Friday, March 30, 2012

Some thoughts before conference

I came to campus to write. I came to the music and dance section of the library to find the window view that inspired me last time. I came to sit and dash off the multitude of thoughts and feelings in me so that they might weave a blend of truth that I can rely on. I came so that blend could make it to this blog and go just a bit further than myself.

It's imperative that I do this, but I feel selfish with my thoughts right now. Selfish because there are feelings in me of peace and understanding that are only complete in the whole story, and I cannot give anyone the whole story. God hasn't given even me the whole story of things. Occasionally though, He reminds me that there is a whole story. He is pulling it out of me bit by bit, as angels come and go.

He has these "divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!"

This weekend, we'll hear from some of those angels as we listen to General Conference. This is a time to hear what we need to do and what we need to believe. I need that because sometimes I forget it in the wake of the pressing concerns of the world.

It occurred to me today that I have little to fear because God has promised me the best of blessings conditioned upon my faithfulness. They only way they won't be fulfilled is if I let myself lose faith in God by worrying and fearing that they won't come. It's strangely paradoxical: what I'm afraid I'll lose I can lose by being afraid I'll lose it. Christ truly is "an high priest of good things to come."

I love the Lord's rebuke here: "Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above."

It's an easy mistake to make, but let's not make it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Making baby food

My mom often talks about how some baby food is horrendous, but some of it is divine.

My biggest concern has always been that it seems expensive. The other day, I happened upon this link to how to make your own baby food. Though I'm not that worried about organic, I do love the idea of someday making affordable, healthy baby food that tastes good and looks this pretty.

Here's to the future.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What Mr. Gutenberg did not and could not find in the forest

On Center Street in Provo, Utah, the world's greatest Gutenberg museum quietly hides its treasures. Last weekend, I took a trip there for my editing class. The beauty of this little post-it note of a place is just how un-museum it can be. They want you to touch everything, and though they've been giving this tour for 14 years, they are terribly excited to tell you everything they know. And they know a lot.

The man above is my friend Wally. Wally is a very experienced printer himself, who holds the wonders of printing with all its intricacies and techniques deep in his heart. His brilliance struck me constantly as he told us story after story, unfolding the history of his trade.

As I said, the museum is a hands-on experience. It contains one of the only working Gutenberg presses in the world. During our trip, we inked and printed the first pages of Gutenberg's Bible, exactly as he would have done it. You don't get this kind of experience at Disneyland, folks. 

The printing business isn't exactly the happiest place on earth. I'm always amazed at the number of things that can go wrong with even the smallest of publications. In the printing process, all the pages need to be turned just the right way so they line up. The ink has to stay on just the tops of the letters to make it readable. The paper has to be cut on just the right side. The metal of the parts must be just the right blend to be both strong and malleable. The p's, d's, q's, and b's all look exactly alike, but they aren't at all. And the correct way to use a dash and a comma is tricky enough on a computer, let alone when you've got to dig it out from the case and put it with all the other letters individually.

With all of this, a tiny mistake often means starting the whole thing over.

When I think about this, I am all the more in awe of Gutenberg. Not only did he have to deal with all of these problems, he had to invent from scratch a way to deal with all of them. To even make moveable type, he had to create his own mold to cast it: something never seen anywhere else. As Wally says,  "It didn't just come running out of the forest and say, 'Gutenberg! Here I am!'"

I'm glad it didn't, but my heart goes out to Gutenberg who probably wished it would have. I don't think anything's ever run out of the forest for me. There's this great song called "All You Need," which you can listen to and download for free here. The lyrics say, "'If it's meant to be, it'll come to be.' That never worked for me. I've had to work for everything." How true.

This does not mean God doesn't love us or bless us. He's just moving us to become something. Like with Nephi:
"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools." (1 Nephi 17: 8-10)
He does provide. But the hands must be ours. And the decision to do something must also be ours.

With that said, I highly recommend you schedule your own tour of the Crandall Printing Museum. No matter how long you think you'll be in Provo, just do it now.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Skip It: The definitive word that "Alvin & the Chipmunks" is a wreck of a movie

I'll confess that I get a kick out of pop songs I hate being sung in Chipmunk voices. Some of you may share this guilty pleasure. If you are one of those people, please don't let yourself be deceived like I was into thinking that this pleasure can last for more than three minutes.

I was warned that "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" would not be a fun movie. But the fact that it has had the most show times at the dollar theater out of all the other holiday movies made me think it would be great.

The first five minutes are enjoyable, but even while I was enjoying it, I wondered what else six chipmunks and poor Dave could be doing for the next hour and a half. It's really all about the same, with one funny moment (a man dressed in a pelican mascot suit puts his head on backward and says, "I'm always watching you."), lots of references to other movies that are rarely clever and usually creepy (the cutest of the chipettes climbs atop a mango and snarls, "Precious!"), and a few cute moments in which Theodore truly is lovely.

That's all you need to know. If you're still hankering for some chipmunks, just youtube the chipmunk version of your favorite song.

