Tag: BYU

15 Years since BYU

It seems hard for me to believe but the next few weeks marks a milestone in my life. It will be 15 years since I graduated with my bachelors degree from Brigham Young University (BYU)! It really seems impossible that 15 years has come and gone.

One of the things I envy about those who have kids is they have more concrete evidence of their growth as people. This person didn’t exist and now they do. I have no such evidence. In many ways I feel the same as I did back in 2002 getting my degree. For all intensive purposes how different is my life? I work every day, go to church on Sunday and develop my hobbies just like I did back then.

Nevertheless, I will always look back at my time at BYU as the happiest time of my life. It was a time of great growth, soul searching and closeness to God that I will never forget. My mission was also an extreme learning experience but that was more polishing. The real grunt work happened at BYU.

After growing up with little church support it was so important to be surrounded by people with shared values. I remember when we said a prayer before my science class and I started to cry. Where else could you say a prayer before a science class? What a liberating and beautiful thing!

Most people probably have grand ideas of what they want to do coming out of college. Not me. I just wanted to finish and have a great life. I’ve never been much of a dreamer in that way. I remember my friend Raelene had this long list of the house she wanted and the other bucket list things she wanted to do in life. That was never me. I was just thrilled to have achieved my dream of going to BYU. I didn’t need anything more.

Since then I have served a mission and had a number of jobs including working as an accounting clerk for nearly 10 years. Now I work from home in marketing and I think that might surprise my former self as I was a very social person back then. Now that social life is mostly fulfilled by means like twitter and facebook. It’s hard to imagine I once didn’t have those tools and survived quite well. I believe 2002 was the first year I ever got a cell phone if that puts things in perspective.

If I could give my young self advice I’d say to be patient and that being single aint that bad. I’d say quit that horrible job in 2005 instead of hanging on until 2007 and being miserable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sure you are making memories instead of gliding through life. And I’d say ‘you just lost Grandpa and yep you still miss him all these years later’.

It’s funny because I really don’t use my degree much aside from basic writing, editing and reading skills. However, I am certainly grateful I had my college experience and can look back with nostalgia at such a happy time in my life. I am grateful for all I learned and the person it helped me to become.

I can’t believe it has been 15 years! How is that possible?

Well, all I have o say is GO COUGARS!!

The Most Memorable Year of My Life 2001

I was watching dancing with the stars and the theme for tonight was ‘the most memorable year of your life’.  It made me think about my life.  What is the most memorable year in my life?  It’s very tough to answer, but 2 years came to mind first: 2001 and 2007.

Now this isn’t the best years that would be different because both 2001 and 2007 were rough.  I’ve talked a lot about 2007 on this blog so let me tell you a little bit about 2001. It was quite the ride.

2001-

When 2001 started I was flying high.

new york

I had just finished a dream trip with my Grandma and my dear cousin Lisa to New York City.  We had enjoyed the Rockettes, museums and lots of Broadway shows.  We were scolded by my Grandma for ordering too much pizza and we told her we’d eat it later but it smelled so we put it outside and the maids took it.  Knowing she would ask about it we spent the night coming up with outlandish stories about what happened to the pizza and laughing.  I saw my first New York at Christmas and saw the Rockefeller tree and the lights.  It was magic.

I would never have been prepared for what would happen.

Here I am in 2001 with my roommate:

2001

I made sure I signed up for 30 course hours a year while going to school, usually more and I had taken a lighter load in the fall so winter term I was taking 18 credits! They were also junior level rigorous courses. It was challenging but I pushed on through until the end of March.

Then I got the call and found out my beloved Grandpa had passed away.  It still makes me cry to write it.  In many ways it was a good thing but I still miss him so much.  He’s my hero and I would visit him every Sunday and he would tell me how beautiful I looked.  It meant a lot to me. And then he was gone and there isn’t a day 13 years later that I don’t wish I could talk to him and wonder what he’s thinking about my life. I hope he’s happy with me.

