Some of my annual goals this year are to complete the Book of Mormon (for the umpteenth time), keep up with Come Follow Me, and read the General Conference addresses before the next General Conference. I’ve really enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon this time. Partly because it has been a couple of years. I have read snippets from it over the past couple of years, but I was so focused on checking my boxes for Come Follow Me AND surviving residency with four kids, that I didn’t get to read the Book of Mormon from start to finish like I have many years before. This week I was reading about when Nephi and his family finally arrive in the promise land. In chapter 19 Nephi talks about how he was then commanded to create metal plates to write the history of his people– what we all now know to be parts of the Book of Mormon. Something new occurred to me this time around: He wasn’t commanded to make those plates until after his struggles AND after having been instructed of the Lord on how to make metal tools and construct a ship. He had already been taught the importance of scriptures when he was commanded to get his ancestors’ records from Laban. Then he was taught the importance of continued revelation while learning from his father, the then prophet, and then being blessed with revelations of his own. After all of these stepping stones, the Lord finally commanded him to create and record what we now call scriptures. This was the capstone of all that Nephi accomplished. It reminded me of all the simple, and sometimes not-so-simple things I have been through that have prepared me for something greater in my life. For example, when I was a kid I always had the desire and love of sharing the gospel. I remember slipping a Book of Mormon pamphlet into my homework folder, hoping my teacher would see it. She did, pulled me aside and thanked me for teaching her more about my faith. I have no idea where that teacher is today, but I do now how that experience impacted me.
Around about that same time I remember telling someone about my “life plan,” which to those who are young and naive, is never a good idea, but some how around the age of 8, I was more spot on than when I neared my early adult years. I told this person that I wanted to go to BYU, serve a mission, get married and have kids. I do believe I said eight kids, but like I said before… I was young and naive. However, I did go to BYU. I did serve a mission, and then after all of that I found my forever friend in Andy.
As I neared the age that girls were allowed to serve (21 back then), I began to pray about whether or not it was the right thing for me. I had the desire, but I was unsure that it was what my future should hold. I decided to go on a study abroad to Italy (thanks Dad!). While there, I was away from the bubble of Mormonism that is prevalent in Provo and had the opportunity to stand out, answer questions, and in a way represent the Lord. On my way home from a festa per una contrada (neighborhood party). In Siena, Italy, there is an annual Palio– horse race that happens in the center of the city. Every section of Siena has a designated neighborhood flag and mascot. We lived near the Tortuga Contrada. They invited us to their celebration. It was there, amidst the laughter and fun that we stood out. An older teen, pretty interested in these 8 American girls, but even more interested in why we weren’t drinking. I loved explaining to them our beliefs and why they were important to us, and pleasantly they thought it was very respectable and maybe even cool that we had that outlook on life. I walked home beneath the Tuscan sky, the colors changing from dark purple to black. The Stars began to shine brilliantly and it felt so serene. The wind gently rustled through the olive tree’s leaves, the tops illuminating beneath the moonlit sky. I was filled with so much joy from sharing my beliefs that those thoughts consumed my mind all the way home. I decided I needed to pray with decisiveness that night. Before entering our villa, I kneeled next to a stone bench beneath an olive tree and prayed. I told the Lord I felt serving a mission was right, and that I need confirmation that this is what he saw would bring my life the blessings I need and be the path he wanted me to go. Not a moment continued before my entire being felt full. I felt as if I was bursting with light. I felt intense joy and warmth and knew that this was the path the Lord wanted for me. There’s more to that story before I ended up going on my mission, but I can honestly say, every blessing in my life can be directly linked to that choice. Because I served I was able to get a job at the Missionary Training Center, where I learned even more about teaching (and it was honestly the best job ever). Because I gained experience from teaching both from the mission and from that job, I was able to get a job as a teacher with Teach for America, one of the more competitive programs in the country. Honestly, had I known that I wouldn’t t have felt qualified and probably wouldn’t have applied, but I’m grateful I did. They sent me to Houston (My bottom choice) where my future husband waited. Andy was also being prepared by the Lord with all he had been through for the future blessings of our family. And here we are. Four kids. Andy’s accomplished a lot in his career and we have a wonderful family. I know that we are where we’re at because of the choice I made to serve. I am sure I still have building blocks going on in my life to prepare me for future happenstance, but it is incredible to see what the previous blocks have prepared me for.
My good friend, Holly was always my “light at the end of the tunnel” during our medical journey. Her husband also went through training to become a doctor and she was always there to help me through the tough times. I asked her once, more like pleaded with her, “Please tell me it gets better, easier?!” She replied, “It’s not that it gets easier, because in some ways it is honestly harder, but I am stronger and therefore, it is easier for ME to handle it.” This has been totally true in my life. The Lord doesn’t usually give us the toughest thing to handle, but what we are handling may feel really tough, but ultimately what he is doing is preparing us to reach our greatest potential.
These snapshots from our week are examples of life coming to fulfillment after a lot of preparation, as well as stepping stones to becoming what we can be. I love watching my kids learn and grow and seeing their progress as they make the effort to learn. Maverick and I have been working on his fluency. I’ve had him read the same story every night. He reads it once and then reads it to me while I time him. He has improved his time and decreased his mistakes. This has been a really good opportunity to show that with practice comes growth and like I mentioned in my previous blog, Mistakes are for Learning. It has been a frequent mantra this week that has really put the positive on the mistakes we’ve made.
I took the kids to the library and then a picnic at the park. I don’t have a picture of Maverick because he was off playing in the playground and scarcely came back to take a bite.
Max has really taken an interest in cooking lately. His mind is always going, he tried to create a projector using a phone, a convex lens and some paper. Unfortunately the phone’s screen isn’t bright enough, but he learned a lot while doing it. Beverly’s hair is getting longer, but she still longs for hair she can play with, so I succumbed and let her fix my hair this morning. I felt a little like Beast after he gets bows put in his hair. She loves chocolate almost as much as I do… in fact, maybe more! I don’t have any photos of Maverick this week, but I did take a picture of hi fantastic fan art from the Mandalorian.