Sunday, December 21, 2014

See Gift at End of Post.

Well can you believe it? I graduated with a B.A. from Arizona State University.  I'd drink to that...if I drank.  After many prayers and late night musings, I decided to start a new chapter in Utah, Land of the Saints (yeah, that's a real nickname).  We moved all of my belongings to Utah, and we put the Mesa house on the market.  My mom and I were left cleaning the house, and a bee flew in through the open door.  I hate bees, and my reaction upon seeing one is akin to that of a squirrely, little girl. My

This bee is funny. And it's as big as the hole in the window.
mom rolled her eyes and marched towards the bee resting on a window.  She took a broom, smacked the bee, and broke the window.  Mom and I looked at each other and started laughing, and then a feeling sunk in, an "oh stars, we busted a window" feeling.  We were supposed to leave Arizona the next day, so we were scrambling to find an emergency window repair company.  Long story short, the window was fixed, and we left on our merry way to Utah.  Now, I feel like I have some leverage whenever I make a mistake in front of my mom. I'll just say, "Well you broke a window!!"

Depressing sight, yes?
So I am home in Ephraim. One night, the family was watching some Netflix, and I decided to bake some cookies.  Fancy, homemaker ladies bake homemade cookies.  I am not a fancy, homemaker lady. I am lazy and have no desire to bake cookies from scratch. That's why Betty Crocker, that blessed woman, created cookie mixes that you can buy at the store. This is where the little story gets good.  The cookie mix expired in 2013.  I opened it, and it smelled terrible.  I wanted to dump it, but my parents said, "Give it a try! It can't hurt! It's probably just the smell of old nuts!" I mixed all of the ingredients together, tasted the dough, and yuck. It's probably just the old nuts, right? I baked the cookies, and I gave my dad the first cookie.  He took one bite, spat out the glob, and retched.  It's definitely not the old nuts.  Flour goes bad! I just find this experience absolutely hysterical. Or maybe I'm just a poor judge of what's funny and what's not.  One thing, however, is clear — mom and dad should trust my judgment more.  

During this holiday season, I am grateful that I can spend time with my family. I wish all of my friends and family a Merry Christmas, and do not forget to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart!

OH! And Theo happened.  This is like a Christmas present, except early! You can thank me later.  Scratch that — you can thank my sister who, you know, birthed this cutie. 

Theodore (Theo) Huckleberry Burgoyne
Of course, this picture is huge.   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Life's Happening.

I've taken quite the break from the blog, but holy stars — life is happening!   This summer was hot (to say the least), eventful, busy, and even challenging.  But within the span of just a few months, it's remarkable to see how much I've grown, and I am constantly reminded of just how blessed I am.

Side-note:  If, one day, I'm feeling particularly junky and think life stinks, somebody direct me to this post.  I constantly need reminders.  

I spent quite a bit of time in Utah with my family.  Ephraim is beautiful.  Let me rephrase that... the natural landscape of Ephraim is beautiful — the mountains, the hills, the night-sky.  People's yards, on the other hand, are atrocious, and the sidewalks look like someone took a stroll with a jackhammer on the cement.  But none of that matters.  I got to be with my family! When the sun set, and the evening air was brisk and sometimes chilly, I would sit on the patio with my parents, and we would just talk.  I can tell them anything, and honestly, how many other people my age can claim that privilege of talking freely with their parents?

In July, we went to Salt Lake City.  I envisioned the Salt Lake City temple as a massive structure, but in comparison to the other corporate buildings, the temple looks like a hut (although a beautiful, sacred hut).  Temple Square was buzzing with the activity of tourists and especially LDS missionaries.  They were all so chipper and clearly happy to be serving the Lord.

Now fast-forward to a couple months later.... I received my endowment! It was a special experience that defies description.  I chose to do a session at the Mount Timpanogos temple, and it is definitely one of my favorites.  The celestial room is glorious — that's seriously the best word I can think of to describe that place.

I am grateful that Mom, Dad, Kylie, Cam, and Kelli could come share this experience with me.  If you notice, in the picture, we purposely coordinated our outfits and wore shades of blue, green, and gray....
Just kidding — I just noticed that.  I suppose it speaks to how cohesive our family is.   :)

So, I drove from Utah to Arizona, last week.  Usually, I enjoy driving.  I play music and sing my head off, and I don't care if fellow drivers stare at me with bewilderment.  This drive, however, was maddening.  A major car accident on I-17 left me stopped in a traffic jam for an hour.  Of course, I express my deepest sorrows to the people in the accident, but being stuck stinks stupendously.  It was then that I reached the following conclusion.... I know why Satan is miserable in Hell.  His car is stuck in a never-ending traffic jam, and he will never be able to move... FOR-E-VER.  That, in my opinion, is pretty much as terrible as melting in fire and brimstone.  At one point, I was stuck behind a lady in a station wagon, and her license plate expressed so great a lie that an oak tree sprouted from Pinocchio's nose.  The plate read, "SPEEDYMOM", while she was going 45 in a 65 mph stretch.  I was dying, I was impatient, I was angry, and dare I say it... I was sinfully filled with road rage.  As I passed slow drivers, I glared frightfully at them, making them quiver in their bones.  I used my horn excessively.  Exasperated groans and "humphs" escaped my lips.  AND THEN... I saw a bumper stick that said, "WWJD."  And then I felt this...

