Poetry and musings of a zany Mormon girl who is very proud of her Erda roots.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

First Observe, Then Serve

Last week was full of surprises that kept me on my toes. Late on Saturday night I was talking to friends as a party I had hosted started to wind down. During the course of the conversation it was brought to my rememberance that I has committed to giving a talk in Sacrament meeting during church the next morning.  It's been some time since I was asked to give a 15 to 20 minute talk and I was a little excited to be asked. Even having forgotten my commitment, this didn't bother me much. I had been asked to give my thoughts on a specific talk given during the most recent biannual General Conference -- all I needed to do was summarize the talk and add my own thoughts.

Waking early Sunday morning to prepare my talk, I was struck to do two things: write everything out and share stories about my brother, Adam. This was a little unusal. I typically jot down some notes and write out quotes but mostly just speak my mind. And I usually leave thoughts of Adam to be shared with close friends.

After giving this talk and hearing the responses from those in my ward, I feel that there are reasons I needed to write it all out and speak of Adam. I needed to share these thoughts here and I needed to be reminded of my brother. So here it is, the talk that has stirred the emotional pot and brought me back to my blog again - hopefully for good this time.

In June of 2003 my family went through one of the most difficult things a family can go through. My mom and my brother, Adam who was 11 at the time, were driving home to Erda on the lonely stretch of Utah road between Ibapah and Wendover. It was really the back end of nowhere. Something happened and the car rolled six times. Every time it flipped it landed on the passenger side. My mom suffered a few minor scrapes and bruises. Adam didn't make it. In the days that followed we witnessed many miracles. Our ward had split about six months before so when this happened we had the benefit of two wards coming to our aid. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost more strongly than I thought possible. I literally felt the power of prayer as so many families headed the teachings of Christ when he said to mourn with those who mourn. There were a lot of meals, hugs, and tears shared but one act of service has lodged in my heart forever. After a visit of condolence our neighbor, Danny Idom, noticed that our yard hadn't been attended to. He came back early the next morning and without knocking on the door or saying anything proceeded to mow the lawn, weed flower beds and set everything right. He saw a need that we couldn't fulfill at that time and he gave us his efforts to fill it. Danny internalized and heeded the Lord's teaching found in John 15: 12.

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”

Relief Society General President Linda K. Burton summarized this commandment in four words easy to remember: she said to First Observe, Then Serve.

Sister Burton shared a story that illustrated this point.
Almost 40 years ago my husband and I went to the temple for our Friday night date. We had been married only a short time, and I was nervous because this was only my second time as a newlywed. A sister sitting next to me must have noticed. She leaned over and whispered reverently, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.” My fears were calmed, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the temple session. She first observed, then served.

Sister Burton urges us to listen to the Prophet. She said:

One of the greatest evidences we have that our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is the Lord’s chosen servant is that he has learned to follow the Savior’s example—serving individually, one by one. Those of us who have entered the waters of baptism have covenanted to do the same. We have covenanted to “always remember [the Savior] and keep his commandments,”1 and He has said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
Notice how the following words from President Monson include the same invitation: “We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. … We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.”

First Observe, Then Serve
Adam was always a high strung individual. He was excitable and sometimes quite irrational. Growing up we always had a family project that took up most of the summer. These were not fun. It was always hard work. Because of these projects I can lay and finish drywall. I know the basics of building construction, how solar panels work, how to stuff a circuit board, make a phone cord, and run a small business. I also know how rural sewage systems work with a septic tank and drainage fields. I know this because one infamous summer we had to redo the system in our back yard. Adam complained all the time about the work and would refuse to help so one day we locked him in the gardener’s shed. He screamed and fussed until we let him out. After that, whenever he complained we hinted that a trip to the shed might be in order and he straightened out. It was around the same time that I learned an important lesson with Adam. When he started going into a fit complaining that it was unfair to ask him to do a chore I would take him aside, wrap him in my arms and hold him until he calmed down. I would then explain that we all needed to work together and he needed to contribute to family effort. After a time of gentle words and soothing he would meekly go and fulfill what had been asked of him. I saw through the Saviors eyes a young man who just needed a little understanding – to be heard and loved for a minute – and I was able to serve him by giving him my time and a calming embrace. I taught my mom this technique with Adam and she used it frequently. Since he passed away this memory has given me great comfort. I know that Adam felt my love for him. I observed and served my brother in a crucial time in his short life.
Brothers and Sisters, it is not enough to theoretically love others. You must show that love, that caring, that charity as Christ would. By serving the individual we truly do as President Monson encouraged:

“We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. … We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us."  

