Monday, October 17, 2011

tender mercies

It has been a rather frustrating day, but I think in general conference someone said something to the effect of "face each day with enthusiasm, no matter how it looks" and I'm trying to apply that principle.

The optimistic version of my day is that I spent the first part of the morning reading this lovely pre-World War II book that is very sweet and inspiring. Then I ran an errand, had hot chocolate and pumpkin bread with Cindy, looked for jobs, did laundry. Pretty basic stuff, and good in its own way, but really not at all what I had planned. 

What I'd planned is to donate plasma. I haven't found a job yet, and it just seemed like a reasonable way to make a little extra money in the interim. It seemed like the responsible thing to do, frankly. But through a silly little chain of events, it didn't happen today. 

As I drove away from the plasma center, sans needle prick, I wanted to cry. I don't understand, I thought. I'm trying to take good care of myself, to put forth the work that I need to in order to care for my temporal well-being. But I can't even donate plasma. Why is this happening?

It didn't get better after I went home and found that I still couldn't get the application to work (for a job I'd really really like!) And then I had an epic battle of wits with an inanimate object, for a frustrating hour and a half. 

But the Lord still finds ways to add sunshine to our lives. Cindy came home from the library and made hot chocolate, which was happy-in-a-mug. Later, Allison picked me up and we had our own little FHE, and it was wonderful.

I'm grateful for tender mercies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

mexican cooking, lesson one: tortillas

When Cindy and I finally decided that I would be staying with her for a little while, I asked her to teach me how to make Mexican food. Her dad spent two years doing service and proselyting in Mexico, and he brought back lots of new skills with him -- the least of which is not cooking fairly authentic Mexican deliciousness...

So, Cindy taught me how to make tortillas!

First, get some masa:

(What we call masa in the States is actually a certain kind of corn flour, rather than the paste called "masa" you'd buy in a Latin American country.)

Then, add some water:

(This one won't be very helpful to you, considering Cindy didn't measure and let me poke at the dough a bit to see what the consistency was like. Watch out on her blog...she'll be posting specifics there soon, I'm sure.)

We used a tortilla press (!!) and a griddle, but in the future I think I'll just be using a regular ol' rolling pin and non-stick skillet. The non-stick part is important since apparently frying them in oil would make them tostadas, not tortillas.

They don't have to be browned or anything, just warmed and flipped and warmed a little more. And by the way, they are delicious.

I may never eat store-bought tortillas ever again.

love, tolerance, and understanding

I've discovered a new mantra for relationships:

I love you! I just don't understand...

Sometimes the people I care about are too busy to pay attention to me. Sometimes they make the same mistakes over and over and over. Sometimes they address situations in completely different ways than I would. However, this doesn't excuse me from forgiveness, tolerance, or charity.

The thing is, it also doesn't excuse me from being human and finding other people difficult to comprehend. I can choose how I respond to difficulties though, and when I'm fighting with someone, it's okay to call a time-out and give them a hug.

Because it's not about changing them. It's about understanding them a little better, and about me making changes in order to become more Christlike. Maybe that's becoming more temperate, more confident, or a better listener.

That's why these people are in our lives, guys. Their presence is an invitation to charity -- to not just understand them better, but to understand the Lord better. We can always find strength and solace in Him, even if we aren't getting it from the sources we expect.

Other people may not always be reliable, but in Christ, we can become reliably like Him.

Monday, October 10, 2011

unabashed devotion

Sometimes I wish I could be the girl I was at 17. I can still see my bedroom, definitively mine as the walls were papered with favorite scriptures, quotes, and pictures -- anything I found soothing, really. I was sheltered there, from everyone, from a future that was much more like straw to be turned to gold than anything. There, I found fearlessness. Not that I lived a life without fear, but just that there were much more important things to think about, and with the importance came the joy.

Now and then I still have that; I remember that those days were the beginning of my testimony, not the extent of it. Those days were good not because they were easy, but because I unabashedly fled to the Lord for solace. I didn't expect Him to fix things, just to help me be okay, and to respond to my life as He would.

I think it's time I devoted my life to that again -- to taking every inquietude to the Lord, without shame. He can do so much more with them than I can. When my heart cries out, "Wait, what? Is that really what you have in mind for me? Are you sure You want to make my life that hard??" my Heavenly Father can say, "well, yes, but remember the blessings you have in store, my child, and remember what the pain has turned you into." It's turned me into someone who can know peace, despite anyone else's choices. (I just wish I remembered that more often.)

