20 February 2015

What is 'bae'?

On a more ridiculous note, a few days ago I asked my roommates what 'bae' means, because I keep seeing it on social media. One of them showed me this hilarious video to answer my question. Last night one of my friends asked me the very same question, to which I responded by also showing him the video.

Some things are too silly and absurd to understand, so you just have to make fun of it. And Flula does a great job at doing just that. So in case any of you have wondered what this whole 'bae' thing is all about, enjoy!

Living the Gospel Joyful

This morning in my personal study I re-read President Uchtdorf's talk from the last General Women's Meeting, Living the Gospel Joyful. I was really touched by several things he said, but there were a couple things that seemed to be timely counsel for me today.
"Part of our challenge is, I think, that we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us. His commandments are the loving instructions and the divine help for us to close the umbrella so we can receive the shower of heavenly blessings."
**I do this a lot. I made a real effort to start working on it after conference, but as usually happens over the months I lost focus and just started to feel wet and cold so I yanked that umbrella right back out again. I was grateful to be reminded of it this morning because I feel as if Heavenly Father is trying to send me a lot of beautiful blessings right now but I need to take that step of faith and close my umbrella again!
"My dear sisters in the gospel, whether you are 8 or 108, there is one thing that I hope you truly understand and know: You are loved. You are dear to your heavenly parents. The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. Yes, God loves you this very day and always. He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you. 
"And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own. He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always! 
"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe? 
"He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become. More than you could ever imagine, He wants you to achieve your destiny—to return to your heavenly home in honor."

**As I've said before, this is the one eternal truth that I've never doubted and have always been able to cling to in any darkness. But there's something especially powerful about a prophet and apostle of God reaffirming my faith in God's love that helps me feel it to my core, rather than just believing or even knowing. And that is most definitely a welcome Tender Mercy today and everyday.

17 February 2015

Good Things Already Here

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my struggles and my hope in Good Things to Come. But despite my struggles, my life is full of incredible people who lift and strengthen me, bring me joy, and make me love this beautiful life I'm living no matter how hard it feels at times.

Most of the Good Things in my life over the last few months have revolved around these people, so I know that God has placed them in my life to be constant Tender Mercies for me. I'm really grateful for them!

So, in no particular order, here are some of the recent good things happening:

1) Lamb of God rehearsals have started up again. The music is beautiful as always, and it has continued to be a source of strength through the good and bad. It's also given me an opportunity to make some new friends, which has been both intimidating and refreshing. This year we've doubled the choir and orchestra, and we are performing in a REAL concert hall!

2) I'm still here in the UK--legally! MIRACLE! Seriously, it took Heavenly Father pulling out all the stops to make this one possible. But in all the craziness, I had a lot of support from friends, coworkers, and family.

3) Valentine's Pancake Party!! Need I say more?!

4) My phone broke because I got drenched in a freak hurricane-like storm a few weeks ago. But my coworker offered to lend me her old smartphone. So now I have a 'fancy' phone as I call it (though everyone assures me it is not haha) with some apps that are making it easier to stay in contact with family and friends around the world. Seriously, it's a whole new world to me, but it's been really fun--and slightly distracting.

5) I've gotten to go to the Temple twice in the last month, and both visits have gone a long way to helping me get myself back on the track I want to be on.

6) Strengthening relationships with some unexpected people has been really good for my soul.

7) My *bff* got engaged over Christmas, and helping her make decisions about wedding plans has been so fun. Cathartic even. I love this girl so much and she's finally found a man who will be a wonderful kind, loving, equal partner with her, and that makes me so incredibly happy!

8) I fulfilled a LIFELONG dream and finally got to go to Paris with my sister (and her hubby)!!! It was a whirlwind 2 weeks of traveling, but we had a blast! Added bonus: I didn't have to spend Christmas alone this year!

9) I started a *new job* back in October working for a development research centre based at my Uni. It's been great so far, making new friends, getting involved with my department, learning a lot, and getting some relevant and reputable work experience for my CV. It really has been an incredible tender mercy!

10) At the end of January I was finally discharged from the Fracture Clinic with the decision to not have further surgery on my leg. I've managed to make enough progress through physio over the last few months that surgery wouldn't have been able to help enough and would've brought with it it's own set of consequences. My leg is at about 85% right now, and hopefully over the next year or so I'll be able to increase that even more. But for now, I'm taking this victory, however small, because I REALLY didn't want to have more surgery or go back to crutches. Such a relief to have avoided that!

