Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sharing the Gospel on an Airplane

Have you ever done it? Have you ever been prompted to but failed to act on it? Have you ever just read your Book of Mormon while others observed? I've done it - but I always leave the plane thinking I should have been more proactive about sharing, maybe started a conversation I wasn't planning on. I always think there's more we can do. Thoughts? Especially since as I was reading When Thou Art Converted by Elder Ballard, I read two consecutive stories about brave missionaries who shared the gospel and tears trickled down my face as I thought how cowardly of me not to say something to these people! Ugh. Maybe on the plane ride back?

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Love Me a Mickey D's Breakfast

So much so that before I even order it, I can picture it in my head and through all my senses. The aroma of the toasty english muffin, perfectly cooked and fluffy egg, and sizzling sausage.... the mini cannister of whipped margarine with the imprint of the famous "M" (for McDonald's)... the hotcake syrup, and even the foamy container it sits in that has not changed... to this day.

I've always loved McDonald's, ever since I was a kid and the happy meal toys and box brightened my day. Nothing could ever convince me that McDonald's was bad, not even a documentary which in my opinion just is poor choice (even I do not eat McDonald's everyday). The perfect combination of the yellow and red, the oh so familiar golden arches are in fact a staple in my life of fast food options. My fondest memories derived from childhood photos are of me atop the different McDonald playground rides and since I quickly became too big for many of the pool of colored ball playgrounds (height does that for you), I often miss it and feel like many memories yet to be made were swiped from me.

I guess you could say Mickey D's was a tradition I became accustomed to growing up. It was always a weekend "special" if we were allowed to eat there and between my chicken nugget sauces to the fish filet to the big mac, the choices to a child were endless.

One tradition I didn't witness much growing up is that of a typical non-LDS wedding complete with a wedding march, the fancy ceremony set up, the bride walking down the aisle with her father and the vows. Try as I might, I can't remember ever witnessing such an event until I was in high school when all I could think of is when it was ending and all I could look at was my teal pager (yeah, I was pretty cool, and I could read pager number text too....53121017574).

So when my college friend, also a recent convert, began sharing with me her frustrations of the picturesque wedding she imagined since she was a child, the fairytale of her father giving her away after walking her down the aisle, I tried to emphathize but found it hard. It was probably hard for my parents not to witness the temple sealing, but they know it is sacred and different from a non-LDS wedding ceremony. Yet given our limited experience with ceremony weddings, they did not seem to mind as long as I wore a red qi-pao (traditional Chinese dress) and they were able to have their friends all come and see me dressed up with my groom. I remember thinking hard before offering advice, unsure of what to say to my friend. I was hopeful Heavenly Father and the Spirit would help me, and the only thing I could offer was, "well, you're marrying one awesome Priesthood holder and your fairytale will be beyond just a day." I didn't mean to imply that non-LDS marriages don't last, I only meant to emphasize how important the role of a woman and man are based on the truths that we have and understand to be true and eternal. I didn't mean to imply that a non-LDS marriage would result in cacaphony while a LDS marriage would be harmonious, only that the common beliefs we hold as Mormons helps us instill values and standards in our home, our family and our posterity and that foundation is so strong that many of us don't date for long before we're engaged. It seemed to strike a cord with her and try as she would to abandon the memories of the traditional wedding she always envisioned for herself, it would be hard. Only I know she has a secret weapon, the power of prayer and the comfort that our Saviour can give her to rise above the expectations and image of what she once thought would be her wedding. Plus, it is only one day... although if I had to give up my Mickey D's breakfasts forever... I would also be quite sad because it is a tradition I grew up with, love and don't see the harm of it. Likewise, she probably does not think there is any harm in having a ring ceremony with her father walking her down the aisle, but that will be a decision she will make with her fiance and I will be right there supporting her (she asked me to be a bridesmaid hehe)

When it comes down to it, traditions are hard to break as tradition becomes culture becomes habit becomes life as we know it. So many people look at our Mormon traditions and criticize it for being too strict, too binding and too conservative. But our world is slowly falling in standard - just take a look at the stuff on television now... the bad words of yesterday which were censored, now roam freely on normal (not Cable) tv.

