Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ask the Future Missionary

Last week I had the opportunity to talk to the Laurels (16-18-year-old girls) in my ward about missions.

Before the activity, they wrote down questions and asked me . . . well, basically anything they wanted to about missions: what brought me to the decision, how did I know it was right for me, when did I know it was right for me, how have I prepared, what am I scared for, etc., etc.

I was blown away by how profound some of their questions were.

Guys, I was in tears reading some of their questions. (Which was why it was a good thing I got to read them beforehand. Then again, I cried during the activity too, which I guess just proves I am a case.)

Reading their questions brought back all of the feelings of making the decision--the fear, the joy, the worry, the peace. It was good for me to remember how I got to my decision. And it will be good to remember that on my mission when days are hard.

Besides the great questions about missions, there were some questions that made me laugh. Like,

What advice do you have about dating? Oh honey, you're asking the wrong person.

I'd also like to thank whoever wrote these questions:

Yes, it says "Sister (Awesome) Armknecht." Bless you, child. Bless you. You're awesome, too.

Anyway. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to speak to them. I feel like we really don't talk very much about sister missionary work in the Church. We talk about missionary work in general a ton, and the men in the Church usually get at least one talk per Priesthood session about their priesthood responsibility to serve missions.

But we don't talk about sisters' decisions to serve very often. I know that going on a mission is not for every sister, so maybe that's a reason why. But there is peace and strength found in discussion, and it's helpful to realize that not everyone's journey to that decision to serve a mission is the same. And it's important to realize that almost everyone of us has similar fears about going, and similar hardships and joys on the mission.

So--if you're reading this--thanks girls, for letting me talk with you last week. I hope it was helpful. And remember that life's going to be better than you ever dreamed. Harder, too, but better.

****also, I am fully aware that I've never posted about coming to my decision to serve a mission. I don't think I ever will, to be honest. The process was long, painful, inspiring, humbling, and too personal to put on the web. But if you ever want to know the story, I'd be happy to share it with you personally, one-on-one. Just let me know.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scripture Power

One of my life goals is to be a "sister scriptorian."

I love these quotes from President Kimball:

"We want our sisters to be scholars of the scriptures. . . . You need an acquaintanceship with his eternal truths for your own well being, and for the purposes of teaching your own children and all others who come within your influence."

"We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians--whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family. . . . Become scholars of the scriptures--not to put others down, but to lift them up!" (both quotes can be found in the March 2010 Visiting Teaching Message here.)

Also, look at this cool quote from President Benson:

"I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world." ~October 1988 General Conference

I've made it a goal to memorize hundreds of scriptures and to be a sister scriptorian, to not only bless my own life, but others' as well. It's a lofty goal, to be sure. But a noble one.

Recently, I've taken to memorizing scriptures while exercising. It's fun and pretty effective. And by memorizing scriptures, I completed another goal on my bucketlist!

#12-Become a "sister scriptorian." Have at least 100 scriptures entirely memorized. 

Becoming a sister scriptorian is an on-going process. I'm pretty sure it will take me a lifetime to complete. But I feel pretty good about having one hundred scriptures memorized. I just hope I keep them memorized.

Also . . . I'm about to have another goal crossed off my bucketlist:

#2--Serve a mission--whether as a 21-year-old or with my husband. 

The husband will have to wait for awhile. But the mission--that's coming closer and closer every day. Aieee!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Confessions of an Introvert

Those of you who know me know how shy I can be.

I often prefer to dwell in my own thoughts rather than express them . . .
and then I make sure that everything I say is carefully expressed.

Meetings and parties drain me.

I'd rather read than go to a sporting event (generally speaking).

I'm a daydreamer.

Sometimes I think I'd be content to live in an ivory tower my entire life. Or as a meditating hermit on Timpanogos, with the secret of life on the tip of my tongue.

But then there are days like today, when I realize how much I need people.

Like when I see friends who I haven't seen in awhile. I talk with them, and their conversation refreshes me.

I'm learning that being with people is healing.

When I'm out of my shell, I find I'm just as happy as when I'm cooped up inside, listening to Bach.

The trick is getting out of that shell.

how i've been feeling lately

"I am half-sick of shadows," said 
                                 The Lady of Shalott." ~ The Lady of Shalott, Alfred Lord Tennyson 

{John William Waterhouse}
{picture courtesy of flickr user mbell1975}

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vanity of vanities . . .

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful maiden. 

 She liked to stand around in fields . . .

and sit on rocks, 

and sometimes she'd spin around for no other reason besides the fact that she loved life. 

 She also loved to laugh,

which was more proof that she loved life. And dry fields. 

 This maiden also loved to read and write, 

and sometimes she combined her two loves of reading and sitting on rocks. 

