Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I can trace all my books [2013: Q4]

I did something new this quarter. I included books that I read enough of that I feel like I read it, even if I skipped parts (mostly books by popular authors that I felt obligated to read). I used to not let that be a qualifying factor. I'm guessing that it's a symptom of fiction fatigue? We'll see. The list:

112. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
113. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
114. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
115. The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby
116. The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
117. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
118. Shadows by Robin McKinley
119. A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr
120. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
121. Hero by Alethea Kontis
122. Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise by Wendelin van Draanen

123. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
124. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
125. Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
126. The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden
127. Bastion by Mercedes Lackey
128. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
129. Namesake by Sue MacLeod
130. Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelly Coriell
131. The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale
132. Scarlet in the Snow by Sophie Masson

133. Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn
134. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
135. Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
136. Joyfully Yours by Amy Lamont
137. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
138. Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken
139. Fall for You (Jane Austen Academy) by Cecilia Gray
140. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
141. Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
142. All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
143. Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable
144. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
145. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

I'm just glad I ended on a nice round number this year (as round as 5 is, at least). I'll try to figure out some recommendations when I do the year round-up tomorrow. Ugh, I just realized that almost every sentence in this post starts with "I".

Monday, December 30, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 22]

I've had this in my drafts since about the start of MM. I can't exactly remember if I've posted it before.

The premise came from a talk given by one of my friends over the summer. He's from Oklahoma, and the fatal tornado had happened just recently. He decided to ask the question, "Why do we experience sorrow?" He was able to give examples of the effects of sorrow from his own personal experience, and we all realized that sorrow has a very specific effect in our lives.

Sorrow can unify us, mollify us, and strengthen us.
Unless we harden our hearts.
Then it can divide us, embitter us, and weaken us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 21]

For Christmas this year I'm giving all of you the gift of understanding the hymn "Silent Night."

As you probably know, the hymn was originally written in German by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr. The English translation is not exactly reflective of the German (I checked this site to discover that one of the lines in German is "blessed boy in curly hair" which I think is pretty darling but not very doctrinal).

I really like the English words, but the way they pair with the melody is often very confusing. Only last week I told my roommate that the line was 'All is bright surrounding the mother and child over there' and not referring to a rotund mom. So my gift to you is a deeper understanding of this beloved Christmas hymn.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright 'round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav'nly hosts sing alleluia
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light radiant[ly] beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
 May it bless your life.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the music, it takes him to another world

Saturday night I went to Vienna Teng's concert.

Since most of you probably don't know, or haven't noticed, she was such a formative musical influence on me that to this day every single blog post I write has a title taken from her lyrics. So the concert was kind of a big deal.

My friend Nathaniel invited me; I was the one that introduced him to her music, and it literally changed his life. We hadn't seen each other in a long time until Saturday, but we had a good time catching up!

The concert started at 9 pm (which is my bedtime) and the final encore ended at about 12:30 am. I can't remember the last time I stayed up that late, but it was worth it. I loved the show so, so much.

I actually loved it more than the last time we went to her concert four years ago, even though I was much less familiar with her new album than I am with the rest of her music.

Here's a picture of us at her last concert: Alex Wong, Nathaniel, me, Kyra, and Vienna
Alex Wong opened and I really enjoyed his songs as well. All his CDs had sold out before the end of the concert else I might have bought one.

Vienna started her portion with "Harbor." I had forgotten how much I love that song. It makes me itch to have a piano (soon!). Then she said that her next piece was secretly about a minivan. I hissed to Nathaniel, "I knew it!"

"Blue Caravan" has become one of my favorite songs over the years.

Since it was an album release tour, she mostly performed songs from her new album, Aims. I've not listened to the new album to the point of memorization (though I had minor familiarity) so listening to it live was a great experience. ("Level Up" is probably my favorite. "Landsailor" is about FedEx trucks, grocery stores, and Google bots, which ... is not clear from the lyrics.)

She also included "Eric's Song" by request, and "Antebellum" (with French horn instead of strings, because Jordan her backup is a great musician). I was really glad she finished up with "Grandmother Song" because I always regretted not shouting out more during her last performance. It is fun to yell "Tell it, sister!"

For encore Vienna shuffled her cue-cards enough to be able to perform "Kansas," probably Vienna's saddest song. She also had Jordan and Alex sing "Spanish Boots with Spanish Leather" and they finished up with Vienna's signature encore piece. (I'll put a video.)

Her music uplifts me and expands the world around me, which I think is the point. And it was such a pleasure to hang out with such fun people for a few hours (they had driven through the night to get there so they were kind of 'punchy').

Now some videos!

Here's a video of me and the rest of the crowd at the concert. It's the only evidence I have that I was there. Besides the CD I bought and had Vienna sign (but that is a secret present for Kyra that I'll be giving her when her flight gets here, hope she doesn't get internet on the plane). If you're looking for me, pause the video at 0:08 and I'm right in the middle of the shot.

Here's how they performed "Copenhagen" (I liked the one at our show better but I think I'm just biased):

And here is her encore piece. Fun fact: I saw this video a few months ago so I sort of knew what I would be getting, but since it was the last show, Vienna invited Jordan and Alex to join her, so it's not exactly like this, but this is still fabulous:

After the concert I spent the entire time I spoke with her talking about my sister. I didn't even tell her "great show" or anything. But it was a great show.

Maybe I'll catch her again in four years.

Monday, December 16, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 20]

This past week I had the opportunity to attend an activity for, um, "mature" YSA sisters in our stake. (I'm not "mature" enough, but I was helping with a musical number so I got to participate, and I was glad to.)

I'll probably be talking about various aspects of that meeting for the next few weeks, but what I want to talk about today is something that came up while visiting teaching last night. We'd all been at the activity, and my companion had been struck by the story in Matthew 15 that the stake president told:

21 ¶Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
In this story Jesus isn't really very nice. There are lots of interpretations that go into it (and we discussed a few last night and at the meeting), but you have to admit it's not nice to call a woman a dog, even indirectly.

But what we decided is there is a difference between niceness and kindness. Being nice is a good thing; trying not to hurt people's feelings is certainly admirable. But if you are being nice at the expense of being honest at a time when honesty would be kinder in the long run, are you being kind?