 That's my guilty face.  I finally got home and fiercely repented for my behavior.  Jesus would probably sing hymns during a road trip.  Or he would pick up a hitchhiker and recite The Parable of the Hitchhiker.  That has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Moving on to more current happenings, school has started! And can you believe it... last Thursday was my last first day of school.  I am graduating at the end of this semester! But before that... I actually have to, you know, pass my classes.  This semester will be intense.  In fact, I spent my Friday night doing homework, while everybody else was partying it up.  But let's get real here...even if I had the choice, I would probably be doing homework anyway.  The double introvert lives a riveting life.

So where does that leave me for the future?  If I think about it intensely, I'll probably end up in the fetal position, huddled in the corner of my closet.  There are so many many good choices.  And you know what? I loathe choices.  Thus far, I have lived my life following a blueprint that was crafted once I emerged from my mother's womb.  Okay...obviously I'm exaggerating, but hopefully, you understand my point.  I love routines, and plans, and checklists, and goals!  But when faced with big decisions, I crack under the pressure and behave as if having choices is the worst thing in the world.  What are my choices, you ask? Well... my choices involved leaving AZ, staying in AZ, working, grad school, different programs, a mission, etc, etc. I'm leaning towards the English program at BYU.  I interviewed with one of the department faculty members, and she told me about the opportunity to teach first-year English.  That has always been a dream of teach college students about writing and analyzing literature! But I look like I'm 12, so the students would probably think of me as another freshman chum. all means... this is something that I need to fret about right now.

 I feel like in writing, I need to articulate when I use sarcasm.  So just that we're clear...I used sarcasm two sentences ago.

To summarize this massive post, I end with the words of a gangster I encountered on campus today...
"Yo, homeslice! Life's goooood." He might have been high, but nevertheless, his message is true.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Sorta Patriotic Pet Peeve.

Happy 4th, folks!  I love this holiday — every year I am reminded of how blessed we are to live in this country, the Land of the Free.  I believe in what America stands for, even as I acknowledge its failures and limits.  I am forever grateful for those brave men and women who serve this country, who believe in securing peace and freedom for others.

But every year, there are people who express their discontent with the government, their hatred for the President of the United States.  People are certainly entitled to their opinions, but my biggest pet peeve is when people publish the most crude and disrespectful things about Mr. Obama on social networking sites.  They say that he is "intentionally screwing the US" and that he is "the stupidest man to ever be President."

Well, to those frustratingly foolish people, I would gladly become next door neighbors with Kim Jung-un if they ever became President of the United States.

Mr. Obama is a flawed man, but so were all the other leaders of this country.  Mr. Obama has made serious errors, but so have all the other leaders of this country.  So this is what I want people to know: Political parties and views will inevitably conflict, but the people who lead this country are good men and women.  They do what they think is best for the country — they don't wake up in the morning thinking, "Hmmm...what can I do to mess things up for the US?"

Whether we are liberal, conservative, independent, or whatever... let us be grateful.  Let us be grateful for the rights and liberties that were granted in the Constitution, one of the most remarkable documents ever forged in world history.  Let us be grateful for a democracy, a system in which our voice actually matters.  And let us be grateful that ambitious, intelligent, and good people lead this nation.

Happy Independence Day, everybody! And please don't let your version of a perfect nation threaten sows of hatred and disrespect.  A love for this country should unite, not divide.

Happy 4th from Manti, Utah!!!!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

All the Pennies.

Life, for me, progresses at full-speed ahead.  There is always something to be done.  There is always a project to finish.  There is always a big, looming goal that seems just beyond my grasp.  I live life in constant anticipation of that next big moment — the moment I graduate from college; the moment I get that raise; the moment I find the person I love; the moment I can relax and travel.  I think to myself, "Life will be perfect once these big moments come."

But life was never meant to be lived in such a way.  My life is perfect now.  My life is perfect amidst the good times and the bad, the bumps in the road, the unexpected changes in course.  I'm finding that life is beautiful, good, and perfect when I take the time to notice all the pennies, the small and precious moments that make up eternity.


