Friday, December 14, 2012


Today I held an infant in my arms. Valerie. She was perfect. Crystal, piercing blue eyes gazed up at me, as I felt the corners of my own green eyes crinkle. An indescribable feeling rushed through me. That precious child was innocent, pure, helpless. I felt the silky, soft skin on her hand and the miniscule bone of her pinky. My heart melted at the sight of her fingernails the size of snowflakes.

"How was heaven?" I thought to myself as I stared into her face. I haven't loved something so instantaneously in a long time.

And how ironic, on today of all days.

Early this morning my LCD screen on my phone lit up. What I thought was a text message from a dear friend turned out to be an update from the New York Times. I sank onto the arm of my couch as I began to read words that still haunt me and cause my heart to break. 20 children killed. Tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks as I saw images of frightened young faces and read first hand accounts from third graders. A deep, dull aching pain filled my heart.

I avoided the news for the rest of the day. Photos showing the faces of pained citizens of a town in Connecticut were too much to bear. But finally, in the late night hours of the day, when words mean more and my heart is more in tune with my head, I began to read. And the tears spilled down my face.

There is nothing that can be said. Perhaps for now, the silent tears and low intakes of breath are enough to convey the depth of the despair a nation of mothers and fathers now feels. As I sit alone in this quiet room, I am suddenly very aware of all that is around me. The sound of a car driving by on the damp pavement outside my window. The warmth of the blankets around my legs. The stinging of the tears now drying in the corner of my eyes. The onset of a headache that only comes from distress. Reality has suddenly become real.

One day, I hope to be a mother. I will love my children dearly. Laugh with them. Weep with them. Teach them of their Savior, Jesus Christ. But on nights like this, I wish I could hold them. Protect them from evil that will surely cross their paths. The future is unknown, but I know in whom I place my trust.

Tonight, I have found comfort in the words of an ancient prophet.

"But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter of persons..."

My thoughts are miles away in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart is with the families of those precious children.

And now, all that's left to wonder is "How is heaven?"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Words

Fear can be a great motivator. It can also be a vicious inhibitor. For me, it is a strong combination of both. Mercifully, however, my better judgment usually sets in during the 11th hour, sparing me harm from anything greater than momentary paralysis. 

My chest rose with pride as I realized that fear did not hinder me today.

I am sitting in a cold, blue leather seat in row 21 on Delta Flight 1606, thousands of feet in the air above Cleveland, Ohio. In two hours or less I will touch down in a different part of the country. A region that to me has always held great intrigue, excitement and life.

The last time I was in New York was 2006. I was going to be an actress then. Each night, the lights of Broadway illuminated my eyes and filled my heart with sweet ambition. Perhaps one of the most thrilling moments of my life was when the lights went down in the Gershwin Theatre, cuing the first shrill notes of Wicked’s overture, sending goose bumps all over my skin as I sat in my plush, purple mezzanine seat.

I left determined to live that same dream. Every night at 8 p.m., I wanted to be dazzling.

Not too long after my life-changing excursion to the Great White Way, I realized that something other than my sub-standard talent as a “triple-non-threat” was necessary. Logic and sweet reason sunk in and I gradually abandoned my dream of show-stopping numbers and bright, hot lights.

Instead, I went to school. I began this blog. And after the silliness left the moronic posts riddled with insecurities and tales reminiscent of hopeless romantics, I began to find my voice. A voice that is nearly impossible to express audibly, but is often effortless to type.

And so despite my feelings of rejected and menial talent, I became a writer. I became something that I thank God for becoming. I became an expression of thoughts, even one as nonsensical and trivial as mine.

The thoughts of a thousand moments, a thousand laughs and a thousand tears have consolidated into one medium: this blog. It is here that I become the most pure and vulnerable version of myself. It is here that I face reality and prepare for a thousand tomorrows.

The words perpetuate my very being, dismissing my fears.

