Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Little Thankfuls

Beautiful chickadee Christmas card by Camelid on deviantart
I'm thankful to be at our ranch in Wyoming with my grandparents, Dad, and our dog Molly.  I'm grateful for clean fresh air.  I'm grateful for safe travel and that I wasn't in the ice storm.  I'm thankful for amazing friends, for a warm house, for glistening Christmas lights, and that I could help my dad feed the cows for the first time in two years.  I'm thankful for daddy-daughter time, for head and shoulder rubs, and for quiet time to ponder.  I'm thankful I don't have homework, for ideas for summer employment, and for little moments of inspiration.  I'm thankful for opportunities to reconnect with people I havent seen since I was little, and that I can learn from their skills and talents.  I'm thankful for time to work on projects I've been dreaming about for years. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Life is wonderful :)

Graduation packet turned in, essay finished, hugs from awesome friends, one Christmas concert attended and another tomorrow, sledding down the driveway (first time to sled in 2 yrs!) with wonderful roommates, and a sister tickle/poke war.  Life is wonderful!  What are you thankful for?  :)  :)  :)  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday: A Week of Thankfuls for Thanksgiving! :) :) :)

ONE WEEK BEFORE THANKSGIVING!!!  I'm so excited!  While I've been listening to Christmas music since before Halloween, I am grateful for a holiday to remind us of being thankful.  I'm going to post some thankfuls here in the comments every day this week, and invite you to join me!  :)  Here's to a wonderful Day of Thanksgiving!  :)

A mis amigos queridos, en una semana nosotros Nortes nos vamos a celebrar el día de acción de gracias!!!  Cada día en esta semana voy a escribir algunas cosas por lo que estoy agradecida, y les invito para hacerlo también aquí!  :)  

I am thankful for/estoy agradecida por:
mi familia
head rubs from Dad
la oportunidad para estudiar en la universidad
hugs from Mom
tickle fights with my sister Drue
poke wars with my sister Hannah
play time with siblings

escuchando a los niños pequeños cantando

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Little Streams and children's songs

Yesterday a friend reminded me of being grateful for little things.  Today, a little something that came to mind is a song I loved as a toddler, "Give, Said the Little Stream."*  I never knew the lyrics to the second and third verses until this year, and they are beautiful:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday: In an abyss of weakness, and Christ lifts us up

Background: On Facebook one of my friends posted a link to an article on thesecondbreakfastblog in which Morgan Reber interviews a young adult woman addicted to pornography.  I was touched by her message of coming to understand God's love for her because sometimes it is hard for me to love myself when I make mistakes.  

I am in awe of this honest interview by Morgan Reber on thesecondbreakfastblog of a young adult woman about her years-long addiction to pornography, and how she has learned to rely on the Lord our Savior and His Atonement.  The following excerpt describes an experience that helps her trust the Lord's pure and eternal love for her:

[Interviewer]: I was recently watching a TED talk about the difference between guilt and shame—guilt is “I did a bad thing”, shame is “I am a bad person", and I think in a religion that emphasizes good works it can be hard to differentiate between the two, which sometimes makes it hard for us to truly accept the Atonement. It’s difficult for us to realize that God’s love never wavers and our divine nature never changes.

[Interviewee]: The difference between guilt and shame, I think, is a huge thing. I remember one experience I had. It was my sophomore year in college. I remember I messed up again for the millionth time, and I was so frustrated with myself. I was praying, but I was yelling at anything that would listen, “Heavenly Father, how can you forgive me? I keep doing it, then I keep apologizing, but I keep doing it and then apologizing. Why do you keep buying it? I’m not even buying it anymore!” 
Eternal Love, by Del Parson

But then I got this overwhelming impression saying, “Stop pretending you understand how much I love you or how I can forgive you, because you never will be able to. Just trust that I can. That’s all you need to know.” [emphasis added]

I testify that no matter how many times we mess up, no matter how "small" or "big" our mistakes are, how deep in our personal abyss we may return to over and over, God knows and loves us.  He knows our hearts, and through the power and grace of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, we are cleansed and made whole.

"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing", performed by the BYU Combined Chorusus

When have you felt lifted up by Christ?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Opportunities to stretch oneself

“If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone.” 

Guess how I celebrated my Halloween?  Apart from making fun sugar cookies?

