Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ode to Mama

I am eternally grateful for my momma, and am so glad for everything that she has done for me!  She has devoted her entire life to her children, for our success and happiness, and I am so grateful for all of the sacrifices that she has made for us.  I am so grateful as well for her strong faith in God, and for everything she has taught me about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Like the Army of Helaman of old, "[I] do not doubt [my] mother [knows] it" (Alma 56:48).  Here are some of my favorite pictures of my mom throughout the years, and of many of the fun times we had together!!!

My mom and her Dad

My Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Rich, Aunt Kim, and mom Cindy

Rich, Cheryl and my mom all dressed up for Easter

My mom in her favorite spot, with a horse!
My mom and I on Easter

Taylor, me and mom

Mom with all of us kids

My mom's missionary nametag from Japan

Me and my mom

At Julia's high school graduation

Mom at Stanford

Me and mom out hiking in Oregon

At Tumalo Falls

Conquering the mountains in snowshoes

Me and mom in Palo Alto

In Palo Alto

Ju, me and mom at a Josh Groban concert

Tay, Ju and mom at the Portland temple

On the California coast

In San Francisco

At the Oakland Temple

Kayaking in Oregon

In her dream location, a dairy
Making gnocchi

Snowshoeing in Oregon

At the Japanese Gardens n Portland

Water fun with Tay in Montana

Graduation Day for momma!

With Ju at the Oregon Coast

Friday, December 18, 2015


It's quite a complicated process to become a licensed physical therapist in the United States, if you did not get your Master's or Doctorate degree in this country.  I had done the research before I embarked on my British adventure:  about 40% of people I read about on the internet took about 5 years after obtaining their foreign degree before finally meeting all of the requirements and getting qualified.  The other 60% had been working on the process for around 10 years or so and were still nowhere close enough.  Despite the grim outlook, I reasoned that at least I had an American undergraduate degree, plus a year of a DPT program in Boston before I withdrew to recover from my traumatic brain injury.  I hoped that with that background, plus all of my coursework in England, I would be fine.

As my time in England was drawing to a close, I had gone over with my advisor all of the requirements needed to pass the Education Review when I returned to the USA.  There were one or two areas that were a little weak, but for the most part, everything was covered.  As I got all of the documents together to prove what my education actually covered, however, there were some items that I did study in England, but the main document my university was sending to the Education Review committee did not mention them.  I tried to get this fixed, but to no avail.  My only hope was that the documents being sent from Boston, that I had absolutely no idea was was contained in them, would fill in the missing gaps.  Otherwise I would be joining the ranks of all those people I read on the internet, taking years and years, with perhaps only some success, in obtaining my physical therapy license.

When I finally had all of the documents collected and sent off, I had to wait 8 weeks to get the result.  What really made me nervous was that in 8 weeks exactly was the deadline to register for the January exam, otherwise I would have to wait until the end of April!  And my massive student loans were certainly not going to pay for themselves....

Throughout my entire postgraduate career, starting in Boston, I knew that God was in charge and that He was guiding my path.  I felt very strongly the need to go to school in Boston, and despite how it ended, I knew that I had done what God had wanted me to do, even if I didn't understand why.  And as I found out about this program in Oxford, again I felt the Lord guiding me in this direction, regardless of the uncertainties of how it could turn out.  So as I submitted all of my paperwork, here at the end of all things, despite all of the stories of rejection and failure on the internet, I continued with faith, paying the over $1000 just to get all of the paperwork and registration bits done in order to take the exam.  It was hard to keep the faith and not doubt and fear with each large check I was writing, and as the weeks passed by and the deadline getting closer with still no word back from my Education Review.  But I would keep reminding myself that God was in charge.  He set this path before me, and I knew that no matter how it turned out, He would take care of me.  Either He would open the way so that I would pass the review and be able to sit for the exam in January, or He would guide me to the things I would need in order to complete all the requirements and eventually sit the exam when it was best for me.

Yesterday, just 6 short days before the deadline for the January exam, I got word back from my Education Review.....AND I PASSED!!!!!!  And, to no surprise, I only passed because of the classes I had taken in Boston.  Had I not had that year in Boston, brain damage and all, I would not have met all of the requirements for the Education Review.  Over and over again, I am in awe at how Heavenly Father knew exactly what He was doing when He was leading me down the path that He has.  Now I am eligible to take the exam!!!!  Only one last monsterous step, and I will finally be a license physical therapist, an adult with a real adult job, able to start real adult life!  Now I just have to keep studying hard so I can pass the exam!!!!!!

