Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My heart hurts.

My heart is a little sore today--and my eyes are tired of trying to stay dry. 
We lost an angel today, and heaven gained one incredible superhero. 
I'll miss Bret and his motorcycle and his cowboy hat and his animal cookie contributions to our summer barbecues. 
I'm going to miss his voice in our ward choir and the smile and hug he gave me every time I came home for the weekend. 
I'm going to miss him. We're all going to miss him, so much. 
But as much as we're going to miss our superhero, heaven needed Bret more than we did. 

Bret said it best: "I gave it all, there was nothing else to give." 
I'm honored to have known such an incredible man, and even more grateful that I had the opportunity to have him make such a profound impact on my life. 

Today, my heart aches and I don't really know what to say. 
Today, I'm extra grateful for the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge I have of the eternities and I can't wait for the time I get to see our favorite cowboy again. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Heaven is here.

You've all heard the saying that if you saw a pile of everybody else's problems and had to choose which ones you wanted, you'd hurry to pick your own back up, right? 
It's a good reminder that even when you think it can't get any worse, someone close to you is going through something even harder. 

But that doesn't make your own trials any easier, does it? 
I'm pretty much the worst at getting wrapped up in my problems and forgetting about all the wonderful things that are happening right alongside the bad ones. 

There's something about watching someone you love suffer that breaks your heart in a way you can't really explain. There's this incredible feeling of gratitude for getting one more day coupled with this longing for their hurt to stop. It gives a whole new definition to the word "bittersweet."
And in the middle of this chaos of emotion there's an overwhelming sense that you're constantly and completely encircled in the arms of a thousand angels--angels trying to make things easier. Angels supporting the idea that heaven is all around us, that heaven is here.

When I was nine years old, my dad's side of the family decided they were better off without me and my family in their lives. It's a long, confusing, and frankly rather boring story, but ultimately it left me sans one entire side of my extended family. For a long time, this was a huge deal to me. But now, almost 12 years later, I've [more or less] accepted it for what it is, and life has gone on as it always does--with the help of the people in my life. 
As it became more and more apparent that my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins weren't coming around anytime soon, it became a subconscious priority to fill the metaphorical hole in my heart with the people I lived by. 
Lucky for me, that was basically every family in my ward, every leader I had in church, and every family friend we made along the way. 
We moved into a new house when I was in high school, and little miss Mary fell in love with the Frodsham family. 
As Mary's friendship with Bret and Kristi developed from playing in their backyard to motorcycle rides around the neighborhood to finding her their whenever our house got a little too quiet, our families became closer and closer; close enough to title our mismatched group of humans the "Lindsham-Frodberg" family. 
Because family is exactly what they've become. 
Bret and Kristi have filled a hole I forgot I had, and I'm so grateful for the love they show my little sisters. 
Watching Bret these last few months has brought flashbacks of the heartbroken and confused high-schooler I was when my grandma passed away, but it's also strengthened my testimony in a thousand different ways. 
I'm more sure now that the Plan of Salvation is real than I ever have been before. My faith in missionaries and missionary work has increased like I didn't think it could, and I don't just mean missionaries here on Earth. 
But I think the most important thing I've learned is how completely we are surrounded by heaven. 
I feel it the nights we spend reading stories with the Frodsham's. 
I felt it watching my cousins running around making gingerbread houses like we did with my grandma. 
It's in the hugs from past YW leaders in my home ward and the comments my neighbors make on everything I do. 
I read it in the texts from my best friends and emails from my parents. 
I hear it in the late-night talks with Brian and Ashley.
I felt it Christmas morning as the fireplace crackled and we got the most perfect snow storm, right on time. 
I feel it every time I go to, or even see, the temple, open my scriptures, or say a prayer. 
Heaven is so close. It's in every single detail of every second of our lives. Every thoughtful act, every kind word, every person we interact with is a direct influence of the heaven we are surrounded by.
So even though my heart is experiencing a new kind of hurt, it's also this strange sort of happy and full at the same time.
Heaven is here--and for that reason, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I almost forgot.

