My Mansions

Next time you sing the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, pay close attention to the words in the chorus of the third verse. The hymnbook says “He lives, my mansion to prepare”, but I can almost guarantee (from 23 years of experience with this hymn) that at least one member of your congregation will sing “mansions”. Same for “Have I Done Any Good?”. Someone will say “Then dream of your mansions above.”

This is a phenomenon I’ve recently observed, and it’s got me thinking about a sense of entitlement many of us may have. We can’t be content with a single mansion– we assume more than one mansion is being prepared for us, and we dream about them all. Why is that?


I talked to a lot of people on my mission who had a big sense of entitlement. People think the world owes them a living, and absolutely no work is required in return. Well, Sonny Jim, I’m here to tell you the world owes you nothing, and nothing good in this life comes without work. We are expected to collapse at the foot of the (single) mansion that is being prepared for us, conditional on our dedication to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lehi has so much good stuff to say about that.

So what’s my point? My point is first that I think it’s really funny we all sing about our mansions, even though that’s totally not what’s printed on the page. Next point is that it’s really easy to get into a trap of thinking we deserve things, and assuming we’re going to be given great rewards. But that just won’t do.

My invitation to us all (especially me) is to focus on BEING GRATEFUL for even the glimmer of hope of a possibility of a studio apartment in Christ’s neighborhood in the next life. With an attitude of gratitude, rather than a sense of entitlement, we can overcome this problem that plagues our generation. I invite us all to be grateful for the little things. I know that as we are, we will become more aware of the Lord’s hand in our lives, and we will come closer to Him and His Son. This will help us prepare for the time when we get to those mansions above.


Well, I have commenced my twenth-fourth year. Last year was unquestionably my best year so far, and 2015 promises to be just as great. While we’re on the subject of birthdays, I wanted to share a piece we studied in my literacy methods class this week. It explores the concept of a birthday, so I thought this would be an appropriate week to post it. It’s slightly longer than I typically post, but I want to invite you with as much boldness as I can muster through this non-verbal venue to READ THIS SHORT STORY. It is beautiful.

Eleven, by Sandra Cisneros
What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.

Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is.

You don’t feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don’t feel smart eleven, not until you’re almost twelve. That’s the way it is.

Only today I wish I didn’t have only eleven years rattling inside me like pennies in a tin Band-Aid box. Today I wish I was one hundred and two instead of eleven because if I was one hundred and two I’d have known what to say when Mrs. Price put the red sweater on my desk. I would’ve known how to tell her it wasn’t mine instead of just sitting there with that look on my face and nothing coming out of my mouth.

“Whose is this?” Mrs. Price says, and she holds the red sweater up in the air for all the class to see. “Whose? It’s been sitting in the coatroom for a month.”

“Not mine,” says everybody, “Not me.”

“It has to belong to somebody,” Mrs. Price keeps saying, but nobody can remember. It’s an ugly sweater with red plastic buttons and a collar and sleeves all stretched out like you could use it for a jump rope. It’s maybe a thousand years old and even if it belonged to me I wouldn’t say so.

Maybe because I’m skinny, maybe because she doesn’t like me, that stupid Sylvia Saldivar says, “I think it belongs to Rachel.” An ugly sweater like that all raggedy and old, but Mrs. Price believes her. Mrs. Price takes the sweater and puts it right on my desk, but when I open my mouth nothing comes out.

“That’s not, I don’t, you’re not . . . Not mine.” I finally say in a little voice that was maybe me when I was four.

“Of course it’s yours,” Mrs. Price says. “I remember you wearing it once.” Because she’s older and the teacher, she’s right and I’m not.

Not mine, not mine, not mine, but Mrs. Price is already turning to page thirty-two, and math problem number four. I don’t know why but all of a sudden I’m feeling sick inside, like the part of me that’s three wants to come out of my eyes, only I squeeze them shut tight and bite down on my teeth real hard and try to remember today I am eleven, eleven. Mama is making a cake for me for tonight, and when Papa comes home everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you.

But when the sick feeling goes away and I open my eyes, the red sweater’s still sitting there like a big red mountain. I move the red sweater to the corner of my desk with my ruler. I move my pencil and books and eraser as far from it as possible. I even move my chair a little to the right. Not mine, not mine, not mine.

In my head I’m thinking how long till lunchtime, how long till I can take the red sweater and throw it over the schoolyard fence, or leave it hanging on a parking meter, or bunch it up into a little ball and toss it in the alley. Except when math period ends Mrs. Price says loud and in front of everybody, “Now, Rachel, that’s enough,” because she sees I’ve shoved the red sweater to the tippy-tip corner of my desk and it’s hanging all over the edge like a waterfall, but I don’t care.

“Rachel,” Mrs. Price says. She says it like she’s getting mad. “You put that sweater on right now and no more nonsense.”

