Jun 26, 2004

“Divine” love, as President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) called it, “is not like that association of the world which is misnamed love, but which is mostly physical attraction. … The love of which the Lord speaks is not only physical attraction, but also faith, confidence, understanding, and partnership. It is devotion and companionship, parenthood, common ideals and standards. It is cleanliness of life and sacrifice and unselfishness. This kind of love never tires nor wanes. It lives on through sickness and sorrow, through prosperity and privation, through accomplishment and disappointment, through time and eternity” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 1982, 248).

True love—charity—suffereth long.
• Is patient instead of impatient and tolerant of imperfections instead of intolerant.
• Is helpful instead of being critical of weaknesses. Charity does not criticize, is not cranky, and does not complain.

True love is kind.
• Is happy, thoughtful, helpful, interested in others, a good Samaritan, merciful, and true love gives comfort.

True love envieth not.
• Is content, frugal, and grateful for blessings; is not covetous, resentful, jealous, or greedy; avoids unnecessary debt; and is a full tithe payer. Charity is not selfish or vain, and it lives within its income.

True love is not puffed up.
• Is humble and teachable, does not seek attention, praises others, does not murmur or belittle.

True love doth not behave itself unseemly.
• Is courteous, well-mannered, reverent, respectful, and mindful, as well as clean, neat, and considerate of other’s property and feelings; is not crude, indecent, or improper.

True love seeketh not her own.
• Is tenderhearted, caring, sharing, sensitive, compassionate, generous, and united; thinks we, not I; listens; seeks to please God; is not demanding, controlling, or manipulative; does not blame; and says, “I’m sorry.”

True love is not easily provoked.
• Is forgiving, patient, calm, gentle, and respectful; is a peacemaker who does not get angry, irritable, or vengeful; is not abusive in word or deed; does not swear or quarrel.

True love thinketh no evil.
• Is not judgmental but respectful and trusting, pure and obedient; does not think evil of others by gossiping or finding fault; is modest in thought, dress, and speech; is not deceitful, cruel, or dishonest; avoids inappropriate music, pornography, and dirty jokes.

True love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.
• Has a temple recommend and wants an eternal marriage; stays close to the Spirit through regular scripture study and prayer; is responsible; is not light-minded.

True love beareth all things.
• Is bold and patient with affliction and trials (this does not mean that abuse victims should silently bear cruelty or follow a spouse who is disobedient to God); is grateful; does not insult others; is not defensive, irritable, touchy, or grouchy; is not weary in well-doing.

True love believeth all things.
• Is cheerful; sees the eternal potential of a spouse; makes the least of the worst and the most of the best; shows by actions that there is a firm belief in eternal families; holds fast to the iron rod; has goals, dreams, a vision, and plans for a happy, successful life together.

True love hopeth all things.
• Is an optimist who looks for the best; praises, builds up, and expresses affection.

True love endureth all things.
• Doesn’t complain or murmur, is steadfast, accepts responsibility, and is industrious while showing initiative.

True love never faileth.
•The Lord is describing a love that deals with our behavior. And behavior isn’t something you fall into or out of. Behavior is something you control and decide. Agency is involved here.

—Elder Lynn G. Robbins Of the Seventy

Elder Robbins, you are EXACTLY right! Thank you for reconfirming this to me!

Jun 23, 2004

Well, I felt like I was playing some kind of live video game on my way home from institute tonight. There was a tornado touch down on highway PD, less than a MILE from my house! It happened when I was at institute. It took me a long time to get home, because the whole west side of Madison was damaged. I was dodging trees, stuck in traffic, was averted from down power lines, pulled over for at least 4 fire trucks and plenty of police...and every street that I could take home was closed off. I had to go the long way home, and all the way there were downed traffic lights, trees, and cops.

Anyway, it's just weird. It wasn't hot today; actually, when I was walking back from work to meet with the missionaries at the institute, I was thinking what a gorgeous, sunny day it was. Then suddenly while I'm in institute class this horrible violent storm came upon us, and several similar storms all over the state. It's just weird.

Well, that's all I wanted to say. My days have been busy and boring. Still confused. Still trying to figure things out. But our lesson tonight was on revelation, and it helped me a lot. I left class, and realized that my trust in the Lord has and will remain steadfast and strong.

Jun 21, 2004

Well, I had a busy weekend. My mother and I spent all day Saturday doing a "While You Were Out" type deal for my sister, while she was in Milwaukee with Jess and Mark. It was a lot of fun:) My mother bought her a new full-size bed, to go with her full-size quilt that Auntie made her (really cute, purple with black and white kitties, just like Beaubies!) and we decided to clean her room and go shopping to redecorate it:) I had already bought her lilac colored curtains from Ikea a few weeks ago, and then I went out and bought bright purple sheets for her bed and also a DVD player for her room:) My mother and I then went out and got her a bookcase, an end table, some picture frames, a few lamps, 2 more flower rugs like the one I had already bought her...and a few more miscellaneous items. Her room is now absolutely gorgeous, and it was worth it when she came home, went into her room, and her jaw dropped. I loved seeing her expression! Ok, so she's spoiled, but we all adore her and love her and wanted to do this for her. It was a lot of fun, too.

