Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ward Conference

My favorite part of Ward Conference Sunday:

"We would like to sustain brother So-and-so as the pianist for the Relief Society."

Followed by an audible "Huh?!"

And concluded with Bishop's comment about Brother So-and-so, "Well, that was wishful thinking on his part."

Monday, February 27, 2012

What Greater Gift

Not too long ago a close friend of mine brought her second beautiful baby girl into this world. I had the precious opportunity to visit them in the hospital, accompanied by another close friend. There was something special, almost sacred, in that hospital room. Perhaps it was the tiny spirit who so recently left the presence of her Father in Heaven. Perhaps it was the beautiful, loving relationship between my friend and her awesome husband. Perhaps it was the smile of a gorgeous two-year-old, proud to be a new big sister. Perhaps it was the quiet, deeply rooted friendship which has existed for more than a decade between the three friends who gathered there. Perhaps it was a little of each.

'What greater gift does thou bestow, what greater goodness can we know than Christ-like friends, whose gentle ways strengthen our faith, enrich our days. For worthy friends whose lives proclaim devotion to the Savior's name, who bless our days with peace and love, we praise they goodness, Lord, above' (LDS Hymns, 293).

Friday, February 24, 2012

For Better or For Worse

No...sadly this isn't a post to announce a wedding...but the title seemed oddly fitting. As I drove to work yesterday morning, I paused in my usual morning routine of rushing past slow drivers and actually took a moment to enjoy the view. The snow-covered mountains were breathtaking with the early morning sun glinting off of their craggy ridges. As I looked at those beautiful mountains, a sense of peace and calm came over me. With emotion usually foreign to that time of morning, I thought to myself, "This is it. This is my home. This is where I belong."

Living in Utah has it's down sides - slow drivers, endless road construction, crappy pay checks, brutal winters, snow in July and only two good months of summer. But it also holds unparalleled beauty - the majestic snow-capped mountains, the red rock of southern Utah, soon-to-be 13 operating temples, the family I love so dearly, so many of the friends who have helped define me and better me throughout the years, the new friends waiting to be discovered, the grand adventures I've had, the new adventures waiting around the corner. So, Utah, I'll take your schizophrenic weather patterns and orange barrel state flowers - and I'll stick it out (for now), for better or for worse, because underneath all that blasted snow - there really is something worth investing in.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Piper Post

I think I should get an award for posting the most dog posts in a row...sadly you can see what my life revolves around. Here are a few pics - for no real reason...just cuz. 
This is the shirt that Matt got her for Christmas.
Does this shirt make my butt look big?

Can you please stop torturing me and take this stupid shirt off?

This is her favorite place at my parents house - staring longingly at the outside...

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Ominous Interview Day

Last Friday was the official interview day for the Occupational Therapy program at the University of Utah. Let me tell you how it went down.

Step One - Herd all 70+ awkward interviewees into a conference room and spend an hour talking about the program and the field (Great information during this part!!).

Step Two - Break awkward interviewees into groups of 6-7 (The schedule varied by group here...but since I was only in my group, the rest of the steps are in order of what we did).

Step Three - Second year grad student takes group on building tour (Our tour guide was adorable. And the work load of the program hadn't killed her yet ... that's always a good sign).

Step Four - Group activity (i.e. 'You have 12 minutes to take these tinker toys and make something functional that is not a car or a truck. Ready...set...go.' Of course, as soon as they said 'not a car or truck' - the only thing I could think of was a car or truck. Thankfully there were smarter people in our group than me. Sadly...they were also my competition. Dang.).

Step Five - 50 minutes to write a 3 page personal statement (Boo Ya for the English degree - specifically the B.S. degree. This was the one part I was totally not worried about - note that: the ONE part).

Step Six - Awkwardly make conversation with other interviewees while waiting for personal interviews to start. And realize all of them deserve this just as much as you do. That realization is a killer - I really hope they all get in. The bad news? If they all get in...I don't.

Step Seven - Ten minute personal interview with two faculty members (10 minutes? Seriously! 10 minutes = not enough time to adequately convince you I'm cool enough for grad school but just enough time to sound like a complete idiot. Face palm!).

Step Eight - Spend the next month agonizing over the ten painful minutes of personal interview and hoping that somehow 70 applicants divided by 30 spots = everyone gets in. I've never been very good at math...those odds can work out, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Truly Beautiful Valentine

Yesterday was the best Valentine's Day! I didn't get roses or a kiss from a special someone. Heck - there isn't even a special someone at all! But yesterday I saw first-hand what Valentine's Day, and love, are truly about.

