Sunday, June 27, 2010

De La Souls

First of all, let me just say Happy late Birthday to my good friend E-Flems! Considering you are probably one of the only ones reading this, if you read it at all, I thought i'd give you an extra special shout-out. Farewell from your teenage glory days, and I sure hope Saturday was the best 20th birthday you'll ever have. I'm still slightly ticked that I haven't met Troy yet.

I realized that I didn't post anything about Girls Camp. And that probably isn't fair because I had a really good time. And I learned a lot. But this is more about LTC because it was just a totally different level of learning and spirituality.

Real quick, Girls Camp was full of adventure. I went on my first overnight hike, built a tent using mismatched poles, duct tape, and a pocket knife. I had a good time getting to know the girls in my ward a little better. It was fun to see them out of their natural environment. Most of them are Hi-Lo's (the dance team for LHS) and thus were a little uncomfortable camping in the wild :) They really are cool girls though and i'm a little disappointed in myself that it took me this long to give them a chance and see past the dancer stereotype. Of course, me and some of my good friends were able to make some good memories. What else do you do when you have 17 year old girls without technology with a tent in the woods? Make memories :D

On to LTC, the real deal. For those who aren't hip with the lingo these days, it stands for Laurel Training Camp. It's not a church-wide program, but it is a church camp. The girls who just graduated and the girls my age, who will be seniors next year, go camping for a week. During that week, we get split into the different value groups, ( faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue) and attend different lessons and lectures with our groups. We got to have lessons from the 3 stake presidents on some awesome subjects and I know that I learned a lot for sure. Because of the sacred nature of the camp and the lessons learned there, i'll be using some discretion on how much I do or do not say on this post. Just know that it was a very spiritually enlightening time.

The groups get assigned after much prayer and consideration by the Presidency and I believe the Youth Presidency. Because of this, you don't necessarily get grouped with all of your best pals. In fact, I wasn't all that close with any of the girls in my group before this week. I won't lie, I was a little disappointed at first. If you know me at all, i'm not super comfortable around tons of people, especially those who I don't know very well. Luckily, that discomfort didn't last long. We jumped right into deep conversation the very first day. And i'm so grateful to whoever invented the whole LTC idea because I think bringing those walls down right at the beginning helped facilitate the growth that occurred in all of us. Now I can't say that a miracle happened and now the girls from my group are all my new best friends. But I can say that I got to see them in a new light and I learned to be less judgmental. I suppose you could say I have a better appreciation for them now. I never knew their stories before and I probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for this. And i still am not an expert on any of their lives, but sometimes a glimpse is enough to help build a friendship that has some solid foundation. OH! By the way, we were the Integrity group.

Our group had a pretty neat experience with prayer. One of the girls wasn't able to be there the whole time, for ease of reference, her name was Michelle. She had to come late and leave early and miss a day. Sadly, she wasn't able to be there for much of the group bonding. Well, she had work Thursday morning and Friday morning. So Wednesday night she was talking about how she might just stay in town and not come back at all since she would only be able to come Thursday night for a few hours. Thursday night is the key night! It's testimony meeting, the big dutch oven dinner, and the night when the most bonding occurs. Honestly, I don't blame her for wanting to just stay in town. But I kept getting this feeling that she needed to be at testimony meeting. I don't know why, but the feeling was there and it was strong. So I kept trying to convince her of how much fun Thursday would be and how good the food would be and anything else I could think of. Yet, when she left that night she still seemed very unsure and I got the feeling that she wasn't coming back. So I talked to one of her good friends in the other group and they said they didn't think she was coming back either. "How could this be?" I thought. I tried my hardest to persuade her and I was trying to follow the promptings I felt. But it hadn't worked. So I decided to turn to the thing that has never failed me. Prayer. But not just mine alone. I knew it would require something bigger. So I talked to my group at our evening devotional and we all decided to keep her in our prayers that night. The next day, I could hardly focus. I couldn't wait to see if she would change her mind and come back. Around lunch time, after some really good lessons from the VGP's, I realized that I had done what I could. I prayed and now it was in the Lord's hands and I needed to just trust him. So I tried to just put it out of my mind and focus on the lessons and experiences at hand. Well, fast-forward to dinner time. A few of us were done eating and I had just thrown my plate in the garbage and was getting some dessert when I looked at the bridge to see none other than Michelle! I ran over and gave her a huge hug and she looked at me like...umm, okay? I guess it was a little odd from her side. She didn't know how long I, along with my group, had been waiting to see if she would come back or not. And now she was actually there! It was just one of those moments for me when I stop and think, Hey, He really is listening to us. I don't know her end of the story. If she felt something that brought her back to camp or what. But I know it definitely helped strengthen my testimony of prayer. I don't know if i've ever been more excited to see someone. And as far as her needing to be at testimony meeting, I don't know if she got anything out of it or not. She's not real talkative when it comes to spiritual matters and I wasn't sitting in a spot where I could see if anything that was said affected her. But I know for sure that the spirit was super strong there and it would have been pretty hard to ignore it.

