Sunday, October 25, 2015

Personal Progress Faith

I finally Finished my Personal Progress (Aug. 2015) This is the record I kept of the various values.

Value Experience:

1. 11/17/13 This first experience is primarily meant to help people with little faith begin to build it and people with current faith begin to exercise and acknowledge it more regularly. I have always thought that as far as the church goes, faith is one of my strong suites. It is, perhaps, one of the spiritual gifts that I see in myself. I have never doubted the existence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have never wondered whether or not I have an omnipotent Father in Heaven watching over me. In short, I have faith. However, after beginning the first part of this three week challenge last week (exercise your own faith by establishing a habit of prayer in your life), I have consciously tried to pray morning and night and to ask for a strengthening of my faith. I have asked my Heavenly Father about things this week that I don't normally consider worth asking about. I have tried to turn to him in faith in all important decisions. I still have two weeks left. So far I have felt the spirit more abundantly and have been given the go ahead on several big decisions.

2. Qualities that a women needs to teach her children to have faith and base decisions on gospel truth:
Needs to be living gospel standards.
Needs to have a firm and obvious testimony of the savior.
Needs to be an example of basing decisions on gospel truths.
Live righteously and with faith.

Being righteous, faithful, and following gospel principals can help throughout your life because it provides a list of standards to live by. This makes decision making and righteous living easier because you have already decided how you are going to live and why you are going to live that way. Living that way prior to children will make it easier to live that way and set an example after you have children.

3. This value project has to do with teaching a family home evening lesson that has to do with faith and other principles that are easier to live when faith is present in your life. I taught a lesson to my family in which we reviewed some principles ( repentance, death, tithing, fasting, service, etc.). Then I focused on service. We watched the mormon message "lift" and talked about how we are like the main guy and often think of service in the wrong light. We tend to think we are burdened rather than blessed. We all shared experiences that have strengthened our faith. I'm grateful for my testimony and the faith that I do have. One of my goals is to try to serve more willingly and without complaint.

5. I am grateful for the atonement in my life. I am grateful for the opportunity it gives me to keep trying when I mess up, which is frequently. I am grateful that I have a Brother who loves me enough to take my sins upon himself. As I was reading the scriptures associated witht the atonement I thought it was interesting to read about how generally one man can't take the consequences associated with someone else's sins. However because the atonement is part of the plan, it is all encompassing. Christ is the only one who even had the ability to take our sins and give us the chance to return home. Knowing that he suffered for all of my sins makes me want to do my best to not sin.

Value project:
I created three separate pieces . . .that demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ. The first was a small canvas that said doubt not fear not on top of a silouette of Christ. I plan on hanging it in my office. The second thing I made was a t shirt that says ctr. I will wear it all summer. It is much harder to choose the right if you do not have faith. The third thing I did was put my story seashell city on this blog. This was a story I wrote as an eighth grader to metaphorically talk about the atonement and various peoples take on Christ. I would be one of the people who believed at the end and I will continue to have faith even though I cannot necessarily see the big picture. Between the three projects, I did around ten hours of work.

Random memories for the challenge

For the summer challenge I am doing with nick, Ben, and dad, the challenge this week is to write my journal two different memories. One from my childhood and one about a spiritual experience.

1. This one is difficult since the last several posts I have written have to do with a smattering of childhood memories. The one I cam up with is more a of a general idea with some specifics attached. As a kid, and even now some years, my family participated with the conders in their yearly nativity reading. I almost always had to be Mary because when we were younger there was thirteen boys and me. This gave me the chance to be married to several of my cousins and my brother on various years. One year I was Mary, spencer was Joseph, and Ben was baby Jesus. Explain that. Anyway one year Matt was the cow , and this was in the midst of our Nathan rivalry and I knew he was out to cause trouble. I don't remember much since I was five or something but I remember yelling at Nathan, who was Joseph, to "watch out for the cow" in the middle of the story. I think Matt must have charged us, I dunno. Anyway, looking at this that story isn't to entertaining but it is one of those stories that is brought up regularly within our family. That is the story that goes along with it. If someone who was present and older than five at the time wants to improve this, please feel free.

