Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Choosing Power

I keep hearing in the media about how marriage rates are continually declining. (*To clarify: throughout this post, I'm referring to traditional marriage.) This news does not make me happy, not one little bit! Maybe you've already heard about this sad marriage news? If not, here are some links explaining the research (newest to oldest):
Now that you're up-to-date in the marriage news department, let me tell you about what I've been up to: I recently celebrated my 17th anniversary with my loving and amazing husband!! Because of our gift-giving and happy celebrations, I've been on a super pro-marriage kick. :) Thus, I would love it if I could convince the marriage fence-sitters to see the joy in marriage and possibly want to take the plunge!

*Warning: This post is long as I'm sharing much of Greg's and my love story, and I'll not apologize for it! :)

Our First Encounter
I was 17 when I met 18-year-old Greg at a Highland High School rugby game at the University of Utah—we were both spectators. Have you seen the marvelous movie, Forever Strong? Well, it's all about the Highland Rugby team. (If you want the tiniest snapshot of my teenage years, watch the movie's sideline/audience scenes at the rugby games!) I give a lot of credit to Larry Gelwix for the fact that Greg and I even met in the first place! Granted, we probably would have met under other circumstances because we attended the same high school—and I think we were truly destined to be together—but you never know! :)

I was chatting with my friends at the Highland Rugby game when suddenly this tall, good-looking young man was standing next to me and began talking. Greg made me smile and laugh a lot! What surprised me is the fact that Greg kept talking to me! You see, I was still somewhat timid around boys at that stage of my life and didn't have the best self esteem—but I was working on improving it! Don't misunderstand, I had spent a lot of time around young men, but I was just simply awkward around them.

Although I don't remember every detail of the day, our meeting made an impact on both of us. I remember walking back to the car thinking, "Hmm...why does this day feel different??" Greg went home and wrote in his day-planner, "Met Adrie ______ today." I love that he thought our first meeting was significant enough to write about in his day-planner!

Greg and I saw each other occasionally in our high school's hallways for the rest of the school year, which was approximately three-and-a-half weeks. Whenever he saw me, he would teasingly yell, "Aaaadrie!" I wanted to shrink with embarrassment, but I loved it! Greg always made my day!

Dating, the Missionary, and the Nanny
Even though I was awkward around boys, throughout the year before I met Greg, I'd been on many group/individual dates, and had a casual dating relationship with another young man. I was not ignorant of how relationships between young men and young women worked.

Greg and I began casually and sporadically dating early that summer (after he graduated high school), but we didn't start seriously dating until about one month before he left to serve a mission in Fukuoka, Japan, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The weeks Greg and I spent together before he left on his mission are so precious and special to me, for it's when we first discovered true love! Greg and I were truly thrilled to note the vast amount of similarities we shared.  As Greg so aptly described it, "It's like I'm home." I couldn't have agreed more! We decided that we could even see ourselves married to each other in the future! Saying those words out loud shocked my 17-year-old ears, but they felt so so right to my heart and mind!

Thus, it felt painfully strange when Greg told me that I should date other young men while he served his mission. Even though we both agreed that we were the perfect marriage-match for eternity, Greg didn't want me to "wait" for him. That was a very hard and gaggy pill for me to swallow, but I reluctantly agreed.

When Greg left on his mission, I felt like my soul had been ripped out through my heart. No exaggeration. (Think of the Evil Queen ripping hearts out on Once Upon A Time, and that's how I felt!) I was a mighty sad girl. Thus, I was so happy that we wrote to each other every week throughout his entire mission. When we were either too tired or busy to write, we'd record cassette tapes and send them to each other. (I still have a shoebox full of our tapes!) When I traveled to France, Switzerland and Italy with my dad for my senior graduation trip, I mailed Greg post cards and a few packages. Late into Greg's mission, he was made the AP (Assistant to the Mission President), so we began faxing each other! Yes, this really dates me! Receiving faxes from the love of my life was awesome!!

But back to the dating while Greg was on his mission: Yes, I dated other men. It's strange for me to write those words because it feels like I've never been without my Gregor! The other men I dated were all very good men (I wouldn't have settled for anything less), and we truly cared about each other. My time with each of them absolutely helped me grow into the woman I am today. Through our (sometimes short) relationships, those men unknowingly prepared me for my incredibly wonderful marriage to Greg! I hope I helped prepare them as well.

As the years have passed, most (if not all) of those men have married well and now have beautiful families. I had no doubt they would live great lives! That said, in my mind, there was no one who came close to Greg. When I say that, I'm not dissing the other men I dated. They were simply not meant for me, nor was I meant for them. Greg and I were meant for each other!

