Monday, November 17, 2014

i only ask because i genuinely want to know...

sooooo... i love to read. like, i genuinely, truly, deeply LOVE to read. i love to read more than i love bacon, and i REALLY love bacon. ask anyone. well, anyone who knows me anyway. ideally i could just spend my days reading books and eating bacon, and then when someone asked me what i did all day i would just say "books and bacon," and they would understand.

well, i have this super-stellar job (it's, like, number 5 on the list of things in my life that i really love), part of which entails attempting to instill in young people a love of learning. in my brain that is the same as a love of reading. during the school year i mostly just try to talk them off a ledge while they do homework that they find boring/confusing/frustrating/infuriating, and the reading bit is mostly assigned by their english teachers. sometimes the books are wonderful, sometimes not so much. it's often an uphill battle, but there's only so much i can do.

and then it's summer.

ahhhh, summer. what kid doesn't just live for summer? the long days, the late nights, the lack of's glorious!

so each summer at work, we (and by we i mean me) choose a theme and set a goal for summer reading. usually it's pretty simple--books that have been turned into movies (read the book and watch the movie, complete with snacks), myths and legends from around the world, etc.--anything to get them to read. literally anything. i discovered long ago that teenagers will jump through hoops of fire if there is food on the other side so the motivation for meeting the goal is pretty much always pizza. this year, we did something a little different. and it was, by far, the most daunting summer reading scheme we have ever undertaken.

we read the united states.

say what?!

we read the united states. meaning, as a group, we (collectively) read one book that takes place in each of the 50 states plus d.c. 51 books. 51 books as a group by the end of the summer. it may not seem like it to you, but this is actually a lofty goal. considering that our summer program is only 10 weeks long (1 full week shorter than years past) and the fact that we have never, in my all years at the club, reached a number like that in one summer.

enter the motivation.

food, of course. ice cream sundae party for all of the readers if we reach the goal. i spent days compiling a list of books, organized by state, made and hung a big map of the country on the wall, and even made a little flag for each of my teens. all 111 of them.

when they chose a book and began reading, they marked the state with their flag--staking their claim. when they finished they got to paint the state in with the color of their choice and, if they wanted to, move their flag and start a new book.

and they did.

it was a slow start (i read the first 3 books myself), but they gradually gained momentum and we finished! not only that, but we finished a week ahead of schedule. for those of you who like numbers ("not i!" said the little red lindsay) that averages out to 5.66 books per week. and that's only counting the books that took place in the u.s. there were other readers whose books (like harry potter) took place in other parts of the world or (like eragon) took place is another world entirely. that also doesn't count the five or so incidents of double reading (more than one person read either the same book or a book from the same state). all told, we probably read closer to 65 or 70 books in the 10 week period known as summer at the club. go us!

as the title of this post suggests, all of this has been leading to a question (i just had to brag on my teens a bit first), and that question is this:
what book did you read that made you love reading?

also, how the devil am i gonna top this program next year?!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Witness

For those who are unaware, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons). I spend a lot of time explaining all the details of what we believe, but that really isn't the point of this post. If you are interested in learning more, click here. We don't have preachers who give sermons, but, instead, members of the congregation are asked to deliver talks/messages. So, I recently had the opportunity (yes, I think of it as an opportunity) to speak in church and I thought I would take a few moments to share my thoughts again here.

During General Conference in April of this year, President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk titled “The Witness.” He begins by sharing a story about leaving home to serve in the military during WWII. He says:  “I had left my home in Brigham City, Utah, with only embers of a testimony, and I felt the need for something more…I wanted a personal testimony of the gospel. I wanted to know!”  He continues by talking about a time when he left his bunk late at night and knelt to pray

“Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last I knew for myself. I knew for a certainty, for it had been given to me. After some time, I crawled from that bunker and walked, or floated, back to my bed. I spent the rest of the night in a feeling of joy and awe.
“Far from thinking I was someone special, I thought that if such a thing came to me, that it could come to anyone. I still believe that.”

I echo that sentiment. If I was able to receive the answers I sought, anyone can. And it’s not just anyone, we can receive personal revelation about anything. It requires some effort on our part, but it is absolutely worth it. As President Packer puts it:

“Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This provides us with instruction from on high as we learn precept upon precept.”

