Monday, August 12, 2013

This never fails to make me laugh.

I almost peed my pants when I saw this for the first time.

Here is some more animal goodness, if you need to giggle and pee some more.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to overcome bullying.

Bullying is now something I better understand.  Until last year, I didn't really give much serious thought to bullying, unless I heard some tragic news report of a teen suicide linked to school yard or cyber bullying. Which, come to think of it, is all too frequent these days.

Then I was bullied myself.

My experience may sound like a very simple example of bullying ... but my guess is that those stories we usually hear about - the ones with dramatic circumstances with horrific outcomes - are the only examples we hear about because they are news worthy. Which means we may dismiss the milder forms of bullying in our everyday lives.

But I now understand what bullying means, and how it can be the smallest of circumstances that build up overtime to create feelings of sadness, hurt, paranoia, and ostracism.

And I don't think I'm particularly weak, which just means that this can happen to anyone.

I accidentally came across an email at work that was not intended for me ... but it was about me.
It was from one woman I worked with to another. I was really quite shocked. I worked closely with both these women, helping them out quite regularly with their own workloads, and I really liked working with both of them. And so when I read what they had said about me, it hurt.

And it made me curious. Why would they say such things? How long had this been going on? I had a quick look around and noticed other messages I had access to (unbeknown to them). I had to stop looking after a while, because it just got too much for me to comprehend and cope with. It had been going on for some time. Anytime I was not helping them out with work, they decided I wasn't working at all or pulling my weight. Anytime I was off sick or went to a doctor's appointment, they had something to say about it. Things of that nature.

I started to become quite paranoid. I remember checking how often I had been away from work over many months - turns out I could count the days on one hand - but they continued to make comments about me. About my work. About my hours (which was odd, since I was in the office much longer then them).

I honestly thought I could deal with it all myself ... and by deal with it, I mean ignore it.
I started giving these women the benefit of the doubt - almost justifying their actions - in the hope that I would feel better. Obviously they were mistaken. Perhaps they were just joking, they didn't really mean what they said.
I also started watching what I said and did around the office. I would start my day even earlier and finish up late, taking smaller lunch breaks - as if I was proving to the world that I was not what they said. 
In my mind, this would solve the problem. But when the hurtful remarks and untruths kept coming, I was just so hurt. I had respected these women, and really enjoyed working with them in the workplace.

My husband was furious when I finally told him. I honestly didn't see this as bullying .. but he helped me to realise that I had started to change my behaviour because of it. I had started working longer hours with very short breaks, all so these women couldn't have any possible reason to comment.
I remember one particular day at work I was so flat out busy with a day of back-to-back meetings, I had to quickly scoff down a sandwich at my desk as I wouldn't have much time to leave the office for lunch. I ended up chocking, and coughing a bit. They thought I was coughing out loud to prepare everyone for my eventual sick day the next day. That really made me upset.

These occurrences started to occupy my thoughts all day, and most nights. I just couldn't get over the fact that the women I worked so close with, who I enjoyed being around and valued their opinion, had been gossiping about me for so long.
I became more paranoid. I would notice when they were talking together, if they were whispering, straining my ears to hear what they were talking about. I would think everything was about me, even though I'm sure it wasn't.

Then one week, I came down with a cold of some sort - I had a deep mannish voice, I was a little feverish, and my nose was running like crazy. Feeling that way, I sometimes had to blow my nose and cough. Turns out I'm human.
Well, these women thought it was all a show to take a sick day the following day. They laughed about it.
I was so determined to not get sick, to prove them wrong .. but I did, and I made myself stay at work, sweating through my clothes, eyes all watering. It was a very long week. And my body took such a long time to get over what was probably a simple cold. I developed a bad cough. After having been at work all week with a cold, I started coughing and just couldn't stop. And when I saw these women messaging each other, again predicting a sick day, I decided I had to say something.

I decided it had to stop. And I told myself to be a grown up.
I actually reminded myself that I am a adult. Sure I wanted to preserve my working relationship with these women - I had to work with them for several more months - and I really didn't want to make things worse.

But. Enough was enough. I am a person too. And I was not in the wrong, even in the slightest.
And .. it turned out I had whooping cough.

