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Friday, February 24, 2012

A Formal Frenzy - Part 2

THIS IS PART 2 of a long, long story.  PART 1 IS HERE! (click)



Saturday, 3:58pm - A Young Woman shows up, early!!!!!!!!  Not fair, because we hadn't vacuumed, but at 4:02, our house was ready!  You didn't think we'd make it, did you?  Ahhhh, let's get this party started!  I asked her what she was wearing, and she showed me.


Saturday, 4:10pm - another YW arrives (It is THE Girl #2)  She is wearing the skirt with a t-shirt, since I had the top.  The first YW looks out the window and says, "Oh, I like her skirt!"  No joke, I turned to Husband and we did a huge fist pump to each other.  Success!!!!!!!!!!!  Waves of relief washed over me.  Someone liked it.

Wish I could show you her hair/ make-up.  She did it so pretty!  It's okay to be impressed :)  The monochromatic look was her pick, but that was the point.  Something for her to love!



Saturday, 4:12pm - another YW arrives.  The three girls are setting up their hair and makeup stations.  My house is awesome for this type of thing.  Tons of natural light, and 4 different outlets all in my living room!  The girls are giggly.  This is a good sign.

Saturday, 4:15pm - another YW arrives.  I ask her what she brought to wear.  She pulls out a black lace tank dress, that only has lace for a back.  Not modest.  Not going to work.  I make a little face and she says, "Oh I brought a cardigan, don't worry."  She then pulls out the cardigan.  It's a black lace cardigan (read: see-through).  I tell her that she needs to go try it on.  She comes back, and between the two laces, it's not going to be okay.  She's not even wearing a tank top underneath it all, so we can see her undergarments!  She then pulls out ANOTHER cardigan, one that is solid black.  She puts it in, and it is fine.  I think she looks great and tell her so.  She says to me, "I don't want to look like I'm going to a funeral."  Nothing will convince her otherwise (despite the fact that others are wearing all black!).  So, she calls her mom telling me that she just won't go to the dance!!!!  (This is a 100% true story.)  When her parents arrive, I run out of the house following her.  They explain they have just come from the store and they cannot find anything modest for her.  I tell them she has an outfit that works, she just doesn't want to wear it.  That we want her to go to the dance.  That everyone will be so disappointed, etc.  We go back and forth and they say she just won't go.  Now, knowing the back-story on this family, I knew it would be a turning point for them.  If she didn't go to the dance.  I wasn't sure that I would see her at church again.  I began to feel desperate.  I ran back into my house and told someone to run after her to truly let her know that she would be missed.  They did and came back saying that the family was going to go find something else.  By 4:30pm she was gone.  This was all in 15 minutes!

Saturday, 4:34pm - text message to Husband "I said no to the dress so [Girl X] left.  Trying not to cry."  Husband saw the dress right before he left to run an errand and then left me to fend for myself :(  He went to get dinner.....remember we have a cooking problem when I'm busy?

Talk about awkward!  The party continued, though deep down I was so worried about the situation.  I knew I had done the right thing to say no to the immodest clothes, but it was hard.  I also knew that 1000 other leaders had done the same thing, but it really didn't change my worry.  I really, really love these young women, and I really really wanted her to come to the dance.  This was the first big youth activity that these kids had been a part of.  I knew it was a big moment for the youth of the branch.  A chance for them to feel some unity and pride.  I also knew that I couldn't lie to her and say it was okay only to drive an hour to the dance and then be told "No admittance" when we arrived.

Saturday, 4:35pm - phone call to Girl X.  We brainstormed an outfit of Girl X's that we knew was modest and formal enough.  A YW called just to touch base and suggest it to Girl X.

Saturday, 4:40pm - besides Girl X, I'm missing several young women who I was expecting to come.  I start making phone calls.  The other girls are curling their hair, singing to music, having a fun time.  Success.

Saturday, 4:45pm - I have a private laugh with myself as I hear all of the girls discussing cosmetology school and how they ALL want to attend (but not too many years, because they're really interested in science as well).  haha, teenagers!

Saturday, 4:55pm - phone call to Girl X.  I call Girl X and she says to me "I'm just not going to go."  I said, "oh", and then she said "Just kidding."  I could have died, she really got me.  She says she is coming back.  Oh yay, ecstatic-ness.  I was so relieved.  That might have been when I started getting ready myself.

Saturday, 5:00pm - Young Men arrive to carpool......15 minutes early!  Yeah, totally not ready.