Testimony meeting was awesome, but one of those experiences of a sensitive nature that's not to be regurgitated online. I can say that I was very impressed by a lot of those girls and my love for them grew immensely. I loved the opportunity to share what I had learned. I don't know if anyone else really feels like I do, but I see testimony meetings sort of as an opportunity to show my gratitude to Him by sharing what i've been taught and declaring it to my peers. As awesome as the meeting was its self, I almost loved the post meeting "hug time" as they called it even more. There were so many girls that i've always wanted to get to know in school and that but i've never really had the opportunity until now. And to see them on such a deep level! If you know me at all, i'm not much of a crier. I have nothing against crying, i don't try to be 'strong' and not cry. It's just not usually how I show my emotions. For much of the meeting, I had a huge grin on my face while everyone around me was blowing noses and wiping eyes. I guess it just excites me to see other people learn of the Love that i've been feeling a lot lately from Him. Nevertheless, I cried like I haven't cried in a while during Hug Time. I look up to them so much and it was a lovely opportunity to see the real person inside and then to be able to tell them how much they mean and what a great example they are and to say thank you for that. As a very wise friend of mine once said, "Life is about people." And I know that is super simple, but I love it. I believe it and I love being able to express myself to people. I think we live in a world where we base too much of our self esteem on recognition. And that's sad because it means that we all forget sometimes just how great we really are. Thus, i LOVE an opportunity to remind people sincerely.

One more thought from LTC that I loved is the idea of Dippers and Buckets. Each person has a bucket. And they are fairly responsible to fill that bucket personally. We can also help fill each others buckets. When a person has a full bucket they feel loved, confident and more willing to help fill others' buckets. Unfortunately, we each have a dipper as well. And when we stick our dippers in others buckets, it doesn't help fill ours, it only spills theirs. And when someone has a lot of dippers in their bucket or if someone dips in too frequently, the person may feel inclined to put a lid on their bucket. And then no one can help fill it and they can't fill it themselves either. If you notice someones dipper in your bucket, gently remind them to take it out. If we can keep our dippers out of others buckets and focus only on filling them, we will all be a lot happier. So when you wake up tomorrow, are you going to be a Dipper or a Filler? Only you can decide.

Anyways, I wish I could just capture experiences and tap into them at will. Kinda like the 'pensieve' idea in Harry Potter. Just bottle up a memory and then relive it whenever I feel like at it. Until then, we'll all keep blogging and journaling I guess. I love all of my Girls Camp and LTC girls and it has been great to feel their love the last few weeks. I hope to become a permanent Filler because I sure appreciate all those who have helped fill mine. Lately it feels like its overflowing. And it sure is nice to feel overflowing rather than overwhelmed once in a while. Hope everyone is having a great day! (Ha, Like anyone actually reads this!)

ps the title is a song by POS. POS is an artist, not just an acronym for an inappropriate saying.

"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Maybe Then We'd Remember To Slow Down At All Of Our Favorite Parts

"I am going away for a while
But i'll be back don't try and follow me
Cuz i'll return as soon as possible
You see i'm trying to find my place
But it might not be here where I feel safe
We all learn to make mistakes"
~Misguided Ghosts by Paramore

I LOVE that song. Ever since I got their newest CD (Brand New Eyes) I can't stop listening to that song. It just clicks for me I guess. Anyways, that has nothing to do with this post. So...moving forward!

