Saturday, November 29, 2008


Well, in case you didn't know, I was very privileged to go HOME for Thanksgiving. I'm still home, for the next 10 hours or so... :( But Christmas will come soon. As I was running down the road in my parents' new neighborhood, I realized that I am a much more fun person when I am at home. I get so sucked into my schoolwork out at school that I get very boring. But at home, I'm with my sisters and I get to be completely myself. I love it! I've done a very LITTLE bit of homework this week, as I was trying to maximize my time with my family and Clayton. I might be a little frustrated about that decision come next week when I'm closing four days at Subway, but it was worth it. I've also got a dance project to choreograph, a test to take, an enrichment meeting to plan and a Relief Society lesson to plan this week, but, life goes on. And I'd much rather spend time with all the people I love than have special handouts and treats for Relief Society. We've had a blast eating and shopping and baking. I've made and consumed SO MUCH FOOD this week. But I can take one for the team... :) My family is so amazing. We got up at four in the morning to go shopping yesterday and did not get home until almost noon. We made sugar cookies and studied anatomy (for Taylor) and set up our Christmas tree. Clayton got to spend the day with us on Thanksgiving. We played Scrutineyes -- we all lost miserably to Clayton (I figure I'll get him back next time we play scrabble). We played my favorite game, Taboo, where my team won (not much thanks to me though). I spent Friday afternoon going up to Clarksville with Clayton and spending a little time with his family. His dad made ribs for me. They were wonderful. Then he came home with us and helped set up the tree. It's a wonderful tree. We always have multi-colored lights with ornaments from when we were all in elementary school and brought them home to our Mom. It's really a modge-podge of decor, but it's the most beautiful tree I've ever seen. And those ornaments could tell hundreds and hundreds of stories. My family may not be very proper or politically correct, but it's just the way I like them!

The home should be the center of family and gospel activities, and I love to be home. My family has been blessed to have the gospel in our lives. We are all tied together with our beliefs, and we all believe that families are eternal and important. I'm glad and truly blessed to be able to spend forever with mine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thankful Thoughts

I'm thankful today for my good grades. One of the wonderful ironies of BYU (and universities everywhere I'm told, but don't know first hand) is the fact that every professor on campus will tell you that the grade doesn't matter; it's the process of learning. However, for those of us on scholarship, we have to keep a high GPA to retain the funding that is enabling our process of learning. Oh the hypocrisy! Anyways, I just thought I'd be thankful for the many times I've received excellent grades when I'm pretty sure I don't deserve them. Don't get me wrong, I put my time in. I do all my homework, and about 90% of assigned readings (come on, it's impossible to do it all). I was just amazed last night to find out I got the highest score for the entire 200 person class on our economics midterm. I've been complaining all semester about how hard it is... Anyways, not to brag or anything, but just demonstrate how blessed I've been to be able to put in a little work and understand concepts that are honestly very challenging for me.

That thought leads into my next topic of grattitude, and that is for answered prayers. I pray all the time for help with exams that I'm positive I'm not prepared for and for help to get through everything that has to happen that day. Also to stay awake in history, to enjoy work, to have the energy to dance my best -- the list goes on and on. But everytime I really need something, I've never been let down. It amazes me. I called the mom of a friend who died in a car accident this summer and just started chatting with her. A couple minutes into the conversation, she just stopped and said, "Erika, did you know you're an aswer to my prayers?" What do you say to that? I honestly didn't know, so I said so, and sat back amazed as she explained her week to me. She'd just been having a terrible week and didn't know what to do, so she prayed that someone would be able to help her. I wasn't the only one that called her that day, but knowing that the Lord can answer prayers through me is an incredible feeling. A humbling feeling. And I hope that I can continue to do that.

John 14:13 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do..."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No loners in the church (hopefully)

To continue with the theme of everyone's blogs this month, I'll also write about what I'm thankful for. First off, I am thankful for the gospel and consistency therein. I would like to tell the story of when I moved to Nashville. It is a common story going around Clayton's family about how they met their significant other. I won't bore you with the story again, but I will share a few thoughts on the matter.

