Monday, October 15, 2007

AHHHHHH the power of...not being sick!

Ahhh the power of.... not being sick! Hello all you bloggeriffic peoples! Well, let me start this blog by telling you all that for the last 2 weeks I have been sick as a dog. I actually stayed home from school- this is huge considering that as a music major you learn early on to believe that it is the end of the world and that everyone will die if you don't come to school...but I decided that prevention in this case would be key. I have the Metropolitan Opera Auditions on the 28th of October and I can't afford to be ill. I want to succeed this year rather than just suck...not that I do, but for some reason in my last 2 attempts at the Met, I've found reasons that I completely suck...but moving right along...So now I am no longer ill- go me! I had a somewhat disappointing voice lesson today, I don't know what it is, I just felt off...but then I went to opera rehearsal and rocked everyone's world- oh well, you win some, you lose some.

I have to say that I am so grateful for friends. While I was sick it seemed like they weren't in short supply, this is something I'm not used to, but it is something that I loved. My friend Aneta (and my office mate, we share!) brought me some lovely, delicious Polish Chicken soup (she is from Poland, so it was authentic.) and my friends Joel, Luke, and Reinet called me to check in and make sure I wasn't dead...and my "husband" (well, he isn't yet, but if I get my way...and I always do...) Seth called me everyday and demanded that I stay in bed. He forbade me to cook- which is huge considering that more often than not you'll find me in a kitchen if I'm not locked away in a practice room somewhere. It was such a blessing.

I am trying really hard to notice the little things that enrich my life and make it so great. In fact, why don't I go ahead and share with you all my first happy thought of the day- the first blessing that I recognized...this morning as I walked up Poplar street towards Van Buren street on my way to school, I noticed how many autumn leaves were everywhere...I had to chuckle to myself, they were so deep that you couldn't see my feet and my mind wandered back to days gone by, days when my dad and mom would be trying to rake the leaves up in our front yard on Coachman Drive and the exhilaration as my brother, two sisters, and I conspired to jump in the piles at the most opportune moment...all of a sudden I wanted to find a rake and make a huge pile, I wanted to dive into the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows and make leaf angels (so much better than snow angels because you don't get cold and wet...)

And that is when it hit me...Thank God for my wonderful family and the years I got to spend making fantastic vivid memories like that, thank God that I am not sick anymore and can feel the crunch of these leaves under my feet, thank God I'm ALIVE... that I can still make wonderful memories and experience this beautiful Autumn time.

Autumn has always been my favorite season, maybe it is because my birthday is in the Autumn and I just like the fact that I can be selfish and focus on me me me , but I think the real reason is that Fall is the time that I have the most happy childhood memories, most of the memories of my dad are in the Autumn...I miss him so much around this time that it hurts. I wish he could be here to experience this beautiful time with me, that he could find that rake for me and rake all the leaves up and pretend to be upset when I ruin his perfect pile. I know that he is all around me, that he watches me and is proud of me, but I wish I could hear him, see him, and feel him. I wish he could be here to make new memories and help me to remember old ones.

I am so lucky to be alive, I am so lucky to be able to feel...even if it is a bittersweet kind of pain that it is that I'm feeling, it is in realizing your feelings, in accepting and acknowledging how God blesses you every day that you know how truly alive you are. I've never used drugs but I would imagine that there is no greater high than the high you get when you see just how much help you get from all around you every day.

I am so lucky to be able to make new memories, to be able to meet new people, make new friends and forge ahead through life- ready to tackle everything.

So, do me a favor bloggers, take a minute to acknowledge and see the little blessings in your life, even if it is something as small as being grateful for the crunch of Autumn leaves under your always leads to the recognition of blessings in your life that are bigger and greater. After you've taken note of this little blessing take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for that little blessing and acknowledge how lucky you are to be alive to experience it.

We are SOOOO lucky, we get to live...we get to grow and become better...we get the opportunity to be more than we are. OWN THAT! Accept it, embrace it and move forward!
Onward and upward.