An amazing friend of mine has stood by her boyfriend's side for the last year and a half as he has battled cancer. Their story wasn't supposed to play out like this. They fell in love. They were supposed to get married and live happily ever after with beautiful fat babies. Right? Isn't that how a love story is supposed to go?

But that's not how their story went. He got cancer. And their story changed forever. Instead of planning a wedding and savoring the giddy moments of a growing love, she gave up her entire life to be by his side every step of the way. She has slept on hospital beds for weeks during his chemo treatments. She has organized fundraiser after fundraiser, sold her car and given up everything of monetary value to raise money for the bone marrow transplant he needed to save his life but insurance refused to cover. Words cannot even begin to express the level of sacrifice, loyalty and love she has shown.

And yesterday, I went to her house at 9:35 at night. I found her in sweats and a hat, cleaning her house. She had been cleaning for hours and hours - disinfecting every inch and preparing for today. Today he will be released from the hospital. He is completely immunocompromised after an intense 3 weeks in the hospital for a full bone marrow transplant. And for the next 100 days, he will be staying in the spare bedroom of her Mom's house so she can continue to be by his side and help him through his recovery.

I hope and pray that some day their story will yet hold a magnificent wedding, beautiful fat babies and days of bliss. I hope future Valentine's Days will bring roses, fancy dinners and romantic get aways for them. But today, Valentine's Day looks like disinfectants, vacuum cleaners and washrags. Today, true love looks like sweats and a baseball cap.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Dog and The Frog

I bought Piper a frog for Valentine's day. Ok - it had nothing to do with Valentine's day. It was just because I've had this obsession with finding a ridiculously huge stuffed animal for my tiny dog. And Valentine's day happens to be the perfect time for obscenely large stuffed animals. I wondered what the lady at the check out was thinking when she rang it up. I thought about clarifying and saying, 'No, I am not one of those chicks that thinks this is a great gift for a grown man.' But I didn't. Instead I chuckled to myself as I thought about 'those girls'. Anyway, Piper loves her frog - and by love I mean eats. It's pretty hilarious to watch. The poor frog's body shakes as she attacks it and slowly it disappears behind the furniture. Then Piper emerges from behind the chair, panting like crazy and plops down in the middle of the floor for a rest. Apparently attacking a stuffed animal at least ten times your size is exhausting.
The dog to frog ratio is a little obscured cuz she kept inching closer to me.

Quick! I've got it's arm!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Welcome Home

When we come home, James and I greet Piper the same way: "Hi Piper! Don't pee!!" (Repeat that...but this time in a really obnoxious high pitched voice...yep, that's about right).

I don't know if it really helps or not - she hasn't been having accidents as often when she first sees us. But it never ceases to amuse me how dumb we must sound. And I can only imagine what people would say if we greeted them that way...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Worth of a Soul

I was reminded of a powerful truth a couple of Sundays ago. I was talking with my Mom about how The Lord doesn't call those who are qualified - He calls those who need that calling to learn and grow. Naturally, I thought of my mission. At one point I had a companion who didn't want to do the work. She was discouraged and frustrated. And as I focused on encouraging and strengthening her, I started to get frustrated with her. I felt myself getting upset that we were not tracting or teaching or baptizing like we should have been. I felt we were failing as missionaries because we were not bringing souls unto Christ. And I was confident that if this sisters attitude were different, we would be achieving those goals. I felt like I knew what we should be doing and how we should be doing it and yet I couldn't achieve it because my companion was holding me back. Sadly I admit, I felt it was her fault we weren't reaching our goals because she was turning the focus back on her when it should have been turned outward to the people and investigators around us.

While I recognize the pride in that attitude and have tried really hard to overcome it, I recently found myself in a similar situation with a leader and I started to feel some of that frustration creeping back into my heart. But as I talked with my Mom I realized what an amazing testimony this is of God's love for each of us individually. He didn't call my companion to serve and then get angry when she wasn't perfect at fulfilling that calling and when she didn't baptize 150 people that transfer. He understood when He called her that she needed to learn and grow. And He will take care of  those 150 people until they are found, taught and converted - even though it wasn't by me and my companion. And He was willing to do that because my companion needed to be saved and the hard things she learned on the mission were a critical piece in that salvation. And SHE was worth it to Him. Her soul was precious enough that He called her to serve instead of calling someone like Elder Holland to serve there in her stead - even though Elder Holland would have likely found 2,000 people to bring to Christ that transfer and we didn't bring any.

