The Good News is…

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I read a wonderful article recently entitled The Mormonizing of America.  It talks about the increase in media attention and the rise to positions of influence and power by members of the LDS faith during the last few generations despite the fact that they are such a small percentage of the global population.

I saw this article shared by Mayim Bialik (of Blossom, Beaches, and Big Bang Theory fame) that discusses modesty in Mormon culture and how it effects athletes.  Bialik stated in her description of the article “I’m not Mormon, but my in-laws are”.  She praises the young lady featured in the article for being well spoken and states that her decisions are “admirable”.

On October 10th, the documentary motion picture “Meet the Mormons” was released nationwide in select theaters.  The film features 6 diverse members of the church from across the world while “challenging the stereotypes that surround the Mormon faith”.

The first thing that I saw the other day in my news feed when Facebook came up on my screen was a friend commenting, “Today is just one of those Sunday’s that I want to stand on the tallest mountain and yell I KNOW THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!”

My 18-year-old nephew, who is currently serving as a missionary for the church in Ecuador for TWO YEARS, just wrote our family a letter in which he stated excitedly, “MIRACLES HAPPEN.”  What sacrifices he is making as a young man to bring families he has never met to the knowledge of the gospel!

It is remarkable to me, as a member of the Mormon church, the strength of our small numbers (less than 2 percent of the World’s population) in reaching the World on a global scale.  And the news is almost always positive despite the tendency that we as a nation have to make a mockery of all things good and praiseworthy.

I loved this quote in the article I mentioned above:

Plant Mormonism in any country on earth and pretty much the same results will occur. If successful, it will produce deeply moral individuals who serve a religious vision centered upon achievement in this life. They will aggressively pursue the most advanced education possible, understand their lives in terms of overcoming obstacles, and eagerly serve the surrounding society. The family will be of supernatural importance to them, as will planning and investing for future generations. They will be devoted to community, store and save as a hedge against future hardship, and they will esteem work as a religious calling. They will submit to civil government and hope to take positions within it. They will have advantages in this. Their beliefs and their lives in all-encompassing community will condition them to thrive in administrative systems and hierarchies–a critical key to success in the modern world. Ever oriented to a corporate life and destiny, they will prize belonging and unity over individuality and conflict every time.

It’s all true.  The Mormon church as a whole achieves success because it is based on deeply moral and selfless principles, with its individuals striving to be more like their Savior in every action.  How can you go wrong?

This fall we made the decision to enroll the twins in a pretty pricey all-day preschool.  Two of the days they are at school I take the “baby” to a wonderful day care and I spend my [suddenly very short] day running errands, cleaning house, making plans, and generally just being productive.

Recently I spent this free day at the temple.  This is a place I usually go with my husband.  We were married here and when we were first married we went at least every month.  When we started a family it became a lot more sporadic.

It’s important to me for one because, in a worldly sense, its a lot like renewing your vows.  When we’re there together I am reminded of why it’s important to protect our relationship and why being organized into families is so special.  It is also one of the only places we can go where we force ourselves to sit quietly, distraction and device free.  No one gets offended.  No one casts judgment.  The cares and stress of the world fall away and Heaven is close.

This time was a little different because in the times when normally I would look to Aaron’s side of the room, meet his gaze, and smile, or find an opportunity to hold his hand, I realized I was alone.  This was the first time I have been to the temple by myself.  I sat in the temple for two hours and something hit me very hard.

Heaven would be a very lonely place without the ones you love there beside you.

As I reflected on my experience that day, I realized that with all the positive sharing of religious views and experiences it should be easy for me to consistently be a shining light to the world of how the Gospel can change your life.

Instead I am terrified of how sharing the deepest parts of my faith could change my relationships with the people I care about most.  I’ve had enough religious discussions that ended (or started) with “Let’s not turn this into a religious discussion” to know my boundaries.  What are people afraid to hear?  Is it that they’re afraid that it is true?  What would that mean for them?

But there is proof in all things pointing to the existence of a Heavenly Father and His love for us.  He has His hand in the moving forward of His work on the Earth.  At some point every single soul will have an opportunity to hear His truth and accept it or deny it.  The choice I have to make is whether or not I, as all those I mentioned before, want to be involved in sharing that I know this.

I choose to be involved.

So if you’re ready, listen.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on the Earth today because within its teachings is the fullness of the Gospel, even if there is truth in all religion.