Nevin 1992Then just 2 weeks later, my Dad gave me a call and he was crying.  “Rachel” he said haltingly into the phone “Lisa passed away”.  I was stunned.  The bright spirit I’d been joking with over pizza months before and wizzing around New York was gone.

lisaI can’t remember when it occurred during the week but I had a few days before the flight to California for the funeral. I was devastated and felt guilty spending any time on my 18 credits of classes but finals were coming up and I knew Lisa and Grandpa would want me to study. But my head was hanging low, just getting through the day.

At this same time there was a girl named Emily who was in my ward that I had met, and had met my sister in Nauvoo study abroad.  She was an acquaintance but I knew she had been missing from church for a month or so.

2001-5
Emily, my sister Megan and me 2001

As I walked up to campus the weight of my problems heavy on my shoulders Emily saw me and she stopped and said ‘are you ok?’. I’ll never forget that.

It will doubt be no surprise if you are a frequent blog reader to hear I immediately burst into tears and told her my sad story (I’m a bit of an open book…).  I would learn she was grieving from her own deep loss of her father which is why she had been gone for so many weeks. (what a great example of looking to help others when you are the one hurting the most).

We talked and she helped me pack for the funeral.  I quickly learned she was not living with kind people and so out of the blue I said

“I know.  Why don’t you come live with Megan and me?”

I called Megan and she was like “Ok.  Why not” probably a little caught off guard but she then added “Why don’t we ask Julia?”  Julia is our cousin and Lisa’s sister who had come home from her mission to the funeral.  Julia agreed and after the funeral I found an apartment for the 4 of us and it was all settled.

2001-3
Julia, me, Megan, Emily

When I got home from the funeral I prayed Heavenly Father would help me with finals.  That I would find a way to not suffer from the weeks of absences both emotional and physical. I tried my best and you know what I got my best grades of all of college.  All As and Bs despite all that happened and taking the most credits.  Miracles do happen.

2001-4That year Julia met her Matthew and I would start my senior year.I remember staying inside a lot and just spending time the 4 of us.  It was a time of healing and love.

In June 2001 I retook Poli Sci 201 because I had gotten a lazy C as a sophmore because the teacher bored me but for some reason I knew I needed to be a TA for that class.  I was lucky to have Dr.  Matthew Holland as my teacher in his first class of students as a BYU Professor.

20141016_230644

20090306__holland_0306p1_200At the end of the course I called him for about 2 weeks leaving messages, begging to be his TA.  Finally he answered and said “so I hear you want to be one of my TA’s”.  My best buddy Raelene was also a TA and we had such a wonderful experience . He had such faith in me and never changed a grade I gave.  That did so much for my confidence.

This is Raelene and I in 2009 but we basically look the same…

113_0608In September my family received another shock with the passing of my cousin Riley.  He had made mistakes and had challenges with addiction so we weren’t super close but it was still very tragic.

rileyAnd then the whole world had tragedy with 9-11.  I’ll never forget driving up to campus and seeing everyone on their phones (which at the time seemed strange).  The whole aura was nervous, sad and unsure.

9-11I’ll never forget later that day President Bateman gave a speech and said:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Brothers and sisters, that is our message this morning. Fortunately this is only the second act of a three-act play. Even when death comes to those we love, we know what lies ahead. We know they are fine. It is those of us who are left behind who are sad. We know we will see them again, and we know we will be with them. When death comes to someone who has the peace of the Holy Ghost inside, it can be sweet, not bitter.

Do you understand why you young people hold the power of peace for the world in your hands? The world depends on you.

Many of you have just returned from missions; many of you will go next year. The world’s peace is on your shoulders because you have the only message that gives hope for eternal peace

Here’s the whole talk if you want to listen to it:

I took his admonition seriously.  I was finishing up school and after the year I had it was all to clear ‘this is the second act in a three-act play’.  I knew I would be responsible for making the world better.  For bringing peace in my own little circle, and I’ve striven to do that.  Even with anxiety, depression, frustration and disappointment I have tried my best to never forget the Lord and His goodness, to share His peace.

Because it is on our shoulders in 2001 and 2014.  I’m certainly glad not all my years are 2001’s (my family couldn’t take it!) but it made me the person I am today.  It was a refining time and a time for decisions on the type of person I was going to be.

