Thursday, November 26, 2009


(This Thanksgiving was just me, my mom and dad. Cute huh?!)

Tonight as I was helping my mom with dishes, I was recounting to her some memories of my China days. Four years ago while living there, I had the rare opportunity to have a Thanksgiving there with some new friends and my cousin Bryce. Bryce and I took a sān lún chē (Chinese pedicab/rickshaw) to Krissie's apartment at her school where she had kindly prepared a Thanksgiving dinner. We had a "make-shift" glazed ham (Turkey wasn't an option there with the Bird Flu in those days), huge shrimp, green mashed potatoes and stuffing. It was delightful. Krissie had invited one of her students and a new friend to join in a tradition all Chinese were curious about. I watched as this student attempted to use a fork for the first time. I watched as her eyes lit up in the amounts of food that were on the table. It was clearly more than she'd ever had before. And she seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself and express her gratitude and blessings with us. That evening as I got back to my apartment I looked around at what I had. I lived in the Physics Preparation Room 1 where I had a type of pig trough as a sink. The "faucet" was a hose that only gave ice cold water certain hours of the day. When I did dishes, I then quickly had to take the hose and attach it to my teeny-tiny washing machine for one load of laundry before the water went out. I didn't have a toilet in my apartment, in fact, it was a hole in the ground outside of my apartment in the "public bathroom" section of the school grounds. I had a little electric stove and a tiny refridgerator PACKED with eggs. The apartment was freezing, had flies, millions of them, crickets, spiders and bugs. Yet I sat there on my bed and was overcome with blessings, and I thought back on a year before that, my senior year, when I was in Brother Hadley's seminary class....

Before that year's Thanksgiving, he did a lesson on gratitude and blessings and had us write on a piece of paper all of our blessings we were grateful for and he gave us ten minutes or so. Of course the usuals appeared on everyone's list: Family, friends, food, water, the Gospel and a home. Some student's had more on their lists, but for the most part that was it. Brother Hadley asked us to share some of them and after we were done he stared at us for a long moment with an almost hurt expression on his face. Then he said these words that forever changed my outlook on things:

"That's it?"

He went on to say, "Of all of the things in the world, that is all you're thankful for?" He asked us why we weren't thankful for modern restrooms. Or a soft bed with a good mattress. The ability to turn on a faucet in our home and have drinking water there. Airplanes to visit around the world. Modern technology to save lives. Hospitals. Doctors. Cars. The education system. He even got down to the little things of even staples, paper clips and things we often look past that other countries consider a luxury. He had us write a new list after that. It was amazing to see the pages and pages of blessings we had after that.

I thought of this lesson as I sat in my cold classroom apartment in China. I had visited some actual homes of my students while I was there and they lived in literal holes in the wall with dirt floors. I had tile at least. They kept food outside buried to keep things cold. I had the fridge. They couldn't afford eggs. I had them stuffed in my fridge because the Chinese wanted to gift us every week. They didn't even have holes outside for restrooms in a room. I had one twenty feet away from my apartment. They cooked over fires. I had the stove. They eat so little, because they have so little. I had just come from a Thanksgiving dinner. I was SO blessed.

So, tonight, as I am here, lucky to be living in the United States, I will list some luxuries and blessings I have. Because I need to recognize the millions and millions of things I have:

  • A home. I live in a mansion compared to what the rest of the world lives in.

  • Having been born in the USA, in Utah, into the Gospel, to parents who still love each other and an eternal family.

  • My ward.

  • My job.

  • The ability I have to make a living for myself.

  • A car (seriously, a HUGE luxury - even if it is my Satan car :) )

  • Having temples everywhere

  • A church in walking distance, instead of a three hour train ride, and and hour taxi to my one hour sacrament meeting in China.

  • A Western toilet (hey, you can only squat for so long :) )

  • Carpet. Seriously, I had NO idea how much this was a blessing, until I missed the soft feel on my feet!

  • Good, um, toiletries. They don't have the same stuff as we do!

