The souls that stick

My heart is filled.

It’s not because everything is going right or because the work day is easy. It’s not because the sun is out *even though it should be seeing as how it’s Spring and all* or even because any prayer has been answered. No circumstance has changed. No miracle has taken place. But I’m still filled to the brim.

And it’s because the past couple of weeks have been filled with reminders of what helps to keep my world turning. And that’s simply the people Heavenly Father put in it.

dave's wedding

It’s a “no-duh” notion, really. These people have graced my life for years upon years, each one staggering into the picture at different stages of my life, some finding my life five or six years ago when I had those awful bangs, others entering in long enough ago to have seen me in ballet and the high school newspaper club. Some only a couple of short years, not even knowing me in college. Some live so far away that it’d take a plane and three layovers to visit, others are just down the street. I’ve always known they were important–each one of these pieces of my life, some who don’t even know each other, me as their only common link. I’ve always included them in my prayers and missed them over the miles and have drawn strength from them. But these past couple weeks I’ve realized more than ever the depth that I NEED them.

colorado mtns

Two of my best friends from college stayed with us for a few days last week and we all attended the wedding of another close friend of ours. While we were driving home the night of the reception we were talking about all the people we meet in life, the people who weave in and out of our lives, making up different chapters of the places we come from, the things we’ve done. Some come in and out very quickly, others disappear slowly, and some just stick. “I’m just really grateful you stuck,” I told her. And we both laughed into the dark windshield at my lack of eloquence.

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But it’s true. I’m grateful for the people who stick–the souls who somehow tie to yours and share this life and all of it’s revolutions and turns. The people who give you courage and kindness and beauty simply because they are courageous and kind and beautiful.

After my week with my friends I spent a few days in gorgeous *did I say gorgeous??* Colorado with my in-laws. I don’t like the word in-laws because it doesn’t seem suitable for how much I really love them. My father-in-law is a jokester who gave my husband his goofiness and my mother-in-law is a saint who gave my husband his tender heart. And I couldn’t live without them either.

in-laws

I took my mother-in-law to see the new Cinderella while we were there. You should see it if you ever get the time. Totally worth every penny. The theme throughout the movie was “Be kind and have courage”. And throughout this young Ella’s life, throughout the years of sheer loneliness and abuse, that’s how she lived her very difficult life. With kindness and courage. It was inspirational, but more than that I couldn’t help but think–how much harder would that be without surrounding yourself by those who are kind and courageous? How much harder would every single one of our trials be without that best friend who texts you at midnight, that college group who stuck together through finals and break-ups and now real life, that mom or dad or those in-laws who remind you of who you are, that sister or brother, that co-worker or neighbor who just seem to connect with your soul?

momme and marijke

This life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. In fact, that wouldn’t be much of a life at all. I think sometimes I forget that–that I’m not alone, even in the challenges that seem to only affect me and my little world. Heavenly Father deliberately scattered so many spirits who just align with mine in such a way that it would be impossible for any of it to be a matter of chance.

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My heart is filled because of those gentle souls that I call family. Those people who were just meant to be here, in my world, amongst the billions of people who ever walked the earth.

And I hope yours is filled too–with lots of courage and kindness and plenty of “sticky” souls.

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The REAL killer of your marriage: And why no one mentions it

I have always had a thing for once-in-a-lifetime romance.

I think it started as a teenager when I decided that my favorite kind of books to write were the ones where the two characters fall in love in the end, despite the whole world coming against them. And then it all just steered me on the course– I discovered things like Nicholas Sparks and The Thorn Birds (a 1980’s miniseries you should totally check out) and Wuthering Heights and I listened to Air Supply. Love, love, love— undying, sickly sweet love wrapped in more rose petals and love.

thorn birds

And it only grew. Not just for me, but for the rest of us. Movies, music, novels, sitcoms with devilishly adorable characters and even cuter plot lines that lead up to that anticipated first kiss. *Let’s be honest, Jim and Pam in The Office made us gush*. And it bred in me the sense of expectation.

I wanted that kind of romance. I wanted to be that leading actress in my life.

But here’s the unfortunate thing–the expectation is not a positive thing to have. And it’s still something I wrestle with.

Unrealistic expectations that stem from watching Ryan Gosling in a boat surrounded by swans kills a marriage.

swans

Now, before you get all huffy on me, I’m not saying that marriage shouldn’t be exciting or playful or romantic. On the contrary. And I’m sure you have a love story that I’d love to hear about and knowing me, I’d think it’s the cutest thing ever.

But we have this deadly habit of being so engrossed in fake worlds and fake scenarios and airbrushed magazine covers that we forget what real life is like. We forget that people mess up. That forbidden romance is actually just a sexy term for a dark, unhealthy accident waiting to happen. That men can’t read our minds. That fights don’t always end in a dramatic romp to the bedroom and rosy cheeks. That romance doesn’t just happen all recklessly and unknowingly without us putting in effort, planning things and trying. That cheating on your husband to rendezvous with your childhood sweetheart is actually a very bad idea that never ends well. That the “bad boy” is usually just that. Bad.