There was a dark moment yesterday, though. We were all in Laurie's room (me, Laurie, Mom, Auntie, and Cristina) and Cristina was explaining to my mom and aunt her divorce, and how things were going. I wasn't saying anything..I was a tad upset with her because she hadn't cleaned or done her dishes in a week and I had to do them late Fri night after kindly asking her to do them (but she told me she would...but she didn't). Anyway, I also, a long time ago, told her I washed my hands of her whole problem. I don't agree with the way she is living her life, and while I am trying to be the best friend I can be, it is hard, because it is so sad the woman she has become. Yesterday she was blaming the church for her problems, saying that it wouldn't grant her a temple divorce (which is entirely untrue; her bishop really screwed her head up, and that's not right). Auntie asked her if she wanted a temple divorce, and she said no. Then my aunt said, "but then you can't get married in the temple again." Cristina said flatly, "I don't ever want to be married in the temple again!" I couldn't help it. Nausea swept over me and I felt so sick to my stomach. I knew I couldn't judge her; I knew I couldn't argue with her; I knew I couldn't do anything, so I had to get up as quickly as I could and leave the room. I couldn't believe how much that upset me. Well, I can believe it, but it's just another person going down the wrong road in life...and the life that awaits her, if she continues, is full of sadness and despair. I never thought she would ever choose this path. Of all the people I've known in the church, she was the last person I thought who would do these things. It breaks my heart. It's hard enough for me to think of my family, who I love so much, and last night, laying in bed, I was crying because I realized how much I am truly blessed to have every family member I have in my life, and how much I love them so very dearly, and how grateful I am to know that I can be with each and every one of them for eternity, but at the same time I worry so much about them (especially my brother, and my father) and the choices they make. I am not a mother yet, and I know my children will make choices that will break my heart, too, and I know I will not be able to do much other than to love them and accept them. But all of this is just truly hurting my heart.

I know it's not my concern. I know that Heavenly Father is just and kind, and he loves them so very much. I know that someday things will most likely work out for every one of these wonderful people. But I wish I could prevent the pain and despair that they are or might go through. I know that is not my job; I know this. I don't know why, though, my heart still continues to hurt and feel the pain of problems that are not mine to deal with. I do not know why I am like this, but I am. It makes life difficult at times, but I know it also enables me to love to a capacity that few people can understand. It does make me feel alone in this world, but, well...if this is what Heavenly Father wanted for me, I know that there is a purpose.

It was reconfirmed to me yesterday that my life is going to be difficult. There will be much pain, but there will also be much joy if I follow the correct trajectory. I am also supposed to teach. That doesn't necessarily mean be a "teacher", in the traditional sense, but teaching, and nurturing, are supposed to be extremely important elements in my life. I have thought this for some time, but I also know that, so far anyway, I'm not supposed to go back to school. I don't know what this means, or what awaits me, but at least this has all be reconfirmed to me and will help me choose the correct paths in my life. I also know that my health goals will be achieved. This knowledge comforts me, because for the past few years I have felt that coming, too...and even though my genetics have been fighting it every step of the way, I believe in miracles, and I now know that through hard work, diligence, and faith, my ailments will be healed (such as my ear problems) and my health goals WILL be achieved.

I have really enjoyed talking to James and to Patrick on the phone over the past few weeks. Getting to know them and developing a closer relationship with each of them. It's nice to have that reciprocated as well. I am still confused about things concerning Jeremy; I know how much I care for him and I know what I've been told. But one thing he said to me awhile ago sticks clearly in my mind; basically, if he doesn't do what he is supposed to do, or if he rejects me (as he has), Heavenly Father will give me to someone else. This pains me because I truly have seen my life with him, and I even have seen eternity with him. I have not seen this with any other ex-boyfriend or romantic interest in my life. I guess I'm hoping that whatever happens, my joy will still be full, even if I am given to another (and this seems to be the case, and what is beginning to happen already). It pains my heart more than what I felt when I was letting go of Jaime; because I never saw that eternity with Jaime. I just believed it. But..what can I do? I love my Father in Heaven, but I know that through this trial and other past, and current experiences in my life, I am learning about agency. I have to learn to accept other people's choices, and learn that no matter how much it hurts me, either because their choices directly affect me or because I am experiencing that "proxy" pain, because it pains me to see them suffer or make wrong choices, in either case, I have to accept them. I have to accept those choices, and love those people. I just feel terribly let down though. It's not that I ever put any of these people on a pedestal; and it's not like I didn't already know some of their more obvious weaknesses...I knew they were just like me...I knew they had problems, they had committed sins just as I have, they had their despair and their pain, and their joys and their peace. I know we all go through this in life. I know I have gone down some wrong roads in my life, too. It's not that I feel I'm better than anyone. No sir...not at all. But I guess I just have more faith in the people in my life than they have in themselves. I will continue to have faith in them; knowing that each and every one of them has the potential to live their lives to their fullest potential, and the life Heavenly Father wants them to live...just as I have faith in myself that I can pick myself up and out of despair, take myself off the wrong paths and move towards the right ones...but I don't know...I guess I am looking for someone who truly understands me. I thought I had found that; and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jeremy posesses these very qualities, even if right now they may lie dormant, but he doesn't seem to believe it himself. He doesn't see what a truly remarkable and unique man he is. But... I need someone who is willing to recognize these traits in himself now, who truly has the same goals of never giving up. Someone who recognizes their inherit humanity; recognizes their vast number of errors and weaknesses, and recognizes those in me, but also recognizes the beauty within themselves, the potential within, and is constantly striving to be better and to do the best they can in every situation that comes their way. To not feel that they aren't worthy, or that they can't do it; or that they can't fulfill the needs of another human being. We are limited by our humanity, yes, but that doesn't mean we should simply give up! I guess I cannot fathom this practice. It runs in my blood; I come from a family of alcoholics, abusers, and even worse things that even I do not know about, and one thing that is obvious is that trait of giving up...a fear of failing. I think it is better to fail in trying, then to never try. I guess I believed almost everyone thought that; but life, especially recently, has taught me otherwise.

