Thursday, March 29, 2012

Have ye spiritually been born of God?

Have I spiritually been born of God? I'm not sure. Alma asks a lot of questions! Fifty to be exact. I think it would be interesting to ponder of his questions one by one. It would take awhile, but I think it would be worth taking the time to really examine what is in my heart.

Have I spiritually been born of God? There has always been something about me that has sought to do good. I remember wanting to be baptized as a little kid. I would ask everyone around me if they had been baptized. Before I was even baptized, I would pray to my Heavenly Father. Somehow I knew who God was and that if I prayed to Him, He would help me.

Finally, when I was 13, I was baptized in a baptist church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was "saved" a few days or weeks before then. I don't remember much about it except I had the best night's sleep ever and I was unbelievably happy the next day. I finally felt like I was in a good place.

When I moved to my mom's I tried going to a baptist church, but it just didn't feel right. Over the next few years, I decided to take steps to become a member of the Catholic Church. My mom is Catholic, my grandmother is Catholic, and a whole bunch of my family is Catholic. I figured I should be Catholic. I took my first communion at 15, and I was able to take communion at mass after that. I felt like I belonged there. I was confirmed when I was 16, but shortly after that I sat in on a missionary discussion. Long story short, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 17 and I haven't looked back.

I don't recall a specific moment where I can describe as being "born of God." My spiritual life has been a process. I worry sometimes that I only do right, or try to keep the commandments, because I want stuff. I want the promised blessings. I'm not sure that I would be so willing to be good if I got absolutely nothing for it. Sometimes it feels like I get nothing, but I know that's not true. I can be worthy of a temple recommend if I keep the commandments. I have been sealed in the temple to Robbie and Lily is sealed to us for eternity because she was born in the covenant. 

So what does "born of God" mean? I hear this phrase in other churches too. I hear the term "born-again Christian." What does this mean? According to Mosiah 27:25, born again, or "born of God" means to be changed from one's "carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters, and thus they become new creatures."

When Lamoni's father asked Aaron what it would take to be "born of God" in Alma 22:15 he also asked how he could have that, "wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy." This part concerns me because I feel like I have a little wicked spirit of my own sometimes. I refer to is as "my darkness." I have my own little darkness that takes root in my heart and mind that I have to fight. It's this little thing that makes me feel unhappy sometimes. I asked one of my former Relief Society presidents once if it was normal to have to fight to be happy sometimes and she said, "No." Oh. Great.

So, I am interested to find out what Romans 7:18 has to say about this little root. This is confusing, but what I think it says is that my flesh wants to do bad. If left to my own devices and without trying to control it, I would do bad things. So maybe that little wicked thing rooted in my breast is my natural man. My little darkness is my own little natural man that I have to overcome. So this verse takes me back to Alma 22:15.

Does it mean that I have to completely overcome my natural man to be considered "born of God" or does it mean that I need to be on the path of overcoming my natural man to be "born of God?" There are plenty of people content to never try to overcome their natural man. They can't possibly be considered "born of God." But what about those of us, though always falling short and horribly imperfect, who are always striving to overcome our natural man? Are we "born of God?" Is this what it means? Where we start a life of trying to be like God? Trying to be good? Trying to live righteously? If that's the case, then yes, I have been "born of God." 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can't stand being in my own skin

I can't stand being in my own skin sometimes. I can't stand that I spend most of my day sitting at home, feeling completely useless that I can't help our family financially. I just have no idea how to get my name out there any faster and any better than I am doing. And then I have to sit and wait once I have done that. For example, today I mailed letters and business cards out to 12 area band directors to offer their students a complimentary flute lesson in hopes that a few will ultimately decide to continue taking lessons with me. I have emailed area theatre companies and churches to let them know I exist. I wish I knew how to find other performance opportunities in this area, but I am just stuck. I can't very well sit on the side of an intersection somewhere playing my flute because I have Lily to take care of. How can I be both a stay at home mom and take care of my baby and also help supplement our family's income? My husband says it's not my job to help supplement our family's income, and I know it grieves him to hear me say stuff like this. I just don't think of it that way. He thinks it's a reflection on him, and a failure on his part. But I think of myself as a mooch and an additional burden on him and our family.

