Friday, October 17, 2014

Running all the races

As a freshman and sophomore in high school, I ran on the track team.  I started late my first year, which meant that my goals that year were to simply not be the last one to cross the finish line.  Occasionally, I succeeded.  This made me determined to push myself harder as a sophomore.

And I did, and it was hard!  It seemed like practice was so much harder my second year than the year before.  Some days, the practice plan that coach had laid out for us didn't seem too daunting, but then he would change it half-way through and add an extra half mile or so of sprinting.  I remember telling him one day that he was a liar for changing the plan half-way through.  He replied, "I'm not a liar, I'm a coach.  Go run."

For most of the season, I was mad at him.  Partially because he would change the practice plan, and partially because he made me run every distance race at track meets.  Which wasn't too bad, except for my least favorite event - 2 mile run.  Which almost always came first.

One day, our bus pulled up to the track five minutes before the 2 mile run began which gave us no time to warm up and barely any time to stretch.  Still, we ran.  And I was so angry.  That same meet, we ran a 4 by 800 m relay, where four people each ran a half-mile.  Coach put me in charge of getting a team together, and it took the whole meet to coerce my teammates to run it with me.  No one wanted to do an extra race.  We came in last.

That day, I ran the 2 mile race, 1 mile, half-mile, and the 4 by 800 m relay.  That's 4 miles at race pace.  I was tired and resentful.  For some reason I didn't understand, my coach wanted me to run all of the races.  It was hard, because you have to pace yourself on the ones that aren't your mail goal.  If I were to run full out on the 2 mile race - which was usually first - I would probably end up last in every other race that I ran.

The other day, I was thinking about this.  It's been years since I ran a race like this.  As a junior and senior in high school, I stopped running track so that I could start taking private lessons for violin.  I haven't really thought about Coach's methods very much since then.

What he was teaching me about racing was something that I needed to know about life.

First of all, I need to be willing to work hard.  Most days, practice wasn't fun.  I didn't go home afterwards thinking, "Wow.  That was really nice.  I hope we do that again tomorrow."  But it was harder because I was pushing myself harder.  In fact one day, I almost passed out after a hard practice where we ran short, but steep distances up a hill over and over again.  I was making myself run as hard as I could, because I had a goal - cross the finish line before at least half the people in the race.  It wasn't a super goal, but it was mine, and I was going to accomplish it.

Second, and maybe more important than the first lesson, was to prioritize.  As a freshman in college, I wanted to do my best in everything.  I wanted to get the best grades in all my classes, do my best at work, be the best roommate, be the best friend, etc.  I had heard some stupid motivational talk about how if you do something, do your best at it.

What this person didn't explain is that I can't physically or mentally be my best in everything.  I just can't.  That doesn't mean that I can' do a good job at things, but if I try to run full speed in every aspect of my life, I'm going to get burnt out.  And when I get burnt out, I shut down and can barely do anything at all.  Prioritize, pick the most important thing and run as hard as you can there.  On the things that fall below this level of importance, still do them.  When I begged coach to actually let me not run my 2 mile race, I always felt unfinished.  I was tired, yes, but I had enough energy and time to do it.  Not running it was worse than running it, because I felt like a failure for not doing it.

What is my "favorite race"?  What is my top priority that I am going to do my best in?  What things need to fall down to the level of "the 2 mile race", and that I simply need to get done but not worry about?

I'm learning that these things can change daily.  Some days, I need to work hard on my homework, either to study for a test or to write a big paper.  On those days, dishes, laundry, and sometimes even classes are my "2 mile race".  Some days, I need to focus on myself and doing the things that I love.  Sometimes I need to focus on dishes and laundry.

My top priority never really changes, though.  Building and maintaining my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will always be more important than anything else.  Loving and serving my husband is just below that.  When I let these things become a lower priority, I start to struggle in balancing my life.  When I have them as most important and I am working hard, everything falls into place.

As much as I resented him, I am so grateful for a coach who understood what I needed more than I did and pushed me to help me be stronger.  I challenge you to consider your priorities, and what races you are putting your best effort into.  If it's not a priority now, I urge you to build a relationship with God and ask if He is there.  Prayer has been a life changer for me, and I hope that it can be for you as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chapter 5: Jordan's Story

Honestly, our first date was kind of uneventful.  We went up the canyon and hiked a beautiful, terribly steep trail.  Afterwards, we went to my apartment to eat dinner, and then watched a movie.  By this point, I was so comfortable around Jordan that it felt totally normal to be with him, even though it was our first date.

As the movie finished, Jordan asked me what I wanted our relationship to look like.  I wanted to keep dating, and he wanted to take it slow.  I wasn't sure what that meant, so I talked with my roommates about it, and I was still confused.

Even without that, our relationship was a little awkward.  We weren’t together officially, but we were going to keep dating to see if we wanted to be together.  Jordan’s work didn’t give us many opportunities to go on dates.  He drove down to Kaysville a couple days a week, sometimes spending the night with family so I didn’t see him nearly as much as I wanted to.  For some reason, he was holding back.

A year before this, I had written a poem which I loved.  I’ll put it at the end of this post if you want to read it.  As I thought about Jordan and tried to understand why he was holding back, I decided to email a copy of the poem to him.  I desperately didn’t want him to think it was cheesy or pull away more from me.  But as I prayed and thought about him, I felt like it would all be okay.

The Sunday after I sent him the email, he asked me if I wanted to go on a walk with him after church.  Just the way that he worded his text message was very different from how he had talked/texted to me before.  Though he didn’t say it, I knew that he was going to talk about our relationship – whether good or bad, I couldn’t tell.

We walked up a similar trail, though this one was blessedly flat – and gorgeous!  It was mid-October, and the leaves were changing and it smelled amazing.  We found a bench along the trail that looked out at the canyon and the river running at the base.  As we sat, a muscle under Jordan’s eye twitched slightly - not like he was crazy, but the kind of result from stress or nerves (it’s such a small detail, but I remember it vividly) and he started to tell me his story.