Well, I have written too much already, and I need to get back to work. I'm pensive today. I am lamenting some of the grave mistakes I have made, but what is worse is the consequences I have had to live with because of some of those mistakes. And even worse than that, is knowing that my existence in Jeremy's life is just too painful for him. Instead of being a friend, a shining hope, a pillar of strength and peace, I feel as if he sees me as his thorn, and as a big mistake. He just doesn't see the whole picture, and I don't know if he ever will.

Jun 17, 2004

Now I am even more confused than ever! I guess all I can do is keep praying...and keep moving forward...and keep having faith...

Jess and I took Laurie out to dinner last night for her birthday. We went to a swanky restaurant in Johnson Creek. It had a waterfall inside, candles, even a fireplace (for winter, of course). The food wasn't divine or anything, but the atmosphere was cool.

What else? Since Bahman asked me to join Orkut, I met a guy who wrote me out of the blue. He wants to learn a bit more about the church. I'm sure he's just curious, but it's awesome that someone is actually asking me about it. That makes two people this year! Ok, that might not be a lot to some, but to me that is a record:) I feel just sooo good sharing the gospel!!!

My Mom tells me my life is like a soap opera. She and Auntie live vicariously through me. I personally don't think my life is that interesting; it's rather trying, and trying to match my decisions and own will to that of my Father in Heaven has been difficult (in certain aspects of my life, anyway). I've been over-protective of my heart and somewhat distant with people, but that is for obvious reasons. But Heavenly Father is still telling me the same thing....so all I can do is what James suggested; listen to what the Spirit whispers to my heart, and have faith. But I also, since I haven't received guidance yet, been making my own decisions about these "certain" things, as well. I guess I just need to trust in the Lord that what is supposed to happen will. At least I'm not burning any bridges or refusing to follow a different path. I love my Father in Heaven, and I will truly go where he wants me to go.

Jun 16, 2004

Ether 12 (in the Book of Mormon). What a wonderful book on faith, on perseverence, on enduring to the end, and on why God has given us weaknesses, and how we can make them become strengths. A wonderful book. I felt the Spirit so strongly as I read it.

Jun 14, 2004

I'm not sure what to talk about today. I guess there isn't much. I'm at a point in my life where I'm very confused; and I'm trying to decipher the Lord's will for me. I'm trying to figure out what I should be doing, what I should be pursuing, and what changes I need to make in my life that I'm not already working on.

My stomach is in knots. I'm pretty worried. Not about me; but about people who I love. I won't get into specifics but certain friends and family members are going through some really tough times right now and I want to help them in every way I can; and it's frustrating to know that other than being there, and offering love and support, I can't do a dang thing. I may know (or think I know) what they need to do to make the changes necessary in their lives, but they won't listen. I made the mistake over the past few weeks of vocalizing my opinion on what these people should do (well to most of them, not all of them) and I ended up in tears because their anger towards me seemed unfounded. I realized I wasn't saying what I wanted to say; and it just frustrates me because I want them to know how much I love them and care for them and want to help them! I'm not saying I'm not in need of help myself. I believe we all need help in some areas of our lives. But I want to love and support these people so much, and they won't allow me to do so in the way I know how.

Well, all I can do is pray.

Jeremy has again decided to stop contacting me, and he has blocked all my email addresses (well the ones he knows of, anyway). It's not that I want to bombard him with emails, but it hurts, especially after the amazing progress we made a few weeks ago, and how the Spirit had again entered our relationship (friendship) and we knew the other was not out to harm us. But something happened again, and he has decided to run again. I don't know what to do. I'm just letting him go, but how I wish he knew how much this hurts me. I guess he couldn't handle the truth that I laid before him. And I guess he didn't understand it, either; otherwise he wouldn't have been so fearful and mistrusting.

I don't know. I'm moving on like he asked me to. It is the single thing that is confusing me the most; and I have two men whose company I really enjoy; who seem to understand me and love to talk to me, and who have both admitted to falling for me. While it is so wonderful to know that there are good, honest, LDS men out there with whom I could be compatible, at the same time I'm scared, because Heavenly Father hasn't told me to move forward yet. I want to do what is right, but right now I'm acting upon my own decisions...and that decision to "move on" is the one I'm keeping with for now. But it doesn't feel completely right yet, and I still lack that peace that no one but Heavenly Father can give me by answering my questions.