We know that God is unfailingly kind. This morning I read in 3 Nephi where the Lord said, "With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee....my kindness shall not depart from thee." So why does it sometimes seem like He is ignoring us, or letting us suffer much longer than we think is fair?

We need to remember God's kindness. What we go through is for our benefit. When Jesus dismissed the Canaanite woman, it was for her good in some way (perhaps to have her dig down deep for her faith, perhaps to show her humility, perhaps as an example to the disciples of faith and humility). In the same way, our trials should appear as an opportunity to strengthen our faith, show more humility, grow in patience. It's not always very nice, but it is rooted in God's kindness.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

you're made of memories you bury or live by

This morning I woke up (later than usual, but still early enough to make it to work if I hurried) because in my dream I'd started asking everyone where the bathroom was. My brain got the hint.

I thought I might try to go back to sleep (it was still mostly dark) but instead for some reason I remembered something I did in high school and I was so appalled I couldn't sleep anymore.

I was crazy. Ca-RAZY. It's a wonder these high school boys let me be their friend at all (though it is no wonder none of them asked me on dates).

The internet was new; pretty much all I knew how to do was email. I emailed the boys in my friend group regularly (which now I find very forward, but that was how things were back then. We also called their houses every time we wanted to hang out). One boy, who I must have liked at the time, told me that he was blocking my email address. I said or did something that he didn't want to deal with.

I didn't know what blocking was (my .att address didn't have that capability) and henceforth assumed that he wasn't getting my emails at all. Now I am pretty sure they just went to his junk email folder and he could read them anytime. Which is awfully embarrassing...

...Because I kept sending him emails. Like, every day. I can't remember at all the kinds of things I said; I think sometimes it was just little things maybe trying to annoy him, testing to see if I was truly blocked. Sometimes I got a little more real. I am pretty sure I sent him like journal entries of my feelings (not toward him, at least probably not).

But anyway one time like a year later he sent me an email that said "I unblocked you" or something. And I am pretty sure he told me he was able to read my emails? I don't know.

I'm just appalled that I did that. What was I thinking???? Sending personal emails to a boy who clearly didn't want to talk to me under the assumption that he couldn't read them was probably the stupidest thing I did all through high school. And I did a lot of stupid things.

(I'm really glad I didn't remember that whole episode until right now. Unfortunately he probably remembers it better because he was the one getting emails from a crazy girl.)

 One email escapade I do remember being fairly positive in high school was my Daily Harry Potter Quote that I did from January 2005 until I ran out of quotes in April. Looking back I'm convinced that many of them didn't really care (especially when it got more autobiographical than amusing) but my list of recipients did grow.

Here's the quote for April 2, 2005 to illustrate what I mean:
We are not going to mention anything about the fact that it is very late at night, we are only going to commend that Leslie even remembered to send a quote at all.
You know, when you're on your merry way to conference, some people just drive (and walk) slow.
"I suppose you think you're harder to get past than a pack of enchantments!"
Professor McGonagall, I, 269

I think they really are harder to get past than a pack of enchantments.  I dunno, I always liked that line.  Well, have a nice day!  *leslie*
 High-school me was great.

Monday, December 9, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 19]

Last weekend I drove home for the holiday, even though there was no one there. To my surprise, the Christmas lights were on, and as I pulled in I saw the tree lit, adding a warm welcome to the otherwise empty house.

As you may have been able to tell from my last post, I basically just hung out at my house by myself all day. The pleasant feeling I got when I saw the glittering Christmas tree remained, because it felt like I was at home. (I was at home!)

It reminds me of the song, "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need." In the last verse we sing, "There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come. No more a stranger nor a guest, but like a child at home."

I love being at home. I love the idea of feeling that way in the house of the Lord.

Monday, December 2, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 18]

For today, here is one sentence (stanza, perhaps) to ponder:

In word and deed he doth require my will to his, like son to sire, be made to bend, and I, as son, learn conduct from the Holy One.
That is all.

Friday, November 29, 2013

it's a psalm from the book

I'm at home today (alone, because my family went to Kansas for the holiday) and thought I'd clean out my cubby, which has yielded quite the treasures. (I think for the white elephant I have to do next week I'll give them apple cider lip gloss and radish seeds. Though there is a $10 iTunes gift card in here too.)

Since I'm right by the computer I thought I'd turn on the tunes, and shuffle has been very fun for me. I mean, there are some songs I've never heard of before. And then there's this one, which brings up all sorts of memories:
Why Don't You & I (feat. Chad Kroeger) by Santana on Grooveshark
This song was featured one of my mom's very first "mixes" (we have a few now). I remember being in the car with her and my aunt She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named as they justified listening to popular music for the first time in their lives.

"It's basically doctrinal, this part where they sing 'Why don't you and I fly to the moon and straight on to heaven, because without you they're never going to let me in', it's a good song!"

And so while I rarely choose to listen to the song, I always have a happy memory of how full of doctrine the song is. And if I said I didn't like it then you know I lied.

Monday, November 25, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 17]

In Ether we learn the story of the Jaredites. In Ether 2, the brother of Jared brings to the Lord three concerns about crossing the ocean in the boats they have built. In verse 19:

And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.
 The brother of Jared wants to know: 1) How to steer; 2) How to breathe; 3) If they are to travel in darkness. The Lord gives three types of answers to this prayer. I'm choosing to analogize them to modern-day situations that may apply, but there are many different prayers that the Lord chooses to answer the following ways:

1) To Steer:
24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.   
25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.
 Here the Lord says, "I will take care of it. No need to worry."

This is not unlike when we pray for others; for example, the recent prayers that went up for the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. There's nothing we can do about it, but as we pray we put our trust in the Lord that He will take care of what we ask.

2) To Breathe:
20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.
 21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.
 Here the Lord says, "This is what you should do." And the brother of Jared does it.

The most immediate example I thought of for this type of prayer was the ones we send when we are in danger or need immediate guidance to move forward. The Lord tells us what to do, and it's up to us to do it.

3) To Have Light:
Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?
Here the Lord says, "What do you want me to do?" or alternatively, "What do you want to do?"

