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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A pattern is starting to occur in my life, where I am back at home at the end of each year. Without fail, I come across a few old journals, begin to read, and soon begin a night of reflection that turns into a a few days :) Coupled with New Years goals, the thoughts and feelings usually produce enough umph to help me actually reach some of those goals!

This year, the following reflections came, mainly from reading old mission letters, and reading a talk from Pesident Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency of the LDS church, & Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quroum of 12 Apostles. I love this picture of them below (for a little visual :)

The talk is called “O Remember, Remember” from the Nov 2007 Ensign. In summary, he shares an experience as a kid when the thought came to him, “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.” He began that night to write, and has kept the habit up. At the end of each day, he would ask himself, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us, or our family today?”. As he thought about it, he began to recognize where the Lord had intervened throughout the day, and said, ‘I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

Gratitude began to grow. Testimony grew. He writes, ‘And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”

These statements have really caused me to reflect the past 3 days sense reading them. I’ve started an experiment, trying out his reflecting method to end my own days…and I have seen the blessings. Friday, the Lord intervened, placing an old friend in my path as my bank teller. She shaved 2 weeks off the process of getting a hold of money I needed that day to pay bills. What were the odds I would be assigned to the one teller I had been good friends with in 4th grade? That was no coincidence, it was a tender mercy  Yesterday, while cleaning, I came across the letters I had written home while a missionary. I read a few and had brought back to my mind experiences I’d had with some of the people I loved most in Uruguay. I had forgotten details…and I had forgotten the feelings, and the testimony gained from the experiences. All the feelings, love, yearning for their happiness, and affirmations of truth came rushing back as I read those letters. I don’t think I can adequately express here the power those letters had on me. Sometimes, the mission feels like a dream—no one else really experienced it, and it feels like a far-off memory. It’s so bittersweet to think back: it was the most profound, powerful impact of your life, and yet something you hardly ever get to talk about. You see pure miracles happen, honest to goodness things you’d think you’ll only read about in books or hear from others…and then you return home, and rarely have chance to share them. Or, find that all anyone asks about is what the food & weather were like. On the mission, you see heaven reach down and touch earth. You see mountains moved and prophecies fulfilled. In time, for me, I have started to forget. I honestly don’t remember some of the stuff that I read about in my mission journal, and it amazes me I saw such things in my own life, or that I boldly said some of the things I said. Last night, hearing myself speak so assuredly of the power of the Book of Mormon, in the moment in life when I was watching it change lives, was a powerful experience for me . It not only reminded me of my testimony, but also backed up Elder Eyring’s words that we should write down these things, for they will strengthen us later when we remember them. I felt the experience of finding these letters was the Lord intervening in my day. Yesterday, I also realized that a random, kind “I love you David.” Calms my little brother down, and causes him to sweetly say back, “I love you too.” Believe me, THAT was a tender mercy to discover!  Today, I touched base with so many people that I have not really seen or spoke with for 8 years, but who had big impacts on me during my youth. It felt good to hear of them, and strengthen them. It felt good to feel gratitude for their service to me, and to try and repay them with a kind smile and offer my friendship. It felt like a loving gift from a loving Father to make this day special. In the 3 days since trying Elder Eyring’s experiment, I have come to see the value each day has held in my eternal progression. Isn’t that amazing advice given to us? I definitely think so!

He also gave us a warning, that particularly stood out to me. He said, ‘Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. And it is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companions in a wicked world….’Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from they heart all the days of thy life.” (Deuteronomy 4:9). This really caused me to think. Am I doing things in my daily life, that keep me from recognizing the hand of God? Yeah, actually. I’m not talking huge sins, but worldly distractions keep me from even glancing heavenward till the end of my day sometimes. What am I doing that is causing me to forget the profound lessons I’ve learned?

At church, they spoke of the people who partook of the tree of life, but then cast it away, ashamed, due to the pointing and laughing from the people at the great and spacious building. I thought back to Elder Eyring’s words, and wondered, “Did they forget? Did they forget all the tender mercies, and moments of divine intervention that got them through that mist, that kept them grasping the iron rod, to get to the fruit?” At some point, they stopped remembering those experiences, or maybe never even took the thought to recognize them, and then the voices of the world became louder and louder…until those voices became their reality, blinding them to the blessing of eternal life they held in their grasp. It gave me food for thought. How loud is the voice of the world to me right now?

