Thursday, August 25, 2011

Edify me, please...

Last week I had the most incredible time attending BYU Education Week. I know, I know...I did say BYU. Yes, I spent a whole week down in Utah County--specifically on the BYU campus. As a true-blue Aggie fan, some might be ashamed or embarrassed to admit it, but I will announce that fact proudly. I had the best time down in the infamous Provo, Utah. And after spending a week at BYU, I didn't come home engaged either :) haha.

So what is Education Week? When I first heard of it, I automatically assumed it was some kind of workshop for future/current/past educators. But I was very wrong. In a simple quick explanation, Education Week is a week full of learning. Different classes, taught on a plethora of subjects, are offered and literally you just sit in class and listen to lectures. Boring? You might think that, but it was the farthest thing from boring. Beautiful and inspiring words and information were being poured into my mind and and even more, in my heart. It was amazing!

The theme for Education Week 2011 was "That All May Be Edified" (D&C 88:122). The dictionary definition for edify is "to instruct or improve (someone) morally or intellectually." Knowing this was the theme, I desired to improve my mind [through top notch instruction] and to gain some new light and knowledge that I could apply in my life.
Learning is wonderful if the learning brings change.
It is one thing to hear neat things, yet a completely different thing to take those neat things and apply them to make yourself a better and more Christ-like person.

So how do I sum up a week of beauty? Because literally beauty is the only word that I can think of to describe how I felt about the week. I could make a whole blog post about one single class. Seriously. But that would result in approximately over 20 posts....holy smokes. I would even be sick of reading that. So I will condense each day with a brief outline and some killer quotes from the classes of the day.

Moments of Monday

Monday started off a little rocky. Let's be honest. First: we had to park miles (or at least it felt like miles) away from campus. Who knew that parking would be a joke? Well, we probably should have figured that considering 20,000 people were there for the week. Second: the class we were trying to get into was completely full. As in we couldn't even find two single seats. But after that, things went uphill. We took some awesome afternoon classes on based off of the Lectures on Faith, taught by David A. Christensen.

"You are as righteous as your faith is strong. Faith is what drives our righteousness on a daily basis."

"Faith is absolute power. It is the principle power existing in God."

"Human testimony is the basis of faith that there is a God."

"To come to know God is what faith is all about."

Monday night, I went with my mom, Brad, and Whit (who happened to be in Provo that weekend. Best surprise ever!) to the oh-so-delicious Brick Oven. I had never been there before so it was fun to try something new. It came with high recommendations and I was not disappointed one bit.

Treasures from Tuesday

Tuesday began great. We went to a few different classes, including the weekly devotional by Elder Jay E. Jensen. You know that feeling when you are in a college class and the teachers are flying through slides and you are doing everything in your power to write down all of the information. But just as you begin writing a sentence, the next sentence is being said. Then the next, and the next, and finally, you don't even remember the original sentence. Yep, that's how my whole day was. There was so many good quotes that I wanted to write them all, but it was just impossible. So here are some favorites:

"The Lord can take your desire and remove thoughts or images form your mind that you cannot take yourself." -Kevin Hinkley

"Being a just person is to be righteous or to conform to the words of God." -Jay E. Jensen

"A talking head in a classroom setting is the worst kind of teaching. Teachers and listeners must create a climate that the Spirit can enter, uplift, and edify." -Jay E. Jensen

"The Lord uses the desire and abilities of people to create and inspire through music. Immerse yourselves in music that HAS A GOOD MESSAGE." -Marvin Goldstein

"The hymns are prayers. If you choose to not sing, you are refusing to pray." -Marvin Goldstein

"Showing friendliness and love (attention) can make more of a difference than we might know. If we show a little bit of love to someone, it becomes real. We will genuinely feel love for those people." -Randal A. Wright

"There is no earthly force greater than the divine power within women to accomplish and do the things we do." -Barbara Barrington Jones

"If Satan can jam the channels between you and the Father, then he can make progress on your destruction. Prayer is our LIFE LINE to God. We cannot let Satan win." -Barbara Barrington Jones

Tuesday night we went to a community production of Aida performed at the De Jong Concert Hall. The music from that show is pretty The group did a nice little job putting the show on too. Here is a clip from the Broadway production of Aida...what I would give to have seen that one :)

Slight disclaimer:
This song is awesome! It's probably not the most entertaining scene ever, and heck, they just might get a little friendly, but just listen to the voices. They are unreal.

