Saturday, January 17, 2015

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Sunday, December 7, 2014


My roommate and I have a theme song.  Almost every morning, one of us will say something like “you know what time it is…”  Then we proceed to blast and sing along with David Archuleta’s “Glorious” on repeat for about fifteen minutes.

If you haven't seen it, you have to listen to it!

Verse 2 is my favorite:

     You will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
     Others around you will start to wake up
     To the sounds that are in their hearts
     It's so amazing, what we're all creating
When we discover and understand who we are, we positively influence those around us.  They start to understand their identity more fully.  It’s a repeating circle.

While it’s wonderful to think about being able to help others value their identity, sometimes it’s hard to know the best way to build personal confidence.  There must be over a million articles titled “How to Be Confident,” and they all say something different.

I believe that gaining more confidence and understanding our identity has less to do with believing in ourselves, as many articles suggest, and more to do with believing in the Plan of Salvation.   

The Plan of Salvation is God's plan for the happiness of His children.  It provides answers to these questions: "Where did I come from?"  "What is my purpose in life?"  Where will I go after this life?"  If you would like to learn more about it, click here.

When we believe in the Plan of Salvation, we are believing in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ will never fail us.  Consequently, we can have continual confidence because the source of our confidence is unfailing.  We might make mistakes or others might let us down, but our confidence will remain intact because it is based on Jesus Christ.

Let us pause to consider the source of our confidence.  Is it centered on the right thing? 

I know that when we build our confidence on the right thing, our understanding of who are will become so powerful that others will naturally “start to wake up to the sounds that are in their hearts.”

**In case you want to read all the lyrics to “Glorious,” here they are:

[Verse 1:]
There are times when you might feel aimless
You can't see the places where you belong
But you will find that there is a purpose
It's been there within you all along and when you're near it
You can almost hear it.

It's like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

[Verse 2:]
You will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are
Others around you will start to wake up
To the sounds that are in their hearts
It's so amazing, what we're all creating

It's like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

And as you feel the notes build higher
You will see

It's like a symphony just keep listening
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our Daily Bread

In temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we learn about the creation of the earth.  I recently wondered why the creation was spread over a six day period.  Jesus Christ certainly could have created the earth and formed mankind in one day, but that was not Heavenly Father’s will.  Heavenly Father directed our Savior to create the earth in stages.

In our lives, Heavenly Father rarely causes events to change instantaneously.  Circumstances change slowly.  We make it through tough times one day at a time.  Needs are met piece by piece.

Slow change can drive many of us crazy because the alternative option is instant gratification, which always appears great.  As much as I don’t like it, I am grateful that Heavenly Father provides gradual change because it gives all of us a unique opportunity to practice relying on the Lord to give us our daily bread. 

One of the twelve apostles of the church recently shared with young single adults about a personal financial difficulty that taught him the significance of coming to the Lord each day:

Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity. I learned that manna today can be as real as the physical manna of biblical history. I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day. (Elder Christofferson, Click HERE to access it.)

I am grateful that Heavenly Father did not rush the creation.  I don't know why it needed to take six days, but I know that He knew what He was doing.  As much as we would like Him to hurry-up with the details of our lives, I am grateful that He (usually) keeps the pace slow because it allows us to focus more on our daily bread, which increases our faith.  I am grateful to know that Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing with all of our lives.  May we trust Him more, especially on a daily basis.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Defining Dreams

One of the toughest first date questions…“So what are you passionate about?” GULP!    

If we were all a little more candid in response to that question, it could go something like this…I am passionate about brushing my teeth really well before I go to bed.  Two minutes just isn’t enough time to get the job done right.  I am passionate about going to the county fair.  The pigs are my favorite because they have so much personality.  Let me also add that I am passionate about eating real food for breakfast.

Most of us would probably never be that candid or silly.  Why not?  I believe it’s because we feel an underlying pressure to have one passion that breathes life into our souls and gives us a purpose for living.  Without an all-consuming passion, we might just come across as ordinary people.

The same underlying pressure exists when it comes to dreams.  By dreams, I mean our goals and desires.  For some reason, what we label as ‘dreams’ seems to be only those aspirations which include exotic lands, prestigious titles, or back-breaking sacrifice.  But why do dreams have to be big, noble, or innovative in order to be labeled dreams? 

Can we be dreamers even if our dreams are small, random, or uncreative?  Absolutely!  There are no parameters defining dreams.  It’s a matter of how we define dreams and dreamers in our minds. 

It’s also a matter of how we react and encourage others when they share their dreams.  For example, compare the two following responses that a girl could give to her date when he shares that he is passionate about brushing his teeth (to be a little silly):  (1) “I love it!  Just out of curiosity, what do you think about when you brush your teeth?”  (2) “That’s random, so what are you majoring in again?”