Also at church, the RS lesson was on how to “fuel” the soul. Every answer and story shared, was a means to help us remember what the Lord has done. Remember our testimonies, and thus keep them strengthened: Profound prayer, taking the sacrament, searching the scriptures. Sister Painter, now serving as the Stake YW President, turned to me at the end and said, “you know, I was going to say “fulfilling our callings’, but sometimes, that completely tires you out! I mean, sometimes, this calling really kicks my butt. But then, I stop and think of all the miracles I’ve seen while serving, and I realize it’s all worth it.” That really made me think, too. Sometimes…oft times …serving in a calling can mean “Wasting and wearing out their lives” as it says in D&C. And yet…those are the times we reflect on to strengthen testimony. I read my mission letters to renew testimony. Elder John Groberg wrote a book that became an amazing movie (The Other Side of Heaven). President Eyring gave his kids his old journals, and they refer to them to help them through their own lives.

I love how when studying a topic, the Spirit custom-fits all the messages at church to what I am pondering. It’s almost as if he’s elbowing me a bit, reminding me to pay attention, this is important, and yes, there will be a life-test on it later 

In the talk that follwed that conference, new Apostle, Quentin L. Cook spoke on living by faith, and not by fear. He shared one of my favorite scriptures (it rhymes ), “Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you, and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ” (D&C 68:5-6).

His reminder, coupled with Elder Eyring’s encouragement to keep a tangible remembrance, has caused me to reflect a lot on the experiences in my life that I need to always remember. I guess it’s what prompted the 3-page essay on my experiences with an Apostle. It’s also making me think on my current situation in life. Isn’t it written somewhere, that some trials are given people, so that they may testify of the hand of God in their lives? This scripture makes me think of that—"Be of good cheer, I’ll be with you every step. Bear record of this to others.” Strengthen one another….haha, but that leads to another lengthy “reflection” that ended up turning into a talk :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

You Know You're in Texas when...

Take one week road-tripping it through Texas, mix in a trigger-happy digital camera finger, sprinkle with my simple sense of humor, and that's right folks--ya'll all have the perfect recipe for Only in Texas Pictures. Enjoy! :)

Let's start with the obvious...
And to think people gave me a hard time for hanging a small TX flag up now and then my freshman year of college! I Took this outside the LBJ Ranch tour. Notice the lights are on. I think she saw me eyeballin' her pride and joy and checked the alarm system from afar :)

Texas Furniture--and no, Aggies have no qualms about using a longhorn to make furniture they can sit their tush on!

I am so popular!
Only in Texas do I find my name on everything! Hardware stores, restaraunts, streets, and apparently on restored stoves at an 1880's Living History Farm! :)

A cute TX botique
Considering the rest of the world considers Giraffe hide and hot pink to be the "in" item right now, cowhide and red doesn't seem like such an odd combo anymore!

One of my favorites!
That's right folks, for only $2 million smackers, you, yes you, can be the proud owner of a TX town who's motto is "Good songs, Cold beer". Dance hall and fancy restrooms included. Located only 20 miles from Lukenbach (of "with Waylin, and Willie, and the boys..." fame!), the town's 4 occupants live in a classic 1971 home. (and yes, this is ALL advertised on the above sign. :) It's honestly a charming area only a few miles from my Grandma's home in the Hill Country...I've just never seen a town for SALE before! :)

And I saved the best for last! Thirsty anyone?

I have LOVED my time in Texas this past week, reconnecting with family and the culture I grew up in. It is a good way of life, and a great background to have. Please don't take this as me poking fun of my home state--I love this place! We Texans aren't blind to finding a little humor in ourselves though. Hope you enjoyed! Ya'll come back now, ya'hear? ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A 75 Degree December!

I'm back! I flew back into Phoenix on Wed, after a week-long extension to my Thanksgiving trip (SO fun!). Right before flying back, my mom shopped from about 8 AM-1 PM to find her perfect 1st Digital Camera. That's right--the Mamma Mia is entering the world of digital photography! She'll be a pro at it within an hour...though claims to be a little nervous about it right now! The shopping trip was something we both needed, and a lot of fun to hang out together! It's not something we've done often over the past 6 years, but now that David is in school, it sort of free'd up the morning for us :)

It was sad leaving David, though I showed him on his count-down to Christmas calender when I would be back. (Cutest side note in the world: how now calls daily to read me each little book from that christmas calender. If I miss the call, he leaves me a message, always ending with "I love you...we all love you...I love you Beth!". It's the favorite part of my day! :)

I came back this week thinking it would be jam packed...and I have not been disappointed! Here's a short recap of my life the past 4 days:

