Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another Old Home

I am adding another home to my growing list of famous homes visited. The home of George Catlett Marshall located in Leesburg, VA is a beautiful home.

I didn't know much about Marshall, not really the era in history I focus my studies on, so I turned to my good friend Wikipedia to help me learn a little bit about him.

George Catlett Marshall (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense. Once noted as the "organizer of victory" by Winston Churchill for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II, Marshall served as the United States Army Chief of Staff during the war and as the chief military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Secretary of State, his name was given to the Marshall Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

A bright, cheery home on a cold winter day. Seems like a good man and one worth learning more about. I'll have to get my history books out again.

You Never Know What You Will Find

 I went for a lovely walk around the historic Leesburg area the other day. What a charming little stroll. The shops were so cute and delightful to explore. Here are some unique finds that put a smile on my face.
This door was only about 2 feet wide. Little people must live here.
 Robert E. Lee stayed in this house. How cool would it be to own this place now?
 Down a back alley we found a pet shop with a Chia Pet.
 Can I just say how incredibly cute this house is? I could very easily see myself living here someday.
 The best sign on the side of an old house I have ever seen.
The most fabulous cookbook ever. This thing had so many great recipes contained within it's pages. Every girl should have one of these.

Stretch Your Mind and Body

So I figured I would try this yoga thing. I've never really been one that was into the whole "in touch" yoga thing. Call me a skeptic but it just seemed so light minded to me. Anyway, in my pursuit to get in better shape this year I figured I would try it out. (Actually there was a great deal from Groupon to buy 30 yoga classes for $20. Couldn't beat that and I know it helps in getting in shape). I was actually kind of excited about going and just hoping that I would be able to make it through to the end of the class.

We'll I did it. I was able to make it through the entire class and while I didn't do every move exactly as the instructor did with flexibility I was able to do them. And surprise to me, it felt great. I left feeling really good about myself. Knowing I had stretched myself but not too far. I was ready to continue to do more.

So basically I gave yoga a second chance and it worked. You really can grow to like things. Already signed up for my next class. Can't wait. In the mean time I'll keep doing some yoga from youtube videos.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lonely Single Sister

So today I was feeling a little depressed and lonely and lets face it really just wanted someone to cuddle up to me, tell me they love me and hold me tight. It has been difficult for me to see so many of my friends get married and move on in their lives. While I am completely happy for them, I feel like I am being left behind. Lost in a world with no real guiding direction. Feeling emotions of love and physically aching for it at times.

I try to fill my life with things to do but eventually I always fall down into a pit of self pity and loneliness. I know this not a good state to be in. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. In considering this today I knew I needed to hear counsel fromo prophets and apostles on this matter if I was going to get through the day. Below are some words of comfort from the brethren of the church. I've highlighted particular phrases that really meant something to me. heart weeps for the sisters who haven’t had the opportunity to marry. Some of you may feel lonely and unappreciated and cannot see how it will be possible for you to have the blessings of marriage and children or your own family. All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. Eternity is a long time. Have faith in those promises and live to be worthy of them so that in His time the Lord can make them come true in your life. With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy. -The Eternal Blessings of Marriage Richard G. Scott. April 2011 General Conference

“For some, [marriage and family] would appear impossible to obtain. But please have faith, and join that faith with works. The Lord is aware of you as individuals and of your particular circumstances. He will bless you. He will assist you in bringing to pass that which is right and which you righteously desire. Please have faith.” - Elder Earl C. Tingey said at a Church Educational System (CES) fireside

“What of the many mature members of the Church who are not married? Through no failing of their own, they deal with the trials of life alone. Be we all reminded that, in the Lord’s own way and time, no blessings will be withheld from His faithful Saints. The Lord will judge and reward each individual according to heartfelt desire as well as deed.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Celestial Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2008, 94.

“Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you, but on what happens inside of you. It is measured by the spirit with which you meet the problems of life.”
-Harold B. Lee

I think this talk from President Ezra Taft Benson is so comforting to the sisters of the church.

To the Single Adult Sisters of the Church

Ezra Taft Benson
President of the Church

Single adult sisters throughout the Church, I want you to know of my deep love and appreciation for you—for your goodness, for your faithfulness, for your desire to serve the Lord with all your heart “that Christ’s true light through [you] will shine, … his name to glorify.”

