Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We Are SO Loved

Last night, I had a dream. It was a very realistic and significant dream. Its message wasn't meant for me, but for an extended family member.

When I first awoke and remembered what occurred in my dream, I thought, "Does this dream really mean anything? Or, is it a nonsense dream?" You see, I have dreams that mean something, but I also have nonsense dreams that are meaningless. I decided it was time for me to find out whether to share the information with my extended family member, or not.

Because my dream was so vivid and seemingly meaningful, I decided to pray about it. In the dim early-morning light, I prayed to know what I should do. I felt I should email my extended family member of my experience. I thought, "Oh, I'll just message _______ on facebook." Right when I thought those words, I felt the strong words come right back at me, "No. Don't check facebook, just send the email." So, I listened!

It was hard for me to open up my soul and send my dream via email, but I felt strongly inspired to do it and I knew I couldn't ignore the prompting. Yes, I've learned the hard way what happens when I don't listen to the personal inspiration/revelation I receive through the Holy Ghost! I wasn't going to make that mistake again!

After I clicked  send , I instantly felt at peace.

I was floored by the response I received from my extended family member. What I had written (it was a short email) was accurate and made sense to my extended family member. The things written back to me absolutely confirmed that my dream was correct! I was not off-base or crazy. My extended family member's recently deceased loved one had actually reached out to me through a dream. This fact makes me feel extremely small in our heavenly universe.

What's so wonderful and amazing is the fact that this isn't the first time a dream like this has been given to me. I guess I'm just shocked that, although rare, it continues to happen to me. I'm also so grateful to have gained additional insight and knowledge about spiritual things.

First of all, this experience solidified that our Heavenly Father and our Savior love us with an intensity that can never be completely understood by our earthly souls. When spiritually in-tune, we can catch glimpses of that glorious heavenly love, but we will never fully comprehend it until we go home to Heaven ourselves.

Secondly, this experience confirmed to me again that our loved ones we have lost through death are not lost at all—they are well-cared-for in a heavenly paradise. Our dear loved ones care so deeply for those of us still on Earth. They are anxiously watching over us and want us to be utterly happy! And sometimes, they are allowed to reach out to us—so we know that not only are they okay, but that we are okay too.

Finally, while this earth life can be hard, we must all remember that there we are here for darn good reasons! We must continually pray to know what our life missions are. We cannot ever allow ourselves to remain discouraged, or give up! This life is very important. We all matter!

When we return to our heavenly home, I have no doubt we will be welcomed with the open arms of our dearly-missed loved ones. Until that necessary life-transition happens, we must faithfully continue on our life-mission's path. We must not be swayed or dismayed! Our precious souls must remain strong. We need to live our lives to our maximum capacity, thus honoring our heavenly loved ones in the process. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet The Mormons: I am one!

Okay, in case you didn't know (which could happen if you've never read my blog before), I'm a Mormon. More correctly, I'm a very happy and devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. :)

To quote the Disney Channel movie, Camp Rock, this is real, this is me. :)

The awesome news is, my wonderful church has created a movie, Meet The Mormons, that I cannot wait to see! Here's the trailer:

This movie—that has me so excited(!)—is opening across the United States on October 10th. Please click here to see all of the movie locations and showings.

I highly recommend seeing Meet The Mormons on its opening weekend, but if you don't want to go see the movie (No hurt feelings, I promise!), just know that by reading my blog, you have "met" a Mormon! :) Feel free to ask me a question in the comments section of this post. If it's an appropriate question, I'll respond in a future post. If no one has any questions, that's totally fine—I'll just keep posting what I like to write about. :)

What it all comes down to is this: I sincerely and dearly love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! The Church fills my life with joy, happiness, love, service, compassion, integrity, intelligence, learning, and amazing spirituality that I've never found a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e. else! True story.

Also? I am the type of person who does NOT just do whatever I'm told. I don't follow the pack unless I'm certain said pack's direction is where I should be going in my life. Simply put, I don't like anyone telling me what to do, but I will absolutely seek understanding to see if what they're saying is good for me.

