Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday, Monday

Confession time: I love Mondays.

Let me explain myself, before you think I'm completely crazy (although, if you read this blog, you already know that I am crazy).

I love Mondays because:

1. It is pretty much the only day of the week when I cook a real meal.

2. I like the fact that Mondays are the beginning of a new week. A clean slate. A fresh perspective.

3. This is connected with #2, but I feel like I have a lot more time than I actually have. I strangely don't feel as stressed on Mondays on say, Wednesdays or Thursdays.

4. This is the most important one: I GET E-MAILS FROM MY GIRLS OUT IN UKRAINE! 

And by girls, I mean sister missionaries with whom I served. I just love hearing from them so much. So, so much. I love hearing about how they're doing, and how the work is going, and just . . . everything. I love hearing about mission news, like finding out today that two of the girls I trained are going to be whitewash training this transfer and how a city that has never had sisters before is getting sisters! So wonderful. Ah. Love it. The work keeps moving on.

Mondays. I love them. :)

What makes Monday worth it for you?

Check THAT one off the bucket-list . . . well, kinda

Once upon a time, I made a bucket list. I wrote it Spring Term, 2011. And I realize now, after my mission, that there are some things that need to change, as some of my goals have changed.

But one thing was not going to change:

#34 Talk in the Marriott Center (again).

The "again" is there, because when I was one of the speakers at my high school graduation, and our high school had our convocation ceremony at the BYU Marriott Center.

And, being the bright, ambitious young thing that I am, I decided it would be awesome to speak there again. How, I didn't know. But it was going to happen.

When there's a will, there's a way. Especially when it's my way.

Once upon another time, I was asked to give the opening prayer at a university forum:

It was really cool, actually. And I was just glad that I didn't give the prayer in Russian.

Fifteen seconds of fame.

And, until further notice, I'm saying this counts for my bucket-list. I think it counts. Doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Awkward Moment

You know it's just one of those days when . . .

-- You start talking with a person you think you know (and she thinks she knows you), but then mid-conversation you realize that you don't know each other, but it's too soon to walk away and too late to state the obvious. So after some empty pleasantries you just look at your watch and say, "Oh! Time to go to class!"

-- You think you see a guy from one of your classes, so you start making eye contact and smiling, only to realize that it's actually said-guy's twin from a parallel dimension* and neither of you have any idea who the other is. But he still smiles at you and is probably thinking, "Score! A cute girl just smiled at me!" Never mind that she smiled awkwardly and semi-creepily at you and that you're not as cute as the real guy from class.

-- You jump and nearly knock over your books when the library intercom goes off: "It is now 10:45. The Library Circulation Desk closes in 15 minutes." I forgot it did that. Missions do things to you.

-- You try to have intelligent conversation with your peers and you keep staring off into space. must. keep. my. eyes. open.

-- Oh! And one more thing. Because I was just that good today. When you pass out your intro letter to students you're going to be tutoring, and accidentally also pass along a short story you're reading for your British Modernism class. It's even better when it's avant-garde feminist literature.

Yep. I am the Queen of Awkward.

Is it only Wednesday?

*Could also be the guy using a Time Turner. Wearing different clothes. And with a different haircut. Also, could be Polyjuice Potion wearing off. Totally a possibility.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Loyal, Strong, and True

I'm not going to talk very much about the game, because it is embarrassing. Just my two-cents: It was ridiculous because were so many bad calls, but at the same time, we should have played better. Add those together and you've got: kashmar. (Russian for nightmare.)

Still, there were some good moments.

Like having a roommate who knows football lingo better than I know Russian.

Seeing old friends and making new ones.

How beautiful Utah Valley is. Could there be a more beautiful place for a university?

 Our backdrop is Timp. Gorgeous.

I also love how clever BYU students can be. We really can be, when we put our minds to it. And when we're feeling competitive:

 Yes, he is holding a Brother Brigham head. 

Yes, that says, "This is the place." 

I will always be a loyal BYU fan. No matter the outcome.

And I will stay 'til the bitter end.

Singing the very last fight song.

Sporting the royal blue.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Building the Barricade

We've gotta protect Karl and Brother Brigham.  

Ready for battle. Bring it on. 

Rivalry Week. 

Also, remember this? 

And this? 

It's not just a game, people. 

