Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Email from Mommy

And you wonder where I get it? This is an email I received today, verbatim, from my mom.

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But how can you help decorate the Christmas tree from AFRICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

BTW (which means Better To Whistle): I've finished planning my Institute lesson and I am kinda' bored.

FYI (which means Flogging Yields Intestines): if you want, [you can invite a certain male friend] over for Thanksgiving--it's your call (Not as in phone call, but as in decision to make in a decisive manner.) I decided I don't like what FYI means above, I'm changing it to mean Frozen Yams are Inefficient--as in to eat--terribly inefficient to eat. Therefore our yams will not be frozen on Thanksgiving day. (See how I tied all this together?)

Better get to bed before Ambien kicks in. (I kinda' think it has already.) Oh well, LOL, which means Longwinded Over Logical-which describes this email.
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Life was never boring where I grew up.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dirty Dash

My friend Megan sent out an email about a unique 10K team race through the mud. I thought, "Cool. I like running. I like mud. Let's do it." I didn't really have the slightest inkling of what it would be like in reality. I knew I'd get muddy, but NOTHING prepared me for the spectacle that I witnessed, and indeed helped create, at the Dirty Dash.

This was more of an obstacle course up and down a mountain than a race, with mud pits to swim through, hay bails to hurdle, tubes to crawl through, 8-foot tall walls to climb, tires to jog over, fire hoses to resist, swamps to slop through, and a giant slip-and-slide. It was really more of a 6.2 mile mud-slinging party with several thousand participants.



I can normally finish a 10K in about 45-50 minutes, but this one took me over two hours. Granted, a lot of that ended up being rolling around in the mud and hurling slop at people.

I think we were the only team without costumes or at least team shirts. There were some really creative (and scary) costumes though. I never want to see a shirtless man in short spandex shorts again!


Jess, me, Brenden, Brandon, Megan

The hardest part for me was the swamp that had to be at least half a mile long. I nearly lost my good running shoes in it's depths on several occasions. Jess and I finally decided to just crawl for the last quarter mile or so. She promptly gashed her leg open on a rock and began bleeding profusely, although we couldn't tell until we stopped crawling and started running again. I was also bleeding from my forearm, but only a little. Some random guys provoked us to another mud-slinging war and we obliged. It was about at this point I started to (a) doubt my sanity, (b) wonder what strange disease I would end up with after immersing myself in this swamp with open wounds, and (c) regret wearing a shirt with sleeves. I felt about 30 pounds heavier with all the mud that was glopped all over my clothing and on my shoes.



Near the end of the race was the World's Largest Slip N' Slide. Down we went in the freezing water until it spit us out at the bottom into - you guessed it - another mud pit.


That is Jess in the foreground, Brenden behind her, and me in the back

At least 6,000 sweaty and probably bloody runners had already been in the final pit during the first wave of the race that day. I tried not to think about it.

For some reason unfathomable to my currently reasonable mind, Jess and I decided to emerge from the final pit and slide down the last little hill. It looked slimy and soft. Nope. It was full of sharp little rocks and gravel. I gashed my right side open during the last few seconds of the race. But of course, our wounds didn't deter us from taking some team pictures.


Jess, me, Brenden, Brandon, Megan

I think then is about when the misery started setting in. I tried to suppress and clean out the gash in my side without subjecting myself too much to the freezing showers. For fear of hypothermia, I decided against better judgment that the shower would have to wait for an hour or so until I got back to Provo... the water was far too cold for me to attempt to wash my hair or any other part of me, and I was already literally visibly convulsing with shivers, and according to Jess, my lips were blue. Jess hurriedly escorted me back to our vehicle and I wrapped my wet and muddy self up in a towel.

By the time I got home I was freezing, famished, still black with mud, incredibly smelly, and looked a lot like Bob Marley. Especially because by that point, my hair looked and felt like dreadlocks. Seriously, it was more a coagulated mass than individual hairs. Immediately after getting home I showered for a good half hour, washed my hair five times, discarded my clothing in an old recycling bin and washed it five times by hand before putting it in the washer, and swore I would never never NEVER EVER touch mud of any form again!!!

Feeling clean and happy, I proceeded to girl's night.

Where, ironically, I was greeted by roommates wearing mud masks. Who really wanted to give me a proper mud mask. With cucumbers to boot. I submitted.

Now I am trying to organize my team for the April Dirty Dash.


Megan, Brenden, Brandon, Jess, me

Rough Stone Rolling

I just finished reading this book yesterday. If you have read it, please please please contact me! I would love to discuss it with someone, but haven't been able to find a single person who has read it cover-to-cover yet.

My Dream Wedding Reception

I've never really caught the vision of what I wanted my wedding reception to be like... until now.