Yup.  For 15 whole minutes.  :)  I had never attended a dance party* before, and am thankful for the three roommates who wanted to go.  It was long enough to have fun, and short enough to prevent any headaches.  :)  And Ailina, bless her soul forever, taught me a method to the madness of how-to-dance-to-modern-music: first move your legs, then move your arms, then move your head.  Do it all together and try not to hit anyone.  :)  And I did it!--not the hitting part  ;)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Tender mercies and surrounded by love

Today was one of those days, one where a cloudy smog strolls around a pretty corner and persists smugly above the shoulder.  Though I felt a bit out of sorts, today was filled with little tender mercies that reminded me that I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father, and He knows and loves me.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday: A 77hr flight delay and Mediators

Several years ago I was traveling by myself, returning home from a humanitarian service trip in a developing country.  When my second connecting flight to leave that country was overbooked, I was actually thrilled, excited to have an extra day to explore markets and enjoy the food and culture I so much relished.

Yet the next night, I and others in our group realized that the airline workers were deliberately delaying our departure.  We learned that because all of the flights leaving that airport had been overbooked (I later learned by seven full days), the workers would delay incoming passengers from reaching their connecting flight so that the passengers delayed the day before would be able to board.
A fairly accurate photo...  from MailOnline

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Moments of butterflies, cookies, Disney, and blogs

Yesterday was a wonderful day.  One of my landscaping buddies brought his two raised-from-the-wild monarch butterflies to class in a box, with the intention of releasing them when it got sufficiently warm.  He asked if I wanted to hold one, and it was a purely magical moment.  The first time in my whole life I've ever held a butterfly.

Photo by Jana Chitilova, newspaper article here

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

Have I Done Any Good in the World Today? Mormon Channel

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Celebrating personal victories

Two hours later I gasped at the paper in front of me.  Eight accounting homework pages later and the two final numbers were equal!  I nearly threw my arms into the air yelling jubilation, but that would have induced cardiac arrest in the other accounting students in the near-silent library room.  So I just skipped out of the library and all the way home.  :)

Photo courtesy of Rodolfo Arpia, located here

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Dancing in the Rain

The rain started trickling onto our rooftop tap tap tap and pretty soon came a louder rap rap rap on our door, and Miria excitedly got us out of our room into the parking lot where we danced danced danced in the dark night with the rain rain rain.

The rain came down faster faster faster and soon we were singing singing singing up at Ailina's window, and she came down down down to join us.  The shoes came off, our hair got drippy drippy drippy, and the laughter and waltzes flowed.  I had the wrong timing timing timing but it was so fun fun fun.  :)

Photo borrowed from Hey There Cinderella by Nicole Zunker on this blogpost about dancing in the rain

I am thankful thankful thankful for the blessed sister and roommates I live with.  For peace, love, laughter and joy in unforgettable moments moments moments that I will treasure treasure treasure forever.

And the rain still falls down down down...  :)

With whom do you dance dance dance in the rain?  :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Big Band, Servicemen&Women, and Vintage Dancers :)

When Drue gushed to me about a Big Band concert on campus, my first reactions were a mix of "I still don't know what big band is" and "well it would probably be fun with her" and "maybe I dont want to use my night like that".

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Promptings from God and the power to make our own choices

For four months I have planned on studying abroad this coming spring semester in Spain.  While I have been excited to go, I have also been ignoring doubts about whether or not I should.  This week I have been blessed by counsel by family who have helped me recognize promptings that God had been sending me, but that I had been all-to-willing to ignore.

I laughed out loud when I opened this because I had been ignoring doubts I'd been feeling for some time.  Note to my sister, "some time"--this was not the only one.  ;)

Ignoring my fortune cookie, last Friday I submitted my application to study abroad.  Two nights ago my dad told me my grandpa had asked him, about me, the following:

1) What am I going to do with my life and 2) Why was I going to Spain?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Of Tea, Time, and Minions--Acts of Love

Tonight I am grateful for simple acts of love.  My sister Drue and I have lived in our new college dorm room together for four days now. It is the first time in over 15 years we have shared a room.  Bless her soul, right now she is boiling some water for the "Throat Tamer Tea" we bought last night for my cold.  I am grateful I no longer live in my beloved solitary "hobbit hole", but with someone who is so thoughtful, cheerful and kind.