Well, I think I've said too much already. I better go.

Jun 11, 2004

Well, first off, I just wanted to clarify something. "Con te Partiro", one of my favorite songs, literally translated is NOT "Time to Say Goodbye". I should have just put the Italian there. Con te Partiro means "I will go away with you", which makes the song much more powerful. I am not sure why Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli sang it this way, but taken in context, it still can make sense.

Here it is in English; although of course it's not as beautiful as it is in Italian.

Con Te Partiro (I will Go with You, or...Time to Say Goodbye)

When I'm alone I dream
of the horizon
and words fail me.
There is no light in a room
where there is no sun
and there is no sun if
you're not here with me, with me.

From every window unfurls my heart -
the heart that you have won.
Into me you've poured the light -
the light that you found
by the side of the road.

I will go with you
(Time to say goodbye)

Places that I've never seen
or experienced with you.
Now I shall, I'll sail with you
upon ships across the seas -
seas that exist no more.

I will go with you
(Time to say goodbye)

When you're far away I dream
of the horizon and words fail me
and of course I know that
you're with me, with me.
You, my moon, you are with me my sun,
you're here with me with me,
with me, with me.

Time to say goodbye
(with you I will leave)
Places that I've never seen
or experienced with you

Now I shall, I'll sail with you
upon ships across the seas -
seas that exist no more.

I will go with you
(Time to say goodbye)

I'll relive them with you.
I'll go with you upon ships
across the seas -
seas that exist no more.
I'll relive them with you -
I'll go with you,
you and me.

Now, in Italian... (una canzione molta bella!!!)

Quando sono solo
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole
si lo so che non c'è luce
in una stanza quando manca il sole
se non ci sei tu con me
Su le finestre
mostra a tutti il mio cuore
che hai acceso
chiudi dentro me
la luce che
hai incontrato per strada

Con te partirò -
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te
adesso sì li vivrò
Con te partirò
su navi per mari
che io lo so
no, no, non esistono più
con te io li vivrò

Quando sei lontana -
sogno all'orizzonte
e mancan le parole
e io sì lo so
che sei con me
tu mia luna tu sei qui con me
mio sole tu sei qui con me
con me con me

Con te partirò -
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te
adesso sì li vivrò
Con te partirò
su navi per mari
che, io lo so
no, no, non esistono più
con te io li rivivrò

Con te partirò -
su navi per mari
che, io lo so
no, no, non esistono più
con te io li rivivrò
Con te partirò
Io con te

Jun 9, 2004

Time to say goodbye.
Paesi che non ho mai
veduto e vissuto con te,
adesso sì li vivrò.
Con te partirò
su navi per mari
che, io lo so,
no, no, non esistono più,
it's time to say goodbye.

Jun 8, 2004

"You will never know love unless you surrender to it." - Unknown.
Well, I met a guy, a "potential", who I've been talking to a lot lately; and he is really awesome. He is easy to talk to; a great listener, my age, and consequently very hot. I seriously don't care about looks that much; I think of all the men I have dated and they have ranged from quite homely to fashion model material (yeah, Jaime is that good-looking). This guy is up there with Jaime, seriously. But anyway, he's simply awesome. He wants to meet me and he really likes me. But...I keep telling him about my weaknesses, my failings, my imperfections....he'll probably get sick of it and think I have a low self-esteem, which isn't entirely untrue, but it's just that I was sure to tell Jeremy everything about myself yet he continued to assure me that it was ok, and that he looked forward to getting to know me, and finding out my weaknesses and imperfections. Well, all I can say to that is: yeah right. Since he decided he didn't love me, all it has been is him thinking of reasons that I could not possibly be his future wife. I have heard them all. He has told me everything that is wrong with me *sigh*. I had told him about these things beforehand, but he wouldn't listen. He simply had to stick to that idea of the "perfect" Michelle; man, he even idealized my imperfections! All i wanted was someone to accept me but lovingly help me in my efforts to continually improve. But all I've heard is that "you do not possess the qualities I am looking for" or "I'm not attracted to you" (*snort*) or "you are too emotionally dependent" or whatever. The irony of it all is those so-called "qualities" that I supposedly do not possess are acquired qualities, and those very qualities are ones I have been in the process of acquiring for some time. Just because I hadn't perfected them doesn't mean I'm worthless!

But anyway, enough griping about Jeremy and his unrealistic perfectionist ideals. I have no idea if this new guy is the same way; I can't help but be worried, because the two men I have loved before both put me on a pedestal upon which I was unable to stay stable. I am a good person and I sincerely have a desire to improve, but I already have a ton of fantastic qualities and strengths! Why do these guys expect so much more? Do they seriously believe they are going to find someone with all my strengths plus all those that I do NOT possess? They'll be lucky if they find someone who is even closer to their ideals than I am! Seriously, I think meeting someone who is so similar to you, someone who has that psychic connection with you, who can finish your sentences and has the same thoughts at the same time; and most importantly, is someone who God has approved of for you; well I think that scares the hell out of most men, and instead of recognizing what they have, they run away from it. Well anyway, I hope Patrick doesn't have such unrealistic expectations. He is really awesome, and I appreciate the fact that he is willing to be friends for now and get to know me slowly, and vice versa. I'm all about going slow. I broke that general rule with Jeremy, but I'm not ever going to do that again.