Brent has started up Quotation Creations again. To refresh some memories, my dad used to run that business before he started roofing in Logan. Once Homer Roofing started up, Quotation Creations pretty much died. It changed hands a few times but no one really did much with it til now. Brent has had a booth at Richmond Black & White days and Logan Summerfest this last weekend. I don't know much about business, but it seems like it did okay. For those who don't have a clue what QC is, let me give you a quick run down. The product is framed and matted quotes featuring a picture of either the person who said the quote or a picture that correlates. ex) temples, Christ etc...

The reason i'm bringing all this up is that i've started working for Brent. I helped take orders in the booth for a good portion of friday and all day saturday. And today I put together the 6 pieces that were custom ordered and finished most of a 20 piece order that had nothing to do with Summerfest. Let's just say it's been a long day. (Literally, it was the longest day of the year. Happy Summer Solstice everybody!)

I got to Brent's at 8 AM and left at about 10:45 PM. He trained me for about a half hour then let me loose. I spent a good chunk of time at the storage unit trying to find the right mattes, frames pictures, glass etc for the custom orders. Then it was time to get started, right? Well it would help if the keyboard worked on the computer so that I could actually type up the quotes. It would seem that all hope is lost, but have no fear. My ingenuity kicked in. The 20 piece order called for all cherry frame 7x16's, 10 of a temple quote, 10 of Hinckley's '' it isn't as bad..". Well we had a few of the right quotes already matted but in the wrong frame. So i disassembled them, put them in the right frame, stapled the cardboard, rolled out the paper backing, put on the protective dots and the company sticker, and nailed the hooks in until Brent came home for lunch to problem solve. I was able to rummage through some of the old pre-typed papers and find a quote or two for the custom orders. And we had a few of the correct pictures at the house. But none of them had all the necessary elements. So Brent brought home a keyboard, found the huge temple picture we needed in a mysterious box, and went in search for a Thomas S. Monson photo. When the company was started, Gordon B. Hinckley was the prophet, so we have TONS of pictures of just him and absolutely zero of just Monson. Sadly, I ended up having to cut up a picture of the old First Presidency. Brent brought me a pita for lunch, which was delish, but he had to go back to did I.

I ended up formatting all the custom order quotes, which is a pain in the rear when you are as brain dead when it comes to Word Processing programs as I am. Then came the fun part. Assembling the product from start to finish! The process goes as follows.
1) Find proper frame thats not chipped or scratched and matte that is the correct color with the corrrect size opening and in good condition.
2) Center picture in matte opening and tape down using the most difficult two-sided tape gun ever invented.
3) Center paper w/ quote in the other matte opening and tape down using aforementioned tape gun.
4) Go outside to avoid suffocating/getting high from spray adhesive and stick the matte to the cardboard backing.
5) Find a pane of glass that's not scratched and Windex the crap out of both sides.
6) Look for dust particles between the glass and the matte and shoot them with the compressed air can thing. Do this about 7 million times as needed.
7) Insert matte/cardboard combo into the frame with glass in front and use the crazy black 'framers point' gun to sorta staple the cardboard into the frame.
8) Measure and cut the brown paper backing and use that darned tape gun again.
9) Place protective felt dots and company sticker on the bottom.
10) Nail in the hook using the most ridiculously small nails you can possibly imagine. Place tape over hook to avoid scratching other things.
Repeat approximately 26 times and you have my day today. That doesn't include printing/formatting/cutting the paper or searching through the slightly unorganized boxes for the proper picture. Much less the most difficult task i've ever faced, which is the main reason it took me til almost 11 PM to finish. That blasted tape gun!

Okay so it's really not that hard to use. Maybe a little annoying at times, but I can handle that. When it comes time to refill the dang thing? That's another story. It probably took me a good century and a half to figure out how to wrap the freakin thing around all the little wheels and crap in the right order. The diagram on the little thing is about as useful as an umbrella in a tsunami. After literally a half hour of trying to understand the arrows, i decided it was time to whip out the iPhone. It's a sad day for humanity when a girl has to look up a YouTube video to figure out how to refill a tape gun. It took me another 20 minutes to even understand that because they were using a different model of the gun in the video. I'm still not really sure how it happened, but I closed the plastic cover and said a little prayer and it worked. Don't ask me to do it again because i'll just have to pull out the phone. By the time I conquered Mt. Requires-A-Degree-In-Engineering-To-Refill-This-Thing, it was too late to hammer the hooks into the last of the 20 piece order unless I wanted the neighbors downstairs to set Brent's house on fire. So I did as much as I could without creating a ruckus.