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

My favorite class (or at least in the top 3) of the week was the "one-day special" for Young Single Adults offered on Wednesday morning. I'll give you one guessas to what the top was about. Yep. Marriage. Go figure. And call me a total nut job for even going to the class, but it was awesome! It was entitled "One of the Most Important Decisions You Will Ever Make: Whom You Will Marry." Well, if you ask me, it isn't one of the most important deciison but THE most important decision. Hi, we're talking eternity here! Scott R. Braithwaite, a [young] psychology professor from BYU taught the course, and he was fantastic! It was his first year at Education Week and he was great. He emphasized showing legitimate statistics along with quotes from the brethren on carious apsects of the whole dating/marriage thing. Let me show you:

"Marry the right person in the right place by the right authority." -Bruce R. McConkie

"We can predict 94% accuracy if a marriage will fail or succeed."

Birds of a Feather or Opposites Attract? "Difficulties and hazards are increased when backgrounds are different." So the correct answer? BIRDS OF A FEATHER!

"The more education, the more stable the marriage. Marriages where women are more educated than the husband are more likely to end in divorce."

"Shorter periods of acquaintance and/or courtship are more likely to end in marital dysfunction... Don't get married too soon, don't get married too late."

"Single Best Predictor? Negative Patterns of communication."

"Choose who you love and love who you choose. I choose you. I will continue to choose you."

"Soul Mates? I do not believe in predestined love." -Boyd K. Packer

"Both people must be willing to pay the price for a successful marriage." -Spencer W. Kimball

"Be the person you want to marry. Know yourself well."

"There's a fine balance between agency and inspiration. Revelation in 95% hard work." -Bruce R. McConkie

What is love? "It is not just a feeling. That feeling will come and go."

"The decision may be gradual in our minds, not all at once. Line upon line, precept upon precept, with small simple assurances that they are a remarkable and spiritual child of God." -David A. Bednar

Nurture your marriage. "Love is like a flower--it needs constant feeding. It can't be expected to last forever without constant work and care."

Ok, so maybe I went a little overboard on the marriage talk, but it was good! Just saying...
We attended some good classes afterwards that dealt a lot with addictions. We didn't meant to go to them, but ended up there. However, I learned so much in those classes. Addiction is something that everyone can struggle with. And just because some isn't an "addict" doesn't mean they aren't struggling with addictive behaviors. Of course, the professors have to jab in some jokes about dating here and there, despite their teaching subject, so my favorite silly quote from the afternoon was this:

"Boys are looking at girls, girls are asking what their major is."
Possible truth to this statement? :) haha.

Sitting in classes with my mom.

That night I had a show up at Pickleville, so my friend Brad and I drove back up to Bear Lake and back that night. 6 hours of driving, folks! That's 6 more hours than I would ever like to spend in a car. But the show was fun, and with some good company, 6 hours can seem a lot faster.

Thoughts from Thursday

Thursday was amazing. The classes we attended were definitely meatier. There was a lot of deep doctrine we learned about, including women of the church, covenants, media influences and the Atonement. My mind was seriously edified this day!

"Women of Deseret became to speak up and speak out. We can see their influence in the history of the church." -Susan Easton Black

"God will never force us into making a covenant." -Victor L. Ludlow

"It is not just what we experience in this life, but what we do with the experience. It is how we react." -Victor L. Ludlow

"The media is not the problem. It's how the media is used that is the problem." -Randal A. Wright

"If you are exposed to something inappropriate it is not your fault. However, if you choose to see and focus on it, that is different." -Randal A. Wright

"Certain things are expected with certain kinds of music. Bad music will trump good parenting." -Randal A. Wright

"It is one thing to be willing to die for others and another to be able. Christ was the only one authorized, capable, and qualified. The Atonement is infinite and eternal." -Brad Wilcox,

"Why do we believe in Jesus?
-We have the Book of Mormon.
-We have apostles and prophets.
-We have the spirit who assures us we are correct.
-Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son." -Brad Wilcox

"The Book of Mormon clarifies and ve
rifies the Bible." -Brad Wilcox

"If an experience were not accompanied by the Spirit, we would forget it. The Spirit can reach through the thickest of walls and hardest of hearts." -Brad Wilcox

Thursday night was great. We ate at Zuppas, which was quoted as the place where you can get "a total chick's kind of meal" aka: soup, salad, sandwiches. I was also introduced to the best liquid I have ever partaken of in my life. Cookies n' Creme chocolate milk. The most flowery and elaborate words couldn't properly describe how awesome this drink was. Thank you BYU creamery for making such a guilty pleasure of mine. Not to mention, the excessive amount of calories that little bottle contains. But I just try really hard not to think of that as I'm drinking it!

