Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I am struggling under the burden of 5 classes.  I feel like I can’t keep up.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me but this is really, really hard and I keep having setbacks.  Maybe I'm trying to race through stuff to keep up.  I don’t read instructions correctly; I don’t understand the assignment – I am dealing with criticism of my efforts and it’s hard to bear.  I am guilty of some kind of sick perfectionism that I have to let go of or it will eat me up inside.  It is causing me to feel bitter, especially towards one of my instructors.  I know I am in the wrong when I feel this way.

I know the Lord knows I am trying.  I am making positive changes and good things are still happening to me as a result of my studies – I am growing in knowledge and changing in ways that are really good.  I am faltering right now a little in my resolve to keep going and giving it my all.  In my prayers this morning I begged for strength and grace to help me keep going, keep plugging along.  I went to and typed in “perserverance” and this talk from Elder Marvin J. Ashton came up called “Who will forfeit the Harvest?”  This talk is mainly about keeping our testimonies bright and strong, but I likened it to my own situation and felt like I could apply his closing paragraph to myself as a student.  My comments to his assertions are in red.

“Most of all, we forfeit the gift of eternal growth and progress. May we avoid the stony places of (1) unwillingness to accept human qualities, My instructor is human.  BYUI has entrusted him with the responsibility to teach.  I need to accept his ability of communication and not think unkindly of him because he isn’t meeting my expectations.

(2) unwillingness to accept change, Some classes are going to be harder than others for me.  That’s just the way it is and I can’t expect to be Patty Perfect in all of them.  That is not realistic.  Whether its difficulty in grasping concepts or difficulty communicating with an instructor, I have to learn to be flexible and make the best of every situation.

(3) unwillingness to follow instructions. There is no sin in misunderstanding something – it is only a sin when I rebel.  Pray for understanding.  Pray that I can follow the instructions and do my best.  If I have done my best, and have tried to remain humble and teachable, if I have reached out and made the best effort possible to understand, then I have still benefited from the exercise regardless of the outcome grade-wise.

, and (4) unwillingness to be totally committed. 'Don’t quit now!  I’ve come so far.  There will be setbacks; that is life.  Endure to the end.  That requires total commitment.  Even when I feel criticized.  Even when I feel discouraged.  Even when I’m tired.  Even when I don’t understand.  Even when I feel like this is busywork, even when my teacher is being nitpicky, even, even, even.  This is a good and worthy effort and I’m getting a BYUI education from the Lord’s University.  What a privilege!  What a blessing!  What a lucky girl I am!

By so doing we can establish deep, strong roots and thus reap the harvest our Father in Heaven wants for all his children.”  By doing these things, I am reaping the harvest of intelligence; I am growing in patience; I am learning how I can better serve others; I am learning to stretch myself;  I am learning small-L leadership; I am seeing what I am capable of.  I’m learning truths that I will take with me into eternity.  I am starting to catch a glimpse of myself the way my Father in Heaven sees me.  That is my most precious learning experience of all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mushrif Central Park

Hubby and I spent last Saturday evening exploring the recently opened Mushrif Central Park.  Parking was plentiful, and after the 5 dhs admission fee, you’re free to wander the many garden paths that wind through fountains, play areas, and a mini-zoo.  On Saturdays starting at 4pm, Ripe Market puts on an open market reminiscent of street markets in the US.  Vendors are selling locally handmade crafts, one-of-a-kind gift items and accessories from different parts of the world, organic fruits and veggies, interesting packaged food and health items, as well as many food and drink vendors.

It was a perfect night to be walking around the park.  A guy played acoustic guitar, and did awesome covers of Jason Mraz.  Hubby and I had some quesadillas from the “Barbacoa” stand, and for dessert he had some Dutch pancakes that were drowning in Nutella; I opted for frozen yogurt with blueberries.  The food is on the overpriced side, but it was nice to find a little table and chairs to eat out on the grass and listen to “Jason” while we ate.

After dinner we walked along the footpath that circles the park and guides through flower gardens, and several different play areas for children.  In one area is a climbing structure, another play area with swings and more climbing/active equipment to play on, and another area representative of a wadi, with rocks to climb on, a pond to play in and Emirati style tents to duck in and out of.  This area is right next to a small zoo which has a camel, sheep, goats, donkeys and a cow.  Children are running back and forth feeding greens to the animals who seemed eager to partake.  There are lots of opportunities for photo ops – be sure and take your picture “lifting the moon”.