We See Your Example and Service

We see so many of you living Christlike lives worthy of emulation and giving such dedicated service in the Church.

We see you leading the music in Primary and, because of your love and care, children’s eyes lighting up as they sing the sweet songs of Zion.

We see you teaching by the Spirit classes in Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School with such excellent preparation and bearing testimony of gospel truths and touching others’ lives.

We see many of you effectively working with our teenage girls, taking them to camp, directing roadshows, going to their dances, and being a great example and a real friend to them.

We see you serving full-time missions for the Lord with devotion and dedication and returning from the mission field with an even greater capacity to serve.

We see you in singles wards and resident wards reaching out to the less active, to the shy, to the troubled, reaching out to the widow, the shut-in, and the lonely and inviting all of them to come unto Christ.

We see wise bishops and stake presidents calling you single adult sisters to leadership responsibilities in wards and stakes. We see you in the presidencies of Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations, where your talents and abilities are being fully utilized.

We see you as a vital part of the mainstream body of the Church. We pray that the emphasis we naturally place on families will not make you feel less needed or less valuable to the Lord or to His Church. The sacred bonds of Church membership go far beyond marital status, age, or present circumstance. Your individual worth as a daughter of God transcends all.
Now, we also know you have special challenges and special needs. Be assured that we are aware of these.

Keep the Goal of Celestial Marriage

I would like to express the hope we all have for you, which is so real, that you will be exalted in the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom and that you will enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
Dear sisters, never lose sight of this sacred goal. Prayerfully prepare for it and live for it. Be married the Lord’s way. Temple marriage is a gospel ordinance of exaltation. Our Father in Heaven wants each of His daughters to have this eternal blessing.

Therefore, don’t trifle away your happiness by involvement with someone who cannot take you worthily to the temple. Make a decision now that this is the place where you will marry. To leave that decision until a romantic involvement develops is to take a risk the importance of which you cannot now fully calculate.

And remember, you are not required to lower your standards in order to get a mate. Keep yourselves attractive, maintain high standards, maintain your self-respect. Do not engage in intimacies that bring heartache and sorrow. Place yourselves in a position to meet worthy men and be engaged in constructive activities.

But also, do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate. Do not be so concerned about his physical appearance and his bank account that you overlook his more important qualities. Of course, he should be attractive to you, and he should be able to financially provide for you. But, does he have a strong testimony? Does he live the principles of the gospel and magnify his priesthood? Is he active in his ward and stake? Does he love home and family, and will he be a faithful husband and a good father? These are qualities that really matter.

And I would also caution you single sisters not to become so independent and self-reliant that you decide marriage isn’t worth it and you can do just as well on your own. Some of our sisters indicate that they do not want to consider marriage until after they have completed their degrees or pursued a career. This is not right. Certainly we want our single sisters to maximize their individual potential, to be well educated, and to do well at their present employment. You have much to contribute to society, to your community, and to your neighborhood. But we earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple to a worthy man and rear a righteous family, even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers. Our priorities are right when we realize there is no higher calling than to be an honorable wife and mother.

The Lord Knows and Loves You

I also recognize that not all women in the Church will have an opportunity for marriage and motherhood in mortality. But if those of you in this situation are worthy and endure faithfully, you can be assured of all blessings from a kind and loving Heavenly Father—and I emphasize all blessings.

I assure you that if you have to wait even until the next life to be blessed with a choice companion, God will surely compensate you. Time is numbered only to man. God has your eternal perspective in mind.

Be assured He loves you and we love you. 

Learn, Progress, Serve

Now, to all the single adult sisters, regardless of your present situation:
Be faithful. Keep the commandments. Establish a deep and abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Know that He is there—always there. Reach out to Him. He does answer prayers. He does bring peace. He does give hope. In the words of the Psalmist: “He is my refuge and my fortress: … in him will I trust.” (Ps. 91:2.) Study carefully the life of the Savior. He is our great exemplar.

Make the scriptures your constant companion. Read daily from the Book of Mormon and receive of its strength and spiritual power.

Realize your personal self-worth. Never demean yourself. Realize the strength of your inner self and that, with God’s help, you “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [you].” (Philip. 4:1.) Life does not begin only upon marriage. There are important things for you to do right now.