To preface this, let me explain my personal feelings toward receptions.

First off, they are suspiciously similar to funerals. (Except for me, funerals are happier since they remind me of Christmas - which may be confusing if you don't know my family background).

Secondly, what's the appeal of sitting awkwardly at fancy tables with a bunch of humans you don't know, trying to pleasantly converse about the weather, decorations, or any other commonalities you might have, with said stranger who is sharing the same uncomfortable experience?

Thirdly, you are probably having the aforementioned conversation while attempting to get the whole chocolate-covered strawberry into your mouth before the goop dribbles down your chin and onto your blouse in the most unclassy manner.

Finally, you are expected to wait in line for half an hour just to say hi for five seconds to an exhausted couple that looks like they are about ready to drop dead.

They've already been through: hours spent getting ready for the day, the ceremony, the paparazzi, the bride walking around in a dress that probably weighs more than she does, and the general stress of actually GETTING married and all the changes that entails. These people don't want to be there after all that, shaking hand after hand. They're married! Release them from their present torment!

Apart from making the couple feel exhausted and anxious, and the guests feel superfluous and awkward, I just don't see what this ritual does to help humanity.

To be fair, there are some positives.

1. Knowing your friends are supporting you on your wedding day. (I guess I'd rather just have them come to the ceremony).

2. Loot. ie: Presents. (I'd rather just take the money NOT spent on the venue, decorations, and food and buy my own loot).

3. The parents get to celebrate and the siblings get to meet the spouse's family. This is the most valid and irrefutable argument in favor of receptions that I can think of. And this alone will probably cause me to have a reception when the time comes.

Which is why I have now planned out my dream reception to make the experience more positive.

My Dream Wedding Reception!!!

My colors will be red and white.

For refreshments, I will have cookies and orange juice.

My family won't have to pay for it, because my entire reception will be sponsored by the Red Cross.

No presents please, my honorable guests, just relax and lie down on this comfortable recliner. We're going to surprise you with a blood drive!!!

Yeah! Now THAT is a constructive use of time!

Disclaimer: I really don't hate wedding receptions as much as this post indicates. I have also, on occasion, enjoyed them. Especially if it looks like the couple is also enjoying it. I would be more than happy to come to your reception when the time comes for you to get married. :-) Oh, and I'm not really going to have a blood drive, so you can come to my reception without fear, too.

My Health Age

My 29-year old friend posted on her GChat status that her health age was 23 years. So I went and took the Health Age test.

According to my health, I am 10.4 years old.

And my life expectancy is 95.7 years.

Looks like I have plenty of time to improve myself before I die. Whew! Now to go eat some doughnuts while skydiving. ;-)

Link to Test

A Lil' Sunshine

So, I kind of wanted to add this because I've never tried posting a video to a blog before and I wanted to see if it would work. But I also kind of wanted to post it because I love these girls. That's Megan on the left, roommate Emily next to her, old roommate Brittany next to her, and of course, I'm far right with the guitar. We were serenading a boy from the neighborhood who purchased our serenade at a charity auction. We are wearing togas because of the previous serenade, which I shall not be posting. ;-)

video

A Little Brag Time

Last month I worked really hard on developing an idea after an RFP from a private corporation was posted. Then I spent about three weeks writing a meticulous grant proposal, which was submitted through one of the four nonprofit organizations I work for. My co-worker presented the idea to the board and they agreed to go for it. After figuring out the scope and everything that would be needed for the first three years of the project, I did some preliminary budgeting and made an ask for $2 million over a period of three years (which is a LOT in general, but especially for a two-employee organization). That was kind of ridiculous, knowing that the most I've ever been granted from a proposal I've written in the past is $2,000. But, reach for the stars and you might hit the moon, right?

The email response from the company said it was the most well-written proposal, had the best programming ideas, and "blew [them] away!" I was so happy!

Today I got the news that we're definitely getting $300,000 the first year (more than the $250,000 I requested for the first year). If things go well after the first year, more will likely come!

I don't know if the board would appreciate me going public with the idea yet, so I won't. But I am so excited! I love it when a feeling of accomplishment comes into my life. Especially at a time when I don't have a full-time job and I work primarily from home (which sometimes makes me feel like a slob, even though I AM working).

Thank you private sector! Work that CSR! I'll never make a snide remark toward MBAs again! ;-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

President Packer's Talk, Homosexuality, and Judging

President Packer's Talk

I am a little surprised with how up-in-arms some people are against President Packer's conference talk. I am also surprised with how many people are using it as an excuse to pass judgment on homosexual church members who are not acting on their feelings.

I can see how, taking one or two lines out of context, it might be misunderstood. Allow me to offer my opinion on the matter. Once again, I could be wrong, but here's what I think.

