Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Atonoment of Christ as Illuminated by My Mother

For Mothers Day, a few thoughts about my own dear Mother and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

There is truly no one else in this world who shares my joys and my pains like my mother. During my hardest struggles, she cries with me. At my greatest successes, she rejoices with me. Sometimes I have wondered if certain trials I've faced have been even harder for her than for me. I know she rejoices right along with me as I follow Heavenly Father through my life and make good choices and taste the happy fruit of those choices. She knows what I've experienced throughout my life and how those experiences have shaped me into who I am.  She understands how I think. She loves me, and she "gets" me. I can not adequately express how much this means to me. While, on one hand, I don't like that she ever experiences pain over me, that is outweighed by how sweet and wonderful and comforting it is to know that there is someone who loves me and knows me so well.  I am never alone. I can always count on her prayers. I can always count on her being right there with me through thick and thin.  It is so comforting to be able to talk to her and know she not only really, really cares, but really understands too. I don't have words to express how grateful I am for my mother's love and caring, and the wonderful relationship we have.

Now here is the truly amazing thing. In the above paragraph, you could take out the word "mother" and replace it with "Savior," and it would be just as true. There is actually someone who knows me, loves me, and understands my joys and sorrows even better than my mother does. Thats amazing in itself. And He doesn't just understand how I feel because he knows me. He understands how I feel because He has felt it himself, in the exact context of how I feel it, in the same way that I feel it (see Alma 7:11-12). I can't really fathom the kind of love my mother has for me, and He actually has more!

How thankful I am for my amazing mother.  Her love for me is not only a blessing in itself, but it  illuminates my relationship with my Savior and His love for me. Many, many thanks to my amazing mother, and many thanks to my amazing Savior, Redeemer, and friend.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

To my brothers, who have suggested I go ahead and "be that girl"

...I so am that girl.

Behold, the big, ugly, prickly, overgrown haven to spiders and other critters that has been the bane of my doorstep for the almost two years I've lived here.

In a heap. Because I sawed it to the ground!

And now the sun is shining on my doorstep!

(and if the landlord asks, yes, we "trimmed" the bushes)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Congress Shouldn't Abandon Public Broadcasting, and Why You Should Care

President John F. Kennedy said, "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

I love that sentiment. I hope it is true, because I hope that future generations will look at history with an eye pointed to the things that truly made a difference to the quality of the lives of individual people.

So how do we contribute to the human spirit? There are many ways, in my opinion. And they all start with education-- Education in reading, culture, history, science, music, theater, politics... the list goes on. Education then opens the door to creativity, the combining of seemingly unrelated bits of knowledge to form something that wasn't thought of before. Every major advance in our society has started with an idea. In other words, creativity. It's essential. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I would venture to say that the freedom to create and access to the resources and education that fosters creativity are what have made America the world leader it is.

Which leads me to my point.

In the next few days Congress will vote on a bill that would cut 100% of funding to public broadcasting - the television, radio, and online resources which, for many Americans, are some of the few - if not only - means they have to access information through which they can practice creativity. Did you know that every public broadcasting outlet has to comply with strict FCC regulations that ensure their service is accessible to as much of their constituency as reasonably possible? That means that the underprivileged child whose parents can't afford cable or satellite needs nothing but a TV and an antennae to watch PBS programs that will help him or her learn to read and do math. That child needs only a radio to listen to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast every Saturday afternoon and foster a love for beautiful music and culture (like Eve Queller, for example, who recently received NEA Opera Honors for the innovative way she broadened the accessibility of opera to the people of New York City). Lets not fail to mention that public broadcasting is possibly the only place left in our society where one can find unbiased, clear news reporting. The American people - you and me - have access to knowledge and culture of limitless variety through public broadcasting.

The idea behind this congressional vote is to cut the deficit for the benefit of future generations, and that is a good thing. But, completely cutting off funding to public broadcasting is too extreme. Cut back a little, sure. But it would be an absolute tragedy (and sad irony) if, in an effort to leave dollars behind for our children, we take away a vital resource for building spirit and creativity, and thus deprive them of the advances and luxuries we ourselves enjoy.

