Thursday, June 16, 2016

Everything Has Changed (?)

You know those times in life where you can feel everything in your world is about to change? You know the why and can see it coming—even can put a date on it at times—but you can in know way predict the extent of the change, speed it up, or slow it down. Instead, you feel you are resigned to sit back and wait for the avalanche to hit.

Or is that only me?

There have been numerous times where I can feel this of  type change approaching—almost as if it is in the very air I breathe, demanding my attention.

Three years ago last week I graduated from High School! (woot woot) I remember leaving the school for the last time with all of my friends, knowing the hours and hours over the years I had spent there were at their close. The nights of fall football games that brought the school together (even if we were never very good…), the classic dance planning and dress searching, the lunch hour after lunch hour spent working on ceramic sculptures, the times between class and after school on the “senior bench” with friends just hoping you get to talk to a certain special someone, the seemingly constant preparing for AP tests (“now THIS is a great AP question!”), joining club after club to look good on college resumes (now I KNOW I am not the only one who did that), Monday lunchtime seminary council meetings, and of course the never ending project of creating the greatest yearbook Viewmont has ever seen (shout-out to myself for designing the cover); my time in High School was well spent and well loved. Not to mention the time I spent outside of school with “the gang” aka the greatest group of friends I could have asked for. But even with all those memories and special moments, I could sense it ending. I could feel it was over--now only be revisited in my mind or in pictures. I just could not foresee what exactly would replace it.

“College” was just a word to me. It meant more school and living away from home and trying to be an adult. But even all of that was hard to fully grasp. It is only now that I have spent as much time in University as I did in High School that I can see the changes college made in me and my life.

Almost two years ago I packed up my life and moved across the pond to England. I remember sitting on the plane after saying goodbye to my parents early in the morning and just thinking “WAIT. What am I doing???” I knew that studying abroad would change me. It would change my life and how I saw the world and who I was in it. I just could not see how it would and what experiences would lead me through that change.

Here I am, five days away from arguably the biggest change of my life.

I am marrying my best friend for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. I know this event is going to change everything in my life—including myself—but I cannot know how. I can put a date and even a time on it, but the how.. The how evades me once again. These moments of approaching change are always special to me. It gives me time to self-reflect and evaluate where I am and who I am in that moment, so as to better compare & contrast in the changes to come. 

So let me tell you who I am right now, because in five days I will be a different person with a different name living a very different life, never to return to this one. 

My name is Aimee. 
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I love my Savior very much.
I am a nursing student with a passion for people and creativity. 
I love watercolors, florals, and anything gold. 
I think Anthropologie's dishes are perfect. 
I always wish I was swimming. 
If possible, I would probably choose to live off of salads, fresh peaches, gyros, and indian food. Oh, and smoothies. 
My favorite snack is an apple with peanut butter and graham crackers. 
I like to run; bake cinnamon rolls and applesauce cookies; and visit street markets, arts museums, ancient ruins, libraries, and parks.
My family is my best friends. 
My idea of a perfect afternoon is a bike ride and picnic in the park. 
England holds a part of my heart and is one of my homes. 
My grandparents are my heroes, and when I grow up I hope to be just like my mom.
I will love you forever if you scratch my back. 
I have had 27 roommates, and I am pretty sure they have all been better than yours. 
I would cut off both my pinky toes to see Adele in concert. 
I enjoy school, and if I have free time you will find me reading (probably Harry Potter). 
I love a boy named Austin.   

There you go! That's who I am right now. I will write again in a month and tell you who I am then. I hope to find myself with a greater understanding of my role in God's plan, more patience with myself and those around me--especially those closest to me, and even more love for my boy named Austin. 

Love Always, Aimee 

then & now. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Expect the Unexpected

I like to plan.

