Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Piano Guys

I've mentioned Jon Schmidt and Steve Nelson before, but I wanted to do it again. Because this is my blog, I can! :)

I knew both back in my high school days, as Jon was my Sunday School teacher, mentor and friend, while Steve was in my Orchestra class (can you guess what he played?). I don't know exactly when the two of them got together and began creating beautiful music, but the combination of two such fun, talented, inspiring musicians has truly been a gift from our Heavenly Father above.

They are now a part of The Piano Guys, though I think they may actually have formed it. I can't be certain. In any case, they have brought many fantastic videos of Jon and Steve, both separately and together. Their latest video on YouTube features Alex Boye, a brilliant artist.

I admire those who can create beautiful music. I envy them as well. Music has always been a major part of my life, though I'm not proficient in any instrument, nor even in singing. Fortunately for me, that doesn't hinder my ability to enjoy, be inspired by, and feel thrilled when a brilliant piece of music comes my way. This is one of those pieces.

Thank you Jon, Steve, and Alex, for sharing this incredible talent of yours.

Coldplay - Paradise (Peponi) African Style (Piano/Cello) Cover - The Piano Guys ft. Alex Boye

If you'd like to see more, click on The Piano Guys on YouTube for their YouTube page where you can access all their videos. If you like what you see, please pass this along. You can also visit their homepage at

More from Jon Schmidt
More from Steven Sharp Nelson
More from Alex Boye

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Diet Coke Conundrum

According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of conundrum is as follows: a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun; a question or problem having only a conjectural answer; an intricate and difficult problem.

After looking up the term 'conjectural' (fancy word for best guess) I've decided last part of the definition best suits my, uh, situation.

Several years (and kids) ago I stopped drinking all types of soda pop, as with each pregnancy I'd start to like less and less foods and drink. Soda especially turned my tummy upside down. I was doing pretty good too...until my last pregnancy hit. I was desperately sick and the only two things that EVER sounded good were the banana flavored Slurpee and Diet Coke.

My desire for Slurpee's ended with the birth of my youngest, but my love of Diet Coke did not. In fact, I'm quite certain I gained 20 pounds this last year because my love turned into an all out addiction. I'm really not kidding when I use the term addiction. While still draining one day's super-duper-double-triple-mega-awesome load of DC, I was all ready trying to figure out how to arrange my next 'fix' for the next day. It had to be sneaky otherwise it might look like I had a problem (oh no! I sucked up the last drop! There must be some more around here somewhere...).

The crazy thing is I needed the stuff as much for the tasty fix it provided as well as the manic spurts of energy it created. I could actually get things done around the house (and then some!) when I'd indulged. Therefore, in the addicted mind's logical way of thinking, drinking more was a good thing.


I knew it was getting bad when I'd stop in the local convenience store after dropping off the kids at school to get a giant cup of it, then not have a problem with going back later with my husband and getting another giant cup full. Every once in a while I'd start noticing the plastic bottles littering my side of the bed because I'd gotten too lazy to simply throw them out. It began to hit me - I was a Diet Coke-aholic!

Getting to the root of any addiction isn't easy, but mine was. I was tired. I was deeply tired all the time. Right down to the marrow of my bones tired. The problem wasn't depression, for I was sad or angry. I was, very simply, tired. So into the doctor I went, and the words I'd been dreading (hence my avoidance of my doctor) came directly out of his mouth: you need to go in an do a sleep apnea test.

NO! Say it ain't so!

Everyone I had ever talked to about taking the test would thrash their arms, and gnash their teeth and moan as though there was no tomorrow! Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but I was not looking forward to taking the test. I won't describe what happened (saving it for another post) but let's just say it was no where near as bad as I'd thought it would be.

What did surprise me, however, was an unexpected side effect from being on the CPAP machine for only 3 1/2 hours: I had energy to spare the rest of the week. In fact, I didn't even think about needing a nap until about five days later. It was amazing. AND - are you ready for this? - I didn't require Diet Coke to keep me going.

I KNOW!!! It was remarkable and exciting and exhilarating all wrapped up into a fantastic little energy ball. With this knowledge of what could be awaiting me I decided with the New Year there would be no more Diet Coke for me.

