Mar 31, 2004

At institute I watched a seminary video, one that I hadn't seen before. It is about training a white Arabian horse. The master says that his horse has strength and can survive wonderfully even in the hottest, most difficult deserts, simply because of his obedience.

As a young colt the Arabian is taught to obey. The master rings a bell, and at first, the colt does not listen. He just stubbornly shakes his head and continues to do what he wants to do. Soon, someone leads the colt to his master while his master rings the bell. The colt does not receive treats or anything; he simply is acknowledged lovingly by his master. Eventually, he comes immediately at the sound of the bell.

But his test is not done quite yet. There is one ultimate test he must pass, or he will not survive in the desert. His master ties him up, about 3 yards away from a drinking pool, and leaves him there in the hot sun and overnight. 24 hours later, the master unties the stallion. He immediately rushes to the water, parched for thirst. As soon as he reaches the water's edge, his master rings the bell.

The film ended here. But I can draw the similarity to Proverbs 3:4: "Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thy own understanding." To pass the test, the stallion must trust in his master, and recognize that obedience is the first thing he must do. By obeying, he can know that his master will lead him and guide him to the water and even greater blessings.

I loved this story. It reminded me of Abraham. He trusted in the Lord, and he obeyed when the Lord commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. But by obeying, and trusting that somehow the promise he was made would be fulfilled, he learned that indeed it was.

I'm looking forward to General Conference. I'm not sure why; I mean, I always am uplifted and learn a lot, but I'm actually anxious for it this time around. Who knows what new and exciting programs they might introduce? Maybe President Hinckley has some profound news for us. Maybe it's that I'm really going to learn something or gain an understanding of something that I have yet to learn. I don't know, but I'm excited.

Well, on a lighter note, here are just a few silly photos of me, in case any long-lost friends or relatives happen upon my site and want to know what I look like these days (yeah, it changes - especially eye and hair color, even though I think I'm going to stick with the more natural blonde from now on).

Photo one
Photo two

Mar 30, 2004

"I never said it would be easy; I only said it would be worth it."
Today is my father's birthday. I wish he had a phone so that I could call him. I should have thought of sending a card earlier. Well, I can still send one - better late than never.

I am going to attend the Mac Design Conference and Expo in Chicago June 1-4. My manager said go ahead, so this will be an exciting and unique opportunity to learn more about design techniques using well-known software such as Adobe Photoshop, and also to be with a bunch of die-hard Mac aficionados. Man of the great leaders in the industry of design will be there. Plus...it's 4 days of checking out cool stuff and going to workshops, and being somewhere else other than Madison. It should be cool, even though a bit lonely. But if I can force myself out of my shell, I should meet some new and fascinating people.

I had a difficult moment this morning. My phone at work alerted me that I had a new message. I typed in the passcode and listened; it turned out there was an old message from way back in January. It was Jeremy. I haven't heard his voice in almost two months, so that was pretty difficult to hear. However, I just smiled softly at recalling the few, but precious, memories. I was so happy then!

Well, enough of that. There I go again *sigh*. Anyway, life goes on. I really wish I could serve a mission, or at least do something, for the Lord right now. I'm doing what I can with where I am and what I have. I'm doing my best to be of service to others. It has helped, but I still feel so out of sorts. It is the "accepting the things you cannot change" part of the serenity prayer that I still need to work on. I have the desire and the knowledge and the patience that I gained from this trial, but I needed it before this trial started in order to prevent it from happening in the first place! I still have a hard time forgiving myself for being so clueless, even though I know that I didn't know better, and therefore the Lord doesn't hold it against me. But why, oh why couldn't I have known then what I know now?

Well, when it comes down to it, I don't regret the learning experiences that have come from all of this. I know it had to happen this way, and I know there was no other way I would go through the learning process that I have without experiencing what I did. But somehow I really feel that this was all just a consequence of actions that have been going on since the beginning (that is, "The Beginning", as referred to in the book of Abraham). I believe all of our lives are filled with a few (or more) life-altering experiences such as this; but the tremendous gift of knowledge and of understanding does not come at a small price. There was reason for it all.

Maybe I just think too much, lol. Well, there is always room for improvement.

Mar 28, 2004

I'm baking cookies right now; yes my infamous chocolate chip cookies with the secret ingredient. As I was preparing the dough, I just sat there thinking back to when my family all lived together at the house in Bowler. We had an exchange student, and as I would churn out batch after batch of these cookies they would disappear immediately. It couldn't be helped; we had four teenage boys living in the house, plus their friends were always over, and Laurie and her friends too. The place was always packed with people.

At night we'd start a fire in the firepit, and just talk and laugh. Our house was the premiere meeting spot in all of Bowler, LOL. I was always just home from college or something, and since I had gone to high school in a different city, I didn't know anyone, but I enjoyed the atmosphere and the fact that there was always something going on:) Even for holidays we'd invite people over. Sometimes the strangest people would be dining with us and sharing our family experiences. Sometimes they were close family friends. But whatever the case, it just made it so joyful.

Now we are all older and we all have our own lives. Both of my cousins are married, and my brother will probably be soon. So as I sat here, mixing the cookie dough, I thought of how I wish I was baking cookies for someone other than myself and my sister. I love to bake, and I love to cook, and when Jeremy was visiting I had so much fun being able to do that for him (although he never had the chance to try these famous cookies of mine). I wish I would have had more time to do so. More time to get to know him and vice versa.

Well, I guess I should stop wishing for things that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong; I'm as realistic as the next person. I don't live in fairytales -- I've had too much life experience and am a bit too cynical for that. But...I can't help it sometimes, because I am faithful. I never doubt what I am told by my Father in Heaven.

But, I have let him go. I love him, and that was all I could do. Anything else would have been selfish. I will not stand in his way of fulfilling his own mission as told to him by the Lord. I may have been very selfish at the beginning of the year, but I have grown. It does still cause my heart to ache just to think of how I had acted so selfishly. But now, well, letting him go to serve the Lord has brought me peace. I know I did the right thing, and I find comfort in that knowledge. It hasn't lessened my love for him; I wish it would sometimes, but, well...this is who I am. I am doing my best to keep moving on with my life. I'm going out with friends even when I don't feel like socializing. I'm on the same two online services I was before, and I make myself respond to flirts and what-not despite how much I do not have the heart to do so. There isn't much else I can do. I love Jeremy, and as I told him, I will love him eternally, and the only way I could show him that was by letting him free, to not worry about me, to know I have forgiven him, and to know that I am also doing my best to fulfill the Lord's mission for myself. I want to serve just as much as Jeremy does; this desire I didn't have before. I have truly humbled myself and as I try to decide about my future, I tell the Lord I will truly do anything he requires of me. I was always too afraid to say that in the past, for fear that he would send me on a mission. I had prayed about it once when I was 23 (and in Spain) but had been told to continue my education. I was relieved for the most part.

But now, I would do anything. I would give up everything I have to serve the Lord, even my beloved cats, who I love so much. I know they need me, but I also know that my sister would take good care of them and love them as much as I do if the Lord called me to do something that required me to leave them. The Lord has required a lot of sacrifice of the heart from me over the last third of my life, but I am honored that he believes in me so. I no longer have the angry, bitter feelings nor am I prone to mumur as I was previously. Time is my friend now. I do not need to rush anything. True joy will come from patience and enduring to the end. To being submissive and humble, loving and charitable. To even being soft-spoken, something I am not known for. But...I could become that woman. I have changed in ways I never thought would ever be possible in such a short time already...who knows what other changes the Lord has in store for me? I am just grateful that I finally have the desire to heed to all of his commandments, both personal and universal, and not just to some of them.

I've messed up in my life several times. Many have been sins of omission, many have been transgressions where I didn't realize I was indeed doing things wrong. I have allowed Satan to tempt me, and to convince me that feelings I had were from the Spirit when they were in fact from him (case in point, when I kept getting the "feeling" that Jeremy wasn't supposed to serve a mission. I didn't feel peace from that feeling...I should have known better). But, the Adversary is having a hard time convincing me of anything now. I am even more confident, and rather than feel sorry for myself because of my physical limitations or imperfections, I now thank the Lord for my body and my mind. In nudging Satan out and with him all those feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness, I desire more than ever to take care of myself, to follow the word of wisdom, and to change my lifestyle not only for me, but so that my children will have a great example and be taught accordingly.

Well, I guess I'm done writing for today. I could go on, but this is enough for now. My mind is whirling about and I'm thinking about everything at once, it seems...but the peace is there. My Heavenly Father loves me, and he is proud of me. There is no greater knowledge than that. There really isn't.
"Even when love wounds you, that’s because love matters so much. The deep hurt is the mirror image of the deep joy that still awaits you.

