Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Good Grief.

This is the second post that I have written concerning the death of my Grandfather. The first was good. It talked about the events surrounding his death. It portrayed my experience surrounding his accident and ultimately his death. In my writing, it became evident to me that God was in the details of this process. Beginning months ago, He gave me experiences and impressions that have made this whole process easier and peaceful. It has been a blessing to see that He knew the end from the beginning, that He has a plan, and that my grandfather has been in His hands in both life and death.

However, as I have thought more and more, I've realize that for now, I'd rather focus more on the impact that my Grandfather's life has had on me, more than my experiences with His death, although I can attest that both have been incredibly positive influences on my paradigms.

My grandfather's death has left a hole in my heart, but he has filled my life with more than enough to replace anything missing. Lessons, love, service, and memories fill the void in his absence. 

The reality is the fact that my Grandfather has been in my life at all was a miracle. Just before I turned one year old, my Grandpa was in a car accident. His car went off the road due to inclement weather, and he survived with minor injuries. Multiple other cars went off the road during that day in the same spot, landing the same way, and everyone involved in those accidents died, except for Grandpa. By a miracle, he was protected and preserved.

I remember the first time my grandpa told me that story. He told me as we drove past the spot where his car went off the road. I was humbled to realize that every moment I had with my Grandfather was a gift from God. I still know that is true.

I have moments to treasure for a lifetime. I got to go to Oregon with Grandpa, to see his boyhood home. I got to stand in the ocean with him the last time his feet touched the pacific waves, the waves that had raised him. I got to see him interact with and love all those he met, no matter how much his chatter delayed the many plans that he had laid for us each day. Grandpa was a master of creating memories. At times he marveled at the traditions he started that we adopted, but he loved to facilitate them.

Grandpa never stopped moving. He couldn't give up working until he was 85. He was mobile and active despite difficulties with his health. He was on the constant lookout for someone to lift, someone to serve. He also loved to drag his grandchildren along, for which I will always be grateful.

During my high school years and beyond, I got to help Grandpa Brown make a history of his life. I listened to the same stories over and over again, but I loved seeing the light in his eyes and hearing the energy in his voice when he told it each time. However, the last time I saw Grandpa and spent time with him, all the stories I heard were brand new. I had brought a friend with me who needed to hear different experiences than I did, so I got to know a whole different side of my grandpa. That day added more depth to our relationship and it showed me how grandpa cared for everyone, but like the Savior he loved them one by one.

I could probably write a book about all that I have learned from my grandpa, and maybe I should, but it suffices me to say that I am grateful for this man who has become one of my best friends.

When I first heard of his accident, I accepted that it would lead to his passing. More than sadness, the thought of this inevitable separation brought me a degree of pain and grief.  A part of me wondered what I could do to remove the grief I was feeling. At that moment I realized something that took the pain and replaced it with gratitude..

I decided that the pain we feel or the grief we experience when a loss occurs, must be proportional to the joy that we have previously experienced. In that moment, I also came to realize that the joy we will experience when we are reunited will be exponentially greater than any of the temporary but real pain we experience upon being separated.

Suddenly, all grief I felt was matched with gratitude because all the grief I felt was a reflection of a tender moment with my grandpa, each tender mercy and gift that Heavenly Father had given me in the form of memories. I was filled with hope, and still anytime I feel sad, I begin to also feel grateful. I wouldn't trade those precious moments for anything.

The past weeks and months have also been filled with miracles and blessings. God was watching out for me, my grandfather, and my family through this whole process. Of that, I am certain.

God has a perfect plan. This has been evident to me in the way that events unfolded throughout this time. The plan is perfect but not painless. The pain only makes our joy more meaningful. The plan is not painless, but it is also not hopeless. In fact, our Heavenly Father’s plan is hope. Jesus Christ has power to save, heal, and strengthen, and He is the source of my hope.

I know He lives, I know that we will live again, and I know that families can be together forever through the gospel of Christ.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Week Full of Grace.

I am a little late on my post... things got pretty crazy. haha here is at least one blessing from each day of this past week!

We got to have FHE at the Sheppard's house. They just have such a spirit there and the food was so dang good.

Today was Valentine's Day. It was supposed to be just a regular day, but I had a great day! One of my friend's gave me roses as a surprise! It is awesome! It was just a really nice surprise blessing!

Today was sweet because I got to go swim for my workout. I love swimming.

Today was sweet because I got to meet with my roommate and go lift. We had a great workout. Then I got to go to institute with my friend Jenny which was just such a blessing! Afterwards, I went to hut tubbing with Jackson and Riley. They are just great! I love those guys.