See?! I've had some very tender mercies over the last several months, especially thanks to some truly delightful people in my life. Thank you to them for all they do for me! xxxx

Why I love Love

**I know I'm a couple days late in posting this, but it was a busy weekend. Luckily for me, Valentine's Day isn't the only day I'm at liberty to talk about love.**

I LOVE love.

And all of my friends (and probably you now, too) think I'm absolutely bonkers because Valentine's Day is my *favourite* holiday. But I can't help it! 

It all has to do with how I think of the holiday, though. It has never been a romantic holiday for me, having never actually been in a relationship with someone on 14 February. Rather, I've always thought of the day as a perfect time to re-evaluate HOW I'm showing all the incredible people in my life just how much I love and appreciate them. For me it is a day of service, kindness, friendship, sacrifice and most of all Love.

Growing up my mom always made a big deal out of the day and went above and beyond to show us her love and the delight was truly in the details: 
  • A special cooked breakfast (rare when you have early morning seminary!) topped off with a little Valentine gift--usually Valentine socks, a love note from my parents and a Valentine from my grandmother full of candy and a gold dollar.
  • An extra special packed lunch with all the really good stuff that we rarely got to have. Of course a Valentine lunch wouldn't be complete without your sandwich cut into a heart! 
  • We'd walk into the house after school to a clean house with my mom rocking out to some jazzy love songs as she presented us with our special after school snack... cookies, dirt pudding, fruit & yogurt parfaits... something that we'd never normally have and would've been a sacrifice of time on her part to make. The whole atmosphere just oozed love and joy... the kind of feelings that taught me what a home should really feel like.
  • While we worked on our homework, my mom prepared a fancy family dinner. Seriously. Aside from Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day was the only other holiday where we'd have a really nice family meal in the dining room (nope, not even on Christmas!). That's when you KNOW it's a special day. It was normally steak, or something else a bit nicer than we usually couldn't afford for a family of 8. And the dessert... no matter what it was, it was ALWAYS DIVINE.
So, to sum up, Valentine's Day was basically like Thanksgiving... a family day celebrated with large amounts of delicious food, except focused on love and kindness rather than gratitude.
So now instead of Cupid, I think of Christ. 

That's why being single on Valentine's Day is really not a problem for me. It means I have much more time to devote to showing all those in my life how much I really do love them.

This year, Chloe and I combined our favourite holidays and threw a Valentine's Pancake party (today is Pancake Day). We spent the morning and afternoon with some of our closest YSA friends and we had an absolute blast. Delightful company, delicious food... who could want more?

As usual, Elder Holland gets my point across much better than I ever could:

So even though Valentine's Day is over, it's not too late to evaluate just HOW you show your love to people. Do you show it in a way they understand and interpret as love? Do you love them as the Saviour loves you? 

I submit that if every person in the world felt as loved as they really are, the world would be a much happier and peaceful place. So go spread some love today.

08 February 2015

Good Things to Come

I haven't written much on here for a long time because I didn't feel like remembering let alone sharing a lot of the thoughts, feelings and experiences I've had over the last several months. But I've learned a lot of important lessons in all the recent ridiculousness, and those I DO want to remember. And since the last couple of days have gone a long way to helping me feel like I might be getting back on track, I finally feel like I can openly reflect on these lessons.

SO, in no particular order, here are some happenings over the last 6 months and the lessons I'm learning (or being reminded of) through it all.

1) I briefly dated a Nigerian guy that I met at Uni. The whole experience was so incredibly unlike me or anything I've experienced before. I still have a hard time processing it sometimes haha.