Another example would be all the casual and premarital sex that seems to be superfluous in the media, and a new symbol of independence and maturity. Chastity is old school, uncool and not hip. Funny thing about hip things.... they tend to not last through time. I know there is a common belief held by non-members that Mormons just get married young because they want to have sex. That is the most immature, unbelievable, and unfounded rebuttal to the fact that we can figure out so much more about our relationships absent the mind boggling confusion, frustration, and feelings of unworthiness of intimacy that results from premarital sex. Yet it seems useless to attempt to explain that our standards are different without coming across as self righteous or judgmental despite the fact that their very initial comment was exactly that.

At the end of the day, no tradition, culture, value, standard, or belief should make or break what you do - unless it comes from truth. And nobody can tell you what's true or not except for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and it is through the Spirit that they will testify of these things. Don't try to convince yourself that you know better or that the World knows better ... only Heavenly Father knows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Thing Called Visiting Teaching

When I first became a member, I didn't take "visiting teaching" very seriously because it sounded so frou frou. (Visiting teaching is basically a program our Church determined through inspired revelation in which all the females get a buddy which we called "companion," and we go together once a month, to visit our assigned teachees, also females from our Ward. A "ward" is just a fancy schmancy way of designating between the different groups that meet in a church building. For example, three "wards" meet in our church building so to differentiate, we are three distinct wards.)

So despite all the many articles and testimonies shared by others for how wonderful visiting teaching was, I was still struggling with fully embracing it. In the singles ward, I reached out to my assigned teachees, never could align our schedules, and failed at ever meeting her in person. One of my other teachees happened to be a recent convert and co-worker of mine, so meeting with her was easy.

It wasn't until I graduated from the singles ward, ventured into the world of family ward, that I have finally begun to see and experience the blessings of visiting teaching.

It's hard to make friends in my new ward because it's massively humongous and because most of the wives belong to a club called "I'm a Dental Student Wife." It's neat for them to know so many people with little effort but luckily for me, I've had the same luck in terms of meeting people - only through visiting and home teaching. (Home teaching is another program our Church has only with priesthood holders (men) who go in two's to teach a family. Men frequently take their wives as companions if they're unable to locate their companion, so I've been lucky enough to tag along with Andy on a few occasions.) I've also successfully met a lot of the more experienced ladies who are so sweet and generous. One had us over for dinner upon first meeting me and the others always offer such kind and warm advice.

I'm excited for the friendships that have formed through visiting teaching and although I don't feel completely comfortable just randomly texting those I have met yet, it will slowly get there. Hehe. It's funny how friendship works... it takes a couple of awkward invitations, hanging out moments, and shared inside moments or jokes before you can truly feel comfortable. I'm grateful that visiting teaching is helping me get there and also really thankful that I always have someone to sit next to in Relief Society (our third hour of Church with all females) - my visiting teacher. Thank goodness for visiting and home teaching.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Even Sweeter Later

I was initially bummed that after almost 3 months, we still hadn't gotten our photos yet! Because sometimes, we just don't want to wait. Instant gratification seems to be the trend of today's world and in fact, I'm reminded of a talk Elder Utchdorf gave recently about the kids who were part of an experiment to wait on eating their marshmallows, and if they waited, they would be rewarded with more. Some waited... some did not. Then, fast forward a couple decades later, the same kids who were able to wait for the reward of more marshmallows, were more successful in their families, communities, work environments, etc.

So when we finally got out photographs this weekend... let me tell you, it was well worth the wait (even though I didn't really make the decision since our photographer is way busy and so popular that we just had to wait). Jimmy is so talented! I absolutely love the work he did for us! He captured all our love, excitement, fun and energy and did it so beautifully. We lucked out with a few key spots - the LACMA museum's red poles that matched my Chinese dress perfectly and cool light posts, the gorgeous nature of Cal-Tech, the bling bling Bentley limo (one of only two in the world!) we ran across, and of course, the beauty of the Los Angeles LDS Temple where we were sealed for all eternity.

And so, though it took a while...it is even sweeter later. If only we could all understand that and apply that in our lives. I guess I shall strive to do that even more now!

Check out our photos ...


Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Thou Humble

Sometimes, I'm a big jerk.

Today, our "Relief Society" activity was listening to Chef Brad talk. He is quite popular during Education Week at BYU and he was coming to talk to us about healthy cooking. But being that yours truly used to subscribe to Shape magazine for years and more recently Women's Health (about all three copies before I discovered how bad it was), and years of reading girly magazines that always feature a "eat all this" or "only this" comparing a HUGE plate of high protein, high fiber meal to a sugary little bit of fat, I somehow felt I knew more than him.

