Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Thank Thee, O God

As some of you may know, we got to have lunch with Elder Russell M. Nelson this Tuesday. This is a column I wrote about it that will be published in Scroll this Tuesday. Enjoy. :)


Last Tuesday, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stood in devotional and said, “If I had my preference, I would hear from each of you. I would like to get to know every one of you. I would like to learn of your faith, of your goals in life, and of your challenges.”

He obviously didn’t get his wish, but he did sit down to lunch with some students — 14, to be exact. I was one of the lucky ones.

My husband and I met with the other 12 students in the Manwaring Center before we were led to the conference room where lunch was served. When we sat, I saw Elder Nelson without a pulpit between us. There were no Teleprompters, no satellite transmissions to make communication possible. He spoke to us face to face, and something about his candidness made me feel at home.

Elder Nelson and his wife spent the hour answering our questions. One student asked him what it was like to work with the other members of the Twelve. He smiled, and responded, “I still have to pinch myself.”

That was funny, because I was doing the same thing. I took the occasion to ask him how we could learn to best balance our time, and as I phrased my question he looked at me directly. I was suddenly uncomfortably aware of my grammar and word choice, but he took my fumbling in stride. I felt that if any BYU-Idaho student had asked him a question just then, he would have listened with that same intensity. (And by the way, his answer was, in essence, “Schedule the important things first and everything else will fall into place.”)

More questions followed. We asked him how we could help make the Apostles’ job easier (“Be part of the solution”) and what kinds of challenges the Church will continue to face in coming years (“Growth”). His answers were thoughtful, and he took time to explain them. It felt more to me like we were having a conversation than a question-and-answer session.

As he answered our questions, I watched him eat. Though I knew members of the Quorum of the Twelve had to eat, something about seeing it made him seem more human to me. Elder Nelson is a prophet, but he’s also a man, and seeing that side of him somehow endeared me to my leaders. The sacredness of his calling was apparent, and he was simultaneously quite personable.

As members of the Church, we sometimes maintain a relatively flat image of the brethren. We see them as well-dressed men standing behind a pulpit and we somehow imagine that’s how they really are. But there’s more to the brethren than we see at General Conference. They are living, breathing men with families and concerns.

When we finished our lunch, Elder Nelson asked if he could take time to shake our hands. His humility and kindness were incredible and his love tangible.

If I could put into simple terms everything I learned from Elder Nelson, it’s that when he said, “We love you!” he really meant it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I think I found a way to get rich

I have a cluster (that's "half-a-minor" to you non-BYU-Idaho folks) in English, and I'm finishing it up this semester. I'm taking Advanced Creative Writing — Fiction. The funny thing is, I've never actually written any fiction. Except a couple little somethin-somethins in second grade called "The Ghost at Julie's House" and "Amber's Bike," but my mom was the only one who read those (I sold them to her for 75 cents apiece.)

Anyway, this fiction class is AWESOME because I can write whatever I want. I can throw all that "maintain journalistic integrity" and "check three sources" caution to the wind and make stuff up. And it's encouraged.

I've found that most of my "fiction" is just like my non-fiction, only cooler. I can tell stories about my elementary school days that are 95 percent true and then throw in some extra humiliation and call it fiction. It rocks.

The best part is that you can get rich doing this. And your stuff doesn't even have to be that good. You can just have a weird dream one night and then write about it the next day and make bajillions of dollars when they make your weird-dream (bestselling) novels into movies that gross $72.7 million dollars on their first night (where have I heard that before?).

And for the record, I wasn't making that last part up. New Moon really did gross that much on opening night. I still have SOME journalistic integrity.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I may have taken this metaphor too far ...

... but you'll get the idea.

In April, I'll graduate from BYU-Idaho with a bachelor's in communication and clusters (for you non-BYU-Iers out there, a "cluster" is half of a minor. Two clusters equals one minor) in English and Political Science.

I have love-hate relationships with both of these fields. And today while I was trying to swallow 34 pages of "Chapter 4 — Political Attitudes and Participation: Venting and Voting," I decided political science is a lot like peanut butter.

I like peanut butter. I especially like it when it's in a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup — like political science all candied up and wrapped in something delicious, like storytelling. If I can weave something I learned in a political science class through a terrific story, I'm so glad I'm studying it.

I also like peanut butter on PB&Js. Storytelling here is like one piece of bread, journalistic objectivity the other, and good design is the jelly. The peanut butter of political science adds credibility and interest to a good news package. It's a happy little conglomerate of four wonderful fields.

But who can stand to sit and eat jars and jars of peanut butter for hours at a time? Who shoves giant spoonfuls of peanut butter into her mouth without even a drop of anything to wash it down?

Gross, I tell you. Absolutely disgusting.

Friday, January 8, 2010

That's cold, man

One thought has dominated approximately 85 percent of my brain activity this week. At any given moment since school started, I was probably thinking, "It's cold" or "I'm totally freezing right now" or "Is the AIR CONDITIONING on in here?" or "I think my nose hairs just froze."

Since things probably won't warm up around here until at least April, I've created a scale to measure coldness (at least I'm channeling my creative energy somehow, right?). The generic "cold," I've decided, can be classified into one of three categories. "Cold," "cold," and "really cold."


This is the general term that begins circulating sometime in October, generally. It's commonly associated with the complaint that you can't wear a short-sleeved T-shirt with no coat while walking to the store. It's what people say when the Fourth of July fireworks start and they grab their sweaters. It's sissy stuff.


When it starts to snow, you really start to remember what cold means. It inspires scarves, heavy coats and gloves. It requires windshield scraping. It makes you re-route your walk to class so you can pass through heated buildings. It's not fun.

Really Cold

This is the worst thing, on this planet, ever. EVER. It's too cold to snow and there's no cloud cover to keep the temperatures up. It's the cold that penetrates to your muscle fibers and makes your ears sting. It's caused by deceptively clear, blue skies and dry air. It cracks the skin on your hands and chaps your lips. Cars won't start. Frostbite develops during a walk to class, even with the warmer re-routes. Don't even get me started on the wind chill.

It's what we're living in this week.

What kind of "cold" are YOU experiencing?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I thought the Rocky Mountains were a little rockier than that

I know people are always complaining about the BCS (that's "Bowl Championship Series," for those of you who don't have ESPN on in your house more often than the heater), but what it should be understood that what I'm about to say is not a complaint.

It's an honest, flabbergasted question for anyone who can explain.

But first, a little bit of background. I remembered this morning that Boise State University played Texas Christian University in the Fiesta Bowl last night. I've been around enough sports fans to know that that was a big game "because there's a Mountain West team playing." I also know that Ryan and I cheer for Mountain West teams when they play in a bowl game (even if it's the Utes, if they're not playing BYU ... don't tell).

So I asked Ryan if BSU won like we hoped they would.


I know the BCS does things in weird ways, but in all the planning and deciding what teams belong to which conference, did no one interject, "Wait a minute. Texas doesn't have any mountains!"?

I think our school systems need a bigger emphasis on geography.