Sister Eliza R. Snow declared: “There is no sister so isolated, and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the kingdom of God upon the earth.” (“An Address,” Women’s Exponent, 15 Sept. 1873, p. 62.)
Become fully involved in the Church. Attend all your meetings and your single adult activities.

Reach out to others. Rather than turning inward, forget self and really serve others in your Church callings, in personal deeds of compassionate service, in unknown, unheralded personal acts of kindness.

If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter. Truly in the words of Jesus of Nazareth: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39.)

And always be improving yourself. Set personal achievement goals and stretch to accomplish them. Improve yourself physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. Incorporate the splendid Pursuit of Excellence program into your life. Keep growing and learning and progressing and serving others.

Be Thankful for Blessings

And finally, my dear sisters, be thankful to the Lord for your blessings. Think more about what you do have than what you don’t have. Dwell upon the goodnesses of the Lord to you. Remember His words to the Prophet Joseph: “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” (D&C 78:19.)

My humble desire for the wonderful single adult sisters of the Church is that you will receive all that the Father hath, “even an hundred fold, yea, more.”

And I promise you that indeed you will. All of the blessings of our Father in Heaven will be yours if you continue faithful, if you are true, and if you serve Him and His children with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.

You are choice daughters of our Father in Heaven. You are jewels in His crown. Your virtue and purity make your price above rubies.

In the words of President David O. McKay, “A beautiful, modest, gracious woman is creation’s masterpiece. When to these virtues a woman possesses as guiding stars in her life righteousness and godliness and an irresistible impulse and desire to make others happy, no one will question if she be classed among those who are truly great.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: The Improvement Era, 1953, p. 449.)

God bless and sustain you always. I leave my blessings upon you wonderful sisters with love in my heart for you, and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Balls Bluff

The Battle of Balls Bluff which took place in Leesburg, VA. in October of 1861 was a battle that should never have taken place. 233 lives were lost due to a mistake by Union scouts believing trees were Confederate tents allowing the Conferates to catch the Union troops off guard and push them back down a bluff and swimming across the Potomac River all while being fired upon. Bummer deal for Union Troops.

I had never been to this battlefield before so it was neat to see it for the first time. While the battle grounds are very small compared to other battlefields, the state did a great job of painting a picutre of what took place here with a wonderful interpretive trail to follow you through the woods marking where troops were located during the fighting.

Here is a picture of the bluffs. I would not want to have tried to push a cannon up this bluff nor would I have wanted to march up it with all of my gear on my back.
This was a really nice cemetery that is marked by 24 graves of unknown soldiers. Interesting to note that there are also parts of soldiers in this cemetary and not whole bodies.

The only U.S. Senator to die in the war was General Edward Baker who was shot here while leading his California regiment.

I came to the conclusion that I believe I agreed to let my husband come before me to fight and die in this war and that I would study this war during my lifetime with the understanding from God that we were to recieve all the great blessings He has to offer in the next life. Just a thought.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Often Go Walking in Cemetery's

I really like going walking in cemeteries, especially old ones. There is something so calming and peaceful about cemeteries that I really like. Mostly they give me time to reflect. There is a huge cemetery next to my house that I often stroll through to get my daily exercise. This cemetery in particular is very unique. They have different sections for different religious beliefs. There is a Hindu section, a Buddhist section, a Hispanic section, a Jewish section and many others. There is a memorial section to the 9/11 attack. There is a section for infants. There is even a section for pets. Amidst all these different sections there are some amazing tombstones, sculptures and memorials. It's very unique in how this is all laid out and makes for a lovely walk.

Now I don't really feel sad when I go to these cemeteries. More I am reminded of the lives these people lived and the life they are now living with their Heavenly Father. I feel so blessed to have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation which truly brings happiness to each of us no matter who you are. While many people in this cemetery did not have the same beliefs in this life, they are now in a place where they can learn of these true principles and I know they are calling out and waiting in anticipation to have their saving ordinances done for them. That is the real tragedy in cemeteries. Not the lives that are lost to death but the lives that were not filled with the fulness of the gospel.

