Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For there ain't no doubt, I love this land...

I've had a moment to reflect as so many of us do on this day each year. I decided today that I don't think of 9/11 as a day of sadness, because as a naive 13-year-old, the words "World Trade Center" had just entered my vocabulary. The memory is associated with a lot of fear and confusion for me. I came across this video this morning:

It took me back to that night as I was sitting in my living room watching with the rest of the country. At that moment I remember my fear and confusion being replaced by peace. My heart swelled with gratitude because the man we had elected to lead this country was quoting the bible, and offering condolences to an entire nation. As I think about it now, that day, and the following days after, as a nation we showed what it meant to be strong. Not because we went to war, but because we remembered our neighbors, our freedom, and our God.

President Monson wrote a feature in The Washington Post on the tenth anniversary of 9/11:

"There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.

Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well"

One of the frustrations that comes with this recollection, is the realization of how far we've strayed. How the "renewal of faith has waned" as President Monson put it. How expressions of charity have given way to a society of entitlement. Some have even gone so far as to say that the founding fathers were, in fact, not religious or that their beliefs had no effect on the constitution. Now is when the sadness comes for me.

So as we remember where we were 12 years ago, let's also keep in mind the feelings of patriotism, brotherly love and faith we felt.

Friday, September 6, 2013

As of Late...

Wow, what a whirlwind this last little while has been. It seems like the day has just started and it's time to go to bed. We've been busy and truly blessed.

Our last weekend in SLC, we actually left town to go to Shelley, ID for the Harwell Family Reunion. It was great to reconnect with the Harwell cousins. Despite our tent and everything in it getting soaked by the sprinklers, it was a great little trip.

What's not to love about this photo? The Harwell "kids" with Grandpa Stan.
Back row: Scott, Susan, Alan. Front row: Bill, Grandpa, Curtis and Loretta.
The Harwell crew. It's so fun to be part of such a great family.

We zipped home on Saturday night to go to church in our ward one last time and to finish packing before moving day on Tuesday. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who showed up to help move us out. Either they like us or they were excited to see us leave... I'd like to think it was the former. I think I told Ian about 100 times that I couldn't stand to leave such a wonderful place.

Ian's parents helped us drive down to St. George. We packed up our four vehicles and drove caravan-style. After a few days of job hunting and trying to make a place for ourselves, we hit the road again to Palisades State Park for the 1st Sanderson Family Reunion. We weren't sure if we were going to make the trip until the day before, but I'm so glad we did. I have a lot of fond memories with my Sanderson cousins and we stayed up until late at night (ya know, like 11:30 or something) talking and laughing until our stomachs hurt. Such good times.

Megan and I rowing back to shore. Does anyone else think this is as hilarious as I do?
This was the only way we could sit without tipping that teeny raft over.

We're missing a few, but I freaking LOVE these people.
My dear Grandma Bills let us stay in her house in St. George for the first couple weeks. We weren't sure about our employment situation and how much we could afford for rent, so being able to use her empty house was a LIFESAVER! I don't know how we would've made it without her.

I started school two days after the Sanderson reunion, and that same week, I got this in my email:

"Dear Cori,
Congratulations!  You have been accepted as a student in the Dixie State University Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program for spring semester 2014.  You will be allowed to continue through the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program as long as you remain in good standing. Classes will start Tuesday, January 7, 2014." 

I read it a few times to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me, and then I called Ian to tell him. He said, "Yaaaaaaaay! I told you!"

I walked out into the muggy day that is so uncharacteristic for St. George and called my mom. The dam burst at that point and she couldn't understand me through my tears as I told her I got accepted. I felt like a 100-lb weight had been lifted off my shoulders as all the uncertainty about what the next couple of years would bring melted away. I remember as a sixteen-year-old sitting in a class at EFY, a teacher named Brother McKeoen talked about living the life The Lord has in store for you. He related the story of his life after his mission where he decided in a matter of days that he was going to move from The UK to The US, and how everything fell into place because he was following the spirit. He stood and spoke with an intensity I had rarely seen before, or since for that matter, and said, "When you get to the point in your life where you're standing in front of two doors, and one says 'lose your life' and the other one says 'find it', (referring to Matt. 10:39) you run through that first door and don't look back, because you will see some amazing things happen." I remember just hanging on his every word but really having no idea what he was talking about. I've spent the last two years learning that lesson, trying to "lose my life" and have faith that I could do this really hard thing. Reading that letter was the perfect manifestation of the fact that Heavenly Father truly moves mountains when you're living the life he has in store for you.

It's hard to believe, but we've been in St George for almost a month! It's been a bit of an adjustment (mostly avoiding heat stroke) but we're loving it so far. After watching in amazement at even more tender mercies that came our way, we moved into a townhouse on Tuesday. Ian snapped a pic right before we signed the lease.

Our place. #78
We like the extra space, but the stairs have proven to be slightly annoying. I swear I go up and down about 50 times a day. I just stand at the top for a few seconds and decide if I have everything I need before I go down so I don't have to hike back up to get my phone charger or something dumb like that. I now know why it was such a big deal for my mom when we moved from our tri-level in West Jordan to our rambler in American Fork all those years ago.

For the time being, I'm just finishing up a couple last minute classes and getting ready to start the nursing program. Now that I know it's happening for real, I just want it to be here! Ian's starting nerd school in the spring at SUU. He's decided to change his major from Business to Math with an emphasis in Actuarial Science (See, I told you. Nerd school). He'll hopefully start his career as an Actuary about the same time I get done. The words don't do justice when I say how grateful I am for this time in my life, and amazed at how it's all come together.