How I felt after something had been done:
At first, I felt very afraid that it could all backfire. I didn't want to make the situation worse. I knew management would talk with them together and separately, as management took bullying very seriously, and I didn't want these women to talk about me more.
I was also very afraid that they would just find other opportunities to talk about me instead, and that this would make working at the office awkward. I had to work with them each day, after all.

But after a few hours of being highly suspicious, I felt relief. It was a burden lifted.
Even though I was living in a city where I still felt like the new kid, with almost no friends, I felt better.

Struggling with bullying yourself? 

Perhaps you are guilty of criticising others. I know I'm guilty of criticising myself.

I once blogged about this here, and I really do this we can be too hard on ourselves and others. 
We can never truly know what someone else is going through, or what they are struggling with themselves, and even if we did know ... it is never our place to criticise, judge, or cause trouble.

Whatever the case may be, my bottom line is this: 
Negativity is dangerous. 
Positive thinking is empowering. 

And you really truly are too valuable to be defined by bullying.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Bastille Day.

It was quite fitting to hear a few French accents at work today.

Happy Bastille Day, all you Frenchies! Turn the volume up .. and think of all the frenchy words you know!

(Sometimes, when I hear a french accent, I hear .. Pepe.)

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Colour me happy. Colour me bright.

I recently purchased a pile of colourful leather journals, with the great intention of making myself happy.
I love keeping a journal.

For those who have been asking, the yellow vase is from Freedom, the blue vase is from Fireflies, and the journals are PaperThinks, ordered from Papier D'amour in Sydney.

It just so happened that the same weekend I ordered the journals from the cute store in Sydney, I also won a rather luxurious pillow from the same store.

A few days later, everything was delivered together, and more colour was added to the home!

This pillow is lovely. The prints have been relief printed, created by direct contact wih a raised surface. Each print is unique, ice-dyed onto fabric, individually layered with dye and ice to produce a divine lace-like pattern. The bright pom-poms add a touch of playfulness. It's the Mandala Mix cushion. And I love it.

Basically, you can never have too many colourful pillows. Or vases. Or frames.

More colour here!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

30 signs you're almost 30.

Today I came across a list: 30 signs you're almost 30.

Here are the several items that spoke to me:

You get super excited when you go to a concert and there are seats.
You'd rather pay a little more for a "nice, clean" hotel room than cram into a hostel with 12 of your friends.
There's an increasing number of musical artists you haven't even heard of.
Running hurts your knees. Elliptical machines hurt your knees. Everything hurts your knees.
Teen slang makes you viscerally angry. #yolo
You get really excited about lame stuff, like low interest rates. Yes!!
You wonder, seriously, how you ever pulled an all-nighter.
You've been to a party where at least two of your friends brought their babies.

.. and now it's 9:30pm, so it's time to get into my electrically-heated bed and sleep like an almost-30 person.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Fun Friday: Stephen Fry on language.

Random fact: I am a bit of a grammar nazi, and a big advocate for the Oxford Comma.
Other random fact: While I most definitely do not agree with some of his views, I am a big fan of all things Stephen Fry.

Rug up over the weekend!
That is all.
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to keep a journal.

I remember my first journal.

My family took a trip to Europe, coinciding with my Dad's business trip, when I was 6. In fact, I had my sixth birthday on the plane to Germany .. that birthday lasted a lot longer than 24 hours. And I recorded it all in my journal.
I love reading over it, and seeing where I so obviously used my finger to make spaces between words.

Ever since then, I have kept a journal. Sometimes I write every day. Other times, not.

This is one way I feel happy. I really enjoy reflecting and writing whatever personal things are going on in my life.

I write out important things I did that day.
I write about how I felt and what I did well or wished I could re-do.
I write little things I hope to never forget, things my future readers may know.
I write mostly about whatever is tugging at my heart strings, to get it all out, to vent.

This is actually the primary reason why Wilford Woodruff was my favourite latter-day prophet when growing up. I used to watch The Mountain of the Lord most Sundays - a church movie about the building of the amazingly beautifully crafted temple in Salt Lake City Utah. The entire movie is told from the experience of Wilford Woodruff. We are introduced to the key characters and events of early church history through his eyes ... and all this because he actually kept a journal every day of his life.

He kept a journal every day of his life since 1834, the year he joined the Church. When he joined, he vowed he would never lay his head on his pillow until he had made a record of the days work. A daily record.
We have, after all, been admonished to be a record-keeping people.