Saturday, 5:05pm - Girl X returns.  Her dad bursts through my front door red in the face saying, "If this doesn't work, then I am just taking her home!"  The dress was a few inches above the knee, but I didn't get a good look so I just said, "Yes, it works".  Luckily, when I looked later, it was okay.  I go back out to the car to talk to the parents.  They confess that money is a key problem for them and they don't have a lot of money for clothes, making it hard to find modest ones.  Girl X felt like everyone had been laughing at her (no one had), etc.  I commend them for their commitment to modesty and listen to them/ provide damage control for another 10-15 minutes.  Leadership is NOT easy.  It takes a lot of energy to truly listen to others' "hidden sorrows", and build them back up.  Between the two times, this has taken over 30 minutes of my attention.  I was afraid the youth would be waiting on me to leave for the dance because I'm not dressed, or make-up-ed, or hair pinned!

Saturday, 5:15pm - We are supposed to leave, but don't :)

Saturday, 5:20pm - another YW arrives and starts to curl her hair?  Where was she the past hour?  Oh well, it gave me time to finish up myself.  She also brought a "friend" from school.

Saturday, 5:45pm - We take pictures outside.  I was SO proud.  The youth looked awesome.  I really think they were some of the best dressed at the dance (and 100% modest).  I'd show a picture, but I'd have to try to cut all of their heads off, and they're not the same height, etc.

This is me and my last minute get-up!  A Youth took the picture, so it's the best that I have.



Saturday, 5:55pm - We finally leave for the dance!

Saturday, 6:04pm - text message to Husband.  "I love you.  thank you so much for your help!  Enjoy your movie.  Love you, love you, love you!  Thank you again."  My spouse really is my better half.  I amazed at how well we work together and at the amount of amazing experiences we pull off together.  Watching a movie all by himself was just what he needed!

Saturday, 6:23pm - We take the wrong exit (I wasn't driving!).  This is so funny.  I was saying "Exit A", but the way you pronounce the alphabet in English vs. Spanish confused the driver, so it rhymed with how you say B (Bay).  A is ah.  We all got a really good laugh.  Yay for language barriers!  Okay, more for working on removing them!

Saturday, 6:32pm - We arrived at the dance!  THE dance!  And it did NOT disappoint.  They had a professional photographer, food in 3 themed rooms, and of course a rockin' dance floor with projectors, etc.  The three rooms were Paris, Mexico, and Italy.  They had so much detail that they even had chandeliers hanging from ceilings, and painted murals, and cafe tables/ chairs with umbrellas inside.  We greeted friends, went and got our professional picture taken, danced, and ate some food.  Somehow we started in the dessert room first, which doesn't have to be a bad thing ;)  I just hadn't eaten anything for many hours......are you seeing a pattern here?

I said I was going to find the meatball room and Girl X offered to come with me (because I'm a girl, and I guess girls aren't allowed to go anywhere alone, or maybe she pitied me as a leader?).  With this one-on-one time, I apologized about how things had been handled earlier regarding the dress.  I wasn't sure there was anything to apologize for, but I wanted to make sure things were okay.  Well, the floodgates opened and Girl X was the most talkative/ open about her life that she ever has been to me!  I learned all sorts of things about her and her home life.  Some things I knew, but I learned the why and how behind them.  I told her that I wanted to help her find modest clothing and that I would help her with her wardrobe.  I figured with my sewing expertise (ha) that we could add sleeves here and there and a ruffle to the bottom of some of her dresses, etc.

I was surprised when she actually seemed to be excited.  Girl X has had a reputation of immodesty for many years.  I always figured it was because she didn't want to be modest, but I learned that was not the case.  Who knew?  It was a great moment for us and I feel like I understand her needs a lot better to help her (because she's got a complicated situation going on at home, okay let's be honest, they all do).

Saturday, 8:10pm - text message to Husband in the coat room. "Hon I really hurt.  Love you.  Kids feel like a million bucks.  [Girl #2] has gotten a lot of compliments.  Had one on one with [Girl X].  All is well."  I've had moderate health issues for the past 6 weeks.  Miraculously the best I have felt was from receiving Girl #1's phone call on Thursday to now.  Heavenly Father blessed me to get these youth to the dance.  Once they were taken care of, boom, right back to the pain.  I spent 10 minutes in the coat room away from the hustle and bustle and loud music.  I was disappointed that I still had 2 hours to go, because I was tired.