The other day, I saw a little boy splashing in a fountain.  He was clutching a fistful of coins, and I noticed that they were all pennies.  I asked him why he only wanted the pennies, and he said, "Well, somebody's gotta love the small ones!"

Two darling girls in my neighborhood were excitedly playing with a refrigerator box.  It was a blazing 110 degrees, and yet they carved out a door, windows, and a peephole for spying.  They spent hours playing "house" in a cardboard structure barely big enough to fit a child.

Kristin is expecting a baby boy, and she went to Utah to visit my family.  My mom told me that Kristin felt a flutter of movement in her body.  The baby is healthy and active.  New life is beautiful.

A stray dog accompanied me during my morning runs at Mesa Riverview Park.  He was filthy and emaciated, but sweet, well-behaved, and loving.  He adored belly rubs, and whenever I paused to catch my breath, he waited, his tail flapping wildly behind.  A rescue team picked him up, and they put him down.  For months, the poor thing suffered from internal damage, but nobody could tell.  He acted like a puppy — free, joyful, and excited.

I was at a friend's house, and I was humming a primary song to myself.  It was late at night, and one roommate wished us "good-night." He shut himself in his room.  I could hear the mattress squeaking as he flung himself into bed.  And then...I heard singing.  He was softly singing the same primary song, but it sounded like the voice of a sweet child.

On a very early Sunday morning, the sun rose.  Brilliant colors stretched across the sky in warm pinks, oranges, and yellows.  The moon was faint, but it rested in a gorgeous expanse of radiant hues.  These beautiful sights are Heavenly Father's gifts to His children.

Temple trips are always sweet, especially when you have the dearest friend to accompany you! One of the temple workers radiated love, joy, and warmth.  He took my hand and said, "I always try to make people laugh.  It calms the nerves.  You just giggled, so my job here is done!"

How can you NOT love this girl? What a sparkling soul!


The truth is... there are so many beautiful sights, sounds, and sensations in life.  Slow down - pause a moment - take a deep breath -  enjoy the ride.  And take a cue from the little fountain boy — look for and appreciate all the pennies.  If you don't, then who will?

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Perfectionist Preaches.

My boss asked me the other day, "Is it possible for your greatest strength to be your greatest weakness?"  Of course.  I, Rebekah Michele Hood, am living and breathing proof.  I am a perfectionist, but more like a perfectionist on steroids.

This is embarrassingly accurate.
I hold myself to a high standard, and while my work ethic has ensured success in my endeavors, it has also become a curse.  I am accustomed to being told that my work is excellent.  I don't mean to sound snotty, but it's true — my mom is proud of my accomplishments and tells me so; my childhood "award" book is bursting at the seams; my school teachers keep my work as models for future students; my sister went as far to tell me that I was like Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way."  As you can imagine, the pressure was on.

While I'm flattered, and I appreciate the endless support, such praise has, in a way, doomed me.  I am far from perfect, and yet, I strive for perfection because I feel as if that's what everybody else expects. For the longest time, "Be ye therefore perfect" meant be perfect or you can kiss celestial glory "goodbye!" Even now, what others might deem "good enough," to me, means failure.  But because I am an imperfect being, disappointments and frustrations come often, as it is impossible for me to reach my unrealistic standards.  

So, what can I do?  How can I convince myself that my best effort is good enough?  I found council and hope from Elder Neal A. Maxwell's talk, "Notwithstanding My Weakness."  I know that I work diligently.  I know that I strive to be a good person.  But like Elder Maxwell says, I "have recurring feelings of falling forever short."  I know that I stand before no more harsh a judge than myself.  Turning to the scriptures, however, shows us gradual growth.  We see the gradual growth of our prophets, great leaders we desire to emulate, and even our Savior who "received not of the fulness at first, but received grace for grace" (D&C 93:12).  The invitation to become perfect is a long journey, filled with many pitfalls.

C.S. Lewis writes, "God's demand for perfect need not discourage you in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures.  Each time you fall, He will pick you up again.  And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection.  On the other hand, you must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal."

We cannot achieve perfection in this mortal existence, and our Savior is aware of this truth.  But he does not condemn us for our failure to achieve perfection, nor does he shun us.  On the contrary, he expects our best, and when we fall short, he "can lift us from deep despair and cradle us midst any care." Satan would have us believe that we will forever be inadequate — he encourages self-contempt, self-pity, and self-disdain.  If we operate under this mindset, discouragement will be our constant companion.  Our motivation to do good will be destroyed.

