Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hodge-Podge of 2010

I've been reading a lot of Christmas cards/blogs related to the season and I wanted to put in my little shpeel (spelt phonetically of course...) concerning my thoughts of the Christmas season.

(Deep inhale)  I love the smell of the Christmas Season.  Everything smells like cinnamon - cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mmm!  It's amazing how powerful and calming a smell can be.  Maybe that's why everyone is getting into those Scentsy things now... and I digress.

Christmas has always been amongst my favorite times of the year.  I love the positive attitudes that most people possess and even the stressfulness of shopping.  I love the priceless look on the faces of family and loved ones as gifts are open and their face lights up with surprise as they open the 'perfect gift.'  

Holiday food is nothing short of delightful.  Even though in the I regret all the fantastic calories I eat all between November and January, in the moment of indulgence I cherish ever delicious bite.  (Just for your gee whiz file my favorites include home-made toffee, soft ginger cookies and hot apple cider. Mmmm!)

Despite all of the lovely things I've listed above, I think one of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the miracles that I'm more prone to see around me.  Everything from the not-so-cheerful men and women ringing bells at Walmart entrances for the Salvation Army to the anonymous acts of service and charity bestowed and humbly accepted.  What other time of year would it be totally acceptable to take hordes of treats to family, friends and really strangers in the spirit of giving.

Christmas' in the past have all been memorable for one thing or another, but this Christmas will be one I'm sure I'll cherish for years.  Not so much because of the gifts (although just for the record I did gets some sweet stuff!) but because of everything that happened.  You see, this year it dawned on me... my family is changing - I know you'd think I'd have thought of that 8+ years ago when my oldest sisters got married, but apparently I'm a little slow.  So now that we've added three in-laws and a plethora of grandchildren later, and my just-younger brother is shortly leaving on a mission I've come to see that Christmas really isn't what is purchased, given and or received; it's all about family and our Savior Jesus Christ.  What a glorious thing to remember.  I hope this year to be better able to  remember that it's because of Him that all things are possible. :)

2010 has been a year for me to, figuratively speaking, grow up.  It's been a year of personal and family trials, however I wouldn't change a one of them for the world.  It is because of those trials I've had some AMAZING learning and growing experiences.  This year has been an opportunity for me to step back from what everyone else whats and expects of me and come to see what it is that I want and what I want to achieve but more importantly it's been a blessing for me to begin to realize what my Heavenly Father wants for me.  It's been awe-inspiring to say the least.  I am truly blessed.

Well, I guess since I don't send out a Christmas card I'll provide you a short synopsis of my year.

Spring semester was pretty intense.  I had some difficult classes as I progressed in my program (Elementary Education) at Utah Valley University, but I'm pleased to say that with they help of good friends, an amazing family, and a grundle of hours spent at the BYU library I was able to come out on top and got nearly all As. (Yeah me!)

My summer was full of nothing short of amazing experiences!!  In June I spent two awe inspiring weeks in Chiapas, Mexico serving with a humanitarian group.  (See posts 1, 2, & 3) I'm confident in saying that everything that accumulated prior to and within those two weeks has forever changed my life.

In July Shaun and I had the super cool chance to go to Seoul, South Korea where our Grandfather served our country nearly 50 years ago.  (See posts 1 & 2) I've developed a new love and respect for the men and women over the years who have jeopardized their safety to protect and defend that of others.  When I now hear our National Anthem I think of my Grandfathers who gave so much so others could have what we do.

The whole family was finally together again at the end of July and beginning of August.  We went up Ogden canyon and spent a few days enjoying each others company, swimming and attending our Church meetings.  It was delightful to be with everyone once again.

Since starting my program I've found that the semesters more quickly fly by.  Fall semester was no different.  I've made so many amazing friends as I've moved through my program and hope to keep in touch with them as we part our was after graduation this coming spring.  I spent three weeks in the most lovely first grade class.  They are angels and I thoroughly enjoy working with them.  I'm so lucky to get to go back to them come January when I'll begin my student teaching.

I'm always surprised to see how quickly December comes around.  It must be the hustle and bustle of the season; finals, attempting to get more work hours, and wrapping up Christmas shopping, etc.  I'm amazed to reflect back and see all I've been blessed with.  I'm convinced it's no coincidence and that my Savior has had a hand in my life.  I'm grateful for this time and season to take special note of all He's done in my behalf. 

I'm sure this upcoming year will behold many more unexpected turns (as new years typically do), and I'm looking forward to the adventures that I'll behold; graduation, hopefully a little more traveling, more good and awful dates, letters to and from my favorite missionaries and about 80 gazillion hours spent teaching or prepping for my classes to be taught.  I hope that this year finishes strong and that that New Year brings all the happiness and joy your heart desires.

With Love,
Brittish Knees

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis the Season to be stressed out! Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la!