Your longing to belong forever to a loving family comes from God, and He has promised its fulfillment, if you are faithful: “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Ps. 107:9). I know His promise is sure." - excerpt from an article by Elder Hafen in the Ensign Oct 2003 issue.

I know I posted this in early November, but I needed to be reminded of it again. Thank goodness for Don and the inspiration he received that weekend to tell me to read this talk in the Ensign.

Mar 27, 2004

Oh, how I miss him. It's not having someone that I miss. I'm fine on my own and kind of like it. It's not even so much being in love that I miss. I miss him...his person, his being. He completes me. I miss him.

Mar 26, 2004

I just got back from seeing "Eternal Sun of a Spotless Mind" with Keith and Bryn. Talk about an intense movie. Jim Carrey sure can act. I haven't had a movie have that kind of effect on me since I saw "El Espiritú de la Colmena" (The Spirit of the Beehive) back at the BYU international theatre. That movie had me thinking for months, trying to figure it out and what it all meant.

While I'm older and better able to decipher deep, profound movies, this movie sure made me think. I came away understanding it, but it's still whirling in my mind. It was produced by the same man who did "Being John Malkovich", and I have to say, this kind of filmmaking is truly an art form. While the main plot is pretty much implausible, the producer and writer had a way of making this more realistic than most of the fluff that comes out of Hollywood. I actually forgot who I was and where I was, and I felt like I was there, living the life of John Barrish and Clementine.

It is rated R, but mostly for language and the content is just too difficult for a kid to digest. I came away from it actually grateful for all my memories; both good and bad. They make up such an important part of our lives.

Anyway, I definitely recommend seeing this film.
I am so seriously concerned about my friend whose going through a divorce. She cries every morning; and while I understand that, and I understand the pain, more than she knows I do, (plus, I'm a big crier myself), I just wish she would go the right direction. This trial is going to make her or break her. While she nods in understanding when I tell her that the Lord must think so much of her, because he won't give us anything we can't handle, and by saying she can't make it, she is in essence saying she knows more than God, I don't think she really gets it. I know I can't make her get it -- but all I can do is be there for her and try.

But it turns out she thinks she is in love with this "friend". This is so dangerous. I'm not saying she isn't in love with him, but jumping into one relationship right at the end of another (and technically, she isn't even at the end because she still says she loves her husband) is just unhealthy. Not only is it unethical, and it will give her husband reason to go through with his threat, and cost her her membership in the church, but she seriously gets all her self worth from being in a relationship with a man. She is too afraid to be on her own, and develop herself as an individual. When Laurie and I, and everyone else try to talk to her and tell her she needs this time to heal and to learn about herself and grow as a person, she refuses to listen. I tell her something better is on the horizon for her, if she would only heed to the Lord's promptings and obey his commandments. Ok, easier said than done; I know I didn't get it despite how many times people told me the same thing, I didn't get it until I wanted to get it. I know I am guilty of the same thing in a way; while I have had plenty of time to develop myself as an individual and I've only had one real relationship in the past 8 years, and a short one at that, I know that I depended entirely too much on Jeremy to support me emotionally. I guess I was tired of doing it myself. BIG MISTAKE! I prided myself in being so independent, yet I failed when it came down to it. While I know better now and finally understand, I just wish I would have gotten it then.

But anyway, so I understand a little her need, yet I know that my self-worth does NOT come from a man, it does NOT come from being in a relationship; it comes from within and knowing that I am a daughter of God. I am his, and he loves me. Single or married, divorced, engaged...it doesn't matter. But it matters entirely too much to my friend, and I see this as such a growth opportunity and I'm guessing that this is one reason the Lord feels she needs to go through this, but she doesn't see it that way. And she is bitter now; she says she doesn't care if her children are born in the covenant; or if she marries outside the church. She says she did it once, and look what happened. Look where it got her. I couldn't help but get a little exasperated, and I pointed out that there are more than two men on the entire earth. You know, I hate to say it, but sometimes love just isn't enough. I have known this my whole life, and while I believe it SHOULD be enough, if both people aren't willing to work and sacrifice for the greater good, then it simply isn't enough. Her husband is proof of that. As for her friend, well he seems a nice enough guy, but he cannot offer her anything more than her husband can. In fact, he is unemployed and bitter from his own divorce. Do we see a pattern here?

Ok, I'm making judgements and I shouldn't be doing that. I'm sorry. But I am just so worried. I hate not being able to help her more than by being a support and encouraging her to trust in the Lord, and to read her scriptures. I love her dearly, and it breaks my heart to see her suffering so. I know that if she would just make the decision, some of the pain would significantly lessen, if she would only accept the peace that her savior offers her. Ok I know that sounds like B.S., especially to those of you who do not believe in a higher being, or aren't that religious, but it is so true. I guess I never entirely believed it either until I went through what I've been through this past month and a half. But rather than being angry at your situation and blaming the Lord or anyone else for it; it is far better to be patient and peaceful and try to learn and appreciate the trial you are going through. It really helps a LOT. More than a LOT. It has changed me in a way I have never experienced before. I have grown so much more in the past month and a half than I had in my entire lifetime. I just want this for my friend; I want her to feel that peace. No, it isn't constant, it's not a guarantee against pain; I still feel sorrow and heartache and sometimes even despair, but the negative emotions are so much less than the positive ones.

Mar 25, 2004

I'm trying to avoid writing so much about my emotions, but that's pretty impossible considering who I am :) Besides, this is not just a weblog; it's my journal. I save everything I write for posterity's sake. I don't know who is going to want to go back and read all this stuff, because I'm so darn long-winded, but, well, someday someone's going to find it fascinating, lol.

Anyway, not much went on today. I'm feeling really out of place. It's hard to deal with, because of my recent 'conversion' to gratitude. I finally am happy with my job, not because it has gotten better or changed, but because I've changed. I just started to count my blessings, and my job is a major blessing. Yet, as I walk to and from work, I have plenty of time to just think, and I just feel like I do not belong here anymore.

I had a hard time last night trying to decide whether to join the Princeton Club or not. They have a year or two year contract. I just shudder to think I might still be here in a year, but the probability of it is very high. I would be out quite a bit of money if I move though (I decided to join the club), but I don't want to start putting a price on my health.

But, I have been applying for jobs everywhere. Well not everywhere; I won't apply for a job that isn't better or more oriented to my interests than my current position. I'd take a pay cut if where I move has a lower cost of living, so that's not exactly the problem (although as I search I'm finding that I'm paid pretty well, even if not competitively with people whom I work with). But nothing, absolutely nothing has come up. Not even one phone call. Not even one rejection letter. They simply do not respond, and it's grating on my nerves.

Part of me wants to go back to Spain. I don't know; after September 11th I really learned to value the USA and I decided then and there that my obsession with living in Spain wasn't in my best interests or in the best interests of my future family. But now that I know I won't have a family anytime soon, I just want to change my life. It's not that I have a bad life now, like I said, this whole 'attitude of gratitude' of mine has caused me to appreciate the very things I complained about before. But...I want a change. I want a challenge. I want to meet new people. I want to expand my horizons. However, every time I pray I don't get an answer. So I take that as the standard "make a choice and then ask me" answer. So I'm out there, being unslothful, trying to find the right path to take, but so far I've come up with nothing. Does that mean I'm supposed to stay in Madison? It seems like it, yet the feelings in my heart tell me otherwise.

*Sigh*. I want to get out of debt and live simpler. I want to focus on my blessings and not on my wants. Oh, I've said this a million times, but how I wish I could backtrack. I know what I want to be doing; the very thing that the Lord planned for me and that I refused to accept (ironic how things change, huh?), but I don't have that option. It is so frustrating, so dang frustrating, and while I'm not murmuring, I just feel hopeless about certain things. YES, I want to be a wife and a mother, but it's not my time. I understand that now. I accept that now, whereas I didn't before. The desire has nestled comfortably in the back of my heart, no longer pounding at the gates -- because it now knows why it must be patient and it is more than happy to wait. It took some coaxing, but....anyway.

So what's pounding at the gates now? That's all too obvious. My desire to serve in the capacity I was born to serve. To love. That is my mission in two simple words. I have given greater explanation and depth before and I don't need to repeat it now, but I am simply to love. You would think that would be an easy mission *ironic chuckle*, it sounds so simple. Yet for some reason it is so terribly difficult. Why? Because my mission depends on the free agency of others. Grrr, there's that term again. A gift I embrace and am grateful for, because the opposite of it was Satan's plan, yet it's a gift that just seems to always be fighting against me. But what can I do? Not much other than to keep loving. If I stop, my world stops. My mission stops. My life basically stops. So I must continue on.

Well, enough of the psycho-spiritual metaphors. I should be getting to bed, because I have an early meeting tomorrow. I'll continue this later.

