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. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Confessions for No One

I love the feeling of the brisk fall air that colors my cheeks and makes my eyes sparkle.

I love laying on my stomach lackadaisically, letting the minutes pass me by and my daydreams carry me away.

I love the feeling of being right, the wisdom that comes from being wrong and the joy that comes from being loved.

Cutting vegetables makes me feel domestic. Always.

The home decor section of Target is my very favorite. I could spend hours there.

I find immense satisfaction in watching someone read a news story I wrote.

I used Google search as spell check daily.

I Instagram silly, whimsical things, and absolutely love it.

I instantly love anyone who can make me laugh.

I instantly love anyone who I can make laugh.

I like when people take me by surprise, talk to me straight and wink from across the room.

I like the smell, feel and nostalgia of nighttime.

I find complete and pure joy in the happiness of others.

Witty people are the best people.

I could drive and drive for hours and never get bored and never feel lost.

I strive to be like every genuinely kind person I have ever met.

My favorite way to wear my hair is in a loose, messy pony tail.

Eyes are my favorite. And smiles. And laughs. And clever words.

I wish people said what they thought, lived what they believed and did what was good.

I like rich foods, rich men and rich conversations.

I could be content to live in a cottage by the sea for years and years.

Sometimes I dream of getting lost in an unknown place with my love at my side.

I love having freshly painted fingers and toes.

Everything sounds better if you put "licous" at the end of it. Watch-  Emmilicious.

I hate portraying any type of weakness to anyone.

I love walking hand in hand with someone simply to enjoy the silence.

Crazy moods are my favorite moods.

I wish for two things only: for Harry Potter to be real and to sing like Norah Jones. And Sara Bareilles.

Simplistic happiness is my favorite.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prayer of the Heart

Tonight my heart was not sitting in front of a large LCD screen. It was not with me when my wrist curved to the left and right clicking the mouse to create a page layout. It was not with me as I stared dully and read about the new SRC president and the new housing complex.

My heart was on its knees, pleading in simple supplication to the Most High for plethora of adjectives that could sooth my frazzled nerves.

Help me remember, it begged.

Help me forget those who have done me wrong, it yearned.

Fill me with kindess and charity, it implored.

Keep the cracks and tares of my calloused chambers at bay so I might perform properly, it pleaded.

This foolish, fickle heart of mine is often my most transparent window to my soul. Tonight, it beat stilly, softly, soundly in a cage. A cage I keep locked expect to the very few. Each rib bone protecting the calloused wreck is nothing but another weapon crafted to keep the world out and at a comfortable distance.

But every so often, on cool evenings such as this, I can see beyond those sturdy bars into the depths of my own being. I pass through layers of fears, layers of worries, layers of distrust, layers of caution to an expanse and wide field of a brilliant, glowing substance: love.

It's a love that when released, penetrates every organ, cell and molecule. It is enough to extend to the stranger in the grey hoodie and ear buds to my left. The dulled voices that drone behind me. It extends to people who live in cities I've never been to, and countries, the names of which I cannot spell. It is a love that extends beyond the confines of gravity, the barriers of the atmosphere and the far reaches of the universe. It is a love that is rooted deep with in my Savior, Jesus Christ, and therefore knows no boundaries of time, space or matter.

I let out a deep sigh of relief. Buried deep in my soul is this love. But my troubled mind and bruised heart threaten to hold it prisoner.

Perhaps fear is the great inhibitor. Perhaps the unknown. Perhaps doubt, or weakness or pride or a multitude of reasons keep me from basking in the expanse of the deepness of my soul's capacity.

But on night's like tonight, when the last of summer seems to dwell in the air, reminding me of people now gone, loves now lost and moments now reduced to a memory that the rust that has been building up around the hinges of my cage begins to crumble.

The love is beginning to penetrate. It's nights like this quiet September evening that push me to be a better person.

And slowly and surely, the prayer of my heart is heard.

Monday, September 3, 2012


The light at the end of my hallway casts a dim, gray glow on the worn, brown carpet speckled with green and maroon flecks. Strange how something so simple, mundane and ordinary can occasionally pull one's mind out of the monotony of life, causing it to reflect on something vastly more important and infinitely more personal.

Yet, the impersonality of that light, rather than taking me back to linger on where I've been days ago, months ago, even years ago like so many impersonal memory triggers do, dragged me backwards but then propelled me forward with impressive force. The momentum of the jerkily crafted introspection left me befuddled and flustered.

It sent me backward to a time when I was a young, naive daydreamer who fantasized about the life she would one day live. Her long hair fell to the middle of her back. Her blue, wire-rimed glasses occasionally slid down the bridge of her then only once broken nose, and her mouth occasionally twitched to the left then the right, a mark of her insecurities when she felt scrutinized by all who were deemed by her as superior.

She was uncomfortable in her own skin. But that was only because she had yet to discover the soul held inside the awkward, ungraceful body. Though it is a process still taking place, the years have whittled away some of the rougher edges.

The girl in the blue-rimmed glasses would look out the window and dream of what lay ahead for her. Occasionally, she would catch her own reflection in the mirror. Depending on the day, the color of shirt she wore, or the way the sun glinted in her brown hair, the eye color looking back at her would change. This was one feature of her antagonistic body she had come to terms with, even loved. That day, her eyes were a faint green.

She dreamed of a future filled with people, events, places and memories, all of which would take root within a small portion of a heart she was willing to fill.

Since, and in between those days spent in front of windows her heart has been filled and emptied by the 24 years of experiences she has lived. They have been glorious and horrific all at once, as anyone who has truly lived can claim.

Tonight, as my hall light flipped on, I was reminded of this small, unnoticed, insecure girl.

I was reminded of this girl as I walked home in the cool air bringing Autumn to a small town in Southeastern Idaho.

I was reminded of this girl as I sat on the steps of a large apartment complex yesterday, as the shadows from the setting sun illuminated the landscape of a sleepy little town.

I was reminded of this girl as I thumbed through a stack of newspapers, the black ink from the type smudging on my fingers.

I was reminded of this girl as I drove from a quaint home in Lehi, Utah singing at the top of my lungs to songs by men named Jason, John and Adam.

I was reminded of this girl when I faced a fear. The familiar surge of triumph and accomplishment brought her back to me vividly.