Saturday, 8:25pm - While in the middle of dancing to a song, one of the girls starts shrieking uncontrollably.  It turns out the mission president's son had texted her that he wanted to dance with some of the girls in the branch.  Mass pandemonium breaks out.  Eye roll from me.

Saturday, 8:40pm - I bounced my hair poof out of place, so I went to the bathroom.  What am I, 15?  Husband wasn't even there to look good for.  I'm not that kind of girl, but honestly I wanted an excuse to leave the youth and rest.

Saturday, 8:45pm - Coming out of the bathroom, I am recognized.  "Hey, you're the lady who taught us the dances for Youth Conference (read here).  Tonight I was even using some of those dance moves!"  It was someone from the other stake that we don't live in, so we never see them anymore.  Not going to lie, it melt my heart, and made all of that work/ anguish/ exhaustion/ missed meals :) worth it!  I actually was also recognized by other leaders in other stakes from the Youth Conference as well, but a grateful youth was so much more meaningful!

Saturday, 8:50 - back in the coat room.  I think it was the only place in the church with fresh air!

Saturday, 9:07 - overheard conversation as I walk back to check on the youth.

Girl - "The boy I like is dancing with someone else!!!!"
Friend - "Well you should cut-in or something."
Girl - "What is he doing?"
Friend - "Seriously, cut-in!  People get married from meeting at dances and doing stuff like this."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, enough said.  Seriously?  Was I like this at this age?  Oh, I was?  Ok, I was normal.

Saturday, 9:45pm - The last song is announced.  Yay!  I had spent the previous 40 minutes talking to another leader friend of mine.

Saturday, 10:09pm - The closing prayer is given after the "fireside", a spiritual meeting that was held after the dance.  With the lights on, we take a few pictures in front of the "moon" backdrop on the stage.  I make an announcement that church starts at 8am and everyone better be there, because I will be. (84% came, if you were wondering, and that is a minor miracle AND the non-LDS "friend" came!)

Saturday, 10:33pm - departure from dance.

Saturday, 11:15pm - home sweet home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to my loving hubby!

And this is why when I say I've been "busy", I REALLY MEAN IT.  I love the branch.  I love to serve the Lord.  It's never easy, but it is ALWAYS deeply gratifying.  It's a war zone, but anyone who thinks saving souls is easy, hasn't saved a soul.

Exhaustedly,
Lindsay

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Formal Frenzy

Dear Readers,

It's over!!!  What a frenzy.  What a week.  And now it's all over!!!

Saturday was THE formal dance.  Every year there is a combined stake dance for the youth (age 14-18).  Formal dress is encouraged and the kids enjoy dressing up.  Many do not have a chance to attend a Prom or Homecoming dance and so this is an opportunity to attend a special event (and know that the standards of the Church are kept).

To say everyone was excited would be an understatement.  I even got into the fun thinking "What am I going to wear?"  I had heard all of the young women talking excitedly for the past several weeks, but was not that concerned.  After all I'm not a teenager anymore.  As the time grew closer, I didn't want to be a lame chaperone and not be formally dressed.  I am attending a formal function in April that I planned on making a dress for, so I thought "Why not see if you could make it by Saturday?"

I started on the skirt and it didn't take very much time.  I got it this far and just needed to hem it before sewing the bodice.  I was just having a hard time deciding which style I wanted.  I had even emailed my family for ideas on Thursday morning because I knew I could I finish in time, I just needed to hurry and pick the style.  I was especially being picky because it's not like any old style will work, it needs to be modest.  It must cover my shoulders, midriff and back, with a neckline that is neither too low in the front or the back.  "When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others.  Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act." (source)


Well, Thursday mid-morning is when things started to get crazy.

Thursday, 10:47am - my phone rings

Me: "Hello"
Young Woman: "Hi, Sister Lindsay?  It's [me]."
Me: "Aren't you supposed to be in school?"
Young Woman: "I am helping my mom with something today.  Anyways, I was wondering if you could help make my dress more modest for the dance.  Someone told my mom that you have a sewing machine.  It has a cross thing in the back and we need to cover it up.  The dress is long so we were thinking we could take the fabric from the bottom and put it in the back.  Would you have time to help with that?"
Me:  "Sure.  I'm just sitting around home today.  You'll have to bring it by so I can take a look at it."