Ironically enough, the words have brought me to my seat in row 21 on Delta Flight 1606. The words will take me to people I have yet to meet and places I have yet to love. I am the words. The words are me. Together, we travel into the vortex of would-be fear that is the future.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The ground has turned cold again. The air is crisp and bitter; the wind harsh. Fall has turned into winter. But I suspect that as it does most times in this chilly little town, the Fall has simply adopted the negative characteristics of the cold, grey months ahead and we will all enjoy one or two more golden days of fall.

Some things, like the changing of the seasons, can happen over night transforming your reality, burying it under six inches of snow.

But not all things.

I walked a familiar path to a familiar building on a frigid Friday night. I took small steps in my constricting pencil skirt, trying to rub my bare legs together, hoping the friction would warm them up.

I opened the giant glass door and stepped inside of the white colored building. It was warm, clean, quiet, peaceful. An ancient looking man in a white suit greeted me with a smile at the front desk.

I told him I was here to work, and walked around to the back dressing room. Thoughts from every direction flooded my head as I contemplated my life.

I changed into a white dress, and put on a white name tag that read EMMILIE BUCHANAN. As the magnets of the tag clicked in place with a loud snap, I was suddenly reminded of another name tag I wore over a year ago, only it read SISTER BUCHANAN instead.

Suddenly, I was filled with an unendurable sense of longing for a former version of myself.

There has been a change in me. I gradual one. A complex one. A change with many components and variables. A change that has affected nearly every fiber of my being. It is a change I cannot name. It is a wonderful thing. It is a terrible thing.

As I took thoughtful steps up a silent staircase, I began to ponder my life. What had changed? So often I feel disconnected from my potential, as if I am continually grasping at something I cannot reach.

Swirling in a sea of introspection, I began my volunteer duties at the temple. There is no place I love more. It is a place to pray, meditate and recommit.

I started a shift with two women I had never met. I realized how distanced I had become. Meeting new people had never been a challenge before. But that night, I stumbled awkwardly over my words, searching my mind for something to say.

The distance I had placed between myself and the world was starting to become alarmingly apparent.

Lately, I have pushed everyone away. Keeping the world, and people I love at bay has become a defense mechanism, and frighteningly easy. Don't get close, I think. Stay away, I rationalize. Don't feel, I caution.

But this isn't living.

As I came face to face with the muted version of myself, I realized it was due to changes in my life I found uncomfortable, even painful. A deep sigh of realization escaped my body.

As I walked back to a different set of glass doors, I looked up. It had begun to snow.

And that's when it hit me.

Change is inevitable. You simply have to adapt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Network of Connections

It had been long enough since I had spread my heart thinly across the pages of this blog. My soul, the very makings of my being were itching to be written. But what more could I possibly say? I feel that more often than not, each post becomes an altered version of the last. I fear becoming a wobbly, broken record of monotony.

But everything intrigues me. The colors of the sunset, the alluring smile of a stranger. The mystery of moments unlived. The wonder of the shadows of the evening. All of these things inspire countless words that begin to write themselves in my head, spinning a web of beauty in the twisted maze of my mind.

I knew I wanted to be a writer years ago.

I was walking through the Taylor quad, hurrying from one class to the next, the sweat building up on the small of my back from my overly-stuffed purple backpack. As it always does, life was unfolding before my eyes as I caught a glimpse into countless lives. I saw the wind rustle through the leaves. I saw a girl hurrying down the steps toward her apartment. I knew my brain was wired differently when I not only noticed these simple moments of life, but found great beauty in them.

And that is why I write. That is why my soul aches for it. Words. Beautiful, eloquent words that my fingers can express better than my mouth can that capture the most beautiful moments. Moments of reality. Moments of truth.

Life continues to move forward. I am a great liver and observer of it. I find no greater joy than reveling in the moment. Embracing the now. Grasping my present.

But the beauty of life reaches the epoch of fullness when it extends further than my own foolish, selfish, calloused heart. The great beauty of life is that it connects with so many others.

I am supremely selfish by nature. It seems I am always thinking of myself first. Perhaps it is because I am comfortably on my own. Perfectly lonely, perhaps. But life has a way of molding the blemished parts out of you. A wise carpenter who I have come to know dearly, continually refines and repairs me.

