Friday, August 31, 2012

An Important Lesson from a Spiritual Slap

If I were in a pageant, and my interview question was, "What is the best advice you have ever received?" I know exactly how I would respond. In talking with my dad the night before Kim Wright's wedding, we had created a crisis out of the giant pimple on Kim's forehead. We had tried most everything and were about to resort to Windex, when my dad piped up with this wisdom: 

"Worry about the things you can control."

These words have been ringing in my head for the more part of the last few months. I guess they were kind of a spiritual slap in the face. This morning as I reflect upon my dad's counsel I think I have got a pretty good grip on it. There is virtually only one thing that is really in my control, and that's me. I cannot control other people's behaviors, thoughts, or even feelings. As much as I would like to have my thumb on the joystick of other people's lives, reality has that as being impossible. 

So here I find myself, back in the saddle again. I'm back in my beloved Cedar City attending SUU for my last semester as an undergraduate student. There are expectations for me to live up to, and goals for me to meet; and if those expectations are not lived up to and those goals go unmet, there is only one person to blame. We are only 100% accountable for ourselves. Now, I don't mean that in an "only look out for #1" sort of way. Through listening to the Holy Ghost, and learning how to apply his guidance to self control we will be held accountable for the ripple we create, inclusive of the effect it takes on other people.

As my thoughts trail through my brain, I come to a memory of reading a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf called "Lift Where You Stand." There is one part in particular where he talks about longing to be in a different position so that we can make a difference. Over the past few years of my life, I have longed to make a giant difference in the world. I entertained ideas of traveling to South-East Asia and participating in anti-trafficking efforts, or spending time in the Congo where I could help rehabilitate women who had been sexually assaulted. When the Kony 2012 campaign first launched I wanted to be at the forefront of the effort.

But somehow this all seems bigger than me. I still see these as extremely important world issues, and have all the hope in the world that I will live to see them on the path to being resolved. However, something inside of my heart has softened. I don't feel so much pressure to make an extravagant difference on a world-wide tier. Heavenly Father and I have had a few conversations about merely "lifting where I stand." There is a difference I can make in my immediate vicinity. My focus should be where I can control. He will take care of the rest.

I am starting with me. I am starting by lifting myself out of bed in the morning. I am lifting myself to my feet after my prayers. I am lifting my heart to be full of hope. I am lifting my goals. I am lifting the corners of my mouth to give a smile. I am lifting my arms to hug family and friends. I am lifting my hammer to build the kingdom by lifting the eyes, spirits and hearts of others to heaven. I am lifting where I stand, because that is where I am in control.

While it is a hard for me to let things go, I have to realize that if I can't control it, it isn't worth worrying over. Although I can't control all things, I know someone who can, and I trust Him completely to make the world right. Through placing my faith in Him, there is absolutely no reason to worry.

Please join me in my pursuit to lift where I stand. Together we will lift heavier things than we could lift alone. "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6). Don't underestimate the strength you can build by gradually lifting the small and simple things. Stop worrying about things outside of your power, and focus on what you can control.

Deiter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Run a 5K, Check!

Today I checked a monumental thing off of my summer bucket list.  Thanks to Kim Tidwell, I ran a 5k this morning.  I hadn't really given the race much thought (or training) until Kim mentioned the Alpine Days 5k to my mom in an attempt to help me cross a goal off of the list (really she probably just wanted a blog mention). :) Kim runs a 5k once a month, cool right? So naturally she's a 5k guru.  Given that I am a poor college student, she knew that $5.00 was just the right amount to encourage me that it was plausible. 

So, this morning at 6:30 AM she and Jana Blackham scooped me up and took me to the starting line. Having stretched and hydrated, I was as ready as I'd ever be.  I mean, it's not like I have been running this summer, maybe like... 6 times. Lucky for me I had Imagine Dragons to distract me from the fact I was running.  But really, if you don't know this band, let me introduce you.  Reader, Imagine Dragons.  Imagine Dragons, reader.  They release a new album in September.  One word to describe how I feel about this news: stoked.  

Press play to hear one of my favorites. I only wish it were a music video. 

To document the check mark I made today, feel free to browse the following photos. You may need to do one of two things, tilt your head to the right 90 degrees, or tilt your computer screen to the left 90 degrees, but not both, because that will only end in unnecessary exertion of energy.
Just happy to be beating this 9 year old.
Passed these people in my homestretch.
Sweaty but happy!

I ran the entire time, no walking for this girl! I finished with a final time of 30:32, which isn't bad considering my lack of preparedness.  So, wahoo!  Don't you love crossing things off to-do lists?

Sydnie Juniper

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Road to Twenty-One

Imagine my excitement twenty-one years ago today as I was introduced to the world.  My aunts and uncles were so pleased, my parents proud, my older brother jealous and my grandparents put another tally on the grandchild count.  But, seriously, nobody could have been happier than me.  After nine months of strenuous growth and development all the meanwhile hanging out in a womb,  I was ready for the limelight! 