Below is the photo Greg kept with him throughout his two-year mission in Japan. He combined his senior-football picture and my junior-year picture. While I was in France, I sent him a lovely picture frame that he put them in. I still have those photos in the very same picture frame on my computer desk! We were so young! Looking at us still makes me twitterpated! FYI, this photo was taken before my thyroid problems began.

While I waited for Greg to come home from his mission, I graduated from high school, and worked that summer at a local dry-cleaners. That October, I became a nanny for a wonderful little boy in Michigan for one year. I loved being a nanny so much! It was hard work, but super rewarding. I refer to my nannying experience as my mini-mission. :)

During the 25 months Greg and I were apart (Oh, yes, I totally counted!), we each had experiences beyond compare. Our souls grew so much in such a short period of time! It really is amazing to me when I stop and ponder our growth.

Contrary to what some may think, Greg and I also grew together as a couple. Through our letters, cassette tapes, poems and gifts, we came to understand each other as we never had before. I honestly believe we couldn't have grown together as well as we did, were it not for our time spent apart! Relying on our faith in each other and our Heavenly Father was at times hard, but it strengthened our souls and showed us time and again just how right we were for each other! I literally can't count how many times I received a letter from Greg with the perfect advice or loving words in the precise moments I needed them. It's like he knew exactly what to write to me one week in advance!

Oh, wow. Just going back to that time in my mind brings tears to my eyes: Greg was everything to me...and he still is! Our souls were so connected to each other, despite being approximately 6,757 miles apart! I can't reiterate enough that we were meant for each other! (Those statements still apply even though I was dating other young men off-and-on throughout his mission. Again, I would have chosen Greg every time if he weren't in a different country!)

Homecoming, PMS and Las Vegas
After I completed my year of nannying in Michigan, I moved home mid-October. Happily for me, Greg came home from Japan by the end of October. In retrospect, I still say those two years were the l.o.n.g.e.s.t. two years of my life! I was so ready to marry my one and only true love! Greg, on the other hand, was now the awkward one. I think I would classify his malady as Post Mission Syndrome...a different kind of PMS! Ha ha.

Two weeks after Greg came home from Japan, he began working as a Japanese-speaking tour guide in Las Vegas. Despite our grand love for one another, I nearly wasn't able to wait for him. You see, I had no idea that his plan was to go work crazy-long hours in Las Vegas in order to save up enough money to buy me an engagement ring. So sweet! Yeah, that would have been really good information for his planner girlfriend to know ahead of time!

When he said goodbye, I thought, "What are you doing?! I waited two years for you, and you run off to go work 16-hour-days in LAS VEGAS?!" A few weeks into his life in Vegas, I thought, "And now you're too tired to talk to me on the phone when you finish working every day?! What kind of a relationship is this?! Aaahhh!" Thankfully, I chose to wait four more months. Remember, patience didn't use to be my virtue. :)

However, there was one night near the end of four months when I almost broke up with him because I couldn't take being apart from him anymore. In that tender moment, Greg gently pleaded and lovingly convinced me to stick-it-out with him just a little longer.

Who knew his plan was already in place? I surely didn't! Thus, I was super surprised when he came home three days later! I still remember the moment I looked out my parents' front door and saw a very skinny Greg (he worked way too hard in Las Vegas) standing on my front porch. I thundered down the stairs faster than lightning, threw open the door and jumped into Greg's arms! We endlessly hugged and I bawled my eyes out. My Gregor was HOME!

I'm truly beyond grateful that neither one of us gave up on each other! Wow. Again, I shudder to think about what might not have been...

The Proposal
Two months later, my dreams came true: Greg proposed to me! Thankfully, he proposed at the very right time during our dinner at Market Street Broiler by the University of Utah. (It just closed in April, 2014. So sad face!) I say thankfully because I was just about to ask him what he thought about me serving a mission for our church, since I thought we weren't getting married anytime soon! (There's more to that story, but I'm going to bypass it for now.) Every time I think about the timing of our proposal dinner, I wonder, "What if I had asked him my mission question first, before he proposed? What if he would have said, 'Yes, you should serve a mission!', and kept the ring hidden from me? Seriously, where would we be in our lives??!"

But back to his proposal... I immediately, enthusiastically and emphatically said, "YES!!!" And all of the other restaurant patrons began clapping, cheering, whistling and wishing us, "Congratulations!" It was like an awesome movie! Instead of crying like people do in the movies and on reality TV shows, I was like, "It's about time!!!" :) We headed home and proceeded to tell our entire world our fantastic news! Up to that point in my life, I had never been so happy!

This photo was taken mere minutes after we told my family we were engaged! It's all crinkled because we folded it so it would fit in a picture frame. :)

This is the photo we used for our wedding invitation! While it's kind of an awkward pose, we both really liked it. :) Our feet weren't showing in the final product. I don't know why I didn't go out and buy a pair of shoes that matched my dress! It's probably because I was trying to save money. Although, those were my favorite strappy shoes for years! I was sad when they finally fell apart. :(

This photo was taken during our engagement photo shoot. It's one of my absolute favorite photos of Greg and I!