Our Heavenly Father has a perfect plan, one that we usually do not fully understand, and if we follow it and trust in it we will be able to live with him and with our families again when our mortal life ends.  Part of this plan was choosing his son Jesus Christ to atone for us as imperfect beings.  Another important part of his plans was restoring his true gospel to the Earth in this dispensation through a young and humble disciple of Christ, Joseph Smith.  Joseph’s courageous example to follow the Gospel even through trials and persecution is second only to the Savior’s.

I know that if I keep the covenants that I made when I was baptized and when I entered the temple, and that if I keep the commandments that were set for us many generations ago, that I will be able to more clearly see the path that God has set for me.  And the truth is, even if it weren’t true, there is no better way to choose to live our one and only chance at life.

But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true and I am eternally grateful to be a part of spreading this news.

 

Click here to request a free copy of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be caught with an empty vessel

In this season of my life, there is very little that is more satisfying than a stocked fridge or pantry.  It gives me a sense of control.  A sense of accomplishment.  It means I’m prepared for the potential disasters that may lie ahead.  It is the picture of time well spent.  A bright future.  I went shopping today.  It is going to be a good day.

IMG_1014Don’t judge the contents of the picture.  Sometimes, when you go shopping with a 1 year old, two 3 year olds, and a 6 year old, its about quantity…not quality.  Today I’ve got quantity.  And like I said, today is a good day.

Some days are not so.  The harder days look something like this:

I wake up (much too early) to the smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle, the sound of chairs screeching along the wood floor as the kids pull them out.  Pancakes are Aaron’s favorite breakfast, so they are our kids’ favorite too.  To them, pancakes are worth getting out of bed at 6 for. I drag my zombie-self out of bed and enter the fog that is my family in the morning.  I don’t feel like pancakes on most days.  I think to myself a green smoothie sounds like a good pick-me-up and I open the fridge to search for ingredients.

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Okay, well I guess oatmeal will do.  I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal.

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I sigh, and reheat the single pancake that is left on the plate.  As I wait for the toaster to ding, the kids have finished their breakfast and are asking for juice.

“We don’t have any juice kids, sorry,” I slur my words together.

“But mom, pleeeease!  I want some juice!”

I repeat that we don’t have any, “Would you like some water?”  Of course not.  Water?  Puh-leeeze.  The thought occurs to me that we should probably go to the store today, but a vision flashes through my my mind:

Everyone dressed, shoes on, in the car (“I have to go potty!”), back in the house (“Mom, I don’t want to stay in the car by myself!”), back in the car, to the store, find the ONLY cart that will fit my whole family + groceries (“Mom, I want to ride in the car part!”), fill the cart with three times as much as was on my list and none of it is healthy (“I have to go potty again!”), get to check out (“Don’t let them take our food!”), “Do you need some help out miss…?”, “No thanks, I got this”, out to the car, load up one kid, two, three (“Get back in your seats boys!”), four, return cart, get in the car…

…breathe…

“Mom, it’s hot in here!!!”  I think we can last a couple more days without food…I fill their sippy-cups with water.

I realize the toaster was done a while ago, and retrieve the pancake.  Upon seeing the last, lone pancake, the kids descend on me like sharks.  I cut it into quarters and tell them to go back to the table.

A few hours and many frantic petitions for snacks later, I submit to their pleas and load everyone up in the car.  It goes just as my vision foretold, with one exception.  The car-cart is not available.  Which means I can fit Lochlan in the front seat and the twins in the basket.  Jade will walk along side.  There is no room for anything else.  We decide to go to the deli for chicken fingers and potato wedges.

Later that evening, Aaron comes home.  “What did you have in mind for dinner tonight?”  He asks.  I look again in the pantry.  Maybe it will look different this time.

“How about pancakes?”  Pancakes sound pretty good right about now.

There is much more in a days work than this, but somehow I really do feel like with a kitchen full of food I can take on anything.  You never know what new kid-cravings (or aversions) the day will bring, and to be prepared is everything.  Having peanut butter on hand on an I-hate-ham-sandwiches kind of day could be the difference between tears and laughter — mine and the children’s.

