Wednesday, December 2, 2015

For President Faulkner

I got a message from an old mission companion.  Apparently President Faulkner's birthday is coming up and his daughter is trying to collect letters and emails from his missionaries as a gift.  I decided that I should probably keep a copy for me.
 
Hola Presidente!

Happy Birthday!  (only the best people have birthdays in December!) I've thought about writing you letters many times over the past couple of years, but never really knew exactly how to get it to you. I know, "no hay excusos", but life just happens sometimes.

The first letter I was going to write you was a couple Christmas' ago.  We got a new stake president and Elder Cook came to the meeting.  In his Saturday night talk, he spoke about missionaries and why and how they are assigned.  It echoed something I heard in the MTC.  Basically, he said that many times we are assigned not necessarily where we can do the most good, but with the mission president that can do us the most good.  I know...no pressure there.  You did good.  I learned so much.  Funny how 10 years (can we really say that!?!) can really put things into perspective.

*"No hay excusos" applies to so many more things than obedience as a missionary. 
*The church's statement in November about children of same sex parents rocked the world.  I've been working with the youth for the past 3 years and one of my young women asked me what I thought of the new policies. Because of experiences I had on the mission (specifically when we started baptizing families and not just people), I was able to give her a coherent answer and invite her to ask the Lord for her own understanding and peace. (She found the peace she needed and just got a mission call!)
*Hna Faulkner always told me to write down experiences that I had so that I wouldn't forget them. (That applies more now, but I'll get to that in a little bit.)
A few months ago a heard about your cancer.  That was another letter that I was going to write you.  I even bought a card for you and promptly lost it on my desk. (I promise that I'll send it when I finally find it.)  I wanted to thank you for everything, your love, your support, your sacrifice, your hard words (sometimes I needed to hear them), EVERYTHING!  I know, the mission doesn't need to be the best 18 months, but I would easily call them some of the most influential months of my life. You were part of that and you made sure that I was a part of that.

The most recent letter that I almost sent (and I guess that I am sending) came about a month after I found out about your cancer.  My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the end of September.  I'll agree with your daughters favorite hashtag, #CANCERSUCKS. As hard as it has been, I haven't been angry. I've never blamed the Lord and I've never questioned His plan.  Sometimes I wonder if that is active faith or an emotional apathy, but I'm sure I'll get that sorted out eventually. I guess the reason that I wanted to tell you that is because I wanted your advice on what I could do for her. You've been there. You've done the chemo thing. You know what it feels like.  I don't. I'm in Utah and she's in Nebraska and I want to help and be supportive, but it's a little more difficult when there are 2 states between you.  I know that the Lord is with her and taking care of her and I've seen more miracles over the past 3 months that I have at any other time since my mission. He's with me. He's taking care of me. He's giving me the opportunity to see and remember these miracles.  I've been writing a lot more lately and it has been good to remember and even more than that it's been therapeutic! Who would have guessed!?! (Thanks Hermana!)

I mentioned active faith and emotional apathy.  This is something that I've been thinking about for a few years.  For a while, I adopted "life happens" as a mantra. I had a job that I didn't love and didn't feel like I was progressing in my life. I decided it was depressing.  I found Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Life does happen. Cancer happens. Bad jobs happen.  Single adulthood happens.  So many things happen that could easily make us unhappy, upset and even angry.  Just because these things happen doesn't mean that they have to separate us from our Heavenly Father.  We can choose to see His love and His guiding influence or we can choose to not.  I choose to find His love. 

I hope you and your family are finding that love too.

Merry Christmas!

and

Happy Birthday!!!

Much love,

Hermana Williams

Thursday, November 26, 2015

So it's been more than a year...

A good friend of mine sent me a message the other day:

you ever blog any more?

So I've thought about it. I haven't. It's been a really long time. Actually, I haven't really written anything: letters, journals...anything. Even emails have been strictly professional. That makes me really sad. I used to write a lot. My degree is in English. Theoretically I should make a living off of writing. Funny how technology has changed things. I don't need to write anymore because there are now 12 other ways to communicate what my childhood pen pal our parents sent in letters.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately (but that is a completely different story for another day) and I'm trying to get back to my roots-back to expressing myself through words. Today seems to be an appropriate day for me make some of those observations.