With response (1), the couple could probably have a hilarious follow-up conversation.  Even more importantly, the guy would walk away feeling confident about his passions, even the small ones.  The girl would walk away with a better idea of what makes her date, himself.

With response (2), it’s clear that there would be no potential for an awesome teeth brushing party.  Worse yet, the guy would walk away subconsciously feeling that the only passions worth sharing are the socially-expected ones and not necessarily the ones which make him himself.

Just as it does for passions, our reactions when others share their dreams can send different messages. 

I used to think that I wasn’t a dreamer.  I eventually realized that I was looking at it the wrong way.  We are all dreamers.  We dream more than we realize.  Sometimes it’s a matter of adjusting our viewpoint.  (Here’s a little secret--adjusting our viewpoints can help with a lot of “I’m not _________” statements.)

Once we believe that we are dreamers and once we give ourselves permission to dream small, we will find that we dream more.  Dreaming won’t be something that only those people with perfect lives do.  We will dream even when we are busy or tired.

I would be amiss if I did not acknowledge Heavenly Father’s ability to create dreams within us.  Several years ago, I returned from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I never dreamed of being a missionary when I was growing up.  Then, one day about six months into my missionary service, I realized that being a missionary was my dream. 

I recently accepted a full time job offer.  It’s a different position than what I ever expected to have, but suddenly I feel that it is my dream job.  Heavenly Father has implanted that genuine enthusiasm within me.  He’s created the dream within me.

In the spirit of writing about dreams, I’ll share a few of my simple dreams for the upcoming weeks.  I would love to hear from you, as well, about your dreams.

I am dreaming of making delicious berry pies for Thanksgiving.  I am dreaming of building a fire in the woodstove when I go home.  I am dreaming of going sledding this winter.  I am dreaming of memorizing “The Living Christ.”  I am dreaming of finishing a book called The Outliers by the end of December.  I am dreaming of putting together food packets that I can leave in my car to give to homeless people.…Now it’s your turn to naming!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Every Day--A Miracle Day!

I want to share a little bit of my testimony about scripture study.  It is that every day is miracle day when I start my day with scripture study.  Every time I prioritize scripture study before anything else, I miraculously have enough time during the day.  

To me, it's the miracle of the loaves and the fishes.  Figuratively speaking, I give my five loaves and two fishes (my limited time) to the Lord and by the end of the day a multitude of 5,000 has been fed (i.e. I've gotten everything done)!  In five years of college (which includes working, exercising, dating, fulfilling my calling, applying for jobs, sickness, etc.), the Lord has never let me down when I've given him my meager five loaves and fishes.  That is true as long as I first demonstrate a little bit of faith by prioritizing scripture study.

May we all make a greater effort to prioritize scripture study.  I know that it's challenging when work or classes come early.  If that is the case, may we work on going to bed earlier so that we can each get up early enough to start our day with scripture study.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our Beautiful Heartbreak

Meet my adorable nephew:


In the words of the singer Hilary Weeks, he is our "beautiful heartbreak."

The story begins in 2011.  My brother and sister-in-law learned that they were going to be able to adopt a little boy.  As the time drew closer, my brother and sister-in-law talked about possible names.  One day my sister-in-law proposed a new name and it felt right.  There came an assurance that this little boy was supposed to be a part of the Blunck family and that was the right name for him.

The time came for my nephew’s birth and my brother and sister-in-law flew out to pick him up.  They arrived at their destination, and then suddenly everything changed.  They weren’t able to adopt their son.

My sister-in-law describes driving into the garage after flying home as one of the most difficult moments of the whole experience.  Her two sons ran up to the car as fast as their little legs could carry them and begged to see their new brother.  She had to explain that they weren’t going to have another brother after all.

She shares that after flying home without her son, one song stood out to her.  She listened to it over and over again and let the tears flow.  It was Hilary Weeks’ song “Beautiful Heartbreak.”

The lyrics are powerful and touching:

I had it all mapped out in front of me
Knew just where I wanted to go
But life decided to change my plans
And I found a mountain in the middle of my road
I knew there was no way to move it
So I searched for a way around
Broken-hearted I started climbing
And at the top I found

Every fear, every doubt, all the pain I went through
Was the price that I paid to see this view
Now that I'm here I would never trade
The grace that I feel and the faith that I find
Through the bittersweet tears and the sleepless nights
I used to pray He'd take it all away
But instead it became
A beautiful heartbreak

I never dreamed my heart would make it
And I thought about turning around
But Heaven has shown me miracles
I never would have seen from the ground
Now I take the rain with the sunshine
Cause there's one thing that I know
He picks up the pieces
Along each broken road

Every fear, every doubt, all the pain I went through
Was the price that I paid to see this view
Now that I'm here I would never trade
The grace that I feel and the faith that I find
Through the bittersweet tears and the sleepless nights
I used to pray He'd take it all away
But instead it became
A beautiful heartbreak

The entire situation was utterly confusing for my brother and sister-in-law because there had been an assurance that the adoption was supposed to happen.  How could they have returned home without him?  Reluctantly and “broken-hearted [they] started climbing” the mountain in front of them.