On Sunday my aunt gave me an incredible foot zone even though her family had to dash up to our ranch, and my uncle went and picked a luscious green melon for me to bring up to school.  After he came back in, he told me one of my favorite stories of how while in Hong Kong, his mom called him to tell him my brother and I had been born.  My heart filled with love and appreciation for this family that is literally my "other family", another mother, father, and siblings to me.  Monday morning another aunt and my cousins changed their schedule on minute's notice in order to help me feel better.  I am grateful to live close to those who mean the world to me.

What Matters Most: This video clip is a beautiful reminder to take time to show our love to those we love.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Examples to look to

Today my dad called our "adopted grandma", Daisy, who lives in California, a sweet Hawaiian who babysat us many times as my brother and I were growing up.  Dad and I have the opportunity to visit with her and some other close friends there this weekend, and I am so excited.  As I listened to Daisy's sweet gentle voice, and her insistence on inviting us to eat with her, I was transported back to her tiny kitchen eating macaroni salad from colored plastic plates.  To her brown and green sitting room where the world's coolest kitchen play set resides.  To her backyard with the amazing roller coaster (a world-record two feet tall), and the bonsai trees and colored koi fish... Car rides with her on Saturdays looking for deals at yard sales.   I remembered her love.  Her sweet, gentle persuasion. And I teared as I thought how little I had appreciated her generosity growing up, and grateful that now that I am more aware of the sacrifices she made for us, I can be grateful.  I can thank her for giving us so much, when she had so little.

Tonight I feel gratitude for my brother.  He has taken university classes all summer long.  He leaves home early in the morning and gets home very late.  He doesnt complain.  He doesnt wish out loud for vacations.  He doesnt make a scene when we ask him to give up homework time to come read family scriptures or have family prayer.  He comes and participates and then goes back to work.  It's a reminder for me of putting the most important things first and letting God take care of the rest.  I love my brother and am grateful for him.  I am inspired by his example.

I love my family.  I am grateful for each and every one of them.  For those "adopted" and those of full-blood.  I am grateful to know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father who knows and loves us, and that He sent His Perfect Son to be our Savior and Example as well.  

Who is an example you look to?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Moments to treasure

Today I'm thankful for

--looking forward to rooming with my younger sister and feel her contagious enthusiasm for life to live on campus
--to be back on campus, feel welcome, and excited for a challenging and adventurous year
--to be able to drive to and from the university with a happy cheerful sister
--to feel good about class registration

--watching a detective show and hiding under a fleece blanket during tense music
--Dinner conversation and jokes that make no sense to anyone who wasn't there

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Flowers, Bees, and Butterflies :)

I took a residential landscaping class in 2011 that changed my life.  Prior to that class, I had imagined every home landscape as a mini farm, and while I sure enjoyed that, my mom didn't.  I realized that if anyone was going to want to change their home landscape to produce their own food, it had better look gorgeous too.

And that class helped me discover how delightful a flower garden could be.

The first "landscape" I was able to do was in my grandparent's front yard in Wyoming in the summer of 2011.  It looked fantastic.  I was excited to come home and see how large all the flowers had grown.

The water-wise flowers attracted hummingbirds and butterflies.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Finding and Receiving Answers

The past few days I've felt much more upbeat about possible options to take now that I'm home from the mission.  I'm trying to figure out schooling decisions, including studying abroad, and tonight a whole other can of worms got opened when my dad asked me about a doctorate. I had crossed that off the options list a couple years ago as it being "too slow" to get my ideas going, but tonight I'm actually considering it again...  phooey.

I just checked Facebook and my cousin had posted a beautiful new video clip about a young woman looking for answers in our world of so many confusing options, and receiving her answer straight from God.  She felt peace.  It is a beautiful reminder to me that while God is willing and ready to answer our questions about His gospel, He is also ready and willing to help us make other important decisions in our lives.  I'm grateful for His love and guidance in my life, and know He hears and answers my prayers.  I know He hears and answers your prayers as well.  

How has God answered your pleas for answers or guidance in your life?  What did you do to receive it?  How did you feel after?  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Life after "death", or, Home from the mission for 2 months!

Hello friend!  This is actually Ivy writing to you, and not her family posting one of her emails!  Can you believe that?!  Two whole months have passed since I officially got released from being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.  ("Released" meaning I no longer have that iconic black name tag and cannot come knocking at your door saying that I am a representative of Jesus Christ and would you like to hear a message about His restored church.)

