Apr 30, 2004

Nightline tonight named off all the soldiers that have been killed, both in combat and outside of combat, in the war in Iraq. As I sat there and watched the faces flashing by, and the names read, my heart swelled with love and gratitude for these young men and women.

I truly do honor and marvel at the servicemen and women in our nation's military. I know I do not know what it is like to be one; I know I cannot fathom the life they lead, especially when overseas, on hostile soil, but I can fathom the pride and love that I have for them. My gratitude for our servicepeople and those who have stood with our country since its inception; freedom was built and is upheld upon the shoulders of these very people. I stand in awe and amazement of each one of them.

I am so proud of my cousins in the Army. I am so proud of Jeremy. Not only because he has served almost 4 years in the USMC, and he served in Iraq, but also because of the decisions he has made. I know it must be hard for him to make the sacrifices that he has, but to get most of his studies done, and then focusing on preparing for a mission; well, how more dedicated can one be?

I would like to call him my friend. I consider him a friend, in fact one of my best friends, and he told me he considered me one of his. Yet I do not know if he meant it. I miss him a lot; I miss speaking with him, laughing at his cheezy jokes, sharing spiritual thoughts with him -- learning from him. He has taught me so much. What a blessing he has been in my life. I just hope that his friendship may continue to be a blessing in my life, and mine in his.

I do miss him. I wonder, though, if he misses my friendship, too. The thought of losing his friendship hurts me more than anything.

But what can I do? I can't make him trust me. I can't convince him of anything. I can't lie or pretend ot be someone I'm not. I would just hope that me, being me would be what truly mattered; that he meant what he said in his last letter to me.

I don't know. Sometimes I feel so utterly worthless and unlovable, and even though I know that is not true, it's moments like this that make me feel that way. I spend my life trying to be the best person I can be, but it never seems to be good enough.

I have forgiven Jeremy for the hurt and pain he has caused me, but I wonder if he has forgiven me.
You know, I spent 8 years of my life loving Jaime. I do not regret it one bit. I did for awhile; I felt as if I had wasted that much time. But when is love a waste of time? Jaime was/is a good man. I will always love him in some way -- because he helped me discover who I was, to discover what it was to love and to be loved, and he was my best friend for a long time before we grew apart (due to actual distance). We are still friends, and I'm glad for that. He is more like a brother to me than anything. But no, I do not regret one bit of it.

Yet, I thought I knew the capacity of love. I loved him so very much, with all the energy of my soul and heart. But little did I know that I had the capacity to love even more. When I fell in love with Jeremy, I realized my capacity to give, and feel, a profound celestial love. This was something I couldn't experience with Jaime.

Despite the ending of our romantic relationship, I am grateful for that experience. I'm grateful to know now what a celestial love can offer me. Why would I want anything less than that? I can't believe at one point in my life I was willing to accept less than that -- that I was willing to even marry outside the temple. What a fool I was!

But now I know better. Now I know what it feels to truly love with every fiber of your being, to have that love approved by a loving Father in Heaven, and to gain a glimpse of eternity. Jeremy may or may not have loved me, but at the very least, I know now that my capacity to love on all levels, be it friendship, family, romantic...my capacity is truly limitless. I know I am very unique in this aspect, however, just being given the opportunity to fully love as I am capable of doing is where the true blessings and eternal glory lie. It's in the giving, not in the receiving.
Oh, cool beans! Olvia invited my sister and I down for the Memorial Day weekend. She is having a big birthday party! The last time I was in Indiana was over my birthday...but the people in her ward were so super nice and friendly. It will be fun to see them again and spend some time with them all, plus to celebrate CHIQUITA's birthday :)

Apr 29, 2004

"One Friend"
Sung by Dan Seals

I always thought you were the best
I guess I always will.
I always thought that we were blessed
And I feel that way still.
Sometimes we took the hard road
But we always saw it through.

If I had only one friend left
I'd want it to be you.

Sometimes the world was on our side
Sometimes it wasn't fair.
Sometimes it gave a helping hand
Sometimes we didn't care.

'Cause when we were together
It made the dream come true.

If I had only one friend left
I'd want it to be you.

Someone who understands me
And knows me inside out.
Helps keep me together
And believes without a doubt,
That I could move a mountain
Someone to tell it to.

If I had only one friend left
I'd want it to be you.

And knows me inside out.
Helps keep me together
And believes without a doubt,
That I could move a mountain
Someone to tell it to.

If I had only one friend left
I'd want it to be you.
Well, it seems like my life has slowed down a bit. I don't have any new insights or things I recently learned to add to my blog. My life hasn't been exciting either, so there isn't much to share.

I don't know -- I'm doing better than I was earlier this week. I was a bit anxious and afraid but peace has settled back into my heart. There is comfort in receiving confirmation that I'm still heading down the right path. The Adversary likes to disrupt my moments of peace, and try to convince me otherwise, but I am getting better and better at recognizing him and his deceitful ways, and avoiding the traps he lies for me.

My sister has suddenly become so popular, especially with men. I'm happy for her, she is a great girl, and I think these guys realize that. She plays it cool though -- something I still need to learn *ironic smile*. She was on the phone all night yesterday; one person after another was calling her. But she is happy, and therefore I am happy for her! I'm not jealous. Well, I'm jealous of the male friendships, but I by no means want a serious relationship right now. I want time to become a better person before that happens.

Anyway, things are ok. It's been warm out, and we are supposed to get storms today. I hope we do, even though I forgot my umbrella (again!). I always feel so energized when we get storms.

Hmmm, I have nothing interesting to say! I guess I'll just end this here before I find something boring to write on and on about :)

Apr 27, 2004

I just wanted to say how much I love Vader and Beau. They are wonderful creatures. My life would be so much emptier without them. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for creating animals! He placed their stewardship in our hands. I'm so grateful I can take care of and love unconditionally just two of them!

Whoever says animals don't feel emotions is wrong. It is so obvious they feel love, pain, fear, contentment, and many other emotions. Life just wouldn't be the same without them, and again, I am just so utterly grateful.

Apr 26, 2004

I can't sleep, and I can't put my thoughts into words right now. It's driving me nuts. I really need to sleep, but my nerves are just on end right now!

Where's the Tylenol PM when you need it???
I've been working pretty hard at work lately. Les and I have some great ideas on making our streaming website (http://streaming.wisconsin.edu) more dynamic. I want to add a bulletin board with forums, and we want to allow users to "review" software tools.

Les got some great feedback about the site, which I have totally designed myself. One woman wrote and said she had been looking for a site that was designed well and easy to navigate, and she said she has never seen a site like this one:) That made me feel great.

I have to present at a symposium on distance education in a few weeks. I'm not nervous; yet :) I will be talking about designing online courses for distance education from the graphic designer's perspective, and the web programmer's perspective (since I'm both :). It gives us a chance to also showcase our work and potentially bring clients in from Academia around the campus.

So, that is my professional life these days. I will be attending the very hip Mac Design Conference and Expo in the beginning of June, in Chicago, and they are hooking me up well. It's a good thing I've gotten used to travelling alone and staying alone in hotels. I will have four days and three nights there, but I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

As for my personal life, well other than going to the gym regularly, and working on recruiting host families for CCI, I haven't been doing anything worth mentioning. But my life is okay. I've been a little down the past few days, but I'm sure I'll just pick myself back up soon. Working out does help a lot :)

Apr 25, 2004

Well, I just got back from my first interview with a potential host family. I had to drive to Sun Praire, but the family seems very nice. The couple both served missions in Germany, and the children are spoken to in German. They want to host a student from Germany. It was exciting to meet them and to help facilitate this process. I think the family and the student will work well together.

Well, so far I have been enjoying my time spent at the gym. I really don't do much in the free time I do have, so using it in a more productive manner is very gratifying. All I know is that I want to continue developing this new lifestyle. I've been on enough diets and fads to know that those don't work; what I need is a lifestyle change. Thus, over the past two years I have been doing exactly that. It is extremely slow, but the changes I'm making are permanent, and I am proud of that. I want to be a good example for any children I may have, because I want my family to be healthy, active, and happy.

Well, there isn't much to say today. My life is pretty boring, in all honesty. Well, there is onething. It is now illegal for me to drive my car. I got a parking ticket on 12/30 of last year, which I paid on-line. They then sent me a letter telling me I still owed $10, so I paid that. Then I got a letter on Friday (and I didn't get home until 6:30) telling me that since I hadn't paid my citation, my vehicle registration is now suspended. Of course no one was in at the office and they don't work on Saturdays. I also found out that it takes 10 days to get my registration re-instated. You can imagine how upset I was. Why should I have to pay for someone else's mistake? Because that's life, that's why. *sigh*. I'm still driving, I have no other choice, but I wrote down the THREE confirmation numbers I have for paying this bill three times to carry with me in case I get pulled over. But, I have to watch my speed, and speaking of which, I have got to get my speedometer fixed. I keep forgetting it is 6 mph off.

Apr 24, 2004

I have learned so many valuable lessons over the past four months. Jeremy has influenced me immeasurably and has completely changed my life, both by his love and then later his breaking up with me. He and the consequences of those actions have changed my life completely.