2. I feel like spiritual experiences come more often to me as I have gotten older. They are not necessarily profound or life altering but they are there and they are real. The one that comes to mind happened in Thailand. While we were there, a regular Sunday was spent getting to and from church, it was about eight hours. However, the ward we went to was the most amazing ward. After we had gone the first one or two times, the members just stepped in to help us. We had someone who would come pick us up at the train station, we had people who would translate for us in our various classes, we had people who showed us around town, and the ward began to feed us lunch every week after church so that we wouldn't starve. Throughout the summer my testimony and gratitude grew so much. It was amazing for me to see that the church was the church regardless of the country or language. On one of the last weeks we were there, we had the opportunity to watch the branch president baptize his wife. That was an amazingly profound experience and the spirit was definitely present in that building. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seashell City

 When I was 14 I was given an assignment by my English teacher to write a short story. This is the story I came up with. I am blogging it as part of my personal progress.

   There was once a small kingdom ruled by a lazy King and Queen. The kingdom was shaped like a bowl. Beige walls rose up on all sides to envelope the city in safety from the outside world. The people of the city had grown rebellious. They were tired of being mistreated and under appreciated. They waited in vain for a leader to rise up and help them take control of the kingdom.

     Sarah looked out her bedroom window. The waves crashed against the sand and the sun glinted off the water. It was a calm day but the night was sure to be stormy. Sarah gazed at the distant clouds and wondered what the sea would be like that night. Living nearly in the ocean was amazing but it had drawbacks. Even with a tall storm wall, there had been times when the ocean had come alarmingly close. Sarah loved the ocean but she feared the waves that inevitably came with a storm.
     Knowing what nightfall would bring she decided to visit the sea while it was calm. Leaving her bedroom she grabbed a snack and exited her house toward the water. Eating her grapes, she skipped through the very last remnants of each wave as it was swept back into the mass. One grape got lost as she went.

       In the city, panic spread as a huge purple mass came hurtling toward the castle. However, it never made impact. Instead, it hit the curved edges of the city causing the whole place to vibrate. City vibrations, caused by one thing or another, were not uncommon. This time, however, the people had had enough. What were there leaders doing if not protecting them? The sky darkened as the people of the city plotted.

     Hours later, Sarah ran in the direction of her house. Having lost track of time, she had walked along the beach much longer and further than she should have. It was raining lightly and getting worse Watching her feet as she jogged Sarah saw the most beautiful seashell sitting just out of reach of the high tide. Unable to look away, Sarah stopped to examine the beige masterpiece. She picked it up and put it next to her ear. Instead of hearing the ocean, she heard very distant shouts.

       A huge crowd of citizens had gathered at the gate of the castle. They were ready for change with our without a leader. They shouted at the gates, demanding that the King and Queen come out. This did little and the people began to tire. When, without warning, the city jerked violently and began to ascend. The rain that had been pelting the people abated and the sky was replaced with a gaping hole. The people continued to shout but it was now from fear rather than rage. The scenery then changed from a hole to what looked like a giant eye.

       Sarah gazed into the seashell trying hard to see what was making the noises she thought she heard. There were indentations in the shell and various colors and what looked like sand. Nothing that should be shouting. Turning her ear back to the shell to check her sanity, she began to hear words rather than screams.

       The people of the city had found their leader. Surely this giant was here to free them and lead them to victory. Almost with one accord, the people began to shout a single word. Help.

      Sarah listened quietly as she heard the word help repeated numerous times. She looked around and realized that her exploration had caused her to lose precious time. The rain was pouring hard now and the tide was much higher than was normal. She felt it brush against her toes, a spot on the beach previously untouched by the water. She was still a long way from home and she didn't have many options. She knew her parents would worry. They were probably looking for her. Then she looked back at the seashell.

     After pleading for help for several minutes, the people of the city sat back and watched. The rain had started up again in droves and they could see both the sky and the outline of a giant person's upper body. What would this person do? Would she change the tide for them? They waited in anticipation for their freedom.

