Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas surf

I'm grateful for a sister and sister-in-law who inspired me to put on my wetsuit and brave the cold ocean water on Christmas day. I debated it for a long time, but I am glad that my hesitation didn't get the best of me. I decided that I really wanted to go out into the waves, even if I didn't know that I did. And I decided that I would regret it if I didn't. So, I squeezed into my wet suit and took a turn with our fun sized surf board. The water was cold, but not too bad. The waves were really good and I managed to stand up twice, which is an exciting accomplishment for me. Even if I might not have regretted it if I hadn't given it a try, having tried it and having achieved some success, I was glad that I did it. It was one of those occasions where I was glad that I overcame my lazier and less adventurous inclinations and left my zone of inhibiting comfort to realize the excitement of something that I had almost considered too much effort to be worth it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Greener Map

A friend once told me about a computer game where you have a map, and all the areas where you haven't gone yet are dark, and the areas where you have gone are green. The areas that are dark become green as you explore more areas. She likened this to visiting new places in real life, explaining that it was as if she was filling in more green areas in her mental map. I like this analogy a lot because I can relate to it really well. It creates such a perfect visual image in my mind, not only for the exploring of new physical places, but also for the exploring of new intellectual and spiritual places.

It is amazing to me how much there is to learn. Sometimes I will think, that's it, there's nothing more to learn, but that is because my mind hasn't expanded yet to accommodate more knowledge or understanding. As I get older, I understand things better and I see things completely differently from how I saw them before and I wonder why I didn't understand or notice them before. It's an exciting thing to think that there is so much to learn and to feel that I am becoming more capable of learning it.

It has been exciting in my New Testament class this semester to be learning so much about Christ and to be gaining a better understanding of his life. It's exciting to still be learning more about him, even after having grown up learning about him. It's exciting to read the gospels of the New Testament after having read them before and to be able to find new meanings or ways of understanding them. And then to think that in spite of how much there is to learn from what we have, there is so much more that we don't have and that what we do have is so little in comparison to what we don't have.

As the last verse in John reads: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

The First Christmas

One of my favorite things about BYU is the Tuesday devotionals. Today, Elder Bruce D. Porter, a leader in the LDS church, gave the devotional. He spoke about the first Christmas and gave some insights that I thought were really neat. As it was revealed through revelation to the prophet Joseph Smith, Christ was born on April 6th. This was at the time of passover. The month of April was traditionally the time of birthing for the lambs. The shepherds would stay up with the ewes as the lambs were being born. From these lambs, the lambs that were to be offered as sacrifices for the passover were to be selected. So, Christ, the Lamb of God, was born at the same time the lambs that were to be sacrificed for passover were being born. He was also crucified at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple for the passover. Elder Porter also metioned that Christ, in addition to representing the role of the lambs, represents the role of the shepherd. So, he represented both roles of those being served and those who served. He was the greatest who made himself the least.

I love learning about such neat correlations. It's beautiful how symbolic the timing of Jesus' birth and death were. It's a testimony to me of how special and important such events were, and the timing was not coincidental but rather intentional so as to show us the connection between Christ and the sacrificial lambs.

I really liked this Devotional. There were a lot of other neat things that Elder Porter mentioned. It hasn't been posted yet, but once it is, you can read it or listen to it by accessing it on this page.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Caught in the Margins

I was talking to my cousin the other day about his frustration over feeling inferior to BYU students. This frustration has been the result of vibes he's been getting from BYU students when they find out that he's a student at UVU. He feels like they look down upon him as being less intelligent or less righteous. This bothered me because as a BYU student myself, I hate to think that people would have negative views of BYU or BYU students. Of course, my cousin made sure I was aware that he loved BYU, but he was just frustrated by the feeling he sometimes gets from BYU students. He said that the most frustrating thing to him was that he had been snubbed by some girls once because of his status of being a UVU student. How sad!