But anyway, that's is all I really have to say at this point. I'm glad I have James as a really close friend as well; he is such a wonderful, wonderful man who completely understands me but is realistic with me at the same time. What I need right now are those close friends...and I'm grateful Heavenly Father is sending them to me.

Jun 6, 2004

We talked about Alma the Younger today. I wasn't nervous at all this time; in fact, I think I ran off a bit at the mouth because I was so excited. I have never experienced such excitement when reading the scriptures before. I have loved reading them; I have found truths, inspiration, divine words...I have been awed by them too. But excited? Not really.

But now it's like the simple gospel truths that are unfolding before our eyes as we discuss these chapters in the Book of Mormon is better than any movie! I love how reading the scriptures and studying the lessons to be taught reconfirms the gospel and personal truths I have learned in my lifetime; I love how simple and beautiful the gospel really is.

One thing I loved about the account of Alma the younger is the fact that his story is a true testament to the all-encompassing love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and testimony that the Atonement is indeed for everyone. Alma was a very wicked and idolatrous man; those who knew him in the days before his conversion certainly would have bet a lot of money against the idea of him ever being the president of the church. A charismatic, intelligent, outspoken leader who most certainly must have been eloquent and a good orator...well this is a pattern we see still today. It's a pattern of leaders -- both good and just leaders, and wicked and evil leaders. Alma still posessed these traits after his conversion (which he described as "nigh unto death") but then he used them for good, to correct the wrongs he and the sons of Mosiah made and to dedicate his life to sharing the gospel.

I have noticed that in my life and the people I know. Those who are given these spiritual gifts that would someday enable them to have a remarkable influence on others for good are often the ones Satan works hardest at tearing down. Satan knows those who posess these divine gifts, and seeks to exploit them. Satan, too, wants the intelligent, charismatic, influential leaders on his side. He will do anything to tear those people down. So when I see a charismatic, influential leader who is a truly just person, I rejoice -- because I know what they must have gone through to get to that point in their life.

Alma the Younger is truly to be admired. And look, despite the abhorrent evils he committed, he, too, was promised eternal life! He even became a prophet! This goes to show that we should never give up when we feel we are failing; or that we are too weak; or that we can't handle it; that we will never be "good enough" in the eyes of our loved ones or in the eyes of our God. Those are Satan's tactics. But when we truly are recognize that the Atonement is for all -- and that as often as we repent...no matter how many times we keep making the same mistake...AS OFTEN AS WE REPENT, God will forgive us. "Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me" (Mosiah 26:30).

Imagine that! God will forgive us as often as we repent. In the next verse we are commanded to do the same for each other! It makes such perfect, simple sense! As often as we may fail each other, if we but seek forgiveness and repent..we should forgive....both ourselves for our sins and for others who have trespassed against us.

Another thing we talked about was how the rising generation (that of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah) did not believe their parents, because they were too little during King Benjamin's reign to understand. Elder Ted L. Gibbons said, "I believe that this is the way it always happens. When people will not obey the word of the Lord, it is not necessarily because they do not want to obey. It is often because they do not understand. And they do not understand because they do not believe."

Isn't this so true! I can recognize that in my own life. I'll pick one I had problems with for a long time. Tithing. I did not understand it. I did not have a testimony of it. I heard talks and I heard the admonition of my prophet to pay my tithing, but it didn't make sense to me, so I didn't do it. I disobeyed because I did not understand. It took me a long time to gain a testimony of tithing...but how did I gain it? No, I didn't suddenly "understand" it. Rather, I swallowed my pride and yes, my idolatry, and I simply started paying it. Since I have done so, the understanding is coming to me. "Line upon line" I am gaining an understanding, but more importantly, I'm gaining a testimony of it.

How many times are we guilty of this! We do not understand a commandment, or a blessing, or the words spoken in our hearts and minds through the spirit. Instead of simply obeying, or having faith that they are true and right, we stumble and we refuse to obey. If it doesn't make sense to us, then why should we do it? Why should we believe it?

Well, I think the answer to that is obvious. We need to flip it around and realize that the understanding only comes AFTER the action of obeying. Understanding is a consequence of obeying, not vice versa. Through faith and obedience we begin to see the remarkable simplicities that are what we call the gospel, and we better understand not only the gospel itself and its truths, but the scriptures, the words of our prophets, and even our own personal revelations, our experiences...even our life and our mission(s).