GQ

We crave what we will literally never have and should by no means ever do either.

And it’s killing everything God has planned for you.

On my newsfeed every day I see countless articles that state “Top ten reasons your marriage is failing” or “How you are destroying your husband” or “The top five ways you’re headed toward divorce”.

The reasons always make sense. Lack of communication, built-up resentment, financial difficulties, unfaithfulness…

I’ve read it all.

But I’ve yet to come across anything (and I could be wrong) that simply states what is obvious. We’re holding our partners to the standards of unreal people, fake scenarios, and an ingrained desire to have the romance that EVERYONE else has, just because we see it or hear it or read about it. That’s the thing that’s becoming real to us, while our own lives and our own relationships are becoming sub-par or broken.

I couldn’t believe the number of blogs and articles I read when Nicholas Sparks, one of the nation’s most successful romance authors who made us all choke on tears at one time or another, announced he was getting a divorce.

nic sparks

WHAT?! Women across the country screamed. How could that be? The man who INVENTED what romance should be like can’t keep up his own marriage?! It appalled me the way so many women reacted to the news, calling him a hypocrite and a fake and howling about the devastation this brings and even how could we read another one of his books again??

Along the line somewhere we forgot that Nicholas Sparks leads a life separate from fantasy as well. He says the wrong things and messes up and can’t read his wife’s mind. They pay bills and don’t wake up in the morning with mascara freshly applied and don’t dangle from ferris wheels to get one another’s attention. Why would we hold that marriage to the standard of his writing when his writing is merely fiction? But we do that with ourselves too, and we’re not even the ones writing it.

I met my husband in a whirlwind kind of way and you might even say the love story is a book-worthy one. And believe me, it was thrilling and sweet and I love us. But let’s be honest. Marriage takes work. Sacrifice. Boredom. Stress. Imperfections. Marriage isn’t meant to be anything like the things we see on TV. It isn’t romanticized, photoshopped and edited. It’s raw, real, and filled with layers of mistakes and unedited material.

And that’s what makes us built to last.

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We don’t talk about love stories in Hollywood or books being unrealistic because we don’t want them to be. We enjoy those stories–and that’s ok for entertainment’s sake. But it’s not ok when it blinds us to reality and makes scenarios that are unhealthy or inaccurate in real life look golden on screen. It’s not ok when we lose someone we love because they didn’t match the mold that our minds created.

I still love romance. I love Nicholas Sparks. I’m obsessed with Gone With the Wind and Phantom of the Opera and all the old, timeless love stories that made me adore literature more than anything. But I live here, and I’m writing my own real-life story and it’s not even comparable to what I’ve seen.

But I’ve learned to love that more, simply because it’s real.

And it’s mine.

A word from Mr. Lemmon: It’s time to look outward

 My husband isn’t a writer. He’s not what he would even consider “creative” or artsy. He’s a nursing student on track for an RN next year and most of his days are inundated with numbers, long words I can’t even pronounce, stacks of books, and hour after hour of studying every single muscle, organ, and disease you can imagine. But “I’m not a writer” he told me three–maybe four–times before he showed this to me, telling me it’s something that’s been heavy on his mind lately. And I guess I’d have to disagree with him there.

You see, we’re all writers when we have something to say. And I think he said it perfectly. 

 

As I sit reflecting the world we now live in, I feel a sense of urgency in our need to change. Most especially in the youth and the twenty-somethings. Although there is much good in the world and I recognize there are countless acts of kindness that go unnoticed, I would like to highlight what could make our human relationships much more enjoyable.

Although I’m not going gray, I don’t own a home, I don’t have children, and I’m still in college I feel like my generation growing up was so much different. I grew up with computers that had green and orange screens which ran off MS-DOS. (Before the days of Windows) I grew up when the number of cell phones were scarce, not in every hand. In fact I didn’t own my first cell phone until I was 17 or 18 which didn’t even have a camera, and I had to pay for each text I sent and received. Before I continue to age myself any further (I know I’m not THAT old) I’d like to get into the heart of the matter.

I have noticed ever since cell phones have become glued to our hands and have overrun our attention, human relationships are dwindling. Now I’m not saying that cell phones or technology are sinful, I just feel it has gone too far. Let me explain.

One word has recently come into our dictionaries and more so our everyday vocabulary. That word? Selfie. What word is found in Selfie? You guessed it. Self. But I’m not immune to it. At least when I was a teenager. Even before the word selfie existed I got my ol’ point and shoot digital camera and tried to look so good for I don’t even know who. I would put on my new, favorite shirt. I’d pop the collar, cause that was “cool” then. I would take 20 or 30 to get the best one. I look back and realize that there was a need for validation. Validation from friends. From girls. From classmates. But it wasn’t until later that I realized the validation I truly craved and needed in life is from my Father in Heaven—and He didn’t even care to look at those pictures.