“But it’s not—”

“Now!” Mrs. Price says.

This is when I wish I wasn’t eleven because all the years inside of me—ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one—are pushing at the back of my eyes when I put one arm through one sleeve of the sweater that smells like cottage cheese, and then the other arm through the other and stand there with my arms apart like if the sweater hurts me and it does, all itchy and full of germs that aren’t even mine.

That’s when everything I’ve been holding in since this morning, since when Mrs. Price put the sweater on my desk, finally lets go, and all of a sudden I’m crying in front of everybody. I wish I was invisible but I’m not. I’m eleven and it’s my birthday today and I’m crying like I’m three in front of everybody. I put my head down on the desk and bury my face in my stupid clown-sweater arms. My face all hot and spit coming out of my mouth because I can’t stop the little animal noises from coming out of me until there aren’t any more tears left in my eyes, and it’s just my body shaking like when you have the hiccups, and my whole head hurts like when you drink milk too fast.

But the worst part is right before the bell rings for lunch. That stupid Phyllis Lopez, who is even dumber than Sylvia Saldivar, says she remembers the red sweater is hers! I take it off right away and give it to her, only Mrs. Price pretends like everything’s okay.

Today I’m eleven. There’s a cake Mama’s making for tonight and when Papa comes home from work we’ll eat it. There’ll be candles and presents and everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you, Rachel, only it’s too late.

I’m eleven today. I’m eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and one, but I wish I was one hundred and two. I wish I was anything but eleven, because I want today to be far away already, far away like a runaway balloon, like a tiny o in the sky, so tiny tiny you have to close your eyes to see it.


There is it. I hope you read it. 🙂

I Choose Eustress

Aloha! I’m currently sitting on the beach, watching the sun come up and glisten upon the calm waves of the North Shore of O’ahu. The Steven Sharp Nelson pandora station is playing (#SundayMusic), and I’m still enjoying the benefits of my one-month Pandora One free trial, so my listening has been entirely ad-free. I read my scriptures for about 30 minutes and now I’m content to just watch the waves and write this blog. Life is pleasant. Life is good. I live in Hawaii, so I don’t have a care in the world.


That whole paragraph was a lie. I am definitely not on the beach this morning. I’m hastily trying to write this to make sure Lucy and Aileen aren’t mad at me for missing another week. I went to bed late last night, trying to finish some assignments and study for an upcoming exam. This morning I need to finish preparing a Relief Society lesson and then get to Ward Council as fast as I can. Then there’s a stake leadership training after church. November visiting teaching still needs to happen, so we’ll see if we can make time for that today or later this week. Then I’m going to meet with a member of the stake presidency to talk about my new stake calling, and then we have a fireside. #DayofRest I’ll probably start studying again at midnight.

Sound familiar? Just writing that stressed me out. Relaxing on the beach would be ideal, and I do indeed live about 800 yards from Temple Beach, but I just don’t have time for such activities.

False. Elder Bednar: “We all have the same amount of time. It just depends on how we choose to use it.”

My point in all this is to argue that the way we spend each hour of each day is completely up to us. It was my choice to take 21 credits this semester, and my choice to have two jobs. It was my choice to procrastinate the RS lesson and those assignments and not prioritize yesterday.

Given, some have heavier workloads than others. Some have more “stuff” to do. But we are all in charge of our lives, and we control our daily reactions. I have decided that whether or not we are stressed is our choice. Stress is a choice. Stress is a lifestyle. I learned on the mission that we need to have certain amounts of stress in order to be effective. There’s good stress and bad stress. It comes down to whether or not we have enough resources to combat the stress.

Quick list of resources:
1. Sleep
2. Healthy food
3. Friends/ family
4. Positive self-talk
5. Goal-setting and planning

There it is. Stress will be there, but our reaction is the choice. I am trying to choose to be positively motivated by the stressors in my life, which are actually incredibly minor, and just keep swimming. Eustress is good stress, by the way.

The Cunning Plan


Okay, I need to preface this by saying that I DETEST that expression. For one thing, it sounds totally tacky. Also, we know that it’s completely untrue, and is in fact a considerably irresponsible mindset. You do not only live once. Also, I hope this doesn’t sound preachy or self-righteous. It’s just some thoughts I’ve concocted over the last few days.

Anyway… In Sunday School last week, my teacher mentioned that some people are upset that others who party and mess around and do whatever they want may ultimately achieve the same reward as those who live righteously. She said they “kind of get the best of both worlds” because they “get to do both”.

That really puzzled me, because I can’t think of a single sin that I’d be happy I “got to” commit. The truth is, there is no such thing as a worthwhile sin, there is no such thing as an action without a consequence, and there is no such thing as forgiveness without repentance. No matter what we do, or how small the sin is, we still have to repent, which is indeed a process and must be completed by everyone, no matter who they are or under what circumstances the sin was committed. Alma has plenty to say on this.

