Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Having lived in our new home for about three months now, I can say that although it's a fixer-upper, I am thankful that it has a solid enough foundation that I don't worry about it collapsing or needing major structural repairs. The carpet, bathrooms, flooring, etc. are all cosmetic and will get changed out eventually, but for now we have a livable, functional house.

Thinking about this house and how grateful I am for the foundation while not really enjoying the aesthetics or functionality of the living area made me realize that this often applies to people also.

If we are built on a solid foundation (Christ) then it doesn't really matter what the rest of the dwelling looks like at the present time. We may be akin to a hut, barn, or shed or maybe more like a ranch, cape-cod or even a mansion. What's built up above the foundation is just the facade we're showing to the world.

What really matters is our foundation. We need to ask ourselves if we've built our foundation strong enough to withstand every storm, earthquake, and catastrophe that might happen in our lives. Even if our dwelling burned to the foundation, if that foundation was solid we could re-build on top of it again. We can also add to our foundation and make it larger, stronger, and deeper, and as we do so, we give ourselves the option of building additions or remodeling the dwelling above it.

I'd like to have a beautiful country home. One that matches the scenery of the land I live on. One that doesn't have neon lime green carpet in the living room and a non-functioning shower in the master bath. Eventually I hope to update and beautify each room in the house. But the house works for what it is meant for- shelter for those living within it and a sanctuary from the outside world.

In the same way, I want to continue to improve myself, to become more like my Savior and become whatever God meant for me to be. Some times I'll make noticeable progress and other times the work going on may be behind the walls and not visible to everyone around me. I need to make sure that in all of my self-improvement projects that I don't neglect my foundation. I need to keep an eye on it to make sure there are no cracks or shifting. I want to strengthen it and shore it up and create a foundation that's going to hold me up no matter what comes my way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Afflictions, Being Highly Favored of the Lord, and Knowing the Goodness and Mysteries of God

How many times have you started reading the Book of Mormon and started quoting 1 Nephi 1:1 "I, Nephi, having been born of goody parents..." and kind of gone onto auto-pilot for the remainder of the verse? I have to admit that I'm guilty of that. Sometimes when you've read something so many times you get arrogant and think something along the lines of "I know that verse. I've read it xxx amount of times. I'm going to hurry up and get past it so I can get to some of the 'good' verses."
Yep, that would be my attitude sometimes, sadly.

Now that I'm doing the BYU-I Pathway program I'm taking more time to really study the scriptures and to ponder them again. One of the study prompts for our first lesson is on this first verse in the Book of Mormon and how it mentions that Nephi had seen many afflictions, been highly favored of the Lord, and knew of the goodness and mysteries of God. At first glance these three things seem to contradict one another. If you're highly favored of the Lord, shouldn't life be easier? Why would you have many afflictions if you're right with God and doing what you're supposed to? And how do afflictions and feeling highly favored lead to a knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God?

Here's how I see them working together:

When we're "right" with God and are doing what we know He wants us to do, we are almost automatically put in opposition to the world around us, and with that comes opposition from those who are uncomfortable with what we're doing, or who disagree with our beliefs, or who are actively fighting against what God wants. These would be the cause of many of the afflictions we see in our personal and professional lives. Then you have the everyday afflictions of mortality: sickness, fatigue, discouragement, selfishness, pride, temptation, etc. No matter how righteous we are, we are going to suffer afflictions in this life. It comes with the territory, and when we're on God's side, we may actually experience more afflictions than others who are living in the world.

Experiencing afflictions doesn't affect our standing with God. We can be highly favored of God for doing what He wants us to, but still go through terrible trials and challenges. What being highly favored may do, though, is to help us to understand the reasons behind some of the afflictions and to recognize the goodness and mysteries of God in our life. We can see beyond what we are going through at the moment and know that God is working in our life to make something good happen. We better understand how God works, what His will is for us, and more readily see the blessings we are experiencing, even in the midst of sore trials.

So being highly favored and experiencing afflictions and knowing the goodness and mysteries of God really are inter-related. They show a comprehensive view of a life dedicated to God, and show that good and bad happen in life, but if we are "right" with God, we're going to be more at peace because we'll understand His ultimate plan for our life, which is to live eternally with Him.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Long Overdue Update

So much has happened within the past few months! It feels like I've lived a year's worth of my life in the past 4-5 months.

Back in April we found a property with a house and 10 acres, only 25 minutes from where we were currently living, so we jumped on it. Our offer was accepted and we went through a long, drawn-out, and very stressful process to get to closing. We were supposed to close within 30 days, then 45, and in the end it was over 60 days. This wouldn't have been much of an issue except that we had a family reunion to attend in June...which ended up coinciding with when closing could finally happen. We ignored the advice of our buyer's realtor to postpone or forego our vacation and just made sure to pack everything possible before leaving.

