Wednesday, February 13, 2013


A few weeks ago, after an exceptionally thought provoking lesson, I casually sent off a text to the man who teaches the weekly Institute class I attend.  It just said, “Loved institute today!”  And as soon as I hit SEND, I had this crazy train of thought...  

I thought he must receive tons of those little validating texts a day.  Or emails.  Or phone calls.  Or in-person compliments.  I have seen the long line of people lingering after Institute to glean just a little more wisdom from him.  
And then I thought about the rest of his life that he's carved out so that most of what he does uses his talents, uplifts and edifies people, and likely provides some kind of validation for him as well during a typical day or week.  
And that made me wonder if he knew that he needed validation in his life first and then figured out how to get it??  Or if he knew what he had to offer and then found the opportunities and the validation?? 
After a few days of pondering that, I knew the answer.  He had figured out what he was good at first and walked toward it.  He had a handful of talents and used them to contribute in some way to teach, to lift people, to leave his space better than he found it.  And because of that righteous desire, Heavenly Father magnified what he had and made the rewards and opportunities bigger as well.  But he didn’t start with a desire for increase.  (I told him about my little thought train a week or so later and confirmed that my hunches were right.  The talents came first, then the opportunity, and then the reward.)

After that little epiphany, I started praying differently.  I prayed to know what was in my little handful of things, what I had to offer, and how I could contribute.  And guess's a small handful, but there are some pretty great things in it.  I’m not an awesome photographer like some of the people in my class, but I can encourage and smile and be warm and engaging in that classroom.  I can ask questions and help people a little and I can gush over their incredible talent.  And I may not be a scriptorian, but sometimes I have some pretty good insights on how those scriptures apply to my life.  I may not be able to teach Gospel Doctrine, but I can certainly act on those little promptings to say things in that class and contribute in a small way.  
So I tried it for a few days.  I tried to just smile and connect and leave a space better than when I got there.  I prayed to be useful and to lift others and to contribute, not in a huge way, but just in small ways that would make someone happy, and bring me fulfillment at the end of the day.  And I prayed that Heavenly Father would use my little handful of things that He gave me to do something good.
And it worked.  I smiled and people smiled back.  I invited and people came.  I emailed and they responded.  I connected and they received it warmly. 
So then I prayed a little more to figure out what else I have to contribute.  And I thought of the music.  I love music.  I'm sure that's not shocking.  I can play it and sing it.  I may not be the BEST pianist or singer in the world, but I can read music and I can hear it, and practicing always produces good results.  And I don't have to wait until I'm the BEST at a thing to be able to use it for good.  So I decided that I would make it a point to touch the piano everyday and sing everyday.  That's it.  Somehow, for however long, I would have some daily interaction with music.   
A week later Stacey Christensen asked me to help her with the Mormon Choral Association (more on that later) and because I had gotten dressed up to meet her, someone asked me about my day and I told him where I had been.  Which led to a conversation about how much I want them to start a Mormon Choral Association in Dallas, and how badly I long to sing with a group.  And he leaned back in his chair, threw his hands in the air, and said, “Well, I can help you with that!”  This person has asked me no less than four times in the past 6 months to be in his small, but amazing singing group.  And every time he's asked, I've desperately wanted to say yes, but stopped myself because I didn't think I had anything to contribute.  They are already complete.  They already have a blend...and sometimes it's an irritating thing to try to blend in a new voice.  And...oh yeah...he had never even heard me sing!  I assumed that he probably wasn't in his right mind all those four other times he asked me, and that he had just casually thrown out the invitation in an attempt to be nice, or give me some additional confidence, or whatever, and that he really didn't want me to say yes.  So I said no.  Four times.  Until last Thursday.  When I could think of no more reasons to say no. 
And then I spent four days worrying about it... 

I worried about everything...getting lost...being late...what to wear...if I should just wear flip flops instead of boots in case I needed to take them off before coming into the house...if they would be "cat people" and I would need to bring mega doses of Benadryl with me.  ugh...exhausting just to read that, isn't it??
I had typed the rehearsal address into the GPS earlier in the day, but wasn't convinced that I would be able to find it at 9:00pm in the dark, so I dragged Flowering Buttercup with me after school to do a test drive.  I had been sniffy ALL DAY and had taken too strong a dose of too many cold/allergy meds.  My head was spinning.  I was groggy and nauseous.  The Scout Master finally forced me to take a nap after dinner to settle both my nerves and my stomach, and that turned into two hours of comatose sleep that I barely woke up from in time to drive down to Plano.  And all the way there, I kept worrying...and sneezing...and praying for just an hour and a half of relief from whatever was making me so sniffy.  
I drove to that house Monday night terrified, uncomfortable, anxious and stuffy...but I got there.  I made myself plow through the fear.  And I got there.  Right on time.  Just as someone else walked in the door, who clearly did NOT know who I was or why I was there. 
And guess what.  The people were nice.  But that wasn’t the most amazing part.  Yes, they were nice.  Yes, they shared their music and introduced themselves, and tried to make me feel comfortable.  But it wasn’t that part that made the night so amazing.  It was the part where we stood in a circle in that living room and sang Come Thou Font, and Homeward Bound, and I was able to contribute.  It took a minute to find my part, but when I got it and heard it blend with the other people in the room, it was totally overwhelming.  All of a sudden it didn’t matter if I knew anyone in there or not.  It didn’t matter if they were irritated by my presence or not.  I was contributing to this group of amazing voices.  And WE sounded amazing. 


  1. Thanks again for such being insightful and sharing with us.

    Wish I was there to here you sing you are always amazing! xoxo

    1. Oh, wouldn't that be great. I would LOVE for you to come out here and visit...with or without the singing!

  2. I love reading your blog. I LOVE this insight. Recognize the God-given talent, walk towards, and opportunity will come. Thanks very much.