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Where love is, there God is also

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Love Letter to Women

March 8th was International Women’s Day.
I saw on an article that day circulating on social media, about the influential women of the world, which included a list of people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Bethany Hamilton, etc.  At the time, I didn’t give it much thought.  To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a Women’s Day.  Is there a Men’s day too?  

Today, March 10, 2013, as I was sitting in Relief Society listening to a lesson about Divine Destiny, I thought back to that article, and became overwhelmed with gratitude for the women in MY world, who have helped shape the person I am today.  I think of the stalwart women-leaders in the church, like Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who’s countenance had a Christ-like glow, and who was known for her grateful attitude and cheerful disposition.  I think of Shari Dew, who is such a strong example of being an intelligent, spiritual and hard working person.  She taught me the importance of cheerful perseverance; even when the path you’re on is not the plan you would have chosen for yourself.  I have come to relate to and need that counsel in my adult life, more than I ever would have expected back when I was a young woman taking in her magnificent influence. I think of Margaret Nadauld whom I remember being in the same ward with as a young child.  When she got called to serve as the General Young Women’s President several years later after their family had moved away, our family was giddy with joy for her new calling, knowing that she had raised eight (was it?) decent and handsome sons. She taught that the world needs more kind, genuine, humble, classy, gentle, nurturing, and strong woman today, instead of the more prevalent alternative.

As I zero in now, I think of people in my own world and my mind naturally flows to my years in the Young Women’s Program.  I think of such leaders like Teri Zenger, Ruth Ann Stagg, Dionne Halverson, Lana Lamb, and Brenda Gardiner.. These women would help form and shape my testimony in too many ways to convey in one short essay.  Suffice it to say though, that they provided settings for some of the most spiritual experiences in my life.  If time would permit, I would be able to speak of a memory (or ten) for each of the women (and there were many) who dedicated that time of their life to serving the young women of the Shadow Ridge Ward.  I express my appreciation for them all.  There was one in particular when I was a young beehive, who stayed for such a short time that I can’t even remember her name. But I remember that she was a returned missionary.  And I remember her testimony was so powerful, and her knowledge of the gospel impressed me so much. Even at that young age,  I watched her, and felt a stirring my very core that I wanted to be empowered with knowledge of the eternal things, and a strong testimony of the Gospel, and my thirst began.

I think of women in my adult life like Kathleen Boswell, Cricket Parry, and Nanon Record, who seemed to be placed in my path at specifically difficult times for very direct reasons.  And then there’s my first mentor at work, Sally Jones, who so often reminded me of my mother at a time when I was still learning how to live without her. I’m so appreciative of the love and support I receive from these women, and oh how I needed it!  Their timely friendship was so relevant to my current circumstances and I count myself blessed to know them. Besides the women above, I am literally surrounded on all fronts by strong, capable, compassionate, happy, successful women at work every day on the Pediatrics unit.  These nurses, social workers, and child life specialists, have taught me anything and everything I care to know about children, and they exemplify every day what it is to have “a mother heart.”   I am blessed to call them friends.

Speaking of friendship, I feel that I have the greatest, truest friends a girl could ever ask for.  My bestie of nearly 20 years Kristi (Jackson) Hyde, is a true friend in every sense of the word. I think it’s safe to say that no matter where time takes us, or what distractions come up, we will always have a safe place in our heart for the other to rest.  As you all likely know, when one spends decades of moments with another, all those moments add up to one big blur. In this case that blur is just… goodness and love, and comfort.  My friendship with Kristi is all those things for me.  I have another life-long friend, Anna (Hansen) Covington, who was born of such kind and good parents.  Anna is everything I want to be. She is loyal, supportive, healthy, loving, hard working, strong, humble, intelligent, and the list goes on.  She is such a good person.  She teaches me that we do and be good because it’s the right thing to do, not because of some reward we are creating for ourselves in heaven.  There was a time in my early 20’s when we almost lost her, and I remember the panic I felt.. “NO!!!! I thought!! Don’t take her, NOT HER!!!” I’m so thankful that it wasn’t her time.   

