Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Think I Can Kind of Christmas

Christmas. It’s my favorite. I love everything about Christmas. I love the lights. I love the smells, (particularly cinnamon). I love the kindness. I love the music. And this year... I love the garbage truck with Christmas lights on it that plays Christmas music so loud I can hear it in my bedroom.

This year I was ready for Christmas early. Generally I have a strict “No Christmas before Thanksgiving” rule. But this year was different. About a week before Thanksgiving, I pulled out my iPod and pressed play. As my favorite Christmas album filled the air I was flooded with memories of boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations. Hours of singing and dancing around the house as we filled it with holiday cheer. I decided that day to decorate my bedroom. I bought lights and glitter-covered snowflakes and got to work.

For weeks I have listened to Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Amy Grant, Celtic Women, 98 degrees, and my personal favorite: Point of Grace. For weeks the sight and sound of Christmas has filled my heart with excitement and joy. Until last week.

The week before finals is always stressful. But this year was especially hard. On Saturday afternoon, I spent all afternoon in my bedroom. (I do not recommend this). From the time I woke up, to the time I went to bed, I was in my bedroom with the exception of 1 trip to the kitchen for food, and a few trips to the restroom. It was an emotional day.  After spending nearly 12 straight hours on homework, I made a to-do list.

Please note: I am taking 19 credit hours this semester. I work 13-15 hours a week. And I have tried to maintain some semblance of a social life.

I counted 9 exams that I needed to take. And then I counted 4 papers I needed to write. At the bottom of my list it said “Pack.”

I burst into tears. For the fourth time that day.

This time it wasn’t out of frustration, stress, or exhaustion. This time it was because of Christmas.
My parents are in the middle of a divorce. I love them both very much, and I know that they love me. But I don’t feel like I have a home. I realized in that moment, it would be my first Christmas without a family. I sobbed. I sobbed until the tears wouldn’t come. I sobbed until I couldn’t breathe.

I don’t know what it will be like. Quite frankly, I’m scared to find out. But I learned something special this year:
"I think I can" becomes "I knew I could" as we work hard and never give up. Adversity is unavoidable but the way that we face our adversity determines the outcome of our experiences.
This Christmas, I think I can.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Survive a Rexburg Winter

Today marks the beginning of my third winter in Idaho. I am pretty much a pro at survival. As our first snow of the season approaches the 1 foot mark, I decided that I should share a few tips for Rexburg winters. Trust me. It is a winter like no where else. These solutions will not work for everyone, but I’m still alive and going strong!

What I wish I would have known as a freshman...
  •        There is no such thing as a snow day. – Snow is on the ground almost every day from now until late April. Sometimes later if we’re lucky.Almost like the ocean reaching the sky, the snow line does the same thing. If you’re like me and hate snow. Congratulations, you live in a snow globe. Figure it out. You’re going to have to trudge in it every day for the next six months.
  •        We Rexburgers have a term for when you slip on the snow/ice. It’s called “The Rexburg.” –I do not care who you are. Before you graduate or transfer, (whichever comes first), you WILL “do the Rexburg.” Embrace the embarrassment. And save your tailbone, don’t walk with your phone in your hand.
  • Robert Frost was a man of incredible wisdom. – “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” When possible, do NOT take the commonly use route. People walking in the snow equates to snow melting or getting packed down. Melted and/or packed snow equates to ice. Ice means Rexburging. If you can, walk in the powder… If not… Make the best of falling.
  •  NEVER say “It’s cold out.” – Saying it’s cold is like egging the universe on. Right now it’s a balmy 30 degrees. It ALWAYS (can and will) get colder.  Invest in long johns and/or footie pajamas.
  • Winter is not a fashion show. – Some people are totally cute in their scarves and pea coats… but really, they’re freezing. My recommendation, buy a few pairs of CHEAP winter jeans. Walmart actually has some cute ones. Buy them at least a size too big. Then you have plenty of space for layering! (I know, I’m brilliant.) Also, cute boots are just that. Cute. In my experience, cute boots have no traction. Please refer to tip 2 to see the result of no traction.
  • Tuck your jeans in your boots. – I really recommend boots. I really recommend tucking your jeans. Most places use salt to clear the road. Rexburg uses red sand. Washing machines aren’t that great in college. So tuck. Otherwise, you’ll have red clay caked to the cuff or your jeans until April. GROSS.
  • Hair. – Men don’t really have a problem with this. Or makeup for that matter. However, girls, we have issues. My suggestions either put it up, or style it the way it is naturally. We always want what we don’t have but trust me. Curly hair if straightened will just go curly. Straight hair if curled will just look awful. On that note… Make sure it’s COMPLETELY dry before you leave the house… it can, and does freeze. Popsicle hair, though totally fashion forward, breaks. Seriously.
  • Bring tissues. – The fact of the matter is. It’s cold. It will only get colder. Fun fact about cold weather: nose hairs freeze. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. It’s even worse when you walk in a building and immediately Niagara falls relocated to your face. Either give yourself even time to go to the restroom before class, or bring tissues. No one likes hearing you sniffle.
  • Beware of traffic. – Pedestrians. Bicycles. Unicycles (if you haven’t seen her, she does exist). Cars. You name it. Snow makes people do crazy things. If you Rexburg into someone else… Well, that’ll hurt and I might laugh.
  • Leave your windshield wipers up. – In the cold. In the snow… Rubber freezes to glass. Pretty much everything freezes actually. If you have a car, and you don’t want to replace your windshield wipers every week. Stick ‘em up. 
  • For the beach babes.  - Your skin is probably turning a color you've never seen before. There are three tanning salons in Rexburg. If you want to look like an alien, sign up now. The rest of us are just going to stay pale... It's not worth the drive or walk. 
  • Be positive. -- The last and most important tip to survive Rexburg is to stay positive. There is always something to complain about. Always. Anyone can complain, but it takes a true Rexburg Champion to make the best of this cold, white, and dreary situation.
You got this!! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Very Special Announcement