Yes, I have learned so much. But one big lesson sticks out to me. Heavenly Father saw it fit that I learn that I can truly handle anything, and handle it not just begrudgingly, but with peace, with grace, and even with joy. I will admit this, and I hope it does not sound arrogant because I say it in all humility and gratitude towards my Father in Heaven, but this transformation is amazing to me. How could I change so quickly? How is it that my usual feelings of anger, mistrust, self-interest, rebellion and denial have not once entered into my heart since all of this has happened? How is it that I am finding joy in my tribulation? This is not who Michelle Glenetski is...or should I say was. I am realizing now that I was not living; I was just passing through life, waiting for it to happen to me. Don't get me wrong; I was always a go-getter and a goal-setter, and very perseverent and industrious, but I still acted as if life owed me something.

But now it is different. I feel as if I owe life something; I owe my God something. I now know I can and will pass through the adversity in my life with grace, even if not with ease; and I know that I do not want people to tread lightly around me, to protect me, or to feel that their problems may be too much for me to handle. James told me something interesting. He said I was very emotional because I was "psychically sensitive"; in other words, empathetic. Empathy is like telepathy, but instead of hearing words or thoughts from other people, I literally feel their emotions.

And this is so entirely true. I've been that way my whole life. But now I want to embrace this gift as my blessings have told me to do. I do not need to be coddled; I do not need the attention I so craved even a few short months ago. I do not need to be "spoon-fed" love and devotion. I just simply need to be allowed to love. Few people in my life realize that protecting me from their lives and their problems is denying me my very mission. I love to help, and I love to be involved in any way that I can and I am welcomed. Yes, I am emotional, but it's not always a curse. I crave being able to help people, to understand them, to empathize with them, and to be there for them when they are going through their own trials and adversity.

Don't get me wrong, I don't like seeing my friends and family suffer, but if I can be at all helpful, becaues of my gift of empathy and love...then I hope that the people in my life will allow me to do so. I can handle it, I was born to do so. I knew this 14 years ago, and I know it even more today. I know it may be hard to understand; most people feel drained and helpless themselves when they find themselves entangled in the lives of others, especially when it is during times of pain, heartache, and adversity, and it may be hard to understand why I actually want to be there during those very same times. But as much as I do literally feel the pain too, I also feel a sense of purpose; I know that I am doing what the Lord would have me to do, to help whomever I can if at all possible.

If anything, this has been driven into my mind and my heart during this whole ordeal. More than ever I want to reach outside myself and help others. More than ever do I want to not try to hide my heart, but rather share it with others. I literally look forward to serving my loved ones and others in the best way Michelle Glenetski knows how; and that is through understanding and compassion, and yes, empathy.

Apr 22, 2004

Good workout:) Anyway, here is an interesting link about something that I knew existed, but didn't know there was a term for it, much less a whole governmental program that used it to obtain intelligence and other information otherwise 'inaccessible' through conventional means of obtaining such.

Anyway, I can't get into detail because I can't explain it well, but here is the link a friend sent to me. It's about an LDS man (Paul H. Smith) who actually was a 'psi' spy for our government using this very technique.

Here are two paragraphs to whet your appetite (especially if you are LDS):

"As we learn from LDS teachings, our lives did not start with mortal birth, contrary to what many other religions believe. Rather, we lived in a "pre-existence" as spirits. Spirits, according to the missionary discussions I learned when I was on my mission, could speak without talking, could cross distances without walking, and could presumably through some intangible way know things about places other than where they were--all because they had as yet no physical bodies. By what we learn from the scriptures and writings of prominent early church leaders, these notions seem to be accurate. 

When we come into this existence, our spirits in some way become bonded to/with our bodies. We also pass through a "veil," which prevents us from knowing anything about the spirit world from which we came. However, though we may have lost awareness of our celestial origins, it says nowhere that we lost our previously-held spiritual abilities. At most, it seems to me, we may have forgotten them along with everything else when we "came through the veil." So I suspect that whenever a person develops some sort of "psychic" skill, he or she is just "remembering"--usually in rather imperfect form--spiritual abilities and skills they have always possessed, but only fleetingly and vaguely recall while in mortality. In this case, remote viewing may indeed be an attempt at "spiritual seeing" filtered through the heavy screen--"a glass darkly"--of our physical mental processes."

I highly suggest reading this...especially those of you who refuse to believe that the empirical "reality" as defined by materialists is all there is to our world. Paul H. Smith goes into a lot of wonderful ideas, connects the parapsychological to the Holy Ghost, etc...it is a definite must read for anyone who is even remotely spiritual and believes in "evidence of things not seen" :)

CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON PSYCHIC SPY: What My Seven Years as a Government Remote Viewer Taught Me About the Gospel.
Well, I'm off to the gym again to give it another go:) If anything exciting happens, I'll be blogging later tonight:)
Yikes, my legs still hurt from Tuesday. I couldn't go yesterday because I went to institute last night. We discussed Jeremiah 16:16, Ezekiel 37, and a few other scriptures (we are currently studying the Old Testament). We also discussed Christ and temptation, and I was enthusiastic in sharing what James had taught me concerning Christ, and the preciousness of His gift of Atonement.

Brother Christensen then shared a quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity that really explains the reality of temptation and the gloriousness of Christ's Atonement:

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly
idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an
obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.
After all, you find out the strength of the German Army by fighting it, not by
giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it,
not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply
does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad
people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a
sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil
impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the
only man who never yield to temptation, is the only man who knows to the full
what temptation means-the only complete realist" (C.S. Lewis, Mere

Because I love C.S. Lewis so much, I thought I'd close this blog by including a few more miscellaneous quotes from him. Enjoy.

"It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing...to find the place where all the beauty came from."

"The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting."

"[Consciousness] is either inexplicable illusion, or else revelation."

"Many things--such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly--are done worst when we try hardest to do them."

"God has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense."

"All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."

"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."

For more quotes, check out this page:

Quotes from C.S. Lewis

Apr 21, 2004

Well, I went to the club again tonight:) I was still kind of sore from yesterday, but I pushed myself harder, until my hair was wet from sweat and my legs screamed for rest. Yeah, they hurt right now, but it feels so freaking good. I have that whole endorphin thing going on again :)

So I re-did my blog page today (obviously). I found a beautiful photo, manipulated it a bit, and used my new skills with css positioning and programming to create this page. Pretty nifty how it scrolls like that, huh?? I know, I know, I'm a web goddess ;)

But anyway, today was a pretty good day, for no special reason. I mean the weather sucked; the temperature dropped back down into the 40's, it rained all day and I had to walk back to my car with no umbrella...lol well I suppose I could have taken the bus but I haven't done that in ages, and anyway, what's a little rain going to do? I'm not a high maintenance chick, well at least not that way *wink*...yes, I love fashion, I like to look good, have my makeup on and all that, but I'll also pull my hair up in a ponytail, throw on some old jeans, leave the makeup at home and just get out there. Besides, I was just saying a few days ago how I need to spend more time outdoors, right?

You know how you feel when you have an epiphany? You suddenly realize something that just makes so much sense, you wonder how you could not have realized it earlier? Well I had one of those this weekend, and it became ever clearer today. I wouldn't say it was a 'moment', because it's obviously a learning process, but suddenly I just realized that things are turning out exactly how they should, and I'm doing the things and making the decisions that I should be. You know, with everything that happened between Jeremy and I, I sit here and look back and I really wish I could have just skipped over the feeling rejected, lost, and abandoned. I guess it's true what they say, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". But... my mother asked me today if I still felt rejected or hurt. I was surprised at myself, but I said "no". And it's true! How did it happen? Because I finally was able to get over myself and begin to understand the why. And because I'm able to better understand the why, the more empathy and kinship I feel towards Jeremy. He really is a wonderful man, even if he doesn't think he is. I admire him so very much - a reason I still consider him one of my best friends:)

I have to ask myself why I didn't just get this two months ago. Well, I don't know the answer to that, but at least I got something out of this time -- a whole new perspective on life, an appreciation for blessings, a better understanding on personal revelation and free agency, and a deeper love for Christ and His Atonement.

Yup, I'd call that an epiphany.

Apr 19, 2004

HOLY COW! I feel great! I really got those endorphins kicking;) I went to the Princeton Club today, for the first time (my membership just started today) and I was there for two hours. I did 30 minutes on the cycle, 10 minutes on the ellyptical, 10 min on the stairmaster, swam 10 laps, did a few laps in the warm current pool, relaxed a bit in the eucalyptus steam room (that sure helped my sinuses:) and then sat for a bit in the whirlpool.