The Savior shows us another way — a path that is empowering and hopeful.  While we must continually make efforts to improve ourselves, let us acknowledge the progress we have already made and our personal growth! When we truly give our best, we must remember that this effort is all that is asked of us.  The widow cast in her two mites, and while the monetary value of her contribution was not substantial, it was all that she had, and therefore, she lived with satisfaction knowing that her best effort was gratefully accepted by the Lord.  The Savior encourages paced progress, and he acknowledges that "following celestial road signs while in telestial traffic jams is not easy." If we try to go too fast, we'll stall and break down.  While we strive for perfection, we must remember that it's a process of becoming.  We are constant Christians, rather than instant Christians.  If we can remember these things, if we truly give our best, if we realize that we are adequate...precious, in fact, in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, how sweet the day will be when we stand before our Master, and he declares, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21)!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


This is what you get when you don't write for a while — a massive hash of important stuff.  Let's begin, shall we?

Another school year is over, and you know what? It doesn't feel as great as I thought it would.  I approach every semester with the anticipation of Christmas break, Spring break, Summer break, and every other break that exists.  Then, school finally ends and I think, "Well, now what?" I miss being in school.  I miss having a clearly defined goal.  I miss the satisfaction of getting good grades on my papers.  I miss my professors because they think I'm awesome, and they're right, of course.  I wish that I would appreciate the college experience more.  There is so much more to college than just the pursuit of your undergraduate degree, and I, unfortunately, lose sight of that.

So now, I work at this place called Genius Coaching, and I feel like a jack-of-all-trades.  I do a little bit of everything — talking to clients, administrative work, technical editing, finances, therapy sessions, walking the dogs.  (And yes... I do take care of the therapy dogs).  The job is great.  This company is based upon the premise that every individual is a genius.  People are born to be brilliant, and our job is to cultivate people's natural strengths and gifts so they reach their true potential.  I'm basically guaranteed a full-time position following college, and that, to me, is a major security.  I've heard horror stories of graduated college students who are on the job hunt for months, even years.

Just this last weekend, my family was in town for my birthday, and it was sweet to see them.  The same thing happens each time they visit.  Mom gasps at the empty pantry and worries that her dearest child is starving, so we go to Costco, and she buys me food.  Dad inspects the condition of my house, and he gets to work.  This time around, he fixed the dishwasher, and he worked on the roof, so we don't get leaks every time there's a torrential downpour.  Hallelujah for his handy skills.  And Brigham, bless his heart, he plays N64 and goes swimming every single time.  He recycles through all of his favorite jokes and movie/TV quotations.  He never fails to make me laugh and smile.  And do you know why else my family is amazing?  This year was the first time I was away from home for my birthday, so my family came to me in AZ.  Talk about love and dedication?! I know this sounds completely and entirely cliche, but home is seriously where family is.

And a super secret confession?  The last night my family was in town, Brigham stayed at my house.  That boy sleeps through everything, and we had spent a pretty late night together.  I watched him fall asleep (sounds super creeper-ish), and I seriously started to cry because I've missed him.  I know he was right there in the room with me, but the anticipation of him leaving in the morning was a bit devastating.  I know I'm an adult.  I take care of myself now, I pay my bills, I feed myself, and I'm pretty independent.  But that doesn't mean that I don't get homesick, still.  I miss my family, and sometimes, I miss being a little kid.  Perhaps I'm being childish, but I don't care.  If you had my family, you would feel exactly the same way.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hoodlums Unite.

So often in life, I think we forget that the most beautiful and precious blessings sit right under our very noses.  I have three siblings, two older sisters and one younger brother, and I, regrettably, take them for granted.  It's sad, really.  Sometimes, I reflect upon childhood, and I dwell on the rivalries, the bickering, or the times in which I felt slighted by my siblings.  But this is wrong.  Kristin, Kylie, and Brigham -- they're all incredible individuals, radiant with Christ's love.  They have been blessed with unique talents and strengths, and they bring so much joy to my life.  They're my best friends.  In honor of National Siblings Day, I want to share my favorite memories with my siblings. 

Kristin: What a woman, this one! She epitomizes confidence and independence.  You drop this girl off in Malaysia, and she'll know exactly what to do.  Kristin is street-smart, school-smart, sports-smart, church-smart, and every other smart you can think of.  One of my favorite memories is from the summer of 2011.  I spent the summer in Arizona, living with Kristin.  I was in the bedroom when I suddenly heard shrieking from the T.V. room.  My heart plummeted as I envisioned a masked man butchering my sister.  I dashed in to the rescue, and Kristin was screaming because her football team fumbled the ball.  Now, I can manage a giggle, but back then, I was slightly irked.  Kristin, though? She's amazing, and she makes space pants and furry vests look hot.