So, when he left and I was feeling less defensive I could see his point of view more and how that would be really frustrating. I would be just as worked up about it if I were in the same situation. And I do get worked up in similar situations, for example, when someone asks about my ACT test scores or whether I have or had a scholarship. It's so frustrating to be subject to prejudices! The thing is, I make assumptions too. I'm not sure there are many people who don't. But, knowing how it feels to be pre-categorized, I would not want other people to feel that way because of me.

In my New Testament class something we've talked about is how Jesus did not judge people according to societal prejudices. He spoke with the woman at the well, who happened to be a Samaritan which was cause to be looked down upon by Jews in that day. She was also a woman, which also placed her lower in society. Yet, despite this, the account of her conversion shows that regardless of one's background, they may be receptive to the gospel, and perhaps even more receptive than someone else who supposedly ought to be more receptive.

Just as Jesus gave that woman and so many others a chance without letting society's prejudices influence his judgment, I hope I can do the same. In my experience I've found that often my first impressions are wrong, and it's exciting to find out that someone is just as much a person as I am and that they aren't so annoying or so unapproachable or whatever it was that they initially seemed to me. It is then that I reallize how silly it is to judge people based on so little information. If those girls had just given my cousin a chance, they would have gotten to know him better and would have realized that he is intelligent (intelligent enough to have gone to BYU had he felt right about it) and strong in his testimony of the gospel. They might have enjoyed his sense of humor and sponteneity and they likely would have found him to be quite a wonderful and delightful acquaintance.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Coming Together, Gathering Sheep

Something that I've thought of several times as I've been thinking about my mission is that missionary work unifies. It's exciting how people all over the world can feel unified in the gospel in spite of cultural and language barriers. I'm excited to learn a new language and share what I love with others. In John 10:16, the Savior mentions that he has other sheep that he must bring and that they will hear his voice and there will be one fold and one shepherd. My grandma mentioned this verse to me as we were talking about my mission and told me that as I am doing missionary work in Singapore, I need to think of the people as my brothers and sisters and to think of them as the other sheep that Jesus mentions. It's exciting to think that I will be helping out in the work of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ -- the work that missionaries have been doing and continue to do. The gospel is not exclusive to one group or one ethnicity; it is inclusive of all because all are God's children. God loves all of his children, as this verse shows, no matter their backgrounds or ethnicity, and missionary work is evidence of that love. It is that love that God has for his children that dwells in the hearts of missionaries, leading them to serve missions. They serve because they feel God's love and they want to share it with others.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Singapore is a nice place...

I just got my mission call today! I will be serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Singapore mission, which also includes Malaysia. I will be speaking the Indonesian language, which my roommate tells me is Bahasa. It's a weird feeling to finally know where I am going. I had not expected something so exotic. It's exciting!!!! I hardly have a clue about anything regarding the culture or language. So, I'm going to learn a lot! The challenge now will be to focus on finishing up the semester without getting too antsy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Different Perspective on Nourishment

In Sunday school this last Sunday, the teacher made an interesting analogy. She had us think about what we do when we have lost something and then likened that searching process to how we search the scriptures. Then we talked about how as we search the scriptures more intently through consistent and persistent scripture study, we are able to find deeper meaning in the scriptures and they become treasures to us because of our enlightened understanding. They become treasures in the sense that they gain a more personal meaning as we find ways to apply them in our personal lives.

I was reminded of this analogy yesterday as I read in John 6 about Jesus feeding the five thousand. After they had been fed, the multitude follows him. In verse 26 he rebukes them because they are following him because they had been fed and wanted more food, not because they were interested in his teachings.

Jesus then tells them that rather than seeking after food for the body, they should seek after spiritual food or "that meat which endureth unto everlasting life" in verse 27. He goes on to say that whoever eats of this food "dwelleth in me, and I in him," in verse 56, and that they "shall live by me," in verse 57. Then, Jesus ties up this analogy in verse 63 saying, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteht nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are the spirit, and they are life." So, as much as we may think food is the substance of life, the words of Christ are the real substance of life. They give life to our spirits which is more important.

