Monday, August 22, 2011

Someday I hope to understand how our brain works, to understand all the little things that go on behind the scenes, mostly unnoticed, that influence our thoughts and behaviors. Today I awoke in a melancholic mood, followed by tears that I cannot seem to control. As always I ask, “What is wrong with you?” Then I thought about the date, August 22, 2011, six months ago Josh died. I still have not quite understood why my pain is so profound, so deep, so real, my soul aches. Maybe subconsciously, the demonstration of sorrow is a way to ensure that Josh’s memory is never lost. But surely there has to be a better way to pass the time, to keep his memory alive. Figures the one day I wear make-up, the tears stream unrentlessly down my face. But I realize my sorrow, my pain does nothing to memorialize his life, his gift. I know my pain is selfish, my wanting him here so I can feel better, fails to recognize that I should celebrate that he is free from the pains and sufferings of this world. However, at the same time, not everything in this world is pain and suffering while there is so much of that to be had there are so many good things, so much happiness and joy. Yet, maybe the sorrow is evidence there is some kind of closure still missing. That is the problem with death, you don’t know when its coming and it leaves you with so many unanswered questions. A while back I had a dream about Josh, unlike the dreams I had before where he was still alive, only to wake up to the reality that he was gone, in this dream I knew he was gone. We spoke of the afterlife and what it was like. I remember feeling that he was happy, I didn’t want to talk to him about the circumstances of his death because it didn’t seem to matter. For the first time since his death, I woke up from a dream about him not having to relieve every painful moment to realize that in fact his death was not a dream. But the pain of not ever, at least in this life, really having the opportunity to talk with him hurt. This is not at all what I wanted to write about, I didn’t want the focus to be on me and my pain when this is an effort to memorialize him and his life. Having experienced this profound loss, you approach life and death in such a different fashion. You fear losing them in your mind as your memories are all that you have. You think of the countless people whose lives have been lost and no one knows who they were. So I tried to think of a specific memory I have of him to share. I see glimpses of things when we were children, I see him at different points in his life. Of course trying to think of a specific moment or memory to share ensures they will all be cast in this web of obscurity. But what I do have are feelings. I remember how tender he was with our younger siblings, especially little Christy Cora. He loves her so much. He’d call her “pooter.” I don’t remember exactly where the name came from. Then I remembered with his own children, although not biologically his, the great love he showed them and how tender he was with them. I chose this picture of him with Braxton because it just displayed the love that Josh had for the little ones. I think about my writings about Josh’s gift and am again reminded of how I need to not let his loss be in vain and remember to make every moment count. So again, on the sixth month anniversary of his death, I recommit myself to be a better person, daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, aunt, wife, friend, co-worker, employee, human being. I’m sure I’ll continually fall short but I will always have something to remind me. I love you Josh.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

De-Teching and Disposable Technology

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for progress and improvement, but for an intended end, not just progress and improvement for the sake of progress and improvement. I love many advances in technology. I remember when I lived 5 hours from home, a long, long time ago when cell phones weren't big and neither was the internet. It was hard, I missed my family. I called home once a week, I felt that I missed out on so much that went on while I was away. Now I live 3,000 miles away, but the gap seems much smaller from those days of yester yore when I lived only five hours away. Blogs, Skype, Facebook, free nights and weekends, unlimited long distance calls, really make my world seem so much smaller. I look at the way the church has embraced the dawn of the new day and really effectively used technology to reach out to members and non-members alike (I don’t really like those terms, but I haven’t come up with anything better, yet). Then I see parents at the store with kids iPod in ears, cell phone in hand texting away – zero human to human without the use of an electronic device contact taking place. Maybe if the iPod and the phone stay home some great conversation could take place. Really what does a teen need with a phone at all times? What could be so important?

