Sunday, April 28, 2013

Choosing to have a positive attitude

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. There have been many times when I've just had a sour attitude... just because I wasn't happy about something. In reality, most of the things have been just small issues/annoyances, and I let them get the best of me.

Why? I ask myself this all the time. I don't like feeling this way. I dread it actually. So why do I do it?

I am taking steps to change that and to focus on the positive. I love this quote by our prophet, President Monson... if I change the way I look at things, I can change the outer aspect of my life.

I have been given so many blessings and have nothing, absolutely nothing, to complain about.

I need to embrace that more every day. Here's the quote:

President Thomas S. Monson noted: “William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, ‘The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.’

“So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment. “Charles Swindoll—author, educator, and Christian pastor—said: ‘Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.’

“We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude” (“Living the Abundant Life,” Ensign, Jan. 2012, 4).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Faith - NOT Fear

A friend recently passed on a blog to me with the following quotes from Max Lucado. Obviously, I don't follow him or am a member of his congregation :), but I really do love his quotes on faith/fear.

“Can you imagine a life with no fear? 
What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?”

“Feed your fears and your faith will starve. 
Feed your faith, and your fears will.”

“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. 
It is the belief that God will do what is right.”

So often, I let fear of the unknown, or fear of "what MIGHT happen" get in the way of me acting in faith and REALLY living life. I worry about things... about what might happen... what others might think of me... all these "MIGHTS".

But, recently I've also been following THIS blog. Mara is just awesome!! And, so is her husband, Danny, by the way. They are so insightful!! But, lately I feel like a lot of her posts have been about becoming who YOU are... not what someone else thinks you are. AND, finding your own happiness... becoming complete and whole on your own. I think this is so powerful. I don't want to be at the mercy of someone else's moods to determine my own moods/reactions... or to determine how much I am enjoying my life. I want to be ME!! And, I want to be the best ME possible.

I know this will come through study, prayer and having 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easter dinner & Cherry Blossom Japanese Festival/Fireworks!

 Spring is a really fun time in DC. Temps begin to warm... blossoms bloom... and there's always a lot going on!

I had a wonderful Easter. Such a wonderful time at church and then in the afternoon with friends. I didn't get many pictures of it, but I did get the before-meal picture of how nice Joni made it for us! We had treats on our plates! And, after a yummy meal we then went on an Easter egg hunt. It was AWESOME!

 Then, this weekend was fabulous as well! It was General Conference weekend and I really look forward to hearing the messages shared from our church leaders and prophets. They're always such great reminders of the many blessings we've been given and a renewal of energy to go forth in doing our best work!

So, Saturday was filled with conference, but in the evening, when all the guys are at the priesthood session, girls go out and play :) Fortunately, this was the same night of the Cherry Blossom Festival and Fireworks on the Potomac! We had a group of about ten awesome sisters with us and luckily found AWESOME parking down on the waterfront.

We got there just in time for these Japanese drummers to perform. I watched in awe of their strength and how much they "felt" the music and its meaning. I think that's a sign of the true performer. The members of this group studied the history and background of their ancestors and the pieces they performed. They wanted to share this knowledge with others and I loved that! It was so crowded, but it was well worth the time spent standing to see it!
 It's hard to see their feet in these pictures, but they're wearing slipper/sock flip flops!
 This picture also doesn't do their performance justice, 
but they're straddling that drum and pounding hard and fast!
 I looked around at the view as the sunset over the Potomac. 
It was so pretty. But, as I looked to my left I saw the 
American Flag blowing in the wind...
 I then looked to my right and saw the Japanese Flag blowing
 I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for my country, but also a respect for Japan. For it's people, culture, and history. I also was grateful that even though our countries have had its differences over the years, we have now come together and can stand side-by-side in harmony.

There were some crew boats out on the water... awesome!
 Then, out of the blue, these Japanese Fish boats started swimming around. They were only two or three feet above water and about 5 feet long or so. Kind of scary looking, but I really wanted to ride in one! I could not figure out what their purpose was and even googled it to try and find the answer. No LUCK! Open to the imagination!

 Then the highlight - the fireworks!!
 So pretty!
 I love how they light up the sky!
 But, the best part of all is that I was there with friends... Mer and Athelia were there too... just not in the picture! I am so grateful for my friends and for their support! But, really for the fact that they just bring JOY to my life!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Boston... and my nieces!