My arms hurt, ironically, even though I worked my legs more than anything tonight, but man, I rock! I enjoyed myself too; I went with my sister since with my membership she got a free month, and we had fun. I haven't sweated like that in ages, or so it seems. Much more of a workout than at my previous gym. Plus a lot more stuff to do, and if you bring headphones, most of the machines have their own TV with cable so you can watch your shows while working out:)

I hope I can get this to be habit -- of course I won't have 2 hours every day to do this, but at least 40 minutes 4 times a week should do the trick:)
I have had "What a Wonderful World" in my head for three days straight. I'm not sure why; but it hasn't left my head:) I guess I'm noticing even more the beautiful things around me. It was very windy and a storm was brewing last night, so I opened the patio doors in my bedroom so that the cats could let out some steam by staring out at the world (or at least my backyard). Storms make them crazy. Anyway, that helped, and it brought a fresh cool breeze into my room. It had been a muggy day; the temp only reached about 75 but the humidity must have been near 100%. Anyway, I got down on the floor with Mikel and Vader, turned off all the lights except the patio light, and spent half an hour with them, staring out at the backyard. It is amazing what you notice when you take the time to do so. The noises, the smells, the sights...it reminded me of when I was a little child and how I adored being outside. Little children and animals are very similar in many aspects; not only are they innocent, but they truly know what is important in life. They recognize those little things and cherish them. I'm glad I took the time to do this. I remembered the big pine tree in our front yard when I was a kid, and how its boughs dropped to the ground, forming a dark green, sweeping canopy. My brother and I would go inside and we would have our own little world there under the tree. We collected pinecones, watched birds, and climbed as far as we could get. I'm sure it irritated my mother to have to check for ticks every day, but she still let us play there. As I lay there with the cats, I recognized those scents and sounds that I have become immune to as I have matured.

This morning was also windy and overcast, but a little cooler. As I was walking to work, I saw an absolutely adorable little bird on the ground in front of me. It was a baby yet. I watched it try to fly away as I approached, and I just smiled and thought, "what a cute little bird!". I think I definitely have to keep getting outside to enjoy all the rich beauty that is around me. Maybe I cannot travel to exotic places right now, due to money and time constraints, but there is still so much to discover right here! I hope I continue to remember how I felt yesterday, laying there with Vader and Mikel, and try to take the time to notice the little things more often.

Apr 18, 2004

James taught me something beautiful in a letter this weekend. It was about Christ, personal revelation, and free agency. I had touched on this idea in an earlier blog, when I mentioned that even Christ lives by the same law that we all do, namely that of free agency. Christ chose to love all of us.

But James took this further, and I believe he is right. Christ was chosen, in the beginning, to be our Savior. Yet even He, during His earthly existence, could have failed! This is evident in the fact that the apostles chose to share in the scriptures that even Christ was "tempted in all things"; that His 40 day and 40 night fast in the desert was difficult for Him. I had always thought that that particular story didn't mean much; in my eyes, Christ was/is a God, and who was closer to our Father in Heaven than Jesus? I guess I had assumed that with the exception of the last few years of His life, that things were easy for Him. What a mistaken idea I had!

Even Christ had to accept certain revelations on Faith. How could He know that He would rise from the dead? He had to believe in His Father. Even He, during His agony in Gethsamanee, an agony none of us will experience, all because of His precious sacrifice, He asked the Father to stop the pain. He asked His Father to remove that bitter cup; and cried "Oh Father! Why hast thou forsaken me?"

Jesus Christ could have walked away from it all, but He didn't. He laid His life down on the basis of a revelation. He realized He had a divine mission, just as many of us do (although not as glorious and as important as His), and He willingly gave Himself so that we all might be resurrected, forgiven, and have the chance to progress and return to our Father in Heaven.

Yes, our Savior certainly was the epidomy of love, sacrifice, and revelation. Personal revelation comes through Him. Miracles come through Him. As James said to me, when He was taken, even His most faithful follower denied Him three times. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak".

Yes, my testimony of the Atonement is growing stronger day by day. I feel so much closer and a more personal connection with my Elder Brother and Savior. I am really beginning to realize that yes, He indeed understands me...it's not just words anymore...I can feel His love, better understand His sacrifice, and more fully comprehend the gloriousness of His Father's plan.

Christ was more like each of us than we know. This is why His sacrifice is truly an amazing, ultimately personal, gift.

Apr 17, 2004

I got my ring back today. Although part of me is sad, I guess I'm glad to have it. This ring has been with me for the past 10 years, in Utah, in Spain...through everything. It's nice to again have it on my finger.

You know, I realize that Jeremy must think I hate him. But this is so not the case. I understand the necessity of everything we have both been through. He really is my best friend, and despite everything else that we went through, I don't want to lose that friendship. I understand his decision, and I accept it. He doesn't want me to wait; therefore if an opportunity arises, and the Lord tells me it is ok to love again, and to be married, then I will. As I have said before, I will always have faith in the word of the Lord, and believe the words He speaks to me.

I wasn't ready to be "just a friend" the first time Jeremy asked; right before we broke up. I was afraid I never would. But I am ready and willing now. I have done it before, and because of my experiences I know that friendship really is the most important, most sacred, and most memorable part of any relationship.

Jeremy's friendship was, and still is, the most important and precious thing he gave to me. I miss his friendship.

Apr 16, 2004

I feel so alive! The most amazing, beautiful electrical storm is going on right now. I went out for a drive, rolled down my windows and opened my sunroof. The light show was absolutely breathtaking!

I get it from my Mom...we both love storms. I used to be so afraid of them when I was a little girl, but now I'm the opposite. I literally feel them coming...my body tells me when there will be a storm. I get so much energy from them.

Heavenly Father has made such a wonderful, beautiful world!
It is just absolutely gorgeous today. The high today is 81, the sun is shining, there is hardly a cloud in the sky...I really enjoyed my drive and walk to work today. These moments don't last long, but I felt actual joy this morning, as I gazed upon the beauty around me, and thanked the Lord for all that he has given me...given us. Just one thing would make my joy complete...and if that miracle happened, I would seriously be the happiest woman on this planet.

Life is beautiful, despite the trials and the pain. As Louis Armstrong so wonderfully put it;

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Apr 15, 2004

I really wish I could get a 4 week sabbatical this summer. My sister found a 4 week intensive study program in Barcelona, where you can obtain a world-reknown teaching license in TEFL and/or TESL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language or Second Language). It also costs about $2000, but considering that includes housing and some living expenses, that's really cheap. Plus, you can then work anywhere in the world.

Ok, so I feel I'm a little old to be trapsing around the world like I used to. But what else do I have in store for me? I wonder how long my cats would have to be quarantined to take them there..but then again, it's only 4 weeks.

Anyway, I remember looking into a program like that years before, and it was probably the same program because that one, too, was located in Barcelona. However, Laurie wants to get the certificate and then stay in Spain and teach. I just want to come back to the U.S. and settle down. I used to want to live in Spain, and marry a Spaniard, and spend summers in the U.S. But my desires have drammatically changed over the past few years, especially since 9/11. I love my country, and I know it's the promised land. I am not ethnocentric, but I recognize it for what it is. I want to marry an American, preferably a veteran, who knows and understands truly how precious our country is.

Which reminds me again how much I miss him. He was everything I had ever hoped for, even his desire to serve a mission; even his weaknesses. How the heck could I possibly top that?


Apr 14, 2004

I have this horrible cold that doesn't seem to go away. I've had it for like a month, it seems; I'm guessing I'm just being re-infected at work, since we all have had it at least once.

But...I got a lead on a family today who is interested in a foreign exchange student from Germany! This is great, because I was beginning to think I wouldn't succeed in placing even one student. I guess the woman heard from a flyer at church (Sun Prairie Ward), and her family is really, really interested. I will interview the family sometime next week, pending a place for the student at Sun Prairie High School, and then we'll have that student ready to come!

This is exciting:) I will be manning a few booths for CCI (Center for Cultural Interchange) at local community events to try and attract potential families as well. Maybe I will get some leads there, too.

Well, I can't say too much today, because my eyes are red and my head feels like it weighs twice as much as usual. I worked from home today for a few hours, but I really don't want to do that again tomorrow. Time goes by much quicker and I feel so much more productive when I go to work.


Apr 13, 2004

I really love my family. I have been thinking about them a lot lately, and realize how much I have taken them for granted over the past several years. I have so many wonderful memories, lessons learned, experiences given....I just cannot share them all. But I am enjoying reminiscing the past, especially my childhood. Despite the struggles my family went through with divorce, my mother being in school full-time, being poor...I still think back and smile.

I do not know how my mother did it. I have said this before, but as I get older, the more I am perplexed in trying to figure out how she raised us. My mother is truly a remarkable woman, and so are her sisters. They each have gone through such heart-wrenching trials, and yet they each have come out strong and successful. They each love the Lord, and have raised good children. How remarkable they truly are!

Super-Moms, that is what they are. I will share my mother's story. She married somewhat young, and almost immediately got pregnant with me. Three kids and seven years later, she was separated and later divorced. I cannot even imagine what an ordeal that must have been for her. Then she went back to school full-time, worked almost full-time, and raised the three of us, with the help of her loving sisters. She supported a family of four on $649 a month. I know, because I was a somewhat precocious child, and I was always worried about our family's finances. I was the one who ran out to the mailbox on the 1st of every month to collect the check. I was very well aware of how little we had, yet despite it all, she raised us on that little bit of money as well as with some help from her sisters. We never went without anything that we needed, and we received just enough of our wants to satisfy us, yet not spoil us. My mother taught us by example and by word the value of hard work, both physically and mentally. She taught me the value of prayer and faith, especially in the face of such trial and adversity. Her theme during those years was the song "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi -- and she would listen to that whenever she was down. She kept her cool, and I very rarely saw her cry. She was always upbeat with us, and loved us so much. I know the three of us never questioned it.