I'll give the quotes followed by commentary (emphasis added).

QUOTE: "We teach a standard of moral CONDUCT that will protect us from Satan’s MANY substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to ENTER INTO ANY relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness." Some suppose that they were PRESET and cannot OVERCOME what they feel are INBORN TEMPTATIONS toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father."

COMMENTARY: A lot of people seem to be applying this statement exclusively to homosexuality, assuming that he is saying "if you just prayed hard enough, your sexual orientation will be changed." This is a huge assumption from the statement given, and taken that way, I see how it could be offensive toward a person with homosexual inclinations who is not acting on their feelings. I don't think any heterosexual should use this as 'ammo' anymore than they should say, 'well if you just had enough faith your cancer would be taken away because God has the power to do so.'

President Packer gave this quote right after speaking extensively on pornography. An 'inborn temptation toward the impure and unnatural' could include many things, including a desire to view pornography. Can this temptation which people feel to be inborn because they are so addicted and drawn to it be overcome? Yes, by refusing to VIEW pornography. This quote could apply to many MANY things. Examples of substitutes and counterfeits for marriage: pornography, prostitution, pedophiles, abusive relationships, incest, ENGAGING in extramarital relationships (even though the attraction is there), and ENGAGING in homosexual relationships.

He uses action words: "conduct," "enter into" (instead of "be tempted by").

I also believe that when he said we could 'overcome the inborn temptations', he was talking about conquering the temptation by not indulging in the counterfeits, rather than talking about having the temptation be completely taken away. I understand that other opinions on this quote may vary, but nobody can say for sure what was meant except the one who actually said it.

Here's a quote from Elder Scott's talk that confirms that God won't always just take away trials because we ask: "With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow." So let's not pass judgment on anybody else and let's also not think that an apostle was saying God will just remove temptations if we just had more faith. Let's look at the big picture.

QUOTE: Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will WITH THE TEMPTATION also make a way to escape, that YE MAY BE ABLE TO BEAR IT." You can, if you will, break the HABITS and conquer an ADDICTION and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”

COMMENTARY: Clearly, President Packer is talking about actions here, not temptations. He doesn't promise anything in this statement about temptations being taken away if we just pray hard enough. This whole paragraph would be completely moot if what he was saying earlier was that God will just take temptations away.

QUOTE: "Every soul confined in a prison of SIN, GUILT, or PERVERSION has a key to the gate. The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a HABIT or an ADDICTION that is unworthy, you must stop CONDUCT that is harmful. Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times."

COMMENTARY: Once again, he seems to be referring to actions. Not temptations. While entertaining unclean thoughts is wrong - "we don't have to invite them to tea" - being tempted at times is just part of life. If we were never tempted, the principle of agency would be useless because we'd never have to choose.

QUOTE: Once you have decided to remain clean, you are asserting your God-given agency.

COMMENTARY: Once again, actions. If God took away all our temptations whenever we asked, He'd be taking away our ability to learn and grow through choices.

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Homosexuality


One of the greatest commandments is to "Love One Another." Of course we should love homosexuals just like we should love anybody else. I've known some people who refuse to be friends with or do business with homosexuals. At risk of being too harsh, I find this to be self-righteous and ludicrous. We shouldn't judge anybody no matter what their sexual orientation, and we should treat all people - by virtue of the fact that they are sons and daughters of God and fellow human beings - with mutual respect, friendliness, and kindness. Would you shun a heterosexual who has pushed boundaries on physical intimacy outside of marriage? Or shun someone who has told a lie or been dishonest in a business transaction? In short, if we shun everyone who ever displeased the Lord through any behavior of theirs, we'd be shunning everyone (including ourselves).

Why should we treat un-practicing homosexuals any differently than heterosexuals? It's like treating someone differently just because they are blonde instead of brunette. (Didn't want to open up a can of worms on blonde jokes here either). Would it be too bold of me to say that we should even treat practicing homosexuals with kindness and respect, that we can be friends with them, that we can learn and laugh with them and allow them to learn and laugh with us? Let's bear in mind that one of the two greatest commandments is to "love one another".

It is not our place to condemn or judge anybody, and Mormons are certainly not trying to take homosexuals rights away. Everybody is free to choose and act for themselves. But that doesn't mean that just because a person chooses a particular course of action, God approves of it. He doesn't bend His laws for men or for popular opinion.

My personal belief (though others may hate me for saying so) is that the prophets do speak for God when they say that to engage in homosexual behavior is not condoned of God - if God has revealed it, who am I to argue with Him? I don't have answers for why people have feelings that feel very natural and are very powerful if God isn't going to let them realize those feelings. But I do see a few parallels - like the heterosexual forbidden to act on their natural urges improperly (before marriage, or with a person who is not their spouse, or disrespectfully or inappropriately even with their spouse). Those things are just as wrong. There are also many heterosexuals in the church who will never have the opportunity to marry, and who will remain celibate their entire lives.

