Friday, July 27, 2012

You Know Who I Miss?

My little girls. And by miss I mean I that just thinking about them makes my heart ache, yet smile at the same time because I love them so much.
Yesterday I was able to Skype them and it was amazing! I loved being able to see those crazy kids bouncing off of the wall and listen to them laughing like maniacs. Crazy kids...I love them with all my heart. It's amazing how happy I was just to see their blurry images and hear their broken audio.
When it was time to go Isalyn, the three year old, started crying. I told her that I'd see her again soon but that didn't seem to make her feel much better and the tears continued to flow. So, in an attempt to cheer her up, I gave her a secret mission. (We always went on adventures and treasure hunts and such when I was nannying them.) I told her that, in order to complete her mission, she would have to draw me a beautiful picture of a flower with pink and purple petals. She immediately jumped off the couch and began on her picture for me. After assuring them that I would see them again and telling them I loved them, I ended the call. And then I cried.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Wish...

That I could go on a mission...and get married at the same time.
I don't necessarily want to get married right this second, but I don't know that I want to wait two, three years to even start to work towards it either. I mean, I guess I do. I am still choosing to serve a mission. But still. I want to fall in love. Head over heels, let's make this last for eternity love. I want to have adventures and make memories that last and that I will always be able to look back on with my husband. I want to have a family. Or at least I want the possibility that it could happen. That today I could meet the man I'm going to marry. That he may love me.
And then there are other days when I wonder, will I ever marry? Am I too ridiculously picky or will I, someday, find someone who I really want to spend an eternity with? Will I ever be a part of a relationship where I couldn't see myself with anyone else? A relationship where I don't occasionally wonder: Is this all there is? It's not that I've never been in love. I have. I have had quite a few wonderful relationships as well as way too many not-so-good ones. I have thought about marriage, talked about marriage, even looked at rings with a couple of really special guys. In the end though, I always get the feeling that this isn't "the one" for me. That something else is coming.
Maybe that's because I know I have yet to serve a mission?
Or maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic waiting to be swept off of my feet.
And I wonder if I'm asking for too much. If I'm even good enough to attract the type of person that I have in mind. I wonder if I'll ever love someone as much as they love me. I want to. Yet, I can't seem to make that happen. And I think that's because I already know that I'm leaving soon and that I won't be back for 18 months and that my focus will be somewhere much more important than planning a wedding. But I still wonder...I can't help it.
Is it bad to be so picky?
Is it bad that I'm even thinking about all of this as I prepare for my mission?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Family Vacation&A Strengthened Testimony

