Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Common Ground

As many of you know, this past summer I interned with a refugee non-profit in Washington. I helped run a school readiness program for 15 refugee children who had recently resettled in Seattle with their families. Naive as I am, I prepared myself to walk into a classroom filled with kids vastly different than me. Here were kids who'd seen, experienced, and lived through more in their short 5 to 10 years than I had in 2 to 3 times that, but I found they were just like me. (By the way, the non-profit asked us not to share pictures of these darlings kids' faces, so forgive me for the blurry pictures. I love these pictures too much not to share.)

Yes, they all spoke other languages, practiced a variety of different religions, and corrected me on things like the "real" tradition behind what happens when you lose a tooth (good-bye tooth fairy, hello throwing your tooth at the sun). 

And yet, during recess the girls were obsessed with playing jump rope, gathering flowers, and picking berries off the back fence to bring home to their moms. The boys asked me to play soccer with them till I was dripping in sweat and laughing as they dribbled in circles around me. Day after day, I could only see what made us more alike.

I think we tend to believe the world is so big and filled with an endless amount of people, cultures, and languages different from our own. Maybe it's easier to feel less connected to so many. Maybe if we see the world as vastly different, we can read the news or hear of another traumatic world event and keep ourselves from falling apart every time. But these kids taught me that life is not about our differences. It's about our similarities. There is common ground between all of us. It's time we embrace that, not hide from it. These are people just like you and me, and we can help. As a wonderful woman named Linda Burton said, "What if their story, was my story?"

I'm currently running a small fundraiser to help the refugees who haven't yet found a safe home like the ones I taught in Seattle. I'm begging you to help those who may seem far and different. I promise you they are more like you than you realize. They stand in need of the very things we take for granted everyday. Please donate by clicking here before September 10th. Thank you so much!

"Do small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Thursday, November 5, 2015

More is Less

I don't know what happened this week, but my busy world somehow slowed down. I felt a balance that I've been searching for over the course of this semester hit me all at once. I'm not expecting it to completely stay as finals approach, but I want to relish in it. I want to remember this precious lesson that makes my heart so happy: More really is less. 

With more time on my hands, I feel happier. I can ponder my life and evaluate things I need to personally change. I have time to sleep, exercise, and feel a little extra healthy. I feel the Spirit more, perhaps because I take time to notice it. I get to love the people I love the most a little extra. I am more grateful for all sorts of things, big and small. 

When I simplify my life, I'm happier. 

Throughout this week, I've developed a deeper conviction to simplify my to-do list. I know I'll have insanely busy times in every stage of life, but I'm continuing to process that finishing my to do list is not the most important part of my day. The most important parts of my day are all the things that surround the to-do list. Experiencing, loving, and living those moments are really what I want out of my daily life. 

And because I absolutely adore President Uchtdorf, I'll wrap this up with one of my favorite quotes. 
"It’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. The wise...resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice “There is more to life than increasing its speed."...They focus on the things that matter most."

 So now that I've learned this lesson, it's time to put it into practice when life is crazy again. Gotta love challenges. Happy November!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Homey Home

I made a goal this week to work on making my home a little more homey. I asked a few friends about it, read my scriptures searching for an answer, and pondered a whole lot about the homey homes I've been in lately. I then began making an extra long list in my journal. 

In the middle of the week after a lunch date, Chad and I decided to take a drive around the temple. As we drove, Chad asked me how long it had been since I'd gone on this drive. It surprised me when I realized the last time I drove it was April.

My temple loop drive used to be my safe haven -- my way of staying sane when the world felt like it was erupting into chaos. I'd leave behind school stress, all friend or boy drama, any family worries, and just drive for 15 minutes. I would ponder about my life and pray at times, but mainly I would listen to music and feel that peace I love that comes with driving. 

I'm embarrassed to say that I used to take that drive twice a week...every week. And now it's been months. It was just a casual question, but I kept thinking about it. Why didn't I need that drive anymore? 

It hit me the next day while I was driving. My home with Chad is that peace that I crave. It's the place I go and all that is chaotic seems to be okay. Isn't that exactly what a homey home is supposed to be? A safe haven. 

So instead of finishing my list of what makes a homey home, I began a list about what makes our home homey. Here are a few of my favorites on the list...

  • Chad is here. I could probably stop this list there. 
  • We have pictures on our walls, yummy-smelling candles, soft blankets, and music playing all the time.
  • The day we moved in, Chad dedicated our home. It's really a simple thing, but that prayer to keep our home safe and protected is one that I really love. 
  • We already have some great memories here -- from coming home to a piano in the corner on my birthday, to complaining with Chad about the holes in the walls right when I knocked over something and made the largest hole of all and laughing at the irony of it all.
  • We pray and read our scriptures here. There really is a power that goes along with that. 
  • It's clean and organized. It's definitely not perfect, but that order makes me happy.
  • Chad and I have similar goals. We are working toward the same things. When there's unity in my little family, there's definitely a good feeling in the home. 

My life lesson of the week was recognizing what really makes a homey home, and then realizing how homey my home already is. I love our home. I love that we all can have a place that is our kind of homey. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More Than Worth It

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even when all the little things are going wrong.

After hearing some sad news about an old friend last Friday, my husband and I decided to stick to our plans and go to the temple. After getting all ready, I couldn't find my temple recommend. We spent the next half hour searching, but we ended up empty-handed. Annoyed that Satan was getting his way, I became a little frustrated. My cute husband noticed this, grabbed my hand, and said he had another idea. 