Who around you is in need of help? Who needs some small kindness? Who needs a listening ear, a gentle hug, a sweet word of encouragement? When you recognize a need it is a prompting by the Holy Ghost to act, to serve, to be the Lord's hands. Do not let the moment pass, but act. When you first observe, then serve.

Sister Burton related another time recently when she was prompted to go to the temple. She said:

A few weeks ago, I was hurried and frazzled, with too many to-dos on my list. I had hoped to go to the temple that day but felt I was just too busy. As soon as that thought of being too busy for temple service crossed my mind, it awakened me to what I most needed to do. I left my office to walk over to the Salt Lake Temple, wondering when I was going to recapture the time I was losing. Thankfully, the Lord is patient and merciful and taught me a beautiful lesson that day.
As I sat down in the session room, a young sister leaned over and reverently whispered, “I’m really nervous. This is only my second time in the temple. Could you please help me?” How could she ever have known that those words were exactly what I needed to hear? She didn’t know, but Heavenly Father knew. He had observed my greatest need. I needed to serve. He prompted this humble young sister to serve me by inviting me to serve her. I assure you that I was the one who benefited most.
After Adam passed away my dad wrote a pamphlet on how to respond to the grief of others as we remembered the helpful service of our friends and neighbors. Among the helpful tips he relates a piece of advice that is applicable in all times of life. Do not say, “If there's anything I can do for you, just ask.” Instead, just act. Danny Idom saw our lawn was a mess and came over to mow, trim and weed. A kind sister saw Sister Burton's need for help in the temple. I saw my brother's need for understanding. Don't leave your service until someone is pleading for your help. If you see a need, find a way to fill it. This does not mean that you must take on the burdens of the world. There are many things that cannot be fixed by one person. Strive to be receptive to the Spirit in your home, your ward, your community. Don't wait for a service project or for an assignment. Become friends with those you home or visit teach. Learn to be the Lord's hands in the lives of others as they are His hands in your life.

First Observe, Then Serve

I've been thinking a lot about the importance of getting to know others. Of reaching out and becoming familiar with all sorts of people so as to recognize when things are a little off. Of knowing  when to step up and help out.

This week two members of neighborhood passed away. It was amazing to attend the first funeral and see how well everything worked because there was a plan that just needed to be set into motion. I can't remember much of Adam's funeral. I remember the important parts. But don't ask me who set up chairs, brought food, or gave us hugs. Those things all just sort of happened. Someone else knew what was needed and served my family in specific ways that total strangers couldn't have.

I think right now I'm going to start small by grooming my thoughts into more charitable ones than I'm naturally inclined to have. I'm going to work on being more kind to my family. I'm going to be more available to help when others really are begging for aid. Once I've mastered the little things then maybe I can move on to the bigger issues of humanity. Maybe.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Waking Up

I've been absent from this here bloggy-thing for some time now. You see, when I first began writing I took it for granted as a form of self therapy. When you put an idea down in words it becomes real. When you publish those words they take on a life of their own. When that idea begins to soar the creator can fly.

I felt that all my stories had been told. I thought that I could stay aloft for some time on the updraft.

Recently, two people have reminded me that I still need this form of expression -- for myself and for others.

Since last September I have been experiencing resolution to several long-held dreams. Truly living on my own for the first time. A lovely room in a little house in the Avenues of Salt Lake. Long walks in every season down abored streets. A job in a real hospital. And not just any -- Primary Children's Medical Center! Time to explore. Time to live. Time to grow. Time to become.

The summer sun brought a harsh new dawn of sorts and the dream ended. I had to wake up.

I quit my job, couldn't afford rent without an income, and felt utterly desolate.

As it turns out I need someone to take care of me.

For someone as independent and responsible as I, this is a revelation. Let me make it a declaration: I cannot do it all on my own! I cannot live as an island! I need to accept help as easily as I give it! I need to allow someone else to love me in more than philosophical terms! I have needs and this does not make me broken -- it makes me human!

Sobbing on my father's shoulder one afternoon it became apparent that my family has been my safety net the whole time. Always there to pick up the pieces when I fell apart. Always there to welcome me back and make room. Always there to help me make my dreams come to fruition in earnest.