Last week was amazing. My family went on a vacation across the country to: 1)Kirtland, Ohio, 2) Niagra Falls, 3) Palmyra, New York, and 4) Nauvoo, Illinois. We spent a lot of time at church history sites and I loved the spirit that I was able to feel on the trip. 
As we were all going into the sacred grove I hung back behind everyone so that I would be able to be alone and feel the spirit a little more. As soon as I stepped into the grove I felt overwhelmed with the spirit. It was such a special place. I went off into a little section by myself and, though there were many people walking along the paths around me, as soon as I began praying to my Heavenly Father the paths became vacant and I seemed to be all alone in the peaceful grove just talking to God. I sat there and just prayed for about thirty minutes and I know that my Heavenly Father was there with me as I expressed my concerns about serving a mission, wondering whether I was worthy enough, whether I was capable and talented and strong enough to serve and to teach others. It was very clear to me that He would make it more. As I sat in that grove with tears streaming down my face I thought of Joseph Smith, of the humble prayer that he said in between those trees. I though of the time he spent in Liberty Jail and I thought of his question, "Oh God, Where art thou and how long wilt thou hand be stayed?" I immediately felt a very strong feeling that I knew where God was. He was right there and I needn't ever question that or wonder if I was alone.
In the Palmyra temple later that day I picked up the scriptures and let them fall open and I had a very similar experience to one which I previously had in the Mesa temple. The pages turned to D&C 39 (last time it was section 112) and, once again, I felt impressed that the words were just for me. Just like the last time I attended the temple with a question about my mission in mind, I read of how God told His servants, told me, that, though they had made mistakes and had seen sorrow because of those mistakes, He knew their hearts and loved them. He knew that they were ready and desired for them to go on missions and spread the gospel to others. It seems pretty clear to me what He would have me do. 
On our way home my family stopped at the Nauvoo Pageant. It was amazing. The actor for Joseph Smith was incredible and was everything I had imagined the prophet to be. As we were driving to our hotel that night I felt a feeling, stronger than ever, that I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I always believed it and I knew the Book of Mormon to be true so it only made sense that Joseph Smith was a true prophet yet my heart went out to him for the trials he went through, I was grateful for his part in restoring the gospel, and I knew that he was a prophet. 
On that same drive mom told us of how a President Johnson had called our home a couple of weeks ago. She told us of how, when he was an Elder Johnson and served his mission here in Nebraska he had baptized my grandparents and my dad and, after doing so, he had said, "Someday there will be a President Norman Sillivan in this area." I'm sure he thought that he was speaking of my grandpa but, little did he know my dad would soon be called as the first branch president here and open up a new branch in which I grew up. President Johnson was just recently called as a branch president up in Washington somewhere and, receiving a book full of other branch presidents, he curiously flipped back to the old area where he'd served. What a surprise it must have been to see a Broken Bow Branch and to see, as the branch president, Norman Sillivan. He had prophesied of that coming to pass and he had been an instrument in the creating of this branch, in the creating of my family and the gospel being in our lives. Little did he know what a huge impact he would have. My heart was full of gratitude then and it is again now as I think of that elder so long ago. I cannot wait to someday meet him, shake his hand, and tell him, "Thank you. Thank you so much for all you have done for my family, for me." He will never know how much he affected my life but he did, he blessed it in a very big way. I am more determined than ever to do the same for others, even if it's only one family. I want to be able to do for others what that elder did for me. God has given me so much. I am so excited to give a sliver of that back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Insomnia, Shortened Dreams, and Lifetime Roles

Pt. 1-Insomnia
You know those nights when it's late. And you're super tired. And you want to fall asleep. But you just can't? Yeah. Last night was one of those. I lay in bed at 3AM and just stared at the ceiling. Actually, that's not true. I stared at my pillow because I was sorta laying on my face. Comfy.
Regardless, I couldn't fall asleep? I had far too much on my mind. But nothing at the same time? It's as if I had a million thoughts racing through my mind but I wasn't really focusing on any of them. Am I spouting out nonsense here? Does anyone know what I'm talking about? Probably not. 
Anyway, the things that were passing through my synapse (geek to the max) were mostly good things to be kept awake by, if there is such a thing. 
I thought of my mission. I thought of what articles I was going to send today (an editor for a nearby newspaper wanted to see some of my writings. Yay!). I thought of finally getting rid of the hiccups I'd had all day. I thought of the family trip that we will be leaving for tomorrow. I thought of many things but, eventually, I fell asleep.

Pt. 2-Shortened Dreams
At some point early this morning I began to dream a marvelous dream. Then I woke up before I was able to finish the awesomeness that it was. Why? Because I felt like I needed to blow my nose. Blow my freakin nose! Not even a worthy cause. I tried to will myself back into a slumber in which I finished the dream. But that didn't happen. Unfortunate.

Pt. 3-Lifetime Roles
I was reading over at The Dirt Life and I found a woman of mine own understanding. What I feel, what I want in this life? She gets it.
I want to travel this world. I want to write about it and take pictures of the different types of beauties. I want to get married and have my husband travel with me. I want to live different places while we're still young, experience different atmospheres. And then, when it's time to start a family, I want to get a little place in the country and I want to become a mom. I want to stay at home with my children, writing and taking photos whenever I can, taking photos of them. Writing of them. I want to put all of my heart and soul into things that I love, my pen, my camera, my family. I don't care about becoming a career woman but, when I say that, many get offended as if I am backhanding every woman's right activist that ever lived. Forgive me, that's not how I mean it at all. This is the way I am though. I was cut from a different cloth than you.
I am confident that my role in this life is to be a wife and a mother and I am excited to, someday, be able to focus on that. First, though, I need to thank my Heavenly Father for offering me that opportunity and give 18 months to him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Casket Far Too Small