I often find myself blogging to post to you (whoever 'you' are) and find myself pouring my heart, soul and guts into a post.  I'll spare you the yuck and simply give you the solution I came up with:  life is hard.  I know... News Flash!  Haha.  No but really.  I think everyone... or at least I get wrapped up in all of these fears and insecurities about the future or whatever.  Insecurities that in reality I have no control over.  It's totally backwards, I know.  

However despite my insecurities and fears I know I can find solace in one consistent place: my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I read a friends blog the other day who is currently serving a mission for our Church and she shared something that I think was just for me.  (The following is a cut and paste job from her post.  Thanks Merrit!)

The Physician

"Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. THE WHOLE NEED NO PHYSICIAN, BUT THEY THAT ARE SICK." Moroni 8:(can’t remember the verse at the moment)

Christ didn't come for the righteous. He came to heal the sick. He is the ultimate physician, healing us from our broken hearts, guilt, depression, stress, anxiety, fear, frustration, past mistakes, and every other illness we might have. Like a physician, he has all the tools to make us better - stethoscopes, thermometer, prescriptions, heart monitors, etc. He has it all and he knows how to use it without flaw. 

Perhaps doctors here make mistakes. They give incorrect diagnosis or the wrong prescription but Christ never messes up. He is perfect and heals us perfectly. But like doctors here, The Physician cannot heal us unless we go to him. Doctors don´t go door to door each day making people better. You must go to their office. Sometimes we are stubborn and don’t want to go to the doctor because we don´t believe they can say anything to help us feel better. We try to solve it on our own. But then we finally realize that perhaps we don´t actually know everything and maybe, just maybe, we could use a little help. So we go to the doctor and he checks and few things, discovers the problem, and sends us on our way with the tools to fix it. We miraculously feel better in no time. And then we wonder why we didn't go to him in the first place. 

And thus it is with the Savior. His job is to heal us. That is why he came to earth. He knows what we need to be whole again. How does he know? He went through all the agony of medical school just like any other doctor. Except his schooling was a bit unconventional. His classroom was in the Garden of Gethsemane and his final exam on the Cross of Calvary. He graduated medical school as the valedictorian. He did everything in order to know how to help us and heal us. 

Sometimes I get frustrated when I go to the doctor and he tells me things I already know - drink lots of water and get lots of sleep. I want the magic solution to all of my ailments. The same happens with the Savior. I finally decide to quit pretending like I have all the answers so I go to him for help. And he tells me all the things I already know - read my scriptures, pray, go to church, keep the commandments. I get mad because I want him to give me a magic pill so I will be healed. I want him to tell me something like "Go to the corner where there is a gas station. Wait for 5 minutes and a man in a purple suit will approach you and give you a box. Inside of the box you will find a new heart to replace your broken one. Bring the box to me and I will operate next Tuesday. You will be as good as new on Friday."

But that´s not how he works. I tell him my heart is broken and he tells me to pray harder and read more of his words. And even though I am a little frustrated or disappoints, I know he is right. 

But no matter what his diagnosis or prescription or method of healing, he always holds my hand and tells me it´s going to be alright. He tells me that he knows that it hurts and that he knows how I feel. He lets me cry, and sometimes he cries with me. Sometimes the healing is instant and sometimes it is a long process of lots of doctor visits and treatments and support from family and friends. But I am always healed. 

We are counseled to go to the doctor frequently for check-ups, just in case there are problems we can´t detect ourselves. Without frequent check-ups problems could get bigger and bigger and eventually dominate our lives. But if we catch the issue early it can be taken care of. So we should also go to the Master Healer regularly as well. He will help us detect problems and fix them for us before they kill us inside. 

And the key with getting help from the doctor is that we have to follow through with treatment. If we don´t do our part we can´t be healed. I remember when I had my ACL surgery and I had to do so much on my own to make my knee better. The doctor did the surgery, but afterward I had to follow through with hours and hours and physical therapy. It hurt like crazy some days, but I did it and now my knee is back to normal. If I hadn't done my part the surgery would have been useless. 

When we turn to the Savior for help, he will help us. But we must be willing to do our part and follow through with the treatment he prescribes, even if it seems dumb or pointless. We must have enough faith and hope that he is smarter than us and knows how to make us better.

I know that Christ is the ultimate and perfect healer. I know that he is genuinely concerned about my well being and wants to make me whole. And more than that, I know that he can. I know that he knows how I feel when I hurt so badly that I can´t even breathe. I know that as I turn to him regularly with a willingness to complete my part of the treatment he will take away my pain and make me healthy again. I am eternally grateful for a Savior who suffered through the most rigorous medical school of all time - the atonement - so that he could solve any measure of pain or illness in our lives.

I find it no coincide that I needed a reminder  that I don't have to handle all of these insecurities and fears on my own.  In fact, I don't have to be burdened by them at all!  My Savior, Jesus Christ already took care of them.  He paid the price and is willing to figuratively 'hold my hand' through the hardest of hard times - mind you so long as I let Him He'll be there all the other times too.  