Then I think of myself sitting on the couch with my boyfriend who I don’t get to spend enough time with anyway both of us on our phones, or one of us on a phone and the other on the computer. And heaven forbid we should speak and actually interrupt whatever important thing the other person must me doing. What gives? I guess its not all technology’s fault. I mean I can put the phone down, and literally that is what I intend to do. But its so easy. With so much so accessible, I’m more connected to the web then the people right next to me. I use my cell phone as an excuse not to make conversation in line at a store, on the elevator, walking to class, pretending to check very important email, when I don’t even have any signal. Its become a safety blanket, justification, excuse, and rationalization.

All this from the girl who didn’t get a cell phone until she was in the later part of her mid-twenties because she didn’t always want to be so accessible to the world and even then after she first got it would turn it off or leave it at home, on purpose a lot of the time.

I firmly believe technology is an addiction. Try leaving your phone at home – you’re panic stricken, anxiety levels rise, you feel out of sorts, you gotta have your phone, and when you’re reunited, what welcomed relief! What does that sound like to you? A junkie looking for her next fix? Heck, just try turning it off for awhile. How long did you last? See what I’m talking about? Scary huh?! I used to laugh when people would say they were addicted to Facebook. Now, I kind of get it. Again, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Facebook, I love that I can keep connected to people, but if Facebook is the connection there’s something wrong.

So the other day I got engaged, my announcement to the world, a Facebook post. I called my family, well my parents, because they don’t have Facebook, but for the rest of you I let you find out on Facebook, I could have called or even sent an email, but I didn’t I made a post. The sad thing is even if I wanted to call; I probably don’t have most of your numbers or addresses. Now granted, not all of you will want to hear from me personally or were even offended by a Facebook announcement and I’m not offended when I don’t get personal notification. I just think that at least for me, I’ve replaced human touch with electronic stuff.

So I’m an addict I’ll admit it, I’m not disciplined enough to just put it down and go cold turkey, so I’m de-teching. I’m doing away with the smart phone and just going back to why I got a cell phone in the first place, emergencies and talking to friends and family far away. I’m going to start sending cards and letters, not type written, but personal. I’m kinda old fashion and traditional anyway.

Not only is there human contact capital cost associated with technology, but then there is the actual cost. My smart phone costs me a little over $100 a month, not bad, (crazy how $100 has become chump change) but then you think that’s almost $1300 a year. $1300!!!!!! Oh there are so many things that I could do with $1300 that would be so much more valuable than what I do with my smart phone. So even if I pare it down to like $60 a month, that’s still a whopping $720 a year. So maybe we become a one cell phone house and one for emergencies. I can use the soon-to-be hubbies phone for his free nights and weekends and then use my phone only for emergencies and then we could pare that $720 a year down even more. That’s assuming I could get him to agree to that. I guess the other option is getting a land line, but I’m not sure how economical those things are now days or maybe Vonage or something of the sort around $360 a year, not bad and a little more each month for a pay as you go cell phone. Way better than $1300 that’s almost a $1000, that’s a fun vacation or money for a rainy day. In five years that’s close to $5000, that’s almost as much as I have ever paid for a car!

Then today I discovered eBooks through Google, technically I discovered them on Sunday (see explanation below), but today I really saw what eBooks was all about. Although, I’m quite convinced that Google is planning to take over the world (I’m not sure if it is a sinister plan or not), they do have some pretty awesome stuff. Lots and lots of free books, classics even that no one reads any more. All this wonderful stuff all at my finger tips, I can’t give up my phone now?! It is really helpful, I mean just this Sunday I was preparing my lesson for Primary and I meant to grab my copy of Jesus the Christ on the way out the door, but I forgot. Halfway through sacrament I remembered that I forgot. No problem, I whipped out the phone and through eBooks downloaded it for free. But I’m not going to use that as a crutch to hold onto my smart phone. So I thought instead of my phone I’ll just get an eReader of sorts a Kindle or Nook or something. I’d rather have books, paper ones even, the ones I can mark and hold and smell. The ones where I can remember where I read something by the way it looked on the page and how I had marked it. But the convenience factor of having an entire library a lot of it free at my finger tips is so very tempting.