I have also offered a giveaway of my doula services this week so that I can hopefully help a family in need. Maybe a perk of doing something like that is to spread my name a little further and to say, "Hey! I exist!"

Ugh. Houston is a really BIG city. I am having trouble with the, "Hey! I exist!" part.

But you know what else? The skills I have and the services I offer are perks. They are extras. In an economy where everyone is struggling and everyone has to do without, what are the first things to go? The flute lessons. The doula care. The mani-pedis and the Starbucks.

I won't lie. I'm discouraged. I can't conjure up a strong enough word to describe what a burden debt is. It is huge. It is heavy. It is discouraging and it feels hopeless. I have had thoughts that I never thought I would have when I think about the mountain of student loan debt that is constantly hovering around in my brain. I'll never forget what a stupid choice I made to waste my free education on a completely worthless degree. They told me. "You won't get a job," they said. Yeah, well, I did well in undergrad. I did well in graduate school. But at the back of my mind, I always knew that I would be a stay at home mom.

And yes, I made the choice. And you know what? Even when we make what we think is a right choice can suck sometimes. You know? Like those parents who choose not to vaccinate and purposely expose their kids to chicken pox? It really sucks when their kids actually get the chicken pox. And they complain about how much life sucks for them during that time. But it doesn't change the fact that they are doing exactly what they wanted and things are going how they planned them to. Sometimes it just gets discouraging and just plain hard anyway.

So we know that me being a stay at home mom is exactly what we want for our family, but when the bills are just crushing us into the ground, it sucks. I can't help but be plagued by the shoulda's and the shouldna's. "I shoulda majored in something else. I shouldna gone to grad school. I shoulda never played in band and fallen in love with flute in the first place."

I wish I would have had wisdom in my youth to know that being a musician doesn't pay! My best friend in the 8th grade told me I'd be eating bologna and crackers for the rest of my life and she was absolutely right. She was blessed with wisdom and I thought, "I'll prove everyone wrong! I'll work hard and it won't happen to me."

Ugh. Can't stand being in my own skin right now.

So then I worry about people thinking, "You should just get a job." Right. Get a job. Maybe when I have one kid daycare won't completely eat my paycheck, but as we add to our family? Yeah, it just totally won't be worth it anymore. So what in the world do people do?

And I also worry about people who are judging me, thinking we shouldn't have had a baby. Really? Have you met Lily? She's the most awesome little girl I have ever met. I can't imagine my life without her, nor do I want to. But I won't lie. Sometimes I just hold her, my shoulders just shaking because I am crying so hard while I verbally abuse myself, "I'm not doing right by her. This poor kid deserves so much better than me."

Ugh. Do you ever wish you could take your brain out of your head for just a little while to give yourself a break from all the mental garbage that goes on in there sometimes? I do. Sometimes I just want to get away from my own self, and give myself a break from all the grief I give myself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Springtime Fun

This morning we woke up on schedule for once. I felt really energetic and productive. Must be the sunshine. We decided to go to toddler time at the library, which we never do when I teach flute lessons. I guess I am quite the overachiever today!

We left the library a little earlier than I wanted to because Lily was being...a toddler. I'm not sure what it is about being in public, but she kind of acts like she's embarrassed to be seen with me. I thought they didn't do that until they were teenagers!

Before coming home, we decided to stop by the Duck Park and enjoy some sunshine. Dark Park is not the official name, it's just what we call it. There is a wonderful area with nature trails and a pond with ducks behind our apartment complex that we don't visit nearly enough. A little deeper inside of the area are a couple of baseball diamonds and a really nice play area for kids. I love it!