After my many years on Earth, I know The Church is so so good for me. Yes, I am my own person: a woman who knows her mind and is continually seeking to improve herself—and I am a Mormon, through and through. I will fight to keep my membership honorable in The Church, and anyone who tries to stop me will regret it! *Don't worry, I'm not that crazy. Ha ha. I just really like to make my own choices. :)

Well, as much as I love chatting with all of you, I must get on with my day...

I sincerely hope that millions of people will go see Meet The Mormons, and not only sort-of understand, but come to knowabsolutely—that we are not as bad/weird as so many people make us out to be. We are imperfect people who love our Heavenly Father (God) and His Son, Jesus Christ, with our whole hearts and souls! We are trying (so hard!) to become like Jesus, even though we all have our good and bad days when we're not at our bestWe have no ulterior motive, except to share this wonderful feeling we get through worshiping and serving together in our Church, our temples, and the world! :)

*Update 11/13/15: I'm so excited that the full HD version of Meet The Mormons was just released on YouTube (on 11/06/15)! Thus, I'm totally including it here on my blog! Please enjoy watching this lovely movie, it's truly one of my favorites!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Food & Communication

This post's title might cause you to think that I'm writing something deep about food and communication. Gotcha! I'm not writing a psychological post at all! I know, I'm so mean. ;)

Actually, it's time for me to share two more great websites with all of you! *Before I share, please know that I'm not being compensated in any way for sharing these delightful sites on my blog. I simply want to share two more places online that are safe, interesting, fun and yummy! (They're yummy in different ways!) For full disclosure, you must know that I personally know the owners of said awesome websites. I think very highly of each of them, and I give my full support of their creations!

For the Love of Food is an excellent cooking blog dedicated to the recipes Rachelle has made personally—and they have received her "seal of approval."

Note: she doesn't actually give her "seal of approval" like an award, I just wrote that for fun! But it's not a bad idea! She could call her award, The Rachelle Star! It sounds good, right?! (Just ask my husband, I'm full of good ideas! ;))

Even though I've not made any of Rachelle's recipes, every food she's made and shared with me is amazingly yummy! She is truly a fabulous cook, so I completely trust her recipe recommendations!

The visual communication guy aims to improve visual literacy.

Before I found Curtis' blog (through his darling wife), I had no clue what visual literacy was! I guess you could call me visually illiterate! Ha ha. ;) In all seriousness, I've really enjoyed perusing his content, but I admit I haven't read everything he's written.

I have several favorite posts, but here's my current fav, Bacon Punctuation: A Sentence about Bacon for Every Use of Punctuation. It's hilarious and informative. I honestly think every English teacher should print Bacon Punctuation and use it as an exercise for their students! Or, parents could read it to their children as a fun Family Home Evening activity!

By the by, I shudder to think if Mr. Newbold ever read my blog, for I know my grammar is at times atrocious! That said, I can't refrain from blogging!

I hope you enjoy their websites as much as I have! Now, I must sign-off and go make something for dinner. Yes, I know what time it is...don't judge me! ;)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Remembrance of September 11th

Anyone over the age of 18 most likely remembers September 11th, 2001. Whenever I think of it, my eyes sting with tears a little. Like anyone else, I can instantly go back to that day in my mind. My heart still goes out to the thousands upon thousands of people forever changed by that horrible day.

The very next day, Wednesday, September 12th, I found out I was pregnant with my second child, my lovely daughter. With all of the chaos and uncertainty of America's status, I continually poured out my heart to our Heavenly Father. You see, when I found out I was pregnant, it had only been a little over 24 hours since the awful terrorist tragedy happened to America.