This morning I attended a funeral. At the front sat a casket which was far too small. Inside lay a ten year old boy, the little brother of friends. He was an adorable boy and, though I didn't see him often, he was constantly smiling when I did see him. I couldn't help but think what a cute boy he was going to be, what a cute boy he was.
I know his sister. I was her leader at church camps for many years and she is one of the sweetest young women I have ever had the chance to be around.
I know his brother. He is such a cute guy and an incredibly fun dance partner. A couple of summers ago we had a whole Grease cast chosen and we planned on recording our own version of the classic. We have yet to do that. Like his little brother, my friend is always smiling, even today. As his sister told me though, she didn't really know what else to do.
 They all smiled. They are such a strong family. I'm so grateful to know where their strength comes from: the knowledge that they will be able to see their brother/son again. I'm so thankful for the knowledge that families can be together, not just for this life, but for eternity. Forever.
Throughout the service I was blessed with the chance to feel and learn more of the personality of this special boy.  As I sat there I thought, "He truly was an incredible child." Almost immediately after another thought crossed my mind, "Of course he is. He is the child of our Heavenly Father. All children are special."
How humbling that was. I deal with children on a daily basis and I love them with all of my heart. I am so blessed to be able to hold our Father's choice spirits. What an amazing opportunity it will be to someday be able to be the permanent guardian of some of His children.
I am so grateful for the tender mercies I am blessed with daily: prayer, songs, scriptures, others' kindness, hugs, smiles, family, children. '

Monday, July 9, 2012

Today I decided to channel my inner creativity.

A few years ago I found an old wooden schooldesk that used to sit in a one-room country schoolhouse outside of my hometown. I sanded down a few layers of the thick, black-green varnishing, became busy, and promptly forgot about the chair/desk. The old chair sat in storage for three more years and, finally, this afternoon, I decided to get that chair back out again. I sanded for hours. This afternoon I finally decided exactly what I wanted to do with this desk. I figured out what I wanted to create. The finished product is going to sit in the loft of the apartment my sister and I are moving into next month. And it's going to be awesome. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

They Had Mountains

What else is new?
Well, I've started taking engagement and family pictures. I'm still very new and unexperienced but I love it and, so far, everyone has come out happy. Thank goodness. My first shoot was this lovely couple that asked me to take their engagements. I was so nervous that I wouldn't be good and that they wouldn't like them that I did everything for free and actually prayed (multiple times) that they would like the pictures I presented them with. Thankfully, they loved them. That couple opened the floodgates and since then I've had multiple people ask me to take photos for them. I will always be grateful to my awesome friends for taking a chance on me, for opening that door.
I have published another article, so that's exciting. It was a small article in a very small local newspaper but still, it's something to add to the resume. I was talking to the editor about what she would like me to write about. At first she asked me to write about myself and all of my "adventures and accomplishments." I don't feel like I've been on any real adventures yet and I certainly don't consider myself very accomplished so I asked if there was anything else she would like me to write on. She asked me to write on the weather...which was ok. Boring. But ok. As I went to write though, I didn't feel a bit of passion for the weather. I can write without passion, but those are never pieces of which I am proud. So I went out on a limb and wrote about my hometown. Why? Because I think, all too often, people of my community take our beautiful utopia for granted. I'm sure that can be said for every community, but we are so blessed here in my safe little town, my little piece of paradise. 
Luckily the editor loved it and she published it for me even though it certainly wasn't the weather. I suppose that's another blessing of living in a small town and writing for a small paper: people are a little more flexible.

Here's what I wrote:

