Tuesday, December 27

#2


Hey all.  :)  How goes?  Haha, just kidding.  You can't answer me. 
Well, I officially have only 4 more days or so here.  It's crazy.  I think about all my foreign-speaking friends and family being here for a couple of months, and 2.5 weeks is crazy weird to me.  But you know, I'm not too upset.  I will miss my district though.  All of them are headed to Chicago so I'll have to try and keep in contact with them.  Should be fun.
I'm doing laundrey now.  In a laundromat-thing under the MTC's main building.  It's pretty awesome, right?  :)  I think my favorite part is seeing all the Elders do laundrey.  Some of them are pros and some of them need a little help.  ("Can this red shirt be washed with this black shirt?")  It's awesome.  :)
Uhm... nothing much has happened since Christmas to be honest.  I just keep learning and such.  I think the most important thing I have to learn is the one thing that I have the hardest time with--that the Lord is going to be working through me and that... frankly, every lesson will be a new experience during which I need to allow the Holy Ghost to guide me.  And being a bit of a control freak... it makes me nervous.  But I love everything about this.  I've never really come to understand so completely the power of the Holy Ghost.  I love it.  :)
Anyways.  I guess I'll just be packing and prepping to leave over the next few days.  So that should also be very not-exciting to talk about.  But I'll try to have some airplane stories.  :)
Much love,
-Sister Black

Sunday, December 25

Christmas Day!

Hi all! We've been given a surprise half hour for Christmas day (something to do with not being able to call home, haha.) But no worries mum, I'll call when I'm layed-over in Minnesota. I leave at 3 a.m. from the Mtc! Haha, it's awesome. I'm excited but also super nervous. I feel like I've been here for a day. I'm going to miss my district--they've been a second family to me here (all the way down to the dumb brothers. JK!) Nah, life is good.

Christmas has been awesome. I was a sheet-wearing angel in a last-minute nativity sequence put on for the whole MTC. A little mortifying, to say the least. ;) But awesome all the same. Then we got to watch A Christmas Carol and eat popcorn. Awesome stuff.

I have loved all my letters and packages by the way. I feel so blessed to have so much support. Especially my Christmas Stocking. I've enjoyed pulling out each gift and relishing each detail. I love you all so much!

This computer is going so slow... something to do with over 2000 missionaries trying to get a half hour of email in on these fantastic computers. ;) So sorry for this disjointed message.

Today we had sacrament meeting in the devotional hall ALL together. It was so awesome--6 sacrament tables, 36 Elders passing the sacrament... best of all, Elder Bednar came with his wife. They spoke for the next hour--completely transforming my perspective of this mission. He spoke of how the character of Christ is evident throughout the scriptures by any who focus outward when others would focus inward. Christ always does this, but I've begun to see it in all my studies--particularly Nephi when the sign of Christ's birth is coming and he prays for his people. This is what we are meant to do--to overcome the natural man inside of us (portrayed by Elder Bednar as cookie monster--voice and all: "I WANT A COOKIE. I WANT AN INVESTIGATOR. I WANT A BAPTISM! NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM!" Haha, it was awesome.) Our natural tendencies focus inward. But Christ invites us to focus outward--to pay mind to the needs of others above our own. We become like Christ and reach towards that final goal by giving little heed to our own particular needs or desires. As with Christ on the cross, after fasting 40 days, or after Gethsemane--we must plead to be able to do as we are invited--try to be like Jesus and continue on our path to true joy.

Anyways, got to go. Love you all so much!

-Sister Black


Tuesday, December 20

#1

Hey all. :) This is the first some of you will be hearing from me, so I'll try to be reasonably thorough. We get 30 minutes for email (literally timed) and I have 21:20 so I'll try to be quick.

First of all, I have personally gained a renewed testimony in the importance of humility here. Every time I even begin to feel confident and careless another experience brings me to my knees. I can feel myself being stripped of inadequacies and having to start from scratch to form my teaching and communication habits, my manner of speech (no more DUDE or GUYS), and my study habits. It's probably the most uncomfortable situation of my life.

