Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thank you for the inspiration.

Tonight Amber, Michael, Melissa and I went to go see Elder Christofferson speak at the Church Educational System (CES) Fireside. Now, for those of you who don't know, the Church Educational System features a monthly fireside featuring a leader in the church (a member of an auxillary organization such as the Relief Society, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, a member of the Seventy, etc.) that talks for about 45 minutes on something that impacts us today. They're always really great, relevant talks that allow me to think about several things that can help me to be a better person.

If you haven't heard of this before (or have but want to go back and read or listen to a particular one) I'd recommend the following: You can look for speakers and topics, and trust me, they're all good.

So, a word about Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He is one of my favorite members of the Quorum of the Twelve. His talks are clothed not only in the Spirit and revelation, but in an intelligence that is entirely refreshing. While I was on my mission, my mission president gave us a talk by Elder Christofferson entitled "A Sense of the Sacred." Being a convert and having tattoos and in general coming from an entirely different point of view, I didn't quite understand a lot of the standards of the Church...or, as I like to describe it, I understood it in my head, but not in my heart. His talk was absolutely amazing, and can be found here: After this talk, I understood it in my heart as well. This talk really changed a lot of things for me, and helped my conversion even more. I remember a companion and I sharing it with quite a few members while in Winnipeg, and I've referenced the talk several times since then--in Sacrament Meeting talks I've given, in discussions with friends, in doing missionary work. Basically, not only do I have a profound respect and admiration for this General Authority, but I also have a special place for him in my heart since this experience.

Also, a word about how excited I get: I subscribe to the "more bang for your buck" approach. I love the church and everything about it. I love temples. Want to make the temple even better? Be a temple worker--or go to as many temples as you can go to. I love listening to the General Authorities at firesides and devotionals. How can that get any better? Go to the Marriot Center where they actually *are,* giving the talk. Even better than that? Get there an hour and half early and sit ten feet away from the stage. It's amazing.

Tonight we got there and took our seats (center and three rows from the podium) and around 5 PM, Elder Christofferson came in. I pretty much freaked out. I started smacking Melissa's legs and then I moved to Amber's on the other side of me, and saying in a high-pitched voice, "it's Elder Christofferson! It's him!!" Then I basically gave a commentary on his movements as he interacted with the choir, came towards us sitting in the front, and talked with the organizers of the event, etc. (Seriously. It was basically, "he's coming towards us! Oh man! I want to shake his hand! Now he's moving away. No wait--he's coming back!")

After awhile, I noticed that he was shaking hands with the few people who went up to him as he was walking around, and he stopped a row away from us and a small group of people started to form to meet him. I couldn't take it anymore. I begged Melissa to go with me (yes, I'm 28 years old) and then when she acquiesced, I nearly sprinted to where he was standing. I shook his hand as he said, "It's nice to meet you." Then the following occurred:

Me: "So, I have to talk to you really quickly."
Him: (smiling as he looked at me and shook Melissa's hand)
Me: "I'm a convert, and while I was on my mission, my mission president gave me a copy of your talk, about the sacred things. Do you remember giving that talk?"
Him: "I do."
Me: "Well, I just wanted to let you know that really meant a lot to me. It finally made me understand some things that I just hadn't gotten until then. So thank you."
Him: (bringing up his hand to cup the side of my face) "You're precious. Thank you."

I nearly skipped back to my seat, where I told Amber and Michael what happened and then jumped up and down a few times in excitement. And then I sat down. And then Melissa pointed out that my hands were still shaking.

(And yes, I'm 28. This excitement and feeling is not going to change anytime soon.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Exploitation of the Innocent

I just watched a particularly unsettling episode of Law and Order: SVU while I was working out this morning (granted, I'm willing to concede that all of them are unsettling.) The kicker was at the close of the show, when one perpetrator was talking to Elliot and asserted that they could continue arresting all those participating in child pornography, and do so for as long as they wanted, but that at some point, they'd realize the growing population--the refusal to do things their way, to play by their rules--the question of whether or not "normal" people were now in the minority.

Did you just get that unsettled feeling like I did?