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We are created in the image of God, however, we are not God’s gift to the world. Who was God’s gift to the world? Jesus Christ. The Savior of the world and our ultimate example. Still, many focus and are obsessed with themselves. In 2nd Timothy 3:2 we read:

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”

You may be thinking, why are you complaining and not giving any solution? Well, this morning I read in the April 2014 Ensign, a church magazine, “A focus on self is not the path to happiness. Rather, joy is found in surrendering our egos in service to others.”

hugging jesus

                Let us spend more quality time with one another and take pictures that will treasure memories. Let us find true enjoyment other than praying others will “comment” on, “like”, or “retweet” our latest self-portrait. Let us give a loving hand to someone who needs it. Let us spend our days serving our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us visit those who need our love and encouragement.

We are the Lord’s hands. I am confident His hands would not be magnifying himself. His hands would be serving others.

               

Style as desired: Message from a bottle

“What on earth is she WEARING?!”

That’s all I heard from behind me last Sunday and that’s all I could think about for the rest of the class.

I was in Relief Society with my sister-in-law at her home ward, surrounded by ladies I didn’t know. And that was the first thing I heard from the woman behind me as soon as the sister missionaries stood up in front of the class to give a little lesson.

I wish I could tell you I was shocked. But I wasn’t. It happens SO often, that I don’t even flinch now. It’s expected. And I’m not beating up on my LDS church because that’s not the only place where judgment with others’ appearances resides. I’m beating up on every place in the entire world that holds more than two humans together at one time. *Hence, everywhere*

But when it happens among Christians, that really rubs me the wrong way. As Christians, shouldn’t we be better? Shouldn’t we think more highly of each other and grant each other the option to express his or her individuality in whatever colors or accessories or hairstyles he or she wants? It disturbs me–enough, in fact,that I’m writing this in a hurried frenzy. Don’t worry, I’ll do a spell-check before I post this.

I’m not going to go into what the missionary was wearing because…well, it doesn’t matter. It never matters.

What matters is that it happened. A girl with a big smile and a Book of Mormon in her hands was suddenly judged for what she was wearing quicker than she could get out two words. And it happens all the time. I cringe to think of all the times I may have done the same kind of thing, judging someone by their shoes or hairstyle or pierced lip as they sit across from me in church. It’s simply something to be ashamed of.

This nagging issue was still on my mind as I was reading the back of a hair-conditioning spray the day after. It relayed the instructions carefully on the back of the bottle, then simply stated: “Style as desired”. See? Even the simplest of things–a bottle of hair product– has it right. You follow the instructions–modesty, cleanliness, respectfulness toward your body. Then you style as desired.

If that means flower patches on your jeans, great. If that means not being afraid to wear short-sleeved shirts that show a tattoo that you got long ago (the one people try to convince you to regret and keep hidden)–good. If that means sporting bright green shoes because you happen to love the color green–GO FOR IT. Because no one can be you. You are your own work of art.

I can’t forget the day that I wore this dress to an event.orangedress

Five minutes into being there I was asked which Halloween store I bought this at. Great, I thought. Now I’ll feel like a pumpkin all night.

And then there’s my sister. The spunky, larger-than-life, unique girl who just happens to like black. A lot of black, actually. And people will dare to ask her why she’s goth if she’s Mormon. This oftentimes comes from not only the school halls, but her own church classrooms.

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And it’s unacceptable. 

We are called to be kinder, gentler, more understanding. We’re called to embrace diversity and celebrate our own.

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(Picture by Julene Jorgensen photography–http://www.designstonotice.com)

No matter what age we are, we have beauty that is our own. Beauty that is crafted by the hands of our own creative spark. And shouldn’t that be celebrated?

So, my dear lady, sitting behind me in Relief Society, I will tell you what the answers might be to your whispered question of “WHAT on earth is she wearing”.

She is wearing what makes her shine.

ivy

She wears her hair short and curly because it’s too hard to keep up if it’s long, and by golly–she looks good with it.

  kylynn

She is wearing her hair in curls reminiscent to the 1940’s because she has the face of a movie star from those classic black and white movies and she digs the old-fashioned look.

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(Picture by Joey Ferguson photography, fergmedia.com)

She has rain-soaked hair and play clothes because she loves to play. And that’s what you caught her doing.

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(Picture by Julene Jorgensen photography, www.designstonotice.com)

She’s wearing bright colors  and ripped jeans because she’s young–and she has the personality of the sun.

joey

He’s wearing a bow tie because that’s his favorite way of dressing up. And he simply owns a drawer full of them.

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She just simply loves yellow and looks GREAT in that color.

We’re all different. And it doesn’t matter.

What really matters is that we love that we are.

So, to the sister behind me, and to all of us really: What is she wearing?

Something different than you. And that’s what makes life so interesting. And so gosh-darn beautiful.