Mar 24, 2004

Elder Richard G. Scott said, "I testify that Jesus Christ paid the price and will satisfy the demands of justice for all who are obedient to his teachings. Thus, full forgiveness is granted, and the distressing effects of sin need no longer persist in one's life. Indeed, they cannot persist if one truly understands the meaning of Christ's Atonement....when memory of past mistakes encroaches upon your mind, turn your thoughts to the Redeemer and to the miracle of forgiveness with the renewal that comes through Him. Your depression and suffering will be replaced by peace, joy, and gratitude for His love."
A close friend of mine is going through a difficult separation/divorce right now. She just called me, in tears, to tell me the "latest" thing that her husband has done. They were both at my house when I left from work today, reading the Ensign. I didn't think that was a great idea to be together, but I wasn't going to say anything.

She is so lonely and it is killing her. She has never been on her own before. She has another male friend, and while they are just friends, she has had a hard time coming back to Madison and leaving him behind. She almost returned today to him; but I'm glad she called me and told me she decided to stay in Madison.

Her husband told her that she had a choice; she could either get back together with him, or he would go and tell the bishop and anyone else concerned that she had left him for another man. Basically, he's telling her it's him, or she is going to lose her church membership, her friends, her green card...everything. I am so boiling mad right now at his gall. She says she still loves him, and told him she'd think about it. But as she told me all this the growing horror in my head shouted WARNING! WARNING! No man who loved her would treat her like this. Just to take advantage of her when things got difficult, parade around and call her and tell her he's seeing other women, and then return and ask for her back, but by threatening her. This is NOT love. This is cold manipulation and selfishness on his part. How dare he.

I remember that night in October when they came over and he had gone off his meds and willingly left the hospital. I sat there listening to him talk, and my friend was crying and begging him to return to the hospital -- for his own good. He refused to listen. I then implored with him, and I felt the spirit while doing so, for him to reconsider going back. "If you love your wife, if you love her, you will do this thing for her. She only wants you to be happy and healthy." He refused, and I was so upset. I watched her crying on the floor, and I turned to him, and pointed at her. "Look at what you have done to her, this woman you say you love! She is my best friend, and you have wounded her. You are allowing your marriage to fall apart, only because of your selfishness. Please, please don't do this to yourself or to her."

Of course he didn't listen, and I knew then and there that his will was more important than that of his wife. He wasn't even willing to compromise, as she tried to suggest an alternative so that both of them could be happy. Oh, it upset me so much to see her cry. It upset me so to see him so nonchalant, and his refusal to even pay heed to his wonderful wife. He didn't even know what he had in front of him. He had love..he had a woman who would do anything for him, and stick by him, but he refused it. He gave her up because his desires were more important.

And now he pulls this. But it gets even worse. Their bishop allowed him to go to the temple last week, yet he tells my friend that she will stand accountable before the Lord for not being willing to make her marriage work. This upset me too, because my mother heard the same thing when she was going through a divorce. Her branch president seemed to believe she was supposed to sit there through physical and emotional abuse, and possibly allow him to eventually start in on their children, all for the sake of what? Years later when my mother told me this, I read to her from a talk one of the prophets had given, and told her that she had done the right thing.

Now I can't tell my friend that...because her husband hasn't physically abused her. But emotionally he has. Plus the games he has played, and he has broken their marriage covenant. What else is she supposed to do? She doesn't want to go through this divorce. She's miserable! Everything is crashing around her; not only her relationship but her entire life. She can't even seek solace from her own ward. She has been praying and asking for guidance..and she will do what the Lord requires of her. She is scared to death of being alone, since she never has been, and she has been breaking out in hives and been really physically sick. And it seems as every day passes, something worse happens.

I wish I could do more for her. I gave her some advice that has helped me through my own trial, and it seemed to help a little. I suggested that she first of all, thank the Lord for all her blessings, and to name them each one. I also suggested that she thank the Lord for this trial, and recognize that he believes in her and has faith in her that she can get through this. Then as I continued talking, I realized I was saying things that were helping both of us deal with our own situation. The Lord does not require more from us than we are able to handle. He loves us so very much, and only wants to bless us and wants us to experience true joy. Nothing worth it is easy. Now I couldn't tell her what her future held, just like I can't be sure about my own, but I did tell her what I am sure of; through obedience to the Lord's commandments, and through exercising our faith and gratitude, we are assured of something even better. Maybe she will get back together with her husband, but it will be better than before. This trial will only strengthen their love and their determination to work together. If not, there is someone better out there for her...someone who can give her the love and the peace that she so readily deserves.

After she went upstairs, I sat there and then I started crying. I guess I have been holding a lot in, and it's been difficult. I feel so much for her, and it has helped me to put my own problems into a clearer perspective, yet I know that we are both experiencing some of the very same feelings. I'm not afraid of being alone, I have done it for 8 years and I don't mind it so much, but I'm afraid of losing my Father's promises. I'm afraid of the consequences of my own stupidities and sins. I'm afraid of the free agency of others. During my Visiting Teaching appointment today, we discussed something similar to this. My partner mentioned a profound quote she read in an interpretation of Dante by Anne Perry..."We are not punished for our sins, but rather by them." I think back to my serious sins from a few months back and I recognize the truth in this statement. I really do. I do know what it is like to feel Godly sorrow. I am grateful, though, for the experience. As I had been told long, long ago, my trials would help me to develop a deep desire to be obedient and follow the Lord's commandments. This is so true. I have made not only sacred covenants with the Lord inside of his holy temple, but I have made a personal covenant to remain pure. I now know I will succeed, because my trials have taught me well. My sorrow has taught me. I now have a testimony of this, and I know that while I will yet be tempted in the future, I will not succomb to the temptation. I didn't know this before, but now I do. I will also not allow myself to be the cause of temptation to others.

I reminded my friend that she is not being punished. She hasn't done anything wrong in her case. Despite what her bishop said, who obviously doesn't know the whole story, she is only doing what she has to do. She isn't the one who broke their covenant; he is. She must remember that.

Now she must remember it more than anything, as she tries to deal with making the right decision based on what the Lord wants her to do; not based on her loneliness or fear of the unknown. I'm glad I can be there to help in any way I can, but I only wish I could take the burden from her. It breaks my heart to see her suffering so.

Mar 23, 2004

Life can be interesting sometimes. Well, if it's my life, it's one dramatic escapade after another; just ask my boss. We were joking about that last week; it seems as soon as something calms down, the next thing flares right up. It's usually not good stuff, but I did find the humor in my situation. I'm extremely lucky I work in a place that gives me such leniency in the use of my personal and sick leave. I was so depressed at the beginning of last year I needed to take a few days off to hole up in my room and try to forget about Reid. Luckily Tony came right along less than a month later and took my mind of things, and reminded me what a truly wonderful man is all about. Then no sooner than later, I get so sick, my ears get so blocked, I experience vertigo, severe neck pain and eye pain; yet every otalarynalogist in this city couldn't find what was wrong with me. I missed more than two weeks of work because of that one. My ears are starting to bother me yet again now and I worry that it's going to start up. You'd think I'd have allergies, but no, I've seen the Allergist too; not to mention chiropractors, homeopaths, dentists...you name it, I've seen them. I received a wonderful father's blessing from my uncle last June and he told me then that I had to be patient, but I would be healed. I just had to find the right specialist who would be willing to help me. And man, I have tried. I even went in for a physical and pap this morning and talked to my doctor about it as well. While she did increase my antidepressant mg, she couldn't help me with the stupid ears. I went to the supposedly best ear, nose and throat doctor in the city (that was within my HMO of course) and even he pooed pooed it off. I'm so frustrated, but I just try to deal. I believe in my blessing; it's just going to take time and hopefully meeting the right specialist.

Anyway, yeah, we were joking around about it. At least this break-up hasn't caused me to need to stay home and wallow in self-pity. I was determined from the get-go to not do that. Alright, I did spend three days in North Carolina, but big deal. By this time my boss expects it, hahaha:) I had to admit, well, at least my life isn't boring!!! :)

So I have this beta named Wills sitting in my bathroom. He's a funny fish; if you have ever seen a beta, they always look pissed off. But he is a sweetheart and he even will eat from my hand. YES, from my hand! I'm watching him for Gilly while she is in Scotland. She had forgotten that I have cats so poor Wills has to stay in the bathroom. But it's alright; he keeps me entertained while I'm getting dressed after showering. I guess he even does tricks:)

Then there's Mikel; now declawed and neutered, who still runs up and down the stairs and terrorizes Vader. But they are friends now. They both LOVE to cuddle at night. He will just come right up into my arms (if Vader isn't already there) and nuzzle me and fall asleep with his nose right in the crook between my cheek and my own nose. What a doll. Having animals sure helps one to be appreciative and feel so much less stress. It's wonderful being loved so unconditionally. As long as you feed them and clean out their litter box, and cuddle them at night, they are yours forever.