In those moments of careful crafting, I come to learn that my life is made wonderful by connections. Connections to a dear friend from long ago, whose kind, inspired words can warm the heart. Connections to loves now lost, moments now passed, and hopes now faded. Connections to the ones who have never strayed, even when leaving seemed easy and giving up seemed right. Connections to a wise old woman in a blue coat with a heart of pure gold who taught me what true, Christian compassion is.

And through this network of connections, I find the beat of my own heart. The movement of the blood pumping through my body. The air pushing in and out of my lungs with each breath of sweet, precious life.

And so I'll write them all. My record will spin on. My life will go forward. And along the way, I'll meet people. Love people. Lose people. Forget people. Remember people. Write people. For people have been written on my heart, even one as calloused and fickle as mine.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Deep Breaths

The air has turned colder. And with that comes a certain introspective haze that has settled over my heart. The crispness of the air has heightened my awareness of the gaps in my life. these gaps are found in the inner-workings of my soul. Small, subtle disconnects that pull me further away from where my heart longs to be.

But just like the quick bursts of an autumn wind that rustle through my hair and chills the skin under my light-weight cardigan, the introspection is refreshing.

The magnification of each flaw and shortcoming is like a deep breath that comes before taking the plunge into an icy deep. It fills every nook and cranny of my lungs allowing me to exist for a few minutes in adverse conditions. As my head breaks through the surface of the frigid waves, the breath begins to circulate, and life continues.

This weekend a took a deep breath. I looked into the vastness of my soul, seeing more clearly the parts that were missing.

Perhaps it's the change of the weather. Perhaps it's the coloring of the leaves. Perhaps it's the dust and the allergens that are carried on the wind.

But my logic, coupled with my spirit argues that the introspective reckoning was a result of something greater.

This weekend I heard from a prophet of God. His words were soft, piercing and true. I believe them. And I believe the words of dozens of others who lifted their voices to testify of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

But it was more than their words that penetrated my being. It was the words of my God. I was poignantly reminded of Him, and of a belief that is deeply rooted within my heart.

I believe in a God of miracles.

I believe in a God who is an artist. A God who can take the simplest and mundane thing and create beauty. It's in the way the clouds settle in front of the moon. It's in the smile of a sticky-faced child. It's in the wink of a trusted love. It's in the falling of the leaves and the transformation of night into day.

I believe in a God of patience. Against all odds, he meticulously and painstakingly educates me in the ways of Christ, determined to turn my calloused heart into something greater; something I always knew I could be. That same God of patience never gives up, never turns away, never leaves. Constant and true he has been by my side for years.

I believe in a God of change. Blessed with the gift of His Holy Spirit, each day comes the whisper of something higher carving and molding the worst parts of my soul into something reminiscent of his high expectations.

I believe in a God of tenderness.

I believe in a God of mercy. The sweet peace of forgiveness has flooded over me countless times as I recognize my pride, my follies, my erroneous ways. That sweet relief reminds me that despite my innumerable imperfections, through the infinite power of the atoning sacrifice of my God's only begotten, I may one day return back into his presence, completed and whole.

And I exhale. A subtle almost imperceptible sigh escapes my frame. It is enough. The remembrance of this omnipotent, magnificent God has given me the determination to move forward. The will to endure. The hope to embrace the light.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ordinary Roads

If you take a a left on the road that runs past my apartment complex, it takes you to an ordinary intersection similar to countless others that dot the maps of innumerable cities and towns all across this country.

There is nothing special about the road that cross. The cracked pavement in my small corner of Idaho is the same as the pavement in Connecticut. It's covered with potholes and worn out paint. Portions are filled with crudely placed tar, sticky and vaguely sparkly when the sun hits it just right. There are loose bits of gravel that have traveled the nation being passed from tire tread to tire tread, that now, traveled and worn sit right outside my door.

But perhaps what's more than the physical characteristics that make these roads more than just commonplace are the stories of those that travel these roads each day.

I, like so many others, am a creature of habit. I take the same route to class each morning acquainting myself more with the roads. They have come to know my deepest desires, most paralyzing fears and greatest joys. They know my soul as my thoughts that pour out over them give me away one secret at a time.