How did she do it? How did my mother accomplish the seemingly impossible? She refused to be a statistic; she refused to allow her family to continue the vicious cycle that both her family and my father's family had dealt with. She was not going to allow her children to become what most divorced, poor children, born with genes laden with alcoholism, physical abuse and depression, become.

And we didn't. My mother taught me so much, and is so much a part of the woman I am today. She taught me to never give up. She taught me that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. She taught me the value of education and of industrialism. She taught me to respect others and love them despite their choices. She taught me religion and spirituality. She taught me faith and perseverence. She taught me to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity. She taught me to love and respect myself, and to always do my best, but at the same time she never demanded perfectionsim. She was always there with a sincere compliment or loving correction when needed. She never pushed me more further than I was willing to go myself. She taught me to not accept 2nd best -- to recognize that which I deserve. She taught me that I was a daughter of God.

Despite the lack of money, we were involved in all the extra-curricular activities that we could be in. My mother wanted us to be educated as well as well-rounded. I took 6 years of dance and have a trophy to prove it. I was involved in school productions, government, clubs, cheerleading...and when I was old enough I also worked a part-time job. She encouraged me to save money to go to Paris with my French Travel Club, of which I was president. She sent all of us to scout camp, Girl's camp, or day camps. Each year we would pile into our AMC Gremlin or Ford Escort, along with my Aunt Colleen and her two boys, and we would drive all the way down to Great America or to Wisconsin Dells to camp for the weekend. Boy, we looked forward to those vacations! I remember so many things about those days...I remember the tornado that came while we were camping at Jellystone park. I remember my sister and my cousin Jason, who sat in the back of the hatchback, having to duck everytime we screamed "COP!". I remember the night when our Gremlin flooded through the holes in the floor (and I think that was the last time I ever saw that monstrousity, LOL). I remember the first time I went on a roller coaster with Topher and Kevin at Six Flags Great America.

Oh, I could go on and on. But my point is, I have such fond memories. I had a wonderful childhood. I know my mother thinks back and wishes she could have done more for us, but the three of us see things differently. When we had no electricity for three days, we didn't find reason to complain. Rather, for us it was an adventure! We may have been embarassed by the loud, ugly cars my mother drove to drop us off at school, as we asked her to kindly leave us a block away, but we knew at the same time how grateful we were to have transportation, and an Uncle who could fix the car when it constantly broke down. I remember how little money my mother spent on herself; in fact, I don't remember her ever buying herself clothes or anything for herself, but she would spend what extra she had on us, buying us those needed gym shoes or paying for a field trip for school.

I love my family, I really do. Despite the arguing that occured, especially when we were teenagers, we were always there for each other, through thick and thin. I know I was a hard person to get along with, yet my family patiently endured through those tough times and I am so grateful for them for doing so.

They are my strength and my joy. Sure, there are times when not even my own mother may understand me, but the fact that she tries is what means so much to me. She has never given up on any one of us, not for one second, and for that very reason we are the people we are today.

Mom, I love you. Auntie C, I love you. Auntie and Uncle M, I love you. Keekee, Tanya, Corey and Seanie, I love you. JC and Lyssa..I love you. Topher and Borie Boo, I love you.

I love you all. Thank you for being my family.

Apr 12, 2004

I'm a little sad today. There is no real reason why, other than the fact that I'm trying to deal with so much at once; trying to be realistic yet full of faith, trying to be mature yet submissive like a child. Trying to do the Lord's will but also trying to fight my own. It's quite tiring and sometimes depressing. Yeah, I know I said I can handle anything that comes my way; and I'm not retracting that statement. But there are times when I'm just too tired to remain fully alert. It is difficult to constantly keep myself on guard...from myself. It's exhausting to fight off negative emotions and constantly remind yourself of your blessings. It shouldn't be hard, but it is, especially when you are weighed down with so much.

Well, as all my avid readers know *wink* I like to put down song lyrics in my blog, especially those that reflect my thoughts or my mood. I haven't written poetry in a long time, so I'm not trying my hand at that currently, but rather using poetry or lyrics that have already been written.

With or Without You

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you

Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you

Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you

And you give yourself away...

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she’s got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

And you give yourself away...

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you

Apr 11, 2004

Alright, so I'm back in Madison. Beau just looked at me with that angry stare of his; he doesn't like to be left alone. The other two could care less, but Beau gets emotional about it. But I bent down and kissed his head and he forgave me right away, so now all is well at the homefront.

I drove 16 hours in less than 72 hours! Yikes...that's a lot of driving. I had entirely too much time to think about things, but I also had time to pray. It was Easter weekend, after all, and I took some of that time to reflect upon the meaning of Easter. Being at the temple helped me remember the Atonement as well.

I was feeling pretty vulnerable on my drive home yesterday. I said a prayer and asked for a spiritual companion as I drove, to keep me going and to take away the growing loneliness. It seemed that my prayer was almost immediately answered. I remember as a child, my mother always told me that each of us has a guardian angel who watches over us. I was fascinated with this concept, and sometimes tried to speak to my guardian angel. Many times, frustrated that I couldn't speak, hear, or see him or her, I would stand there, and then make a really quick move to see if I could sneakingly "catch" my guardian angel off guard, and grabe his or her robe :) Yes, I was a silly little girl, but even then I had a need to understand things.

I also remember sitting with my mother at night, I on one side and my brother on her other side, as she would read the Book of Mormon and/or Bible stories for children to us. I loved spending that time with her each night, and learning about Nephi and his brothers, or learning about Daniel and the Lion's Den, or about my big brother, Jesus Christ. During those evenings my mother taught us different gospel concepts, and I remember well the one when I learned about how if I asked the Lord for something that I wanted or needed, he would grant me with it according to his will. Ok, so I was about 5 years old, but I had the faith of any 6 year old girl, and I was immediately certain that this would work.

One night I was determined to put the power of prayer into action. I knelt down by my bed, and I prayed and prayed that Heavenly Father would send me a princess dress. All I wanted in the world was a beautiful princess dress, just like the one that Cinderella had. I could hardly sleep that night, because I kept waking up and looking around for that dress. I was so excited; I felt like Christmas was the next day!

The next morning, I woke up, and I eagerly jumped out of bed. I looked down at the floor, and all around the room, but there was no dress. I was disappointed, but even at that time, I had my first lesson of prayer, and when I talked to my mother about it, she explained better the concept of prayer. I have to admit that a few months later, that prayer was indeed answered. For my 6th birthday, my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Mike bought me the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. My eyes just lit up as I opened that present. I'm guessing that my mother probably played a hand in it, but even so, Heavenly Father did answer my silly, childish prayer. I never prayed for a princess dress or anything so inconsequential again, but receiving that answer did teach me a valuable lesson. I used prayer throughout my childhood to seek comfort, answers, and to just ask my Father in Heaven for help when I needed it. He always seemed to answer my prayers when I would lose something, and get down on my knees and ask Him to help me find it. Often I would find the lost object somewhere where I had already looked several times before praying. I prayed for help in school, and i prayed for my family. One of my most fervent prayers as a child was praying for my Uncle Mike's life when he had his heart attack.

These days, I still pray to find lost items, I pray for help at work, and I pray for my family. But the valuable lessons a loving mother taught me helped me to develop a relationship with my Father in Heaven that has sustained me throughout my entire life. I have always felt as if He was someone with whom I could speak about anything. I knew He loved me, and I had no need to be afraid of Him.

I love to say my morning prayers as I am walking to work. I pray in the car when I am driving, because I find that is when I can find the most silence and privacy during my day. I just sit there, and I talk with Him like I would speak with a close friend or a family member on the telephone. Sometimes I worry that I may be too familiar, and because of this habit I am not quite adept at saying eloquent prayers in church or at family gatherings, but at the same time, I feel that the familiarity I feel with Him helps me to develop a more personal relationship.

Easter was good this year. Little Corey said the prayer, and he made us all smile. My Aunt Colleen made a great meal, as always. My brother wasn't there, as usual. But I spent the time laughing at speaking with my family...soaking up the love and the comfort that one can only find at home. I just wish those who should have been there would have been able to come. I missed seeing my brother and Louisa, Alyssa and Jason...and another presence was sorely missed. A young man who visited earlier this year, who immediately became part of my family...he was missed, too.
Well, after that excruciating long drive today, you'd think I'd have zonked out as soon as I got to Bowler. But I'm still up, and it's 2:21 AM. I have so much on my mind, and I know I won't put down here the majority of it, but, I'm going to just let it flow, and not worry about structure or whether or not it makes sense.

First of all, a few pictures. I was saddened that I wasn't able to go into the Brigham Young home today, but I was able to take a few pictures of the outside. Click on the links below to view them:

Photo 1 of Brigham Young Home
Photo 2 of Brigham Young Home
Photo 3 of Brigham Young Home

There was a special spirit there, even from the outside. I took a walk around the yard, took a few pictures of the blooming trees, and mainly just spent a few minutes reflecting. I had just had a very spiritual afternoon in the temple, and that spirit carried with me as I spent a few minutes there in the very place our 2nd prophet lived. I am so grateful I have had the opportunities to visit these homes in Nauvoo over my lifetime, to visit Palmyra, and to visit Salt Lake. I hope someday I might be able to go to Jerusalem and visit the places where Jesus walked. I hope I get the opportunity in my lifetime.