The response of one member of our class was that when we get to the other side and are able to see our lives, we will see both the good and bad, and only wish we’d been able to do better. In short, we will never at any time be glad we were able to sin. That’s that. If YOLO, then this would all be different, and nothing would actually matter.

I just want to say that I’m very grateful that we know that YDOLO, and we have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. 22 days until I take off to share that message!!

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be bmerry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

2 Nephi 28:7-9

One of Those Lives

The other day on my bus ride to work, I had the unusual experience of sitting near a man without any legs. When I walked past him, I tried to smile, but he scowled back at me. At the next stop, the driver accidentally opened the wrong door twice, and in her embarrassment, said, “I guess it’s just one of those days.” and to those close to her, “Ever have one of those days?” In response, that man said, “Ever have one of those lives, where every day is one of those days?”


Most people don’t talk on the bus, so nobody responded to him, but what he said stuck with me all that day. One of those lives? Talk about sour attitude! I wanted to walk over to him and share words of encouragement, and discuss the Plan of Happiness or something, but my stop was next, so the opportunity was lost. In hindsight, I guess I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage anyway, because he was pretty darn grouchy.

Although I wasn’t able to talk to him and learn his story and why he’d come to feel about life the way he did, I was able to reflect on my life, and how it’s one of those lives where every day is my best day so far. Why is that? It’s because I know who I am, why I’m here, and where I’m going, and I have a clear understanding of what I need to be doing. What a blessing! Because of that, I’m just about to embark on a journey dedicated to sharing that message with as many people as I possibly can. I can’t wait.

Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God.

Being a Nerd


I’ll say it straight up: I am a nerd. I acknowledge it, I accept it, and I embrace it. To some, this title might be insulting, and some intend it as such. But if you are a true Nerd, you will a) hesitate beginning a sentence with “but”, and b) never be phased such a gentle reminder of the passion within you.

Passion. “Nerd” is actually code for “Passionate”, and should be considered a compliment. I say if you aren’t “nerdy” about something, you’re a boring person. In fact, anyone who is truly great at something is so-called nerdy, because you have to be in order to attain that greatness.

I identify myself as a music nerd, which is inevitable as a Music major. As a college student, you are forced to become a “nerd” at whatever field of study you choose to pursue, because you are completely immersed in all things pertaining to that subject, appropriately yielding the title of Nerd, unless you are just mediocre at, and mildly invested in what you do.

I am also a Harry Potter nerd and a grammar nerd, two categories that are commonly associated with said title. Why aren’t pro athletes graced with the nerd association? Why do only certain categories of nerdy people have that privilege? I could also be a running nerd, a religion nerd, a pie nerd, a missionary nerd, and any number of other sorts of “nerds”. I would gladly accept it.

We need more nerds in this world. They are what make this world interesting.

Political Correctness

I’m doing my homework for my K-2 Math Methods class, and I come to a chapter about writing story problems. This is what the writer had to say:

“Naturally, teachers choose interesting problems that do not promote stereotypes. Women do not do all the shopping while men buy gas and cut the grass. Sensitivity to the cultural practices of each family helps teachers make wise choices. A problem about pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving may not relate to the everyday experiences of many children who eat sweet potato pie at the holiday feast or who don’t have holiday dinners.” 161

Oh boy. Complete craziness.

The idea of political correctness is especially prevalent at this… holiday… season. Holiday. Who chose which holidays are Holidays? I’m going to be honest– I get really offended when people wish me a happy Halloween*. Although I do celebrate it, there are some people who don’t support that wicked day, and we can’t risk offending them by being friendly. The best policy is to take offense if there’s even a slight possibility that someone somewhere could maybe be mildly offended by something. In fact, let’s just call Halloween a Holiday, and then we don’t have to worry about the consequences of spreading our joy by saying something nice to someone. It is a holiday, after all, and it comes just before Thanksgiving, so it only makes sense that we should strip it of its actual title and just stick it in the pile with the other days of celebration whose names are taboo.**

I was watching Fox News the other day, which is actually against my principles, but it was just on while I was eating dinner. This came on:

Wasn’t that great? I love it. I hope you watched the whole video.

*just kidding
**that was sarcasm

Recognizing Beauty

Sorry about the break. I was on vacation between semesters, and then it was the first week of Fall semester, so I decided to take just a small sabbatical. Now I’m back. 
I’d like to discuss my thoughts on recognizing beauty, because I really think it exists everywhere. I believe there is beauty in all things. 
But my question is– at what point to we accept and embrace the beauty we find, and at what point to we dismiss it because of the ugliness it that surrounds it? Do we find the best parts, or the worst parts?
On the one hand, I would say that we should absolutely find beauty in all things, and add it to what we have, and add to it what we can. Other churches can be looked at in this way. They all have portions of truth, and those we can recognize and even benefit from. There is so much that can enrich our lives if we allow, and there is so little progress to be had from identifying what is not enriching. 
However, is there harm in skipping over the bad parts? I suppose another way of expressing that is being oblivious. Is there anything wrong with being oblivious to the negative, while benefitting from the positive?