 Other times the young maiden would sit in a dry field and pray, and look very dignified and contemplative with her long, brown hair. 

Then one day, the maiden decided to cut her hair.

Nine inches of it. And it was rather sad, because the maiden had become attached to her long, beautiful brown hair, and now she couldn't even put her hair in a ponytail. But she decided to cope, because after all, she believed in simplicity . . . 

especially when it was for a good cause. 

(photos--except for the one of me with short hair--courtesy of the lovely Saren Johnson of Wren's Flight Photography

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pre-Mission Bucketlist

Here are some things I need to/want to do before I leave on my mission. More specifically, these are things that I bet you had no idea I wanted to do (listed in order of could possibly happen to no way is this ever going to happen):

-Two words: Dance Party!

- Chew as much Shaun White gum as possible. Because it is the best gum ever. Partly because it tastes delicious. Mostly because it has Shaun White on the front.

- Watch this video and videos like it ad nauseum.
Love Divine Comedy videos. And this one's a keeper. I mean, dance party in the Testing Center? Awesome. 

- See War Horse the movie. I need to see it. Need to.

- Watch the last episode of BBC's Sherlock. Again, needs to happen.

- Use as many italics as I can. 

- Go to Divine Comedy's January show.

- Make chocolate croissants.

-Find Narnia in my closet.

- Learn how to speak whale.

- Learn how to speak Russian-whale. Because I bet that's what narwhals speak. And possibly beluga whales. And who wouldn't want to talk with a baby beluga whale?

- Find an open field and start singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"

- While I'm at it, find a retired, widower Naval officer with 7 children and teach them the joy of music.

- Finish those novels I've been working on recently. (And yes, finding that Naval officer with 7 children is far more likely than finishing these novels.)

- Get an appendectomy. Just kidding. Well, kinda. I don't want to go through surgery three weeks before I go into the MTC. But one of my worst nightmares is having to go through surgery in a foreign country. So let's just pray that I don't get appendicitis. Ever. But especially while I'm on my mission.

-Grow all my hair back before I leave. Guys, I chopped it all off. And it's so weird. I miss my hair!!!!!

. . . also, I just realized that I am a pre-mi now. I always associated that nickname with 18-year-old boys who decided that the milk chug challenge was the best idea since Call of Duty. But I'm a pre-mission girl now. Weird. Hopefully I'm more mature than most eighteen-year-old boys. But with some of the things on my pre-mission bucketlist, maybe I'm not as mature as I hope.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tim Tebow and Rejoicing in Goodness

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that in to professional sports.

Olympics? Love ‘em. College sports? GO COUGARS! (And Rock Chalk Jayhawk!)

But the NBA or the NFL? Eh.

But once in awhile, the professional sports world will interest me. Like when the Red Sox finally broke the Curse of the Bambino. Or when Jimmer was drafted into the NBA. Or more recently, when Tim Tebow came under fire (and still is under fire . . . though not as much after the Broncos lost last Saturday) for being so good. Obnoxiously good, some people say.

My question is: what’s wrong with being good? Why is it such a crime to do well and be good?

You’d think people would be happy that there is a successful NFL player who doesn’t abuse his girlfriend or kill dogs. But instead of being glad that there is another person to add to the too-small handful of role models in professional sports, many people mock Tebow for his goodness and his purity. (Saturday Night Live, anyone?)

You’d think we’d applaud goodness when it’s so rarely found.

I’m not saying that everyone mocks Tim Tebow for his character. And I’m not saying that he’s the only good professional sports player out there. Because that’s not true. Nor I am saying that he’s perfect. Because let’s be honest: nobody on this earth is.

But it does bother me that people are so quick to mock others who are good and successful.

So . . . why do we do it?

Based on my limited experience of observing human nature, here are three possibilities:

1) Good people make us ordinary people feel guilty. No one likes to see someone doing the right things we know we should be doing. And instead of changing our behavior, we simply blame the other guy for being “self-righteous” or “too preachy” . . . even if he’s not being preachy and simply living a good life.  

2) “No one can be that good.” People tend to be pessimistic about others. Instead of rooting for others, we wait for hamartia, or that tragic flaw, to rear its ugly head. We wait on the edge of our seats for their fall from grace—after all, who doesn’t love a good Greek tragedy? 
But why do we insist that people can’t be good? Why do we wait for them to “become like us” rather than trying to better ourselves and become like them? It seems uncharitable to me. I, for one, want good, solid people in this world. I think we should cheer for them rather than bring them down.

3) Jealousy. It’s easy to become jealous of others’ successes, especially when they have it all. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be ridiculously talented, good-looking, and rich? And when a person is genuinely good, we can’t find anything to say, “well, at least I’m better than them in this or that.” Jealousy is a hard thing to suppress, especially when you want what the other person has. But if we want to be truly happy, we have to learn how to control envy.