Other than that, not too much else exciting has happened since I last blogged.  Before I left England, I visited Scandinavia, which was a dream.  While there, I realized that I really did need to be in Oregon for the next foreseeable future.  Before that, I thought it was just me being biased, just me wishing that Oregon was the right place for me to be.  But through my travels through Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark I came to realize that Oregon really is where I need to be at this moment in my life.
I also got to spend a few weeks on a "goodbye tour" of England and Europe with four of my best friends from my BYU days.  We toured through England, Italy, Paris, Germany, Austria and Prague.  It was so much fun!!!!  I am going to miss that part of the world so very much!

For now, however, until I pass the exam and can get a job as a physical therapist in Oregon, I am chilling with the fam in Saint George.  When I arrived, there weren't any jobs relating to physical therapy or athletic training or anything like that, so I decided to take a part time job at a frozen yogurt place, just for funsies.  It's okay.....but only because I know it will end soon!  I'm not going to lie, it is sometimes really awkward to try to explain to people how you just finished your Master's degree, and yet you are only working part time at a frozen yogurt place.

The absolute best part about being in Saint George right now though, is being with my brand new neice!!!!  Little Vera was born at the end of October, and it has been so much fun being with her!  

Julia looks like an ogre, trying to steal the baby, and Vera is all like "Wheeee, an adventure!"

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Parable of the Burnt Garlic Bread Part 2--The Swiss Watch

At one point in my trip to Switzerland a month and a half ago, I was meandering around Bern and after passing the 10th watch store in about 5 minutes, I remembered that the watch I used to use while working in the temple before I came to the UK had broken and it would be nice to pick up a new one, and I was in Switzerland after all.  So I found a nice white watch that I was quite pleased with and took it home.  I was so happy with my purchase, that I thought I should also invest in a regular watch to wear on a daily basis.  I used to wear a watch all of the time when I was younger, but I honestly can't even remember when or even why I stopped wearing watches.  But after perusing a few Swiss Watch stores, my mind began to create an image of the "perfect watch", the one that would match my personality perfectly, and not only reflect time but also somehow reflect a piece of my soul, since it would be attached to me pretty much every day for the next very long foreseeable future.

Finally, after a long time of perusing the internet, I found on Amazon a watch that I thought seemed to be everything I wanted in a watch.  Well, I hated the strap it came with, but that could easily be replaced.  So I ordered this expensive watch (and a replacement strap) and eagerly waited their arrival.  When the package finally did come and I opened it, I was in for a sad surprise.  The watch face that appeared to be a beautiful slightly pink color in the picture on the internet ended up being a boring brown color.  And then, when I went to open the package containing the watch strap replacement, I accidentally cut through part of the leather of the strap, not just the package wrappings.  I was devastated.  I spent so much money on this watch, tried to take so much care in picking out just the right one, and everything turns out wrong.

Probably most of you are thinking "why didn't you just return it?"  That thought did cross my mind, but my tired little overworked brain could only think how I didn't have time to return the watch and it seemed like a complicated process to do so, so instead I was stuck forever with my mistake.  It was like re-living the parable of the burnt garlic bread (from a post I wrote a few years ago:  The Parable of the Burnt Garlic Bread)  Basically, when I was a little kid my favorite food was garlic bread, but every time my mom would make it, she would burn it.  I would get so excited to eat the most delicious thing ever, only to be disappointed time and time again at ending up with only burnt garlic bread.  And now years later, my life still somehow seems to be going in that vein.

Today I took my "not dream watch" out for it's virgin run in public.  And do you know what, by the time I got back from church, I was convinced I was the coolest person in the world because I had such a fabulous watch. Granted, I still think that a "dusty antique rose" colored watch would be cooler, but it turns out such a color in the current style of my watch just does not exist.  It also turns out, that I was really happy with my watch, despite all of the imperfections.  I think we spend too much time imagining up the perfect whatever, and miss out on the fact that right in front of us are the perfect ingredients to give us happiness, even if they aren't the perfection we imagined.