The joy of earthly relationships is undeniable, but neither is the heartbreak. So, they function as a means to an end as they turn us to Christ. As a teenager, Christ and I became acquainted because there were people in my life that I had to be okay with. In more recent years, I clung to Christ despite the dead-end relationships in which I insisted on entangling myself. Now, I'd like to know Him better and love Him more as I try to be more me -- more the girl He's counting on to do His work. Whatever that work may be.

As previously mentioned, I think that work right now may in part be giving up my "Isaac" just enjoy serving in small ways, to take copious mental notes (and some literal ones) on how to create a Christ-centered home. Maybe that's enough for now, even if it's not flashy. Maybe I just need to be okay with that. After all, is there any grander purpose than motherhood? Is there any nobler goal than a temple-like home? Grad school, an active career, anything, ought to pale in comparison to that. Not that they're mutually exclusive, either -- just that they certainly fit on a hierarchy, and "homemaker" is at the top.

Homemaking, though, is a task of steadiness and moderation -- of constancy. I can't work myself dry every day and then go home and crash for the evening, nor can I give a half-hearted effort. No, I want to be a homemaker who works hard, with her whole heart in it, and one who finds the work a joyful and rewarding thing. And maybe, just maybe, Heavenly Father would like me to learn that sooner rather than later. I'm just glad He's in charge of the timing and not me. Timing has a delicate balance; it's easy to do things too soon or too late. ...Far too much for my puny mortal self to handle.

What I can handle is repenting, turning to my Savior with every moment of fear and heartbreak or grumpiness and apathy. And, for that matter, every dream I have for myself that is nothing compared to His for me. Therefore, I hope to seek employment with greater humility. I hope to find something that does not preclude, but rather enables the work that Heavenly Father has for me these days: learning how to make my own temple-like home, and Christ-centered life, regardless of when or with whom that comes about.

I find the task a bit daunting, I'll be honest. The heart-happy girl I was at 17 didn't have the grown up problems of a 24 year old. But Heavenly Father is still perfectly wise, powerful, and loving, even if I'm a confused twenty-something and not an indignant teenager. He can handle my grown up problems.

And, somehow, I can let Him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

worth a thousand words

Tonight we played the picture game...

(You know, the one where you have a phrase, and you draw a picture based on that phrase, and the next person writes a phrase based on that picture without looking at the original phrase, and so on.)

I like to think I made the most memorable contribution, when "bad breath" turned into "breathing fire", and I turned the associated picture into "fire-breathing Jew."

I swear, I'm not racist. It just looked more like a yarmulke than hair.

Friday, October 7, 2011

a day at a time

I've come to an unfortunate conclusion.

I don't write enough.

Sure, I journal. It's primarily a scripture journal at the moment, because I'm a little overwhelmed by the idea of anything beyond that. If I write about the events of my day-to-day life, I might actually have to think about it. I might think about the fact that I am living with my best friend and her husband at the moment, instead of my own place. I might think about the fact that I am once again unemployed, this time of my own volition. I might think about my sadly limited resources and all of the things in my life that I wish were different.

Maintaining a scripture journal, on the other hand, helps me to keep thinks in perspective. I get to think more about the problems of Moroni and Pahoran, of the wicked children of Israel, of Emma Smith. Whether these people were full of faith or fear, the scriptures teach me the truth, as I combat the influences of Satan that are so ready to seep into my life.

In reality, my life is moving along beautifully. I am where the Lord wants me to be. He is carefully tutoring me. Everything will fall into place exactly as it needs to. But that sense of well-being is rather precarious at the moment, and I worry that if the reality of my current situation sinks in, my natural tendency to overthink will lead me not toward God, but away from Him.

It seems I've gotten the same message since mind-June: don't plan. And all things considered, I haven't. Sure, I planned a blood drive, a book drive, and a drive across the country. But considering the amount of things I would ordinarily be trying to contrive and control, that's nothing. I don't have a 5 year plan anymore, let alone a 5 month plan. I don't know where grad school will fit into my life. I don't know where marriage will fit into my life.

All I know is that the Lord is trying to teach me to take things one day at a time. Therefore, I am beginning a new initiative on my blog. I may not be writing about Big Things That Have To Do With My Life As A Whole, but I can write about the small day-to-day things that catch my interest. That may be a song I heard today, a new website I found, or just the way that the rain blips against the leaves. In any case, my happiness is my choice, and I choose to wait, and watch, and obey.