At times like this, I think a lot of the parable of the 10 virgins.  If you know this story, you know that the 10 women who have been chosen to light the way for the bridegroom to enter his wedding celebration all start out with oil in their lamps.  However, half of them have the good sense to bring along extra oil in case they have to wait longer than expected.  The others run out of oil, their lights go out, and in the chaos of trying to find more oil they miss the celebration.

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I think of this story almost every time we’re running low on food or any time I face a challenge that could have been avoided if I’d anticipated the possibilities.  This was a lesson I remember my dad teaching me in middle school.  Anticipate the possibilities.  It may be a lesson I need to learn many times.   It would be wise to learn this lesson sooner rather than later.

I read a quote recently.  “Sometimes we grow complacent, thinking we have enough to get by…Being wise means being prepared for the unexpected with an extra measure of faith, testimony, and Spirit in our lives.”  -Anonymous

The 10 wise virgins didn’t just attend the wedding ceremony with a lamp. These women also carried with them a vessel for the purpose of storing backup oil. I imagine that the foolish or unprepared women could have thought it’s inconvenient to carry something extra with me, or possibly my vessel doesn’t go with my outfit.  Either way they thought it was excessive to pack along something that couldn’t possibly be necessary or it just didn’t cross their minds in the first place.

Most of the time preparation is inconvenient or undesirable for one reason or another — Taking all of my children to the grocery store is anything but desirable — but the effort is worth the peace that comes with being ready when the unexpected occurs.  It is never foolish to be too prepared.

My valiant, pungent raindeer king

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One night many years ago, my sister and I were sitting in the basement of the home she was currently living in.  We were watching In Her Shoes, which was less than memorable because I couldn’t tell you today what it was about.  But the company was wonderful.

At about 10 o’clock my cell phone rang.  It was my college dance professor, Wendy Bone.  “Hey, Whitney, sorry to call so late.  I’m in sort of a desperate situation,” she said, “I had an emergency appointment come up tomorrow right in the middle of my classes and I was wondering if you could sub for me.”

This was BIG news!  Wendy never asked for my help!  Keep your composure Whitney, be cool, “Of course, what do you need me to do?”

“Could you come meet me at the school?  I know its late, but it would be much easier to go over the lesson plan with you in person and I won’t have time tomorrow.”  I didn’t need to think about it.  I apologized to my sister and hopped in the car.

When I arrived at the dance department building, I tried to recall if she had given me a meeting place.  I was pretty sure she had said to meet her on the stage, which was strange because her classes were in the studio.  But you don’t argue with Wendy.  I went to the stage door.

Darkness.

So I went to the studio.  Empty.  In fact, the whole building seemed to be empty.  I was sure she had said the stage, so I went back.  This time I saw a faint light coming from right in the middle of the stage.  As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw him.

Aaron McKee was standing center stage.

My mind couldn’t make sense of this situation, but the unfamiliarity of it made my heart pound as I walked towards him.  As I got closer I realized that there was music playing:  Goldberg Variations, a classical piano piece Aaron had told me he really loved.

He held my hands, and my entire future flashed before me as I looked into his eyes.  While I can’t remember the exact words that he said, I remember the feeling as he asked the most important question I’ll ever hear.  And my answer was yes.  It may have taken me a few days to realize fully that I had been lied to by Wendy, and that I didn’t ever finish that movie with my sister.

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Four short months seemed to drag on forever, and on May 6, 2006, eight years ago today, we were married in the Bountiful, Utah temple and sealed to each other for this life and for all eternity.

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I love this man.  He has shown me kindness, patience, and Christlike service and selflessness every day of the last 8 years.  He makes me laugh.  He’s brave when I am definitely not.  He allows me to be myself.  He has given me 4 beautiful children.  I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming (hopefully I have a little something to do with that).  I look forward to his future head of thick gray hair!

Happy anniversary Aaron!

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Shedding pride while finding worth: A lifelong struggle

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Circa 1989

I was in a jazz dance class, mostly with kids who were quite a bit older than me.  I was pretty proud of myself and it showed through my dynamic recital performance.  My enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt when, after my number, a little boy got up and sang a solo; my memory tells me it was the song Father Figure by George Michael.  I didn’t say anything, and I’m pretty sure I thought I hid my disappointment well, but I remember thinking he’s not very good, why did he get to sing by himself?