I was reminded of this girl when a trusty, old cowboy scooped me into a bear hug and nearly took the wind out of me.

Each day my a quiet voice in the far reaching corners of my mind, perhaps even my soul, reminds me of this girl. Simply because she is where I've been.

My life has been one of glorious imperfection. My actions, my circumstances, my decisions are all filled with blemishes. Yet I wouldn't change a thing.

That imperfect girl has grown into a more refined imperfection. A more confident imperfection. A secure imperfection.

With the switch of a hall light, I remembered her, and smiled. Look how far she's come.

And that's when my thought propelled me into a vast future of unknown. It's a story that has yet to be written. Many things remain undecided, unscripted. But one certainty is that it will be marked with wonderful, colorful, defining moments of imperfection.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Window of Illumination

The sun is a curious thing. It, like change, has a way of illuminating the hidden aspects of a life. Today, it was mine that was illuminated.

It is a secret that only few have learned. Yet, it is one that I deem worthy enough to share with more than just the select. At a certain time of evening, the sun begins its decent into the horizon. There is a 15 minute window of enchantment. During this glorious window, shadows seem to dance across the landscape, beautifying everything within sight.

Trees suddenly become softer as the last rays of the day burst through their leaves. The soft wind rustles though the shaded blades of grass. Geometric shapes appear under the corners of sharply angled architecture, and the brass fixtures of old, worn down buildings begin to sparkle.

Suddenly, in that window, the world has reached its zen. All things have come into a blissful state of harmony, and for what seems to be the blink of an eye, there is an all-encompassing peace.

The calming effect of this window often leaves me pensively sedate. It is a moment that exists for me, and me alone.

A long time ago, I held a man's hand and confessed this secret to him. He smiled at me, and I knew he loved me. It was one of those rare moments of perfection our mind looks back on when the clouds stop the sun from enchanting the world around us.

I headed south as the world around me entered into this state of equilibrium. I cannot say what time it was. I was lost in the perfection of the moment. I looked out my window at the mountains. Marveling at the breathtaking shadows, I finally noticed something I had failed to for the past two hours. The signs of the lateness of the summer were becoming ever more apparent.

The green brush blanketing the base of the mountain looked even more brilliant and lush compared to the yellowness of the landscape around it. Thoughts of the nation-wide drought filled my mind, and I wondered how long it had been since the ground had felt rain.

But it was more than the dryness, the brittleness. It was change. Fall is quickly approaching. I took a deep breath. But from inside my air conditioned car, I could only detect the remnants of my great outdoors scented air freshener.

My heart suddenly swelled with an even deeper gratitude for the perfect shadows cast during my window of serenity. It was in the contrast of the light and dark that I could see a difference; notice a change.

I reflected on my life. The past year has seen both the light and the dark. But because of the contrast, I see a different woman. One who has loved. One who has lost. One who has left. One who has laughed. One who has learned.

The woman is living.

What a glorious thing, to live. Even more brilliant, though is to recognize the lessons taught from such an experience. But every now and again, one needs the simplistic and glorious gift of illumination.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Erratic Heart

The familiar sweat that settles in each evening as I lie quietly on my bed has once again retuned. It has been a hot summer. A long summer, one that surprisingly, I am ready to see the end of. It has been a summer of sighs. A summer of exasperation. A summer of trying to decide where my life is going to go, and despite my many options, still coming up short. It is the summer which end marks a beginning. The beginning of an almost new chapter.

Sure, I'm still the same fickle girl I've always been. That unsteady, erratic heart of mine will never change. But the passion carried inside of it seems to shift as quickly as the time I feel passing over me.

Today my mind has borne the burden of a thousand different thoughts coupled with a million different emotions. Mine are the days of questions, wondering, pondering, hoping, deliberating, analyzing, orchestrating and illustrating. The days that all seem to end with a familiar sadness that has no name.

My summer is ending. The color of mornings filled with sunshine, afternoons full of editing and late night drives with my best friend will soon fade. The moments of secrets shared with a trusted confidant, long talks with a man, a father figure, dearer than anything to me and solitary walks to a green park down the road swirl through the forefront of my mind. Life has happened again. It has left me thoughtful, puzzled at times, yet the edges of my fickle life seem slightly less defined.

Is it vulnerability? For the first time in my life am I setting plans aside to truly live? Perhaps I've lied to my soul for the past few years. The life I thought I was leading is really just a vague shell of what had been constructed in my mind.

Regardless, my heart, my soul, my thoughts are all painfully vulnerable. And I don't know why.

Anger could have something to do with it. Anger at something broken long ago that despite my feeble attempts, can never be fully restored. A broken mess of exasperation that deep down I wouldn't have any other way. But coming to terms with our greatest fears that splinter off into a hundred more worries leaves me feeling stripped bare.

Days ago, weeks ago, months ago, I could feel the vulnerability silently creeping up behind me, with a stealth like presence. It would grip my heart ever so slightly, but the strength deep within that calloused organ would shake off any fear of control. But now, with a grip like a vice, a fear of surrender has taken root in the confines of the soul. The part burried deepest within that we often times don't find until years later.

Have I surrendered to my worries, my fears, my inability to mend the broken pieces of my life?

A small flicker of light inside prompts my thoughts to say no. No to surrender. No to defeat. No to removing the stones set firmly in place in the walls around my calloused heart.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sea of Life

I am sitting waist deep in a sea of personality. There is a current that runs from eastern Asia, one from south of the border, even one from a small town in Northwestern Maryland.

A wave of love without inhibition or concern washes right in front of me. To my right, a wave worn by old age and wisdom idles anxiously, with flowers in her hand.

A wave of curiosity, a wave of adventure, a wave of mourning, a wave of anticipation have all gathered here where the tides collide, the winds meet and the sands combine. Here, in the marketplace of rhythm, the epicenter of life the waves come and go as fast as a plane departing the runway where the promise of change awaits.

They pass me silently, occasionally bestowing a look my way. The majority are disinterested glances, wondering what they maroon-colored form is in the black, leather chair. Some show true interest as if they try to discern my story in the 2.7 second eye contact we share.

But my story cannot be bestowed in a passing trivial glance. But what's more is neither can theirs.

I will never know the tales of triumph, the sonnets of success, the parables of persistence or the riddles of reality.