One example I’m thinking about is movies. I believe there can be great benefit from certain heavy material, such as the Holocaust, if done in the right way. Inappropriate entertainment for the sake of inappropriate entertainment is a waste of time and certainly harmful, and shouldn’t be considered. But I think some things have enough to offer that their cost could potentially be worth it. (As I said, these are just my thoughts. I’m formulating them as I type.) Some movies are really fantastic, except for… You know? There’s always that, “Except for this one scene…” that ruins it. Or does it have to ruin it?

What about friends? What if there are some really great parts of the relationship, but other really awful parts? What if there is a lot of good going on, but also some bad? What if progress is being made on some fronts, but digression is happening elsewhere? What if you could be there to help, even if you’re kind of getting hurt in the process? That is something real to consider.

I’m still torn, and I don’t know what to think. I’m all about finding the good in all things. I have a policy of never focusing on anything negative, and being positive as often as it is possible to be. But when is there a right time to be negative, and give up the good parts?

Where are your manners?

Have you listened to Chess in Concert? It is breath-taking. Have you listened to Schlinder’s List? It is sublime. Have you listened to Come Thou Fount by the BYU combined choirs? It is very moving. Have you watched If Guys Were Like Girls? It is hilarious. Have you heard Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in B-flat? It is exhilerating. Have you watched Happy Together, by the Piano Guys? They are so cool. Or Silent monks singing Hallelujah? It is extremely clever. And I could go on and on.

Do you know what all of these have in common, aside from awesomeness? They all have multiple “dislikes”, and several absurdly rude and un-called for comments! 

I honestly can’t comprehend how any of those fantastic youtube videos can even bring an individual to have any negative feelings whatsoever, but to go so far as to physically (with a single click of a mouse) proclaim to the virtual world that you don’t like it is completely beyond me. Why do we have a need to give our opinion on virtually (ha) everything? Especially if it’s not nice. I mean, come on. Didn’t everyone watch Bambi? And seriously, NO ONE CARES.

Also text lingo. I promised myself I would never type these letters consecutively, but I guess I will, for the sake of this thought. LOL. Oh boy. Does anyone even laugh out loud when they write that? I would guess maybe 2% of the time. It seems to me that it can be an excuse to say something insensitive, rude, or just plain stupid. For example “You look so dumb lol.” “This is really ugly lol.” “I hate you lol.” (Of course punctuation would be ridiculous. Who even punctuates anymore? 

idk if u r still reading this lol jk haha but this is smthng ive thought alot about lol and it just hurts me 2 c mean thngs online lol their r sm thngs i cn handle lol but their is no reason 2 insult ne1 esp. if u dont no them lol 🙂 🙂 🙂 <3 <3 =] 

These are just my thoughts on our virtual society, which actually sometimes makes me ashamed to be part of the human race.

"Old" Age

I’ve kind of been thinking about how age perspective really changes as you get older. For example, until I was no longer a high school senior, I thought high school seniors were old and awesome. I also felt that way about my age in 9th grade, and 8th grade, and 7th grade, and 6th grade…. I guess every year you feel kind of like you’re on top of the world. 

But then you go to college, and you find yourself at the bottom of the food chain again, and you realize that you are but a small child. And people that age are getting married! And the Elders, those old, mature Elders I used to see coming out of the MTC and playing on the missionary field, are but children as well. 

I don’t feel like I can even sound sophisticated enough about my age until I’m 23 at the youngest. Before that is just embarrassing. 

So, sixteen was always old. (And twenty was ancient.) But I found these movie quotes that make sixteen sound… You know. The way it felt at that age. 

The Little Mermaid:
Triton: They’re dangerous. Do you think I want to see my youngest daughter snared by some fish eater’s hook? 
Ariel: I’m sixteen years old – I’m not a child anymore… 
Triton: Don’t you take that tone of voice with me young lady. As long as you live under my ocean, you’ll obey my rules! 

The Sound of Music:
Liesl: I’m Liesl. I’m sixteen years old and I don’t need a governess.

So yeah. But then there comes a time when you realize that you aren’t exactly a child, per say, even if you’re comparatively young, as the general population goes. That’s for times like this:

Sorry if you can’t read that. It’s funny. And I get that I’m still way young, which is the point of this whole thing.

Also this:


I also feel this way:

I really do still think that the ’90s is the “current” decade. 

Remember this?

Ah, good times.

The point is, I don’t feel like I’m getting old. Quite the opposite. But I am starting to realize that time has flown on. Here’s to 80 more years of awesomeness, and never feeling old.