Thursday, July 27, 2017

Keep thou my feet


Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

~~~

Life gets really hard to deal with sometimes.

Lately I have felt like I have been walking through a very dark night of my soul. One where I feel like I have lost sight of who I am and who I want to be. One where I hate who I have become, and one where I long to be better but can never seem to overcome myself. I have just been feeling very lost and tired and sad.

This week, and today especially, have been very difficult. I reached out tonight for some positive words on Facebook, and my friends responded with so much love that I am completely overwhelmed by how lucky I am to know such lovely and wonderful people.

One friend sent me something he wrote that featured a scripture from Proverbs (3:5-6):
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Which immediately brought the hymn "Lead, Kindly Light" to my mind. Particularly the last lines of the first verse. 

"Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me."

I have forgotten how to be led by faith. I have been depending too much on the things that I can see, and I have not been putting enough trust in God's plan for me. I want to be better, and I want to let him lead me now. I'm so tired of trying to understand everything. I just want to be happy and have faith and trust that everything will be okay.

I'm feeling very humbled tonight. I'm starting to feel like this might be a trial that I need, even though I'm not sure where it's going to lead me.

I'm ready to walk into the dark.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lizzie Lanore


My grandmother turned 90 this last Wednesday, and today we had a big party to help her celebrate!

Guys, my grandma Lizzie is one of the most wonderful, adorable people I have ever known. She was the kind of grandma who would let you build a blanket fort in her living room (using all of her kitchen chairs), and not even mind when you crawled into bed with her later because you were too chicken to actually sleep in it. She always sent a card in the mail on your birthday, even when you lived close enough for her to just bring it to you, because she knew how special it was to get real mail when you were a kid. She taught us how to crochet and bake cookies, and she would yodel on request (if you asked nicely). She used to grow mint under her back porch, and she showed us how refreshing it could be to pluck one of the leaves and put it on your tongue.

I could go on forever.

Today was her day. Today we got to celebrate the amazing life she has led, and we got to hear from so many people who she has touched with her love, her laughter, and her southern sass.

She is incredible, and I adore her. I am so lucky that I get to have her as my grandma for eternity.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What more can I do?

Do you ever get the feeling that somebody just hates you, and you're not sure what you did to inspire such bad feelings?

Melancholy, Constance Marie Charpentier (1801)
I was told something that somebody said about me today, and it was so hateful that it knocked the wind right out of me. I felt like all of the strength I had left me, and I had to sit down just to be able to continue to function.

What can I have done to make someone think so badly of me? What can I do to change? I often feel as though I am not a very good person, and this just feels like proof of that. I do not do enough to be helpful. I am not happy enough. I am constantly making mistakes. But I am trying so, so hard to overcome these things. I just want to make everyone happy.

How am I supposed to fix things? I don't know what to do.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington committed suicide today.


I am finding this hard to come to terms with.

When I was a teenager experiencing the full weight of my depression and anxiety for the first time I found a lot of solace in the music of Linkin Park. I was so lost in myself... so full of rage and fear and just all-encompassing sadness. I needed to scream. I needed outlets. I found this release in music. I found lyrics that mirrored what I was feeling, words I could use when I couldn't find any of my own. It was like having a friend who understood what I was feeling, even when I didn't know myself.

It might sound really stupid, but this sense of shared sadness saved my life. It was catharsis. It was a life preserver.

I am so incredibly sorry that he never found a way to face his own demons.  I am sorry that he lost his battles. I am sorry that he left this world without knowing how much of an impact he had.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life is so worth saving.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Auuugh



I'm really tired and in pain and I just don't have it in me today. But I figured I should still post something. Because I want to be perfect and I have already missed so many days.

This is making me kind of crazy, honestly. I'm not sure I'm interesting enough to be perfect.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Paying it Forward

I was on the bus this morning, and this kid got on without the correct bus fare (it was still rush hour prices, and he had the standard fare). He was going around the bus asking for change for $5, which no one seemed to have. I knew that I had enough for the fare in my wallet, so I called him over and gave it to him. He asked me if I wanted any money back, and I told him it wasn't necessary.

A little while later I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned and saw that he had left his $1.75 on the seat next to me as a way of paying me back. It made me tear up a little bit. I didn't want to take it, but I didn't want to hurt his pride either.

So, now I have a conundrum. I don't feel like I can use this money for myself, but I'm not sure what to do with it either. I could keep it in my bag in case someone else ever needs help on the bus, or I could drop it in a donation box somewhere...

If you were me, what would you do?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spiritual Success


It's Sunday and I don't have a lot to say, so I'll just leave you with this quote from Richard G Scott. I have been thinking about this a lot today, and I find it really helpful and hopeful. I hope you feel the same!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Good Reminders

I had the opportunity today to be the escort of a friend of mine who was going through the temple for the first time. I had never been an escort before, and I was so excited for her, and so anxious that I wasn't going to be enough of a help to her. It was a complicated mix of emotions!


It was incredible.