Jordan experiences same-gender attraction.  Though he didn’t recognize it at first, and didn’t choose it, it is a part of his life.  I was one of the few that he had told at that time, and he asked me, very quietly, to be very careful in whom I chose to tell.  Even though he had these attractions, he was determined to marry a woman in the temple and to have a family, to keep the commandments and to live in a way that honored the covenants he had made with God.  He shared his struggles, his hopes, and his dreams.  I have had few experiences that are as sacred to me as this conversation with Jordan, where he opened his heart completely to me.

He told me this so that I could decide if I wanted to continue dating him.  Almost immediately, I felt peace that it would be fine.  I chose to wait for a couple days before I decided.  I wanted to think about it so that my decision would be solid, either way.

Let’s just say that I don’t remember anything from classes that next day.

This decision, to continue to date Jordan or to just be friends, hung on my mind constantly.  I knew that no matter what decision I made, it would impact the rest of my life in a very definite way.  God had already told me that I was supposed to marry him.  Did that still apply?  Every story that I had heard up to this point was of men with same-gender attraction leaving their wives to live a gay lifestyle.  Was I willing to risk that?  Was I willing to risk letting him go completely, and never pursue a relationship with him?

I drove home and talked with my mom that Monday.  For the first time, I cried – not about me, but about his pain, of being so alone.  My mom comforted me and told me about a story she had read about a couple where the man has same-gender attraction.  Their story gave her understanding to help me not feel afraid.  After talking with her, the peace that I had felt while talking with Jordan came back.  Not only did I feel comfortable in continuing to date Jordan, but God was letting me know that he supported that decision as well.

As I got ready to call Jordan to tell him about my decision, I felt a very distinct prompting from God.  “He isn’t always going to be this way.”  For a long time through dating and marriage, I prayed that God would heal Jordan.  I was expecting the trial to just disappear completely.  That’s not really how God works and I know now that's not what he meant.  Yes, He has the power to heal anyone and anything.  Sometimes, He gives us an opportunity to grow instead.

Once I stopped praying for this to be taken away and started asking what I needed to learn, our world changed.  This fall has been one of incredible growth for Jordan and me.  What used to be a topic of fear and confusion has become one of hope, healing, and joy.  Yesterday, Jordan posted on his Facebook feed about his story.  The outpouring of love that he received was so much more than I expected.  He’s not afraid anymore of letting people know who he is.  I am so glad that I am married to such a brave, strong man.


We’ve all had that moment

When our heart cracks in two.
It hurts, and it aches,
And there’s nothing to do.

As time passes on
The pieces, they mend.
But the scars are still there
Like a curse without end.

We smile and laugh
And pretend we’re alright.
But deep down inside,
We feel a strange plight.

For you see, there is fear
That the pain will come back.
And the fear just won’t leave
While those scars hold the slack.

“You… love again?”
They mock and they scorn.
“You’re such a fool,
Your memory, so short.”

And so we hold back
When we should take a chance
And moments and treasures
Slip through our hands.

If you understand
What I’m telling you here,
I have a secret
To dry up your tears.

The key to unlock
A scarred, hungry heart
Is to close your eyes
And begin at the start.

Each new day
Look for someone to love
Someone who’s hurting
And can’t trust to love.

Lift up their hands
And lighten their load.
And silence their scars
From holding them low.

And as you move on
Lifting each day
Your scars, they’ll slowly,
Slowly fade.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Searching for Happiness

What is happiness? 

I have been thinking about this for months, and just now am I finally able to write it in a way that explains exactly (almost) how I feel. 

If you were to ask a million people “What makes you happy?” my guess is that each person would have a different answer.  Yes, there may be themes, but each answer would be different.  For example, I love music.  Listening to good music and playing music makes me feel happy.  Food is one of the main things that makes Jordan happy.  You wouldn’t believe how many times after eating something that he likes that he’ll say, “Why does food make me this happy?”

I did a Google search on “happiness” and countless links were pulled up.  Scientific explanations of emotions, Coca-cola ads, and how-to-be-happy lists were some of the results, just to name a few. 

I did a similar search of happiness on  It is a website that has links for scriptures, hundreds of General Conference talks, family history websites, and hymn collections.  I kind of love this website, and it gave me something to compare to my Google search.  This second search was of the scriptures, such as the Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern revelation called The Doctrines and Covenants.  The results from this search were a complete opposite from the Google search in that the results followed one theme. 

Righteousness (keeping the commandments, doing good things, etc.) equals happiness. 

It seemed almost overly simple.  Scriptures said that righteousness was happiness, but the internet had no one source, no one answer for what can make someone happy. 

It’s uncannily similar to a lie found in the plant world.

If I were to ask you what plant food is, what would you say?  Most people would say that fertilizer is plant food.  Go to any Wal-Mart and you can find some “Plant Food” for specific plants like roses or just generic fertilizer for many kinds of plants.  It’s true, balanced fertilizer is important for healthy plant growth.  Too much or too little of certain elements can lead to illness or plant death, so you’ve got to be careful.

But it’s not food.  It’s a lie. 

Sunlight is plant food.  Through photosynthesis, plants convert the energy from sunlight into sugar, which goes on to provide energy for plant growth and energy storage in things like fruit, tubers and storage roots.  That’s kind of why plants are so cool.  Just sayin’.  Fertilizer can be synthetic or organic, but its goal is to supply several different elements to the plant that are critical for plant growth.  If you took two of the same plants and planted them in the same soil but only gave one fertilizer, it would grow larger and greener than the plant without fertilizer.  However, if you took those two plants and planted them in the same soil and gave them the same amount of water and an equal amount of a balanced fertilizer but covered one of the plants with a black cloth, it would die and the other would live.  Sunlight is plant food, not fertilizer.  Fact. 

So, what does this have to do with happiness?  Just as the fertilizer companies or marketing teams came up with a way to sell more fertilizer based on a seemingly harmless lie, we have been feed a lie by popular culture for so long (like, since the world began people have been denying the true source of happiness) that many people don’t know where to look for happiness. 

Many of the things that I found in my Google search were good.  They fit the description of what would be our “fertilizer”.  When our minds, bodies, and spirits are taken care of, we are able to grow and do amazing things.  Music helps me to relax, and food helps Jordan to feel content and happy, especially if it’s really yummy food.  Too much – such as spending all my time finding new music and artists – or too little – green vegetables – can have negative effects on our health and joy.  These good things need to be balanced, and that balance will be different for each individual.  But they don’t bring lasting happiness. 