I would hope that none of 'you' would need this reminder too, but just in case.   I wish you well in the rest of final, work or whatever you're doing at this time.  Don't forget that you've got The Ultimate Physician on your side. :)

Until next time,
Brittish Knees 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Laugh Out Loud

These last few weeks have been lovely (minus this last week - staying up late and getting up early is never a good way to do things).  Field was a dream come true and I find myself anticipating January to see my little darling students again. But sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses. Today wasn't one of those days.

I got up and in my haste to quickly get ready and out the door I jumped into the show, got ready, threw on clothes, grabbed some breakfast and zipped out the door.  The day progressed fairly normally and near the end of my work day I found myself adjusting my undershirt (which is fairly normal) and ... realize it's been on backwards all day.  Haha!  I love finding out goofy errors I've made during the day. :)  Ahh the tender mercies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life is a Funny Thing

Life is a funny thing.  I think this is my new favorite phrase.  I feel as though it encompasses just about everything; the good, bad and ugly all in one little phrase... "Life is a funny thing."

Recently I've been very busy; busy with school mostly but also with family, friends and the pile of homework that feels as though it isn't getting smaller even though I know it is.  I find myself busy with church and the stresses (some good, some ... well not) it entails and wondering about how I'm going to survive these next few months.

Today in Institute we talked about what I needed - exactly.  We were discussing D&C 38.  In versus 1-10 it describes the Lord's resume - if you will; and all of His qualifications (which have been highlighted in red) for us being able to put our trust in Him: 

1. Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great aI Am, Alpha and Omega, the bbeginning and the end, the csame which looked upon the dwide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic ehosts of heaven, fbefore the world was gmade;
2. The same which aknoweth all things, for ball things are cpresent before mine eyes;
3. I am the same which aspake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.
4. I am the same which have taken the aZion of bEnoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have cbelieved in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the dblood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.
5. But behold, the residue of the awicked have I kept in bchains of darkness until the cjudgment of the great day, which shall come at the end of the earth;
6. And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but aharden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom. 
7. But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine aeyes are upon you. I am in your bmidst and ye cannot csee me; 
8. But the day soon cometh that ye shall asee me, and know that I am; for the bveil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not cpurified shall not dabide the day.
9. Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the akingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome. 
 10Verily I say unto you, ye are aclean, but not all; and there is none else with whom I am well bpleased;

As our discussion progressed we talked about faith and how the natural man within each of us struggles with the concept of faith - particularly in something or someone that can't be seen with the natural eye.  Logically it seems so backwards to not put your full trust in God, after all He is the creator of the Universe; but something within each of us is reserved.  Despite his consistency in providing all we've every and will ever need.  

While pondering some of my personal struggles I find myself recommitting to putting my faith in Him who knows best.  I still don't understand why things happen, and I could allow myself to justify my unsettled feelings that still seem to slip back into my thinking.  However from this time forward I am going to try harder to see what my Eternal Father sees; to know what He knows.  Until then I am going to do my best to not put my trust and faith in the arm of the flesh, but rather in the hand of my God.  The older I get the clearer it becomes to me that He knows me best and knows how to best succor me.

There is a song by Janice Kapp Perry called Song of Testimony.  The chorus of the song always strikes me as special.  This this I add my testimony, "I know God lives.  I know He loves me.  I know He hears and answers my prayers.  I know His Son is my redeemer and that He died for me that  I might live eternally one day."  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blow and Throw

Don't you hate it when life just seems to blow?  I'm not talking about runny noses, or tires, finals or anything like that... it just seems to - pardon my French, but suck.  Please, don't read this wrong.  I'm not looking for sympathy, empathy, or any other kind of -pathy.  I just wanted to write about something that was rather obvious to me today. 

On a completely related topic that has started rather negative (sorry), but will change I promise; I read a friend of mines blog who is serving a mission.  She talked about something completely perfect related to this issue of blow-age.  (Thank you Merrit!  Talk about inspiration!)  

She shared that Ether 6 talks about the Jaredites who were a people who left the land they were living in to find a land of promise that would be provided to them by God. After they embarked on this tremendous voyage they began to encountered some pretty nasty waters.  The winds blew constantly and I'm sure none of them did enjoyed the cramped, stuffy, dark boat ride here.  (The phrase "tight, like unto a dish" comes to mind.)  However this friend of mine brought up a very good point; the winds blew so they could arrive in their promised land.  She related how the winds that blow (sometimes blow us down) hurt and are anything but pleasant, but that how they always will help us get to the place we need to be.  As I contemplated the yucky state of life I sometimes find myself in, this knowledge (call it a testimony if you like) brought great comfort to me tonight.  Seriously my blogger stalking friends, I encourage anyone who needs to find some extra strength to read Ether 6 with a similar outlook.  I know that I'll never look at this story the same way again. 
The Church is true my friends.  It provides the path for us to achieve our "Promised Land", but I also know that we can't really get there with out the yucky, not fun, even sucky times.  They are a part of the grand design - I just know it.  God's in control, so it'll all be alright!

Much love,
Brittish Knees

Thursday, November 25, 2010

...Count Your Many Blessings, See What God Has Done...

