Something New

Things are changing again. We have decided to start a separate blog just for all of our personal happenings. I have imported all of the previous posts, so it already seems full.

The year has been eventful so far. It started with Aaron and I driving back from Utah to Alabama. We both got sick soon after, and I had  the flu, a cold, and mono. I am finally feeling better, but then life happened. I am trying to write every other week with updates, including our projects, gardens, goals, and just daily life. Thanks for reading and wanting to share our lives with us.

And don’t forget to check out our professional sites, www.ilenebooks.com and www.actaylordesigns.com

Independence Day

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Independence Day. We are spending the day relaxing, cleaning and organizing, and having a BBQ later tonight. It should be lots of fun and its awesome to have a day off from work. But even more important is remembering all of the freedoms that we are blessed with and the importance of fighting for your rights. This world is becoming crazy, and we all need to take a stand and defend our rights and not let others dictate our lives. I am grateful that God takes an active role in preserving our freedom and that He directed the founding fathers, including the writing of the Declaration of Independence. I am also so grateful for all of my family and ancestors who have served and are serving in the Armed Forces.

Have a great 4th of July and remember what today is all about.
Tommie

Pursuit of Happiness: A Way of Life

(Part 3, originally posted on July 6, 2009)

Easter2009 Pursuit of Happiness.

I know that many of you have been waiting for this post, and it has finally arrived. Life has been crazy for the last week, with work, school, meeting parents, and lots of other exciting events which have made life happy in general. I wanted to start out with talking about the 4th of July and freedom in general, especially in relation to happiness. The original treatise from which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were taken replaced happiness with property, but the founding fathers made this interesting change to that list. I think in some ways they were creating a country that understood what the Plan of Salvation was about and what types of things could make a person happy for a long time. They recognized the importance of not just being able to obtain possessions, but to have the right to be happy, and be able to pursuit that right. Each person will have a different opinion about what will make them happy, but true happiness comes from partaking of the love of God, and sharing that love with others. I think it is also important to find little ways to live a good life and appreciate the blessings and opportunities we are given to make us happy.

TreeswingI did want to create a list of items that make me immensely happy, kind of like a gratitude journal, to show how blessed I am and explain how some of the simple are those that can be most important. So my list includes: hanging out with my family; reading; doing the dishes; creating something (including smiles, books, clothing, jewelry, a happy home, a more beautiful space, and many others); having someone tell you that they love you; feeling like you look amazing (if just for one day); having loving friends that you can share secrets and stories with; knowing that no matter what happens God will always love me and will support and guide me; having fun dishes to set my table with; traveling to foreign countries; the smell of rain, new books, trees, coffee, and others; cleaning a room and just sitting in the cleanness; playing in a creek, the ocean or other water; listening to uplifting music (although some of this might seem strange to other people); learning about history and political philosophy; eating food (especially good food that I love, like ice cream, cheese, potatoes, chips and lots of other things); decorating for holidays; acting crazy and having how reservations about what others think; trees (especially really big ones that are great for climbing and having swings); a warm bed at night that is soft; a steady job so I don’t have to worry about money all the time; playing with little children and babies; acting like a little kid and playing games; superheroes; and much, much more.

HoeDown1Now that I have made a rather long, although not comprehensive list, I want to encourage everyone who is reading this to think about the things that make them happy and to pursuit those things. Jacob, Nephi’s brother, explained that men are that they might have joy, so why are we waiting? None of us are getting younger, and opportunities will continue to pass us by if we don’t do something now. Pick something, whether it is to make something new, like a piece of artwork or a new friend, or to find food you love and experience those, or anything else that can be a passion and become engrossed in that. All three items I have discussed are closely related. We are given the right to life by our Father in Heaven, and we then receive liberty to make what choices we want. One of the choices we can make is to choice and pursuit happiness, which according to the gospel will lead to a fuller life and more liberties. I encourage us all to decide how to look at home important our founding fathers were, and the active role that the Lord took in the creation of the United States, and ways in which we can use our lives, liberties and rights to create a place where everyone has the opportunity to pursuit happiness, and have all of the blessings that are available for those who live the commandments. We can all be happy, we just need to make the choice.

Liberty and Justice for All

(Part 2, originally posted on June 19, 2009)

Liberty.

MajesticLiberty

How often do we take many of our most precious founding ideas for granted? I think liberty is one such concept that is know, but often not appreciated. I recently finished classes, and one of my last assignments was about censorship and what might feelings were. I used several quotes from John Stewart Mill from his book, ironically, On Liberty. He states,
“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still….The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race…those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it.  If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth:  if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

I love the language, the power, the sheer energy behind these words because they show an intensity and conviction that is often lacking in today society. Sometimes I think about what life would be like if everyone was good, and most of the problems that currently plague society weren’t around. However, without the opposition, it is difficult to understand what the sweet fruits of liberty are and why they are so important. If you really think about it, that is Heavenly Father’s plan, although it is agency instead of liberty, but they are closely related. Without the opportunity to make choices, and understand that there are consequences attached, it would make life obsolete and without meaning.

FribergTitleOfLibertyLiberty and agency were given to us to use, not to be stuck on the back of a shelf in a closet, but actively fought for. It reminds me of Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty that he erects to remind the people of this very idea. He states, “ In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” I love that these are the things that Moroni finds so important that he would mention them on a banner, and have people enter into an oath to maintain these privileges. In another chapter, he is talking to the enemy commander and is boldly telling the Lamanite to surrender. He declares, “And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us— Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life…”. No one speaks boldly like that anymore, but is how we should declare our beliefs and feelings. I think freedom and liberty are something that we should take an active role in understanding and defending. It is part of our responsibility as human beings to help our fellow brothers and sisters, and give others the same privileges that we are blessed to have.

We all have the gift of liberty, so use that gift and don’t forget how important this philosophy is. Use your liberty to vote, to be happy, to love others, and to change the world. There are so many who are counting on us to be great and to make the difference for good. Don’t ever stop fighting for the right to exercise your liberty and be the person you are supposed to be. Try something new today and use your liberty; tell someone you love them; and just live your life to its fullest.

Life is Wonderful to Me

(This was originally posted on my former blog on June 16, 2009. I thought it belonged here for preservation.)

Life.

Sometimes it is interesting to contemplate what is happening in your life, and how you got there, and why things are happening. I have really started thinking about this recently for several reasons. First, I am graduating from college in two months, and I don’t know if I am going to be doing what I really want to be doing. I will be doing graduate school in archaeology and I am mostly just doing this because I don’t know what else to do and I don’t want to find a new job and change how I am currently living. Second, I have recently started dating my first boyfriend ever (yes Geoff, that’s you), and it has been really different. It isn’t what I thought it would be in some ways, and is better in others, but it has been a big change. But I’ve loved every minute of it because I think I have changed and grown in so many different ways, and become a better person.

LovingSiblingsWhy is it that the simple things in life are what make us the most happy? Sometimes I am just happy doing the dishes, or vacuuming, or sewing, or just being alive. I need to take more time out of daily life to find those things that happen everyday that are special and bring happiness, and to be thankful for those experiences. I am grateful for my life, and all of the opportunities that I have been given, and what it means to have life and what I am capable of doing. I also want to say that I love my family, and friends, and the Gospel, and all of my talents and abilities that allow me to help others. I guess changes make you realize all of the things you have, and how important they are, and how we should use them. So don’t forget that Life is one of those precious gifts that we are given for a short time, so don’t waste it doing things that don’t make you happy or that you will someday regret. Always tell people you love them, and show that love. Live your life, and seize the day!
(I am going to do a three-part special in honor of Independence Day, so look forward to Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness later this month.)