Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy birthday MamaSteph!

Yesterday was my best friend's birthday.  Eleven years ago, we were able to celebrate her birthday and Easter together, on the same day.
It's been over 6 years since we've seen each other.  I miss seeing and talking with her in real life.  She lives on the east coast with her cute little family and I wish I could just hop, skip & jump over there.  I'm so grateful for her friendship.  She's such a blessing to my life.   She is one of my most wonderful blessings from my mission. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Jesus, my Friend.

Today is Easter.  So many of my thoughts have been about our Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful for the talks I heard at church, today.  Two of my dear friends spoke and it was good to hear their thoughts about the Savior and how the Atonement has touched their lives.  To quickly define what the Atonement is, it is everything that Jesus Christ has done on our behalf.  It is His great intercessory prayer that He offered up to Heavenly Father, giving up everything, even His life so that we could return back to our Heavenly Father.  It is Jesus Christ being willing to take upon Himself everything that would ever bring us down in this life; sin, emotional grief, burdens, transgression, etc...anything that would stand in our way of being one with our Heavenly Father.
As I listened to my friends' talks, it made me think of what makes me grateful to have Jesus Christ in my life.  Of all the experiences I've had in my life, one stood out in particular.
About eleven years ago, when I was on my mission, I received the devastating news that my Tutu (grandmother) had passed away.  It was sudden and without any warning.  That Wednesday morning, I received a call from my Mission President saying that I should call home, my Tutu was in the hospital.  A couple hours later, as I was reading my emails from home, my sister gave me the news of her passing.  I started weeping uncontrollably, I was devastated beyond belief.  I didn't care who heard or saw me; my heart was broken and my dear sweet Tutu was gone.  My missionary companion was embarrassed and in a snarky tone said, "WHY are you crying?! Geez!"  I wanted to run outside and cry my heart out on those library steps.  I didn't even get to say good-bye to my Tutu.  I felt a million times worse since I didn't call her for Mother's Day like I had wanted to. 
I cried all the way home.  It was a long silent ride home.  I called my Mission President to see if I could call home.   As I called home and wept on the phone, I was so overwhelmed with grief.  I just couldn't believe that in over a year's time I had lost both of my grandparents.  
I had never dealt with such tremendous grief, alone.  I felt so very alone, 3000 miles away from home and all my loved ones who had each other for support.  I felt no comfort or compassion from my companion.  I didn't know what to do besides cry and pray, because praying is what you do in all cases as a missionary.  So I prayed. 
I knelt down and prayed. I poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father because I felt alone and I felt like no one knew what I was feeling or going through. No one.  I offered up the most humble and sincerest of prayers because I had no one to talk to, except my Heavenly Father.  I wanted to know why He didn't allow me to see my Tutu after my mission.  Why I would have to suffer through this, away from my family, while I was in His service?  I kept telling Him that no one understood what I was feeling and that I was all alone.  I ended my prayer, but stayed on the floor, waiting for an answer or some comfort of peace.  Minutes later, a sweet spirit of reassurance enveloped me; I wasn't alone, not at all.  I came to know in a very real sense that there was One who had gone through what I was experiencing.   I wasn't alone, not at all.  Jesus, my friend, knew exactly of the grief that consumed my heart.  He was my friend that had gone through it all so that we would never have to carry the burdens of life, alone.  I wonder how Jesus might have felt when he received word that his cousin John was dead.  I wasn't alone anymore.  I had a Friend who knew exactly what I was feeling and that was the sweetest peace and comfort I could have ever received in my moment of sorrow.  I had a Heavenly Father who heard my pleas and a Savior who knew of the peace I so desperately needed.
So whenever I think of Jesus Christ and what he's done for my life, I am always brought back to this experience.  I am truly grateful for this experience and the testimony of Christ that I was blessed with. 
Do I know Jesus Christ?  Yes, he is my Friend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Toddler Edition.

I found some baby photos of Levi tonight. OH MAN...I can't get over how ridiculously cute he was as a baby and little boy!! Seriously, I just want to pinch those cheeks! Luckily, he still has a little of those cheeks left, so I can kiss 'em.  My gosh....this little boy is too cute for words.  Just thought I'd do a side-by-side to imagine what our kids will look like someday.  I look forward to that day!  Man, I can't stop lookin' at his baby pics, they make me chuckle cause he was so adorable! LOVE IT!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

La Boheme!