That takes me to the next part, the disposable technology. So last year I bought my first cell phone that did more than just make calls and send texts, it retailed at like $500, but because I was due for an upgrade I only paid $150. Only a few months later, it was obsolete. It had just come out and within a couple of months a new 4G phone came out. I can’t even get accessories for my current phone. To me $150 was a chunk of change and $500 was beyond justification and but for the discounted price available via upgrade was the only reason I did. But it wasn’t so much the money, but the knowledge that I was forking out money for something that wouldn’t last. Although I had no idea that its life would only be months old. If technology is going to be disposable then it should be sold at disposable prices. I know that a lot of money goes into these developments and a lot of smart people spend a lot of time and energy, but still it is hard for me to want to fork out a good chunk of money for something that I know isn’t going to last and in a short while will need to be upgraded anyway because changes in technology make it not as useful and cumbersome. I wouldn’t mind putting $500 down for something that I new would last and I didn’t have the fear of it becoming obsolete shortly after my purchase. So if I get the latest and greatest Nook that’s $249. That’s $20.75 a month, if I only read the free books. I could easily spend that much a month on paper books. But if the thing will last 5 years that’s only $4.15 a month, if I only read the free books, but at $4.15 a month I can fork out some money and pay for some books. With the Nook I can highlight and take notes, although not quite like actually having the book in my hand, but I can have a whole lot more books in my hand at once and on demand. I like that as long as there isn’t a monthly service plan. I’m not sure how realistic my 5 year lifespan is for the Nook or that the thing will still be compatible and functional with other technology… That is my dilemma and why I’m so hesitant to make technology purchases. Take my laptop. I’ve only had the thing for three years and the screen is kaput, the rest of it still works fine although I’m sure there are things that work finer, it does what I need it to do. I really need to replace it, but just that fear of being obsolete freezes my purchase power.

So now I’ve done it. I’ve used technology to help you waste however long it took you to read this post, time that you will never get back… But think about it… Maybe I’m wrong… But maybe I’m not so far off base…

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Story


Sunday night I went to dinner at Darrell’s parents’ house. I was not expecting any kind of proposal. We had pizza and after dinner his mom brought out Cracker Jacks for dessert. Darrell was always joking about we don’t need to get you a ring; we’ll just get something out of a Cracker Jack box. So when she handed me the box, I made the joke of “maybe there’s a ring in here.” I wasn’t thinking engagement ring, but just cheapo plastic ring. So I look in the box and it looks like a ring, but at this point I’m still thinking cheapo plastic ring. But I was rather amused by the fact that I was joking about finding a ring in the box and there just might be one. So I go to pull a ring out and it is THE ring. I was super excited. It was BEAUTIFUL! Then I started laughing at my “joke.” Poor Darrell thought I had guessed the surprise and so he was a little upset, but then I explained how I had no clue until I pulled out the ring that he was proposing. It was very memorable. I kept the box. I absolutely love the manner he chose to give me the ring. Every time I see a Cracker Jack box or hear it mentioned, I will forever think of that day.


The ring is gorgeous, the pictures really do not do it justice. But not only is it a beautiful ring, it is a very special ring. It is special because the diamonds in it belong to Darrell’s mom. That is my favorite part. It meant so much to me that she would give me her diamonds. I will treasure it always. The ring is one marquee cut stone and two smaller pear shaped ones. Because I can’t stop looking at it (Darrell tells me I’m going to wear it out) I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I like the three stones; they can symbolize so many things. The center stone can symbolize Darrell and me as the union of two families with one of the smaller stones representing his family and the other representing my own. The center stone can also represent God as the center of our relationship with Darrell and me being represented by one of the smaller stones. It also can symbolize the union of Darrell and me as we become one. It can also represent the past, present, and future. But enough of that I just feel so blessed.


I cannot say enough good things about Darrell. We met February 15, 2008. I met Darrell through our mutual friend Dave Wheeler who is now married to my good friend Darah Saxon Wheeler. I was immediately attracted to not only this incredibly tall handsome man, with dark hair and honey brown eyes, but his quick wit and kind heart. I was hooked. Darrell took a little more convincing and we started dating just before I started law school. Shortly after I was introduced to his family and immediately fell in love with everyone. They from the very start have taken me in as one of their own.