Seeing my family at the airport was awesome.  No one made the mistake of getting between me and my mom.  ;)

It was a teary, sobby, squeaky-voiced reunion with tight long hugs and red eyes.

I love my siblings.  :)  

Molly remembered me.  :)  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Final Hola de Hermana, 15-4-13

Ivy's LAST email from the mission field! She comes home this week!


Hola mi familia increible!!! 

I can hardly believe this!  The past few days I get hit by a hammer with every other thought, "this is the last almuerzo we{re going to eat in the house, this is our last dinner together, this is the last time I’ll wash my own clothes in the pila, this is the last sacrament meeting..."  This week was at the same time frustrating and sad, because I have never liked goodbye visits, and yesterday I especially wanted to be contacting with members to find new investigadors. 

But we were blessed yesterday that Mauricio and Ana, the young couple, came to church yesterday.  They are reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it is true.  He told me they haven’t received their answer yet, but that soon they will have it.  They stayed for all three hours of service and left with smiles.  I wanted to visit them before I left but Hna Gomez and her new companion have a scheduled family night with them Tuesday. 

Dearest Family, it would be impossible to describe every lesson, every feeling, every trial, and every blessing that comes from serving a mission.  And I would rather tell you in person about it when we are in the living room with Molly.  But if anyone reading this has ever wondered if they should serve a mission, if they re in those foggy crossroads and not sure which direction to take, I testify taking the road of mission service saved my life.

I testify that was no more sure way for me to come to know my Savior than to take upon me a plaque with His name every day and strive to be worthy of that privilege.  And learning how to every day see His children as He sees them.  To seek to know and understand them as He does, and then to teach them His gospel in order to open their vision to become like Him, and then challenge them in His way to make changes in their lives to reach that potential.  And to be patient, to understand that none of this work is about me, but about them, about our Savior and what He did to save and exalt us, and the infinite and perfect love that He has for us.  

I testify that through His Atoning sacrifice whatever sin we have committed is completely erased through the beautiful and sacred process of repentance.  When we give Him our will we are happy.  When we do His will we feel the Spirit and know He is happy with us. 

I testify our Savior lives!  I testify His hands are in His work!  There has been no greater blessing in my life than mission service, and my heart is aching.  But it is also very very full.  I look forward to many other missions, with and without this black nametag.

I love you my family!  I will see you soon!!!

Hermana Ivy [-]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hola de Hermana, 8-4-13

Hola mi familia asombrosa!

This week was one of the oddest I´ve had in the mission.  It was very long, we battled headcolds and discouragement, and we were all grateful to end the week with the peace and inspiration of General Conference.  The mission has an all'spanish rule, and I´m grateful to understand so much more than 18 months ago.  It was the oddest conference I´ve had here, with not only receiving ideas about how to help our investigators, but thoughts about what to do when I get home and what I need to accomplish here before I go.  Talk about a war in the head!  But I felt so much peace, and Elder Holland once again gave the talk that blessed me most.  This time is was more what the Spirit taught me while he was talking, but his and President Monson´s talks were my favorites.  

From your comments, I think you all are much more baggy than I am!  But I did drill holes in one of my suitcases this morning to put in a pink jumprope handle...  But if baggy means not wanting to work, I´m grateful I still am not baggy.  I´m so grateful for Hna S´s animo to propose last night that this week is our week of miracles.  We are aiming for 4 baptismal fechas and 8 church asistences.  Please pray for us!  And I´m praying for you all and the week of State Science Olympiad!!!  

I think I´ve talked about Elmer since my first email from here in Toto.  A youth I was for sure would someday be a bishop.  But yesterday he came all the way to the Stake Center, 30 min by bus, and back just to tell us that he has finally decided for sure that he doesn’t want to come to our church.  That he read and prayed and nothing happened.  And that the music and speakers are boring.  And the first three things that popped into my mind were Saul on the road to Damascus, a man I contacted in Calvario, and the Chinese New Year Dinner that I attended with Dad just before Huck got home from his mission.  