If you've ever been to AMC theatre to watch a movie, you might have caught an advertisement for Fathom Events.  Fathom Events shows operas that are currently playing at the MET, in NYC.  About two weeks ago I came across a Fathom Event post on Facebook, so I looked into it and found that La Boheme would be showing at the AMC close to my work.  I threw it out there on FB to see if anyone would be interested in going.  In the end, I ended up going by myself to see it, last Wednesday.
Oh man... it was beautiful.  I loved Act 1, it was so beautiful.  Especially when Rodolfo tells Mimi about himself and how he lives, in the aria, "Che Gelida Manina".  I'm not gonna lie, tears came to my eyes because of how BEAUTIFUL it all was.  I marvel at what the human body can produce in the way of beautiful singing.   I closed my eyes at one point, because I wanted to feel the music penetrate my soul.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  There's really no other way to describe the opera. 
It was such a wonderful opera.  Can't say it was my favorite since I have always loved Madama Butterfly, but you could say that I'm definitely a fan of Puccini.  I was especially amazed by the singer who played Mimi.
The night before she played Cho-Cho San in Madama Butterfly.  She didn't fall asleep until 5am the next morning, just to receive a phone call at 7:30am, asking if she could fill in for the part of Mimi! The scheduled singer had fallen ill and a replacement was needed immediately for the matinee performance at noon!  So on 2.5 hours of sleep, she filled in and played the part MARVELOUSLY!! It was gorgeous!! She was amazing!!  The running joke was that she was the only singer to die twice within 18 hours, on the same stage at the MET.  Also, she's the first person to ever have back to back performances, for two different operas, at the MET.  I loved her voice! 
I love the opera.  There is something so exquisite about the music, the singing, the performance and the orchestra.  All of it is something everyone should experience once in their life time.  It makes me so sad that the San Diego Opera will be closing its doors after 49 years.  Such a sad loss to the art & culture of San Diego.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hug o' War!

April is National Poetry month.  Just thought I'd share one of my favorite childhood poems.  Thank you to my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Cullum who had me memorize this.  Hugging, it's my favorite. :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kalanster & the big 19!

Today, this baby boy.....
...who turned into this...
...and somehow quickly grew into this... turning 19 today!

It's been such a pleasure watching him grow up, for all of his life.  I still remember the night I walked into his Mom's hospital room, in the Spring of my high school freshman year.  It was a school night, so I was thinking we wouldn't really be there that long.  I just kept thinking of how foreign it was that a new baby boy was joining our family.  For so long, it had just be "the two boys", his older brothers....what would it now be like with THREE nephews??  Such an unfamiliar feeling that there was someone new in our family.  I remember holding him and thinking how happy we all were that this baby boy was finally here.  I still feel that way to this day.
He's definitely become one of my favorite people to hang out with.  I can say just about anything and he doesn't freak out nor do I ever feel judged.  There's many reasons why I love this kid.  I've been thinking about some of those reasons today.  He reminds me A LOT of my Dad.  They both have the same tenacious (read: stubborn) attitude.  It's not a bad thing...I'm quite similar to my Dad in that factor.  Perhaps that's why Kalanster and I get along so well.  He can be very thoughtful and I've truly cherished the way he's been such a terrific older brother to his sister.  He is a talented young man, especially when it comes to music.  
I've never worried about Kalanster because he has always found a way for his ideas to come to fruition.  Such a great quality to have in life.  Of all the birthday wishes I can hope for him, I hope all his musical dreams are achieved.  The sky is the limit for some, but for him, there's nothing that can stop that tenacious spirit of his. 
Happy Birthday Kalanster!  
I love you more than you'll ever realize.  Hope you enjoy your birthday weekend.
And in case you didn't know, I miss seeing you every day. I love you buddy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


My friend Dixie's in Philly and it brings back some good Philly memories.  Man, I really enjoyed that place!  Especially Reading Terminal Market! :)
I loved falling asleep to this view, every night!   

 How can you go to Philly and not visit such iconic spots?!
Yep, we made it up the Rocky steps!

Oh Philly...I love & miss you!
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