Summer 1992

I was attending a performing/fine arts camp in Wilmington, NC while visiting my dad for the summer.  During a lunch break, a small group began to congregate around one girl as she told a story.  I was nearby and overheard her talking about her relation to Christina Applegate.  I’m not sure why this was a big deal to everyone, or how they even knew who this actress was — At the time I only knew her from Married, With Children and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, both of which I shouldn’t have been watching at my age — But they did care.  A lot.  I felt something well up inside me; a feeling I now recognize as jealousy.

During one camp day we took a field trip to a theater called Thalian Hall.  I was very familiar with this theater because the previous 2 summers I had been in productions of Annie and The Sound of Music there.  I’d explored every nook and cranny of this space as we searched for signs of its supposed haunting.  So as we walked behind our tour guide, listening to stories about when and why this building came into existence, all I wanted to do was run off and go back stage.  “This is boring.  Lets go see my dressing room!  This is my theater!” I wanted to scream.  But nobody knew, or cared, about my experience with this theater.  Why do they care so much about that other girl’s experience? I thought.

7th Grade

Our 7th grade class was assigned to complete an awesome project together.  We were to create an actual restaurant, interview for the job we wanted, and then bring our creation to life in the school cafeteria.  My Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, who also happened to be my drama teacher, announced that included in the list of jobs would be the job of “entertainer”.  I didn’t even need to look at the rest of the list; I knew that’s the job I wanted.  But since he also told us that the entertainers needed to first sign up for a REAL job, I chose hostess.  I thought that’ll be an easy job that I can get out of the way at the beginning before my performance starts.  Auditions were held, cuts were made, and the final cut left 4 of us.  For my final audition I chose a song from The Secret Garden.

The Girl I Mean To Be.

I thought it went really well.  I must have thought wrong.  Mr. Deboer assigned the other 3 girls as entertainment, while I was the only one who didn’t make the cut.  I fulfilled my job as hostess and when it was time for the singing to start you can guess who I thought could have done a better job.

Fall 1996

In the Grand Rapids Ballet company, cast-list-posting time was the most exciting time of the year!  And no matter my track record, I still had high hopes every time I walked into that studio.  We’d had auditions for The Nutcracker recently, and I felt strongly that this was my year.  I’d worked hard and paid my dues and this was going to be my time to shine!

It wasn’t.

But it also wasn’t Molly’s.  Oh, Molly.  She was one of the 3 girls who had been chosen as restaurant entertainment, and had also been cast as the coveted role of Clara in the previous year’s production of Nutcracker.

After we had all had our chance to look over “The List” I found Molly crouched under a ballet barre in tears.  I sat next to her and put my arm around her and told her it was going to be okay.  Her response?  “You don’t understand.  You’re USED to getting bad parts!”  Touche Molly.  And thank you for reminding me why I resented you so much.

Forest Hills Central High School: Senior Year

Since leaving the GRB company a few years earlier, I’d had very few disappointing experiences when it came to dancing and performing.  My departure overlapped with my acceptance to the high school pom squad, and upon hearing from the captain that my audition score had been highest of all participants, I knew I’d made the right choice.  I was finally — FINALLY! — in a place where I was appreciated and recognized for my talents.

My final year of poms I was named captain.  And at our annual pom camp, I was also thrilled to be chosen as an All-Star and given the opportunity to perform in Disney World with a select group of dancers the following winter.

86(That’s Molly embracing me…clearly only hugging me to try to overshadow my special moment…not really, but that’s the teenage me talking)

Before winter came, I decided to audition for our school’s production of “The Music Man”.  The auditions went seamlessly and I found myself again in a group of 4 girls (one of who happened to be Molly) singing the lead character, Marian’s, solo.

Disappointment set in when I found out that although I had made the call-backs, they fell on the same day as the final All-Star rehearsal prior to leaving for Disney World.  I made the tough decisions to back out of the All-Star performance and take my chances with the musical.  After all, auditions had gone so well!

I not only did not get cast as Marian, I was cast as a chorus member with no lines.  Molly was cast as understudy Marian.  I spent a lot of time regretting my decision to back out of the Disney trip.

Summer before college

Despite almost 10 years of difficult with Molly, she and I decided to take a trip to Wisconsin just before graduation.  We were both auditioning to be counselors at the pom camp we’d spent the last few years attending.

I have such wonderful memories of that trip.  The audition was so much fun, we met some great people, I did my very best, and I went home with a lot of confidence and excitement about my new summer job!