Oh I can't help it; I'm just so grateful for my new calling. I am learning so much! It is such a wonderful experience and opportunity....it is true when they say that oft times the teacher learns more than the students:)


Jun 5, 2004

Well, today I dropped off the Neon (the state vehicle I drove to Chicago) and then came home and cleaned up a bit. I noticed that my Fuchsia and my petunias both fell off the balcony earlier this week when I was gone, and the plastic pot on the fuchsia smashed on the concrete right outside my bedroom. Well, the plants were almost dead, to my dismay, so I headed to Walmart to get some soil and a new pot, and get cat food and the like. On my way out of the Walmart parking lot was a young man dressed in rags, holding a sign that said "Broke and Hungry, please help! Or at least just smile!". I rolled my window up immediately, but then I sat there, waiting to get out of the parking lot, and I thought of Matthew 25:40. Then the scripture ran through my head..."when saw we thee an hungered, and gave thee meat..." well, I always have a hard time when I see bums or people looking for money. I never know what to do. I know many of them take the money and use it on booze, drugs, or cigarettes. Yet I know I can't just assume everyone does that. Plus, who am I to judge? It doesn't mean they need, or deserve, any less help; in fact, they need a lot more. I drove out of the parking lot and I remembered what I had done several times in the past; rather than just giving them money, I would buy them dinner or buy a few bags of groceries. Well, I'm pretty broke myself this month, because June is just horrible when it comes to bills, but one of the things I was talking to Rob about last night also flashed in my head. We had been talking about how grateful we are for the lives we have; problems and all. How blessed we are to have the gospel and to have everything that we DO have. We had talked about my parents divorce, and how that had affected me and my siblings (for me, it was actually a good thing and I recognized that at the age of 7). But I remembered saying to Rob, "Well, frankly, I just feel very sorry for my Dad. I know Heavenly Father will be lenient on him, because he didn't know any other life. His father had treated him, his siblings, and his mom horribly."

An image of that young man entered my mind again. I checked my wallet and noticed I had a few dollars, so I went to a nearby restaurant and grabbed some food for him. I was eager to return and give it to him:) I felt good knowing that whether or not he really needed help or not wasn't the case here; what mattered was that I saw someone who was in need, and knowing how blessed I am myself, I knew I could at least brighten that someone's day and do a kind act of service. In doing so, I knew I would be serving my Savior.

The young man thanked my simply, but I admired the strength in his voice. He was a good-looking guy, probably around 21 or so, but his voice was filled with determination and perseverence. He wasn't weak and it was obvious he didn't want anyone to think so, either. Hearing this strength in his voice made me realize that he probably didn't want to be there, asking for help. Very few people want help from others; their pride gets in the way. It's so hard to admit when we are incapable of doing something for ourselves. It's so hard to admit when we need help; when we need someone else. Despite what Heavenly Father has told us and warned us, we still rely entirely too much on ourselves, believing we know better, believing we can help ourselves, too proud to ask for help or guidance or love. This young man wasn't. He taught me a valuable lesson today. He taught me that we are here to serve each other, just as we are told in Matthew 25. Just as we sing in hymn #29 (A Poor Wafayaring Man of Grief -- my favorite hymn). As King Benjamin said to the Nephites: "When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God." He also taught me that it is ok to need someone; to need others in our lives. He reminded me of the value to be found in each and every one of us, and how important it is to recognize that in each other. We shouldn't allow pride to prevent us from seeking out the help and guidance that Heavenly Father has placed right before us! Sometimes we pray and beg our Father for help, wanting Him to send it, but not realizing that He had already given it to us; that it was there all along -- in the loving arms of a good friend, the embrace of a parent, the kiss of a beloved one; a smile on a stranger, even the purr of a cat. God's answers are all around us; he helps us and serves us through each other. And I am so grateful that this young man reminded me of this invaluable gospel truth.

Jun 4, 2004

Well, I'm back from Chicago. I got stuck in the usual rush-hour traffic for about an hour (the conference ended at 4:30) but it wasn't too bad. The 98 Neon I got stuck driving, though, was a major piece of crap. It burned oil and would not accelerate for the life of it. Cheap automatics, grrr. ;)

So when Rob called me (a guy I met in Indiana last weekend who ended up being in town; he's finishing his phD in Pharmaceuticals and could finish his experiment here only) about half an hour after I got home, to meet up and go out, I was more than ecstatic to park the Neon on the street and jump into my own car. Oc course I had to remember to use the clutch, and the accelerator is harder to push in my car, but it sure goes faster:) Plus, no more burning oil smell. We had fun. I took him to Ella's Deli, which is a kosher deli on the east side of town, famous for its wild and crazy circus-like atmosphere and its infamous pound cake sundaes (which he ordered). He is a really nice guy and very easy to talk with. I really enjoyed the evening.

Well, it was something I needed -- to get out and spend some time with someone I didn't already know. While I had a great time at the conference this past week, I still had to deal with some personal stresses. Well, that is life for you. Rob and I talked about that; about Paul's thorn in his flesh, and how he rejoiced in his infirmities and afflictions, and realized that he could learn from them and grow from them, and rather than curse God for them, he took joy in that recognition. He truly made his weaknesses become strengths.

I just love how you find another member of the church and you instantly have a ton in common and a ton to talk about. I know I lived in Utah for 2.5 years, and I should be used to that, but I'm not. I certainly don't get along, or like every member of the church I meet, but if you take two Mormons and put them in a room full of a few hundred strangers, chances are they will find each other (even if they don't know each other) and spend the evening in a pretty engaging conversation:) We tend to recognize certain traits or behaviors in each other. I know I was looking while I was at the conference. I can't help it; it's a cultural thing. It's just like what I did when I was living in Spain...if I saw anyone who remotely appeared American, I would talk to them, and if they were, I immediately felt that familiar bond. It's ironic how it works; living here in America with all these Americans, I don't feel any connection with them, but if I saw these same Americans in Europe with me, I'd immediately talk to them and vice versa. I guess the same goes for members of the church outside of Utah.

