Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This whole "life" thing

What a bummer that I only really feel like writing when I'm not really feeling this whole "life" thing...
Big bummer.

Wowza, I'm tired. I worked really hard yesterday at school and class and life, and now it's hitting me, I think.
I woke up with a mind grey like the sky and lazy like the scuttling breeze.
It took me forever to get out of my stinking bed.

Actually, I just remember hitting the snooze once and then waking up an hour later.
Well, that wasn't very effective.

Sometimes school and planning a wedding just seem to drag on my bones.
No, I don't want to email everyone, schedule, and try and figure out a time that works for everyone.
Sometimes I could care less about the details of my wedding, and on other days it seems like the most random thing is suddenly vitally important. Then I switch back to not caring the next day.
It kills me.

School....ok, I like learning. Who'da thunk? I do, though. I like understanding things and the sweet confidence that comes when I know the material really well. I like big ideas, and even though the details often elude me, I still enthusiastically tell Aaron all about them later. But it can be tedious, and it frustrates me when I spend more time emailing my wedding photographer than studying.

I think the biggest thing that can frustrate me easily, catching me unawares, is myself.
That's not very healthy.
But it's true. When I don't meet an expectation that I have for myself, like making it on time to a class or actually cranking out dinner before 8 o'clock, it's frustrating! I catch myself internally berating myself for the smallest weaknesses and inconsistencies. It's not that great. I don't even notice when I'm doing it and it drains me emotionally almost more than anything else. I'm always working on catching my own doubts about myself and turning it around and getting that poison out of my mind.

The most tempting doubt that plagues me and seeps in if I don't keep my guard up all the time is my doubt in the love of others. Without realizing it, I will wonder if I actually deserve the love of my friends/family/fiance. So silly!

I had the greatest realization on Sunday, though, when I brought my tired, emotional self to church for some spiritual nourishment: I don't need to worry.

Although  the wonderful people in my life do love me, it wouldn't even matter if they didn't. My Heavenly Father and Savior love me 100%, completely; enough to fill all the holes in me and spill over into my life. I can be secure in that love, and that love is what gives me the ability to love others. They love me so much that it spreads out to others. I don't need to worry about whether or not I am loved enough or included in everything; He's got me covered. He gives me that safety and security so I can put myself out there and love others without worrying about whether or not they love me back.

Plus, I have come to know: my ability to feel love from a person is completely dependent on my ability to give love to them. Their actual output of love doesn't change - my ability to feel it from them does. It changes me. Because I'm always looking for ways to show love to that person, I am also aware of the different ways they show their love for me. I don't really know why that works. But it does.

Even though I'm emotionally drained and exhausted, a pick me up always comes right when I need it. Sometimes it's the chance to reach out and love another. I believe they're called tender mercies :)

They come in the laughter I share with my roommates when we're all exhausted and laying on the couch before bed. It comes in the timely text or hug from Aaron just to tell me he loves me. It comes when I actually do well on my midterm and have enough food in the cupboard to make lunch for the next day. It comes from how happy reading my Book of Mormon makes me daily and how excited I get about what I'm reading. It comes from the generosity of so many helping out with my wedding. It comes in the feeling I get after I go to the temple. It comes when I'm snuggled up in my blankets, drifting off to sleep and in the eyes of a nephew that lights up when he sees me.

It's the small things that really matter and the things I love most.
Those will always be there.

Anywho, I'm tired. And in Biology. But we're collecting germs in petri dishes, and I can't think of anything else that's destined to freak me out more.
Cya world.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Religious Views on Same-Sex Marriage