A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard back in response to our audition.  One day, I got a call from Molly.  “Did you get your letter?!” She asked excitedly.  “No…,” I knew where this was going, “Did you?”  By this point it was clear that she felt bad for calling.  “Yes…”

The best part was that summer:  While I was attending my younger sister’s pom competition, the same competition I’d competed in for the last 3 years, Molly was performing with the group of counselors as an introduction to the event.

Still in need of approval even in adulthood

I’m embarrassed at my reaction to all of these experiences, and so many others that I didn’t mention.  I really could throw myself off a bridge for allowing myself to waste so much of my life judging my worth based on whether I received more recognition than someone else.  And I wish I could say it stopped when I left home.  But as you can see, that’s not the case…

Last week

A few months ago, I wrote a post that included a story about a “falling out” that I had with a fellow Zumba instructor.  He is currently teaching at the same studio that my daughter takes ballet with, and whose recital we’ve participated in as instructors.  I knew that if I wanted to take part in this year’s spring recital I’d have to take matters into my own hands — he and I haven’t spoken since December.  So I wrote him and asked how he would like to handle this years performance and what days would be best for him to get together.

His overdue response came, in which he briefly told me he had it handled and that he’d already gotten a group together to participate.

I instantly felt rage that I’d forgotten I was capable of.  I didn’t realize how prone to grudge holding I really am.  I’ve always thought I’m pretty great at getting along with people.  But not this person.  As much as I’ve been blaming our broken-relationship on what he did to me, the truth is I just never wanted to see his face again.  And it makes me sad, because I really miss doing this.

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That same wave of jealousy I felt as a 6 year old in a dance recital, that same disappointment I felt when my teachers didn’t think I was good enough, that same humiliation I felt when Molly got chosen over me for parts, jobs, boyfriends (oh, did I not mention that my high school bf cheated on me with her?), the rage I felt recently at being rejected, it still creeps up now.

This is where I segue into something more serious and important that may not be immediately recognizable as relevant…

About 5 billion years ago

My spiritual beliefs tell me that life did not begin at birth.  Before the Earth was created, we lived with God as his spirit children, where he revealed his plan for us to receive a mortal body and live an Earth life away from him, where we would be tried and tested, but also form families and experience joy.  In this way we would have the chance to learn things we couldn’t without a body and hopefully one day choose to return to live in Heaven again.

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At that time, Lucifer (Satan) stepped forward and wanted to be recognized and praised as the one who would make all of God’s children return to live with him after their Earth life.  But at that same time, Jesus Christ, understanding that God’s plan required his children to be able to make their own choices and mistakes, volunteered to atone for the sins of the world, providing the gift of repentance and forgiveness to all of his brothers and sisters.

It was then that Satan, feeling resentful and vindictive, rebelled against his Father’s plan, taking a “third of the hosts of Heaven” with him, and in doing so was denied the opportunity to receive a body.  Determined to deceive the rest of God’s children into rebelling as he did, Satan has subjected us to much temptation, fear, and sorrow.

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I really do hesitate to compare myself to Satan, the father of all lies, the cause of all unhappiness and sin.  But when I get so angry about not achieving success, being the favorite, or being in the forefront of everyone’s mind, I can’t help but see that he is succeeding.  He does have such a strong hold on me.  I’ve been feeling so much hate and resentment towards people lately, and the more hate I feel towards others the less I feel I am worth anything.

I think he knows that the younger he starts tempting people to hate others and hate themselves, the more likely he is to succeed.  Lately, I have heard the phrase “It’s not fair!” out of my 6-year-olds mouth WAY too much.  Satan is no respecter of age.

One day, possibly many many hundreds of thousands of years ago, I made a decision to follow Christ’s plan and not Satan’s.  He’s angry with me for that and trying in every way to get me to change my mind.  I chose eternal joy and family in spite of temporary challenges, over limited progression in a naive and oppressed dictatorship we would have been subject to under Satan’s plan.

“…having made that decision, why should we have to make it again and again after our birth into mortality?”  The late prophet Gordon B. Hinckley asked.  And he continued, “I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in Heaven.” (“The Dawning of a Brighter Day”, Engisn, April 2004)

He goes on to describe the “faint but beautiful light” that shines through the darkness of these perilous times the world has always lived in.  There are so many opportunities in life for us to do good and to be a part of something much bigger than our own journey.  We are told that we have so much more tremendous significance than we could possible comprehend.