I recently purchased several new journals. I'll be using them in order of colour, and hope they will last me a good long while.
I really wanted to make a better commitment to something that I already know makes me happy.

What is something you do that makes you happy?

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

RIP Google Reader.

It's simply crazy that Google Reader will be no more in several hours ... simply craaazy!

I hope you know what to do to continue following your favourite blogs and RSS feeds. What are you planning to do? Have you found your new reader?
It's just one of those first-world problems that life throws you.

I recommend Bloglovin'. I did my research, looked at the layouts of the various options, and decided Bloglovin' looked most like what I wanted - a simple and effective home page of all unread blogs, easy to quickly view and navigate around.

I've been using Bloglovin' for several weeks now, and it did take me a little while to get used to it .. but I am liking it. A lot. It's actually faster than Google Reader when  loading blogs and images, and I can actually see the blogs I follow - colourful layouts n' all.
Plus, they have this great button which gets all your Google Reader information and magically transports it to the new program. It takes no more than a few minutes to change .. no need to loose anything.

There are other options. Feedly is a very popular one at the moment. It is similar to Bloglovin' - very sharp and easy to use. AOL and a few others have just brought out their own reader too.
You could also follow your favourite blogs via Facebook, or even subscribe the old-fashioned way via email. How archaic.
Need to help deciding?  Read this helpful article.

So .. rest in peace Google Reader ... now it's time to take the leap!
Make sure you find something to replace Reader .. and follow me on Bloglovin'!

It's where I'm currently at .. and you can easily (ie at the click of that great single button) transport all your blogs and feeds in one swoop to this new site, and your life could continue on as you now know it.

(pin it)

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun Friday: Conversations with a two year old.

Today is Friday.  I am in bed, ready to welcome the weekend with a long sleep.

"If you take the words of a two-year-old and put them in the mouth of a grown man,
suddenly the malevolence and intimidation really shine through."

Second episode here:

Enjoy your weekend.

(I found this via A Cup of Jo)

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My brother and the beach.

This is my brother.
He came to visit us for a few days earlier this year, and on this particular day we walked the beaches and practised our photography.

He and I are really good friends.  We just get each other, and are always quoting movies and laughing together.

I won't embarrass him.  But he is a genius.  He will go places, and will hopefully remember me when he's a well-travelled famous man.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

30 before 30 list.

So I'm finally getting around to sharing my 30 by 30 list with you.
I took my sweet time, right up to the day of my birthday, to finalise this list .. I guess it means more to me than I first thought.

30 Before 30

1. Ride a hot-air balloon.
2. Run a race or fun run.
3. Do Bikram Yoga for a fortnight or 30 day challenge.
4. Put up all frames and paintings in our house.
5. Find my go-to kareoke song.
6. Play a decent pipe organ in Adelaide.
7. Fit into my clothes properly - be my target weight.
8. Walk four different hikes.
9. Study Jesus the Christ.
10. Swim with dolphins.
11. Learn how to cook .. properly.
12. Take an art class.
13. Go on a cultural (musical?) weekend away.
14. Compose a piece of music.
15. Compile our family photo albums electronically to publish.
16. Take an amazing luxurious bath.
17. Landscape our gardens.
18. Be completely clutter-free.
19. Write to Jones Shimai (a few times).
20. Audition for the opera chorus (or just a better choir).
21. Go on a ‘watch the sunrise’ date.
22. Have a ‘riding a bike’ date.
23. Have a ‘painting on a canvas or two’ date.
24. Send a message in a bottle.
25. Climb a tree.
26. Plan and host an awesome classy party.
27. withheld.
28. withheld.
29. withheld.
30. withheld.

The plan is to achieve all 30 tasks between 25 March 2013 and 24 March 2014.
And yes .. there are a few that are withheld.  Because I can do that.  Adds a bit of mystery to the last year of my twenties.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

I hope they call YOU on a mission - the short version.

A few weeks back, I posted all my thoughts on how to prepare for a mission.
It just seemed like the right time, as I had recently presented some of those thoughts to young single adults, and so many people I know (almost every girl from my two EFY groups!!) are about to leave or planning to serve.