It's been a beautiful and productive day today and I am happy that I get to share it with this kid! We made a new friend today at the park, though she was from out of town. I am not sure if we will ever see them again, but Lily enjoyed playing with a new kid today. I enjoyed meeting a new mama.

If you live close to me and you haven't been outside yet, you're missing out! This is your friendly reminder to GET OUT THERE and enjoy some sunshine!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Being Personally Converted

As mentioned earlier, I have been taking the time to ponder each of Alma's 50 questions in Alma Chapter 5. I have been using a study guide that I found on the internet to help me divide the questions up into 8 larger categories. It turns out that I didn't feel prompted to answer these questions in this way until I started reading the verses that fall under the category labeled "Being Personally Converted." The questions in this group are as follows:

1. Have you spiritually been born of God? (Alma 5:14)

2. Have you received his image in your countenances? (Alma 5:14)

3. Have you experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)

4. Do you exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? (Alma 5:15)

5. Do you look forward with an eye of faith and view this mortal body, to stand before God to be judged, according to the deeds, which have been done in the mortal body? (Alma 5:15)

I know my posts have been a little "churchy" lately, but it's because I really feel like I do not have very much else to talk about right now. I have been trying hard to do better at reading and really studying my scriptures. I have been writing down any and every thought that pops into my head as I study. My hope is to look back over the past few months and see if I notice any trends. I learned, or rather, I was reminded recently, that that is what I need to do in order to discover what the spirit is trying to teach me. I need to keep notes, write down any impressions, and after awhile, go back and notice any trends in my impressions.

I admit, some days are better than others in my scripture studies. Some days I am lucky to just read through a chapter of the Old Testament. I finally made it to Numbers yesterday! Woohoo!

I also admit that I am not very good at the scriptures. I have a terrible memory when it comes to locating certain popular scriptures. I have tried memorizing the Scripture Mastery verses but that takes work! I mean, really, I feel like I am trying to lift weights with my brain when I try to memorize something. I suppose I would get better at remembering verses if I practiced remembering. But, ugh. I'm not a fan of memorization.

Wish me luck as I discover things about myself and as I take an account of how I am doing on my journey of being personally converted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A quiet Sunday

Yesterday I went to church by myself, and I almost don't want to admit this, but I really enjoyed being able to feel the spirit to the extent that I did yesterday. Because it was ward conference, we had the opportunity to sustain our church leaders. I particularly enjoyed being able to do this. It was very neat to be able to raise my right hand to sustain our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, after his name was read. I allowed my mind to wander and think about what it really means to sustain someone. What am I doing when I raise my hand in support of someone? I thought about the things I have learned as I have served in Primary. I thought about the people I have gotten to know better. I remembered that people are not perfect. I remembered, even though people are not perfect, the Lord chooses these people to serve in these callings. As I was raising my hand in support of my church leaders, I thought, "The Lord has chosen these people to fill these callings. I feel honored to be able to raise my hand in support of the Lord's decisions." I feel a special something in my heart when I am able to sustain our prophet. Every. Single. Time. I can't say the same for anyone else. I admit, I sort of go through the motions and sometimes I don't even know what they just said up there before my hand just goes up automatically. However, yesterday I really thought about what I was doing. When the man who was reading started to read out our bishop's name, it was confirmed to me that our bishop truly was called of the Lord. At the same time, it must have been confirmed to the person reading because he started to get a little choked up as he was reading our bishop's name. I thought that was really cool. I thought that was a really neat moment because I have honestly never felt anything like that before. I've heard people bear testimony of the bishoprics in various wards and I always knew those people were called of the Lord, but I just didn't think about it like I did yesterday. I never sought to know, and I didn't really seek to know yesterday. I suppose the Lord decided to bless me in that way yesterday.

