Aug 12, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I’ve always hated this song. I just find it silly. But mostly, I think that this is because Maria’s favorite things are totally ridiculous. Copper kettles and paper packages… ponies, kittens’ whiskers, and all that. Um….. yeah…. About those things… LAME!

But you know, the idea of the song isn’t so silly, I guess. It is important to think about the things that make you happy. Same idea as counting your blessings. When you take notice of the good things in your life, the bad things seem to slowly lose their importance.

A couple of months ago, I read the blog of a friend of mine, where he listed things that make him happy. It impressed me so much that I decided to create one of my own. So here goes… (in no particular order, by the way)…

1. Laying in the sunshine on a clear, summer day
2. Eating a fat piece of chocolate cake for breakfast
3. A shooting star so bright it makes you squint
4. A good workout that leaves you sweaty and sore
5. Arrested Development
6. Barbeque chips with cottage cheese
7. Sleeping in on a weekend… and then waking up and going back to sleep
8. Having the most amazing baby sister in the whole wide world
9. Rock band
10. Free Netflix on the Wii
11. Hot tubbing in the dead of winter
12. Accomplishing all your goals for the day
13. Staring adversity in the eye and beating it back with what you’ve got
14. Falling in love
15. A first kiss
16. Making new friends
17. Getting together with old friends
18. The satisfaction of a clean house
19. People’s quirks--I LOVE finding the things that make each person unique
20. When babies like you
21. Laughing until your sides hurt
22. Piling in your queen sized bed with some of your best girl friends
23. Talking until the sun comes up
24. Creating something all on your own
25. Being in love with your job
26. Friday the 13th
27. Fireworks
28. The excitement of a new relationship
29. Daydreaming
30. Calling in sick to devour the rest of a good book
31. Getting a massage
32. Eating frozen custard with your mission companions
33. Learning something new
34. Surprises
35. Finding a note that says someone is thinking about you
36. Christmas trees
37. An afternoon at the temple
38. Having faith to try again
39. The smell of new books at Barnes & Noble
40. Sitting on the highest point of a mountain—day or night—and looking down at all the earth
41. Enjoying the vastness of God’s creations
42. Summer nights when you don’t need a blanket
43. Roasting marshmallows and hotdogs over a fire
44. Singing songs with friends
45. Receiving compliments from random strangers
46. Sharing the excitement of a friend
47. Doing something they say can’t be done
48. Spooning
49. Inside jokes
50. Plato’s Closet
51. Finding money in the pocket of an old coat
52. When a chubby little toddler reaches out her hands for you to pick her up
53. Sharing the gospel
54. Being brave when you thought you didn’t know how
55. Having inspiration to write something of value
56. Orange Julius
57. The fresh smell after it rains
58. A full rainbow against a dark sky
59. The awkwardness at the beginning of a relationship
60. Lightening that turns the night to day for a split second
61. Thunder that takes your breath away
62. Suspense
63. A movie that you have to see twice
64. A warm cup of cocoa on a winter night
65. People who are always there for you
66. The triumph after killing a spider you thought would kill YOU.
67. Watching old movies from your childhood
68. Sunsets
69. Sun rises
70. The smell of baking bread
71. Watching chick flicks all alone, and never telling anyone.
72. Fry sauce
73. Oreo cookies and milk
74. Sitting at the feet of senior citizens and hearing the beautiful stories of their lives
75. Running in the rain
76. The sky—any shade. It is simply amazing
77. Playing pranks on your friends
78. Hot fudge sundaes
79. Tanning beds during the winter
80. XFiles
81. Chill music
82. Super Heroes
83. Being silly
84. Friends who give you a shoulder to cry on
85. Fresh garden vegetables
86. The first sunny day of springtime
87. The way a kitten’s head is disproportionate to its tiny body
88. The funny things that kids say
89. Being validated
90. Serving a mission
91. Cuddling
92. Wrestling
93. Nail polish in your favorite shade
94. Getting a great deal on something you want
95. Napping on Sunday afternoon
96. Changing your hair color (this one might only apply to me)
97. Funny You-Tube videos
98. Relishing over cherished memories
99. Holidays and traditions
100. Water fights

Well… there’s a hundred. I don’t want to get carried away and bore the heck out of all of you. Maybe I’ll lengthen it later as I think of more things.

Aug 5, 2010

Well, Bless my Soul!...

The following is an article I wrote for a website a friend of mine is designing. Let me know what you think:

“The influence of a valiant mission president is one of the great miracles of the restored gospel.”
-Elder Quentin L. Cook

The Savior, Jesus Christ, spent the entirety of his life teaching people the way to gain true eternal happiness. Every moment of his mortality was characterized by love, service, and sacrifice. He took no care for his own comfort, but laid down his life for the well-being and the joy of all of God’s children.

Jesus was the example whereby each of us should pattern our own lives. In following the example of Jesus to love and serve God’s children selflessly, each of us gains the possibility to have “the image of God engraven upon [our] countenances” (Alma 5:19) and, in effect, truly become more like him. In an article in the April 1973 issue of the New Era, we read, “By freely giving his life, Christ, and Christ alone, atoned for all mankind. We have the opportunity of aiding others to accept his love and his sacrifice—the gift of the atonement—and thereby aid in the work of exalting the human family, becoming saviors on Mount Zion…To become as God is, we must learn to give freely, to love freely, to be willing to suffer even the humiliation and sorrow of seeing our love rejected—willing to love all as God loves us, unconditionally, throughout eternity.”

If this is true, those who serve as full-time missionaries have the opportunity not only to be blessed with the happiness of bringing the gospel to others, but they also are placed at the brink of being made into new creatures—like the Savior himself. These missionaries, when they truly give themselves to such complete and dedicated selfless service, are privy to so much of light of Christ that those taught by them can feel the love of the Savior as if He were indeed present, wrapping His arms around them and calling them to return home. I know this is true, because I have experienced it. These moments are my most cherished memories.

But, I believe, it is a faithful mission president, the man who presides over all the missionaries in one large area, who has the ability to become the most Christ-like of all. A mission president dedicates every day of his life for three years to loving and serving each one of the young missionaries, even as they are serving others. His desires are their righteous desires, and he prays fervently day and night for opportunities to help them succeed.

A few weeks ago, I stood and embraced the man who served as my own mission president in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He had just returned home, and though his eyelids sagged with exhaustion, his smile was more radiant than ever. It has been two full years since I returned home, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I have lost a great deal of the light that I was blessed with while serving. It’s funny; I thought I’d be able to hang onto it forever. But the truth is that the more concerned with self we become, the less like Christ we are. And since I am no longer a missionary, it is much harder for my focus to be outside myself. Life is hard. I’ve faced a lot of pains and sorrows of my own. But standing there, hugging the man that we Wisconsin missionaries had nick-named ‘Papa Bear,’ I felt warmth and peace course through my body and my soul. In that instant, the love of the Savior was made evident through this man who had served me and so many others so very diligently. This pure love coursed through me with a sense of power that I had not felt in a long time. Tears sprang to my eyes, and I said a silent prayer of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the love of such a faithful man.

Missionary work is powerful. I truly believe that it is a tool which, if utilized, can make us all more like the One who created us, our Savior, even Jesus Christ.