Kecks in Paradise

Kecks in Paradise

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We can't do everything, but we can do something!

Recently, I have been pretty spotty at checking my social media. I found its imagined virtues to be having the opposite effect on me: this will help you connect! Facebook said, but I found myself feeling lonely or jealous or keenly aware of the lives of people I don’t know all that well in person. Keep up to date with what is important! it said, and yet I found myself mesmerized by those videos of food being prepared. Food that I will never make!! I’m gluten intolerant, yo! You know how it goes, every now and then, you just need to take a breather from that stuff, and I never really learned how to factor social media into my life, so I mostly cut it out, and I didn’t miss it.

But then Paris was attacked, and I wanted to see what people were saying, so I logged back in and I was moved by people's posts and the French flags over profile pictures and the love and support and solidarity. I had to wipe a tear or two from my eyes with those pictures of France on 9/11, and even that silly comic with the statue of liberty running to help its French counterpart. I loved seeing Eiffel towers and French expressions of love on people’s profiles.

And theeeeen, someone went and spit in my bean curd with their negativity. Oy vey, social media! A few people, actually, had posted things about how they were impressed with the people who stood with France, but what about Beirut, what about Kenya, what about, what about, what about all these places and things you should care about! 

Come on! I said inwardly. It is better that people do SOMETHING than nothing at all. Don’t fault people for trying! PLUS it is hard to CONSTANTLY feel for places that are CONSTANTLY in conflict. Paris is a place people dream about, whereas the Middle East is SO frequently in conflict, it seems like a nightmare.

Did that last part of that thought ring a little racist to anyone else?

Well, it did to me.

I didn’t like feeling that because some people have more problems they are somehow less worthy of my care and attention. I don’t like to be shamed into caring about things, but I did want to amend my attitude. And I felt a real stab of guilt that I didn’t know more about the Syrian refugee situation.

Fortunately for me, while I still may have a ways to go in deepening my Christ-like love for strangers, the refugee crisis was only a google away. It is CRAZY! There are masses and masses of homeless people right now with nothing who are being turned away from countries because of where they originated.
It made me want to do more!

I thought about going door to door for UNICEF or something, but I was thinking if someone knocked on my door for even the noblest of causes, I probably wouldn’t even have cash to give them. All our money’s on cards.

Instead, I was thinking about when my friends, the Smiths, did Whole30. I have been through my own dietary ups and downs, so I was really pulling for them as they cut out all grains and sugar from their diet for 30 days. I would check into their blog to get updates on how they were doing and feeling, and as the month wore on, I found myself eating more vegetables and less sugar just because I was thinking of them. It was sympathy broccoli. Or was it inception?

Just kidding, I know it’s only true inception if you don’t know about the inception. I’m not an idiot.

But I am a vegetable eater. Because the Smiths kept yammering on about their veggie tales, I was suddenly aware of every meal that went without a green thing.

So here I am, turning to social media after all my complaining, yammering on about how we should try to help each other generally, and the Syrian refugees specifically. As much as I have complained about Facebook and such in this post, I do think it can be a wonderful tool for bringing things like this to our friends' attention, and I am really thankful to you, my friends, who have helped to expand my worldview, even when it totally made my bean curd spitty. As the weather gets colder, and Christmas comes closer, opportunities to help are a dime a dozen, and I know you can't do everything, but let's do something! Together we can make the world a more beautifully harmonious place, and God will help us help others.

This blog is not popular. While I may fantasize that there are some cool British people going, “Oy, mate. Hold on a tic. I just want to read this fantastic weblog before we tuck in to our kippers and treacle tarts,” that is not the case (sidebar: British speak is the best). All of you who read it are my family and friends and maybe that one Nigerian prince who keeps emailing me. You are the most selfless and wonderful people I know and I know you are already doing so much to improve the lives of others. BUT I did want to tell you that I will be donating to support Syrian refugees, and I hope you will eat a little sympathy broccoli with me and donate support as well. We can’t do everything, but we can do something!

P.S. Here is a list of places to donate. LDS can also donate to humanitarian aid right on your tithing slips. Good luck and I love you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's That Time of Year: 5 Things to Know About General Conference

Every six months, you might notice a particular giddiness among your Mormon friends as our bi-annual General Conference rolls around. It's not a holiday, but man-o-man, I cannot get that 'N Sync Christmas song out of my head.

Because, you guys, it is a wonderful feeling. And there is love in the room from the floor to the ceiling.

It's that time of year: conference time is here.

My sister-in-law, Tiffany, will likely make her yummiest oatmeal, all my Mormon parent buddies are starting to assemble quiet activities for their littles, and J and I are getting our questions ready that we are hoping our leaders will address.

We believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the church that Christ established in his day, which was lost through apostasy, and then restored in our day through the prophet, Joseph Smith. The church follows the same organization that Christ established: we have twelve apostles, just like he did, as well as a prophet with counselors.

Twice a year, the prophet, his counselors, the apostles, and other general leaders in our church prepare inspired instruction for all the members of the church. It is six two-hour sessions of talks, interspersed now and again with songs and prayers.

So, you may wonder, what is all the hub-bub about. Surely the oatmeal isn't that good.

Well, truth be told, it is--but of course conference is about more than that. Here are some things to know about conference time to explain your enthusiastic Mormon friends:

1. We believe the prophet acts as the mouthpiece for the Lord.

Our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, is a nice guy, there is no question about it. Any other weekend I would love to go visit him and listen to the myriad of stories he has collected through his lifelong pursuit to serve God and His children. But we don't watch conference just to hang out with our beloved Tommy Monson. We believe that President Monson receives revelation for the whole 15 million member church, and we believe that this instruction comes from the Lord. In fact, the Doctrine and Covenants tells us that the inspired instruction we receive at conference is scripture. There are MORE words from the Lord, that will be spoken clearly and directly in my own language TO ME! That alone just makes me want to skip.

2. Conference is edifying.

If you are thinking, "Hey-o, this General Conference thing sounds suuuper entertaining! It's like Comic-con for Mormons" you're wrong, my friend. General Conference is not entertaining. There will be a few jokes, the world renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir will sing in front of a massive organ, and probably 80% of your Mormon friends will post a Dieter F. Uchtdorf quote to every social media platform immediately after he speaks (I may be one of them). But conference is "entertaining" like going to university classes is entertaining. It is awesome. It is filled with amazing things you want to learn. But the school itself is not for fun times, you know? It's for learning times!

Every single conference, there is so much to learn, and so many good and hopeful truths to make note of. It doesn't entertain, no, but it nourishes the soul. It is like this great, big, invisible feast of truth. The things I need help in have never NOT been addressed. Even when I am chasing babies around during the meetings, I love to keep a piece of paper and pen close by and jot down little truths as they come, and sometimes they come pretty fast and furiously. The word of God does wonders for the soul.

These mud masks were supposed to do wonders for our skin.
I don't know, man.

3. Conference is unifying.

There is something so stirring about that fact that beside being united by little green hymn books across the world, our church preaches the same doctrine in every meeting house. Conference is a reminder of our unity as a church: that in 197 countries and 94 languages, we are learning together and growing together. I feel it...I'm going to break dance.

Breakdance photo tumblr_m5w5nw8QnB1r0byljo1_500_zps66f0e8cd.gif

4. Conference strengthens faith and testimony.

Says Elder Hales. It is so true! I always feel a lift after General Conference. The world hasn't changed, but my outlook inevitably brightens as my faith is enlarged.

5. Conference is for every single person in the WORLD!

Let me blow your mind right now: this is the most general meeting where you can get the most specific instruction for your own life. It is KA-razy that the old men and women that will speak know so well how to uplift and edify the world--but the thing is, going back to number 1 here, they rely heavily on the Holy Ghost to prepare their messages. So while not every single message may resonate in your soul, there is something for you there, and probably a lot for you there if you go with a sincere heart with real intent to learn learn learn.

So you are invited to join us and see for yourself why Conference is the most wonderful time of the year.

But also Christmas.

Watch a little or a lot at

All women ages eight and older are invited to participate in the March 2014 general women's meeting. The meeting will be held on Saturday, March 29, at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT).
The 184th Annual General Conference will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6, 2014, with general sessions each day at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT), and the general priesthood meeting on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. MDT.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Invisible Things/ Gleeble Geep Globb Dobb

I have tried twice now to share this thought with other people and every time I do it comes out as nonsense.

I thought I'd give it a go in writing, though, because one thing that is true about me is that I may freeze up speaking sometimes, but I can always writing good thoughts from my brain fingers. You know?

So here we go!

We started night weaning our babe a few weeks ago. My body was telling me we had to. I wasn't getting any sleep, and I didn't feel like nursing through the night was really serving anyone, so we adjusted, and it was okay.

But then, not but a few days after stopping our night feedings, I got hit by a crazy wave of depression and hot flashes, and terrible nausea. I would Google my symptoms and the Internet would be like, "Well, you are 26 now, so it's probably menopause."

That didn't seem right, so I would type the symptoms in again, but differently, and they'd be like, "Oh no, not menopause, you are pregnant!"

Then I try again, and they'd be like, "Oh, man! I'm sorry. Looks like you died already. Bummer!"

It was pretty unsatisfying, but fortunately I had the good sense to wonder if the things I was experiencing were related to weaning, and it turns out that they are not only related, but fairly common, and weirdly not heavily publicized.