Our Wedding!
Greg and I were married on a beautiful and perfect summer day in 1997. We chose to be married in the incomparable Salt Lake Temple and sealed for time and all eternity! There are so many beautiful moments of that day, I could spend an hour reliving each one! What I'll say is this: My heart overflowed with peaceful joy on our wedding day. I knew that Greg and I were meant to be together for eternity! My ever-restless soul was finally calm and fulfilled. While I can't speak exactly of Greg's emotions, I know he was so happy with the decision he made. :)

Speaking of eternal marriage, I highly recommend reading/watching/listening to this excellent talk, The Marriage That Endures, by Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Below are two of my favorite paragraphs from his talk (in consecutive order)—I created these typographic designs to look the same because they must go together! Plus, the paragraphs wouldn't fit all on the same page. :)

Here are some of our precious photos of that amazingly perfect day. These were all taken by my father, except for the portrait of us in front of the pillars. (I apologize for their quality, for they were scanned into my printer that has only a 600x600dpi scanner. And I have no idea if I wrote that statistic correctly!)

My heart was swelling at this very moment! By the way, I loved my wedding dress so much! It was exactly the wedding dress I'd always dreamed of and hoped for! It's hanging in my basement and I can still fit into yeah! ;)
Tough Guy Lovin' the Princess! Greg said his hand symbol was showing his heart full of love for me. He completely melts my heart! :)

Oh, how I loved that moment! I still absolutely remember it!

Mr. & Mrs. Peterson. This was for real the happiest day of my life!
Now that you're acquainted with how Greg and I met, fell in love, and married for eternity (yay!), let me bring you back to my original thoughts that began this post. You see, I strongly believe that when a couple chooses marriage, they are essentially choosing power.

By choosing marriage, a woman and a man are effectively showing just how Christlike they desire to become.

By choosing each other day after day, year after year, decade after decade, (and hopefully life into eternity), married couples show their willingness to put another person's well-being ahead of their own.

By continuing to love and serve each other in every aspect of their marriage, a husband and wife put away their natural-man/woman tendencies. They show their spouse and our Heavenly Father (God) that their spirits are stronger than their flesh. They prove that their souls can triumph over their human shortcomings and weaknesses.

By daily implementing compromise, selflessness, patience, service, kindness, sacrifice, etc., a married couple can not only walk the path of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but become more like Him every day!

Yes, a man and a woman are never more powerful than when they are devoted solely to each other! Yet they become even more powerful when they are sealed together forever! Sorry, I couldn't resist sharing that eternally happy thought. :)

Now I'd like to clarify a few things about my marriage. Over the years, there have been several people who've assumed that because Greg and I are so happy together, our marriage must be 100% easy-peasy all the time. Well, it's not. Also, when referring to my happy marriage, people have said to me, "Oh, you're so lucky!" I appreciate their kind thoughts (truly!), but sometimes I want to emphatically reply, "Luck has nothing to do with it! We work our hineys off!" ;)

Even though Greg and I have this immense love for each other and a really awesome love story, we still occasionally have miscommunications/misunderstandings, and tiny moments of crankiness, snappiness, PMS (the female kind this time), selfishness, sadness, frustration, etc. That said, those stressful moments don't come between Greg and I very often simply because we work every day to prevent them from entering into our relationship. If we are ever at odds with each other, we'll talk it out until we come to a resolution, or agree to disagree.

A little while ago, I chatted with my dad about this topic. I told him I was going to write a blog post about my marriage and how luck has nothing to do with its success. He said, "That reminds me of a quote by Samuel Goldwyn. He said, 'The harder I work, the luckier I get.'" I squealed when my dad said those words, for they are exactly how I feel!!

Yes, friendly readers, luck most definitely has nothing to do with my wonderful marriage. Ever since Greg and I met, we put everything else aside and chose each other. We chose each other when we were teenagers, young adults, newlyweds and thirty-somethings! And we continually choose each other every single day of our lives!

So, if you're not sick of this topic yet, I highly recommend reading these two articles about marriage:
The Case for Getting Married Young, by Karen Swallow Prior

Speaking of marriage tips, when Greg and I were just three-months-married, we took a celestial marriage class at the University of Utah's LDS Institute of Religion from Dr. John Lund. He did a fabulous—and very entertaining—job of helping class members determine what was working in our marriages, and what we needed to spend additional time on. He gave us the communication skills and perspectives needed to create a beautiful marriage. Greg and I are still going strong because we heeded and implemented Dr. Lund's incredibly wise words!

Years later, Dr. Lund turned his celestial marriage class into a book and CD, For All Eternity. I bought the CD many years ago and Greg and I listen to it every once in a while as a marriage refresher course. :) We find it super helpful and wish every engaged couple would listen to it as a way to prepare for their marriage!