This was the first temple sealing that I have ever attended. I have to say that now, after experiencing one, I cannot fathom why anyone would want any other kind of wedding. It was the most beautiful, simple, elegant, and spiritual wedding I have ever attended. The sealing room was beautiful, in its simple yet elegant way. But the greatest part was the spirit in the room. April and Doug were so beautiful themselves. To see the joy on their faces as they knelt across from each other, and later looked into the reflecting mirrors, a symbol of eternity -- to see the tears streaming down both of their faces, and the happiness in their eyes, knowing that their union is an eternal one...to see April, after being sealed to her husband, get up and give him a big hug, and start sobbing...well, as the patron told us, the veil is very thin in the temple. The spirit is very strong. I watched those two, and tears sprang to my eyes. I know I will do the same thing someday; I will be sobbing in the arms of my husband, sobbing tears of joy and gratitude and love.

I am so thankful that I was invited to participate in such a sacred and special experience. I felt true joy for both of them. I am grateful that I knew I was worthy to enter that temple, and to partake of the rich spirit and peace that resides there. To be inside the Lord's house is such a remarkable experience. Sitting there, being witness to such a beautiful experience, my gratitude for the Atonement, and the joy that comes from repentance, was overflowing. I knew that I, like the other women in the room, was a pure, clean, worthy daughter of God.

I am grateful for my experiences. I am even grateful for my sins. I have learned so much, and I have truly begun to learn the true value of the Atonement. As I sat there, I recognized the hand of the Lord in everything that I have gone through up to this point; yes, even in my display of my weaknesses and succombing to temptations. I am humbly grateful for the learning experiences that come from such, and for the Lord's loving hand that continually guides me, and picks me up when I stumble or fall.

I feel like I speak so much about myself here, but I have to remember this is my journal, after all. I suppose most of it will be about me. It's my opportunity to reflect. This is who I am; and as I go back and read through my thoughts and experiences, I see such a change of heart; of spirit; of focus, and of strength. I know I will stumble and fall many times in my life, but to see the difference between the woman I was even two months ago and the woman I am today is truly humbling. If I hadn't made the mistakes that I did, I wouldn't be here today, knowing what I know, and being who I am.

But...as much as part of me wished I was in April's place today, I know that for her it was right. For her and Doug, the time was today. I, however much I desire being a wife and mother, am willing to wait. I would wait the rest of my life if it meant waiting for the right person. Waiting is no longer an issue for me, because I have finally grasped the reality of what we are talking about here; eternity. My children deserve the father they have been promised, and to be born into the family that they need to become the people that God intends them to be. If I cannot give them that, because of impatience, or a wrong move somewhere along the lines...well, I won't do that. Because of this, I will, and I want, to wait, and to grow from the rich experiences that are to still come my way during my single life, and serving the Lord in any capacity the he asks.

The Lord is good to me. He has blessed me with so much. He has provided such miracles to me in the past few weeks; and new paths and understandings have opened up before me that I never knew before. I can harness my spirituality in a new way, and am better able to see things from an eternal perspective, but at the same time enjoy the beauty of the journey -- to stop and smell those flowers, or to hear the birds sing. To spend an hour just basking in the light of the temple. To look out upon the fields as drive along that long highway. To see the beautiful sunset, in all its majestic beauty, rich in vibrant hues of purples and reds. To look into the faces of my family and see love and familiarity, and bonds that I hope someday will be eternal.

I believe in miracles. I believe in the Lord's promises. Those haven't changed; and while I am not sure exactly what to make of it, one thing I do know...my capacity to love grows more and more each day, as I gain a sense of the love my Savior has for me. I love even more fully and more freely now than I did in the past. My love is stronger and fuller and richer; not bitter, not conditional, and not passive. Yes, it's a choice I have made, but I made that choice because the Lord has told me that I am to continue to love despite the pain it has brought to my life. I know that the presence of love is so much more powerful than the absence of it; and it truly encourages me to live through life instead of just passing by. It teaches me to be selfless instead of selfish; and it encourages such a power within me that would otherwise lie dormant. To love is truly better than to be loved...the ability to truly love someone from the inside out doesn't come from conditional love, but from that true, eternal love that exists because someone wills it to exist rather than waiting for it to happen.

On a final note, here is a photo of me, my brother and my sister when we were young. I loved this photo growing up, because I remember my sister during that photo shoot with my Uncle Mike (yes, he's a professional photographer, too!). Even at that age, my sister was such a ham for the camera! My brother and I absolutely adored her, and thought she was the cutest thing in the world. Well, she was.

Apr 9, 2004

Well, I just got back from Nauvoo. You know, there is just something about temples. They just draw you to them. As soon as I saw the glowing white towers, I couldn't wait to get there, even though I knew I wouldn't be able to go inside until tomorrow. There is something especially about our white temples that draws me. I remember when I first saw the Washington DC temple; all I could say was WOW. It just suddenly looms ahead of you on the highway. I've heard that it has caused accidents, because suddenly this gigantic fairytale like white castle jumps out at you as you turn a bend on the interstate. Well, Nauvoo is different than the D.C. temple, but it's elegance, sacredness, and magic still called me. As soon as I sat down and looked up at all its majesty, I thought of the pioneers and everything they did to build the first Nauvoo temple. I thought of Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young, and Hyrum...I tried to imagine this little town of 1100 rivaling the city of Chicago (at the time). The drive along the Mississippi towards Keokuk is beautiful as well. It really is a gorgeous area.

Anyway, here are two photos that I took. Most of them turned out blurry, but these seemed to be pretty much ok.

Isn't it just gorgeous? How I love the Nauvoo temple! Oh how I wish...well...

Well, I just got into Keokuk. I left at 2 and stopped three times, so not bad timing. I was wrong about the 7 hours, obviously it's about 5.5 hours.

Anyway, Fairfield Inn offers high-speed internet access, and since I never leave home without my trusty iBook, here I am. I tried to stop in at Carthage jail on my way here, but it seemed to be closed. I think I'm going to head over to Nauvoo tonight and get some pictures of the temple at night. I missed that opportunity last July. Plus, just to be there by the temple; I love that feeling. I remember when I was at BYU and I just needed time to myself and to think and pray, I would walk over to the Provo temple, right across from the MTC, and go behind to the gardens. I loved that. I will do that again later.

Well, the drive wasn't too bad. Yes, I did think about everything some more, but it was soothing. Not too many annoying drivers, and hardly any road work.

So, after the wedding tomorrow, I might spend an hour in Nauvoo, and go to the Brigham Young home and the mansion house, at least. Then I will head up to Bowler and spend time with my family. My Aunt Maureen and Uncle Mike are there --- and I'm so excited to see them! Plus, my brother supposedly is coming too. I haven't seen him since Thanksgiving except for that quick pit stop he made to get some cash in December, so it's been awhile. I miss my little brother. Well, he's like a big brother to me now. Since we're all adults age plays so little importance.

Well, I'm going to rest awhile before heading out to Nauvoo. It's still light outside, anyway.

I'll write more later if I get a chance, but this supposed high speed internet isn't much faster than dial-up. Argh! I'm spoiled at home, I guess ;)

Apr 8, 2004

So my 'Secret Admirer' wrote to me. It turns out he is LDS as well. That's all I know about him for now, well that and that he seemingly has some similar views on the Church as I do, which should prove interesting while getting to know him. Like he said, it is always great to have another friend. I could use one right now; I won't go into it, but I'm feeling pretty much detached from my closest friends, not to mention abandoned by my best friend in the entire world, the one who knows me better than anyone.

I hate losing people. It is the worst feeling in the world, especially when they mean everything to you. But getting to know new people and making new friends does help to somewhat ease the pain.

Apr 7, 2004

I went out and bought a kite. Yes, a kite. It isn't anything fancy, since I have no idea where to buy kites except the local Walmart toy aisle. I bought a big nylon fighter jet kite, made with a fiberglass frame. I haven't even tried to put it together yet, since I haven't had time to test it out. But I decided to buy a kite.

I almost bought a picnic basket, too.

But I remember as a child, the sheer joy I felt when I went out with my brother and sister, and my Uncle Mike, to fly kites. He didn't live too far from a large open field near Schofield, WI, and I remember how excited I always found myself when we went over there just to set out on a mini kite excursion.

My kite was the most beautiful thing you could have ever seen. It was gigantic too; it was about 1 1/2 times my height (at the time) and 5 times my width. My uncle made it especially for me. You have to understand something about my Uncle Mike. He is a man of amazing talent; a man who never does anything in a mediocre fashion. When he does something, he goes all out. So when he decided to study the aerodynamics of kites, he thought he'd had fun with it and see if he could build a perfect kite. He made three. My brother's was a plane, and mine was a beautiful Chinese man. And man, those kites soared. My sister was so little that she could not hold onto one without my uncle helping; in fact, my brother and I would need help on an extremely windy day. Mind you, my uncle invested in the best materials that were available for kite construction, and our lines were made of durable heavy duty string that allowed us to fly the kite twice as high as any other kite I have seen before. My uncle would teach us the art of making the kite dance with the wind. He taught us how to run with it; when to let the string slack and when to tighten up. It very much reminded me of the days we used to go fishing with my father.