Often when we are making decisions we want the Lord to tell us what to do like He would when guiding us to safety, but usually His response is to wait for us to decide, then He will help us. This lets us exercise our agency, and come up with solutions to problems. Generally I think most of us would prefer to just be told what to do, but that doesn't help us grow.

Because the brother of Jared exercised his agency and faith to come up with a solution, he had a marvelous experience with the Lord. Maybe that's what's waiting for us when it seems like an answer to prayer isn't forthcoming.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

and the words, they're everything [02]

I've done really great lately not going back to that website and generating more silly statuses. But I still want to share some of them with you! (Sorry about how small and fuzzy they are. I can't get them to fit on my blog otherwise. You can always click on them to expand.)

Here's a great one to start out with:

As you can see from the hashtag, I'd just started spamming Twitter again with this gem. This tweet actually says an awful lot about me (I sing along with the house all the time, not even joking).

Here are a few more "About Me" statements:

And to finish off the post, how about a little more about the house, this time with a poetical twist?

Part 1
Part 3

Monday, November 18, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 16]

At stake conference we discussed the parable of the loaves and fishes. You know the story: there's a great multitude listening to Jesus, and He can tell that they are hungry. He asks what food is available: five loaves and two fishes. From that, Jesus feeds the multitude.

The point was brought up: Christ could have performed that miracle with only three loaves and one fish, yet He took it all.

He asks us to give what we have, and He will consecrate our offering and give us more power than we could have realized. He doesn't want only a part. We need to give our two mites, our five loaves and two fishes, our whole heart, our very best, and in return He will give us everything.

Friday, November 15, 2013

and the words, they're everything [01]

My sister and I had a lot of fun yesterday generating mash-up Facebook statuses from what-would-i-say.com. I tweeted all of mine to only bug my Twitter followers and not my Facebook friends.

But I only have 5 followers on Twitter, and two of them never even see my tweets (which is great for passive-aggressive tweeting not that I do that) and since I think these #wwis statuses are so hilarious I am going to post my favorites to the blog.

Which has 6 followers. So I'm really expanding.

I tweeted over 50 (and every time I go to the site I get more to record), but I'm trying to pare down for you guys because even I know I'm not that funny.

But I do think this is pretty hilarious:

Some of the statuses are (if I may say so) improved by my hashtags, which is why I screen captured them for you.

Here are some surprisingly apt statements about my work:


I have lots more, but I don't want to use up all my fun at once, so I'll be back later!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the conversation turns

For some reason, this morning I remembered how much I hate the "complimentary/complementary" mix-up. I'm going to post about it on the off-chance it will let me forget about it, and if I'm very lucky it will also help some of you mend your ways.

(Actually I think most of my followers already know the difference, so I am preaching to the choir. You guys really sing in tune! (I can be complimentary))

When you use the word "compliment" or "complimentary" you are referring to someone saying a nice thing to someone else. "Cute hair today! Wow I'm really impressed by your skills on the Wii.* I like your face."

When you use the word "complement" or "complementary" you are referring to the way two things fit together. (Right now I can only think of "complementary colors" and "complementary bases", which do each fit together quite well.)

So when you are talking about your one true love on the Facebook, and say passionately, "We really compliment each other!" I know you are probably speaking true because new lovers often compliment each other. "Ah, how your eyes speak to my soul. Look at you, hottie." That sort of thing.

But what you probably meant was that you "complement each other" because you feel complete with the other. You fit together well. It's very important for lovers to feel that way too.

The point I'm trying to make is that good relationships should be both complimentary and complementary.

But DNA and colors are never complimentary. Because they don't have enough sentience to form nice thoughts about their complements.

If they did it might be like this:
I have long loved this image. It's such a play on words that only people like me that are uptight about complimentary bases can truly appreciate.
I plead with you to pay more attention to your compliments to be sure you are not meant to be complementing instead. Alternatively, don't complement people when all you mean to do is compliment them (seeing that error more and more lately).

And that's all I have to say about that.

*Edit, next day: I just realized that I forgot to follow-up on my asterisk! I was just going to say that my roommates and I have been playing the Wii lately and no one has ever had occasion to say that to me. Nor are they likely to anytime soon. But at least we're having fun.

Monday, November 11, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 15]

We were blessed with really beautiful weather surprisingly late into the fall this year. The golden sunshine of autumn days is lovely to behold.

Outside the balcony of my apartment is the most beautiful tree ever. I spent some time a few days ago just staring at the red, orange, yellow, and green leaves as they rustled in the wind, and let the peace of nature sink into me.

It reminded me, actually, of the Relief Society activity our stake had. We sang "Beautiful Savior" and these lyrics stuck out to me:

Fair are the meadows, fairer the woodlands robed in the flowers of blooming spring
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, He makes the sorrowing spirit sing

I'd never thought before how it could be possible that in that second line, the later phrase is correlated to the first: Because of Jesus' fairness and purity, He makes the sorrowing spirit sing. His fairness and purity like unto the fairness and purity of nature, perhaps?

Doesn't being surrounded by the beauties of a mountain trail or a quiet meadow soothe your troubled heart? The Lord created such wonders for our benefit, and all creations bear His signature. I had the thought as we sang that perhaps nature makes us feel so peaceful is because of His peace.

I've read many books over the years that say things like "Nature is God's cathedral, so I do my churchin' out there." It is easy to find God in nature, especially if you're looking. But I think one of the reasons we go to church each week is to learn to truly rely on Jesus, to find His fairness and purity and let Him make our spirits sing.

Another thought I had was that as we become more fair and pure, with more inner beauty, we are empowered to help others' sorrowing spirits. The more the light of Christ shines through us, the more beautiful we become and the more people want to be around us because, as in nature, they feel peace in our presence.

So I've been pondering on what small things I can do to enhance my inner beauty. Not because I want more people to think I'm beautiful (lots of people already think I'm beautiful), but because I'm finally seeing the connection between inner beauty and the ability to truly help people.

Monday, November 4, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 14]

In sort of a continuation from last week's post, we should not only wait in patience for an answer to prayer but be engaged in our lives. The Lord does not want to do all the work when part of the point is to make us better.