But these roads are the greatest of secret-keepers. They will never tell of experiences long past that still haunt and shame me. They will never disclose the names of the boys I've spent my days thinking of. They will never hint at the hopes I have for my present and my future. These trusted confidants will never betray me with tales of my childish folly, secret success or penetrating loneliness.

Along with my secrets and my idiosyncrasies, the roads have been infused with my trust.

These magnificent pathways are what guide me to the companionship of a dear friend. The safety of my small, cramped apartment. The sanctuary of my job. The fortress of my faith.

At the end of each road I arrive somewhere that defines who I am ever so slightly. Often times, it's imperceptible.

However, the introspection doesn't come until I'm back in the safety of asphalt, where my soul and my secrets are protected.

A few nights ago, I sat in the back of a white Jeep watching the moon from outside my window. Transfixed, I silenced my racing thoughts and felt the momentum of each turn that was taken too quickly. My stomach swooped down to the ground as the Jeep conquered a roller-coaster like hill. I peaked past the headrest of the passenger seat through the bug-stained windshield.

The steady rhythm of the music playing on the radio, fast and steady like the sound of a train engine somehow steered my thoughts to reality. The headlights only extended to the next curve moments before we hit it. Though I knew these back country roads almost as well as they knew me, I still felt uncertain as to where I was, and where I was going.

A small fleck of anxiety rushed through me. Where was I? How could the roads who I had confessed everything to abandon me so easily?

As the song on the radio crescendoed into a familiar chorus, and the effervescent moon shined through my window, constant and unchanged, I realized that my dear friends, those winding roads, had taught me a lesson I had long forgotten.

It's all about the journey.

And so I closed my eyes, let the music wash over me as the last notes faded into my heart, and enjoyed the long and winding curves of the road that will forever lay ahead of me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weak Frame

Three small brown freckles caught my eye as I fished around to reach a faint itch on the squishy part of the back of my right arm. It was a part of my body I rarely see. My fingertips, calloused and cracked from my feeble guitar-playing efforts brushed over a patch of dry skin underneath my shoulder. 

I was suddenly very aware of my body. I also became acutely aware of the moments that encompassed me, which for days had threatened to crush my weak frame. 

I felt the breath fill my lungs after a quick inhale, and a pensive exhale. It was sharp, filling every corner of space as if desperate to feel anything more than the mundane. Even my own breath was frantic for a change of pace on nights like tonight. 

I felt the burning in my chest after eating too late for my own good. My thoughts, a mixture of lyrics and memories, wandered to a bottle of Tums that could soothe the dull burn. 

My legs, in their characteristic criss-crossed fashion tried to rejuvenate themselves as a familiar ache settled into my shins. 

A small knot in my upper back stole attention from my clouded mind as it grew tenser and tenser as my posture worsened. 

My hair, a tragic mess had begun to fall out of its tight messy bun and tiny, unkept wisps tickled my neck, ears and cheeks. 

My thoughts were on people tonight. People I had left behind. People I had sat on the grass with, sharing secrets. People I had loved. People who had carelessly tossed aside a part of my calloused, guarded heart. People who had taught me great wisdom. People who had let me down. People who love me dearly. People who make me laugh. People I had disappointed. People I had failed. 

Suddenly, I was horribly tired. It was a tired that extends further than the gauge of hours spent awake compared to sleeping. A tired deeper than running a marathon, performing a show-stopping number or dancing a finale. 

It was a tired that was rooted deep within my soul. A tired laced with fears and worries. Hopes and expectations. Hellos and goodbyes. I'm sorrys and I'll be betters. 

But I learned deeply and truly many years ago that a life worth living should be exhausting. Though I hide in my castle of walls, my eyelids heavy and my soul tired, a peaceful smile inexplicably forms on the corner of my lips. 

Life is for learning. Life is for loving. Life is for living. And despite the road blocks, the set backs and the moments of utter desperation. I remember that so far, life has been nothing but wonderful and awful surprises. 

All that's left for me to do is to walk forward. Live forward. Look forward. Love forward. 

It's easy to stay stagnant. But it's brave to stay moving. And despite my weak body, my soul was built for something greater.