I will never know the dichotomy of life that makes each wave so unique. So individual. So alive.

For that is the essence of life. The duality of it. The rising from the ashes. The incomprehensible moments that define us so fully.

I am in a sea of riddles. An ocean of enigmas. A crashing wave of diversity.

Yet together, we make up the vast, encompassing blanket of beauty that covers the earth. There is life all around me. I watch. I listen. I observe.

It suddenly puts the trivial concerns of my wonderfully average life into perspective. Ironically enough, in a sea of character, where I all too often feel I am swimming alone and against the tide, it's the many waves that create such a fullness to give me meaning. I am nothing without the waves. They shape, mold and define me with each crash into my calloused, rock-hard heart.

I am a product of the waves. And as I crash into a wave dressed head to toe in Green Bay gear, a wave with a spring in his step or a wave with sad eyes in need of a smile, I find purpose in helping to mold them in return.

Together, we all make up an imperfectly beautiful sea of life.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Quiet Impostor

There are yellow flowers growing outside of my window. Those bright, sun-worn blossoms have never caught my eye before. Yet there was something in the enchanting, almost inviting way they softly hit my window that pulled me out of my monotonous thoughts.

I have spent the day in someone else's skin, the whole time wondering who the strange creature is. I looked in the mirror to catch a glimpse of this impostor. It is the same face that has looked back at me for 24 years.

Tonight, her eyes are tired, lifeless, almost. The weight of her thoughts has pulled her brow into a hard line, and creases have started to form at the bridge of her nose. The heaviness of the thoughts seem to press its force against her entire body, causing a sharp pain in the neck and back. It's a defeated type of pain, as if the world has won the war today, leaving the host suddenly disjointed.

I continue to look into the girl's face. The impostor is me. The heavy thoughts are mine that I must face alone. They threaten to burden those close to me, but they cannot. I alone must wage the war of introspection.

This impostor's stay has left me without words. Without thoughts. A shell of a version of myself I claimed just a few hours ago.

But the impostor's stay is short lived.

These days are the defining ones. The days were we lay out our own cards in the game of life. We strategize, calculate and contemplate. We take our wins, cut our losses.

Days like today, when an impostor takes hold of your soul, you feel you are walking to someone else's step, that your calloused heart is beating to a different metronome, are enough to leave you stripped raw. The day where you face every fear, and have to do so alone because words cannot connect you with anyone else. The day when your soul is tired of fighting.

I'm grateful for these days. The impostor is the one who has introduced me to myself and shown me the hidden parts of my heart. Emmilie and I have met again. And tomorrow, Emmilie will be the conqueror.

For tonight, I will look at the yellow flowers from outside my window. That quiet, friendly creation is what has relinquished the impostor, and reminded my calloused heart of promises on the horizon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I sat in a grey swivel chair, mindlessly twirling my bangs through my fingers to keep them from falling into my eyes. I carelessly looked up to my right and out the window. With a deep sigh, I pulled out the daydream I was in and realized it was time to get back to work. 
I clicked on the Google News bookmark on my Safari browser. I waited for my ancient commuter to load all 47 images impatiently tapping my toe to the song in my head. 

The top stories were about the Colorado shooting. I quickly clicked on the top story. It offered me some updated concrete details of the terror that happened in that dark theatre in Aurora. My newsfeed refreshed itself, and a headline caught my eye. "Witness tried to keep door closed on Colo. gunman" 

I opened the page, and the world around me began to dissolve. I was suddenly very aware of myself. My heart beating steadily in my chest. My eyelids blinking back tears as I read personal accounts of a young girl falling on a dead man. A mother who hears round after round fired, praying the bullets don't fall to her or her loved ones. A girl that slipped in the blood of another man as she tried to run. 

I read on. 

The tears that I had initially controlled started to flow freely. 

A tear for the mother back home that heard rumors of disaster at the theatre where her teenage children were watching a movie, suddenly aware of the temporary existence we all live. 

A tear for the sister searching for her brother in the pandaemonium that ensued following the murderous rampage. 

A tear for the child that stood crying trying to find her parents, while darkness and shouting seemed to consume her. 

A tear for the man who fears more for the life of his wife than his own. 

A tear for the father who will learn his daughter will never come home. 

I cried a tear for every story I read, and a tear for the ones I didn't. 

I cried a tear for the lost, twisted soul of the gunman. A tear for what he did, the choice he made, and the depths of Hell he will face.

I finished the article, my heart heavy and my shirt wet. I went to the back and locked myself in the bathroom. I turned away from the door to face the mirror. Wiping away the black smudges from underneath my eyes, I focused on what I saw staring back at me. 

It was a woman. She had lived a life of fullness. I looked in her eyes. They were troubled, pained even. Her soul was heavy. Those troubled eyes searched her own face, looking for answers. 

None would come. But despite the silence in response to the questions that circled within her mind, a familiar peace came. Simply, softly and serenely. It was enough. Though the weight of the world could not be solved with her, she had her influence for good. 

I realized in that moment that despite the evil, there are intense possibilities to fill everything in my life with goodness- but what's more, is that there are possibilities to recognize it. 

Tonight I watched the sun set into the mountains. the golden and pink rays reminding me of the hope that will come with each morning I strive to try again. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I love giving people crinkly eyes as they laugh at something foolish I say.

I love watching a stranger receive a text from someone dear to them, and the sweet, subtle smile that fills their entire face.

I love harmonizing with the radio.

I love the moment between frustration and discovery as I pore over the pages of my law text book trying to decipher a language I feel inadequate to speak.

I love the release that comes from forgiving another. I love the tranquility that comes from being forgiven myself.

I love listening to "Gravity," "Edge of Desire"and a "Face to Call Home."

I love passing a beautiful painting I have never seen before, and stopping in my tracks to let it speak to my heart.

I love conversations that reach my soul.

I love the validation that comes from trust being fulfilled.

I love old movies, black and white photography and kisses on my forehead.

I love my mission.

I love making strangers laugh.

I love listening to a dear friends' stories.

I love the triumphs in the life of another.

I love people in love.

I love the years of life that I have lived, rich with wonderment and sorrow.

I love journalism and this nonsensical blog.

I love discussing national politics, county government and the Idaho legislature.

I love listening to my mother laugh with me about my day over the phone.

I love little notes left in my room by my dear, dear roommates.