I've been pondering a lot the scriptures in 2 Nephi 2, where it talks about how it was needed to have opposition in all things, and that without the bitter we would never know the sweet.  I think while we often use these scriptures to explain away why there are trials in life, I've realized as well that this means that when our lives are full of trials and bitterness, these things too need to be balanced out, and that for all of the trials and bitterness that is present, God will send us tender mercies and happiness.  We just need to look out for it and recognize it when it is there.  Satan will do whatever he can to distract us from this happiness and keep us from finding it.  He will tell us that the happiness in front of us isn't the perfect, ideal thing that it could be, so therefore there is no way it could bring joy.  But those are Satan's lies.  There is beauty and joy all around us, and we don't have to wait for perfection before we allow ourselves to be happy.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lessons in Pain

These past two weeks I've had the opportunity through various experiences to learn a lot about pain of all sorts.  Luckily, in those two weeks, Elder Holland came to visit Oxford and gave a fireside for YSA, which was super amazing.  His talk echoed a number of themes I had heard previously in a fireside he gave a couple years ago in the Bay Area, which talk is, in my opinion, the all time best talk to be given ever, and basically a biography of my life.  I've included the transcript and audio of Elder Holland's Bay Area talk below, since if you have never heard this talk and if you have ever had a hard thing happen to you in life, it will be life-changing (unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no transcript or audio of the Oxford fireside, so I can't share that with you).  So as I've been experiencing various lessons with pain the past couple weeks, I've been able to reflect on Elder Holland's words from both of his talks, and come to a much better understanding of life and our relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior.

A week ago, I fell and sprained my ankle, which is probably the most visible and most easily talked about of my pain experiences.  While the injury itself isn't the most painful thing, I have been force to use crutches which has slowed me down significantly.  My normal 1 1/2 hour one way commute to my physiotherapy placement now takes me 3 hours each way, with a majority of those three hours on my feet, crutching along.  This means that I have to leave at 6am every morning, and return at 8pm every night, and that 14 hour day is exhausting!  Luckily there were two days this week where my supervisors gave me the day off to rest and recover.  On the second day however, I found myself confined to my room, unable to do anything or go anywhere, because I needed my ankle to heal.  And thanks to the marvelous and ironic timing of life, it was that time when so many things in my life suddenly seemed to go wrong.  That day I felt that I was trapped in a room with all of my failure laid out in front of me, and there was no where I could go to escape, no where I could hide.  A few different plans and hopes and dreams I was investigating for the future came crumbling down.  I also had a few different miscommunication problems with friends and people I care a lot about.  And then I made quick decisions without thinking things through that caused me to be a burden to others.  And projects that I should have done earlier but procrastinated and now were forced to complete were so much harder and had various negative consequences for having been put off so long.  Not to mention the nagging pain in my ankle throughout the day.

In his talk in Oxford, Elder Holland said there will come moments that are so difficult, that we will be tempted to say that we just don't care anymore.  That it will feel like we have been deserted by God, and that He doesn't care, so why should we care anymore.  I felt like that in that moment.  The weeks leading up to that day had not been easy.  To be honest, I'm not sure if I can remember an easy span of life since the Spring of 2007.  Life has just been progressively getting harder and much more painful.  And in so many moments I have looked to heaven and said "I have reached my breaking point.  If you take this any further, I will shatter completely and there will be nothing left."  In his talk in the Bay Area, Elder Holland said when we reach these points when we feel like we can't go any further, somehow, we do go further.  Somehow, we find we somehow keep going.  In Oxford, he talked about how in these difficult moments if we choose to turn away, we are turning our backs on the Atonement.  In my moment this week when I felt I couldn't go on, I couldn't care anymore, I remembered the promises I had been given recently in Priesthood Blessings, and I realized that if I stopped believing in those promises then, I would be turning my back on the Atonement.  No matter how hard it is to believe in those promises, no matter how impossible it seems, no matter how much this feels like a losing battle, the Atonement is real.  Elder Holland talks about the story when Jesus is with his disciples crossing the lake and the storm comes and the Savior calms the storm, and the disciples begin to realize just how powerful the Savior is.  Elder Holland states that if the Savior is powerful enough to control the elements, why can't we believe He is powerful enough to taken our broken little lives and "fix them up just dandy"?  Elder Holland said this is the church of the happy endings.  Even if I feel I am in the middle of night now, I have to believe that day is coming, that the sun will eventually rise.  And while we are going through these times of a seemingly never ending night, we must remember God's love for us, and that He is closest to us in our greatest moments of pain, even if those are the moments we feel most alone.  That is when God is with us most.

