Tag: twitterstake

Small Things

For my non-religious readers this is one more faith-based post. I promise I will give it a break for the next few. Thanks for bearing with me. I posted some great things to my movie blog if you want to check that out including a review of George Lucas’ new animated movie Strange Magic. http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com/

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the small things in life.  God really does ask us to do a lot of small things.  Let’s think of the 10 Commandments.  I would say there are 3  to some non-believers seem kind of small. 1. Shall Not Take Lord’s  Name n Vain. 2. Must Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, 3. Honor thy Father and Mother.

I mean there are despots and dictators all over the place, would God really care whether I say Oh my G…. as you so often hear on the shows?  What about going for groceries on Sunday?  Surely with human trafficking and child rape God would not care about such a small thing? What if my parents are jerks why does he care if I honor or dishonor them?

All fair questions and I’m not sure I know.  I have thought about this a lot and wondered why I obey these small things (or try too at least)?  I am almost hesitant to talk about this because it might give the impression that I am perfectly obedient.  Of course I am not.  I know particularly with entertainment I am perhaps too lenient.  I own that. But it is in my heart to be obedient and to feel God’s spirit as an active force in my life.  I know when I am obedient I feel it stronger.  I cannot deny it.

I wonder if the real reason he asks us to do all these small things is because most of the great joys of life are found in the quiet small moments? Sure we all have the big moments of weddings, graduations, births but I find those times are often a blur of stress and busyness.

When I think about the happiest times it is a conversation with a friend, a moment of clarity in prayer or a swim in the ocean.  Perhaps the more we learn to trust God in all these little rules the more we grow to understand his little blessings?

I also think God’s goal is to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’.  His goal is to create Saints where the world would tell us it is good enough to just avoid doing ‘bad things’.   That’s why He asks us to wear one set of earrings or not date till we are 16 or not drink coffee.  He wants us to follow Him as best as we can because that will make us happy.  It’s just an eternal law that certain actions create happiness and others create sadness.

A lot of us need the examples of small and simple things to give us confidence for the gut wrenching times when maybe He feels a little bit further away. I know for me if I had not developed a pattern of obedience I wouldn’t have made it through some of the tough moments of my life.  So, in the end I’m grateful for the rules even if others may see them as limiting.

I think a lot of it has to do with faith.  Do we have faith to live a law that we may not completely understand?  Do we have faith to do something when there seems to be no reward?  Do we have faith when it may even seem we are punished for following God’s law? If we can say yes even occasionally for small things that is powerful and it builds until it is a ‘sure foundation…whereon if men build they cannot fall”.

I believe faith also allows us to create an individual relationship with God.  When the laws of God allow for multiple interpretations and lifestyles that frees us to go to Him and find out for ourselves how He wants us to live.  The big things there is less movement on but the small things give us the chance for a personal connection with deity which perhaps makes them the most important rules of all?  I could have a definition of the Sabbath, which I have prayed about and feel good about but it will be different than my neighbors.  That’s a good and powerful thing. It makes a strong relationship with Our Heavenly Father when forgiveness and comfort is required. We’ve been to Him on the small things so we know how to do it for the big.

What do you guys think? Why does God ask us to do these small things like keep a clean mouth, pay a full tithe, keep the Sabbath day, fast once a month etc?  I think there is just something about it that makes us strong.

One of my favorite stories from Jesus’ ministry is Mary breaking open the oil and washing the feet of Jesus. It was a small act of love but she was truly anointing a King. That’s pretty big in reality.  Would love your thoughts.

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Kind of a rambling post but would love to hear your thoughts.

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A Gift of Service

Most of us that are active in social media have a few friends that aren’t really friends.  They are people we have met on forums or fan pages and we chat about our mutual interests, enjoy each other’s company and think nothing more of it.  I have these from several angles and I love them.

Well, today I had a very touching experience.  I am writing this from my bed at my home.  To get here I had quite the day.

First of all I had a busy morning and I said goodbye to my family, some of which I won’t see for a long time as they are moving across the country and to Japan. 😦

Then I hobbled to the airport and got a wheelchair from Delta who were amazing through all this.  They coordinated the wheelchair, cancelled my ticket at no fee and I got first class for only $59.