Well the young woman arrives that afternoon with the dress in hand.  It has the equivalent of a satin shoelace that ties it up in the back.  Seriously, it was spaghetti straps that laced through a couple of holes.  She also only wants the dress hemmed 4 inches.  I explain there isn't enough fabric to do what she wants without going to buy more.  She says it's ok and we hem the dress.  We planned for heels that she wasn't wearing in the picture.  With her cardigan and tank top under the dress, she is ready to go.  I actually took a picture of the back of the dress, but it somehow was deleted from my camera.


She's at my house for over 3 hours and while is over we talk about Personal Progress and personalprogress.lds.org, the awesome website that tracks your progress online!  My husband makes dinner to keep me on track to make it to the temple, as I already missed my favorite early session!  Awww, so sweet.  He really is Mr. Wonderful.

Thursday, 6:35pm - I call Girl #2

Me: "Hi.  It's Sister Lindsay.  I was just helping Girl #1 with her dress and I thought I'd call you to check on your dress for the dance."

Insert the story of Girl #2 here.

Thursday, 7:26pm - arrival at temple, can't say enough about how much I love the temple!
Thursday, 9:52pm - arrival at home, phone call waiting for me about a Young Women assignment.  I agree to deliver completed assignment at 1pm on Friday.

Thursday, 10:32pm - phone call to my mom. "Help!  I said I would sew a formal in 2 days!"

Friday, 9:12am - we head to the fabric store and pick out gray satin with a rhinestone overlay, black elastic for the waist and white satin for the top.  Everything is 50% off to the Grand Opening of the store!!!  I wish I could look around at everything, but I'm on a mission.

Friday, 10:20am - we get back to my house.  Not having all of the sewing doo-dads that I wish I had, we measure, cut, and sew cave-man style.  Nothing is straight, or exact.

Friday, 12:30pm - Sewing machine is threaded incorrectly making a gigantic mess.  Of course I was sewing on the elastic making it near impossible to pick out.  I want to cry.  I'm babysitting and juggling 2 girls, a formal dress that is way over my head, and Girl #2 who I am trying to build up (to feel like "a million bucks"), but results were slow to see and I was feeling low.  I was overwhelmed by the feeling that "I knew enough to help her feel like a million bucks."  and had faith that somehow it would all really work out.

Friday, 1:25pm - we have to stop for the day, because Girl #2 has to go to work.  I offer to drive her so as not to burden her parents.  At this point we have the skirt done, without the hem and the bodice cut and sewn, but without lining, because we forgot to buy some.

Friday, 2:00pm - No one has eaten anything for lunch so we hit a drive-thru on our way home from taking her to work.

Friday, 3:04pm - I remember about the Young Women assignment.  I slink down on my couch, completely exhausted and know that I can't do anything until my hero of a husband hustles home to me.  As soon as he gets home he hustles to the store to buy the needed supplies.  All we had to do was print some things out (not everyone in the Spanish Branch owns a computer), but my mind was on the dance!

Friday, 3:48pm - phone call about the Young Women assignment that was due at 1pm.  OOPS!  I completely forgot that I said I'd meet her at 1pm!!!  The night before Husband and I had made a different plan and then changed it Friday morning without taking this into account.  I say I'll have it done by 5:30 and then of course show up at 5:50 :)

Friday, 3:56pm - phone call to my Mom.  I needed some lovin' to get me through all of this!  She says, "I was wondering when you were going to call me."  I asked her some more questions, we discussed a few things, and I feel better.

Friday, 5:20pm - at the library.  I have a family.  Sometimes when I get going on a project (Young Women inclusive) I get really focused and don't spend as much time with them.  Daughter had to be to the library by 6pm.  They were running a little promotion that if we checked out 2 DVDs then they give you a bag of candy and popcorn for "Family Movie Night".  She had talked about it all day, so we had to make it happen, even though I had all these crazy things hanging over my head with deadlines!

Friday, 5:50pm - deliver Young Women Assignment.  I also answered all of the accompanying questions that came with it and gave appropriate training as needed.

Friday, 6:35pm - Leaving their house, still need dinner.  Um, no one has eaten......again.  We go out to eat on our way to the fabric store to buy the forgotten lining fabric.

Friday, 8:40pm - arrive home.  That fabric store is packed from the grand opening!!!  Once again, I walk straight to what I need, get it cut, and walk straight out, sad that I can't get some things for myself.....I'm sewing my own formal, remember?  and everything is at least 50% off, some up to 70% off!  Oh well.  "A million bucks" is my mantra.  It's WAY past bedtime, but we allow "Family Movie Night" to happen......um, it bought me some private sewing time without interruption.  Hallelujah!