Of course I can’t mention friends without coming upon the dearest friend of my adult hood, Emily Ulrich.  She is my confidant, and she is one of few women who know all of me; the good, the bad, the ugly.  And she loves me in spite of all that.  She is so strong in the Gospel and she is such an example to me of being good, and I think that we both benefit from the different perspective we provide for each other.   I think that Gods timing for our friendship was so exactly perfect that it is one more testament of His reality.  In Emily's friendship, I have had someone who shares and understands my point of view on these specific challenges of extended single-hood. 

            Besides these lifelong few aforementioned, I have been blessed to come across many MANY friends at different times of my life. From childhood, all through now, I have had friends and roommates (both past and present) that have come into my life for a period of time, and have left an impression that added to the sum of whatever I am today. Amy, Jeannette, Aimee, Amber, Hollie, Tara, Cherina, Carly, Erica... there are too many to name them all... but I read a quote along time ago that has always stayed with me: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.”  If you’re reading this, and we have crossed paths in friendship at some point in life, (you know who you are) I need you to know that I carry you all in my heart with gratitude for whatever space of time we’ve shared together.      

       Even in the mission field, (a place that is permeated with men,) was I blessed with some pivotal women who made the experience all the more tender for me. We can start with my trainer Shari (Kelsch) Bailey, who is beautiful, hard working, and hilariously funny.  She was known by all to be just gorgeous, but her heart was every bit as worthy of our praise. Her favorite song was “Where Love is,” and she exemplified love in a grand way. Through Shari, I was reminded that God knows me personally, and hears my prayers, because I had some very specific (maybe they were silly but they were so real to me at the time) requests and concerns upon entering the mission. 

       Next there is Diana (Carter) Rosenthal… a soul sister of mine. She and I have very little in common. We think differently, we like different things, and yet, one thing we both had was a clear understanding of why we were there, and Who we were doing it for.  Diana taught me that "Heavenly Father is the Gardener here;" that my plans are not always His plans, but His wisdom is sure. Diana was there the day I found out my Mom’s cancer was terminal, and she was there for everything else that followed that difficult test in my mission. For that I will EVER be connected to her and grateful for her love and support in what was surely the Abrahamic experience of my young life.

         There were women in the different areas too who I formed a bond with that is eternal.: Barbara Stifel, Shawna Marshall, Marcie Murphy, Ruthie Smith, etc. These women, my fellow sisters in Kingdom of God on earth, are examples of the kind of woman I want to be:  Giving of my time and talents, loving the Lord, willing to serve his children,  and possessing a mother heart. (There it is again… remember that talk? If not, look it up, it’s a goodie!) These women had mother-hearts!

          Finally I arrive to the women of my own family. I am the youngest of six children: Four girls and two boys.  My oldest sister Pam, despite the extremely difficult circumstances of her adult life, teaches me to carry on.  Even when it’s so hard you don’t think you can. Even when you cant see a light at the end of the tunnel. We just carry on because it’s simply the right thing to do.  

           My sister Kelly continuously teaches me about grace through her simple example.  She lives her testimony quietly and carefully and she has touched my life many times by a kind word or deed that was much needed.  But what I learn from her more than anything was that you can accomplish many miracles when you pay attention to the Spirit.  Her daughters are learning this too.  I know this because the other day I witnessed Mikaela show that same compassion and willingness to comfort one whom stood in need, based on an impression that she received.   
Laura, for a very long time was my only sister in law.  She has chosen to be a stay at home Mom in world that is constantly spewing out nonsense about “put yourself first, then give to others!”   She is an example to me of a woman who understands her divine role, and she lives it.  She is an exceptional mother to five beautiful children; four of them are girls who will grow up to be beautiful women themselves someday because she is teaching them that they are daughters of God.

          Next is my beautiful sister Kristy who I don’t talk with very often because she lives in New York, and we both have a healthy disdain for the telephone. She sends me things every so often just to let me know she is thinking of me, and when she visits, I always think: I want to be in her presence forever.  She is my biggest cheerleader in life and I like to think that I am hers too.  Kristy teaches me that not everyone thinks like me, and that valuing the different experiences and viewpoints of others who lead a different path is as important as any principal of the gospel I’ve ever been taught.
          We’ve added a new mother-heart to our family this year: my sister in law Jazzi.  I love her for loving my brother.  You know how Margaret Nadauld said we needed more kind, classy, humble, etc. etc. women?  Jazzi is all of those things. Well done, Chad.