Although my family has moved around its fair share of times and then some, I've never been one to be particularly outgoing and make friends immediately. So, I've always gone to church to make friends. We almost never had neighborhood friends and very rarely had school friends. We just went to church to socialize. Don't worry, nothing has changed. We still do that. So, while I was in China this June, my family moved from South Carolina (I had no friends or even acquaintances there anyways) to Nashville. I got there two days after I left China, and was very very tired. And lonely. Mom decided I needed to make friends, so she sent me to institute. I went. It was terrifying. I didn't talk to anyone and I left right after I got the refreshments following the lesson. The lesson, however, was wonderful, and I liked the teacher, so I determined that I would return. While there, a girl leaned over and asked if I wanted to go white-water rafting that Saturday. It sounded like a wonderful idea to me, and she could no longer go, so the spot was available and paid for, and I went. I think I tried on about ten outfits that morning before I found one to my satisfaction. Basketball shorts and a black t-shirt over my swimsuit. Yes, I am NOT very fashion concious. My Dad dropped me off Saturday morning (on time, just like I like to be) and I was TERRIFIED. As in, so scared I wanted to run and hide in the bushes and pretend this trip did not exist. I introduced myself, after everyone asked who I was, and tried to talk, but was definitely afraid that I had nothing interesting to say, so I just stood around waiting. I did find an escape to the bathroom, where I took as long as I possibly could. There was one guy there who wore dark sunglasses the whole time we were outside so I couldn't see his eyes (that bugged me). However, I thought he was really cute, so I was quite excited when he actually took the time to talk to me. He offered a ride, but I'd already been offered one by someone else, so I went with them. The whole trip up there, everyone in the car kept trying to make me say something, but I was RIDICULOUSLY quiet the entire ride (two hours). I probably said about ten words the whole trip. Mostly yes or no's. They kept asking, "Why are you so quiet?" Funny thing is, if you really knew me at all, you would not think I was very quiet.

Once we were there, I looked around for that guy again, I didn't even remember his name, but he had talked to me a couple times. I don't think I ever found him and I didn't want to be following him around, because I was sure he had friends there. I didn't figure anybody really wanted to talk to me anyways, so I just kind of hid in my corner and did what I was told. The trip down the river was very fun. I wanted to do the fun stuff like "ride the bull" (ride in front), but other people wanted to and I'd done it before, so I didn't feel the need to be assertive about it. Wait, I didn't feel the need to be assertive at all that day.

After the river, that one guy came and talked to me again. YAY! I figured out his name this time, Clayton, and he was really sweet. And a lot better at keeping conversation going than I was. I'm surprised he persisted, because I wasn't giving him anything. Turns out, however, that he can be very determined. We went to a picnic afterwards and he was throwing a football around with a guy. I must confess, I have very little talent for football (the ball is just too big) but I was bored and wanted to hang out with this guy. So, after taking LITERALLY ten minutes to muster up the courage, I walked over and asked if I could join. I was really hoping that they wouldn't be annoyed with a girl coming over and playing catch with them. Later we talked and he asked me to go water skiing with him the next weekend. I was so excited. And I was really hoping my parents would be so proud, because I was making friends. YAY!

We got back to the church late in the evening and kicked around the soccer ball. I displayed my mad skills at that… :-) It was fun. Clayton asked if I wanted to go hang out and watch a movie with him and Josh (another guy in the ward), but I was sure that my parents wouldn’t like that and I was honestly exhausted. I had only been back from
China for a week and jet lag is BAD! Anyways, my long story does have a point, I promise.

I just wanted to say how thankful I am that the church is the same everywhere. It's really really comforting to know that wherever in the country you are going home to (or in the world, actually), you at least will have the same church, the same gospel, and the same truth. You can find people that you already have at least one thing in common with. Also, since the gospel is a lifestyle, you generaly have many things in common with them; you don't have to worry about being the different one, or the loner. Since I'm already good at being by myself, it's one less thing I have to worry about.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Trip to the Museum

This last Thursday, my New Testament class took a trip to the BYU Museum of Art, more commonly described as the "MOA". They have a collection of religious art there that is really fascinating including the painting of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethseda. If you don't know what painting I'm talking about, trust me, you've seen it. I'm pretty sure every Christian in the world has. But it was really neat to me how I was able to identify more with the artwork once I learned about some of the symbolism used in them. I had never realized before how much more a painting will draw you in if someone in the painting seems to be looking directly at you. Also, just trying to analyze a painting. For example, why did the artist place a garden outside the window? Why not a city? Or a beach? Or a tree? For what reason are the subjects of the painting in a specific color? What does the positioning of their hands mean? What does their expression convey? When an artist only has a canvas so big, he has to maximize his space and make every aspect of the painting count. Most artists, especially religious artists, are not trying to convey one word with their painting. They are expressing a story, an emotion, or a person and his or her character. With this new outlook on art, I hope that I can more fully enjoy looking at artwork and learn to appreciate it for its beauty and meaning.