I decided to become an English major because I love words. If you know me at all, you know I never shut up and I love to read almost as much as I love to talk. Somewhere during the school year though I forget that I love to do what I'm doing and I get caught up in the assignments and essays and forget to read just to read.
Luckily, my bookshelf doesn't leave me when all my friends go home for the holidays and I've had the chance to get lost in a few books over the last week or so.
I forgot how good it feels--to get completely sucked into a story line. To stay up way longer than you should to finish. To get so caught up in a line that you want to print it on every surface in your room.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby will forever be one of those books that I can [and will] read over and over again and always fall a little more in love with.
"And in the end, we're all just humans drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness." 
"You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person that I have ever known--and even that is an understatement." 
"I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self-respect. And it's these things I'd believe in even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all that she should be. I love her. And that is the beginning and end of everything." 
[I mean, let's be real here. Who wouldn't want someone to say that about us?]
I took a class on Charles Dickens and his works this last semester, and as much as I despised his psychotic ways of writing and the way his characters messed with my mind, I couldn't help but relate to some of the things he said. 
"I have been bent and broken, but hopefully into a better shape." 
"Four our path in life is stony and rugged now, and it rests with us to smooth it. We must fight our way onward. We must be brave. There are obstacles to be met, and we must meet, and crush them."
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." 
My American Literature class helped me develop a healthy appreciation for American Literature (besides Fitzgerald, of course) and Kurt Vonnegut has words of advice that I think every person should listen to. 
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be." 
"Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. And don't put up with people who are reckless with yours." 
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'if this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
And some of my random favorites from my favorite novels...
"...Because as good as kissing feels, nothing feels as good as the anticipation of it." [John Green, An Abundance of Katherines]
"Who knows, maybe your love will make me forget all I wish not to remember." [Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo]
"It is to the credit of human nature that, except where it's selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates." [Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter]
"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." [John Steinbeck, East of Eden]
"We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered."[Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead]
"We were just there together. And that was enough." [Stephen Chobsky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower]
We've all read things that rocked our worlds, haven't we? We've all fallen in love with a story and wished a thousand times over it wouldn't end. I saw something that said, "we fall in love the way we do because we learned it from literature." And it's true. I want a love worth writing novels about--and a life worth doing the same. That's why I read. 
What are your favorite lines? 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It means a little bit more.

A Barbie DreamHouse. Polly Pockets. A guitar. Art supplies. American Girl Doll + accessories. 

As a little kid, my Christmas lists were never-ending. There seemed to be a constant supply of things I wanted Santa Claus to bring me [and that probably had a lot to do with the fact that my attention span was even smaller as a child, and every kid wants every toy, right?] and my list got longer and longer as I learned how to spell more and more words. 

It's funny. As I've gotten older and learned about a thousand and a half more items to ask for--I've had a harder time deciding what I want for Christmas. 
I think this gets more and more true every year. 
I don't want a dozens of new toys or a bunch of new gadgets under the tree anymore. 
I want the people I care about to be safe. 
I want to do well in school. 
I want people to get along. 
I want the people I love to be healthy--and this Christmas I'd give anything for a cure for cancer. 
And ultimately, I want to fall in love and be happy. 
You can't find this stuff in a store or on Amazon Prime--and that's been an interesting lesson to learn. 

You get older and grow up and move out and realize that Christmas is so much more than making a list and opening presents. There really is a spirit during this season and it's something I'd pay money to keep around all year round. Maybe that's what I want for Christmas, this feeling through July. 

This year especially, I've had a hard time deciding what I want to ask for when there's so much going on that I can't fix and so many things I want [and people around me want] that simply can't be given. 
It's made me incredibly grateful for the little things this holiday season, and even more grateful that I know the reason we celebrate this time of year.

The Grinch said it best [as Dr. Seuss usually does]. 
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came with out packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, didn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The way things were.

Two years ago, I went to more missionary farewells than I'd ever imagined could happen and said more goodbyes than I thought my heart could handle. 
I spent a lot of time asking myself what on earth I was going to do when everyone was gone,  daydreaming about homecomings and reunions, and somewhere in the "see ya laters" and Dear Elders I forgot to wonder what was going to happen in that happy time in between--the time some people call "the best two years." 
I never saw myself serving a mission--and I still don't. But that doesn't mean I haven't grown and changed and learned exactly what I needed to when my old friends were out serving. 
When everybody first left, I was a mess. I'd gone to jr. high and high school with the same crowd, and my first semester of college had been a whole lot like what my life was in Kaysville, just moved an hour north. We all lived in the same building, attended the same ward, and went home the same weekends. 
Then everybody left. And I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what on earth I was going to do with myself [read, throwing tantrums about having no friends and crying. A LOT.] 
It took a lot for me to realize that all the letters and tears in the world weren't going to make time go any faster, and it was up to me to figure things out now. 