Friday, 9:08pm - phone call about the dance.  Coordination call.  Everything is working out to transport these youth to a neighboring city for the dance!  Yay, we need something to work out!

Saturday, 12:30am - bedtime!!!  Husband stoic-ly continues to help me without complaint.  He irons all of my bodice pieces while I unpick and re-sew them together.  We have the bodice complete except for the elastic (forgot to get those measurements).  It looks like it really will come together!

All night long, I have these dreams that it doesn't fit her, especially due to trying it on without the lining in the bodice and then changing the seam allowances.....fitful sleep, especially due to my other dreams!

Saturday, 8:40am - picture of my house....complete disaster and the dress is not quite finished!  Have I mentioned that at 4pm the Young Women are coming to my house for a Hair and Make-Up Party?  Eeks.

We spend the morning making the flower adornments, hemming the skirt, etc.  We go over for a fitting, and miraculously it all fits (maybe I do know how to sew?).  I get the elastic measurements which I am able to complete the top at home.  I leave the skirt with her.  She wasn't really gushy about it, so I can't tell if she likes it or not, but I don't have time to worry.  I get a barrage of phone calls all afternoon with questions from parents/ youth, but at least the dress is done!  I pick up MY skirt and work on it for a few minutes when I realize that there is no hope.   I got in the shower exhausted and I knew my night was just beginning!  I felt like Cinderella having helped everyone get ready for the ball.  I secretly hoped that someone would yell surprise and there would be something for me to wear when I got out, but alas there was not.

Saturday, 3:40pm - house is still a disaster, I don't know where the couch cushions are either?  There are 20 minutes until go-time.  I bet you're thinking right now, that you are glad you are not me.  Well......keep reading, there's more, if you can believe it!



It's sooooo juicy/ unbelievable that it's real (read: long) that I'll post it tomorrow!  See you then!

Yours,
Lindsay

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Million Bucks

Edit: No content change, just a formatting issue.
Dear Sister,

I know I went MIA, but it was for a good reason...crazy, but good.

You know I was preparing for the big formal dance that was Saturday.  I didn't finish my skirt, but here's my story.

Thursday I was preparing to attend the temple when I had the thought that I should call one of my Young Women.  I had heard that something had happened with her formal dress and so I thought I'd call and find out the situation, because I knew how excited she was about this dress.  She had shown me pictures at Mutual previously and was absolutely gushing with excitement.  She had ordered the dress on the internet and had been able to find a great deal on it.  It was supposed to arrive at the store the day before the dance.  This made her a little nervous, but she was sure it'd come in.  She was planning on wearing a cardigan with it as it was a halter style and already had that picked out.  Another reason that she was so excited about the dress was because last year she had felt under-dressed.  She had recently moved in, and had just worn something she had and then felt bad when she arrived at the dance surrounded by fancy prom dresses.  In her mind she thought that this year was going to be perfect!  However, at Mutual this week, I heard something about it not working out which is why I was calling her on Thursday.

I could hear the disappoint in her voice as she told me that she found the dress in another store at the mall and so she tried it on.  She hadn't bought it there because it was over double the price!  When she went to try it on she discovered that the dress was backless and was so bare that even wearing a cardigan with the dress wasn't going to cover it all.  As we spoke on the phone, (just 2 days before the big dance!) she told me that she probably was going to just buy a skirt and look for a blouse.  This was the only dress that had fit her price point, so looking for a different dress was out of the question.  She told me it was okay, but I could tell it was fake optimism.  Her dreams had been shattered, and we both knew it.

I hung up the phone and finished my preparations for the temple which didn't take very long.  I turned to Husband and I said, "I'm going to stop off at her house on the way.  I'm going to offer to sew her a skirt like the one I'm making for me.  All we have to do is make it longer to the floor.  I better go otherwise I'll be late to the temple."  I asked him if I was crazy.  He said no.  With a kiss I was on my way.

I knocked on this girl's house and explained why I was there.  Again she told me it was fine (I could tell she was trying to convince herself.)  As I talked to her I showed her what I had been working on (a circle skirt) that we could make it an empire waist or at the waist, and then just add sleeves, etc.  It came just tumbling out and before I knew it I was offering to pick her up to go to the fabric store at 9am the next day?!?!??!

As I walked out to my car I thought to myself,

"WHAT are you doing?  You are not a great sewer.  You do not know how to sew all of that."