As always, I can never remember what the talks were about. I wished I'd had a notebook with me to write things down because the talks were so good. Usually there is no point to taking notes in sacrament meeting as Lily would end up ripping my paper away. I have gotten out of the habit of bringing writing materials with me. I remember that the bishop gave a talk that was very similar to a conversation that Robbie and I had over the weekend. He told me of a quote he heard while he was on his mission from Elder Quentin L. Cook (I think that's who he said it was) before he became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It seems that Elder Cook was late to arrive to that meeting because he was given the wrong directions. When he stood to give his talk he said something like (and I am probably getting it all wrong), "It doesn't matter how well you follow the wrong directions, it will never get you where you want to go." I thought that was really cool and it really impressed Robbie at the time. The bishop's talk yesterday made me think of that. In his talk, he said it is not enough just to know how to do something, such as pay your tithing, it's in the doing. I can know that I am supposed to study my scriptures all I want, but until I actually do it, I really won't be able to gain anything from that knowledge. I can know that I am supposed to pay my tithing all I want, but I really won't be able to gain any blessings until I actually do it. I can know I am supposed to go to church all I want, but it doesn't really matter how much I know it until I go to church every Sunday.

I remember the stake president gave a good talk too, but I just can't remember anything about it. I just remember how I felt, and I loved it!

Because it was ward conference, we had guests from the stake primary presidency visit our primary. As I was passing out rolls in the hallway, I saw a woman walk in and thought, "She belongs in primary." She looked at me and said, "Do you know where the primary room is?" I said, "I do! I had a feeling that you would be looking for that room. You just exude primary!" We had a fun little conversation on the way to the room. I'm usually kind of shy when I meet new people, but not yesterday. I suppose it helps when you obviously have something in common.

I also realized yesterday that I finally feel like I belong in primary. It took me a long time to feel this way. I thought for sure I was in the wrong place when I was first called to be the primary secretary. I don't know anything about kids! I think it is a really good place for me because I only teach sharing time once a month, so it's just enough to get my feet wet a little. I am learning the songs and kids' names and that's great. I finally feel like I am getting used to being there. I no longer look into the Relief Society room with longing as I walk past there during my rounds of passing out rolls to the primary teachers. In fact, I felt like it would be weird to be in there.

Speaking of doing my rounds, as I was passing out folders, the former Relief Society president stopped me in the hall to tell me about one of the sisters in our ward who is getting ready to have a baby soon. I didn't put two and two together as to why she would stop me to tell me about a pregnant woman. It seems as if they were talking together and the mama asked her if she thought I would be willing to attend her during her birth, but she was too afraid to ask. I told her, "Of course! I would be willing to doula for any woman in this ward. I just never approach them about it. They have to approach me. All they have to do is ask and I'll say yes." I also told her that money isn't an issue. We could trade whatever and it would be fine. Doulas are cool like that. Lots of us are willing to barter. Hopefully she'll pass the word along to that sweet mama.

Just a note to my local friends: if there are any of you, my local friends out there, that feel like you want to have me be your doula, don't be afraid to ask. I'll say yes. We'll work it out. I'm just not going to approach you about it. Boundaries, ya know?

After I came home, Lily was taking a nap. I started making some chili for us and used fresh garlic for the first time. I was afraid that I had used too much by the way it smelled, but I used as much as the recipe called for. Usually I use one of those little jars for my minced garlic, but Robbie bought me some fresh garlic cloves when he stopped by the store last weekend. I spent the rest of the evening smelling the chili cooking in the slow cooker and worrying that I used too much garlic. I really can't stand a lot of garlic.

After Lily woke from her nap, we just spent a quiet Sunday together. I enjoyed giggling and cuddling with my little girl. She's such a cutie!

After we put Lily to bed, the chili was ready. And it was WAY TOO GARLICKY. Yuck! Robbie liked it though. I ended up doing a Cincinnati special and boiling some noodles and grating some cheese and we had some of what we call chili spaghetti. That made it tolerable. I was disappointed because the last time I made chili it was amazing. I had my palette all set to have chili and what I had was garlic with a little bit of chili.