I love long necklaces, daisies and new dresses.

I love feeling close to God in nature.

I love doing things that I didn't think I could; things that are hard; things that terrify me.

I love to sing in the shower, dance in my car and run to Kelly Clarkson.

I love to live deeply.

I love verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs and interjections.

I love long drives in my faithful red car.

I love reminiscing with people I hold close to my heart.

I love being Emmilie.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Twitter and a Parable

I have recently become a more devoted Twitter user. Follow me. I'm funny. And thought provoking.

Occasionally, on late nights when for whatever reason I am procrastinating getting into bed, I wander onto my popular trend links on Twitter. The trends that always seem to catch my eye have nothing to do with #TimTebow or #NASCAR. Rather, it's the trends that capture the essence of a human life. The ones that allow tweeters all over the world to anonymously and even cryptically express the inner workings of the soul.

Perhaps this is where my love of psychology and fascination of the way human beings work kicks in, but I have noticed a few things. More than half of the tweets I read have to do with companionship, relationships, triumphs in love, lovers lost, lovers found and the occasional broken heart threatening to go viral.

One of the fist trends I ever read was #LateNightThoughts. After some quick calculations, I determined that nearly 87 percent of all the tweets had to do with another person for whom the tweeter had feelings for. Now, I will admit to my thoughts turning to someone I found interesting when the night has settled in and my evening is winding down. However, in some odd way, I thought I was alone in that. Not so. Perhaps this is what we all long for, though few are brave to confess. Admittance makes you weak, vulnerable and alive.

This statistical analysis turned my thoughts to a dear friend of mine. We'll call him Chase. All Chase has ever wanted in his life is to love a woman who loves him in return. We have spent many a night in my overheated, musty apartment discussing his love triangles, and a seemingly never ending circle of girls who can't seem to reciprocate his feelings for them.

I listen, I learn and I offer what menial advice I have to give to my friend. I pretend to be an expert. And I am— when it comes to other people's lives. Each and every night Chase and I discuss his love life, I find myself saying these words: "Just tell her how you feel."

Then the "what if" game ensues.

What if she thinks I'm creepy?
What if she doesn't reciprocate?
What if she doesn't want to be friends any more?
What if it ruins everything because it wasn't the right time?
What if I hurt my pride?
What if I break my heart?

To this twisted game, I offer two "what ifs" of my own.

What if she felt the same, and you wasted one of the greatest opportunities of your life in telling her?
What if she didn't? What's the worst thing that could happen? You'd move on?

We discussed this more at length. I have found that among a student enrollment of over 15,000 dating is a topic that is never void of timeliness. This topic is everywhere.

Finally I came to a conclusion: Wouldn't it be great if two adults, regardless of how the other felt, could act like adults, and talk about their feelings openly with one another. Wouldn't that just be nice? But this is rarely the case. Instead, we result to cryptic Facebook statuses, vague text messages, misunderstood instant messages and the occasional anonymous Twitter updates.

It's enough to make you pull your hair out. Maybe one day we will all grow up and learn how to talk to each other as adults.

But for now, there's always social media.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Creator of Words

Tonight I feel like a little girl again. I have escaped reality to the small corners of my imagination. I am accompanied only by the story in my head and the small smile playing at the left corner of my mouth. It's as if I have played a trick on reality. I have bested it again, befuddling the mundane into something beautiful once more.

It has become a ritual. The end of the day is signaled by my 200-pound eyelids, the buzzing of the living room fan, the comfort brought from melodies by Jason, John and Norah. They quiet my mind until it can fully enjoy the solitude of the silence. I brush my teeth. Fold up my glasses, placing them carefully on the shelf. I say my prayers. I lay on my side in bed. And my mind begins to spin away.

It weaves a tapestry of truth enriched by the vibrant colors of hope and expectation. It is textured by the memory of past and present heartaches, and discomforts. Yet, in the silence, my mind becomes a creator of perfection. Perfect thoughts are born that encompass the emotion found within my afternoon of monotony, my evening of predictability and midnights of inevitability.

My eyes beg for sleep. My joints and muscles sigh in agreement, wanting nothing more than to rest in that heat swamp of a bed. But my soul compels my fingers to type the thoughts swirling through my brain.

I have found myself through words on a page. The ideas that fill the paper have filled my very existence with meaning. I am my words.

These words have led me to a balcony on the second floor of a run-down building. I sit with my back slumped against a sliding glass door with a weathered screen. My toes, painted pink, curl over a dusty black railing, stretching them in an oddly pleasant way.

The cool air feels heavenly on my bare skin. I sit in baggy shorts, and a plaid flannel shirt I picked out from the men's section of a thrift store in Kalispell.

In front of me, a story below, the bushes rustle. A branch of a tree bangs against the chain-link fence. I sit up straight to look bravely into the dark distortion in front of me. A small black figure emerges from the brush, his pointy ears and long, slender tail practically dancing as he weaves in and out of the foliage.

The moon, bright and full shines supremely to my right. With the continuation of the earth's rotation, it sneaks further from my view, hiding behind my apartment complex.

It moves, and like the earth, I must move with it. I am not meant to escape to balconies in hopes of being rescued. I am not a damsel waiting to be saved. I am a creator of thought. A writer of words. A lover of ideas.

Tonight the balcony has become my sanctuary, a nostalgia for my simpler childhood. But in a few hours time, my moon will fade. I will be left an adult, alone to write the rest of my story with perfect words and beautiful ideas.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Tonight I laid in bed, the heat from the day sweltering in my room. A muggy, gritty feeling was left cascading over my body. It was a peaceful sort of night. My muscles ached dully from an emotionally and physically draining week.

It was a week of deliberating, contemplating, supplicating and debating. In the end, however, decisions were made, assignments completed, articles published and progress noted. I grew up a little more this week; it has left me exhausted.

As the clock ticked closer to morning, my mind reached a familiar crossroads. It's a place where the past, present and future collide, merging in and out of each other leaving my calloused heart feeling raw.

As I laid in the heat, my ancient mattress creaking in complaint with the slightest shift in movement, my thoughts turned to the past week. "What a beautiful mess," I thought to myself. It was a week of hopes and disappointments. Moments of growth masquerading as moments of struggle.