And it certainly was memorable…

2001-2
Here I am with my friend Joni as she sets off for her mission.

 

Stadium of Fire 2014

stadium of fire

Have I mentioned it recently how much I love living in Utah? One of the greatest parts is all the wonderful entertainment that is accessible, affordable and family friendly.  I have long thought of doing a blog called Utah52 and talk about a different cultural event every weekend of the year in Utah.  Unfortunately I would need a group to help me with such a project as I have things going on some weekends.

Nevertheless, you could easily go to a great quality event every weekend.  In December you could go to something every day.

People that are long-timers in Utah don’t understand how unique it is.  My parents live in Sacramento and thy have a professional musical theater called Music Circus and a youth theater and that is basically it.  I wanted to see Christmas Carol there and nothing.  In Utah you can see Christmas Carol like 100 different places.

Dance is heavily supported.  Ballet West is one of the best companies in the country.  Same with Utah Symphony.  There’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and every town has their own little playhouse.  Where I live in Draper has the amphitheater and Draper Historic Theater.

It’s just a great place to live!

The universities here make everything special also.  The choirs, dance troops, productions are second to none.

In this vein, every year BYU and the City of Provo puts on a huge production called Stadium of Fire.  They usually get a popular recording act- often country and then surround them with the longest fireworks display in the country and much more.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to attend for a long time because of family stuff but this year I was so I snatched up tickets.  Carrie Underwood was the singer and I particularly wanted to see her because in 2005 I was supposed to see her but the traffic into USANA Ampitheater made us an hour late and we missed both opening acts to Kenny Chesney 😦  (That is why I hate USANA)

So I got tickets and pretty good one’s too.  I went with my new friend Adam and we had a great time.  Carrie was awesome and did all my favorite songs.  One especially cool moment was when she went from Jesus Take the Wheel to How Great Thou Art.  It was great.

(I wasn’t as close as this guy but I still enjoyed it)

There was also a field worth of dancers, a super hero trampoline troop that was amazing.  If these 2 routines don’t make you smile than I worry for you… 😉

The fireworks were then pretty awesome.  I made this video of the night using a new app called majisto.  It turned out pretty well.

War veteran and land mine survivor JR Martinez was the emcee of the night and hearing his story and the Utah Army Band play made me ponder about the freedoms I enjoy.  Too often these days we are talking more about rights than freedoms. Rights are important but we also need to step back and be grateful for the many freedoms we do have that others do not.  The push for more rights can make us forget what tremendous blessings we have.

Let’s just say there is a reason so many including children are desperate to come here and we forget that or at least I do. Sometimes it is helpful to have all the pomp and circumstance of a stadium of fire to remember how great it really is.

I loved it and am grateful for all the volunteer work which goes into such a production.  Thanks to all!

God bless America!

stadium of fire2

 

 

Life Changing

Today I went to the gym for the first time in over a month.  Wahoo!  Still feel very congested but am trying my best to push myself without getting sicker.  We’ll see.  Trying to relax after the gym I watched the PBS airing of the recent documentary Salinger about reclusive writer JD Salinger.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a huge Catcher in the Rye fan.  I read it in high school like everyone else and I found Holden to be whiny and annoying.  The style bothered me and the language was too adult for me at the time.  I really don’t get why so many relate to such an aggravating lead character?

Anyway, it was still interesting to learn more about such a famous author- a lot less than complimentary I might add.

But one of the annoying things in the  movie is it has all kinds of actors and pundits talking about what a life changing experience it was for them to read about young Holden’s quest to find himself and save the innocents from the phony and fake.

While the interviews were kind of useless it did make me wonder if there are any such works that I could talk so effusively about?   Did anything change my life in that way? Hmmm.

———————–

Start with Religion

Well, it might sound cheesy but the definite answer is The Book of Mormon.  The first time I read it I was 12 or 13.  My teacher had this book of quotes with funny drawings of animals that I liked and sensing my interest she told me she would buy me one if I read The Book of Mormon (smart teacher), so I read it.