Dear Blog Stalkers,

Today is the our national day of gratitude. (News Flash!)  Thus it would be un-American of me to not post something about all the things I've been grateful for in 2010.

Some of the most obvious things are family, friends, a warm home (especially on this freezing Thanksgivng Day), a closet of clothes and a plethora of shoes.  I'm thankful for awesome words like trebuchete, hippopotomus, and onomotopeia.  I'm grateful for the hard, yucky, miserable times of life becuase they help me appricaite the joyful times all the more.  I'm grateful for mounds of homework that take entire five day weekends to do because it means I'm getting an education and I'll eventually be able to graduate and have a classroom of children who will hopefully love me!  I'm grateful for socks, fireplaces, string cheese, and grandma's homemade rolls.  I'm hankful for screaming nephews because that means I have ears that can hear and that I'm alive.  I'm thankful for being 23 because it means I've had 23 years to gain experience and hopefully that I'll have a good 50+ years to continute in my adventure called life.  At this time of year, I can't help but being grateful for my religion.  Being a memeber of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided me countles blessings; many of these blessings can be mine even after I depart from this mortal life.  More than anything I'm thankful for a Heavenly Father who is very aware of an loves me. Who knows what I need, better that I do; who loves me enough to let me make wrong decisions, dispite the pain that they will cause me. 

You see, this year I have about a zillion more things to be thankful for than I did last year.  And I hope next year will bring about a zillion more!  :)  Start counting your blessings, guarunteed you won't be able to get them all.  Oh!  Don't forget those really important things like utility bills and  Cinnamon Life!! ;)

Thanks for being a part of my life!

Brittish Knees

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't worry! I'm not dead.

My Dearest Fan Club,

I've been worried about you lately... okay, so not really (sorry, but it's ture).  My life has been focused on me, self-centered I know, the group of 22 six and seven year olds I hang out with all day, and my family.  Aah the life of a pre-service teacher.

So field (for all you non-elementary educationers that's where I spend three weeks of the semester in a classroom practicing all the things I was learning) started last week... actually it was a week ago Wednesday... which is almost tomorrow.  (Oh wow!  I should probably go to bed.)  I guess I just wanted you to know that all is going well.  Dispite some bumpiness at the beginning, I am really enjoying it.  I'm glad that I'll be able to come back to this same class of adorable first graders in January to do my for-real-deal student teaching.  They are fun, and they hug me daily and tell me they love me.  Who wouldn't want that?  Call me crazy, call me weird, but I call me a future teacher. :)

Peace out world, well at least until probably Thanksgiving.
Brittish Knees

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pure Inspiration!

Today I had an amazing opportunity to see one of my educational heroes, her name is Erin Gruwell.  For those of you who've seen Freedom Writers know who I'm talking about, for the rest of you let me introduce you to this amazing woman:  Erin was a first year English teacher in 1994 at a pretty rough school in Long Beach, CA.  She'd grown up in suburban California and with her first step into the classroom she realized she had absolutely no idea how to teach the kids in her eighth grade class.  So I don't ruin the movie for you, I won't give too many details but lets just say that Erin was able to tap into their lives and make a difference.  

The reason I've chosen to blog about this today was Erin was at UVU today.  She spoke to an audience full of University faculty and staff and students (both at the university level and high school/jr high) to tell us about her story.  Throughout the course of her lecture, I'm not going to lie, there were several times that I was moved to tears as I thought of the horror of the situations the kids in her classroom dealt with on a daily basis.  At the end of her speech she left each of us with a challenge to make a difference; not necessarily by standing in front of a tank as other brave patriots have, done but by changing the life of the one.  She said something that's stuck with me today and I hope will stick with me for  the rest of my life, "most people don't need a handout, they need a hand up."  Meaning that there are people who are in need of help, but rather than providing them with a couple bucks, provide them with an opportunity to overcome their current circumstances and rise to a higher level or life.

Today I've been re-motivated to be a sincere friend.  To stand up for the one who is different, who is ostracized, who needs a smile and needs a friend.  My challenge to you is to make a difference, however you see fit.  Oh... and to watch Freedom Writers. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

TV Dinners

The funny thing about TV dinners is the have the ability to make everything taste the same.  The miracle behind this happening goes as follows:
Step 1:  Peel corner of package off for ventilation
Step 2: Put in microwave on high for 3 minutes (seems plenty long to me, but keep reading)
Step 3: Take out of microwave, and remove the rest of the lid.
Step 4: Stir and put back into microwave for an additional minute.
Step 5: Again stir the screaming hot liquid that for whatever reason doesn't LOOK hot.
Step 6: Indulge.

Okay, okay... so maybe my stupidity plays in a little here, but according to my experience if something isn't bubbling or steaming (which this meal wasn't) it's not hot. WRONG-O WRONG-O!  I placed one of these delectable looking raviolis into my mouth.  I should have spit the dumb thing out, but there were co-workers around.  So I did what anyone in my shoes would have done and started to chew to swallow.  This was also a mistake, because all of the cheesy goodness that I should have been indulging in was burning every taste bud in my mouth off! 
Moral of the story: next time you're running late, skip the TV dinner and buy a bagel instead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smile for the Birdie!