Friday I felt super blessed because I was able to get the car from Tyler

Saturday was so flipping amazing! We started it off right with a couple of hikes to some ancient ruins. We got to see some amazingly beautiful sights. I felt so blessed to be so close to nature. I saw some things that were so beautiful and I just was amazed at how much the Lord has done to make the world a beautiful place.

Also, I can't deny the reality that the Lord was watching over and protecting up this day. Some crazy stuff happened, but it ended up being a huge blessing!

This was such a special day. It was so lovely to spend more time with Grandma and Grandpa Slavens. It was such a blessing to be in the church feeling the spirit and being with those I love. I also came to get such a great appreciation for the Pioneers. We talked about them in church and then we had such a fun time in Fort Bluff where we got to see the reality of their sacrifices.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Things that Matter Most.

I've decided that each week I'll be doing a quick blog/journalish entry, but mostly I want to focus on the blessings I've received and the tender mercies I've seen. I'll add other fun stuff that I want to remember, but especially have the goal to recognize at least one blessing from each day and to record what I've been taught from my experiences.


This week I had a pretty regular Monday. My days are regularly fantastic, so no complaints there.

After class and work I had a club presidency meeting. The Lord is really blessing us as we plan NCLC. I am glad that I get to participate in these events.

In the evening I got to go to my family home evening group, where we made and decorated paper hearts to heart attach other apartments. It was fun to spread cheer to others.

One blessing was my friend James. I need to print pictures for and assignment in color, but I had already left campus. I asked him to help me, and he went out of his way to print my pictures, so that I could finish my homework assignment.


Today was super! It was unexpectedly good. The devotional we had was given by Quentin L Cook. I am grateful to know that the counsel we receive through inspired men is true. God leads us through them.

I got to go to see my roommate Maria participate in her bowling tournament! She did so great! I was dying because she was 1 pin away from a turkey! (She got 2 strikes and then the next time she knocked down 9 pins) Sooo close! She didn't win her lane, but she did so much better than I ever would have.

After the bowling tournament, I went to go swim at the RB. I love to swim. I did just over half a mile in 30 minutes, which is really slow compared to how I swam in high school, but it was still really good to finally be back in the water. A blessing was definitely that I was able to be grateful for my success of going instead of getting upset with myself for not being faster yet.

Another unexpected blessing was when Andrew's glasses broke. I mean, don't get my wrong, I feel bad that it happened, but the events following let me spend time with a friend and make some memories, so I can't complain.


After my class I felt prompted to go take a test. I was confused because I had planned to study more, which I felt was important, but the prompting was very clear, so I went to take my test. I did just fine and had that sucker done in 20 minutes. When I left the testing center the line was HOURS long. I hadn't had to wait at all! I realized that the Lord knew I was ready, and He also knew my schedule, so He helped me out by letting me know I should just go take the test.

Something special that happened today was when I had the chance to make Puerto Rican food for my mission friends. We had a large number of friends come over. One blessings was talking with Devon, who is the sweetest (he did the dishes again) and we had a really edifying conversation, which was great.

To be honest, I ended Wednesday night feeling a little bummed. Not for fault of anyone in particular, I just wasn't really feeling like myself. I went to school in the morning with everything done but feeling pretty stressed. About midmorning, a friend sent me a text message saying that this image made him think of me:

It was a bit of a reality check. I stopped worrying about little things and began to refocus on the big picture of how great my life is.. I spent the rest of that class helping friends learn what we were working on that day. Then, I got an assignment back (that I thought I'd done an okay job on), and found out that I had done exactly what the professor wanted.

I had pizza in my next class and because I felt prompted to go help someone, I ran into a person that helped me with a different class assignment.
I know that these examples are vague, but what I'm trying to convey is how a changed mindset opened my mind to make the rest of the day great!

It was warm and sunny outside, so I spent as long as I could at work. It was just lovely. I love my job, and I saw a tree that was MADE for climbing, which my coworkers totally encouraged me to do.

In the evening, we went to the women's basketball game. We've come to see that Women's sports are highly underrated at our school. Our team did way good, and we felt like they deserved the same spirit that other teams get, so we went out of our way to show our support...

Work was such a blessing today. I didn't want to leave, even when I was pruning in the rain! I also felt blessed to be able to help one of my friends study for a test! That was super awesome.

In the evening I got to go on a hike with my class! I loved it! It was super fun to go and see nature. It also made me appreciate how many awesome people are in my life that I love and how they love me back just the way I am. It is a wonderful thing! I also got to make new friends, which is one of my favorite things.

I made it home with plenty of time to go see a movie with my friend. I had seen it before, and we had a hard time seeing because of the people in front of us, but it's nice to know I have friends that think of me when they have an extra ticket. You know?