Cristina finally moved in. Well kind of. She is still job hunting but at least she came down from Rhinelander so I can help her. I got her computer up and running on the wireless network so now she can be a geek like the rest of us and carry her computer around the house:)

I have to start going to institute if I want to keep my parking space, which I definitely need. I work late and am just too tired after work so I don't want to go to the 7pm one, so I am going to try to make myself go to the 8am class. There are only like 4 people there, which will be cool, and we're studying doctrine of the prophets. That should be interesting. If I can just make myself get up at 6:30 once a week and stay awake during class, this would be good for me health-wise as well as spiritually. Then tomorrow night Laurie and I are heading to the Princeton Club to check it out and get our free week. That place is gigantic..the tour alone will probably take us more than an hour. But then Roberto is going to give us a free work-out too. I'm kind of excited. I just hope there aren't too many mirrors.

My car is finally back to its normal gorgeous self. It looks like nothing ever happened, and that's the way it should be. I like driving it around and since the weather is getting warmer I've been opening up the sunroof and blaring either Canon in D or latin music out for everyone to hear. I noticed my driving isn't as well as it was a month ago; I have to work on that again. I must learn patience.

Fortunately, though, I haven't been angry in the past month and half, not even with my sister! I usually get ticked off at her at least once a week. I cannot believe it -- I know my anger gene is still in there somewhere...there are times when I feel the blood starting to boil, but I have, so far, been able to simmer down rather quickly. This is really good news. I know I take after my father who is an emotional man with a quick temper...but I have made such amazing breakthroughs in the past 8 years and even more in the past month alone. I guess when there's a will, there's a way:)

Well, it's midnight, and I have to get up in 6 1/2 hours so I better get to bed. I'll write more later.
"If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at
every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you.

"Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get
what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what
your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all
that He intends you to be. That path leads to glorious joy and happiness."

(Richard G. Scott, "Finding Joy in Life," Ensign, May 1996, 25.)

Something to continually remember. I'm grateful for the LDS-gems that I get every day in my inbox. They help me to continually improve.

Oh how I want to serve the Lord. I wake up each morning and the desire burns within me. I yearn to fulfill His will for me. I want to serve in the capacity He had asked me to and will ask me to in the future.

I just want to do what is right, no matter how unpopular it may be. I just want to follow the Lord, and repay him for all that He has given me. I want to serve Him and my fellow brothers and sisters. I want to use the capacity that I have for love in such a way that is for once not rejected. Yet the Lord has given it to me for a reason, but every time I exercise it, pain and heartache soon follow. However, I am determined, so very determined, to continually strive to do His will, despite how many times I may fall.

Mar 22, 2004

Last night Keith invited me to go to Orlando with him in June. A friend of ours who moved from Madison to Orlando in January met her eternal companion and is getting married on June 5th. If I don't end up going in April (which it looks like I'm not) perhaps I'll take him up on his offer. It sounds like fun, and spending time with a good friend sure wouldn't hurt, not to mention that I have never been to Florida.

A June wedding. I have always wanted a June wedding. June 14th or 15th. My sister would hate that since her birthday is the 16th, but the middle of June has always been my ideal wedding. I can't help it; I'm a hopeless romantic. I know June is the most popular month fo weddings, and usually my rebellious nature would convince me that I would have my wedding in any other month than June, but, well...this is me.

I'm happy for Sarah. It seems like everyone is getting married. I can't help but be a tiny bit jealous; of course, it's natural, since my own engagement went completely downhill. But she is a nice girl and deserves to have found true love. Neither her or her fiance have family who are members, and therefore there is no one to be there with them. This is why Keith is going down there. I'd like to be there, too; she was the former Enrichment counselor in our Relief Society and I worked with her on our Enrichment nights for several months.

Mar 21, 2004

I just got done spending an hour and a half with my wonderful hometeacher and friend, Keith. We talked about March's home teaching message, one of which touched me greatly when I had read it after receiving my Ensign.

I just finished reading this month's message, "To Receive a Crown of Glory." I also read a few other articles. This month is focusing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Which makes sense, Easter as we celebrate it is fast coming upon us. But I am so grateful for this extra nourishment that my soul needs. I have been craving knowledge and wisdom and the understanding that comes from the prophet and his counselors, and also from the scriptures.

Will anyone ever completely understand truly what the Lord has done for us? I do not know the answer to that. I have so far to go, yet I know I am learning more each time I read the scriptures, each time I get down on my knees to pray, each time I listen to the words of our prophet.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: "When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, nothing is so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty...gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally. He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves."

I am so grateful for my Redeemer. I keep a picture of Him close at hand wherever I am; I have a postcard of one of my favorite paintings, where Christ is looking over Jerusalem, and I have hung that above my computer at work. I have the beautiful painting of Christ in Gethsamanee in my living room. I also have a beautiful portrait of him in my room. I am so grateful to feel His love, and to know how much He truly loves me and what He has done for me.

I am so grateful for the gospel. It is the most correct roadmap on earth that will lead the sons and daughters of God back home to Him. There are such exquisite truths to be found in the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith deemed as "the most correct book on the earth". I love this gospel. I truly love the Lord. As I humble myself and commit myself to the sacred convenants I have made with the Lord, and I recognize the err in my ways and seek repentance for those, I feel the love of my Redeemer fill my heart with sweet peace and love. I might not be the happiest person on this earth, but it is only because I am so weary of trial and tribulation, yet I know there is a reason for it and that the Lord is preparing me to be the woman he needs me to be, so that I can accompany my husband and my family back home to the celestial kingdom, to live in glory and love with our Father in Heaven and our Elder Brother. One can find joy in trial when looking upon it with the correct perspective.

Oh how I wish I could be held in His arms! My dear Father in Heaven, whom I long to return home to. Oh how I wish I could bow before my Redeemer, and thank him for the priceless gift he has given me! How I wish I could serve them on this earth in more capacity than I am now! I want to share this beautiful blessing in my life with others, and I am seeking every opportunity that comes my way. My fears are gradually subsiding. I am more open about my beliefs at work; everyone knew I was Mormon, but now I will talk about it. I truly feel so blessed and enriched by the beautiful gift that the Lord felt I deserved to have, and because of my love for people, I really and truly want them to have the same thing! I still get scared, I am afraid of offending, but I am growing bolder each day. My office is now in the middle of the main room, rather than being hidden upstairs, and I have a set of scriptures, some pass-along cards, a few Joy to the World VHS tapes, and my postcard of Christ there with me at all times. I have learned that even in this extremely left-wing city of Madison, there are a few people who are still religious. I have met them now at work, and I never would have realized there were such people in my workplace if I hadn't started being more open about my own beliefs. I find joy in speaking about faith and my beliefs with others, and listening to their own. It is such a marvelous experience!

I love the Lord. I have a testimony of his church. I know He is at the head of it. I know there is no way man can be saved except through His intercession. As I said earlier, I can only slightly understand what the Lord truly did for us, but that understanding will eventually grow as I continue to learn about Him, to feel His love and His mercy, and to do as suggested in March's message: 1)Look inward, 2)Look outward, and 3)Look heavenward.

This is the true church of Jesus the Christ. I know it. I would fiercely defend it to my death. I might not always be happy with the members, but it is the only church who has Christ at the head of it, and He is perfect. We truly DO have living prophets on the earth today. God still DOES speak to his children as he did in days of old. Every human being has been blessed with the light of Christ, and there IS an avenue to understanding it. It is called the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

I am so grateful for the prophets of old. I am grateful for their examples and their love of Christ AND of mankind. I am grateful for Joseph Smith, and for his enduring strength. His life was never easy, and he died without receiving rest during it. Yet that man was one remarkable man. I love him, and I know what he experienced in that grove truly happened. I have been to that grove, and I have felt the Spirit's presence. There are just some things that are undeniable, that I know deep down, those things that are at the center of my very existence, and Joseph Smith's vision is one of them. A living prophet is another. And Jesus Christ and his gift to mankind is perhaps the most prominent, and most cherished, knowledge that I have, and I am so utterly grateful for it.
Today a young man who returned from a mission in Thailand spoke. As he spoke about how he had struggled with the decision to even serve a mission, and the wonderful experiences he had while serving, and the great joy he was able to express because of the good works he had done, well, my heart filled with, I don't know how to describe it, but the spirit was very strong. You know, since I had the experience I did with that young Marine, my desire to serve has been very strong as well. As I sat there and listened, I again realized, as I had right before Jeremy broke up with me, why Jeremy had such a desire to serve. I know he knew I worked through it, but I also know he had feared I despised him because he had chosen the Lord over me. He was partially right -- at first. I could not comprehend for the life of me why he would do such a thing. My selfishness had overcome me.