Last weekend I tagged along with my sister and her adorable family while they did family photos.  Well, I guess I didn't really tag along, I had a very important job: to get her three kids to look and the camera and genuinely smile.  You might be thinking this would be simple.  Saying "smile" or "cheese" should do it right?   
Wrong-o, wrong-o!  
 I'm pleased to announce that I did a marvelous job, even though I haven't seen the photos.  However my sister seems happy with them, thus my attempts were a success!

After everything was done with the whole family they did some individual shots, which I wasn't so successful in the smile dept. so Mommy got  that job while Daddy and I played with the other two kiddos.  (Best job ever!)  As the day continued the oldest of the kids started to get sleepy, so I piggy backed him back to the car.  The photographer got some great ones of us.  Let me know what you think. :) 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm a Big Kid Now!... we'll almost.

To My Dearest Fan Club, 

I'm assuming you're only reading this is A) you find the same sick fasination with reading other people's blogs that I do or B) you are bored out of your mind.  Either way, I hope it provides you what you're looking for.

I can hardly believe it! It dawned on me today that I'm really  graduating!  I know I've blogged, or blabbed (take your pick) about this prior, but it seems like such a surreal concept.  I counted the other day and I've been in school for 19 years (this April), I'll spare you the math... that makes me 23.  I can't tell how I really feel about it yet.  Some days it's so exciting and others it's nothing short of a terrifying though.  I guess it's cause my future is so uncertain.  

I'm looking at jobs everyone, like adult jobs... no longer is my hope to have a part-time job, but rather to become an asset to society an join the work force.  Weird.

I'm not sure what persuaded me to check my graduation status, but it says 95% complete right now.  As soon as October 25th rolls around (and permitted I pass all my classes between now and April) I'll be able to walk with the class of 2011.  Bizzar!!  

I guess that's what has been going through my mind today.  It's been a humbling experience.  Yesterday I had a conversation with ...someone(s)... that helped me to recognize that while it's good to dream big, it's important to also see reality.  Translation:  I'll be applying for teaching positions in UTAH starting in April for the fall of 2011. (Eek!!) So, if you know of any schools that will be looking for teachers, let me know. :)  In the mean time, I'm trying to not pull my hair out as I juggle classes, working and somewhat of a social life. 

Funny how life works out, huh?

You're truly, 
Brittish Knees

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Stinkin' Thinkin': A Hodge-Pogde of Random Thoughts

It's funny how when we're children we often think of how wonderful life will be as we grow up.  Indeed life is wonderful.  I get to choose what I want on the menu, buy a car, attend the University of my choice, pick a career, buy that new hot pair of shoes, or purchase that candy bar in the checkout line that taunts me every time I go through the grocery store line.  Don't be mislead though, along with all of the freedoms and experiences we also attain the crappy things also tag along.  Things like insurance (both health and automotive), adult jobs (which I suppose could be good and bad... at the moment my lack of one presents this to be a draw back of adult life), and DRAMA.  All of which are things I despise. 

In lieu of these lovely decisions that are rapidly entering into my future I've been investigating jobs I could apply for.  Immediately after graduation my goal is to have be hired as a counselor to the EFY program and work somewhere on the east coast for the summer.  (Bliss, I know!)  After the summer comes and goes I'm hoping for one of two things to happen:  1) Some awesome, fantastic jobs will fall into my lap ... I meaning that I'll have worked hard and scouted it out or 2) I'll feel comfortable enough and have a strong desire to start a teaching career.  If neither of these things happens, which I'm assuming (but not hoping) will be the case... I'm not so sure what I'll do with my life.

It's funny, I never pictured this phase of my life to be this way: unmarried, happy with being single, an almost college graduate and looking for a professional job.  I guess the one thing that provides me comfort is knowing that I've been promised blessings and if I live up to my end of the bargain they'll come... probably not in my time but they will come. :)  Yeah for putting trust in He who's got it all worked out!!

The last month or so has been quite... eventful: Shaun got his mission call, which is still setting in;  Marci got her's shortly after Shaun, which I'm ecstatic about, yet very sad to say good bye to one of my best girl friends for a year and a half, oh!  Hayley (my more or less sister) also got her call.  It's the month of missionary calls I guess. This has brought this odd sadness/elation all combined into one emotion.  It's a little like taking table spoon of salt on a deliciously fresh peach; yucky but absolute bliss all in one bite.

On a little lighter note, I got my field assignment which will be in a first grade classroom (I'm very nervous, but also excited about it).  This is also the classroom where I'll be doing my student teaching this spring... the spring prior to graduation... the graduation that makes me a responsible adult.  Weird.