But then the thought came immediately back,

"You know how to sew enough to make her feel like a million bucks."


This became my goal.  I drove to the temple and miraculously still made the session.  I came home and looked at sewing tips on the internet for hours into the night.  At 9am Friday morning I picked up her and the adventure started...

We worked for 5 hours on Friday and then she had to go to work.  At one point I just wanted to cry.  My sewing machine had started making a funny noise and the thread was doing something weird and it was making me lose all confidence and I was afraid it would make her as well.  The goal was a million bucks and this looked worse than a junior high home ec project.  When she left, she tried it on and then didn't even let me see it!  I had no idea how the fit was or anything.

I sewed all Friday afternoon/ evening.  Husband was such a big help and encouraged me.  He told me that he thought the Spirit was guiding my mind (offering to do this in the first place) and so He would guide my hands (the actual making).  Husband also is an expert at ironing!  He ironed all my bodice pieces for me on Friday and the skirt on Saturday.  He also helped me gather fabric for flowers and of course watch the kids!  I couldn't have done it without him.

I went to bed on Friday with the bodice 99% done and the skirt just needing to be hemmed.  I dreamt all night that it wasn't going to fit her, because adding the lining changed the seam allowances.  Saturday morning we finished it and went to her house for a fitting.  It fit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We added the flowers and at 2pm I called Mom to say I was finished.

29 hours of insanity, but I had a goal.  This young women is one of the sweetest people.  She is friendly to everyone and always looking out for them.  I figured it was about time someone looked after her.  I couldn't really tell if she loved it or not, because she is pretty reserved, but at the dance she got many, many compliments (that I heard) on how lovely she looked.

Success!!!!!!!!  A million bucks?  I think so.

The whole time that I was sewing I had this video stuck in my head.  I already thought it was a great example of a Value Project for Personal Progress, but the whole modest formal dress problem really brought it into focus.



I can't believe that it all came together.  Looking at my crude pattern from poster board and my notes that I made at the fabric store, it really worked!  We didn't have any real big mistakes.  I am humbled to have been an instrument in the Lord's hand.




Ta Da!  Not going to lie, I feel very proud.

We still need to talk and catch up!  I love you.

Love,
Lindsay

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hidden Sorrows

Dear Readers,

A very humble thank you.  Thank you for the comments, e-mails, and phone calls that I have received over the past few days.  It really strengthened me to feel of your love and concern and to know that we all suffer from trials and burdens that are difficult to our own capabilities.  I am NOT alone, and I haven't felt it, from all of your thoughtful interactions with me.

I have been feeling better for a day or two, but my calling keeps me on my toes.  I promise I am just doing the minimum, but it takes more work than I ever imagined that it could.

I know I am guilty of doing this myself, but sometimes we just "expect" things out of people.  This can start in our own home with spouses/siblings/children and in our other circles co-workers/friends/people at church.  We come to expect certain people to do certain things or to fill certain voids in our lives, and when they don't, we get a little miffed as it disrupts our lives.

I think the antidote to this is definitely gratitude.  This is why it is important to reach out to others and let them know that we love them and appreciate them and how much they bless our life/ make it easier, etc.  Last year was the "Year of Reaching Out" and it was nice to always be aware of others and looking to express this gratitude to them.  It's just nice to feel loved and appreciated.  So thanks again!  Really, really!

I found in my personal records the following paragraph from December 2010, though it could have been written last week:
"Part of what is the hardest for me right now is that everyone still expects me to be the Lindsay that they think I should be.  When they look at me, they see Lindsay.  There are no scars, no black eyes, no crutches or limp to signal that my body is hurt.  No one knows that I sorrow.  No one knows how bad I ache.  No one realizes how alone I feel."
At the time I was speaking about physical pain, though more recently it was emotional pain (if that makes sense?!).  While reflecting this past week and "healing"/ strengthening I've been thinking about burdens and how they affect different people.  I still was feeling guilty for being "burdened".  I am known to some as "The Great Linds-ini" (no joke) and with that comes these "expectations" which are different to everybody.  So I started to think about the expectations that I had of others.  I found that I definitely had a list; "person that I can call 24/7", "dependable - always follows through", "knows when to stand up to others", etc.  Well maybe some days these people don't want to stand up to others, or they don't know how because they too are "burdened".  Of course I never would have guessed because they were the great ones in my eyes that I think are invincible. It's always a let down when they show their "human" side.  I should never be surprised because I know how much I want everyone else to remember that I'm human.  Funny how we all do this to each other to put each other on pedestals, right?  Am I right?