Friday Farewells

Friday was the final day of Education Week and perhaps had the most impact. I felt the Spirit so strongly that day.

"We should concern ourselves with specific sins, but we must know that sinfulness give rise to sins. Repentance is much more than just stopping the sin. We must experience the change that makes us not even want to do it." -Robert L. Millet

"We must pray to have no patience with sin, yet infinite patience with sinners, including ourselves." -Robert L. Millet

"We want a change of character resulting from a change of nature leading to a change of conduct." -Robert L. Millet

"True repentance isn't just cleaning the bathroom--it's cleaning the whole house." -Robert L. Millet

"I think I'll be delightful is a
choice to feel/be delightful." -John G. Bytheway

"Treat a man as he is and he will act how he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will act as he can and should be." -John G. Bytheway

"Music is a communication not needed to be articulated to be understood. It can lead us to moments that touch the infinite." -James Oneil Miner

"The miracle of the A
tonement is that we can be TRANSFORMED. One who truly chooses Christ chooses change and to be changed. Come unto Christ and be perfected with (in) Him." -Brad Wilcox

"Suffering alone is not a change agent. Christ is the change agent. Seeing Him doesn't change us, accepting Him does." -Brad Wilcox

"If he had continually held my head about the water, would I have ever learned to walk?" -Brad Wilcox

That afternoon after the last class I was shocked that it was all over. I guess the saying is true, "time flies when you're having fun." Don't judge me USU friends, but I didn't want to leave Provo. Taking a week off of reality and having my bucket filled, you could say, was a refreshing break from the regular weekly routine I had been living all summer long. Now, I'll admit that my feet were a little tired from all the walking, my hand was permanently cramped from the never-ending-note-taking, and I was sick of eating out. But it was a delightful week.

It was lovely to spend time with my mom. She is one ball of energy, excitement, and mild sarcasm, and she is a wonderful woman. It was fun spending time with good friends and strengthening those friendships. I learned a lot about myself this week. I was given good counsel through words of the instructors, quotes from the prophets, advice from a friend, and wisdom from the scriptures. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to go. The first of many I hope! Gosh, if I could go back and relive my Education Week, I would, because it truly was a week for "education." Education on so many levels.

"Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege."
Doctrine and Covenants 88:122

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Beautiful Baseball.

So sad news...summer is winding down. It's true. But with the close of the summer, new and exciting things are ahead! One of those being football. Football season is gearing up and all those buff players are being whipped into tip-top shape for another great season. Thank you NFL for not being in a lock-out anymore. But before I get too excited for football season, I would like to reminisce a little on that All-American sport, baseball.

The MLB is still going strong right now, so I guess technically baseball season isn't completely over. But little league/college/high school games...those are long gone. This is the first year in a very long time that my little brothers have not been involved in baseball. Aaron is one heck of a pitcher and Jared is a killer first baseman, but they both decided to hang up the gloves for full time hoop-shooting. It was really interesting to see those little boys (who aren't so little anymore) make a big decision like that. Jared espeically....he played on a competitive team last year and traveled all over for games and tournaments. Call it baseball overload or burn-out? I'm not sure, but the boy didn't want to do it again this year.

A few photos of the boys playing baseball last year.

Aaron pitching.

Jared on first base.

Many a good memory have been made for them through baseball. I'll admit, I really enjoy going to a baseball game and cheering for the runner to slide into home base for a grand-slam. I haven't been to an MLB game, but one day I will go to one. It's on the bucket list!

Growing up, I even watched a baseball movie or two.... Here are just a few of my favorites.

The Sandlot. Such a classic.

Angels in the Outfield. I watched this movie a million times when I was young.

The Rookie.Yes, Dennis Quaid is older, but he's an attractive older man.
And what an inspirational story about Jimmy Morris.

So what in the world would possess me to blog about baseball? I mean, granted, I think it's a pretty wonderful sport and has provided some fun summer memories. But my connection to baseball isn't anything extra special or sentimental. However, today I heard a story about baseball that has been on my mind all day long. It goes a little something like this....

"At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: "He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?" The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child." Then he told the following story:

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play, not expecting much. The boy looked around for guidance and a few boys nodded approval, why not? So he took matters into his own hands and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning."

