Saturday, December 31, 2011

Belated Christmas Post

I've been meaning to post this all week, ever since I got back from Kansas. Better late than never, right?

One of the best things about Christmas in Kansas is our annual family Nativity. The children/grandchildren dramatize the birth of Jesus while the narrator narrates from the scriptures. We sing Christmas carols, dress-up with odd shawls, skirts, and shirts, and take a break from the business of the Christmas season. It helps set the mood for what Christmas is all about:

Besides that, it's just really fun. Some of my fondest (and funniest) Christmas memories come from acting out the Nativity.

Like the Christmas of '94. I was Mary. My cousin didn't get to be Mary. There were tears. But I was happy.

Look how cute I am. All wrapped up in my blue blanket. Aww.

And . . . speaking of Mary and of blue blankets, look at how good I am at sharing:

See that? My cousin is using my blue blanket to be Mary for this year's Nativity. Proof that the blue blanket was meant to be used for family Nativities. (And yes, I still have my blue baby blankie. And I am not ashamed.)

This year there weren't enough kids to fill all of the roles, and we didn't have any shepherds. So my sister and I became shepherdesses. I think it's appropriate. And I like to think that there were some shepherdesses there that first Christmas night. 

We are so cute. 

 Yes, that's Clifford. He was supposed to be my sheepdog. Or a red sheep. Take your pick. 

Also, please note that our Baby Jesus escaped the manger. She's a little more mobile than a newborn. 


But super, super, super cute. 

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas! 

A Writer's Confessions

Forgive me when I struggle to find words.
For you see, I think in prose and poetry--
Images fly faster than wind
and when they pause, I sing.
Is it any wonder my thoughts
get lost in translation?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"With Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men"

Christmas carols have always been a hallmark of the Christmas season for me. Perhaps it's because some of my fondest memories come from Christmas hymns and Christmas caroling. Christmas carols have the warmth of familiarity and a spark of magic in their melodies and lyrics. They make me feel at home and they sound like heaven.

Favorite Christmas carols change with the years. I honestly think that every single Christmas hymn in the LDS hymn book has been my favorite at some point in my life. But every year there seems to be one Christmas hymn that stands out just a bit more to me than the rest because of the experiences of the previous year.

My favorite Christmas carol this year is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." I used to not like this song as much; it doesn't have an exciting, upbeat, "Hallelujah! A Savior is born!" tempo like "Joy to the World" or "Hark! The Herald Angles Sing" does. Plus, it's kind of long . . . you have to sing all five verses to understand the song.

But as I've grown, the song has meant more to me.

I am moved by the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote the song after losing his wife in a tragic accidental fire and not knowing if his wounded son, who was a Union soldier in the Civil War, was going to live. No wonder he hung his head in despair and said "there is no peace on earth."

Truly, peace has been taken from the earth. Natural disasters, famines, political turmoil, shattered dreams and lost innocence scream that we live in perilous times. For example, this past semester I took a History of Modern Germany class. Just one day in that class would convince even the most naive that men do not live together in peace. The books I read for that class and the lectures I attended left me depressed and sometimes physically sick.

The more I learn about the world, the easier it is to despair.

But that is why the fourth verse is so powerful:

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 'God is not dead nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men!'"

God is not dead. Yes, there is hatred and cruelty in the world. Yes, life never turns out the way we plan. Yes, sorrow strikes us and fear paralyzes us.

But that doesn't mean God isn't there.
It doesn't mean He isn't mindful of us.
It doesn't mean He doesn't weep for us and with us.

There is a reason we celebrate Christmas. It is because our Heavenly Father sent His Son to earth. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, came into the world to take away the pain, sorrow, and hatred of the world. He came to atone for our sins and wipe away our tears.

I testify that Christ is the reason there can be peace on earth, and certainly in our hearts. He is the way to have peace in this life. He is the only way. He makes us whole. He is the Healer of the nations.

And He is the reason I sing at Christmastime . . . and all of the time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"And her nose stuck in a book"

A few of my friends have posted this on Facebook and I just loved it. Well, most of it. I've made a few changes of my own, and they're in italics. But you can see the original here. 