Here is an expanded quote from the graphic above:

We must not imagine that any kind of prayer, no matter how sincere, will be very effective if all we do is to say the prayer. We must not only say our prayers; we must also live them. The Lord is much more pleased with the person who prays and then goes to work than with the person who only prays. Much like medicine, prayer works only when we use it as directed.

When I say that prayer is a sweet privilege, it is not just because I am grateful to be able to talk to Heavenly Father and to feel His Spirit when I pray. It is also because He actually answers and speaks to us. Of course, the way He speaks to us is usually not with a voice we hear. President Boyd K. Packer explained: “That sweet, quiet voice of inspiration comes more as a feeling than it does as a sound. Pure intelligence can be spoken into the mind. … This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings through promptings and impressions” (“Prayer and Promptings,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2009, 44).

Sometimes we seem to get no answer to our sincere and striving prayers. It takes faith to remember that the Lord answers in His time and in His way so as to best bless us. Or, on further reflection, we will often realize that we already know full well what we should do.
(J. Devn Cornish, "The Privilege of Prayer," in Ensign and Liahona, Nov 2011, 101)
There's a lot to remember when looking for an answer to prayer! Don't forget to take joy in it, make it a true "sweet hour of prayer" (even though it doesn't have to take an hour, it should still be sweet).

Monday, October 28, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 13]

At my work we have Monday morning devotionals to start the week. Several months ago I was in charge of the thought. I don't remember exactly what it was I said (except that the comments people made to me afterward made me embarrassed at what I must have conveyed). The associate head of my department stopped by my desk later that day and handed me a card with the following written on it:

"The Lord will sometimes stretch our faith by asking us to wait beyond our own definition of a reasonable amount of time."
I guess that kind of gives you an idea of what I talked about (I think it was about blessings?).

In my reading of the 2006 BYU Women's Conference, Wayne Brickey's address "Thou Didst Hear Me" also discusses the wait for an answer to prayer. Unfortunately I can't find a copy of the talk anywhere online, so if you want to read the whole thing (recommended) you'll have to check out the book. And while you're at it you may as well read all the other talks. What an unexpected perk!

Here are a few paragraphs from the beginning of his address:

When His answer seems to be getting further away, it is actually getting closer. Now that is a simple fact, but a very important one that we sometimes forget. I repeat it in different words: The longer we wait, the more ready we are for the best possible answer. And the more ready we are, the more determined He will be to grant an answer that will surpass our greatest hopes. That is not just a fact about prayer and answers. It is a fact about Him. Knowing this can keep our hopes bright during the long wait. Remember what Joseph Smith declared: "Since the beginning of the world have not men heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen, O God, besides thee, how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee" (D&C 133:45).

Not only is the long wait worth it, but it makes a difference. By the time the answer finally comes, we have matured in patience. Oh, how patient our Father is. And oh, how vital it is that we become patient, too. We are learning about Him on the inside, you might say. Instead of just learning what He looks like, we are learning what it feels like to be as He is.

The long, faithful wait also teaches us to put things into his hands, to treat him as a perfectly reliable, living friend. As He sees our long-standing trust in Him, He accepts it as a token of absolute loyalty, a sign of our lasting, durable friendship with Him. When He sees to His satisfaction that we trust Him, and He finally answers, our joy is too great for words. Our relief and gratitude is nearly infinite, not just because we got an answer. We overflow with joy because we staked everything on our belief that He is a true friend, and it turned out that He was all that and more. When the long wait is over, when we contemplate the careful engineering and customizing and timing and thoughtfulness and generosity of His answer, we see that He had not once forgotten us all along.

So it isn't surprising to find our heroes in the scriptures saying things like, "Thou didst hear me." They say this with relief and joy, usually after a long wait. Here is how Alma said it: "And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity" (Alma 33:11).
God wants us to be like Him, and one way to accomplish that is to wait to give us answers to our prayers until we are ready. So have patience, have faith. Things will work out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 12]

I've been reading from the 2006 BYU Women's Conference lately -- "Rise to the Divinity Within You" -- and one talk that has really gotten my attention is "Serious Reflection Precedes Revelation" by Maurine Jensen Proctor. Here is a link to the transcript.

Here is an analogy I particularly enjoyed:

Our life is like the journey the Jaredites anticipated across the stormy sea, where the mountain waves would dash them, they would be carried here and there by the winds and they would be tossed by strong currents.  This is a journey they could not survive in the dark.

Was there anything really wrong with the way I began talking to my daughter?  Given the situation, I was fairly calm, I was clear, I was also right.  The problem was, until the Spirit stepped in with His light, I was also totally ineffective.

The brother of Jared sought a remedy for the darkness. Putting his mind and muscle to the solution, “he did molten out of rock sixteen small stones, white and clear.”  I have tried to imagine the work and ingenuity it would take to molten stones.  What kind of grueling labor in those times was required to create a heat source that can molten stones, sweat dripping from your brow? 

Yet still, after all the brother of Jared could do, after hard labor and effort, and the best solutions of his own mind, still he had only 16 dark stones.  They were only able to shine when they were touched by the finger of God.

So often we are troubled and hurried, wearied and overworked. We create the equivalent of 16 stones in our lives, and that is where we leave it.  The world is so much with us that we do not take the journey to the mountain top and let the Lord touch all our dizzying effort with his finger and fill it with light.  Until he does, however, we are still traveling in the darkness.

Busy and hurried, too often we take “natural man” solutions, rushing from one task to another, checking off the items on our lists to do in a mad frenzy without the transforming power that spiritual insight always brings.  The alarm rings in the morning, and we are off and running, too often without climbing the mountain to have the stony pieces of our lives touched with light.

The rest of her talk dealt with how important it is for the scales to fall from our eyes, and how we can take the time to prepare for and seek the revelation that we deserve. As this is something I have always struggled with, it was a real, if you'll pardon, eye-opener (it's only a joke if you read the talk I guess).

May we always take the time to be filled with light.

Monday, October 14, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 11]

This morning in my Book of Mormon reading I was in Alma 17 and identified some interesting principles about missionary work.