   Sarah thought about her options. She could still hear the pleas for help echoing in her memory. She had heard so many voices. How could she deny them the help that they sought and so desperately needed. Had she not picked the seashell up, it and its numerous voices would already be lost. She promised herself that she would do whatever it took to help the voices in the shell. She put her hand over the top and began to run.

     The sky was blotted out and the city went dark as something immense ended the rain and light. The city began to move. It teetered one way than another. Vibrations unlike it had ever known shook it at regular intervals. People fell down, buildings crumbled, this was not the help they wanted. 

     Sarah ran as fast as she could. The waves had grown, the tide continued to come in, and she found herself backed against the cliff face that bordered the beach. Waves began to hit her. They grabbed at her feet first, then her knees, and then her waist. She held the shell above her head to keep it out of the raging water. She could only imagine what the waves would do to the voices. Looking ahead she could see the storm wall that surrounded her house. She knew she couldn't make it, not without her hands. However, she couldn't bring herself to let go of the shell. Despite the fact that whatever was pleading for help was all but invisible to someone as big as herself, she had made a promise.

    The people of the city, unaware that they were being rescued from a fate they could not even fathom, grew restless and angry. They were tired of the vibrations. They were tired of the dark. And, they were tired of feeling small. Who was this giant to make choices for them? Shouldn't they get to decide if they wanted their city elsewhere? The people, sure that they were being unjustly trodden upon by a new threat, turned their rebellion to the hands that carried them. The King and Queen, seeing the turn of events, chose this time to present themselves and their support for the people.

     Sarah was ten yards away from her storm wall. She forced herself through the water that was now hitting her chest. The tide pulled her in and out as she struggled to stay on her feet. The storm was fierce and frightening, and she fought it with everything she had. She knew that without her, the voices had no chance of living.

      The people aimed their weapons high, at the blackness that obscured their view. Their spears, and arrows, and sling shots were ready. The king gave the signal and the crowd let loose a volley of objects whose only ambition was to destroy the plague blocking their view.

     Sarah spit out a mouth full of seawater. The tide was now over her head and all of her effort was barley keeping her in control. She still held her hands aloft, one supporting the shell one protecting it. Without notice, her shielding hand began to sting. It felt as though it was being pierced by hundreds of tiny pins. The uncalled for aggravation almost caused her to remove her hand, but she knew that she couldn't do it. Without her help the voices wouldn't make it. She struggled onward, certain now that  the most she could do was save the shell. She would no longer be able to save herself.

      As the last of the arrows came crashing back into the city the people began to despair. The sky was still missing and flooding had started. Every few seconds water would come splashing through the gaps between the curved walls and the black mass. The giant was clearly playing some wicked game. Why would it move them from a place of safety into a place of chaos?

     Sarah was drained. Her energy was almost gone and she was freezing. The storm wall was close but not close enough. With a last burst of stamina she pushed  her feet off of the sandy ocean floor and taking her stinging hand off the top, threw the shell towards the wall. She prayed that it would make it and that the voices would be okay.

     Suddenly the obstruction that had been blocking the sky was gone. It was replaced by a violent storm and an unnatural loss of gravity. The people paused their grumbling to grab hold of stable objects and gaze at the heavens. Water poured into the city from all directions as the balance of the people shifted and turned. Fear gripped them in a new way. 

     The tide dragged Sarah away from the shore. She watched the seashell fly just over the wall and out of sight. As the waves dragged her under she knew that she had done what she was meant to do. She had provided a second chance for the voices and given them the help that they had begged for. Satisfied that she had done her best, she took her last breath and the sea took her away.

     The gravity within the city was restored abruptly and the biggest vibration yet was felt by all of the inhabitants. Several buildings crumbled and many were injured. When the shaking stopped, the people realized that the rain was gone, though the storm could still be heard. Water was no longer leaking in from every direction, though there was plenty in the city to deal with already. The King and Queen took charge and began giving directions to the confused and frightened people.

     Anyone looking outside of Sarah's bedroom window the next day, would have seen a beautiful seashell sitting on the ground outside under her awning. The water had never quite gone over the storm wall. Although, it had been close more than once. The seashell, therefore, had appeared almost miraculously.