So all in all, we had one of the best weekends we have had in a long time. We really needed it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A happy Saturday

Today was a great day! I am so happy that we were able to have an enjoyable Saturday just being together as a family. It has been such a long time since we've had a day like today.

We spent the morning lounging around for a little while and then got ready for the day. When I first got up, I noticed that one of my friends, whose  Hypnobabies course I will audit over the next several Saturdays, was called away to a birth early this morning. From what I could tell, there would be a good chance that class would be postponed again this week. Such is the life of a doula! I wasn't sure because we decided that if I didn't hear from her, class was still happening. It got close to time for me to leave and I decided to send her a text message just to be sure. Turns out that she needed to cancel class again because the baby was not born yet. Once I got confirmation that class was postponed, we decided to leave and go get a little bite to eat.

After we were done eating, we decided to drive around town looking at houses. We are not even close to being in the market to buy a house, but we decided to look and dream. Our lease is supposed to be up at the end of the summer, and it would really be nice to be able to find a house to rent. We decided to look around to see if there are any houses for rent that are in our price range. We did not really have very much luck, and it was time for Lily to take a nap anyway. We drove home so she could take a nap.

Because dishes and laundry don't ever end, I spent Lily's nap time working on stripping Lily's diapers, folding laundry, catching up on dishes from the company we had last night and just trying to tidy up and maintain the "breathable" condition of our apartment at the moment. I've been stripping Lily's diapers with blue Dawn and I also boiled some inserts today. They really needed it.

Once Lily woke up from her nap we headed out to have dinner at Pappasito's. This was a rare treat for us! I had the sweetest clients recently give me a gift card to the Pappa's restaurants because they said, "You're right. You don't charge enough." The only reason they said that was because I like to let potential clients know that what I am charging isn't really typical and that I am charging a lower fee because I am in training. I say this with the hope that when they see a typical price that they will understand that doulas have value.

Lily was so cute and sweet at the restaurant and ate a quesadilla all by herself. A woman came up to us on her way out and complemented us on how beautiful Lily is, and I couldn't agree more. She gets prettier every day. And so smart! I am so impressed by how much she is growing and learning.

After dinner we went and looked around Target for a little while. Lily needed a few things, so we picked them up and ended up getting a box of brownies. Yummy. After we came home, we put Lily to bed and baked some brownies. Well, Robbie baked the brownies. He's really good at making sure the brownies come out perfectly, and I somehow tend to ruin them every time I attempt to make them.

And because I didn't take any pictures of our outing today, please enjoy a picture of Lily's socks that I sent to my mom to tease her.

When I was growing up, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom would fold her socks together like this and then put them in the laundry basket. It grossed me out because I'd have to separate her nasty ole socks as I was putting them in the wash. Now that I have all these teeny tiny baby socks to try to keep up with, I now understand why she did that. I suppose I never noticed that my mom never had any stray socks. They always had their partners. My mom sure is a smart cookie!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alma Chapter 5

I started reading Alma 5 a couple of weeks ago and decided that I wanted to take each question by itself and really ponder the message in each question. I've read this chapter many times and thought, "Man, these are great questions!" but I have never actually taken very much time to truly ponder these questions. I was prepared for this to take awhile, especially since I do not always have the opportunity to sit with my scriptures for long chunks of time. It has been interesting to see the ebbs and flows of spiritual moments. Some days I really feel the spirit and can tell I am learning, and some days I am lucky to just go through the motions. I have decided to not feel bad on those days that I am "just going through the motions" because I am trying to reestablish a habit of reading my scriptures daily as well as take an inventory of how I am doing spiritually.

A quick google search led me to this list of Alma's 50 Questions. I particularly appreciate how the author divided the 50 questions into 8 larger groups.