Picking up in verse 9, Mormon says "...they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God..."

And in response, "the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted."

Then the Lord continues, "Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet he shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."

Here are some principles I got out of this passage:

  • For an added measure of the Spirit, it's important to pray and fast.
  • The Lord will often answer prayers with comfort first.
  • Be an example. Even better, be as Christlike as possible (patient in long-suffering, etc) and doing so will allow the Lord to make you His instrument.
It kind of reminds me of Elder Ballard's fireside a few weeks ago. (It was very similar to his Conference address, actually.) He gave us an assignment that by the end of the year we should invite someone to "this great institution" (I am pretty sure he meant the Church, though some people thought maybe he meant Institute, since we were at the institute building).

He didn't go so far as to assign everyone that listened in General Conference, but this is what he said: 
We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior.

Monday, October 7, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 10]

I like to think I'm better at this than I used to be, but does that thought negate itself?

This is a nice definition because it still leaves room for a healthy self-esteem and lack of obsequiousness. All you have to do is admit you're wrong. Easy-peasy.

On a completely unrelated note, I watched the BYU-Utah game with a huge bunch of people and it was so fun. I don't usually watch football and I remembered that it's because I get caught up and just as stressed as any of the fans. Thinking about that evening in the context of this quote (because it wasn't actually completely unrelated) is really interesting. The ratio of BYU to Utah fans was about 80/20, but there wasn't much ganging up going on (and after the first quarter there wasn't much point in heckling, was there). There were certainly lots of people concerned about who was right when it came to penalties called. But that's only to be expected, right?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I can trace all my books [2013:Q3]

I read a lot of really great books this past quarter. And I have a lot to look forward to this next month or two, as well! (The holds I've put on are starting to come in. It's pretty thrilling.)

81. The Writing Class by Jincy Willett
82. Unnatural Creatures compiled by Neil Gaiman
83. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
84. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
85. Ruby Redfort Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child
86. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
87. After the War by Libby Sternburg
88. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
89. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Mariano
90. The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
91. Goblin War by Hilari Bell
92. Greater Than Rubies by Hallee Bridgman

93. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
94. The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters
95. Susannah's Truth by Dana Landers
96. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
97. The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
98. Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
99. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
100. Undaunted Love by Jennings Wright
101. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
102. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

103. Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
104. Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
105. Felicite Found by Julia King
106. My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
107. Pride's Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher
108. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
109. Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne
110. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L. Tam Holland
111. Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara

Monday, September 30, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 09]

On this day in 1949 was the first televised broadcast of General Conference.

That means it is so close.

I love General Conference, but I have noticed that the talks fade quickly from my mind, and I rarely go back and study them to apply into my life. Since my half birthday last week marked the turning over of a new leaf (I'm doing so great), it's a great time to commit to truly internalizing the words of the prophets that we'll hear this weekend.

Haven't worked out the details of how I'm going to do that yet, but I know something will come to mind as I prepare this week.

Good luck to all of you in your preparations!

Friday, September 27, 2013

stitch me the fabric of fall

Both I and my blog are dressed in fall colors today, so it seems like a great time to fulfill my promise to post an autumn poem here today.

I still remember exactly where I was when I wrote this poem: Honors Algebra 2, in 10th grade. That class wasn't very useful for me; most of what my friends and I did was go out in the hall and play games because we'd finished our assignments.

One day, a crisp day like today (though probably not quite so dreary), I took out my notebook and scribbled this:

Autumn - the season of beauty, of change and of surprise;
Every morning is different, with colors that dazzle one's eyes.
Why do I so adore autumn, its evenings and its days,
Its days of such heat and days of such cold, its torrents of rain or sun rays?
The reason, my dear, to me is quite clear, though you may not have a clue.
The reason I love the caprices of fall is because they remind me of you.

In trying to recall my intentions when I wrote this, I have decided that I wasn't writing this to anyone specifically. Rather, in my self-centered teenager way, I think I wanted someone to see me as Autumn. (Ah, now my wardrobe choice today is all the more ironic.)

I wanted someone to see me as beautiful and surprising, entrancing the way falling leaves in the sunlight are entrancing. I wanted someone to love me in all my moods, even the stormy ones.

My, how things have not really changed all that much. That still sounds really appealing.

But I would also like someone to see me as the warm house after coming in from the rain, the sweetness of apple cider, and a hand to hold. Someone they can go to for comfort, that they can trust, that they can hold hands with.

I guess I'd like to see someone that way too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

perfect time

I bought my last watch in Kansas, in 2011. The one before that I lost in the carry-on bins at the airport on my way to Kansas, so getting one in Kansas was kind of a necessity.

The people at the jewelry counter there, though, didn't know how to resize a watchband. So I decided I would learn to do it myself.

It took like 3 hours and an exceeding amount of frustration, but I did it.

That watch finally gave up the ghost on Sunday, after threatening for about a week. I knew that a trip to the jewelry counter was a necessity.

They didn't have the watch I wanted but I like to branch out every once in a while. I think this new one will be just fine. It is very shiny.

I had to resize it, too.

I decided to take pictures to blog about my experience, because I need more regular posts. Also, many of you have probably not had the privilege of resizing a watchband, and I wanted to show you how it's done. (Plus I downloaded a photo editing app on my Kindle and it was fun to play with it sometimes.)

As you can see, it practically looks like I'm wearing a watch even when I'm not. My tan is fine. And I want to keep it, so I needed a new watch.
Before. See how it hangs off my wrist! That will not do. (I was listening to my roommate while taking the picture, hence the turned head. Multi-tasking!)
The first step in making the watchband smaller is opening it up. It took me a while to find a tool that would do the job, as you can see from the paraphernalia around the detached watch:
Tried tweezers, a can opener, a fork, and a knife. The knife was the main success because of its thin blade.
Then you try it against your wrist and take off the topshell of the link you want to remove at. (I did this "wrong" but I don't care.) Then you open up the watch again to detach those links, and that took a little while...
It would've made sense to hold the separate piece in my other hand, but something had to press the camera button. Oh! I could've held them both in my palm! Oh well.
Then it is a simple matter of re-attaching the links together. In Kansas, this part took so long. I think it was over an hour before I tried using tweezers, and then it took me another 45 minutes or so.
You have to put this tiny little staple in exactly the right place. I ended up moving places after this for better ("better") lighting.
But a mere 7 minutes later I did it! (Well, and even less than that, because it was 7 minutes between the timestamp of the two pictures.) It was amazing.