      Unsure what exactly had taken place the previous night, several theories began to circulate the kingdom. Some in the city felt that they had saved themselves from a giant menace and weathered a great storm alone, others were convinced that all of the events were a series of bad luck, still others thought that maybe, just maybe, the giant had played a role in their salvation. 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Week Away

     "We're going to have to pull you two off the ride." A handicapped ramp was pushed up next to Nick and we climbed dejectedly off of the Space Mountain shuttle we had been waiting patiently to sit in for forty five minutes. We sadly waved goodbye as the rest of the family, gazing forlornly at us, was whisked off into an unknown adventure.
      "Wait a second, my hat is still on the ride!" Nick said. Looking skeptically at him, the teenager running the ride assured him that they would grab it for him when the shuttle came back around. Another guy then told us that we could get our family when we got off and bring them back in for a second ride, all in the same shuttle. We were then put on a new shuttle and sent out on our own space mission.
     When  we returned back to earth, after our voyage, Nick asked around to see if anyone had grabbed his hat. No one had, but we were once again assured that someone would grab it. We went and got our family and came back in for our second, together, ride. Still no sign of the hat. Then when one of the people explained why we came through the exit the guy who had pulled us off had no recollection of pulling us off. He gave us a slightly dirty look as he put us in a shuttle and an even dirtier look when Nick asked about his hat for the third or fourth time. As we pulled out, and blasted into space, the girl in the control room was looking at Nick like he had killed her pet goldfish.
      By this time we were glad that we got a two for one deal as far as riding the ride went, but Nick was  pretty certain that his favorite Christmas Zelda hat was gone for good. When we pulled into the station for the final time, I glimpsed one of the five workers holding Nick's hat. However as we pulled up he hid it behind his back. Had I not seen it from a distance, we never would have known that he had it. Nick looked him in the eye and asked calmly if he could have the hat back. The guy sighed, yes sighed, and handed it to him very begrudgingly.
      Looking at the whole bizarre incident in retrospect, Nick is fairly sure that the Space Mountain team was pulling a long group con to steal his hat. His theory: the girl in the booth saw his hat, saw him put it in the storage compartment, and signaled the other guy to pull us off of the ride and forget that he had done so. Guy number two's job was to reassure us and put us on a new shuttle and distract us with the possibility of going twice. Guy number three was meant to hide the hat unless Nick all but demanded it back.
      Luckily, Nick has seen Ocean's 11, 12, and 13 and knows all about these group cons. This being the case, he is still the owner of a black Zelda hat. Close call.

      We spent the last week in California, and the majority of it in Disneyland (Nick's first time). First, I need to stress that we are getting quite good at road trips. After the 4000 mile plus wedding venture, getting to California and back was nothing. In fact, we left Friday afternoon after school and drove to Vegas with just one stop. Not to shabby.
       Anyway, I will now back up a bit. Ben is going to go on a mission, we were going to go on a trip to Disneyland once Ben had his mission call. However, there have been various complications involved and my parents didn't want Ben to feel like getting to Disneyland, or not getting there, was his responsibility. So we just decided to go. I think we planned the trip the last week in January for the last week in February. Which for my family, was pretty quick planning. Everything fell into place quite smoothly except for one of Nick's classes. The plan was to leave Friday afternoon and come back the
following Saturday. So we did.

     We drove to Vegas the first night. The next day we went to Huntington Beach and hung out. Sunday we went to church and then drove to the Fairfield Inn right across the street from Disneyland. This is the place to be because then you can just walk over and back whenever you feel like it. (So we did.) We spent three days at Disneyland and California Adventures then drove to the the Newport Coast Villas and spent two days at the beach. We drove back to Vegas on Friday and back home Saturday in time to do our homework and grocery shopping. Now we just have to go back to normal life tomorrow.
      The whole trip was so much fun. Going with Nick was a little bit like going with a kid (I mean that in the best way possible). It was all new and exciting for him and he had more fun than I think he