Now, I'm not saying that I agree with this character, and that healthy, functional adults within the realm of socially acceptable boundaries are in the minority. However, it does make me consider that our numbers are dropping, and that the boundaries are getting stretched into shapes almost unrecognizable. Pornography is the number one internet hobby, and a recent statistic said that the age most children are introduced to pornography is 11. It's now insultingly easy to access anything, anytime over the internet--and get assaulted (in chat rooms, message boards, etc.) while you do so, whether it's with proposals or with insults. And that's just the internet, folks. Look around the world and you'll see that clothing is not only getting more expensive, but also shrinking. Hem lines are shorter, drivers are even more rude, simple gestures of kindness are no longer commonplace, rules of etiquette are being thrown out the window. I can now watch a headless body hanging from a ceiling fan as the opening credits to CSI: Las Vegas opens, on prime-time television--no cable needed! In fact, if you have a set of headphones, you can plug into just about anything now, with free torrents and public share sites--whether it's educational talks, music, offensive jokes, obscene lyrics...anything. Step right up, people, the next show goes on in 30 seconds!

This is not entirely a post about how bad the world is, because I believe there still is a lot of good in the world. This is more a post about how bad the bad is--and how the bad is spreading to infect everything it can lay its dirty little fingers on.

Seth Godin spoke of the issues of internet anonymity in his book, Small is the New Big (if you haven't read this, do it now, because it will blow your mind.) The opportunity of being anonymous directly correlates with the propensity towards acting like a total jerk. People say things online in faceless, nameless settings that they never would in person. It's not even about losing tact: it's about digging tact up, desecrating it, reburying it and then dancing on its grave. Now, this is just a portion of what's happened because of the (technological) advancements of our society. I'm wondering how much our growing boundaries (or lack thereof) contribute to the acceptance of sickening behavior, such as child pornography. Sure, we can all agree that it's bad, but is it really that bad that pre-teens have role models with bigger drug problems than a crack house, and less clothes than a brothel? Where do the boundaries start, and how much more are we willing to stretch them until one day we look around and realize that we really are in the minority?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Resolutions: testing, 1, 2, 3.

How many times do I say that I'm going to post on my blog and then never do? This is like a typically bad new year's resolution--gone within the month, nay, week. Well, I need to change--for real, this time. (And yes, I can picture all of your mouths either virtually or actually forming the words, "yeah, right. We'll believe it when we see it." Well, get ready to see the changes, and please, if you feel so inclined, please bother me to continue on. It takes about 30 days to establish a good habit, so it's going to be a bit of a rough month until I get into the groove.

I will be posting links to my Etsy store soon and possibly my own webpage/store, depending on what happens. Yes, that's right, kids. Beki is going to be organized in her crafting. It's a hefty vision, but then again, I always have hefty visions. Now I just need to gather all my diligence and make these things a reality.

I also have visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head, but that's because I'm rocking an enormous sugar craving right now. Please help me, since I can't seem to stop, and this is doing nothing to positively affect my weight loss goals. I think the next step is to post pictures of swimsuit models on the fridge and as you all know, that action brings with it a new level of insanity. Let's hope it doesn't get that far.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

prophets in the land again

Here I sit, watching The Other Side of Heaven, eating pizza with my friends Michelle and Adriana, and thinking how incredibly blessed I am to be where I am right now in my life.

Today hosted the first two sessions of April General Conference. I was able to listen to some of my favorite General Authorities and Auxiliary Leaders: Elder Christofferson, Elder Holland, President Eyring, and Sister Beck. From what I'm gathering thus far, this conference seems to be a siren call to batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm. Many exhortations to listen to spiritual warnings (indeed, revelation in general) and read the scriptures (indeed, feast in them) were given; many reminders of our baptismal covenants were heard. I heard reports of humanitarian aid given, both spiritual and temporal, from the singular instance to nation-wide or international efforts. I listened as advice and pleadings came to teach our children, strengthen ourselves and homes, and to cast of those things that would drag us down. I felt the Spirit testify to me strongly, and the loving arms of Heavenly Father encircle me as figuratively sat at the feet of his chosen servants.

A discussion ensued at the beginning of the second session, in which President Uchtdorf read off the sustaining vote of all the leaders of the church. I used to think that the sustainment of the General Authorities and Auxiliary Leaders was boring and even tedious, until I started to understand what it meant to sustain the prophet. To sustain is to nourish or support, to buoy up, to give support or relief to. When we sustain our leaders, we not only say, "I believe that God has called you to receive revelation and lead His church," but we also say, "I will do my best to help you achieve your calling: I will support you, encourage you, follow you, pray for you. I will be behind you every step of the way." It is a heavy thing to say with a simple lifting of the right hand. The thing I started to understand is this: Heavenly Father loves us so much, respects us so much, that He gives us the opportunity twice a year to witness before Him and our peers, indeed, ourselves, that we believe they are who they are: Special Witnesses of the Lord and Savior. We are able to decide for ourselves that we believe in and will follow them as they are mouthpieces; we are given that chance to add another block to our fortification of testimony. And that is a magnificent thing indeed.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of coming home from my mission. Last night I actually attended a mission reunion (I'll have to write more of that later) and felt the familiar strings pulled upon my heart again, of how much I miss being a missionary, the things we were able to do daily, the mantle I was honored to hold for that brief period of time. I thought back to a previous conference, October of 2008, in fact, when my companion Ashley Peterson and I were in Winnipeg...