At first I was impressed with the great storytelling and aside from the Isiah chapters which dragged (I was 12!) I was so excited to read these stories of faith, family and especially the coming of Christ.  The next time I read it it was more about the doctrine and how each time I read I wanted to be a better person.  I wanted to be more like Moroni, Nephi and Alma.

Now I’ve read it at least once a year every year since I was 12 and it still changes me.  I still find something new and inspiring most every time I read and I can’t deny how I feel when I read it’s pages.  It’s been a tremendous force for good in my life.

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Les Miserables

So branching off from religion there isn’t a ton of other things that had a big impact on me as a youth but one that comes to mind is Les Miserables. The first time I was exposed to the musical was when I was 13 or 14 when PBS had a 10 year anniversary ‘dream cast’ concert.  I watched it over and over again and had the entire score memorized.  I was that annoying person who is muttering all the words under their breath.

Aside from the lovely ladies and the Thenardiers song (which I could still live without) I loved every song and it all just spoke to me like nothing else I’d ever heard. I then saw the musical on broadway in 1995 and it did not disappoint.  I remember leaving the theater with my choir group my eyes red with tears (still gets me when I see it today)

Reasons I love Les Mis-

idealistic rebellion of youth, redemption, justice, value of friendship, loyalty, honor, nobility in life and death and the realization there is never a lost cause.  I love On My Own, Bring Him Home and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Dreamed a Dream probably the most and I still get a chill up my spine when i hear it.

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And an Experience

The only thing else that I can think of as being life changing was my entire college experience.  It’s honestly impossible for me to pick one moment in college that changed my life.  Something happened in my brain at that time period where things clicked that had never clicked before.

Taking philosophy classes, learning about other cultures, serving the lost boys, working as a teaching assistant, political economy of women, meeting friends, losing family, taking finals, deciding to go on a mission, all of those things and more.  It was the best time in my life.

I loved BYU.  I loved college.  I loved political theory.  I loved reading Kierkegaard, Plato, Aristotle and teaching other people about that.  I made my best friends at that time and I decided that I really believed in this thing called Mormonism and that nothing was going to ever change that.  I kind of wish I had dated more but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.  The best.

—————-

Anyway those are the life changers that come to mind for me.  What about you?  What things really influenced you, made you into the person you are today?

How Spaghetti Changed My Life

spaghetti singing

I know this is an odd post for the holidays but I am working on a personal essay for the BYU Studies contest and it is due Dec 31st.  I was wondering if any of you would be willing to read over my rough draft and offer me some guidance, editing.  Whatever you feel comfortable or have the time for would be great.  I can email you the .doc if you would like.  Just put your email in the comments section and I will send it your way.  Thank you in advance.

Most everyone has heard this story.  I have posted it in 2 different forms on this blog but this one is more personal and in depth than the 2 others.  I love it.  I think it is one of the best moments of my life.  I hope I have captured it even a little.

(and don’t worry I don’t love it too much to be unwilling to have it critiqued).

How Spaghetti Changed My Life

The stack on my desk seemed to be screaming with each piece of paper “Go home” and yet the existence of the stack meant I could not go home.  My boss Tanya had already read me the riot act about entering all the AP by the end of the day if you ‘can do something right’.

“I’m sorry.  I will try” I mumbled.  I had given up arguing with Tanya years before.  She was convinced I was an idiot along with most everyone else in the office.  If she had her druthers she would do everyone’s job because it would all finally be done right.

Normally I didn’t mind working late and doing the mind numbing work but today I had a reason I had to be out of there and the longer I stayed the more frustrated I felt.  It was like each invoice was a slap in the face.  I wanted to speed up but that would make for more mistakes so a slow well-done data entry was required.  Ugh….

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.  Every now and then I would look at a photo of me at graduation and the excitement on my face would both inspire and confuse me.  How had I ended up here? I wasnt supposed to be the girl with a stack of papers to enter and boss breathing down her neck, yet here I was

The truth is I looked around, interviewed and the only offer I had was to work in accounting for our corporate office.  It was the last thing I ever imagined I’d be doing, balancing books and entering AP but it was a job and in 2008 you took what was offered and felt grateful.

It was never a great fit, but I worked hard and gained many new responsibilities.  In fact, 2 people had quit and I had absorbed most of their work in addition to my own. This despite receiving little to no training and working with a manager who treated me like a bug she wished she could squash.