I wrote this rather quickly for my religion class, Marriage and Family Preparation, about same-sex marriage. We were given these questions to answer using the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because this is doctrine I believe and because I feel I have a responsibility to stand up for God's commandments, I think this is a perfect opportunity to share this. Click on the corresponding links to learn about the Church's beliefs on the topics.
What is your Church’s position on same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage?
First, I would like to submit that my Church views same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage differently. For those who struggle with same-sex attraction, The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints extends a hand of compassion and sympathy. We understand that attraction is not always in our control and thus we do not condone those who are afflicted with it. To those who deal with same-sex attraction, know that your Heavenly Father loves you and is aware of you. The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet counsels that those who may find themselves in that position can meet with their bishop and rely on their parents for help. We do not cast individuals who have same-sex attraction out of the church nor shun them. This is a church of imperfect people; there is a place for everyone among our ranks. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet of God and leader of the Church, said, "I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church." (Why We Do Some of the Things We Do)
Same sex marriage, on the other hand, is treated differently. Since we believe that marriage is divinely instituted and and established by God, we believe that only His definition of marriage is acceptable. We do not believe that feeling same-sex attraction is a sin; acting on it, however, is a direct violation of His commandments and is a transgression. We believe same-sex marriage to be a threat to the sanctified order of the family as established by God: that is, a family with a man and woman as husband and wife at its head. For one who has participated in same-sex relationships, we believe that a process of repentance and change of behavior is readily available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is also necessary. "It is expected," President Hinckley says, "That [those with homosexual tendencies] follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.

What are the foundation principles upon which that is based?
As said in The Family: a Proclamation to the World, we believe that marriage is between a man and woman and is ordained of God. We believe that marriage is not man-made, but of God; and as such we do not have authority over it. “There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God” (Hinckley, 1999). Thus, it is not up to us to attempt to recreate marriage to fit society’s values. It is made of God and sanctified by him; it is His creation and it is foolishness and terrible for men to try and claim authority of it.
We also believe that men and women both have divine, foreordained roles that are necessary and are fulfilled through marriage and parenthood. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). These roles of husband and wife, mother and father are sacred and essential to God’s Plan of Salvation. An individual’s potential is met and greatness achieved as they work with their spouse to create a home that is dedicated and founded upon the Lord.
      Lastly, all children have a right to a complete family with a mother and father. “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). It is a duty of parents to work together to rear their children in a home that is in accordance with God’s commandments. Because of the freedom of choice all have and the trials that come from living in a mortal world, not all children receive that right which they are entitled to. Through the Atonement, the losses those children endured will one day be made up to them. It is our personal responsibility, however, to ensure that the homes in our community meet the standard that our God has created.

Plain old me commentary again.
I know that these things are true. I know homosexuality is real; I have been studying it lately and I understand that it is often not feigned and cannot be overcome through sheer will. It is a real trial, and all of us, whatever our beliefs, must show compassion and love to one another. I also know that God's values are absolute and do not change based upon the views of society. Marriage that is done through His authority and in His holy temples is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. I know that God provides a way for everyone and that He would not give anyone any trial, including homosexuality, that could not be overcome through His Son. God does not give us weaknesses to condemn us, but to strengthen us and bring us closer to Him.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

To Him: a love letter for my husband

My heart is tender today.
I think it comes from the hour of devotional, Book of Mormon, and personal study.

There are so many ways that I feel inadequate.
I am often so keenly aware of my own weaknesses. Often, it's not a sense of discouragement, but one of humility. I can see where I am and how far I have to go. It is only the promise of the Atonement and the hope that His Grace brings that gives me courage and purpose in this life. It is the only thing that really enables me and gives me the strength to go on, even for just one more day.

What about you, then?

Can someone as weak as me really do you justice?

You know I often feel like someone is asking me to justify myself; that I'm old enough, mature enough, strong enough to really take care of you...
But when it comes down to it, I don't really have all that much to offer. I can't really justify myself. I can't really boast of myself; boast of qualities that I have that make me a fair candidate. When it comes down to it, I'm just me. I'm just a young girl full of hope; a bundle of mistakes held together by good intentions. 
I mess up.
And I can't promise you more that I already have to give.

The critics are right, sometimes, and I think that's why I hate it so much.
am young.
Of course I can be immature.
I am inexperienced,
and I have a lot of growth to do.
They're right; they're right about all of that.
"Why?!" They ask me, "Why are you getting married now?  You are so young!"
They wait after that, and the silence grows. They wait for me to start justifying myself. They want an answer.
But I have no response.
And so I give none.