Righteousness equals happiness.  Why? 

Because the commandments are guidelines and rules to help us build a relationship with God. 

Sometimes commandments are seen as chains, holding us back from true freedom.  That is a lie.  The Ten Commandments point out important things to do and help us avoid serious sins that hurt not just ourselves but those around us as well.  In modern revelation called the Word of Wisdom, we are commanded to avoid consuming tea, coffee, alcohol and drugs, because addictions – no matter how small – limit our ability to make good choices. 

And every time we follow one of the commandments, God sends us the blessings He has promised for that obedience.  The more we follow His commandments, the more blessings He sends.  He will not force us to follow Him, but He blesses us beyond measure when we do.  

The source of true happiness is in developing a relationship with God.  He LOVES you!  He is all powerful, all knowing, and His goal is to help you come back to live with Him.  The happiness that comes from Him can carry you through any sorrow, any trial, because it isn’t based on instant gratification but is based in hope for better days, despite the pain of today. 

I know this is true.  I know it.  My life has been incredible, and I have been blessed with family and friends who have changed my life.  I have had immense trials and heartache as well.  I have had times where I felt the only person I had to talk to was God.  And I can promise you that He hears your prayers!

As a senior in high school, I struggled to balance so many different kinds of stress and responsibilities.  Especially during the winter, when the sun would set early and the stars were bright early in the evening, I would sit on my bed and watch the stars while I prayed.  Even years after, looking at those constellations brings back memories of the peace that I felt while I prayed, an emotion that could not have come from myself at that time. 

More recently, I have felt happiness from God that could have come in no other way.  My dream for life is to be married to a man that I love (check) and to have a family that loves the Lord.  In July, to my complete shock and extreme joy, I learned that I was pregnant.  I knew that while I was “sick”, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to face them if I miscarried.  But Jordan and I talked a lot about it and I realized that if I did miscarry, I would want my family to know so that I would have their support and love.  And their excitement through the journey if miscarriage didn’t happen!  I was so excited. 

On my Mom’s birthday, my body started to reject the baby growing inside it.  The next week was the most emotionally and physically painful I have ever known as I begged God to let me carry the child, then to realize that it was too late.  I cannot express to you the fear and grief that I felt and am still feeling. 

The week before classes started again for fall semester, Jordan and I went with his family to Lake Powell.  Though my body and spirit felt so weak, a week away from the real world seemed like a good plan.  Each day, we would ride the boat out to a new spot in the lake then set up a picnic area and play all day.  My favorite part of the day was when we would ride out in the morning and the water was so calm as we rode past the towering cliffs.  That was my favorite because I could pray all I wanted, and I could feel God’s answers and love for me. And in one of the hardest moments of my life, I was able to have moments of pure happiness and peace. 

For me, the beauty of that lake wasn’t so much the water or the boats on it.  It was the majestic cliffs whose beauty came from how they were broken.  Years of erosion and cataclysmic events had shaped the landscape into one of the most beautiful places in the world.    

He is doing that with me, right now.  If I let Him, God will use these moments when I am breaking to shape me into someone much more beautiful than I was before.  Sometimes its years of little things that shape us.  And sometimes it’s one event that seems to be too much to handle.  But with God, “in his strength I can do all things” (Alma 26:12).  I’ve realized that even though I have had my heart broken many times, God was there every time.  I may not have had my prayers answered in the way I was expecting, but He was there.  He will be there if you ask Him to be with you.  

I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the relationship that I built with my Father in Heaven in those hard times and in the times of peace.  He has carried me through the storms that I have faced, and I have seen His hand in my times of joy and wonder. 

When you are feeling unhappy, look up.  Pray.  Ask Him if He is there.  And then listen.  Because the relationship that you can build with God is more powerful, more wonderful than any piece of music or any new meal or whatever it is that brings you “happiness” in this mixed up, confused world.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chapter 4: Acting

By the time September rolled around, I had become infatuated with, had my heart strings torn unintentionally by, and eventually learned to love Jordan Lawson.  He was the best friend I had ever had.  He encouraged me, counseled me, and treated me with more respect and kindness than I had experienced in a long time.  And I wanted to marry him. 

However, I knew that saying, “Hey, I think that you and I should get married, cause you’re perfect, and I prayed about it and I feel like I would be a good thing.  Whatcha say?” would be a very bad way to approach the situation.  From our conversations, I knew that Jordan would freak out if I was that forward.  Heck, ANYONE would freak out if someone was that forward.

Plan A: I needed to convince him to ask me on a date. 

Simple enough, right?  I can be flirtatious when I want to be.  The down side is I’ve always been terrible about “dropping hints” or even recognizing when a guy is trying to do the same thing.  I didn’t want to be blunt and say too much.  But before I knew it, September was almost over and it didn’t seem like Jordan was aware that I was interested. 

Plan B:  I needed to ask him on a date.

This mode of action would require a lot more – well action.  And that scared me.  I had a bad dating experience as a senior in high school and though I had overcome most of the fear that came from that experience, the idea of asking someone – even Jordan – on a date still terrified me. 

My dad gave me excellent advice one day while I was talking about Jordan.  He asked me if I was ever going to date Jordan.  I told him that I was trying to get him to ask me on a date.  He asked, “How long are you going to wait?”  In my mind, I thought, “As long as I need to.  God said that it would work.”  But then my dad said, “What if you wait for a year?  What if during that time the person you are supposed to marry meets you, but you are so focused on waiting for Jordan that you miss your opportunity?  You need to decide now if you are going to date him, or you need to let him go.”  What if I waited until Jordan was gone?  It was very likely that he could move out of state, because he was trying to decide where to go to get a master’s degree.  In waiting, I was risking letting him go. 

Plan B needed to happen.  And soon. 