Btw, I really liked first class.  If it is $59 again I am totally doing it.  It was a rough flight too.  I came so close to losing my first class snacks when we hit a long stretch of turbulence.  Then we got my bags and I was picked up by my new friend Amber.

She is one of those people that was a facebook friend but I hadn’t met.  I had posted I needed a ride to the airport a few weeks ago and she responded.  I said ‘are you sure?’.  I couldn’t believe that someone was willing to take a complete stranger to the airport.  It was so nice.

I told her I have never met anyone via airport pick up but it went great and she agreed to get me on the way home as well.  Then when I hurt my knee and had to change flights around she was more than amenable.

I called her to talk about the injury and she suggested getting a cane from walmart so that it was ready for my arrival and I would pay her back.  It was brilliant and she took the time to purchase it.

She even got me one with some pizazz.  It was perfect.

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Then she drove me home and helped me in with my bag and all the mail I had.

Next was tackling the scary stairs and she helped encourage me as I took it one step at a time.  It was hard but I made it through.

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Once I was settled she took a grocery list and helped me stock the mini-fridge and microwave with food and drinks so that I wouldn’t have to go downstairs for a few days.

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It was beyond nice.

I’m really quite touched by it. I mean how many times have you devoted days to someone that is basically a stranger? Most of us, including myself, have never done that outside of charity projects or writing this blog.

It would have been so easy to let someone else take care of it but she didnt and I find that remarkable.

Now to some rest and quick recovery.
Thanks again. I’m usually the one giving service and making things work so it humbling to be on the other side for a bit.

🙂

 

Stadium of Fire 2014

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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!

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A Self Reliant LDS Single Woman

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This is one of my religious Mormon-centric posts so feel free to skip if not interested in that topic.

I’ve been mulling over in my brain a gospel topic the last few days .  Mothers Day (or what I call Female Guilt Day) always makes me feel a little sad.  People can give me all kinds of reasons why that shouldn’t be but all that does is make me keep my sadness to myself.  It doesn’t make it go away.

I know all the easy answers, the promises of a family for the righteous.  I get all of that but it doesn’t mean a day celebrating the big part of being a woman I don’t have doesn’t sting a little bit.

I was particularly thinking about my new job and how grateful I am for the chance to do something I really love.  There are no words for how much that means to me. A smile worthy of smilingldsgirl covers my face whenever I think about it.  I am so excited!

It also occurred to me this week that taking such a position would probably be difficult if I had a family or was married.  The position pays less than I was making and is at least for now part-time. However, it is an opening to start a new life, a new career! That’s the exciting part!

Plus, I still get to work from home and my finances are such that I can afford to take a pay cut.  I also might not get insurance through my employer.  We are still researching that. I feel so fortunate that I am at a spot in my life to take such a job.  🙂

Here’s the thing I could use some guidance on-

I try to be positive and not be a negative Nelly when it comes to my single status in a family church.  It comes and goes but in general I think I am happier than most other singles I know.  Nevertheless, for some reason it feels more justified in talking about the downsides of being single rather than the upsides.  I can’t completely put it into words but I feel like I am not supposed to be ‘so’ happy in the single life, only moderately happy.

Let me try to explain-

It’s quotes like these that confuse me.

“And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own…”

President Benson

So, we are supposed to be independent and self-reliant but not ‘so’ independent and self reliant.  We have to live a good life but not to the point where we feel we can ‘do just as well on your own’.  What does that mean?  Should I feel continually like I am not quite doing ‘just as well’ on my own? Just as well as who? Married people?  Just as well at what? Living?

He goes on:

“Certainly we want our single sisters to maximize their individual potential, to be well educated, and to do well at their present employment. You have much to contribute to society, to your community, and to your neighborhood.”

“But…”

“We earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother”

So if I read him right we can do many great things and that is encouraged, but at the same time we must  be always hoping and waiting to give all those things up for marriage and family. It seems to me that somebody isn’t going to ‘maximize their full potential’ if they are constantly keeping an escape hatch available for their ‘true and higher calling’?