No, I can't promise you a lot. 
I can't promise you the homemaking skills that continue to mystify me and I can't promise you the growth that has yet to come. I think it will come, and I have faith it will come, but I can't promise to be more than I already am.

But, Aaron,
the man who took a chance on me,
the bumbling, bright-eyed girl fresh on her own feet,
the man who teaches me every single day what a beautiful Daughter of God I am,
the man who sees more in me than I do in myself,
who helps me be more like the person I've always dreamed of becoming,
Aaron, I can promise you some things.

I can promise you that although I'll mess up, I'll always keep on trying.

I promise that though sometimes I might wander, I'll always find my way back to you.

I promise I will always keep changing and stretching to become a better wife for you.

I promise my love; my unconditional love for you.

I promise my devotion.

I promise you my two working hands to build a family and life with.

I promise a listening ear and a shoulder to share your burdens with.

I promise to counsel on my knees with my Father in Heaven on your behalf.

I promise a faith and trust in you that will follow as you lead our family, wherever we may go.

I promise a willingness to sacrifice anything for you and for our marriage.

I promise to make you my very best friend and confidant.

I promise you a tender heart that will always soften for you.

I don't promise to be more than I am,
but I promise to give you all that I am.

I love you.
You are the blessing that makes me laugh and brings more light into my every day. 
The things that were once mundane have become a joy because of your presence. 
The love you show me helps me to better know the love of my Father and Savior. 
I know how much they love me, because they gave me you to love.
You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I couldn't find anyone better,
and I don't want anyone else.
I honestly can't describe all that you are to me,
but you give me a reason to wake up every morning,
and something to cherish and love and grow for.

When something makes you love the life you have,
you never let that thing go. 
You do everything you can to hold it close.

I promise, with all that I have, that I won't give up,
because it's not you,
it's not me,

it's us,

and that is something I will always fight, 
and struggle for.


Monday, December 2, 2013


It's been a while.

It always surprises me when I find out who reads this.
In fact, it always catches me off guard when anyone reads this.
Ah well :)

Some thoughts from the Supposed Deep Thinker?

I always had so many ideas about what life was supposed to be like in college.
I would be the social butterfly, just like my brother Isaac. I would have so many friends and just flit from movie night to movie night. I'd be going on dates all the time. I would eat ice cream, cry at chick flicks, and be proud and independent.

I had similar ideas about high school before I went.
My brother Isaac had a fantastic time in high school, and I wanted my experience to be

...I spent so much time worrying that I was missing out on something and not living life to the fullest! Silly me...

Now, here I am again. I'm at the close of my first semester in college. I hardly believed I would ever grow to be a college student when I was little; it seemed impossible that I would ever walk the grounds where my Daddy worked as a professor and my brothers studied academic wonders...

yet here I am.
I made it.

When I walk alone sometimes, under the skeleton boughs of trees above and the sky bundling with heavy, gray clouds; now comfortable in the thousands of students that stream past me anonymously and the looming buildings, I pray silently. I think about where I am.

How I got here.

And who I'm becoming.

It struck me: I am far from having the "freshman" experience.

I live off campus.
I live off my own wages.
I have exactly six friends in my social group, and that includes my boyfriend.
I date exactly one person.
I have a serious boyfriend.
I don't care about the stuff a lot of people my age care about
Frankly, I don't like many people my age
I don't like staying up late on a school night.
I don't even have any ice cream. Mint Oreos are better, anyways.
...or any chick flicks.

But then, it struck me again.
I don't want  the Freshman experience,
the "single-and-loving-it" experience,
the college experience,
the singles ward experience...

I want MY experience!

I don't want to date all the boys; I want Aaron.
I don't want to have a million friends; I want real relationships with my family members.
I don't want to be cool and sophisticated; I want to be raw, stumbling, learning and messy and loving it.
I don't want to eat a ton of ice cream   ...that's a joke; I'll always want ice cream.
I don't want to be like everyone else; I want the treasured memories and experiences that 
make me me. 

