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.