I told Elmer straight up that maybe right now isn’t his time, but like Saul was called by God in his later years, asked him if he would be willing to try again later, and he said no.  And then I thought of a man I contacted in Calvario, around 40, who right out rejected me, telling me he had read the Book of Mormon and prayed and felt nothing, and didn’t want to try again.  Well if he was like Elmer, I felt sad that Elmer could turn out like that man.  And I hope that if that is Elmer´s attitude, he does NOT become like the Atheist in the Chinese dinner, who delighted in attacking what we believe and putting false ideas in a young man´s head...  It is amazing to me that no matter how genius a child of God can be, they can still say that they know the Gospel of Christ and reject another of His witnesses...  Bah.  This experience was another reminder that we are searching for those who want to come to Christ, and not to the weekly drum set.  

But other fun experiences, the family of 11 we´ve been visiting was chosen by Habitat for Humanity to receive a new house, and Saturday evening after conference we dashed into the Boonies to help them haul cement building blocks from the road to their house.  It started raining, and there were beautiful foggy mists.  And we finished just after dark.  They invited us into their home and we sat on the dirt floor and ate fried eggs and tamales with our fingers.  These people are so good, and so humble.  I love them.  

I love you family!  Time is flying, and I am so grateful to be here!  I know the Lord calls us to do His work, and He helps us to fulfill it when we ask him.  And sometimes He just asks us to trust him, and sometimes that means putting down our ideas and asking Him what His are.  

I LOVE YOU TONS!  Our Lord and Savior LIVES!  And obedience to His Gospel and Covenants brings the most happiness possible in this world!

Hermana Ivy [-]

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hola de Hermana, 1-4-13

Hola mi familia asombrosa!

Well, I can’t believe how fast time is flying.  It is probably the best April Fool´s joke out there.  I have hopes we can put baptismal fechas today, but I almost don’t know if I would believe they would be firm if we did set them..  jaja

This week was absolutely crazy.  With great things too.  Its just weird to be an LDS missionary when there are Catholic processions in the streets and you have to get to appointments but know that to go through the procession would just be unthinkable and need to take side streets...  It was fun.  The best near miss was finding out we almost got caught in one of their video recorders of the procession.  

Many tender mercies.  Two Sundays ago we didn’t have a single investigator in sacrament meeting and I felt horrible.  Yesterday the madre and her oldest daughter of a family of 11 came to church and liked it, and we want to get the whole family to come to conference.  Also, the son and his girlfriend of a less active, who have always hid from us, came to church and it was a complete surprise.  The funny part is that I KNOW the Zone Leaders thought we´ve been teaching them and we actually never had, so we were able to get to them first to invite them to class and then put a visit.  I don’t plan on telling the ZLs it was a surprise. Please pray for the family of Mauricio y Ana, the surprise couple, Elmer, Eduardo, Cesar, and La Familia Huix (Weesh).  Please pray that these children of God will want to and do asist General Conference and that they will receive testimonies that what we teach is true.  

I want to tell you about our landlord´s animalitos.  In back of our apartment, connected to his house, he has two little piggies in a cage, about 6 chickens and two roosters, and three big fat male turkeys and a couple turkey hens.  I had never understood why people use geese and turkeys and guinea fowl as guard animals until living here.  Today I got up early to wash my clothes in the pila, and as soon as I stepped outside to hang them up the turkeys started making a growly turkey nose and their gobblers inflamed to red, and slowly started advancing towards me...  It´s just funny.  I´m glad I still haven’t run into guard chickens.  And I´m glad I´ve only been chased by a goose once (in Huehue).  

And if dad could play the piano, and play hymns, I think he would do it like Hermano Homero.  He jazzes up the hymns and plays them usually way too fast but with trills and odd bits that don’t exist.  So that Count Your Blessings has an almost Evangelical swing to it...  I was almost laughing in the meeting.  

Dearest family, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!  Time is flying, and all too soon I´ll be giving you all hugs.  I´m so excited.  We´re working hard, but I am thinking more and more in Home.  And it´s like Mom and Huck told me, that I can feel myself getting ready to come home.  It is very odd.  Please pray that I´ll have the courage to act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and the humility to help turn this work over to those who are going to continue it.  

I testify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ LIVES!  He is our Redeemer.  And through His Atoning sacrifice we can repent of our sins, be made strong in our weaknesses, through the sacrament renew the precious covenant of baptism weekly, and daily endure to the end. 


Hermana Ivy [-]