Truly, I've never felt more powerful than the moment Greg and I were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I knew in that sacred moment that Greg and I were impacting not only our souls, but many future generations to come! The amazing thing is, I continue to feel that holy power every time I choose to love, honor, support, and cherish my husband! And I believe we've strengthened our power as a married couple since creating our children and bringing them into this world. I guess you could call us a power couple! Ha ha. The best news is, this powerful blessing—marriage—is available to anyone who makes a genuine effort to obtain and maintain it!

Monday, October 27, 2014

There's a Great Big World Out There

This past Saturday night, I put on the charming movie, Lady and the Tramp, for some darling little girls who visited our house. They had never seen the movie before and were enthralled. Yay! I was so happy to watch Lady and the Tramp again (only portions, not all of it), as it's been a while since I've enjoyed one of Disney's classics!

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for church, I was struck by the thought that came to me as I remembered one of my favorite Lady and the Tramp lines: Tramp said to Lady, "Look, there's a great big hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it's all ours for the taking, Pidge. It's all ours."

My mind wandered and I had such fun reminiscing about all of my adventures outside the Utah bubble. I've had some amazingly grand times in our unfenced world!

Growing up, my parents took my siblings and I on vacations quite frequently. We didn't have a lot in terms of worldly wealth, but my parents definitely made the necessary sacrifices to make sure we had great memories traveling beautiful North America together.

In my late teenage years, my dad took each of us individually on some really amazing adventures to Europe—thanks to his involvement in the advertising industry. I will cherish those lovely moments forever!

When I was 18, I headed to Michigan to be a nanny for a year. Wow, I grew up so much during that time! I gained so many new experiences that totally helped shape who I am today.

As I continued reminiscing, I experienced a flash flood of all the moves Greg and I have made as a married couple with our darling children. We've been through so much together!

Due to what I've written previously on this blog (and my private blog), some readers might think my family has had only negative experiences with all of our moves. But that's not entirely correct. We've had some pretty incredible experiences with all of our moves! Yes, there's a great big world out there!

As I thought about all of my family's moves, my heart swelled because I have much to be thankful for! I'm truly grateful my children have been able to live their lives (at least what they remember) in four major US cities. We've lived in more cities, but their memories of them are spotty. Every city we've lived in has felt different. I mean, for the most part, people are similar. People are people wherever you go, but the culture in every city and neighborhood we've lived in has definitely not been the same. I'm also very happy my children have known life in different climates, too. Oh, our world is so marvelous!

Colorado has the bluest sky and the best weather of any state I've ever lived in. Colorado's weather is mostly pleasant and you can really do anything outside that you want. It was rare that bad weather would last longer than a few days, it seemed to always be changing. Although Colorado was the driest state we've ever experienced (it made my hair too flat), I really loved the fact that mold hardly ever grew anywhere—not even in our showers! Yay!

Utah has the prettiest and puffiest clouds I've ever seen. My kids frequently hear me gush about how much I love them! I especially love how they hang over the mountains east of our house. I'm always enthralled by them. And Utah has the best snow ever. Hands down. No other city's/state's/country's snow will ever compare with Utah's snow!! Of all the places we've lived, I like the way the four seasons run their course in Utah. Maybe that's because I grew up here, and consistency feels good to the soul? I'm guessing that would be a yes for me. :)

Realistically, I wasn't fond of Texas' climate. I hated the intense heat and the stickiness that accompanied it. Taking two showers a day became the norm in our house during the summer. I did, however, love the wind in Texas, for it helps make the heat and humidity more tolerable. Speaking of humidity, I had the best hair of my life while living in Texas! As I've said before, I miss my lovely Texas hair! Also, Texas' rain and thunderstorms cannot be beat! Oh, my soul aches for a good Texas rain/thunderstorm!!

Yes, when I think of all the beauty our world has to offer, I'm so grateful my children have been exposed to three distinct areas of the country. I know, Utah and Colorado seem very similar, but they felt completely different to me! I'm so thankful my children have been able to see life outside the Utah bubble, for I truly believe it expands their view of the world. I think their understanding of three separate states helps them see that life is bigger than they are. I hope the knowledge they've gained through all of our moves helps them not become self-centered—because they know how massive our world is, and that it's truly not about them.

All of our moving experiences have helped my children understand that there are many new friends to be made! Yes, we cherish those friendships we've established over the years, but there's nothing to prevent my children from saying, "Hi, I'm ______. How are you today?" Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the friends we've made (and as we've moved-on, people don't always keep in touch with us), but I love that my kids know that they can absolutely make new friends anywhere because they've made good friends before!

