Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome, welcome Sabbath morning

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.
Exodus 20:8-11 

8 Remember the asabbath day, to keep it bholy.

9 aSix days shalt thou blabour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy astranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in asix days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord bblessed the sabbath day, and challowed it.

What does it mean to keep the Sabbath day holy?

For me, it means a day of rest from the main stressors of the world, but it's not just sitting around doing nothing.  Instead of focusing on work and entertainment with only a little bit of daily worship like I do most of the week, I use the Sabbath to focus on my worship and strengthening my relationship with God. I avoid spending money and more carefully choose the leisure activities I participate in. I also attend my worship services. Sunday is the day I write to my family, and if I were still in Utah, I'd join my brother in going home for Sunday dinner.

Of course, there are times when people have to work on Sundays or circumstances make it difficult to take a whole day off. When that's been my case, I still try to find a way to make it a special day and find some time to dedicate to the Lord.

Overall, it's my day to focus on my relationship with people (family, friends, fellow church members), with God and Jesus Christ, and with myself. Having such a day is rejuvenating for body, mind, and spirit. I feel a difference in my weeks when I don't have the opportunity to enjoy a full Sabbath day of rest, so I'm very grateful that I usually can.

Fellow members - in what ways do you make Sabbath observance a part of your worship? Other friends - do you have a day of rest? How do you observe it?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good day, Sunshine

I'm a morning person now.

You can stop laughing, because it's true. For one month now, I've had a workout partner and made it to the gym every day except Sundays. This is my fifth week of the new fitness regime and it's going amazingly well, but first, the morning person thing.

Two weeks ago, we switched exclusively to morning workouts. By morning, I mean 5:30 AM, which means I have to be up by 5 AM. 5 AM!! Before the last two weeks, 5 AM didn't exist in my world, except maybe as a bedtime on really extraordinary weekends or a wakeup time when I'm flying somewhere awesome. It certainly wasn't an every day occurrence.

But now it is, and guess what? I love it.

As long as I get to bed by 10 PM (a feat I'm still working on, but it happens sometimes), 5 AM isn't actually so bad. Then, 5 AM, I'm up and dressed and on my way to the gym. I'm back home anywhere from 6:30-7, and then I have time to drink a protein shake, do the previous day's dishes, read scriptures, fold laundry, watch an HBO documentary I recorded over a year ago, shower, dress/hair/makeup, actually cook breakfast, and eat (sitting at the dining room table, natch) while reading an article or two in a church magazine.

At least, that's what I did yesterday morning. The daily details vary (today, no more than dishes to clean, so I'm blogging while watching last night's TV), but the gobs of time is no joke. It's almost like there are two of me - Morning Amanda and Evening Amanda. Morning Amanda does all the chores, prepares the food for the day, and does all the exercise so that Evening Amanda can go out with friends, read, or otherwise enjoy a life of leisure. For all the complaining I do about not having enough time to manage my household and live my life, I'm making quite a bit of progress.

Speaking of progress, the workouts are going amazingly well. A-Money, my partner, and I alternate days of cardio and strength training. I'm also tracking my calories, carbs, proteins, and fats with my LoseIt app. My goal is to lose 30 lbs by my 27th birthday (end of May), which is approximately 2 lbs. a week, and get to 22% body fat.

As of this morning, I'm down 3.6 lbs. and 4% body fat. The weight loss doesn't seem that dramatic, nor is it on track, but it's significant because I've been lifting weights for the first time in ages, so I'm building muscle and STILL losing weight. The 4% body fat is definitely nothing to scoff at.

So, I'm not losing weight, but I'm losing size. My muscles are already more defined (hello calves and biceps), my shirts fit better, and my face is thinning! It's nice to see my cheekbones again. In fact, it was A$ who mentioned the face thing, so I'm not the only one who is noticing all the changes.

Working out with a partner, especially one who works part time as a personal trainer, is literally changing my life. We actually still can't work out together every single day, since sometimes she has clients, but we always check in. I even convinced Cabeza to meet us at the gym three days a week, though he's swimming whilst we're lifting, and calling him on his workout days gets me out of bed that much faster. It's brilliant, I tell you. 

I never thought I'd say this, but I really do love getting up early and working out and I'm really looking forward to a new me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'll go where you want me to go

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

At the beginning of the year, I talked about how our church functions with a lay ministry. We all pitch in and serve together to support each other and worship appropriately.

But how do we decide who does what?

We believe that a man must be acalled of God, by bprophecy, and by the laying on of chands by those who are in dauthority, to epreach the Gospel and administer in the fordinances thereof. (AofF 1:5)

Basically, we believe that God inspires our leaders to ask certain people to fulfill certain callings, or jobs, within the church. Those leaders were likewise called by those with a higher stewardship than they. Most callings are held for a few years, before we're needed somewhere else in the church service. That way, the burden is shared and experience is gained in many areas.

Yes, sometimes certain talents are required to fulfill certain roles - an experienced pianist would likely be asked to serve as a choir accompanist over someone who has never played a note in their life, but if you're an area with a piano and a need and no one plays, you might be asked anyway, and you'll learn as you go.

