A Work in Progress

Before anyone gets upset with me for not posting more about my trip to Israel, let me say that I apologize and I will add pictures and more information when I feel like it. Haha…that wasn’t very warm and fuzzy, was it? Oh well…  But tonight I have something on my mind that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about and I think I need to write it down and share it if I hope to fall asleep tonight.

There has been a lot of interesting disconcerting media coverage on various things that have happened to some select members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are unhappy with the way different issues are handled within the organization; namely, these issues are women holding the priesthood and the level of I’ll use the word acceptance of people who have same gender attraction. I’m not going to argue one side over the other though I do know where my heart lies on the issues. I will, however, share something that came to my mind at Institute (a type of Bible study group/class) tonight.

The question was asked, “Can we deepen our souls?” and was followed by, “If so, how can we deepen our souls?” People talk about the word of God sinking deep into their soul, so I would guess that means our souls can have “depth.” I’m not sure how to explain that measurement, perhaps it’s better to describe it as your faith in something or your testimony of something. Given the scriptures we were reading I decided that it was possible and that it would require a strong desire and action on the part of the person striving to “deepen” their soul.

So here’s what came to me…

I think it has been said that God is the potter and will shape us as clay, fire us, and so forth in order to guide us into the person we could be, but I think this analogy can and should be used in another way.

When a potter first sits down to the wheel they will usually have a fairly round lump of clay that has already been prepared, kneaded, to rid it of air or impurities.

Just a lump of clay…

 

Next the potter starts the wheel and shapes the lump into something more manageable and hopefully more symmetrical.

The color wouldn’t change this drastically…jus sayin’

Once the circumference for the base is established, which would largely depend on the desired shape of the piece, the potter starts to apply pressure. First with one thumb most likely.

Applying pressure…

Eventually, the potter will use more pressure and more of the hands to shape the piece. Fingers will pull the walls apart, guide them up, and even draw the top to a close.

The desired shape will dictate how the hand is used.

After some time, the piece will have new shape an will, hopefully, reflect the potters design. It will be a product of their time, their skill, and their actions.

Beautiful shape…

But what happens if the lump is not in the center of the wheel? What if the potter didn’t prepare the clay before placing it on the wheel? What if the potter tries to go too fast or is not methodical about the movement of their hand? Well, then you run into problems. The walls might become weak or thin and collapse. The shape might become uneven.

Your piece might, unintentionally, look a little off.

When the potter is ready to remove the piece, they use wire to cut the clay from the wheel. But they have to be careful not to cut too high and make sure they left enough clay on the bottom so there isn’t a hole in the bottom when it’s removed from the wheel.

CAREFULLY removing the piece!

Each piece can look very different.

Different shapes, sizes, and detailing….

The potter might decide to add more height by adding coils to the rim or maybe even to to the base of the piece.

Coils to add…

Maybe the potter adds designs…they could carve into, add on more clay or other ornamentation, cut pieces out entirely, and add color to the piece.

Ornamentation after the piece has been taken off the wheel.

We are like the potter. We can choose to apply pressure and create something wonderful. As we build our faith, our testimonies, our relationship with God and those around us, we are striving to reach a certain goal. We have an outcome in mind and we have all the materials that we need to get there. At times we will need to move slowly, plan, and adjust so that we can come closer to our final product successfully. We must make sure that we build and develop on a foundation that will not break or be easily destroyed if and when we are ready to progress and add the finishing touches. We must have focused patience and steady hands with the end result constantly in mind so that we can continue to create, add on and embellish, strengthen, and create a lasting product: an unshakable faith; a testimony of truth, of an unchanging, yet loving God who forgives sin freely while never condoning or excusing it.

That is part of my testimony. That my Father in Heaven has given me the material and the instructions on how I should create my masterpiece, but it is up to me to prepare those materials, follow those instructions, strive to be patient and diligent, strengthen and build onto those materials with a result in mind. It is okay if my work looks different from those around me, but I need to put effort into it. And lastly, I need to share my work with others, put it on display so that those around me can see and feel how much work I put into it and how much it means to me.