I know so many single Mormon women who feel unfulfilled because of that escape hatch.   It’s like you end up doing a lot of mediocre things because the big thing you really want or feel a need to do you can’t.  The thing that will make you the happiest you can’t do so you settle for medium-level happiness.

That doesn’t seem right.  God wants us to be happy no strings attached. It doesn’t say ‘the plan of happiness except for single people who are merely content’

What is so wrong with devoting yourself completely to the role that God has given you to play at the moment you are playing it?  In my experience it is only in such obedient moments that  I am open to the promptings to change and grow, maybe even meet someone.  Is that too independent, or too self reliant?  I don’t think so.

It seems to me I am always happiest in life when I dive right into an experience with no back up plan or escape hatch.  In fact, enjoying my single lifestyle can feel unfeminine and the opposite of the ooey goey woman I hear about on Mothers Day.

It can also seem like I am saying the single life is better than being married but I’m not.  It’s just different. (And I do not think the single life is inherently selfish either.  I hate when people say things like that)

I know such feelings are ridiculous.  I should be happy when happy things happen but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at times conflicted with how happy I should feel.

What worries me is I don’t want to live a life in second place.  The silver medalist, to my married friends who get the gold, and that’s kind of what the quote says.  After all, we as singles can contribute to our employment, community, society and neighborhoods but… the higher calling is motherhood. That’s what we believe. And I think that is why Mother’s Day can be a little sad for me. It’s the day of the year where that Gold medal is thrown in our faces and we realize we have the silver.

But, I just can’t live my life that way.  I believe that God has a plan for all of us and while we may not be fated to be with a particular person, I believe He does know when that event will happen.  He needs me right now to work in his single vineyard and that is not a second place position.

Does that mean I am not open to a different vineyard?  Of course not.  Nothing would thrill me more than to find that Great Love but I am not going to settle for sloppy seconds waiting for it.

So, instead I will be happy for the good things in my life and not worry whether I am ‘too independent’ or ‘too self-reliant’ any more.  God knows my heart and He has told me many times before when I need to straighten up and refocus my priorities.

I was a good missionary because I gave it all to that calling.  I was able to get on that plane and have no regrets, and I don’t see why this phase of my life with my new job is any different?  I’m going to give it my all and have a blast along the way.  I am so excited!

I’m going to allow myself to feel 100% happiness while doing it.   The truth is I am self-reliant and independent but I am also obedient and have a missionary heart.  The Lord knows me, and He is guiding my path. He certainly helped me get this job so I might as well have a ball while doing it.

Anyway, forgive these ramblings.  It was just something I needed to work out and I think I did as I typed.  Hopefully my musings are helpful to someone out there.

Happy Mothers Day to all you amazing moms and to my own Mother.

Clean Reviews

Hi guys!

I’m really excited about a new feature I am adding to my youtube channel.  It kind of goes with the personal standard I mentioned in my recent post  How to be Mormon and Like Movies.

My goal is to share with all of you not only movies I like but also what type of content a movie has.  That way you can easily know if something is worth your time or not.

This is the rating system I came up with for offensive content

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The rating will not be a quality of movie grade, just the amount of adult content in the movie.  Some of my favorite movies may get a D on content, but hopefully I will explain what type it is and what you should consider before viewing. This will make your movie going experience more pleasant and even inspiring.

What do you think of the idea? What movies would you like me to review?  Anything you’ve been wondering about and would like more detail?  As long it is possible I will give it a watch through and review. Here is a video of me explaining more about the feature.

Single Christmas Traditions

I wrote this years ago but was recently asked how I keep Christmas as a single adult and basically this still holds true. I started my own traditions that are just for me and do them every year without fail, even last year when it was such a mess with moving and building my house (although I didn’t put up a large tree) the spirit of the tradition is always kept.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas.  As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences.  I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas.  As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).

1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”.  I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life.  I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places…

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A Contradictory Heart

“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.”  Betty Friedan.

“What person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential to him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others”  Schopenhauer

This is going to be one of my long rambling posts where I think about life that nobody reads and I’m okay with that.  I decided a couple of weeks ago that I’m happy with what I write and that is most important. It is my blog after all.