The last week of September, Jordan and his roommates were having people over for dinner.  Jordan invited me and my roommates, but they weren’t able to come so I went alone.  During the conversation, one of Jordan’s roommates started teasing Jordan about another girl.  This roommate had decided that Jordan should date the girl, and was trying to get everyone to back him up and convince Jordan to ask her out.  I was furious!  Who did he think he was?  As I watched Jordan, I could tell that he was uncomfortable with the discussion.  It seemed like he was waiting for a reaction.. from me.  Though Jordan didn’t seem like he was interested in me most of the time, there were a few brief moments when it seemed like he was sizing me up, as if he was trying to decide if he wanted to be interested in me or not.  This was one of those moments. 

Shortly after, I left the apartment but had Jordan come out to see my new car.  I had just barely bought it, a Sunfire GT 2000 stick shift that I loved!  I seized the opportunity of getting Jordan alone to ask him on a date for later that week.  I was still angry with his roommate, which helped me not think about being afraid.  Surprised, I realized that my hands weren’t even shaking as he said yes and we planned when would be best.  We said goodnight, and I got in my car to drive home.  He said yes!  I was going on a date with Jordan!  I was so excited and suddenly VERY nervous and scared and I could barely drive my car.  The drive back to my apartment was short, but I killed my car at least three times on the way home.

Plan “Marry Jordan Lawson” was underway and though I had a limited array of dating experiences - I had never been in a real relationship and I had never been kissed - I was so excited.  With God's help, this was going to work out wonderfully.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Year in Pictures

July 6, 2013 
Jordan and I were married in the Brigham City Temple, sealed to each other for time and all eternity.

Unpacking our in our first apartment


Kayaks up in the Uintah Mountains
Ain't he cute?
Wildflowers from my hubby! 

Willow Park Zoo feeding ducks with my sisters

Winter snow at my parent's house
An attempt at catching bugs with Jordan and my brother and cousin (not pictured)
Christmas tree!  It's not very tall, but we made it look good. 
Did you know that puppies howl in their sleep?  It's super cute.
Pretty flowers I saw on the way to school
Me and my sister at the Scotty McCreery Concert 
Jordan and Morty
This is how Morty would sleep.  
My sister graduated from high school!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I've hit a wall on knowing what to write about for my blog.  In an attempt to not bore you to death, I wanted to write a different post in between each "chapter" of our story.  But I don't know what to write about.

Honestly, I have felt very confused lately.  All my life, I have believed what I have been taught in church.  It has never been hard for me to believe.  If I was confused, I would pray and search the scriptures for an answer and I always found one.  I'm not saying that now I don't believe what I have been taught.  I am just confused on how I can explain it to someone without starting a fight.  My church's name has been dragged through the mud by the media lately, and terrible names have been given to us because we believe differently than much of the world.  Oppressive, manipulative, discriminating, judgmental.  Just to name a few.

Our culture has decided that loving someone means giving them what they want now.  Accepting someone as they are means refusing to disagree with anything they do.  The idea that freedom of choice extends not just to our own choices but choosing the consequences as well seems to be how people think now.  So to be a member of a church that has rules, has guidelines, has unchangeable doctrine given from God means that I am wicked because I'm not changing with popular culture.  

Is it wicked for me to believe that marriage is divinely instituted by God and should be between a man and a woman?  Is it wicked for me to be happy that I am a woman, to look forward with excitement that I can be a mother someday?  Is it wicked for me to follow rules that I have prayed about and felt the Holy Ghost tell me were given to us for a reason?  Is it wicked for me to uphold my beliefs?  Our culture is telling me that, yes, I am wicked.  Hence the confusion.

In an institute class, our teacher emphasized that we should get our answers vertically, not horizontally.  Our prophet said, "It is better to look up."  Are we getting our answers for hard questions from other mortal people, or are we talking with God?  Do we even believe in God?  Are we doing things to remember who we are and who He is each day?

I believe in God.  I believe that He loves me, and I love Him.  Life isn't meant to be easy.  Hard, confusing times come no matter who you are or where you are.  Times of confusion can be a breaking point or they can help me continue to grow and learn about my Heavenly Father and His plan.  Whether or not those moments break or build me is up to me and how I search for the answers to my questions.

Sometimes, God doesn't answer our questions immediately.  Sometimes it takes years before we receive the blessing that we have been searching for.  And that is not a bad thing.  Believe it or not, but hard times are the moments when we can draw closest to God, perhaps because we feel that we need Him the most then.  In the end, God will make it all right.  I believe that with my whole heart.

I may not know how to explain what I believe perfectly, but that doesn't mean that I don't believe and it doesn't mean that I hate other people who don't believe the same things.

My confusion is not completely gone, but being able to write it down and focus on what I know helps.  And the best part is that I don't have to be an expert right now.  This life is about growing and learning and progressing.  I just have to give my all, and God will make up the rest.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chapter 3: Listening

I believe that we are children of a Heavenly Father, who loves us dearly.  Though we can’t see Him, we can talk with Him through prayer.  And if we are quiet enough, we can learn to feel the Holy Ghost, who testifies to us of the truth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and who comforts us and teaches us.  The Holy Ghost is a distinct individual, just as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are individuals.  The Holy Ghost speaks to us for Heavenly Father.

When we are baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost and promised that as we fill our lives with the things of God we can always feel the Holy Ghost.  Some people feel the Holy Ghost as a warm, burning feeling in their heart.  Some people cry.  Some people get goose bumps on their arms.  A friend of my mom’s giggles when she feels the Holy Ghost.  It’s different for each of us.

For me, I feel the Holy Ghost as a feeling of peace when I am afraid.  I feel Him as specific thoughts and ideas when I am searching for answers.  Sometimes it’s a name of someone I should serve, sometimes it’s the impression to avoid a situation where I may be in danger.

During the summer that Jordan and I met, I worked two different jobs: one was the internship where we met and the other was a job working with machines.  It’s not super fancy, but it ended up helping me get me through college.

One day, I was alone at work.  The music on my computer was playing on shuffle, and I realized that it had repeated a song from an opera depicting Jesus’s Christ’s atonement.  As it played the song, I thought about the line when Christ said, “Not my will but thine be done”, and I thought about goals that I had made recently to not run away from hard things, to ask for “mountains to climb”.