It was a long post, I know.  I didn't want to cut it up or condense it down.  Hopefully those who need it, will read it.

Here is how to prepare, the short official version:

Feel free to share this with lots of prospective missionaries, as well as ask me questions.
I may not be the all-knowing person on this subject, but I sure do have a lotta contacts!

For those of you who still don't quite understand what this mission business is all about, or why the heck we do it, this may help:

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Loneliest Journey Ever Made.

Below is an Easter-season message intended for everyone.

It is particularly directed "to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned."

This may include "those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost—or have never been blessed with—children.  Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands, husbands whose wives have walked away, and children bereft of one or the other of their parents—or both.  This group can find within its broad circumference a soldier far from home, a missionary in those first weeks of homesickness, or a father out of work, afraid the fear in his eyes will be visible to his family."

"In short it can include all of us at various times in our lives."

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I hope they call YOU on a mission.

It's the beginning of 2013, a brand new year.  A fresh start.  A time to quit your depressing job and head towards happiness.
But while everyone is talking of setting resolutions and thinking of goals worthy to pursue, today I want to talk about something else ... something more important for some of you.

One of the best decisions I ever made, which brought me a HUGE amount of lasting happiness, was to serve a full-time mission for my church.

A mission?  Like a spy should-you-choose-to-accept mission?  No, not quite as glamorous, and for a much worthier cause.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) encourage our 19 year-olds to go out proselyting and serving others anywhere in the world for 18-24 months, if they are able and worthy to do so.  For the young men, it's more expected of them, as it is a duty (and privledge) under the priesthood which they can hold.
To be a missionary, you have to adhere to a strict code of conduct and schedule, although 90% of missionaries will not be monitored daily - it's obvious that in the mission field, you only get what you put in, and the Lord can really only bless you when you are 100% obedient.

Both Matthew and I served missions - very different kinds - when we were 20 and 24 respectively.  Not only did we experience different cultures and language barriers, but the Lord tailored our missions to suit our skills and talents, and to give us hard challenges to wield us into better people by serving others.

Matthew went to the heart of South Korea - the Seoul West South Korea mission.  He had to quickly adjust to a different culture, not to mention learning how to speak and read Korean.  I didn't know Matthew back then, but he was clearly very influenced by his two years in Seoul.  He has such a love for the Korean people and culture.  We regularly cook and eat Korean food, and I am slowly picking up some words and phrases.

I was assigned to the Temple Square Salt Lake City mission, which included a four month stint in Louisville Kentucky.  Most people think of Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah USA, as the iconic homeland of all Mormons.  Or the sound studio of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the famous backdrop of organ pipes.  Temple Square is definitely the mecca of all Mormons, as our prophet and other leaders live/regularly meet there, but most Mormons actually live outside USA.

My mission routine was highly structured and very busy, with a combination of proselyting formally on historical tours and informally in random conversation or on the phone, 9 am to 9 pm 6.5 days a week (half a day per week was our own time to shop, wash, play).
The key difference between this mission and all others is that us missionaries were constantly watched - yes, a few crazies - but mostly from media, church leaders, and millions of international tourists.  We were the face of the church, not just teachers, and so we had to look professional and respectable, learn as many facts and figures about the buildings, church people, church history, and all the random odd questions that random odd people think of.
I quickly embraced this unique assignment, and learnt how to be bold but not overbearing or confrontational.

"If only you could see the vision as I have.  I wish I had your bodies to do this work.  I would run from house to house telling everyone of the gospel, and after I lost the strength to run, I would being to walk.  And after I collapsed from walking, I would being to crawl.  And after my knees were so bloody that I could not use them, I would use my arms to drag myself.  And once every muscle in my body was gone, I would being to yell!  Oh, if only you could see the vision as I have."  [1]

Serving a mission was the single best decision I have ever made and the most worthwhile thing I have ever done with my life.

So how do you know if you are ready to serve a mission?  You might have doubts about your readiness to serve.
Elder Russell M. Nelson said prospective missionaries should not begin their service before they are ready spiritually and temporally.  Just because the minimum age requirement was recently lowered does not mean that is when you must go.

The best answer is this:  rely on the advice of righteous parents and spiritual advisers.  Ultimately, your bishop and stake president will help you determine your readiness .. but you gotta talk to them about it.