People don't always understand where I'm coming from. 
I am absolutely in love with Aaron, and it's unusual to be in that situation at my age. It's unusual to be considering a future together seriously when you're still stepping out of your childhood shoes. It's strange to consider such serious decisions when you've only just learned to buy your own apples. And because of that, sometimes trying to talk about him with another kid my age brings blank looks and a change of subject. It's strange, sometimes, that my friends are completely unable to relate to such a big part of my life.

I wonder what people will think about me, sometimes.
I wonder if they'll whisper, "Did you hear about Karen? Can you believe she only graduated last year?"
"I bet she just fell in love with the first guy who paid attention to her."
They shake their heads, "She's nothing but a child."
"She always was a little crazy."
I know they'll say such things, because my friends and I entertained such whispers, 

You don't know what you're doing,
                                                         my own head whispers,
                                                                                               you're too young. Too inexperienced. Still a child. It's unsafe.
where you're supposed to belong. 
You can't get hurt here.

Well now, head.
I'm going.
I'm venturing into the unknown.
I'm willingly stepping into challenges, 
and I'm accepting my weaknesses the way they are now,
and I'm still going.

I've tasted something eternal, and all the fun and care-free pleasures the world can offer can't possibly fill that hunger that I have for it now. Fun will never compensate for meaningful, and excitement will never substitute for joy.

The timing isn't perfect, but it's right.
I'm not all the way matured, but I'm willing to grow.
I'm not 100% sure what's going to happen, but I have faith.
I'm not having the Freshman experience, but I'm having my experience.
It's the one I want.
Because I'm not a Freshman,

I'm Karen.
And that's who I want to be.

Aaron's showing me how his shepherd for our lovely, clay, oven-baked, hand made nativity scene!

That smile...! Ah! He's so cute!

When I see this picture, the first thing that catches my eye is my smile.
I am so happy.
I've only seen myself so happy in other pictures with Aaron.
Then I notice my crazy hair :)

Look, three of my favorite, handsome men!

"What color should we make it?"
"Ok, red it is! Wow, that's a lot of sprinkles, Jackson!"
Hearing these two talk and laugh together was really dear to me.

I don't know what it is, but there's something about you that just draws my love out to you. I couldn't not like you if I tried. You have a certain deepness about you that few your age have; you are wise well beyond your years. 

~ Brother Hunter
My Book of Mormon teacher.
He loves me and helps me to love myself.
I hope to live up to these high compliments that he gives me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

9 blessings for a terrible day

To be honest, it was the hardest day I've had in a long,
                                                                                  long time.
I felt utterly defeated.
My head hung low on my chest as I trudged home from campus in the dark, and as soon as I walked through my apartment door, I broke into sobs.

I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. My heart was just breaking from discouragement, and I just felt so broken and kicked down.

Now, several hours later, I'm calmer.
My heart still feels a little tender, but instead of feeling cursed and bitter,
                        I feel blessed.

I want to say some tender mercies that I'm grateful for; tender mercies that completely turned this situation around to one where I could feel so much love from everyone around me and healing.

1. Aaron

Thank you so much.
I love you.

2. Tori and Jessica

I can't really find the words,
so I'll just have to leave it at that.

3. Twinkle lights

They remind me of my childhood room 
They make me feel warm.
I just love them.

4. Sean and Steve; Aaron's roommates and my friends.
               They're always there to help me with whatever I need,
whether that's grocery shopping,
making me laugh,
donating their Parmesan cheese so I can make a chicken recipe (Steve),
picking me up from work,
rearranging their schedules to drive me to the doctor's,
taking me to Red Robin,
sending sassy snapchats,
asking me if I'm ok,
or looking through Tori's bridal magazine and discussing wedding dresses (Sean).

I am so grateful for all the little kindnesses they show me. They make a world of difference.
Sean loves the Biebster

Steve Angus. The wittiest, fanciest redneck I know :)

5. Chocolate cupcakes
I get out of bed this morning = REWARD!
Then, later tonight, I saw one lying on the counter top through my tears.
And things got just a little better.