Our almost three year journey has been full of every emotion imaginable. We’ve faced and conquered serious trials and come out stronger, united, and deeper in love.

But through it all Darrell has been there for me when I needed him most. He has seen me through some of my darkest moments. Darrell has seen me at my worst and still loves me. He also pushes and inspires me to be my best. He’s supportive of me in my many endeavors and tolerant of my sometimes quirky traits. He has definitely divided my sorrow and more than doubled my joy.

I look forward to our new life together with anxious excitement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I had a dream...

So I’ve been struggling lately. Things started to get better and then out of no where the crying spells began again. I missed my brother. Everything reminded me of how he wasn’t going to be there. It started with the people I live with. They had all their kids over one weekend and all I could think about was how in this life we’d never all be together again. Then it spiraled down from there. Then Sunday night, I had a dream. Prior to this whenever I had a dream about Josh, I’d wake up and have to convince myself that he was in fact dead. Then the whole grieving process would start again. It was miserable. This time, however, when I talked with him, I knew he was dead. I didn’t want to talk to him about how or why he died but we talked about everything else. I told him how much he is loved and how much he is missed. We talked about heaven and hell are like. It was very interesting and insightful. Then my alarm went off and he was gone. I was heartbroken all over again. I wasn’t done talking with him and it wasn’t like I could pick up the phone and call him. Then the tears began, again. Never having dealt with a loss like this, I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to go. I figured I would always miss him, but I just wanted to know when the bitter, heart wrenching pain would end. I called my sweet boyfriend, just to have someone to talk to about it. He was so comforting and reassuring. Together we came to the following conclusions. My desire to have Josh here is selfish. In the dream Josh was so happy and so at peace. He was finally free of all that earthly pain and misery that had plagued him for so long. How could I desire to take that happiness and peace from him, just so he could be here again? I guess it really is true that misery loves company. This is one of those moments where I have lost the ability to express what is in my heart and in my mind. If you could just take a glimpse inside, it is much more eloquently expressed there. Darrell said something along the lines of “Josh is happy, so why are you so miserable? He doesn’t want you to be miserable. You should be happy for him, he’s happy. He’s got two legs and he’s running around having a good time free from all that crap he had to deal with here. He’s the one that should be sorry that we still have to endure the pains of life.” He’s right. Don’t get me wrong, Darrell and I both love life and have no desire to leave this earth life a minute before we have to, but we both long for home. I guess the point of all this is that I still miss Josh. I still wish he were here with us. My desires aside, I am happy that he is happy. I’m not going to speculate on whether I actually spoke with Josh or if it was just a dream, because it doesn’t matter the lesson is still the same. In the dream Josh told me he had been trying to talk with me for a long time. Josh isn’t gone, he’s still here, in our minds and hearts. So even if I won’t see his face for a while, I hope that I will get to feel his presence. Since that really didn’t conclude things, I guess the final thought is I will be happy because he is happy and I know he’s here and while he won’t be there in person at all those events I want him to be at, I know he’ll be there in our hearts and our minds.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Josh's Gift

I love this picture of Josh.  I don't know why, it just seems to exude Joshness.  As many of you may be aware my brother, Joshua David Andrews, passed away on February 22, 2011.  It was shocking and unexpected and left a hole in our hearts and our family.  Today marks the one month anniversary of his death.  Its hard to believe a month has already gone by.  It seems like yesterday, I was getting on a plane to say my last goodbyes.  I keep thinking I need to text him or call him to check up on him.  I wake up in the morning thinking that it was all a bad dream and then having to go through the process of remembering that he is dead.  I don’t like the word dead.  I think of death and I think of an empty body lying alone in the grave and my heart just aches.  But I don’t like gone either because he still exists, just not in flesh and blood.  I keep thinking of all the things that will be incomplete while we are still on this earth – family pictures, get togethers, my future spouse and children will never have met him.  You just never imagine what life would be like when someone is gone.  While I know that God has a plan and that we will be united as a family with Josh again, it does little to fill the hole right now.  While I am excited to see him again on the other side, I miss him here with us now. 