Something that I’ve thought about recently in regard to this is the concept of “rejoicing with them that rejoice.” In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our baptismal covenants require us to “bear one another’s burdens, that they might be light [. . .] and mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:8-9). These are beautiful promises to make with God and toward each other, and when I obey these covenants, I am happy.

But I’ve also realized how important it is to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Now, I’m not saying that this should be added to the baptismal covenant. But I do think that being genuinely happy for others when they righteously succeed is important to becoming a saint. In order to have charity, we have to learn how to rejoice in others’ righteous endeavors and successes. Because charity is “kind, [and] envieth not” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Besides that, learning how to be happy for others makes you a happier individual. J

Not that I’m perfect in “rejoicing with those that rejoice.” It’s a work in progress. But a worthy goal, nonetheless.

So, although I don’t care much for professional sports, I will applaud Tim Tebow for his good character. We need more people like him in the world. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ice Cream Serenade

Tonight my mom, sister and I got some ice cream from I Like Ike's Cream. Because it was one of those nights when you just need some good ice cream. You know what I mean.

They serve Blue Bell ice cream, which is the best ice cream in the world, in case you were wondering. 

While the employees were scooping up our creamy dessert, Adele's "Someone Like You" came on their radio. 

And everyone started singing along. 

Everyone: the cashier, the girl scooping ice cream, the boy scooping ice cream, my little sister, the couple at the counter, the people outside, and the man in the moon.

Except for me. I was silently laughing at everyone. It was probably the funniest thing I've seen all day. 

Another funny thing? 

This video. Watch it. Laugh at it. It is great. 

. . . again?

Well, my MTC entry date was moved again. But instead of being moved up, I was moved back later this time. Two weeks later.

I'm now scheduled to leave February 15th instead of February 1st. (Which is still a month earlier than I was originally going to enter the MTC.) Apparently it's for a language pilot program, to see if they can teach us Russian in 9 weeks instead of 12.

And I'm not so sure how I feel about it.

There are pros and cons, of course. I've already gone through the positives and negatives of this situation dozens of times.

But I guess the biggest thing is that I was really getting ready to go--just get everything done and then--zip!--off.

I know it's only two extra weeks. And those extra weeks will be helpful in preparations and good-byes.

Still. I don't like this constant back-and-forth, whiplash movement of my life recently.

But I'd better get used to it. Life is change. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Specs

New glasses are always fun.

Would you believe that this is only my fourth new pair of glasses? And this is from a girl who has worn glasses since Kindergarten.

What can I say? I'm a creature of habit and extremely stubborn. (You wouldn't think I was stubborn, but I am. And there's nothing you can do about it. So there. Ha.)

Seriously, though. Fourth pair. I've only had five pairs of glasses in my lifetime. Maybe it's not as weird as it seems? . . . you'll have to tell me.

I can remember every pair I had, and I still have them all except for my Kindergarten-2nd grade glasses (but for the record, they were cute and turquoise. With Mickey Mouse on the sides of the frames).

These are my 2nd-grade through 9th-grade glasses. Yes, you read that right. I wore them for about 8 years. Yikes.

Every time I put them on for fun I'm reminded at how HUGE they are. Like owl eyes. Or Harry Potter meets
Steve Urkel.

Now imagine them on a second-grader's face.


They ate my face up.

Still, good memories. Ohhhh, 90s fashion.

When I switched from my monster-glasses, I didn't go to contacts. Nope, still too stubborn to switch. (My switch to contacts is another story for another time.) Instead, I got these:

Nice, simple, conservative-style glasses. If you've known me the past six years, you've most likely seen me in these glasses. (And yes. I've had these glasses for six years. Creature of habit, remember.)

But now, new glasses! And I like them lots:

Cheesin' it up just for you. Because I love you. 

Oh, glasses. I have a love-hate relationship with them. But today I love them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Write more happiness into the world." 
        ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden and A Little Princess)

                                            . . . a good creed, if I do say so myself. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Undergraduate MAD

It's important to take care of your health while preparing for a mission. It's also important to take preventative measures so you don't get, say, typhoid fever, dysentery, campylobacteriosis, or some other lovely disease from yucky water. 

Besides the obvious (i.e., immunizations, typhoid pills, etc., etc.) I decided to invest in a filtered water bottle. 

Yay for clean water! And shameless product placement. 


When we bought the water bottle, we were talking to the nice saleslady and she said that she could put my name or initials on my water bottle. I figured that sounded like a good idea. I mean, after going through all the trouble of buying a filtered water bottle, I don't want my companion to get her germs all over it. Companion germs = almost as bad as botulism. 