"Will you say that?" ran through my mind.  It was a prompting from the Holy Ghost, in regards to the phrase, “Not my will, but thine be done.”  I prayed to know God’s will, and realized that He wanted me to marry, soon.  And He wanted me to marry Jordan.  Throughout the summer, I had received prompting after prompting to be with Jordan, to love him, to never give up, and to forgive him for hurting me, even though he had no idea that he had.

The cool thing is that I didn’t have to choose this path if I didn’t want to.  God has given us all the ability to make our own decisions in life, and it’s beautiful!  He wants us to come back to Him, but He will never force us.  So in essence, Heavenly Father had shown me a path that He wanted me to take, and was asking if I would take it or not.  He could see everything that would come from that choice, while I could only see the fact that Jordan wasn’t interested in dating me.  Terrifying?  Most definitely.  Exciting?  Duh.

I said yes.

That August and September, I was confused and scared and nervous.  I didn’t know how to let Jordan know I wanted to date him without freaking him out.  I went for a walk by the Logan LDS Temple, because I always felt calmer there.  As I walked around the grounds, I worried and I prayed.  Then, I felt the words, "Do you really think I cannot do this?  Do you really think I can’t make this work?"  And I could have sworn I heard thunder, even though there wasn’t a storm.

I realized that I had chosen to fear instead of choosing to believe.  Fear is not from God.  Instead of remembering the miracles I had already seen in my life, I saw only the things I thought were hard and impossible.  All those miracles were not my doing, they were God’s.  So why not now, too?  I just needed to believe and then do my best.  God wouldn't give me a commandment without helping me accomplish it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Another week in the life of a sick-o

 This week has been interesting.  On Monday, I locked myself out of my apartment while Jordan was at work, which meant that I needed to find something to do for five hours until he got home.  My younger brother had recently bought a dog, so I decided to walk the dog while I visited my sister-in-law.  I’m not sure how far I actually walked that day, but it was probably close to five or six miles.  Not too bad, right?

Well, it wiped me out.  I spent the next day watching Netflix because I was so tired from the day before.  Wednesday wasn’t much better.  Jordan and I went to visit his family, and his parent’s closed on a new house, which meant they were moving in to it that day.  Because of my excursion on Monday, I was still very weak.  I watched the nieces and nephews so that the other adults could focus on unpacking. 

Needless to say, I felt like a waste of space by the time we headed home.  Being the second oldest and growing up on a hobby farm means I am used to working hard.  Not only had I not been able to help move boxes into the new house, but I was embarrassed that my in-laws had seen me when I was “sick”.  I still don’t know what is wrong.  And I’m not getting better.

That night, Jordan talked to me about all the blessings that I have.  He reminded me to “do what you can do and don’t do what you can’t do.”  It’s wonderful advice, but it’s infuriating because my list of things that I can do keeps shrinking.  I’m not working, I’m barely staying on top of chores at the home, and I haven’t been able to get my garden started yet.  It’s almost too late for that, and it was what I was most excited for this summer. 

Yesterday was better.  Not because I felt better physically, but because I felt calmer about where I am.  I had felt silly for “only” being able to watch the kids while everyone else unpacked.  But that was a necessary part of the process so that the others could work without worrying about children under their feet or disappearing into the new neighborhood.  Not only were the kids being watched, but I was able to interact with them, to play with them, and to show them just a little bit more how much I loved them.   It was not an obvious “work” that I performed, but it was work and it was good. 

My worth is not measured by how many things I can accomplish in one day.  Worldly measurements cannot really measure the worth of a soul.  They try to, and they fail miserably.  I am not my grades, or my house, or my income.  I am Kylie Maria Lawson, and I am a daughter of God.  And I am okay.  

I need to remember that I don’t have to do this on my own.  I need to let the Savior into my life.  I need His love, or I can’t take the heat and pressure of life.  It is only through Him and His atonement that I am even alive today.  I would be pathetic if it weren’t for Him.  He helps me lift myself up when I just want to give up.  He helps me open my eyes to new perspectives and ideas, and he lifts my heart when I can’t seem to do it myself.

I am not alone.  I don’t ever need to be.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My dog, Lord Voldemort

Jordan and I had been watching KSL like hawks for a small dog that was reasonably priced when we found Morty.  Through perfect luck, the owners were going to bring him to Kaysville the same day Jordan was going there instead of the 14 hour round trip it would have been.  We decided to name him Morty, which is short for Lord Voldemort.  We thought it was clever.  Ha!   

He is the cutest dog in the entire world!  A McNab Decker terrier cross, he was small, mostly black with a white nose, paws and stomach, with brown patches over his eyes.  When we got him, he was 3 months old.  That night, we took him for a walk to the temple and back, a good 2 mile walk.  It was obviously his first time on a leash, but he caught on quick.  Since he walked faster than us, he’d walk a ways then wait until we had just passed him, then start walking again.  He did that over and over again, and it was so cute.  

He cried a little bit at bed time, and at 2 in the morning.  Jordan took him out then, but Morty wouldn't fall asleep.  Finally, I curled in front of his kennel and he stopped barking.  The floor isn't very comfortable, though, so I fluffed my blanket and put that in front of him and climbed back into bed.  Since he thought I was right there with him, he didn't cry again all night long.  It was lovely.  

The next morning, I took him for a walk around the block.  Even though he was young, he was the perfect jogging buddy, and stayed with me perfectly.  However, when we got home, I tried to get him to come play with me on the lawn.  He panicked, and pulled me towards the door of our apartment.  I didn’t hesitate to follow him.  That morning was the first time I was prompted to to be extra careful due to some unknown danger.  He was my first cue. 

Our apartment didn’t allow dogs, so we had to take him to my parent’s house the next day.  They agreed to watch him until we moved into our next apartment, which would let us keep him in the yard.  When we would go to work, we’d stop by after and play with him, though my sisters were able to spend much more time with him than I was. 

We took him to a park next to the river, and he was perfect!  Without a leash, he explored all around us, but would follow us without hesitation. 

Morty loved to chew on things.  We weren’t sure if it was because he was teething or not, but he couldn’t stay in my parent’s house for long due to this habit.  He was so small that a cord tied to a small chunk of a cinder block would keep him in one area.  Eventually, he was moved into a kennel with one of the my parent’s puppies. 