To provide a little insight into how funding works in public broadcasting, here's some info. Some stations, like Maryland Public Television (MPT), are state-owned. That means they get a large amount of funding from the state government. However, they are the exception not the rule. Most stations receive only a small percentage of their operating budget from the government. Federal and state funding combined account for well less than 10% of the budget of WETA, Washington DC's station. The majority of funding - more than half - comes from individual contributions. Second in dollars is corporate underwriting. That's the sponsor spots you see between programs on PBS. Think "funding for this program is being provided by X company." There are strict rules about what kind of content can be included in an underwriting spot, so that it never comes off as trying to sway the opinion of the audience. The point is, federal funding is already small in comparison to other forms of funding. PBS isn't busting Capitol Hill's wallet. But, that little bit of funding is vitally important to stations' ability to produce and air the quality programs you know and love.

If you know me much at all you know that I'm never one to push a political agenda on anyone, so please don't take this that way. I would just ask you to give this some thought. It took some thought for me. If you, like me, conclude that federal support of public broadcasting should continue, please call or email your congressman NOW. They are voting in the next few days. It is a matter of urgency.

More information:

I work at WETA, but these thoughts and comments are entirely my own. Please do not mistake them for anything official.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Introducing Mission 2011

Mission 2010: Say YES to Adventures was a success beyond my wildest expectations. A general policy of ignoring inhibitions and experiencing new things opened my eyes, my heart, my perspective. At the risk of sounding cliche, it really did change my life.

And that leads me to Mission 2011. The same concept. Put aside inhibitions. Ignore all the excuses we, for some silly reason, seem trained to come up with any time an opportunity comes before us that is in the slightest bit uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or difficult. Just say YES. Do it.

Mission 2011 is Say YES to Service.

A bit more challenging than Mission 2010, I admit, but isn't that the point? Exploration. Growth. A push to be something better. But really, this is challenging. Service is a broad topic. It encompasses everything from organized service projects, to helping a friend or neighbor in need, to offering directions to the person who looks lost on the street, to volunteering to be the one who gets off the couch to grab snacks during movie night. If it involves doing something for another person, it's service. It counts. Just like if it was something I had never done before, it counted as an adventure.

So this leads me to my recent big revelation (no really, I mean that). Last Sunday I attended a Fireside where the speaker presented an interesting challenge. He suggested that we go an entire week without asking Heavenly Father for a single thing for ourselves. Nothing at all related to our own self interest. Instead, ask, "Who can I help? How can I help them?" I felt like this would be a good experiment for me, given the whole Mission 2011 thing. So, I put in one final plea for myself, which was that Heavenly Father teach me whatever lesson I needed to learn from this, and the self-interested requests stopped there. And so my experimental prayer week commenced. As the first few days went by, however, I never did feel entirely comfortable with it.

Then, the other night, I was listening to The Mormon Channel (my new favorite thing ever, btw), and they were playing an old BYU Devotional given by Elder Holland. In classic Elder Holland style, it was a powerful message about the Savior - following Him, becoming like Him, trusting in His love for us and allowing Him to take away our sorrows. He talked about how much we matter to our Savior. Because he loves us so perfectly, what matters to us matters to Him.

Then I realized why the whole prayer thing wasn't sitting
right with me. It's okay for me to talk to Heavenly Father about me, because he really cares about me. If it matters to me - even in the smallest way, even if its something that probably isn't really that significant in the whole eternal scheme of things - it matters to Him. And it makes Him happy when I come to Him and talk to Him about it.

If it matters to me, it matters to Him.

So that means...

If it matters to that random guy on the street, it matters to the Savior. Because He loves that guy. And, what matters to my Savior, matters to me. Because I love Him, and have covenanted to follow Him and be a part of His work.

That is Christlike love. That is charity. It's all about what really matters to you. We all know that we should love everyone around us because they are God's children and our brothers and sisters in God's family. But, I think it's hard to figure out how to actually, honestly do that. I think this is the answer.

What matters to "that guy" matters to my Savior. Therefore, what matters to "that guy" matters to me.

