Thursday, April 28, 2011

Here Am I, Send Me

I read a blog of one of my most memorable teacher's sister. I have never met her, but because of my teacher's stories about them together I feel like I have at least been filled in up to this point. Now I read her own words and as strange as it may seem, it seems as though she is not only a teacher to me now, but that I have known her my whole life. She has written many posts on motherhood that resonate with me because she seems to cover the things I am terribly afraid about doing wrong (namely losing my temper...) but one she wrote about has me repeating the mantra even to this day. It was entitled "My Life is Not My Own" (you should really click on over to get the true essence). In this post she talks about her busy mother who when seemingly finding a moment to herself gets a telephone call for help.
Before this school semester started, PJ had a week off between the Winter and Spring semester and I was so excited to be able to relax with him all week. I wanted us to spend so much time together we'd get sick of each other and be excited to go to school to get away from each other, if only for a day. The first day of our break went somewhat to plan but as we were just sitting down to enjoy some Netflix instant play, we got a knock on our door. It was a friend of PJ's who needed help moving into his new apartment. I wanted to tell PJ to tell his friend he would help him in an hour or so. After all, this is our time together and how rude of someone to come over and interrupt us on our "break week". Then I thought back to the aforementioned post and said to myself "My life, My husband even, is not my own."
In retrospect, how great is it that my husband is not only able, but very willing to help others! (and how selfish of me...) But ever since that day, this thought has come into my head at least once. As I'm wanting to sleep in instead of go to the gym for my 2 mile run, as I'm headed out of class and have the ability to either go home (and probably slack off) or go to the wonderful 2nd floor of the library (the quiet floor) to complete my homework for the day, as I walk in the door and realize the wonderful fragrance of food I smelled is not coming from my house and I still have to cook dinner, and as I realize I still haven't planned the Sunday School lesson for Sunday (and it's Saturday...). Through all of these ups and downs my motto has become: My life is not my own. It doesn't matter what I want in this life, there is a force stronger than me which will pull me towards furthering the work of the Lord. It is okay to be tired at the end of the day from working so hard, in fact, it is preferred. And as far as my husband goes; he is no more mine than my children will be. He is here to help me, but he is still first and foremost the Lord's servant. This message has hit home even more today as my Religion teacher testified of Jesus following the Father's will. Even His life was not His own. I am so thankful for the wonderful example we have in submitting our will in order to follow the Father's. May I say with Isaiah, "Here am I, Send Me".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back to School!

This past week was my first week of my 2nd attempt at college at the 3rd university I tried this attempt! This is the third private college I have attended and the second religion- affiliated college I have attended and the first major difference in all these attempts is we pray before every class! First thing in the morning is my Pre-Calculus class and we pray to begin class and it is the same for each class all over campus (yes, even in my science class we pray before we begin). It is such a treat and blessing to have the entire class come together and praise the Lord! In some classes we will sing a hymn together before we pray and I have loved feeling the spirit because of these customs. I plan on working really hard this semester because this school offers a full ride scholarship (upon review per semester...) if you get a 4.0 (which PJ did get last semester- that smart little cookie!). We also have devotional in the middle of the week where the student body can come together and be uplifted by a spiritual message. I know it has only been the first week of school, but I can tell this will be a huge help when further down the road I'll be twice as busy and need some uplifting. I have never experienced prayer in school and I now understand why people were in such an uproar when it was taken out. (I understand both sides of the story- let's not get into that.)
Before school however, my mom treated me to a trip down to Arizona to visit her! I was so excited:
This is what I wore when I left. And really I should have brought a jacket because it was 40 degrees outside. But I didn't want to lug around a jacket all weekend so I tried to stay warm in this.

This is what it looked like when I left. Same ol' cloudy skies and no sun. *But also no snow!*

And this, this is beautiful Arizona!

Notice how blue the skies are! Only, you can't see the stars at night, kind of a draw back as you're relaxing by the pool...