It isn't a numbers game to our Father in Heaven. He isn't interested in putting the person in a leadership role who will 'save' the greatest number of people. He is interested in calling the person who most needs to be saved - the person that leadership role may end up saving. Obviously this is not the doctrine of leadership and I don't mean to contradict that doctrine as it has been taught by Prophets and Apostles in any way. I was simply reminded of the profound truth that each person - individually - is truly of infinite worth to our Father in Heaven. And I am SO grateful for that truth! It certainly helps me to have greater patience with those who serve as leaders when I remember it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Boy's Best Friend

I heard growling. So I turned around. There was James, almost 21, kneeling on the floor with the dogs toy hanging out of his mouth and growling in unison with the tiny dog on the other end as they played tug-of-war. It was priceless - I was admittedly disgusted that he actually put her toy in his mouth - but it was nonetheless priceless. And I'm pretty sure if I had managed to snap a picture in time - someone would probably take away his man card.

She Cries

In Psychology last semester we talked about how babies have different cries - the hungry cry, the sad cry, the startled cry, the angry cry, the hold me cry ... you get the picture ... and I'm sure all of you with kids are intimately acquainted with those cries!

Anyway, I realized this morning (not because I want to compare my dog to your kids...but sometimes there really are some pretty funny similarities) Piper definitely has her own set of cries - almost all of which revolve around playing (or food) in one form or another (that's why she and James are such good buddies - they are both motivated by two things: playing and food. ;) ). Here are a few of her cries:

- You have my ball! I KNOW you have my ball! Give me my ball!! (Accompanied by jumping and sniffing you for said ball)

- Food!! Can I PLEASE have your food?! Please?? (Insert pitiful puppy eyes and head cocking)

- Hey! You aren't paying attention to me! Don't you know the world revolves around me?! (Usually just one whimper. Just enough to get you to look at her. Then she wags her tail and runs to find a toy)

- Play????? (This cry follows the cry for attention...usually because she's come back with a toy to find that you are again not paying attention to her)

- My bone! My bone! I need to bury my bone! (Insert Piper wandering through the house in obvious distress with her half chewed bone hanging out of her mouth)

- There is a person over there - I see them! But they aren't fawning over me!! There is something wrong with this picture! Please come play with me!! (She will stare at them, wag her tail, cry and then turn to look at me like 'Help. It's not working!')

But my very favorite cry is the 'I'm SO excited to see you!!' cry - accompanied by profuse tail wagging, jumping up and down repeatedly and lots of puppy kisses. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hmm...

Is it bad that I bought a new planner ... and the only dates written in it have to do with Piper?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

For Christmas I bought my brothers the Pass of all Passes - thinking that as two teenage boys they would love being able to go to Seven Peaks and Trafalga and all that jazz for free all summer long. And it would encourage sibling bonding since they could go together, right?

Well, before the Christmas break was over, my parents and I were totally jealous of their super cool passes and all the stuff they got to do with them. So we bought one for each of us as well. We spent that first week going to Trafalga and playing mini golf, taking my Mom laser tagging and a few other fun things. But the options are still a little limited until March when we can go ice skating and May when we can start going to Seven Peaks.

But, one of the perks of these passes is that you get into a couple of Grizzlies hockey games for free. One of the free games was on the 19th and my Mom and I decided that would be a great mother-daughter bonding opportunity. -I interrupt this story to comment how freaking awesome my Mom is! Some moms get pedicures, facials or go to chick flicks with their daughters (which is fine for them) but my Mom and I bond over sweaty men beating the crap out of each other with hockey pucks and big sticks. AWESOME! Resume story. - Well, we got there an hour early and told the nice lady at the ticket office to give us the best seats she had left. Obviously she didn't read the "Pass of all Pass holders get the crappy seats in the upper bowl" memo because she gave us FRONT ROW seats!! That's right! So front row that you felt like you were literally sitting on the ice with the players front row. So front row your legs fell asleep from the cold front row. So front row you had to hold on to your soda when they smashed into the glass or it would have ended up all over you front row. Here are some pics and videos for your viewing pleasure. Sorry for the crappy quality - they are just from my phone. I would have brought the camera if I thought we were going to be on the front row!


Smile Mom. This is for posterity.

Yay for Zamboni's! I've loved these crazy things since I was little - they are the only good thing about ice.

Play Ball ... I mean Hockey

Griz was harassing my Mom. Better document it.