And that's why I say YES to serving "that guy." In whatever way he needs. Even if it doesn't make sense to me why it's important. If it matters to him, it matters to my Savior, so it matters to me.

Less than a month in, Mission 2011 has been revised. No, enhanced. Say YES to Loving Service.

Because that's what it's about - caring,
loving, letting that person really matter to you.

Have I mentioned how awesome it is how God answers prayers?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pictures of the Place

For those of you who were hoping for an actual post... sorry. I'm just posting some pictures of the townhouse I rent and the vacant room that needs to be filled.

So the pics are kind of in random order, because thats how blogger put them...

This is the laundry room. There's some storage space around the back corner. This is the only part of the basement that doesn't belong to whoever ends up with the room.

This is the closet in the bedroom. It goes really deep underneath the stairs. There are two rods. Nice for putting your out of season clothes in the back.

A view of the bedroom from the back corner, standing in front of the window. The dresser you see is empty right now - just for extra storage. To its right is the stairwell going up into the living room. To its left is the doorway to the bathroom.

A view of the bedroom from the entry next to the stairs/bathroom. As you can see, there is a door going into the back yard (non-fenced), and a nice big window with a fancy steel rod.

This just shows how you come down the stairs and it opens into the bedroom. The last person to live here put up a suspension rod and curtain right in this gap so that she could have a little more privacy. But the only reason anyone else comes downstairs is to use the laundry room.

You guessed it. The bathroom.

And the other side of the bathroom. The mirror opens into a medicine cabinet. In this picture, the door is to the right, and the toilet is to the left.

This is the living room, looking in from the front entryway next to the kitchen. Don't worry, we're getting a couch soon!

The kitchen. You can see how it opens up into the living room behind.

Another view of the kitchen, from the entry way. There is a window on the wall to the right, and the dishwasher and opening into the living room are on the left.

This is the view of the main level from the front door. You can see how there is a little half ledge that runs between the entry way and the kitchen. The stairs going up are to the left.

For those of you who read this blog because you actually know me... No, I didn't move. My roommate did. Yesterday. And we're trying to find someone to take her room.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mission 2010: Say YES to Adventures!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...

Mission 2010: Say YES to Adventures!

1/8/10 - Took an Improv Comedy class at a random school in DC... in front of a boy! It was a date!

1/9/10 - Country dancing in Virginia. Not the same as country dancing in Texas.

1/16/10 - Stood on the Filene Center stage at Wolf Trap and sang an aria. To an audience of one. Actually, two. The security guard was nice enough to let me finish before kindly saying, "You sound really good... but you have to get off the stage."

1/18/10 (Martin Luther King Day) - Attended the MLK Celebration at the National Cathedral. Got down, boogied, and rejoiced with a gospel choir. In a Cathedral. "Busted Loose" with Chuck Brown, the pioneer of the DC gogo movement. In a Cathedral. Put money in the collection plate for Haiti. Ate falafels for the first time (where have you been all my life?!).

1/30/10 - Blizzard. I drove my car in first gear for the first time ever because I couldn't stand staying at home on Saturday night. Went sledding on a cookie sheet down the middle of a steep residential street at 1am.

2/6/10 - Blizzard.

2/10/10 - Blizzard. aka "Snowpocalypse" aka "Snowmageddon." NOT aka "Snowmantic." Okay. Seriously. We don't need any more snow. Thanks.

2/13/10 -
Purchased an alcoholic beverage for the first time. To make chili. The recipe calls for "a can of Bud." I've never felt so uncomfortable at the grocery store in my life!

Got a sassy new hair cut - layers layers layers!

Attended a fancy shmancy "mock-tini" party hosted by a very classy friend. There was a real roulette table and hired dealer - for a bunch of Mormons who don't know how to play and don't gamble with real money. The best part: chocolate around the rims of the glasses and an ice sculpture center piece, compliments of blizzards 1-3.

2/14/10 - Slumber party at my house with my 6-year-old niece!

