Thursday, October 24, 2013

One of those days

As I have worked to come to terms with my current stage of life, part of my struggle has been my attempt to find something to fill the emptiness in my heart and schedule. None of the options I considered felt right. And then in the midst of all my searching the message got through to me: "I have enough busy people, I need someone I can call on in a moment of need - I need you to be available." I wasn't sure exactly what this meant but I began to feel satisfied with fewer demands on my time.

Today was one of those days that I didn't have tons of things scheduled. Today was one of those days when I was able to be in the right place at the right time. In each of these moments today my heart felt so full of love towards the one who was before me. I had time and love to give without feeling pulled in a different direction. I could be in the moment for that person. I felt His love for me too.

Today it was reinforced to me that God is mindful of each of us. As we go through life we have experiences that enable us to look at life in a different way than we would otherwise. As we learn and grow we are better able to empathize and lift where we stand*. Lifting where we stand also lifts us to higher ground. Today was one of those days.


*Lift where you stand

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tagged




I had to get a new tag for the broadcast on Saturday. It's kind of silly since we just got released last Sunday. I explored a few options with Sister Ellis, wife of the executive secretary at the MTC, and this seemed like the best one. We are not allowed to use the plastic clip above the tag on the left as the metal parts could reflect the bright lights and cause a glare. The pin on the back failed about 6 months in to our service at the MTC (3 1/2 years ago) - it would not stay closed and as a result my tag kept falling off. I finally super glued it shut and I haven't given it a second thought until now. So, even though I'm "retired", they ordered me a new magnetic tag. When I got my first tag I was just a bit disappointed that it did not say, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints", but I still loved it. When I looked at my new tag today, I was sad to see that tag said nothing but my name (I was happy that they spelled my name right). There were a few other sisters with tag issues, so they rushed them through and all the brand new tags were like mine... name only.

The tag on the left will always remind me of an incredible four years of learning and growth as we've been blessed to serve with the missionaries at the MTC. It's a bit dull and the lettering is not at white as it was the day I got it. But then, I'm not the same person either. I have learned so much about faith and trusting God as we move forward - not always knowing what the outcome will be. I have been humbled as I learn about the sacrifice of some of the missionaries and the struggles they have been through even at their tender ages. Serving at the MTC involves a lot of repetition. I now look at repetition not as something to be endured but as an opportunity to have something written deeply on my heart.

This new tag will only be worn once - tomorrow. But I think I will find a home for it, next to my old one where I can see it and reflect on what it means to me. A new beginning, a fresh start - lots of space for me to write my future - and to remind me of my desire to have a tag with "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints" inscribed below my name.

The last verse of the congregational hymn we will sing mid conference tomorrow says it best:

"There's surely somewhere a lowly place in earth's harvest fields so wide 
Where I may labor though life's short day for Jesus the Crucified.
 So trusting my all to thy tender care and knowing thou lovest me, 
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere: I'll be what you want me to be."


PS Second Alto's (that's me) will be in the right quarter of the choir seats.
We will line up by height and then rearrange a bit to mix the colors, 
so I'm guessing I will be mid to lower part of that section. 
I'll be wearing turquoise!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You can quote me

 This is Brother Ryan Eggett and Sister Emily Wadley. They are our choir directors. Brother Eggett directs the MTC choir and Sister Wadley will direct the MTC sister's choir for the broadcast. Sister Wadley can only be there for half the practices so Brother Eggett directs us every other day. He works with us on getting the notes right and the words memorized, while she fine tunes the dynamics and  helps us not to look stupid, silly, odd, look good while we are singing. Today they recorded us singing and then played it back with no audio. Suffice it to say I was not complaining that the tall sister in front of me blocked my face. We need work. Both of these individuals have strong testimonies, are incredibly talented and understand the power of music. They are both pretty funny too and make the 90 minutes we are there each day fly by. It is a blessing to learn from them.


Here are some of my favorite quotes from choir practice:

"Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape."