Somehow I had managed to last 2 years but each day I felt lower and more despondent about my life.  It seemed like madness to quit my job and dive into nothingness but the staying was like one of those Roadrunner cartoons and I’m Wyllie Coyote getting hit with the anvils of misery and depression.

Indeed, God had told me to make a change many times. Prayer after prayer I heard the words ‘make a change’, but I set it aside as impossible. Sometimes I would ask God ‘how?’  ‘How does a sane person quit their job that has benefits in a recession?  That’s nuts!’ but on the other end, ‘how does someone live life with a cloud surrounding their every movement, a cloud of stifled dreams and confusion that weighs you down until you  want to cry.

So on this day, like many others, I continued down the pile until all the AP entry was done.

“There!”  It was 6:30.  I had worked overtime again but I had done it and at least Tanya knew that my 10 key was insanely fast, faster than hers, so if that’s how long it took me that was the fastest it could be done.

Of course she didn’t praise my speed but offered me a curt goodbye.

Like a prisoner getting a pardon, I grabbed my bag and raced home.

You see there was particular urgency to get home tonight because I had a meal to prepare.  Most of the times I was too exhausted to cook, but when I did I loved to make a big to go of it.  There is nothing grander than the large pot of soup simmering for hours or a turkey with crispy skin on the outside but moist meat on the inside.  Yum! My roommates and I lived in the tiniest apartment in a basement with basically a bar-sized kitchen, but I could make masterpieces when given the encouragement.

Luckily such encouragement had come a few months before.  My ward did a service auction every year to raise money for sub 4 Santa.  It was something I had spearheaded many times, even in high school, and I would have liked to this year but I was too busy at work, especially in the busy holiday accounts and end of the year reconciling.  January, the month of my birthday, was even worse.  I thought about it with a shudder….

At the auction I didn’t know what to donate but I knew that many knew what a great cook I was so I offered up 3 meals of your choice made by Rachel Wagner.   The bidding started and it was pretty brisk than Darren came through with the win.  I must admit I groaned.  He was the last person I wanted to win. Not because he wasn’t a nice guy but he was so boring.  I had tried so many times to start up a discussion and nothing, no opinions or thoughts on anything!  It kind of made me nuts (and not a nuts you kind of like him nuts, just nuts!).

After the auction I met up with Darren and I asked him what meals he would like.

“Well, whatever.  I’m sure it will be great”

“No, it says your favorite 3 meals?” I pressed him further.

“I don’t really have a favorite”

“Ok.  Is there something you don’t like?” I asked

“Mustard.   I don’t like mustard”.  I was honestly proud of the boy.  An opinion had been shared for the first time in 2 years of our friendship.  The boy didn’t like mustard!  But that really doesn’t help me with my meal.

“Well, if you aren’t going to decide than I will.  I will make my favorite 3 meals without mustard, which is basically all my favorite meals!”

So he agreed and I made a couple of unmemorable if tasty meals and tonight was the coup de gras- my favorite food period: spaghetti and meatballs with homemade marinara sauce.

This was to be a meal never to be forgotten.  A sweet and spicy sauce with tender meatballs, spaghetti, parmesan cheese.  Perfect.

I had done all the shopping beforehand but by the time I got home I had an hour to make the entire meal.  My roommate doubted if I could pull it off and kindly said:

“Maybe we should just go out to eat”

“No! I’m tired of mediocre food.  I had promised this meal to myself (and Darren) and I was going to get it!”

“Ok.  Let’s help.  I’m mixing the meat and then we will be rolling meatballs.  Can you fill the pasta pot up with water and get started on the sauce?” I asked my roommate.

At this point my hands were submerged in meat.  Going against the grain I used pork, beef and Italian sausage (which I realize is pork but different).  Veal was out of my budget but the sausage has a bit of spice and tastes great.

I had learned that both dry and wet breadcrumbs are key to a moist meatball and a cookbook I read also suggested putting a tablespoon or two of water when you are mixing.  How can water not make something moist!

