Tuesday, February 19, 2008

let your clarity define you

I was asked today, "Has there been a defining moment in your personal history, some event that was pivotal and perhaps life-altering?" I've been thinking about this off and on all day, while I was at work, while I drove home, while I wrote to my missionary friends, while I hung out with my family.

And in all that time, the most definitive thing I could come up with today was this: I think that every moment is defining.

I am young, just twenty, and I've passed very few of the big mile-markers in life. I've been baptized, and graduated high school, and that's about it. But I find that it's the tiny, moment-to-moment things in my life that make up who I am and what defines me. It's the fact that I'm working my tail off trying to save money for school, that I adore the Christian radio station, that I love to be with my friends, that my family is so precious to me. It's the fact that rather than going to bed like I should, I'm sitting here, at my desk, writing, and being grateful to God for this inclination that is so much of who I am.

It's the moments I spend breathing, finding just existing a deeply joyous thing, that define me. It's the moments of clarity that are so beautifully often. It's the moments I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God.

So no, I can't put my finger on a single moment that has been particularly defining for me. I try to do that every moment, all along.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I wanted licorice today anyway :-)

In the land of Sara, February 14th is usually just another day. This year, however, I found reason to celebrate.

Today, I am my own valentine.

Some people would find this sad and kind of pathetic, but I find it deeply refreshing. I am, after all, questing to love all of me and every aspect of my life -- moment to moment. Today has been a day of consciously loving me; I haven't gone looking for reasons to love myself, or done anything special, but I've found that love isn't always an action (or reaction). It's a choice, and today I have chosen, for no reason, and with no outward manifestation, to love myself.

Is this the kind of love God has for us, His children? There are reasons that we are loveable, certainly, and He indisputably displays His love in all things. But isn't it just that He loves us, simply because we are?

It's been a special experience to display even a fragment of that kind of love for myself today -- love that does not seek novelty, only constancy, even as it sees all of the flaws. It has made me more grateful than ever before for my Heavenly Father, because He loves me with this kind of love always, not just today. I hope in the future I can continue to develop a more Christ-like love for myself, and furthermore, for others. It is in no way my place to decide that there is a "reason" -- or not -- to love one of God's precious children. And yes, it is appropriate (and important!) to display this love to others, because we mortals are prone to need reminders. (God set up the rainbow covenant, after all.) But I believe truly Christ-like love is constant...to paraphrase a statement I recently read, people who desperately need love -- don't we all? -- do not feel more loved when there is one special day set aside, and the entire rest of the time they are ignored, or ostracized. To elicit change, it must be constant and pure.

That is perfect, moment-to-moment, Christ-like love (as opposed to the chocolate and flowers and cards that so many of us have exchanged today) and that is the kind of unquestioning, by-choice love to which I aspire.

Happy Valentine's day, all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Little Things, Big Lessons

In all her amazingness, Cindy has made me a new, cheery, lovely layout. Isn't she fabulous??

I have to pause for a second today and recognize God in the little things. He keeps me humble, and He keeps me cheerful.

Humble first, 'cause it's funny: There's a really good-looking guy in my office. No, I don't know a THING about him, his name, whether or not he's married, whether or not he's the devil incarnate, nothing. But he sure is attractive, and he's sitting on the floor outside of one of the cubes, chatting with one of the other engineers. And I have to walk by him to go to the break room / kitchen for a drink for Mom and I. And girls, you'll know what I mean when I say that, in a way that you (mostly) can't help, you're very conscious of walking by an attractive person.

Well on the way back to my desk, I realized I had a neon post-it note sticking to my shoe. Yup. Keeping me humble.

Now for the cheerful part. At work, we've been single-handedly chopping down the Amazon. It's tedious work, digging through files and not finding what you're looking for. For hours on end. But just when I'm sure I'm going to go crazy and make a copy of my squished-up face for the auditors instead of the #*$^% invoice they want, I find something. Like the Alamo receipt that we've been trying to hunt down for a week. It's an instant cheerfulizer, and has very little to do with me, except that I keep trying.

I think it's the Lord trying to teach me a bigger lesson. Sometimes things don't happen the way I plan, and it's uncomfortable -- but it does serve to humble me a little more, and keep me asking for the Lord's help and presence in my life. And sometimes, a flash of insight comes, a momentary sparkle, and I get to smile and think, "Maybe it actually is worth all of the digging I've been doing. Maybe it's not completely fruitless."

Maybe the Lord really does love me. Well, OBVIOUSLY He does, and I see that every day, but here's another attempt to see it moment to moment. Because at this moment, and the next moment, and the one after that, His purposes in my life are still being fulfilled, and even if I feel like a goof or just plain worn down, it is all to His grand purposes for me.