Well, I have a free weekend and I'm just going to relax and probably clean. We have stake conference so I don't have to prepare a lesson for Sunday. My sister's birthday is coming up and m my mother also talked my brother into coming down to Madison next weekend, so I should prepare for that. I don't know how that is oging to go, but it's been awhile since the 4 of us have been together, and I know we need to all talk about some serious issues and have a family meeting, more or less.

Well, I'm going to go grab a Vader and cuddle her for awhile. I have missed my kitties so much! I love having them in my life. Ciao....

Jun 3, 2004

This is just a link to some photos from the past weekend. My gorgeous flowers, sent to me from Jess, are there, as well as some great photos of Laurie, Olvia and I just acting silly.

Memorial Day Photos

Jun 2, 2004

Well, so far the conference is going great, and I'm learning lots of new, fun stuff:) There are a lot of people to network with, which is a major weakness of mine, but I'm going to force myself to go to the iParty tonight and try my best to mingle, even if I'm the only one with a water in my hand and I'm feeling self-conscious as hell. I know I can do it; I used to be such a warm, friendly person, and I know I can be that again.

I haven't eaten much in the past two days. This isn't good, but every time I see food I just have this mental image of myself ballooning out and I just can't make myself eat much. It just really irritates me that I allow such negative words to affect me as such. I'm sure I'll get over it, but it has just been hanging over my head the past two days, and when I walk down the street I feel so self-conscious and gross. I feel like I'm back to the days of strong anxieties, yet I am taking my medication for that. Well, I will keep praying that I can make those horrible feelings go away but at the same time continue with my goals, my diet, and my exercise plan.

I am just so upset with him. I cannot believe he made such a nasty comment about me getting married if I was thinner. What a piece of mierda that statement is! I have never, ever had problems getting guys interested in me, no matter what size I am. My reasons for wanting to work out and diet are NOT to simply attract men. I have those goals for good, righteous reasons, and I have my Heavenly Father supporting me in them. I have them to be healthy; to better appreciate my body and take care of it, to continue learning discipline, to make good habits that become lifestyle changes. I am doing it for the RIGHT reasons, and no one is going to tell me otherwise.

I know why he said these things; he probably feels trapped; like this agreement he made to be friends is encouraging me or something. Well, he has another thought coming. While it's true that his diatribe and hurtful words are not going to dissuade me from caring about him (they just make me more concerned for his mental and emotional welfare) I know that he is not a man I want in my life as a romantic interest right now. What woman in their right mind would allow this kind of behavior? What woman would allow a man talk to her in such a fashion? Very, very few. But I'm unique. I have been through ALL of this before; most of it with Jaime, but I have also experienced this psychological warfare with others. I tend to be the scapegoat for many people, but I am pretty used to it. It doesn't mean I don't get hurt, and case in point, he really hurt me with his stabbing words. When I get hurt I get immature and emotional, and start slinging back. I'm glad I didn't get too bad, though. I am the kind of person who knows exactly what to say and do to really hurt someone else. I know where the knife will plunge in most. I am not proud of this, but it comes with the gift of empathy. I have never used it, but I border on it when people use it on me. He might be like this too; after all, he is extremely intelligent and pretty good with people. Well, he used the exact words that would hurt me the most, that is for sure. But for some reason, although it hurt a LOT, it didn't hurt as much as I expected it would (just as I had expected that whole conversation eventually, but I wasn't prepared for it to happen this soon and thus I wasn't able to guard myself as I should have, and remained emotionless). It didn't hurt because I know it's not true. I know he has lied to me, that is blatantly obvious, either before or now...but in either case, the lie is not true. I know this, because I have a loving Father above who assures me of my virtues and assures me that I am doing what is right, and believing what is right. That is all that matters, and it brings peace to my heart even during such painful moments.

I guess he doesn't understand how I could possibly love him and believe what Heavenly Father told me on my birthday and numerous times afterwards, and at the same time just want to be friends. It's obvious he is threatened by the idea of me having false hopes. Well, he doesn't have to worry. I don't want to be more than friends with him. I really don't. I deserve a lot better than what he is throwing at me. Of course I know he's throwing it at me to get me to give up and throw in the towel, but those tactics do not work with a person with the experience and the heart that I have. I have a strong sense of what love is. I know that it's there through thick and thin; I know that when you love someone, you love them even when they hurt you, hate you, spite you, and even persecute you. I have had family members do these very same things to me as well, and it hurt more than I can even express, but I never stopped loving them or believing in them and in their goodness. We all crack sometimes, we all have our very mean moments; we have all hurt people we care about. It's human. It's not right, but it's human, and it's to be expected, but NOT tolerated.

I don't have any issues looking for others, dating others, and pursuing other relationships. I WILL do it. I AM doing it. But at the same time, although I know my love for him is a choice; I cannot and will not go against my God and what He has asked me to do. My own selfish desires are to throw in the towel, get angry, and just forget it all. But I won't. I won't until I'm told to do so. But in the meantime, yes, I will keep dating. I know my mission in life, at least part of it, and I can accomplish most of it with any worthy young man, and I will do so.