This past Thursday and Friday I was able to take a quick trip to Boston to see Evan, Madison, Holland and to meet little Mary who was born in January! It was quick... but so much fun!!

On Thursday I just hung out with Madison and the girls for a bit... took a quick shopping trip to H&M in downtown crossing... and enjoyed seeing some of the city! I babysat for Evan and Madison at night so they could go out to dinner. OH MY WORD... I have a new appreciation for mom's of infants... especially infants close in age. It was non-stop. How do they get anything done in life besides something directly related to childcare? It was a true test for me... I was only with them for about 2.5 hours alone and I was very grateful to see Evan and Madison walk through the door again!

On Friday, my dad came up from RI and we all had a great day together! I love this picture that Madison took of Pop-pop and Holland hanging out in the apartment!
Her smile is sooo cute!
And this was Pop-pop's first time meeting little Mary too!

Holland is all personality. She isn't really afraid of strangers and will jump in to the arms of practically anyone who offers to hold her and shows affection to her. A little scary for her parents, but a joy for an aunt that doesn't get to see her very often.  She loves to be held and cuddled... and so do I :)
Holland has been really good thus far as a big sister. I imagine it's quite a change going from only child, to being a sister and not getting all the attention anymore. Madison said that Holland is learning how to be gentle with Mary, but it's a process :) Holland also loves climbing in Mary's little baby seat when it's not in use. I think she might get a little jealous of Mary's attention at times too :) But, Holland is just so dang cute. Her smile makes you smile. And, so does her laugh! She's just a genuine happy, friendly and fun little girl! I also love that she can play by herself and keep herself entertained by simple things... like her love of playing with Costco boxes. She's definitely NOT a high-maintenance child!
To give Madison a bit of a break, we took Holland to the Boston Aquarium. Holland loves to walk, but it was so crowded and most things were not at her eye level so we held her for most of the time. It was fun! But, tiring!
The colors in many of the exhibits were awesome. Holland loved it!
I just love her little face!
She REALLY loved this one exhibit. It was close to the ground so she could stand and see it on her own and there were a gazillion little blue fishies in it. She got very close to the glass and just started talking to them in her own language (she's not too good yet with words.) and then got really excited every now and then! She did this for a long time. It was precious!
Holland's bottle is definitely for comfort. She doesn't even drink it that much. 
She just loves holding it!

After the aquarium we went back to the apartment for her nap. Evan got off early and we just had a great afternoon chatting, eating and such. I also love going back to visit Boston. It brings back so many memories... good ones. I don't think I could ever live there again, but definitely a fun place to visit!

Can't wait for my return!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My new motto... or personal belief statement... of sorts

This past Sunday was Easter Sunday. We had a wonderful church service filled with speakers and good music.

One of the songs sung I have heard many, many times, but this time one phrase stuck out in my mind more than anything else and it's going to become my new motto


That about sums it up. Really, I can't see the end from the beginning. I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, let alone what might happen a few minutes from now. I can try and plan. I can try my best to be prepared. But, really, that's all I can do. I can stand and not shrink.

That's also been the theme of a recent CES fireside given by Elder Bendar in March 2013. He spoke of Elder Maxwell's illness and how Elder Maxwell was determined to "not shrink" despite the huge trails he faced with his cancer treatments.

Easier said than done. I feel like this past year has been a trial of my faith and of my ability to "Not Shrink". I would never have predicted some of the events of this past year, but I felt like I have fought hard to keep, maintain and sustain my faith and to NOT SHRINK. At times, it has definitely been close to doing so, and I know the road ahead isn't clear... or all peaches and cream.

But, I am going to do my best to remind myself of my new motto.


Easter is a good time to remember and reflect upon the Lord and his atonement. He suffered, bled and died for me that I might be able to return to live with my Heavenly Father once again... and to be reunited with my family members if I live righteously. Christ felt the pains I have felt and will feel. He knows my heartaches and the deepest desires of my heart. But, my Heavenly Father knows what is best for me and even though I experience trials and heartache, I know they are making me a stronger, more faithful person. 