I recalled a warm evening I spent in the company of a dear friend, sitting on a stone bench outside a sacred building at the top of a hill, the soft breeze blowing lightly on my bare legs. I looked at the magnificent structure and thought of the hours of work and dedication sacrificed by a skilled architect.

 My thoughts wandered to my dear carpenter. As I thought of the interest he took in helping me build my own life, I couldn't help but smile in spite of myself. I considered how he repeatedly bolsters my faith as he wraps me in his loving, omnipotent arms. All that is left for me to do is trust.

I am confident in the light of the day. As the sun sets, the air cools and the colors fade into night, my mind travels closer to the crossroads, and I am left to my doubts.

It is the crossroads that stirs the fear. The memory of moments long gone, the fear of disrupting the present and forgoing the future. Yet that intersection of reality is where one faces the soul head on. That vortex of truth sucks each of us in. Lie, we cannot. Fear, we cannot. Doubt, we cannot. The only thing that allows us to escape the crossroads is the brutal honesty that can only come from within.

It is cleansing. It is not always pleasant, nor pretty. But it's healing. Is where the soul answers the foolish questions of the mind. The mind calms the heart. The heart takes a greater resolve, and the soul complies. We have come full circle at the crossroads. We have come to ourselves.

Tonight, in that muggy, musty room, I entered the crossroads, and came out whole.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Girl

For a multitude of reasons, this post has been on my mind all day. This was from my mission blog. It's the story of a girl who learned of a man named Jesus Christ. 

"There once was a girl. She was young and still had a lot to learn from God, her family and the world. The girl was unhappy. She had been taught from a young age what was right. But she was headstrong and arrogant. She thought she knew what was better, however her ways brought her unhappiness and lonliness. Her parents spoke of an easier way, a way paved before her by a man named Jesus Christ. The girl scoffed. She only knew of this man. She had yet to know him. 

In her early teenage years the girl became very sick. It was a time of darkness and the girl longed for the darkness to be replaced with light. But she was lost and didn't know how to find her way through her abyss. Eventually, her illness placed her in the hospital. The girl searched for relief but found none. Time passed. The illness raged on, and the girl's hope began to fade. 

The girl took another trip to the hospital. As she was packing to leave, somthing inside told her to take a copy of a book. She had tried to read the book before, but it had done very little for her. The book had always been a part of her life but had often times caused her frustration and resentment. For whatever reason, the girl stuffed a copy in her bag with little intention of actually reading it. 

The stay in the hospital was long and lonely for the girl. One night without thinking, she pulled out the book. She began to read.

For the first time in a long time, the girl began to feel something different than the darkness that had consumed her. It was warm, it was good, it was full, it was hope. The girl didn't understand everything she read, however she knew the book, The Book of Mormon, had changed her heart ever so slightly. She grabbed a highlighter, and began to mark everything she read that made her feel good. She read and she read, and by the time she was tired, she had eight pages of solid yellow. 

That night changed the girl. She couldn't explain why or how but it had an impact on the rest of her life.

More time passed. The girl began to recover, and looking back, she recognized now what she failed to realize then. Her physical health improved drastically as her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ grew. This revelation continues to amaze the girl.

Years have passed. The girl grew up. She served a mission in a place called Montana. She is now in college, fulfilling her dream of becoming a journalist. She loves the Lord. She loved her mission. 

The Book of Mormon changed my life. It can changes yours as well."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oasis of Imagination

In a town nearly smack-dab in the middle of Oklahoma, there is a little rambler home nestled in between a few trees and a path that curves around to the front door. To the right of the entryway, there is a hallway covered with pictures of the family. If I remember correctly, a picture of the 4-year-old Emmilie at a wedding with a frilly dress and a basket of flower petals may have adorned that wall at one time.

The home is cozy; perfect, really. The floor creaks when you walk on it; the wood itself groaning in agony. My memory stretches itself as far as it possibly can to remember every detail, every smell from the grill out on the patio, every shadow of light cast by the setting sun on warm July evenings.  I have always loved this house and the memories made within it.

The backyard was magical to me as a child. Green, lush and alive. I remember quintessential summer nights laughing, toppling over into the grass after being chased and catching fireflies in a glass jar. I always looked forward to these reunions with the Buchanan side. They are an entertaining group of people. I remember longing with all of my 5-year-old heart to be able to laugh with the adults all circled on wicker chairs on the patio. But it was a perfect enough diversion to run and jump and dance with my best friend, EB.

But there were moments of solitude I enjoyed even in the frivolity of my innocence. On a particularly clear day that was slowly turning into evening, I was alone in the backyard; my oasis of imagination. Slowly, the adults were bringing out portions of dinner. Another barbeque complete with relish, potato salad and diet pepsi from a red cooler in the garage.

I was to busy to notice. The sun was setting and the shadows were beginning to form. This has always been my favorite time of day. My plaid, magenta sundress grazed my calves as I swayed back and forth facing the hedge that outlined the manicured lawn. Earlier that afternoon I had watched my uncle mow the lawn with my brother on his lap, smelling the cut grass from inside the house. But in that moment it was my playground.

I felt the prickly feeling of each blade of grass poking through the crisscross pattern of my white, sparkly jellyroll sandals. My brown hair, highlighted by the sun was cut straight across my shoulders, but bounced as I danced to the music in my head. It was a happy little tune, really. I was the composer, choreographer and storyteller.

Suddenly, the bright, happy tune came from my lips as I started to hum it out loud. The humming gave way to a few oos and ahhs, and suddenly I was in a full on chorus of words that would have been unintelligible to an audience of even one. But it was my story.

I lifted each leg methodically, slowing my pace to that of a toy soldier as I crossed the sea of green. Back and forth and up and down I walked, skipped and danced to my song.

I was barely conscious of the clicking of a camera in the distance. My aunt, a skilled photographer was madly clicking away.

Somewhere in a box in California I have a collection of photos of the 5-year-old Emmilie in a pink, plaid sundress dancing to the melody in her own head. With each returning summer comes the memory of a backyard in Edmond, Oklahoma and the song of a young, foolish girl. The melody is different now but I still find moments of solitude to compose and choreograph the rhythm of my own beautiful life.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Corridor of Faces

Today my mind traveled down a long corridor in a gallery of faces. The emotions attached with each face were the colors of fall that transformed into winter which eventually melted into spring. These particular faces have given my life the most meaning, the most fulfillment.

