Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My sister Sheridan and her sacrifice for me.

Today is March 31, and that's the day my little sister Sheridan was born. She died at the age of six months, but had she lived she would be sixteen years old today! It's so strange to imagine what she might be like. It seems awfully sad that she should have been robbed of life at so young an age.

I was eight when she died, and I have long thought that the experiences I had then forever changed me so that my life would never be the same again. Certainly, I knew sadness, but I also learned to feel the Spirit of the Lord and a deep sense of peace. A firm foundation was laid upon which I could build my faith of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When I was growing up, my dad didn't go to church. He occasionally went for a few weeks at a time, but he was basically inactive. He wouldn't support my mom in trying to teach us the gospel. He wouldn't participate in family home evenings or pray with the family most of the time. My parents had not married in the temple, and I admit that I had a certain feeling of misery whenever I heard people talking about the temple at church. I thought, "Sure, the temple is great for people who are actually sealed together. But that's not my family."

But then Sheridan came along and everything changed. She was born early and sick. She had heart defects and other problems that kept her in the hospital for much of her life. She had a powerful, determined spirit. Her life was almost continual suffering and my parents realized that she was probably not going to live for very long. This had a powerful effect on all of us, but on my dad most of all.

Dad and Sheridan had a unique connection. She couldn't see very well and yet she always knew when he came in the room. She turned her head and became excited, and everyone knew that she loved him deeply. He was so sad to see her suffer, and he could not bear the thought of her dying and being separated from him for all eternity. He started to change his life. He became active in the Church and making whatever other changes he needed to make.

He believed in the LDS doctrine of eternal families, and suddenly he realized that it was worth the to effort to achieve. All of us turned our thoughts to the temple, and we decided to go as a family so that we could be sealed with our sweet little baby.

And we were in, August of 1994. In October of that same year, Sheridan died.

We believe that all of us lived with God before this life and that we come to earth because we want to. Every primary child knows this, and so I wondered why my sister would want to come to earth to live such a short life of great suffering and then die. It was her choice to do so. I realized that she came because she loved us. Plain and simple, she loved my family, my dad most of all, and she wanted us to have the blessings of the temple. She was willing to do whatever it would take to help us to change our lives. The act of coming to our family in the conditions in which she came gave us the opportunity to turn to God.

I was reading yesterday in Alma chapter 7 of the Book of Mormon. It talks about the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. It says that Christ wanted to have a mortal life so that he would know how to take care of us-- he would know from his own experience. I believe that he knew, just like my sister, that he was going to have a hard life. He knew that he would suffer tremendously, and he loved us so much that the sacrifice of his own life seemed worthwhile to him.

Probably one of the greatest gifts that my sister gave to me was this understanding- that a person could give their life for others. Sheridan said to herself, "This is going to be hard, but just think of how they will all grow because of me. They will be sealed in the temple for eternity and live righteously for the rest of their lives if I do this. My suffering doesn't matter very much to me."

And so she's like the Savior who looks at each us with boundless love and says, "My suffering for you was worthwhile because of the person I know you can become."

Monday, March 29, 2010

How badly do I want it?

I have been trying to download a picture onto this post, but I guess it is just not going to work right now. Oh, well! My picture-hungry readers will have to settle for a little text for once. :)

Paul and I went to a walking park area yesterday to get a little exercise. It's a little loop near the hospital, and I think it's for the patients. It was a nice little place with a lot of trees and I think it will be quite cool and shady in the summer.

As we were walking, Paul and I kept getting passed by this skinny little woman who was running around and around the path at quite an impressive pace. She was so fit, and I said, "I would like to a small healthy person."

Paul gave me a skeptical look and said, "You don't want it very badly."

I felt slightly hurt by this response, but I started thinking about it as we were walking. His implication was that I don't put forth the effort that would be required. I don't, say, go running every day, and I certainly don't turn away from delicious unhealthy foods. Although I generally control my blood sugar, I don't make a huge effort to lose weight or improve my health.

Hm. I realize that I may never be a small person, but I know that I can do more for my health. I have decided to put a greater focus on health than I have in the past. I don't really have a right to complain about health problems if I don't take care of my health, now do I?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grow baby, grow.

So we've started a garden inside. I bought soil, seeds, and Styrofoam cups. They all sprouted more than a week sooner than their packages said they would. When I tried to do this in Utah, most of my seeds never sprouted and those that did died within three or four days. I am already having much more success this time than I did before.

Soon I will have to transfer them all to a bigger deeper container or they will rub out of space and start to die. Maybe I was a bit optimistic. I sprinkled many seeds freely rather than placing them a reasonable distance apart. They will have to be transplanted sooner than I expected.

Here are some of my beet sprouts that have started to die already! I really think I just put way too many seeds into the cup. But this is what I figure. Even if all of my sprouts die, they will leave nutrients in the soil that will make it more suitable for my next planting.
We don't actually have a garden spot, but we do have a tiny cement area on which I plan to put several buckets of soil. This will be an ideal setup anyway because it will give us the option to bring some of the plants inside if a frost comes along. Some plants do just fine with a frost, but others will be killed.
Paul and I have been talking about self-sufficiency and being prepared for anything that life could throw at us. We want to grow as much food as we can in our little bucket garden, and we want to learn to preserve vegetables that we don't use quickly. Of course it's a lot of work, but I've been told that this is the part of the country where everything grows easily. Supposedly, you put seeds in the ground and they will just do their thing. Too bad it's not that easy in Utah.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Silly times at the Denver Zoo.