I believe the family to be sacred. As an active member of the LDS church this principle has molded my perception of the world. The home is a sanctuary. One from which I have attempted to stay away but find myself drawn back to time and again. As the third child of eight with parents who had no idea how to raise so many children, life was not always easy. In fact, I'd consider my childhood to be full of anxieties and stressors with responsibility premature for even my precocious sense of duty. After many years I have learned to forgive and love with all my heart. My family is my greatest joy, my most lasting satisfaction, my refuge. Participating in and working toward creating a family I'd be proud to own for eternity, not just "'Til death do we part," is the most worth while thing I can do with my life.

I believe in love. I believe in a right to choose who I love. I believe in the rights of others to choose who they love. I believe that families have no boundaries. Any group of people who love one another is a family. I do not believe that there are heavenly limits in place for exclusion based on popular terms of morality. Intolerance has no place in my world. I choose to practice charity instead.

I've been thinking a lot about the Eleventh Article of Faith.

 We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.

I believe in allowing all men to live according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as I believe it is my right to do the same.

I've been doing some reading lately. I just finished The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks. She has inspired me to not only to discover my beliefs but to declare my beliefs and how I have come to know them.

Elder Russell M. Ballard in his July 2008 Ensign address Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet encourages the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to spread Truth. I choose to participate in this effort by sharing my stories. While I am a work in progress, I do not claim my thoughts to be the complete Truth. I can only attempt to convey my personal beliefs in the hopes that someone else seeking complete Truth may grow with me.

Now, I make no promise as to how frequently I may get the bug to write. Nor will I keep any sort of agenda. But I will promise to speak my mind. Which I have done all along.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Single Lessons Come One at a Time

You know how things feel pretty great and life can just be put on cruise control and allowed to coast on by -- but then you hit a hill and start to loose momentum?

Today is a hill day.

It's been coming for up for a while. Things were just too happy. Too care-free. Too many good things in a row. Not to say that today was any less wonderful or awful than normal. In fact it was exactly like every day for the last several days in a row. But today it felt like all of the stress and exhaustion settled in. Today it felt like doing anything was five times harder because I'm on an incline and slowing down. Today I felt like I used to feel all the time. Before I learned how to live better.

Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow I will conquer this hill. Tomorrow I will start coasting downhill.

But tonight I want to share a little of what can be learned by being on the hard side of attitude adjustments.

 During the preamble to a pity party I decided to check in with a friend. We had some things to go over for this weekend and eventually our conversation drifted past the niceties that clothe insecurities and dove right into the gooey stuff.

It seems that some of my deepest insecurities have been prodded at with sharp, pointy sticks while associated dreams seem too far for realization, yet on the cusp of possibility. It's aggravating and hurtful, and lonely -- with just enough hopefulness to make me weep from helplessness. When well-wishers express the validity and purity of my dreams and say that I "deserve" to hold them, I feel smaller under the weight of their endorsement while simultaneously being buoyed their hope in me. Their hope that I can do something big. Something bigger than I've ever done.

That's when I remember: the Lord has given my dreams purpose and confirmed that they are worthy to be held. And that makes me feel responsible. Every choice counts. Timing is imperative, but not at all in my hands. My actions count, but so do those of others. I cannot hope to do this on my own. I need help.

That's when I feel small.

That's when I remember: the Lord has helped me before to do things I thought I could not do. He has made things possible I never thought could be. He has been gentle with me.

When I reflect on relationships that almost happened I am glad that they did not. I have been sheltered from more heartache and disappointment than I have suffered under the shadow of loneliness. I am stronger on my own  and more compassionate to those who struggle.

Tonight my friend complimented me. She said that while I may not be patient with myself, I have learned patience for others. While I may be aware of my sorrows, I am also aware of how they shape me into the Lord's understanding my potential. While I may curse my ill timing, I foster hope for what is to come in the Lord's timing.

She shared her trials with me and as she wept I realized that our suffering is the same. Every feeling of helpless inadequacy and hopeful yearning exists in both of us; only the nouns differ. That's when I realized: the Lord sees us all like this. Suffering is universal. The only way out is to be lifted above ourselves and see our fellow beings with clarity and compassion. I have been where you are, you will be where I am, we are here together.

Today is a hill day.

Maybe I won't make it to the top by tomorrow but I sure will try. I will enjoy feeling wind on my face at the peak.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Valentine's 2012

A week later and the love is still fresh! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gotye Somebody That I Used To Know

I think most people have a few people that they used to know.

I think most people have someone who ought to be left for good.