A home to come home to. That phrase never made much sense to me...until I moved to Lincoln for college two years ago. Lincoln quickly became a second home. On this last New Year's Eve I moved to Phoenix, AZ and lived there for six months, taking online classes and working as a live-in nanny. At first I was worried that a small town girl from Nebraska wouldn't ft in with those from a valley of eight million but I quickly found my niche and, once again, it became another home. Yet, Arcadia remained my hometown. I was proud to be a Nebraskan, an Arcadian; I still am.
I loved living in Arizona. I loved the mountains, the silhouetted sunsets, and the myriad of cultures. I loved being near the ocean and taking weekend beach trips, having swimming pools in almost every backyard and viewing the city lights after a night hike. I loved that there were so many friends to be made: friends my same age with my same interests and standards. As much as I enjoyed the past six months, though, there were things that I'd grown up with that weren't present. There were things that I missed.
Where they had mountains we had rolling hills in shades of green, a color that the desert lacked. While they had beautiful silhouettes we had breathtaking sunsets that seemed to stretch across the whole state, dying everything in sight a hue of pink or purple and quilting the sky with colored cumulus. They had swimming pools but we had rivers and lakes and fresh water that we could safely drink. We had rain that smelled fresh like rain should. Instead of fluorescent signs that lit up the night we had fireflies that made the fields glitter and stars that weren't drowned in light pollution. There I had a lot of friends, here I had family. I missed my privacy, a peaceful seclusion that can't be simulated with a "privacy wall." I missed the safety in being able to drive home alone at night and fill up my own gas without being approached by strange men. I missed the laid-back approach to life. I missed wildflowers. Animals. New life. As much as I was intrigued by the industrial jungle the city had to offer, I missed my home. 
I'm not saying that Arcadia is better than the rest of the world. I have loved every "home" that I have had thus far and I'm sure I will love everywhere I have yet to live. I am the type of person that could be happy anywhere and I have a lot of places I have yet to see, things I have yet to do. What I have come to realize, however, is that, to me, Arcadia is where my heart, my loyalty is rooted. There's something about the people. Something about the land, the animals, surprisingly enough there's even something about the unpredictable weather. There's something about this simple life that makes it easier to see what really matters, makes it easier to serve, to love. God created this incredible earth full of different types of beauties and I intend to see and appreciate them all. No matter where I go, though, there's something that will always pull me back home. 

Hello Again

I'm sorry I've been gone so in Arizona was...awesome. I loved it there. However, since I only lived there for six months, I wanted to live every moment that I wasn't working, even the moments when I was working. Not that I don't love writing and posting on here, but I figured that I would probably make more memories when I was actually out doing something rather than sitting inside writing on my blog. That's also a plus about not advertising on your blog, you can take a little break every once in a while and no one minds. Now that I'm finally home in Nebraska (I flew in last week) I'll be able to post again. 
So much has changed. So. Much. 
I now have these two beautiful little girls that I have nannied since January and I love them. I love them so much that, sometimes, I feel like I may burst from holding too much emotion in my 5'4" body. I can't even imagine having my own children. How will I ever be able to handle even more love? As of now they are in Nebraska staying with their grandma for a week and a half and I have been able to see them every couple of days. I'm dreading Sunday when they have to go back home to Arizona. I'll probably cry like a baby saying goodbye to them. I'm about to start crying now. *Deep breath.* The hardest part is that they probably won't remember me in a few months, especially after I don't see them for probably two years.
I have a boyfriend now, a decision that I made after a lot of thought and prayer. (Remember that great guy I posted about...quite awhile ago? Yep. That's him.) It was a decision that I will never regret: we have each learned so much from one another. We have been dating for four months now and he's an amazing person that I have been able to watch change and grow since I first met him. When I moved back to Nebraska he made the decision to follow me here. As excited as I was to spend more time with him, it made me a little nervous having someone move across the country for me. That's a lot of pressure. I've never had someone who would do something like that for me. It's flattering, it's exciting, it's a little scary. Before he moved we talked about it and decided that, once we got here, we would pray about it and see how long he should stay in Nebraska. Now that we've been here a few weeks, we've come to the conclusion that it would be best for him to return home at the end of the summer. Being here together has been great, but I don't think it's necessarily the best decision for either of us at the moment. As much as I truly do love and care about him, he's not the one for me. Not right now; no one is. The timing isn't right.
Which leads me to the biggest change, I'm preparing to serve a mission. I have most of my paperwork done and I'll send them in in August. I cannot wait to find out where I'm going. It's still pretty surreal, but I'm excited and I know that this is what I'm supposed to do. This is the one time in my life that I have received a distinct, "Yes. That's the right decision, go ahead with it." And I've received it twice. How could I possibly deny that? I seriously thought about waiting for Seth to come home from his mission before I left for mine...I would really like to see him again...but I know that that would make it much harder for me to leave. And I know I need to.
So that's where I'm at right now. That's what is going on in my life. I'll fill you in on more later.