There was one night in particular that changed things for me--it was the summer after my freshman year, and I had just moved into a house with 12 people I didn't know. Lauren and Marley, the two I did know, were at home in Layton, and my mom had just left after helping me move in. I had to work that night at 9, but it was 6 o'clock and I was lonely, getting anxious, and feeling more alone than I ever had in my life. 
So I took a little drive up to my favorite lookout in Logan and put a whole lot of time into wondering what in the heck I was going to do. 
And as I sat there feeling really sorry about myself, lonely, and longing for a hand to hold that could only be found 1,500 miles away, the saying that "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" would not leave my head. 
I've never been a huge fan of change, because change usually means goodbyes and if there is one thing on this planet I hate more than spiders, that would be saying "goodbye." 
The thought of stepping out of my comfort zone enough to change my attitude at that moment made my heart stop, my stomach tie in knots, and my eyes fill up with tears. 
My insides were spinning, but all I could hear were the words to a primary song playing in my head. 
"Pray, he is there. Speak, he is listening." 
I said a quick [humble and whispered] prayer asking for help, and as I sat there thinking some more I became more and more excited for what was in store. 
Here I was, in a city I loved, without the people that had made it home. So now it was up to me to make it my own, and I'd been given the most perfect opportunities to do so. 
If you ever want to see where you stand with your Heavenly Father, do something completely out of your comfort zone and watch the ways that He influences your life. 

The summer went on and I began to appreciate everything that was going on. I was working two jobs, on my feet from early in the morning until way too late at night; but I was meeting dozens of new people. And as I fell into a routine, I made friends that filled where everyone had left. The girls on the A-Team with me became some of my best friends, and Marley introduced me to a house full of boys, and well, the rest is history. 

Those old friends are coming home now, and I like to say "my world's are colliding," which in a way is exactly what's happening. I've found my own footing, and I'm about to let a couple dozen new feet explore for a little while and that makes me all sorts of stressed and excited. 
A lot has changed since I started saying my goodbyes, and as I'm telling those same people "welcome home," I'm noticing changes in myself too. As many times as people tell you, "people change" or "things change," remember that you change too--and change isn't always a bad thing. 
In ten years, if we were the people we are today, not a single one of us would be happy--so why would we want to be the same person we were two years ago or even a few months ago? That doesn't make sense, does it? 
So no, I didn't serve a mission. But I know that I've learned exactly what I needed to these last two years. 
I learned to stand on my own two feet; and when I couldn't do that, I turned to my Heavenly Father before anybody else, and I think that's the most important lesson I've ever learned. 
And to be completely honest, I've had the best two years of my life. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It's a special day.

It's not every day you meet a superhero--and it's an even more rare occasion when that superhero truly changes your life. 

Today is a special day. According to the City of Kaysville, today is Bret Frodsham day.
It's a day honoring our favorite lawn-care expert, neighborhood cowboy, Mo-Tab blasting motorcycler, and our neighborhood Superman. 
Bret is one of our closest family friends, and has been fighting Mesothelioma for over a year.
Despite his own battles, Bret manages to be a superhero for everyone around him [especially my littlest sisters]. He throws the best neighborhood movie nights, hosts the ward choir, and brings a special kind of love with him everywhere he goes. 
So last night, we gathered over 200 people who loved Bret, and threw him the birthday party to beat all birthday parties. 
And as we celebrated Bret and everything he does for us, I learned a little bit from this hero of mine:
Everything is in God's hands--and we have to be okay with that. It's not always easy, and it's not always what we want to do, but it's His will. 
There's always something worth fighting for. As Bret put it, he's going to fight this cancer like it's never been fought before--so why shouldn't we do the same in everything we're doing?

My heart's all sorts of mixed up right now. It can't decide if it's broken or full or empty or happy tonight. Cancer sucks. It breaks hearts and is no respecter of persons--it leaves this wake of tears and heartache and no one ever truly wins. But nights like tonight push those shadows away for a minute, because it's hard not to feel a tiny bit invincible as 200 people sing Auld Lang Syne and God Be With You Til We Meet Again to show support for a man you can't help but love.

Today, I'm grateful for neighbors who are more like family and personal superheroes that give us reasons to keep fighting. I'm grateful for examples of endurance, faith, and hope. I'm grateful for people who prove that even in the midst of heartbreak, there's a little bit of light in the darkness. 
And today, December 7th, Bret Frodsham day, I'm grateful for our personal Superman.
If you don't know Bret, "you ain't seen nothing yet."