Observations on the end of the year

2012 is ending and I might as well be in shock because I keep on forgetting about it or denying it. There is no way that this year is over; no way that 2013 is here. Since Dustin stepped into my life back in that fated humanities classroom in 2010, 2013 seemed like a far-off fantasy or dream; something I would always be working towards but would never actually see. And here it is; literally waiting for me just around the corner and by this time next week, I'll probably be sitting next to him or hugging him or just watching him (in a non-creepy way, of course). It scares and excites the living daylights out of me and as I told Elder Craig today as he asked me how I felt: I just can't think about it too much or else I'll go crazy.

And so I've been putting around my home in New Hampshire, reading books and playing guitar and watching both seasons of Downton Abbey with my mom and sisters in the span of four days. Trying not to think too far ahead and instead, reflecting back.

Back in the beginning of June, when my world was filled with construction paper and daily meals of rice and small hands constantly holding mine, I got an email from a girl who had stumbled across my China blog and who was planning on coming to teach at Daguanghua in the Fall. We kept in touch throughout the end of my stay and into the beginning of her trip; I tried to prepare her as much as I could for life in China and for the way those kids would change her life. She just got back into the States and I had the chance to look through her photos. Precious faces with those same big grins that I had grown accustomed to beamed up at me through my screen and I swear I could almost smell my classroom again and hear the constant babble of Mandarin coming down my hallway. My heart misses those first moments of waiting for my students to come down that hall and hug me every day.

Looking back, I still can't believe that I spent the first half of this year living in CHINA of all places, teaching English to second and third graders. I can't believe that I actually mastered chop sticks, that I learned how to kill roaches without crying and that I walked up and down 286 steps daily. It's all a blur now, but a vivid one. I can recall small and random details without trying; sometimes I catch a glimpse of the animal cutouts hanging on my classroom wall, Beth's toothless smile or the kittens we rescued from the bushes. I can still smell stinky tofu in the night market downtown, see the isles of DVDs that we would pour through every Friday night and remember some of the dance steps we learned from the weird workout class at Happy Gate. I remember the early mornings I spent on the rooftop of our hostel in Yangshuo, listening to the little village come to life and looking over the river and into the mountains and thinking "How on Earth can I ever go back to normal life after experiencing this?" And I remember the day I said goodbye to my kids and Jane walked down the hallway backwards, waving and repeating: "goodbye, teecha, I lovah you."

I guess that's how I know I have really changed; really grown from those experiences on the other side of the world. To look back at those small details from China and to still have tears seep out of my eyes because I am so moved by them. I miss my little ones in China; miss the simple life I lead there when everything I did revolved around their well-being, their education, their happiness. Giving those kids the English language in a country where their prospects of a "good" life are so slim is one life-changing thing, but loving them, not only in the American way, but in a way that Christ would, is really what did it for me, I think. I have never understood sacrifice so completely until I served in China; nor unconditional love. And while I still don't think I will ever grasp those concepts completely in the sense of my Savior, I do think I understand it a bit more.

These are all my random thoughts on the brink of the last day of 2012. I'm not entirely sure what the point of all this was; I just wanted to put them all down-remember them. I really loved this year; loved who it taught me to be and the person it inspired me to become. I hope I make those kids proud; hope that I am still worthy of that unconditional love they constantly showed me.

But, of course, as sad as I am to see this year and all of my adventures go, do not be completely fooled. Because I am so incredibly excited and hopeful for this year, and the things to come.

I am looking through a telescope lens; and I know I'll see him soon.


Sister #6

"You can never trust my mom when playing scrabble. She'll put a word down like 'Ken' and I'll say 'Pretty sure that's a name' and she'll be like: 'No, it was an 18th century toilet.'"

last night, next week.

my arms are full of mail from him as I walk out of the clubhouse. I pause to talk to Sam who is crossing the parking lot, because she is expecting a check and I thought I saw it but I couldn't remember. The cleaning agency did a good job this time, she tells me. And I start to ask her about our new roommate who pulled the fire alarm in our apartment that morning and set the sprinklers off, when there are arms wrapping around me from behind. I turn, clutching the huge pile of mail to my chest, confused. But it's him. And I'm dropping the mail and my hands clutch his suit coat and I can't let go because it's him. It was noon, I still had five hours to kill and I hadn't bothered to put my make up on and he's early because he flew in the night before and I don't care that my hair isn't done because it's him. And his parents are there, watching and smiling and I'm not afraid of anything anymore, because it is him.

hi, he says. 
hi, i say back.

instinctively, i reach out for his hand, but hesitate. He's freshly returned. Don't rush him, I think, don't rush.