I still don't know if I was a perfect help to her (I hope I was! I did try.), but that was probably the most present I have felt at any endowment session since I went through for myself. I found myself thinking of everything with the perspective of someone who had never experienced it before, trying to remember how I felt when it really was new to me. Along with that I was able to measure those experiences against the level of understanding that I have now, and take measure of my spiritual journey (so to speak). It was really cool to see how much progress I have made, especially since I often feel as though I have made no progress at all.

Self-criticism is one of my best talents, I think. I have very high standards for myself, and when I fail to meet them with exactness it's hard to feel as though I am still doing well. Being in the temple today was a good reminder for me of a lot of the things I had started to take for granted, like my own worth and God's love for me.

I am so excited for my friend. I hope that she felt every measure of the love that was being poured out on her, not only by God but by me, her fiance (another friend of mine who also went though for the first time today!), and everyone who came to witness this moment in her eternal progression. I hope that she never forgets the feelings that she felt, or ever doubts her worth or her conviction for even a second.

Today was so wonderful. I am so grateful for this experience.

Not so perfect

I have been majorly slacking this week, and I am so sorry about that. Life has been kind of nuts for the past few days.

I shall improve.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kidnapped

This is a story of how musical theater turned me to a life of crime.

Picture this: the year is 1995. It is summer, and I am at Many Point Family Camp for the very first (and last) time. My mom and sisters are with me. Dad and Eldon are at the scout camp on the other side of the lake.

It's very Minnesota.
There were bats in the walls of our cabin, leeches in the lake, and unreliable toilets, but it was still fun in the sort of dirty, disorganized way that camp usually is. The best part of all was that we had brought our cassette tape soundtrack of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which was my obsession at the time. We listened to it on the car ride up. I convinced everyone that we needed to listen to it every night when we went to bed. I was positive that it was the best musical of all time.

At some point during the week, I met a girl near my age (a little younger) that I really clicked with. I don't remember her name, but considering that it was the early 90s I'm about 80% positive that it was either Emily or Ashley. We'll call her Ashily.

One day, while everyone else was in the lake trying to catch a greased watermelon, Ashily and I decided that we were too cool for school, and that we needed something better to do. We thought about it, and suddenly I knew: I needed to introduce her to the magic of Joseph.

So, without telling anyone (because we were very smart), we skipped down the road to my family's cabin, where we listened to the entirety of side one of my well-loved cassette.At this point we started getting hungry, so we decided to head back to the main part of camp to see what dinner was going to be.

When we got back to the lake, the scene was very different than when we had left. The lake was clear of people, and our mothers and several camp counselors were standing in a tight circle near the water. Ashily and I, not understanding what was going on, walked up to ask about food.

That's when the lecturing started.

Our parents, of course, were very relieved that we had not drowned or been eaten by a pike or whatever else might lurk in the lakes of Northern Minnesota, but they were not happy either. When my mom asked me what on earth I had been thinking, I said, "Well, we wanted to listen to Joseph..."

That is how I became a kidnapper at the tender age of five. I didn't see Ashily much after that. I think her mother must have thought I was some sort of tiny sociopath or something. It's a little sad, thinking about how our summer camp friendship was so short-lived. We never even got to promise that we would write and then immediately forget when we got home.

But we'll always have Joseph.

Monday, July 10, 2017

"I wasn't looking for anything to shout out at me, I was just looking up"


I don't know why this hit me today, but it just did. Usually I watch Markiplier for laughs (or to scare myself with horror games that I am too chicken to play), but this was exactly what I needed today.

I have been feeling very insignificant today, wondering about where my life is going to go and feeling really sad about everything I haven't accomplished in my life that I thought I would have by this point. Kind of a bummer, I know.

But hearing this made me think of all the times I have looked up at the stars and realized that the measure of my creation is infinite, and that I am a part of something so much bigger than myself. We are so significant in our insignificance, and that is hugely comforting to me.

I just need to look up.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I can't think of anything to write

Today I mostly slept and felt sick and stressed about things I have no control over. Not the most stimulating day to blog about.

Chronic illness and depression both suck.

Maybe someday I'll write about that. But right now I'm going to enjoy snuggling my dog and listening to the cute little snooty noises he makes when he sleeps. I'm going to try to pull myself out of whatever this is.

Sorry for being a cop out today. Again.

I'll write a good story tomorrow, maybe.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jane Austen

I have been reading a lot of Jane Austen lately. I realized that I hadn't read anything of hers since I was probably too young to appreciate it fully, so I'm making her work my summer project. And I've gotta say, my favorite thing about this experience so far has been realizing what an adorable, awkward goofus Mr. Darcy is.


Like, not even including his very abrupt style of proposing (the first time, anyway). He is just constantly blushing and standing around watching Elizabeth like a weirdo. What a precious little cinnamon roll he is.

Anyway, I definitely have a brand new appreciation for just how well Jane Austen wrote her characters. They are subtle and clever and often very funny! I feel like she is very ignored in high schools, and I think that's a shame. I think that there's a lot that can be learned from her books, especially about what it was like to be a woman when she was alive.

I'm so sad that I didn't appreciate her sooner.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Caleb

I was waiting for the train on my way to work today, and I was approached by a very bouncy young lad who introduced himself as Caleb.

He asked for my name, and after I gave it he said, "Well, Kari, I'm on my way home and I saw you and I just had to come over and let you know that God loves you so much." He said that he could see that I had God's light, and that he knew that I was "so special" to the Lord.