So today let's talk about one of my favorite hymns ever.  I actually wrote a research paper on it in college, and I would love to find it, because I think I have it in a box.  The question is just what box? :)

I am talking about "Lord, I Would Follow Thee".  My absolute favorite line is "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see".

This fits so well today.  This applies to everyone.  Every person walking around on earth has hidden sorrows in their heart.  Some people might scoff or laugh when they hear of another's sorrows, because they think they are "small" or "simple" or truly do not understand how it would be burdensome to someone else when it sounds so "easy" to them.  We all have different talents and abilities and that makes us all have different perspectives.  We are born with distinct and unique personalities, but then as we grow and develop, our perspectives change as our depth of knowledge and experience base increases.

Author Susan Evans McCloud stated that she felt a need for "a song on brotherly love and compassion, on the need to be Christlike in our treatment of others."  She described her feelings when writing this hymn: "I tried to think back to the occasions most precious to me when I obtained my own testimony of the Savior's sacrifice for us and of my Heavenly Father's personal love.  I wanted the song to have both tenderness and conviction.  I thought of how I felt when my little sister lost her three-month-old baby and asked me to go with her the following day to find a dress for the funeral and a locket for the baby.  I was so acutely aware of the need for tenderness in our dealings with others; I yearned for it in all the people we met on our way, wishing they could somehow know of the need and pain which did not show." (excerpt from Our Latter-Day Hymns by Karen Lynn Davidson)
Because we choose to be as optimistic as possible, I don't know of anyone who goes walking around with a badge on their front that lists their burdens.  "Hello, my name is Divorcee."  "My mother just passed away."  "I suffer from chronic pain."  No one does that.  Sometimes people have reasons for not talking about their pain.  Other times I think there is just nothing else to say even if you have shared a burden.  "Yep, I still have cancer.  It hurts.  There's nothing that can be done."  When we get to the "endure" stage of the Doctrine of Christ that is it.  We simply have to endure.  Our mission president spoke in the branch last week and he said that enduring was hard work, and I can tell you that it is, but I also know that you don't need me to tell you that, my fellow enduring friends.

Trials do help us to grow.  Because of this, I am grateful for them.  I do want to become perfected like my Father in Heaven and refined in the refiner's fire.  Fire just hurts.  Even if you smile your whole way through it.

With this insight, let us have more compassion and understanding toward one another.  Let us show and truly feel love to our fellowmen.  Let us soften our hearts and let go of our haughtiness and pride that makes us feel better than one another.

We can never know all of the hidden sorrows that are in the hearts of those around us on the street, in the store, at church, among family.  Even if we "know" exactly what someone is struggling with we still should tread with tenderness as we won't be able to understand exactly how big this trial may be for them.  An abuse victim once told me that no one else could claim to be an abuse victim unless they had suffered the exact same way that they had.  While no one may be able to understand that person's exact situation, that doesn't take away from anyone else who may have endured other situations of abuse.  A few weeks ago I was sharing some burdens with a friend and he knowingly told me "Oh, you need to go to the temple more often."  Well, I had been twice in the past 6 days and so I told him as much.  It really is amazing how unique every person's situation is here on Earth.  We really cannot judge or assume.

All we can do is love because one thing is certain, everyone is dealing with something.  Shout out to those who can cheerfully endure anything, but I'm not one of them....yet (a good goal to master), and I am pretty sure that I am not alone.

This is getting long, but I just wanted to highlight the hymn a little more.  It really illustrates how serving others can transcend your own burdens.  "Finding strength beyond my own."  No matter how weak we are, we can "help and lift another".  You all did that for me.  I know that many of my readers are fighting their own demons, yet were able to rise above and write me a comment/ email/ phone call, etc.

"Find in me, my strength my beacon" just screams of hope to me.  Christ is the rock, a sure foundation (see Hel. 5:12).  He is my Savior.  He atoned for me.  He loves me.  With Him all things are possible (Matt. 19:26) which is why I want to follow Him.

"Lord, I would follow thee."  I love how this line is repeated each verse, almost pleading as a fervent prayer.  The prayer starting with "Savior, may I learn to love thee".  As it goes on it teaches that the way to love the Savior and be His servant is to love others ("I would be my brother's keeper"; "Savior, may I love my brother".)   I love that it describes healing as an art, ("I would learn the healer's art").  The Savior truly was an extraordinary man to live a perfect life.