Eventually the meat mixture was done and I started rolling.  It was already 7 by then and I had just started. The sauce was bubbling and smelled great.   My phone kept ringing but as long as it wasn’t Darren I kept my head down and rolled as fast as I could.   Finally, after what seemed like forever it was done and the raw beauties sat out in front of me ready to go into my Dutch oven for browning.

The meat sizzled as it went into the hot oil and all the spice and fat smelled delicious.  I felt myself deeply breathing in the glorious aromas and my cloud of anxiety and depression went away for a few minutes.  I felt lightness and happiness I hadn’t felt in many months.

Unfortunately as I looked up the pasta water had boiled down to nothing and our kitchen looked like a sauna with the windows fogging up.  So I filled the pot again and literally waited for it to boil.  It really feels like it will never boil!

Eventually we had pasta cooking and I moved the meatballs into the sauce to cook together for a time.  Darren was there by now, and he was giving my roommate his normal annoying answers- poor girl.

I cooked with a form of devotion veering on madness.  This one thing in my life I would do perfectly right.  I was tired of screwing up all the time and having my boss remind me of each and every last time.  Goodness knows she’s totally ignorant of all that I do and how to do it so it’s easy to criticize me for my flaws.

I took a deep breath and said to myself ‘I need to not think about her the rest of the evening.  No more’

Easier said than done but I sat down in a dining room chair waiting for the meatballs to finish cooking.  I felt exhausted.  My whole body hurt.  My brain hurt.  I was ready to hibernate for months, preferably until summer.  I was totally spent.

Eventually the water bubbled up over the pan so I checked the pasta and it was al dente.  The meatballs were cooked all the way through and we had a light salad made on the side.   It was finally done and only 1 ½ hours late!

So we sat down my friends and I and said a prayer over the food and then dove in…

The spaghetti noodle rolled around my fork for a few minutes until it was about the size of the meatball.  I cut the meatball in half and it became the perfect bite.  As I feasted on all those flavors I tasted acid, sweet, earthy parmesan, hearty pasta.  The meatballs were light and full of flavor.  Everything was delicious and I said to myself:

“This is the best meal I have ever made and I feel sublimely happy. I feel like I could conquer the world!”

And then in one of those moments of clarity we all have in life, I looked up at my friends and said

“Why isn’t the rest of my life this good?”. The question hung in the air like the steam from the boiling water.

Indeed, why wasn’t the rest of my life as good as this amazing plate of pasta? I had every life advantage and there was no reason to be miserable all the time. It was a question I pondered on for many weeks.  Eventually I realized that I could either be keep being unhappy and have a true nervous breakdown (already had a panic attack so it was coming) or I could start having joyous experiences again. I could find things that make me as happy as that spaghetti.

So I quit. I quit and I’ve never looked back.  It was the best decision of my life and it was all from a bowl of spaghetti.

Christmas Fun

So I have had a great start of the Christmas season!  It’s only the 7th but I have done so many fun things.  It all started yesterday with the singles 31+ dance at the Utah State capitol building.  I kind of hate dances but the idea of dressing up sounded fun so I went with some friends from my ward and we had a great time.  I asked someone to dance so I did my duty!

Capitol dance is so pretty!
Capitol dance is so pretty!
My friends and I from my ward looking cute from the dance!
My friends and I from my ward looking cute from the dance!
My earrings are super pretty
My earrings are super pretty
I got this belt from Faleblla Bridal on etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/FalabellaBridal
I got this belt from Faleblla Bridal on etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/FalabellaBridal

dance 5

I never got to go to prom so the idea of dressing up for the dance sounded fun
I never got to go to prom so the idea of dressing up for the dance sounded fun

After the dance we all went Village Inn and the girls were very bubbly.  I was definitely the grown up of the group despite being the youngest.  They even flirted with the waiter.  It was pretty hilarious.

Finally I got home and at about 3 am I got to sleep.  Then today I met up with my parents and we braved the snow to go to the Christmas choral concert at BYU.  It was wonderful. Here is one of the songs as recorded on my phone.  It was the grand finale with all the choirs surrounding you and the orchestra.