6. Fall
I just look up at the beauty and remember,
Oh yeah...
God loves me!

7. My very own copy of the scriptures.
I am so 
every time I flip through, 
see the markings,
and run my fingers over the smooth pages.
I love the stories; I love the words;
I love the peace.

a hilarious Book of Mormon teacher,
who likes to tell me just how fabulous of a person I am,
speaks softly, humbly, and with the Spirit,
and who is constantly conspiring to help all of his students find their "eternal companion".

8. Crying
I'm so glad
                              that I can cry.
I'm so glad that my heart is still tender enough
that I can still feel pain.
I'm so glad I have a soft heart.
I'm so glad I can cry.
makes room for the healing of the Atonement.

9. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
Sometimes, especially on nights like tonight,
my heart is just filled to the brim,
hurting and bruised,
and I can't do much more in prayer besides crying out,
pleading for some help
some relief.
They heard me.
They sent me all of these things, so that even in a moment of intense discouragement and sadness,
I could not doubt for a moment that they loved me.

I am so grateful and devoted to Them

Life is hard, believe me, I know.
But I'm not giving up,
and neither should you.
God is surrounding you with blessings. So many ways he is trying to tell you, all around you, whisper...

I love you, my child.

Be grateful for the hurt,
because it means you can still feel,
and that you care.
The bitter makes the sweet.
Keep going.
I know He's looking out for you, just like He's looking out for me.

~ Karen

All the pictures are mine, except for the cupcake, crying, and twinkle lights.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Life is full

of beautiful, 
super-ordinary moments like these.

Saturday morning.
It's been a grueling week.
                            Jess: A really, really messed up week?
                           Me: Seven days of torture?
                         Jess: Seven days of bitter?
                      From a popular song. We totes had this exchange once.

Wake up slowly. It's 11, and you still don't want to get out of bed. 
But you don't have to get out of bed,
               not yet,
                          because there's no class today.
So you shift back and forth, slipping between dreams and being half awake.
I finally do wake up, sit up, rub the sleep blearily from my eyes.
                Jess is sitting across from me.
                Snuggled up in blankets in her bed across from me,
                    on her laptop.

It's nice to wake up to your best friend already awake across from you.

Finally, I stumble from my bed, Jess trudges from hers.
I grab a mint Oreo and munch on it wearily,
                Jessica literally hugs her box of Lucky Charms, slumps, and sighs.
Still not saying anything but the groaning indicates what we nocturnal college students have to say about the morning, er, afternoon.

I grab another Oreo.
Sit down across from our Starry Night painting by Van Gogh that is still on the floor because we're too lazy to actually nail it up on the wall.
I munch quietly, study the colors. Get lost in all the brush strokes. Study his technique, pick out the contrasting colors, the splash of orange among the blue, wonder at what made this man think so differently from everyone else. I love that he could see the color bursting from the world around him. Sometimes that's how I see it, too.

My fingers absentmindedly brush my guitar, which is propped up next to the painting, leaning back on it's stand.
It's in tune.

Pull it down, straddle it across my lap. Trained fingers pluck and coax the sound. It vibrates, becomes warm at my touch.
I feel my body relax against it as the familiar tune envelopes me. I decide I'm not going back to bed.
The song comforts me, and the first words of the morning are uttered as I start to sing. Raspy, at first, hoarse with the remnants of sleep, but I find the warmth of the song, combined with my voice and emotions pulling something I love out of me. Expression.
A whisper of a voice echos with mine: Jessie's singing, too. Soon, she comes and sits next to me, turning the pages and harmonizing with the parts she knows.
We end up laughing over lyrics, talking about memories of songs, and falling into the rhythm of a good morning.

We sing for a good time, then it dissolves into both of us curled, me on the couch and Jessica on the ground with music and guitar accessories scattered around us, laughing over great times and just relaxing.

Little moment, simple moment.