Because of our moving experiences, I love watching my children not get caught up in all of the social pettiness that pervades schools, churches and other social atmospheres. When I was growing up, I totally got caught up in that yucky social pettiness in my schools, ward (church), and neighborhood because I didn't know anything different than my life in small-town Utah. Compared to what I know now, the world of my youth was very small. I feel I suffered socially because of my lack of worldly experience. I know I can't go back to my childhood, but I wish I would have had something to compare my social experiences to—like living in another city/state—for I feel I would have dealt much better with the social sadness I endured.

I love that because my children were essentially forced to make new friends over and over with each of our moves, they truly aren't bothered at all by the bad/hard/frustrating social aspects of life. They are sure of themselves because they know there's a great big world out there, and any social problem they encounter is merely temporary—it's not the end of their world! :) Knowing what I know from my childhood/teenage years, I'm so grateful my children don't engage in society's nonsense! It's seriously such a relief that my babies have progressed so much farther than I did at their age. Yippee!

If I had my wish, everyone would move to a new city at least once while growing up, for I feel it would help them understand that life is so much bigger than what they've experienced so far! I also wish every adult would move from the city of their youth for at least three years—again so they could experience something different than what they've been used to their entire life.

And to anyone who thinks that vacations are enough of a change, well, let me tell you, they're not!!! Yes, vacations can change your outlook on life for several weeks after you come home, but they're not life-changing to the extent that uprooting your entire life and moving to a new city is. I'm just sayin'! :)

I know I'm a bit repetitive today, but I just can't get over it: I'm truly so grateful for the knowledge and experiences I've gained through moving so many times. Our lovely world has taught my family and I so very many good things!

P.S. If you ever need some ideas on moving, check out my series DIY Moving Tips by Adrie. I genuinely hope I can help someone with what I've learned!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Evolution of a Soul

I don't have much time to write, but this thought has been swimming around in my head today, and I must get it out before I go grocery shopping! :)

One of the things I love most about life is watching people grow. I love watching babies grow into children, and witnessing children morph into adults. I love seeing the way babies learn by discovering their world. Oh, babies fill my soul with a happiness that I can't describe! Basically, every baby I've ever met I want to hold. I call it baby therapy. But I digress...

I simply can't get enough of children exploding into their personalities, for I believe every baby comes to earth with their personalities already firmly intact. All they need is to wait for their bodies to catch up—so their spirits can expand and fill every nook and cranny of their bones, brain cells and muscles! The growth every person goes through is absolutely astounding and marvelous! I truly can't get enough of witnessing this glorious process we call living!

My fascination with people doesn't end at watching only their physical changes. Even though adults are grown, and their bodies' cells begin their decline around age 25 (at least I think I read that statistic somewhere once), their souls continue to evolve.

As our bodies stop regenerating as effectively and beautifully as they once did, simultaneously our spirits are continuously expanding—becoming better by the day...if only we will allow them that chance! Yes, sometimes we are our own worst enemies! But if we take all of the knowledge we've gained through our life experiences, and apply it to bettering ourselves, wow, there are no limits as to what we can become!

The beauty of witnessing the evolution of a soul is truly something to behold—I daresay it is magically magnificent! Thus, I hope the people of our world will be patient with each other. I wish for all of us to be kinder...gentler. I would love it if we could see that everyone around us is evolving, and give them the benefit of every doubt we might have.

Obviously, we evolve at different rates. Some of us seem to be on the luge of life, speeding effortlessly on ice around every hairpin turn and never getting so much as a scratch! Others seem to be stuck thigh-deep in a swamp, struggling to progress even one inch to safety and happiness. At times we wonder if they will survive or be swallowed whole by the slimy muck that holds them prisoner. Life can be very sad when witnessing those destructive realities.

I think the greatest reward comes to those who continually and carefully stand by their loved ones—no matter how long or drawn out his or her evolution process takes. Patiently watching and waiting to offer unconditional love and support to those we care about is a gift to everyone involved...a gift that can never be quantified or matched!

I guarantee we will never regret graciously allowing others the time and space they need to become their best selves, but we will most assuredly lament their quiet weeping when we stubbornly refuse to accept their souls as-is. No. We must never contribute to a soul's broken heart, for that would ensure our sadness and remorse—possibly indefinitely!

*Granted, we must always preserve our personal safety (and the safety of those we love), but as long as our well-being isn't in jeopardy, there is nothing wrong with extending our own souls to support those in need.

Seriously, is there anything more fulfilling than knowing we've positively contributed to forever changing someone's life for the best?! I think not! :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Excellent Resources on Patience

This afternoon, I've had the wonderful opportunity to prepare a lesson for my Mia Maid class tomorrow in church. The lesson is How Can I Learn to be More Patient? and I'm super excited to teach it! There are so many wonderful thoughts on patience, it's been hard to narrow down what to teach tomorrow.