 

 

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Alright, Alright! I Get It…

Things I’m grateful for this week:

  1. I am grateful for the means to take care of myself.
  2. I am grateful for the resources to exercise regularly.
  3. I am grateful for friends who really want to be my friend.
  4. I am grateful for a (fairly) nice car.
  5. I am grateful for the ability to learn to cook. I already know how to cook some things, but I am enjoying learning to cook new things.

Yesterday I learned to make a new kind of mac’n’cheese and today I learned to make Mexican Lasagna. I think I’ll post pictures later. But these recipes were fairly simple an they’re supposed to be pretty low cal. The shake deal has been pretty easy so far. I tried to make some fancy/yummy ones, but I think I might start doing mostly plain shakes from now on. I think adding the spinach was a good idea though, so I’ll likely keep doing that. Or I’ll just add some milled flax seed to the shakes. We’ll see…

Have you ever had one of those moments where you hear something from a wiser source and you feel strangely good because you had thought about and come to the same conclusion as them, but also guilty because you had already come to that conclusion and sorta…forgot? Not forgot that you had come to that same conclusion exactly, but you had forgotten to really take it into consideration as you continued about your business? A few days ago, I read something and thought about how interesting the idea was. That it is not enough to simply ask the Lord for some blessing, we must also take action so that we are doing our part. We have to prepare and make sure we are ready for the thing we are asking for. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes you might be ready but there is still preparation that needs to be done on the part of someone else and so things must take a new direction. Today I heard a lot about agency and action. Agency is the ability to choose, but it is not simply the ability to choose between good and evil. There is an expectation that we will make good choices. And along with agency there is action, that is we must act on those things that we use our agency to decide on. I heard a lot of great things today at church and many of them seem to have been repeated over the course of this week. So I think I’m starting to get the hint now. Hopefully this peace lasts a while.

I have been thinking about where I want to move after I graduate. I need to figure out where I want to work and live. One of my brothers is trying to convince me to move to Texas. I think I will focus on clearing my credential first and then think about moving to a new state. There was a time when I was willing to forgo that clearance process, but now that there is no pressure to relocate for the benefit of someone else, I’m not sure it would be in my best interest to move just yet. Although I think I read somewhere that some districts in Texas are teaching their teachers to use and carry guns. That could be interesting.

I’m starting to get a little nervous about this upcoming week…. Well, let’s be honest, this up coming semester. I think 2013 is going to be a very strange year. Hopefully it will be filled with opportunities to learn and grow, to succeed, and to have amazing adventures. I am already trying to make plans for Spring Break and the summer. I have felt like I need to take advantage and be grateful for the time I have been given to focus on and pursue an education. I feel like I need to “stop, and stand still” (D&C 5:34) while I focus on that until things begin to fall into place again instead of rushing around looking for answers in everything I read, hear, see, or feel. I just need to have faith that whatever is in the works will unfold with perfect timing. Life can be incredibly confusing and frustrating; but those are the times that I find I grow and learn the most. So, even though I can’t control those who contribute to my frustration or my pain, I can control the things I do in response to it. As Elder Suarez encouraged today, I’m going to make good choices and try to think the best of people despite their actions.

Gratitude Challenge

Tonight I feel pretty grateful. There are so many things in my life I am grateful for and today was an especially good example.  I read a blog post today from someone else that I actually saw posted on Facebook. The post got me thinking about the small moments in life where we think about “my that was lucky” or “oh man, thank goodness” and so forth. I was on the freeway and I was pretty deep in thought, though I can’t remember what I was thinking about right now. I wasn’t entirely paying attention to the other lanes, but I had my eye on the road in front of me. There was a van in the lane next to me that started to merge over on top of me, no blinker or anything. I swerved and honked and then, as the driver in the other car waved his hand and my car (and I) regained our bearings, it occurred to me how lucky I had been not to get into an accident. I felt really shaken up, like Harry Potter after seeing a Dementor.

As the rest of my day passed and I thought about that incident and the past few weeks, and some advice from someone wiser than myself.  I decided I should take the challenge to write about something I am grateful for each day, but I don’t think I’ll post everyday. Likely I’ll just post once a week with 5 things I’m grateful for.

Another challenge I’ve given myself, is to not eat sweets for 21 days. I have been successful for about 3 days now and I’m pretty proud of myself. Haha, only 18 more days to go.