But now, well, the desire that burns within my heart is very strong. There is no way I would ever deny any young man the opportunity to serve the Lord in such a selfless way, and to gain the growth and joy that comes with it. I only wish that desire that I have would have been so prevalent during the time I was with Jeremy. I know this was one of the main reasons he broke up with me. I wasn't supporting him, and I despised him for serving. I was selfish, and my physical and emotional desires overcame my wisdom, and they drowned out what the Lord had been telling me.

Oh how I wish I could do things over! I could be so happy right now instead of so sad...I could be growing and maturing instead of having to move on. The Lord had been telling me that he had wanted me to wait for Jeremy. My trip to North Carolina was one big learning experience. I really developed the desire to serve myself, and the way the Lord had asked me to serve was to support Jeremy while he was on a mission. That was the first step in my personal mission, but I was too selfish to realize it in time. The Lord had big plans for me, and the immense growth I would have experienced by waiting would have made me so much a better wife and mother!

My will has finally matched the will of my Father in Heaven, but now it is too late. As I sat there today, the desire filled my heart and the tears streamed down my face because I realized I can no longer serve the Lord, and Jeremy, in the way that had been planned for me.

I did not know any of this until after the fact. There is nothing I want more than for Jeremy to be happy, and to serve the Lord. As I can feel what he has been through in the past, I now feel the enormous joy that will come from him serving. My heart aches because I realize I could have been there too...I could have been supporting him from home, and serving in that capacity.

Mar 20, 2004

I just finished watching "Under the Tuscan Sun", and I think I have never seen a movie that so closely correlated my emotions and my life as this one. I cannot believe how much I can empathize with Frances, the main character (played by Diane Lane). The movie reminds me a lot of both my life now as it currently stands and as it was when I was living in Spain; how I had spontaneously decided to live there, find a job, a place to stay, and just discover myself. Her painful relationships and experiences with men and the distress and despair it causes her is mirrored in my own life; yet, both Frances and I have also decided that it was unfruitful to live in a state of depression and not embrace the "childish innocence" that is within us, that which helps us to find joy and gratitude in the little pleasures of life and to recognize beauty around us.

I am very sad today, but I know this, too, shall pass. Someday I will look back upon this time and reflect with bittersweet gratitude for the lessons that I am learning and will learn throughout this trial. As Frances was so wisely told by her friend, regret should never be a part of a happy life, and I will not allow it to take ahold of mine, either.

Yesterday April and Doug came over. They asked me if I would go down to Nauvoo and be there for their sealing on April 10th, which they moved up from August. They were engaged the same week Jeremy and I became "unofficially" engaged after receiving answers to our own prayers. I said I would be there, but I had to keep the tears from spilling from my eyes. I don't know how I'm going to handle this. The Nauvoo temple is so beautiful and so special to me, and it was the temple Jeremy and I were going to be married in. I keep thinking...it could have been my wedding day. Alright, so I knew even back then that April was too early, but even so...can I go into that sealing room, and although I'm so truly happy for both April and Doug, can I sit there and not think about Jeremy, and how I wish I was staring across the altar into his eyes, the very same way I did in my dream? Can I handle that?

I do not know, but I have to try.

Mar 19, 2004

Well, I got these cool new blue contacts. I have a picture of me wearing them, plus wearing my "new" color of the season: PINK. View picture.

Well, I just got done talking with someone at the new Princeton Club; the new health club facility on the west side. It's supposedly the largest health club in the nation. Anyway, for only $15 more a month I can do so much more than I'm doing at my current club.

Right now all I'm doing for $35/mo is circuit training. Half the time is spent on muscle toning machines, the other half on aerobic exercise. They play music, but it's never music I like. Heck, I can buy one of those iPod belts and listen to my iPod while I work out at this new place. PLUS, all that is included is facilities for basically every sport imaginable, tons of different classes (I'd like to take water aerobics), lap pools, hot tubs, saunas...tennis courts, basketball..and even a personal trainer is included in the fee! They'll even give me a free week to try it out, so I'm going in next Wednesday to check it out.

I think with a personal trainer and all these different activities, PLUS it's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I will find something I love. I like that you don't have any initiation fees and you don't have to pay a full year up front. That IS nice.

My sister really wants a PT as well, so maybe I can talk her into joining with me. It's a bit pricey, but for all that they offer (plus there is massage and tanning, although that isn't included in the price) I think $50/mo is worth it. There are often times at night when I get restless and would like to do something, but my current club is closed at 8pm. They are also closed after 12 on Saturdays.

So this sounds like something fun, not to mention healthy. I look forward to learning more about what the club has to offer and trying to find my niche. I have a deep desire to become the healthiest person I can be, and this may help me go up a step from where I have been.
I just received an email from a friend that touched me deeply. I will include it in my blog.

17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject  was what Heaven was like. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.

Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teays Valley High School in Pickaway County. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework. Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said.

Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.

The Moores framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it, " Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him."

Brian's Essay:

The Room...

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order.

But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small,in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at."

Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived.

Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched ," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it.. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried.

I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all.. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."- Phil. 4:13 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Mar 18, 2004

Well, I put myself back online at ldsso.com. They hadn't completely deleted my profile yet so they recovered it. I had to change the first two lines *ironic grimace* but it's there.

I don't feel like being there, it just feels wrong. But what else can I do at this point? I don't know...but making new friends is never a bad thing. Anything more than that, well...in time perhaps.

I've met four men from there, and I've liked them all. They are all very different. Two of them are still my friends to this day. Great guys...wonderful friends. The other two...well...one was a big jerk and the other one, well he wasn't a big jerk. He's the furthest from a jerk you could get even though he really tried to be one and did some jerky things and said some really jerky things, but I could see right through him. Nope, at heart he is the opposite of a jerk. *sigh*.

We are now not going anywhere in April. I guess it's better that way, because I had spent most of my money on my little excursion last month. We might, though, drive down to Orlando. I have never been to Disneyworld, and I would like to go. Sometimes you can get great deals, so I'll look into it.

So I have like three days to spend doing whatever I want now that I won't be gone a whole week. I have liittle money, but more time. However, these days I haven't been wanting any more time to myself because I think too much. I've been working later and then sleeping late. Not a habit I want to get in to but for now it helps me pass the time.

Everyone I know is going through such a tough time these days. My cousin Tania's mother...with whom she hasn't been close to because of personal things, well, she just had a heart attack and now Tania and her sisters have to go to Washington and decide whether to keep her on life support or not. You know, that decision is tough enough when you love someone. But when it is someone who has treated you so horribly your whole life...yet you still love them...then how do you decide?

Alyssa is getting some cysts removed tomorrow. Jason reinlisted with the Army. Ok he might think that's good news, but with all the crap going on these days, I'd rather he just get out. My brother is going through a really tough time. Gilly called me toda to tell me her aunt is dying and she and her family are flying to Edenboro, (or however you spell it) Scotland to spend her last few days with her. She has had a lot of these family tragedies in her life lately.

Cristina is stil trying to find a job. Who knows if she will be able to move in or not. The month is halfway over...Cindy is leaving April 1st...so what are we going to do? Laurie hasn't decided yet on moving to Milwaukee or not.

You know, we all know that life isn't fair. We all know we face trials and challenges and those who do their best and don't fall into despair, but remain strong are those who learn and grow. Yet this year has just been filled with stuff for everyone I know and love. Why? Then we have all these wars, and terrorism, and political garbage filling up our news...heck I don't even bother turning on the television anymore, or even listening to the radio. They used to be nice distractions, but these days...even the entertainment is iffy at best.

So, well, what do I do? I spend a lot of my free time studying gospel doctrine and the scriptures. This is something I never devoted enough time to, ever, but these past few months have changed me. I started when I met Jeremy because I was so utterly grateful and joyous. I continued after we broke up because I needed the peace and the solace.

The scriptures have spoken volumes to me. So have reading and listening to talks on lds.org. Praying and fasting have helped me immeasurably. I am grateful for these gifts that I seem to have taken for granted for pretty much my whole life up until this point. I really am learning a lot about the very things I thought I already had a perfect knowledge of.

Well, I don't feel like getting into my emotions today. They haven't changed, really. I've been feeling more and more different than everyone around me. I spoke with my boss on Tuesday during my performance review, and somehow we got onto the fact that everyone who reviewed me loves everything I do and loves me, but they think I could come out of my shell and that I have a lot of leadership qualities I could offer. Well that's true...I was told once in SLC by a man I respected highly that I would never be one of those persons who was "in the woodwork". I have never aspired to be anyone great, and while I have no problems speaking in public; I do not get uneasy or anything..when it comes to actually meeting people, well...that's when I get queasy. However, I do know the capabilities and the talents I posess, and obviously my manager's at work do too. But anyway, back to my point, I told Julian that eventually I'd come out of my shell and shine, but I felt odd in Madison in general. I am so much younger than everyone else who I work with, and I am so vastly different politically and socially. Plus, this new understanding that is coming to me little by little about my mission (even though that is now up in the air and I'm not altogether sure if it is possible to accomplish anymore) makes me feel even more different and alone.