One thing I know about healing from all my training in athletic training and physical therapy is that it takes time to heal.  Healing and repairing and getting rid of pain is a process.  No matter how much we want that quick fix, we have to be patient.  We need to allow ourselves the time to take care of injuries properly and the time to heal.  But if we trust in God, He will be with us every step of the way, and like Alma and his people in Mosiah 24, He will help us carry our burdens and make them easier to bear.  One of my favorites lines of all time from Elder Holland is "God loves broken things".  No matter how broken we feel, it is okay.  We are God's, and He loves us, and He will fix us up just dandy.

Bay Area Talk Transcript:  here

Bay Area Talk Audio:  here  I'm not 100% if I got this to work properly to you can either listen or download the file, so let me know if you can't and I'll email it or something.  The audio is a MUST!!!  Elder Holland is so fabulous to listen to, he is so passionate!  At one point in this talk he is yelling and pounding the pulpit, and it is phenomenal :)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Adventures in Switzer(Wonder)land

I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous before making this trip.  I was obsessed with Switzerland as a child, and was worried I had set my expectations so high and that reality wouldn't live up to my imagination.  When I was younger and living in Oregon, I loved my mountains.  When I heard of a magical place called the Alps, an inconceivably great and glorious range of mountains, and that Switzerland was right in the middle of it, the only conclusion my mind could make was that Switzerland was paradise.  When I was 16, in one of my high school classes we had to create a project where we imagined what our future life looked like, and we had to include everything in it, like our job, marriage, future family, etc, pictures and everything.  In the middle of this project that I created, I have a large picture of the Bern Temple, stating that is where I was going to get married, no matter what.  Now, after all these years, I was finally making the journey to Paradise and see all of these things I imagined as a kid, and I couldn't help but worry I had dreamed too much about how great it could be.

"Oh ye of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Turns out, despite all the rains and clouds I had for almost the entire week I was there, Switzerland did not disappoint.  It still seems quite like Paradise to me, and I would totally live there forever, if only such a thing were possible (after living with a roommate for 3 years who was dating a guy from Switzerland, I almost feel an expert in just how impossible it is to get a Swiss Visa.  Their story ended well though, as they finally got married, she got her visa and they now live in Geneva).

Despite how much I loved Switzerland, my week was definitely interesting, and probably nowhere near the typical tourist experience.  Every time I tried to do one of the major typical tourist things, it completely backfired on me.  I have no glorious picture of Interlaken, or breathtaking views of the Alps after having ridden a gondola to the top of a mountain.  Even the bears in Bern's bear park were on summer vacation while their area was getting some re-construction.  But I was super lucky to have a friend in Switzerland, and because of this friend and other super lovely people I  met along the way I was able to get the ultimate Swiss adventure camping in the mountains, discover the city where my ancestors came from, and enjoy many beautiful views of the country.

Here are some of the pictures I took from my adventures this week:



Bern Temple

Bern Temple


Bear Park--sans bears

Camping in Simmental

The alp we slept in camping in Simmental

Camping in Simmental

Camping in Simmental

Camping in Simmental

Camping in Simmental

Camping in Simmental

Views from maybe Lauterbrunnen, or Stechelberg, or some village like that

Views from maybe Lauterbrunnen, or Stechelberg, or some village like that



Views from maybe Lauterbrunnen, or Stechelberg, or some village like that

Views from maybe Lauterbrunnen, or Stechelberg, or some village like that

Views from maybe Lauterbrunnen, or Stechelberg, or some village like that

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

Snow Leopards in Zürich Zoo!

A long lost cousin in Eggiwil

An old church building in Eggiwil, where my ancestors came from!

Beautiful view from on top a TV/Radio signal tower

Beautiful Bern!

Eating a very Swiss meal...kebabs!