We all have to learn restraint and discipline in life in one way or another, whether that is managing anger, not overeating, not exploiting or taking advantage of others to get what we want, or not being dishonest in financial dealings. Some areas are easy for an individual, while other areas may be tougher. But we all should try to direct our behavior to align with what God would have us do in any particular circumstance.

Obviously, I don't have all the answers, but to summarize, we should (1) be kind to everyone and not judge, (2) pray and search the words of God through His prophets so that we can individually direct our course through life to try our best to live the way God wants us each to live, and (3) exercise restraint in any aspect of our life that would make God unhappy.
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Judging


At risk of being misunderstood, let me say this: I do believe that there are certain actions/behaviors/habits that are right or wrong, and behaviors can absolutely be judged as such. That is why we have laws and consequences (both civilly and spiritually). Moral relativism IS a danger. When I talk about not judging, I am not talking about behaviors. I am specifically talking about not belittling someone's trial by judging - 'if this person had more faith, they'd be cured of their depression, cancer, homosexual feelings, etc.' Just because a person's trial may be different from mine doesn't mean they are somehow less worthy than me. Was Job less worthy or did everybody wrongly judge him as such because of all the trials he was going through?

God won't always take away desires or temptations or trials from us. Actions, on the other hand, are always in OUR control because God won't control our agency - actions do include dwelling on thoughts. The former (desires, temptations, trials) shouldn't be judged; the latter (actions) can be judged as right or wrong.

As a friend of mine stated, "I suspect that God is most concerned about his children who are currently struggling with homosexual feelings. They are the ones who are emotionally, physically, daily wrapped up in the topic we are discussing so insensitively."

If Christ were in the room, would we be busy telling someone else how their weaknesses and temptations are wrong? I believe that Christ would wrap His arms around and show love to all at that moment. If He's perfect and can show love to everybody, why shouldn't I strive to do the same in my daily life?

To quote my friend again, "If we hate the sin, love the sinner, then we should express love. 'Your damnable behavior is tainting everything that matters to me' is a terrible way to start a conversation whose overarching theme is 'I love you. Let’s work through this.'"

I think we would all do well to examine how these things apply to ourselves before trying to figure out how they apply to the next person. Let's check our own actions and thoughts. Let's critically examine the media we take into our lives, to make sure that we ourselves are not being hypocritical. It doesn't mean we can't take a stand against behaviors, or that we should justify them, but let's be a little more loving.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dating Faux Pas

I graduated with my masters two and a half years ago. Apparently, I look like I just graduated from High School.

Yesterday I was asked out by a freshman in college.

It all happened when I scheduled and manned a booth at the BYU Career Fair to try to recruit more volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Hotline. There were about 12 interested students, one of whom I remember being a freshman and not having served a mission yet. I collected all the potential volunteer's email addresses and sent them an email about the training schedule.

The freshman volunteer responded with an email asking if I'd like to go on a date with him sometime soon. Unfortunately, there is no non-awkward way of telling a freshman boy who asks you out that you're 27 years old. So, fully expecting him to be embarrassed, or to have a good laugh with his roommates over asking out an 'old' girl, I wrote:

"Not to make things awkward, but I should probably let you know that I'm older than I look - I'm 27. Just in case that changes anything for you."

I was pretty surprised at his response:

"I should probably let you know that I am younger than I look – I’m 18. Anyways, yes, I’d like to do a date... age difference never occurred to me as a reason not to."

Well, I was expecting to throw him for a loop, but he certainly succeeding in turning the tables!!!

No, I will not introduce you to my non-brother, Max.

Poor BYU football. They are not doing so hot this year. Wasn't so bad back in the day when my brother was QB...

But then again, I never had a brother that was QB and I never even had a brother named Max.

Unfortunately for me, he DOES have a sister named Sarah Hall, and at times people would try to get to him through me by adding me as a friend on Facebook.

The saddest was last year when I moved into a new BYU ward the SAME week that Sarah Hall (the real sister) moved into the same ward. Of course everybody had heard that Max's sister Sarah Hall was coming and they were all pretty excited about it.

So I became instantly immensely popular (and then instantly immensely unpopular as if I had wittingly deceived people by not introducing myself as 'Sarah Hall not Max's sister' my first week in the ward). Apparently, I was the only one not in on the rumor that Max's sister Sarah Hall was moving in.

But I suppose it is flattering, that as a 5'2" less-than-100-pound gal, people would think I'm cool enough and tough enough to be related to a strong and handsome famous QB.