Kecks in Paradise

Kecks in Paradise

Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 8: Of Oats and Horses

Gung hey fat choi!

My mom was a preschool teacher when we were little and she would always prepare red penny packets and fortune cookies for her students on Chinese New Year. They made me feel lucky.

I love fresh starts. Sometimes I will start my day out with a hearty helping of self-pity and then think I have to keep dragging my feet all day because I already ate the oatmeal of despair. There is nooooo going back, my heavy feet say. You have to wait until tomorrow to feel better. Until then, let’s eat cookies and waaaallllllooooooooww. Have you seen the Nutri-grain commercial on this wise: one right choice leads to another, they say, so start your day off right with Nutri-grain?

I love you Nutri-grain, and you’ve got a point, but I gotta say, sometimes your day begins with the disparaging oats and then instantly brightens after a quick hello from your quirky Irish neighbor, or a walk out in the misty world, or just hearing about consoling emails, or learning about a local ape that predicts the Super Bowl!

Suddenly all those little points of light seem to poke brilliant holes in your overcast morning and renew your faith that today can be miraculous.

Gung hey fat choi!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 7: Joy Ride

Once when I was in Ghana, I was walking up a city street with my two companions when we heard someone shrieking. The road was very wide, with spaces for two buses to go up the hill and veer right on one side, and the same amount of space allocated for buses to come down from the left on the opposite side. As we looked around, we saw coming from the left side, far from where we stood, a large wagon plummeting down the hill with its owner caught helplessly on its front. I assume the owner had lost control of the heavy cart as she navigated it down the steep hill and in her efforts to stop it, she had been swept up by it. Her arms were stretched out over the front of the cart, gripped to either side, and even from how far away we were, I could see the whites of her eyes as she sped screaming down the hill.

Mercifully, before hitting any people or cars, the cart crashed into the corner of a curb. One wheel jumped the curb, and the imbalance caused the cart to overturn, throwing its passenger to ground unharmed. I realized as soon as the cart stopped that I had been frozen for the last 10 seconds, as had all of the people around me. We watched the street unfreeze and resume the normal practices of buying and selling. A few people helped the girl return her cart to a standing position, after which, she picked up the handle and kept walking on down the hill.

Maybe I have PTSD from this tiny fraction of my life from so long ago, because sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see how the girl's clothes billowed out around her as she flew down that steep slope. It makes me sick to my stomach. There was nothing I could do to stop it, but (Thank God! Thank God!) the Lord did provide.

What always amazes me about this experience is how the girl just got up and kept walking. She was unharmed and her cart didn't break, and she had work to do, so she just got up and kept going. That was a common trait of people I met in Ghana: they did not spend a long time bemoaning their trials. And here was another big common trait: there was lots of praising God. My friends out there remind me of the saints represented in that hymn, "Come, Come ye Saints." They "wend their way" with joy. 

So here is a good thing: I have been writing for a week. Hooray! I feel happy of myself. And you know what else, much of the terror of putting my blog address on Facebook and trying to respond to people's comments has lessened. I feel like I hit the curb. A whole lot of that has been due to your positive feedback and encouragement and protection of my nougatty center. Thank you. 

Also, an invitation: if you have been reading along and thinking to yourself, "Man, I can't believe she's been writing about good things and hasn't mentioned _______ yet!" Let me know, man! You can even private message me on Facebook if public comments aren't your style. I totes get that.

Until then, I am going to pick up my wagon and keep on walking down my hill.

All the best to you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Day 6: Broken Things to Mend

One of my favorite lessons of my college years came from my medieval literature teacher, Zina "Warrior Princess" Petersen. And it is about Satan. Yipes. But it was really helpful, life changing knowledge for me.

She said that the name "Lucifer" comes from the root words "lux" which means light and "ferous" which means to bear or carry. So Satan is the "light bearer," which seems almost like a nice title. But then he goes and tries to shine light on and expose the worst parts of ourselves:

"I did something terrible."

"I am not good enough."

"Life is too hard for me."

This is all in an effort to make us fall into despair. "This is the way you are," that old serpent whispers. And then because he is the father of lies he adds, "And there is nothing you can do about it." 

But we know that is not true! Christ gives us the answer, "Come unto me," he says, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

Zina said something like this:

"It is too easy to tear things down. You spend all this time and effort building things, which is hard work, and then all of the sudden it is knocked down. Now rebuilding something that's already been broken--that's Jesus."