Isn't it great?! :D

Every day is well scheduled with class (about 8 hours a day), study time (about 2 hours a day), and teaching opportunities (I don't keep track, but these horrify me every time.) I am by no means a good teacher. And I knew that before... but now I am so aware of it, my prayers and thoughts always involve petition for change. And you know... I can already see those changes happening

When I got to the MTC I was immediately taken straight up to my room and then downstairs for a workshop. They really do NOT want to waste any time. Since I'm not learning a language, I'm only here for 3 weeks (well... 2.5.... but I'll get to that later.) So we have to cover all the Preach My Gospel lessons and doctrine in 1/2 or 1/3 the time the language speakers do. (Which is fine by me. I can't imagine having to do this in another language.) It's really helped me learn how much I really know about the gospel... especially the restoration this week. I never really made the connections that these lessons require you to understand--that the restoration's great purpose is to restore the exact same gospel that Christ set forth (which I knew but I didn't KNOW, you know?), or that the doctrine of Christ (faith unto repentence, baptism, confirmation, and enduring to the end) is key to every lesson, every scripture story, and every aspect of the gospel. Heck, that IS the gospel.

Can I say heck? Hmm. I already have serious issues calling the Elders "guys". There are 9 people in our district (counting me) and they're ALL going to Chicago Illinois except me and my companion. Sister Cunningham is headed to Fort Worth Texas. I guess Heavenly Father knew she and I needed to be together, because she has been both everything I'd ever hoped for in a companion... and everything I'd ever feared. But she has already taught me so much.

I think the hardest part in the mission field is focusing on study. Especially when we're chilling as a district in our classroom (homeroom? It's the same thing I guess) and we're supposed to be studying. Elders (being 19-year-old guys... er... boys... er...) are very VERY prone to teasing, talking, flirting, and spending an hour trying to take a picture that's posed just perfectly so it looks like they're holding a lightsaber (the effect comes from the flash bouncing off a pencil you hold right in front of the camera. Cool stuff.) And it's so SO easy to get distracted... especially when you're already stressed beyond expectation and you welcome any distraction from your current responsibilities. But we make it work.

My testimony has already grown enormously. I held out until Sunday, and when we watched Music of the Spoken Word (which, GO WATCH IT because it was amazing this week!) I finally remembered all I was missing at home and all that I had left... and I began to break down. Luckily my private support system was right there. :)

But now... I know that I'm supposed to be here. Before I didn't really KNOW for sure. I knew I wanted to come. But now that I have a million reasons NOT to be here (discomfort among the greatest) I cannot imagine going home. I want to gain confidence. I want to push these limits. And I can think of no better place to do it.

Love you all! Please write me if you can! For reasons unknown to me, I'm scheduled to leave on December 31st--three days before everyone else. I just got my flight plans. So don't send anything after that time. Also, a lot of people get letters through Dearelder.com, so if you don't have much time, feel free to use those means.

Thank you for your support and prayers! Sorry if this is a little frantic.

-Sister Black

p.s. Aunt Leslie, one of my teachers was Sister Meryhew--who I'm told was a sister in the Nebraska mission. :D She is amazing! Of course, she's getting married, so yesterday was her last day. But when I told her I was your niece, she absolutely flipped. It was a sweet experience to meet a friendly face after the stresses of my first day. :) She makes me want to come and teach when I get back... maybe I will.

p.p.s. Really. Letters. Break the monotony, friends. ;)

p.p.p.s. I hope I haven't scared anyone off of mission work. It's really the freakin best! We must be shown our weaknesses before they become strengths.

Love you all.

Wednesday, December 14

And she's off!

It's me, Beth's mum, with the honor of posting her missionary tidings.
We've just dropped her off at the MTC in Provo, literally "dropped her off" I say, as that is what is done these days. We drove in the entrance, were directed by zillions of smiling Elders to an unloading station, and with the motor running, she got out, her bags were retrieved from the back and we waved goodbye to her. It's a good thing we did our real goodbying before we left home. My heart is aching folks, I'll freely admit it, and it's a selfish thing really. I miss her already. She is such a love. But already I'm certain there is an added sweet spirit to that wee spot in Provo where she'll be for a few weeks, and then oh how blessed Wisconsin will be!! 
Will keep you posted.