Now, here's something you may not know. Does Sonic sell hamburgers for a dollar on Tuesdays? Yes, they do. Can those hamburgers fit into my coat pockets? Yes, they can. Do they taste great in an empty movie theater? Yes, they do. Do they make me look funny when walking in? Why yes. They do that too. 

Enjoy my favorite bad pop song taken to new heights of awesomeness.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yeah, we can make our plans...

My dearest friend Kent often talks about how we can evaluate ourselves to death and determine all the things we need to do better at. But unless we're doing that by the Spirit, it's really not very helpful. God is the judge of our hearts, and if we ask Him what we're working on, He will tell us. Often it's not always what we think, but it is the best thing.

My ever lovin' Beth just wrote a post on a similar idea, which I highly recommend. It has a very awesome chalk drawing in it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A reconnective pratice

Yoga: not everyone's favorite Saturday night activity. But I was feeling caught between having had an early morning and the loss of an hour with daylight saving's time. Wanting to go to bed early, but worried my body wasn't going to fall asleep that early, I returned to yoga, something I've loved long since and lost a while.

It's hard to find good yoga videos. It seems most instructors want to stop and teach me how to do something, as if video gives them permission to pause the flow of the universe and my breathing so they can instant reply with a close-up on the angle of the hips. Real yoga classes are much more fluid. But finally, I found a site that begins a session and just goes.

If you're looking at the video below you'll notice that yes, this is prenatal yoga. I'm not pregnant of course, but I'll confess that I choose this video anyways because few things are more comforting to me than the feel of my hand on my stomach. I snickered and laughed—breaking my own flow—the first time the instructor told me to bring my hands to "baby." But I did it anyways.

It's been so long since I've done any yoga that even the most basic of movements pulled and strained my muscles and my joints. The twists—once pleasurable—felt awkward and slow. My balance—once the pride of my yoga loving heart—was off. I could stand on my right foot, but not on my left. Every time it tipped, my body said, "Hey, I'm not used to this."

The instructor kept telling me things that are a little bit funny: reach to sky, say hello to baby, you are beautiful. Those phrases feel off somehow, and I think about how the thought of having another person in my body also feels so other worldly and beyond my mortal comprehension—still wonderful—but also sort of strange and terrifying. As we move into a seated position, the instructor says, "Be sure you have a space for your baby."

I made a space anyways, followed the flow though, let my arms reach, lifted my hands to my heart, and I told my body back, "Hey, get used to it. Someday we'll need this space." 

Monday, March 12, 2012

An unexpectedly divine dining establishment in Provo

When the server brings out your "Goat Burger" at the Black Sheep Cafe in Provo, Utah, your first concern maybe: how can I get this massive burger—filled with goat cheese, mushrooms, and goodness and wrapped in Navajo fry bread—into my mouth while still looking attractive? My answer: 1) take small bites so you can better savor the different flavors coming at you, and 2) don't worry about it. Anyone who knows how the burger tastes will find the thought of your recently goat-burger-graced lips very, very attractive.

This new cafe serves up a delightful host of Navajo influenced items. From the Navajo tacos to the burgers, this menu provides a new take on something which was already great to begin with.

I'll confess that from its name I expected the place to be a coffee spot trying to attract the 1% of Provo. (I don't mind coffee places. I just don't like when they try to be "oh so different.") This is not that place. It's a great restaurant, and I highly recommend it. You can expect to pay about 8-12 dollars for each main dish. Totally reasonable? Why yes, goat burger. You are worth every cent.

Pardon the fact that my burger is falling open in the pictures. I was a little too over eager to give it some camera love before I dove into it.

This pretty lady who payed for my burger is my mom.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

"Think nothing," he says on the subway. I'm not sure I'm capable of this, but I did it once on a subway too. That's where this movie gets me.

Few movies are everything I want. Even fewer are everything I need. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close sunk into me in a pleasing and soothing way. It was instructive to my mind: here's crazy. Here's uncrazy. As everything goes in and out of focus for Oscar, I get closer to the holes in my mind, the gaps in my way of thinking, and they close up in the example of how we deal with fear.

Please see it. Savor all of it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In wanting

My dearest friend Kent hates seeing people who essentially live the Gospel, but don't experience any of the blessings. This statement seems contradictory at first. If we live the Gospel, we are promised blessings right? Yes, we are. We have a loving Father in Heaven who stands ready to pour out blessings upon us.

So how is it possible that there are these people who do not experience the blessings? I believe it's because their hearts are not in the right place. They are doing just that, going through the motions, but they are not fully dedicating their hearts unto God. I feel I can say this because I have sometimes found myself in this state. I live the Gospel, but I forget to ponder on the deep doctrines and the love that comes with every little action we are asked to do. This comes down to the desires of our hearts.

There are in my mind three stages of desire: 1) we think we want something but we do not really understand it, 2) we want something and we know why it is a good thing to want, and 3) we want something good, we understand it, and we are actively seeking after it with our whole souls through prayer, faith, and work. Surely, there are other ways we could look at it, but I find these three to be helpful for me.