I sat in an auditorium listening to the sunday school teacher prompt questions regarding conversion. My thoughts turned to the souls behind these faces. Eventually, my thoughts turned to myself. Have I been converted? Do my actions reflect my conversion? Do I need to make modifications to my life currently? The reoccurring answer to the latter question was predictably "yes."

My eyes fell to my scriptures. They were open to a page that tells of a man named Alma. He was a prophet, but first he was a missionary. He shared the gospel from one end of the ancient world to another, proclaiming the divinity of a man named Jesus Christ who was to come.

Among the pages of his testimony and proselyting, I saw a name scribbled in the margin in my own handwriting: Jeremie Flanigan. My mind suddenly was lost inside the corridor of Jeremie's conversion.

I remembered warm summer days sitting on a porch in Kalispell, Montana. Evenings in a home of a family by the name of Pitts where Jeremie strengthened my own testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon. I remembered the time Jeremie told us he had stayed up nearly all night reading the word of God. Indescribable joy filled my heart as I watched him progress in the gospel. This man was truly a miracle in my life.

This memory acted as a catalyst to countless others. Countless faces in the museum of my memory came flooding back into my consciousness. Georgie Scheetz. Josh Wilhem. Geri. Alex. Jan. Marvin. All of these souls that have kept a small portion of mine.

Unexpectedly, my thoughts took a detour. It was to a different face nearly 20 years ago. At the end of that long, far away corridor sat a small girl. The girl loved three things: sun dresses, letting the boys chase her at recess and her aunt Mimi. Her aunt would come to visit every once in a while telling her great stories of California and sailboats that filled her with a grand excitement for life.

Though the girl grew up attending Sunday school and bible camp, when her aunt came to town she would attend church with her. For the girl, it was exciting to go to a new place where families would sit together, sing songs and say words such as "Savior" "primary" and "sacrament."

On a sleepy Sunday morning, the girl walked into her parents' room. They had slept through their services at the local Methodist church.

She sat on the bed in between her mother and father wrapped in white blankets and white sheets, the sunlight pouring in through the windows. The girl's favorite part of her house was the gray window seat in hers and her parents' bedroom.

Something her parents were discussing pulled her thoughts away from the window and the magnificent window seat.

They were discussing the possibility of attending a later service because they had missed the morning one.

"Let's go to Mimi's church," the girl offered.

The mother and the father exchanged looks. Agreement passed between them and it was decided. An hour later, the girl sat with her own family and sang songs and heard words like "missionary" "families" and "forever."

10 days after that sleepy sabbath morning, the girl's family had two visitors to their home. The girl quickly became enamored with the young gentlemen dressed in suits with name tags that read Elder Meldrum and Elder Nyland.

Nearly every night the girl's new friends would come over for what her parents called a "discussion." They were always very serious conversations. Her parents would always talk with the young men in what the girl recognized as "serious" tones. But despite the tones, there was always a different feeling when her friends came. Years later, the girl would recognize it as peace. Then, she simply knew it was good.

On more than one occasion after being sent to bed, the girl wondered what was being "discussed." Ever so quietly, clutching her yellow blanket and stuffed kangaroo given to her by her dear aunt, the girl tip-toed out onto the staircase just to listen. She couldn't hear every word. Sometimes laughter would erupt unexpectedly. Sometimes she would hear sniffling as if her mother was crying. Curious, she knew whatever was happening down there was important and she wanted to be a part of it.

10 days after her friends started coming over her parents did something that would change her life forever.

The small girl watched as her parents, dressed in white entered a small pool in the church they now attended weekly.

Her mother went all the way into the water, and came out with tears in her eyes. Her father was next. They were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 3, 1993.

Added to this corridor of memories are the two missionaries that forever changed my life, my dear aunt Marney and a family by the name of Bates. They too, will forever have a portion of my soul. Because of them I went to a place called Montana. A place where my heart still rests somewhere along the open fields and winding gravel roads. A place that will forever be home.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Today, while procrastinating reading court cases about privacy infringements, indecency and intellectual property violations, I came across a regular gem.

Nearly a year ago, I was sitting in a cold, poorly lit, slightly musty room in the Smith building. Relief Society. On occasion, I find I have a hard time staying focused during that blessed third hour of church. Our topic was on marriage. After the tradition of hundreds of thousands of young women who have walked the daunting trail of single-hood in a marriage conscious culture, the 27 of us sitting in that prison of a room were encouraged to make The List. If you're laughing right now, it's because you are painfully aware which list I'm referring to.

You know, the one where you write down every perfect characteristic you are looking for in your future one-and-only. Now, if I had a dollar for every list I've been encouraged to make, I could perhaps single-handedly solve our nation's debt. (You can vote for me next election.)

On this blessed day nearly a year ago, my sass levels were slightly higher than my spiritual levels. This was the byproduct.

  • HOT
  • Dresses like a J Crew model
  • Captain of a rugby team
  • Teeth sparkle when he smiles
  • Really, really rich
  • 6% body fat
  • Chiseled jaw line
  • Runs 5 minute mile
  • Plays the guitar like John Mayer
  • Owns a castle in Ireland
  • Can bench 220

When I find this Casanova of a man I'm sure we will indeed share eternal bliss. Godspeed his soul to mine.

Monday, June 11, 2012


There is always a little thrill that runs through the confines of my heart as I sit before a blank screen, a blank page. It's the time that I can escape to the quiet oceans of my mind. The thoughts rush like waves, methodically and gracefully at times. Others propel themselves with great force against the jagged cliffs and coarse rocks. But despite the changes in tempo, they are mine. Those whom I share them with are craftily selected, each time a bond of something reminiscent of trust strengthened.

As I sit on my bed, a quiet oasis of thought, my back slumped against the dreary white wall, legs crossed, foot bouncing to the muffled sounds of a movie from the front room. I dissect the memories of today from the reality of my here and now.

Sometimes I forget that I have lived nearly 24 solid years of experiences.

I still think of myself as a silly 12-year-old hobbling down the road on crutches, embarrassed that the world might see her.

I think of a 13-year-old who suddenly realized that Jesus Christ was her Savior and Redeemer. 

I think of a 14-year-old. Awkward, bumbling and insecure.

I think of a 15-year-old, recovered from years of darkness who finally started to discover who she was.