Having to confront this harsh and abrupt change has made me look at life and seek for something good to come of this.  That’s when I came up with the idea of Josh’s Gift.  It is so easy to think of the bad things and the lost things so easy to drown myself in sorrow and misery.  It was really hard at first to be around people who were happy and smiling, I wanted them to feel my loss, to feel my pain to know that all was not right with the world because Josh was no longer here.  I found solace in gloomy days when it seemed the whole world or at least my section of it was as miserable as I was.  I still have hard moments, but I have more good moments although the balance is still tipped in favor of the hard moments.  So I thought about the need to not focus on what was lost, but what was gained.  Josh wasn’t perfect but I know he had a good heart and I learned so much from him.  The last few years of his life were tough I can only imagine the physical and emotional pain he suffered.  But I didn’t know how to talk to him in a way that let him know I sympathized or reach out to him.  But thinking of all this has made me want to be more compassionate, kinder, loving.  It makes me want to reach out and help the downtrodden, lonely, and those that need help but don’t know how to ask for it.  It has made me realize what a precious gift we have of life and want to enjoy it to the max and not waste those precious moments glued to the TV.  It makes me want to dive in and experience all life has to offer and really live everyday as though it is your last. 

I want to gather my loved ones around and spend every moment I have with them.  But I still have responsibilities I have to make money to support myself and I think about how that process sucks so much out of my day, how I spend more hours in the office than I do any other single thing.  Its still a battle to get out of bed in the morning – I think about what I spend most of my life doing and how in the end none of it matters.  Yet despite my need to be more compassionate to live life to cherish every moment I find myself falling short.  I find myself angered over inconsequential matters, speaking harshly to family and my sweet boyfriend, failing to be as aware and considerate of other’s needs as I am of my own.  I find myself lying awake at night kicking myself for every little mistake wanting to rewind to that moment and do it all again and let go of all that stupid little stuff.  I am harsher on myself than I have ever been before because I feel if I fail, I let Josh down, I let his death be in vain if I do not emerge from this experience a better person, a kinder person, a stronger person.  I try to think about what Josh would want us to do, want me to do.  I wonder if he misses us as much as we miss him and then my heartbreaks again.

A lady at work knows a family whose son was in need of a liver transplant.  He just recently received one.  It was a bittersweet remembrance of our pain at our lost and the comfort of someone else’s gain.  Josh’s liver went to a 55 year old female in San Diego, CA.  His kidney went to a 55 year old female in Nevada.  His heart went to a 41 year old female in Los Angles, CA.  His pancreas went to a 48 year old male in Maryland.  Four lives that can still be lived because of his gift, four families who get the gift of their loved one’s life.  I hope they cherish their second chance and don’t squander it because a heavy price was paid.  I don’t say that to put any guilt on anyone, but I wish we could have gotten a second chance and so my feelings are sharp and poignant.  I know they are aware of the sacrifice that took place, but they didn’t know Josh and can’t comprehend the depth of our sorrow and pain.  But we were so grateful to give them that opportunity, so grateful that his memory will go on.

Then of course my next thought is the atonement and repentance and the death of my elder brother Jesus Christ and his gift to us.   I think about his words of pleading with us to remember, remember his sacrifice.  To remember the second chance that we have been given.  To not squander our lives away with the things that do not matter.  To remember what this life is about. 

That is Josh’s gift.  A reminder of how precious each and every life is.  A reminder that every person is important.  A reminder to never forget.