Kylie: She is the most quotable person on this planet.  "Chipmunk? I thought it was Chickmunk!" "There's a moose in Pennsylvania!" "I've got Legos at home!" She's also the funniest.  Many of her statements revolve around toilet humor, and it's so endearing.  Kylie is one of the most compassionate  individuals I know.  She has a heart of gold, and when somebody requests her help, she drops everything and is so willing to extend service to others.  What an example! My favorite memories with Kylie are when we play piano duets together.  One time, she and I tried to play a "Jingle Bells" duet as fast as possible.  It got a bit crazy, but we were both gasping for breath, completely overcome with laughter.  I can tell Kylie anything, and that's been a blessing as I've encountered different challenges throughout life.

Brigham:  Good grief -- where do I even start with this one?  This kid's talents are slightly unorthodox, but they are, nevertheless, impressive.  Brigham is quite the master of several imitations.  Sean Connery, Pip the Chipmunk, Money Penny, and Kylie are just a few.  And his whistling skills are uncanny.  He can whistle at least ten different ways.  Dad and I will die laughing as we hear Brigham, in his room, whistling familiar tunes two octaves higher than what they're supposed to be.  My favorite memory with Bud was when he camped out in my room on Christmas Eve.  He was bubbling with excitement, and it was difficult to sleep.  Let's just say... he's quite gifted in making peculiar noises with his armpits.  He can manage every note in the SATB range, and that night was filled with his gleeful giggles.  Now, he's obsessed with the peach fuzz on his armpits.  Apparently, armpit hair is indicative of manhood.  One of the hardest things about going to college was leaving Brigham.  I love his sense of humor, his tender heart, and his quirky personality.

We fought when we were little, and even now, we encounter the occasional conflict.  But in the grand scheme of things, we have a beautiful relationship, we are all grounded in the Gospel, and we are living life in the right direction.  This is one of my favorite Mormon Messages, and it made me think of my siblings. 

In the video, Luke ponders, "What would Sam say?"  That's such a powerful statement.  You guys are examples to me, and I often think about how you would respond to various situations.  Regardless of age or where we are in life, it is my sincerest desire that one day, you can look to me as an example, and you can say, "What would Bekki do in this situation?"  I love you guys, and I cannot wait to see you soon!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Sad Bird + An Even Sadder Girl.

People probably think I'm destined to become a serial killer.  There are several warning signs indicating that a person could potentially become murderous.  I suppose this one, in particular, rings true with me.

Warning Sign #3: Torturing Small Animals

Serial killers typically do not feel remorse when they harm animals.  I do not intentionally harm animals, and I am overcome with remorse if I happen to accidentally torture a creature.  Seriously, one time a beautiful monarch butterfly got crumpled in the grill of my car, and I wept like a sinner in Church.

As you already know, I've had terrible luck with animals. Last semester, I ran over a cat.  I was so devastated that I skipped class and polished off an entire tub of ice-cream.  I'll also remind you of the three furry creatures that got locked inside the utility closet.  Their death was tragic, horrifying, and messy.  Last year, my beloved fish was dying, and I couldn't flush it down the toilet, so I stuck it in the freezer, hoping that turning the thing into a popsicle would be the most merciful way to bring about an inevitable end. 

Well, my tragic animal encounter this morning just might reign supreme.  I was driving to school, and a small bird decided to take a dump on my windshield as I was stuck at a red light.  I was slightly angry because I try to maintain a clean vehicle.  After all, I am a classy lady.  The bird was still on my windshield, so I turned on my windshield wipers.  The bird's wing and leg got caught in the windshield wiper, and it was unable to free itself.  I was absolutely mortified, especially as the light turned green, and I was driving with a suffering bird trapped on my windshield.  It was particularly embarrassing to see fellow drivers gawking at my car.  They were probably wondering what kind of insensitive monster would condemn a bird to such a gruesome fate.

I drove for a good ten minutes.... with a bird stuck on my windshield.  I finally got to school, and when I lifted up the wiper, the bird flew away with a seriously injured wing.  I gingerly removed some feathers from the wipers.  I still feel terrible.  I feel like there are several animals in Animal Heaven that are seriously ticked off with me. 

I wish there was a happy conclusion to this story, but there's not.  So... the end.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Post for Dad.

So... Dad.... it's your birthday! And I know you get embarrassed about these kind of things, but I'm doing the world a favor in describing how AMAZING you are.  AND I have my own agency... so I do what I want, and I'm pretty sure Jesus approves of this.