Seriously though, I thought it'd be fun to have my initials on my water bottle. So I told the saleslady: 


We talked for a little bit about Ukraine, how cold it was going to be, and how great it would be to have this water bottle while she got the vinyl letters ready. 

Then she was distracted by her boss.

And I was distracted by my mom. 

When the saleslady started putting on the letters, I noticed that something wasn't right, but I hesitated and didn't correct her. Instead, I got a water bottle with the letters: 


It's hard to get a picture of the entire "MAD." 


I now have a water bottle with anger issues. 

And if anyone drinks out of my water bottle, I will be mad. Because as we all know, companion's germs = almost as bad as botulism. 

I take my clean water seriously. Very, very seriously. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

September the First

It's the start of a new semester and I am not going back to school.

Guys, it's so weird.

I was on-campus just yesterday helping my sister get textbooks from the Bookstore. We walked through the aisles, checking up and down to discover Elementary Linear Algebra's hiding place (I didn't want to find it, but my sister did), and searching in vain to find the Teachings of the Living Prophets manual.

But I didn't get any books. No Shakespeare, no Woolf, no American History textbooks.

And although my pocketbook was happy, it didn't feel quite right to me.

I mean, school is what I do. It's what I've done since Kindergarten, and I like it. And am quite good at it. It's so weird to not be going back when all of my friends are.

The only thing I can compare this with (and this is extremely nerdy, but I don't care. I've accepted and embraced the fact that I am a nerd.) is the seventh Harry Potter book. The part where the trio is hiding out in Number 12 Grimmauld Place, and Death Eaters are stalking the neighborhood, trying to find their hiding place. On September 1st--the day they would start their seventh year at Hogwarts under normal circumstances--Harry tells Ron and Hermione that:

“There are still a load of Death Eaters watching this house,” he told Ron as he ate, “more than usual. It’s like they’re hoping we’ll march out carrying our school trunks and head off for the Hogwarts Express.”

Ron glanced at his watch.

“I’ve been thinking about that all day. It left nearly six hours ago. Weird, not being on it, isn’t it?”

And it is weird not "being on it." I'm not back in Provo. I'm not going to class tomorrow. I'm not going to have my name called out in class. I'm not going to see my friends on campus.

It feels so surreal. To be completely honest and silly, I feel a tad rebellious, like I'm skipping class or something, because it doesn't feel real yet. 

But I'm also feeling a tad nostalgic, like Harry:

"In his mind’s eye Harry seemed to see the scarlet steam engine as he and Ron had once followed it by air, shimmering between fields and hills, a rippling scarlet caterpillar. He was sure Ginny, Neville, and Luna were sitting together at this moment, perhaps wondering where he, Ron, and Hermione were [. . .]"

I realized yesterday when I was on campus how much I love BYU. I'm going to miss it for 18 months. And although my situation is nothing like Harry's (or is it? . . . perhaps the fate of the wizarding and Muggle worlds does rest on my shoulders), I still feel that pang of homesickness, and that longing for familiarity.

and I still hope, just hope, that someone wonders where I am, too.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I've been reorganizing my room before the mission--throwing things out, figuring out what I'll need when I get back, things like that.

It's a tad depressing, but also fun. Like when I find gems like this:

Yes folks, that is my autobiography. Written when I was in 4th grade. It's pretty comprehensive, surprisingly ingenious . . .

and down-right funny.

Take these lines for example:

"Pink is her [my five-year-old-sister's] favorite color because it 'makes her feel good when nobody's around.'" 

You know what? I can appreciate that.

"She [my three-year-old sister] says that her favorite food is ice cream because she's a little girl." 

I must still be a little girl, because ice cream's my favorite food, too.

On why I like to write: "I guess I love writing because I get to write it all by myself and other people get to read it." 

Mwahahahaha! You have to read my writing.

On why I am a great person to know: "In fact, I don't even brag (OK, maybe 5 times a year!)!" 

I'm glad it was only five times back then. Maybe that should be my new year's resolution. Only brag 5 times/year. Although I think that bragging about not bragging counts as one of my allowable boasts. Shoot. Down to 4 now.

I also heard some great kid quotes this Christmas with my family. (Family members, feel free to correct me if I got them wrong. Hearsay and time do wonderful things to my memory.)

My aunt: But what if Janae [another aunt] got all of the presents?
S: I would steal them!
My aunt: But what if they were things you didn't like?
S (in tears): Janae can't have all the presents!

Me (sitting down at the piano): I'm going to sing "Someone Like You."*
S: How about "Never Mind, I'll Find" instead?

A (saying a blessing on the food): And please bless the mean cat that he won't bite me, and the Chesire Cat, that he'll be able to find his way.

Oh, kids. Love them so much.

Speaking of kids and of the title of this post, do you guys remember watching this?

Such a great video.

*"Someone Like You" is my cousin's favorite song. But just the chorus.