Tuesday, July 31

The Power of the Bread Maker

This morning at the Russell house hold began as any week day morning would: Dad up and getting ready for work; mom out weeding (its summer, otherwise she'd be at school molding young minds); Brooke, Kelli, Kerri asleep in bed. At about 7:00am my body began to wake. This process usually takes a good fifteen to twenty minutes for me. Although there can be a catalyst of two thrown in the mix to move that process along. This morning it was my mother's dulcet tones in the direction of my father. Argus (the giant, black poodle who resembles a small deer according to my friend Melissa) had been outside relieving himself and was unfortunately (for ALL parties) sprayed by a skunk. The dulcet tones of which I spoke of were those of my mother yelling at my dad to NOT let the dog back in the house. HOW HAD HE NOT SMELLED THE DOG?! HE REEKED!! IT WAS PAINFUL!! Unfortunately, due to the limited capacity of my dad's olfactory system he took no notice and happily allowed Argus back into the house.

Needless to say my mother was less than pleased. My dad wasn't the one that had to suffer...he was off to work. My room didn't smell much more pleasant as I sleep with my window open at night. So now the smell had wafted in from outside and was also running through the house in the form of a standard size poodle. I finally got out of bed and proceeded to get ready for my day. My mom came down stairs and I asked her what had happened. I asked if she was taking the dog the the groomers to get bathed and she said yes. I wondered if maybe they'd charge a few extra dollars for the smell...when you get your car washed and it's super muddy it's an extra couple bucks...she said she'd pay a hundred. Then she said that she would be baking bread in every room of the house. She asked if I'd like her to bake some in my room. I laughed, said yes, and went back to primping ;)

To my surprise ten minutes later she walked down stairs with the bread maker ready to go! She wasn't kidding. She really was going to bake bread in every room in the house! BRILLIANT WOMAN! So now when I return home this evening my house will smell of freshly baked bread, and a bathed dog. Ah the power of bread!

Friday, July 20


Sometimes being single in this place that I call home can be tough. Here I am surrounded by so many great examples of strong married sisters in the gospel. I have had the privilege of getting to know a many of these outstanding women and have felt their influence in my life as a lasting one. Whether it is their encouragement to sing in a choir, despite my inability to carry a tune, or their advice on how to be a better child for my parents, or simply the laughter shared – I consider myself greatly fortified in my abilities to become a successful wife and mother.

Yet it seems that my time to become just that is not approaching with the haste I would sometimes like it to….and at times being surrounded by eternal companionship and motherhood leaves me in an ocean of self doubt with waves of loneliness and frustration washing over me. But it is not in my nature to doubt myself. I was not created to doubt – I was created in the image of my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ – I was created in their likeness (Genesis 1:26) – “having been born of goodly parents” (1Nephi 1:1) who have taught me the gospel…born to a mother who once said to me “wouldn’t you rather be happy and single instead of miserable and married to the wrong guy?”, in response to a frustrated comment I had made about being single...(not a commentary in any way shape or form on her marriage) I was born to be an exemplary child of God.

In taking out my endowments this last summer I have seen a shift in my priorities with continued temple attendance. In striving to put the Lord first in my life I’ve gained peace and contentment in my soul, all the while the war with Satan continues to rage on before me; yet so often I know that I go untouched by the influence of the adversary because I have chosen my Savior. The world would have me believe that as a young single adult in my late twenties there is a perpetual party waiting for me. A party where being single allows for more exploits, where I’M allowed to focus on MYSELF so the I can focus on having the best time for ME and not worry about anyone else.

However, in that world I found only temporary satisfaction and a spiritual emptiness that left me wanting. It is in obedience to the teachings and commandments of this gospel – in the keeping of my covenants – that I come to know my Savior and to be engulfed in His love for me. Contemplation of His great Atonement reveals His knowledge of who I am, as He has suffered not only for my sins and pains and afflictions, but also for my personal temptations. He knows, as well as I, and better than anyone else, how Satan seeks to destroy me and with that knowledge stands ready to bless and strengthen me with the tools needed to overcome the adversary. And so, even in my “singlehood” He is always teaching me, building me up to be the child of God, the daughter, the sister, the friend, and eventually, the mother, that He knows I can be.

I’m so grateful for these manifestations of His love, not only through His spirit, but through my family, my friends, my church leaders, and in the beauty that surrounds me. I know that my Savior loves me, that He came here to do the work of a Father in Heaven who loves and knows me. I know that Father has a plan for me and with that knowledge and continued faith I will become all that He has sent me here to be and that the promises and blessings of exaltation will be mine.

Saturday, July 14

Talk is apparently good...but make sure you don't lie.