Jordan loved to get him to howl.  We’d gather in a circle around Morty and howl, and he’d freak out.  First, he’d run in circles around us, then bark and on a rare occasion howl for a second or two.  It wasn’t very often, but it was so cute, because he was so eager to do what we were doing.  From the get go, he enjoyed being with people much more than with other dogs.  With my parent’s dogs, he tried to act much bigger than he was.  If a person came outside, though, he’d run up to them and jump straight up in the air beside them, bouncing until they said hello.  If they ignored him, he’d just keep going.

I tried to teach him how to play fetch.  He was really good at chasing ANYTHING that I threw, whether it was a handful of grass or a branch.  It was the rest of the game that he didn’t understand yet and that I was trying to teach him.  He never growled at me, though, and once I caught him, he would drop whatever it was so that I could throw it again.

I was planning on going to my parent's while Jordan worked on Wednesday.  As I got everything ready that morning, I felt very strongly that I should stay in Logan, though I didn’t get an answer to why I should.  At one point, I remember opening my phone and seeing the picture with Jordan and Morty that I had as my screen saver and feeling so very happy that he was my dog. 

While I was at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, my mom called to tell me that Morty had died.  In trying to get out of his kennel, he had gotten tangled in some bailing twine, and she had just barely found him.  And like that, my dog was gone.

I kept crying after I found out.  Jordan was super confused by my reaction because we hadn't had Morty for very long at all.  I guess I was sad because I didn't have a chance to care for him like I had planned.  He was going to be my running buddy, and I was going to teach him all sorts of tricks, and I was so excited that Jordan and I were going to have our own dog and I would have something to care for and hold, even though Morty was terrible at cuddling.   

Today, I feel a calm that I wasn't able to feel immediately after.  It was an accident.  I don't have to feel silly for crying.  I feel strongly that Heavenly Father knew it could happen, and warned me to not be there when it did.  As much as it hurts that Morty died, it would have been much worse if I had been the one to find him.  I don't think that God caused this.  We live in a mortal world where good and bad things happen.  God knows me, and helped me be in a place where my pain would be less.

I have a couple pictures of Morty, but I can't figure out how to get them off my phone.  (I'm not a very tech savy person, just ask Jordan or my brothers.)  I'll post them on here as soon as I can so that you can see just how cute He was. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chapter 2: Reality

Jordan went on a two week long vacation after my first month working at the nursery.  During that time, I started working in the production greenhouse, which meant that I was working by myself.  I went from talking for hours a day to not talking at all, and it was a hard transition!  But, I fell in love with my job.  It was hard work sometimes, but I didn’t mind.  The days didn’t feel terribly long, and even though it was really hot some days being in a greenhouse in the middle of the summer, I realized that I had the right job and I had chosen the right degree for me.  Besides, Jordan would be home soon, and then everything would go back to normal. 

When he came back, things did not go back to normal.  His parents had him paint a mural up by the retail area of the nursery while I stayed in the production greenhouses at the back of the lot.  We didn’t carpool as often, either.  One day, after a week of confusion on my part, he came back to chat with me on his break and ended up working with me for the rest of the day. 

While we worked, we talked about dating frustrations.  Then Jordan told me about a girl he was interested in and how he was trying to ask her on a date.  That someone wasn’t me.  I kept a straight face, though, and was able to talk about it with him.  And then he had to keep being cute!  While we were looking for plants, he found and caught a baby killdeer, then brought it to me so I could take a picture.  We carpooled that day, and on the drive home he sang along with the music.  I just focused on not crying in front of him, and I’m proud to say I was able to contain my emotions. Barely, but I did it. 

For the first time in a really long time, I had actually let myself love someone.  And he didn’t love me back.  It hurt SO bad and for the next month I did what I could to stop loving him.  My parent’s encouraged me to look for someone else to date, I avoided him, and I prayed a lot.  I was surprised when the answers I received were to keep loving Jordan, whether or not he loved me back.  That’s how God is.  He loves all of His children, no matter how they feel about Him.  So, I let myself love Jordan, even though it seemed like nothing was going to come of it. 

The rest of the summer, I would work by myself then came up to the main building for lunch with either Jordan or one of the other employees.  I made more friends and learned to be around Jordan without too much embarrassment.  Even though I didn’t see a relationship coming from our friendship, I loved spending time with him, and I loved him.  It was different from when I first met him, because I wasn’t expecting him to love me back.  I just loved Jordan for who he was.  It didn’t hurt as much.  And it didn’t feel as na├»ve, either. 

I am so grateful for that time.  Not only did I learn more about Jordan and build a stronger friendship, but I grew to understand God’s love as well.  He loves us unconditionally, regardless of how much we return that love.  I also knew that God answered my prayers, even though I didn’t receive the answers I was expecting.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Story: Chapter 1

To start, I want to tell you a little bit about myself.  I struggle with sharing emotions.  I love to listen to other people talk about themselves or challenges in their lives.  That’s not hard for me to do at all.  But just walking up to someone and telling them about my life and my story and how I feel about something scares me.  It’s a little silly, but it’s one of the hardest things for me to do, no matter how well I know the person.  My dear husband has had to struggle with me as I’ve learned how to open up.  Writing this blog has been hard, because who else am I going to write about besides myself and my thoughts?  I’ll think of a potential topic, but before I even get close to writing it down, I’ve reasoned with myself that it’s too sensitive a topic, and I don’t want to bother other people with my life stories.  I mean, it’s not even that exciting. 

I’m learning that this way of thinking isn’t right.  My life may be boring to me, but I have no idea in the world what other people will think of it.  It very easily could be boring to you, too.  (I won’t judge you if that’s how you feel.)  But maybe what I have experienced before is something that you need to hear today.  Just maybe one little phrase – just one! – will have an impact on you.  So, I’m going to open up and share my story with you.  Not everything, and probably not chronologically, either.  But I’m going to try to let you and others into my life a little bit more. 

Specifically, I want to tell you about our story, of how Jordan and I found each other, then decided to stick with each other for ever.  I like this story, and I like hearing these stories.  So here we go!  