Gratitude changes EVERYTHING!

I am grateful for trials.
I am grateful for opportunity to grow in trials.
I am grateful for modern medicine.
I am grateful for miracles.
I am grateful for the faith of others.
I am grateful for the power of optimism.
I am grateful for surrogate families.
I am grateful for opportunities that I don't ask for.
I am grateful for technology that allows me to communicate with my family.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for a Heavenly Father that has enough patience to work with my learning curve.
I am grateful for the knowledge I have of the plan of salvation and the comfort that it brings to my life.
I am grateful for second chances.
I am grateful for holidays that give me time to think.

Happy Thanksgiving!

make it awesome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Volunteered by the Lord, eh?

I got this email from a friend the other day.

I’m in the middle of making some very important personal decisions and I need some help. This morning as I was praying to know what I could do today to move closer to determining the answers, I felt to send this email specifically to this group. So, no pressure or anything, but God volunteered you. ;-)
Obviously the decisions are mine to make. What I’m seeking from you is your perspectives and experiences, specifically as it relates to some ideas I’ve been pondering for the last few days. On my mind has been the idea of “best” as it relates to Elder Oaks’ talk about good, better, and best. I know that too often in my life I’ve chosen to occupy my life with a lot of really good, even great stuff, and I produce a lot of good, even great results. However, during General Conference, I felt the Spirit urging me to leave behind the good and the great to focus on the best—what is for my best good; what will provide the best opportunities to develop my faith in Christ and have the best and most intimate relationship with Him; what will best increase my capacity to participate in the Lord’s work; and what will yield the best opportunities to serve and receive the best blessings for me and for others? Bishop Stevenson’s urging to utilize the “4 minutes” we have in this life put into perspective the urgency to no longer settle for what’s great or even the penultimate best (or as my BFF Julie said once “almost the best, second only to the best” – haha) because I don’t have any more time to waste on good and better.
As I’ve been evaluating choices I need to make and opportunities presented, my key objective is to identify the best ones and pursue them—except that I’m having some trouble distinguishing best from some really, really good, “I could do this and bring a lot of good to people” options. My brain is brilliant and can make a “best” case for almost all of the options I’m considering, which is all the more confusing because I can’t possibly pursue all of them simultaneously. There’s something I’m missing, some “best” identifier that will help me distinguish the best from all of the rest. But I can’t seem to figure that out.
How do you identify what’s best and what’s just really, really great?
What does best look like, feel like, sound like, taste like, smell like, etc to you?
How would you expect the fruits of best to differ from the fruits of really great (or even from penultimate best)?
What other qualifiers do you use to identify best from among the goop of great and good?
Any and all insights will be welcomed, appreciated, and seriously considered. I highly value your opinions. You may respond to the group email or email me separately, or talk to me in person—whatever you prefer. Thank you in advance for your help.
No pressure.
Right. Three days later this is the response that I came up with.  I'm still not sure that I've completely processed my thoughts and the more I think about it the more I understand how books are written. But here it is...for better or worse.
Volunteered by the Lord, eh?  So I've now been thinking about this for 3 days.  Maybe you felt inspired to ask me so I'd have to think about it.  I don't know.  I do have a few thoughts though.  Do with them what you will. 
4 minutes.  Good. Better. Best.
I think I get caught up in the "best" and forget about the "good".
A couple of stories:
1)  Once upon a time I drove to Ephraim by myself.  I was tired.  One of my "stay awake while driving" tactics in the car is to eat, so I planned on taking healthy snacks to keep myself awake.  I don't like carrots, but they are healthy so I tried to trick myself into eating them.  I did.  I ate an entire pound of carrots in 2 hours on my way to Ephraim.  Yay me.  I ate my veggies.  My mom was so proud.  I was so proud.  I ate my carrots!!!
2)  My freshman year our Relief Society presidency gave us a booklet and a challenge "40 Days Closer to Christ".  We read the Book of Mormon as an apartment in 40 days. All six of us did it together.  Not going to lie, it was not always a pleasant experience.  Sometimes it was late at night, sometimes we were cranky, but we did it together.  I've tried (not always successfully) to recreate that personally a few times over the years. I've never had the same experience.
 
