Monday, November 30, 2009

A Turkey-less Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day I spent with my mom, Stephen, and their neighbor friends Diane and Larry. Since we had a small crowd, mom had asked me if I would mind if we didn't have a turkey. Not at all. I'm not married to the tradition by any means, and it seemed less work for her, so I was all in. Instead, we feasted on salad with figs and goat cheese, garlic shrimp, butternut squash ravioli, veggies, homemade rolls, and apple tart for dessert. I can't say that I didn't miss the traditional fare at all, but the change was refreshing, I must say. And the shrimp and ravioli were delicious.

I stayed the night at my mom's and Friday morning, Katie (in from Washington, D.C. -- which reminds me... I haven't blogged about my D.C. trip), Sarah, and Andrew came to visit and eat brunch. As always, it was delightful. Andrew and I played with a wooden set of Tangrams. Andrew is in 1st grade, and was pretty good at it. Very fun to see all of them.

Then the rest of the weekend was spent cleaning out my closet, weeding out clothes I don't wear to be sent to DI and reading. Oh and a 2nd Thanksgiving at Katie's mom's house tonight. All in all, a good weekend. Sorry, no pictures to prove it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful that God's Words Never Cease.

"It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
(in an address delivered before the Senior Class in Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sunday Evening, July 15, 1838.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful for the Bible.

"This Great Book … is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Saviour gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong."
~Abraham Lincoln (Speeches and Writings, 1859–1865 [1989], 628)

As a full-time LDS missionary, with my companion Amber, I read the New Testament word for word, cover to cover. Several, we stopped reading aloud, and in awe, looking at each other, we'd marvel at how complete and true the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. We didn't make it through the Old Testament cover to cover, but read several selections. But that experience cemented in my heart a love for Christ and His gospel. The Bible is truly a manifestation of God's love for us. Christ's teachings, along with those of the other apostles are true and simple examples of how we can love and make the world a better place, one interaction at a time. I'm truly thankful for it and for the insight it has brought to my life.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful for Mrs. Terwilliger.

"This is my country. Wherever I go, I will leave it more beautiful than I found it."
~Mrs. Terwilliger

When I was young, I had the opportunity to take many a nature walk with Mrs. Terwilliger. I remember her quite vividly in her large straw hat, with all of us gathered around her examining some treasure she found on the ground. Maybe a seashell, or a piece of driftwood, or a wildflower. Her knowledge astounded me, but her enthusiasm for teaching us about nature and the world around us is what sticks most prominently in my mind. Her spirit was vibrant, curious, lovely, and serene. She seemed genuinely focused on ensuring that we felt good about ourselves, the world we live in and our place in it.

Although I don't remember specifics, I remember her spirit. Mrs. Terwilliger died three years ago today at the age of 97. Her legacy is great, one that has infused in my life and my outlook on the world. I once read that she wanted to teach children to love nature because, "People take care of what they love." I'm thankful for her influence on me, as well as thousands of other children.

Pictures found in Google Search.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thankful for Glee. It makes me happy.

"Glee, one of the season's best and most anticipated new series, delivers on both counts - and more. It's a quirky, sweet, humorous, nonpartisan funfest."
~Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

So you might think it's a little much for me to be "thankful for" the television show Glee, but I love it and it brightens my week. And for that, I'm thankful.

If you haven't tuned in to watch at least an episode or two of Fox television's new show Glee, then you're missing out. Seriously. But don't worry, you can always catch the most recent five episodes on Hulu or on Fox's website. Also, the DVDs of the first half of the season will be released December 29th, I'm told.

So the premise? This high-school Spanish teacher (played by Matthew Morrison) attempts to revive the Glee Club to its former glory. He's optimistic that the eclectic group of performers will make it to Regionals. Of course there are lot of side stories weaved throughout and a lot of singing and dancing in between. Like this...

And this...

Glee club geeks are totally my style. Just watch this teaser from the premiere.

Do you not just want to get up and dance? No? Really? Well, I do. Maybe that's why I sang, acted, and danced my way through high school. What can I say? I'm a total Gleek. :)

Cast photo found here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful for the Gratitude of Others.

