Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Song of Testimony

I have been reflecting on my personal testimony a lot lately. What I know to be true with firm conviction. I have been Young Women President, for the 12-18 year old girls at church, for one year this month. First, I cannot believe that one year has already passed, and yet I think “have I made a difference” and “what can I do to be the best president I possibly can.” I don’t know how long I will be asked to serve in this capacity, but I do not want to end my service knowing that I could have served or done more. Ask and ye shall receive, right? These girls, and the youth in general, are great young people. I remember being their age and thinking what I was facing was tough. Things like finding out who you are and what you want to believe.

I had the opportunity to go to youth conference two weekends ago. We called it our marathon weekend. The youth had a Temple trip on Thursday which was a really special experience. Two of my Beehives went for the first time and the youth brought several family file names. One of my leaders did work for her Great-Great- Grandmother. 

The next day on Friday evening was the kick-off to youth conference at Red Top Mountain Beach. We had a luau and a pig roast. The youth had fun and it was a good time to meet and mingle. 

The next day on Saturday, it was an all-day event. The youth started the day with a service project. The theme for the conference was "No longer a mystery." Before the service project, all with smart phones downloaded an app called Billion Graves. This is an app where there are pictures of gravestones and you can search for names, locations, etc. to assist in family history work where you a. may not know the birth/death of a family member or b. want to know where they were buried, etc. Each group had a route and cemeteries to visit, all around Cobb County. The groups were not necessarily from their own ward so they got the opportunity to meet more youth. In the car, there were ice breaker activities and at the cemetery, the youth and leaders were able to respectfully and reverently take pictures of the gravestones and upload them onto the app. In a 3 hour time frame, we uploaded over 12,000 pictures. It was a solemn experience and quite moving, unexpectedly. Upon arriving back to the church building and feeding our bellies with lunch, we had a series of classes for the youth. After which was dinner, a testimony meeting, and a dance. As I listened to the youth bear their testimonies (7-8 of which were from our own ward, which was special), I was reflecting on my own and what I believed and what I knew at that age. These youth face a lot and it really is quite an opportunity to be able to serve them and hope to make an imprint on their life. During the dance, one of the other YW leaders and I came up with a challenge game, made up of 3 phases. They consisted of challenges to get them dancing. The phases got more challenging and creative as they progressed and the youth had a blast (who am I kidding, so did the leaders!). They were dancing the whole time and having a great time. It’s amazing what candy will do to motivate you and give you incentive to get out of your comfort zone. We told the youth if they liked it that much, to consider it an addition to the dances from here on out. Let the creativity start flowing for more challenges!

For the cherry on top, the Young Women sang “Song of Testimony” the following day in Sacrament Meeting (our Sunday service). I led the girls and I was just filled with the spirit of love as we sang. I couldn’t help but cry as I was so touched and thankful for the testimony that I grew to have and continue to grow. The words of the song are pieces of my own personal testimony as well “I know God lives, I know He loves me, I know He hears me and He answers when I pray. I know His son, is my Redeemer, and that He died for me that I might live eternally one day.”

I love the youth program. I’m so grateful for the leaders that I had growing up and that I can “pay it forward” and be one to the rising generation. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

So... When you gonna have kids?

I figured only appropriate to share the post of mine that triggered the idea of writing again. I received a lot of positive feedback about it, so here it goes. I wrote this a 1/2 week ago.

I thought it was time for another “V” thought of the has been a while. I have seen many friends post this article that’s been floating around FB ( I think it is well written and I have been itching to give my thoughts. Building a family (marriage, kids, pets, etc.) is a significant decision. While each of us is different, so are our circumstances. Thus, not fair to assume everyone is on the same path and should be making the same choices. On the particular topic of having children, I can’t help but feel both thankful that the article was written to raise more awareness and also heavy with the weight of what people go through to accomplish their desires in life.

When Tom and I first started our infertility journey, nearly 6 years ago, I underestimated what we would truly go through. The pain, heartbreak, education, tender mercies, and love, just to name a few. We experienced our fair share of annoyances and people meaning well, but just didn't have a clue. Let me also say that not all levels of infertility are the same. Regardless, it has been an experience. But, not one I would rather share it with than the absolute love of my life. There have been ups and downs to this journey, but one thing I am and will be forever grateful for is that we have lived our marriage. We have lived, learned, loved, traveled, a lot, been spontaneous, adventurous, and experienced and grew our lives together. That itself can take time.

Infertility can be viewed as such a “hush-hush” topic but maybe if we educated ourselves and recognized it more with love and sensitivity, it wouldn't seem AS scary. I know that when we realized infertility would become our journey, I felt like I was the only one in the world with it and I felt so utterly and completely alone. I have since learned the true meaning of “gird up your loins; fresh courage take” and grew to trust that “our God will never us forsake.” I could go on and on about the tender mercies and non “coincidental” opportunities and experiences that have been placed in our path.

There is an excellent article on infertility etiquette. It’s a good read. Since I can’t attach two links, just click on it if you’re interested in reading. Even if you don’t think you know anyone, chances are you do and they just haven’t told you.

I've mentioned to a few people that I should write a book on the experiences Tom and I have had over the course of the last 6 years. If the book writing process wasn't so intimidating, and I didn't fear that no one would want to buy it, I would actually consider it…maybe I should start up our blog again.

