit a photo a day of the things for which I am most thankful.

Today, I am thankful for temple work, and that it allows families to be together forever.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Lists...

Today during my lunch break, I made my lists for Thanksgiving.  There was a list of the things Chris and I are making, and what can be made ahead.  There was a list of all the things we need when we go shopping.  Then, there was a list a mile long concerning all the cleaning that must take place in my home before I can relax and get started on the cooking. 

Most of the time I have a laissez-faire approach to things like laundry (let the clothes pile where they will, I will intervene when chaos is near-imminent) and dusting (Dust?  What dust?  I see no dust!  Oh...that dust.), but around the holidays, I turn into my mother. 

My mom is a list-making, dust-finding, mop-wielding force to be reckoned with in the weeks and days preceding holidays or any other planned, in-home family function.  It's awesome.  I wish I had  her drive to present a beautiful home to friends and family members all the time, but it's pretty much twice a year:  from Thanksgiving to the Feast of the Epiphany, and then again around Easter. I suppose it's yet another something that's tied into my Catholic roots.

At some point in my list-making, I realized that while it was important to note that I must find a way to clean the fan blades in the dining room before we all get some weird dust bunny lung disease from them, I should have been making a list of the things for which I am thankful. 

Doctor day Tuesdays are hard for me.  I feel like everything I do is wrong, and that at any moment, I could be fired.  Of course, we know that extremes like "everything" and "always" are rarely true, and I do enjoy my job most days.  I am thankful to have a job in this economy, especially with my crazy-quilt liberal arts degree.

I am thankful for my husband, who keeps the laundry at bay, and without whom I would never eat breakfast or lunch, and rarely dinner.  Plus, he's just awesome!

I am thankful for my family, both here and home.  I know they love and miss me.  I am especially thankful today for my Daddy, who went to UPS to send out the title for my car tonight so that the loan could go through in time.  

I am thankful for my faith that sustains me and uplifts me when the stress is making me crazy. 

I am thankful to have a roof over my head, food in the pantry, a car that runs, warm clothes in the closet, and a couple of pets that adore me for whatever reason. 

This week, I will attempt to cultivate more of an attitude of gratitude.  By the time Thanksgiving is here, I should have quite a list! 

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fitting In and True Conversion

I have been thinking a lot today about fitting in and how that impacts my conversion process.  I have been struggling with fitting in my whole life.  There have been times when I thought if I looked different, things would get better, so I've tried diets and dyes, highlights and lowlights, and more make-up than I really knew how to use.  There have been other times when I thought if I acted differently, people would accept me.  So, I put away the books and pasted on a big, fake smile. 

Maybe these things worked for a while, but eventually my friends found out that I'm a very bookish, serious, plain girl who will never feel comfortable in a bathing suit.  The fact is, it didn't matter if my face was made up, my hair was streaked blonde and I was a normal size.  I still looked in the mirror and saw "fat, ugly and pathetic" and no one and nothing can fix that but me. 

It's hard for me to reconcile the loving-kindness of my Heavenly Father (and my husband, for that matter) with how I feel about myself.  It's hard to feel as though I belong in a ward where I've never felt as though there was really a place for me.  It's harder still to place my marriage in juxtaposition with all the times and ways I have been hurt and acknowledge that what happened in the past was not my fault, and not only that, but I do deserve to be happy now.  It's most difficult of all to look back over my mistakes and to let them go each time I affirm my covenants and truly believe that I am capable of attaining the Celestial Kingdom.  I don't.  I want to, and I have tried.  I repent on a daily basis, I have prayed until my knees were numb and I was crying to heaven... but I still feel that there is something missing.

Talks about the plan of salvation don't comfort me.  They make sense, and they give me hope, but essentially they make me feel inadequate.  I walk away feeling that there is so much more I should be doing, but lacking the energy to do much of anything. 

If you have read this far, I think there are some things you should know that I will probably never say out loud.  Ready?  Really?  Okay.  If you're sure...

I hate mascara.  I have approximately 20 tubes of the stuff in various stages of clumping and drying, and the truth is, I may use it once a year.  On my anniversary.  Maybe.  Chris has far prettier lashes than I, so I think the gloopy, nasty stuff is pointless. 

I have disliked myself since the age of 10, a fact which often makes me sad and quiet.  I am dealing with it.  I am not depressed/tired/a party pooper, etc. on purpose.  If you think I want to feel this way, you should try it for five minutes.  NO FUN. 

I love to read my Scriptures.  Over the last three years, my Book of Mormon has been pretty much a constant companion.  I apologize here and now to all my non-LDS friends.  If I didn't call you back for days, I was probably somewhere in the Book of Mosiah or 3 Nephi.  If you called and I sounded teary and I mention something about 4 Nephi, don't worry.  You'll understand someday.  In fact, I know a couple of awesome guys who would love to explain it to you! 

I <3 long skirts.  Aside from being modest, they hide my various imperfections and make me feel pretty. 

On days when I work in the temple, the thought of leaving and going back home makes me feel ill, and sometimes going home actually makes me ill.  Though I love the thought of moving home, the idea that I'll be at least three hours from a temple makes me very nervous.  

