12 June 2013


Have you ever watched a friend struggle with a decision when you can see the bigger picture and therefore the obvious decision, but they aren't ready to hear it?

Well today, that friend sought out my advice and I was finally able to share my perspective. Not gonna lie, it felt REALLY good to get it off my chest. And in the process, she was able to realize that it's the answer she's known all along, but didn't like... so was basically just buying time hoping that the answer would change. It hasn't.

The whole experience has reminded me about how we each receive personal revelation differently, and in the manner which will be most beneficial to us. I think the reason that I was able to recognize an obvious decision in my friend's dilemma is because it was being given to her in a manner which I often receive my own revelation: stupor of thought.

I remember the first time I received an answer to a prayer with a stupor of thought... I was 15 and a newly called MiaMaid class president. I was praying about who to call as my presidency, and one of the names I took the Lord that I'd felt confident about beforehand, I couldn't even remember who I was praying about by the time the prayer ended. And I was really confused because I had a REALLY good memory... and the Spirit opened my mind to understand that it was a stupor of thought.

Since then I've had several more experiences, that were all a lot more muddled and soul-wracking, and it's taken me A LOT longer to recognize my inability to make a decision as a stupor of thought and therefore an answer from the Lord. I had an experience with this a few months ago, and my mom gently reminded me that I often receive revelation via stupor of thought. I was 1) floored that my mother had been in tune enough to recognize that about me when I had a hard time recognizing and remembering that about myself... and it's MY personal revelation! And 2) grateful that she was able to remind me of this. It was just the re-calibration that my soul needed in order to make the decision.

So all of that made it glaringly obvious to me that my dear friend wasn't suffering from anything more than an answer to her many prayers, but an answer she wouldn't recognize because she wasn't ready to follow through with the consequences of said answer. Well, she must've finally prepared herself to act on her personal revelation, because the clouds finally parted and she was able to see the decision more clearly. Of course she still didn't like it, because it will be hard and painful, but she's finally ready to offer up her will in faith that Heavenly Father WILL fulfill ALL His promises to her in some other way.

We've all been there, multiple times. And yet, each new decision and faith-filled action that offers up our hearts to God, piece by painful piece, normally doesn't get easier with more practice. However, I think this is the very condition that Christ referred to when He said, "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit." (3 Nephi 9:20) But of course God never gives us a commandment without also including a promise, just as Christ does in the next sentence: "And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost...." Just as with my friend, the condition of her heart was a pre-requisite for the promised blessing of having the Holy Ghost part the clouds of indecision and enlighten her mind with understanding of the revelation she'd already received.

I'm proud of her, but I know that Heavenly Father is even more so. Only He can truly understand how hard this decision is for her to make and follow through with. Only He can know the pain she will feel and endure because of it. And Only He knows how His promises will be fulfilled. It's weird, but this whole experience, though watching it all from a distance, has taught me a lot... especially about Heavenly Father and my personal relationship with Him. I see those same fears and struggles in my own life as in my friend's... it just comes in different forms. But ultimately we each have to choose to give up our will for the Will of the Father and to trust in His eternal promises, even if it means giving up what we want right now. So now that I've had all these lessons and eternal truths reinforced in my life, I feel like Heavenly Father is going to put me to the test again. I'm not-so-secretly hoping He chooses to start small and work His way up to the really big doozies.

Sorry for rambling. But, in all fairness, it IS my blog.

Delightful Denver

My sister-in-law, Liz, just concluded her experience as a surrogate after delivering twins via cesarian a couple weeks ago. While I have much I could say in praise of her and her selfless actions (which I am convinced I couldn't do), this post centers around the REAL reason why I was called to Denver to help out over the last couple weeks: Lillian.

For anyone who knows Logan, it should not be too hard to imagine his daughter, Lilly. She IS DEFINITELY a Daddy's girl in EVERY sense. She looks like Logan's face was put on a black girl, expressions and all. She never stops moving. And despite not being quite able to say real words just yet, she never stops talking. We always warned Logan that karma would come to him via his children. And so it has! haha But in the best possible way. She is as sweet as she is feisty, and boy can she be feisty!

For anyone who knows me, you'll know that for having spent a total of one week with her over the 19 previous months of her life, I have been completely enchanted by my niece. She was born while I was on my mission, and I'd only been able to see her twice since I returned. So Tia Dana was more than happy to answer the call to care for Lilly for a couple weeks while Liz was in the hospital.

We had a blast! Seriously! I think one of my favorite moments was our dance party we had one night, just rocking out and giggling throughout the house. She would spin and spin and spin until she fell down from dizziness, and then ask me to pick her up and spin while she "recovered." It was in that moment, only two days in to my trip, that I knew Lilly and I would be great friends, not just distant family members that you love but don't really know. My heart melted and I was instantly hers. No matter the diapers, the tantrums, the meltdowns, the messes. I knew I wanted to be a part of it ALL, just so that I could be a part of her life forever. And I hope I am.

I imagine that's much how it feels to be a parent. Only with a lot less sleep and a lot more worries.