My mother told me that when she was carrying me she knew she was carrying someone special. She knew that I had a very important mission on this earth. She wasn't LDS then, but she gave me a special mother's blessing and she said so far, everything she asked for on my behalf has come true. She loves me so much, and has always encouraged me to reach my full potential. But she reminded me of this earlier this week. There is something only I can do, and I must go an do it.

I realize now more and more that it's going to be difficult. I've mentioned this before. But I think more and more about my son. I see him...I think I even know his name. I think he is very important to the church, and perhaps to more people than just the church. I am not sure, but that is who I see....and what I feel.

Mar 17, 2004

Interview with God

Pathways to peace

President Hugh B. Brown said that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because “Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham”.

Abraham must have wept bitterly at the thought of having to sacrifice not only his son, the one he loved and cherished, but also to his knowledge, he was sacrificing the very promise that the Lord had given him. But Abraham needed to learn about himself, and prove his love to the Lord. He must have wondered in agony if God had indeed lied to him. How could God ask him to sacrifice the very miracle he and Sarah had been given? The very gift through which the promise of the Lord would be fulfilled?

Oh, he must have indeed wept with sorrow. Yet his enduring faith, and his covenant with the Lord, convinced him of the necessity of obeying. And obey he did.

What must have Isaac felt when he realized that his beloved father was to sacrifice him? He, too, must have known of the mission that God had for him. He too must have known that it was through him that Abraham's seed would flourish throughout the earth. Yet he did not struggle. He loved his father, and he loved his God. Even at such a young age he was willing to be sacrificed and also sacrifice all that the Lord had promised to him as well.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “This story … shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute (the ram in the thicket) so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice”.

Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham. Isaac needed to learn something about Isaac.

Michelle needs to learn something about Michelle.

Mar 15, 2004

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40.

Mar 14, 2004

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalms 23:4.
I slept through my alarm this morning. I just woke up and turned it off. I then had a nightmare where I was at church...in the midst of all these people and families, and I was alone. I had no family, and the pain that racked my heart was unbearable. I was grateful to wake up, but then I realized I had missed sacrament. I called my mother because I wanted to talk to family and be reminded that I am loved and I do have such great blessings in my life. Then I decided to go to lds.org and listen to the CES Broadcast from last week.

Sister Bonnie D. Parkin gave the talk, and it is marvelous. I feel as though she is speaking right to me. She spoke on the importance of recognizing who we are and our divine birthright. The most poignant part, I believe, was when she likened each of us to Moses. Moses did some terrible things in his past until he realized who he really was. Through a mighty change in heart, he eventually became a prophet who lead his people out of bondage, away from the family where he had grown up. When Moses went to the mountain to speak with God, he was told outright he was a Son of God, and that God had a special mission for him to fulfill. He was likened unto His Only Begotten.

As soon as God's presence left him, and Moses regained his strength, Satan immediately came to tempt him. Oh sometimes Satan is so obvious, isn't he? And what does Satan do? He immediately goes for the jugular. He says, "Moses, Son of Man, worship me!". He tells Moses, basically, that he isn't a son of God, he does not have a divine birthright. He is simply a man.

Moses was smart, though. While he recognized his nothingness before God, he also recognized that he was a child of God...he was the literal son of our Father in Heaven. By knowing who he was, he was able to resist Satan and recognize his lack of glory and his darkness, and he commanded him "Get thee hence, Satan!" and therefore was able to eventually fulfill his foreordained mission.

My mother taught me as a young child those powerful words. I have used them at least half a dozen times on a daily basis over the past month. "Get thee hence, Satan! In the name of Christ, my Savior, I command thee to depart!". I'm grateful for Moses' example and for this knowledge, because it enables me to overcome that darkness and despair, and welcome peace and love back into my heart. This will enable me, too, to fulfill my own foreordained mission.

To listen to this talk in its entirety, I highly suggest going here: CES Fireside. What strength I gain from listening to these firesides and listening to our prophets. I am looking forward to General Conference next month and gaining more insight and strength from them.

Continuing from my post last night (or early this morning), Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love Jeremy and always will. I know my mission and I know who I am. I know Jeremy and who he is, in fact, my ability to see in him what even he seems to not see in himself enables me to love him all the more. I'm not talking potential, I'm talking about who he already is, the divinity that lies within him. Even though it has been so difficult to get through these long days and sleepless nights, this knowledge comforts me. I have the Holy Spirit there to sustain me and strengthen me with the hope that Jeremy will listen to the Spirit and come to his senses. He at least knows that I love him, and I'm grateful to have the capacity to love as such, even if he doesn't return it (right now). I have hope that my love and patience with him will, at the very least, be an example to him of what love really is, and as he feels it and gains a clearer understanding of this precious gift, he will finally know what it is like to be loved unconditionally. I have had this blessing in my life -- I have a wonderful family. I can only hope to share that same joy with this man that I love just as whole-heartedly as if he were my family.
Another long day and another sleepless night.

I spent most of the afternoon trying to get my Axim to work with Messenger. I ended up having to do a hard reset and reinstalling everything (I downloaded all the scriptures and footnotes, index, etc from lds.org so this was a lot of stuff to install again). This time around, it worked, but now Outlook won't bring in my email *sigh*. I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong, since I can't find this topic anywhere in support forums -- obviously I'm the only one with the problem.

THIS is why I like Apple so much better; it's just more intuitive and everything. Talk about setting up WIFI on my Vaio and on my Axim...ugh!! However, getting wireless to work on my iBook was a breeze....of course!

People say my family is obsessed with Apple and with Saturn. Ok so they might be partially right; but the truth is we are just a bunch of loyal people. We find something that works, and we stick by it. Same way we stick by each other, stick by our friends and our loved ones. I was talking about this with my mother today. Last night I dug out my old journal from fall of 1995 and re-read it. I told her how I had told Jaime that when I said I loved him, I meant it...it was forever.

And I will always love Jaime...there is no doubt of that. And my promise to always be his friend -- I will never go back on that, either. That is one thing about him as well -- he has always been my friend throughout all these years, even when we hurt each other the most. I talked to him today and after reading my diary from when we were dating, and then talking to him, well of course it brought back memories, and I enjoyed the conversation with him. I have a deep affection for Jaime, and I know I always will love him. However, he is not and never was meant to be the man who would take me to the temple. He was my first love, but his is not my true love, he is not my celestial love. I believe he is a kindred spirit and a soulmate in that regard. Yet he is not the man who is supposed to father my children and raise them to be the people they need to be. Jaime is a good man and one of the best friends I have ever had in my lifetime; and I truly believe we also knew each other in the pre-existence. But we are not meant for each other. This was reconfirmed again to me today. I made the correct choice; I made the choice that Heavenly Father knew I would make. I felt peace again at recognizing this, and gratitude for the way my relationship with him, followed by my unrequitted love for him, all that it taught me and helped prepare me for where I am today. For that I will always be grateful and I will always love him. I hope to see him a lot in the future, even after our deaths. I hope we always remain close. He is a man I have loved for a long time; both on a thelos and a pathos level. I have switched between the two for 8 years. I have even felt my love grow cold for him at those times when he hurt me the most. Yet all that defining of what love is, the differences between them, blah blah blah .... it really is pointless, because there really is little difference. Pathos? That's just a way of expressing love. Thelos? That's what we should have for every person on this earth, and that is the love that gets us through the hard times with our life or eternal companions. That's the love that bridges the gap when our passions sometimes grow cold and disagreements fill our hearts. There's a reason we bind marriage in the temple. There's a reason God plays a third role in that divine partnership. It really is all very simple, yet each and every one of us go through our lives trying to define love as if we were defining some tangible object. When we feel anger or hatred or resentment towards a brother or sister, do we tell ourselves that we no longer love them? No. That's an absurdity. We just don't like them very much at that point. Yet when we are in "romantic" relationships -- when problems arise, when disagreements surface, when stress and fear and doubt plays a role in those relationships, we allow those very same things to convince us that it must not be "love", even though in a familiar relationship we wouldn't even dare believe that.

So why do we do this? Ah, the wise counsel of our General Authorities helps us to put this into perspective. Infatuation is always at the beginning of a relationship. It in itself is not bad, but once the thrill dies down and two people are left to get to know each other for who they really are...that's when real love only begins to develop; that's when love needs to be nurtured the most. That's when we need to see our romantic involvements as potential family.

Elder Hugh B. Brown concurs: "Infatuation may be romantic, glamorous, thrilling, and even urgent, but genuine love should not be in a hurry. Time should be taken for serious thought, and opportunity given for [each partner to gain] physical, mental, and spiritual maturity. Longer acquaintances will enable both to evaluate themselves and their proposed companions, to know each other's likes and dislikes, habits and dispositions, aptitudes and aspirations".