Go Cougars! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"I don't want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.”

Just had to share this again. Because it's perfect. And the Anne with an "e" in me is nerding out. 

These are probably my favorites from the shoot:


Go to this link. Just go to it. No questions asked. Anne of Green Gables Inspired Wedding Shoot


Culinary Achievement

Just a little bragging's got to be done.

About a week ago, I bought a butternut squash. One of these guys:

I was determined to cook it.

So I did.

I saw. I cooked. I conquered.

Thank you, Google and the 94.7 million cooking blogs out there.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

And, I have to say, it was pretty tasty.

Domestic quota for the semester? Done. 

Go me. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Miracle of a Mission

Some beautiful words from my sister out in Ukraine.

God is good.

He is mindful.

He is there.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

[learning how to die.]

~the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

About two weeks before I left Ukraine, the first girl I trained--Sister Nevers--gave me a note to read on the airplane home. "Don't you dare open it before then," she warned.
Being the good girl that I am, I obeyed.
And when I read it on the airplane, I cried. [FYI: the couple from St. Petersburg sitting next to me thought I was crazy.]

If you've ever read something from Sister Nevers, you know what a wonderful writer she is. Her words penetrate and her sentences are saturated with sass and love. Each word was meant for a perfect going-home letter--just for me--but there is one part that has sung to me more than anything.

In the letter, she quoted a song that is now one of my favorites. It's called "Learning How to Die" by Jon Foreman. (You can listen to it here.)

"I'm gonna miss you.
I'm gonna miss you when you're gone.
She said, 'I love you. I'm gonna miss hearing your songs.'
And I said, 'Please--don't talk about the end
Don't talk about how every living thing goes away.'
She said, 'Friend,
All along, thought I'd been learning how to take,
How to bend, not how to break,
How to laugh not how to cry.
But really, I've been learning how to die."

It's beautiful and thought-provoking. So often we think that in order to be strong, we can't break. We have to laugh, not cry. But really, we're all just learning how to die. In breaking and crying, we also find healing and love. We find transformation. We find new beginnings.

By accepting and embracing the concepts of change and death, we are able to live life more fully. And I don't mean in the "you only live once," party and live-it-up context. But it also doesn't mean that we live in a fatalistic, "the end is near" mindset.

It's like an autumn afternoon. We can sense darkness and winter in the air, but it doesn't take away the beauty and glory of fall's colors or its golden sunlight. We don't panic when we watch autumn maple leaves sail to the ground, or when we watch the fading colors of a sunset. Instead, we savor it.

Learning how to die means we live deliberately, as Thoreau put it. We live life to its fullest meaning. We give of ourselves. We love. We reach out and lift. We accept failure with dignity. We forgive our enemies. Enjoy sunsets. Cry with the broken-hearted and rejoice with those that rejoice. We live life in a way that we'll be unafraid of death when it comes. We live the abundant life so that death will be sweet and rich--like vibrant autumn leaves on the ground.

There is no need to be afraid of the end.

We've come to earth to live . . . but we've come to earth to die. Ultimately, we've come to earth to go home.

We learn how to live when we learn how to die. We learn how to die when we learn how to love.

No need to say good-bye.
No need to be afraid.
It's like coming home.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." --John 10:10

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First day of school! First day of school!

I don't have anything profound to say in this post.

But I figured the first day of school merited a post. 

And not just any day of school. The first day of school post-mission. 

So weird. 

But surprisingly normal. 

Although sometimes my stomach does a somersault when I realize I've been gone for practically two years.  

And now for some random-ness. Because my thoughts have been a little helter-skelter lately. And because I just want to put these on my blog. My blog, my thoughts, my rules. 

What I really hope President Samuelson will say in the Devotional next week: 

"Another year full of magical education awaits you! Before we begin [. . .], I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you." 

[photo courtesy of]
I. would. die. laughing. 

What I feel like when I see a random acquaintance that I wasn't expecting to see on campus: 

[photo courtesy of]

I'm serious, folks. What were the odds. 

What I REALLY feel like this year walking around campus: 

But seriously. Everyone I know is gone. They've either graduated, gotten married, or they're having babies. Such is the RM's life. All my friends are gone. All alone. Woe is me. 

And, just for good measure, a first day of school photo: 

 First-grade. I am cute.  

Happy first day of school!