But yes, I love him. He knows this. It's certainly not a romantic, feverish, intoxicating love like it was in the beginning, but that doesn't mean it's not there. Again, I have experience with this, and I know what it is. But at the same time, I certainly do NOT want to be with him. I just wish he could recognize that nothing is expected of him; nothing but his friendship. I haven't IM'd him; he has IM'd me. I was looking forward to a friendly chat, but instead he had to turn it into a slash-fest. I know he doesn't realize he can be friends with someone who cares so much for him; and I know it makes him uncomfortable, but it is do-able. I've been on both sides of that equation before, and to tell you the honest truth, those relationships were some of the most worthwhile experiences, full of personal growth and discovery.

Hey, life is full of adversity and challenges. It wouldn't be worth it if it wasn't. It's the people, the friendships, the relationships that can get through those times and still care about each other; who can say they are sorry to each other, who can recognize the beauty in each other and overlook the ugliness...those are the relationships in life that are truly worth having.

Jun 1, 2004

Me, Olvia, and Laura in Indiana yesterday. It was a much needed fun-filled weekend!

How dare ANYONE accuse me of giving up? Of being a quitter? Anyone who truly knows me knows my fierce determination and my will to succeed. I have had to work hard all my life to accomplish what I have accomplished; no, I have not lived a posh life of comfort and convenience; and while I still recognize the vast blessings I have had growing up; having such a wonderful, loving, magnificent family who have loved and nurtured me in ways so many children do not receive, I also recognize that the hard times I have been afforded are only tests of my will, my determination, my spirit, my passion, my drive, my faith, and my love.

I am more determined THAN EVER to accomplish every single one of my worthy and righteous goals. I have never failed at anything that Heavenly Father has asked me to do; and I do not plan on starting now. How could anyone possibly think I have given up??? How could anyone possibly think that my acceptance of who I am is equivalent to complacency? No one knows what it is like to be me; to wake up and have to look in the mirror every morning; to remind myself of all the ugly and imperfect things about me. But the fact is my goals will not be accomplished overnight, and in the meantime, I have to live in this skin, in this body, and most importantly, I need and WANT to enjoy the journey and learn everything I can from it. It's the learning that makes us truly noble. As Martin Luther King said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Personally, I'm grateful to the Lord that I was not born with the gift of genes that would enable me to go through life eating whatever I wanted; to not have to exercise, because my metabolism would just melt it all off. While some may see my genes as tainted; as weak; as undesirable, what they don't see is what a marvelous gift it is to have the genes I DO have. I may lack the genes of a slender and athlethic body and a high metabolism, but I have extremely dense, amazingly strong bones, an excellent immune system, normal blood pressure and low cholesterol, and a very pretty face. I also make up for my "lack thereof" in every other way; the ways that matter. It's not a great body that will get me to Heaven -- it's a pure and virtuous spirit. In the meantime, because I have the body that I do, I value health much more than a person who never has to worry about his or her weight. I see the virtue in the Word of Wisdom because I see how it helps one to reach those goals. I see the blessings that lie in having a healthy body and being in optimal shape; I see them because those are my goals. If I HAD those things, I would take them for granted. But this trial I was born with is NOT a defect; it is, in fact, a beautiful strength.

This is why there is beauty in imperfection. This is why God's plan is so truly remarkable. It enables us to truly harness the power within us to make powerful changes. It allows us to continually grow and become stronger; to gain knowledge and testimony; to truly recognize the beauty of having opposition in all things. Would one value health if he always had it? Would one value beauty if everyone posessed it? Would one value good if evil did not exist? NO. How can we become like God if we don't go through these personal challenges and embrace them, recognizing them for what they truly are; a path to the Celestial Kingdom? We should want to help each other, take great joy in each other's accomplishments; see the true beauty that lies within each and every soul on this earth -- yes, especially in their imperfections! They are what make us unique, but more importantly, they are what leads us towards the goal of becoming like our Father in Heaven. Without them, we would truly be nothing.

So yes, I am so grateful for my body! It is NOT trash! It is a work in progress, just as my spirit and my mind is. It can be sculpted, and it is doing so right now. There is no good in being ashamed, but there is no good in being complacent, either. I am always one to strive to be better; what would make anyone think that this did NOT include my physical body, the temple that God has blessed me with? Why would I NOT want to take care of it?

I will reiterate again; accepting and loving myself does not equate to complacency. I just recognize that my body will never be perfect on this earth; but I will do all that I can to make it the healthiest it can possibly be; teaching me the joy that comes from the gift of health, and enabling me to accomplish the mission that God has for me.

I like what Harold B. Lee said to members of the church: "Faults and failings and the superficiality of mere physical attractions are as nothing compared with the genuineness of good character that endures and grows more beautiful with the years. You, too, may live in the enchantment of your happy homes long after the bloom of youth has faded if you but seek to find the pure diamond quality in each other that needs but the polishing of success and failure, adversity and happiness to bring luster and sparkle that will shine with brilliance even through the darkest night."