Why do I love it? I think you'll find out . . . :)

A Girl You Should Date

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality, but she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.

Love her. She won't accept anything less. And know that she'll love you, and give you more than you can dream of. She's been planning for a storybook love, but it will be better than Elizabeth and Darcy's, better than Prince Charming and Cinderella's, because she knows that it will be REAL. But she also knows that happily ever after doesn't come easily. It never does in true love stories. Expect to work hard together, and know that she'll quote Shakespeare while getting dirty.

Trust her. Trust her ability to forgive, and to see you for more than you are. Because a girl who reads understands that mercy is as real as justice. A girl who reads has read Hugo and Dostoyevsky, and knows that mercy is what this world needs. A girl who reads knows that people need second chances. And that she needs second chances, too.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
                                                                                                             – Rosemarie Urquico –

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Short and Sweet

Just some quick updates:

-It's FINALS week! (and you know what that means . . .)

-Pie is good.

-There is a treat palooza in the Writing Center today. Seriously. Treat explosion. Don't you wish you worked there?

-I'm feeling just a tad melancholy.

-I have some really inspiring, funny, and thoughtful blog posts planned. But I haven't got around to them yet. So in the mean time, you should read Amy's blog post about why Elementary Education doesn't deserve the stereotypes (and why no major deserves stereotypes).

. . . in other news, I think I scare my Visiting Teachers. No really. I'm serious.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Evolution of the Paper

Just a typical Thursday night research paper session . . .

Start out confident that you know the direction you want your paper to go:

Just happily typing away . . .

What to write next?

Hmm . . .

Oh yeah.

Typical writing game-face.


Should I make cookies?

No, this paper's due tomorrow. Get back to work.

Crunch time.

Uh-oh. Writer's block.

More writer's block.

This paper is due in T minus 12 hours! Panic.


Paper. I keel you.

And that's the part I am at right now. It's a scary picture, I know. But seriously, if these papers are going to be the death of me, I'm going to get them first.

And then, once the paper's done, I'll be happy again:

It's the circle of life.

(Guess who's procrastinating her papers! If you guessed Megan, then you guessed correctly! Ding, ding, ding, ding! But really, I'm almost done with one of my papers. Which is good. But now I get to do the whole cycle again with three other papers. Woot.)

NYC and Princeton

. . . I'm finally getting around to posting it.

But I went to the "Sexuality, Integrity and the University" conference in Princeton a few weeks (almost a month)  ago. It was a great conference about the importance sexual purity, marriage, the family, and the benefits that come from those commitments. The conference was put on by the Love and Fidelity Society (for more information go here). It was really neat to go to that conference and realize that there are people around the country and the world who share my same standards and values and who want to do what's right . . . and they come from all walks of life and all different faiths.

Here are some highlights from the trip:

-Going to NYC for my first time! Pretty exciting stuff.

 Sunrise at JFK

 Those buildings are talllllllll. 

 NYC skyline + windswept hair. 

 Lady Liberty 

 On the ferry.

 Jenna and me on the ferry. 

 On top of the Empire State Building! 

 Grand Central Station. Beautiful. 

 Times Square! 

-Getting to visit Princeton's campus for my first time. 

 Firestone Library 

 The Chapel

 Nassau Hall--it's been there since the Revolutionary War!

 Feelin' preppy

 Nassau Hall 

 Gorgeous red ivy. 

- Getting to make a lot of new, wonderful friends from all over the country and the world (you know who you are). 

-Staying up until 4:30 in the morning with friends, discussing everything from missions, the Atonement, women in the Church, great talks and favorite scriptures . . . it was soul-satisfying.

-Meeting the nicest hotel lady. We weren't able to get any food (because there were no vending machines in the hotel and when we went out into the night to try and find an open convenience store, we were out of luck), so she made us pizza for free. Honestly, one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. 

-Seeing a brilliant shooting star at 2 o' clock in the morning in the middle of light-polluted Princeton, New Jersey. 

Anyway, there are just a few things that I loved. 

. . . the more I live, the more I realize how important relationships are, and how my life is defined by them.