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.