How I loved spending time with my Uncle Mike! Everything he seemed to do was done perfectly. I admired, and still admire to this day, the man that he is. He is constantly learning something new. When he fails, he keeps trying until he produces a beautiful crafted product. He can fix anything, or so it seems. He used to play the flute, and now can play the guitar, and is learning the keyboard as well. His artistic skills are beyond comparison. The woodwork he has crafted is exquisite. He even built himself a canoe! He is a spiritual giant as well. And the love he has for my Aunt Maureen, well, to see them to this day I still see how very much in love they are. He will just look at her, and nudge me and whisper, "Isn't she just beautiful? Man, how did I get so lucky?" And my aunt still blushes and says, "Oh Mike!" in false dismay. Since I was a little girl, I told everyone I knew that I was going to marry a man just like my Uncle Mike. Could you blame me? What better role model for a father, a priesthood holder, and a man could a girl be so fortunate to have?

A funny story. My friend Olvia is attending grad school at Purdue in West LaFayette, Indiana. This past Monday she was at Family Home Evening for her single's ward, and lo and behold, she learned there a new Elder had moved into the ward. His name was Elder Murphy. Knowing very well that our cousin Sean was serving in the Indiana mission, she immediately rushed over to him and exclaimed, "You are Elder Murphy, aren't you?" I think she took him a little of guard -- how often does some strange woman come up to you so excited to see you? When he nodded in the affirmative, she said, "I know your cousins Michelle and Laura! And your Aunt Colleen and your Aunt Kathy! And I know your Grandpa and Grandma, too! Your Grandpa is just great!".

"Yes, I know my Grandfather is a good man," Sean started to say. But Olvia interrupted him. "Oh no, no, no...you don't get it, do you. Your Grandpa Mike is the most wonderful man in the world! I have never met a man like him!" She said this so emphatically that she took him by surprise. She was so excited that she finally got to meet him that she immediately called and told my sister all about it.

Yes, my Uncle Mike has to be the most wonderful man in the world. He is the patriarch of our family, and he is so cherished and so needed. When he died in the hospital 17 years ago, I am glad that he was told that he needed to return to us; that we needed him. Everything he had been told needed to be accomplished had been; his patriarchal blessing had been fulfilled, but the prayers of his wife, his sister-in-law's, his nephews and nieces, and his grandchildren must have filled the ears of our Father in Heaven. We had no one who could take his place, and I, being the oldest of the 3rd generation, was merely 11 years old. We needed him.

Because of my Uncle, I never felt that I lacked the presence of a father in my life. I was very blessed to have him there, playing the role of Father, Grandfather, and Uncle. He has given me Father's blessings and has chastized me when I needed chastisement. He has been there through thick and thin, for all of us. He is truly a remarkable man; an angel sent by God to bless the lives of an inumerable amount of people.

I smiled fondly, the memories washing over me, as I stood in that toy aisle. Someday I will have children, nieces and nephews with whom I will fly kites. I picked out a purple and blue jet fighter, and continued on my way.
After digging around for about an hour in my closet, I found my old tape that had that song "The Last Touch". I don't know who sang it; and I will admit that the music is kind of cheezy, but I still love the song. I just thought of it when I thought of the Hinckley's, and I know that I hope someday that my husband and I will be like that.

I look forward to all the things that a new marriage brings, but I also look forward to the child-raising years and later, the golden years. I look forward to all that comes with marriage; I know how hard it is to live with someone. I know how hard it is to put aside petty differences, and sometimes even bigger differences, but still be determined to love each other.

I guess love really can't be defined in the way the world defines it. To me, the most important aspects of marriage are friendship, charity, sacrifice, and unconditional love. Ephesians puts it well in chapter 5, verses 25-28.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself." (emphasis added).

Men are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved his church. What kind of love is that? The most glorious love that ever existed on this earth. Unfeigned, merciful, kind, forgiving, charitable, unjudging, accepting, willing to sacrifice....

Sometimes I confuse love for what it isn't. But looking deep into my own heart, I already know what love is. Love is a choice, just as every other emotion and action is. Christ literally chose to love His people, His church...to love us. He lived the same law that we do; that which was decreed from the beginning of time - the law of free agency.

One thing I also have learned is that before we are able to love others, we must choose to love ourselves. "For he that loveth his wife, loveth himself." If I am unable to truly accept myself and love myself enough to want what is best for me, to truly understand that God wants only the best for me; for all of his children, to love myself enough to want to obey God, to be teachable, and to forgive myself, well, if I was unwilling to do this, how could I love another? If we choose to not love ourselves, how can we possibly choose to love someone else?

I don't believe falling in love is the fairytale and giddiness that is portrayed by Hollywood. Sometimes we expect so much out if it; and end up bitterly disappointed when it doesn't turn out the way we believe it should. Falling in love is a choice...albeit a difficult, and sometimes frightening, one.

President and Sister Hinckley chose to love each other, to spend 67 years together, and to sacrifice for and support each other. They loved each other as Christ loves us. My Uncle Mike and Aunt Maureen portray the same kind of relationship, they too love each other as Christ loves us. Their sacrifice and willingness to persevere through the trials and the challenges that came before them proved not only that their love was indeed a choice, but a beautiful, eternal choice at that.

What better examples of true love, not as portrayed in the world, but truly as it is on the spiritual plane where we all reside...what better examples of this truth could there possibly be?

Let me end by confessing that I don't entire know what love is. I may not until I am old and grey, but I am content to wait and to learn. I understand I do not have to fully comprehend it to know it is true; just as I do not fully comprehend the gospel, yet I know that the gospel is true. These things are taught line upon line, precept upon precept. However, not fully understanding it will not prevent me from choosing to experience love. If I give all that I can, that is all that is needed.

Apr 6, 2004

Sister Hinckley passed away today. I listened to President Hinckley share his concerns for her during the last session of conference. My heart goes to him and his family. I know that he knows, more than anyone on this earth, that his beloved wife is waiting for him. However, this also means he will probably go shortly, as well. Couples as in love and as close as those two rarely pass away far apart from one another.

Sister Hinckley was a wonderful example to all of us. I have admired her greatly, and I hope to someday be a woman so faithful and loving as she. I hope to stand by and support my husband in his work and his callings as she has. I love her and President Hinckley very much.

April 6th, 2004. April 6th is our church's birthday. Some speculate it is Christ's actual birthday as well. It is fitting that such a splendid woman of God, of such noble character, would pass on such a day.

Thank you, Sister Hinckley, for your example and your dedication to the work. Thank you for being such an exemplar of true motherhood, of womanhood, and of virtue. There are too few women in this world who are like you. We should all strive to be of that caliber.

"The Last Touch" - Lyrics

Their first touch was at 17 when they were alone in the park
and the moon was full, she was beautiful to him,
and her hair was long and her eyes were blue
and her skin was warm and she turned to him
and he thought that he knew what love was.

Another touch at 22 on their wedding night
and the stars were bright, she was beautiful to him,
and her hair smelled sweet and her lips were full
and her skin was warm and she turned to him
and he thought that he knew what love was.

And then again at 25 when the baby came
and the sun was high, she was beautiful to him,
and her hair was damp and her fingers shook
and her skin was warm and she turned to him
and he thought that he knew what love was.

Later on at 54, sitting on the porch
all the children gone, she was beautiful to him,
and her hair was grey and her forehead lined
and her skin was warm and she turned to him
and he thought that he knew what love was.

Their last touch at 85 was by her bed
and the moon was full, she was beautiful to him,
and her hair was thin and her eyes were closed
and her skin was cold and she turned to him
and he knew that he knew what love was.

After 68 years of laughter and tears,
he knew that he knew what love was.
Argh, I hate javascript and cross-browser compatibility. Actually, my code would work if Netscape didn't exist!!!!!

It is 70 degrees out right now! I swear, the weather in Wisconsin is nuts. You have to have a good immune system to live here; one day it's 40 degrees, the next it's 70, then the next day you're down to 32. You never know what to wear, so there's no packing away winter clothes in the Spring, or packing away summer clothes in the Autumn -- at least not around here.

Someone decided to screw around with my car yesterday. I believe it was my neighbor's son, since it appears my neighbor is gone. His son would have reason to do it, too -- he likes to race his car up and down the street at 90 mph..and of course he's taken off the muffler, on purpose. I threatened to call the police on him and also told our landlady. Well, I had to park my car outside because Cindy was finally getting the rest of her stuff, and I left it there for 5 hours. I came home early yesterday because I wasn't feeling well, so I arrived home in the daylight, I wasn't listening to my iPod, nor was I charging my phone -- so there was nothing to leave on. When I went out at 10pm, my neighbor's son and his friend were sitting at the end of my driveway talking. When I came out they hushed and stared at me. I tried to get into my car, but my F.O.B wouldn't work. So I used the key. The thing was dead. Not almost dead, not quite dead, but DEAD. I got out and ran inside to ask Cristina to give me a jump. When I came out, they were sitting in his car, looking at me and laughing. I was so furious! I think I left my car unlocked, and I don't know what they did; go in and turn my lights on? I'm not sure, but whatever happened my battery was completely drained.

I swear, kids these days have no respect for their elders or for the property of others. Ok, well not all kids, but this is just really immature. Besides, I can't prove that anyone actually did anything to my car, so there is no use calling the police. All I know is that I don't want to leave it outside anymore, but since we have to take turns using the garage, there will be weeks when I'll have to.