In taking the same approach with my spiritual nourishment as with my physical nourishment, I am able to see how much my spirit is in need of that nourishment. It is an interesting analogy and I think it works really well and is worth giving some thought. I think when I starve my spirit by not reading the scriptures or putting as much effort into studying them, I forget about the benefits of such study that I am lacking, just as if I were anorexic, I might forget how good it is for my body to be nourished by food. In either case, that sate is a dangerous state in which to be.

If you go here, you can read a talk I like by Dallin H. Oaks about nourishing the spirit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Telos Turkey Tri

Last Saturday I did the Telos Turkey Tri in Orem, UT. It was way fun and I felt pretty accomplished afterword, although I felt pretty whipped too. The running was definitely the hardest part for me. There was also a killer hill that we had to climb twice for the cycling portion. I had to walk my bike up the hill or else I probably would have rolled backwards down it trying to bike it. Then, I got a pretty bad charley horse in my calf trying to hop back onto my bike (it was my friend's road bike, and I think it was probably a tad bit too big. Despite that, it made all the difference in the race. Road bikes are fast! I love riding them).

The procedes from the triathlon are going towards funding the registration for Team Telos in their upcoming events. I didn't know that much about it before, but was pretty impressed when I learned that Team Telos helps get youth into doing triathlons. I think that's a brilliant cause. I am a firm believer in the benefits of physical activities. In my own life, I have enjoyed the added energy and endorfines that come from exercise. Triathlons, or any race or sport for that matter, are great because they give you a goal to work towards and they help develop character. If kids were to be more involved in sports, boredom wouldn't be as much of a problem and concequently drug usage and crime would also become less problematic. People would have more ambition and self confidence and would take better care of the God-given gifts that are their bodies. So, koodos to Team Telos for helping kids get involved in triathlons.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


So, I think this is a great idea. My mom used to collect stacks and stacks of used computer paper and I think converting the paper into notebooks is an ingenious way to recycle such paper. Of course, it is also becoming easier to recycle computer paper through the recycling services now as well. But, this is also a fun way to use old paper. You can find instructions on how to make these notebooks at Design*Sponge. (This image is from Design*Sponge)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Symbols in Art

This week in my New Testament class we had a presentation on the religious art in the BYU museum of art. We talked about symbolism and the importance of understanding symbols.

As I looked at the different paintings, I took a little more time to observe different details and to look for symbolism. I found the experience to be pretty rewarding. There's so much to get out of an artwork, especially religious artworks, if you take the time to study them.

When I was looking at this particular piece by John Rogers Herbert R.A. titled Our Savior subject to his parents at Nazareth, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. The pieces of wood in the center are arranged in the shape of a cross and Mary looks as though she has just realized something. Maybe she is thinking of Jesus' divine mission. Jesus is holding what appears to be an empty basket. This reminds me of the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and having twelve baskets of bread left over. I'm not sure what the significance of the basket is in this case and I'm curious to know what the painter had in mind. I wonder, was Jesus aware of his mission at a young age? I think he probably was. In this painting he seems to be aware as he meekly performs his chores, growing up in Nazareth, preparing for his ultimate act of meekness and love: the atonement.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Heavy vs. Light Burdens

As I was reading in Matthew 23:4, I made an interesting connection. In this verse, Jesus describes the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees, saying that they "..bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders.. In the previous verse, Jesus tells his disciples to do what the Pharisees tell them to do because they sit in "Moses' seat." However he warns them not to do as the Pharisees do -- saying but not doing (being hypocrites). Returning to verse 4, he continues to say that "[the Pharisees] themselves will not move [the burdens] with one of their fingers." Thus, the Pharisees of whom Jesus spoke expected others to do things that they theselves did not do, or that they did not assist with.