We are all unique individuals living unique lives under unique circumstances. No two of us are in the same situation or at the same point in our lives. Which means no two of us are at the same point in our testimonies or eternal progression, but ALL of us have some room for improvement. As far as I know, no one in this room has yet achieved perfection. Some of us may fancy ourselves close, but we’re not there yet. So we all have some room to learn and grow and we all need the continued presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives and the promise of “instruction from on high as we learn precept upon precept.”

Many moons ago when I was a recent high school grad, I was getting ready to leave for college in Rexburg and I wasn't totally pumped about it. Aside from the fact that BYU-Idaho wasn't my first choice of schools, I just wasn't really feeling like I was ready to be there. As the summer wore on, it just got worse. I wasn't nervous about starting college per say, I wasn't nervous about classes or professors, or living on my own, I was nervous because I had somehow convinced myself that I would get there and find out that everybody on campus had more gospel knowledge and a stronger testimony than me. I grew up in the church, I had always been active, I was really good at scripture mastery, and looking back, I think I probably did have a testimony, but I think I was kind of waiting for a big a-ha moment. Like, something big would happen and then suddenly—TA-DA! Testimony! So I spent an inordinate amount feeling really inadequate until I realized that gaining a testimony is not an event, but a process.

As we proceed along those unique paths through this life, we will have the opportunity to learn and grow and build our testimonies as we seek to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Father in Heaven. In order to become more like them, we must come to know them.

I think it’s pretty amazing that of all the other titles He could have used, God chose to be called Father. And we aren't told just once, but multiple times. I was thinking about a story found in Moses chapter 1. Moses is “caught up in an exceedingly high mountain (Moses 1:1-8)” where he is transfigured and is then able to see God face to face.  God calls Moses by name and repeatedly refers to him as “my son.” So Moses has this incredible experience where he sees and is told many things, but at pretty regular intervals in the conversation he is reminded that he is a son of God.

We too are reminded over and over again. I mean, we don’t have the same experience (we’re not often transfigured) but we are reminded that we are children of God. It is in the scriptures we read, it’s in the hymns we sing, it’s in lessons we’re taught, and it’s in every prayer we utter. We are constantly reminded that He is our Father and that He loves us. He has clearly defined our relationship to Him, but it is up to each of us individually to come to an understanding of that relationship. As we seek to do so, the Holy Ghost will testify of that truth. We will feel peace, reassurance and comfort in confirmation of the understanding we seek.

The Holy Ghost is real. His mission is to testify of truth and righteousness. Our Father in Heaven loves us and so He has provided a way by which we may know for ourselves the truths which are contained in the Gospel. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is just one of the many blessings which we might receive and is a direct result of our own righteous living. President Packer put it like this:

“The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred through an ordinance of the gospel. One with authority lays his hands on the head of a new member of the Church and says words such as these: “Receive the Holy Ghost.

“This ordinance alone does not change us in a noticeable way, but if we listen and follow the promptings, we will receive the blessing of the Holy Ghost.”

It is through this blessing that the promise found in Moroni 10:5 is fulfilled

Through the Holy Ghost, we may know the truth of all things. So it is through the Holy Ghost that we may come to know and understand our relationship to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, the Only Begotten of the Father, our Advocate. He too has many titles, all of which tell us something about Him, but perhaps more important than those titles, we know His name—Jesus Christ. It is that name which we promise to take upon ourselves each week when we partake of the sacrament, and it is that name we use each time we close our prayers or bear our testimony, it that name that is the only name given under heaven by which we may be saved. In President Packer’s words:

“Foremost and underpinning all that we do, anchored throughout the revelations, is the Lord’s name, which is the authority by which we act in the Church. Every prayer offered, even by little children, ends in the name of Jesus Christ. Every blessing, every ordinance, every ordination, every official act is done in the name of Jesus Christ. It is His Church, and it is named for Him—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4).

“For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

“Each of us must come to our own personal testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. We then share that testimony with our family and others.”

As we seek a personal testimony of these things, we will be met by the adversary. It is his intent to disrupt the work of the Lord and that means he will seek to disrupt us. If look back on our Moses story…

So, Moses has all of this revelation and then he is left alone to recover from the experience. He comes to some conclusions (Moses 1:10-11) and then Satan shows up. “Moses, son of man, worship me (Moses 1:12). Satan wants to negate everything Moses has just learned so he tells him the exact opposite.