There is a large green space in the center of the park, and while we were there, a large yoga class was taking place.  There’s also a sit-down cafĂ© at the park where you can grab a sandwich and a refreshing mocktail Mojito to cool off with after your walk.

This is the perfect place to bring families or friends, and is such a pretty place for a walk.  My only disappointment about Mushrif Park is that it doesn’t open until 10:00 in the morning.  It would be nice if opened early, say 7:00 am, especially in the summer months so people could get out and walk before the heat becomes unbearable.

This is definitely a place you can visit more than once and see and taste something new each time you return.  We will definitely be back!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fighting off the Weepies

I am fighting the weepies today.  It’s officially been 3 months and 8 days since I took off from McCarran Airport to LAX, and then on to Abu Dhabi.  I felt a little anxious for the first couple of weeks or so, and daily questioned, “What have I done???”, but I managed to ride that out and settle into a new normal.  I kept busy with my schoolwork, started making some new acquaintances in some of the women’s groups, started a quilt, started transitioning from working girl to expat wife and I thought I was doing ok.  The past several  days I have just had “that feeling”… that feeling where you feel yourself slipping into a funk, not entirely sure why.  Knowing I need to snap out of it soon before it gets away from me.

So I sat down to my sewing table this morning, and thought I’d listen to some Christian music to soothe my heart a bit, and put on a playlist that I haven’t listened to in a year or two… this is the first song… and then the floodgates opened. 

My Nest   (by Janice Kapp Perry)

The day has come for you to go
I've watched you closely so I know
I recognize your restlessness
It's time for you to leave the nest

I've taught you much of what you know
It's been a joy to see you grow
You fluttered first, then learned to fly
While I was flying by your side

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

You've had brief chances to explore 
That left you eager to see more
You've taken tiny solo flights
but always close within my sight
Enjoy the rhythm of your wings
the freedom soaring always brings
But in that endless span of sky
be careful where you choose to fly

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

I'm trusting you now
to the Father's care
for when any sparrow falls
He is aware

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

I am grateful to have been so blessed
To have sheltered you
in my nest

So is this what is bothering me?  That I am over 8,000 miles from 4 precious, responsible, independent young adults and am I mourning the loss of a nestful of kids?  It hasn’t been that long ago that I was a hands-on mom.  It’s been almost 4 years… Or is it that I miss mountains and pine trees?  Or being able to be a 4 hour drive from my parents?  Or maybe because I’m not gainfully employed anymore and the hard work I expended on the job is not going to account for much the farther away my last day at work gets from today… maybe it’s a combination of all of it.  Maybe it’s just been a long, long time since I had a good long cry and my tear ducts needed to know if they’re still operating properly.  And yes, I miss my family something fierce and my heart hurts not being there.

Rather than wallow, I thought I’d feel better if I wrote this down.  Get it out of my system.  Deep breaths and shoulder rolls.  Now I’ll pick up that quilt and get back to work on it – if a tear or two drops on it it’s just a way to physically infuse it with a little more love. 

There’s a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, that says, “…Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

Gordon B. Hinckley said this about that scripture: “I believe he is saying to each of us, be happy.  The gospel is a thing of joy.  It provides us with a reason for gladness.  Of course there are times of sorrow.  Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety.  We all worry.  But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice.  I see so many people, including many women, who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies.  Cultivate an attitude of happiness.  Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.

The sense of calm I feel as I focus on these words is almost palpable.  Where’s my pincushion?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Facebook Group for Home Decorating Finds in Abu Dhabi

I started a new Facebook Group called Abu Dhabi Decor and More.  I'm hoping that it will be a resource for finding eclectic decorating items and furnishings in Abu Dhabi.  I really love vintage, and I don't know if there's much of it here or not, but I'm sure there are other people who like to upcycle and refurbish things and rather than wade through the baby clothes and electronics on Dubizzle and in the other buy and sell pages, this one is just for Home Decor and appropriate furniture (a mattress might be considered furniture, but it's not decorative).  I'm hoping that it will generate some interest for those trying to decorate an empty apartment or villa, and also for those that are ready to leave Abu Dhabi, and want to sell their decorative items.