Chapter 1:

My freshman year of college was kind of amazing.  Like, a lot.  I met so many people who treated me like I was worth something and their influence and friendship has literally changed my life. 

I had finally got to the point where thinking about going on a date didn’t make me feel sick with worry, which was awesome!  It had been over a year since dating hadn’t been a stressful thing.  Without realizing it, I started thinking about the kind of man I wanted to marry someday (okay, I didn’t just start thinking about him, but I realized that I could very easily find him soon, which was really weird) and started looking for him. 

I found a lot of amazing people, many of whom I would have loved to go on dates with.  But every time I was ready to ask them on a date something would come up.  Every time!  I was confused and a little frustrated.  So, I prayed and read my scriptures.  This is one that has always comforted me when I’ve been confused about dating.  It’s in the Book of Mormon, in the book of Alma.

Alma 37:36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

I asked God about the guys I was interested in at that time.  He told me that He had someone ready for me, and that I would find him soon. It was very clear, but in my mind I was thinking that “soon” in God’s time could be a very long time, maybe even a couple years in my time.  So, I got myself ready to wait for who knows how long to find this man that God had in store for me.    

The Monday after school ended that semester, I started my internship at a nursery down in Kaysville.  It was May 7th, at 7:15 in the morning when this guy came to pick me up to carpool to work.  My dad and his dad had arranged it, so I had never met him before.  I was okay with it, and really hoped that it wouldn’t be too awkward. 

You know how in movies, when someone sees a beautiful person and everything goes into slow motion?  It happens in real life too just so you know.  When I opened the car door to get in his car, I swear, time slowed down, cause holy cow, he was gorgeous!  I was able to get into the car without too much embarrassment, and then we talked – a lot!  His name was Jordan, he was older than me, but it didn’t even phase me that the gap in our ages could be weird.  Over the next month, I fell in love with him.  We spent at least 40 hours a week with each other during the drive to work and then at work.  Not only was he handsome, he was also very spiritual, had a personality that was so easy to get along with, and he could sing.  Oh, can he sing!  At first I was frustrated that I fell for him so easily.  Then he sang along with my favorite song while we were driving, and I gave up trying to not love him. 

For the first time in my life, I had met someone who reminded me of myself.  It was like my life was one puzzle piece, and I had finally found another person who’s puzzle piece was almost identical to mine and I was so excited!  That first month that we met felt like a year, and it was perfect.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Learning to change

I hate being sick. 

Growing up, I felt pretty healthy.  Occasionally, I would get to stay home from school because I was sick, and if someone in my family caught a nasty bug, I generally got it, too.  But I never thought of myself as a sickly person. 

For the last several years, though, my health has been declining.  My roommates often commented on how often I said I was tired.  And I was tired constantly.  Every couple months, I would have a week or so where I felt just sick.  I went to the doctor to see what was wrong, and though I learned things to help me be healthier, I never learned what was making me sick.

For the last couple months, I have been sick almost every other weekend, if not more frequently.  No, all you well-meaning people out there,  I’m not pregnant, though you would have no idea how many people have asked recently because I keep getting sick, and how badly I wish that were the case.  All I know is that I am very physically weak.  And more than I hate being sick, I hate being weak. 

This past couple months, I have felt almost frantic in trying to figure out what is wrong with me.  There is so much that I want to do!  I don’t want to disappoint people, but I feel like it keeps happening. 

Jordan is so sweet, though.  Whenever I start to feel frustrated (which can be pretty often) he says, “Do what you can do, and don’t do what you can’t do.”  Simple, right?  Well, it used to make me really mad.  I wasn’t really hearing what he meant, because in my mind, I should be able to do ALL the things I “needed” to do.

It took some time, but I am starting to understand what he meant.  Do what I can do, but don’t worry about what I can’t do.  And then be happy.  So, I work as much as I can, and when I can’t work, I find something that I can do.  One thing that has helped me recently is knitting.  It’s not much, but I feel better if I am doing something when I am feeling sick. 

The other day while Jordan was working, I talked with my mom about this.  She told me that we perceive life as a box.  We try to fit our lives into this box just like everyone else.  Everything is okay so long as we are in that box.  Sometimes our lives take a detour out of the rules of the box, and we have to learn to change our perspective. 

The other day I saw a video on Facebook that talked about all that was possible because of the Savior, Jesus Christ and His atonement.  If you have a minute, watch it here. 
I realized that He doesn’t care if I am sick or not.  He won’t be disappointed in me.  And not only that, but through Him I can learn to either overcome this illness or grow despite it.  I don’t care which one it is, I am just grateful that He understands and cares for me. 

This life is not the end.  I don’t have to be perfect right now.  I just need to keep trying each day, and I need to learn to choose to be happy, despite my circumstances.  God is in control, and I trust that He has a much better plan for my life than I can see.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dear Women, What kind of women are we?

I am scared.  Certain themes are appearing in articles and comments in the media, and they scare me, because they mock the influence that we as women can have on the world.    

“Men should just control their thoughts.  They have their ability to choose what thoughts they have, so why does it matter if I dress immodestly?”

“There is a double standard in the church.  Women are supposed to be sexy enough to attract a man so that we can get married, but modest enough to not promote sexual thoughts.”

Those are just two themes that I have heard and seen recently.  And both are wrong.  

There are lots of different kinds of men in the world, but for now, I’m going to focus on two extremes to make my point.

There are men who don’t respect women.  They look at women to see their body, not the woman herself.  Then there are men who do respect women.  They look at women and yes, appreciate their body, but can still see the individual inside.  Now, let’s place these two kinds of men in a crowded area and have women walk through.  Who do you think the first kind of men will spend more time with?  My guess is women in tight or low cut or high cut clothes.  Why?  Because they want to see a pretty body, regardless of the woman.  Who do you think the second kind of man will spend more time with?  My guess is that they will spend more time with the women who dress and act modestly.  Why?   Because they want to respect the women they talk to, and that is easier to do when those women are dressing modestly. 