Does that seem familiar to anybody else? Satan does not want us to understand or develop our relationship with our Father in Heaven. He doesn't want us to know our Savior, Jesus Christ. He doesn't want us to build our testimonies, so when we have experiences or gain knowledge that would serve that purpose, he swoops in and tries to cut us off at the knees. I mean, I've never had a face to face conversation with Satan (and I’m totally okay with that), but I have felt the Spirit and then, almost immediately thereafter, felt as if Satan was attacking those feelings. Moses has the perfect response to that situation

He basically looks Satan in the face and says “Who are you? I am a son of God. I know who He is and I know who I am and I want nothing to do with you. Get thee hence.”

Again, I’ve never seen Satan face to face, so I’m not literally going to look him in the eye and say “get thee hence,” but as we face various temptations (and we will face them), or feelings of doubt begin to creep in, we must remember who we really are and who we have chosen to follow. In those situations we can absolutely respond with a “get thee hence, I know who I am and I want nothing to do with you.”

President Packer closes his talk with his testimony:
“I believe and I am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He lives. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, and “by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).
I bear my witness that the Savior lives. I know the Lord. I am His witness. I know of His great sacrifice and eternal love for all of Heavenly Father’s children. I bear my special witness in all humility but with absolute certainty”

I would like to add my own testimony that I know that I am a daughter of God. I know that He loves me. I know that He sent His Only Begotten Son to take upon himself the sins and afflictions of the world. I know that my Savior willingly did so. I know that He willingly suffered and died for me, that I might return to live with them again and I know that He did the same for each and every one of God’s children. I know that our Father has sent the Holy Ghost to comfort and guide us as we learn and grow and try to make our way back to Him. of these things I am certain and I bear my witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

it's not unusual

i don't really have anything to say, i just thought you should all see this...
you're welcome

Monday, September 22, 2014

And now for something completely different...

...well, actually, kind of the same. As promised, here is my expanded list of "honorable mentions." I could probably do 3 more of these lists and still have plenty more to say about plenty more books.
  1. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allen Poe. Specifically The Fall of the House of Usher and Annabelle Lee, but this is a book list so I’m including the entire book. Plus, I mean, they’re all great. Dark, and creepy, and often sad, but great. Happy endings are lovely, but the sad bits have their place too.
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. I know this series makes its way onto lists like this all the time, but there is a reason. They are awesome. For a lot of people these are childhood favorites, but I actually didn't read them until my late 20s. Of course, I read all seven books in something like 2 weeks and cried my eyes out in the process. So not childhood faves, but lifetime loves.
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Ok, I admit it, I read a lot of YA fiction. I usually blame my job, I mean, when you make a career out of relating to teens you’d better be reading what teens are reading. Truth be told, I read them because I love them. Again, tears. Lots of tears. But the kind of tears that leave you somehow feeling better. You know, cathartic tears.
  4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Believe it or not, this was a class assignment. I know, weird. Good weird, but weird. I love the movie (I've got gobs of hilarious stories related to the movie if you ever want to hear them), and I was honestly a bit worried that the book wouldn't be a funny. You guys, it’s funnier. I have cried over books more times than I can count, but laughing? Real, genuine, audible laughter? Over a book? That’s far more rare. I literally laughed out loud while reading this one. Like, a lot. 
  5. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Not at all what I expected, but in the best possible way. The story itself is great, but the reason this book really stands out is that it told me more about myself than any other novel I've ever read.
  6. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. I read this book at a point in my life when I really needed the reminder that we’re all connected and that even the seemingly insignificant interactions in our lives can be more important than we ever realize.
  7. The Client by John Grisham. My mom was a huge Grisham fan, so his books were ever present in the house. When I ran out of books of my own to read I began to read those belonging to my parents, and that meant i picked this one up when i was still quite young. I somehow thought that because the character in the book was a kid, the book itself was appropriate for kids. I was not entirely correct in that assumption, but I read the book anyway. I’m quite certain that I didn't fully comprehend the book, but I loved the whole mystery/suspense business which was new to me at that point.
  8. Watership Down by Richard Adams. It’s a book about talking rabbits, but not really about talking rabbits. I was also probably a bit young for this one, and I distinctly remember looking up some words in the dictionary (which may well deserve its own place on this list), but when I finally grasped the full magnitude of the story I was glad I had read it. I just wish more people would pick-up on my references to it.
  9. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Remember how I said To Kill A Mockingbird was the first book that shocked me? Well, that’s true, but the thing is, The Outsiders should have. I mean, *spoiler* there are a BUNCH of dead characters by the end and not one of them out of their teens. Why did that not shock me? Maybe it was because I happened to read it while I was in the midst of an obsession with West Side Story. Sidenote: How is it that I love West Side Story, but I hate Romeo and Juliet? They are, after all, the same story with different names. Maybe it’s the semi-hypnotic finger snapping...
  10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Truth be told, I strongly dislike Hemingway. We read this one in high school, and I loved it. It’s just such a sweet story, and for a short time (really short. Like 2 days short) I thought it would be really cool to be a fisherman. I mean, I’m not a man, but you know, whatever. Afterward, I tried to read his other books, but I just couldn't finish them. I don’t think I even got past the first chapter of most of them. Turns out, Hemingway is not my style, but this book is the exception to the rule.
  11. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. UGH. I HATE this book with the fiery passion of a thousand suns! It’s unsettling, unhappy and supremely unawesome. It also made me doubt my previously resolute decision that if I had children I only wanted boys. That, my friends, is a powerful book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them"*