My Mom, Anna and I at the BYU Christmas concert.  Great!
My Mom, Anna and I at the BYU Christmas concert. Great!

Before I went to the concert my Christmas tree was finally delivered. I had ordered it through a company called Five Star Christmas Trees and the experience was a disaster.  They had promised me they would deliver it yesterday between 10:15 and 2.  It didn’t come until today at 11:30.  I tried to get through on the phone and they were not helpful or very apologetic.

Then when I did get the tree today it was smaller than what I had ordered, the delivery man had no idea about the install that I paid for and I didn’t get the recycle bag I ordered.  Buyer beware!

Anyway, I got the tree decorated tonight and I think it turned out very beautifully.  I love it.  I put on 900 twinkle lights and my memory ornaments and framed photo ornaments.

My tree!
My tree!

I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas festivities!  Merry Christmas!

Both of my Christmas Trees
Both of my Christmas Trees

Reunion, Wedding and House

So a lot of memorable events happened lately.

First, I have walked in my house!  The framing is up, no sheet-rock yet but I’ve gone over all the floors and I’m so excited about it!  I also think I might have found the right fit for my basement apartment.  I had tons of interest but have narrowed it down to 2 great choices.  Tough call.  Will be checking references and doing some careful thought but either would be terrific.  The whole thing is so thrilling!

I think my shirt says it all!
In my master bedroom!!!

Then Friday I had my 10 year reunion at BYU.  I still can’t believe its been 10 years.  I’m not goona lie it was an introspective moment for me.  Thinking about the last 10 years, what I’ve done, what I wish I could have done, the pains, the triumphs, everything.  Sometimes I worry that I peaked at 21. That I had my happiest years then and have never quite been able to duplicate it. I’ve had great times and moments but as far as whole years that was one of the best.  Do any of you feel that way looking back at your life? I guess the older you get the more muddy your life gets. I envy the simplicity of that year.

Anyway, grateful for a moment to think about my life and all that I have accomplished and the great memories.  I was in charge of creating a video entitled ‘Then and Now’ for the reunion.  It was more challenging than I expected but here is what I came up with.

The reunion was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed chatting with fellow graduates and hearing from Setema Gali, former Super Bowl champion for New England Patriots.  I was very moved by his heart felt words.   I was expecting just a pep talk but it was very raw.  He said ‘be prepared’ for whatever God wants you to do and look out for ‘compensating blessings’.  That last concept really struck home with me.  There are usually compensating blessings whenever God gives us a trial.  Hard to see it sometimes but true.

I will include the group photos when I get them but here I am with my friend Shawn.  I am honored to be able to participate in the reunion committee and will forever be grateful for my BYU experience.  If I am any good as a human being today it is because of my BYU experience.

I don’t know how you go to a reunion without wondering- what do the next 10 years hold?  What does God have in store for me? We will see… 🙂

My friend Shawn and I at the reunion

Next up yesterday I went to the wedding of my dear friend Camille.  She married Tom Griego and while I haven’t had a chance to get to know him he seems like a wonderful person (just loving Camille means he’s a smart guy!).  Camille was my roommate for nearly 3 years and we grew up together.  I went to Hawaii twice with her and our relationship has always been dear to me.  She is a great listener and has always given to others more than focusing on her own needs.  I’m glad she has someone who can focus on giving to her.

The pretty bride and me.

More than anything it makes me happy to see my friends happy!  I have always been blessed with good friends, the best. I got to visit with a bunch of friends I haven’t seen for a while in addition to seeing Camille, which made the whole wedding a lot of fun. I don’t know what I did in the previous life to deserve such wonderful friends.

3 girls from the Maryland ward. We made it! 🙂 Me, Camille and Bekah Denhalter
Camille and Tom

Anyway, it was a great weekend! I feel so blessed.  Blessed for new starts with my home.  Blessed for the memories of the past at my reunion and blessed for the comfort and happiness of friendship at the wedding.  God is certainly good to me and I know that He has a path for me that if I am faithful my life will keep being an amazing journey.  In truth, I know I have not peaked.  What is to come? I’m excited for Him to show me. More than anything I know that I am loved by God and my friends and family.  Who can ask for more?