This hymn has become an anthem for me.  Check out the lyrics in their entirety here (and listen to the sweet simple melody.)

Thank you for helping to lift my burdens.  I went to the temple again last night.  My burdens aren't gone, but I have enough perspective to get me through for awhile.

Thank you for your support.

Gratefully,
Lindsay

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bear One Another's Burdens

Dear Anyone,

One thing that I love about serving in the Young Women organization is that each Sunday I have the opportunity to stand and repeat the Young Women Theme.  We declare that we will "stand as witnesses of God at all times in all things and in all places".  This is in reference to Mosiah 18:9.  Alma is teaching at the waters of Mormon to those who want to be baptized and what the covenants entail.  These include "willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" in addition to standing as a witness (see Mosiah 18:8-10).

I had a conversation with someone about a year ago.  It was about my infertility at that time.  This woman said something to me to the effect of "I don't know how you feel, but [she wanted to support me anyways]".  She said it in a way that seemingly diminished her ability to understand and consequently bear my burden, because she didn't know exactly what it felt like to be me.  I didn't need her to have experienced the same thing as me.  I just needed some "mourning", "comforting", and "burden bearing".

I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ, knows how I feel all the time.  He knows all of my pain and suffering. As much as the atonement can do for me...it's still missing that Earthly element.  I live on Earth for this brief and temporary time of a glorious eternity.  We aren't meant to go through life alone.

It takes a lot to ask, but please mourn with me, comfort me and help make my burdens light right now.

It doesn't even matter what my burdens are, because while I have burdens, I know you do too.  They are different than mine, but I couldn't handle yours, as you couldn't handle mine.

When I spoke with the aforementioned woman, I was comforted because even though I knew she wasn't dealing with infertility she was dealing with her own set of burdens that made her FEEL THE SAME as me....borderline hopeless, like someone punched us in the gut, our hearts were ripped out and thrown on the floor, defeated, confused and lost and alone because "no one understands".

These burdens make me cry at night.  They make my heart feel heavy one minute, and then break the next leaving me to wonder where to start picking up the pieces.  Some days I start to question "Why me?  Am I not worthy?"  Doesn't Heavenly Father love me?  How could He let this happen?  Is something wrong with me?"  I lay in bed.  I don't want to talk to anyone; life has no joy.  I have used every last ounce of faith I have.  I become bitter that my life didn't work out how I wanted it to, that I have no control, perhaps even a victim at times.  These burdens make me weak, vulnerable and chip away at my strength.  I wonder how much longer I can endure knowing that the Celestial Kingdom is only reached after a lifetime of enduring such trials.

I'm tired of feeling lonely and suffering silently.  Time after time I somehow find one teeny shard of faith left that slowly leads the way to things getting better, but I'd like to have a little support.  In my present situation, I give and give and give and while I receive great blessings it's not in the form of great support.

In summary, I need some lovin'.  I'd love to get an email or a comment from anyone.  (There I did it, shoot me.  I asked for a comment.)  This blog is meant to share my testimony, but it's not 100% all the time.  I do have a testimony.  A big one.  One that I hold dear and love to share on this blog.  I really do try to be the gospel loving, scripture quoting, analogy making person that this blog portrays, because it is truly who I want to be, but I am not perfect.

I AM NOT PERFECT

and I need me some lovin' today.  Satan has been out in full force these past few weeks and I'm getting really worn down.  Please bolster me up so that I can continue to encourage the wonderful Young Women that I am working with and finish the mission that I have started.

I want to hear from you because I know that each and every person reading this blog has experienced extreme heartache from something that is really hard for YOU.  I know you DO understand me, because you are alive and through living life you have experienced joy and pain.  I don't want or need to join a burden specific support group.  I want to be supported by the people I already know and love.

Thanks for listening.  I can't be amazing all of the time, but hopefully my regular schedule of amazing-ness will be back soon.

With love to all,
Lindsay

P.S. To Reader R, to leave a comment you need to push on "0 post scripts" or whatever the number is.  In keeping with the mail theme on the blog I changed the name from "comments".  This is found at the bottom of each post in fairly small font.

P.S.  Other bloggy business - if you added me to your blog roll and it shows me down with the private people instead of updating when I post then you simply need to delete me and then re-add me to your blog roll as I am now more public?  I don't even know the proper term, but that will do it, so that you can more easily find when I post.  There are several of you that I have noticed that could "fix" this (if it is something that annoys you).