Saturday, January 24, 2009

Finding enduring PEACE, HAPPINESS and JOY

Recently I've watched a good friend struggle through a trial in her life that required a lot of patience and a great deal of uncertainty. She's tried to remain positive, but it has been a struggle to feel enduring peace and happiness. She's not a member of my religious faith, and doesn't have any real belief system, but as I struggled to find things to say to her to help, I found myself searching through talks and scriptures on FAITH.

I started reading a book by one of my church leaders, Elder Richard G. Scott, entitled 'Finding Peace, Happiness, and Joy'. In it he talks a lot about FAITH, specifically that the first key to enduring peace and happiness is to be full of FAITH. "Life is what we choose to see in it... For many, FAITH is not adequately understood and consequently is not used to full advantage. Some feel that religion and the guidance one can receive through robust FAITH have no rational basis. However, FAITH is NOT an illusion or magic, but a power rooted in eternal principles....Exercise FAITH and you will confirm its power."

He goes on to say that we will gain a better understanding of FAITH as we: 1. "Trust in God and in HIS willingness to provide help; 2. Obey His commandments and live to demonstrate that He can trust you; 3. Be sensitive to the quiet prompting of the Spirit and ACT courageously on that prompting; 4. Be patient and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period of time."

"Motivating faith is centered in TRUST in the LORD and in HIS willingness to answer your needs. ... The consistent, willing exercise of faith increases your confidence and ability to employ the power of faith."

For me, the unwavering TRUST is difficult? And WHY??? If I can't TRUST the Lord... who can I TRUST? (answer: no one!) The patience part is also a little (or very) difficult for me. I'm the type that likes to have problems solved immediately and answers all at once. It's SOOO HARD TO WAIT!!

Elder Scott goes on:
"God uses your faith to mold your character.... In James we read: "The trying of your faith worketh patience" : For me... it's that word "patience" that always gets me. I have a limited supply :)

But, the following summary was eye-opening and enlightening for me to read and ponder:
"Your exercise of faith builds character. Fortified character expands your capacity to exercise greater faith. Thus, your confidence in conquering the trials of life is enhanced. And the strengthening cycle continue. The more your character is fortified, the more enabled you are to exercise the power of faith for yet stronger character."

Watching my friend go through this experience the past few months has been difficult, but it has taught me a lesson on FAITH and what I need to do in my own life to increase my FAITH. I've wished that I could have these conversations with her and to share what I have read, but a conversation is a two way street and the receiver needs to be willing to listen. As I've watched her struggle, but yet continue to resist religious thoughts, I wondered how many times I have behaved similarly by relying on my own abilities and knowledge to get through... and not exercising more FAITH. I'm quite sure I've stumbled and been less happy at times because of this. It's sad and painful to watch someone else go through it. I can only imagine how sad the LORD is in watching me go through it! In the end I do truly know that if I apply the principles mentioned above I really will find enduring peace, happiness and joy... which is my ultimate goal! I just need to apply them more often!!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My third strike?? I'm swinging the bat... and it doesn't look like a hit!

I moved to Boston just over 5 years ago and days before this city entered the worst winter on record (in my humble opinion). I was not a happy camper... as my mother would say. I stuck it out, but in accord with Boston's worship of their baseball team, I decided that three strikes and I am out. Meaning three winters that are bad... and I am outta here! Strike one was my first winter here. Strike two was two years later... and now it's not looking promising :) Last week we were in the single digits for "HIGH" temps and we've had more snow on record thus far than totals for the whole season last year.

There are many things I love about Boston... or should I say things that make this city unique. Things that make me smile when I think of them cause you can only "live it" in this wonderful city! I could create numerous posts on Boston driving, street design, Red Sox worship... and on and on. But, the top of my list right now is Boston's parking and traffic rules - and SNOW (which, let me repeat... we've had more than our fair share of this year.

One of my biggest stresses in this city is parking. I've gotten crazy tickets for not parking 20 feet from an intersection, not moving my car for random street cleaning, parking too close to a fire hydrant, missing a meter running out by two minutes.... the list goes on and on. I have become very familiar with the court system and appealing tickets/going to hearings. (not something I will write on my resume anytime soon!!) I've come to loathe the ticket officers who roam the streets ready to hand out tickets to any unsuspecting car owner. Is it wrong of me that I have wanted to run one of them over??! :) I realize I am judging the position and not the person, but I loathe them!