My mom's apartment complex. I love the terracotta roofs and the stucco walls. Every building looks like this. So cohesive!

Some of the local fauna.

Me in my sun dress with no tights and flip flops! (The dress is a size 6 by the way *ahem*)

My mom and I going out to dinner. We got kinda lost... but we were fed and got back home safely so that's all that matters right?

Now to first week of school. On Friday I looked out my window and what did I see? Snow on the ground for goodness gracious' sake. Some days I walk out of the house and say "What is wrong with you!" towards Idaho of course. But the sunrise was really pretty coming over the temple so had to document that.

And don't you just love fresh flowers on a table? I've realized I really like flowers in Mason Jars. A little country, I know, but just makes it feel more like home. We are "storing" a red dining room table so I liked the big red flower in the display.

All in all a pretty great week. Now we enter into the "testing" phase of school where they see if you have retained anything from the first weeks of school. I can deal as long as it continues to get warmer and stays that way for, oh, a week? Please? and thank you.

>>As a side note, some little kid barged into our apartment today as I was sitting at the dining room table doing homework. I looked at him and he looked at me and I said "I think you're in the wrong house" and he left. I then locked the door. How. Weird.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Culture Shock #....

I've lost count. Culture is not wrong or right only preferred. Growing up in the South my entire life I took a lot of things for granted. I met plenty of people not from the South, and even different countries, but I still viewed things as this country does it this way while my country does it that way. There are some who really love the South and I didn't really get it. I of course (as previously mentioned) tended to see the bad before I saw the good. I learned about Western Mormon culture before coming out here but it is certainly different living in it.

When I first got here the shock (that has since lessened) was that everyone had a baby or was pregnant or both. I thought surely I would be able to find 1 couple with out children or who wasn't expecting, and I haven't really. Once again, not wrong or right, just an observation.

Once that shock wore off there were other small differences which caught my eye one of which being drivers. I mean do you really have to sit at a stop sign to make sure all is clear before you go? It's a pattern right? You go, he goes, you go... I get uppity sometimes and have an urge to pass people in the turn lane but you never know who you might see the next day in church.

In the South, food is a bonding moment. If you cook for someone it's like sharing with them a prized possession. When we first moved to Atlanta we had dinner with a member from the ward at least every month, possibly even twice a month. There were groups whose only purpose was to try the local cuisine. I had friends where the only thing we'd do together when we'd hang out was eat. I have brought in snacks at work and people think that's weird. I ask people who have lived here for years what's a good restaurant to try and they can't tell me. There's not even a dollar menu at McDonalds. (Shouldn't that be a crime?) I'm all for cooking dinner every night, but when that gets tiring let's go out!

The latest shock has been there really is such a thing as Southern Hospitality! One of the things I took for granted living in the South is that people acknowledge you exist. There have been so many times I've tried to start up conversations in the checkout line and any conversation falls flat. I even had an old man cut me off while going to the fast check out lane. Back in the South, people either waiting in line or checking you out will usually start up a conversation with you. I've had a lot of cashiers ask me how I like certain products, give me suggestions on products, tell me about their animals, and I remember one girl even told me her grandma had just been robbed and all her jewelry was stolen. If you ever say you had something bad happen, then next thing anyone will say is "I'll pray for you". Oh, and when you pass someone and make eye contact, you always say "Hi" or at least nod. I've looked people straight in the eye here and smiled and said "Hi" and they looked at me like "Do I know you?". Walking out of a convenience store once, someone pulled over and asked me directions. I don't mean to suggest everyone's friendly in the South, but if talked to, you talk back.

And when you talk back, it's rude unless you say "Yes ma'am" or "Yes sir". You would never get away with simply saying "Yes" to an adult and especially your mother.

I say all this to say Idaho is in the same country as North Carolina and Georgia, but still very different. Not good or bad, just different. So, which do you prefer?