I wish you could have seen how she said it, too. She was looking upward like she was thinking and then kind of shouted it out like the idea had just flipped on in her head. 

Druids and Boadicea and medieval soaps are all really interesting, but this was the best thing I learned in that class.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 5: Obedience School

Hey Yo!

Were you worried I wouldn't make it today?

Me, too. But I am here again. Phew.

So let's just get right down to the nitty-gritty.

In Sunday school this week, my wise and good husband Jason made a comment somewhere along these lines, "I think we sometimes suppose that if we don't know the reason behind a commandment, we shouldn't do it, but [this example in the scriptures] teaches us that even when we don't have all the answers, we should still live all the commandments. Then as we act, the reason is illuminated to us."

It is such a bummer that the term obedience gets linked to perfectionism, prudishness, or (worst of all) ignorance, even among the nicest of chums. I don't think that is necessarily so. I think trying your best to listen to and do what God wants you to do is awesome and noble and way sexier than James Dean with a cigarette. Too far? No! Living true to the light and knowledge you have is honest and virtuous and wise. It inspires the best in others and in ourselves.

Being obedient to God is putting your faith first. Sometimes that means walking a few steps in the darkness before the light appears (thanks Pres. Packer). Time and time again this has proved true in my life. I love that message from Henry B. Eyring, when he says, "Acting on even a twig of faith allows God to grow it."

I see the light, and it is good.

Just by a small way of example, let me quickly tell you about something that happened to us to strengthen our faith in the principle of tithing. We have always trusted that paying tithing is a good thing to do, but not very long ago when we had no income, we started to notice incredible blessings during a stressful stint of unemployment. People popped up all over our lives with groceries and suggestions for places to apply and words of comfort. One of my friends just sat with me and cried. Isn't that nice? Against the backdrop of uncertainty, each of those little kindnesses seemed brighter and more powerful. That coupled with a ridonkulus tax return revealed to us that these were the "windows of heaven" pouring out blessings on us for paying our tithing. 

So I want to be obedient, by golly. Because I love God and I know better and He blesses me beyond any amount of effort on my part. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 4: Better My Heart

If we are going to talk about things that have filled my life with every good thing, we might as well get right to the big one here: 

I can't even tell you what having this little bear in my world has done to me. I have read other people write about people they love and thought, "Oh, man! They know! They've felt it! Thank goodness!"

Because, maaaaaaaaannn, I do NOT want to be the first one to try and talk about it. It is almost impossible to grasp the weight of it all in words, and sometimes when I try to give it a go, it comes out sounding a lot more gooey or kooky than what it is. It is the weirdest and best thing. It is like having your heart ripped in half while it simultaneously doubles in size.  

And then she goes off, that part of my heart, walking around and exploring the world in her squishy boots and bear suit. She doesn't even know how she is killing me and giving me a whole new life at the same time. She doesn't know how her existence alone has changed and bettered my life. Nothing has taught me more about the love God must have for me and for you than loving my little daughter.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day 3: Carpe Carp

When one of my good friends was at a crossroads in her life, she shared with me this piece of advice she had been given:

"Make the choice you won't regret."

For my friend, either choice meant a lot of hard work, bravery, and sacrifice. Lucky for her, she already is very strong and brave and wise, so she didn't have to learn those things, too; but armed with that sage counsel, she was able to find conviction in her choice and move forward.

I am at a season in my life where it would be easy for me to hide in my hermit shell with my two favorite crabs. I gotta say, too, that shell is cozy. It feels much safer than sticking my neck out in the whole wide world where their are seagulls and all other kinds of dangerous--- beaks. 

But thinking about my buddy helps me to climb on out of my armor every so often to try to do what is kind and true and courageous.   

thanks, buddy.

I recently read a message from Dieter F. Uchtdorf (a.k.a. mein homeboy), and then I read it again, and again, because it helps me to feel braver. He quotes from an old proverb, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago," it says. "The second-best time is now."

President Uchtdorf further explains that if you have some good you want to bring into your life, you should go for it. Don't worry about failing or waiting for some imagined starting line or being perfect every step of the way. He says that even if we fall short, "just continuing the journey will make us greater than we were before."