We feel that we are blessed to magnify our callings, given strengths and the ability to learn skills we didn't expect to pick up. A chemical engineer might be asked to teach a children's class, and a professional teacher might be asked to be an activities director. As long as we can ask each other for help, and have the strength of the Lord on our sides, we can fill any role asked of us, and we are blessed for it, individually and collectively.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Now We'll Sing With One Accord

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

I attend church every Sunday for three hours. For many people, it sounds like quite a lot. In comparison, a Catholic Mass is approximately 60 minutes and I imagine many other churches meet for approximately the same amount of time. So three hours really is a commitment, and if you also consider the time spent in meetings outside of the regular church service - leadership meetings, choir rehearsal, visiting assignments - Sundays can potentially feel quite unlike a day of rest at all. Still, we are expected to faithfully attend our meetings and gather together to share our testimonies and be edified by each other.

Why is it so important that we gather together on a regular basis?

First, Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are agathered btogether in my cname, there am I in the dmidst of them."  By meeting together, we invite the Spirit of the Lord and act in His name, so whether or not He is physically present, His power is there. 

Additionally, it builds a both a stronger community and a stronger disciple. As we are a church with a lay ministry, we are called to serve and teach each other. We grow together individually and collectively as learn together and share what we feel and know. Professional communities work the same way, holding meetings and conferences on a regular basis to share ideas, collaborate, and strengthen both the individual and the profession.

While it is important to worship as and individual and a family on a daily basis, it's also imperative to worship regularly as a congregation. I am grateful for my church meetings. I appreciate the spirit of the services and the different perspectives and thoughts of my fellow members.

Want to know what happens at a church meeting? The LDS Meetinghouse Locator can provide you with an address of a building and meeting near you. Visitors are always welcome.

For an interesting history of LDS Sabbath observance, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Because I Have Been Given Much

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

Today is the first Sabbath of the month. Traditionally, the first Sabbath is reserved as a day of fasting and prayer. Fasting is voluntarily going without food or drink for a specific period of time (usually 24 hours or two consecutive meals). Fasting combined with prayer provides a greater opportunity for spiritual growth and a closer relationship with God.

On Fast Sunday, a proper fast also includes church attendance, where the main worship service is a testimony meeting where all are invited to share their beliefs with each other, and a fast offering, or donation equal or greater to the cost of the uneaten meals to help care for those in need.

Additionally, we are encouraged to fast for a specific purpose, more than just showing our devotion to God and willingness to sacrifice. That specific purpose might be a prayer for the healing of the sick, an answer to a question, or a prayer for guidance. It's entirely up to the person fasting and kept personal, though sometimes friends or family may request that others pray and fast for something they need. Fasting isn't just reserved for Fast Sundays, but can be on any other day according to our needs or the needs of others.

It's certainly not easy. Anyone who reads this blog for any length of time knows I like food. Today, in particular, has been challenging since I've been awake since 5 AM and I would have really enjoyed a nice, leisurely breakfast long before now. However, I feel that it is worth it. I've felt the Spirit in my fasts and seen answers to prayers come because of them.

For more on fasting, click here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ain't that a kick in the head

What a strange week this has been. Big decisions. Potential career roadblocks. Loss of extended family. Getting picked for a major solo. Emotions all over the map. But that's life isn't it? Hasn't killed me yet!

What this week has definitely been is a good one for music. Here are some songs I can't stop listening to:

Moneygrabber - Fitz & The Tantrums

Get Outta My Way - Kylie Minogue - Kylie Minogue is FABULOUS

Parlez vous Francais? - Art VS. Science - This one is especially good in fullscreen.

Enjoy! Happy Friday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are You Ready To Rumble?

Remember that Wizards game I won tickets to way back in September? It finally happened! Last night, Kyle and I went to the Verizon Center for some Washington Wizards v. Golden State Warriors action. And our seats were rather awesome. (Looks even better if you click on it for full size.)

We had a blast! Both teams aren't exactly good and evenly matched teams, one way or another, always make for better games. The half-time entertainment were two teams of 5 year old ballers playing full court regulation ball! They were so cute! They even scored baskets! AMAZING!

I rather enjoy live sports in general. I played soccer as a kid and watched my siblings play soccer (both of them) and baseball (Brotherface) when I wasn't playing. I still play various games (soccer, ultimate frisbee, basketball, even volleyball) when the occasion arises, and I'm at least fairly decent at ultimate frisbee. I attended football and basketball games in high school and college, and I've been to handful of professional sporting events wherever I've lived, so I've seen the Houston Astros, Utah Starzz and Jazz, Provo Angels (before they were the Orem Owlz), Baltimore Orioles, and the Wizards and Nationals here in DC, all on their home turf. I even sang the National Anthem with Brotherface at a Provo Angels game when I was 18.

But it has to be live for me to really enjoy it. With the exception of BYU football and maybe a little BYU basketball and most certainly the Olympics, I don't seek out televised sporting events and I don't stop and watch them if I'm channel surfing. For me, it's as much social as it is about the game. That's one reason I can watch or listen to BYU  games on my own , because I know others who are watching and I can celebrate/commiserate with them after.  If another sporting event is on TV and friends want to watch, I'll watch and probably even enjoy. If I'm going to a live game, I definitely prefer to have friends to share it with. Sporting events are also really great for first dates!  I love rooting for the home team, investing a couple hours in their triumphs and losses. If it's BYU, I'll even invest a whole day - I flew to and from Boston in the same day in September 2006, just to cheer on my beloved Cougars.  I prefer college ball to pro ball, because there's more heart and pro athletes are grossly overpaid, but I'll have a good time at either.

With the weather getting warmer and the days getting longer, I'm actually really looking forward to baseball season. There's something rather lovely about spending a summer evening outside, batting away mosquitos, chatting with friends, and cheering on some ball players. Bring on the overpriced food! I'm ready for summer and baseball!

So - how do you feel about sports?