And guys, it made my day.

I have been approached by religious people on the street before, but I have never met another person who was so sweet and sincere in simply trying to spread God's love. He didn't try to convert me, he didn't ask me if I had been saved. He simply wanted to tell me that God loved me, and wish me a good day. It was fantastic!

I told him that that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me, and he was delighted. He asked if we could pray together, and since my train wasn't there yet I said yes. He took my hand and said a little prayer, hoping that we could continue to feel God's love and light as we went about our day. We said Amen, said goodbye, and he was gone. I went to work with the biggest smile on my face.

What a small thing, right? But it made me feel so loved. It was an encounter that I had no idea that I needed, but that made my whole day completely turn around.

Caleb. Adorable, bright, happy Caleb. I hope that you never lose whatever qualities you posses that make you the beacon that you are. I hope that you continue to brighten days wherever you go, and that you have a fantastic life full of all the happiness that you deserve. I hope that you never let go of the light that you share so freely with people you don't even know.

More than anything, though... I hope that someday I can be just like you.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Praying

Kesha released her first song in four years today, and guys... guys. It is the best song I have ever heard from her.


Knowing her story, knowing that she is a survivor of rape and exploitation, this song is so incredibly powerful. 

It made me think of all of my own experiences. Every time that I have been touched without my consent. Every time someone assumed that what I had was theirs to take. Every time I have been called a bitch by a man I ignored, or someone said I was "frigid" because I didn't accept their harassment. Because I have no trust left. Because, as a woman, I always have to be on the defensive. Because I have seen it happen to people I love, too.

And I agree with the sentiment (indirectly expressed) here: God's love is the only thing that pulled me out of that darkness. The only thing that helps me get from day to day sometimes.

I really appreciate her bravery in sharing this. I needed to hear it today, and I really hope that it helps a lot of people find their way out of a dark place.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Today was a Nightmare

And this is not going to be a very long or edifying post. Sorry, guys.

Today was one of those days where the Drama Llama has come home to roost (or whatever llamas do), and you have so much information coming at you from all sides that you don't know who to believe or what your own heart is telling you.

I am tired. More than that, I am weary. I am not sure what to do.

So I'm going to watch stupid YouTube videos until I pass out. Tomorrow can only get better. I hope.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Land that I Love

Kind of late again today, but I was out enjoying my FREEDOM. Or something like that. Whatever. Let's move on.

I really love Independence Day. I always have. Growing up in my family kind of does that to a person. My paternal grandparents, especially, were patriots to the core. No matter what else we did on the fourth (usually golfing and a barbecue), my grandpa would always make sure to testify of his love for our God and our country, and to tell us how blessed we were to live in a place where we can be free.

I treasure those memories now that he is gone, and I know that what he said was right. This country is an amazing place.

I've read a lot of posts on social media today that read a little more ambivalent. How can we possibly feel pride in our country when we have the Tangerine Wonder as president and everything seems so bad?

Well, my buddies, we can still feel pride in our country because we are still fighting to make it a good place.

I don't believe that anything in this world will ever be perfect. No place or country in it will ever be without problems or heartache.  However, I still see people in America doing good every day. People who are standing up for what's right and loving one another in spite of everything. There are still people here who believe in a better tomorrow, and are actively working to make it happen. When all the world wants you to see is darkness, if you look away from the noise you can still see light.

That is why I love it here. We are free to grow and learn and create art and spread joy. We are free to believe what we want to believe, and to say what we want to say. There are people who would have you believe that you have no voice, and that you can't change your life. I am here to tell you that those people are full of beans. Do not be afraid to be who you are. Do not be afraid to love, even when hate is staring you right in the face. We need to fight for our freedoms while they are still ours to fight for, and to help others find their voices. We still have the power to do this! isn't that amazing!?

Happy Independence Day, everybody.

We are so incredibly blessed.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Good Timber

For a while I've been participating in #MotivationMonday on Instagram. I'm not super faithful with it, but I try to post little things every Monday that have to do with health or mindfulness. I do it more for myself than for anyone else, and it helps me remember to be strong when I'm feeling weary.

Today I posted a quote from the poem "Good Timber" by Douglas Malloch. Instagram got a quick doodle that I scribbled into my journal a while ago, but you guys get my hastily done Photoshop version instead (because you're special).

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

This poem is one of my favorites, and I've written the entirety of it in at least a couple of my past journals. This is partly because I am fascinated by the tenacity of trees.

I'm sure you've all seen pictures of trees that have grown strong in spite of the conditions they have faced. Trees that bend into strong winds. Trees growing through chain link fences and through sidewalks. Trees sprouting new branches from the wound of a lost limb. There are a heck of a lot of things that a tree can overcome!

I try to think about these things in relation to myself. When people see my scars - emotional or otherwise - I want them to see how they have helped me become who I am, rather than as a reminder of how broken I used to be. More than that, I want to be able to look at myself and remember that any suffering I am experiencing will not last forever. I will grow around it, I will lean into it, and I will continue to survive.

We are all capable of so much more than we realize.