It was such a relief to see that people had experienced this same kind of garbage before, and they knew it would not last forever. But even more than that, it was hugely reassuring to know that all my invisible symptoms were real. I knew they were real because I felt them, but somehow seeing that other people had felt them, too, gave the experience real validation.

The thing is--when you break your arm or leg, everyone can see that you got hurt and that you are making steps to repair it. When your hurt is caused by a hormonal imbalance or some kind of life event, that is just as real an injury, even though it is mostly invisible. If we could wrap big, pink casts around your brain or your feelings, I am sure all your friends would sign it in Sharpie.

I feel like our culture is more aware of invisible hurts than we have been in the past (thank goodness). I have seen all kinds of articles, and short films, and long films, and talks, and commercials that aim to support people and help them heal from our non-tangible maladies. I think we are less prone to wonder if depression or anxiety is real now, because we know they are real. And there is all kinds of evidence and forums and medication to back us up in that.

Similarly, we don't question whether our emotions are real or not because we know that they are. We have felt happiness, sadness, anger, envy; we see them in people's faces. There is no question when you are laughing and happy of, "Is this happiness real." because of course it is! That is the word for the invisible thing you feel!

But there are some invisible things that are too often vacillated on.

Here's a big one: God.

It seems fairly common for people to have good experience after good experience and still wonder, "Is this real? Is what I am feeling the Spirit of God, or is it just me? How can I know?"

And I totally get where those questions come from. I have HAD those questions. It can be incredibly frustrating when you feel like you are exercising faith, and praying, and listening so hard for a response, and the only thing you hear is the toilet flushing in the next room from your Dad's midnight bathroom trip.

The way that God communicates with us is through the Holy Ghost (nickname: the Spirit). While we typically use our voices to speak and our ears to receive speech, the language of the Spirit connects straight to your brain and heart, typically without using any physical sound waves. What's more, the voice of the Spirit is still and small.

And when you ask God something like, "Are you real?" and you feel peace inside, or warmth, or something else good, that is the Spirit telling you, "Yes, I am."

And the more we exercise our faith, the more experiences we have listening to the Spirit and recognizing it.

When you pray: that exercises faith

When you read scriptures: faith calisthenics.

When you listen to words from the prophets and apostles: faith cardio workout.

Go to church, receive the missionaries in your home, serve your neighbors, do some charity work-- there are a lot of ways to help to grow your faith.

And every good feeling you feel associated with those things is invisible.

But they are all real

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day 30: The Future

We did it! We completed our 30 days of good things!

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I have loved writing this blog. It has come with its share of cons, but mostly it has been pros on pros on pros. More than anything, in searching for the answer to the question, "What has helped to strengthen my faith today?" I have seen how a billion small, tiny miracles are everywhere, and they can go totally unnoticed if we are not paying attention. So I feel grateful that writing helped me to look a little harder and longer at many good, small, simple things in my life.

The thing is--small and simple things are small and simple and they don't come with much rap music or flash dancing. So sometimes I would hyperventilate a little wondering if what I had to say was interesting or important enough to immortalize on this blog. And then I would think this question, "If today were my last day on earth, what would I want to be doing?" and it would help me to write about the things that mattered most to me that day.

Really, even if you are not trying to write something everyday, those are good questions to chew on. The first unlocks a whole file of spiritual things that can get absolutely shouted over with the noise of the world, and the second reminds you of what your priorities are.

The most unanticipated blessing in the deluge of postings was the connection I felt with you. Thank you for being here and reading these posts. It was scary for me to start this all and you have so encouraged me.

Here's what you faithful few readers can anticipate for the future: I am going to keep writing on here, but only about once a week. So see you soon. I will continue to post to Facebook, even though it still makes me queasy, since that is how most of you get here.

And most of all I will try my darndest to keep a weather eye on those good things out there.

Thanks again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 29: Penultimate

We are getting to the end of my blogging blitz, so before I simmer down on the quantity of material I have been slogging through the web, I wanted to make sure I hit on one very important good thing: my testimony of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have brought it up repeatedly over the course of the last thirty days, but I just wanted to say as clear as can be, with no frills attached, that I know that my Savior loves me, and that He loves you, too. I know He died to save us, because He wants us all to be able to return to His presence and we can't do that without being fully clean and worthy. I know that when we repent we can become fully clean and worthy. I know that repentance isn't something to be ashamed of; it is a joy-filled, hope-filled action of turning from our sins towards the Father. I know Heavenly Father listens to us when we pray, and He cares about what we want.

I know that the scriptures help my faith to grow, and that they contain everything you need to come to have a testimony of the Savior. I love our modern revelation and know that it is true, too, and that there is a prophet on the earth today to lead and guide Christ's restored church. I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have found the fullness of truth here, and it is delicious to the taste.