Anyway, when snow hits, my blood pressure rises because of the panic of not finding a spot on the right side of the street... and then getting a whopping $100 ticket and a towed car. As a child I loved the snow. That meant sledding, hot chocolate, snowboarding down our tiny hill, and just FUN. Here in Boston, "snow emergencies" (which are declared for any snow amount over two inches... and means you can't park on the street) parking can become a true nightmare and a fight till the finish. Once your car is parked safely - you DON'T move it till the ban has been lifted.

Then, sadly, No - the headache doesn't let up when the snow has all fallen as the headache for avail. spots still continues. It has become such a problem in Boston that the mayor will send trash collectors around to pick up things like this... (all photos courtesy of

"space savers"! Yep, people will place all kind of things to save the place they dug out. Now, I have been so tempted to remove some of these place savers over the years, but I actually did this year when someone had the NERVE to put a space saver in a spot I, (NOTE "I") had shoveled out!!! Normally, I would be worried that doing this would cause the person to put damage on my car, but I wasn't letting this guy off the hook!

Here are some famous pictures of space savers here...

Wishful thinking...
The backyard comes to the front yard. You can keep a watch on the kids and your precious parking spot!
My all-time favorite is this. Who would move this??!

One of my favorite Boston commercials is one where someone is shoveling out a spot and another person drives by looking for one. The guy shoveling says "You lookin' for a spot? Here have this one!!" Then he proceeds to back away and let the other driver in. The commercial ends by saying "This isn't Boston"... and goes on to advertise for the Red Sox or something. It's hilarious to me... only because I've lived it!

When can I go back to enjoying the snow because I know my car is safe and has a spot? And, is this my next strike??!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First of many lessons learned in 2009... never, EVER, EVER, EVER turn off your heat in the winter!

On Friday I returned from PA after spending a wonderful few days at home with Evan and my mom. It had been about four years since I had actually been at home when another sibling was there... and it was just a lot of fun! It was great to have dinners with friends, learn to play speed scrabble (and get the worst score ever), go shopping at the outlets (and have my brother outspend me!!!), and just relax. I can't complain about the amount of vacation time I have... but it was still hard to say good-bye and leave on Friday.

Nevertheless, I returned to good ol' Somerville. (Successfully missing one snow storm on Wednesday. That's one less time this winter I have to shovel out my car. WAHOO!!)

Well, I had promised Juliette I would stop by her house and bring in the papers, mail, etc. and check on the house in general since they weren't returning from FL until later that evening. I decided to go there before going home. When I got there I could hear the alarm going off in the house. Who knew how long it had been going off! I entered and could see there was no fire, no one trying to break in, etc., but I also noticed the house was FREEZING.

As I passed the thermostat on the way to the basement (while the alarm is still blaring) I noticed the temp was 22 degrees. Brrrrr. Then, I noticed the HEAT wasn't TURNED ON!!! So, I turned it on. Brrrr.

I went down to the basement to turn all the power off in the house (since I had already tried to turn the alarm off in every other known way and nothing worked). I did. The alarm stopped, but so did the heat. Not good. I couldn't reach either Juliette or David, so I turned the power back on and called the alarm company (alarm still blaring but the heat is on at least. The alarm people, after trying to diagnose the problem, said it wasn't their alarm that was going off and they must have other alarms in the house. WHAT?!! I didn't know what to do now. So, I decided to lock up the house, leave the heat on (and the alarm) and go to the store (since the house was freezing) to get them some milk, etc in hopes of reaching Juliette and David soon.

I'll cut back on some of the tiny details, but when I returned to the house the 1. alarm was somehow turned off (no idea how/why); 2. House was up to 40 degrees; 3. Had reached Juliette and the Plumber was supposedly on the way (in fear of pipes bursting). So, I stuck around for about 30 min, but was FREEZING still. After talking with Juliette, we decided it was OK for me to leave. The plumber was on his way, right?!! Well, that's what one would have thought after him telling you this.