Life is so special which I am reminded of when I see a tombstone. The life we live is valued amongst the Lord and amongst those who are left behind. The next life is something we have to look forward to and while I most certainly am not ready to meet my Heavenly Father yet in the next life, I do look forward to the day when I will be received in His arms and be able to enter His kingdom.

So my advice, go sit and ponder in cemeteries more often. The spirit will teach you of things to look forward to.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Four Fabulous Dates

This past weekend I had four fabulous dates with four amazing women. No I don't generally prefer women in that way, but since the men aren't asking I need to do something with my time and there are so many amazing women in my life that I want to get to know and spend time with. Synopsis of dates.

Date 1 was with a friend who I have not spent much time with other than a few conversations at work. I loved learning more about her. I'm hoping we can have a second date.

Date 2 was with a girl whom I love to do things with and she sure does know the way to my heart. I made dinner and she brought the desert which happened to be our activity for the night. We made cheesecake! I love cheesecake. And we didn't make just any cheesecake, this was a caramel apple cheesecake. We had a little flop with the recipe and ended up making a large cake and 2 dozen small ones. They all turned out absolutely amazing.

Date 3 consisted of an early morning walk with a dear friend who I love spending time with. We walked 6 miles on what was a most gorgeous Saturday morning for January. I am thoroughly enjoying the 59 degree weather we are having.

Date 4 was a roadtrip adventure to see what we could see. This date and I have a long standing tradition of getting on the road and following brown signs that lead us to historic places. We ended up walking around the historic town of Occuquan. It's a town that has been around since 1750 and quite charming I must say. And I must love this girl a lot because she talked me into going to a wine tasting. Don't worry I didn't try any of it. She loved having a Mormon Girl with her. It's a ready my DD. We then ventured out to George Masons home for a quick drive by of the house and grounds.

Falls into the Occoquan River

Cute door for an outdoor cellar

George Masons Home
I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of my dates this week and am looking forward to more dates to come this year. Hopefully I can get some with the opposite sex.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reality tv isn't reality?

So a new season of The Bachelor has started and I have to say I am hooked. I really liked Ben when he was on the Bachelorette so it's good to see him again. As I watched the first episode this morning you could see the drama start to play right away. 25 beautiful women show up to win the heart of 1 man. There's the sweet girls, the clever girls, the girl everyone loves to hate, the sensitive girls and the girls who are going to fight to win no matter what it takes. As I'm watching all this unfold on screen I'm thinking to myself, "self, this is kind of like an LDS singles ward." I thought about this more and found several similarities between the Bachelor and the Singles Ward. Lets demonstrate:
  1.  25 women all wanting one man. Have you ever gone to munch and mingle after a new, cute guy has moved into a ward? So many girls make their move to get his attention. 
  2. Munch and Mingle is pretty much a sober version of a cocktail party. Small chats with as many people as you can to get to know them better to see if you want to continue to get to know them. 
  3. Roses are similar to numbers. Right away the guy is started to make note of who is wants to get numbers of and who he doesn't find a connection with. 
  4. First impression rose goes to the girl who catches his eye right off the bat and he makes sure to leave with her number. 
  5. Let the dating begin! Now that he has met all these girls who are throwing themselves at him he can date around a bit. No need to commit to one girl, he has so many to choose from.
  6. The girls start to notice all the other girls flirting with the same guy so they will either a) become more aggressive with each other so when they see him talking to another girl they make sure to throw themselves into the conversation so they can get their time in too. b) Start fighting with each other with all kinds of gossip and back biting while all the while maintaining their innocence in front of him. c) Become so sensitive and self conscious that they figure it's just not worth all this hassle and hope that he just likes you for you without the flirting.
  7. Eventually the guy continues to narrow the pool down through more ward social events. You have FHE, Institute, Firesides, all classic places to continue to meet and have sober "cocktail parties" until finally, there is only one girl left that he truly wants to date where he "proposes" they become an item. Every other girl has been eliminated and while all the other girls are jealous and rejected one comes out victorious. The other girls will try their hand at the next most eligible bachelor that moves into the ward.
So really is reality tv all that different than real life? Maybe more exaggerated for sure but come all, we like the show because in some way we have all been in that position. So I will continue to watch the Bachelor and I will continue to be a contestant in my Singles Ward.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

For New Years Eve I had a fabulous evening. I spent my night doing something I truly love which is volunteering with the Victorian Society. The City of Falls Church throws a huge midnight watch party downtown and I was with the Victorian Society assisting them with part of the event. We were dressing people up in Victorian clothing and taking Victorian era photos. It was so much fun seeing the range of visitors coming in and how excited they were to try on clothing. I loved the kids the best. They would be so shy at first but I would soon have them dressed in cute clothes and smiling big. It was a joy to be there do service to bring in the new year.

