Sunday, September 29, 2013

the testimony of a child.

Once every year a typical Mormon church (or Latter-Day Saints as we are officially known) worship service is taken over by the children of the congregation who have prepared for months to learn songs and scriptures and small speaking parts to share in the Primary (the youth organization ages 3-12) Program.  Having been in a single's congregation for most of the past 10 years I've missed out on these joyful performances but since being a basement dweller at my parent's recently I've been attending their congregation full of kids and today was their Primary Program.

Why is it that truth just seems to be a bit more true when uttered by a child?  Sure there were the goof offs and the silly faces, the near-brawls between the littlest participants, the incessant waving to the members of the audience and the shouts of 'hi mom' at inopportune moments. But there was also a great deal of heartfelt testifying; whispered, shouted and sung from the pulpit for everyone to hear. In words and song we were taught about the beauties of God's creations, the power of repentance and the Atonement, the blessings of the family unit, the promise of God's eventual return to earth, the efficacy of prayer and the truthfulness of the scriptures, the doctrine of prophets and continuing revelation and more. It's hard to argue with anything so humbly and sincerely shared.

There are few things more touching than a chorus of children's voices singing the facts that we are each children of a Heavenly Father who knows and loves us, who have divine purposes to fulfill and that we can return to our heavenly home when all is said and done.

Whether you have heard the song before and know the words or not, I invite you to take a moment to really listen to the message and think about what it means for your life. Regardless of your situation or your beliefs you are never alone or forgotten. You are His.

If you're interested, you can go to the Mormon Channel to see more videos like this one or click the link at the top of the post to learn more about the church in general.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a timely quote.

As the time to leave gets closer, the panic sets in a little deeper. There is so much still to do and so much still unknown. But I ran across a quote in some of my readings this week and it was just the gentle reminder I needed to calm down and accept the adventure to come for what it is and will be.

Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown. 
~Claude Bernard

Words to live by.

Friday, September 20, 2013

a personal realization.

I realize that for most people summer ends with Labor Day and the beginning of school but I’m hanging on to the last few real days of summer (until the equinox makes it official on the 22nd) with everything I’ve got. Maybe it’s because, for the first time in my life, I’m going to miss all the best parts; the leaves turning from green to gold to scarlet, the reemergence of sweaters, scarves and boots from the back of the closet, pumpkin flavor showing up in everything from breakfast to dessert, Halloween decorations… While I absolutely love fall, I’m sort of having a hard time letting go of summer. The middle of it was full and busy but these last few weeks have been a relatively empty and rough adjustment and it’s made me reluctant to say goodbye.

 I’m wishing I’d gone camping, done more hiking, caught fireflies, made ice cream, spent more time lying on my back staring at the clouds and the stars.  There are always things left undone. The trick is to make the most of what you’ve got while you’ve got it and appreciate it when it’s gone without spending too much time lamenting what never happened or what has slipped through your fingers.  And I’ve never been very good at that.

I also don’t do well without structure.  I tend to laze and while away my time, fooling myself into thinking I’m being productive but looking back I have nothing to show for my efforts.  It’s a constant struggle to keep myself motivated. My natural inclinations are to stay in my sweats all day, never leaving the house, curling up with a book or some writing. And these last few weeks of unemployment have consisted of mostly that (aside from the TESOL class and the other preparations and aided by a nasty cold.) But I have this little part of me that screams like a banshee to get noticed; that wants to have adventures, to see the world, to never go home.  That part acts as my conscience and prods me to do things, not just read about them or learn about them, but experience them for myself. And I’m always glad when I pay attention. But I’ve had a lot of practice ignoring it and I almost never heed the first nudging.  It’s easier, and far more comfortable to close my eyes and pretend that other things are more important but that’s usually when I end up looking back and feeling as if I’ve wasted precious time.

I have just a few short weeks left until I leave for Thailand and I want to make the most of them.  But even more I want to take advantage of every minute of the six months I’ll have living in a foreign country, experiencing a different culture and way of life.  I hope I’m up to the task.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

getting much-awaited news.

It’s official!  After weeks of waiting I finally have my placement information for my post in Thailand. I’m going through a US organization that does all the real leg work (I submitted applications and resumes and a million other things that they then used to find me a spot) which I had thought would make it easier on my end.  In some ways it did, immensely, but in other ways the waiting has been interminable and akin to torture. But the wait is over. It’s really happening. There’s no turning back!

I’ll be leaving Salt Lake in the early morning on October 10th and arriving in Bangkok even earlier in the morning on the 12th. After a week-long orientation I’m off to the north-eastern part of the country, near the Laotian border, a city of about 400,000 called Udon Thani. I’ll be teaching at a private religious elementary school with 200 or so students.

