Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Abinadi Knew

I have been reading about the prophet Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. I started reading the book three weeks ago and have read up to this point in the book of Mosiah. Reading so fast has offered special insights to me, and I have had certain understandings come to me that I never had before. It's amazing how much there is to learn in the scriptures. You can read every day for your whole life and never, never stop finding more.

Anyway, I got to Abinadi's story. I am so in awe of his bravery. He went charging into a hostile situation, seemingly aware of the fact that it would likely end badly for him. He knew that the king, Noah, would not want to hear the Lord's words. He was probably terrified of what would happen when he opened his mouth-- and yet he did it anyway!

Abinadi was bold. He demanded to be heard, and he would not stop talking until he had said all that God had sent him to say. He did so even though he was thrown in prison, threatened, and eventually burned to death.

Why did he do it?

I know why, and it was because of what he knew. He knew that God lived, he knew that Jesus Christ was his redeemer who would be born someday. He knew with absolute certainty that God has a plan for his children, and that everyone needs the opportunity to know that plan.

When you know those things, when you really know them, it changes you and gives you bravery. When you know those things, you are willing to do anything for the Lord. You are willing to defend truth and teach boldly, and no situation is too scary or hostile. When you know, you want to show the Lord by doing everything he asks you to do. Everything.

I have felt my love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ grow as I have read these past weeks, and in turn I have become more aware of their love for me and for everyone. It is incredible how much they love us.

For anyone who doesn't know Abinadi's story, I have posted a link below to an article about him. It's a little academic, but it's a comprehensive version.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something bigger than me.

I have eight minutes right now before my advanced composition class starts... and I have decided that I need to get blog posts in whenever I can. I want my blog to be representative of my actual life-- with the flavor of my life. Lives have flavors, you know. They don't all taste the same.

So here's something that happened yesterday. I was thinking about depressing things, and I started to get really... well, depressed. I am a deeply emotional person, and sometimes my emotions rush through me so powerfully that I can barely cope. I tend to get lonely. Solitude is not always bad, but I can take it too far. So this familiar scene played out last night of me sitting on the couch staring off into space and feeling sad. I had finished all my homework and reading for the week, and there was nothing responsible to distract me.

Paul had downloaded a song for me from OCremix, which is a website where composers remix (or rewrite with their own twist) music from video games. My absolute favorite song is from Final Fantasy 6, and I am totally in love with a certain remix. I turned it on, and the emotions came howling at me. It nearly overwhelmed me.

But I had a little thought, "I should use these emotions."

So I went looking for a pencil, and I found a piece of printer paper. I put the pencil to the paper, and I let the emotions flow right from the music, into my soul, down into the pencil, and onto the paper. A drawing was born of a young girl (probably 13 or so) looking up. She is standing in a desert with a mesa in the background and a few scattered bushes. Mostly the backdrop is empty and wide, showing the vastness of the world. And the girl-- she is small compared to all that. I titled the drawing, "Something bigger than me."

When I was done, I felt better. The emotions had calmed, and I had made something beautiful. I was grateful, then, to be alone. I was grateful that I had the emotions, even the strong whirlwind. I thought if I could just use them... I could make the world more beautiful.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Creepy crawly things...

Random fact about Kansas: it has A LOT of big spiders. I took this picture last summer at the Wichita Zoo. This spider wasn't an exhibit; it was wild, just sitting on the side of a little building. The challenge of getting a good picture of a huge spider is placing something next to it that will reveal how big it actually is. (Sometimes in the past, we have used our hands, but this always seemed just a bit foolhardy.) I have seen bigger ones than this one that were brown or black. They tend to hide under stuff, but I have seen one just standing in the middle of the hallway at school, and my neighbor found one clinging to the front of her little boy's shirt.

I have yet to see any really big ones in the apartment, but I have seen dozens of little fuzzy ones all winter. When I see them, I have one of two reactions. One, I shriek and smash them before thinking twice. Or two, I watch in fascination as they spin their little webs or creep along in their spidery way. They are beautiful in a frightening, macabre sense, and I do kind of like them. That is, as long as they're not biting me or laying their eggs in my house or crawling over me when I'm trying to sleep. When they do any of those things, they MUST DIE!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Does life have a plan?

Can I just say that I'm grateful that my life has not been according to my own plan? I've been thinking about the whole journey that I've been on since I went to college freshman year. I thought I would graduate within four years and then really get started with my writing life. I would be a published author by now and I would live by my pen, like Jane Austen.

I didn't plan on marriage because... let's be honest here. I never dated, I never had boyfriends, I never even had guys seem interested in me in any way. I thought, "Who needs that anyway?" But I really did, and I'm glad that marriage came crashing through my plans. I can't imagine how I could have survived the two years that followed if I hadn't had Paul.

