Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Graduated Once

That's right folks, I graduated from Southern Virginia University yesterday. After five years and two majors, I'm finally done. While it wasn't a surreal experience for me (I definitely wasn't one of the students saying 'pinch me, this isn't real!'), I sure am glad I made it, and it definitely feels nice to have accomplished that goal. And even though I could've graduated last year, I'm glad I stayed a fifth year and got to learn what I did (from great experiences and not-so-great experiences). And of course, I wouldn't trade my extra year with Joey for anything.

While I listened to the speakers at graduation, I did think about my past five years at SVU and kind of watched my life as a super fast movie. And If there's anything I've learned from my experience, its that God definitely knows me and cares about me and my future. The random scholarship award that got me interested in the school, my last minute vocal audition that got me another scholarship, the good relationships with faculty members, the wards I was in, the proximity to VMI, all the special people that I met along the way---everything in the past five years has worked out so wonderfully and has helped make me who I am and what my life is like now. Everybody has a different idea of how God acts in our lives, but for me, I know He had an active hand in guiding me through everything, from my initial decision to check out the school, through each year that led me to this point. I never would've thought that I'd end up here, but boy am I glad I did. SVU really has been great for me for so many reasons, and I hope the university continues to grow and succeed so others can have equally great and life changing experiences as well.

Despite the fact that it rained half way through graduation (did I mention the ceremony is outside?), it was a great morning and I'm glad my family and Joey (my biggest cheerleader of all) were able to come and share it with me.

So, now its on to packing, cleaning, and then moving in to our new apartment (hopefully tomorrow), finishing up all the wedding stuff I physically can (with the help of Joey and good friends), and tying the knot in 18 days!
I know I know, its absolutely nuts that its finally so close--and that I've (almost) managed to live through an 11 month engagement to tell the tale!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Three Weeks.


I can't believe this is all really happening. Can I just say, I'm really freaking excited.

I know I've been getting madly stressed out lately, but trust me, its really all ok. I just get worked up and overwhelmed, but I know everything will work out and the important thing is that we're getting married. As long as I try to make a conscious effort to relax and not get too stressed out, things will be just fine (but some well wishes wouldn't help!).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Frisbee Painting

For a date night last week Joey and I decided to do one of the projects I did in my Art for the Young Child class. Basically, you tape a piece of paper to cardboard, drip dots of watered down paint on the paper, and then throw it like a frisbee! Simple enough and nothing fancy, but we thought it'd be fun, especially since the weather was gorgeous and its a great outdoor activity. We decided to use an actual frisbee instead of cardboard, so I cut paper circles for our "canvas". Then we just dripped and tossed until we got something we liked!

Pretty fun, huh?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


-- And it can't come soon enough --

Navy Dining Out

Two weeks ago Joey and I attended the Navy Dining Out at VMI. This one was special for Joey because he got his Ensign Bars, which he will wear when he commissions next month!
Though I was nervous about the event when we got there, I ended up having a great time, and I was so glad I got to see Joey receive his bars and dip them in the water representing the seven seas. I sure am proud of him!

 Dipping his ensign bars in the waters of the seven seas

 You can't tell, but he really is holding up his ensign bars

Joey and his friend Ryan, who is going in to the same program as Joey this fall 

Our good friend Chad who is commissioning in the Marine's and is also marrying his gal the day after we get married!

Here's to the first of many Navy Dining Outs!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

iPhonography: Life Lately

Dolcezza gelato in Bethesda
- Met Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell when he came to VMI
- Found a daffodil with at least six stamen--it was like six daffodils in one!
- Easter bunnies at the pet store!
- Mom came down to do the alterations of my wedding dress
- A great find: Rita's Crepes in Bethesda
- Fresh Donuts from the new local restaurant Pure Eats
- Homework, paper writing, and more paper writing....
- A sleeping pug with a face only a mother could love
- The concourse at the National Gallery in DC--which had a stellar Picasso Drawing exhibit!
- A sunny spring lunch at the Blue Sky
- A chocolate dipped apricot from Cocoa Mill - divine!


