Friday, August 22, 2008

We try to stay humble...

But everyone warned us that the west coast would change us...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You Light Up My Life

I would like to take this opportunity to brag a little bit about my very talented husband. Ever since he was old enough to hold a hammer and chisel he has worked around stone. He is a 3rd generation stone mason and you can see photos of some of his masonry HERE.

Last summer Adam stumbled upon an alabaster quarry in the southern Utah area and wanted to get his hands on a few chunks of it. The foreman at the site told him he couldn't buy any, but if he wanted to bring a few pizzas down one day, then he would let him load his truck up with all the alabaster he wanted. Well, Adam did just that and before I knew it there were large, dusty rocks piled next to the entry of our basement apartment. Adam had decided to venture into a more artistic realm with his rockwork. I gave him all the encouragement I could muster, and went back inside to enjoy the air conditioning (St. George summers are brutal!). After days and weeks of drilling, grinding, pounding, filing, sanding, buffing, and polishing he had 3 masterpieces. We carried these masterpieces back up to college with us and all the way to California where I finally persuaded him to finish them and now we have 3 one-of-a-kind alabaster lamps in our apartment.

This was Adam's first design. He says it is his favorite because it looks muscular.

What's unique about this one is that I tried (unsuccessfully) at making a silk lampshade, but what is even more impressive is the patina that Adam put on the copper piping to tarnish it and give it that blue-green hue.

This one is my favorite. I can't exactly put my finger on why it is my favorite. It may be the shape or the balance of the design, but maybe it's just the funky lampshade.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Build Me a Bridge

One thnig that can't be missed when you come to the Bay area is the fact that there are so many bridges. Now, I will be the first to say that seeing bridges and driving over bridges literally takes my breath away, but at times, so do all the tolls!

A man walking along a California beach was deep in prayer. Suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, the Lord said, "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."The man said, "Build a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over anytime I want."The Lord said, "Your request is very materialistic. Think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking. The supports required to reach the bottom of the Pacific! The concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that would honor and glorify me."The man thought about it for a long time. Finally he said, "Lord, I wish that I could understand my wife. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says ‘nothing's wrong,’ and how I can make a woman truly happy."The Lord replied, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

S-T-A-N-D...Stay True and Never Doubt

Recently, my friend Cathy called and asked me a bunch of questions so that she could fulfill an assignment for one of her college classes. One of her questions was, "Why did you decided to become a teacher and what influenced your decision?" I remember hesitating at the time because I could think of a million reasons why I should NOT be a teacher. You are overworked, underpaid, and the public school system just seems indelibly entrenched in politics. I gave her a generic answer that I did it because I had seen my mom and my aunt work in public education and through experience it just seemed like the right career path for me. Somehow though, that answer never satisfied me, but over the course of the week following my conversation with Cathy, I had experiences that have given me the words to answer her question with confidence.

Throughout my time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I have had the opportunity of serving in many different capacities. I have served as a full-time missionary in Spain. In my singles ward I have taught relief society, been in the relief society presidency, headed up family history work, and worked with music. Right now in our small, but strong, family ward I have been called to work in the primary with the 10-12 year olds. They are so sweet and there is a special spirit of innocence and purity that can be felt in primary that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. I am also helping the enrichment committee in my ward right now. I love working with the young mothers and older sisters and building those bonds of friendship. However, there is something different about being called to work with the youth. At the beginning of July I was asked if I would step in on short notice and go to girls camp for a week. Even though the thought of sleeping in a tent for 6 nights and sharing a bathroom with eighty other girls made me cringe a little, I could not pass up the chance. I always feel such a spirit of urgency and immense love when working with teenagers. It's as if the Lord worries about them a little bit more than the rest of us and wants them to know how much he loves them.

We set up camp at beautiful Rucker Lake, near Tahoe. We had a wonderful group of girls that were always positive, willing to help with anything, and friendly to everyone. The Stake did it up right and offered the girls fishing, canoeing, swimming, archery, BB gun shooting, crafts, 3 catered meals a day, hiking, singing, a talent show, and even a dance. We couldn't have asked for better more caring leadership than those that organized everything for the girls. Our ward were all first and second-year girls and so they were still very new and very excited about being at girls camp and making new friends. After meeting them at the first few camp activities, I thought that my job was going to be easy. Well, of course, the Lord always likes to throw in those obstacles and challenges and you definitely can't have a bunch of teenage girls without having some challenges, right?

Meet the challenges...

Casey and Ashley.

They were the 5th year girls assigned to stay with out ward, learn some leadership skills, and help out with our girls. Now as soon as I saw them roll up to our campsite with their pink luggage, giant sunglasses, skinny jeans, and Abercrombie jackets I knew we were in for a treat.
They did not want to be at camp and they were sure to let us all know about it. They had just gotten back from spending 3 weeks in Europe and coming to girls camp afterwards was the deal that Ashley(right) had made with her dad. Her friend Casey, surprisingly was a non-member, but had been coming to girls camp for the past 3 years. Without going into a lot of dramatic details, we all struggled for the first 3 or 4 days to get along and work together. However, I knew that it was even more important for those two girls to be at girls camp than maybe anyone else. I often had to remind myself that "Love one Another" didn't just mean loving those that were easy to love. Luckily I was able to relate to them and work with them enough that by the end of the week we were all sad to see each other leave.

S-T-A-N-D...Stay True and Never Doubt was the theme for girls camp this year. I don't think I realized just how hard it would be to live that statement until I met girls trying to grow up in Northern California. Testimony meeting brought tearful confessions of just how hard it is to leave girls camp and go back to broken homes, groups of friends that don't even believe in god, and dealing with schools/communities that push homosexuality in their faces. Growing up and going to girls camp in Utah was great, but I feel like perhaps I took it for granted. I had good people surrounding me my entire life, but I have never felt an intensity of spirit like I have at this girls camp. These girls are way beyond the point of us as leaders telling them to go home and just be good examples to their family and friends. They have to literally take a stand for what is right and that requires a testimony and courage equal to that of the young Joseph Smith.

So to answer Cathy's question, why did I decided to become a teacher? Because I feel Heavenly Father pushing me to reach out the youth. Be it middle school, junior high, high school, seminary, juvenile detention, special ed, Upward Bound(where I fell in love with my husband who loves working with teens), or girls camp, the Lord desperately wants them to know not only of his love for them, but he wants them to remember how strong they are, strong enough to stay true and never doubt.