And you can have that, too.

Feel free to click here to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or here to read the testimony of the apostles.

Also, if you are interested, but don't really know where to start, the missionaries are great question-answerers. You can also contact me if you prefer to talk to someone that already loves you.

I am grateful beyond words to have this good thing in my life, and would love to share it with you.

Love to you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Day 28: If you want it, you can have it

When I was little, I had an exhaustive list of things I wanted to be when I grew up: a singer, a dancer, an author, a veterinarian, a teacher, a doctor, a movie star, and--let's not forget one of my favorites--a taxi cab driver--a desire born from a young love of hats and the Muppet Babies, who drove their taxis to the moon.

What can I say, I look good in a hat.

Excluding my dream of cab driving (one I ALWAYS had to explain), I didn't think much about why I wanted to be those things, just that I wanted them. And a lot of the time our desires operate on such a subconscious level that I think it is common to make a choice without realizing that that choice was motivated by a desire. We reach inside the greasy bag of potato chips, not because we enjoy the slick feeling it leaves on our knuckles as we remove our hands from the bag, nor because we are particularly hungry, but because we enjoy the sting of salt on our lips and the crunch of the treasure extricated from the bag. The desire for crunchy salty motivated the action for greasy crinkly.

For the past few months, I have been thinking about what my desires are at their very roots, knowing that those desires shape my priorities, and therefore my choices. If I was asked by the Lord directly, what do you want most of all, how would my heart respond? Deeper than a house or chickens or even more babies. What does my soul long for? And what am I doing to support that desire?

We had a teacher in our last stake who had said, "The Lord grants according to your desires, so you better make sure that your desires are in line with His will."

That was a thing that stuck for me. I have mulled it over for months, and the more you think about something, the more you seem to see it everywhere. I see it dotted all over the scriptures:

"What desireth thou?" asks Jesus.

And the people respond: restore my sight, or heal my daughter, or please let us stay with you.

And then he usually gives them what they want--like 9 times out of 10 whatever good thing they want, he helps them to get it. And the with the 1 rejection, he redirects them to something more appropriate. That gives me a good indication that it matters what we want.

One important thing in all this, though, is everything that was asked was a good thing. Though their request had varying degrees of depth, they were asking the Lord to satisfy righteous desires rather than what Dallin H. Oaks calls, "the worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, or power." We all fall victim to those things from time to time, but at their roots, their desires were good.

And what I have learned as I have made a study of this is that our desire can become good. The prodigal son "came to himself" and desired no more to live riotously, but to make his way home to the father and serve him. There are all kind of personal, sacred experiences that we get a glimpse into through the scriptures that show how people were given new hearts.

I think Enos gives us a good example of this. He went into the woods to go hunt, and was thinking about things that his father had taught him. He says that his "soul hungered," and he knelt down and prayed for his soul, that he might know the joy of the saints and be forgiven of his sins. At this point, he didn't know that the things he had been taught were all true; he had a desire to believe, and he let that desire work within him. He prayed all day long, exhibiting a great degree of effort, and exercising faith. 

Then he said a voice "came to him," and it said, "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed."

And he had this wonderful feeling of his guilt being swept away, after which he was instructed that all of this was a result of his faith.

Then immediately after that, his desire changed. He wasn't worried about his own soul anymore, he began to desire for the welfare of his brethren. So he followed the pattern he had just learned and exerted more effort, exercised more faith, and then again was answered.

It is a cool thing to realize--that you can want what is best, even if right at this moment your desires don't extend beyond potato chips. If you let your deeper desires work within you, work for them, and exercise faith, you can have it all, baby.

May God help us to yearn for that which is best and eternal, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Day 27: Melby Toast

Here's a small shout out to Melby, Mother-in-law extraordinaire! Maker of lists and cleaner of pots! 

I cannot tell you how many times this lady has saved the day for me. Today was no exception. I got donated a whole day of her time to help me repair my damaged belly. 

Food allergies are the pits. Melissa Keck is the anti-pits. 


I feel super grateful to this amazing lady for all she does for our family. All us Kecks kind of orbit around her. She is perpetually helpful and unfailingly generous. She is a source of wisdom and friendship in my life, and I feel confident that generations to come will join with us in raising a glass of lactose-free milk to her noble example.

I will be forever grateful to Melissa for raising her wonderful children. Jason is a scripture mastery superstar because of his Mom, and I love that about him. He listens to every session of General Conference because he saw her do it (which was especially notable in Korea when she would get up in the middle of the night to do it). I love that he has made service his mantra because of his parents' example.

I am so glad to be a Harrison, but I love being a Keck, too.

To Melby!