As I read this verse, it reminded me of Matthew 11:28-30. Here Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us for "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." A yoke is used to join two animals so that they can carry the same load together. So, when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us, we know that he will help us. He isn't asking us to do anything that he hasn't done already or that he wouldn't help us with. Contrast this to the load of the hypocrites. While the hypocrites give burdens to men, they themselves do nothing to help or don't lift the burdens themselves and the burdens are heavy. However, Christ's burden is light. Because of the atonement, we are free from the chains and the load of sin. Our burden in that sense is lighter. The burden of following Christ is also lighter because as we do so, we will have clean consciences and we won't be wieghed down by the effects of sin. We will be light and joyful because our master is gentle and kind and does not expect us to do things without his help "for the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepaer a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7 (in the Book of Mormon)).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some Good Movies

Children of Heaven
Amazing Grace
Singin' in the Rain

The first three are probably a little obscure, and unfortunately so because they are so good. The cinematography is really good and I found them to be pretty moving. My friend once told me if a movie has leaves on its cover, that means it's a good movie. 'Bella' has several leaf things and I think 'Children of Heaven' does too. So, pretty much they are must sees. The others ought to have leaves if they don't.


I am cohabitating with box elder bugs-- there are many of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Man of Perfect Understanding

When Jesus taught his disciples, he didn't teach as the scribes who quoted scripture, but "as one that had authority." When he taught, he expounded the law taking it down to its core meaning and intention. Thus, many of his teachings were radical compared to what the Jews had been used to. One such teaching in the Sermon on the Mount expounded upon the definition of adultery. According to tradition, women were considered at fault in the committing of adultery. However, Christ taught that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:28)."

When I first read that verse, I thought it was a little harsh and felt bad for the man who should be brought under condemnation so easily and I wondered why a similar saying shouldn't refer to the woman who might look on a man to lust after him. But, when my New Testament teacher explained the cultural view of adultry at that time, I undertood better the meaning of Jesus' words. According to Christ, women were not to be blamed for adultry; they were not to be considered the temptresses that they had traditionally been viewed as. True, in some cases women do act as temptresses, however, Christ's teaching offers a better understanding of the general situation.

This to me is a great example of Jesus as the perfect judge. He understands everything so completely and therefore can offer a perfect judgement. We being imperfect are often unable to judge a situation or person because we cannot see the entire situation; we lack the perfect understanding needed to judge well and often when we do judge we judge poorly because of our lack of information. Hence the warning in Matt. 7:1-2, "Judge not that ye be not judged.." I am grateful for a Savior who understands me and is merciful in his judgement. He knows the intentions of my heart and judges accordingly. Because of his mercy, it would be ungrateful of me to deny others that same mercy in my judgements. So, to all, the benefit of the doubt!

Yay for women!

The other day I was talking to a friend about her choice to major in astronomy. I asked her what she wanted to do with it and her response pleasantly surprised me. She said that she hoped to be an educated mother. She said it so matter-of-factly, comfortably, and without hesitation or self aggrandizement, for which I greatly admire her.

It's funny to me how I used to be uncomfortable with the idea of deciding on a major because I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career other than be a mother. Now I've become accustomed to the idea of going into graphic design and when people ask what I want to do with it, I tell them I'm interested in web-design, and when they ask why I chose graphic design, I tell them I chose it because I thought it was a good way to apply art. But, what I don't usually tell them is that I also chose it because I thought it would be a mother-friendly job if I find myself needing to work as a mother. And, I probably would never have thought of the response "so that I can be an educated mother." So, to my friend who most likely will not be reading this, I salute you!

Women are and have been under a lot of pressure. There used to be more pressure for women to stay at home and raise children. However, now I believe there is more pressure for women to go out into the career world and prove to the world, that had once been so warry of accepting the accomplishments of women outside the home, that they can make as much of a difference as men.

I think it's great that women have achieved more acceptance in the working world and I think that they have impacted and continue to impact the world in a possitive way with their increased involvement in out-of -home affairs. However, I think it is sad that in many cases, out-of-home achievements are viewed as far superior and more important to those achievements in the home. I think that while women's achievements outside of the home merit acknowledgement and praise, they should not overshadow or replace the importance of motherhood.