Look how thrilled I am.
Before I could put it on, though, I had to un-flatten the links so it wouldn't come apart again. That took a little while until I figured out a way to use the tweezers as pliers. But success was mine!

My new watch will take some getting used to, but it fits perfectly and is very comfortable, so that's good. I am pleased with my accomplishment. From the time of the first picture to the last picture was only 1 hr 20 min, which is a great improvement.

Still probably shouldn't set up shop at a jewelry counter, though.

[Title text: "Kansas" because I had to. Other contenders:
"making the most of our borrowed time" (White Light)
"the tock tock tock of time" (Level Up)
"on the table it's time" (Level Up)
"the next time 'round" (In Another Life)
"oh girl you think you got time" (Grandmother Song)]

Monday, September 23, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 08]

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

President Hinckley presented it at the General Relief Society Broadcast on September 23, 1995.

As of today, it is not officially canonized (any more than any General Conference address), but it is nonetheless a very important document to our Church.

I support the principles laid out in this document and hope that I can stand strong in their defense when I am called upon to do so. (If I were cooler I'd make a photo essay like people have been doing over at Celebrate the Family Proclamation, but I am zero cool.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 07]

In Relief Society my friend drew a great parallel between the Pool of Bethesda and the Temple at Bountiful.

Assuming you're lazy like me, here are the two pertinent stories:

John 5:2-9
Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.
 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.
 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.
 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.
 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
 3 Nephi 17:5-10
 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
 And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
 10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.

We had a lot to discuss about the Pool of Bethesda. We talked about how there were a lot of people there, yet Jesus still recognized this man and that he had been there a long time. And with so many people, there was no one to help this man? After years? (I personally don't think he actually lived at the pool for 38 years, but he might have.) But Jesus could help him; Jesus was paying attention. What opportunity for service can we find if we're only just paying attention?

Our purpose is to bring others to Christ. In Bountiful, those infirm souls were brought to Jesus by the multitude there. And we can find great joy in it -- "they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him"

Sometimes we are the ones who need to be healed. Often, we need to be the ones on the lookout for those who need healing. (And in doing so, we may feel better ourselves -- isn't that the message of service?)

There's a lot we could say about both of these stories, but I'm going to leave it at that today.

Monday, September 9, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 06]

Check out this cool analogy by Sister Mary N. Cook, at the 2011 BYU Women's Conference. Her talk was entitled "Becoming Women of God." I'll be paraphrasing because copy-pasting is too much work, and so is typing everything verbatim.

Three objectives a young woman must achieve on her way to becoming a woman of God:
  • Identity: She must understand her identity as a daughter of God.
  • Testimony: She must strengthen her faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ.
  • the Spirit: She must be worthy to receive, recognize, and rely on the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
In order to create fire, four elements are required: oxygen, fuel, and heat, which, when combined, produce a chain reaction.
  • Oxygen is life-giving. Our Heavenly Father is the giver of life. We are His spirit daughters, created in His image. We are here on earth to experience mortal life. And the gift of eternal life is made possible through the Atonement.To know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going is key to understanding who we are -- our identity.
  • Fuel is something that sustains. Our knowledge of the plan of salvation and the Atonement sustains us through mortality. A testimony is the fuel that will sustain us through life's challenges.
  • One definition of heat is "intensity of feeling." In Galatians 5:22-23 we are taught that the fruits of the Spirit are feelings: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
  • A chain reaction is a series of events in which each one influences the next. Example is key to helping others recognize their divine nature and destiny. We are the models, the mentors, and the teachers to help them define their identity, strengthen their testimonies, and have experiences with the Spirit.
Want to know more about these objectives? Read her talk! It's a good one.

Monday, September 2, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 05]

I really, really like this video:


It's about the Atonement.

Monday, August 26, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 04]

I saw this little image and thought it might look nice on my blog:

If you can't read it because it's in cursive, it says, "Many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today" -- President Uchtdorf (from this talk)

I've been pondering that quote for a little while. I believe it's true, but I've been wondering if there are any examples from my own life where it applies.

Most of my biggest regrets to this point are not being a little bit kinder, of stepping outside my comfort zone to make someone comfortable. That's what the Savior would've done, so yes, it applies.

Then I thought for a few minutes about decisions ahead I might regret -- dating someone, not dating someone, marrying someone (or not marrying someone), moving to the right place, doing the right
things with my life -- Am I nervous about these things? Yes!

But what President Uchtdorf suggests is that if I follow the Savior, my regrets will be less than otherwise.

In my Book of Mormon reading this week I came across 1 Nephi 20:18 that I thought went well with this topic:

18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

If we follow the Savior we can have peace, knowing that we made, if not all the right decisions, at least mostly the best ones we could. And I know I much prefer peace to the stress of regret.

Monday, August 19, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 03]

This week I'm going to quote extensively from Sister Dalton's CES Fireside "Zion is the Pure in Heart." She knows her stuff (well, and while I can paraphrase lists just fine, I like the way she expounded). This post is somewhat a continuation of last week's.