In the meantime, this is how I think you can best prepare to serve a mission:

Think what might be the best things for you to be doing right now .. we all know the things we struggle with.  What items would be on your list?
Here are a few keys:

1. Personal scripture study.
    This will help you develop faith in, an understanding and testimony of, and love for the gospel of Jesus Christ - all fundamental in becoming an effective teacher of the gospel.  Out of all the standard works, I would concentrate on the Book of Mormon.  It is literally the most correct of any book on earth - the keystone of our religion.  You will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts.  The Book of Mormon changes lives!  So read it, ponder it, find answers to all your question in it, get some great experiences to share with potential investigators.  You know missionaries ask people to test the truth of this book - but it's no good asking people to do so, if you haven't.

2. Personal prayer.
    What about saying your prayers vocally?  Even if you whisper to yourself, it means you are making an effort.  And you probably won't fall asleep or drift off into random thoughts.  Find a habit that works for you - it might be best to say your morning prayers immediately when you roll out of bed.  Make the decision right now to make this work, and keep in touch with your Heavenly Father.

    “I do not worry about the youth of the Church that will pray twice a day.” [2]
    “Satan trembles, when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” [3]

    “Personal, sincere involvement in the scriptures produces faith, hope, and solutions to our daily challenges.  Frequently reading, pondering, and applying the lessons of the scriptures, combined with prayer, become an irreplaceable part of gaining and sustaining a strong, vibrant testimony.” [4]
    “Living the Lord’s standards requires that we cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost.  That gift helps us understand doctrine and apply it personally.  Because truth that is given by revelation can be understood only by revelation, our studies need to be prayerful.” [5]

3. Attend Institute and church meetings.
    Faithful attendance at church meetings brings blessings you can receive no other way.  Be worthy to prepare/bless/pass/take the sacrament.  Come to that meeting with clean hands and a pure heart.  Listen carefully to the messages.  Also, you really really really should attend Mission Prep classes at Institute.  You'll develop a deeper understanding of and proficiency in teachings the doctrines from Preach My Gospel.

    “None of us ever need to hesitate to speak for this church, for its doctrine, for its people, for its divine organisation and divinely given responsibility.  It is true.  It is the work of God.  The only things that can ever embarrass this work are acts of disobedience to its doctrines and standards by those of its membership.  That places upon each of us a tremendous responsibility.  This work will be judged by what the world sees of our behaviour.  God gives us the will to walk with faith, the discipline to do what is right at all times and circumstances, and the resolution to make of ourselves a declaration of this cause before all who see us.”[6]

4. Strengthen your testimony.
    This is the coolest diagram of what sets our faith apart from the rest - note the place of the Book of Mormon.  Know what sets us apart, and be really excited about it!
    Additionally, you really must avoid anything that offends the Spirit.  “The Spirit of the Lord usually communicates with us in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle … The standard is clear.  If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing.  If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us.  Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us.  Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.” [7]

    “Some of you may not have a testimony, and so I have said to other groups like you, if you don’t have a testimony today, why don’t you cling to mine for a little while?  Hold on to our testimonies, the testimonies of your bishops, your stake presidents, until you can develop it.  If you can say nothing more today than I believe because my president, or my bishop, believes, I trust him, do this until you can get a testimony for yourselves; but I warn you that won’t stay with you unless you continue to cultivate it and live the teachings.” [8]

5. Read your patriarchal blessing.
    This is a revelation from God for YOU and only you.  It is the inspired and prophetic statement of your life's mission, together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions.  It's your prophetic map to life - so regard it as personal scripture to you, and read it regularly to know God's will for you.

6. Take opportunities for service seriously.
    Home/Visiting Teaching can be hard, but it can also be quite fun.  Both the young men and young women programs were designed very specifically for you, and you should be able to help teach and serve others.

    “To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves.  No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man.  Service to others is akin to duty – the fulfilment of which brings true joy.”[9]

7. Wearing modest clothing and preparing for attending the temple.
    Preparing for a mission means preparing to enter the house of the Lord.  Find out what you have to do to have a current temple recommend, even if you're not planning on going yet, and live according to those standards.  You'll find you already know them .. but the key standard most are not prepared for is wearing modest clothing.  Temple attendance means either making or renewing highly sacred covenants, and we remember those highly sacred covenants by wearing garments.  So get used to sleeves and decent lengthed dresses now!  You gain power through keeping your covenants.