Now I’m done talking about men in the first group, and I’m going to talk about the men in the second group.  These men are living in a world filled with pornographic images, sexually explicit movies, and immodest women and girls.  They are trying desperately to control their thoughts, even though they can’t go through a single day without seeing someone or something that could trigger an immoral thought.  Yes, it is their responsibility to control their thoughts.  But those seeds are not their fault.  It comes from living in this world. 

Women, are we planting those seeds in their minds?  Would these men be comfortable around us?  Or would they turn away?  When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, I spent a lot of time with my older brother and his friends.  One day, a girl with clothes that barely covered her walked past, and all the boys turned away so that they didn’t have to look at her.  They warned their other friends who hadn’t seen, and the formed a semi-circle away from the immodest dress to protect each other. 

There is no double standard in the teachings of the gospel on how we should dress.  The only thing I have ever been taught on this topic for my whole life is that we should dress and act in a way that does not bring unnecessary attention to ourselves.  That means covering your body and avoiding tight clothing and being kind, not rude.  The other half of this “double standard” is the media’s teachings, not Heavenly Father’s.  Being sexy enough to attract a man so that you can get married is NOT one of His teachings. 

Women, these ideas are a way that Satan is attacking us.  He is tearing families apart, and he’s doing it by filling our minds with lies.  Modest is a spiritual law, not a physical law.  Dressing modestly allows the Spirit to be with us, whereas immodest dress encourages improper behavior. 

He’s attacking us because we can be a force for good.  We as women can influence our families and friends in so many ways!  But Satan wants us to focus on mortal things so that we forget the immortal.  Heavenly Father lives!  He sent his son, Jesus Christ to pay for our sins and our pain.  He died for us, and rose on the third day.  We are daughters of God.  We are more than our bodies, and we are more than this world.  We need to stand up now and stop listening to the lies. 

Stop tearing down men.  They are good, and they need our help, just as we do theirs. 

Stop focusing so much on the things of this world.  Beauty is so much more a spiritual thing than it is a physical thing. 

Open your eyes!  Look for the beautiful things each day and learn to cherish them. 

I’m not angry, just scared.  I love my brothers, and my dad, and my husband.  Thinking about the amount of garbage that they have to see and avoid every day breaks my heart.  My children will grow up in a world much worse than the one we are in today.  And their children, too.

Women, let’s make a stand for what is right.  Let’s reevaluate our dress to make sure that we are helping men, rather than adding to the weight they have to carry.  Let’s learn what real beauty is, and strive to fill our lives with it.  Let’s make homes where our families can be safe from the lies of the world. 

Let’s be modest. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Love as told by Jane Eyre and a tree

One of my favorite books is Jane Eyre.  I’m only going to tell you a small portion of the story, so you should read it, too.  It’s the story of an orphan girl named Jane Eyre (surprise!) who becomes a governess.  She falls in love with her master, Mr. Rochester, who is an angry man with a hidden past.  Even though he is ornery and has a past filled with mistakes, Jane can see that he is trying to be better, which is part of the reason she loves him.  He secretly loves her, but wants to be certain that she loves him in return before he tells her.

One night, after being convinced that he is going to marry another woman, Jane tries to avoid him by walking through the gardens of the manor.  He follows her and talks about the “bride” that he has chosen, trying to get her to show her true feelings.  I love Jane’s character.  She is very mild and does what she is told more often than not.  But on a few rare occasions, she speaks her thoughts with such clarity and purpose that those who are her “superiors” cave to her will.  I love it!  She does that now, and tells Mr. Rochester that despite their stations, they are equals in God’s eyes.  He proposes to her, and though she doesn’t believe him at first, she eventually accepts.

This whole conversation takes place under an oak tree in the garden.  As they are sitting there, a storm approaches, and the tree is hit by lightning, splitting it in two.  They run inside and announce to everyone that they are engaged, and everything seems great.  That tree, the one hit by lightning, eventually dies, much like Jane’s dreams do on their wedding day.  After a long time, a seed takes root in between the large broken pieces of the tree.  This is a symbol of love.  It doesn’t give up, and it holds on even when it seems there is no hope.

I want to tell you about a time when I found a tree like this one.  It was on a mountain near a camp ground where I was attending a camp for youth in my church.  I was having the time of my life, but I was nervous for the testimony meeting that evening.  Because I was one of the youth who helped plan the camp, I felt responsible to say something during that meeting.  A testimony meeting is a time set aside for anyone to share how they feel about the gospel.  All day, whenever I thought about it, I couldn’t focus.  So when I had the impression to go for a walk, I didn’t hesitate to take a break and to just think.

I walked down a road until I found a little meadow with a tree in the middle.  After I sat on a log by the tree, I realized that it was part of the tree, but had been split off, probably by a heavy snow from years before.  Both parts of the tree – the one standing and the one fallen on the ground – were still sending out leaves and continuing to grow.  Instantly, I thought of Jane Eyre, and the tree in the gardens.  And almost as quickly, I thought about love. 

You see, I had become very bitter during my senior year, which had just ended before the camp started.  I had been hurt, and instead of reaching out for help, I pulled way back inside myself.  Instead of reaching out and serving the other people in my high school, I waited for them to serve and love me.  If they didn’t, neither did I.  I refused to open my heart and love them. 

For a week straight, I had the opportunity to serve people whom I had never met before.  And all of a sudden, I was filled with love.  Not Disney’s I-just-met-you-and-you’re-beautiful-so-let’s-get-married love, but God’s love.  I cared for the youth in the camp like I had never cared for people before.  I wanted them to be happy so badly that it hurt!  And the trick was serving them.

I had thought that I needed to be whole to love someone.  I had thought that I needed to be loved before I could let go, but that’s not how God works.  He loves us no matter what, regardless of whether or not we love Him in return.  The trick to love like God does is to serve. 

I sat on that tree and bawled.  Not only had I learned to love again, but I felt as though I was healed.  All of the emotions that I had been holding inside for so long were gone.  Honestly, I don’t know how it works.  But I know that because I served the people in the camp, I felt God’s love for them and for me.  I know that through Christ’s atonement, my pain was taken away. 

So when you are feeling lost, serve someone.  When you feel fear, serve someone.  When you need a friend, serve someone.  And I promise you that you will feel Heavenly Father’s love for that person and for you, and He will let you know that you are never alone.