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Monday, March 23, 2015

Grandma Sharon

Growing up in South Carolina, I lived far away from my grandparents and so I didn't really get to know them all too well. When I came home from my mission 8 months ago I was living in Utah. Since I love the Salt Lake City Temple, which happens to also be close to where my dear Grandpa Alvey lives, I would schedule a time to go down to Salt Lake and I would make sure I to visit Grandpa as well.

As I would sit visiting with Grandpa, my Grandma Sharon would often get brought up. Grandma passed away before I was born. My Mom thinks we were very good friends up in Heaven before I came down to earth, and as I listened to the memories Grandpa shared with me I know my Mom is right. Grandma and I were definitely good friends.

So over the course of the next couple of week I am going to share the memories I have collected of Grandma Sharon. She was a tough woman. Somehow knowing these stories has helped me realize if Grandma could do, then somehow I can figure out a way to do it too. These memories are sacred because they are from a man who loves her more than words can describe. Grandpa cannot speak of Grandma without getting choked up, consumed with the love he has for the girl who married him on her 17th birthday.

I have written this first memory as I remember my Grandpa telling it to me. It was the first time I ever visited him by myself: 

"Ya know, Sharon sure was brave. I remember she didn’t get along too well with her parents. I was in the navy, ya know. I was in San Diego. One night I called her up and she was crying. I told her I would go on leave soon and, well, if she wanted to we could get married when I was back home. Well, she agreed. It was her 17th birthday that we got married. Then I had to go back to base.

The first three months she stayed with her parents while I got things all set up in San Diego. Then she moved on out to come live with me. Not too long after your grandma was pregnant. Grandpa paused after saying this as if reminiscing the pregnancy glow that must’ve suited my grandmother well. And at that time, ya know, we had to take two buses in order to get to church. Well Sharon had bad morning sickness, but every Sunday we would get on the bus. She would sit next to the window and turn pale. When we got off the first bus to switch to the second one, Sharon would go hurl in the bathroom. Then we got on the last bus to go to church. She was sure brave, your grandma was.

When the baby was due, we ran to the navy base hospital. I was following right behind her when we came to the double doors that led to the delivery room. In went Sharon and as I was about to follow some guy held out his hand and said, “That’s as far as you go sailor.” So I stood there in the waiting room while Sharon gave birth without me by her side. Such a brave lady."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Pool of Bethesda"

"Pool of Bethesda" by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Look. Just take a look at the painting above. So many people move around within, yet there stands one dressed in white, granting the desire of a man crippled so badly he cannot drag himself a few feet into the water.

This weekend my boyfriend and I went BYU’s Museum of Art. One of my homework assignments was to sit and look at this painting: “The Pool of Bethesda.”

As I sat down, looking at the painting, my boyfriend read John 5:1-16. As the words were read, I kept wondering why, why did Christ choose only one of the invalids to heal? Surely he loved all those who were there suffering…

Then the part comes in the scriptures where we are informed the man has been waiting 38 years. Christ was able to heal this man because of his great faith. Patience fueled faith in this particular man as he waited hoping for a day of healing, despite his poor circumstances.

Looking at the painting further, I see on the left there appears to be a cluster of people without any ailments and the two windows are dark, not giving much light. Christ is also standing on the left. I realize this symbolizes how the Jews rejected what was right in front of them, bringing darkness to their lives rather than light. In contrast on the right side of the painting are more people experiencing the hardship of disabilities. There is only one window, yet it sheds forth more light than the two on the left. Christ is not with them and yet they are there waiting for the opportunity to try their faith by entering the pool of water when it begins to ripple. It's a classic portrayal of the “blind shall see and the deaf shall hear;" whereas those who are privileged and lack faith also lack the pure light of Christ in their lives, though it is available for them to partake.

What side do I stand on? Surely, I am not an invalid. I can walk, breathe, and see just like any normal person. But do I want to be grouped in with the people on the left? No. No. No.

I may not have the trial of blindness or the inability to walk, but I do have trials. I have a bad back. I struggle with classes. I lose my temper from time to time. I assume the worst at times. I am a sick person.

But there is no worry. I have one window I can see. My ever-enlightening ray of sunshine pours in through the window. The One who can heal me is Christ. The Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Christ looks after the one. I am the one, you are the one. We are each seen as individuals.

The decision is mine. Do I choose to ignore what is right in front of me? Or do I look up to the light and bask in the warmth of his healing?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Book

Its pages are filled with enlightenment and yet some shun it. Why? Because it is not always easy to understand, nor does it fit into your day unless it is a priority.

Within we can find peace and joy, yet often it is left on the shelf.

Bound with daily nutrients, some days we go without, replacing it with chips n’ dip.

Why do we forget the most important daily vitamin? Why do we put our health at risk?

Health is not just physical. It is all encompassing. Your mind, your soul, your body. Emotions. Spirituality. Physicality. Health is all these things.

Do you forgo the water after a long hard workout? Do you forget to brush your teeth each morning? Probably not because they are essential and routine.

This book I speak of is dear to my heart. In the pages I have found solutions to the longings of my soul. However, I too am guilty of skipping out on all this book has to offer.

The Book of Mormon is something we cannot live without. If you have read it before, you know what I say is true. Have you not yet let your eyes gaze its pages, I invite you to do so, because those pages are full of happiness. Ponder the teachings of those who have gone before us. They are wise and can help us navigate this falling world. Happiness was not left in the 1950s, but we too in the 21st Century can achieve that happiness which flows pure and strong—without 50 shades of disaster or self-destructing pressures of the world.

Discover the book. Love the book. Live by the book. Have happiness.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Word's of Wisdom from Pixar

Last week BYU had a forum where Edwin Catmull, President of Pixar Animation, came and spoke to us. I look back and laugh because the events that happened following that forum had me looking at life thinking there’s no way I can accomplish my dreams.

In his address Catmull had many great one-liners, my favorite was: “If you aren’t failing you aren’t trying new things.” Little did I know this was foreshadowing the failure that awaited on my horizon.

I went to Chinese class and I failed. Big time. So big in fact I knew at that moment my ability to speak this language did not mean I was anywhere near being capable of reading and writing at a 200 college class level. After talking to my teacher and an advisor I decided to withdraw from the class. Technically it’s not failing, but at that very moment I felt like a failure. All my studying hadn’t paid off and I was no longer a full-time student. I also decided I wasn’t going to minor in Chinese anymore. What am I going to do with my life now?

“If you aren’t failing you aren’t trying new things.”

The words rung through my ears throughout the day. Then at the end of the night after salsa dancing with my boyfriend, he grabbed my hand and we ran outside, like Ben being chased by Jerry (an old cartoon reference for those of you sitting there like...ummm?). We stopped abruptly in front of a sign by the library and he asked me to read it out loud. My heart caught in my throat, as I choked out, “You can do hard things.”

I can do hard things. We can all do hard things. Life is about making mistakes and learning from them. Catmull also said, “We don’t look backwards for excuses we look backwards for lessons.”

Sure I didn’t make it in Chinese 201, but you know what? I’m going to make it in Chinese 112 and I am going to figure out a way to change the world as I learn from each failure.

As Remy, from Ratatouille, said, “The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.”