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily."
~Gerald Good

Random people on the streets of New York City share a variety of grateful responses to one simple question: What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful for Good Health.

"The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling."

~Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

I'm thankful for my health. I'm thankful for when my body is free from a sore throat, achy and tired limbs, and a 100.2 degree fever. I'm thankful when my I feel fully rested and rejuvenated. I'm thankful that I feel like this most days.

Sadly, today is not one of those days.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thankful for Airplanes.

"The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth."
~Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Because airplanes mean travel. And I sure do love to travel. I've posted on the subject of travel 31 times (including this post). I've got that wanderlust gene. What can I say? You get on a plane, sleep, read, and get off in a totally different place only hours later. A brand new adventure! I must say, that I've been lucky enough to go on many adventures... just look at the list of airports I've flown in and out of.

I was thinking today about all the knowledge and skill a pilot must have to keep us safe in the air. Smart dudes. Maybe I'll marry a pilot. Know any?

So my last airplane adventure? October to Washington, D.C. for fun with KDJ. Next airplane adventure? Southern California for Christmas with the family. Like I said, I like to travel. And I'm truly thankful for the opportunities I've had to go so many places. Thank you frequent flier miles. Thank you lovely benefactors.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thankful for Freedom.

"The remembrance of November 9, 1989, not to mention the remembrance of the horrific proceedings of the (Kristallnacht) pogrom on November 9, 1938, unmistakably teaches us: Walls - whether real or in the heads and hearts of people - walls do not solve any problems."

~Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of Germany's Bishop's Conference

If you've read my blog for a little while, you know that I had the opportunity to spend about ten days in Berlin this last March. As you can imagine, there has been a lot going on this year in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I was humbled as I read story after story of those who attempted to escape, of those who were separated from family, friends, and neighbors, of those who were essentially held prisoner in their own country.

The Berlin Wall fell when I was 11 years old. I remember watching on television, the hordes of people celebrating at the wall. I don't think I'll ever forget the look of sheer joy of new-found freedom on the faces of so many parading across that screen. They may not have endured hunger or ran around in rags, but they lacked freedom and the ability to choose for themselves. Free agency is the ultimate gift, a privilege they were denied for far too long.
Much of the wall is now torn down, being sold in gift shops all over Germany, but two parallel rows of brick sweep through the city, marking the path where the wall once stood. Walking across that brick marker is rather exhilarating and unbelievable to think that twenty years ago, that never would have happened. I never would have just walked over that line freely. There was a wall there. A barrier.
Even though most of the wall is no longer standing, there still are several large sections of the wall that remain. Remnants of an era of war. I suppose I'd like to see them stay forever, as a reminder of a hell that none of us wants to see repeated.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be in Berlin. Thankful to the Jacobsens for their generosity in getting me there. Thankful to see the remains of a an era. To walk the streets. To be there during such a celebratory year as this. Twenty years.

I am so grateful to live in a free country. A country that is fundamentally committed to human rights, democracy, and freedom. Freedom is truly priceless. Today's anniversary is a good reminder, and for that I am thankful.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thankful for uncharacteristically warm weather in November.

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
~John Ruskin

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the weather has been SO pleasant. Apparently, there was a record warm November day here in Utah. I think it was Thursday. Oh it was nice. However, I have to admit that when I walked out of work in my coat, I started getting hot, and thought, "This feels like earthquake weather." Now, I know there is really no scientific proof that the weather and tremors are connected. But I still get that feeling whenever it is warm and dry outside... especially unseasonably warm and dry.

Well, there hasn't been an earthquake, but I sure have enjoyed the pleasant autumn days that we've been afforded.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thankful for My Senses.

"The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind."
~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

You know how smells and sounds have the ability to instantly transport you to a particular time and place? You know, the sound of a seagull calling overhead or the smell of your old boyfriend's cologne or the salty/sunscreeny smell of skin after a day at the beach. I've been thinking about that and how wonderful these memory-invoking experiences are.