Here are 10 reasons why I think you win the "Best Dad Ever" award:

1.  There are many "Dad-isms" that are absolutely legendary.

  • Before we say family prayer -- "Lettuce pray!"
  • "Rebellious subjects! Enemies to peace!"
  • Mom: "What do you want for your birthday?"     Dad: "YOU, baby!"
  • Hood child: "I'm hungry."     Dad: "I'm Steve. Nice to meet you."
2.  There's this song by John Mellencamp.  In a normal world, I would absolutely hate this song because it claims very little musical merit, but because of you, I love "Jack and Diane."  Since I was little, you did the finger-jiggle (a Hood secret, actually.)  And now, even when you're not in the car, EVERYONE does the finger-jiggle.

3.  You listen to the best radio stations.  I'm talking NPR, BBC, and your classical music stations.  My memories of early-morning seminary include you driving me to the Hall's house, listening to people with British accents reporting on BBC.  Now I listen to these stations, too.  It makes me feel classy, sophisticated, and scholarly.

4.  I think you and I have always had a special connection.  Yes, I've inherited your anti-social tendencies and your anxiety (which has been quite the thrill, really), but we can talk about anything.  Ever since I was in grade school, I would go to your room before bedtime because I knew you would be reading your scriptures.  And then, we would talk about I was feeling, how I liked school, what I was worrying about (everything), and even romantic stuff.  Now, it's like a tradition, isn't it? Even now, if I am home, I still love talking to you when you're reading in the bedroom.  You always listen, and you give the best advice.

5.  Dad, you're a flipping genius.  Like Mom, you answer all of the questions on Jeopardy correctly.  You taught political science in college, and I feel like all "political" people (with their heads screwed on correctly, of course) are scholarly.  Heck, you could be President of the United States, and I'm pretty sure all of our nation's major problems would be fixed.  I can say something completely and entirely ludicrous, but I can validate any statement in saying, "Well my dad's a doctor.... so there!" Whether you like it or not, Dr. Hood has a beautiful ring to it.  And now, you are Mr. Vice-President-of-Academic-Affairs at Snow College.  Now that speaks genius.

6.   You always treat people with so much compassion.  I remember we were in Amish country, and a lady of rather large stature fell down.  You immediately came to her aid to make sure she was okay.  Another time, you came home with your shirt all bloodied.  My first thought, "Oh man... he's killed someone.  But a bad guy, of course!"  Nope -- a teenager got in a bad car accident, and you stayed with her, talking to her in order to prevent her from going into shock.  You stayed by her side until EMS came.  You are a HERO!

7.  Dad, you make me feel beautiful.  When I was home, and I would come down the stairs for Church or for a new day at school, you would always say, "Well, don't you look perty!" What girl doesn't like to be told that they're pretty? You always compliment me, and it builds my confidence.  Your opinion matters most to me, and I want nothing more than to make you proud.

8.  I love how you hate dancing because I hate dancing.  When I was still a Young Woman, you would absolutely dread going to the stake dances.  I hated going, but whenever you had to supervise, I often came to keep you company.  Together, we would stand in the empty corner of the cultural hall, watching with bewilderment as a bunch of teenagers danced crazily to tasteless, loud music.  Our conversations were even better.  They went something like this:
     Me:  I don't really like this.
     You:  Me neither.
     Me:  So what do we do?
     You: You wanna grab a frosty at Wendy's? Nobody will notice.
     Me:  Let's go.

9.  You have been an incredible support in helping me deal with my anxiety.  I know, these past couple of months have been a roller coaster, haven't they?  And yet, you and Mom were with me every step of the way.  When times were particularly difficult, I called you every night, even if you were asleep, and you would always calm me down.  You understand me on a level that nobody else can claim.  As I reflect upon my fervent petitions to Heavenly Father, I have realized that major answers to my prayers have come in the form of an individual... and that's you!

10.  And finally, Dad, you are a wonderful example of a Father.  You are a worthy Priesthood holder, you have raised a firm family in the Gospel, and you love your family so much.  When we went to the Manti temple just a couple of days ago, I felt so proud to have you perform the ordinances with me.  You always say that you feel blessed to have been given such a wonderful daughter.  Well, every day, I wonder about what I have done to deserve such a wonderful father.

Happy Birthday, Dad! This is the least I can do to express my sincere appreciation and love for you.  I could throw a MASSIVE surprise party with all of your buddies, but I know you would rather have a hernia.  You deserve the happiest of days, and it was so fun to spend spring break with the whole family. I love you!

I'm not sure why, but I really like this picture of you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm the Hero Arizona Needs.

When you do something completely and utterly bonkers, word travels fast... wicked fast.  In the past couple of weeks, several people have approached me, and the conversations usually start like this:

1. Bekki, is it true you got arrested?
2. Did you really beat somebody up?
3. So I hear you have an impressive criminal record...

Well folks, it's time to set the record straight.  No, I did not get arrested...not really.  No, I did not beat somebody up...although I wish I did.  And no, I'm pretty sure I don't have a record, although I'm not sure how long that will last, given my crazy life.  This is the story of an innocent girl, a liar, and a security guard.