"It doesn't have to perfect for you to enjoy it."

"You are wonderful unique person but sometimes you need to be what's needed"
 - KZ translation - worry more about how you can meet others needs than how you can impress them.

"Your faith in all things makes you strong enough to discover where your weaknesses are"

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Go Forth

It's probably no secret, especially to those closest to me, that I have struggled a bit with the whole "empty nest" thing... empty being the key word.  I have moments when I feel a bit lost and unsure of what my purpose is and what my direction my life should take. I have also felt the need to have faith and move forward. I have felt peace that as I continue doing what I'm doing, my path will unfold before me. God has a plan for me - a personal, individual plan - I just don't know what it is just yet. While I have felt this in my heart and it makes sense in my head, sometimes my heart forgets. Sometimes I doubt myself and wonder if I shouldn't be doing something different. Maybe I should get a job where I could make money. Maybe I should go back to school and get a graduate degree... I have lots of options. Sometimes I feel so unsettled and I wonder. 

And then this morning 180 voices sang in unison, 
"The errand of angels is given to women, and this is a gift that as sisters we claim, 
to do whatsoever is gentle and human, to cheer and to bless in humanity's name" 
add 180 soprano voices coming over the top " Go forth...go forth". 
These words penetrated my whole heart and soul. This is my purpose and direction. Care for my family and be available to serve and help. I  knew this before but it seemed so vague. This morning though, it was direct and clear. I had to regain my composure to be able to continue to sing. 
Stop fretting... keep moving... trust me. 

I can do that. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Holiness

When I was about 14, I was able to participate in a YW choir for the dedication of some sculptures (like the ones above but in miniature) at the visitors center at the Los Angeles temple. While I have not been blessed with a beautiful singing voice I can usually sing the right notes with some practice. We sang a few songs but the one I remember most is "More Holiness Give Me". We sang a special arrangement written for this event. I still remember the alto part and catch myself singing it instead of the alto part in the Hymn book in sacrament meetings. The choir director told us during one practice that when we sing with all our hearts, as opposed to just singing the words, angels cannot be restrained from singing with us. I felt in my heart that this was true. I pondered the words of the songs and each time we practiced there was a sweet spirit in attendance.

The evening of the dedication was cool and clear. The temple was lit up beside us as we sat outside in the garden by the visitors center. When it came time for us to sing "More Holiness Give Me" I sang with all my heart, "More faith in my Savior, More sense of his care, More joy in his service, More purpose in prayer..."  The voices of the choir rang clear and beautiful in quiet evening. Our voices rose to heaven, harmonies blended and the words of the song filled my whole being. I had never heard this song sound as beautiful as it did that evening and I seemed to understand it more in my heart than ever before. The experience is etched in my mind with great clarity some 35 years later. 

About a month ago I got an email from Sister Nalley, wife of the MTC president informing us that the general Relief Society President, Sister Linda Burton, had requested a sister missionary choir to sing at the general Relief Society broadcast this year. She had also requested that 50 wives of Branch Presidency members sing with the younger sisters at the broadcast. There was an application we needed to fill out if we wanted to sing. 
I was excited to apply and hoped I would be chosen.They sent out another request about 10 days later for more sisters. About two weeks ago I got an email letting me know that I had indeed been chosen to participate in the choir - along with 42 other sisters. I guess if you had a desire to sing, you were called to the choir. 

Today was our first practice. I will admit that I was kind of lost. I usually have Jennifer sitting beside me helping me figure out my part. (I did apologize to the sweet young Sister sitting next to me - I hope I didn't throw her off too much.) As I was looking through the music at the beginning of the practice I discovered that the second song was "More Holiness Give Me". The arrangement is different than the  one I sang so many years ago but the words still moved me, "More gratitude give me, more trust in the Lord,... more hope in His word, ... more longing for home..." First day of practice and my soul was filled. What a blessing.