So the other night my friend asked me what i think the most important thing in a relationship is. With questions like this I usually have some great theory to share about why my reason is the best, and blah, blah, blah...but on Thursday my mind drew a blank...I mean I had nothing! So I sent the question out to some of my friends...HOLY RESPONSES BATMAN! I couldn't believe it. I asked about 60 people and 46 people responded. Who gets a 77% response rate on anything?! (I was forced to suffer through stats in college...no one does)!

What was interesting was that only a few asked why I was asking...they all just answered. One person asked who the question was from...obviously we're not as good of friends as I thought...just kidding Lon! One person even answered and then asked who it was! A few things about this little exercise struck me: 1) the willingness of people to respond without asking for a reason or context of the relationship; 2) who said what; and 3) the responses themselves.

Willingness to respond...

I send out an text message : "Random question: What is the most important thing in a relationship? In your opinion." Then people just started responding...good thing I have an unlimited texting plan on my phone! People just sent their answers. No questions asked (well except for Ed, and Shorty...and maybe a couple others). Why are people so willing to respond to a question like that? I asked my friend Melanie why she thought people were so willing. Her response to that question was that it's something we're always thinking about. ( We're meaning single adults...though I polled more than singles...granted they may be the majority because I am one). She has a point...if we're not in a relationship we may be thinking about what we want out of one when we are, and if we are in one then we're probably thinking about...well...the relationship.

It was also interesting that only one person...if I remember correctly...asked me the context of the relationship. It seems that most responses were to a relationship of intimacy, but I did get one response that was specifically responding to friendship. Though I think that most answers are applicable to any type of relationship

Maybe some people thought they were going to win a prize for answering...sorry guys :( Maybe some people thought I was going to respond to their response with some great mystery of the dating/relationship universe...yeah...highly unlikely...all things considered. What I could do though is go through all the responses and set people up on dates according to their responses...I mean if you're dating someone who feels that the same things in the relationship are most important isn't that going to be guaranteed success right there?! I think that is a topic for discussion all on its own.

He Said, She Said...

Who said what was also interesting...whether it was looking at male vs. female; single vs. dating; single vs. married; married vs. dating; newlywed vs. nearly dead; and just person specific. I think that people's responses say a lot about who they are. So as not to reveal too much about anyone I won't go into specifics, but next time you ask a question...a subjective question...take notice of who says what...it might open your eyes to who they really are. People's responses reveal what they may have been through, their confidence in certain aspects of their life, or lack there of perhaps...do we seek after what we're best at, or do we seek after what we want most that is missing from our own life?

Here is what you said...
Names have been withheld and some responses have been edited for content...personal reasons...not explicit content...get your mind out of the gutter!!
I have included relationship status and gender. (AS FAR AS I KNOW).

"Communication"-dating someone-female

"It's a toss up between communication and honesty. Most likely when you communicate enough, you do it honestly."-single-female

"Communicating through the though things and getting along with each other."-married-male

"Commitment and selflessness. At least that's what I think."-married-female

"The ability to know you're loved unconditionally...Communication is the fall back answer:)"-divorced-female

"Selflessness comes to mind."-single-female

"Unconditional love."-engaged-male

"I would say two things: selflessness and communication."-single-female

"Friendship"-single-male (he later responded and asked to change his answer: "having one").



"Concern for the other's happiness above your own. I think."-single-male

"That's hard...to be unselfish."-single-female

"Trust. Then love."-dating one boy; waiting for another to got off his mission-female...obviously.


"Friendship? Attraction."-single-male


"That's tough cause there really are so many things that are important. But for me it is that he accepts me for who I am and what I do..."-married-female

"Probably solid communication and understanding of each other."-single-male (his response is specifically to a marriage).

"That is hard to give just one all important answer because there are so many but I would say communication, humility."-married-male

"Besides a common gospel bond...communication. No question!"-single-male

"Sex. Just kidding...communication!"-single-female


"The most important thing in a relationship is definitely without question...HONESTY. In the words of William (Billy) Joel "Honesty is such a lonely word" which is so true. if there is one person from who you can require unquestioning honesty...it is the person you are sharing a relationship with..."-male-single

"Tie. Communication and trust."-dating someone-male

"I can't single it to one aspect. I'd have to say honestly, patience, understanding, and sacrifice."-single(I think)-male

"Tough question...Relationships are so complex. I'd say respect or forgiveness."-single-female

"Communication and love. With those all else should fall in to place."-single-male

"In my opinion-trust, integrity. Essentially if you do not have trust in a relationship you have no REAL relationship. There is no foundation."-married-female

"Communication and honesty. I think honesty is really number one."-single-female


"The ability to feel comfortable with the individual and be completely myself and communication. I think communication is probably number one."-engaged-female

"Trust."-dating someone-female

"Sex hands down. Just kidding...for real communication, no joke. Communication is key, then humility."-married-male

"The very thing that is missing."-divorced-male

"Love. To know they truly and sincerely care about you through their listening and asking questions about your day, etc...but sincerely caring what you say."-single-female


"There are so many. I'd have to say genuine respect. What comes from that is emotional honesty, trust and effective communication. Those are the basis of human interaction."-single-female


"Good question! I'm going to go with the Spirit."-single-female

"Trust; emotional trust; trust that they profess they are who they are; not that they won't make mistakes, but they are who they are at the core."-married-female


"I think communication is very important. I think noticing things things that are important to them, liking their interests, doing things for them, being honest, NOT talking ill of them, but supporting them even when they do dumb things occasionally--we all do! I think that being fair and loyal and trust worthy is important, not making fun of them and their choices."single-female. (Her response was specifically to friendships).