Wed--after no sleep the night before, and a 2 hour nap on the airplane, I flew into Phoenix during sunset & rush hour traffic. (translation: MAGNIFICENT AZ hot pink sunset behind purple mountains, while leaving enough light to see details of the land below, and rush hour red break lights lighting up each street, creating perfect rows. It was AWESOME! I've flown over a hundred times in my life...and have not had a window scene capture my attention so fully for quite some time!) Lynn picked me up and started rushing me home so I could get to ward visits, only....we got lost. Like LOST, lost! We didn't realize it until we hit 19th Ave...but we were in Glendale! We turned around, only to get lost again. Needless to say, a 10 minute trip home took us an hour and a half. We didn't really mind though, as it gave us time to catch up and giggle :)
I came home and now made a mad dash for ward visits. So embarrassing, but I was one of the last one's there. I am so grateful Melissa had the binder full of maps in her trunk! They had passed them out and were already splitting into groups. The visits were great! I have to say, it was one of my favorite nights yet. Usually no one's home for me, but we had a lot of luck this time! I ended up companioned up with one of the new guys in the ward, Tommy Hancock. He said he was new--so any ward members reading this, get to know him! He was fun to do the visits with, friendly with everyone, and patient enough to visit 5 different houses of sisters with me (including an apartment complex we searched for half an hour, only to find out the girl had moved! I actually don't know if he was willing to serve, or smartly figured out ward visits is a great way to meet a bunch of girls in one night! Whichever the reason, I'm greatful he was willing to cheerfully drive us around for over 3 hours! :). I had the chance to drop by some sisters I have not yet had the chance to get to know, so I loved it! We finished up about 10 pm.

Thursday--Caught up on sleep, laundry, & finishing the 3rd twighlight novel (so annoyingly addicting. I had to skip ahead, skimming, just to finish it & get things done, haha :) then headed to Enrichment (after getting lost of course...thus prompting me to ask for a GPS for Xmas!! :). It was "fabulous" as Courtney would say. Bere Flores & the Enrichment Committee did an amazing job getting it organized, decorating, and provided a tasty meal! Picture on facebook to come soon ;) Night ended with cops pulling me over for a headlight being out. It ended with being sent to court, and them watching me cry in the car for 5 minutes (I thought they had left at that point. My "what on earth has happened to chivalry" side was completely ticked off when I finally realized they'd been watching the whole time. Isn't there something wrong with a society that for whatever reason, leaves a girl crying on the side of a dark road at night?? Boo on that memory!)

Friday--Cleaned, cleaned, cleaned the house. I figure since it feels like Spring time outside, I might as well get a little spring cleaning done! (Really, I just want to have a clean & organized room to come back to in January when the new job starts!) Friday night we had the ward conversion dinner. Again, great food, great company, and touching stories shared of personal conversion. It was a night I'm glad I didn't miss! I was extremely touched by the testimonies & stories of McKenzie Daniels, Steven Emmons Catherine Cantwell, & Caley Meegan. Caley gave me a new favorite quote when she said, "I had one of those coincidences in life...what are those called? Oh right, Mormons call coincidences 'Tender Mercies'!" :) haha, that was great, and actually pretty true!

Afterwards, whoever stuck around till clean up was done went to Cold Stone at Tmpe Marketplace. I love this picture--it's in the 60's, and we're all huddled around the fire, eating ice cream, in December! Only in AZ :) Nate then saved the day by replacing my car headlight & restoring internet security, all in one two-hour swoop that kept him up till 1 am! Thanks Nate!

Saturday Today was fun! I went with a friend to a lunch hosted by Indian co-workers. I've only tried Indian food once, about 6 months ago, but found it good enough that I wasn't nervous about today's little adventure. And...the food was great! After being there for about a half hour, I realized I was in a strangers house, full of other strangers I didn't know--but who all knew each other--and eating food from a foreign land. Curiously enough though, I realized I felt at ease being the odd-ball-out, and fully enjoyed the company! It actually reminded me of having people let us into their homes during the mission. I had loved visiting with people in their family settings where they feel most relaxed, and this felt no different. I thought the wife was adorable and she had such a sweet niceness to her. I was actually a little bummed realizing I probably won't have an opportunity to see them again, but did chalk their eager hospitality up to their culture, giving me a good impression of Indian people. It also reminded me of friends I had from that region back in highschool...and how much I enjoy being around that culture and those people! Thanks for the experience Jon!