So, I was tagged for this 10 book challenge. Now, those of you who really know me know that asking me to choose my favorite book is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Not. Going. To. Happen. Top ten seems a bit kinder, but it was still REALLY difficult for me. Only ten? What about the hundreds of other books I love?! They will not be ignored!!!! They will, however, wait patiently for their turn to be recognized which is precisely what will have to happen here.

The rules: There is only one. List ten books that have stayed with you in some way; these don’t have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, simply books that have left and impression in some form or another. These need not be favorite books, but they must be influential.

For my own list I am omitting books of scripture, not because they don’t fit the rule, but because they do. So much so that I’m not sure it’s fair to include them.

And now, the list. Given that these are not necessarily favorites, they are also not ranked. In fact, the order is somewhat arbitrary—also, loosely chronological.

  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl. It’s a book about a girl who loves to read and *spoiler* she develops telekinesis which is a superpower I have always desired. This book spoke/speaks to my soul. Disclaimer: Matilda’s home life and school experience were both terrible. Mine were not.
  2. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. My initial introduction to sci-fi. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, but it was glorious and I loved it. So much so that I went on to read the rest of the so-called series, and many more from the genre.
  3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. This one was actually read to me. Well, not me personally, but my class. My fourth grade teacher read it to us and I am so glad he did. This was my first memorable introduction to the fantasy genre. Oh the worlds I have visited since… Also, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a hobbit. They sure know how to get down in the Shire!
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Okay, maybe it’s cheating but I’m counting these seven books as one item because they really ought to be read together. I will admit that the magic in these books is often lost on adults, but as a child they were beautiful.
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I read this for the first time because it was assigned to my Freshman English class. Truth be told, many of my favorites started out as assignments. It’s a good thing I was such a diligent student. *wink, wink.* More to the point, this was the first time in my life I remember being shocked by a book. This was the first book through which I was exposed to a world that was totally foreign to me, but which was definitely real. I wasn’t even entirely sure that could happen, until it did. I have since read this book a dozen or so times and each time I learn something new about myself, about human nature, about the world at large…it’s perfect.
  6. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Let me first say that I HATE THIS STORY. So why did I include it? Because this was the first Shakespeare play I ever read. I went on to read the Compleat Works (I skipped over Romeo and Juliet), I grew to love the author, and I took a Shakespeare class in college, none of which would have happened if I hadn’t been determined that The Bard redeem himself from this not-so-beloved work.
  7. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Dickens definitely isn’t for everybody, but I’m certainly a fan. Well, I’m a fan of this book anyway. And while I generally don’t care for 19th century literature on the whole, I very much care for Great Expectations. This is another one I have read multiple times, usually around Christmas, though I can’t explain why. Just for the record, I DO NOT like Estella and I cannot fathom why Pip (whom I do quite like) is so infatuated with her.
  8. The Odyssey by Homer. I went through a phase where I was really into Greek mythology. I also found this book to be a little slow and, at time, rather boring. Maybe I just got my hands on a poor translation. Whatever the case, I read it, and I find myself making reference to it more often than I ever thought I would. Also, the sirens are terrifyingly awesome.
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I have no interest in summoning all the politicos out there into a debate/argument, so I won’t specify whether or not I agree with the tenants Miss Rand puts out there. I will, however, point out that I found it to be an interesting read. Gosh, it was a long one though!
  10. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I loved this one enough that I devoted an entire blog post to it. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Also, if you haven’t read it yet, skip the rest of this bit because I don't want to ruin it for you. Oh, John Green, you cruel, cruel man. You crush my heart, but in a way that is just so tragically beautiful that I will submit to such torture willingly. I think I might be in love with Augustus Waters. Be still my beating heart. For real, I’m pretty sure my heart actually stopped when his story took its fateful turn. The gas station scene? Buckets and buckets of tears. 
Honorable mention: The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe by Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom, The Client by John Grisham, Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Actually, stayed tuned for a post in which I elaborate on my honorable mentions because they are at least equal to the books listed above. I told you they would not be ignored!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