It's been a week. I'm in dire need of a fix!!! Even now I'm sitting at my computer knowing there is so much I need to get done and yet I have no energy to do it. I have projects that have been sitting around forEVER, and they will continue to do so. Why? Because I'm trying to be a good girl and not drink Diet Coke.

Funny thing is I'm not having withdrawals as I'd expected: no nasty headaches, no shaking, no crawling up the walls or periodic fits of hysterical crying. Instead there is simply the intense desire for enough energy to make it through the morning and pretend like I did something.

What I didn't count on was how long the process of going from the sleep test to actually getting the machine would be. It's closing in on a month and to my knowledge the doctors from the sleep clinic haven't even gone over my results yet. Then there's the part where I consult with my own doctor, and then we have to get together with the insurance company as well as the company that provides the equipment. What I thought could be done in two weeks or so might actually take up to two or three months.

In the meantime, I'm in agony as to what to do. Do I stick with my goal of no Diet Coke and simply suffer until things are worked out and I'm sleeping better at night? Or do I give in for now and wait until I'm on the machine in the hopes I can function better than I am right now? On the one hand I feel as though I'm giving in to my addiction and giving up on my goal, on the other hand I feel as though I'm giving myself a chance to do what I need to get done until the means to get off the Diet Coke is available.

Do you see what I mean by the Diet Coke conundrum?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Big Lessons from 2011

Looking back on this last year does not fill me with joy. I don't know that I could count on one hand any super-duper moments that have left me saying, "Well, at least there was the time when...". Okay, okay. There were some great times, but even those great times came at a price.

For me, 2011 was a learning year, and there were some hard lessons being taught not only to me but also those I deeply love. It's made me think back to a dream I had a few years ago before my husband was called as a Mormon bishop.A woman had knocked on my door. I was late it getting to it and she was halfway down our walkway when a giant storm hit. I beckoned her to come in and be safe. My husband wasn't there, as he was out helping those in need, so it was my responsibility to care for and comfort our children and this woman whom we had taken in. The storm raged outside, but we remained safe. When the storm at last passed we looked outside to assess the damage. It was horrible. Our home, I noticed right away, had not been touched.

I am a firm believer that God gives us dreams at times as a way to warn, to comfort, and to give instruction. Almost four years later this dream has come to represent the roles my husband and I were to play as well as the promise that even through the storm our home and those in it would be kept safe. The last few years have tested and tried my husband and I in ways I never thought possible. Yet this year was different, for this year I found myself finally learning a few lessons from the things we've been asked to accomplish and endure.Here are some of the things I've learned.

1. Things don't always go as planned, and so we need to be flexible. I was invited to join a small group of women who worked to create a story for the local teenage girls in our area we are over. The story was truly inspired of God and I feel so privileged to have written it. We had planned to have it read at girl's camp in different sections each night. Things were coming together beautifully, and then life hit. The area we were to have camp had not dried enough from the previous winter enough to allow us entrance. It was horrible. Everything fell apart. We felt helpless, and even hopeless, as we tried to figure out what to do.

It was decided the camp needed to be split up into the different congregations (also called wards) and done on a smaller basis. At first those of us involved in the presidencies of the wards felt overwhelmed, but then the most amazing things began to happen. Stories from all over filtered in about how little miracles were taking place in making sure camp still happened. In our own ward we not only had a place open up, but there were experiences which taught our girls the difference between being 'in' the world verses being 'of' the world in ways we leaders could never have hoped to help them learn. We discovered what it truly meant to bend our own desires to the will of the Lord.

2. Just because it's down on paper doesn't mean that's how it'll go. A big part of being in a presidency - no matter whom you may be over - is the ability to plan ahead. It rarely does any good to talk about doing things without writing them down and planning them out. Our ward Young Women's presidency has taken this to heart. Every other month or so we try to get together to make plans for activities and things over the coming months. We were feeling especially good about this just a few months ago as we managed to plan for a half year of weekly activities. On paper we looked major organized and on top of things. Once again, life hit. Nothing we'd planned happened. There were three deaths in a matter of three weeks in our ward. As my husband is the bishop it became his responsibility to be over these funerals - which not only take up a lot of time but is physically and emotionally draining.