Okay, so maybe (definitely) I don't recall any of that... but, I am sure of one thing.  Since day one I have been surrounded by the best of the best.  Parents kind and dear is an understatement.  Anyone that knows Steven and Arlynne Landeen knows that they are two of the most quality people in the world.  Both of them are so sincere, compassionate, eager to serve and did I mention HILARIOUS? I do believe that in the pre-mortal life we were able to have some say in who our families would be.  Let's just say that I was the envy of all the intelligences for choosing them first.  For. Real. I couldn't have been dealt a better hand.  Beyond that, I have possibly the greatest grandparents in the world, and in conjunction my extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins are quite the crop.  Then, although Travis may have wished I were a boy for the first few years of his life, he warmed up to me, and was everything an older brother should be.  In only a matter of a few years I was joined by my two younger sisters, who are my best friends.  My family is my foundation, and easily the biggest part of who I am.  I consider myself blessed to be a part of their ranks, and to have what we call "believing blood" running through my veins.  I have been raised right, and I know it.  

Alongside my family; my neighbors and ward members have equally impacted me on my road to twenty-one.  Some have been around since swaddling, and others have worked their way into the patchwork.  Some of them babysat me, and I have babysat others.  Some taught me in primary, others in young women's, and yet more from their front porches with my hand in their cookie jars.  They have counseled me through the hardest times of my life and carried me when I was weak.  They have teased me about my red hair, razzed me about being short, and asked enough questions to keep me out of trouble.  I have had enough support and words of encouragement to fill an Olympic size swimming pool, twice. 

As for those I consider my friends, the list could go on forever.  I have broken it into three categories; childhood, high school, and college.  Chances are that you know where you fit.  My childhood friends are a huge part of who I am, and always will be.  We lost ourselves in imaginary worlds, skinned our knees, and established the deepest kind of trust there is.  Their moms were my moms and could easily chastise me just as well as my own.  Those friends carried over into high school, and my circles expanded.  We worked hard in school, but not nearly as hard as we played.  There are countless incidents that can't be documented, there were crushes that developed and hearts that were broken, but we stood by each other through it all.  Then there was that day when we moved the tassels on our caps and we took big steps towards the future.  I went my separate way down to SUU but came to visit often.  I struggled through my first semester, which was unanticipated.  I thought I was invincible and completely capable of making friends at the drop of a hat, when it didn't come all at once it was hard.  Eventually the Lord placed some people in my life who lifted me and helped me feel at home.  Over the course of the three years at Southern Utah University I gained some of the best friends imaginable.  

The road to twenty-one hasn't always been smooth, but despite the turbulence through the years I'd say it was the best one I could have taken.  There have been pit stops and friendly faces all along the way that have given me joy in the journey.  You may be thinking that I am writing this like a life history, or a eulogy as if I am an old woman.  Don't get me wrong, I know that I am young, and have so much life to come.   Being twenty-one isn't even nearly the end, in fact it is the beginning of a lot of things.  

I've only just begun.  I am still in the spring of my life, and at the beginning of the decade of decision.  So what's next?  Well, that's the question on all of our minds isn't it?  We plan and we plan, but in the end, hardly anything really ends up the way we anticipate it to.  I graduate in December with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and a minor in French.  Then what?  I'll tell you what.  I have decided that rather than have a plan A, B, C, D, and E, I'm establishing five plan A's.  I'm going to prepare for it all, that way when opportunities present themselves I will be ready for anything.  So, go ahead, ask me if I am going to grad school, going on a mission, entering the workforce, traveling abroad, or heck getting married.  Because I will answer with, "I'm working towards it."  The truth is, I am not going to make any irrational moves.  After all I can do, I will turn it over to the Lord to direct my paths.  He has always been a part of my decision making and that isn't going to change.  

So bring on twenty-one, and bring on the future!  

I'd say I got off to a pretty good start today.  Thank you for being so wonderful to me, not just today on my birthday, but every other day of my life.  It is truly the people in my world that keep it spinning, and that means you.  "For of him unto whom much is given, much is required" (D&C 82: 3).  May I endeavor to deserve each of your friendships, because more than just feeling lucky, I feel pretty blessed. 

Here are some photos to document today. 

For starters, Caleb took me out for some late night ice-cream last night.

This morning I played tennis with this girl, who I love.

After work, Grandpa and GranNorma gave me more vegetables than I could ever eat, ever. 

Then we visited my Grandma Landeen, 

Which makes it easy to be the favorite. :)

For dinner dad made some delicious tacos. (also, he made me breakfast too).

 Then after institute Tyler serenaded me with a ukelele.
Meanwhile Alan beat-boxed, and gave me a warm gatorade. 

 Which made me feel pretty special. 

Then to top it all off, I had a visit from my best friend, Hero. 
She made me this friendship bracelet, which i love.

All the while I was receiving phone calls and text messages from people I love.  

This day deserves an A+ in my book. 

Sydnie Juniper