There is not a day that I don't miss the ward family into which I was baptized.  They weren't perfect, but they loved me very much, and I always felt as though I belonged with them.  I never felt that I should try to be someone else, and they helped me through the tough days with blessings and friendship and opportunities for service.  I always knew I could call on a whole list of people if I got lonely.  I have friends here, of course, but there is a pervading sense above all else that everyone has their own lives and own worries and no room for anything else.  Please let me try to brighten your day every once in a while.  It does me a world of good. 

If you see me on a sunny day in the middle of winter looking up with my eyes closed and a big smile on my face, don't worry.  In my mind, I'm somewhere tropical, and it makes me happy.  I will return to reality soon enough.

To those who read this novella, thank you.  You have made my day. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The exquisite pain of living...

My mother once sat at my bedside and told me "Dying is easy; it's living that's so hard."  At the time, I didn't believe her.  Now, here I am standing on the cusp of another long Michigan winter, dreading the cold and dark. 

A long time ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  I have come to understand that while that opinion may well have been incorrect, I do suffer from debilitating depression that creeps up on me in the late fall and throws me into mania come spring.  The only season where I really feel like myself is summer. 

I have been trying my hardest to keep hold of all things good and calming.  I have been reading my Scriptures, trying out new crafts and hugging my husband. 

I have also been gritting my teeth, crying a lot and considering throwing massive tantrums.  Sometimes notebooks I was just writing in take to flying through the air and smacking into the wall, and I come to and find myself killing a poor, hapless pillow that got in my way. 

There is definite pain in healing from mental illness, and the road I chose is not right for everyone.  I have been medication-free since 2007.  Occasionally, I will go to see a counselor if I feel the need, but most of the time I rely on my faith and my family to keep me afloat.  It's hard to look over the past few years and see that I have not progressed as much as I had hoped.  Sometimes I am still afraid; sometimes I am still depressed, and I can safely say that the mental torture I subject myself to is an awful price to pay for being lucid.

But there is a healing power in the Atonement of Christ.  It doesn't make everything better all at once; I can attest to that from where I sit this evening, having been sick and in pain for most of the day.  It does, however, give me something to hope for.  Someday, I will be completely well.

I get a glimpse of what this will feel like when I sit in the temple in the presence of God.  My worried soul is calmed; my harrowed mind is quieted.  I am not paranoid or depressed or upset.  I am my best self.  This winter, I am going to try to go to the temple more often.  I know that as I go there in  faith and prayer, I will find the strength I need to deal more effectively with my illness.  I will be at peace.

It is this peace, the peace of Christ, that I wish for all of you this holiday season.  Open your heart and let Him heal this pain that comes from living day to day.  I will be right there with you. 

Fresh bread art!

Sadly, neither Chris nor I considered that the Secretary of State office might be closed.  It is Veteran's Day, after all.  Getting my license will have to wait 'til Monday.  We did manage to pick up some bread dough and foil though.  Now my form is made and my dough is thawing, and tonight for dinner, we shall have fresh bread art!

Today looks promising!

Today, Chris and I are going to the Secretary of State so that I can finally get a Michigan driver's license that will be valid for approximately three months.  I wish I could just hop over the state line and say "I'll be here soon!  Is there any chance I can get my license here now?" 

Legal redundancies aside, I'm very excited about Thanksgiving this year.  We are having Thanksgiving here with Mama Jane and Brother Joseph, and last night, I learned how to make a bread cornucopia.  I may get some bread dough to practice with today, just so I know it will go smoothly on Thanksgiving.  Besides, is there anything better than fresh bread?  I think not.

I am considering becoming a representative for Shelf Reliance.  I figure that it will be a great way to get our food storage started, as well as become more versed in emergency preparedness so that I can help others.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the amount of things we are asked to do that I forget we have to start somewhere. 

Time to start the day. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Peace and Rest

Thanks to some amazing General Conference talks given over the past year, I have become convicted to abandon the "Molly Mormon" stereotype.  I have realized that by comparing my worst with someone else's best, I am doing us both a disservice.  I am failing to see those instances where that "perfect sister" might need my help, and digging myself into a pit of self-loathing because I feel like I just can't measure up. 

"Selah" is a term used in the psalms to mean "peace."  In a piece of music, it would signify a rest.  Over the last two weeks, Chris and I have been taking singing lessons from the choir director, an enormously talented man who plays the piano better than anyone I've ever known.  He is certain that with practice and time, I could become a professional singer.  I have noticed that when I sing, particularly hymns, what used to feel so difficult is becoming easier and easier.   The rests are oases where I can sip a breath and continue on with strength... and when I give my voice to God in song, He lifts it to places I had forgotten existed. 

A few weeks ago in the temple, President Pulsipher told us a story about a sister who works there every week.  She is almost completely blind, but every single one of the lace altar cloths and shawls and sweaters for the sisters were crocheted by her capable hands.  In fact, she completed a new altar cloth last month.  She has also managed to memorize 20% of the songs in the hymnal completely, and the rest, she can sing at least the first verse, if not more.  Since then, I have downloaded the hymnal.  I have been inspired to at least become familiar with all the songs.  Maybe someday when I have been a member for longer than not, I will know as many songs as that amazing sister.