Sister Dalton has suggestions on how we can remain virtuous in a toxic world:

1. Repent. Return to virtue.
I am so grateful for this doctrine and for the principle of repentance. Without it, none of us could ever return to our heavenly home pure and worthy to dwell in the presence of God the Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the restoration of priesthood power on the earth in these latter days that enables us to receive the help we need to return to virtue. This power also enables us to remain “unspotted from the world” (D&C 59:9) as we partake of the sacrament worthily. Each week as we renew our covenants, we promise to keep His commandments, to take His name upon us, and to always remember Him. And He, in turn, promises that we can always have His Spirit to be with us. (See D&C 20:77, 79.) In a world that is so enticing and so appealing, it is imperative for each of us to receive, recognize, and rely on the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This wondrous gift will show each of us “all things [that we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). That is an absolute promise because the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. Some of His roles are to teach, testify, comfort, and warn. This precious gift also purifies and sanctifies. Thus the Holy Ghost and virtue are inextricably connected. We can be purified “by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17). When this occurs, “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). 
2. Be careful in your choice of friends.
In today’s technological society, we may spend more time with nonhuman companions than we do with our peers. While we may be very careful about our human companions, sometimes we give little thought to the other companions that we allow to influence us. Media of any kind can be a very powerful social influencer. We have all been given three precious gifts for our mortal experience. These include our body, our agency, and our time. If Satan can entice us to use our time in unfocused or unproductive or, even worse, nonvirtuous pursuits and then deceive us into believing that if we do this in private our actions don’t affect anyone, he is victorious. “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we [must] seek after these things” (Articles of Faith 1:13). Seek the companionship of virtuous friends, not virtual friends.
3. Enter a program of strict training.
We are in the run of our life, and there must be a strict training plan. The success components of this plan include things we will do every single day, without fail, in order to invite the Spirit’s companionship into our life. They will be different for each of us but will always include daily prayer. Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and He will answer them. I testify that that is true. Our challenge is to be in a place where we can hear and recognize the answers. Strict training will also include daily reading of the Book of Mormon.
4. Smile.
You are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. He knows you. He knows your name. He trusts you, and He loves you. So, smile! This is just basic training, but it must be strictly done every single day.

5. Press forward.
As I have studied the scriptures, it has become increasingly clear to me that the Lord takes His chosen people out of comfort zones again and again and tutors them on the things that really matter. For example, on the first leg of the Jaredites’ journey, they landed on a beach, and they stayed there for four years. They were really in a comfort zone! In fact, they became so comfortable that they forgot to call upon the Lord. But the Lord had a different experience in mind for them. He chastened the brother of Jared for three hours. He told him in advance that the next leg of the journey would be difficult—that he would be submerged in the depths of the sea and driven by the winds. But He also reassured him with six beautiful words: “I prepare you against these things” (Ether 2:25). The Lord will prepare you, and He will prepare a way for you! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 02]

You know what, I really like our Church leaders. I especially admire and desire to emulate the women that hold leadership positions -- the General Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary Presidencies. I love the way they talk about their husbands and families. I like the way they present on doctrines and principles unflinchingly.

This past week I had the opportunity to attend/participate in the Seminaries & Institutes of Religion August Broadcast. Sister Linda K. Burton was one of the speakers and I really, really loved her talk. I would use it for this week's Mormon Monday, but I feel like I should wait until the transcript comes out. If you want, you can listen to it here (her talk begins around 1h10. If you want to hear me participating, start at like 1h07).

A couple months ago we had a tri-ward campout over in Huntsville. Sister Dalton came and spoke to us at the historic McKay home. I unfortunately don't have any notes from that talk either, but I can tell you this: She loves her Savior, and she has trusted Him throughout her life.

But there is a favorite message of Sister Dalton's that I will share with you now: her CES Devotional from September 2009. I have watched, listened, and read this message multiple times throughout the years. I should be more consistent, though, because I always need a reminder of these principles.

It's called "Zion is the Pure in Heart".

She says,
 When Peter wrote his epistle to the early Saints, he told them to “add to [their] faith virtue” (2 Peter 1:5). Faith without virtue would soon languish and die because without virtue there is no purity. Without virtue there is no strength. And without virtue there is no spirituality. It is clear that once you really understand who you are, you must be pure because purity precedes spiritual power.10 The power of which I am speaking is not the kind of power we see in the world. It has nothing to do with fame, position, good looks, celebrity, or wealth. The power and strength of which I am speaking has everything to do with virtue, which is chastity and sexual purity.

I want that power in my life. Not only that, but I think I need it to survive in this world-- I think we all need it. It's easy for me to see that virtue is declining in society but I can also see that there are many strong and powerful youth and adults that are adhering to their virtue with all their might.

I believe virtue is not only the key to power, but a secret to revelation. Am I getting enough revelation in my life? If not, am I going through the steps (I'll probably post on that later)? Is there any pattern in my thought or behavior that is not virtuous? The Lord wants to speak to us but sometimes certain aspects of our lives make it difficult to hear.

Next week I'll discuss Sister Dalton's suggestions to remain virtuous in a toxic world.

Monday, August 5, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 01]

I like to quote movies sometimes. (Every single time I pass by Saltaire, for example, I must give the famous paraphrase: "Saltaire, hair. Personally, I'd like to learn about Saltaire.") One thing I say on a regular basis is "That's my motto!"

That's from Matilda. Miss Trunchbull says it. I declare it whenever I've delivered an exceptionally pithy statement like "Eating candy is fun and awful." Then when my audience doesn't give the feedback I'm expecting I follow up boldly, "That's my motto!"

(I made up that motto just now. I can't remember any of my exceptionally pithy statements, which I guess leads to a suggested motto of "Write these things down!" Classic.)

But, see, I don't have a real motto. I don't have a statement I live my life by, or try to emulate. On the one hand it means I don't bother people with my repetition of one sentence over and over, but on the other it means that I can't make a cross-stitch, or pin it on Pinterest, or comfort myself by repeating it in times of trouble.

In reading the 2011 BYU Women's Conference selected talks, I've come across a few mottoes that certainly couldn't hurt to live by.

One of them is "I can do hard things." But I can't use that one. My sister used that one when she had to clean out the puke tank at Taco Maker. Every time I think about that phrase I think about my sister's awful job. I don't need those kind of associations.

Sister Susan W. Tanner's talk "Legacy of Relief Society" had a surprising number of mottoes. (She specifically pointed out two -- so many!). She wrote Daughters in my Kingdom and so delved into a lot of Relief Society history. She shared a few stories about women she studied (and from which the following mottoes come). I'll paraphrase so you don't have to read the talk yourself.

Lucy Meserve Smith was one of those who immediately gave of the clothes off her back when hearing about the stranded and destitute handcart companies in October 1856. She worked very hard to be of service, and then her journal states, "What comes next for willing hands to do?"