So last week was our spring break. We stayed home and lounged for half of the week, and then on Thursday, we took a trip to Denver. We originally hoped to see my family that weekend. I invited my parents to come there (It's about the halfway point between Hays and Vernal.) but a beloved old friend from my mom's ward passed away and her funeral was on Saturday.

Since my family wasn't able to come, we made plans to do our own thing in Denver with just the two of us. Paul wanted to go to as many restaurants as possible, since he's obsessed with food. We both wanted to go to the temple, and the zoo.

These are some of the pictures we took at the Denver Zoo. It was pretty fun, and we some unique things. Obviously, we were very silly, too.

They had a lot of displays of skulls or paw sizes. This is a lion skull with my hand for comparison. Imagine having those teeth sink into your flesh...!

I'm kind of proud of this action shot. I can't remember which species of penguin these are, but they are the kind that frequent the western shores of South America. They're beautiful swimmers.
This turtle rose right to the surface when Paul stepped up. It lifted it's head and looked at him so seriously. He said, "Hi." I loved it.

This was probably the funniest thing that happened. We spent 45 minutes or so watching these two male gorillas in their enclosure. They must have thought Paul was another gorilla, maybe because he was wearing a black shirt and has those broad shoulders. The gorillas were highly agitated, displaying for him and running up to slam the glass where ever he was sitting. I tried to get several shots of their behavior, but this was the only really good one that I got. I'm glad that this glass is gorilla-proof.

Here's a pretty little arctic fox.

This tiger is separated from the people a huge gulf, probably at least thirty feet deep and thirty feet wide. I'm assuming that's because tiger's are good jumpers, and the people must be kept safe.

There was an aquarium section at this zoo, but it was hard to get good pictures. These are anemones. There were a lot of clown fish in there too, just like Nemo.

You can see that I'm completely fearless when it comes to the predators. I went right into the lion's den and put my arm around him. We're tight. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Beauty of the Earth!

So, this is a little stream/river (I'm not sure which, actually) that cuts across the FHSU campus and winds out through this little park. A few days ago, we had a very warm day, and so we headed to the park for some sun and exercise. We took this really exaggerated pictures crossing the stream just for fun. I thought these stepping stones were really cool.

Some random pictures of us by the water...

I'm happy to report that green has started to appear in the fields around here. Little shoots of green grass are pushing out between all the dead yellow stuff. The world is slowly coming to life, and I just love Kansas! It's beautiful and I want to see spring here in full bloom!
I have thought much about the blessings of my life. I have been given so much, and I want to give to others in helpful and meaningful ways. I have realized that my own blessings are not really for me; they're for everyone else in my life. I have endless opportunity to show love, kindness, and charity for others. I've been thinking about how worthless a life would be that blessed no one else. Selfishness and self-centered thoughts are completely pointless. Nothing comes from thinking about myself only. But much can come from thinking of others and spreading the joy I have felt.
Just look at the beautiful earth! It is God's, of course, but he made it for us. We can wander in gorgeous woodlands and climb mountains and picnic in the desert- all because the earth has been given to us. I want to be like my god and give beauty to others just because I can!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fuzzy little babies.

So yesterday, we went to the farm of some of friends from the ward (the Hyatt's). It is so wonderful to have friends! They have a bunch of farm animals and they recently had a goat give birth to these two little babies. They're so cute! I'm putting goats into my novel, and so I wanted to spend some time with the goats. Basically yesterday I was introduced to some of the ways of goats, but in the future I will spend more time just watching them run around and play with each other. They're so fun! I saw these kids only a week ago, and they have grown significantly in that time.

I would write more, but I must get to Spanish class.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The wind, the sun, and gray grass.

Winter here is all gray-yellow. I took this picture when I was out for a walk, and I was surprised by how colorless it turned out! I have always liked the way that winter grass looks, and I remember trying to explain it to my friend in Virginia. In the south eastern climate, the grass never quite looks like this, and it was hard for her to imagine. (There, the grass stays green, although it is a paler more dead-looking green in the winter.)

I've learned that people around here (at least the students) don't spend time in the outdoors. They don't hike or picnic. The very concept of picnicking is strange to them. How bizarre is that? It seems like in Utah people live to be outside, whether it is climbing mountains or exploring the desert or swimming in the reservoirs or even simple gardening and yard care. Most people picnic at least a couple times in a year, even if it is just at the closest park.
But I suppose there are two factors to consider here: the wind and the sun. The flat land of Kansas offers little protection from either. So if your face is not being blown off, you are going to get roasted by the sun... but that's what sunscreen and hoodies are for!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nourished with great soup.

As you might have guess from these pictures, we made a soup on the weekend. It was one of our best soups ever! It included some bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, yellow onion, red potato, criminy mushrooms, leek, celery, and green onion. Oh, and I forgot to mention fresh basil. I'm starting to get a feel for the different spices and I'm becoming a huge fan of sage.
We're trying to make our health a high priority now, and making delicious healthy food helps a lot. I'm learning to be grateful for my body and to love it. For many years, I would not have thought it was possible to love my body. But, you know, it's the only one I have. It serves me well enough when I nourish it and take care of it properly.
And Paul helps me a lot. One day I was meeting him at the library and he saw me walking toward him. He smiled at me and said, "I love the shape of you." For some reason, I just need him to tell me that, to tell me that I look good to him. Really, that's all it takes to make me start believing that I need to be grateful for the body that I have. It is pretty lame that society tells us to hate our bodies. What good could that possibly do us?