I think I like that idea.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Alphabet of Gratitude

A-Autumn. Omigosh it's beautiful. I am grateful deep in my soul for the amazingness of crisp air and changing leaves, and wanting to do nothing but be outside and stare at the brilliant manifestations of God's love.

B-Books. I don't read them nearly as often as I once did, but there are few things more satisfying than curling up with a many-paged friend and getting caught up in the story.

C-My best friend. I can't even say enough about her, not if I wrote pages and pages. She is so joyful and so wise, and always ready to share that with me.

D-My sister. She's brilliant and beautiful and she teaches me to be both more honest and more sensitive to others.

E-Eating. OK, so I have a confession. I am a girl in my twenties, with a family history of being overweight, and in fact was once so myself. Therefore, I tend to waver between paranoia and apathy, and so more often than not, I tend to find the whole concept of eating really, really annoying. I shouldn't, though. There's never been a time in my life that I haven't had enough; eating doesn't make me, you know, writhe in pain; and hey, having the perfect sandwich is a really, really good feeling. So here's to counter-culture: down with anorexia!

F-Family. My parents are wonderful, and try so hard to give me what I need in order to be successful. They've always believed that I can do anything I want to do, and that means so very much to me!

G-God. 100%. That He exists, that He knows I exist, that He loves me as His child and wants the very best for me. That He created so much beauty and goodness for me to experience, and even hard things for me to learn from.

H-Happiness, large and small. The happiness that comes from a perfect morning, the funny and heartwarming sound of my brother singing to himself with headphones on, dreams about snowflakes. And then there's the happiness of having a best friend, the kind of wonderful person who will be my best friend for my whole life; the happiness of knowing God loves me and will bless me in the perfect way at the perfect time, and will help me to grow into the person I want to be. It's a wonderful thing.

I-Internet. So I realize I'm probably more dependent on it than I should be, but considering I am not a big phone person, and none of my friends live down the street (or, for many of them, in the same 1000 mile radius) I am just so grateful to have the means to connect to them, even if it's not in person.

J- My little brother. I think he makes me younger and older at the same time...young to laugh with him, and old to love him each and every moment.

K- Kindergarten. Yep, that magical place where you fingerpaint and learn everything you'll ever need to know about life, the universe, and everything. You can't tell me that if everyone took a nap after cookies every afternoon, the world would not be a better place.

L-Laughter. Life is so dull and empty without it! I really enjoy making people laugh, too.

M-Money. I know, ugh. But really -- I don't know how, but I always seem to have just enough, even when I don't think I will.

N- Naps! Today this is particularly appropriate; since I'm trying my very best to not be sick this weekend, I haven't been useful for anything else but napping. Even on days when I'm not ill, power naps are things to swear by.

O- Obedience. This is something I am struggling with lately -- being more perfectly obedient -- but it is the appointed way for us to express our love to God, and to be happy! What's not to be grateful for in that?

P-Poetry. As part of a celebration of National Poetry Month, I started writing a list of 100 poems on the 21st of January -- so that I would be done with the 100 at the end of April. I haven't come up with anything stellar so far, but it's kind of a fun mental exercise, and surely I'll come up with at least one that I really like. Assuming of course that I stick with it; either way, it's great fun.

Q- Quiet. I've actually been thoroughly enjoying it all day. A well-placed silent moment is beautiful. It is action without activity, an important notion in my book. It's so important to find time to be still!

R- Radio. I could have done M for music, and maybe should have, but lately I am particularly grateful for the radio. It helps to fill in the empty spaces and to satisfy my need for gentle stimulation.

S- Sundays. It's always been a challenge for me to make this a day of rest in the way it should be, but each time I manage to, this day has been such a blessing.

T- Talking. Yeah, I may be introverted, but it's days like today and yesterday when I sound like a frog that reminds me that conversation is fun!

U- I was going to say umbrellas for this, except that I'm much more grateful for the fact that I never feel the need to use them! Precipitation is meant to be enjoyed, not hidden from! (Now you can tell I am from a state with very mild weather. Haha.)

V- Variety! (I thought of doing vanilla, and then thought of variety and started making all kinds of dumb jokes in my head about the spice of life.)

W- Water. I've drank enough of it lately to appreciate it, that's for sure. It's also beautiful, and life-giving, and just wonderful all around. (Please rain!!!!)

X- My chromosomes. That's right, I'm grateful to be a woman. Not to diss guys or anything, but there are things I am capable of, that I love, that I would never be able to do if I were an XY.