  • The ability to afford once in a lifetime experiences of traveling to different countries, when those I've met around the world think it's a luxury to go to the next city or province.

  • Even though I am not in school, we have excellent schools where people work their entire lives to get to and a very select few actually get here.

  • Computers

  • Internet

  • Freedom

  • A piano

  • iPods

  • Freeways (no toll-booths are a HUGE HUGE blessing, I promise!)

  • Being SO close to the headquarters of the Church

  • The extremely rare opportunity to meet our Prophet.

  • Cellphones

  • Heaters and A/C's

And so many more. I could spend hours listing blessings. This year, especially recently, I've found my biggest blessing. The Atonement. I'm so grateful to a loving Savior who atoned for everyone's sins. And to help us forgive and love. I'm grateful it can heal me of a broken heart and even a damaged testimony. What a beautiful thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all ~

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Will Try To...

.... Fix You ....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Random post, but...The other night at dinner, Kendra and I were talking about cheesy love songs and the ultimate love song that our family knows well and {I'll admit it...we, well I, LOVE} is "Masterpiece" by Atlantic Starr. I was about floored when she hadn't even heard of the song! I have taken the liberty to add it to my Playlist Below {along with my parents' song "Nothings Gonna Change"} and I now dedicate it to my dear sister in law.

PS Kendra, to ensure you love it as much as your hopeless romantic sister in law does, pretend Chad dedicated it to you. In the '80s.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dear 2009...

I just thought you should know, I am TOTALLY ready for you to be gone. I guess I could end at that, but no, no, I will explain why I am ready for you to disappear:

  • Breakups - Yeah it was due to come, but WHY did it have to hurt so so bad? And WHY did it have to linger for months? Plus it was a FANTASTIC way to start out 2009. Just sayin..

  • Parasites, Travelers Diarrhea, whatever you wanna call it. I will not go into detail about that one!

  • "Satan" broke down. (aka my car)

  • Taxes. This year my electronic filing didn't go through, so I had to pay a penalty (Ok, not your fault, but why in this year?)

  • IRS Tax Audit - I am young! Why so early?! And why did I have to pay for that???

  • "Satan" broke down. AGAIN.

  • Swine Flu. Whether I've had it or not it still sucks.

  • Robbed at gun point. Not just me, but my entire branch had their lives threatened!

  • Passing kidney stones. Worst. Pain. In. My. Life.

  • The passing of Grandma (blessing in disguise, but still hurts)

  • "Satan" breaking down for the third time now costing over $2K to fix.

  • Siblings in trials.

Now, 2009, you have brought some great things this year and I'd be too negative and completely ungrateful if I didn't recognize them:

  • A beautiful niece born earlier this year who just lights up everyone.

  • A handsome nephew who couldn't have been born at a more perfect time. What a beautiful way to end a horrible day (the day of the robbery..) and he just completes my sister's little family.

  • My wonderful brother faithfully serving the Lord continually and loving every moment of it.

  • A trip of a lifetime to Guatemala. Granted, this resulted in illnesses, earthquakes, slight fears; however, it brought serenity, peace, love, strength, friendship, fireflies, flowers, adventure, laughter and fun to this year. I reflect on a particular moment there every day.

  • My family. I am SO BLESSED to have them every year and to be sealed for eternity, but this year, in it's trials, have brought me SO close to them. My mother is my best friend. She makes me laugh and I trust her with all my heart. My father is my biggest fan and greatest supporter. My siblings. I have so much fun with them. They are my favorite people to hang out with and I'm excited for Casey to return to the fun next year!

  • Finding out another beautiful baby will be coming to our big family!!!!

  • My job. Despite this economy, I have been very fortunate to work where I do and still have a job.

  • The gospel. I haven't been the best at prayer or scripture study or even my callings, but how I love the Lord and this gospel. It has been such a strength.

And now, 2009, I hope to "book-end" this year with a great bang...... Please let it be fantastic!!.....

CANCUN ~ Coming December 6....

(Picture Courtesy of Google)