         Josette, my step-mother, came into our lives almost seven years ago. She makes my Dad so happy in this late season of his life.  She has never been anything but kind and loving and accepting of me.  She has faith in me, and she tells me and shows me that faith often.  I love her for that, and I am learning to have faith in myself through her. And oh how she loves my father!  About two years ago, Heavenly Father blessed me with some perspective to see the Lords hand in linking our family with hers, and I’ve been grateful ever since.    

         Then there is my Mom’s only sister, Aunt Sue, who I don’t get to see very often. Ever since my Mom passed away however, when I do see her I want to run to her, and hug her and never let go. She is the one thing on this earth that makes me feel the nearest to being in my mom’s presence.  Strange how that works huh?  Even though she is so different from my mom in a lot of ways. She was so helpful to our family during the passing of my Mom.  She was there through it all. I remember coming home for that week while on my mission to the heaviest form of sadness and gloom I had ever felt in my life.  One day, to pull us from that abyss, she personally gave Kelly and I a full facial. It was the cutest thing, and it really did relax us, and help us forget our woes for a short time.  That small act of service, I will never forget.

          Of course I could not talk about women without talking about my own mother, Collene Davis. My mother’s influence is significant, and ever present, as are all Mothers to their children, I suppose.  Even just today when we sang the opening hymn in sacrament  “You Can Make the Pathway Bright,” my first thought was: My mother loved this song.  And in that moment I thought it was her way of telling me, Happy birthday my daughter. I love you!  So because I wasn’t ready to be done thinking about her, I requested that we sing the other hymn hat we both love “Scatter Sunshine..” in Relief Society.  I have never requested a song before. 

         As I sit here in this moment, reflecting on all of the countless influence I have had and realizing I’ve likely gone on far too long to keep anyone’s interest but my own, it occurs to me. The lesson that it took me nearly nine years to understand, and the reason I was impressed this morning to sit down and write about the women I love in this world: Heavenly Father has blessed me with all of these women BECAUSE he knew that my time with my own mother would be limited.  He also knew that I would spend a larger portion  (than most) of my adult life alone, and that I wouldn’t be a mother myself, for a while.  Therefore, all of these women, whom I love and whom love me, they ARE my Mother..  You see, collectively YOU ALL represent Collene Davis’ mother-heart.  And through you, I am given all of the things that she would have me learn, and do, and be, and carry with me to the day when I get to see her again.
So that’s it.  Happy International Women’s Day  (a little bit late, but that’s how I roll.)  J

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

oh oh oh oh oh sometims I get a good feeling!

I know it's been a while since I last wrote.  You've all (all three of you??) survived the absence though I'm sure of it!  :)  November marked one year since I began my financial transformation.  So being a year and three months into it, I have made a significant mark on my financial freedom!  This leads me onto bigger (literally) and harder things. 
In January I went to see Hannah Curlee and Olivia Ward speak about their experience on "The Biggest Loser."  I came away feeling so inspired!  Hannah talked about this year being "YOUR YEAR!" and I wanted it to be true for me.  I want this year to be my year in so many ways.  So I'm putting my vision for it out there into this vast universe.  Loud and proud. 
By this time next year I want to be under 200 lbs, and to have completed a half-marathon. I also want to be winding up the last of my debt, and to either be IN a relationship, or to be pursuing one actively via requests to be set up, internet dating, and branching out to a new single's ward.  I also want to re-gain a closeness with my HF that I haven't really had as of late.  I think if I depend on Him more, He will be able to come through on his end of the bargains.
I feel the self doubt creep in about my weight, and then I think, WHY cant I?  So I'm hitting it hard ladies and gents.. This year is the year of taking CARE of myself..  I went to the chiropractor -aka voodoo Doctor yesterday for him to fix my wrists, so that wont be a hinderance.  Incidentally he also fixed my neck and I took the best nap I ever had afterwards.  I have an appointment with a dietician on march 1st, and I have a neice that's agreed to run the half with me.  Now we just have to decide which one!  Anyway, essentially, I am just wanting to send out all this -good-feeling- positive energy out into the universe so it can come back to and embrace me fully! 
I'm sending out my SOS! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa! I know him!