Anyone who knows me well is well aware that I like be in charge of myself and in charge of my schedule. I have had my life mapped out to this point since... well, since I could read a calendar, I suppose. I always knew I would graduate high school in 2013 and begin my university studies at BYU. I would then spend Fall of 2014 on the study abroad program in London. When I came home I would then allow myself to start dating people, be an efy counselor summer of 2015, and get married summer of 2016 right after I turned 21--just as my mother and sister had done. When you are young it does not seem so silly to plan things such as when you are getting married, or the exact time and place you will do a study abroad. I did not consider factors such as "What if I don't get into BYU?" or "What if I can't actually go on study abroad? It's competitive and expensive" or, the real shocker, "What if I have not yet found a person I want to marry/a person who wants to marry me by the incredibly young age of 21??" No. Haha, those thoughts did not come to me until applying to colleges, interviewing for study abroad, or getting to school and realizing how many relationships fail. Call me naive, but I prefer to call myself a dreamer. Even more and a dreamer, a doer.

You see, all my life my parents have taught me that if I want something bad enough, plan for it, and work hard, I can have it. Here I am, days from turning 21, in complete awe of the path my life has taken.

Yes, I have been at BYU these last few years and am whole-heartedly in love with my university and the unique opportunities it provides. There is no where else I would rather spend my days studying and growing.

Yes, I did spend four months living in London last fall, but I have dedicated enough posts to that incredible experience.

Yes, I was an efy counselor for the summer. It was awesome. And hard. But mostly awesome.

Yes, I am getting married in two months. June of 2016, just as I always planned. What?!

And what have I learned through it all??

Expect the unexpected.

While these major events in my life have (miraculously) all gone according to plan, I have found that it is the minor details that have made all the difference. For instance, what am I actually going to study at school and do for the rest of my life? Or why spend copious amounts of money for four short months abroad? What's the point? Oh. Also, turns out it is really competitive to be an efy counselor and they prefer RM's.. Which I am not. What if I don't get the job? Or the real big one: who am I going to marry and spend the rest of my life with?!

I have found over and over again that Heavenly Father is willing to work with me. A few weeks ago at General Conference, something was shared that has stuck with me since.

"You can have what you want, or you can have something better"

That has been my overwhelming experience these last three years in college. I NEVER planned on being a nurse. Not in a thousand years. Never planned on the lessons I learned in England or the ways I changed. Never expected the heartbreaks and miracles of efy. Above all, I definitely never planned on marrying Austin. Those things were not part of my plan. Lucky for me, Heavenly Father is patient. He loves me, stubbornness and all. He has lead me by the hand and said, "Look Aimee. You can have what you want, or if you will just trust me and let go of some of your need for control, you have have something infinitely better."

Gaye Ray fan club
Love me my Ellen
Santa Barbara for life
(I said yes)
Today as I sat with friends from elementary, jr. high, and high school and listened to my closest childhood friend speak of her experiences these last 18 months in Africa as a missionary, I could not help but marvel at how much we had all grown up and changed. From returning from missions, studying in college, marriages, and even babies, big things have happened for each of us. Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for each of us. Now, that does not mean we have to give up all our dreams and goals. Not even a little bit. I have done everything I hoped to in my life! But Heavenly Father knows I am capable of so much more than I think. He has stretched me and pushed me farther than I could go alone. He has led me down paths I was much too terrified to follow. He has strengthened my faith and enlarged my mind and world. Everything He does, He does to benefit me. Simply because I am His daughter and He loves me with a perfect love. It is not because  I am somehow earned it; I am far from deserving the beautiful life I live. It is there purely because He loves me.

Nursing cohort - love these fools.
Looking for Mr. Darcy...
Oh wait. Austin is better than Mr. Darcy.
I know God lives. I have seen his hand in the small details of my life, day after day. All He asks is that I have the faith to follow Him. That I will allow Him to bless me, to lead me, to guide me to the wonderful life He so desperately wants me to have--and above all, the life that will bring me home to Him. I am so grateful. Grateful that He trusts me enough to become a nurse and care for His children in need of healing on this earth. Grateful He let me go to my family's 'homeland' and meet some of the most influential and lifelong friends there. Grateful He allowed me to spend my summer learning from the incredible youth and working with amazing people. Grateful He led me to my best friend; someone who loves me even knowing I am imperfect. More than anything, I am grateful that I can be with my best friend and family quite literally forever. 

God is real. God is good. It is a beautiful life, and I am so lucky to live it--even (and perhaps especially) when it does not go according to my plan. 

Love Always, Aimee 

I am in love with life.