Hmm...Friday at noon or 1 I'm leaving for Nauvoo. It's going to be a 7 hour drive, and I have to go all alone. I'm not really looking forward to that. It's not like I'm needing time alone -- it will just cause me to think more about everything, and miss Jeremy even more. The wedding is at 1PM on Saturday, and after that, I have to get back in my car, drive 9.5 hours straight up to Bowler, so that I can spend Easter morning and part of the afternoon with my family. Then I have to come back Sunday night (2.5 hours) so that I can be at work again the next day.

The UW doesn't seem to believe in giving us off for Easter. Good Friday, Good Monday....we all have to work, or take vacation.

Well, I may not be looking forward to driving alone that whole time and putting miles on my car, which brings me closer to the expiration of my warranty, but I am looking forward to being inside a temple once again. I literally am craving it. I need that peace and that solace. I need it soon, before I go crazy. My emotions are at a high again, and I noticed that I began to feel sorry for myself again. I have to nip that in the bud now, before the Adversary takes advantage of my situation and tries to convince me that the negative feelings of self-worthlessness and loneliness are valid. I am tired, I will admit that. I am spiritually tired, but I'm still determined. I will get through this all somehow. Of that I have no doubt.

Apr 5, 2004

Yesterday after Conference my sister invited Gilly over, and we got our grill back from Jeff, who was watching it while we lived at the other apartment (a city ordinance had passed a law forbidding grills on patios in complexes, so we had to get rid of it until we moved here). Anyway, we invited Jeff over too, and he brought his puppy, Trinity.

Last time we saw Trinity was in September, and she was just a baby. She and Mikel were both babies, and played together. This time, however, when Trinity tried to play with Mikel (Mook), he just hissed and ran away. I guess he grew up and realized he was a cat. Vader and Beau did the same thing. So Trinity had to hang around with the humans.

Here's a cute picture of the three black balls of fur (no Beau in this picture), all sitting on the cat tree. They are too cute!

(Vader is on the top, Mikel in the middle, and of course Trinity on the bottom tier.)

Well, anyway, it looks like I have a secret admirer. Someone who has been reading my blog left a comment earlier this morning on my last blog. Hmmmm, I'd think most people who read this would think I was some crazy zealot, or worse, a lunatic...well, anyway, it's nice knowing I'm not completely crazy ;)

Apr 4, 2004

Wow. What can I say? The whole conference was amazing. The two morning sessions especially...I couldn't help but feel the spirit. Everything I have been going through; everything I have been learning; everything I have been thinking; even those things I have mentioned right here in my weblog, were addressed during conference. I really felt as if they were all talking directly to me, bearing witness of the things I have learned and reinforcing that knowledge inside my heart and mind. I especially felt inspired by Elder Dennis E. Simmons talk "But if Not..". This is exactly the kind of faith that I yearn for and that I aspire to have. To trust in the Lord's promises, but if not given to me as I had hoped, to still trust in Him. I hope to someday have such strong and unwavering faith.

I also hope to someday become the kind of woman described in the following talk "A Mother Heart". Can I become that kind of woman? I believe it is possible; for through God "all things are possible".

I know I have been so religious lately in my blogs, but I cannot help it. My religion is who I am; it is not merely an external influence upon my life. Especially now, as I find myself less interested in the things of the world and more interested in the things of eternity. How I yearn to serve the Lord! How I aspire to be rid of my debt, and be prepared both physically and spiritually! How I love my Savior, and how I love my Father in Heaven. They have blessed us so immeasurably; they have blessed me so abundantly.

Oh and as mentioned in another talk, the story of Paul. As it goes:

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 7-10.

What a beautiful message lays in this passage! "for my strength is made perfect in weakness".... weakness and sin are part of the Lord's plan. For without them, we could not know strength, repentance, and joy. "For there must be opposition in all things". Paul rejoiced in his infirmities and in his weaknesses, after asking three times for God to take them from him. He realized the necessity of having them "lest I should be exalted above measure." It is important to remain humble, and how could we if we did not have the weaknesses that we have? When things go well for us, we easily forget our God; but through strife and anguish, we remember how dependent upon Him we are, we remember the lovingkindness of our Redeemer, and we seek to overcome those very weaknesses - "My grace is sufficient for thee". In this act our weaknesses become our very strengths.

It's amazing. It's so simple, so beautiful, and so marvelous. Wow.
This waking up in the middle of the night is becoming a regular thing, and I wish it wouldn't. I think I'm beginning to forget what it feels like to sleep through an entire night.

Last night I finally decided to share with my sister what had happened with Jeremy and I. She knew we had broken up, of course, and what I had told her at the time was that it was because I was smothering him and was too demanding. But I didn't offer more than that.

My sister is not an emotional woman. I love having her around and hanging out with her, but she gets queasy around all things emotional. I joke with her that she's "Just like a man" in that sense. I usually fear, though, that she would not understand. She is fiercely independent, much more so than I, because she is emotionally independent as well (although I'm getting there). She is the type that usually has guys wondering why she doesn't return their phone calls, not vice versa. We are quite a pair, my sister and I. So much alike in so many aspects, yet so different in others.

But anyway, it is hard to share with her anything that has to do with my emotions or spiritual promises, for that matter. She usually just rolls her eyes and tells me to get over it; to stop being so emotional, and what did I expect? But this time she reacted differently.

I was stunned when she told me tonight that I have dealt amazingly well with this whole ordeal. She recognized how difficult it must be for me. She didn't go into further details, but that was more than enough. It warmed my heart considerably, because my sister is always the first one to tell me to stop being a baby and so emotional. But she seemed to have been impressed with the maturity in which I have handled this entire trial, and has noticed a change in me.

This confirms to me that I have indeed started to apply that which I am learning. It helps to lessen my fear of "reverting" by telling me that, yes, this change is becoming permanent. I am by no means no less emotional than before, but I have found a way to internally deal with those emotions in a more positive and healthy manner, and this has now obviously been reflected in my external relationships.

I enjoyed watching "Brother Bear" with my sister and Cristina. After the movie itself we watched the commentary by the two moose, and I haven't laughed so hard in a long, long, time. It feels so good to smile and to laugh. It reminded me of the sweetness that life can offer, just as was mentioned in one of the sessions earlier this morning. It is the little things that become the most memorable and the most cherished.

Apr 3, 2004

I have really enjoyed General Conference so far. The first session this morning was especially poignant for me; I felt as if the entire session was directed towards me, especially Elder Eyring's talk. I just felt the spirit so immensely, and my love for our prophet and our General Authorities has just grown even stronger.

I eagerly look forward to tomorrow's conference sessions.

I just got back from a suprise bridal shower for April. I had prayed beforehand that I could go and that I could genuinely have fun, and remember....this is not about me. I prayed that I wouldn't feel sorry for myself amidst all the joy, wedding preparations, etc. I was really afraid I might slip, and April would see. This was her night, and I didn't want anything to spoil it.

I'm grateful that I succeeded, and not by just "faking" it. I was genuinely happy for her. I had fun talking to Doug and getting him to answer all these questions to see how well April knew him. The game was fun; for every question she got right, she got to open a present. For every question she got wrong, she had to stick two sticks of Big Red in her mouth. I guess I asked too difficult of questions, lol, because she had quite a bit of gum in her mouth when all the questions were answered.

It went fine. It was more than fine. It gives me hope that my trip to Nauvoo next Fri and Sat will turn out the same way. While I worry about how I will react when I'm inside that sealing room, I am anxious to get back down there. I haven't been to the temple since July and I really need to be there. Now that I know that I can, I am eager to feel that spirit and the peace that only exists in God's holy temples. The Nauvoo temple especially holds such a special place in my heart, and to be inside will most likely wipe away all the fears and the longings, and not the opposite.

Well, Laurie is calling for me; she wants me to watch "Brother Bear" with her. I better go. I'll probably write more tomorrow after conference.

Apr 2, 2004

I feel I must clarify something about my previous blog. The reason I mentioned 2 or 3 times that I didn't mean to sound arrogant is because.....I am not feeling arrogant whatsoever. I guess it might have come across as if I was bragging, or tempting my Father in Heaven to shower me with trials and heartache. I by no means meant this.

I guess it is just my way of putting on a brave face. To get through the trials in life, I have to find a source of strength and courage. I have found that in the gospel, and in the faith and the love my Father in Heaven and my Savior have for me. I meant what I said that I do not want an easy life, but I was not implying that the majority of people out there do have an easy life. I know better than that. I just meant that I did not want an easy life for me. Does this make sense? Perhaps not. I am not comparing myself to others. I do not think by any means I am more capable of handing things that others cannot; I simply believe that I am blessed with the knowledge, and the roadmap that can and will lead me in the right direction, to finding peace and strength, and yes, even joy, in adversity. Everyone is entitled to the same, and God freely offers it to all of his children. I am just very grateful that I have that roadmap (the gospel), and I recognize and have faith in the knowledge that our Father speaks to us individually in regards to our own lives. I think too few people recognize that they have that precious gift, just for the taking -- and I am so grateful that I have accepted it and I use it on a daily basis.

