Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pictures of my apartment

So, this post is really just for my memories :) A few people asked to see pictures when I moved into my new apartment in January, but... well, that never happened.

However, spring is here! Spring BREAK is here and that means I FINALLY have some time to do things outside the regular life I live. YESTERDAY was the best day! I cleaned everything from top to bottom, put all those winter clothes away, brought out my spring/summer stuff, and got organized. It felt - OH SO GOOD!

So, I took the opportunity to take some pictures...
Just an FYI - EVERYTHING outside my room belongs to my awesome roommate Becca. I can claim nothing! She has such a great touch for decorating. I need to learn from it!

small but very functional for two people
Den/TV area
There is a nice porch we can sit on behind the curtains
Table/Door to my room :)
My room!
I love my big windows and the space is perfect for me!
My closets.
I couldn't figure out how to take the picture, but there are two closets across from each other. I don't have that many clothes, so one is just filled with storage and the other has my clothes.
I LOVE the full-length mirrors as well!
My bathroom... emphasis on MINE :) No sharing!
This is a step up for me and a necessity in so many ways!
As I mentioned when I moved in here in January, I feel so blessed to be here. I love it!! It's perfect for me at this time and my roommate is great!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trials: From Barrenness to Impending Death... interesting insights

This past week I have been blessed to have a friend and a family member email me things pertaining to trials (hopefully because they were impressed with the quote and not because I've been complaining!!!) and I wanted to share them on my blog.

The first is from the book "Women of the Old Testament" by --Camille Fronk Olson. This book is on my reading list, but I haven't started it yet. Recently in Sunday School we read about Joseph (the one with the coat of many colors!) and talked about how his experiences had prepared him and enabled him to make righteous choices in his life. The author takes it one step further by talking about one of the women who probably helped mold Joseph - RACHEL - and the trials she faced!

"Like Ra
chel, we may see trials as punishments from God rather than as divine gifts to strengthen and polish us. Although difficult circumstances differ significantly from one person to another, such as those faced by Rachel and Leah, challenges are one of the humbling conditions of mortality that include persuasive invitations to draw closer to God. Rachel had an ideal marriage but no children. Leah had a difficult marriage but a great family. Both situations posed a temptation for the women at times to feel worthless and forgotten by God or at other times to feel superior and more chosen by God. Each situation, however became the vital soil from which the sisters developed unshakable testimonies of God and divine strength to nurture the future leaders of the House of Israel.

In many ways, barrenness is symbolic of any unrealized righteous desire or unforeseen difficulty that strikes everyone sooner or later. When such blessings as marriage, health, education, a home or believing family members elude us, we may better relate to the wives of the patriarchs during their trial of barrenness. The irony presents itself when one receives God's promise of the desired blessing but current circumstances deny any foreseeable manner that the blessing could be realized. But "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (JST
Hebrews 11:1). When no evidence exits to show how the promised blessing will be realized, a person of faith acts with certitude as though the blessing had already occurred. Having "an eye of faith" (Alma 32:40), we can see God's promises "afar off" (Hebrews 11:13) and live today with the confidence and assurance that God's plan for us will be better than our greatest dreams. In the imagery of barrenness, each of us is unfruitful without Jesus Christ. It is by His grace we are saved, no matter how great our works may appear to be. After listing Christlike attributes that make up our divine nature, the apostle Peter wrote, "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:8)

I can totally relate to this quote. Many times, I look at my trials and am "woe, is me" and I look at someone else and I think they're just skating by in life :) Little do I know though what they are really facing, or what's a trial for me is nothing for them, etc. I need to remind myself that our trials are tailored to us, personally, in order to strengthen us and bring us closer to the Lord.

I REALLY related to the 2nd paragraph when she talked about our own personal "barrenness". I have this in my life, and I am sure many others do as well. I can not deny that I have received God's promise of the desired blessing but, ha, in my limited vision the fulfillment of this promise would be a miracle. But, then, I need to question. Have miracles ceased? No, I believe they haven't and I do see little "miracles" and "tender mercies" in my life every day... but it's hard to always maintain the optimism through faith that this BIG PERSONAL MIRACLE would
ever, EVER,
happen! That is where my faith comes in. FAITH - I love how she said it's acting "with certitude as though the blessing had already occurred...and live today with the confidence and assurance that God's plan for us will be better than our greatest dreams"!!!!!