I've found myself struggling this semester, not academically, but more just finding that umph to get back into the swing of school.  For whatever reason, this has been particularly difficult for me.  (I think it's an awful disease that's been going around our cohort called, senioritis, nasty little bugger.  Haha.) I'm banking on the hope that when we get into the schools I'll be more driven to really absorb all I can in class rather than dreading to attending.  *Please please PLEASE!!*

Today I also started looking for "big kid jobs."  What a scary thought.  As I was looking into rantings of various districts in places outside of Utah it gave me the same feeling you get as you get ready for a date with a guy you're nuts about: crazy excited but also incredibly nervous and a little sick.  This experience has been a little bit of a newsflash to me that my adolescent years are very much over and it's time to move onto being an adult, not just a college student, but an adult.  Honestly... I'm not sure how much I like the idea of that.  I guess only time will tell.

I guess what it really boils down to is up until this point in my life I never really planned for the future... well at least not like this.  I always assumed my life would have taken a different path (okay, so it was marriage) however it seems as though this was a blessing.  I've had a chance to explore parts of the world that I otherwise wouldn't have, I've met awesome people and made some life long friends.  I've grown so much emotionally and spiritually and if nothing else I'm incredibly grateful for the series of events that brought about that growth; despite the tears and frustration, but not to forget the joy and elation  that often accompanied them.  My stinkin' thinkin' has lead me to believe that I'm nothing short of blessed.  Despite my daily, weekly, monthly, and annually struggles I've got a warm bed to sleep in, a family who loves me and a career ahead of me that will bring me satisfaction and joy for the rest of my working career.  Luck me! :)

Well, whether this all made sense to you or not doesn't really matter to me.  The point of this was to unload my brain of all the things that have been causing me joy and excitement.  Hopefully it was a little bit enjoyable to you, if not... well you're the one who kept reading.  Until next time,

You're semi-faithful blogger,
Brittish Knees

Friday, October 1, 2010

Faith or Fear?

This morning I was in my Institute class where we've been studying the Doctrine and Covenants.  The question my teacher posed to open the class discussion was to think of five reasons why I need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life.  My initial thought was because I'm a dork and do things I shouldn't (not really bad things mind you... but just things I shouldn't) daily. 

As our discussion finished and the class was wrapping up someone brought up the concept of having enough faith in the Savior and our Father in Heaven to do what they would have us do.  (Did that make sense?  Hope so.)  That really struck a chord with me.  I'm quickly approaching a crossroad in my life (graduation, getting a big kid job, mission?, dating??, moving out again, etc.), where I'm faced with several decisions that can and will play a major role concerning my future (see list above).  It became clear to me today that while I've made what I thought would be the best decision (mind you decision making in general is kind of a downfall of mine, in general), that my rational behind making them was of a very selfish nature. 

Thus today my frame of mind has been changed.  Today I'm looking my fear (of life) in the eyeballs and have made the decision that I'll conquer it!  BAM! ROASTED!!  Today I commit that I'm going to move forward with faith rather than fretting in fear.

On a liter note: Yesterday I was sick with that crappy cold that's going around and wanted to die in my bed as I was listening to John Bytheway (don't mock me).  But today I'm surviving work and my head only feels like a balloon with a perturbing stuffy nose (on only one side... how does that work??).  Huzzah!!  Welp, at least I'm getting the bug over and will be done with prior to Field...  :) 

Welp, use hand sanitizer and even if you're sick, be grateful cause it means your alive. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

A glimps into my brain...

The last few days have been nothing sort of weird. A good month plus ago I'd made up my mind concerning a certain issue I'd been battling (and mind you I thought I'd won) and low and behold, the human part of me informed me I was everything but correct. The issue is irrelevant, so I won't bore you with details. However I will let you know of the conclusions I've come to. In order to adequately fill you in, I'll let you into the corners of my thinking. Here goes:

I don't find it any kind of ironic that life works out the way that it does. That somehow everything seems to just work out. Whether that is finding $5 to pay for gas as you're pinching pennies before the next pay check or miraculous passing a test... or miserably failing so that the following semester you'll come in contact with someone who'll influence and bless your life (not necessarily a spouse... come on everyone!). I'm convinced that the reality is that there is a Higher Being, even a Supreme Being watching over us in every phase of life.

If you're anything like me, you're thinking: "Yeah, that's easy to say when life is blissful and nothing in going wrong." To that I reply, WRONG! For me, it's during the times of struggle and trial that I'm comforted in my faith and knowledge that I do know there is a God and that He is aware of me. I know life is hard, and the beauty is that it was meant to be. I don't have the miracle cure all for many situations I encounter in life, but I guess that doesn't matter to me cause I know it'll all work out.

Welp, until next time. Keep trudgin' through the mud, it'll all work out okay.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Rememberance...(a few weeks late)

These last few days have been rather interesting. My has undergone some minor changes that have impacted us as a whole (nothing to worry about, so don't be concerned), I've been either a week ahead or behind in my classes, and this morning my family found out that one of our Earthly Angels passed on to the next life.