This time in five weeks we will be married! Oh happy day, its getting so close! 

And in the mean time, I graduate in two weeks and then move into our new apartment, then I get three weeks to make it nice and homey before the wedding and Joey joins me. With most of my papers and projects done, school is winding down, which frees up more time to finish wedding stuff. Joey's also gearing up for the end of the semester and finishing his capstone project for his Mechanical Engineering major. Last week he also got his ensign bars (photos coming soon) which will be pinned on when he commissions! So proud of him. And I had a fun time at my first Navy Dining Out--my first of many events as an officer's wife (gee, I sure do like the sound of that!).

Hope you're all enjoying the beautiful spring weather!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Two Cents

So, I know that this is a sensitive topic, and might not fit in with what we normally blog about, but I feel its very important to address it and deal with it in an open minded, loving way, while still acknowledging the principles and beliefs that we hold dear.

Not sure how many have heard about this, but on Wednesday, BYU held a meeting at which BYU students were invited to listen to and ask questions of 4 gay and lesbian BYU students. The meeting was not recorded, but here is an article about the event. From my understanding, the event was focused on increasing understanding of and kindness towards those who experience same gender attraction on one of the campuses ranked highest for intolerance of LGBT persons. You are free to read the article and interpret it how you choose. Personally, I think this was a great initiative, and in fact, made me like BYU a lot more (as I have not thought its all some people chalk it up to be). I was pleased to see that even my idea of the cold, judgmental, close minded Mormon doesn't apply to everyone out there.
This morning, I found a youtube video sponsored by Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA), "an unofficial group of Brigham Young University students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community by providing a place for open, respectful discussions on the topic of same-gender attraction". Take a look at this video in which several gay and lesbian BYU students, as well as straight allies are interviewed about their experiences and faith.

I also enjoyed this video and the openness with which the students discussed their struggles, feelings, and hope. My heart breaks for those who, like some of these individuals, have feared the hatred of others so much that they have contemplated suicide. That alone is something that needs to be addressed.Going back to the article about the BYU event, the author mentioned a group called the Standard of Liberty. According to their website, "Standard of Liberty is a Christ-based foundation which exists to raise awareness of cultural and institutional licentiousness overrunning America and to provide motivation to restore God's essential sexual boundaries thereby protecting the young, preserving true marriage and family, ensuring religious freedom, and preserving civilized society". They even note that they see all people as children of God and love all people. 

However, after reading their article about the BYU event on their homepage, I'm not so sure they know what that means. Again, this is all my opinion, but I found their website and specifically the article, to be extremely biased and unfair to views that oppose theirs. They used cheap logic in an attempt to cut down in particular Charlie Morgan, the BYU professor who helped hold the meeting. Their remarks about those who are gay and still uphold the Honor Code at BYU were hurtful and judgmental, and not at all what I would consider as valuing "all people as precious children of God". They also argue that we should basically be supporting therapeutic attempts to get rid of one's homosexual feelings and those who are helping people cope with their feelings are only promoting immorality and social degradation. However they have not done their research, or they would know that attempts to "switch" one's sexuality in such a way (aka: conversion therapy) are ineffective and even hurtful to the individual, and only contributes to the suicidal thoughts that affect many Christians with homosexual feelings. Again, I will let you read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. 

