Everything's hard until it becomes easy

Hello, anybody there? I've been lax in my posting here lately and I miss it! I always enjoyed my friend Michelle's posts to her missionary son so I think I'll do a bit of that here occasionally, hoping to keep up with a record of our doings and thoughts and not forget our days here. 

Dear Lauren girl,

Hi! How are you? Did you finally get our Valentine package(s)? I kept getting notifications that the things were shipping separately and then delayed because of the weather. I was thinking it was going to be the most anti-climatic experience opening an Amazon box and revealing....just a Reese's chocolate heart inside, haha. But hopefully you got everything and had a lovely week. I saw that you (or at least the state of Georgia) had snow and ice and earthquakes (oh, my!) this week. You're in quite the hot spot! 

I'm sure you're feeling a different kind of L O V E this Valentines week and understanding it in new ways. I think I mentioned I've been really trying to use love as a very real solution to little things (and big); when I'm irritated or afraid or down, trying to identify the reason, trying to actually and physically soften my heart, and then replacing those negative feelings with love is so powerful. Really really difficult but powerful. And I've noticed how many of those irritations come from my own insecurity and fear. (How fascinating! as dad would say.)

We had a good week here. I had a really productive phone meeting with two of my dissertation advisors and am feeling so on track and excited to keep going. I will need to fly to Boston at the end of March to have an in-person meeting with my committee and then do a whole lot more work--coding and writing-- but I'm trying to treat it like a semi-full-time job and just put in the time every day. Some days it works better than others but you know how that goes.

We had stake conference to re-organize the stake.  It was all good but I especially LOVED Saturday's session of stake conference; the talks were really fantastic and motivating. I love those kind of spiritual vitamin boosts. One visiting leader talked about missionary work and this statement stuck with me: "I know it's hard. But everything's hard until it becomes easy." I'm hoping you're beginning to see some of the easy(easier) side of things. 

Maddy went to Melbourne over the weekend (she'll probably tell you about that herself) for a youth leadership conference for an anti-poverty advocacy group. (It'll be part of her IB community service project and you know how Maddy loves a good civic leadership cause.) She flew there with one of her friends from school and the conference put everyone up in a hostel during the three-day training bootcamp. She had a grand time. We were driving home from the airport and noticed this fantastic combined rainbow and sunset so I had to pull over to take a picture (of course). It really deserved a standing ovation, don't you think?

sunset rainbow.jpg

Things I love right now: love, YOU, Dad, Maddy, Sam, all-other-family-members, blue sky, bright pink lipstick, dresses, air conditioning, yellow flowers on my desk, reading, edamame (for snacking), sparkling water with lime (gave up diet coke, mostly), blue and white together, goofy kangaroos boxing each other, morning sunrise walks, Sam's very deep voice (he spoke in church last week and it struck me (a) how low his voice is and (b) that he has a bit of an Aussie lilt in his public speaking), creative + authentic people.

Love you dearly,