On one hand, I was so excited about Greg and I having another baby! YAY! There is truly nothing as wonderful as a baby being born into a loving family—the beautiful product of a happy marriage! On the other hand, I was so scared of what the future held for America. I was truly terrified that there were terrorists in other places that we didn't know about yet. It was such an awful feeling. I remember thinking, "What have Greg and I done, bringing another child into this wicked world? What if there is nothing but evil, madness, tragedy, and sadness from here on out?" Some of you might think that's way too extreme of a reaction to have, but there were no real answers 24+ hours into our ordeal, and America's citizens were all in shock.

Thankfully, I received my answer very quickly through the Holy Ghost that my daughter was indeed supposed to gain a body through me and be born. Even though none of us had real answers about what was going on with America, I knew everything would be okay for my little family. I knew our Savior would make it right. It was such a peaceful yet sad feeling. I've never forgotten it and I never will.

Even though 9/11, is far behind us, I think it's vitally important that we take time to learn from those who experienced it personally. There are many beautiful life lessons we can learn from others. We must not forget those who died for America!

Thus, I must share this amazing interview produced by the Mormon Channel. I randomly listened Kenneth and Jeanette Howell's story, Episode 32, on Conversations, this past Monday morning. But nothing is ever random, is it? :) I know everything happens for a reason, and my timing of listening to their story couldn't have been better!

Here's the Mormon Channel's description of the interview: Kenneth and Jeanette Howell are the parents of Brady Howell, who was killed when a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. Through this and the lesser tragedy of losing a home in the 1976 Teton Dam disaster, the Howells have valuable advice to offer on coping with adversity and keeping families close.

The Howells' story is filled with love, optimism, inspiration, and faith. I wish everyone would listen to their wise words! They are an amazing couple.

Lastly, what I remember most about 9/11, is the way Americans pulled together. The strength of America's communities was a wonderful sight to behold. We, as neighbors and friends, became family who would do anything for each other. We looked out for each other's well being. We supported each other with good deeds, hugs, and kind words.

I truly wish we could go back to those early days, post 9/11, when caring and sharing dominated our society. I would take that love over the unkind things we see in real life—but especially on social media—in a heartbeat! My fellow citizens of America, we must do better! No, I'm not trying to sound presidential. ;)  It's just how I feel! We must not be so antagonistic toward those with differing points of views than ours!

Okay, I'll stop before my words get out of control. Just know that my heart broke on 9/11, for I love America and her people with my whole heart and soul! Let's remember those beautiful souls we lost. Let's do better, and be better—not just for them, but for our remaining families, friends and neighbors. We have so much to give to each other!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Window Wondering

One of my favorite quotes from The Sound of Music is when Maria says to Liesl, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." Every time I watched The Sound of Music, that line stayed in my head and I pondered it for days.

When I became older, and had several of my little family's moves under my belt, I continually noticed windows in paintings. Anytime I saw a window, I wondered, "Where does the window lead?", and pondered that idea for a while. Most often, I envisioned beautiful scenery that couldn't be seen from the perspective of the painting's current view.

One particular Sunday in Texas, while sitting in a quiet moment of Ward Council, I became slightly fixated on a painting in our bishop's office. It was a painting I had seen at least a hundred times during my life. I found out later that the title of the painting is, Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda, by the artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch. (I would include a copy of it here, but I don't have the copyright to do so, and I'd rather avoid legal trouble! Please click on the artist's link above to see the painting.) To clarify, I'm guessing the "windows" in Mr. Bloch's painting are most likely open pillar doorways, but to me and the situation I found myself in, I absolutely considered them windows. :)

During subsequent Ward Council meetings, my mind would at times drift again (only during quiet times, or when my opinion wasn't needed), thinking about all that was going on outside the pool of Bethesda during Jesus' time. I wondered what people you could see coming to find Jesus, to be healed by Him. I thought about the dirt, dust, smells of the time, and was immediately grateful for our modern conveniences! I also wondered where those blessed souls went after they were healed...

The other reason I wondered about the Bethesda painting at that time in my life, had everything to do with my family's then-current situation of uncertainty (we were still renting out our house in Utah, and had no current option of settling down permanently in Texas), and Maria's quote from The Sound of Music. I endlessly wondered what would happen to our family.