We were excited to have Shawna and Jen with us that conference, two amazing women who were getting baptized a month later. I had talked with another woman the night before, Chantel, and taught her about the importance of a prophet, exclaiming excitedly, "and we have a chance to listen to a living prophet this weekend! Do you want to come?" Chantel had come to Conference, all four sessions of it, and had walked blocks in heels in order to attend some of the sessions. The end of the first session I had found her in the back pew, calling friends and co-workers and overhearing, "yes, a prophet! A living prophet. Right here! I just listened to him--and it's amazing! You have to come down here and hear for yourself." I thought nothing else could touch me more, except that afternoon we taught her the message of the Restoration, explaining what she had felt during Conference, and she listened, enraptured. During Joseph Smith's First Vision, she said she had goosebumps. And finally, at the end of the lesson, Celisse Henderson (my companion for the afternoon), Chantel, and I knelt on the ground to listen to her pray to know if what we taught, and the Book of Mormon itself, was true. It was a time in which the Spirit was so strong that it brought tears to your eyes--it enclosed all three of us in a warm embrace, holding us there as if suspended in time, if just for a moment.

That was a small portion of that day, and I will continue to remember it fondly. I will remember that and a thousand more days, moments that added up to make it the best decision I've ever made.

There are indeed prophets in the land again, and I had the privilege of listening to them today. Tomorrow I have the even greater privilege of seeing them speak. How blessed am I, to have friends, opportunities, temporal blessings, and above all, the blessings of the gospel?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

it's just one of those things

Happy moment #534: going to a YSA dance, laughing and dancing around like crazy for a bit, deciding there wasn't enough good music to justify the amount of b.o. that was permeating the dance floor, and going with your roommate to the refreshment table to pile up a ton of vegetables and finally walking out, happily munching away.

It was a long happy moment, but boy, was it worth it.

this silence is nearly deafening me

Three more weeks of school and then I am done. Done for the winter, done until the fall, done, done. I'll be heading up to Winnipeg for the summer and then...and then...

I have no idea. Well, that's not true. I have a lot of ideas, too many in fact, and they are all piling on top of one another like a crazy interception and fumble on the field. Should I stay there for a few months, or should I come back to Utah right away? Should I get my associates online and do a paraprofessional certificate, or should I even worry about getting my associates at all right now? Do I pile on classes thick or take it easy? I have a lot of dreams and motivation to achieve them, but at times the opportunities seem to take so much effort, the leg work so much time, that it all becomes exhausting and I feel like I need a break. Then again, I took a break early--an eight year break--which is what is complicating matters now, in some aspects.

I'd like to go to a cruise to Hawaii. That, or the Caribbean. Swim with the turtles by the Galapagos Islands, and spend long, languorous days in the sun and near the water, reading literature and smiling at almost everything that crosses my path. Perhaps this is escapism in its most ideal form, but it's the thought that becomes my happy place at times. Then I return to the classroom, the walls, the computer screen, the discussions and graphs and questions and sometimes, the inanity of the person next to you. I don't think it was ever slated that intellectualism was meant to be painless.

So off I go, to the land of procrastination and letters built into words built into sentence fragments built into research papers. And then, the temple. And then, a dance. And then...more daydreams.

Friday, March 26, 2010

buy a round of hellos

I've been meaning to start a blog for a long time, now. It's silly, really, that it's taken this long--it's the same with my American Civilization papers. Hours of procrastination turned into minutes of writing to actually create something useful. It's funny how life seems to follow that pattern more often than not.

I'm still riding an Against Me! craze. The thing is, I ride this wave every single time I listen to them. I suppose music is my preferred drug, and as long as it doesn't serve to make me worse, I'll continue to go back and take another hit when I need it.

Why is it always easier to waste hours of time instead of constructing beautiful symphonies, canvases, or other masterpieces? Perhaps it's that old adage of us not really fearing failure, but fearing our success far more than we'll ever be willing to admit to ourselves.

Anyway, hello blog world. This is me.