The good news is, I feel like I've learned a lot of patience in my life—more-so in the past seven years than ever before. I've probably had equal opportunities to learn patience throughout my life, but maybe I've become more capable over the past seven years? Whatever the reason, I'm grateful I've become a better at managing my naturally-impatient soul.

I'm not perfectly patient yet (far from it!), but I'm working on it every day! Yet I figure I must be better off now than I was when I started this mortal journey—at least I really hope I am! :)

I know most readers don't have the time to delve into the Young Women lesson I've linked above, so, below are the three typographic designs I created as handouts for my Mia Maid class. Their words are so excellent, I can't wait to share them with "my" darling young women tomorrow!

(I created two of them in simple black and white because I don't have a color printer. While I love creating my designs in color, they just don't work well for printing in black and white. That said, the second one I created, with the quote by Elder Maxwell, was just screaming for some color! It doesn't print off well in black and white at all, but I couldn't take it—I needed some blue! Ha ha. Thankfully, I really like how the other black and white typographic designs turned out.)

D&C 24:8 is one of my favorite scriptures! I love that it's not only filled with realism, but a lovely dose of compassion and hope.

The next quotes are from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They are both from his magnificent Ensign article, Patience, that was published in October, 1980. I highly recommend reading the entire article! In fact, I wanted to share so many additional paragraphs of his words here on my blog that I had to stop myself before I copied/pasted all of them! Ha ha. No, really, go read it! :)

*On a more serious note, I must admit that portions of Elder Maxwell's article had me in tears. They weren't sad tears or even happy tears, but spiritual tears. Yes, Elder Maxwell's words—and the spirit in which he presented those words—spoke directly to my spirit. As he was describing our longing for heaven, and our separation by the veil, well it was almost more than I could bear, for I have felt those longing feelings ever since I was a child. I won't go into details (we don't have all night!), but my spirit absolutely longs for our heavenly home and all of the heavenly beings there who love us unconditionally. Yes, I will be reading Elder Maxwell's article many times in the near future!

Wow, don't you love his wise words? I really could have used his entire Patience article while I was struggling in Texas! At least I like to think it would have helped me. Who knows, maybe I've already heard/read those genius words before today? Maybe I was too far into my pit of despair to really hear and implement his words? ;) At any rate, I'm so grateful I discovered his thoughts now!

My experience of preparing this lesson today has reiterated to me the great importance of continually studying of the gospel of Jesus Christ—as an individual and with others, i.e., going to church! :) There is no substitute for solid spirituality!

P.S. I know I get more excited about typography than most people do, but there is just something about arranging words artistically that gets my soul all happy and excited! What also does it for me is the combination of words—how the words sound together and what they mean. Oh, my goodness, how I love words!

Even before I started using PicMonkey, I've essentially been creating my own typographic designs for years! My typography designing originated when I began writing poetry on my family's old-school Macintosh II computer for my high school senior English class. Then, when I became my ward's Young Women President in Texas, I began creating my designs on Microsoft Word. Typography makes me happy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Supreme Court's Decision

P.S. (Prescript!) Before we begin, please don't hate me or be rude to me for what I've written. I know the saying haters gonna hate is applicable to so many life situations, and I shouldn't be phased by what other people think or say about me, but you must know that it took a huge amount of courage and stamina to write this blog post. Please let that thought settle into the empathetic area of your brain for a minute. Thanks.

By now, I'm sure you've all heard about the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the cases of five states that desired to uphold their same-sex marriage bans. In case you haven't heard this fascinating news, here are a couple of articles about it:
CNN: High court refuses to rule -- and gives tacit victory -- on same-sex marriage
Deseret News: Same-sex marriage now legal in Utah

Here is Utah's press conference:

Also, here is the official statement from Governor Gary Herbert's website,
I encourage all Utahns, regardless of their personal beliefs on this issue, to treat each other with respect.
– Gary R. Herbert 
Each state agency has been advised to begin today to recognize all legally performed same-sex marriages.
– Gary R. Herbert
It's no secret that I'm a supporter of traditional marriage. That said, before I continue, I must clarify that I hold no ill-will, bad feelings, prejudices, etc. to anyone in the LGBT community. I truly care about everyone! (Well, obviously, to the point that one person can care about another. There are only so many hours in a day to serve and very limited dollars in my bank account to share.) Thus, today's SCOTUS decision does affect my heart a little bit, just as I know it affects the hearts of everyone—to some degree, or another.

Please understand, I've thoroughly researched the topics of same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage: I've read articles galore and watched/listened to countless interviews of people sharing their life stories. I've also had a couple of deep, meaningful, and insightful conversations with those who are gay.

I know people do not choose the feelings of same-sex attraction. I've seen many same-sex-attracted individuals who are utterly happy with the way they are, others who wish they could change their feelings, and still others who choose not to act on their same-sex attractions. I feel badly for those who struggle.