As he talked on and on about over processed food and why it's bad, and told us to cook with more whole grains, I thought, I already know this though! We don't buy that much processed food! Ugh.... and then, all I could think of was, I still have to scripture study, I wanted to do Ab Ripper tonight, and doh, I have about an hour left of work to do and I really want to go to sleep at 10 (Andy has got me into the habit of early sleeping). But somehow, I ended up in the middle of a row quite far back and did not feel right just getting up and leaving. Something told me I should just stick it out despite my mind constantly wandering back to the fact that my computer was in my car, so maybe I could sneak off, do some work, and then come back in time to snag my tray (I made cookies with some special flour recipe of his that they gave me Sunday) and bring it home.

Ugh! That is how I felt. Frustrated, stressed, and stuck! I was fiddling with my phone (I know, not that polite but I was so far back and I had TONS of work e-mails to respond to), and quite ADD.

And then, Chef Brad started to talk about how food can bring people together. He told us about how he does Third Sunday dinners in which he invites a bunch of friends, investigators, recently baptized, and couples who he knows will fellowship. I started sitting up a little taller and if you looked at me, you could tell I was paying attention now. He told a bunch of stories about how it was just food, but it got a lot of people there in his home with other members, and once there, the Spirit did the rest.

This is exactly what I've been praying about. Andy and I recently got called as Ward missionaries and we have both been praying about how we can better fulfill our calling and to be perfectly honest, I have been absolutely lost. How do you share the gospel with more people? How do you find people seeking truth? How do you better help the missionaries? It's almost as if Chef Brad knew I was bored and knew I was waiting to hear his testimony. He went on, and all I could do was feel the Spirit prompting me to take action.

And then Chef Brad reminded us that Jesus first fed people physically, then spiritually.

I want to be like Jesus. I am unsure if I have the funds to do something as big as Chef Brad (his last dinner had about 70 people), but I think we can manage something. We've got awesome neighbors that I REALLY want to share the gospel with but am unsure how to begin the conversation. But regardless of that, I just want to share food with people and have a good wholesome Sunday, so that will be the first and foremost objective of a Sunday dinner. Plus, I don't have many friends in the Ward yet. Hehe.


Oh yes, and be thou humble. I definitely thought.. .why am I here, I wish I was there, blah blah, etc. etc. and yet, I was the one who needed to be there because I needed to hear what Chef Brad had to say - maybe not about how to cook healthy, but about how cooking for others can lead to great friendships and even more.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lifestyles of the Fatigued Yet Restless

I'm signed in as Andy .. but this is Daisy..

Normal wake up time for us is around 5 AM but lately, 4 AM seems more normal. I don't do much besides groggily getting up, making my way to the kitchen, and packing a lunch for Andy but he reads his morning news (mostly sports, some WSJ, some Deseret News) and takes a shower.

Well, today I decided to get up and make him my green machine wannabe drink (see www.skinnyisalwaysin.blogspot.com for recipe) and then after making his lunch, and going downstairs to move our tandem parked cars, I came back thinking....

My body is awake but my eyes are asleep....
My mind is awake but my I might need more sleep...

What do I do now? Do I go to sleep? Start scripture studying? Go work out? Cut the watermelon? Make myself lunch? Put in a load of laundry? Fold the laundry from two days ago? Send some work related e-mails? Call a friend on the east coast? Write a letter? Browse the internet? And then it hit me... I would blog about how utterly tired I am yet seemingly restless, I don't do anything productive except blog about how unproductive I am.

Why is it we always have so much to do yet we're unable to just go about and do it? Lately, I feel like the list is never ending but yet I am only slowly making my way down the list, at a snail's pace, trying to prioritize. I don't like the word "stress," but I think that is what it is. I justify that I am the rabbit, not the hare... and again, it's because I'm in a transition mode (just started working on a client again with a 45 minute commute and typical 7 pm end of work day) but I really admire moms and dads who have so much to do, and are able to do it all! Times like this.. I think, what am I going to do when we have kids and the sleep is even less? *gulp

But then.... I remember that.. "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (Nephi 3:7) As long as I remember that... nothing is impossible. The Lord loves us and wants us to succeed. He doesn't throw challenges at our way to make it harder for no reason, to stress us out for no reason. We grow from challenges, and we are better prepared. I suppose the early mornings help to prepare us for less sleep in the future and we can slowly transition into it. Nothing is impossible...nothing that is in accordance with the Lord's will.