 We took two steps outside when he suddenly stopped having realized he locked the door and the keys were inside. For the next hour and a half we tried every window, called our landlord to find out he was out of town, and then spent 150 dollars to have a locksmith come and open our door. At this point, I was more than a little frustrated.

That Sunday, I ran around church setting up interviews, being interviewed, and then ending up with a new recommend in my hand, so Chad and I could go to our ward temple night that coming Thursday.

On Thursday, my husband's meeting ran late, so I had his dinner in my hands and raced out the door. As I closed the door, the container flipped and out came every last bit of rice, chicken, and vegetables. I stared at it for a second, grabbed him a Clif bar instead, and ditched the whole mess, praying we wouldn't get another mouse. 

As I knew it would be, the temple was everything that I needed and more. I learned exactly what I needed to that night. Words can't really do it justice.

Moral of the Story: Yesterday, I grabbed something from my back seat and found my original temple recommend right where I had looked three times for it the week prior. As I began to roll my eyes, I felt the Spirit bring quiet, perfect clarity to my mind. This life lesson wasn't about keeping better track of my things (though I obviously need to learn that too), it was about being reminded that the temple is always more than worth the sacrifice.

Time? Yes. Money? Yes. Effort? Yes. Going against my natural instinct to clean? Hard decision, but yes. 

When hard things come just as you are about to go the temple, don't let them stand in your way. Fight a little harder than you normally would. Because of the temple, we can learn more about our purpose on earth, discover answers to questions we have, serve our ancestors, and most importantly...have our families for eternity. Every sacrifice we make for the temple is more than worth it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Happiness is...

  • Sitting down to write this list in my family room with candles lit and a diet pepsi nearby.
  • Walking around my favorite park on a gorgeous Sunday evening with my husband.
  • Sharing faithful teenagers' testimonies everyday for my internship.
  • Running to the grocery store late one Tuesday night in PJs because my husband and I were really craving Captain Crunch.
  • Taking my first bite of rolls I made that morning and realizing that I can actually make something scrumpcious. 
  • Opening snapchats from all my favorite people and feeling like they're closer than they are.
  • Listening to podcasts that open my mind to completely new trains of thought and ways of thinking.
  • Singing "Families Can Be Together Forever" in Relief Society as a wave of gratitude hits me for my great family.
  • Planning for upcoming three-day weekends and adding to the Taylor Family Adventures list.
  • Having a question I sincerely want the answer to and finding the answer in my scriptures.
  • Talking over lunch with my grandparents and darling aunt.
  • Playing a nerdy game my husband loves and realizing I am actually enjoying myself.
  • Ditching whatever important things I need to accomplish to play the piano until I really can't contain my happiness anymore.
  • Laughing as our Saturday cleaning turned into a spontaneous kitchen dance party.
  • Ordering tickets to a local play, reserving seats to 5 dollar Tuesday movie night, and booking spots to adventure to the Timp Caves in a few weeks.
  • Looking through my wedding photos for the millionth time realizing that we are in fact married. 
  • Learning that life isn't about the things you do, but the people you do them with. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Moments of Inspiration

There have been very distinct points in my life where I can see that I am on a good, comfortable path. And then, a bell goes off in my head and I am continually reminded that there is a better path I haven't considered.  Naturally, it's always a scarier, more challenging path (makes me feel like Chad's facial expression on the right).

A decision has to be made. Do I stick with the easy path that I'm content and comfortable with, or do I pick a better, unknown, scary path that feels right?

My life is littered with these little moments of (somewhat bothersome) inspiration. The first one I remember acting on was when I was 17 and deciding who to room with my first year at BYU. I had one comfortable option that I knew and liked, and yet I felt the Spirit whisper to ask another girl I didn't know as well. These moments have continued over the last 5 years, helping me to continually pick the better path, instead of the good path my safe self naturally heads toward.

Without these moments of revelation, I wouldn't have found a kindred spirit in my freshman roommate, (who also introduced me to my future husband-fun side note). I wouldn't have gone to Cambridge as a naive 19 year old and fallen in love with school and England. I wouldn't have applied soon enough to go to Jerusalem. I wouldn't have had the courage to leave all that was safe and homey to serve a mission that helped me become so much more of who I'm meant to be. I wouldn't have started dating Chad so quickly after my mission.

And even this week, I wouldn't be at the point I'm at with school. Since getting home from my mission, I've had a very clear plan when it comes to my education. I like it that way. (Doesn't everyone?) But this week after someone asked a simple question, the Spirit began whispering repeatedly again that there was a better way than the one I was holding so tightly to.

So here's to harder, scarier, better paths. These are the paths that lead us closer to Heavenly Father, and therefore, closer to complete happiness. Thank goodness for moments when the Spirit inspires us to change our lives.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dear Dad

As my cute husband fell asleep, I found myself incredibly awake staring at the ceiling last night. I walked into the other room and began writing Father's Day cards I had been putting off amidst the craziness of life.

The following hour was a sacred one. As I wrote, I felt overwhelming gratitude. I began with my father-in-law of 3 weeks, surprised by how much I already adore him. I then wrote my mission president who is still serving in Jacksonville Florida and teared up realizing that his wisdom from the mission is continuing to bless me in my marriage. Then, I wrote my husband to thank him for being the one I couldn't imagine passing up because he's exactly who I want my  future kids to have as a dad. Next up was my darling grandfather. It was a powerful reminder of the strong foundation he set for my family.  I saved my dad for last. I was almost frustrated at how simple and little thank you felt as I wrote him. It's funny that the man who always reminded me to say thank you is the one I most want to say thank you to.

All in all, I love my dad. I love all the father figures in my life. I am so grateful Heavenly Father's plan involved earthly fathers. Happy Father's Day!