I think of a careless 16-year-old just learning to drive. Her face hot with shame as she successfully experiences a second accident in one week, vowing she will never drive again.

I think of a 17-year-old watching her family change drastically as divorce papers were signed, boxes packed up and words exchanged.

I think of a 19-year-old. Silly, foolish and hopelessly in love with any boy that looked her way.

I think of a 20-year-old who, thanks to dear friends, long drives and warm beaches helped her gain a little thing called confidence.

I think of a 21-year-old who lived in fear of the future. A girl who was petrified to move forward.

I think of a 22-year-old who had to lose herself along the wide expanse of a foreign land called Montana.

I think of a 23-year-old who learned a little more about love, friendship and trusting in God.

I think of a nearly 24-year-old. I can't help but smile in spite of myself. Life has been good to me. Each day is an expression of a compilation of past days lived.

My life is an unwritten story. That same little thrill electrifies my heart as I ponder what lies ahead. It's mine to write; mine to capture; mine to experience.

It's a journey that will be taken with great effort, great deliberation and great calculation. But I have learned that forward is the only direction to go. So I will walk with God at my side. I will step into an unknown territory as I write the rest of my story, day by day by day.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Axis of Predictability

Everything I’m feeling has been felt before. Every thought swirling through my clouded head has crossed the marquee flashing in my mind as my eyelids grew heavy and I drifted into an uneasy sleep. The many emotions that fill my heart are too numerous to be counted, but each has an element of familiarity to it.

My life spins on an axis of predictability.

Tonight I rely on the words of dear friends to guide my thoughts and quiet the fear. Tonight, the full effects of my femininity threaten to dominate my soul, bidding tears to stream down my cheeks. Tonight, my calloused heart is tired, but not nearly as tired as my mind that has been in a frenzy all day.

If I could force my limbs to move as fast as the thoughts that swirl I could rival the Olympic and world records of most marathon runners. Often times, these thoughts, always the same, get the better of me.

They are fickle friends, these thoughts. We spend countless hours together. Drives through the farms and back roads of Rexburg and Sugar City, hours at a gym six minutes from my apartment and the moments of silence where I lose myself are the times these friends and I bond.

The hours we have spent together have made these thoughts complacent, monotonous, predictable.  I know what will trigger them. I know what will calm them. 

Thoughts of the future are the most pressing. The realm of possibilities before me seems to widen and narrow with each shift of emotion or circumstance. I have no control. But my world will continue to spin, more likely than not in the same direction it always has. The predictability has become a trusted companion. 

So tonight, the thoughts will swirl. The tears may come. But tomorrow, the cliche will remain as true as it was today when the sun rose. With the morning mist and the enchanting shadows of dawn will come a renewed determination to be better than before. To conquer the fears of the never-ending tomorrow and the regrets of yesterday. Tomorrow is a day to embrace the predictability and create beauty. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remembering Marvin

Marvin Everett Krook is one of the dearest men in the world to me.

I met Marvin over a year ago on a cold, dark night in January. We sat in his living room and talked about Chester, Montana, his career as a science teacher and bird watching. These topics would be visited often over the next few months as this stranger turned into family.

We began to teach Marvin the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With his deep love of learning, and strong faith in the Savior, Marvin believed the things we taught him.

I remember a day in February when I spent a long time on my knees praying earnestly for this dear man to accept the gospel.

I remember a day in March when Sister Randall and I sang to Marvin. He looked at me with such love that I couldn't help but love him back.

On another day in March, Sister Randall and I sat around the wooden table in the Krook's kitchen and sang "Happy Birthday" to this sweet man. He was 80 years old.

I remember a day in April. Marvin was asked to pray. "Our Heavenly Father, we want to thank you for sending these two sisters here to us today. And also that they are very attractive."

I remember another day in April when we taught Marvin that he and his beloved first wife could be together forever. However, we taught that baptism was the gate to which all of these eternal blessings could be obtained.

I remember a day in May when Marvin's wife prayed for him, and during the prayer he winked at me.

I remember a day in June when Marvin was interviewed for baptism and convinced Elder Heaton to play a trick on us. He came out from the room where he was asked questions to determine if he was prepared for baptism. His brow was furrowed, his expression grave.

"He said I'm not ready!" Marvin exclaimed. He was very upset.

Sister Davidson and I were flabbergasted. This man was prepared for baptism for sure. My heart sunk as I went through all of the questions in my head, puzzled as to which one Marvin could have possibly had a problem with.

I looked at Elder Heaton. The corners of his mouth were twitching, and through a sudden moment of clarity, I realized Marvin had gotten the better of us again.

"Marvin!!" I yelled as the comprehension of this situation dawned on me.

His eyes twinkled in that characteristic way of his, and his face split into a crinkly grin.

I remember a day in June when Marvin entered the water's of baptism. I sang during the program, and once again Marvin looked at me as he had that day in March. I loved him, and knew he loved me back.

After his baptism, he came up to me, gave me a hug, and held me tight. How I loved that sweet, kind man.

I remember a day in July when I came to say goodbye to Marvin. No tears were shed; not until later. "You're like my grandpa," I told him. He smiled, and gave me a hug goodbye. I promised to write and see him again.

I remember a day in October when I found out Marvin had Leukemia. I missed him, worried for him, and loved him even more.

I remember a day in February the following year when I walked into a hospital in Billings, Montana, a small frail man laying in the bed in front of me.

"I never thought I'd see you again," he said. Tears came to my eyes as I sat with him, held his hand and still, loved him all the more.

Our last conversation was similar to our first. We talked about Chester, Montana, his experiences while teaching science and his passion for bird watching. He thumbed through a magazine, teaching me about the birds on each page.

Occasionally, he would lay his head back against the bed, too tired to speak. I sat on his bed with him, watching him, grateful beyond words that God had brought this good man into my life. He had taught me so much, and had been an answer to a missionary's heart-felt prayer.

I remember four days ago when I found out Marvin passed away. I got in my car, and reached the Red Lodge turn off just as the sun was coming up.

His funeral was beautiful and reminded me of the goodness of his life.

I love this dear, dear man. I miss him. I will see him again, and when I do we will talk of science classes in Chester, Montana and we will watch the birds fly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Never Will I Ever

Never will I ever take cliche engagement, wedding, pregnancy or baby photos.