It is my belief that no woman has more influence in society than through raising her children in the best way possible. Motherhood is such an incredible responsiblity and by no means should it be demeaned or belittled.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Urgency to Do Good

I'm like a hobbit: I don't like to do things quickly, I like to take my time and am consequently slow. I can hurry when I have to, but I don't like to hurry. I also tend to get distracted easily and somehow my time slips away without me noticing. However, recently I've decided (not for the first time, but this time with more determination, so I think I will follow through) that I will use my time more wisely and cherish each moment as a precious gift that I mustn't waste.

I've made this resolution as a result, in part, of something that impressed me in my New Testament class. The last few weeks we've been studying in Mark and an aspect of Jesus' ministry that Mark emphasizes is the sense of urgency with which Jesus started and carried forth his ministry. For example, in Mark 1:18, 20, and 21 notice the repetition of the word "straightway": "And straightway they forsook their nets....and straightway he called them... and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught."

It makes sense that the savior would know better than anyone else the urgency of his mission and it reminds me of those times when I have felt the spirit and I feel uplifted and excited to do good and I realize the importance of God's work, to bring salvation to his children and I feel the urgency of it. But, sadly, that feeling often wears off and I am left feeling tired and unmotivated. Yet, when I commit myself to following through with my good intentions and perform that service or good work that I had initially felt so excited about, the excitement returns and I become excited about doing more.

So, I hereby resolve to more urgently use my time better because it slips away quicker and quicker every day, and to more urgently do good as Jesus did. His work continues, and I can contribute so much more if I just use my time more wisely. I don't want to reach my dying bed wishing that I had done more. It's comforting to know that I've been given enough time; I just need to see that I use it well.

(Some motivating verses: Moroni 9:6, Alma 12:24, 34:32-35)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I claim the right of way! (even if it's not mine)

So, I almost ran over some pedestrians today as I was cruising down a hill on my bicycle. It made me upset to think that I would be required to stop for them. Yes, there was a crosswalk and a blinking orange light, but it's just so inconvenient to stop on a bicycle. Especially when you are riding at a high speed down hill. And your breaks squeal obnoxiously. And you just want to get home as fast as possible. And you're tired. And your back is breaking under the weight of your backpack that you shouldn't have packed so heavily. And your bike seat has gotten loose and is determined to tip you off of it (I really need to fix that). It's so much more difficult to start and stop on a bike than it is in any other mode of transportation, and more dangerous, I might add. My mom has told me of a man who died when he stopped suddenly on his bike and fell off of it (I think he was even wearing a helmet). So, even though the pedestrians had the right of way in that instance (I looked it up in the traffic code, and unfortunately, they did have the right of way), I think it ought not to be so. Either that, or I just need to pay better attention when I'm riding my bike. And maybe I should invest in a better one that has nice breaks and a comfortable seat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daily Bread

Last week I attended a seminar given by my New Testament professor, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel. He talked about the radical nature of Jesus' teachings in respect to the religious stance of his day. One of the things he mentioned that struck me was about Jesus' teachings regarding our relationship to God. Jesus encouraged his disciples to have an intimate relationship with their Father in Heaven. When he prayed, he addressed God as "Abba" which is Aramaic meaning "Father." When he taught his disciples how to pray, he taught them to pray for their daily needs. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus prays, "Give us this day our daily bread." Dr. Holzapfel made the point that people in Jesus' time and still today in Europe and elsewhere, people would go to the market every day to buy fresh bread, or they would bake fresh bread at the beginning of each day. I'd never really thought of it in that way since I've grown up always buying "weekly bread" from the grocery store, so I didn't really relate to that phrase very well. But, Dr. Holzapfel helped me to realize the intimacy of such a request. Such a prayer shows that Heavenly Father is concerned about even the simplest things in our lives - our day to day needs - not just the broad things; he's concerned about the specifics. This point was further driven home for me when in Relief Society (the women's organization in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church)) the following Sunday, the discussion ended up focusing on ways of improving our prayers and making them more meaningful. Although I'm pretty good about remembering to pray, my prayers are regrettably formulaic at times, repetitive and not as feeling. I tend to repeat the same phrases and use generalities. So, I really appreciated being reminded of how intimate and loving our Heavenly Father is and I've since made the resolve to put more feeling into my prayers and to imagine a loving father listening to me as I pray and eager to assist or to bless or to guide as needed, even in the simplest ways. He's blessed me before when I've come to Him with simple requests, such as for help staying awake in a class, or finding a lost watch or getting along with others. I just need to keep remembering that He's always there and keep involving Him in my daily life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Today I hiked Mt. Timpanogos with my roommate and another friend. We started climbing around 2 am. We finished around 1 pm. Given that we had a two hour detour in the beginning where we headed off on the wrong trail, we made pretty good time.