Later that evening I went to a house party where there was a ball dropping at midnight and a lighting of the new year including drinks of sparkling cider all around. It was fun to see old faces and catch up with friends. This year is going to be a good one. I have so many goals and things I want to accomplish. 2011 was good but 2012 is going to be filled with many new experiences and opportunities for growth. As Ian Axel sings, This is the New Year!

This Is The New Year lyrics

Another year you made a promise
another chance to turn it all around
and do not save this for tomorrow
embrace the past and you can live for now
and I will give the world to you

Speak louder that the words before you
and give them meaning no one else has found
The role we play is so important
we are the voices of the underground
and I would give the world to you

Say everything you’ve always wanted,
be not afraid of who you really are,
cause in the end we have each other,
and that's at least one thing worth living for,
and I would give the world to you

A million suns that shine upon me
A million eyes you are the brightest blue
Lets tear the walls down that divide us
and build a statue strong enough for two,

I pass it back to you
and I will wait for you,
cause I would give the world
and I would give the world
and I would give the world to you

This is the new year
A new beginning
You made a promise
You are the brightest
We are the voices
This is the new year
We are the voices
This is the new year

What are you doing this New Year?

You will notice me
I'll be leaving my mark like initials in an old oak tree
Just wait and see
Maybe I'll write like Twain wrote
Maybe I'll paint like Van Gogh
Cure the common cold, I don't know
But I'm ready to start because I know in my heart

I wanna do something that matters, say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
I wanna do something better with the time I was given
I wanna try
To touch a few hearts in this life
Leave nothing less than something that says
"I was here"

I will prove you wrong
If you think I'm all talk you're in for a shock
Because this dream's too strong and before too long
Maybe I'll compose symphonies
Maybe I'll fight for world peace
Because I know it's my destiny
To leave more than a trace of myself in this place

I wanna do something that matters, say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
I wanna do something better with the time I was given
I wanna try
To touch a few hearts in this life
Leave nothing less than something that says
"I was here"

These lyrics come from a song by Kristen Chenoweth that really express how I feel as I reflect on my life this past year and think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year. Someone asked me what is was that I learned this past year and as I thought about my answer it was live for yourself and in doing so you will effect others. I've in the past tried to be a people pleaser. I've tried to accommodate people into my life and have found that I have been burned. I've felt left behind, taken advantage of, and used. This past year was no exception to those feelings. While I may have filled my life last year with many "things" few of them were of any great significant importance.

This year I want to change my life and the things I am doing. I don't want to just be "busy." I want to be doing fulfilling things that will be progressing me towards my goals and God's purpose for me. The ultimate goal is to get back to my Heavenly Father and I want to rededicate my life to doing so.

Now not everything needs to be so church focused. I have other interests that I want to incorporate into a stronger influence into my life. There are organizations and causes that I want to look into and join. It's time for me to stop doing "hang out" thing. I don't want my life to be all these hang outs with friends. I want to be doing things that really matter and that I enjoy. I don't want to tell my kids that I hung out all the time in my single years. I want to say I was a part of this organization, or that event as an active participant and not a by stander. I want my life to not just be another life. I'm better than that. I want my life to count for something. I don't want to let the moments pass me by because I was playing around until Prince Charming comes along. I'm young and have so much passion for life that I need to focus on. Ambitions and goals I want to achieve and while marriage is one of them, I have no control over when it will happen. But I do know that it's not happening now so I need to make other fulfilling, good works take a priority into my life.

Thanks Kristen Chenoweth for these inspiring words. I may not make a huge splash on the pages of the world's history, but I can write in the pages my own personal history so when I go back to the Lord I can say, "you gave me these talents, I did this with them and gained these talents as well." And I hope that he will say, "Well done, though good and faithful servant."