Okay. How do these apply?
Sometimes I feel like the "best" things are some grandiose gesture.  I mean, that is the definition of best, isn't it?  the biggest?  the highest quality?  the most advantageous? The word "best" is a superlative.  It's supposed to be awesome, right? I'm not so sure. I ate a pound of carrots once.  What good did that do me?  I can say I did it.  Nutritionally, meh. Maybe it helped some, but probably not as much as I would like to think it did.  My body absorbed all it needed and rejected the rest.  I still needed to eat my veggies the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.  Eating a pound of carrots in 2 hours didn't really help my nutritional needs for that week.  It would have been better if I had taken my 1/2 cup to cup of carrots and saved the rest for when I needed them.  Am I making sense?  Let's talk about the Book of Mormon.  Have you heard about the Translation challenge?  Read the Book of Mormon in the time it took to translate the book?  It started April 7th. It's approximately 6 pages a day or something like that.  Does to Lord require a grand gesture that we read the Book of Mormon in the time it took to translate it, or in 40 days, or in a month? I don't think so.  I think he just wants us to read the Book of Mormon.  He wants us to learn from it.  To cherish it. 
Today in Sunday School we talked about Moses and manna.  The children of Israel had to learn to trust the Lord.  He would provide for them. Every. Day. If they tried to take more than they needed for that one day, it spoiled. He knew what they needed.  He knows best.  

Now.  How does this define "the best" or the "penultimate best" or "the goop of good"?  It doesn't.  Sorry.  I do believe though, that if we are living as the Lord directs us through the promptings of the Spirit we will find it.  It's the small "good" things that allow us to draw close to the Spirit.  If at the end of the day we can look at our day and say that we have done all we can do to draw close to the Lord and do as he has asked, I think it's a successful day and probably the best it could have been.  While the Lord demands perfection, He doesn't demand that we do it alone.  Our best requires His help and that's okay. He actually planned it that way.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I have a procrastination problem.

I should be watching a video for work right now.  I don't want to know what Jasmine has to say about insurance and collections so I'm here. Writing nonsense. Because that is the best stuff to write. Right? I also really want to eat chocolate, but that doesn't work either.  No stress eating.  I had an AMAZING weekend.  I went to San Fransisco for a girl's weekend. I'll write more about that later.  Hope to add pictures too.  I think I have procrastinated sufficiently.  Going to be productive now.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

stuff, or maybe stiff would be more appropriate...

It has been absolutely beautiful this weekend.  I went snow shoeing yesterday.  And the day before.  Days and activities like these make the winter worth it.  Yesterday we took a friend that had never been before and she took it like a champ.  She didn't even trip!  Can't say as much about the rest of us.  Apparently the trail we went on was an ideal location for snow men?  We passed 8-10 of them in 3 miles; tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, incomplete ones, dying ones...they were all there.  Kind of felt like I was walking through a Calvin and Hobbes comic book. As we were talking the newbie through the beginning of snow shoeing, we told her that in deeper snow we find muscles that we forgot we had.  Pretty sure that happens with many activities that we do, but I am most recently fascinated by the effects of snow shoeing on my calves. Oh boy. There was not an overwhelming amount of snow yesterday.  We saw people on the trail just hiking. I don't understand why the calves gave me so much grief.  I'll get over it, I always do.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Things that make me happy...

1) Thai food
2) blue sky and sunshine
3) warm fuzzy electric throw blankets
4) Excel spread sheets
5) new calendars

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year

It's January 3rd.  There are 362 days left in 2014.  I have a lot of time left to do a lot of things.  In 2013 my New Years Resolutions were all based on the word "choose".  Choose to act rather than be acted upon.  Choose to be important.  Choose to be in control of your own life.  All in all, I consider 2013 to have been a successful year.  I lost 40 pounds.  I got a promotion and a raise.  I learned a lot about myself and feel like I gained a lot of tools to implement in the future. 2014 will be a good year for implementation.  This year's word is "progress".  Take it and run with it.  I know what works and I know what I have to do to make it work.  It's all up to me.  This year is my year. Happy 2014 friends.  Make it your year too.