…but it may be helpful to someone out there so read and ponder along with me. 🙂

Sometimes I feel confused about myself.  I am a creature full of contradictions, and at times it feels like God wants it that way.  Today is a perfect example.  I went visiting teaching and felt so connected to my girls.  I really felt like I made 2 new friends, cultivated an existing friendship, and shared a message all 4 of us needed to hear. Days like today I feel like I have a way of creating friends and interacting with others that not everyone can. I’m not saying this to boast but ever since my days of being bullied I have never had a hard time making friends.

I actually enjoy public speaking and teaching and it seems like I can usually find a way to reach my audience.  Someone told me today ‘I really enjoyed your talk you gave a while back’.  This was a talk given in March and he remembered it.  I found that to be amazing. 9 months and he remembered it. I’ve also had great experiences putting together parties, swimfests, bookclubs, a writing group and any number of other group activities. I’m a natural leader and gatherer.

Even on twitter I have made wonderful dear friends and felt a comfort level around strangers which most people do not share.  This blog is certainly abundant proof of that!

I’m also a very loyal person and most of my friends stay friends for years.  In fact, loyalty and honesty are essential to me in any friendship. I have friends from high school, college, people I’ve traveled with, been in wards with (pretty much all of them girls…don’t know why that is the case), swim friends (some of them are guys!), and just so  many treasured relationships.  I feel so grateful and have certainly not done anything that warrants such a blessing from God.

Here’s where the contradiction comes in…

After visiting teaching I put up Christmas decor myself, cooked a meal for one,  and went to meet with the bishop alone.  We talked about my individual scripture study and how I can do better.  We talked about my life and how independent I have to be.  How I have to stay motivated and be persistent or it will not happen.  There is nobody to push me along and challenge me to read scriptures everyday, go to the temple, exercise, or whatever worthy goal I am trying to accomplish in my life.  It’s all on me…

I am probably the most independent person I know.  Ever since I was little, and I mean little, I wanted to do things in my way, under my control.  I hated being a kid.  I hated being told what to do and  how to do it.

It was my dream to have my own place, my own space, my own life.  I never remember dreaming about what kind of husband or kids I would have.  In fact, for years while being open to love I was antagonistic about the idea of having a family.  To me it was a giant life and freedom suck. I’d seen how hard it was to have little kids and I wanted none of it. (Sorry but I grew out of it.  I promise!)

I don’t know many other Mormon girls that grew up wanting to be independent and free but that’s the way it was for me and that’s the way it has turned out.  I’ve always been a bit mystified by love and the dependence couples seem to have on each other. I’ve grown to a point where I want it but still don’t really understand the innate human need for it and yet…

I am lost without friendships and human bonding.  So maybe it is just love that confuses me?  Romantic love?  I don’t know.

I remember one time on my mission my trainer and I were talking about marriage and life.  I told her I didn’t know if I wanted to take my husband’s last name.  I like my name.  She said “This from the woman who wears a pink sweater every day” (and I really did wear a pink sweater a lot on mission.  Look at the photos!).  And yet both statements were equally true.  A contradiction….I feel like I have lot of those in my life.

Today I realized that in many ways the last 2 years have made me even more independent.  I didn’t think it was possible but it’s true. I am now a homeowner, I lived alone for 3 years happily before that, spent holidays alone, traveled alone and my spiritual sustenance is now maintained alone. Any leaning I was doing on another’s faith has had to be replaced with my own knowledge and strong conviction.  I don’t know anyone else that has been forced to be independent in more ways than I have.

Sometimes it seems like God wants me to be more independent and self reliant but in other ways he puts more people in my path to help and nurture.  People who need me and I desperately need them.   This is a good thing but it can leave me vulnerable to the lonely moments, which you would think someone who is so independent wouldn’t have.  Yep, still have them…

How can one human being need people so badly yet fundamentally resist them as part of my nature?  I truly have both yearnings and always have.

So, the giant Rachel tug of war will probably always continue.  One side needing and thriving on community and love, and the other needing isolation and freedom from what other people have planned for my life.

A contradiction…Does this make sense to any of you?  Do you see these 2 sides in your own life? Can any of you relate?

indexbtw- this is my 750th post!