    “Sometimes we are tempted to let our lives be governed more by convenience than by covenant.  It is not always convenient to live gospel standards and stand up for truth and testify of the Restoration.  … But there is no spiritual power in living by convenience.  The power comes as we keep our covenants.” [10]

    It’s simple.  “Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Break them and you will not.  ...
“... We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences.” [11]

It's really important to recognise that, yes, we all know these basics (aka your typical sunday school answers), but that we can all struggle with them.  That is why we always hear about them!

You don't need to be perfect or spiritually brilliant - but do not settle for mediocrity.

(from The Friend magazine)

I think the true essentials are:
1. The desire to serve.
2. Exact obedience.
3. The humility to be taught.

"My experience is that once you stop putting question marks behind the prophet's statements and put exclamation points instead, and do it, the blessings just pour." [12]
You know the ones you personally struggle with ... break it down.  Why might you be struggling with it?  What can you to make it easier?

John Bytheway once told a story of when his room mate Mike received a phone call around 5:30 in the morning from Lisa.  She called and said her room mate Jill was really sick, and she wanted Mike and John to give Jill a blessing before she took Jill to the hospital.

So Mike knocked on John's door, told him about the call, and then they both ran over to the girls' apartment.  They had to hurry - there was no time to say 'Well, I need to repent first'.
Jill was in a really bad way.  Mike anointed her, and then it was John's turn to perform the blessing.  He put out his hands, and suddenly remembered the scripture in Psalms 24 - Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.  

He looked at his hands, and asked the question "Are my hands clean?"  Because this was the time to be an elder in the priesthood.  What movie did I push into the machine last night?  Did they stain my fingers?  Have I done anything on a date that I'd be ashamed of?  Are my hands clean?
What about my mouth - can I have a prayer or blessing come out of the same mouth I used during the week at work?

Serving the Lord in whatever capacity is important, wonderful stuff.  So, another vital ingredient in preparing for a mission is to always live a clean life.

Yes you can repent - and the miracle of forgiveness is very real, and true repentance is accepted of the Lord.  But "[a] man who resists temptation and lives without sin is far better off than the man who has fallen, no matter how repentant the latter may be.  ... How much better it is never to have committed sin." [13]

Having said that, this is one of my favourites quotes:
"I testify that when a Bishop or Stake President has confirmed that your repentance is sufficient, know that your obedience has allowed the Atonement of Jesus Christ to satisfy the demands of justice for the laws you have broken.  Therefore you are now free.  Please believe it.  To continually suffer the distressing effects of sin after adequate repentance, which not intended, is to deny the efficacy of the Saviour's atonement in your behalf." [14]

There are two aspects to your social life - friends and (pre-mission) dating.

Remember, "[a] true friend makes it easier to live the gospel"[15]

"The kind of girl who want to date and marry will not only want you to go on a mission, she will expect you to.  She'll know that a mission can make you a much better person, and she won't be so selfish as to keep you from going." [16]

Basically, your Heavenly Father wants you to date those who are faithful members of the Church, who encourage you to serve a full-time mission, and to magnify your priesthood. [11]  My advice is to not take the chance of dating non-members, or members who are untrained and faithless.  You may think it's just some fun, or perhaps you have no intentions of making any kind of commitment with that person, but can't afford to take chance.  Plus, those kind of relationships say more about you than it does about the other person.

Think I'm being tough?  It's printed in The Strength of Youth, in black and white:  "Because dating is a preparation for marriage, date only those who have high standards and respect your standards, and in whose company you can maintain the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ."  It's basically saying it's better to stay home and not date, than to date people whose standards are not up to yours.

Some of you may struggle with deciding between two good paths to take.  I actually met Matthew just before I left for my mission.  It was really sucky timing, I thought.  I had no doubt I was meant to serve a mission, my application papers were in, and then I met him and quickly grew to know I was going to marry him.  What the .. ??  It was hard, but I simply could not deny the feeling I had, that I was meant to go.  So, I decided I had to trust in that feeling, and go with it.  We made no promises (I don't really agree with making someone promise to wait around) and I read Proverbs 3:5-6 a LOT.