Funniest thing, the host couple told me they had been an arranged marriage! I've heard of such a thing, but never met a couple with that background. It fascinated me, especially learning that they did each have a chance to "veto" the match their parents had made. If only we had such an easy system here in America! Just as I was starting to entertain thoughts of moving to India, I learned that I passed their "almost too old to marry" standard for women about 2 1/2 years ago! Yipes! Well, maybe it's good I'm slugging it out in an American system after all... :)

The lunch was followed up by a christmas shopping trip to AZ Mills, on a day probably crazy enough to rival Black Friday! The lines were so long in each store that it discouraged any 70% off discount being advertised! Fun to be among the bustling crowds though, & lots of cute kids in Xmas outfits. (I did however see a 3-D Scooby Doo game David was absolutly love, so I might just have to go back!)

After coming home, I enjoyed a quick grocery store trip with Lynn, and then an awesome Home Teaching visit. Funny enough, it was just fun to have our friends over watching, and of course making fun of, the awful hair-do they gave a lady on what-not-to-wear, looking at potential cameras to buy, pulling out Samantha to play with...until she uh-oh'd on Pearce--sorry Pearce!--and eat candy cane ice cream! A great little Christmas message was shared. Honestly though, I think I enjoyed the quality friend time to spiritual message ratio (45 min: 10 min,) followed up with a prayer. All visits should be as genuine as that! Thanks Skyler & Pearce!

As soon as the guys were on their way, Lynn and I took off for Texas Roadhouse for her birthday dinner! Yes, I know she had her birthday 2 weeks ago..but I wasn't here! I'd bought a gift certificate there about 3 years ago meaning to give it away, and always forgetting. I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to spend it, and this was it! We had a coupon for a free apetizer & $30 to spend on steak & dessert. We had SOOOO much extra food to bring home, It was great!! By far the best thing there is their rolls & cinnamon butter. mmmm-mmm! I've gotta look up that recipe online. The steak was...I dunno, I'm a girl, I prefer fruit, cheese, and chocolate to anything fleshy. It was...a hunk of flavorless meet with onions on top. (Remind me to get the ribs next time, with extra sauce. I can't stand dry meat *crinckle nose*!) The sweet potatoe with marshmellows was awesome though! The atmosphere was a ton of fun too! Older less known country songs (though lynn and I both knew them well) played loudly, while we brushed our peanut shells onto the floor.

We made sure to take extremely flattering pictures of us kissing the Xmas fish before leaving. Isn't the world greatful Lynn and I don't drink? If these are the pictures we take purely sober...haha :) My only complaint is the place had a bit more red-neck feel to it than Texas to me...but the menu says it originated in Indiana. That explains everything! (haha, UOP joke...all our EXTREME redneck students seemed to come from Indianapolis area. Love 'em, but they were redneck! :) Follow this up with a chick flick & a new Xmas background for my blog, and it was a perfect girls night out! :)

Tomorrow starts the crazy, busy hustle of Sunday that I love so much. Monday an emissions test & a TB test for work. FHE at Temple lights. Tuesday hasn't been planned yet, except for a quick trip to Rawhide for a Cowboy Christmas (how can I skip it when it's just 5 minutes away and FREE?) And as always...I'm sure there will be more pictures to follow :) It's pouring rain outside right now. G'nite world!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Deep in the Heart of TX~!

This Thanksgiving, I've discovered the joys of a rough economy! I didn't think it was possible, but I"ve found the silver lining to the raincloud!

After 2 years as an Academic Counselor, and much debate, prayer, & thought, I quit my job and set out, full of faith and confidence that teaching is where i needed to be. It took about 6 weeks to obtain a substitute teaching license and be hired. Due to the economy though, apparently eveyone and their mothers are trying to get sub teaching jobs now. Meaning...I only get a job 2-3 days a week. One week, I didn't even get one. That's a lot of days in a row waking up at 5:30 AM for a job that falls through! To frustrate problems further, the paycheck I finally recieved BOUNCED. The agency paying me didn't have enough funds for the work I had done! WHAT ON EARTH?! Holiday jobs were not hiring me either, mainly due to the fact that I wouldn't work Sundays.

Right about this time, I took off for a family vacation back East, and then back to Texas. Since the begining of the trip, I'd been anxious to get back to AZ and find a job before my January full-time one kicks in.

And that's when a sweet little deal was offered. My very generous mom offered to employ me if I'd get a few things organized for her. A few quick calls to American Airlines, and I had a changed day of departure! I've LOVED being back in Texas with the fam so far, and don't regret the decision to stay on a bit longer and work with them. It's such a quaint little town, especially since I am use to the "city-life" of Phoenix (ha--like Ahwatukee is "city life"!).