About a month ago, I went to Food City after finishing my errands.  As I walk in, I see a young man in a suit. A clean-cut, young, attractive man in a classy and tailored suit, I might add.  His name was Tyrone, and he was white.  Maybe this should have been my first red flag, but I guess I was slightly distracted by his blue eyes and cute dimples.

He calls, "Young lady... can I interest you in some family portraits?"  I didn't want to be that person who flat out says "NO" and then walks away quickly.  So I approach him and listen to his pitch. The first thing that actually registers in my mind... "Perfect missionary opportunity, right here. He tells me about pictures, and I tell him about Jesus. Win-win." Tyrone excitedly tells me about a package deal that's 50% off.  He hands me all of these forms, and I'm signing a bunch of stuff. I lie about all of the information, thinking that I've got myself into a sticky situation.

Tyrone says, "So... I'll schedule you for portraits on January 25th, at 1:25 pm."  I'm thinking, "Wait...what? worries. I just won't show up, and I won't have to pay for it. Problem solved."  I thank Tyrone for his time, completely forgetting about testifying of Jesus's love for him.  But as I start to leave, he exclaims, "Oh just one moment! You must pay." And then I do the mother-of-all stupid things... I swipe my card, pay for the stupid $8 portrait session, and then I leave.

I go home, mentally chastising myself for being so idiotic. I tell my roommates about the possibility of taking tasteless roommate portraits in the middle of a ghetto grocery store. I tell my dad about what happened, and he says, "Honey... I think you might have been scammed. Google it."

So, I Google Portraits USA, and I see THIS:

And I read some of the customer reviews:
1. Just because he's in a suit, doesn't mean it's legit!
2. My $8 fee turned into a $300 fee!
3. We took portraits in the bathroom of a Dollar Tree!

I cancelled my card that night and ordered a new one. I'll admit... not one of my finer moments, getting duped by an attractive white guy named Tyrone in the middle of a dilapidated grocery store.

Obviously, I didn't show up for that ridiculous portrait session, but a couple weeks ago, I returned to Food City to pick up some groceries.  And who do I see???? Tyrone... the lying white guy, with the dimples that I want to smack off his tragically beautiful face.  And the worst part was that tons of parents were swarming him, signing up for a seemingly great deal on family portraits.  My emotions got the best of me.  I storm up to Tyrone and scream something to this effect:

Who do you think you are???!!! 
People!!! DO NOT trust this man - he will rip you off and take all of your money!
You take your stupid kiosk and get out of here, RIGHT NOW!

Several finger-points and (gentle) shoves accompany such a passionate speech.  I thought I was being a hero for Arizona... saving families from being ripped off by a fraud, a liar, a swindler, a phony. Tyrone says, "Umm... you must have me mistaken for another gentleman, miss."  And then I explode again, attracting the attention of several customers, employees, and security guards.  Tyrone requests help from the guards... the wimpy pansy.

A security guard takes hold of my arm and says, "Ma'am... I'm gonna have to escort you to your car."  And so... I take the walk of shame with a pot-bellied, drowsy-eyed guard to my car.  I try to explain the situation to him, but he says, "There's nothing we can do," to which I reply, "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard." Before he leaves, Mr. Security Guard specifically requests that I conduct myself in a lady-like manner before entering the premises again.

Was I doing the right thing in trying to prevent those people from being swindled? I think so.  Did I handle it in the best way possible? Maybe not (although I'm pretty sure Jesus was flipping tables and cracking whips in the temple). I am the hero Arizona needs... but I guess I need to do a better job of handling situations in a hero-like manner.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Greatest Moments of 2013.

It's that time of year again! We spend time with family and friends, we watch the ball drop in Times Square, we make resolutions that we'll never keep, and of course, we reflect upon the last year.  Well I'll tell ya... 2013 was a monumental year! After several late-night musings and reflections within my shower, I have compiled a list in order to demonstrate why this year has been unforgettable.

1.  In the Spring semester of 2013, I forged the best student-professor relationship ever. One of my English professors was named Kate Frost, and that woman is an absolute gem. She's intelligent, she's passionate, and she is so sensitive to the needs of her students. I loved attending class and office hours with Kate. I still visit her all the time, and she has definitely served as a mentor as I progress through college.

2.  In February, some students had the opportunity to go to Disneyland for $60. Sure... the line to buy such tickets was obscene, but it was so worth it, and I had a great time with my roommate. I still like to think that a giddy child still lives within me, and I hadn't been to Disneyland in so long! Everything was as special as I remembered, and the World of Color was absolutely amazing. I know that if my mom were there, she would be bawling her eyes out. I'm pretty sure that Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth!