Kay, to understand how great today was, you have to understand how lame I thought it was going to be.  I pretty much thought that after noon, I'd be spending the day in my apartment alone doing homework.

Here's how is went...

I went to a session at the temple at 7:30 am. One blessing is that we made it into that session.

After the temple, I got an email that I had won a scholarship. Let's just say this... I knew that I was going to get a scholarship, but I didn't realize how nice of a scholarship I was getting. I can't explain the blessing it is or the reality that the Lord is watching out for me. No doubt about it.

I got to go with my cousin Seth to Salt Lake. We were on a mission to get our great-grandfather's diary. ...well, that building was closed, so we started doing some family history research. We came to find out that it was Rootstech weekend. Long story short, a loving Heavenly Father had inspired us to come today because it was an incredible experience listening to the speakers and messages prepared. I felt so humbled.

On the way home Seth and I had an awesome chat, and I am going to play intermural soccer this semester, so can things get better than that? Probably not.

I got to spend time with Stephanie Briggs and then Carly Clark. They are both two of my favorite people and I feel so blessed that the Lord puts such angels in my life.


Blessed sabbath is an understatement. I love making the sabbath a delight! Today after some rock solid church meetings, I got to send thank you notes to some incredible people in my life. I got to do family history, and be visit and home taught (at the same time!). It is such a blessing to be in a place where we can learn and worship together. I learned so much from a scripture study group that I'm in, and I've felt the love of the Savior all around me as I tried to make #HisDay special to me.

In other fun news, I matched my roomates! :D

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Last night, I reflected on the past year. I thought of the many blessings and experiences that I've had. This year was FULL. Full of miracles that I saw as I served as a missionary in Puerto Rico. Full of bittersweet feelings as I left home to come home, from my little Island, to Virginia, and again to Utah. Full of hard work and sweat through the heat of the summer. Full of laughs. Full of tears. Full of adventures that I will never forget. Full of late nights and early mornings. Full of goals and achievements. Full of failures opportunities to learn. Full of service and being served. Full of more blessings than I could ever count despite my best efforts.

Most importantly, I thought of the people who helped to fill this year. This past year was full of introductions. Full of reunions. Full of first encounters. Full of friend-making. Full of goodbyes. Full of hellos. Full of new relationships. There are so many individuals in my life, near and far, recently-met or long-time friends that help make me who I am. I felt so humbled by the multitude and magnitude of those that fill my life with love and light. I felt so blessed as I realized how much they do for me. You all truly take care of me more than I deserve or would ever even expect.

The magnitude of love and kindness that surrounds me was overwhelming. I felt humbled and undeserving of so much love but grateful for it nonetheless. As I prayed I tried to express my gratitude to Heavenly Father for all those He has put in my life. Even as I prayed, I knew it was impossible. I told my God that I didn't expect anything special for my birthday, that the way my friends treat me all year showed me that they loved me. My heart was, yet again, FULL.

However today was also full.

Full of unexpected blessings and surprises.
Full of messages and felicitations.
Full of service and love from those around me.

Today was not the birthday I was expecting. I expected a quite, normal Wednesday. I expected to go to class and then work, returning home to spend time with a few friends. I didn't expect to start the day having a dance party with my roommate. I didn't expect my co-workers to find out it was my birthday and announce it to everyone who passed by. I didn't expect to run into so many friends on campus. I didn't expect the texts, calls, and messages that I received all day. I didn't expect to reminisce and re-recieve birthday messages from my best friend who is on the other side of the world serving as a missionary. I didn't expect my classmates to realize that it was my birthday and drop everything to make me feel like I mattered. I didn't expect my childhood best friend to take me out for ice-cream. I didn't expect to come home to a surprise gift from a far away friend. I didn't expect an incredible surprise party. I didn't expect so many people to come together to make me feel special and loved. I didn't expect ice-cream, cake, and karaoke. I didn't expect to have an egg smashed on my head. I didn't expect to see so many friends from totally different parts of my life. I didn't expect to have so many people knock on my door to wish me a happy day before the night was finished.I didn't expect any of those things, but really, knowing the people that are in my life, I probably should have. Thanks to all of you who are a part of my world. Even those who I haven't seen in years, I think of you and feel blessed by your love. The people in my life mean so much to me. They are the reason that my life is so full. 

As I look back on today, I still feel overwhelmed by the love of those around me. I feel humbled and undeserving of so much love and kindness. Mostly, I feel grateful that my life is so much more full that I could ever imagine.

As I look back on how much happened this past year, I can't deny that 21 was a good year and if today is any indication, 22 will be better than I could ever expect it to be..

So Here's 21 in Review... (and in no particular order or arrangement)

It's been a good one, but I've got a feeling that there are great things to come...