Shay struggled over to the team's bench put on a team shirt with a broad smile and his father had a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible 'cause Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing the other team putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over, but the pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could haveeasily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have beenout and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the head of the first baseman, out of reach of all team-mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever ran that far but made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to second base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team, who had a chance to be the hero for his team for the first time. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and he too intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay" Shay reached third base, the opposing shortstop ran to help him and turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! Shay, run to third" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams and those watching were on their feet were screaming, "Shay, run home!" Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "The boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world." Shay didn't make it to another summer and died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!"

This story really touched my heart today. It's not always just about winning and being the best. Let's be honest, often times it's the parents who want the win more than the child. But what a beautiful example of showing Christ-like love. I think that children can teach us adults a lot about service, selflessness, and loving others.

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." -Matthew 18:3-4

The General Primary President of the Church, Jean A. Stevens, said this of the youngin's:

"These precious children of God come to us with believing hearts. They are full of faith and receptive to feelings of the Spirit. They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive."

I cannot think of anyone that I would want to spend day-in and day-out with than sweet children. I guess that's part of why teaching elementary school is so appealing to me. Call me selfish, but I feel like they will be the ones teaching me every day rather than me teaching them. I am honestly looking forward to one day interacting with the little squirts all of the time.

I hope that I can be like the baseball team in the story. When I meet a "Shay" in my own life, I hope that I can be open and loving enough to realize the best thing to do. I know that by living a life that would be pleasing to God, I will be prepared and in-tune to show that love and help to bless the lives of others. I hope to radiate that light and love of Christ that is found in a child. So when those screaming fans (for the opposing team, of course) are getting a little on my nerves, I can show forth some of that love. :)

Oh baseball! I am already looking forward to you next summer...

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a wreck!

The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. Summer is in full swing and nothing could bring you down on such a gorgeous and delightful afternoon. The radio is blasting your favorite song and the A.C. is gently blowing your hair. Life is good. Mmmm mmmm good. A little drive home on a Thursday afternoon has never been so delightful. And then.


And out pops the airbag...

So yesterday, my cute mom was in a little car accident. Well actually, I would define it as a medium accident. It wasn't any little fender-bender, but there was no serious injury. Just some medium-sized damage to her car. Luckily, it wasn't her fault and everyone was unharmed. But I can't say that about everyone's pride.

About a year ago, there was a round-about constructed in North Logan on 18th North and 2nd East. It's pretty cool and very convenient to keep traffic flowing....but ONLY when people use it correctly. One thing I have discovered in the past year is that people really don't know how to use one. Rules? Well, let's be honest, people in Logan just make up their own when it concerns the round-about.

Which is just what Mrs. Jones (not her actual name) did yesterday. She came flying around the round-about and didn't take the time to notice my mom in the next lane. Needless to say, there was some mashed metal, some shattered glass and a few tears on the part of Mrs. Jones' daughter. There was no damage done to her truck, but my mom's van isn't in its prime shape at the moment, let's just say.

So the police were called and husbands came to the rescue. I wish that every man in this world could be just like my dad. He's so amazing. He was very calm and collected about the whole thing. And I know that if it would have been my mom's fault, he would have been the same way. He has such a cool temper and is very understanding. Always. Unfortunately, Mr. Jones isn't exactly like my dad and was a little frustrated and rude to his wife. I can only image what their conversation at home went like last night...yikes?

When all was said and done, the police off the scene, the glass picked up, the insurance companies called and claims made, a few hearts were probably feeling down that night. Because frankly, accidents do happen. And it makes me feel so grateful for only having experienced one in my whole life. Every time I hop into my car I am risking getting in an accident. So why in the world do I keep driving? :) But moments and experiences like this help open up our eyes to the blessings we have. I take for granted the tender mercies that I receive daily on the road. There are many times that I probably should have been hit by a deer in Logan Canyon driving home from Pickleville. How many times have I been driving by a drowsy driver moments from drifting off and hitting my car? Or better yet, how many times have I been the drowsy driver that is fighting with everything I have to stay awake. The largest caffeine pill couldn't even keep me awake...but yet somehow, I make it to my destination unharmed.

The Lord loves us so much and gives us small bumps in the road, like a car accident, to keep us aware and maybe even cause a trial for some. But we come out of things like this as better people with more wisdom and understanding. And in the case of a wreck, probably with a little more caution. I'm glad that my mom and the Jones family were safe. And I'm glad to know that there is someone watching over us. Always.