I knew our "door" had definitely and purposely been closed by the Lord at that time...we weren't going anywhere! For two years and nearly three months, I felt completely stuck with zero clue as to where we were going to end up. Thus began my fascination with windows. I wondered where on earth my family's window was. Seriously! Yet even if/when we found it, where would our window lead? At times, that unknown path scared me more than anything. For me, our uncertainty was probably the hardest part of our ordeal. Yes, uncertainty can be a beast of a trial.

Thankfully, my window wondering eventually came to an end. One day, literally out of the bright blue sky, the Lord showed Greg our family's window. The Lord beautifully threw it open with such magnificent, caring, loving and omnipotent strength! The most glorious, refreshing, and sweet-smelling wind came rushing through our tiny, cramped room of life. The fresh air we were given cleared away all the dusty cobwebs of doubt and frustration. There are still no adequate words to describe the joy we felt the day of our window discovery. :)

As time went on, our window grew in size. It became the door to my little family's new life. I was able to walk through our window-door with peace, security and happiness. That doesn't mean that our new window-path was (or is) easy, but we had the knowledge we needed—and the determination and love—to get us to where we were going.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I never imagined we'd be blessed enough to end up back in our cute little Utah house, surrounded by our family and friends. (Even though I wish our family members were a little closer in proximity to us, I'm not complaining!) During all of my window wondering, I never imagined a path leading back to our long-lost 70s home! Never! :)

Thus, I feel the need to tell anyone reading this post:
Don't give up on finding your open window. Even though the door may have been slammed shut in your face, there is a window just waiting to be opened for you. You might not know where your window is right now, and you might not see it for a long time, but rest assured, your window is there—it is being crafted just for you and your situation. Don't be stressed about how you're going to open it, for your window will be opened in exactly the right manner and time. It's impossible to know when, where, or how the Lord will introduce your window, but you can be certain that it will eventually open. I promise you'll be stunned and amazed to see where your window will lead! (Well, maybe some of you won't be stunned. Maybe some of you will say, "Oh, that was so predictable." That's okay too!)
Alas, my time is up for today. I just want to say, one more time, that I'm a firm believer that our Heavenly Father is in charge. He is truly in the details, of the details, of the details, of our lives. (I got that nifty quote {not verbatim} from the Salt Lake City Mission President, Stephen W. Hansen, during our Stake Conference this past Sunday!) Even though things might not turn out exactly the way we want, we need to have faith that when we are doing everything within our power to do what is right, things always work out. That said, I believe that even when we're not doing every single thing we can, things still work out because we're trying our best! Through the Lord, all things are possible!

Yes, this scripture describes my feelings perfectly, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." – Mark 9:23.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just Be Awesome

I came across a video a few days ago about rhythmic gymnastics. Seeing that I adore both gymnastics and dancing, I decided to watch the entire video. I instantly thought, "This is so lovely!" I actually got chills at one point, and little pangs in my heart the next moment. I would love to practice dancing and gymnastics again on a daily basis!

The first time I watched it, I didn't know it was a commercial, but I kept thinking, "She would be a great Pantene hair model!" Turns out, it was a Pantene commercial! Ha ha. Silly me. However, according to the commercial's creator, Grey [Group] Russia, it was initially created to give five million rubles to young Russian gymnasts. I think that's a great idea! :)

I absolutely love the message they were trying to convey in the video. (Even though I admit the video is a bit cheesy, I love cheesy!)  I basically took it as this: We should just be awesome no matter what anyone else is doing! :)

And really, haven't we all had a not-so-happy experience—or more than one—where someone was trying to sabotage what we were trying to accomplish? Seriously, there are people who rain on parades every day. (Sometimes the parade-raining is unintentional, but it hurts nonetheless.) We would be much happier if we just pushed all of the nonsense out of our minds and did our very best, regardless of what anyone else thinks, says, or does. :)

I hope you enjoy this sweet little movie as much as I did!