because of him

happy easter!!!

seven years ago i spent easter in jerusalem. i prayed among the scarlet poppy flowers and brawny olive trees in the garden of gethsemane and walked along zealous good friday processions on the via dolorosa in the old city and sang joyful praises in front of the empty garden tomb as the dawn broke and filled the world with brilliant light. it was the happiest time of my life - i remember feeling so happy that my body was literally buzzing with joy.

i've been thinking a lot about that easter this week, which has led me to think about other easter memories. i've remembered egg hunts and spring break trips, singing with choirs in church, merry feasts and jellybeans and peeps, and from a young age connecting the joy of the celebrations of spring with the best news of all eternity: that jesus is alive. i've thought about the two easters i spent as a missionary, pouring my heart into the incredibly grueling work of sharing my faith in the risen christ.

and then i've thought of all the times i've celebrated the meaning of easter unconnected to the actual holiday on the calendar - times when i have felt comforted, healed, cheered, understood, forgiven, forgiving, cleansed, renewed and distilled with peace. i feel oh so blessed to know the source of those real and consistent experiences - they come from jesus christ.

i really really believe that he is an actual, living, breathing person and that because of him -- well, because of him ... everything.

because of him all that is unjust and wrong and confusing in this life will be made right. all will be compensated, all will be resolved, and everything will be okay.

because of him, there can be beauty for ashes, an oil of joy for mourning - deep and ugly despair can miraculously become beautiful.

because of him, healing happens.
because of him, perfect empathy with power to cure and mend and illuminate exists and can work miracles when activated. whether it is realized or not, it is the power of his sacrifice and love that ignites those miracles.

because of him, we have opportunities, as many as we will embrace, to change and correct and start again.

because of him, we can have a firm understanding that there is a wonderful (though often so hard) purpose to all of our lives.

because of him, i am inspired to use this life to serve others and to become.

because of him, the earth and our bodies are magnificent and sensational and terrific and in our lives there are moments of such intense beauty that we can feel completely transcendent.

because of him, we can experience true love in all of its shades, and feel confident that that love can grow and last forever.

because of him, there is hope - hope that is so glorious it outshines anything else.

so whether i am walking where he walked in the holy land or doing his work as a missionary or just trying to live like him in my daily life, whether i am celebrating his resurrection on easter day or its impact any other day of the year, i really love jesus.

{how's that for churchy?!}

i hope that whoever reads this has a wonderful holiday - whether it is steeped in faith or not. all of humanity has reason to celebrate the joy of spring and new beginnings and jellybeans and loved ones. i just believe that all that reason and all that humanity is...
because of him.


happy holy week!

i remember in middle school overhearing a girl talking about me behind my back (didn't we all have an experience like that in middle school?). she said, "charity is really churchy" obviously meant as an insult. i remember thinking to myself - "that's right, i'm churchy! you better believe it!", considering it a compliment.

i am very much an independent thinker, relish considering different ideas about faith and religion, really really value openness, tend to have some (relatively, in the mormon world) liberal beliefs, and believe that truth is everywhere. but yes yes yes, i am churchy! i love god a lot and would absolutely be willing to die defending my faith around his character and his plan for his children on earth.

so, that said, it's going to get pretty churchy up in here on this blog during this week (following that last post about the temple!). if you're not into that, come back after easter :) because this is holy week -- commemorating the single most important event in human history: the atonement of the saviour jesus christ. and i'm going to celebrate and share my celebration.

because through my brain and in my veins and my bones and with all of my heart, i believe this:

happy holy week!


at the temple

ten reasons why volunteering at the oakland temple as an ordinance worker is the best:

1. when i am in the temple, i feel peace. my life feels so chaotic and stressful right now, and being in that quiet, sacred place is so soothing and calming and re-energizing and beautiful.

2. four and a half hours completely unplugged resets my perspective and clears the frenzy of constantly being connected. (also, it's fun to have new messages after not looking at my phone all morning :) )

3. i get to interact with people older than me, and learn from them. i spend every weekday with thirty eight thirteen year olds, and every weekend with people my same age - and it's just nice to spend time with people in a different stage of life than me. there is one sister on my shift that is so fabulously eccentric and excited about life who has become a dear friend. yesterday i was able to chat with an elderly woman who is originally from the netherlands, but grew up on the island of sumatra in indonesia and lived in a japanese internment camp on that island for four years during world war two. she told me her story of conversion to the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, and of how she came to the states, and about how much she loves her children and how much she loves the gospel. in the temple i meet ordinance workers and volunteers from all over northern california, who volunteer their time to serve god and others. 

4. i love seeing friends coming to the temple. it makes my heart happy to see people i love coming to find peace and perspective and service and strength. i also get to see friends of my siblings and parents - because i wear a nametag with both my first and last name, i have been approached nearly every shift i've worked by someone who knows my brother or sister or mom and dad. that's really fun for me.

5. in the past i've been so diligent about filling up my saturdays with fun adventures. working in the temple every other saturday has forced me to have a slower and relaxing saturday at least twice a month, which i think has been good for my soul. 

6. that said, when i am already in the east bay, it's an excuse to see friends in the city or in berkeley after my shift. 

7. the view from temple hill is incredible and inspiring. 

8. it's a really beautiful thing to witness brides and grooms in the temple. i've seen brides surrounded by their mom and sisters preparing in the brides room, couples waiting in the celestial room to go up to a sealing room to be married for all eternity, couples meeting in the hallway after their sealing and before leaving the temple together as husband and wife. they just exude heaps of light and happiness and love that feels so fresh and real to me, just a bystanding observer. one of my favourite things has been watching couples walk toward the temple doors - as they turn the corner to leave the temple i can't see them anymore, but i can hear the joyous roar of cheers from their loved ones who had been outside ready to take pictures and offer congratulations. i believe in marriage, and in temple marriage specifically too, so passionately. 

9. learning about the operations of the house of the lord is enlightening and faith promoting. i get to do something different just about every shift, and it's fun!

10. whenever i leave the temple, i feel like this scripture is being fulfilled in me (from the dedicatory prayer of the first temple built in modern times in kirtland, ohio):
and we ask thee, holy father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;
and from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfill that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days.
yes, i feel powerful, and glorious, and watched over by angels. 

i really believe this stuff is real. i love the temple, and i am so grateful for the opportunity to serve there. it has been just what i have needed in my life right now. 
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