We left for the Oregon coast on June 24th and made our way from Portland to Tillamook. Ever since the first time David tried Tillamook cheese, it's been his absolute favorite, so we had to make time to tour the factory and eat some cheese! We spent the night in Tillamook and headed down the coast to the campground in Newport, where most of the family was staying for the reunion. We spent the next few days hanging out with my Mom, step-dad, brothers, sister, their spouses and children. It was wonderful! I don't get to see my family very often so it was great to spend time with them. It was especially touching to see my brother Ken and his family- it had been over 16 years since I last saw him, and had never met his children. We enjoyed going on a dune buggy tour, visiting a dinosaur park that my parents had taken us to when we were children, going to the aquarium, and having family dinners together. I was sad to see it end on Sunday when we all went our separate ways again.

David and I then headed down the coast to see the Redwoods. He had never seen one before and it was fun to see his reaction to these giants. (Having grown up in Northern California, they were almost common to me, so it was great to be with someone who saw them as something entirely new and wondrous.) We both had a great time on the west coast. It made me remember the things I loved about growing up out there. Kinda made me wish we could somehow afford to live out there ourselves, but I don't think that's in the cards for us.

We flew back home on Wednesday, July 1st and got home around 8pm. We then turned around and headed to closing at 8:45 the next morning and went straight home to start moving. There were serious issues getting a truck but David was finally able to get one and he had plenty of help from church to load up. It took two trips to completely empty the house (ridiculous for only 2 people to have so much stuff!!) but we got everything moved that same day. I don't recommend moving the day after you get home from vacation. In fact, I strongly discourage it. It's crazy.

We've been basically non-stop busy ever since moving. In addition to trying to unpack and organize everything in a new house, there have been repairs (expected and unexpected) and a lot of cleaning that has needed to be done.

Sometime shortly after we moved in, I ended up getting in an auto accident. Apparently I'm not good at avoiding a semi in my lane on a winding back road AND simultaneously seeing that the driver in front of me stopped suddenly also. Oops. Thankfully I wasn't injured, although my car was totaled. I ended up with a fun rental car again (same type I drove on vacation!) and as soon as they decided to total the car I started car shopping. I was able to get a Kia Soul that's 5 years newer and has 50K fewer miles on it than my old car. Not to mention the fact that it's cute and fun to drive! All's well that ends well, right?

Since we didn't have enough stuff to do already we decided to get to work on a chicken coop so we could get chickens soon. David has been hard at work converting a metal shed into the Fort Knox of chicken coops. We've heard and read of so many people losing their chickens to predators that we want to keep ours as safe as possible. It's taking a lot of time and money, but the coop is looking great. I ordered chicks online and they showed up last Thursday. (So weird that you can get chicks through the mail!) I am absolutely thrilled with the chicks. They are so cute, and so much fun to watch. David keeps warning me not to name them or get attached, but we all know how impossible that is for me. :)

I was also released as Primary president and called as a counselor in Relief Society last week. It was time, so I feel good about it. I'm looking forward to getting to know more of the sisters in our ward and pushing out of my comfort zone to teach and be more social.

And that's all the update I have time to post today. Gotta get back to work! Life isn't slowing down any day soon. Let's just hope I can keep up!

"Born Again"

While I was reading over President Uchtdorf's talk "The Gift of Grace" in the May 2015 Ensign I had the following thoughts on being "born again":

When we speak of being born again in a spiritual sense, I think it very closely correlates to birth in its original sense. Before we are physically born we are in an embryonic state in a mother's womb. In this state we are alive and full of potential, but unable to grow and progress beyond the limitations of the womb. It isn't until after being born that we are able to continue on our journey through mortality and reach our full potential physically and mentally. If we were to be left in the womb we would die without ever experiencing life. It takes birth to open the world and all of its possibilities to us.

It's the same way with spiritual rebirth. Before we are "born again" we are stuck in a spiritual embryonic state, alive and full of potential, but without the ability to grow beyond the bounds of our limited knowledge and spiritual experience. Without being "born again," our spirit would wither and diminish. It takes spiritual rebirth to open to us our spiritual and eternal ability. When we are "born again" our spirits are freed from our mortal limitations and we are given God's grace to help us grow and develop into mature spiritual beings. Only through Christ's atonement and the ability to be "born again" are we able to reach our full potential.

And just as physical birth is often a strenuous and painful process to go through, spiritual rebirth may also be accompanied by great pain and struggle, but is ultimately necessary and beneficial.