Friday, September 6, 2013

Masters National Championships


Mark and I went on a whirlwind trip to Bend, Oregon so he could compete in his first ever National Championship road race. He debated for days whether or not we should even go. He caught a virus and was not feeling very good. He would have good and bad days but was not quite up to par. The weather forecast also predicted rain the morning of the race - and with the race beginning at 8:00 am at the Mt. Bachelor Ski resort with a 15 mile descent... it sounded miserable. 

To complicate things the semester at BYU started this week. Mark had to teach an orientation Tuesday morning and then teach his first day of class Friday morning - 8:00am. Bend, Oregon is about 650 miles away. Monday he felt good and it looked like the weather might cooperate so we left Tuesday around 2:00 after orientation and a last minute lunch with Christian and Robbie (who was in town). We drove half way Tuesday and arrived in Bend on Wednesday. Mark was not feeling good on Wednesday but it looked like the weather would be good for his race, with the storm arriving Thursday afternoon. 

Thursday morning was clear and cool.
After almost freezing on the downhill at the beginning, Mark was able to get into a four man break.
(look for "Volo" on Mark's shoulder and the red on his shorts)

 They were able to hold off the pack (about 70 riders) for the rest of the race. 

 At one point Brendan Sullivan (who eventually won) broke away from the lead group and Mark went with him. As soon as there was some distance between them and the group, Brendan started attacking Mark, slowing way down and then surging ahead. Mark stayed with him for a few minutes of this and then just dropped back to the rest of the lead group exhausted. Two riders from the main pack bridged up to the lead group while Mark was ahead. 
 Mark was pleased to finish 5th overall.

It was fun to see Mark's brother, Dave, win the 55-59 National Championship!

Thirty minutes after the race was over we packed up and headed back to the hotel, 
showered and drove 11 hours home.

Next year the race is in Ogden.
YES!
all pictures taken from usa cycling

Thursday, August 29, 2013

End of a Era

I dropped Jennifer off at Heritage Halls today.

We have been making quick trips over to her dorm room to drop stuff off for two days now but today I came home without her. I felt like crying in the car but it seemed silly. I am so excited for her - a new phase of life.

I remember so clearly the day my dad dropped me off at Heritage Halls. I was in Young Hall. Excited and very nervous. We unloaded my stuff. Stood there awkwardly for a moment (as I subdued the urge to grab my suitcase and go home with him), we hugged and he was gone. I kind of wanted to cry - I could have too because none of my roommates were there - but I unpacked instead. My home was over 700 miles away and I knew no one. Soon enough, my roommates were there and it was like a big slumber party as we got to know each other over the next few days. Then the learning began in earnest - classroom learning but more importantly - real life learning.

Jennifer is not even close to the first one I have dropped off at Heritage Halls. Every time it has meant a change in our family. New dynamics, sometimes a change of bedrooms for those left at home. I have mourned a little at the end of my "active mothering phase" for each child, but today was different. I came home to a silent empty home. (Christian will move out in two days but he was at work.) I am now the mother of all adult children. My children no longer need me in the same way they used to. They do not need me to pack lunches, cook their dinners or remind them of things. No more piano recitals, meetings with school counselors or Scout/YW evenings. Do I celebrate or cry? Both I think.

Tonight, I miss my children; I miss my grandchildren and the house and my heart seem empty. I wonder and hope that I have taught them what they need to be successful in life - but I can still teach, mentor and love them, it's just different.

On Friday my life will go back to what it was like some thirty years ago. Just me and my best friend - only it will be different. Our life is so much fuller and richer - closely tied and bound together in an ever growing circle of amazing friends that we also call our children; our grandchildren are a whole new generation who are in need of "active grandmothering" even if it is done by long distance.

Tonight my feelings are tender, but tomorrow the sun will rise on a beautiful new day. New opportunities and decisions will present themselves, and I will try to be ready.

There are some distinct advantages to just being the two of us again - it will be like falling in love all over again.