But those are the best moments of all. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

College is funny

It just is.
Like the fact that I'm still alive.
I know for a fact, that in my wee section of the pantry,

I have
     Spaghetti sauce
     Mint tea (yum...)

I'm out of bread, which is obviously my sandwich/lunch staple. No apples, bananas, pretzels, chips, or beloved Oreos...

...HOW AM I STILL ALIVE?? I seriously need to go to Smiths!! I guess there's still mayonnaise in the fridge :)

Some great moments of the week:

<<<< >>>>

Smearing brown eye shadow (thanks, mummy!) into Aaron's stubble to complete his cowboy costume! He let me dress him up, basically. I was an Indian.

I darkened his blossoming mustache, making it sharp and obvious against his face.

We both stepped back and Aaron scrutinized it in the mirror.

"This is the future," I said quietly.

Indian bib thing = AWESOME.

<<<< >>>>

Jessica and I were walking to the library,. We were laughing about a text my sister -in-law had sent me in response to Aaron's worry that she would judge him for his mustache, as she hadn't met him yet.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a figure slunk up behind me and grabbed my hand in his.

It was Aaron.

                                                                                                   and ran away and up onto a ledge!!

It was terrifying.

<<<< >>>>

I work as a janitor at the Marriott Center. (Definitely a love hate relationship.)

I was waiting for Aaron to come pick me up as it was 8:00 and dark outside. My coworkers were on the other floor.

I had been spinning around in a wheely chair, when I got the brilliant idea to push myself all the way around the concourse!

So I turned, sat down so the back of the chair was straddled between my legs, and pushed with my legs! At portal J, the half-way point, I started,

"Ohhhhhhh we're halfway there..."

About 3/4s of the way, I started to doubt my decision. 
My legs were kind of hating me at that moment.

But I made it!

(Note: it's a fourth of a mile to go all the way around the concourse)

<<<< >>>>

Jessica sent me about 20 texts one night, pleading with me to come home.
When I arrived, the windows were dark.
I knocked; Jessie opened the door. The rest of the apartment was dark.

"...were you just sitting here in the dark??"

Jessie eyed me sheepishly, "I'm hiding."
She'd been sitting in the dark for quite some time.
She'd had a rough day :)

We watched Thor and talked during all of it without anyone there to tell us to be quiet, ate a bag of Snickers, and commented on the symmetrical structure of the male protagonists in the movie.

<<<< >>>>

It has convinced me that BYU is full of nerds.

And oh, how I love them. 
First time I saw this guy, I passed him alone on Rape Hill. Scary

<<<< >>>>


I was pretty darn bored in my Intro to Health Professions, so I texted Aaron saying something about a picture he'd been tagged in on Facebook.

"Just wait till you see the other photo that got posted today," he answered, "I had to get creative 'cause I didn't have a real costume."

Got on Facebook and found
THIS little beauty

BYU Men's XC Halloween fun run! Later, I asked, "Were you flexing?" Him: "No."
Guess which one my boyfriend is?
The one squatting in the towel.

I almost lost it in my class. Instead of busting up laughing, I just reacted physically in my seat by bending up. Basically I looked like I was having convulsions.

"What IS that picture???" I texted furiously, "What are you???"

"I was a guy who just got out of the shower," he responded promptly, "I ran five miles in a towel!"

He then related this story to me later in person:

Aaron hadn't planned a Halloween costume for his team's practice, and thus ended up going as a naked man. "Don't worry," he assured me, "I was wearing shorts."
Aaron strategically arranged his towel so that the slit dangled over his thigh. Thus, whenever he took a step forward, his entire upper leg was exposed. Apparently he got a lot of looks.

At one point in the run, they approached a group of girls waiting at a stop light from behind.
One girl turned, saw Aaron, and her eyes widened,

"Oh my goodness," she said before she could stop herself, "Look at those muscles!"

Then she turned red.
And giggled with her friends.

Hysterical!!!! Hahaha!!!

<<<< >>>>

life. is. great.

~ Karen :)