I’ll admit there was a bit of disappointment at first.  All of the touristy places, the things I know of and was most looking forward to, are at the opposite ends of the country. But I’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel both during the school year and before I come back to the states. And I’ve felt all along that I was being guided to make the decisions I made and that I would end up where I needed to be, for whatever reasons. And I know that’s the case. There are still a lot of unknowns, some that will continue to be answered as time gets closer and some that will remain unknown til I get there.  But that’s all a part of the adventure and gives me something to look forward to! (Or freak out about, depending on the day!)

The next few weeks will be a flurry of continued activity as I get the final details taken care of. But I’m going to do my darndest to post at least a few more times before I leave.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

a bookish list.

I saw this posted a few weeks ago over at The Perpetual Page-Turner and I've been slowly working on it ever since. I figured I'd share it since I haven't posted much lately. Enjoy!

Author you’ve read the most books from: 
Mo Willems (children’s) Elizabeth Peters (adult)
Best Sequel Ever: 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Currently Reading: 
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and  
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Drink of Choice While Reading: 
herbal tea (there’s just something about tea and a book that go together)
E-reader or Physical Book? 
Physical book. I understand the appeal of e-readers but the heft and smell of a real book just can’t be beat
Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
Gilbert Blythe (from the Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery)
Glad You Gave This Book A Chance
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I’m not a huge fan of his, I feel he tends to be a bit overrated, but this book lived up to the hype!)
 Hidden Gem Book:
Keeping the Castle by Patricia Kindl
Important Moment in your Reading Life: 
A conversation I had with a  college roommate lead me to re-reading children’s books as an adult and I’ve never looked back
Just Finished: 
The Amish Nanny by Mindy Starns Clark
Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: 
Erotica. A bit of story enhancing smut is one thing but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Longest Book You’ve Read:
Chesapeake by James Michener (888 pgs)
Major book hangover because of:
Oh, too many to count! But most recently The Rose Garden by Susana Kearsley
Number of Bookcases You Own: 
At least 9 of various sizes but they are always filled to overflowing when they aren’t in storage (which is where they are currently.)
One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: 
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (though always an abridged version)
Preferred Place To Read: 
Anywhere I can curl up and get cozy; bed, couch, hammock, etc.
Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:  
I’m opting out on this one, all my notes are in storage. But here’s a great bookish quote:
No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond. 
~CS Lewis
Reading Regret:
Becoming way too obsessed with the Babysitters Club in elementary school. I shudder when I think of how many great reading opportunities I missed while reading and re-reading ALL of these books.
 Series You Started And Need To Finish 
(all books are out in series):
             Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card-especially with the movie on the way
Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: 
Legend in Green Velvet by Elizabeth Peters, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
 Unapologetic Fangirl For: 
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: 
Nothing stands out at the moment but I’m always excited to read the newest Mo Willems
Worst Bookish Habit: 
Eating while I read. Gooey fingers and spills happen more often than I’d like to admit.
X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: (random Goodreads ToRead bookshelf #27)  
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Your latest book purchase: 
Hello, My Name is Ruby by Phillip Stead
ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): 
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

What would your answers look like? Do we have anything in common?

News and additional posts coming later this week.  I promise!  Thanks for sticking with me...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

a good book.

Have you given me up for dead yet? Some of these days it seems to be not too far from the truth. I had mistakenly thought that being unemployed would mean days of leisure; time to work on my book, catch up my scrapbooks, make homemade jam, take a photography class, and a million other things. Not true. So far I've spent the majority of my time unpacking and trying to bring a bit of order to the shambles that is most of my existence right now. And then hours and hours of working on a TESOL certification class among all the other preparations for Thailand.  I'm in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting still for my placement and not knowing where exactly or what I'll be doing for the next six months. Aside from my class I've done all I can do, at this point, to get ready but there's still so much to do and so much that leaves me feeling unsettled.

In the midst of all the crazy I did find a bit of time (on the second day back) to visit my local library. (Have I mentioned how much I heart the library?!)  Let's ignore the fact that I brought a stack of books with me that I specifically didn't pack so that I'd have them to read while I was here (and while we're ignoring, please disregard the 24 or so boxes of books that I did pack and move and the who-knows-how-many other boxes were already here in the storage unit!) I have this completely irrational --obviously-- fear of being caught without something to read. So, to the library I went!

Here's my first take-home pile (minus 2 that didn't make it into the photo for some reason):

I'd love to tell you that you'll get reviews of all of these.  But I know that just isn't going to happen.  If you're lucky I'll give you a quick recap of them all. So far I've got 3 left, one of which --Godel, Escher, Bach--I think will take me at least the month I've got left before I go. (Anyone read it? Are those 700+ pages really worth it?! Maybe a better question is, will I get anything out of it?)

I am hoping to get back on a better schedule, though. A little regularity and structure are desperately needed and I'm slowly but surely getting there. Fingers crossed it will happen before I have to leave! I will be at least a bit more consistent in the posts from here out, I promise!