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook the following:

On Tuesday afternoon I read this scripture, "And now, O my son(daughter), ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son (daughter), go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen." (Alma 42: 31)

This afternoon in the 182nd Semi-Annual General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson announced that young women can now serve a full-time mission at the age of 19.
My dear friends and family,
I am pleased, and excited, to announce that I have chosen to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I feel as though the Lord has prepared me for this decision and for the wonderful experiences that will come from it. I will begin preparing my papers within the week. Much love!

There has been an influx of love and support from the members of my family, and of the communities which I have lived in. However, I have also seen many people who have made their less supportive comments in other, indirect ways. I wish to take this opportunity to address those concerns. I agree because this is a life changing decision, it is not one that should be made lightly, nor should it be made because others are making it. This is personal. It is between the individual and God. I want to share with you some of the experiences leading to this decision; I pray that in doing so those who are more skeptical will see that this is not a rash or rushed decision.
Some three and a half years ago, I received my patriarchal blessing. (For those not familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is a special blessing received which is given to provide guidance and direction throughout our mortal lives). Within this blessing, there was quite a bit of detail concerning the opportunity that I would have, if I desired it, to serve a full-time, proselyting mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From that time forward, I have always considered serving if I made it to the age of 21, (the age at which young women used to be able to serve), without getting married.
Not too long after that, I had the opportunity to participate in a youth activity called the mini- MTC (Missionary Training Center). Myself, along with a hundred, or so, other youth spent a weekend as if we were on our missions. We learned the gospel discussions which are taught, and we were even allowed to try our hand at preaching the gospel from door to door. It was a very challenging weekend, but it affirmed my desire to serve.
Over the years, I have had the desire to serve, but have been told by many that there is no way that I would make it to the required age without a shiny diamond ring on my finger. These comments have been difficult to hear, and often disheartening, but I never gave up my desire.
In the past year, I have encountered many difficulties. I have felt heart ache and heart break like never imaginable, but I have been positive because of my love for, and trust in Christ. Just over a month ago, I made the decision to be more consistent in my daily scripture study and prayer. I also determined I would attend the temple, (a sacred place of worship), on a weekly basis. As I have done so, I have felt more strongly that I should serve a mission.
I feel that I have been preparing for, and working towards this decision for many years. I feel that it is right for me to go now.  In addressing the church this morning President Thomas S. Monson firmly stated that we should not hesitate to answer a prompting. I am not, and will not, hesitate. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe it. I know it. And I live it.
Again, I am grateful for the love and support which I have felt. I pray that the Lord will be with me in my endeavors, and that each of you reading will feel of His love.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Being Broken

About a month ago, I broke my foot dancing. I landed a jump wrong and felt the fracture ripple through my body. It was a very unique experience; I actually felt as though I was the bone that was breaking. It was a deep and unusual sensation. I have sprained, I have strained, and I have torn, I have felt those pains, and now, I have felt the pain of a break.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid dancer; I was born to be on stage. When I broke myself I was rehearsing for a performance with Brigham Young University- Idaho’s Dance Alliance. The team works together for 8 months and puts on two shows on campus, then travels for two weeks to cap off the experience. So, being a member of the team with a broken foot has been my personal hell. Almost everyone I have encountered has expressed how impressed they are by my positive attitude and cheerful demeanor throughout the healing process. However, no one has seen the terrible heartbreak that I feel every day. No one has recognized that beyond my smile, beyond my words, there is a sorrow deeper than they could imagine. No one has witnessed my insecurity, my vulnerability, the feeling as if part of me had died; no one has witnessed that, until now.
I have felt more pain in this past month than I ever could have imagined. I have faced more challenges and difficulties in this past year than I would ever wish on anyone, not even my most despised enemy. My body, mind, and spirit have been broken, both literally and metaphorically, and tonight, I cried. I have shed more tears in the last eight months than I think I have in my entire life. Not one of these tears was as cleansing as those I cried tonight. With each tear I addressed my feelings; my hopes, my dreams, my successes, my failures. I let myself open up, and I mended what was broken.
To those who feel broken, lonely, and like there is no end. I promise, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Gordon B. Hinckley, former President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once said, “Love is more than a paper heart. Love is of the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is more than the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day” (And the Greatest of These Is Love, Mar. 1984). As long as there is one person around to love you, you can make it through, and there is always at least one: Jesus Christ.
You can do it!
 Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.