8:30 that evening (three hours after I left) the plumber calls me and tells me he just got there and that I needed to come over right away. I can't even describe in good detail what I saw when I initially walked in the house. Water coming from the ceiling, water on the walls, water on the floor, the ceiling had fallen through, water, water, water everywhere. Disaster. I was just at a loss because I didn't know ever where to start or what to do. After talking with Juliette (who's at the airport in FL waiting for her flight (4 hours delayed and finding out the state of her house) we did what we could, but decided that it was best to let all the water drain through and just get to work Saturday morning. (Can I just add that Juliette's hotel had burned down the night before in FL... there flight was majorly delayed... and now this. She can't even come home to go to the bathroom, take a shower... or anything. What a start to the new year!)

So, Saturday morning, I go over after basketball and a lot is under control. The plumber had brought his team and they were doing everything necessary to get it cleaned up and the water back on. They found the culprit that caused all the damage.
That's my hand holding this tiny, tiny, pipe. And, the tiny slit. Had caused SOOOOO much damage. Incredible. Here are some pictures of the room after a lot has been cleaned up.

Fill view of main area on 1st floor
A close up of where the ceiling totally came through. Those are electrical wires hanging down.
Other side of the room with water damage.

So, my first lesson of the new year is 1. Never, ever, ever, ever turn your heat off in the winter; 2. And, a few tips on what to do if you're afraid your pipes might have frozen. (Let me know if you want more details :)

I wish I had known this before Friday, but we learn many things from trial and error, right? I truly admire Juliette and David because they are so positive and look at what how much worse it could have been... and just count their blessings in many other ways. Also, they were very lucky (if you can call it that) in that the water damage was pretty much contained. It could have been much, much worse, but it was only in their dining area on the first floor and bathroom/laundry area on the 2nd floor. But, wow. It was IMPRESSIVE damage.

I took the kids for the afternoon so they could keep cleaning up the mess. We had a fun afternoon at the Boston Children's museum. This place is GREAT!! They have this climbing structure that I'm, jealous I can't go on. They also have many activities to get the kids physically active. They also had bathrooms with running water (which the kids were grateful for!!).

We got tickets to see a play and Cecilia was one of the volunteers from the audience. The guy is pretending to be "Arthur" and they were all building a clubhouse together. It was cute. :)
Cecilia "The Builder"

Afterwards I brought the kids back to my apartment to take baths and have dinner. It was SUCH a fun afternoon... but wow. I'll never forget walking into their house on Friday night... Still don't know why the alarm was going off. My theory now is that it was because it was tooo COLD in the house.... but maybe we'll never know!

Here's to the END of a wonderful week and a half of Christmas vacation. It's been FABULOUS. Truly. But, back to work tomorrow!!! :)


My Team - The "Suns"... minus Cecilia and Leo

So, at the end of last summer I decided that I needed to start filling my time with more meaningful activities... especially my Saturdays. I had been looking around for some volunteering opportunities, but hadn't decided on anything.

BUT, then Leo decided he was going to sign up for basketball at the local YMCA and I jumped at the opportunity to be his basketball coach!! The Y was looking for volunteer parent coaches. I wasn't his parent, but I still counted. So, since September every Saturday from 10-12 I have the privilege of coaching 8-9 boys and girls ages 5-8 in basketball. It is SOOO much fun!

I did a similar thing with one of my bestest BYU friends, Nancy, when we were at BYU and we coached only girls who were about 8-10 years old.... and I LOVED it. This experience has been similar. Most of these kids have no idea what they're doing in the beginning (and some never really do catch on), but we do drills and teach them basic skills for the first hour and then they scrimmage other teams for the 2nd hour. They are just excited to bounce a basketball and run up and down the court! Leo is one of my star players. He's a natural with anything having to do with running and a ball. His sister, Cecilia, joined our team for the winter season as well.

They were both absent on Saturday (see post above this one as to why) but these are some of the other kids. I just LOVE their enthusiasm. They just want to learn and to play. They have so much energy and are not afraid of making a mistake. One of the little boys makes me smile with everything he says because even though he never throws the ball anywhere near the basket... or has any idea as to what is going on... he's the biggest cheerleader for the team and is so positive and optimistic. I LOVE IT!!! This has been such a rewarding thing for me. I love the kids, I've learned so much from the other adults I work with and I have truly valued the opportunity to participate!