Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Rising Generation

This week I was reminded of the power and strength of the rising generation. This topic has been rolling around in my head a lot lately, ever since April's General Conference, when I was struck by how much concern the leaders of the church showed for the youth. So many of the talks focused on how we can strengthen the youth of the church and prepare for the future.

The talks made me consider what I can do to contribute. I don't have my own kids (especially teenagers--yikes), but I do regularly see about 200 who come in and out of my classroom. Sometimes, as I stand in the hallway between class periods watching kids scream and run around, I worry about these kids. I know they face so many pressures, deal with so many problems, and are trying so hard to find their way through life. I wonder who they have to rely on, what belief systems they hold, and where they get the strength to make good decisions. As the school year winds down, I find myself reluctant to let them go. I imagine where they will be in ten years, and I hope they will be alright. I know most of them will turn out just fine, but I hope they don't suffer too much heartache along the way. Mostly, I try remember that each is a child of God who could use a little love. That's been my goal show a little more compassion and to nag a little bit less.

The second thing that has made me recently realize the strength of the rising generation is my association with a handful of teenage girls through a program called Generation S (the S stands for service). Several times a month, I go out with these girls to volunteer in the community. This week, we went to This is the Place State Park and laid stone walkways (really hard work, by the way). As I worked and talked with my cute girls, I was amazed by them. Sure they're hyper, loud, and sometimes quite silly. But they are also strong. They know who they are and have righteous desires. On the way home, they were talking about how they want to go on a humanitarian excursion for their senior trip. I was humbled that these girls would choose to spend their time and money helping others, rather than going on a cruise or somewhere else exotic. I had to admit, I hadn't thought of that at their age.

While I sometimes think I am the mentor, I am finding that I have much to learn from this rising generation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Project French Bread

Each year that I've lived in my current ward, the Elder's quorum has put together a girls' appreciation night that has blown my socks off and made me feel so loved. This year's event took place on Saturday, and it definitely lived up to all previous years' efforts.

This year's feast was deemed "Project French Bread" and (contrary to what the name sounds like--they wanted to be misleading) was a Hawaiian Luau themed dinner complete with Kaleo's Coconut Tours, hula dancing, and a REAL roast pig. Yes, the boys spent all Friday night and Saturday slow roasting a whole pig at the house of one of the bishop's counselors. I'm not going to lie...seeing the pig was kind of gross, but it tasted good. (I was going to post a pig picture, but I just decided it's not very appealing. Just imagine.)

I'm so grateful to have men in my life that are willing to go to such lengths to make the women around them feel extra special for a day. I don't require grand overtures or fancy things, but it was nice to feel loved through their sacrifice for us. It's really the little things that make the difference for me, things like when a guy opens my door, offers his hand to step down off of a big rock when hiking, helps with the dishes after dinner, or simply asks how my day was and genuinely wants to know the answer. The small acts of service mean so much to me. So, cheers to all the blessed gentlemen that surround me. I appreciate you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mother

I remember sitting at the sewing machine, set up on the card table in the family room, a few days before I left for college, trying to finish a quilt for my bed. My eyes were refusing to focus and I had a headache from all the hours I had spent working on it that day. I remember wondering how I would ever finish. As I gathered my courage and tried to convince myself to persevere, my mom came over and asked if I wanted some help sewing the rest of the squares together. It was such a relief in that moment. Could I have done it myself? Probably. But, that moment became a reminder to me that the Lord will send us help to finish whatever task is at hand when we feel like we've reached the end of our rope.

There are so many small moments like this that have stayed with me over the years. My mom always comes to my rescue when I need her most. She is amazing. She is one of the most capable people I have ever met. I'm not sure how she accomplishes everything that she does, but I am awed by her example. I am always proud to describe my mother when people ask about my family. I could fill hours talking about her community involvement, her intelligence, her amazing food, her creative writing style, her down-to-earth mentality, and so many other qualities. Beyond all of these visible talents, I am most grateful for those small moments when she has come to my aid or taught me by her Christlike example.

So, thank you for all the laughter, fun adventures, as well as the quiet moments that may not have seemed all that important at the time. They did matter. And even if it didn't seem like it, I was listening.

P.S. - I realize that this isn't a really "Mother's Day"-ish picture; it's more of an anniversary one, but this is one of my favorite pictures of my parents. They are so in love, even after almost 40 years. It's one of the great lessons I've learned from my mother over the years: it is possible to stay in love forever.