Louise Yates Robison was an ordinary pioneer woman who, when she was called as a counselor to the General Relief Society Presidency, sustained herself in the conference without realizing it was she who had been sustained. She later was the General Relief Society President through the Great Depression. Her motto was: "Welcome the task that takes you beyond yourself."

These mottoes have in common that they make me feel tired. But I know if I took them to heart my life would be blessed. Even better would be a scripture (I know there are very good ones out there). So I'm pondering that this week.

Here is where I could open it up to discussion and ask what your mottoes are, but I'm not running that kind of blog.

Well, that marks the end of my very first Motto Mormon Monday!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I am a constant satellite of your blazing sun

I've decided it's time to readjust this blog's orbit.

I'll still make all the posts I used to (that is kind of a joke because I post rarely), but I am determined to add a recurring motif. I doubt I will lose many readers over this, because the vast, vast majority of my readership holds the same beliefs I do (and those that don't are unlikely to be bothered, I hope). I may even gain some (though that is not my primary goal).

Anyway, starting tomorrow I'll be beginning Mormon Monday (I came up with that all by myself and I'm positive no one else has ever come up with the same idea). Not sure yet what all Mormon Monday will entail. I'm pretty sure the posts will be short. I'm also pretty sure that it won't happen every Monday. But it's going to happen.

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is such a huge part of my life. I should talk more about it. So I will.

And now maybe my blog url will make more sense. Because I am a constant satellite of the Son.

[Title text: "Gravity" ~ Vienna Teng]

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

in this desert how we blossom

I work in my state's capital city now*. The other day I thought of some reasons it's nice to live here and not in my actual home. Here is a list:

1. Classical 89. It is a magical radio station that is not that boring considering it's classical music. Also this one time I entered a contest to win Hale Center Theatre tickets and I won, so that's bonus points. If I'm listening to it all the way home (to Logan) I don't lose it until Brigham City, but you can't get it any further north. So it's pretty great to listen to it here.

2. Mountain. There are mountains at home too, but they're not quite as, dare I say, impressive as the ones here. I live right below this one, which I think is pretty neat:

3. Restaurants. So many restaurants here! There's all the chain restaurants, of course, but lots of little hole-in-the-wall places that I am dying to go to and will probably never get to because I don't like to eat out alone and don't know how to get people to go with me. I really enjoy languishing in their menus though.

4. Train. We don't have trains at home. I hate driving downtown so public transit is a good fit for me. Even though the trains often smell bad (due to the people) and can be crowded with people who can be strange, it's an experience that you don't get to have if you drive every day. (Some people might think that's a benefit. But I get so much reading done.)

And that's all I've thought of. Other things I like about my life can be found other places (like a friendly ward and a library -- no wait, the library is pretty cool lemme tell you about it)

5. Library. The library closest to me is not much to look at. I've heard the other library closest to me is much more impressive, but I haven't gone over there to check it out. Besides, my library does what I want it to, and collects all my holds. Because see it's connected to a giant County System that will transfer books to other locations for its patrons to read. So I am often getting books from all the way across the county and that is pretty neat. I love having a library. I guess other places have libraries like this but at home our library, while impressive, doesn't have the transfer feature. Also the self-checkout.

I think that's all. I will never ever make a post about the things I don't like about living here, so don't hold your breath for it.

*This is for anonymity because it's important to not tell people where you live. But telling people your hometown and showing them pictures of local mountains is fine.

[Title Text: "Shine"]

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I can trace all my books [2013: Q2]

Once again, I didn't forget to keep track of my books. I just forgot to post for a few days. But never fear! I have here the list:

36. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
37. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
38. Spellcaster by Claudia Gray
39. Poison by Bridget Zinn
40. Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang
41. The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arnston
42. Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
43. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
44. Miriam's Quilt by Jennifer Beckstrand
45. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
46. Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
47. Going Vintage by Lindsay Leavitt
48. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
49. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton
50. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
51. Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch by Nancy Atherton

52. Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett
53. One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
54. The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching
55. Sandwich with a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips
56. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
57. The Silent Cry by Anne Perry
58. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
59. For What It's Worth by Karey White
60. The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
61. Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup
62. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
63. The Body Electric by Allie Duzett
64. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

65. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
66. The Lost Language of Symbolism: An Essential Guide to Recognizing and Interpreting Symbols of the Gospel by Alonzo L. Gaskill
67. Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry
68. The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
69. Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince by Nancy Atherton
70. Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
71. Golden by Jessi Kirby
72. The Maiden of Mayfair by Lawana Blackwell
73. The Game by Diana Wynne Jones
74. My Double Life by Janette Rallison
75. Chalice by Robin McKinley
76. Sabriel by Garth Nix
77. Blood Spirits by Sherwood Smith
78. The Princess Problem by Diane Darcy
79. Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith
80. Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Wow there are a lot of good books on that list. I'm at a loss to even highlight the stand-outs. I can list the ones that I don't recommend, but that always seems mean to me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

always been the tower

I should note that I also love my little brother Spencer. He's great. And he's 15 now which is weird, but when you actually look at him you realize it's not beyond the scope of imagination.

The tower makes him look shorter than he is. Also the fact that this was like months ago and he's grown several inches since then.
Everybody better look out, this kid's gonna be behind the wheel!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

talk about the little ones

My nephew is one year old today! We have had a lot of fun together this past year.

First he was born:
Here we are at the hospital!

Then I got to babysit him sometimes while we both still lived in Provo:
It usually went a lot like this.
And sometimes we just hung out:
Just chillin'
And then he moved to Michigan and the only way I ever babysat him was with video chatting.

But then I visited for Thanksgiving! He warmed right up to me:
Me or my glasses. One of those.
And then he visited for Christmas:

And then in April I discovered the screen capture feature in G+ hangouts:
Poke his tummy!

Clapping hands

He is not always a happy camper when we talk.
So that has been fun. Here's more pictures from our video chats, because he is cute:
This is his mom. I talk to her a lot too.

Sometimes she tries to fix his haircut but he is usually too grumpy.
He is a fast little guy!

Bein' cool.
We're pretty happy to have him around!

This is the only picture we have of him at his birthday party. He was quacking. (It was a duck theme.)