1. Remembering God's Acts for His People (Alma 5:6-9)
2. Knowing the Essential Logic of the Gospel (Alma 5:10-11)
3. Being Personally Converted (Alma 5:14-15)
4. Imagining the Judgement Day (Alma 5:15-24)
5. Assessing One's Spiritual Condition (Alma 5:26-30)
6. Being Identified with a 'Fold' (Alma 5:39)
7.Obtaining spiritual knowledge (Alma 5:45-46)
8. Refusing to repent (Alma 5:53-59)

I started my studies with section 3 and have just finished the last question in this section. Some days I do not have the opportunity to spend time with these questions, so I will read a chapter or two in the Old Testament. I also have a goal of reading the entire Old Testament. I just made it to Numbers today! I have read every other Standard Work in its entirety but not the Old Testament. I have tried several times, but this is one daunting work! One day I will finish. I am determined.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our sick adventures

Two Fridays ago I finally made it to a workout session some ladies from church hold every Wednesday and Friday. I had been missing for a few weeks because of all the births that were happening at the end of February. I finally decided to do something fun for myself and attended a workout session. After it was over, I noticed one of the ladies start getting ready to make little fondant monkey faces for one of our other friends from church who was having a birthday party for her little girl. Ordinarily, I would have left shortly after the workout was over, but I was craving human interaction and sort of stuck around. I also really like these ladies, so I have been hoping for an excuse to hang out with them. I really am fascinated by their talent, so I stuck around in all sincerity, because I was truly impressed with the things they were able to do with fondant. I just couldn't believe it. I even got to help out a little bit. 

This was my first time ever to play with fondant. I made a few of the inner ears and a few of the faces. I am amazed at how clever they were to make the monkey faces out of a flower shaped cookie cutter. Neat!

While I was playing around in fondant and enjoying my time with these neat ladies, Robbie called to let me know he had gone home early. Poor thing didn't feel good at all. And finally this day, I admitted to these particular ladies that I had been looking for a reason to weasel my way into hanging out with them! :o)

After the monkey faces were done and on their way to their final destination, I decided I should go home and take care of my husband. After I made it home, we spent the rest of the day in the doctor's office and found out Robbie had the flu. I thought Lily and I were spared, so I ended up going to church by myself on Sunday.

Well, after Lily woke up from her nap on Sunday, she had a 102 fever and started throwing up. I wasn't feeling too great myself, but it was nothing compared to either Robbie or Lily. Poor baby and I spent the next few days being sick. This whole family was laid up!

The one good thing about Lily being sick, if there could ever be a good thing, is that she gets lots of mommy cuddles. As much as she could possibly want and then some. She would also fall asleep anywhere. I still can't get over the adorableness of a sleeping baby. It's also a time where I am glad that Lily hasn't weaned yet. I don't know what I would do without being able to comfort her at the breast.

At some point, I needed to steal away and indulge in a little hot chocolate to sooth my throat. Seriously. I really was using it to sooth my itchy throat. Nothing was working for me, so I decided to try something else hot. Since Lily ended up drinking my first cup of hot chocolate, I hid in the kitchen to have another for myself.

Finally Lily started to feel better and we were able to venture out. Yesterday Lily and I went to the store to pick up a few things and I decided to treat her to a new purse. She has been trying to carry mine around, but it is too heavy. She also had a little book that is shaped like a purse that she's been carrying around. I figured it was time to get her something a little cuter than that.

I love love love leopard print but I am not brave enough at all to carry something like this. Because of my lack of courage, Lily gets to have it. And she loves it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Last week members of the general auxiliary presidencies came to Houston to help uplift, encourage, and instruct members of the church in our area. A special meeting for the women of the church 12 and older was held last Thursday night and through the wonderful encouragement of my sweet husband, I was able to attend and receive some spiritual edification. I was able to hear from Sister Cheryl Esplin, Sister Barbara Thompson, and Sister Elaine S. Dalton.

I decided before I left that I would not take notes. I just wanted to be spiritually fed and not have to worry about remembering everything. I just wanted to see if I would feel an overall theme for the evening, an overall message for my life.