It was a beautiful hike and I really liked starting it in the dark and then finishing in the light. It was pretty cloudy and it rained a little, so we weren't too hot. At the top it was really windy and cold. A lot of storm clouds were blowing by and there was some lightning, so we weren't sure if we should venture all the way to the top. But it was too hard for us to leave after hiking so long without reaching the summit, so we risked being struck by lightning to finish the hike. It was worth it. The view was incredible and I felt incredibly small atop such a large mountain.

It was definitely one of my most exciting hikes. On the way down we got pelted by little balls of hail and lightning struck way close. But, we survived.

Monday, August 25, 2008

more summer reading

A Separate Peace A Separate Peace by John Knowles

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really liked this book. It has admirable characters. I love it's message of forgiveness, striving to understand others, and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer Reading

Lord of the Flies Lord of the Flies by William Golding

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Maddening. I really enjoyed the symbolism though. Great imagery. The dialogues were sometimes a bit confusing.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just do it!

I just made myself sick by eating too many chocolate chip, dried cherry, oatmeal cookies. I ate probably six more than I should have. Sheer gluttony. I am ashamed.

My justification for such indulgence is that I spent close to three hours exercising today. Even if I pretty much rendered that exercise ineffective by replenishing whatever calories that might have been burned by more fatty calories from the many cookies that I consumed, I am proud of my accomplishment.

It was actually quite the adventure. I got up around 6:30 and left on my bike at about 7:15. I biked all the way to the YMCA, which was about 10 miles. Then I swam for about 20 minutes and then rode the 10 miles back.

The great thing is that I made it alive. Hugging the edge of the road, only given a shoulder of what seemed to be two inches in places, almost hitting an indecisive suicidal squirrel and holding my breath as cars passed at killer speeds, I probably am luckier than I know. But, despite the risks that I knew I was taking, and despite the concern of my parents, I was determined to do it. And I actually enjoyed it thoroughly. There isn't much in this world that is as satisfying as getting somewhere on a bike. I feel so self sufficient. It's a great feeling, conquering distances on a bike that we don't even really think about in a car, but that if we did think about would seem too far to travel any other way.

It's great to think that if all else fails regarding the new technologies for alternate fuels, we can always return to the old technology of the bicycle. I think that the bicycle was an ingenious invention and I think that Americans should rediscover it. There are two great benefits to be had from such an occurrence: a healthier public and a cleaner atmosphere.

The first benefit, a healthier public, I think would be pretty desirable. If Americans were to ride bicycles, the problem of obesity would be greatly reduced and consequently the problem of health care would also be reduced. Also, there would be less depression because of the increased endorphins which would result in a happier population , which in turn would result in a more productive population.

I believe the second benefit , that of a cleaner atmosphere, would be just as desirable as the first. With all the fuss about global warming, why not do something proactive and switch out the carbon dioxide spewing car for the completely clean bicycle? I think it's a great idea.

Also, we would develop an independence from foreign oil. So, all around I think it solves many of today's problems. So, let them ride bikes, I say! And then eat cookies and not feel guilty about it.