Hugs and kisses until next time, I'll be rooting for you all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thoughts on Conference

Yes, that's right- this Diva is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and she's proud of it! The last 2 days have been incredible, I always love conference weekend because it is an opportunity for me to gain more knowledge and be spiritually edified by the words of people called and set apart by authority to hold higher offices in the church. It seemed like a lot of this conference focused on initiating understanding between us as members of the LDS church and our friends of other faiths. The spirit knows what everyone needs to hear, and given the recent headlines that the church has made as one of our members is running for president of these United States, I can definitely see why. Its given me a lot to self evaluate much do I really know about the church and church history, do I know how to answer tough questions- in my line of work I make many friends of other faiths, and I have dealt with questions; however, they were not as easy to answer as I would have liked.

One of the General Authorities noted that it is difficult to answer questions about the church because often times the doctrine goes much deeper than people are prepared to hear... But boldly, and much better prepared after hearing the messages of the servants of the Lord I am now going to share my testimony with you.

I know that Jesus is the Christ, I know that his love for all of us is so deep and pure that he was prepared to give his life and suffer for us so that we may live eternally and be freed from the binding chains of sin. I know that in accepting him as my Savior I'm making a covenant to live as he would have me live, to follow the commandments, read and study my scriptures to learn more about his will, and follow the guidance of the prophets in these the latter days.

I know God lives, an embodied being with infinite power and love. I know that God knows each of us individually and has since before we were born. I know that I am here on this earth to be tested and at the end of this testing period, if I live the way He would have me live, I can return to him and stand at his right hand.

I know that Joseph Smith was a ture prophet and that he saw God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in the sacred grove. I know that the church he formed is the true restored gospel of Jesus can it not be? The restored church answers so many of life's troubling questions: Who am I? I am a daughter of a heavenly father and mother who loved us enough that they wanted us to progress further than our spiritual state that we were all in before our existence here on this earth. I am Brittany Ann Winberg, a daughter of goodly earthy parents who taught me in the ways of righteousness and blessed me with the knowledge of the fully restored gospel in my life... Why am I here? I am here to be tested, I am here to learn and grown and gain a physical body. I am here to work out my salvation and become more like my heavenly parents. I know that at the close of my testing period here on this earth I will be blessed with the opportunity to be ressurected- pure and whole- and recieve a chance, according to my works and my ability to keep the commandments- to become like God. I know that his birthright is infinite and that I am an heir, an heir that like all my other brothers and sisters (which is basically everyone) I will recieve all that God has in the same abundance that he has it now, it will not be divided or less- but will grow- like His infinite love grows for all of His children...

There are many more questions answered the deeper you delve into the Gospel principles and the more you learn. The Gospel is a message of peace, a message of purpose, it is a knowledge that we are not alone and NEVER will be... it is a knowledge that we will live again.

I know that the Gospel message is found in the Bible, as far as it is translated correctly, and in the Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is stated in the bible that all truth must be declared by the mouth of two or three witnesses, the Book of Mormon is truly as the title states Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I know that Christ and his message are apparent and obvious in the Book of Mormon, and that if any man follow the promptings of the book to read and pray about what you have read, that they can not deny the truths held inside it, but that goes back to prayer- and asking with pure intent to know the truth- by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the light of Christ, you WILL know the truth of all things. I know that all sacred scripture holds records and messages that can be used in our daily lives to help us to more fully understand the will of the Lord. I hope to teach my future children to Love the Lord their God and to want to know more about him through daily scripture study and prayerful examination of the passages that they read.

I know that famlies can be together forever because the prophet Elijah returned to the earth inside the temple to Joseph Smith and restored the Cealing power. I know that if I remain worthy and keep my gospel standards firm, someday I will be able to enter into the temple with someone who has kept themselves just as worthy, and that we will be married not only for time, but for Eternity. I know that the covenants I will make someday in the temple will not only bind my husband to me forever, but my children, and their children and so forth.

I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is God's prophet today. I ask you all, if God is a loving God, would he ask us to continue through life without added direction, direction for our day? The answer is no, it is a resounding no! GOd loves us, he would not leave us to figure this thing called life out all alone, that is why the latter day gospel is so important...we know that god can and does speak to us today through his servants the prophets.