expected to have. I got to watch him build a lightsaber (and use it repeatedly, primarily when fighting with Ben who also built a lightsaber). I watched him pick out all of the Lego's he wanted, eat a churro, enjoy fantasmic, try all of the rides, and watch Aladdin. It was also fun to be with my family. I feel
lucky to belong in a family that genuinely likes to be together. Even though we are all grown up and can do what we want to do, we pretty much stuck together and enjoyed each others company and conspiracy theories.
     My dad's favorite ride is The Tower of Terror. So, one morning were rode it three times in a row just because we could. (I think it took us over an
hour to ride it three times, the lines there are ridiculous even in February). I watched Candace watch the parade (twice) and wave her heart out to all the characters. I also watched her search for Peter Pan for two days. Ben bought himself an Indiana Jones hat and wore it around the park for the remainder of the trip    
 (Candace wore it to the beach as a fashion statement later). He also tried Screamin Over California and actually liked it Mom pretty much just soaked Disneyland and being with the family up. I think Disneyland is good for her soul. I enjoyed not worrying about normal things for a week, being with my family, building a sandcastle, and playing my heart out. That ended abruptly yesterday as I checked my work e-mail, paid the bills, and counted up missing homework assignments (my own). But I wouldn't trade the reprieve for anything.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Year

Well posterity, I did a fairly terrible job of blogging last year. Therefore I will now give you a brief synopsis of important events from 2014. Nick graduated with his fist associates degree (generals) and almost has his second one in computer science, got put into the stake young mens presidency (second counselor), and fixed the backyard. I finished my second year of teaching, started my third, and still am working on my gifted endorsement. I am also still working with the young women in my ward.
At the beginning of this month, well near the beginning of this month (January, not February), Nick and I sat down and set several goals that we want to meet this year. We do this every January as we review the previous years goals. The goals fall into categories that range from personal, to physical, to spiritual, to work related. Some of our goals this year include, me getting my endorsement, Nick finding an internship, reading at least 25 books, exercising 3-4 times a week, four months with limited sugar, reading the New Testament, finding missionary experiences, and going to the temple monthly. I also made a goal to blog at least once a month since this is the only thing close to journaling that I do. So here goes January (yes I know it is February).
First of all, I need to say that Nick and I are extremely lucky to be blessed with such wonderful families. The weeks before and of Christmas we attended four or five different Christmas parties with our families, extended families, and friends. At the time I was having a hard time with all of the gatherings because I am not much of a party person. At best I like my social gatherings small. However, having had a month to recover from everything, I am grateful that we have so many people in our lives that love us. The weekend after Christmas, we went with my parents to Arizona to see my Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Nick and I are actually quite good at traveling in the back of my parents van, having gone on at least five road trips with them since getting married. We are lucky that they are willing to take us with them, otherwise we wouldn't travel nearly as much as we do. Anyway we made the 12 hour, 666 mile, drive to Mesa without incident or even blinking (the last road trip was over 4000 miles). We spent a wonderful week eating delicious food, playing with cousins, and generally feeding our souls (as my aunt put it). We made it home just in time to go back to school. The month was then fairly uneventful until this last week.
Nick had a friend contact him about a possible internship earlier in the month, he then took a competency test, and waited for a call. This last week, he was called in for an interview and immediately offered the internship, which is paid. This is a huge blessing for us because we hit the point this last year where we were no longer getting government grants due to the fact that I am a rich teacher. SLCC tuition was doable though it pretty much halted any accumulation of savings. Weber tuition, however, was slowly starting to drain the savings account. This internship will be just enough to pay his tuition, and get back the money that we recently spent fixing his car, and give him a really good resume if and when he starts looking for a different job. However, it doesn't sound like he has to be in a hurry to be done with it. There is room to move to a full time position with benefits later if everything works out. Having now worked a total of three days, he is excited to be making money again and to have something other than endless homework to spend his days on.
Oh, I forgot, Nick also agreed to help me co-teach a technology class at my school for fifth and sixth graders in the after school program. Spending time with him in a professional capacity has been fun and I think we have opened up all kinds of possibilities for the kids in our class. It's amazing how little they know about the internet and computers in general.
Anyway, the year is off to a good start, between the two of us, we have already met four of our twenty-nine goals!