Again, what I hope people absolutely know about me is that just because I don't support same-sex marriage, that doesn't mean I don't like the people of the LGBT community. It just means I don't agree with their lifestyle. Just like I'm sure there are many people who don't agree with my lifestyle: married to a man; a stay-at-home mother of three children; an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. *Yes, I know the comparison isn't exactly the same, but it's how I feel, and I'm allowed to have my feelings. :)

What I wish I could convey, is that my feelings of non-support for SSM have nothing to do with taking away rights or love. It's actually the complete opposite! What I've come to absolutely know is that the marital relationship between a man and a woman is the most sacred and potentially heavenly relationship a person can ever have. Potential, being the key word here—as a wonderful traditional marriage totally depends on our choices. (I'll be writing about this topic another day!)

As I've said before, I thoroughly believe that men and women are made for each other. :) Besides, it's pretty hard to disagree with how babies are conceived and created—even if people don't believe in what we're taught in the Holy Bible and other books of scripture (that marriage is between one man and one woman).

In regard to how all of us exist, God's rule in this world is such that babies can only be created through the physical joining of a woman and a man. Although, science has thrown that idea on its head with all of our medical advancements. I'm talking about the natural way babies were originally made. Modern science aside, our planet's population would literally cease to exist if men and women were to stop falling in love, getting married, and raising families together. And yes, I know that there are many hetero couples who never have the opportunity of conceiving/raising a child and witnessing their posterity grow over the years.

But as we are told in Psalms 127:3, "...children are an heritage to the lord..." If we pause and ponder that scripture for a minute, it's quite astounding to think of what that really means. We've also been told in Moses 1:39, "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Think about that! The Lord's greatest work and glory is to raise men and women up to His celestial status!

If we think about those two scriptures together, we see that our literal inheritance from our Heavenly Father (God) is our child(ren)!! He has entrusted us with the ultimate responsibility to conceive, create (in a mother's womb), and raise His cherished child(ren)—not only to adulthood, but into eternity! When a husband and wife become parents, i.e., co-creators with God, they intimately assist our Heavenly Father in His most important work, simultaneously sharing in His glory!

Sorry for all the exclamation points and large font. Can you tell I'm excited about marriage between a man and a woman?! In my mind, the most satisfying endeavor is that of a mother and a father bringing their children into the world and helping them achieve their greatest potential: eternal life! I am so passionate about it! Thus, it's hard for me when I see wonderful souls missing out on that heavenly gift of traditional marriage and creating/raising precious children together.

No, my traditional-marriage stance is most certainly not about restrictions or discrimination. Rather, my feelings have everything to do with inclusion and expansion of our Heavenly Father's supreme gifts that He wants to bestow on every single one of His glorious children! Even though I see now that marriage bans didn't discourage those who were vying for SSM—not in the least! People are going to do what they want to do, regardless of potential generational and eternal benefits that could come to them through traditional marriage.

That said, I still have a hard time when thinking of all of the children who are missing out on having both a mother and a father because of SSM. Yet, I totally know (I don't want any readers getting cranky on me!) that that's not the only argument in SSM cases. I know there are children everywhere who have nothing to do with SSM, yet they are also missing out on vital/beautiful relationships with either their mothers or fathers. Regardless of the cause, those parentless children's situations break my heart whenever I think of them. :'(

*If you'd like to read more about my feelings on parenting, check out my previous posts:
*Reader beware: I'm opinionated in those posts! (Okay, when am I not opinionated?! Ha ha. Here's my post about that too: Opinions.) Again, it's just because I'm so passionate about parents taking good care of their children! :)

In light of this Supreme Court decision, I must point out that Elder Dallin H. Oaks was so right. You see, on Saturday afternoon's General Conference session for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder Oaks gave a groundbreaking (in my mind) talk, Loving Others and Living with Differences. To explore his marvelous words, please click the previous link. I wholeheartedly believe Elder Oaks was inspired by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what to speak about. I think Elder Oaks was preparing The Church's membership on Saturday, October 4th, for what the Supreme Court's decision would be a mere two days later on Monday, October 6th.

Seriously, based on the way things in the government run, no one could have predicted this outcome! And in many media interviews I watched/listened to, people were genuinely surprised at the Supreme Court's decision. But a prophet of God could foresee what was coming! Elder Oaks was most definitely the messenger to his brothers and sisters of how to handle today's news. Again, I'm guessing some readers think my views are extreme, but it's how I feel! :)
Elder Oaks' entire talk was fabulous—and by no means was it entirely focused on the SSM issue—there are so many gems of jewels in his talk! Below is the portion that totally jumped out at me when I first heard it (beginning at 8:33, emphasis added). FYI, I listened to it again today and wrote down his exact words!
"We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.
"Our stands and communications on controversial topics, should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions, and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs, and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior's Golden Rule, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.' 
"When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously, and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all. Rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on: race; ethnicity; religious belief or non-belief; and differences in sexual orientation."
Yes, as soon as he said those words, I instantly thought of the SSM issue waiting at the Supreme Court's door. And based on what I read online late last night, many other people (on both sides of the issue) in the social media world came to the very same conclusion.