Y-You! Yes, you. You read all the way to the end of the list (unless you started from the bottom; if that's the case then I'm grateful for you because you make me laugh -- I start from the bottom sometimes too.)

Z- The zoo. As you probably read in a previous post, I have only been once, but I just love the concept. It's as close as many of us will ever be to come of God's coolest creations until the "lion lies down with the lamb." (Speaking of -- OMG CRAZY! http://www.naturescornermagazine.com/lion_lamb.html )

Thursday, February 7, 2008


"What are you giving up for Lent?"

When I started this post, I had a witty, one-word answer to that. After having talked about it some, I've rethought it a bit, and expanded it, and blurred the edges. Now my answer doesn't look like anything like it did before, and certainly can't be limited to one word, but it does look more like a clear path toward God.

This year is my first year actively celebrating Lent, but I really find the concept fascinating. Easter is frankly a dumb holiday when taken purely in the world's view, but in Christianity it should be the most highly-regarded holiday of the year. More than Christmas, even, since Jesus Christ was born on the earth with the express purpose of defeating physical and spiritual death. So why not prepare for it, and make the celebration of it a deeply spiritual, joyous thing?

In my Old Testament class last fall, we learned that in the Bible, "forty" isn't a very exact count. Forty years in the wilderness. Forty days of fasting. Forty days of rain. None of these were absolutely 40, because forty doesn't necessarily mean 4 X 10. It simply means "as long as it takes," or "enough". So I like that before Easter, there are 40 days set aside for us mortals to prepare for the commemoration of the immortality of Christ, and all men. We aren't given 40 anything to prepare to behold God's glory; we are given "forty"... we are given enough. That's a heartening thing for me, because the spiritual project I am beginning in celebration of Lent will NOT be over in 40 days. But I know that God, in His mighty power and wisdom, will give me as long as it takes.

With God's help, I want to spend the next 40 days learning. I want to learn that my life is good. I want to realize that it is exactly the way the Lord intends it to be right now. I need to be satisfied with the ways that the Lord really is blessing me now, instead of looking for more elsewhere -- looking beyond the mark, I guess. I want to learn where the Lord needs my talents right here, right now, and to put my whole heart into serving Him, in the way that He has chosen for me.

It's like Alma: "O that I were an angel ... but behold, I ... do sin in my wish." O that I were any kind of good thing other than what I am. But behold, I do sin in my wish. If I really honestly wanted to obey the Lord, I would not be pining so badly for things that are not His will.

And frankly, I have plenty to do. I was thinking about it, and a friend of mine is going through some big changes in her life, and she's finding the logistics of it very hard. It's going to change things for the next couple of years drastically, and going to shape the rest of her LIFE. Now, some things I can't help with, but others I think I can. She is one of those wonderful people who is such a strength herself that when her strength is lacking, the people around her naturally want to provide that strength -- not as an obligation, but because she is so especially easy to love. Isn't it possible the Lord needs my hand in that?

I have the utter blessing of working with the little, little kids at church, and I'm learning so much and coming to love them so much. Now I may have a new calling soon, but isn't it possible that the Lord wants me to be where I am in my life, this very place, in order to be as happy as possible? Not just happy "in the long run", either; I mean deeply joyous and gratefully and cheerfully obedient to the Lord. Obviously this applies to more than helping out in the nursery. I want to have this in all aspects of my life. So -- this is going to be my new project, my celebration of Lent, which is a celebration and preparation to receive the perfect love of God.

See why one word just wouldn't do it?

Friday, February 1, 2008


A. The rules are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people by posting their names; then goes to their blog and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged.

Ten Years Ago...

In February of 1998...Oh, wow, I think I know exactly what I was doing about this time 10 years ago! Moving to North Carolina! I was heartbroken. I didn't have a lot of friends as it was, and I couldn't imagine never ever being able to see them. I was still sad about that, but then I got here, and fell in love with the trees. So much so, in fact, that I remember feeling a little like I was betraying myself with the deep bewildering joy I felt, looking at all of that green. I didn't even know there were places like that, having lived in the boring desert my whole life, and knowing the whole time that it was an ugly, boring place to live. The funny thing was, it took moving back to the desert to fall in love with the sky.

Snacks I Love...

I'm not a snacky person...I'm so conscious of what I eat that I really try to make sure it's going to be nutritious and worth the calories. When I'm going to indulge though, I'm a fan of cookies, and soft chewy fruit things.

Five Things on Today's To-Do List...