As I sat in the pew among a few hundred sisters in the church, my mind began to wander a little. I started to think about the birth I attended the day before. I started to feel like God used my hands to help comfort that sweet mama during her laboring time. I started to notice that the things that I did for her were a little "other-worldly." I came home from that birth thinking that it was the best I have ever done as a doula, but I didn't quite recognize the role the Lord played in that experience until I was sitting in the chapel listening to those women speaking words I desperately needed to hear. I truly felt like an instrument in the Lord's hands in that moment, like I was truly doing the will of the Lord in helping that mama as her doula. I started to feel like, maybe God really does want me to be a doula. And I felt like He used me to answer that family's prayers. I know they prayed for me. They must have prayed for me to be inspired as a doula to help support mama to the best of my abilities, because that is what happened. I feel like I supported her beyond my abilities. Like I said before, I can only describe it as "other-worldly." I have felt like I have done a good job before, but I had help that I never felt before. I've prayed before every single birth that I can help the family to the very best of my abilities, but I do not think the other families have prayed for me too. This family had to have prayed for me, for the midwife, for the nurse, for the mama and the baby.

As I was thinking about that birth and how I felt like the Lord helped me, I felt noticed. I felt like He truly noticed me. I felt like He loved me. I felt honored and humbled that He used me as an instrument in His hands to help provide comfort to that sweet family. It's not that I don't know that He loves me, it's more like I don't take the time to feel His love for me. I don't take the time to notice Him. And sometimes, I may reject that opportunity on purpose because I do not feel worthy of His love. And maybe I am not worthy, and maybe I never will be, but that doesn't stop Him from loving me anyway.

As I walked in the door to tell Robbie all about it, I was sure that I wouldn't remember a single word that was spoken during that meeting. I am the world's worst at remembering words in scriptures, talks, songs, conversations, what have you! No sooner had I sat down and said, "I don't remember a single story that was shared tonight, but..." than I started sharing stories that were shared that night.

After I explained the general message that I took home, that God loves me, I shared with him a story that Sister Barbara Thompson shared. I'm sure I'll get the story and details all mixed up as I did that night, but the overall message is pretty neat. She shared a story* about a group of early pioneers that were trying to make it to California by using a short cut through the Sierra Nevada mountains that would save them about 300 miles. They stopped to rest for awhile before continuing the trip over the mountains. They planned to leave there and continue their journey in time to miss the horrible winter, but of course, they didn't. They were one day too late. They ended up staying where they were throughout the winter. Many people died. When the survivors finally made it to California, one of the surviving women, Virginia Reed, wrote a letter to her cousin who was back east but planning to make the trip to California. She said, "Never take no cutoffs and hurry along as fast as you can."

Now isn't that the truth? I'm always complaining to my husband about how there is this invisible something in life that never wants me to take any shortcuts. I always have to do things the long and hard way. "No shortcuts for Kristi!" That's my motto sometimes. Especially on aggravating days where dishes seem to pop back out of the cabinet after I throw them in there and clothes just won't fold themselves. Hearing Sister Thompson share that story make me feel like it was okay that I just can't take any shortcuts. I can stop trying to take shortcuts and just hurry along as fast as I can.

Later Sister Dalton gave an incredible talk. In it she described four things that they are asking the Young Women of the church to do.

1. Pray every single day, morning and night. 100%.
2. Read in the Book of Mormon every single day. 100%. Just five minutes!
3. Follow the teachings in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet 100%.
4. Smile. Smile every day.

I really grasped onto the "smile every day" part. I had to think. Do I smile every day? I have plenty to smile about, but do I show it? I worried that there may be days that go by where I do not smile at all, but Robbie assured me that that is not the case. He reminded me that there is no way to go an entire day without smiling when I have my cute Lily around. He's right! However, I have tried to make it a point to consciously smile every day. At least once. And when I get really ambitious, I may even try to start every day with a smile!

*The story is about the Donner Party. Read all the gory details here.