A few weeks ago, as I was heading to bed, my windows were open and floating along the breeze was the sound of the distant train. Trains. They remind me of spending the night at my Grandpa and Grandma's house. Particularly Christmas time. My brother and I spent countless (alright, you could probably count them) Christmas vacations at Grandma and Grandpa's, sleeping in the old blue bedroom. Shepherd always slept in the bed against the wall just below a window. Always feeling the air was too stuffy, he'd have the window open, despite my pleas to close it and keep out the cold. To appease me he'd keep the curtains closed, but stick his legs or arms underneath the curtains to catch the cool night air. Although I shivered in my bed at times, the open window allowed the sound of the distant train to filter in my mind all the more easily. Now the sound of trains takes me instantly to the feeling of Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's, a kind of anticipation of something great just around the corner.

Then just the other day, when the weather started getting really cold (thankfully, it's back to regular Fall weather for a little while now), I walked outside and smelled a smell that instantly took me back to Lithuania. It was instant, I tell you. The smell of wood or coal burning in fireplaces around my neighborhood filled the air. I didn't think people burned coal around here, but somehow the air smelled just like I'd stepped outside my apartment in Lithuania. Oh how I love that smell. I wanted that smell to linger with the same intensity it had when it first hit my nose. That would mean the memories would linger. Lithuania holds so many memories that just make me smile and feel warm.

So yeah. I'm thankful for my senses. I'm thankful that they can transport me instantly to a memory, which otherwise might not flood my mind nearly as often. Even if it's only for a moment.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thankful for the Right to Vote.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
~Margaret Mead

I'm thankful that so many women (and men) fought and struggled to attain the right for me to vote. The journey was arduous, and that I fully acknowledge. They paved the way, and I get to casually sail down that walkway to the voting booth. I'm thankful to those who put forth such valiant effort to secure that right for me.

Photo found here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Thankful for My Calling. And a New Blog.

"Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you."
~Eileen Caddy

In June 2009, I transitioned from a Young Single Adult ward to a traditional ("family") ward. Certain that I'd be called to teach Gospel Doctrine (my favorite calling, despite the fact that I never thought I'd be a teacher) or work with the Single Adults, I was quite surprised when my Bishop asked me if I was ready for a challenge...

He called me to be the Ward Primary Music Leader. Wow. That's not at all what I had in mind. I knew I should be excited, but I admit I was rather hesitant. How would I ever get to know anyone in the ward? I'd be tucked away in Primary and never get to go to Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine, let alone ever teach!

Little did I know...

"The music leader is the gospel doctrine teacher for the Primary."
~President Hinckley
I was called to be Gospel Doctrine teacher!

Not only that, but how many teachers can say, "My students still know the lessons I gave them... word for word!" Nothing beats hearing "my lessons" as I walk down the hallway, or out to my car at the end of the day, or even in the middle of Sacrament Meeting.

And remember how I thought I wouldn't meet anyone in the ward? Well, you might be surprised how well I know adults in the ward, through their children. And on top of that, I have 40 new little friends! Nothing warms the heart quite like the look on a child's face when they see me in Sacrament Meeting, and they turn and poke their mom, pointing and saying, "Mom, look! That's my friend over there."

So in the spirit of preparation, organization, appreciation, and of course sharing of ideas, I have started a new blog to house all my lesson plans and ideas.


Can you believe it wasn't taken?! Feel free to check it out and link to it, especially if you, yourself, are working in the Primary at church.

And please, if you have any ideas... share them!

Photo found here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Thankful for Thankful Day.

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

~Thornton Wilder

I have an ancestor named Thankful Day.

It's true.

She came from a strong Puritan background, so the name is fitting.

Her name has made me chuckle at times, but has also made me think about the gratitude her parents must have felt upon her arrival. What a great reminder to be grateful for all you have.

So in honor of Thankful, as well as the month of November, which brings us Thanksgiving, I've decided to try to make a concerted effort to focus on that, for which I am thankful. No matter how big or small. Gratitude changes my outlook on life. Why not make a concerted effort to focus on that which makes us happy?

Today, I'm thankful for good gas mileage.

My car might be getting up there in age, but I will say that I have absolutely no complaints with how it runs. I get a minimum of 30 mpg, and usually it's closer to 33mpg. That's pretty fantastic, if you ask me.

Thankful Day would know nothing about gas mileage, but I'm thankful to her for inspiring me to think about what I'm thankful for.