Long story short, I never knew framing and matting could be so exhausting. But I am totally pooped. Good news is I still get to do the dishes (even though I literally have been home for a total of 15 minutes i'm not sure how that translates into me getting the wonderful opportunity to do everyone else's dishes...?) pack for LTC, and shower between now and 8 AM. As much as i didn't enjoy getting a large slash in my thumb from the framers points, spending all day listening to the neighbors quarrel, and spend one of my precious few free days of summer in a house by myself, I really did learn a lot from all those quotes. Most of them were from Prophets and Apostles who are probably the most wise persons on this earth. I think my favorite was one by Thomas S. Monson.

"Courage becomes a living and attractive virtue when it is regarded not as a willingness to die manfully, but the determination to live decently."

There were a few others that were pretty good, but I like them better in Spanish and I don't see the point in writing in a language that no one (who reads this) would understand. I'm grateful that we have been given such wise leaders in a time and place such as this. I'm also amazed at the way things have worked out for me with this job. With my crazy busy summer, i can't get a normal summer job because of how many sporadic weeks I will be gone. I needed a job with VERY flexible hours and Brent needed someone who could spend bursts of time to fill orders. It probably couldn't get more perfect for either of us. I'm getting paid piece rate so I can take my time and do things right like I like to, and Brent doesn't get screwed over for his employee taking an hour to fill a tape gun. It just goes to show how if we put our trust in His hands, He will take care of us. The only thing that matches my complete and total exhaustion from today is the amount of inspiration i've witnessed through reading the words of His servants. It feels good to feel good :)

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Learning To Breathe

"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."
I think that quote pretty much sums things up.

We had Stake Conference at 10. You would think we could get there on time considering how reasonable of an hour 10 o'clock is, but no. We are the Homers. Good news is, once we got there things were okay. One of the general authorities said a few things about my old Young Womens leader who is the current Stake President's wife. I've always really liked her and thought she was just a flat out good person. It was nice to hear such good things said about her from someone with such prestige. I've been really interested in temples lately since I got to go do Baptisms in the Nauvoo Illinois temple. That was a neat experience in its own right, but not a story for right now. Anyways, i was reading about temples on my iPhone and learned some very interesting facts. I got these off of the official church website, not just some random guy making things up.

1) The Logan temple is the second oldest temple still in operation, with St. George being the oldest.
2) The Manti temple is built on land that the BOM prophet Moroni dedicated as a future temple site.
3) The Vernal temple is built from bricks that were donated from a local homeowner who was planning on razing his house.
4) The Nauvoo temple is one of the only temples that faces west and has a westward facing angel Moroni. (It faces the Mississippi River)
5) Something I probably already knew but never put together is that all 3 BYU campuses (Provo, Rexburg, Hawaii) have adjacent temples.

If you don't trust me, check out the site below. You can click on the name of the temple to find out more fun facts.
Anyways, I enjoyed getting to know more about a few of the temples. And the Conference talks were good too.

When we got home, it was time for me to take a nap. I've been incredibly tired lately. I slept through lunch at girls camp and a devotional or two. It was only early afternoon when i fell dead asleep on the couch. Anyways, I woke up a few hours later to my entire immediate family minus Brent, who was on his way over. I realized today how blessed I am to have all my sisters still live so close, and of course Brent. It's great to be able to see them weekly and of course I love seeing Kaden & Avery (nephew and niece) grow up little by little. We spent some time in the front yard checking out new cars and eating some crazy good apple dip stuff that Kristi made. Then we went into the living room and had all the Dads open up their Father's Day gifts and shared some memories. It was funny to see full grown men shoot foam balls at each other from plastic guns.