I think it hurts either way.

I think it is liberating, too.

Can't win for losing.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bouquet Toss

Good Sabbath!

Sunday is an awesome day to reflect on the past week. Or month. Or year. Or anything that needs to be reflected upon.

Last night I attended a wedding for a dear friend and before very long all the single ladies were called up to try their luck at catching the coveted bouquet. I stood there, anxiously waiting for the beautiful bride to hurl her heavy floral arrangement into the crowd, just one of many more or less willing to try for a clean catch. Girls nervously shifted from side to side and looked embarrassed to be numbered among the unmarried. One woman brazenly turned her ring around so as to declare herself un-engaged just to join in the fun. Even the little girls fidgeted in front and wondered if they would be lucky.

As these things usually go, I choose the side opposite of the bride's pitch and don't even put up my useless hands for an attempt. Who needs a wedding bouquet, anyway?

Ah. The moment of truth. With the flowers hurdling through space and some quick estimates in the physics of botanical gravity, I realized that the bouquet was headed right for me! My numb hands sprung up... and grasped the arrangement!

Sweet victory!  It was finally my turn! I didn't have to be single forever!

A moment later it dawned on me that I was not the only one with hold of the coveted blooms. The engaged woman had the flowers by the stems. I had merely grabbed at some petals. As I released, a large section of rose heads fell to the ground. Little girls ran underfoot to collect several of the flowers I had ripped out and seemed quite pleased with themselves.  The engaged woman looked very smug, indeed.

Ah, well. Back to being alone.

On my drive home I was reflecting on the events of this wedding and another where I happened to end up with the bouquet.

In that wedding the bride and lobbed her flowers into a bush I happened to be standing near so I just picked them up. The bride's niece was so upset that she hadn't caught the flowers (it was her one goal for the entire event) and sat crying on the sidelines, beside herself with grief of lost possibility.

So, I gave her the flowers.

Her face beamed and the rest of the festivities were magical for her because of that pile of fragrant blooms.

I began to wonder what why such a tradition has endured. Why brides lob floral arrangements at their guests? And why does the groom remove an intimate article of his bride's wardrobe to slingshot at other men?

So I did some research.

It all comes down to luck. A bride is supposed to be very lucky. After all, she did snag a husband to take care of her and thus avoid the trials and persecution of spinsterhood. The flowers were a way to share this luck with the guests. The garter was a way to avoid greedy guests tearing off chunks of the bride's clothing to take home as lucky souvenirs.

Still, it is a little silly.

I mean, people start fights over these things!

But not me.

I just hand them over and wish the luck on someone else.

Maybe that's why I'm still single.

It's hard to say.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Thought no. 3

My marital status in a nutshell:

But not lonely. I really do think it's ok to be alone for a bit. Helps a body to feel self sufficient. Helps a soul to rely on God more than man. Or lots of men. Or back to even just one man. There's no point in worrying about marital status. Even as a Mormon chick whose friends are mostly all married and working on families. My life plan is not the same as my friends' life plans. I am not them. I am me. I am enjoying being single. I am enjoying being independent. My soul is enjoying enlightenment. And there's nothing anyone can say that will change my mind.
For now.

Thursday Thought no. 2

Winter in a nutshell:

Literally. It is soooo cool! But not really cold this year. We've only had a handful of days since November that have been cold enough to make nose hairs stick together. You know it's really cold when your nose hairs not only stick together but form tiny snot-cicles as you breath. Now, that's cold. I grew up in Quincy, IL, on the Mississippi River. It got cold there. We used to go shoe skating in puddles of ice that formed between the tracks of a runaway train stop. Wind chill from the humid air would make cold into soooo cold. When it was soooo cold the ice in the air would cut your skin and make it burn. When it's cold enough to burn you know it's really cold.
But in Utah, it's just soooo cool. And cool makes good powder in the mountains.

Thursday Thought no. 1

My life in a nutshell:

For instance: I get to play with a volunteer orchestra. This is my third partial season with the group. They let me play even though I sort of stink it up and ghost more than half of most songs. They let me come back for partial seasons. I have a place. There is no audition. I will never have to solo. I'm a better violinist than I was when I began playing with them in 2009. I'm a better violinist than when I was 18, vice president of my high school orchestra, president of an extra curricular strings ensemble, and practiced daily. I think this is because I have more confidence in myself as a human being. I think this is awesome. I think my life is awesome right now.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

V-Day Is Looming

Hey, hey folks!

