embrace [ɛm-bres]: to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly

(Yes, I know it's view halloo, but I like youuuu better and I feel like it doesn't take away the meaning?)

I'm back and I'm hoping to write here more consistently. About a month ago, I had a new friend tell me she had stalked my blog. When she said that, I thought, "Really and truly, there's not much to stalk on here." So, hopefully that will change?? And hopefully that starts with the blog facelift/thousands of lines of code I was changing and sifting through until 3 AM, woops. 

Since beginning graduate school in September 2013, I feel I've written only a handful of worthwhile posts on this little corner of the world wide web and I have found myself saying, "When I'm done with grad school, I'll have the time to..." a lot. About short-term goals. About long-term goals. Things like embroidering, reading, or cooking more. Things like more ballet and dance and singing and piano in my life. Things like starting a book club with friends, making more phone calls, sending more snail mail, and dating (although heaven knows I had more of that this year than I ever did in my undergrad). While I'm grateful for the experiences and season of life I'm in, I'm really looking forward to that time and it is fast approaching...as in I will be wearing that cap and gown for the last time (but never say never) in June 2015.

I was pondering this last year and the year to come during my long scripture study in Terminal 4 of PHX about a week and a half ago. I was filled with an immense amount of hope and joy and love for all that I've learned in the last year and for all that is yet to be in the year coming our way. Back in September, I had the distinct impression before I started this second and final year of my masters degree, "You'll never regret this time and place in your life; you'll never have this again. So enjoy it all. Learn all you can." 

2014 has been a monumental year for me. 

I can say with confidence I've grown more into the woman I'm supposed to become. I've learned a lot about grace and femininity--how to increase my capacity through relying on my divine nature and the Atonement. I feel it's safe to say I have very few regrets this year, because I tried my best to follow the Spirit while loving others for everything they are and loving more fully the attributes that make me...me. 

Through every challenge and trial and heartache, I've learned more about my Savior and continued to draw close to Him. The Temple, prayer, and scripture study has become more meaningful, more of a feast, more of a need and desire in my life than ever before.

Through every joy, I've learned how truly expansive my heart is and my love for others increased through seeking to see them as the Savior would. I've seen the importance of laughter and dancing to loud music in the living room or car, the importance of vulnerability and faith, and the glimpses of eternal joy given to us in each day, if we look hard enough for them

I really do feel like the luckiest lady alive, especially when I look at my challenges and joys. I can never be truly angry during a trial, because I know the path of my life is what it is...I have faith each day, each moment is what it needs to be to help me be a better servant for my Heavenly Father, a better disciple of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I feel lucky, because of the people in my life and the immense love I've felt in my life through the big and small steps of this year.

I have two take-aways from this year--they come from my journal (which ironically has become more of a letter format...whether it's to specific people or to the dear void, like Kathleen Kelly...not so ironic I guess, because we all know I will never write anything without channeling or mentioning the muse of Nora Ephron's brilliant rom-coms).

ONE: I don't want anyone to read this and think I have it all together or think that I think I have it all together. I certainly don't and I realize my twenty three years mean a lot, but there's a lot more wisdom that will come in the years ahead. There are always going to be many days I'm on the struggle bus or I need the waaaambulance to come get me. But that's okay, because it's okay to FEEL IT ALL. As my dad often tells me, he doesn't trust people who don't readily show emotion or sensitivity or passion in life. Early this year, I realized that my need for perfectionism in everything was unhealthy and I recognized an even greater need to turn to the Savior. Perfection is a myth without Him. And it's a process that comes as we learn to rely on Him. Give yourself grace to know that imperfections are worth loving, whether yours or someone else's. Everyone's imperfections are worth loving, as exemplified by the Savior. He wants us to come to Him with all of our imperfections and ailments. We can come to the feet of the Savior, as the Nephites do in 3 Nephi 17, and He takes us in whatever state we are in (poor in Spirit…physically, emotionally, mentally down trodden) and miraculously heals us, one by one, in an intensely individual way. It's so easy to get overwhelmed and caught up with everything, but I think the Gospel is much simpler than we sometimes make it out to be. The Atonement, while difficult to comprehend, the principle is simple--take your burdens, feelings of doubt and fear, feelings of inadequacy--take it all to him in faith and humility, because He perfectly understands you and He perfectly loves you. He doesn't expect you to have it all together. He doesn't want you to walk through this life alone or without Him to shoulder the yoke. It can be a beautiful, wonderful life when we walk through it with the Savior. He will always be there for you and He will always be there for me. For that knowledge, I am eternally grateful.

TWO: Life is quite interesting, isn't it? Being the list maker and planner I am, I have to laugh every time something blindsides me in MY plan. I've realized more and more the importance of accepting the ambiguity of life, but putting my faith into HIS plan. That's the plan that truly matters. He is the one creating my forever and helping me as I make the choices that lead back to Him. Heavenly Father places many individuals in our lives for many reasons. I know I was supposed to move to Seattle for many reasons, many lessons that could not have been learned from any other people in any other way, any other place. Glorious is each step of progression, each step of choice and agency--most especially when we recognize His hand in our lives.

And not even just recognizing or accepting Him, but gladly receiving, accepting willingly.
Embracing my Father in Heaven and His plan for my life.

How grateful I am for the way Heavenly Father is the master potter; He refines us and shapes our lives into a beautiful masterpiece. Throughout my life, I have felt the peaceful assurance that faith will always turn into understanding, knowledge, and perspective. I have witnessed the miraculous fulfillment of faith and the glimpses of eternity that come through trials. The Lord is all about timing and choice; through seeking to align our will and choices with His plan, He blesses us in the precise moment we need blessings and reassurances to keep us going in the way that leads back to Him. He eagerly blesses us when we graciously embrace the day to day miracles and challenges. I can't wait for the day I can be in His presence and embrace Him and thank Him for it all, for all of this mortal experience. 

Ultimately, I feel that I've learned how to better embrace the ambiguity and the small and big steps toward greater light found in His plan for me during 2014. 
I can't wait to embrace what is coming my way in 2015.
I have a feeling and a hope that a whole lot of pure awesome is just around the corner.

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