Well, it's Christmas Eve and for the first time in over nine years, our entire family is together. And I, I am loving every minute of it. There are no holes in my heart today, no loneliness. Today, all is right with my world. I was driving to my house earlier to grab salad spinner for my sister who was making her first pomegranate salad for tonight's big dinner, and as i came down the street, I had the most perfect view of the sunset. You could see all the bright warm colors draped across the western sky, and it made my heart skip a beat. In that moment, I just felt Gods love for me. it was as if he said, this ones for you Casey! Or maybe it was Mom.. Which is even more perfect.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Absence maketh the heart grow fonder??

The other morning, I was driving to Salt Lake City for work (which is a story in and of itself that I won't get into right now,) and it was raining.  It was the first rain of the Fall season, and it was the cold kind, where it creates a fog that covers the mountains.  A darkness blanketed the entire valley, and as I looked into the west that darkness ran as far as I could see.   It felt like the sun would never shine again.  The day matched my mood, or did my mood match the day? I couldn't tell, but I could barely see the car in front of me which is just exactly how I've been feeling lately. I can only see what's right in front of me.. and everything else around is just cold, and wet, and foggy.    And although logically, I know that eventually the sun will come out again, I find it difficult to imagine.  It's hard to see my life ever being different than now, even though I know that I was born to become a Mother, and that my spirit has so much to learn and become. In a couple of short months, my difficult situation at worwill be over, but how do I lift the fog of my own life? If it were only as simple as waiting it out a couple of months. 

The good news is: at the end of the day, as I was driving home, even though it was still relativley dreary, and the rain hadn't ceased, the clouds had parted out west, and there were some rays peeking in and ever so slightly lighting up the valley in a most extraordinary way. 
And I felt hope. 
And I remembered that everything is a type and a shadow of Christ.  No matter what we experience, we always have Him to depend on for peace, and happiness, and because of His perfect life, and His Atonement, some how.. some way... I'm going to be okay. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ames... Will you accept this Rose?

I know.. Ames got kicked off the Bachelorette last week, not this week... but I'm still not over him, okay? Just give me a little more time!  sheesh!  :)
Two weekends ago, I went to Jackson Hole on a big singles trip, and most of the people on this little vacay were in their late-twenties or early-thirties.  Let me just say this: We spent a significant amount of time being cynical at our current lot in life.  We reviewed the long list of cliche's that we all fall under, and the list of "I'm tired of..."  At the end of the day, I didn't learn anything new about why any of us are really single.  I keep thinking to myself, am I making this harder than it should be?
So then Monday rolls around, and I just cant wait to turn on my guilty pleasure: "The Bachelorette" of course, and I think to myself.  How is it, that I have decided to stop living my own life, and watch someone else live theirs?  How is that going to EVER bring me satisfaction or happiness? The short answer is, it wont, which has confirmed the decision I made several weeks ago to pay the piper, and get this weight gone.  It's holding me back.  
For a long time, I've used the excuse that fat people get married too, but I know that in my heart of hearts, I don't want a fat life, I want a healthy life, with a healthy person!  Duh Casey!  You can't expect a healthy person to just come right up and be like, "oh, I don't value health at all, will you marry me?"I think I've also figured out why I let it linger for the length of my twenties:  I'm a little afriad (and by a little, I mean a lot) that if I lose the weight, and still no one can love me than it means the problem is actually on the inside... which is SO much harder to fix! What if I do all this, and I'm still not loveable??  It's risky business I tell you, but I think I'm ready to find out.  By Golly, what's happening to me?  I told you, I am broken down to the bare bones of me, and therefore humble for the molding, I guess.  
So I've been into my groove now for just over a week, and so far I'm four pounds down!  Go me!  :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