1. Breathe. Just for the sheer joy of not having anything else to do right this second.
2. Smile. Just because I want to, and don't think my face has done enough of that today.
3. I should seriously clean my room. That's the very first thing to get neglected when I'm any kind of busy...and, as this list shows, it's about the 3rd or 4th thing I think of to do when I'm finally not busy!
4. I should probably eat real food for dinner at some point. Oh, snap! I think I have thawed chicken in the freezer anyway. Maybe I'll use it as an excuse to turn on the oven.
5. Decide for sure whether or not I'm going to work tomorrow. Mom is, since she has extra stuff to do, and I do need the money. I'm just not sure if I need a break more.

Things I Would Do If Suddenly Made A Billionaire...

Pay for school!!!!! Then pay for me to go to massage school. Buy a car. And a house. Get Cindy the perfect set of knives. ;-) ...Oooh! And travel. A lot. Everywhere. Mostly Europe...parts of Asia. Hawaii just for good measure.

Three Bad Habits...

1. Not managing my time well
2. Seeking joy in the wrong places
3. Dumping things on the floor instead of putting them away!

Five Places I've Lived...

1. Well, I did this list starting with 5, and it occurs to me that I've only lived in those 4 cities. So, um, heaven? ("I lived in heaven a long time ago it is truuuue....")
2. Santee, California
3. Butner, North Carolina
4. Oxford, North Carolina
5. Rexburg, Idaho

Jobs I've Had...

1. Babysitter
2. Dog sitter / house sitter
3. Office assistant
4. Sandwich artist (yes, you can laugh, just don't talk to me about it)
5. An office assistant again.

Things People Don't Know About Me...

1. OK so some people know this already, but I think I have a bizarre fascination with making calendars, especially when I have something to count down. First I'll draw one. Then I'll look at the one on my computer. Then I'll print one. Then I'll lose it or never have it when I want it so I'll consider making another.
2. I have only been to the zoo once, and because of it I have promised myself to take my kids to all kinds of neat things -- mostly because I want to go to them too!
3. Some people know this already too, but I am way more boy crazy than I think I am. Frankly, it's pathetic.
4. I regularly wake up at 3, 4, or 5 and seriously consider getting out of bed every time. And then I fall asleep again.
5. I have yet to figure out if being around naked people all day will be a serious deterrent to my goal of becoming a massage therapist.
Edit: Oh and 6, I used to HATE playing tag! I was always the fat, slow kid in elementary school who ran out of breath too quickly and couldn't catch anyone.

I Tag

No one, because the only people who will actually read this already have it on their blogs!
So I feel slightly like a slacker, but I really shouldn't! I was only tagged a few days ago, and I've honestly been too busy to write on my blog.

But here it is, a wonderful Friday evening, and I am at peace with the world. So, here I am.

It occurs to me that before I go on to anything else, I should think for a little while about why I am so cheerful right now -- you know, "recipe for happy" and all that. So I guess I'll back-track, one thing at a time, as best I can...

I am wearing my wonderful pajama pants. I was cold for one, and for another the whole reason I bought them was that they bring me joy.

My sister is at a friend's house for the weekend, so I was sad when I got home and couldn't say hi to her. Realizing it was important to me to say hi to her was a happifying thing, though.

I chatted with my mom the whole way home. Mom and I have a kind of lengthy commute, especially with traffic, but we never seem to be quiet for long. We've never been super-chatty, which is hard sometimes because I tend to feel most loved when I am having interesting, cheerful conversations with whomever, but the ride home seems to be an exception.

I suspect I am learning to better manage my time. Because I get up at 6am, don't get home until 7pm, and should start getting ready for bed by about 9 at the latest, it leaves very little time for me! I didn't realize that maybe I was spending my time more wisely and carefully until I glanced at the clock and thought "Well okay, it's not 7 yet, I can write for this long and then I need to go do this, this, and this." If that is what working so much is going to teach me, then BRING IT. I am so excited.

Doing what I do for work tests my cheerfulness sometimes, though. It can be really, really tedious, but sometimes tedious in the way that the sound of someone's screechy alarm going off gets old fast. But every day is a little different, so I do my best and try to be patient for better, and grateful for what I have. And if that's what I need to learn right now, then well, bring that too.

This whole job thing has been extraordinary, though. My car is not fixed yet, and even once it was, the best I could come up with was going to be getting two (low paying) part time jobs and take out an additional loan for school, if I needed it. However, I have prayed and prayed that I would be able to go back to school next semester, that I would not be a burden, that I would not have to go into greater debt. And then, the day after I paid my tithing, Mom told me there was a position open at her office and that she would put in a good word for me. So here I am before you, an office assistant making $10/hr, working full-time, with no gas expenses because I ride with Mom. That's WAY better than anything I could come up with.

All in all, I am completely in awe of God and His powerful goodness in the life of one small person -- me.