Bruce C. Hafen has compared relationships between men and women to a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is friendship, and the ascending layers include building blocks such as understanding, respect, and restraint. At the very top is what he terms a "glittering little mystery called romance." If one tries to stand the pyramid on its point, expecting romance to hold everything else up, the pyramid will fall.

"Some people expect the Lord to provide a dramatic revelation about their eternal mate, but what usually happens is that as we drop our defenses and communicate with a potential spouse, we experience subtle, ongoing spiritual promptings about the relationship."

"Inspiration can come only when we are honest with ourselves, our potential mates, and the Lord. When we first date somebody, we may try to mask our faults and make ourselves as appealing as possible. To develop an honest relationship, however, we must move beyond superficial appearances and allow our true selves to emerge. Likewise, we need to be careful to avoid hero-worshipping a potential mate; we should not allow our hopes and expectations color the truth about him or her. When marriage is a possibility, dating partners should constantly assess how much real potential they have for harmony, conformity, and union."(John D. Claybough).

You know, going through the whole 8 years loving Jaime, you'd think I would have gotten all this by the time I met Jeremy. I got most of it; but the whole rush-rush thing went completely over my head. I wasn't rushing the marriage; but I was trying to rush the falling in love part. I do know from experience that you don't know how much you really love someone until tragedy strikes. I'm serious; it's so easy to say "I love you" when all is well and blissful, when you're twitterpated and love being in each other's company; when nothing seems like it will ever go wrong again. But when you finally face reality and you go through your first big fight; or you learn all those horrible little tendencies the other person has that drive you insane, or you learn about their controlling nature, or their quick rise to anger, or they threaten you, hurt you, even leave you...well that's when your love is truly tested. And in every relationship that love is tested again and again and again. It wasn't until I broke up with Jaime that I only began to realize what love was. It literally took years of learning about the person he was, seeing him at his best and at his worst, forgiving him, encouraging him...getting over trying to change him...well that was the true test of love.

Then enters Jeremy. Oh dear, sweet Jeremy. We did rush things; but I knew, even in the beginning, that all the "I love you's" we expressed to each other were true to an extent...they were more true because we had been searching for each other for so long and had been loving each other for so long without knowing who the other person was. So all those "I love you's" were directed towards the people we WOULD become eventually...and also said in the midst of deep infatuation, pathos, bliss....but just because the early "I love you's" might seem empty and meaningless does not mean that they aren't true. That's just their nature. I can't speak for Jeremy, but I knew that when I finally said those words I meant them. When I first said it, I knew that saying it, for me, meant that I was admitting that I didn't know him well yet...I was admitting that I had been waiting for him and was so joyous at finally finding him and having God's consent, but I was also admitting that I would love him no matter what happened...that I would love the past, present, and future Jeremy. My experience with Jaime taught me well. I knew that Jeremy and I would have our first big argument...I expected that and expected strife and heartache. What relationship doesn't carry grief and pain? That's why love is merciless. That's why it hurts to be the part of someone else. Yet when he broke up with me, well, going through that pain of rejection and heartache really cut to the core of my soul, and the words "I love you" were no longer empty and meaningless. They were only just beginning to fulfill their whole meaning. I made a promise when I first said "I love you", and when I said it before leaving that restaurant a month ago, I knew that it meant something. I knew it was the truth.

Love is hard work. It's never easy. But if one thinks about it from an eternal perspective -- since when was anything easy worth it? It's through trial and tribulation that true joy comes to pass. "I never said it would be easy; I only said it would be worth it."

Mar 12, 2004

So my sister left tonight. She won't return until next Tuesday. I hate to admit it; but I'll miss her. She's gone, my roommate is gone for the month (except stopping in here and there)...wow, it's way too quiet, and I've been alone for only 3 hours!

There isn't much to say, I guess. I saw a beautiful, gorgeous, purple and pink sunset today walking to my car from work. Again a wonderful reminder of the beauty of this earth. I also, during my lunch, scrolled through a gospel lesson that I downloaded onto my Axim and read that while eating. It was on womanhood in the gospel, particularily on the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I must admit that I have taken this gift for granted for much of my life since I've had it (since I was 8). Yet I have felt the spirit so overwhelmingly lately and I am so grateful for him. I mean imagine, having the constant presence of a member of the Godhead, and we all can have this exquisite gift! What a wonderful source of solace, of strength, and wisdom! The Holy Spirit can lead us to a higher plane of spiritual and physical understanding. I seriously do not know how I would have gotten through the past month (and consequently, the past 8 years...basically my whole adult life) without this gift. But I have especially noticed the Holy Ghost's presence this past month. Whenever tears threaten to spill, and the Adversary whispers to me, "why do you have faith in something that seems impossible? Why do you even believe in faith? Does logic support it?" the Spirit has come to comfort me and whisper truth to my heart. I have never felt this close to the Spirit since the summer of 1994 when I was living in SLC. I am so grateful that I have this constant companion..and he reminds me that I am a spiritual being having a human experience, not vice versa. So if I think with an eternal perspective and not such a human one, and I can focus more clearly on the goals and objectives and find strength and peace that I didn't know existed before.

I have had to constantly be on guard, though. Because of this strong presence of the Spirit, Satan has tried to overcome me in the ways he has won with me before; he is trying to get me to be angry, bitter, resentful, afraid, unfaithful, and doubtful. I am constantly fighting the temptation to sink into despair or ingratitude. Sometimes it's easier to feel sorry for one's self than it is to continue living life to the fullest extent possible. It's hard to be happy when you believe you have no reason to be happy. Ok, so I haven't progressed that much...I'm not what you'd call happy, but I have peace, and that is the biggest change in my life. I have never had this peace before. Never. It is a completely new concept for me. I've heard about it, but it is a new way the Spirit has touched me, and I am grateful for it.

I have this beautiful little dream inside my head; one that I can't forget about despite how much I tell myself that it's illogical and improbable. Yet, I cling to hope because without hope, there is not faith, and without faith, there is no knowledge and without knowledge, there is only destruction and despair. The worst case scenarios have always played out in my life, too often unfortunately, and you'd think someone like me who has lived out those scenarios one time too many would be a pessimist and a cynic. Ok, so I was a cynic...but I have always been a 'closet' optimist. I couldn't help it; I always had hope for something better. I always knew that someday that 'better' would come along. When I sit here and think back to the most horrible and heart-wrenching moments in my life, I ask myself - why was I never suicidal? What was it that made me keep going? What pushed me to move forward and be strong? I will tell you what it was; it was hope. When things got so bad that I couldn't even have faith, I clung to my hope that everything would be alright. Eventually that hope turned into faith...and soon afterwards a knowledge came, testifying to me that indeed things would be alright. Hope is a mighty powerful tool that we all have access to, and it can get us through the toughest of times. Hope can bring a miracle into our lives as it lends itself to faith.

Well, I should be getting to bed, it's after midnight, but I am not tired. I am pensive and introspective (haha - when am I not?). I want to feel light-hearted and spontaneous, though. I want to regain the sense of humor that I seemed to have lost. I've never been funny - ha ha, but I've always been one with a dry sense of humor and a fondness for stupid jokes.

A few websites that I frequent and that make me laugh:

http://www.joecartoon.com. . This one can be crude sometimes, but come on, you gotta love the lemmings.

http://www.homestarrunner.com. A classic. I'm not that big of a fan of Homestar runner himself, but I love Strong Bad. That's my kind of humor - check out "Strong Bad's email" :)

And of course, SNL's Brian Fellow's Safari Planet. Too bad Tracy Morgan left the show, because he was hilarious as Brian Fellows and Astronaut Jones. "What? A talking bird? That's craaaaazy! I'm Brian Fellows!"

:)
"Dude, I got a Dell!". Yes, I had to go to UPS yesterday morning to pick up my Dell Axim. They tried delivering it on Wednesday which I didn't expect, because Dell told me they wouldn't ship it until Friday. But anyway, I went and picked it up. It is sweet and very inexpensive.

I have to say, Apple still rocks the PC department, but if you have to go with a Microsoft-based OS, then I'd definitely say Dell is the top of the line. Obviously educational systems agree with me; the university here uses both Apple and Dell.

Anyway, as for our cruise next month, well it's sold out. So we have to try and find another one that costs the same or less...or do something else. I'm bummed, but hey, that's life. This stuff always happens so why should I be surprised?

I just live always with the hope, though, that someday something marvelous will happen; something that will just surprise the heck out of me and make me cry with tears of joy. Well ok, that already happened in December. I could not believe how the Lord had blessed me, after all this time. Then suddenly it's taken away. You can imagine how that feels.