Daily life has been fairly typical, but for some reason this death has affected me more than I'd anticipated. Maybe it's because I didn't even come close to anticipating it.  Don't read me wrong, I'm not to the point that I'm no longer able to function or that I'm a basket case, but it's caused me to reflect a lot on the impact we can have one each other during our experiences here on Earth. At this time I'd like to offer my condolences to the Brinkman family. I know they'll probably never come across this blog, but I'd like it to be on record that I'm personally grateful for the influence that Curt Brinkman had on not only my life, but more directly on the life my family as a whole.

As I've reflected about the potential of each of our lives, I'm overwhelmed with the amount of good we can do. I'm convinced that this mortal experience wasn't designed to only help ourselves, those abroad, those with life-changing challenges but also those with whom we regularly interact. I believe that a portion on my purpose is to be a shoulder to cry on, to serve as an encouragement to press forward, to help others endure their trials, learn from the good bad and ugly and to help those I love see the long term value of these hardships. Thus, today I vow that I'm going to do all I can live my life a little more like Curt, to end my "service project" mentality and change the way I look at life; to see it as an opportunity to serve my family and neighbors, strangers and my God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's kind of a big deal...

For those of you who've not yet heard, or maybe you have and forgot, or you didn't and I'm a super excited big sister: my brother got his mission call and...

...drum roll please!!...

Elder Shaun Christian has been called to serve and Lord and the people in the Mexico Hermosillo Mission!!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In honor of an im-port-tan-te dia a mi casa.

Today is a day we've been anxiously waiting for for the past...

19 years

(and I've kinda secretly been dreading for the past year or so). Today Shaun got his "big white envelope" in the mail. For those of you who aren't familiar with the significance of this let me fill ya in.

My family and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Part of our religion requires all faithful young men to serve a mission where they will spread the Gospel (our beliefs) to a specified place in the world. This mission will be full time for up to two years, at their own expense. I know this sounds like a lot to sacrifice, and it is. However I've seen the fruits of partaking in such a work as I watched my older brother serve and I know the blessings from Our Creator surpass everything that could be obtained otherwise.

Missionaries often wear tags like the one below setting them apart from the average person you'd meet on the street. They work hard everyday from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm teaching, serving and looking for people who are interested in hearing their message.

As I process the significance of today I find myself incredibly excited for this new chapter in not only my brother's life, but also in the life of my entire family. Missions have helped to bring my family together in the past and I anticipate that again in the future. My excitement for my brother most certainly out-weighs the sadness I'll feel as he leaves but I couldn't be more pleased to have such a good example of obedience in a best friend.

So until you open the white envelope that holds so much of your not so distant future... thanks for everything Buddy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Seoul Sisters... and Brothers: Day 2

My memories are fading so I guess that means one thing: I must dedicate myself to blogging about Korea. I bet you can't guess what I'll be doing for the next... forever?!? In the mean time. Here is day 2:

Each day on the tour started bright and early. Breakfast was served every morning between 8-9. It was b
uffet style, which was nice because then we got to eat what we wanted rather that only what was served. Generally there was a fruit bar, cereal bar (which was very popular), eggs, sausage (this looked more like a swollen finger than anything else), unsalted french fries, yogurt shots (which were delicious!) and an assortment of very nontraditional breakfast foods: fish, duck, kimchi, dumplings, etc.

Shortly after 9 everyone loaded up onto the bus
es again and we headed out the to the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Peace Camp for Youth. Everyone was dressed up in their nice clothes (originally we were told we'd only need one pair of dress cloths, then SURPRISE! You need 3 days worth. Some of us improvised, but lots of people had to wear the same thing for those three days! Bless their hearts...) and excited about for the camp to really begin.

When we got to the War Memorial (the museum where the Ceremonies were held) everyone was overcome by the hundreds of names that were on huge memorials as we walked passed. I think this is when I started to really
understand that war is real. I always knew it, but I didn't know how real it was until I was in a foreign country, representing my Grandfather and those who risked their lives to defend freedom.

Our guides walked us into the Hall where the Ceremonies would be and we did a run through of Opening Ceremonies. As we were waiting for the ceremonies to start I took the change to look at the beauty of the building. The photo to the left is the ceiling. It was beautiful! Just like all of the buildings we went to.

Opening Ceremonies consisted of several parts including a video, welcoming speech, declaration of the participants dedication to peace, delivery of the camp flag (which my cousin did!!), beating a drum to symbolize a beginning of the Camp, and a photo opt with an important Korean Government Official.

Shortly after the photo opt the American participants were swept away to quickly tour the museum because an Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton was in Korea and we'd be having a photo opt with her later.
The tour of the museum began with this map. O
ur museum guide provided us with a play-by-play of the War. From that alone I learned so much about the logistics and rationale behind a lot of what happened... well, from the allies' side anyway.

There were so many cool artifacts an statues there (an I got photos of the ones that really spoke to me. Check out my Picasa account or facebook to see them all!) In this post are just a few of my favorites, with commentary. Keep in mind that without the help of the Allies, the Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) would be under Communist rule. The attitudes of the people there is so warm towards those how participated in the efforts, particularly those from the United States. I don't know that I've ever been more proud of my heritage as an American Citizen.