top ten signs you're not getting enough sleep

top ten signs you're not getting enough sleep
  1. upon waking up you are unable to determine what day of the week it is
  2. upon waking up you are unsure as to where, exactly, you are
  3. waking up is an extremely trying experience
  4. you wake up in a tizzie convinced that you are late for something (which may or may not be true).
  5. you actually manage to forget to pour milk over your cereal and don't realize the mistake until you've already eaten a few bites
  6. you made it through a portion of your day before realizing you only have makeup on half of your face
  7. you've read 5 or more books in the past 2 weeks
  8. you find yourself sleeping standing up. in the shower.
  9. you can't remember if you did any of these things today
  10. you are a mom

Monday, April 21, 2014

i find myself unable to appropriately title this post

you guys. i don't even know where to start. first of all, let me just point out that for the third night this week i have stayed up way too late crying over a book (the fourth book i've finished in the past seven days. maybe i should get out more...). i do that a lot actually. i sometimes worry that i am more emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters than i am in my own. i should probably work on that.

but, have you ever finished a book and immediately want to turn back to the beginning and read it again? it doesn't happen super often, but when it happens it is a deep and profound experience. i mean, there is a sort of hierarchy of books. it goes something like this:

level one: books that exist, but you really aren't sure why. they are terrible and you would probably never even finish one of these books unless it is (for some indiscernible reason) required for a class or something. i hate these books with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. i also hate the teachers/professors who turn them into reading assignments. evil.

level two: books that are not great. books that aren't even good. books that actually kinda suck, but you power through them because you keep hoping they'll get better (which, of course, they don't) and when you're done you basically regret the decision to ever have started and you definitely regret all the time you put in to actually reading them. these books fill me with rage.

level three: books that don't suck. books that you genuinely enjoy in the moment, but which are thoroughly forgettable and rarely discussed. there is nothing actually wrong with them, but there isn't anything really right with them either. their okay, and that's okay.

level four: here you will find books that are more than just not bad but which are actually books quite good. these are books that you might recommend to a friend with similar taste or something. these are books that make you glad that books exist

level five: really, really good books. books that you recommend to a lot of people even if you have no idea what kind of books they like because you are sure they will like these books-or at least not hate them. these are books you revisit from time to time because you kind of miss them. these are books that fundamentally change the way you think about books.

level six: really, really, super incredibly awesome books. these are the books that you recommend to everyone. i mean, EVERYONE. these are the books that fundamentally change the way you look at everything. these are the books you read over and over and over again because there a sort of void in your life when these characters are not a part of it. it is as if they become a part of you in some way and even though it makes no sense, it is as if you become a part of them.

so, somewhere in this hierarchy of books lies every book you've ever read, and every book you haven't read, and every book that you have yet to read. every. one. and though you genuinely hope that every book you read will be a level six book, you know that is a ridiculously unrealistic hope. so, you attempt to avoid, but sometimes succumb to the ones and twos, tolerate the threes and fours and embrace the fives when you can. and, on the exceedingly rare occasion that you find a six, you glory in it. you revel in it. you finish it. GAH! it's over! now what?! i mean, it's not like life will ever be the same again (except, you know, it totally is. especially since this transformative experience was had by you and you alone). so you have the urge to turn back to the beginning and start reading again.

gosh, i love those books.

anyway, the whole point of this post was to tell you that i just read the most incredible book.

okay, so i know i'm a little late to the party with this incredible revelation, but seriously, it is SOOOOO GOOD!!!! brace yourselves, here come the it.

yes, that's all i'm going to say about it. just read it. oh, and if by some minuscule chance you don't actually love it the way i love it, don't tell me you don't love it because it might just break my heart if you do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coincidence? I think not...

Random fact of the day:
The symbol for pound (at least in the U.S.) is lb. This symbol comes from an abbreviation of the constellation Libra which is a scale.

My initials are LB and I am a Libra.

I am destined to be a fatty (or something)...