Well, Laura accepted a position as faculty at BYU. I'm happy for her. You know I have been thinking about Utah lately too...and you know what, despite how much I disliked it when I was at BYU, I loved Salt Lake City. I have to admit that summer I spent there was the best summer of my life, and the most spiritual. I remember going through the temple visitor's center and receiving a strong impression that I would raise my family there. Of course, after my whole BYU experience, I buried that impression and tried to forget about it.

Yet, the Lord reminded me of it again on Sunday. I guess I shouldn't fight it. If that is where I end up, then that is where I end up. I guess it makes sense; considering what I know about my future family.

Ok, well...again, I have really matured over the past few months. It's interesting being able to see it when it's happening and not just after the fact. I just wish, though, that my miracle would happen. I have been waiting my entire life for it.

Mar 11, 2004

Again, lds.org is a wonderful source of solace and wisdom. A quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: "Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past."

Ironic that I came across this after my post from a few hours ago. Well, I might not be able to change or help or make others whole, but I can make sure that I am submissive to these changes myself; that I accept help from others when I need it; that I'm teachable and loveable and that while I reach out and serve others, I allow others to reach out and serve me.
I am hurting so much right now. I hate admitting this because of how far I have come, but I can't be strong all the time. I just hurt so much.

There is no greater pain than knowing you can't do anything to help someone. It is the worst pain in the world -- worse than rejection. Loving someone so much yet knowing you can't reach them, knowing that despite what you know, there is no way to convince them that it is the truth. I seriously don't know how the missionaries do it when their investigators fail to heed to the enticings of the Spirit. Well obviously they don't do anything...but it must sadden them so very much to walk out of those homes knowing that someone willingly turned down the truth.

It's even harder when it's someone you love. I've had my fill of this kind of pain in my life; it's all too common. Yet another reason I was so scared to be a missionary. Yet I know that I can't let fear dictate my decisions. I know that the Lord has asked me to be steadfast, perseverent, persistent, and courageous, even when the outcomes of my actions aren't what I expect; even when the hurt me more than seems bearable. This is one of the hardest things the Lord has required me to do, yet I know the love I have in my heart is strong enough to handle it. I have been blessed with a compassionate and understanding heart, and I have been told this numerous times. Because of this blessing I hurt all the more than an average person does, but...that is the price I pay for the gift and the mission the Lord has given me, and I would not trade it for any other gift.

But I hurt. I hurt so very much. I want to smile, I want to laugh, I want to forget the pain. I can bury it well some days, but others it is as raw as it was the very first time.
Wow. I woke up this morning and heard my sister actually watching the news. I knew something must be up, and I felt dejá vu as I called up the stairs and asked what was going on. Before she answered, I logged into to CNN and my fears were confirmed; something had happened. Terrorists had set off 10 explosions in the largest train station in Madrid as well as a few others. At least 173 people were dead.

I lived in Spain and am familiar with the terrorist group ETA, a basque separatist group who regularly does things like this. However, they usually set off car bombs as warnings; they don't set off such large scale terrorist attacks. Also, they always take credit for what they do. So far they haven't come forward about this one.

I feel really badly for Spain; I can empathize, I think all Americans can. I'm glad it wasn't as large as September 11th, but it is still a horrific tragedy that shouldn't have happened. The unfortunate thing is; peace is just not going to be on this earth until the 2nd coming. I know we will try all we can, and perhaps we can get a few years or even decades of peace in, but generally, anyone who reads the scriptures can attest to the fact that things are only going to get worse.

Yet another reason I feel the importance and the urging of the Lord to get myself together and prepare. I've really got some great ideas on food storage and what-not...but I also have to prepare myself and prepare for my future family, even if I won't have a family, technically, for a few (or several) more years yet. Yet another reason I want my husband to be someone who is familiar with war and knows how to get through it more than adequately. There are just so many things that are happening and that will happen...and as each day passes I realize the urgency to prepare myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Mar 10, 2004

Here are the lyrics to "The Rose" by Bette Midler. I have loved this song for a long, long time. The words entered my mind today and reminded me of the tenderness and fragility of love. It also reminds me of the comparison I made (in a post last month) of love to faith as it is described in Alma.

The Rose
Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, it's only seed

It's the heart, afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed
That with the sun's love, in the spring
Becomes the rose
So what's with the gas prices anyway? I stop to get gas on my way to work this morning, and while I'm pumping, I realize that I'm paying $1.73 a gallon...for the cheap stuff! I guess maybe I should read some of those forwards people send me and then I wouldn't have been so unpleasantly surprised...

Anyway, next week is Spring Break. Everyone is going somewhere and doing something fun. My sister is off to Spain on Monday. I'll be all alone at my house and I'm not looking forward to it. Well, Cristina might be there off and on, at least until she finds a job down here in Madison, but I'm going to be so bored and so lonely. *sigh*.

Ok, well enough feeling sorry for myself. I am going on a cruise next month. Plus I just heard from Gate's Auto Body; they were the most expensive estimate yet my insurance company sent them a check so they will be working on my car. This is great news, because they are the ones who offer free loaner cars! This way I will save money on a rental. They will have my car for maybe 4 days, but as long as I have something to drive, I should be ok.

Actually, I just remembered -- my sister is going to be gone all next week. I could probably drive her car around instead of theirs...but maybe it would be nice to have an automatic for awhile. Well, it's something to think about.

The Lord really has blessed me immeasurably, and I'm very aware of that. You know, I keep saying it, but I am just so in awe of how he has helped me to change so much in the past month. I'm not in awe of myself (although I'm pleasantly surprised) but I'm in awe of God, and how, by just letting Him in and listening to Him, one's life can completely change. I've been a member of the church since I was 2 so I never really went through a 'conversion' process...I was always a very peculiar child and I've always had a testimony. Yet I've always greatly admired converts, and while my conversion story isn't like most, because I already had a testimony of the gospel, mine is about a conversion to the application of the gospel in the areas of my life where it needed a lot of work.

I'm so excited. It's so cool to see the change that I have known was needed in my life but I had no idea how to do it! I'm excited to learn so much more about my own mission. I'm excited to help others with theirs. I just can't get over it; the miracles I have experienced lately are so marvelous...I am so utterly grateful.

Mar 9, 2004

You know, I would have liked to have taken the tour of Camp LeJeune when I was there. It's really too bad, because it has a lot of historical sites that I would have liked to see. Unfortunately for me, though, I was told rather roughly that I would not be allowed to come onto base. That really hurt. I guess he's lucky that I'm not a rebellious woman and I, at least, will do as requested.

Anyway, I ended up taking the internet tour instead. It just made me wish I could have done it in person, though. Well maybe someday I will go back. I did really like Jacksonville (and no, not just because it's swarming with good-looking young Marines, although that didn't hurt ;). The area has a lot of history. I would have liked to explore Wilmington more too -- they have some beautiful gardens, or so I hear. Plus being able to explore the coast more would have been nice.

You know, I can't help it; I feel the same way I did last year at this time when the war was going on. I cannot believe how I am attracted to military men. I saw one in cammies in Wal-mart a few days ago, and even though he was older, I just couldn't stop looking at him. I just sighed wistfully. What is it with me? I used to avoid them like the plague. I was always told not to trust them. But it's not because they are strong or that they know what they are doing; in fact, too many of them are too calloused, rough around the edges, unemotional, you know....but it's their willingness to serve our country. It's their courage and bravado. It's the way I feel protected when I'm around them. It's knowing that they are standing for something, and they are willing to die for that something.

I want my husband to be like that. He will protect me and our family. He has been there, and will already be prepared for what the future holds. I know that my family will play an integral part in the Army of God. I know that my husband will have to teach me what he knows, so that I can be able to protect my children as well. This is why I want to get into shape, and prepare, prepare, prepare. I understand the difficulties that will lie ahead, and I want to be more than ready.

However, my husband cannot be afraid to love or be loved. He is not afraid to show emotion when he should. He is extremely above average intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. He understands himself well and his nothingness before the Lord, but also understands the divinity and power that lies within him, and is able to forgive himself and also others. He has been in the depths of despair, has felt sorrow and shame, and has risen above it. He is willing to triumph over evil...and despite his weaknesses, is still determined to conquer them. Whether he does or does not in this life isn't what's important; what's important is the determination and perseverence. He does not run from adversity; he sticks through it. He will always be there for me as I will for him, come what may. I know what the future holds, to a point, and I know the necessity of this trait. The Adversary will constantly be on my back and will always try to influence me, my husband, and our children. The only way we will be able to be victorious over him is to have unconditional love for each other and a willingness to love even when love seems to have run cold. We are told in the scriptures that the hearts of men in the last days will turn cold. We know this is happening. However, I cannot allow it to in my family. That is the only way my family will survive and be able to feel the love of God continually. The only way.