The plaque in front of the flag says, "Taegukki, the National Flag of Korea, with which student soldiers, living in Japan hardened their determination to protect their homeland before departing for the battlefront. They strengthened their fortitude by writing on the flag such words as 'patriotic spirit', 'love for the motherland', 'mother country's warriors', 'loyalty', 'Knock down the Red Army', and 'Congratulations! Departing for the front'."
As we continued our walk through the museum I realized that all of the displays were taking us through the progression of the war. I learned more about the bravery and courageousness of soldiers in general, and specific to this war than I'd ever really been able to comprehend. Several of the Peace Camp participants shared stories about places that their Grandfather's had served. I was touched to have it strike such a close to home chord.
We finally arrived at the place that symbolically and physically brought me peace. The 38th Parallel. We'd seen all the battle displays exhibiting the bravery shown by both sides, but up until this point (during the tour) it was anybody's guess as to who would be victorious. (Of course I knew that the allies would win, because well... the war was 60 years ago.) As we crossed the 38th Parallel I had this peace, that I mentioned before, overcome me. I knew that the freedom of the people in the Republic of Korea was no longer being threatened because of this symbolic line.The 38th parallel is the dividing line between North and South Korea. You see, the Korean War isn't over. An armistice was signed here, not a peace treaty. This line is a representation symbolically and very literally of the line between freedom and communism. The real line isn't spray painted in asphalt, but rather it is a twelve inch cement pad that runs from the Yellow Sea (on the west side of the countries) to the East Sea (which is on the east side... genius!, I know). This line, also known as the DMZ (which I'll talk about in another post) is about 2.5 miles wide (1.25 miles on either side of the line) and is the most heavily armed border in the world. Tourists can make arrangements to enter into a building and actually cross into North Korea. I'll post more about this on the day we went there.
I don't know that I can adequately express my gratitude for those both from the US and abroad who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. I'll never look at someone in uniform the same. I hope I never forget to stand tall during o
ur National Anthem and think about the beautiful words in the Pledge of Allegiance. To say the least I was emotionally drained. Luckily we didn't have anything too taxing planned immediately afterward, just lunch.
Those of us in my group (all American's) met up with the other group of Americans (apparently there were too many of us to all go around in one group so we split into two) and had lunch in the museum's restaurant. It was very nice and buffet style! Buffets became my favorite way to eat because if something did or didn't look good you could take as much as you wanted or avoid it. PERFECT!
After lunch we went out into the court yard of the museum where Secretary Hillary Clinton and Secretary Robert Gates would be coming. Turns out that the two of them were in So. Korea for an Annual Asian Security Summit. Of course with important Government figures comes a whole slew of pomp and circumstance so we (the American's in the Camp) waited for nearly an hour on bleachers watching the So. Korean and US personnel practice.

I think my favorite parts were to see the US and South Korean flags fly side by side along with other members of the UN. I also couldn't help by stand tall and sing with the military bands as they played my homeland's National Anthem. There is something special about hearing that song in a foreign country. The words, "land of the free and home of the brave" struck a chord (no pun intended) that they've not ever for me prior.
Part of the ceremony was to have our group take a photo with Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. After the two of the paraded down the steps of the courtyard and around a red carpet triangle in the courtyard twice they stopped at us, asked us if we were having a good time and stepped into the photo. Regardless of my political views, it was cool to be in a photo with two such prominent people from the US government. Needless to say, it was a chance of a lifetime. Since the copyrights to the photos aren't mine, here is one of the websites where it can be found. (I'm in the 6th photo right behind Mrs. Clinton.)
The ceremony was short and very powerful (at least to me). Afterward our group was given a little bit of time to take photos in the courtyard. Here are some of my favorites:

The American Girls

"Mormon Family from Utah". Yes, I am related to all those people - minus the guy, Jeremy, in front, but he was adopted into the family on the trip.

Shaun and I... looking very couplish.

By the time we finished up here at the m
useum it was time to board back onto the buses and head back to the hotel for dinner, which was delicious! We had rice, bulgogi, kimchi, watermelon, grapes, other pickled... things.... and Dunkin' Donuts for dessert! (Hello American!) It was nice to eat something periodically that my taste buds recognized as something from home. Don't get me wrong, Korean food is good, but it was nice to taste home since I wasn't seeing it around me.

After dinner we got together in another hall and our kick off ceremonies, which were hilarious! We sat with our teams, played get-to-know you games. Typically I'm not on board for such activities, but with no choice and crazy low expectations I quietly challenged those who'd planned them to prove me wrong and change my attitude. The games were gut wrenching! I laughed so hard and made friends with other people on my team. Maybe sometime I'll try to post part or all of the video we received at the end of our trip. In this it has footage from these games.

This night ended very similar to the one prior, I was exhausted and desperate for sleep! When the games were over, it didn't take much coaxing to convince me to go to bed. Needless to say, Jessica and I didn't have evening debriefing sessions. :)