At this same time other crazy things were happening to the members of our presidency. One woman had to have surgery. Another was desperately looking for a job. And another ended up having her baby almost 6 weeks early. We were unable to accomplish so many of the things we'd planned. It was frustrating and discouraging. Several activities in a row had to be cancelled. Many times over I had to remind myself it was not the end of the world.

3. If you don't make the time for spiritual things, you'll never find the time. The older our kids get the crazier our schedules become. The kids get home from school and immediately want some down time playing games or spending time with friends or being on the computer. Dinner time comes and then the dishes need to be washed. Afterward is homework until it's done, an act which (depending on the child) can take hours. Soon enough it's bedtime. What was missing? Scripture reading. We used to be fantastic when it came to reading the scriptures. It was every night right after dinner. But soon we were hit with youth activities for M and myself, my husband being called out at all hours for ward members in need, and scouts for the boys. It didn't take long, I am sorry to say, for us to get out of the habit. All of these things are good things we're doing, but we've been failing in our home, and that is one place we cannot afford to fail.

Of course, finding the time to make it happen means sacrifice. Maybe friends or computer time or even homework will have to wait for something far more important and far more fulfilling.

4. If we don't take care of ourselves, the Lord will make us. In my last post I wrote about my husband being sick. We didn't realize just how sick he was until the next day at work when he noticed one of his legs began to hurt just to walk on it. He lifted up the leg of his pants to find the front of his calf red and swollen. Being a diabetic he knew it was necessary to get it checked out immediately, as the feet and legs are typically the first things to be affected. Later that day we found out he had an infection called Cellulitis, one that is fast acting and usually manages to place it's victims in the hospital on an iv drop. We had caught it early enough so a trip to the hospital was not necessary, but it did mean he needed to stay off of his leg for about a week.

Those who know my husband will quickly realize how torturous that was for him. He is a physically active man and does not take kindly to being kept down. I had to chuckle, however, as the same comment kept coming from family and friends: "I'm so sorry he's sick, but at the same time I'm glad he gets to rest." My husband will work himself to exhaustion doing all he can for Heavenly Father's children. Though he hated being made to sit down and do nothing for several days, it was obviously needed. And if he wouldn't do what was necessary to allow his mortal body to rest so he might still be of service, the Lord made certain he did.

5. People have to go through tough times. They just do. And sometimes the hardest thing we can do is let them. I have watched so many of our beloved friends and ward members go through excruciating things in the last year. All I have wanted to do was make it better. I wanted to bring them into my home and out of the storm. If there was a way to make the pain go away I wished for it to happen. But that is not the Lord's plan. I know this. I've known it most of my life. I know and understand it more and more as the years drift by. Yet knowing it does not make watching others learn it easier. I cannot take their pain away, but I don't have to. The Lord all ready suffered for it. I can, however, take them in my arms and help support them when it gets too hard to hold themselves up. And this leads me to the greatest lesson I've learned this year.

6. We have to trust in the Lord, and faith is key. All the knowledge in the world does us no good when it comes to putting the things we've learned into action. More than once this year have I found myself at the end of my rope, unable to give, with no idea what to do next. It has been at these points where I have had to lay all the problems down at the feet of the Lord and say, "Help." And He has. I have found peace when needed. Fears and troubles have been placed at bay so I might continue on. When I have been weak and unable to stand on my own two feet He has been there to lift me up.

I have found myself needing to trust in Him more than myself, but also trust He will work His works through me. It's difficult for me to express all that this means to me, nor the intricacies of the knowledge this brings. I cannot begin to tell you how humble I feel, knowing the difference between how much I can do on my own and how much I can do with Him. My faith has grown this year.

I am happy to leave behind 2011. It was not an easy year. Yet I would not trade anything that happened it in for easier times. If I were to do that I would lose all the blessings and knowledge I have gained. For this I am grateful to a loving Father and Brother who have been by my side over the last twelve months...well, really my whole life. While I pray for a time of peace in 2012, I know if this is not meant to be I will still be okay in my little house, regardless of how the storm may rage.