Life is still hard, but I know by taking each day as it comes it will get a little easier. The things that cause pain and bring tears to my eyes, ache to my heart will begin to fade and I will be happier because of it.  I am a good person. I care about people and I will go on caring about people for as long as I live. I have chosen a profession that will allow me to do that for as long as I want. And I’m excited for the future to bring good things.

As Doctor Who once said, “And don’t blink. Good luck.”

Simple Things

Tonight was the first time, in what feels like a long time, where I didn’t have to do homework or spend the last few hours of the night before bed preparing for the next day. I had the opportunity to sit with my housemates and work with a 7 year-old on her homework. It made me very grateful that my mom helped me but also made me do my own homework. At times it felt like it would be very easy for me to give up, after all she isn’t my child and therefore this is not my responsibility. But it was actually pretty fun to help her and see her start to catch on to some of the concepts (like verbs as action words). We worked and laughed with her mother and her younger sister and it was so simple and rewarding. I’m excited for the time in my life where I can help my own children with their homework.

I’ve been reflecting on this year and looking at where I am and where I started. So naturally I was reading my journal (Yes, as strange as that may seem I have a journal I write in – by hand – that is separate from my blog) and found this quote that I had written in:

Patience is not indifference. Actually, it is caring very much but being willing, nevertheless, to submit both to The Lord and to what the scriptures call the “process of time” . . . Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in -patiently- not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years.

-Neal A Maxwell

This got me thinking and like I already said, I was interested in the idea of the “process of time.” Well, the same wonderful man gave another talk in which he explained the “process of time” to mean “eventually.” He also went on to explain that:

Patient endurance permits us to cling to our faith in the Lord and our faith in His timing when we are being tossed about by the surf of circumstance. Even when a seeming undertow grasps us, somehow, in the tumbling, we are being carried forward, though battered and bruised . . . we often need the “process of time’ in order to come to our spiritual senses. (Luke 15:17) . . . generosity can replace animosity. Reflection can bring perception. But reflection and introspection require time. So many spiritual outcomes require saving truths to be mixed with time, forming the elixir of experience, that sovereign remedy for so many things. . . How could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or great patience without enduring some instructive waiting? . . . The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating . . . Moreover, we find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and the heart in order to “give place,” expanded space for later joy.” – Maxwell

I have been in the process of analyzing my life and the things that I want to change, improve if you will. I think I’m in need of some remodeling, possibly even some excavating. I have been looking into this idea of the “process of time” which I have come to understand means: eventually. Eventually is one of the most aggravating words, because it involves waiting. It means not now, but somewhere down the road. Or as my mother has said, Delay does not mean Deny.

I’m still not entirely sure what this means for me. I have felt like something amazing is on the horizon, I have felt hope, I have felt comfort and peace in the confirmations I have received, moreover I have been blessed with a strength that is not mine alone and whither I am being led on this undertow I am not really sure. I have also felt the logic that tells me not to be silly. As I said, I am not entirely sure what it all means, but I know ultimately I will be happy. I know that as I am refined, remodeled, and excavated I will become my best and I will be right where I need to be in my career, my religion, my family, and my future as a whole.

I am looking forward to this Holiday Season, for a Merry Christmas spent with my family and close friends. Though I won’t be with some of my very best friends, I send my love to them. May the Lord ever keep you safe.

Finding the Words

I was at school, somewhere in the middle of my last day of student teaching at the junior high school, when I found out about the unimaginable incident in Connecticut. I was shocked and I started to tear up. I showed the news article to a teacher I work with and I felt so…numb. Yesterday, our school had a lock down of our own for a few minutes. It was a bit scary, mostly because we had no idea what was going on. It didn’t end dangerously for anyone, though I’m still not sure what exactly happened. I remember wondering, first and foremost, whether my students were safe. I haven’t even known them that long, but I wanted to go out and find them all. But as I was thinking about that today, as I read the article about the school in Connecticut, I wondered what that would feel like to stand in a classroom and have your students around you. How do you protect them? I know there are drills for that. They have plans in place to protect students and faculty, but in that moment when you are looking at someone who holds the lives of your students and yourself in their hands? What do you do?