In Phoenix, I just expect anywhere I go will take 20 minutes to get there. Doesn't matter if it's 20 miles on the freeway, or 5 miles thru a zillion stoplights. It just takes time, expect it. Here...well, I remembered everything being farther apart! I keep missing exits because they sneak up on me so quick! I jumped on the highway yesterday (a little 2-lane thing in a field), realized I was about to miss my exit, and went across 2 lanes to get to the exit. THere was a semi probably about 4 car-lengths behind me. And he HONKED! I seriously had to laugh--I've been cut off much worse in the city, and no one would have even blinked if they'd seen me do that in Phoenix! I have to admit though, the drivers are a lot friendlier here. The friendly wave characteristic of Texas towns is seen at nearly every intersection I hit. It's a slower-paced, more patient way of driving and treating your neighbors. Kinda cool.

I love the radio stations here. THe mix station stinks. It really only plays 80's all the time. The country stations though....sigh! Heaven on earth! The songs are not the fast-paced party-gone-crazy country songs they so often play in Phoenix, but just classics I grew up with & regular hits. Actually...more classics, and modern "Texas Country" (a sort of mix between rock, texas swing, and country). I dunno, it rocks, I love listening to it! I think the best part about the radio though is that the scenary outside my window MATCHES the feel of the song. As I drive along "That bluebonnet highway", with a few barbedwire fences here or there, or just seeing the open planes of Texas with that amazingly vast blue sky....SIGH! It's the pure definition of a George Strait country song! The men seem to match the coutnry songs too. I've had an eye-full of country boys down here, and I have to admit, it makes my heart do a little pitter-patter!

The best part by far of my little "vacation" is my brother David. At 6 years old, he is a whole bundle of fun! He still has the laugh that has been so distinctly his since a baby--I LOVE his laugh! He only lets it out too when being tickled or teased :) He has a mischevous sense of humor, and calm, though playful nature. We're falling more into brother-sister roles these days with teasing and annoying each other....but we're both so deprived of this kind of attention, we just bask in it now! He's seriously the coolest little kid on the planet!

Needless to say, I am really enjoying this slow-paced vacation & time with family. I do miss my friends in Phoenix enough to go back though, so no worries Phoenix! :) For now though, I'm going to continue being Deep in the Heart!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"A Dream is a wish your heart makes"

Dreams. Sometimes I have them, but usually don't remember them. They have played interesting roles in my life, even to the point of steering me down certain paths. More often than not however, my dreams are like a good movie--and I enjoy staying asleep to watch them!

Last night was no different. I had a missionary dream! In the dream, I was traveling with a YSA group to a foreign country. We were playing some kind of Secret Santa game, and my Secret Santa had a young local boy bring me a carved tree trunk they had made (yeah, only in my dreams!). It was somehow gospel related, and really cool. Everyone ooooh'd and ahhhh'd over it. I asked the boy if I could give him something in return for being so kind and brining it.

I ran back into my apartment and searched for the Joy to the World DVD. But somehow...the next part of my dream was me sitting in a hotel lobby with this little boy, showing him pictures from a book about the importance of families. As we were looking through the book, he excitedly pointed out pictures of his family members. Apparently, the church had used pictures taken in this area for the book. Two local women wanted to know what the fuss was about. I looked up at them, to see the familiar faces of women who were in the book! They came over and a discussion about what the book was, who the church was, and their interest in the book insued. (*sigh*, if only it was that easy in real life!). BY the time the dream was done, I had 3 referrals for the sisters in the area. OH, and the great part. The whole dream was in Spanish. I LOVE it when that happens!

Just a silly dream, I know, but I loved the feeling of sharing the Gospel again. I remembered as I woke up, that it gives me a slight adrenalin rush. I woke up smiling, it was great! :)

The night before that, I had a dream of trying to solve a murder mystery...or trying to prevent one? I dunno, it was detective work, and old friends were involved. I think the suspense and mystery came from the Twighlight books I've been reading lately, and the Sherlock Holmes detective work came from diving back into genealogy the last few days (complete detective work!). It was random to see old friends in the dream though, and it made me wonder how they're doing when I woke up. Thanks to the joys of email and facebook, I was able to find them all and send a quick note to see what's up in life.

Random, I know! But always interesting to me to see what we dream about in certain times of our lives. :) Now what do they mean? Psychoanalyze away! ;)