So after spending quite a bit of time researching all of this (which consequently, meant not doing my homework once again), there are just a couple things I want to say. In general, I am not a very extremist person, and I "pride myself" in my ability to think open-mindedly and consider various opinions (something I learned from my mom). I also work to make sure that things I believe are in harmony with the principles and commandments of my faith that I hold dear--and if there is some discrepancy, I try to reconcile those things and seek to know what is right. That being said, I've thought about some things that are important to remember in all of this:
  1. God loves his children--all of them. He does not use homosexuality as a punishment for that person, their parents, etc.
  2. God's church is ordered. Nothing will change--specifically doctrine on homosexuality and marriage--without divine revelation to those appointed to oversee the church and its members. 
  3. God still speaks to His prophets. If, for reasons we can't comprehend, God in His wisdom decides to change something, He will do so through his prophets. That being said, their are fundamental, unchangeable truths that church standards are based, and those will not change. People don't need to worry that because of "these gays", the church will institute gay temple marriage. 
  4. When we go to sunday school or listen to church leaders, we must remember that we must teach correct principles, but be compassionate towards everyone. We don't know where people have been or where they are going, but can only see people for who they are now. But in order to continue to have the fullness of the Lord's church on earth, correct principles must be taught.
  5. Groups like the Standard of Liberty are not the voice for the church, and people would be wise to remember that. Likewise, all members are entitled to their own opinion, but it does not reflect the ultimate views of the Church (and please remember this applies to this blog too!). To know exactly what the church believes, one should go straight to the source.
  6. Those who express their views in the forum and the the video are not going against church doctrine. Further, I don't believe they are calling for a change to church doctrine. They simply want to be understood and to help others who are like them to lead happy lives as strong, faithful members of the Church.
  7. As explained by Dallin H. Oaks (link at the end), a way in which we can understand the struggle of homosexual thoughts is that it is a trial that a person has. Just like my trial is anxiety and depression, and another person's might be alcohol, some people must fight homosexual thoughts and feelings. We cannot know yet why people have some trials that they have, and we certainly cannot assign punishment or assume they are a bad person. We are not like God and do not know all.
  8. Since we don't know everything, our only choice is to love those around us. We can indeed support and love those with homosexual thoughts without condoning homosexual behavior. In fact, the distinction must be clear that thoughts and behavior are not the same. God's standard is the same for everyone, straight or not. Acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage is inappropriate for anyone. But if a person has homosexual feelings toward someone, but doesn't act on them, they have not sinned. In the Handbook of Instruction for Church Leaders (link at the end), it is clear in the differentiation between thoughts and behavior. 
  9. Being supportive of someone with homosexual feelings doesn't mean that they will try to "turn you gay" or push their lifestyle on you. It does not mean you are a bad church member or have sinned yourself. On the contrary, our judgment of others, rather than our love and support, will condemn us (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012)
  10. One who identifies as homosexual is in no way less of a human being, less of a church member, or less of a child of God. If they follow the commandments (that again, are asked of straight people too), then they can serve in the Church and also receive temple ordinances. 

If you are still reading, kudos to you! I know this was a lot. But this is a topic I feel strongly about. I am a straight woman with a testimony of the church--which includes knowing that God loves his children! The hatred and judgment I have seen from some other church members towards homosexuals is heart breaking to me. I struggled with this in high school because I went to school with some homosexuals who were more Christlike in their behavior (as kind, loyal, charitable, nonjudgmental people) than kids I went to seminary with. In my mind, that happens when there is not a clear understanding of the church's stance and other aspects of the church's doctrine, like God's love, the order of the kingdom, and the process of revelation. I can see some people being horribly offended by my calling a homosexual Christlike in their behavior. But I truly believe that this is possible (remember points 8 and 10?). 

I hope that for even one person, this has helped clarify some things, or perhaps soften their hearts to their brothers and sisters. This is a difficult topic, but I do believe it is possible to make some sense of it all, if we focus on loving others as God does, and holding to the doctrine and counsel with which we have been blessed.


The Handbook of Instruction (instruction on Homosexuality and same-sex marriage can be found on pages 195-196)

God Loveth His Children (A booklet released in 2007 for helping members who face same sex attraction)

Articles on Homosexuality (from LDS Family Services, with links to other talks)

Same Gender Attraction (A Q&A with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B Wickman)

Monday, April 2, 2012

45, Baby

45 Days baby! 
Oh yeah.

So wedding planning. Here's the thing. Getting married is great, but I don't wish planning on anyone. Sure there are good parts, but its been so much stress. And that's all I'm gonna say about that!

I have a feeling these 45 days are going to fly by. I only have three weeks left of school, then a couple finals, and then graduation. Translation: I have a lot to do! And Joey's going to be in the same boat in a couple weeks too. With everything going on with school, the time to even think about getting married is sparse. Its definitely going to be a wedding bonanza after graduation though, with a last push to get any and all DIY projects finished!
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