"Hello..Good morning...

...Let's go, Let's rock." Well, it's not actually morning, but hello. Thanks, Diddy.

I've given some thought on whether or not to start the 'ol blog back up, but I decided to give it a go. There is something about writing raw thoughts down. It is releasing. I think of myself with a decent memory but I do forget things. In just going back and reading some of these old, very old, posts, I forgot some things and more importantly my feelings of those particular things.

When restarting a blog, journal, or any written record of something, I tend to feel the need to catch up on everything that has since happened. This makes for a very lengthy start-up. I keep a planner and write down everything I do, so I am going to just start here and fill in the blanks as I go along. It has been a good 2 years since writing, but in the grand scheme of things, just a blink of the eye.

Even if no one actually reads this, at least I will have a record to look back on. Thankful for technology today.

Cheers to new beginnings.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Model material

Look at this girl, she's model material! Violet is SUCH a doll. I just want to hug her and give her kisses all the time. Tom took this picture and it turned out amazing. Tom is so talented and it also helps when you have someone so pretty to take pictures of :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Leah's graduation

Leah graduated from KSU today! As staff of KSU, I was fortunate to be able to sit on the floor for the ceremony and greet her on stage after she got her diploma!

Yay! Leah and Kerry smiling for the camera.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coaching, a profession of love

"Coaching is a profession of love. You can't coach people unless you love them."
-Eddie Robinson

I love the ladies I coach and feel very blessed to be doing something I love so much. These two dancers are my seniors this year. I've coached Nat for four seasons and Kay for two. Especially Nat, I've seen blossom from an 18 year old into a beautiful woman about to graduate college. I'm so proud of all my dancers and I'm especially proud to send these ladies off and welcome them as alumni to our program. This picture was captured on our last night at Nationals during our special team dinner. Nat and I didn't realize it was being taken but Kay, the ham smiling, knew :) They edited it and put "We will always be KSU Dancers!"

We always have an end of the season banquet for Spirit. I give the girls gifts and they give each other gifts. It's a bittersweet part of the season where we say goodbye to those that are leaving us and hello to a new season for those that are staying. I am so grateful for the gift they gave me this year...a scrapbook of the entire season. They gave me a scrapbook last season also and I selfishly hope it becomes a tradition. This book is phenomenal and they spent so much time on it. I choked up when they presented it to me. I couldn't be more thankful and here we are enjoying it.

"Less me, more WE...K, S, U know!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Southern Lights: Atlanta Youth Cultural Celebration

The Atlanta Temple in Sandy Springs, GA was closed for renovation for nearly 2 news. When a temple is closed for construction and then re-opened, a few things occur. An open house is organized and open to the public for a couple weeks and then the temple is re-dedicated by the prophet of our church, Thomas S. Monson, allowing temple recommend holders from re-dedication forward to enter. In April 2011, our temple was reopened and re-dedicated. Customary to a temple's re-dedication is a cultural celebration by the youth of the church in that area. There are temples all over the world.

Kathy and Rene Alba were the co-directors of the show and I was asked to be one of the choreographers and cast directors for this production...and production it was. There were over 2,000 youth that participated from all over the state of Georgia and they took such pride in it. It was such a blessing to part of. The production theme was the history of Georgia with dialog and dance. It was called Southern Lights. The opening number was "Waitin' for the Light to Shine" by the youth choir (who sang a number of songs). I choreographed 4 routines: the Stomp, Salsa, Flags and Cheer. I also taught the Charleston to the youth in my area. These youth worked so hard. The whole event took months of preparation and the show was one night with a pre-show by an adult choir. The Prophet was in attendance and he took about 15 minutes to start off the evening by speaking. Truly touching and inspired. The whole event was memorable and I got to meet some fantastic people in the process. But the highlight would have to be when the Stomp received a standing ovation by not only our Prophet but the entire audience (the only group number to get a standing “O”). I was backstage the whole time so I didn’t know until after the show. I couldn’t help but get emotional from that. What we do humbly and put ourselves honestly and whole heartedly into makes a difference. The standing ovation was an added bonus but to see the pure joy and excitement that these youth had and how proud they were of themselves was amazing. Most of these youth didn’t have dance training, we made the dances simple yet effective and the teachers in their area did a phenomenal job teaching them the choreography and perfecting it. All of the choreographers taped their routines teaching with counts, performing it with music and then the reps in each area taught them. I had youth performing my particular dances from Sugar Hill, Macon, etc. Too far for me to travel multiple times a week to work on so how thankful I am to everyone for collaborating and making this a group effort for success.

Tom being so talented in his music, video and audio ways did an "I'm a Mormon" video by highlighting about 6 youth from all over the state and compiling this really neat presentation. If I can upload a video here, I will. It’s worth sharing. Tom also got to be backstage when our Prophet arrived and be one of the photographers for the event. I was back with the cast directors around the time our Prophet was arriving and shortly after, Tom came into the room with a face that I knew he just experienced something special. He pulls out his camera and shows me the pictures...amazing... I know that Thomas S. Monson is a man of God. Tom got to take pictures during the show and captured some great moments.

I am grateful for the Atlanta Temple and for the opportunity I was given to be part of this. Here is a picture of all the cast directors and assistant cast directors.