Monday, December 12

Farewell


Friends, I am signing off of Blogger now.  At least personally.  As I mentioned before, my mum will be updating this every week with a general email about what I'm doing (and I apologize in advance if they get boring and repetitive.)  I'm so grateful for each of you and the support I have felt these last few months.  Thank you.  :)

In the meantime, here is my talk from yesterday.  Please take in consideration that I paraphrased and added to this over the course of giving it, so it's not exactly what I spoke... but clear enough.  Sorry for the grammatical errors.  I wrote it a little too late.  XP  

Much love,
B.

p.s. Some pictures.  William looks nauseated because he is trying to look like an Aeropostle model.  Pretty much the best ever.  ;)  We're so old!  D:  



Brothers and sisters,
I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak with you.  As most of you know, I am in the final preparations to leave my family and explore an entirely new mode of life.  As some fewer of you know, I am in the midst of my final examinations at BYU.  Hopefully, all of you will be willing to excuse the quality of this discourse.  

I’m afraid that when Brother Hanks told me when I was speaking, he told me that I’d be choosing my own topic.  Frankly, I’m not very good at making choices.  So I’m sure this experience has helped me to grow...  
I hear often from speakers that they appreciated the topic they were given because it gave them the opportunity to learn more about the topic and to allow it to change their lives.  This being the case, I decided I needed to choose something I needed a better understanding of as a missionary.  And I decided on something that I rarely appreciate for it’s true value.  Something I take for granted so regularly that it is difficult to recognize my own perspective of it.  
The gift of prayer.
Brother Mason came in last month to talk to the primary children about prayer.  He spoke about how we close our prayers.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  Often, these seven words get turned into one.  InthenameofJesusChristamen.  
We have our Mormon phrases: bless this food to nourish and strengthen our bodies, for instance.  Even said over brownies at firesides and cheeseburger dinners at a restaurant.  The second sentence in almost every prayer I begin without thinking is “thank you for this day.”  
I’m not speaking to anyone’s condemnation.  Prayer is an important habit.  We’re taught right from the beginning.  When I serve my nieces dinner, I say “ok, let’s say a prayer!” to which Teagan will fold her arms and grin widely.  Libby will give me a sour look just to be disagreeable, but she also folds her arms impatiently.  When Moroni was little, I remember my dad guiding him in saying a family prayer.  “Please Bless the missionaries” to which toddler Moroni would repeat (in strangled English) “please bless the missionaries... and the dinosaurs.”  He’d say the last part very fast to get it out before my dad could continue.  It was very hard to be reverent whenever Moroni prayed.  
The bible dictionary says this: “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.  Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.  
While preparing a lesson for my mission prep class, I tried vainly to find something to teach beyond the regular four steps of prayer.  I guess I wanted to know what the difference is between those prayers where I can feel the true communication going on, and those prayers when I feel like I’m talking to a wall.  They happen.  And, as He is perfect, I’m know it’s not Heavenly Father’s fault.
  