I'll also be posting any interesting shops or sales that I come across and hope others will do the same.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tolerance and Mutual Respect - Not the Same Thing

I am wrapping up a semester in my Family Foundations class.  This class has been spent studying the Proclamation on the Family in detail.  Our final unit has been on the importance of defending the sanctity of the family.  There is a lot of buzz in the news lately about tolerance and intolerance and bigotry.  Oftentimes it seems that tolerance means we are obligated to be accepting of others and that we have no business voicing an opinion or feeling different than another person – for to do that would be “intolerant”.  We might be labeled a bigot.  Nobody wants to be labeled as a bigot, so often we are cowed by one who might more passionately and aggressively want to get their point across.

I believe tolerance is an overused word.  Boyd K. Packer said this about tolerance: “The word tolerance does not stand alone. It requires an object and a response to qualify it as a virtue. … Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of the word tolerance. It is a very unstable virtue.”

If we could for a moment, remove the word tolerance from our vocabulary and replace it with the phrase, “Mutual Respect” – I believe this would be a win-win for both parties.  This is to allow both parties an equal sharing of viewpoints.  It requires a listening ear and an effort to understand what the other person feels so strongly about.  It requires us to “walk a mile in their moccasins”.  And if need be, it allows us to make the choice to agree to disagree and still be friends.

Dr. Alwi Shihab, a Muslim scholar said this about Mutual Respect: “To tolerate something is to learn to live with it, even when you think it is wrong and downright evil. … We must go, I believe, beyond tolerance if we are to achieve harmony in our world... We must respect this God-given dignity in every human being, even in our enemies. For the goal of all human relations—whether they are religious, social, political, or economic—ought to be cooperation and mutual respect.” 

Tolerance is conditional.  One can generally only be tolerant as long as those around them are in agreement.  Mutual respect is unconditional and can elevate the integrity of a discussion or debate.  It does not force its opinion down another's throat.  Mutual respect accepts that the other person is not obligated to see things the way you do.  Mutual respect seeks to play fair.  Granted, both parties must be willing from the outset to agree to being respectful or our conversation sinks into contentiousness, but isn't Mutual Respect a good goal to aim for?  It could change the world.  If only.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ward Picnic in the Park and Pioneers in India

Before it starts to get really hot in Abu Dhabi, we had a pancake breakfast in the park as a ward (church congregation) activity this morning.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the massive, industrial-sized tub of Nutella that was there – apparently Nutella is really popular here and you put it on just about everything including pancakes.


Our ward is interesting because it’s made up entirely of expats – there are no native Emiratis in church because the native Emiratis are of the Muslim faith.  We have people in our ward from all over the world – the US, Philippine Islands, England, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan… I’m sure I’m missing a few countries.  One of the brothers in our ward told us a fascinating story about how he became a member in India… it was so remarkable the way it happened and then afterwards he told us that the story has been posted on the LDS Church History website.  Basically his uncle was a scientist/expat working in Samoa, and learned about the gospel from a missionary couple – the sister was dying of breast cancer and asked her husband to give Dr. Edwin and his wife her set of scriptures if she died – which he did upon her passing.  Dr. Edwin ended up coming back and sharing the gospel with his family – as a result, 22 people were baptized in one day, and our friend was one of them.  There are now over 12,000 Saints in India.  The Lord’s timing is so amazing.  There are so many instances in my own life that I have questioned “Why this – why now?” and through the gift of hindsight, I can see the Lord’s hand in the details.
In church yesterday in something totally unrelated, one of the speakers mentioned a saying that goes along the lines of “one decision can affect 10,000 lives”.  Clearly, that bears true in the actions of the missionary family in Samoa making the decision to share the gospel, the decision to accept the gospel by Dr. Edwin and his family, and then his decision to share it with his extended family.  These decisions truly did affect 10,000 lives.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mother's Day is Saturday, 21 March in the UAE

This week in my Family Foundations class, we have been studying about how we can have happy families, and the responsibilities that parents have to each other and for their children.  Don't leave without watching the sweet video about motherhood at the end of my post.
We believe that a document called the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, holds the keys to creating a fulfilling and joyful family life.  In particular, we focused on paragraphs 6 and 7 this week which read,

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

As an empty nester, I miss those days when my house was full and noisy and my kids and their friends were running around.  It takes some effort to still “nurture” adult children from 8,000+ miles away.  However, those principles of “faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities” are something I believe we will be practicing throughout the eternities… it won’t end if we don’t want it to – as long as we keep making the effort to live those principles.

Mother’s Day comes a little earlier in the UAE than it does in the US.  We will celebrate it here on Saturday, March 21st.  So Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, Aunties and Sisters who mother us and others.  I hope this little video helps you to know how precious you are to our Father in Heaven.