*I forgot to mention that when the SSM issue first came about, one of my biggest concerns was for the way my church might be persecuted for not allowing SSM in our temples or church buildings. I was very worried that same-sex couples would sue The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and that the US government would somehow punish The Church's members for holding true to our beliefs. I sincerely hope people will not go to those extremes, for The Church has already suffered enough persecution in the 184 years since it was organized.

Since 9:00 a.m. this morning, I've been researching the SSM news and writing this blog post—except for when I picked up my kids from school and we ate pumpkin pie together! Thus, I'm happy to report that late this afternoon, The Church's Newsroom finally issued their statement in response to the Supreme Court's decision (it was hard for me to wait!):

Church Responds to Supreme Court Announcement
Court Chooses Not to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases
The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God. In prizing freedom of conscience and Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices. 
Nevertheless, respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values. As far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken. Church leaders will continue to encourage our people to be persons of good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation.
In the end, I honestly feel peace in the way this has been resolved—even though I know that's not the consensus between many conservative folks. And I must clarify that my heart was softened toward this issue over this past week, so it made today's announcement a little bit easier for me to digest. While I don't agree with SSM, the fact is, it's legal in my state. Wow, I'll have to say that a few more times before I get used to it!

I support the United States' legal system, even if I don't agree with the outcome of every legal action. I sincerely hope and pray that all of America's citizens will choose to get along with each other because I know we can do it! I want everyone to stop bickering and treat each other with respect and kindness. :)

Whew! Today wore me out! Yet I'm really glad I documented my feelings, as this is an important day in our history. Off to Family Home Evening I go!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Shall Continue!

Today is a big day for me.  I actually bought my own domain name,

This decision wasn't in my plans—at least not since I first began writing this blog. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I didn't know if I was going to even continue blogging.

During the 12 days between my posts Food & Communication to Meet the Mormons: I am one!, I fell into a blogging slump. You see, after completing one entire year of blogging, I wondered, "Does my blog make a difference to anyone at all? I mean, I love my blog, but I'm with me all the time anyway! (Ha ha.) I already know myself inside and out! Do my words even matter to anyone else? Is it worth all the time I spend creating posts, or, am I just wasting my time??" For, as you all know, my posts are not quick little snippets! Yes, it takes time to create all of this fun here on Enthusiastic Fantastic! ;)

I also set up my blog with advertisements. I naively thought, "Oh, I'll surely make a little something from this little endeavor!" My husband was in full agreement with me that it would be great if I could do what I love—blog—and make a little cash at the same time! We were both silently hopeful for our family's budget. :)

Um, yeah, the big cash payout has not happened—not even close! But I have to restate: it's never, ever been about the money. I truly love blogging just for the sake of blogging! Again, I was just very naive and thought I would make some least, anything more than $0.45! Yes, as of the date of this blog post, 45-cents is precisely what my Google AdSense account shows I've made for creating this little happy little spot in the universe. :)

I debated (separately) with Greg, my mom, and a good friend, about continuing my blog. They were reluctant to say they thought I should quit altogether. In fact, all three of them thought I should continue, even if it meant I was posting on a less-frequent basis. At the time, I thought they were just being nice to me. To clarify, I love that they're all so wonderful and nice to me! I just didn't want them to be that kind of nice, you know, fake nice. I hate fake nice! Thus, I'm so happy they were being true nice to me. :)

Then, last weekend, I was "shown" during three separate occasions that I was most definitely not to give up my blog. It was fascinating to experience the spiritual feelings I had in regard to my blog—in three different situations. My thoughts, Does this little blog really matter in the grand scheme of things?, had been answered with a resounding yes. Yay!

Interestingly, several months ago, I similarly wondered if I should be spending my free time (when my kids are at school, and I've finished all of my motherly/wifely duties) doing something else. At that time, I had the strong impression come to me, "Write on your blog until all of your stories have been written." So, I continued writing.

Hi! One would think that that clear impression/prompting would have been enough to keep me going, but I let doubt creep into my soul. (I'm guessing a rotten being called satan had something to do with it. By the way, I refuse to capitalize his name.) I won't let that happen again! :)

Yes, dear readers, after all of my silly hullabaloo, I shall continue blogging! Plus, it feels so amazingly cool to think that I own my own website name—that I created! *I'm still surprised that the domain name wasn't taken yet! Maybe no one else feels the need to express their enthusiasm like I do. He he ;)