playing outside of the sand-box

So I've started this blog post six times thus-far and I just cant figure out how to begin this entry.  I kinda have a lot to say, but no format so it's probably going to look like a scene from the movie "Jumper."  Who care's? I need to get over myself, no one reads these rants anyway.
First of all, I went to my ward super-activity,  in St. George.. which consisted of hiking, hiking, a little bit of swimming, and more hiking.  We got there and they wouldn't even let us light a camp-fire, so that means I had to cook my s'mores (which is really the only thing I like about nature anyway) over the stove.  I wasn't necessarily looking forward to it, but I've had great experiences with ward camp-outs in the past, so I went.  Of course, it turned out wonderful, and the next week's testimony meeting was more of a "I know the super-activity is true" than anything else, which was pretty hilarious.. and probably really boring for all of those who didn't attend.  
Anyway, really truly though, my feelings have changed completely since going. Suddenly, the idea of going to a "ward prayer" or an "FHE" doesn't repulse me. I had honestly thought I was done with being involved. Who wants to hang out with a 29 year old when there are like seventy cute, peppy, gung-ho 19 year olds to choose from? I know, but it's really what I thought.  You just get to a point, where you feel passed-by.  What I'm realizing instead, is that all this time, I have really been the one passing by all of the experiences I could have been having.  Because I was afraid to take a risk, or to step outside of my comfort zone. This must be why the prophet says to get married pretty young... because we are still a little flexible, and the older we get, the more we get in our own way, and its difficult to step out of it.
Today at church, we had an area authority visit: Elder Summerhays.  When I left the meeting, I had the same kind of feeling I get when I eat a really good gooey chocolatey brownie, with a scoop of ice-cream and fudge on top.  I just felt... satiated.   He just had the Spirit with him, and when he testified about how God is perfect in His promises to us, and that he will bless us with "every single promise in our patriarchael blessing, and every righteous desire written on our heart" in his perfect time, and way. I just felt that witness that it was true, and I felt I was on the path.  I haven't felt that for a long time, which is odd considering I've never been "inactive" or even calling-less. Then tonight, I went to ward prayer, and (of course) had such a great time. I can feel us becoming united, and it is a good thing to feel you have people in your corner.
We are going on a huge date-night activity called "The Amazing Race"tomorrow.  In times past, I just want to run in the opposite direction as a "pre-set date night," but  for the first time in... ever... I'm just looking forward to getting to know someone new, and I feel relaxed. Not nervous, not feeling pressure, just feeling joy in being myself, and trusting God that it's enough.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"When you know better, you do better..." -Oprah Winfrey quoting someone else

Well, its been a challenging week.  I wish I could say that it was challenging because I ran a marathon like all the other cool people in Ogden.  For me, I am running my own race right now, and it has nothing to do with sports.  

I sold my car.  My sweet little Toyota Corolla, and I gotta say, I was a little emotional.  It was my first big-girl purchase, and so for me to give that up, for some reason, was difficult.  I think, more than that though, the reason its difficult is that not only is my life broken for myself to see, but for all the world to see as well.  I sold my car to pay off the loan, so I can free up the $244.00 to pay off stupid, consumer debt that I have accrued. Its not a ton of debt, but it's enough that I feel trapped in my own life for a while.

The cool part of the story, is that when I was pleading with God last Tuesday, for a plan that will help me accomplish my goal in my time-frame, the answer came directly, and quickly for once.. "Casey, sell your car."  So when I put it up on KSL on Saturday evening, Sunday get the call, Monday the buyer came and took it, I should have been happy and relieved, etc, etc. Instead I felt broken, and naked.  Beyond naked, actually. Stripped down to the bare bones of me. There is no longer a beautiful, red, reliable, vehicle to hide behind.  My last asset, gone. (Other than my bedroom set.  Is that an asset?? )   Now, its just me and God.  Well, me and God, and the Ulrich's who let me borrow one of their cars for a couple weeks until I find a clunker that will get me through the next couple of years.

The good part is, I can feel my heart changing. I see things differently now.  They really are JUST things.   And that bare bones of my identity?  It's here for the building.. and this time it's being built on something more sturdy than a Corolla. I can visualize my vision for my life slowly unfolding. I can SEE a plan for my future, and the plan I see is good.  I can feel my Heavenly Father being pleased with my choices to follow Him more closely. I can hear Him saying, "Yes!  See? I told you, I am here. You finally decided to depend on me, now watch your life become what I have promised you it would be!"