I need to wake up every day and read this quote... sometimes re-reading it throughout the day will be what gets me through. Maybe I need a little bug in my ear repeating it all day long :)

The next email that was thought provoking was sent in regards to a very well respected and intelligent law professor who, as my friend eloquently put it, "articulates Christianity with an elegance I, in my very limited reading, have found in very few other places; and is as insightful in facing his own immanent death as I could imagine someone being." This professor is in the late stages of terminal cancer.

I am going to just attach the link to the interview recently given entitled "You will Call, I will Answer." In it he expresses his views on trials, pain, suffering and his impending death.

Then, an even more inspiring post was written by him on his blog about in answering the question he's "supposed" to be asking as to why all this is happening, and why it’s happening to him. As I do all the time. WHY ME? WHY NOW? What did I do or not do to deserve this? I love his insights and how he articulates his beliefs in his post "Less Than the Least." It helps me put my trials in perspective and gives me more to think about as I endure them.

And, not just endure them... but endure them WELL. James 5:10-11 talks about prophets who have suffered affliction and how they're "happy" when they endured. But, I think it's more than feeling happy at the end. It's happiness WHILE enduring. Something I know intellectually, but as with this whole post, need to put into practice in every day life.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Tender Mercies of the Lord and Changing my Brain!!

Link to the video: Tender Mercies of the Lord
(I wish I knew how to get the actual video to show up on here like some people do. I am so bad with technology!!)

Align Center
I LOVED this talk, but this video brings me so much peace and comfort! I also love Elder Bednar's voice. It reminds me of a parents voice giving counsel and encouraging words.

I have definitely felt these tender mercies in my life many, many times. And, it's so much easier to recognize them when I make a conscious effort to reflect back on my day at night and think about the tender mercies of the Lord. It can be so easy to get stuck in a rut when things are going well and not acknowledge the blessings I have been given along the way... or when things are going wrong to only focus on the negative.... or when I am feeling so totally alone to not remember that, really, I'm never truly alone. But, I've noticed that the more conscious effort I make to remember the tender mercies of the Lord, the easier they are to recall when times are rough.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently because I KNOW my feelings are a DIRECT result from my thoughts. And, I know I don't like how I feel when I have negative thoughts. I also know that some people are happier because they aren't bogged down by negative thoughts. I believe it's possible (for most people) to change your thought patterns, but I wanted to learn more about it. "Knowledge is Power", right? Well, I needed power because my attempts were not sustainable!

This "thinking" led me to a book called "Change your Brain, Change your life". It's very interesting as the author wrote about how parts of the brain literally look different on brain scans on those suffering from depression, OCD, etc. or even when the individual was having negative thoughts... because your brain is releasing chemicals with each and every thought!

Here are some of my "takeaways" from the book:
1. Notice how negative thoughts affect your body... whether it is an angry, unkind, or sad thought
2. Notice how positive thoughts affect your body.
3. Think of bad thoughts as pollution. Every cell in your body is affected by your thoughts. That is why when people get emotionally upset they often develop physical symptoms.
4. Automatic thoughts don't always tell the truth. Automatic thoughts "just happen". Challenge your thoughts.
5. Talk back to your thoughts. If it's negative, correct it.
6. Exterminate the negative thoughts... like you would want to get ants at a picnic!

One "How-to" application he mentioned was to WRITE negative thoughts down and talk back to them!

He had some other great suggestions like surrounding yourself with people who provide positive bonding, and suggested building a library of wonderful memories that you can fall back on when you have a negative thought.

Of course the book goes into much more detail, especially for those suffering from depression, anxiety, fear, etc., but I was really happy with what I learned and will put it to practice!

This, combined with remembering the constant Tender Mercies of the Lord, I truly believe will help me be a happier, more faithful, hopeful daughter of God!