Never will I ever like the taste, texture or smell of peaches.

Never will I ever deny my love for John.

Never will I ever master the art of stress management.

Never will I ever forget faces of people who changed my life in a place called Montana.

Never will I ever get tired of black and white photography, old movies or kisses on my forehead.

Never will I ever go to the Community Care in Rexburg, Idaho.

Never will I ever get sick of dance parties in the car. Or the hall. Or the couch. Or the backyard. Or the living room. Or Walmart. Or Utah. Or the MTC. Or Disney World.

Never will I ever be jealous of anyone taking a chemistry class.

Never will I ever beg to watch All Dogs Go to Heaven.

Never will I ever stop missing Ferndale.

Never will I ever forget where I've been.

Never will I ever not let you take me to Kiwi Loco.

Never will I ever forget to tell any awkward moment that ever happens to me.

Never will I ever miss an opportunity to call someone out on being a tool.

Never will I ever get sick of The Avengers. Mostly Hawkeye. Okay, just Hawkeye.

Never will I ever tell all of my secrets.

Never will I ever be satisfied that I never got to attend Hogwarts.

Never will I ever grow bored of Raphael.

Never will I ever forget my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The City Inside

Silence. The still of night interrupted only by the ticking of the clock from the hall wall. I close my eyes and hear everything that surrounds me. The running of water from the floor above. The wind moving through the trees outside, threatening to bring back the rain from the afternoon. Out in the hall the clock continues to tick methodically as if it alone can account for the earth spinning on its axis propelling each individual life forward.

The ticking is muted next to the sounds of someone flipping channels in the front room, the low mumbling of voices that all sound the same coming from the screen on the shelf. Yet the earth continues to spin.

The soft clicking of my keyboard; the sounds of my apartment. Quiet really, in comparison to the noise inside.

Inside of me is as loud and as a busy, congested New York street. Commotion and unrest seem to scream back and forth at each other from opposite sides of a heavily traffic-filled road. Horns honking, people yelling, dogs barking, crosswalks bleeping, engines revving, wind rustling; combined it is the sound of energy, the sound of life.

On that busy street are skyscrapers that could give you cramps in the neck if you tried to see the top of them. Every color of the rainbow is visible, and every aroma imaginable is combined together causing nearly a seizure of the senses. It is overwhelming; one hardly knows where to begin in the hubbub of this epicenter.

On the corner there is a large building with a marquee. The thoughts of the day flash across in red lettering faster than they can be conjured in the dark recesses of my mind. Thoughts of failure, of triumph, of trial and error, of practice, of patience.

Yet tonight, lying in my quiet surroundings, the noise of the city and the flashing of the marquee are causing insomnia.

The busyness pauses. The clock continues ticking. The world continues spinning. Tomorrow is a new dawn. The rain will come, washing the pavement. The winds will change, the blossoms will bloom. Time passes, hearts change. Experience will impact, memories will be made. In short, life goes on.

Tonight, lying in the quietness, I alone can tame the city inside. Tonight, the silence will win.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quiet Praise

The sun rose gradually over the dusty horizon. A morning trek to the temple was planned for the day. It was a narrow and dirty road that led to the steps of the sacred structure. Step by step it seemed was a slow and intentional process of self-discovery and purification. 
Two men of very different upbringings were to make similar journeys, though different paths would be taken by the pair of them. One was a climber of the social ladder, the other a public official. Both men had had great triumphs in their lives. Each had a family. Each had attained a level of notoriety in their own sphere. Yet on their way to the temple that morning, they were each lost in the thoughts of their own lives. 
A funny thing it is, really, a thought. It can be the purest form of communication with one's self, yet in the brutality of honesty inside one's heart, small subtle lies can be spun like thread weaving together the tapestries of false identity, false understanding and false security. 
An idea can start small and grow into a fantasy. It can become a grand adventure, a vicious plot by your subconscious to trick to you into thinking something is not. The travesty is that more often than not, the most grandiose lies we tell our to ourselves. 
The socialite had spent his life desperate to please others. The soft thrill it gave him to snatch the approval of his self-made critics was akin to gluttony. Yet day after day, week after week he would press on in mockery of himself wearing hat after hat and mask after mask to please and impress all he came into contact with. 
Deep down, he was a good man. But the genuineness of his soul was buried in a thick tapestry of pretending. He had thoroughly convinced himself that he was above the lower class, the middle class, and the majority of the upper. He, who could win anyone, even God himself was no seeker of self-mastery or correction. 
The other man was quiet. His passion was his work, second his family. He had made mistakes in his profession, and even more with his family. Yet the dedication was quietly hidden under his determination to prove successful. He had a love of God, but too often his love of monetary increase left him beyond the mark. There was something missing in this man's busy, scheduled life. 
He too was a good man. Misguided, but good. 
The socialite took the journey, step by step thinking of his clothes, his fame, his upcoming agenda and on occasion, his God to whom he would feign address. 
The other took each step carefully and methodically. His thoughts directed not on the money he would make from the next account he would secure, but suddenly, vulnerably, on himself. Yet they were not the selfish ones he so often had. Like the cogs of a great machine, his mind slowly began to dissect what exactly was missing from his life. 
It was a humble man who hailed from Galilee. He was called the Christ. Both men had heard of him, felt of his power, yet slowly the wonder of it had faded from their hearts. With it, melted  the desire to align their wills with one far greater than they. Instead, they had aligned their hearts with the world. It was empty. It was bleak. 
The socialite entered the doors, hoping the many prominent people in attendance would notice him and his high and mighty spirituality. His eyes darted around quickly to see who he could impress with ease. He picked a central spot, and prostrated himself upon the ground, praising God with his false tongue, thanking him for his high status and importance. 
He looked around, too pleased with himself for words. His eyes passed over everyone, including a small, quiet man in the shadows of the corners. 
His head was humbly bowed, tears dripped from his eyes. The journey had changed him, step by step. 
"God be merciful to me a sinner," he said. 
His wet eyes suddenly saw into a tainted soul that had remain unlooked upon for years. He could not remember the last time he had taken an inventory of his life. He did not like what he found. However, there was a small flicker of hope as he remembered the man from Galilee. Step by step had led the quiet man to Him. 
Praise be to God that He is merciful to sinners, like me.