So I began to look for patterns.  And I came up with three specific points of true worship--aspects of prayer that are easy to discard and vital to understand.  All require us to understand the nature of our relationship with God.  I’m sure you’re all familiar with these, but I think they bear reminding.  
First, we must pray with faith.  
This is the first principle of the gospel for a reason.  In the fourth article of faith, we put faith first because without faith, there is little understanding of the need for and nature of the other principles and ordinances.  This definitely includes prayer.  
I had the opportunity to go to the annual prospective missionary fireside in November, given at BYU.  Elder F. Burton Howard, an emeritus general authority, spoke on faith.  When he was six, he explained that his prayers always contained the following: “And God... help me fly.”  He would often jump off the edges of things with real expectation.  However, as He explained, “The result was always the same, The law of gravity prevailed and the floor was hard.”  He knew what he wanted.  And he supposed he didn’t have the faith to fly.  
About that time, he began to question how prayer and faith were connected. He said, quote “I wanted to be a magician and pull miraculous things out of my hat,” he said. “But I realized [the scriptures] described a totally different kind of faith — a faith that I didn’t have, a faith that I’d never thought about before — the faith to be submissive.”  close quote.
The bible dictionary explains that prayer is the means by which we align our will with the father’s.  Elder Howard told us that faith isn’t a tool to get God to do what you want him to.  It’s a gift to help us understand and accept what God wants for us.  
In my own prayers, I have to ask myself--am I subconsciously trying to force my will on Heavenly Father’s?  It seems like a silly thing, but I know I do.  I can’t count the number of exams I’ve sat down for, praying blithely for the ability to recall what I’ve learned... or better yet, haven’t learned at all.
While he was a mission president, Elder Howard was asked by a missionary, whether he thought the parable of the mustard seed was true.  “Do you have enough faith to move a mountain?”  And Elder Howard realized that he could answer with an affirmative.  He said “Yes.  But let me tell you something about moving mountains.  There isn’t any handbook... but no mountain has moved that God didn’t want to move.”
We might ask ourselves, not “do I have enough faith to make this happen?” but “do I have enough faith to accept whatever happens?”  The first talk I really remember affecting me was Elder Simmons “But if not”.  He says, quote: “Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. . . . He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. . . . We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, . . . we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has.”
When we pray, let us make faith a priority--pray with the attitude of “thy will” rather than “I petition.”  
Secondly, we must pray with sincerity. 
Julie B. Beck said, “Think of our combined strength if every sister had sincere prayer every morning and night.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard said “Every honest and sincere prayer adds another piece to chain-mail armor. … One of the most important ways to clothe yourselves in the armor of God is to make sure that prayer—earnest, sincere, consistent prayer—is part of your daily lives.”
President James E. Faust (1920–2007), said, “… Sincere prayers come from the heart. Indeed, sincerity requires that we draw from the earnest feelings of our hearts.”
How can we draw from our most earnest feelings?  First, we must be aware of them.  Prayer is often, as I said, a habitual practice.  Unless we actually pray with purpose, then we will find ourselves uttering things like “thank you for this day.”  “Help us to be safe.”  There may be no passion or personality.  Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton said, “Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity and truth accomplishes no victories without it.”  If we are to be sincere in our prayers, we must find that enthusiasm.  
We need to recognize our own desires and let Heavenly Father know that we recognize them.  Praying for charity is of little use if I cannot feel the need within myself to love my brothers and sisters in an unconditional way.  If I ask for the safety of my family, do I think of them?  When we are in our darkest hours, our prayers become very sincere because we are aware of our desires--we are directly experiencing and contemplating our need for divine intervention.  In our lightest, most absentminded hours, we feel no such need.  Yet it must be wearying to hear only the negative.  Have you ever had a friend that only calls and talks to you when she has unhappy tidings or needs comfort?  After a while, you start to dread her communication because you feel so anxious or worried for her every time you speak.  
Heavenly Father will never dread hearing from us.  But he wants us to be happy.  And when we are, perhaps we need to let him know.  With sincerity.  
My most sincere prayers come when I need aid.  But the sweetest prayers I have ever experienced come when I pray for joy.  I think the first time I made this connection was up at girls camp.  We were given the opportunity each year to go off by ourselves for an hour or so and to read a letter from our parents and ponder.  I looked forward to these prayerful moments--not just because it was an opportunity to have some quiet time up in the mountains, but because the joyful circumstances that surrounded girls camp brought me to my knees with sincere gratitude.  And Heavenly Father loved to hear about the joy I had found.  You can feel his joy even as you recognize your own.  And you fill find greater joy because of it.
Lastly, we must pray with real intent.
In Moroni 7:9, we read: “And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God recieveth none such.”
In a mock discussion, I was trying to explain what “real intent” meant to a couple of young men.  (They were pretending to be investigators, which made things difficult.)  I finally offered “well, for example, if I cross the street with real intent, what am I doing?”  The most difficult of them gave me a grimace and said “you are intending to cross the street?”  
It’s not a perfect analogy, but the point is, we must pray intending to act on the response.   We must pray with purpose.  If we pray with real intent, we expect to do our part.  Whether a new investigator is praying to know whether the book of mormon is true, or a college student is praying to do well on a test, they must have real intent.  When I was struggling with the decision to go on a mission, for ages I prayed to know whether it was the right decision.  I never really received an answer.  So I just kept getting ready for one and waiting to know whether it was right.  Eventually, one of my dear friends was discussing the subject with me.  She asked me tentatively, “if God said no, would you still do it?”  
I didn’t really have an answer.  I’d decided long before that I was going.  I just wanted a pat on the back.  But her question really troubled me.  And I realized that I had never really allowed Heavenly Father to give me a negative response, if any at all.  I’d been utterly predisposed.  So my prayers changed.  But more importantly, my attitude changed.  I allowed myself to consider the idea that I might not go.  That there might not be a need.
And I received my answer.
Brothers and sisters, I have a testimony of prayer.  It is a gift.  Not a tool or a ritual, but a prescribed order of communication.  It is a singular means of speaking to our Heavenly Father so that, even here--the veil keeping us from recollecting his face, we can learn to recollect Him.  He is listening.  Even when we haphazardly mumble our gratitude and fall into bed, he is completely aware.  
But we need to learn to listen back.  We need to remember our relationship to Him, as the bible dictionary says.  Prayer is a whole.  And saying your prayer is only a part of that whole.  Our attitudes, our ideals, our desires and our purposes serve a substantial part, if we allow them to.  We must seek to pray with faith, with sincerity, and with real intent.
Are we praying because we’re commanded?  Or are we praying to learn?  
President Hinckley said, quote: “You need His help, and you know that you need His help. You cannot do it alone. You will come to realize that and recognize that more and more as the years pass. So live that in good conscience you can speak with the Lord. Get on your knees and thank Him for His goodness to you and express to Him the righteous desires of your hearts. The miracle of it all is that He hears. He responds. He answers—not always as we might wish He would answer, but there is no question in my mind that He answers.”  End quote.
It is my hope that we, as children of God, will take the opportunity to kneel at his feet in submission, and seek to learn from Him through the Holy Spirit.  