I’ve asked myself morbid questions today, I won’t go into them now. But it made me think of my future, my family, and those I love who may or may not love me back, for those I want to have in my life (now and forever), and it made me reflect on how short life is. It made me want to be….something more. I didn’t think that the shooting would have an impact on me. I didn’t think having a lock down on my campus would have an impact on me, but I think they are. I still want to teach. I still want to be in a classroom working with young people. My goal has not changed, but my resolve to pray for safety and guidance in my classroom each day has been renewed and I hope that I will never have to live through an event like this. It should never have happened and my heart truly breaks for the families of those who were lost.

I want to take a minute here and say something about who I am or maybe who I am not. I mentioned just above, that I want to be something more. I don’t know what that means right now. I know who I am right now in the moment, but that person is in a transition. I know who other people sometimes think I am, but I don’t know who I am going to be. It would be impossible for me to live through this year without changing, growing, and (hopefully) emerging from this refiner’s fire a better person. I have been told many times over the last few weeks that I am a strong woman. That I am so, so strong. But it is strange to hear those words when I frequently feel like I am fragile. I am strong because people expect me to be strong, I don’t always feel strong. Today, tonight? I don’t feel that strong. I feel vulnerable. I feel confused and hopeful, but…yeah, fragile. Like some cracked piece of porcelain. I honestly believe that I am not doing this alone. The strength I have been drawing on, is not mine alone.

A friend of mine commented on the background I have for my laptop, that they thought about my faith and how it must really be a comfort to me right now. And, honestly, it has been. It has helped me get through some pretty dark moments. It helps me stay hopeful in many ways, and which way my heart is looking varies from day to day. That and the love of friends I have made recently and the love of my family. I am still searching for the guidance that will lead me forward but for now, I think it is just time to enjoy where I am in the journey.

Now that this post has become increasingly more revealing that I originally intended, I’ll end with this: Christmas is coming up and I am looking forward to being with my family and enjoying time with them, enjoying the moments I know are mine to keep rather than the ones I hoped would be mine to cherish. And who knows, maybe the lyrics sung weeks ago will ring true. “When my heart finds Christmas, I hope it finds you too.” As Johnny says to Ponyboy in The Outsiders, “stay gold.”

Know You’re Not Alone

So, lately I’ve been listening to music to fill the quiet and keep myself from being distracted.  I was catching up on Glee (because I rather like their musical arrangements) when I heard the Homeward Bound/Home mash-up. It reminded me of how much I love Phillip Phillips’ song Home.

Mhmm, Phillip Phillips you may come into my room and serenade me anytime…

Today I was thinking about the song  Home (go watch it) and went to listen to it. Now, I’m gonna be real with ya, yesterday I was friggin’ de-pressed! I mean, sad, dejected, if-I-were-emo-I’d-cut-myself depressed. This morning was a bit better but not by much and then I got home from student teaching and I felt anxious and sick to my stomach. I went to class early, hoping that I could get some work done and I did (a tiny bit) but I got distracted (in a good and uplifting way) by this song. I suddenly felt like something great and amazing is on the horizon and so…I will continue to venture forward.

I’ve included the lyrics here… for your reading pleasure.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Change in the Wind – Good Things to Come

So the last few weeks have been quite the adventure. What started as a nerve racking trip to meet my possible future in-laws ended with an unexpected change in what I pictured in my future and a strange feeling of relief. I was thinking about why break-ups are so hard and why relationships don’t seem to make any sense.

We fall in love with a person and we give ourselves to them fully. We risk being hurt or betrayed, we consider changing our life plans, we find ourselves making long term plans and then something happens and everything changes. You break-up. The hardest thing about breaking up isn’t necessarily losing that person you love. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a pretty terrible thing to go through. But feeling like you can never find someone who will make you happier or that you could love more? That you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to someone new, or more than on person, before you can find that love again.

So then you have to let that change in the wind take you forward. You have to take a step into the dark and be willing to admit that you did your best and that you will continue to do your best so that you can be happy again some day. I think that is where I am right now. I did my best. I loved without holding back and now I know what I’m capable of.

Good things to come.