I believe in the power of prayer. I know that anything is possible- you need only ask, and according to His will, God will answer your prayers. I believe in the power of personal revelation, I have seen it and felt it work in my own life. I believe that if I approach God with an open mind and heart he will give me the answers that I seek directly. I belive in the power of the Holy Ghost, I know that he is my constant companion- always directing me to the truth, always protecting me and keeping me away from those who wish to harm me and out of harmful situations.

I believe in the power of good families, I know that the family is the most basic unit of society and much of the future depends on people keeping their families strong and together. I know that this is the most sure way to change the path that the world is on right now. The world would have us believe that marriage is just a piece of paper, that sex is a recreational activity and that it is okay to participate in the act as long as you "really like eachother". The world teaches that money is all important, and that children shouldn't be brought into the world because of the great expense that they can bring into a household. I resoundingly and boldly say-

WORLD YOU ARE WRONG! Marriage is NOT just a piece of paper, it is a divine covenant between you, your spouse, and GOD...that as long as you remember that God is part of the relationship you can weather any storm because you have his mighty power to watch over you. Marriage is the ULTIMATE display of love in its purest form, it is a contract entered into when each person knows that the other shares similar goals and hopes for the future, and that together they ask God to bless their future to be as prosperous as they have faith for it to be.

Sex is part of a Godly power, the Godly power that WOMEN have to house children in their womb and the Godly power that man and woman have together to create life. This act should not be entered into lightly and should most definitely not be used before the covenant of marriage is in place. It is an expression of love that goes deeper than " I think I'll still be able to stand you in the morning..." it goes deep enough to say "I know that I can trust you, I want to create life with you, I know that you will be there forever." It is the misuse of this sacred act and the acceptance of society that this is okay or the "norm" that is causing a quick downward spiral to the family. Children are born to households where they don't have the love of 2 parents with the same goal in mind to raise them...parents are forced to work outside the home because, being single, they must to make ends a result, we are raising a generation of children being raised by Mister Rogers, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and Daycare. Young women, unprepared for motherhood, leave the most precious gift that god could give them in plastic bags and garbage cans...violence raises in the world as children have fewer and fewer solid role models to teach them how to be upstanding members of society.

Children are the most precious of God's gifts. Husband and wife should look forward to the day that they can have children and not put it off because "we don't have the money" or "I want to focus on my career right now." I say to you that if you are living within your means you WILL be able to find the money to take care of your children, yes it means that you may have to make some you can't eat out every other day of the week, or you can't buy that new handbag that you don't really need, but really just want...but isn't the sacrifice worth it? Isn't it worth it to be entrusted by God to raise and rear one of his spirit children as your own? Isn't it worth it to have Halloween, Christmas morning, and birthday parties...I am not a mother, but I look forward with eager anticipation to the time that I will get to spend in one of the greatest callings I will ever be blessed to have- mother... as far as career is concerned, the sacrifice that you will make, the sacrifice to be a parent is worth more and will probably have many more happy moments than a big promotion at work, or being able to get a huge house on country club land...The joy you experience while caring for children is eternal joy, it is not fleeting- because every day, even after they are grown, you get to watch them learn and grow and make decisions for themselves, knowing all the while that you started that process...what could be more rewarding than that?

I know that God loves all of us. He wants us to seek for eternal truths, he wants us to be happy, he wants us to grow and become all that we promised Him we would become. I know that my path may not always seem clear, but I know that if I look in the realm of the bigger picture... if I look to eternity, I can see how my decisions may effect the final outcome of my life here on this earth. I know where I'm headed...for eternity...and I know that when I get to the end of this journey, there is an even bigger and better one ahead of me, one filled with joy- if I choose to live my life according to the principles which I've been blessed to be taught.

Take comfort, know that the Lord is with you, and it is my humble prayer that you seek to find the truth in your own life, that you can feel the love of God as completely as I have been blessed to feel it. Be still...God will take you into his arms and bless you with knowledge that you never knew could exist. I say this in the name of my Brother, Saviour, and Redeemer Jesus Christ, Amen.