Sunday, December 4

Single Digits

We're down to the NASA countdown, folks.  I can scarcely stand it. 

This feeling is only furthered by my upcoming finals.  (Heavens, I'm going to explode.) 

Which would be interesting.

Anyways, you'll note (to the left) that there is a new text box.  Read it and apply it generously to your life starting Dec 14th.  ;) 

My farewell will be December 11th at 9:00.  All and everyone is invited.  Afterwards, we're going to have soup and such at my house if you would like to come say hi.  :)  All are welcome! 

My address is 533 N 450 E in Springville.


-B.

Sunday, November 27

Regrets

We all have regrets.  Recently, mine have found prominence as I've prepared to go on my mission.  I thought I'd share a few of them with you here: (in no particular order.)







Friday, November 25

The Scriptures and The Devil

I was going to do a Thanksgiving post on the gospel... but I feel like it would have been very long and very wordy and very boring.  I do love this church.  It is my lifeblood, and I figure that that kind of blessing is personal to each of us.  So no bragging and ranting about the church.  Needless to say, it is my greatest, dearest blessing.

Today I learned something very important.  In Matthew chapter 4, the devil attempts to tempt Jesus Christ after he has fasted.  You are all very familiar with this story, but there is an aspect of it that didn't really matter to me until this week.  The devil says, in verse 6: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against stone."

The devil uses scripture to reinforce his temptation.

I guess I hadn't recognized the effect this concept could potentially have on my life.

This week a doctrinal issue came to my attention that caused me a great deal of pain.  Someone posed a concept to me, backed with scripture, that seemed legitimate.  While I didn't doubt the church, I felt confusion and darkness well up in my heart.   I felt afraid of some aspects of the church, and afraid to study the scriptures lest I further that fear.

I finally found the courage and mindset to crack open my scriptures again, and I came absently upon the Bible Dictionary definition for the devil.  The entry posed the same realization I mentioned above, and instantly the darkness I had felt dispersed as I recognized that just because something can be backed by the scriptures, it isn't necessarily true.

I'd allowed Satan's influence to come over my thoughts, and to essentially use scriptures to reinforce those false things.  I recognize that clearly now.  I just wanted to share this story... to encourage each of you to seek truth for yourself and through the Holy Ghost.  If you hear something from somewhere or someone that darkens your perspective of the gospel, seek the Holy Ghost's guidance and study it out.


I knew previously of these concepts, but they have been greatly reinforced in my life.  I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost--for His helping me to recognize the upheaval that was harming my spirit.

-B.

p.s. 18 days!  How about that?  I can scarcely believe how much closer it seems now that Thanksgiving has passed...

Sunday, November 20

Thanksgiving #6 -- Food

Naturally... those of you following this series realized something powerful was missing.  Something vital. And I can only avoid it for so long...

Yes.  Food.












Some things are sacred.  Eggnog is sacred in it's own way.





So is macaroni and cheese.









Words.  Cannot.  Express.  I love food.  I really do.  I love simple joy that comes of it, the social aspects as I hang out with friends or family and eat, and the memories that are so completely sustained through tastes.  