I miss you Josh. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I Didn't Vote

I realize that a huge price was paid so that I could have the right and privilege to let my voice be heard by voting.  As a woman, this is especially true since this is a fairly new development that gave credence to me as a woman.  That being said, this is not something I take lightly. My decision was not apathetic or lazy, but it was well thought out and carefully considered.  By not voting my voice is still being heard, my ballot has been cast and I chose no one.  I am not going to cast my vote for something I do not agree with.  I am not going to vote for the sake of voting. 
However, no longer is my ability to make my voice heard limited to the ballot box.  There are so many forums that give place for me to stand on my soap box.  It does not matter to me that congress, my governor, nor any of my elected representatives will ever read this, or even if they do that it would ever influence them.  I am but one person and I cannot and refuse to offer that which they crave, power and prestige, for I have none.  Yet even if I had any it would not be mine to give away.  I feel both are to be earned and simply being elected is insufficient in to grant you either.  You may wield power temporarily, but that is not true power, it is fickle and waning.  Once you leave office that power is gone and unless real power has been earned your influence ends when you are voted out. 
I am tired of choosing the lesser of evils.  Politicians no longer represent the American people.  It is not my interests they are concerned over.  They care more about preserving power than doing the right thing.  By right thing I don’t mean voting one party’s line or the other.  I may not like the stance you take, but I would still consider it the right thing if you stick by your guns and fail to be swayed by special interest groups whether that special interest group is conservative or liberal.  It is your community that you represent.  I don’t really care what the other guy did or didn’t do.  I care about what you did or will do and not just empty promises.  Don’t promise me the world if you can’t deliver.  You may or may not be able to effect change, but I do expect you to have a back bone. 
An election is a mere popularity contest, the man comes down from the hill to mingle with us common folk and then once elected returns to the top of his mountain and forgets the ones who put him where he is.  Tell me how a career politician is in touch with the needs of Main Street or understands the goings on of Wall Street?  They are largely untouched by the decisions they make as they know the ins and outs and how to work the system they create.  If it is such a good thing for America, why is it not good enough for you? 
Unfortunately the kind of people we need in politics are those people who are turned off by the process and the political games.  If ever they do venture and make it, it is not long before they too like the rest forget what it was that got them where they were in the first place.  That kind of power corrupts and if a cucumber sits in brine long enough, it will become a pickle regardless of his intentions.  There is talk of term limits and other measures, but we forget the power to make those decisions is the hands of those who will stop at nothing to protect the power they have.  Is a career politician really going to vote or even consider bringing a bill that will diminish the power they so crave?   
Politicians care about power and once they get a taste they don’t want to let go.  It becomes a quest and they will stop at nothing to get it.  I am sick of back room deals and closed doors.  You represent me remember?  Are you afraid I might find out what is really going on?  Well I hate to tell you but you can keep no secret.  Eventually your hidden works will become known.  I understand the sensitive nature of some tasks our politicians deal with but not everything is equated with national security and requires a closed and padlocked door. 
So no I didn’t vote and I will continue to not vote until you give me something worth voting for.

PS I do not absolve myself of liability of having something worth voting for and I do realize that not only candidates are on the ballot.  In the future I may consider voting on just the issues and not the politicians, but I have to give that more thought....

Friday, September 10, 2010

But if not...

A lot of things have been on my mind lately.  As you know my sister has cancer, but additionally my family has had some setbacks and I’ve been dealing with my own personal issues.  It just seems that so much of me is taken up by just getting up every morning that I don’t have the strength to deal with little things.  Talk about mole hills being mountains, that is how I’ve felt the last few months.  It seems like just when I’m on the verge of giving in to the darkness a little ray of sunshine comes peeping through and pulls me off the brink of destruction and then just as quickly I’m right back on the edge again.  As the oldest child, I’ve developed a mother hen mentality, or maybe its something oldest children are born with.  When the crap hits the fan I want to gather my siblings under my wings and keep them safe.  Yet, the more I try to gather it seems the heavier the storm rages.  Star’s battle with cancer has been especially difficult.  It is no secret she is the glue that keeps the family together and while I have left the nest and wandered far from home, I’ve never had to worry because Star was there to make sure everything was ok.  I’ve kinda abdicated the oldest child role to her over the years.  She too has been my rock and so this has been especially hard.  Every setback and defeat has been a heart breaking and crushing blow for me and so I can only imagine how Star must feel.  I went home for a week and got to spend some time with Star and for a short moment the reality of her situation slapped me in the face.  She was so positive and tried to be strong, but I could see the toll the fight was having on her.  When I left she had at least eight more weeks of treatment with no real end in sight.  It was hard to leave.  Then shortly after coming home, on one of those days where I was moments from letting the darkness engulf me we got the news that her counts were finally in the normal range and she only had three more weeks of chemo.  It was an enormous blessing, finally there was an end in sight.  My spirits were lifted and I felt energized.  Then with one week of treatment left we get the news that she might have to undergo more treatment.  Her body and spirit were so worn out.  This last go around the hardest thing was to not even be able to offer words of comfort.  But thankfully the words of a stranger said exactly what she needed to hear.  Throughout all this two themes, well really three have been forefront on my mind.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with you.  This is going to be a long post, but then again most of my posts are.