But his hand reaches back and finds mine. you're real, i tell him.

yes, he says, i am. 



James Vincent McMorrow

There are those songs that come out of no where; stumbled upon on a insignificant Wednesday morning in the lull of a work day, that just hit you deeper then your gut, but sink into your very bones. It makes you pause not only in what you are doing, but a pause in every aspect of your life because the chords and lyrics and sheer music open your insides up to the world and you are forced to examine them.

This is one of those songs for me.

closely followed by "if I had a boat" by him.

Paul McDonald

I love you more than I knew
I could ever love someone
And got it all so deep
I can barely even breathe
If I need a shelter from the storm

Baby, you’re all I've ever needed


Andrea Gibson

You tilt your head back. You breathe. When your heart is broken, you plant seeds in the cracks and you pray for rain. And you teach your sons and daughters there are sharks in the water. But the only way to survive is to breathe deep and dive.

I don't ever want to grow up

wisdom teeth, you suck.
teddy bears, however, do not.

and I will forever be a little girl at heart.


reality check

Weird to think about how everything has changed in the last two years; to see my friends progress and move along and find happiness and strength and be all grown up. I was thinking about all of that today, as I was sitting in the passenger seat, mindlessly humming along to the song on the radio. But then my thoughts turned slightly to the handsome face that meets me in Narnia every night and it hit me out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks and I couldn't inhale deep enough because I was filled with excitement and anxiety and hopefulness all at once:

next week is my last full week without him. because he comes home the week after.

I really like that best friend of mine. Love him, actually. And I am so excited to never have to be without him again.


Being Home

means sitting by the wood stove at night; running random errands with dad, watching Christmas movies and playing telestrations and just being loved.

And driving the winding roads that belong solely to New Hampshire? Well, that's just plain magic, right there.


on being an educator

I never thought that going into the professional field of education would be considered dangerous.
As of Friday, it most definitely is.

And I, like everyone else in the nation, am rocked by what happened in a part of my beloved New England. Shattered. Distraught.

But of this, I have no doubt: In the limited teaching experiences I have, both in China and in Madison Middle this last semester, I would not hesitate to do whatever I could to protect my students. Because that is what unconditional love is; and it's a precious and invaluable lesson that I have learned throughout the last year. And those educators who died on Friday, protecting their kids? Without a doubt, one of the most incredible examples of unconditional love in the world.

May angels lead them in and may we all find comfort in the knowledge that they are safe, sound and home.



One night in Rexburg, one night in Utah and then I'll be spending my nights in the heart of New England, in the comfort of my bed, with the wood stove's heat wafting down the hall. Everything about home is calling to me and I can't wait to be back there.



Angel of Mercy 
How did you find me? 
How did you pick me up again? 

Angel of Mercy 
How did you move me? 
Why am I on my feet again? 

And I see you 


focus in

The next three weeks of my life are going to be insanely busy and a tad bit overwhelming. I have no time for distractions; I just need to focus in on getting through finals, doing my best and trusting myself, my best friend and my Heavenly Father.

It will all work out. It will always work out.


On that 10 page History Paper

Replacing passive verbs is probably the most challenging thing I've ever had to do as an English major.
YOU try writing 10 pages about the Great Depression without using the words "was, were, had, could, would, is"

Oh finals week, you kill me every time.


Stumbled across this today

and I couldn't believe my eyes as I watched us over two years ago. So much laughter. He makes me laugh so hard. And I don't care if I'm getting all sappy and gross; I don't care if no one watches this and I don't care what anyone thinks. He makes me a better person and I can't wait for moments like this to happen again.

I'm going to be an obnoxious girl and count down the days to his return. But it's been two years and I reserve the right to be a little excited.


here is the things about finals

you are already so burnt out from the semester that actually doing "your best work" is pretty much impossible.

That's all.


On Asians

"She did her math in pen...and she didn't scratch it out...ever."

I asked for a sign

Ridiculous, I know. But I just needed one.

And in a last minute decision to check the mail, Janna pulls a giant package out of our mail bin. And his handwriting is scrawled across the top. And as I tear open the box, I pull out a pile of his things. T-shirts, jeans, shorts, belts, books. It's him. His things for me to hold onto until he comes back, to me.

He's really coming home, people. He's really coming back to me.

to the southgate managers

i like apartment managers who, when I tell them all about our story, spend ten minutes moving everyone else's rooming assignments around so that they can put him in my ward boundaries and then say: "We want a wedding invitation."

I'm not putting all of my eggs in one basket, but gosh, it is so nice to meet people who instantaneously believe that we will make it; and who are cheering for us.

Such great heights, love. They will see us waving from such great heights.