So let's go do some go good in this world y'all! Pish posh to beaks! Let's go plant some trees, and be brave, and carpe all the diems. Or kairos, if we want to be more true (which we doooo). Perhaps, if you are a fisherman, you can carpe all the carp? Live your dreams, sailor. 

Whatever you choose to carpe, I hope you have a weekend full of un-regretted choices and many a metaphorical planted tree. God bless you all. 

See you Montag. 

P.S. On a serious note, if you already have made the choice, and you do regret it, remember that is what the Atonement is for. There is always hope. Always, always.   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 2: Hope Bubbles

“When you feel that there is only a thin thread of hope, it is really not a thread but a massive connecting link, like a life preserver to strengthen and lift you. It will provide comfort so you can cease to fear. Strive to live worthily and place your trust in the Lord.”
—Richard G. Scott

In the past, I have thought about hope like big, shiny bubbles on the surface of the ocean, and pictured myself balancing on them one after another before they would pop.
“I hope it will be a nice day today. ” *pop* *jump!*
“Well, I hope Tracey will come over and visit anyway.”
I think that image mostly comes from how we speak of hope in our everyday language:
            “I hope you can come!”
            “We are hoping for the best.”
            “I hope I get a hula hoop for Christmas! Ahh!”

That kind of hoping is practice hoping. It is fragile and uncertain because you don’t really know deep down in your gullet whether or not the weather is going to be good or if Tracey can come over (Tracey come over! I miss you too much!).

When we read of hope in the scriptures, though, it is firm and sure. Ether and Hebrews both speak of hope as an “anchor for the soul.” Moroni teaches that that kind of hope comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: when we pray to Him or when we seek forgiveness from sins, our faith in Him grows, as does our hope that we can be “raised unto life eternal.” Hope is trusting that what God says is true and that in due time He will keep all His promises. It is not wavery bubbles, but Christ’s feet firmly planted in the sea as He stretches His hand to us.

Erica chose this song for Josh’s funeral and it makes me feel so hopeful. Not bubble hope, sure hope that Christ conquered death and we can be reunited with the people we love best someday. I feel that is true. Deep down through my gullet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's your porpoise?

Hey, stranger! It's great to see you again!

We have been thinking about this blog and what we want it to be because we are just not ready to say goodbye to that solid url. The thing is-- I was feeling a little hazy about what my purpose for blogging was. To journal? To keep in touch with people? To uplift and inspire the Internets with things that made me giggle? To share sumptuous recipes of treats that made me jiggle?

I was never feeling too sure of what I was doing, so from time to time, when I would come back and start tickling my qwerty keys again, I would quit because I had no point, like a dorsal-finless porpoise.

I have been thinking for months about the purpose of EVERYTHING, though (like, why are you here little sand in my eye? Hey, toenails. I've never really given you your due. What are you doing here by the way? What is life?!), and it has caused me to re-evaluate my Internet usage (among other things). It even had me renaming my blog. Twice!

I think the Internet can be a place of hope and beauty, where truths are discusses and hilarious GIFs are shared. Obvs, it can be the opposite of that, too. I, for one, have fallen prey to many a mediocre GIF. But you have to admit, there are good things on this web. There is a lot of hope to be shared.

I was reading my scriptures yesterday, and got hung up on Moroni 7. "In Christ there should come every good thing," verse 7 told me.

"All things that are good come from Christ," verse 24 repeated.

And I was feeling grateful for the many good things that have come my way from Christ since I last saw you. It brought to mind a Primary song I particularly enjoy that lists off all kinds of simple but miraculous phenomena that we get to enjoy from day to day and all those things are a testament of Heavenly Father's love for each of us:

Whenever I hear the song of a bird 
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me

He gave me my eyes that I might see 
the color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
the magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank Him reverently
For all His creations of which I'm a part
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

If you are related to me, you know from experience the many delicate kindnesses have come over the last couple weeks since Josh passed away. Here's the understatement of 2014: we miss Josh. 


That ellipsis was me crying for five minutes. I am back again. And what I was trying to say is that with all the pain that comes from living in a fallen world, there have been many times when I have felt like those good people of Jared, who after days upon days of being tossed around on the sea, came out on solid ground and "did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them" (Ether 6:12).

I want this blog to be a place where I can share things that have helped my faith to grow and inspired me to me more hopeful, charitable, kind, prayerful, brave. So, get ready, Internet friends, because for the next thirty days, I hope to be filling up your blog list with every good thing.

Love to you.