Theme 1 – But if not…(see Daniel 3)

At the end of 2006, a month before I was to be married, my fiancĂ© abruptly broke off the engagement.  After a tumultuous four year relationship, he all of the sudden didn’t know if he loved me anymore.  He didn’t want to get married, but he wanted to keep me on the merry-go-round with him – you know that whole you’re not sure that you love me, but not sure enough to let me go thing.  I walked away.  Prior to this moment, I had been hesitant about the relationship for a while and finally decided either I had to firmly commit myself or walk away.  I decided to commit and as a token of my commitment to him, I bought I wedding dress I couldn’t return.  It still hangs in my closet today, so if you know of anyone who needs a modest wedding dress, I’m willing to sell it for a reasonable price.  But at the time it seemed that just as I was stepping on what I thought was firm ground, the rug was pulled from underneath me and I was falling.  I was a wreck.  A couple of years prior to that there was a talk in general conference entitled “But if not”,5232,23-1-439-25,00.html Shortly after my break up, I was asked to give a talk in church and that was my theme, the gist of the talk being that life doesn’t always work out, that prayers aren’t always answered, but God is still God.  

I haven’t been angry, but questioning why isn’t this going like it is supposed to or why do prayers not get answered.  Over and over again the thought replayed in my mind “But if not”, I guess the lesson is be careful of what you talk about in church, it may come back to haunt you.  I got to where I didn’t want to pray because I didn’t want to have to learn the lesson of “but if not”.  I didn’t want my prayers to not be answered in the way I wanted them to be answered, because I knew that whatever the answer I would be resigned to say that God was still God.  Not sure this is making a whole lot of sense.   So that brings us back to my sisters’ latest blog post.  Just to relate the story so I can get to the point, King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that all the people were to worship a golden image, the punishment for failure to comply was to be thrust into the fiery furnace.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego being true to their God, refused and were brought before Nebuchadnezzar who gave them one last opportunity to comply.  Seeing the staunch resolution of these three men and their commitment to their God Nebuchadnezzar asked, “And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?"  I imagine without blinking an eye the three responded with confidence that God would save them.  Then the crux of the story, the three continued But if not, . . . we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." These men knew that even if God did not deliver them from the furnace, he was still God.  I’m not sure what these men thought as they were brought to the furnace as they watched the servants die from the heat of the fire, but I know what I would be thinking, “Really, so you’re going to test that whole ‘but if not thing’?”.  God did not deliver them from the furnace, but he did deliver them from the fire.  The prayers of these men were answered.  I had forgotten that part.  I had been so fearful that my prayers would not be answered or that the outcome would be negative as to test my faith in this principle that I failed to realized that God did answer their prayers.  As I pondered on that, I was lead to theme 2 -  the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease.