It's official:  Valentine's Day is less than a month away.

Since last year's cards were well received I've decided to make another very special batch of Zammity Valentines. I'm only going to make 20 cards this year, so if you want one post a comment here or leave your name and mailing address on a FB message to me.

Start thinking your lovey dovey thoughts, ladies and gentlemen and prepare to be amazing by what I have in store!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Parental Advice

Lately my parents have been full of advice concerning *blush* relationships.

Took me totally by surprise.

They've never brought up the subject before.

Can't imagine what has prompted this sudden onslaught.

Hahahahaha! Yeah, that was me being facetious. What other route can I really take, though? Depression lowers opportunities for *blush* relationships, so why get worked up over not having one? I choose, rather, to not think too much about it and concentrate instead on being happy with myself.

I read somewhere that the most powerful thing a girl can possess is a cheerful attitude. Being happy helps others to want to be around her. People are more likely to go out of their way to help someone who is smiling but will generally ignore someone who is in a bad mood.

So I work to be happy. And I have a lot to be happy about! I have family and friends who cherish me. I'm surrounded by daily affirmations that I'm in the right place at the right time of my life doing the right thing. What more can a girl do?

My dad's advice is always something that I try to forget as soon as it is heard. In high school he would tell me to act like a ditz. A Barbie doll with no brain. Show a little more skin and less cerebrum. Guys respond to a hot body. While that may all be true, I know that he only told me those things because there was no chance I'd actually do any of it. It's beneath me to prostitute my values for a date. *sticks up nose*

In my college years Dad's general tune was as devil's advocate. "Just go fornicate, Zarah! It's fuuuun!" Again, he knew it wasn't something I'd likely do for the sake of doing it.

Lately it's been a tired wish that arranged marriages were still in vogue. However, he can't seem to name any real candidates when I ask who I ought to marry. The only men he knows are ones who I've dismissed for good reason.

Sorry to disappoint you, Dad. Never thought this would be my biggest failure. *shrugs*
Recently in a conversation on this topic (which comes up every time I see/talk to him) my Dad gave some advice that may be worth investigating. He said, "All's fair in love and war. You have to be selfish."



Can I do that?

I've tried before in relationships and have been disappointed. It hurts more when the investment is one sided. And it's horribly embarrassing when the ownership is one sided.

 I can be annoyingly selfish around my family. But that's because I know they will still love me. When it comes to anyone else I verge on being a push-over -- I give because I've been taught that generosity is the only way to win friends and influence people. However, no one respects a push-over. It's a fine line.

So, how does someone stake a claim on another's emotions and time?

In reading, attending lessons, firesides, and broadcasts on the subject, I've learned quite a lot about the theory of dating. But, like with most things, I have a hard time converting book knowledge to real life practice. Maybe I think too much about it all.

Anyway, here are a few things I've learned recently about relationships:

- The top quality men look for in women is "kindness."
- The top quality women look for in men is "faithful to me."
- Faith has everything to do with romance and should not be left out or disregarded.
- The best way to prepare for a relationship is to identify character traits that are necessary in a future partner and then focus on becoming someone who would attract such a person.
- A date is anything that is Planned ahead, Paid for, and Paired off.
- Do not tolerate anyone who "belittles you, is critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor." Jeffery R. Holland
- Relationships will always take hard work. There's no such thing as having it "just happen."

So, can I be selfish? Hell yeah! This is a big choice and might take several wrong choices before the best option comes around, but it's worth it to be assertive.

Thanks Dad.

Of course, in the same conversation he did go on to tell me to find a man with lots of tattoos and a drinking problem just so long as he has man bits. . . So, I'm not sure how much he wants me to follow his advice. . .

Thanks, 2011

So far 2012 has been a right lazy year. I've spent most of it curled up in bed wearing fuzzy socks and pajamas. Mmmmm, fuzzy socks. I've watched a lot of Hulu, Netflix, and DVDs and I try to will my sinuses into foregoing what feels like impending infection. Stupid body parts. I'm currently watching ABBA music videos and trying to figure out how people in the '70's caked on so much make up without it flaking off in the slightest wind. I guess we will never know. . .

It's been a great year so far. I have a feeling it's going to be something else. So many amazing plans, so many people to meet, get to know better, and so many places to explore!

2011, all I have to say is, "Thank you."

And to all of you: thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On a related note: I'm throwing myself a big party on my birthday, January 7, and you are all invited!