2/15/10 (Presidents Day) - Continue slumber party. Made chili for the first time ever for a work chili cookoff, painted fingernails, read Fancy Nancy books. Got snowed on standing in line to get into George Washington's house at Mount Vernon.

2/16/10 - Did not win the chili cookoff at work, but one of the judges did complain to me about the scoring system, feeling that it was unjust that my delicious chili, which was his second favorite, did not win second place.

2/20/10 - Participated in an Art Therapy assessment, to help a random girl from another ward with a school assignment. Unfortunately, so far she's only learned how to do the assessment, not how to read them. So for all I know I could be a complete psychological mess, but at least I got to draw pretty pictures!

"Argyle Style" 2010. Thats right. The theme of this second annual shindig was ARGYLE. Argyle walls. Argyle cakes. Argyle brownies. Oragami argyle hanging from the ceilings. And of course, argyle sweaters, gloves, socks, scarves, hats, ties, headbands, earrings, shoes... if it comes in argyle, it was there!

2/26/10 - Traveled to a random movie theater in Bethesda, MD to see a 10:00 showing of the political thriller movie, "Ghost Writer". Plot: interesting and thought provoking. Full shot of Ewan McGregor's butt: AWKWARD!!!!!!

2/27/10 - "Harvard Sailing Team," a fun comedy troupe, free at the Kennedy Center.

Amsterdam Falafels experience #2 - just as good as I remembered!

Watched a saucy, dirty, AMAZING blues band, "Lex Gray and the Urban Pioneers" at a spunky joint called Madam's Organ in the famous DC neighborhood of Adam's Morgan. Grabbed the lead singer's bright blue feather boa and snapped a photo with the guitarist:

What other adventures will we have between now and December 31, 2010???? Directing a concert for the Opera Guild of Northern Virginia, New York, Baltimore, an inside tour of Annapolis by a sailor who wants to tune my banjo (no joke), Duck Beach, Shenandoah Valley, Aggie-t.u. football game, California gold country, lighthouse, Palmyra, Embassy Open Houses, Punkin' Chunkin', Cherry Blossom festival.... Just you wait. Shoot, by the end of this maybe I'll even get to meet the President. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Lifelong Walk Side by Side

I was headed that direction anyway and nothing else was on the agenda for this bone-chilling cold Saturday afternoon, so I decided at the last minute to "stop by" the temple for a perfectly unrushed and unimposed-upon endowment session. And how wonderful it was! I can't think of a better way to start a new year than in The House of the Lord. There wasn't anything in particular on my mind. I just went, and listened, and felt, and it was wonderful. Some think its weird, but I love to go to the temple alone. There is no one to distract me from my own contemplation and communion with the Lord, and I don't have to feel the slightest rush to get up and leave that holy place where I love to be so much.

I've never been one to set New Years Resolutions per say, because I have always been one to set goals as needed, no matter the time of year. But I do enjoy looking back periodically to ponder the Lord's hand in my life, and I'm always amazed when I do. As I sat in the temple today I pondered my 2009: joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, miracles, healing, progress, change. I'm so grateful for where 2009 took me, or rather, where my Father in Heaven took me.

Thats what struck me as I pondered 2009 in the temple today. I realized that my life has been a great walk side by side with my Savior. He walks with me, and I choose to walk with Him. On multiple occasions in the past year I have been in a state where I knew a very important and potentially life-altering decision was before me, and I simply didn't know which way to go. For days, weeks, and sometimes even months, I prayed and pled with the Father to show me the way, help me make the right decision. That was me choosing to walk with my Savior. By staying close by His side He led me along in the right path, even when I couldn't see what was ahead.

I believe that when we choose to walk with the Savior, our path is safe and our future is sure. I know that my Father in Heaven would have me do great things for Him during my life on earth - specific things that only He-and maybe a few others up there-know
. Even though I don't know what those things are, I know that I will accomplish them as long as I continue to walk with Him.

"O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isaiah 48:18). That means that when we do hearken to His commandments, our peace is as steady as a river, and we can attain unto righteousness that is as constant and eternal as the ever flowing waves of the sea.

Keep walking with Him. You might say that's my lifetime resolution.