"Reciprocated love."-married-female

"Loving someone enough to trust them with everything-the good, the bad, the ugly."-married-female

The Conclusion...

So there you have it folks. In case you were wondering...communication was mentioned 15 times...and interestingly enough so was trust and/or honesty. As I continued to think about the question while waiting for responses, I came up with loyalty and selflessness. Neither communcation nor honesty/trust crossed my mind. I guess I'm a horrible, dishonest, communicator who has no trust in anyone! No wonder I'm still single!

Wednesday, July 4

Ordinary Miracles

Miracle (thanks to Wikipedia): A miracle, derived from the old Latin word miraculum meaning "something wonderful", is a striking interposition of divine intervention by a God in the universe by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified. In casual usage, "miracle" may also refer to any statistically unlikely but beneficial event, (such as the survival of a natural disaster) or even to anything which is regarded as "wonderful" regardless of its likelihood, such as birth.

RE-FINE Spelled Pronunciation[ri-fahyn] Pronunciation Key –verb (used with object)
1. to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.
2. to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.
3. to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.
4. to make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one's writing style. –verb (used without object)
5. to become pure.
6. to become more fine, elegant, or polished.
7. to make fine distinctions in thought or language.

Every day most of us get up and go through a similar routine...whatever that maybe...we are creatures of habit. Often times I look at my life and think, "I'm so boring. I never do anything exciting, or cool." Those are the times where I will wear something out of the ordinary, or put some "outrageous" color of nail polish on. But those things are fleeting and only cure the boredom for just a moment. I suppose I could move to Malaysia...my friend Erin is...kid, husband and all...I imagine that would cure my boredom...but maybe not. This is not to say that I'm not green with envy at the move of my friend...the adventure of a life time...but Erin and said family are not crossing a couple ponds because they're bored...in fact...I think its just the opposite...they're doing it because they're not bored...they're excited about life, and...frankly...because they can. I don't begrudge Erin for it at all...in fact...I hope she stays long enough for me to come and see her. Anyway...enough about Erin... I just don't think that moving across the world would cure the doldrums that creep up on me...as amazing as Malaysia is (I mean that is an assumption on my part) doldrums are cross cultural...again...an assumption on my part.

What cures the doldrums? What brings us out of the slump that we...or at least I...tend to find myself in? Well today I realized that it is the simple moments in my life. Last week I listed some of those simple things...and today I realized that those simple things are what keep me going. Those are the miracles that Queen sings about...every drop of rain that falls, etc...

Great, amazing, fun, outlandish, unbelievable, cool things happen to me...I just don't always recognize them. I mean...of course I recognize the big things...a trip to Hawaii for a haircut (and to see friends...and...HELLO...HAWAII!!)...a cruise in the Caribbean...a trip to Boston...a Sunday dinner consisting of prawns and crab legs (I mean seriously...who eats that normally...oh wait...my family...future blog entry: Christmas dinner two? years ago).

But a drive on Highway 12 is pretty unbelievable...Oreo cookies and milk are pretty damn great...the Twin Falls County Fair is SO cool (unfortunately I won't be in attendance this year...but your little sister only turns 18 and goes off to college once...and hey...another ordinary miracle)! The seemingly ordinary things happen, and I often don't think twice...but in a moment of "poor me" if I really want to pull my self out of these doldrums...I can...because these ordinary moments in my life are miracles...

That's what I think my life is...a series of routines peppered (heavily if I'm looking enough) with many daily ordinary miracles...whether some profound truth is discovered or not...if I'm happier, and more self-aware...then I'm probably better today than I was yesterday...and isn't that kind of the point and kind of a miracle?

Some people think that we live in a God-forsaken world...and though the world is littered with unspeakable atrocities, trash, debasing media, and those who are out to perpetuate all of these things...I know that this world is ANYTHING but God-forsaken. If I have to look harder for His blessings, His goodness...it is only because the hotter the flames in the Refiner's fire, the more pure the thing becomes.

A miracle is not given to give us faith...its given because we have faith. He knows how hot the flames of His fire are...and when we show our strength, our faith...He does indeed bless us. Maybe not immediately, and maybe we don't see it...but it is there...and if we take the time to recognize the ordinary things around us...we will see them as miracles...as a reassurance...a reward...a blessing...for the faith that we have put forth.