Many months later, they received a phone call that changed their lives.  They were invited to fly out and bring their son home after all.  There is no doubt that was a miracle.

While this a story with a beautiful ending, there were also feelings of true heartbreak. 

Some people question God’s reality because they see heartbreak in the world and experience it in their lives.  They believe that the suffering is a sign that God doesn’t love us or that He’s not real.

Those thoughts are misguided.  God understands heartbreak better than anyone.  That’s because He watched His perfect son experience the “gall of bitterness” to pay for sins that the son had never committed.  It would break any parent’s heart not to intervene when seeing his child suffer so intensely.  God, the perfect father, surely suffered more than any mortal father ever could when He watched his first-born son suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross.  It broke His heart not to intervene on His son’s behalf.  The only reason that God did not intervene is because He knew that Christ’s suffering was necessary for us to be able to return to God.

We are all intimately acquainted with heartbreak, be it big or small.  I pray that this little post leaves you feeling encouraged.  I don’t pretend that every heartbreak will end with a miraculous turn of events.  I also recognize that discussing the potential of heartbreaks to strengthen us does not suddenly make a current heartbreak feel all-better.

I hope that you will feel assurance that heartbreaks can be beautiful.  Even the heartbreaks with no surprise happy endings can be beautiful because they give us the opportunity to watch how “He picks up the pieces along each broken road.”  We can experience Christ’s strengthening power and find the courage to take steps forward.

Below is the music video for "Beautiful Heartbreak."  I think you'll love it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why So Different?

My brother is an engineer.  I cannot figure out how to open my jammed stapler.  My sister is a math teacher.  Hearing the word calculus makes me feel like I might pass out.

How could we be so different?  We have the same genes and grew up in same home.  Simply put, that’s just how we came. 

Every person on the earth today lived with Heavenly Father before this life.  During that time, each one of us was blessed with unique characteristics, strengths, and aptitudes. 

As a little girl, I always imagined us lining up in front of Heavenly Father and waiting for Him to sprinkle a little bit of magic dust on our heads.  After the dust was sprinkled, we walked away with our personalities and talents.  That’s definitely a silly way to think of it.  I don’t really know how Heavenly Father made each of us so unique, but I rejoice in knowing that “God is the author of diversity” (Meet the Mormons).

Differences are beautiful.  If everyone was like me, we would all be in touch with our feelings but we would have no way to share them.  We likely wouldn’t have paper and most definitely would not have computers.  In fact, we would probably be living in huts with no electricity.

I am grateful for engineers who use their minds to develop technology that produces paper.  I’m looking at my bed right now and it makes me laugh because I see two journals, a notebook for scribbling down blog post ideas, and a few miscellaneous papers.  I am grateful for people who understand electricity and computers because they allow me to share some of my ideas.

I am grateful for people who understand politics, law, economics, medicine, and communications.  The list goes on.  My life and everyone else’s life is profoundly blessed by the combined strength that our individual differences create.

Even with our differences, there are two common threads that connect every single one of us.  (1) We are all children of Heavenly Father.  (2) We all desire to create.

Heavenly Father loves every one of us, and He loves all of us equally.  Ask any set of parents, and few would ever say that they love one more child more than the other.  They may love their children differently, but still equally.  Heavenly Father is the best parent.  His love is endless and equal for each of us.

We can follow Heavenly Father’s example by seeing every person around us as our equal.  We are, after all, spiritual brothers and sisters.

With regards to the desire to create, a leader in the LDS church explained that “the desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf).  Why would that be?  “Remember that you are spirit [children] of the most creative Being in the universe” (Uchdtdorf).  Because we are God’s children, we possess some of His desire to create.

We all create differently.  I create through words.  My mom creates through flowers.  Some people create through cooking.  Some people create through art.  Some people create through music.  Some people create through woodworking.  The list is infinite.  We all seek to create.

The next time we feel tempted to let ourselves feel divided because we approach creation in different ways, may we work to be more unified because of our common effort to create.  May we also remember, most importantly, our common identity as children of Heavenly Father.