3.  In January, I met two amazing girls from China -- Bonnie and Lily. I cannot imagine being in a completely different country by myself, but these two girls were strong, smart, and so accepting of change. I invited them to Institute, and they felt the Spirit so poignantly. And before I knew it, they were attending missionary discussions and getting baptized. They always say that I helped them... but they helped me, too. I learned so much, and it was humbling to see them move forward with so much faith.

4.  I saw the Easter Pageant for the first time at the Mesa Temple.  AND I had the best company -- Sister Coombs/Abernathy and Mr. Jim.  They are, probably, my favorite people in the world, and I've shared many special conversations with Sister Coombs/Abernathy at the Tempe Institute. Seeing her all the time always made my day, and then her husband, Mr. Jim, is a total winner! The Easter Pageant was wonderful, and I am grateful for the experience.

5.  On June 29th (I think), Kristin and Jon got married at the Mesa Temple. Everything was perfect... people were happy, the sun was shining, and we roasted in 118 degree weather. Kristin and Jon have one of the best relationships I have ever seen. Their marriage was like the cherry on top for a great summer.

6.  On August 4th, we went to Washington D.C. I have decided to use the Library of Congress as a model for my future home. That place is an absolute dream, and I could spend hours... no days within that library.

7.  The beginning of Fall semester for 2013 called for a lot of new changes. I moved to a new house in Mesa, I got a new car named Chico, and I changed my major to English Literature, and I moved to a new YSA ward. Most importantly, however, I made new friends... friends that would help me more than I could have ever imagined.

8. Dad got a new job at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. He's the Vice President of Academic Affairs. And with that job, he was given a new salary of $13 million a year. Just kidding... that's the budget he has to work with for the school. My dad is out in Utah right now. Meanwhile, I'm helping Mom and Brigham prepare for the big move. We've been packing, cleaning, and within a couple of weeks, this house in PA will be vacated. We'll miss this place, but we are ready for a new adventure.

9.  In October's General Conference, Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk called Like a Broken Vessel. I have never felt the Spirit so strongly during a session of conference. His inspired words truly resonated with me. His council answered the prayers of so many individuals around the world who suffer from emotional or mental disorders.  The prayers of those family members who want to help their loved ones were answered, too.  Once again, it was confirmed to me that Heavenly Father is aware of our sincerest desires.

10. This past semester, I took a class that focused on young adult literature. We read an incredible book called It's Kind of a Funny Story which is about a teenager's battle with depression and his life-changing experience in a psychiatric hospital. Our class had the opportunity to Skype with the author, Ned Vizzini. I thought his story was inspiring, especially as it was taken from his life. He was wise, funny, and he offered a fresh perspective. Just a couple weeks ago, however, Ned Vizzini committed suicide.  His death deeply saddens me, and I wonder if he realized the profound effect he had upon readers all over the country.

11.  My friends... you can just call me super. In November, I believe, something absolutely crazy happened to me. On Wednesday nights, I took a Shakespeare class, and I would always walk back to my car in the dark. I was in a remote area of campus when I saw this sketchy guy trying to steal a bike. I freaked and called the campus security... usually they're patrolling at night. But then... the guy started riding the stolen bike away. I, possessing wonderfully good manners, politely asked him to STOP. Obviously... he didn't. But I was holding a rather large textbook in my hands. I chucked that book, and miraculously, it smacked him across the head and he came tumbling to the ground. But then he wasn't getting up and I thought, "Crap... I killed him." By the time he got up, security arrived and apprehended the criminal. He looked at me with bewilderment, and I merely smiled thinking, "Yeah. You just got schooled by a girl with a textbook."

12.  This holiday season, my whole family spent Christmas in Collegeville, PA for the last time. It was a good Christmas because we were all together, and we got to visit our favorite places.  We all grew up here, and leaving is really hard.  But this is life, and life brings change that we have to embrace!  Without a doubt, this was my favorite Christmas.

13. And last but certainly not least... I have changed so much.  I know that sounds so cliché, but it's true. This year, I encountered some of the greatest challenges of my life, but with those trials comes refinement. I discovered that despite my weaknesses, I am strong. I discovered that anxiety does not define who I am, and while I may struggle to control it for the rest of my life, I will press forward with faith and determination. I discovered that Heavenly Father gives us challenges because He loves us, and He wants us to become the best we can possibly be. I discovered that all it takes is gratitude and humility to see how Heavenly Father has richly blessed us.

It's 2014 everybody... and I am so excited for a brand new year!!! I speak on behalf of my family when I wish you a better and brighter year. And while we pursue our goals and dreams, let us show more love, patience, and compassion towards those around us!

Please marvel at our astonishingly good looks.