~~~~~~

Good Timber
Douglas Malloch

    The tree that never had to fight
    For sun and sky and air and light,
    But stood out in the open plain
    And always got its share of rain,
    Never became a forest king
    But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    The man who never had to toil
    To gain and farm his patch of soil,
    Who never had to win his share
    Of sun and sky and light and air,
    Never became a manly man
    But lived and died as he began.

    Good timber does not grow with ease:
    The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
    The further sky, the greater length;
    The more the storm, the more the strength.
    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
    In trees and men good timbers grow.

    Where thickest lies the forest growth,
    We find the patriarchs of both.
    And they hold counsel with the stars
    Whose broken branches show the scars
    Of many winds and much of strife.
    This is the common law of life.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I'm my own Grandma...

Do you ever feel like you're prematurely old? I feel like it's happening to me a lot more lately. I have a few theories as to why:

Just call me Gladys

First, most of my coworkers are significantly younger than me. This isn't usually an issue until we start making pop culture references, and they don't understand anything I say. I had to explain who Coolio was the other day, and I felt like I should check into a nursing home immediately.

Second, it is just so easy (and fun) to be crotchety. When I am stuck behind a group of teenagers at Starbucks who only want "water... with ice" but somehow still take 50 years to order, I am more inclined to be annoyed by their youthful exuberance than anything else. When did teenagers become so annoying? Is it just me? Was I like that as a youth? I am so sorry to everyone who had to know me if I was.

And third, I am in the older group at church now, and I definitely feel it. Dating becomes a lot more difficult when everyone is at least five years younger than you. And I know that age is just a number (etc, etc, etc), but I feel more like a den mother than anything else. I think 27 is when your use of dating apps becomes less ironic and more like a cry for help.

Maybe I just need to get out more? Maybe I need to move away from here and try something new. Who knows? I certainly don't.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Perfect Month

A couple of years ago, my friend Cam started doing what she called "A Perfect Month". She would set a goal for herself, and make sure that she accomplished that goal every single day for an entire month. It was always super impressive, and I always said that someday I would have to try it out for myself.

Well, that day has finally come.

Inspired by my lovely friend and a recent suggestion that I need to write more, I am going to do a perfect month of blogging. I can't guarantee that I will always have something interesting to say, but I kind of want to see what I can accomplish when I stop convincing myself that nothing I have to say has any value.

Does anyone else struggle with this? How do we become so sure of our own invented shortcomings?

Anyway, here's to a perfect month.