I got sick, very sick, and all my plans of graduating quickly disintegrated. It just wasn't possible for me to take a lot of classes and succeed when I was so ill. A lot of my hopes and dreams completely vanished as I grappled with the realities of my illness. I can't properly express what that was like, and I prefer to not think too much about it. Almost all of my life plans were gone, and that made me feel lost for a while.

But I was talking to Paul yesterday, and I realized that I'm not lost anymore. I have learned that my plans for myself were not God's plans for me. I don't know what all of his plans are, but I feel peace. I know that my life has meaning and purpose and that I can do many good things while I live. I don't need to know what will happen and I don't need to depend on plans too much-- because I'm not really the maker of the plans.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paul's Modern Art

Trying to take a picture of your own eye... a courageous endeavor. Kudos to Paul...! I consider the pictures on this post to be Paul's idea of modern art.

And for another series of delightful photography... and I really do mean that. :)
We were visiting a local reservoire called Webster Lake at some point last semester, and Paul took these incredibly silly pictures. What is especially humorous about them is that he took them by accident. He had some vague idea about taking a picture that would have his face as a closeup with me in the background... Well, you decide how well it worked out.

Paul also likes to draw his own comics. They usually have some kind of social commentary or religious joke. (He likes to play on scriptural language and be punny.) And as a sidenote, you may have noticed the limestone that is the backdrop of Paul's self-portraits. Kansas is pretty much made of limestone, so you see it everywhere and most of the buildings on the FHSU campus are made of it.

Is it "differ from" or "differ with?"

I have almost been in school for a week in my new classes, and already I am feeling the grind. Fortunately, I think the stress level should be lower this semester than it was last semester. If it isn't, I may just have to kill myself. (I mean kill myself in some quick and painless way, such as by placing my neck under a guillotine. Please, let me know if you know where one is...)

Seriously, though. My classes are demanding. I spent hours "scanning" a section in the Chicago Manual of Style for my Professional Editing class. It was a word usage section that quibbles with serious writing issues, such as when to use "differ from" and when to use "differ with." I am glad we're not actually expected to memorize all 39 pages. It is supposed to be the Bible of editing reference material. I've been considering editorial work as one of my possible future careers, and this class may determine whether or not I actually want to do that line of work.

(Here I should offer a disclaimer... I always try to catch errors in my blog posts, but some of them slide through. I have sometimes gone back to correct previous posts when I found errors later. Maybe after spending a semester doing hardcore editing, I will be better at editing my own writing. Until then, I'm not sure the quality is going to improve much. I will never been offended if people point out usage errors to me in the comments.)

I have some time right now, and if I can, I will post a few silly pictures. We'll see if the pictures will successfully download.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A time-devouring monster.

I know... It has been pretty much eternity since I last posted. I have a few minutes just now before my first class of this semester starts, and I thought I should write something. I don't think it is even possible to summarize my last semester. It was like a huge time-devouring monster that kept me staying up late and getting up early researching and writing and just generally working insanely. I have never been that busy or that buried in schoolwork before. Taking two writing classes and two lit classes together was maybe not the best idea I have ever had. I always had this feeling like there was something that I was not remembering to do-- and there usually was something.

The worst moment of the semester was when I walked into my fiction class and saw neat-looking papers on every one's desks... and I realized the class's major paper was due and I had not even started or thought about it for a second. (It turned out all right because the teacher could see that I was having a heart attack and gave a generous extension of almost a week!)

Some of the best moments were spent with my professors talking about my writing. They were so encouraging and honest. Their critiques helped me to do better with form and style, and their compliments helped me to believe that I really can make a career out of writing. It was the kind of professional affirmation that I really needed. I know that we were inspired to come to this school so that I could work with these teachers. And who would have thought that the perfect program for me would be in Kansas!?

But of course the semester had to end at some point, and when it did Paul and I went to Vernal to visit my family. It was so good to see everyone, and Christmas was really fun. My mom and dad were very thoughtful and gave us a lot of presents. Most notably, they gave me a coat and they gave Paul the entire Chronicles of Narnia book series on CD. My mom made us a photo book of our wedding, and she also made a Tender Mercies Journal for everyone. Those were really sweet gifts. I was like a little kid, so happy and excited to get presents. And speaking of little kids, I absolutely loved spending time with my nephew, little Ryan. He is a really wonderful boy! He was talking a lot, and he surprised everyone by remembering Paul's name without being prompted.

Paul and I decided to take a new route home, and that proved interesting. We went north to Flaming Gorge and into Wyoming. All went swimmingly until one of our tires exploded on the freeway. We were fine, but we had to change the stupid tire, and conditions proved to be hostile. It was below zero and the winds were howling at 45+ mph. That was the single longest coldest experience of my life, and I don't recommend it...

Anyway, we made it. And I am out of time. I've got to go to class now... Introduction to Literary Analysis and Theory... Hope it goes well.