There are just no words to express how much I love this little girl. But maybe a few pictures will help supplement the language barrier.

And just so Liz and Logan don't feel left out, I thought I'd include a few shots of them from when we took pictures at the temple. Lilly so rudely decided that our planned photo shoot would be the ideal nap time. Figures.

Needless to say, it was a delightful two weeks with lots of bonding, among other things. And I miss that little munchkin (though she's not so little, measuring past my hips at only 20 months old) every minute. I especially miss her baby kisses, despite them becoming more open-mouthed each time. haha  Hasta Septiembre chiquita. Tu tia te quiere mija!!

11 June 2013

Count Your Blessings Instead of...

Coins. Lots and LOTS of COINS.

I spent most of May in Provo working on a project for my uncle... inventorying my grandmother's coin collection. It was terrifyingly tedious at times, and at others it was a curiously captivating course down memory lane.

My grandmother lived with my family for about 9 years while I was growing up, so I have a plethora of memories of us kids dumping out our piggy banks and scouring our coins (mostly pennies, of course) for the right mint or year of whatever Grandma was looking for. Then we'd help her organize them, count them, etc. I'd never seen the entire extent of her collection though--one she'd been acquiring coin by coin since she was a young girl. And it never occurred to me how her collection really became a family collection over the years, including evidence of all the places her children and grandchildren traveled over the years. She kept meticulous notes, and it wasn't uncommon to see "given to me by________" next to the currency. She also acquired sets for important years in the family, such as births, marriages, deaths, etc. Each of her grandchildren have coin sets from his or her birth year. I realized this was her way of honoring each of us, while simultaneously doing something she loved.

I think of my grandmother quite frequently actually, but this project provided a unique opportunity to delve into one of her passions. Subsequently, I learned a lot about her, and A LOT about coins.

So is it weird that despite my nomadic mantra of "Simplify!" and my determination to only ever take one bag with me when I travel no matter how long the duration--I did just live out of a carry-on sized suitcase for 2.5 months--that I find myself secretly desiring to continue her coin collection with my own? I'm not sure I can permit myself to start collecting anything, let alone MONEY when I'm currently so POOR... but as I'm soon to begin my world travels again, it's definitely something that I will consider. Especially since it would be a great way to honor my grandmother... and continuing her coin collection seems more reasonable than continuing her thimble, spoon, or bell collections...

Blessings in Brigham City

For the last several years I've been wanting to go to Brigham City to do some family history explorations. My great-great grandfather, Thomas Henry Bark Blackburn Sr., was mayor there from about 1908-1912, and he raised his family there. I knew there was a picture of him hanging in City Hall which I wanted to see; he and several children, his wife, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law are also all buried in the city cemetery. Not to mention a gorgeous temple was just dedicated there and I wanted to see it! But all of this had completely slipped from my mind over the last several months until a few weeks ago when the strongest impression came that I should make an effort to go ASAP.

So I invited several mission friends (the only people still in Provo that I know) to take a day trip with me to Brigham City. Only one, Allison Beauchamp, came with me. We had a delightful drive up I-15, a delicious lunch at a local joint, a pit-stop in the County building, a perusal around City Hall, some moments of pure exploration, and a hike through the cemetery. And that's when it happened.

After a brief visit to the sexton's office to get a map of where my family's plots were located, we were able to find the several headstones in only a few minutes. As I was walking around taking pictures and studying each of the names of people I've only read about, I hear Allison say what possibly only happens in the small LDS world we live in: "That's weird. I have a Roxcy Keller in my family, too. Huh." So after exchanging all the information I know about Roxcy Keller (the grandmother-in-law of Thomas Sr), she was pretty sure it was the same woman in her family line. A quick phone call to her father confirmed our suspicions and filled in some of the missing gaps of knowledge that we'd both had. 

We are fifth cousins! Or something like that... but I feel like after 3rd cousins, the number part doesn't really matter. haha In fact, the significance felt more like I'd just found my long lost sister. I come from Roxcy Keller's daughter Nancy, whose daughter Roxcy married Thomas Sr. However, Allison is descended from Roxcy Keller's daughter Lusina. It really felt like Nancy and Lusina had been plotting this little discovery of ours for quite some time, and I'm so glad they did! I love knowing that sisters can still collaborate efforts from the Spirit World. ;)

Next we headed to the temple (which is GORGEOUS by the way) where we did initiatories for some of my family names I'd been working on. I found a Keller in the stack, so I gave it to Allison. And then the rest were just because they were on top. There were 7 sisters and then 3 other individuals. I couldn't remember which side of my family the names came from, but when I got home I checked. You probably won't be surprised to learn that the names were from the family line that Allison and I share. Seriously! Sometimes God is just so cool. And He's ALWAYS abundantly kind and merciful. 

The whole trip, the whole day just seemed so serendipitous that it couldn't have been a coincidence. I'm not sure if there will end up being a greater purpose in the whole familial discovery or our Brigham City adventure, but I do know that I was prompted to go for a reason. And like Joseph Smith I believe that, "Coincidences are just miracles in which God wishes to remain anonymous."