Theme 2 - the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24)

So Alma the Younger after being converted and preaching and converting others all flee into the wilderness to escape wicked King Noah.  Noah is burnt at the stake and his priests go running off into the wilderness.  The priests kidnap the lamanites’ daughters and Alma and company get blamed.  The priests use their powers of persuasion (better read as the daughters of the lamanites) to get into the good graces of the lamanites and Amulon the leader of the wicked priests is set as slave master over Alma and Company.  Amulon then proceeds to make the people of Alma’s lives miserable, so much in fact that they cry out for delivery.  Amulon in true wicked guy fashion makes it a capital crime to pray (I mean if this God doesn’t exist, then what’s the big deal if these people pray, its not like he’s going to hear them if he doesn’t exist…wicked bad guys aren’t always the brightest).  So the people of Alma stopped praying with their voices, but continued to pray in their hearts.  The scriptures say, “and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.”  The good news – “And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.”  Yay!!!  Prayers answered we are going to be delivered!!!  So in my mind I’m thinking, “Watch out Amulon, God’s going to get you!”  But then the next verse, “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.  Oh, so you mean that whole delivery thing isn’t going to happen immediately, sigh.  And now the kicker, “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.  So while the Lord did not immediately release them from bondage, he did make their burdens light.  That is kinda what has happened with Star.  He hasn’t chosen to deliver her just yet, but he is strengthening her to bear the burden placed upon her.  She is cheerfully and patiently submitting to the will of the Lord, I on the other hand am not quite there yet, but I’m working on it.

Theme 3 – Be Still… (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:16)

So anyone who knows me to any degree knows that I am stubbornly independent and that I truly believe you can do anything you put your mind to.  Well, I’m learning a new lesson - lesson where I have to throw my hands up in the air and say “I am not in charge”.  I seriously struggle with that whole turning my will over to God.  I’m just afraid to let go and lose control.  Why?  I don’t know, especially since God will do more with my life, seeing how I have done nothing but screw up.  I have finally got to that point where I have given up, at this point it is an unwitting surrender.  I’m beginning to feel that my efforts are pointless because no matter what I do, there is a bigger plan in play.  But that is not what God wants us to do.  It’s like I’m driving a car and I’ve let go of the wheel, you know that whole “Jesus take the wheel” thing.  But God still wants us to drive the car, he doesn’t want to take over.  That is the WHOLE point of this earth life to exercise our agency and God wants us to choose him.  Deiter F. Ucktdorf said, “When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer – no matter how eloquent the oration.”  And so what about this whole “be still” business then, how does that fit in the mix?  God does not want us to drive around aimlessly, nor does he want us to shirk our responsibility and take our hands off the wheel, but he wants us to be still and know he is God.  If any one has had the “privilege” of seeing a Melissa break-down, it is a disaster.  I’m all over the place.  So for me that be still means, stop the craziness, take deep breaths, and listen.  I have found at those times when I do that and place my hands firmly on the wheel I know what to do, I may not know where I’m going, but that takes us to the whole “know I am God” part.  In college I discovered a new favorite scripture.  Background Lehi and his family leave Jerusalem.  The Lord then commands that Nephi and company return to Jerusalem to get the brass plates, after two unsuccessful attempts, we get 1 Nephi 4:6 “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.”  And in true, “I will go and do” Nephi fashion we get the following verse, “Nevertheless I went forth”.  So Nephi did not take his hands off the wheels, he finally was still and listened as the Lord told him what to do.  I’m pretty sure if he knew where the Lord was taking him he might not have gone so willingly, he struggled with that whole having to kill Laban thing.  Yet, the journey took him beyond that small obstacle and brought great blessings.  I think that is sometimes why God doesn’t give it to us all at once 1. so we learn to be still and know he is God and 2.  one stop in the journey is only part of it.  Case in point, before having served a mission, if I would have known how hard it would be I would not have gone, but at the same time those hard times were more than compensated with true JOYS.  Joys I would not have been able to comprehend had I not experienced them for myself and joys made that much greater because of the hard times.  That being said it is probably better that God not show me where he’s taking me, because I may not want to go and then risk missing out on some truly great experiences. 

In the midst of all this chaos that is my life, I have come to the realization that my life is really good.  I have been abundantly and richly blessed with so many opportunities.  I can look back and see how different experiences have brought me to this point and while right now in the midst of the fiery furnace I want to know how God delivers me, I am certain that I will be able to look back in a few years and see how this experience took me to where I need to be.  I’m sure I’ve got some bumps in the road yet and I really don’t want to know what they are because whatever they may be I know that eventually what awaits me will make all of this jostling about so worth it.