One of the more innocent pleasures in life, no?  Easily one of the most celebrated aspects of it, even if we don't realize it.  ;)  

I am eternally grateful for food.  
-B.  

Thanksgiving #5 -- Music

I don't need to say much about this one.  Between guard, choir, and angst, music has always been a vivid part of my existence.  It is truly a spiritual language, and I am so grateful that we've been blessed with it and with the means to create and appreciate it.

Here are some of my favorites.  :)

From Riverdance the Broadway.  This is probably my favorite Celtic piece.  Ever.


We sang this one in the Church Administration Building for President Uchtdorf and whoever else was in the building.  It was pretty much the most powerful experience of my life.


This just... makes me happy.  :)


And... this basically makes me wish I was a male opera singer.  Sadly, not my calling in life.  D:


And, lastly, some Jon Schmidt.  ;)


-B.

Thanksgiving #4 -- My Body

Not to be particularly vain or anything, but I have an awesome body. ;) I don't think there is anything I take for granted more consistently or easily than this. We identify so completely with our bodies, it can be hard to view them as any sort of a blessing that we need to be thankful for. But we know they are sacred gifts.

Sacred AWESOME gifts. I mean, come on:


  • Human bone is as strong as granite in supporting weight. A block of bone the size of a matchbox can support 9 tonnes – that is four times as much as concrete can support. 
  • Each kidney contains 1 million individual filters. They filter an average of around 1.3 liters (2.2 pints) of blood per minute, and expel up to 1.4 liters (2.5 pints) a day of urine. 
  • The focusing muscles of the eyes move around 100,000 times a day. To give your leg muscles the same workout, you would need to walk 80km (50 miles) every day. 
  • Your smell is unique: Your body odor is unique to you — unless you have an identical twin. Even babies recognize the individual scents of their mothers. 
  • Throughout your life, the amount of saliva you have could fill two swimming pools: 
  • When you take a step, you are using up to 200 muscles 
  • Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles per hour. 
  • The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet. 
  • You could remove a large part of your internal organs and survive. The human body may appear fragile but it’s possible to survive even with the removal of the stomach, the spleen, 75 percent of the liver, 80 percent of the intestines, one kidney, one lung, and virtually every organ from the pelvic and groin area. You might not feel too great, but the missing organs wouldn’t kill you. 
  • About 32 million bacteria call every inch of your skin home. 
  • Three hundred million cells die in the human body every minute. 
  • Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced. 
  • In the mouth, food is either cooled or warmed to a more suitable temperature.
(Found on various websites. Just google "the human body is awesome".)



Or how about this?

"Gospel teachings [...] teach that our bodies are a blessing, a sacred part of our eternal happiness. There is only a perceived mind versus body dilemma. Although there is a distinction between the body and the spirit, these two entities are not opposites. The spirit is not immaterial but both body and spirit are material. We learn in the Doctrine and Covenants that “there is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes." (The Body:A Burden or a Blessing? By Barbara Lockhart)

Just something to think about. :)

-B.

Friday, November 18

Thanksgiving #3 -- The Creation

Okay, maybe that's a little vague.  But I'm going to do some clumping here so I can get all my favorites in.  :)

I am SO grateful for the world and everything on it.  Now that I've gone to the temple, I have newfound appreciation for the creation of the world and the powerful purpose with which it was created and shall be perfected.

Here are some examples (most of which I haven't actually seen and none of which I've actually taken.)  But, hey.









Whenever I am lonely or worried or feeling down in any way, I need only take a moment outside and really take in what surrounds me.  And things calm down a bit.  I think in the end, Heavenly Father knew we'd need that influence to remember that life is meant to be enjoyed.

These pictures are but a few of the billions circulating the internet.  I just love it all.

So here's to the creation.

-B.


Thanksgiving #2 -- Friends

As I said... I'm pretty much the product of everyone I've met.  :)  This is especially true of my friends.  Honestly, this entire blog is full of evidence of the effects my dearest friends have had on me.  They give me something to look forward to and have helped me get through school, work, and life with a positive attitude.  While my family has been the primary influence on my personality and preferences, I think nine times out of ten my friends are the source of my habits, my activities, and my sanity.









Here's to good friends.  :)

-B.