After your mission, you will be more mature and better prepared to make some of the most important decisions of your life and to pursue your education, career, and courtship.

When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.  Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.” [17]

I think it wonderful that Heavenly Father has trusted and relied upon youth to do His sacred and important work throughout the history of the world.  The new policy on the age for full-time missionary service is another evidence of His love and trust in you.

“The Lord wants every young man to serve a full-time mission.  Not only should a mission be regarded as a priesthood duty, but every young man should look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation.  What a privilege – what a sacred privilege – to serve the Lord full time for two years with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.
“You can do nothing more important.  School can wait.  Scholarships can be deferred.  Occupational goals can be postponed.  Yes, even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honourable full-time mission for the Lord.  And I would admonish you to date only faithful young women who also believe this and give you that encouragement.” [18]

It is very humbling – to be loved and trusted so much by God.  You can be, and are, worthy and prepared to serve the Lord.  You can really change the world.

“The difference between mediocrity and excellence can be ever so small … the little extra effort we make becomes such a tremendous difference.  I speak of the need for a little more effort a little more self-discipline, a little more consecrated effort in the direction of excellence in our lives.  This is the great day of decision for each of us.  For many it is the time of beginning something that will go on for as long as you live.  I plead with you: don’t be a scrub!  Rise to high moral ground of spiritual, mental, and physically excellence.  You can do it.  You may not be a genius.  You may be lacking in some skills. But so many of us can do better than we are now doing.  We are members of this great church whose influence is now felt over the world.  We are people with a present and with a future.  Don’t muff your opportunities.  Be excellent.” [19]

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[1] Spencer W. Kimball
[2] Harold B. Lee
[3] Thomas S. Monson, quoting William Cowper, "Come unto Him in Prayer and Faith", Ensign, Mar. 2009
[4] Donald L. Staheli, in Conference Report, Oct. 2004, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 2004, 39
[5] Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, Nov. 2000, 17
[6] Gordon B. Hinckley
[7] David A. Bednar, Ensign, May 2006, 29-30
[8] Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 136
[9] Thomas S. Monson
[10] M. Russell Ballard, in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 113; or Ensign, May 1999, 86
[11] Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 107-8; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84
[12] Russell M. Nelson, in Lane Johnson, "Russell M. Nelson: A Study of Obedience", Ensign, Aug. 1982, 24
[13] Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 1969
[14] Dallin H. Oaks
[15] Richard G. Scott
[16] Robert D. Hales
[17] Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Youth of the Noble Birthright", Ensign, May 1986
[18] ibid
[19] Gordon B. Hinckley, bold added

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Need a bit of a laugh?

Hmm, gotta love selfies.  Especially when you clearly need to wash your hair.

Anyway, in the spirit of finding happiness, how about some laughter?
Laughing is good, free medicine.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A happier fresh start.

Hello faithful followers!

I am really excited for this new year.  It might be a bit of a cliché  but gosh a new year is a great time to start fresh.  The weather here in Adelaide is very HOT, and yes it's sad we have so many bush fires at this time, but I love the feeling of wearing shorts and thongs (calm down, they're flip flops), being slightly tanned, and eating salads, salsas, and lots of ice blocks.

One of the things I've done so far in 2013 is quit my job.  I won't go into the details just yet, but I have been wanting to leave my job for some time due to a few negative experiences and the general feeling of unhappiness.

Continuing along that line of thought, Matthew and I have decided that our family motto for 2013 will be


2012 was such a fast-paced year of working long hours, monitoring furniture sale prices, eating lots of takeaway, and a few depressing times I can't quite talk about yet ... and while it was a great year because we bought our first house and had the best Christmas fun on Kangaroo Island (I'll blog about that one soon!), our bodies did suffer.
So I decided 2013 will be the year our family focuses on our bodies and minds, aiming to become healthier and happier.

How's this for a happiness manifesto for 2013:

You can find the manifesto and a great read on how to get a great start on the new year here.

Action item number one - resign from depressing job - done.
Action item number two - record my journey of finding happiness on this faithful blog - in progress.

I haven't quite gotten my act together just yet - there's a little more blog re-design to happen - but you should notice a new signature at the end of my posts.  Melissa Rose is a wonderfully talented graphic designer who kindly designed it for me!
Would you like a similar signature?  Melissa is offering my followers a free signature until January 15.

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