Will I cry in the future? Yes. Will I feel despair? Yes. Will I say things I regret? Unfortunately. Learning what I have doesn't make everything instantly better, or take away the pain. But it does help me to endure better, have faith and courage, and recognize the "silver lining" in all things, including those very things I have constantly murmured about in the past.

This is all that I meant. My source of strength comes from my knowledge and understanding, and my trust in the Lord. No, I do not want a life filled with constant sorrow and anguish, nor am I asking for that. But I don't want one that I just sail through, like school was for me. Life is meant to be more difficult, and I do hope I am tested to my capability, that is all. But of course I also want to experience periods of rest and of course, joy.
You know, I am really tired of people trying to "save" me from my problems, or from my trials. I appreciated it before, but after re-reading my patriarchal blessing, which confirmed the thoughts that have entered my mind over the past few days, I realized that the greatest blessings afforded to me in this life are exactly that; my problems and my trials.

I am a blessed woman. The Lord has chosen to bless me with strengthening trials. Yes, they have been difficult, but I know I haven't seen anything yet. Does this knowledge scare me? A little, but my faith in my Redeemer and in the promises of my Father in Heaven assure me that I have exactly what I need to overcome anything. I know my mother worries about me when I tell her so matter-of-factly that I know my life will not be easy. Yet a peace comes over me as I recognize the great blessing in this knowledge. For one thing, knowing that I will face adversity and great struggles in my life will help me recognize them when they happen, and rejoice in the knowledge that my Father has faith in me to succeed and overcome them, rather than to murmur and feel sorry for myself, as I have done every single time before this last great test.

I love my Father in Heaven. Is it arrogant to say that I know that he has faith in me? Is it arrogant to say that I know I am unique; and that He will bless me with these opportunities for immense growth, opportunities that the majority of his other children might not be able to handle? I don't think so. It doesn't make me think I am better or stronger than anyone else. I just recognize that my particular trials are going to be extremely difficult. I also recognize my humanity; and I know that without the Redeeming sacrifice of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I would never see Heaven. I am a sinner; just as much as the next person, and it humbles me and reminds me of my nothingness in this respect. I owe everything I am and everything I have to my Father in Heaven and to my Savior, but I do not believe it is arrogant to say confidently that I KNOW WHO I AM.

Jeremy and everyone else who have tried to protect me and save me from challenges and strife that would lay ahead of me -- well, I am grateful they care so much about me, and I don't blame them for believing I couldn't handle what would be coming. In my previous state my words and actions practically proved that I couldn't. BUT...I do not need to be protected. I will be a protector for my family and my children. I do not want an easy life. I do not want just a "nice" husband who fulfills his callings, has a strong testimony and a good job, but is and does little else than that. My husband will be challenged as much as I will be, and will have gone through even more than I already have. He will not expect rest in this life, either. He will know WHO HE IS, and rejoice, too, in the challenges the Lord places before him. You know, it is odd that I am saying this, but it reminds me of the apprehension I felt as a teenager; I knew then that I didn't want an easy, "fluffy" life. It is true; I want to learn patience and all the other virtues that will be mine to have if I only endure and follow my Savior, come what may. I do not want to be denied the blessings that will come from the terrible strife that will enter my life. The Lord has asked me to endure through it, and there is nothing I want more than to prove myself worthy of Him.

Call me arrogant if you want, but I know that I am not, at least in this respect. I have faith in myself; and that comes from the faith I have in both my Father in Heaven and in my Savior, and the faith they have in me. I have a mission to accomplish, and without the necessary growing experiences that come from such trials of the heart, of the spirit, and even of the body, I would never become the person I need to be to accomplish my mission and to raise my children the way they need to be raised. I am gaining insight and knowledge into the difficulties that lie ahead for myself and for my family, but all I can say is, I trust in the Lord. So, Bring it on!:)

Apr 1, 2004

Well, today was an interesting day. I had hoped that I would find something to do at work; I hate it when I'm twiddling my thumbs and thinking too much. I like to 'escape' to work. I was able to do just that today, because I spent most of the time trying to find a way to swap a .css style when a button is pressed on a webpage. I could easily create a script in Flash to do so, but the point in using HTML and cascading style sheets is Acessibility, accessibility, accessibility. I was aiming to recreate a tab-navigation using pure CSS rather than images (or Flash buttons), which activated an internal frame (called an iframe) and also, at the same time, changed the color of the tab to make it active and make the others inactive. Well, I did it. I was so excited I eagerly called Les over to look at my handiwork. Ok, so it looks like nothing big, but I accomplished something absolutely marvelous. This code is totally reusable and will enable us to quickly reproduce such a navigational interface in the future; plus it's easily editable by someone who doesn't know HTML or CSS for that matter.

Ok, most people have no idea what I just said, LOL. But basically, I'm a genius. HAHA, no really. It's funny, because this kind of stuff, in high school, was what I liked the least, but whenever I figured out something technical, or some difficult chemistry equation, or solved that seemingly impossible proof in calculus or physics class, well, I have to say, I just loved the way I felt. The subjects I enjoyed more, such as English and foreign languages, and art...the subjects where I excelled, excited me too, but I never had to actually put forth much effort to get those A+'s. In my science and math classes I did. The fact that my job requires me to both be creative (yes, my art background) and logical (good thing I learned all those proofs!) is exciting. I get to use both sides of my brain.

Anyway, I left work late because I wanted to get it implemented and tested in the various browser/platform settings. But then I came home and we took Cristina out to dinner. Cindy pretty much moved out today, although she still has some stuff here, but her room is completely cleared, so we moved Cristina in there. After dinner we went to Wal-mart and mulled around, and Cristina bought a lamp for her new room. It was fun spending time with her. I had decided after getting emotional with her on Saturday (because I was so darn worried about her) that I wasn't going to give my opinion anymore; but just try to be her friend and ask questions, but not give advice. Just as my mother had advised me to do. She informed me today that she was not going back to church. She says she loves God and the gospel, and she knows God will love her despite her decision. I didn't say anything. What could I say? It's not like I'm unfamiliar with this situation in not only my own life but also in the lives of family members. I just hope eventually she'll grow out of it; slowly but surely, like I did. Perhaps just going to sacrament after a few months of not going, period, will help her get there. She needs to learn to disassociate the people with the church, but she will need time to do that. I guess I was lucky to have had such a bad experience with church members at the tender age of 13. It was horrible, but at least I began to get it out of my system then. I don't feel any bond with my current ward, either, but it doesn't prevent me from going. I'm going for the Lord and my own spiritual needs; not to socialize and/or date. My bishop may think I need to do that as well, but I find that when I concentrate on the more spiritual aspect of church, I get a lot more out of it. I prefer it that way. Are most of my friends LDS? Yes. Are many of them from my ward? A few. I obviously have no serious qualms with anyone in particular in my ward -- but I don't connect with barely any of them, either, except my home teacher and a few choice others.

So I can empathize with Cristina. I'll just keep my mouth shut. I might stay home on Sunday and listen to conference with her rather than going to the institute building. While the atmosphere is casual and social, I prefer to listen more intently from my own home. We have a tradition in Madison where all the single adults are invited to watch conference at the institute building. They can dress casually, and they are fed well before and between the Saturday and Sunday sessions. The sisters are even welcome to see the Priesthood meeting. It can be nice, but again, I get more out of it when I'm on my own. This way Cristina and I can listen/watch together.

Well, it looks like my internet has slowed down. I received a letter from Charter telling me that since September I had been upgraded for "free" to their 2 MB high-speed service. Now that's as fast as a T1 LAN. No wonder things had seeemd equal at work and here. They told me, however, that that free offer expired April 1st, and they would downgrade me to their lowest - 384 K speed (typical cable modem speed) because that was the price I've been paying. If I want the 2 MB service back, I have to pay $10/more a month. Considering they get like $120 a month from us for the internet AND digital cable, I think they get enough. But man, I'm really noticing the speed difference, and it's bothering me. I see their little marketing ploy here; don't tell the customer they are getting the best service until it expires, and then they won't be able to stand the slower speeds. Hmmmm....nice little trick.

I am reading the last installment of the "Left Behind" series, called "The Glorious Appearing". I'm already almost done with it. I have all the books, and i love them. Granted, I don't believe in the "Rapture", the way Baptists describe it, but what I like about these books is that they don't single out any particular Christian sect. It's about Christians, period, surviving the last days. They are really good books. The scriptures quoted in them are from the King James version of the Bible, the one I'm used to. The authors interpreted Revelations very literally, and I don't think everything that is going to happen is going to be so overwhelmingly literal, but that isn't important. What I find fascinating with these books is the personal struggles that the characters go through to find Christ in their lives, and recognize Him as their personal Savior. It's also interesting to read the interpretations of the 2nd coming as written by the authors'. I think many things are very close to the way it will probably be (although no one knows for sure), at least, they are along the lines of how I view things will become (like the world-wide monetary unit, world-wide government, one leader (evil), just to name a few). But this final book is the one in which Christ finally comes to reign. I'm at the part where he has finally appeared and is speaking to all the people on the earth. To read his words (taken from the Bible, of course) just fills my heart and makes me want to be there for the 2nd coming myself, despite how much this world is going to go through to get there. I probably won't be alive for it, but I have a feeling either my children or my grandchildren will.

Well, I better get to bed. I want to read a few more chapters before I zonk out, anyway. Buenas noches.