But despite our significance in God’s eyes, “…this does not put us in a position of superiority.  Rather it should humble us.  It places upon us an unforgiving responsibility to reach out with concern for all others…We must cast out self-righteousness and rise above petty self-interest”.

Based on my history of pride and resentment, clearly I’m not qualified to preach humility.  Even as I write this post I have to convince myself that I’m not sharing my experiences so people will think I’m an amazing writer.  Or even so that someone might thank me for being the reason they found God.  So I’ll end with the words of another remarkable leader:

“Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2010)

UPDATE (May 25)

When I wrote this post, I honestly had no thought in my mind that someone who actually knew Molly would read it, let alone Molly herself.  I had no intention of dragging her name through the mud and I hold absolutely no ill will towards her today.  She is and was a beautiful person.  Regardless of the jealousy I always had towards her, I still considered her a great friend for many years.  I think sometimes we choose friends based on our admiration of them.

My point of this post was not to prove how terrible other people are, it was to show how in need I was and am of changing.  How in need many of us are!  Pride is a terrible thing.  It is no one’s fault but my own that I carried these grudges and resentment around with me for so long and life would have been so much happier if I could have let them go and seen myself for who I really could be without being compared to others.

As for the writing style, drama always makes for better story telling right?  So while I wrote as if I still hold these feelings as a 31 year old woman, I truly don’t.  It is always easier to see the truth and the purpose behind the experiences in hind sight.  I’m grateful for what I learned about myself through these times, even if I didn’t handle them as I would have liked.

So I want to sincerely apologize to Molly (and John and that little boy who sang a solo and anyone else who I thought was living the dream that I should be living).  They don’t deserve what I have felt for them in the past.  Love you Molly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little regret and a lot of perspective

This weekend has brought with it a lot of reflection, as well as a handful of stories via blog-surfing, that really knocked some sense into my hard head.

For the last two days I’ve been listening to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Since college, I’ve always really looked forward to this weekend twice a year and have made a huge effort to watch all 8 hours of it.  Since 2007 it has gotten progressively more difficult to listen with full intent, but I do my best because every time, without a doubt, it redirects my focus down the right path.  And one day I hope all my babies will be teenagers who really look forward to and benefit from this weekend as well.

As I come close to the end of this conference, my head is spinning with confusion about how certain things can seem so important one moment and totally insignificant the next.

Before I forget precisely why I am posting this, I want to admit that my resentment towards people who don’t care about Zumba was entirely misdirected.  In fact, I had a friend stop me in the grocery store yesterday and explain why she hasn’t been able to come the last couple of weeks.  She told me she had been so sad to have to miss it because it is the highlight of her week.  And not only that, her 5 year old daughter was so sad to miss it because she loves to come play with the other kids!  My response — “Oh, don’t worry about it!  I completely understand.  I missed you!” — sounded sort of forced coming out of my mouth after what I posted the previous day.  But I realized it was actually more true than I thought.  Why did I start doing it again anyway?  Not for the praise of people around me, but to hopefully build closer relationships with people I didn’t usually spend time with, and show them a way to be healthy in the process…if they were interested.  Mission accomplished.  If anything, my resentment should have been directed at myself for being disappointed that I couldn’t stick to my original purpose.

So what I said Friday was exactly what I said it was…venting.  I had a strong emotion that somehow I needed to release, and it came out as anger towards people who I’m sure all had very logical reasons.  I’m over it, hopefully for good.  And I owe apologies to the innocent victims of my anger.

Now in the process of coming to this conclusion, I also came across two stories that just made me want to punch myself in the stomach for being so self-absorbed.  One was this one about a little boy who survived drowning a couple of years ago.  The other was this story about a mother of 5 children whose husband was shot in Boise, ID a few years ago by the husband of the woman he was having an affair with!  Okay, I can’t think of very many things worse than either of those two scenarios.  Except for maybe this one where the child didn’t survive the drowning.  Or the story of the father whose car was was hit by a drunk driver, ending the life of two of his children and his wife who was 6 months pregnant.  And of course the Nielsen family’s story is both tragic and inspiring.  Don’t click on any of these links unless you’re ready and willing to invest a significant amount of time retracing the steps of their tragic stories as you mourn with them.  You have been warned.