And, in the end, it all goes back to the ATONEMENT. Christ suffered, bled and died for me. For me and for everyone else. But, we need to apply that atonement in our lives. We need to understand what it means for us and how we can find peace and comfort in it. Christ paid the price. He did the work I can not do for myself. In the end that's really all that matters. I am going to try and do my best. Try and be prepared for what lies ahead, but in the end if I've done my best I feel like it's going to be OK for me to throw my hands in the air and just say "I BELIEVE IN CHRIST, SO COME WHAT MAY" and I know he'll be there to strengthen me, support me, encourage me and sustain me when nothing else seems to be working. 

Through Christ... I know I can make it to once again see my mom and any other family member who has passed on to the other side of the veil. 


Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring break (kind of) Part 1

The last week in March I had a very flexible work schedule because the family was away for spring break... and I took advantage!

On Monday, I went to see a few moments of a Supreme Court case. I only did the three minute line b/c I didn't really care to hear the whole hour long case... I just wanted a glimpse of what it was like! It was a miserable, snowy/rainy day, but it was so worth it to be there! I actually made friends with two college age guys in line with me (one from Norway and one from Australia). They were fun and we even discussed the differences  between the US Supreme Court and the one in Norway! I also got to see the Supreme Court Visitor Center and the movie they have there, which is also very informative. I loved it! Later that afternoon I got to grab some hot cider from Starbucks and catch up with Bekah as well! And then a book club meeting later on. Full, but good day!

On Tuesday, it was probably my 2nd most favorite day of the week! I took a short trip to Annapolis to tour around the historic part and to go to the US Naval Academy. VERY cool! Such a pretty day to be there too! Not only did I fall in love with every man in uniform, I really enjoyed walking around their pretty campus and learning about the lifestyle there as well their history! One of the coolest things was the Noonday formation they do right before lunch! Many pictures were taken, but they won't do it justice.
 They all gathered out front and did a roll call in their groups at 12:05 PM promptly.
 Then there was this flag and sword thing
 The band played
They they marched by groups inside. 
They just looked so great all walking together, in a line, all in sync.
 I took this picture below because of the very tall guy who kind of stands out... by a lot. I guess people in the Navy tend to be shorter to fit on the boats and submarines, but not this guy!

 Then, maybe these were the officers... after everyone lined up and walked in, they all walked to the center and marched in together as well.
 Off to lunch!
 This was outside their main dining hall and entryway - Bancroft Hall
 A very cool oath that they take as well
 I thought this was funny. They make very good use of space, but I wouldn't want to fall off my bed in the middle of the night!

 Their chapel on campus.
They also had a synagogue and really tried to make accommodations for all faiths.

Afterwards, I walked around downtown and drove along some of the streets. You can just feel the history and appreciate the beauty of this amazing town right on the water!

Later on that night I had another book club and a visit by my home teachers. A fabulous day!

March Happenings

 March was definitely an exciting month... for both good and bad. Let's start with the good!

Potomac Ward RS won 1st place in our stake bball tournament!
These women rock!
And, have some serious ball skills!

It was so much fun to watch their last few games. They played hard, had a few injuries, but they played so well! And, it was also fun to be among the crowd and to cheer them on with others I know.

Then, one week was especially rough. Won't go in to details, but it definitely involved many tears and MUCH frustration at things that were out of my control. Mer was so sweet to bring me flowers and brownies! YUM! 
 (Notice the little square box to the right? Ha - that's a deck of cards featuring select guys in our ward that my friend made. It's actually an "Old Maid" set where she's the Old Maid and you "go fish" for the guys. Ha ha... and they all have a fake name too that fits most of them or their picture, like "The Looker" or, "The President.")

But, that same week all the drama happened was also the same week my mom passed away last year. Miriam and Misty were so sweet to remember, bring me flowers and to check in on me. They were so pretty and definitely brightened my day!
 March was also a month filled with birthdays! One that really deserved celebrating was Miriam's! It was a surprise party and it was VERY very well attended!

I loved the color scheme. 
Just makes me happy every time I look at it!
 This was the photo booth for people to take group photos and then write a message on the picture/paper for Miriam. yes, props were included!
 Time for cake!
Miriam was very surprised when she walked in and saw the massive amounts of people in her house!
All smiles :)

Happy Birthday Miriam!!