It is not enough to simply want to be good, to possess good qualities, or to have good things. We must desire deeply and be willing to commit ourselves. It can be easy to desire something at the first level, but it is a very different thing to reach the third level.

We must desire the best of things at the third level. When you recognize that you should desire something with your whole soul, it makes you a lot more cautious about what kinds of things you give yourself to that deeply.

When we desire the things of God with our whole heart and soul, we are bound to receive them. D&C 11:17 says, "And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you." D&C 88:32 also speaks of those who receive less glory from God because they are not "willing to enjoy that which they might have received." What a sad thing that is to me. When I read it though, I feel determined to seek out more light and love from the Lord and to enjoy His blessings.

I suppose this has become a rambley post, mostly because it is a thing deep in my heart that my mind keeps circling around.

I'll stop trying to say things, and instead encourage anyone to view this video. Here, Elder Oaks explains this concept far better than I ever will.    

Monday, March 5, 2012

A mother's heart

Today, I went walking in search of the playground near my house. I took the long way, wandering down 7th East towards the school there instead of the smaller park. To my delight, I found a playground beyond my wildest dreams. They just installed it: a pirate ship—each turn of wood work gloriously crafted to make some child sure this is the real deal.
Yes. There is pirate candy.

Mostly though, it just looked cool. I walked around it and thought about how I could climb in it, but then what would I do? If I had a friend, I'd throw back a Jones soda and tell stories about the wind and how spring is coming. But I worried that there wasn't really much to do with the pirate ship besides just being in the pirate ship.

How very demanding that all sounds of me. As a child, I would have been far more capable of coming up with entertainment. I realized that I still am. I just need a child who will appreciate my efforts.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a mother. The idea of it thrills me. I get so excited when I think I want to be a mother. I want to have a family. These thoughts are beautiful and good, but sometimes, when I think more about what that entails, I get worried. I start thinking about what I will do all day with a house of children. I worry about filling the time everyday. I worry about always drowning in a mess. I worry about my kitchen looking like this play one I found today.

I'm afraid of not being able to handle the day-to-day living part of it, so much so that when I think about actually being a mom, my focus shifts to these areas and the excitement I feel at the simpler thoughts evaporates from me.

When this happens, I think of this quote from a woman who has nine children now. This comes from her essay titled "To the Mother with Only One Child." 

"When I had only one child, I told myself over and over that motherhood was fulfilling and sanctifying and was filling my heart to the brim with peace and satisfaction.  And so I felt horribly guilty for being so bored, so resentful, so exhausted.  This is a joyful time, dammit!  I should enjoy being suddenly transformed into the Doyenne of Anything that Smells Bad.

"I loved my baby, I loved pushing her on the swing, watching squirrels at the park together, introducing her to apple sauce, and watching her lips move in joyful dreams of milk.  But it was hard, hard, hard.  All this work:  is this who I am now?"
This quote is comforting, because even for this woman, who is what we could call a good mother now, it was a struggle to make this change to all day care. Her days were long and hard, but she still felt moments of joy. Over time as she had more children, those long, hard days changed into more times of enjoyment, though the initial move may be very hard.

It's a shift to fill your entire day with the needs of one other person. But how glorious it becomes as you grow. It's a difficult balance to strike: realizing it's demanding, but stepping up with faith and cheer anyways.

I told a friend yesterday that I didn't feel like I was wanting the right things, meaning that my desire to be a wife and mother is sometimes shallow and overwhelmed by my worries about the less glamorous parts of it. She said, "Well of course! No one wants to be wiping butts all day." This bothered me. I suppose she was trying to make me realize that my worries are normal. But that wasn't what I needed to hear.

What I really want is to change my desires so that my focus is on the why and the beautiful rather than the how. The how is so important: you cannot give love to your family without being willing to give them the deepest acts of service, the "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants" (Mosiah 4:26). For me, I need to focus on why those things are so important and what they say: the why, which is love—deeper and purer than anything else—for both God and His children.

After my frustrating encounter, I came across this quote from Kristen Oaks, an LDS woman who did not marry until her 50s.  
"I got a doctorate and became so involved in my profession that I forgot about being a good person. I would say to everyone in this room, always remember that your first calling is as a mother or as a father. Develop those domestic talents, talents of love and talents of service."
Her words validated the thoughts of my heart.

My dearest friend Kent once told me about a new mother who blogged. Her mom commented that all her daughter wrote about was pee and poop. The younger mother exclaimed, "You understand it now! That is my life." I love that this story was important to him. I believe it stuck with him because he understood the struggles of parenting, yet he has a much deeper conviction of the joys behind the struggles. He was willing to take it all.

For him it was so obvious that these things all fit together. Finding matching shoes, cleaning counter tops, and preparing food—all means to joyful moments of standing in holy places, creating praiseworthy projects, and partaking of the Bread of Life together. Those all sound pretty great to me. I can live with the means to get there if those are the ends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A nice little piece of film and music

I'm kind of digging this video and this song. Warning: there are whales. Get excited.

Also, according to YouTube, "This video was created with over 12,000 pieces of construction paper, shown as it was shot, with no effects added in post."

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