  • Don't ever give my phone number to a guy I barely know, no matter what reason he gives me in asking for it. He only wants my number for one reason. #rookiemistake (It's embarrassing that I am 27 and still so naive about something so obvious to most people. But since I'd never been asked for my number by a guy who was interested in me, the thought he was a) lying and b) interested in me genuinely never occurred to me.)
  • Sometimes trying to be kind should take a backseat to being clear, firm and straightforward. 
  • If I have the Spirit with me, my initial reaction to things is personal revelation. Heed it. That is what will make me *happiest*
  • Being with someone who adores me is nice, but it's better to be with someone who truly knowsloves and respects me.
  • I refuse to put up with someone who tries to make me feel bad, no matter what it's about. #aintnobodygottime. (But seriously, if you notice red flags, PAY ATTENTION. Manipulation, threats or abuse are never ok, no matter how mildly it begins.)
  • My sacred covenants really are the most important thing to me. I want to be with someone who can understand and have that feeling about their covenants, too. That is a deal breaker.
2) My student visa expired a couple weeks ago, so I applied for an extension. It was quite the dramatic experience with all sorts of bureaucratic stumbling blocks at literally every step in the process. But after having to nearly leave the country on the cheapest bus/train/plane I could find to an unknown destination for an uncertain amount of time... it's all finally in the process of being resolved and I'm still alive and in the UK.

  • Even if God does like to see me sweat a bit, He loves me. He's never left me hanging yet, so He's not going to start now. He will make things work together for my good. Trust Him
  • I really DO have friends who care. Stop trying to do everything on my own. 
  • Do what I can, and leave the rest to God. He's my best resource, especially in a crisis.
3) I've been struggling lately, not in a depressed kind of way, just in the 'This Life thing is Really Hard. Can I call a timeout please?' kind of way. I could get more specific, but it really is just an all-encompassing feeling of STRUGGLE. Struggling to be... disciplined, proactive, patient, vulnerable, focused, warm, healed, frugal, forgiving, friendly, understanding, faithful... basically everything. I know we all have those times and I'm certainly not new to the Struggle Scene. But sometimes it just feels REALLY HARD, right?

  • In case I've forgotten, I CAN DO HARD THINGS.
  • God really does love me, even when I don't feel it. Like Nephi said, 'I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things' (1 Ne. 11:17). Even when I know nothing else, I can cling to this truth and use it to help rebuild my foundation of faith.
  • Having sincere questions is never a bad thing, especially in matters of church and/or faith (which in this case are two very distinct things). Exercise my faith. Ask the questions. But be willing to receive and accept God's answers, even if it's not what I wanted or expected. And if the answers don't come, keep waiting. They will.
  • The Temple is such an incredible source or strength, peace and hope. Don't ever be unworthy of entering God's holy house.
  • The struggle is real, but so are God's Tender Mercies. He will use the most unexpected people and experiences to help restore my *hope*. Embrace these beautiful blessings
  • Be PATIENT with the process of perfection. Refining my rough edges is going to take awhile.
4) A lot of people in my life also seem to be in the midst of intense struggle, and I'm often one that they share those struggles with. It can feel incredibly overwhelming at times, but...
  • My life is immensely blessed when I share in someone else's Struggle. 
  • It's NOT my job to FIX their struggles. Just to listen, love, empathize, or when appropriate and asked--to counsel and advise. 
  • I need to be brave and vulnerable enough to *ask* others for help, too. (Seriously, 10 months of healing from a broken leg and I'm STILL being taught this lesson... I think it is time that I remember and apply it!)
5) I was called to teach the 5-6 year olds in Primary. I won't lie... it was hard to say yes. 
  • I'm better with children than I give myself credit for.
  • The Gospel is simple. And it is true. Focus on that, and all the other questions seem to diminish in importance.
  • Teaching the one is always more important than getting through a lesson.
6) My grandmother passed away a bit unexpectedly after falling and breaking her hip. I love her and miss her, but I'm so grateful she's not suffering anymore. Gratefully, I was able to visit her in April for a couple weeks.
  • I have an ironclad testimony in the Plan of Salvation. However, every time I lose someone I love, the Spirit reconfirms to me that God really does have a plan for His children and that death is not the end.
  • Don't pass up an opportunity to visit someone I love, or to express that love to them. I never know when it may be too late.
  • I really do have friends who care and would gladly mourn with me and offer comfort--if I give them a chance. *LET THEM*. (Are you seeing the pattern? haha)
Ok, that's more than enough for now. A lot of struggling brings a lot of stretching, growing, and ultimately learning. I'm grateful for an infinitely loving Heavenly Father who is far more patient with me than I am with Him. 

I promise the last few months have also had a lot of good things happen, too, which I'll write about later. But for now, just know that either in spite of or because of all the struggles, I believe and hope for Good Things to Come.