Next was the famous family fire. It seems like we always put one of these things together whenever the family is over. We have a fire pit in the backyard and we gather round for flame roasted tri-tip probably at least monthly. There really is something great about a fire. Once I had my fill of meat, someone started singing the song "All Star" by Smash Mouth. Slightly ghetto, I know. So I pulled out my iPhone because I have an App that has the top 100 songs of the last 50 or so years. Whaddya know? It was the #15 song of 1999. Naturally, we had to listen to quite a few other memorable songs. And that inspired Brittny to pull out her iPhone and look up one of those "You know you're a 90's kid if..." lists. I never realized how much I still remember from the California days, which is weird considering I was only 7 when we moved here. It really was fun to sit with my siblings and just reminisce around the fire about our childhood. It's those kinds of moments that make all the fights, tantrums, misunderstandings, short comings and generally negative points of family life worth it.

I really do love my family. And I hope they all know that. Because I would never ask for a different one. We ARE weird. We sing broadway musicals at random times, we quote movies and tv shows as part of normal conversation, we buy and sell cars from each other, live in each others houses, more than half of us share an employer. We can NEVER arrive on time to ANYTHING, no matter how much notice we have. We even sing 90's songs at the top of our lungs in the backyard for father's day. But we are a family. I'm part of it. They're a part of it. I'm theirs and they are mine. We certainly aren't perfect and imperfect people can't make up a perfect family. But we ARE a family. And to me, some part of that seems perfect. To keep with the theme of quoting my second favorite book, I think this is pretty accurate. Especially today.
"As much as I don't understand my mom and dad and as much as I feel sorry for both of them sometimes, i can't help but love them very much."

As for the title of this post, it's the title of a song by Switchfoot. As my previous post mentioned, i've grown a lot lately. And growing pains come with growth, go figure eh? I've found my coping mechanism to be music. Not playing it or writing it. I have about negative zero musical talent. But when it comes to listening to it and really feeling it. Well I could do that for the rest of my life. I've found that song to be one of my favorites and the lyrics really hit home for me. The title of my blog comes from the song by Pearl And The Beard by the same title. I don't know why I seem to be able to find comfort in music when I really know nothing about it. But it works for me. If i mention a song in my posts, i'll try to include a link to a video or the lyrics so maybe it can work for you as well.

In conclusion, I love my family. I might not always like what each person does, but i'll always love who they are. They are mine. Not perfect, but i don't need perfect. Just them. I hope everyone has had a good Father's Day in one way or another. I know there a few friends of mine lacking a father figure who have been on my mind today and I hope today hasn't been too rough on them. Luckily, I know that they know of the Father who really counts. And as much as I love Keith Clark Homer and as much as i believe he loves me, I'm glad to know that there is a Father whose love for me is as endless and unconditional as that great Mississippi which the Nauvoo temple faces :) See what I did there? I tied two parts of the post together! But really, my Heavenly Father has been on my mind a lot today and I am so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love I feel from him each and every day.
First one is for Switchfoot, second for Pearl & The Beard

"Always do right; this will gratify some and astonish the rest."

Rooftops and Invitations

So I just realized that I haven't posted for like 6 months. And I don't really feel too bad about that because I never planned on becoming a steady blogger. But it's 1:30 in the AM and i just got back from girls camp yesterday, worked Summerfest all day today and leave for LTC in 2 days. It finally feels like summer :)

There is no possible way to catch up on all the things that have been going on. I can barely believe how much I've changed this past year, especially the last 6 months or so. I discovered my Homeland and was lucky enough to be able to go back again. I've made friends with some of the most incredible people I've ever had the honor to meet. I've learned a lot about Friendships and what a real friend is and how to be one. I've learned what an incredibly blessed life I have and not to take it for granted. I've learned that as my knowledge and understanding of how much my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ cares for me increases, my capacity to love increases exponentially. I've learned what it's like to bomb a math test and how sweet it is to ace the next one. I've learned just how many doors the number 30 can open up. I visited a school I never seriously considered and now it makes the most educational sense. I've learned what pain is and that it's okay to feel. I've learned what it is to feel loved. I've learned to be able to accept people for who they are and not need to change them or myself. I've seen God's green earth in it's natural beauty. I've learned that some songs can make me ok. They don't change the situation, just how I feel about it. I've learned that my Heavenly Father truly is looking out for me and that the sooner I trust that fact, the sooner I breathe again. I know I'm only 17 and I don't claim to have life figured out. But I feel like this last year has taught me a lot. I guess you could say...I've learned how to learn.

"Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out."