At this very moment, I have a good friend who is at Primary Children’s hospital with her 2 year old daughter who is undergoing a clinical trial for a very rare form of leukemia.  While they were very blessed to have caught it when they did and to have made it into this trial (she was #75 in a trial that only had room for 75!), they have a very long road ahead.  And not only that, but she has a pre-teen daughter with autism who she had to leave at home with friends and family.

All of these stories are incredible examples of faith and forgiveness.  Today as I look at my life it almost seems unfair that I’ve had it so easy.  And it scares me what could lie ahead in order for me to learn these principles.  Maybe you’ve heard the concept that if everyone were to put their trials into a pile in the middle of a room, you’d be quick to pick your own back up?

No, Multiple Sclerosis is not fantastic, but would I choose it over cancer?  Yes, of course.

Yes, having 4 kids within 5 years has been very physically and emotionally demanding.  But would I prefer to not be able to have children?  Or would I have chosen a career instead if I could go back?  Definitely not.

I understand that my Father in Heaven knows and loves me and has designed my life, with all its joys and challenges, specifically with my potential and progression in mind.  I’m really trying to find joy in MY journey and not envy someone else’s journey.  I’d love to constantly have an “attitude of gratitude” not only for my blessings and times of ease, but for the hard times that make me stronger.

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Making unorganized matter…organized. And making it matter.

Several months ago I wrote the following in a post entitled Leave No Path Untaken:

“I have an innate need to be part of things.  And not only PART of the world, but CREATING it and IMPROVING it.  Somehow my ego thinks this is possible and actually necessary or the world just simply won’t go round…It’s really difficult for me to feel just mediocre.  I tell myself I am destined for greatness and need to be the best at everything I do.  There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself to be this person every. single. day.  Even when I try to GIVE MYSELF A BREAK by taking a walk (or starting a blog) I still feel like it needs to be the BEST walk of my life, or the absolute most inspiring blog post ever written!”

I think a lot about the need I have to somehow make every moment a memorable one.  Blog-worthy.  Epic even.  Last week I had one such experience which I would consider to be particularly remarkable.

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For the last few years I’ve attended a conference called Time Out For Women with my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It is, exactly as it sounds, an opportunity for women to give themselves a break from daily tasks, whatever they may be, and focus on what makes them (us) special and important.  Each conference has a line up of inspirational speakers and musical guests (both men and women).  This year the line up included an incredible singer/songwriter/guitarist and also husband/father named Justin Cash.

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Well, since I don’t really ever “give myself break”, I used his performance time to imagine a scenario in which I got him a job working for my dad and devised a plan for how I would make this a reality.  If/when this worked out, Justin would have a great job, Dad gets a fabulous artist, I have something to say to this singer after the show besides “I really enjoyed your music!”  Everybody wins!  Of course I couldn’t just sit and enjoy the show.

Ironically, Justin also had a few things to say between songs and what came out was a paraphrase of the following quote by Elder Dieter Uchtdorf (Member of the LDS church general presidency):

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty… As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”

Hey, that’s what I’m doing!  Thank you for the validation, Elder Uchtdorf.

So after the show, I approached Justin and, in the most composed voice I could muster, pitched to him my idea for his future.  Not wanting to offend him by implying that he needed a better gig, I think I apologized and smiled a lot.  But I was thanked with a hug and a napkin to write on.  I gave him my dad’s email address, with “Tell him Whitney referred you” scribed underneath.  Again I apologized and explained why I had written my own name on the napkin, he laughed and thanked me, I wished him luck and we parted ways.

I just realized how many times I referred to him as “Justin” so apparently from my end the meeting went well and we are now on a first name basis.

I was very inspired by this conference and did actually listen and not try to respond to or intervene with the majority of the show.  It was a good feeling to be recognized for the things I’m already doing, and encouraging to see that change is possible for me.  Probably the next few posts will have to do with things I learned from this experience.  But for now I’m going to make one last helpful (and hopefully profitable) plug!

If you’re reading this and you live in the Charleston, South Carolina area, please make this a priority!  It’s an incredible show created by a couple of people who I love very much, who also happen to have been very talented Broadway performers.  Maybe if you mention me they’ll give you a discount!

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I believe in karma.  Maybe…just maybe…now a spot will open up for me in their cast 😉