Call it a year

I just finished my first year in the BYU MBA program. It’s hard to believe it’s halfway over already. I can’t believe how much happened in just eight months. The image on this post is of the Tanner Building as I remember it from undergrad. For Homecoming Week the school used to hang a gigantic Y banner from the west end of the building. When I would drive back to Provo from my summers at home in Washington, I would get to the crest of the hill in Orem, see the banner and let out a holler (to myself) with my anticipation for the new school year.* With the Tanner Building addition a few years ago, they don’t hang this banner anymore, which is kind of sad. Instead I go to business school in a part of the building that now stands where the banner hangs in the photo. It’s a decent tradeoff.

I loved my first year in the program. I got to work hard and challenge myself in new subjects. I got to interview for internships with the two companies I was most interested in: Microsoft in Redmond and Bank of America in Charlotte. To my utter amazement, I got offers from both companies and then had the unconscionable difficulty of choosing between two amazing opportunities.

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Tyler, Brett, me, Maya, and Dan on the day we met and won the tower challenge.

I also made great connections with my classmates and professors. To illustrate some of the amazing people there, the program assigned me to an all-star team first semester. We met during orientation week, and I knew they were an awesome bunch when we started winning everything right away! I have had a lot of fun on different types of teams in the past, but generally my teams don’t win things. I can’t take any credit for our winnings, except to say I lucked out with the best group. Ropes course challenge? Won. Tallest tower of leadership? Landslide. Stratsim marketing competition? Yes. Not only do these people excel at their efforts, they are just good people in general. For one class project, we decided as a group to throw a service project on short notice feeding lunches to the homeless population in Salt Lake. I’m certain it was my most memorable day of the fall semester.

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Our team at the end of the year, before scattering across the country.

As much as I loved working with my group throughout the first semester, I knew we had become good friends when the semester was over and we were still making an effort to spend time together, not just the five of us, but our families as well. Now that the year is over and we have scattered to Washington, California, Texas, and New York, I’m really excited to see them in a few months and hear about their summer experiences.

* I may be combining stories here. The building looked like this for at least my freshman year. Later, when I actually had a car to drive myself to Provo, the Tanner Building addition was already underway or finished. It still makes a nice story though.

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To be or to Be

Somewhere between 18 and 24 months of marriage, and we have learned a few things about ourselves individually and as a couple.

Stephanie is Queen (capital Q) of the Nebeker home – although the image above is not actually a castle; it’s the stunning University of Washington library.

Capitalization is an important issue with Tyler, who has spent a significant portion of his early career as an editor. In most matters he is capital-letter averse. Stephanie is not. Note the following example: Tyler is currently a grad student. Most recently before returning to school, he was a business consultant. Stephanie is a recovering Interior Designer (again, capitalized), who has also worked as a landscape designer (curiously lower-case). She will talk more about her career in another post.

All of these issues come to head when two design-opinionated individuals co-create a family website. What form of heading capitalization will we use? Will we use two spaces or one between sentences? Thankfully we both agree on the necessity (grammatically and stylistically) of the Oxford comma. Whew – we dodged a bullet there.

Mostly we have learned that we agree on all the important things, disagree on really insignificant things, and when it really matters, the Queen (capital Q) is Right (capital R).

Baby Girl

Our first pregnancy resulted in a pre-term delivery on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at 17 weeks. I wrote this letter to family and close friends soon after.

Hi, everyone.

First, thanks so much for all your love, prayers, and well wishes. We have seen all of it, whether or not we have responded. It means the world to us to be surrounded by so much love.

Writing feels good, so here you get it.

The events of our Sunday came as quite a shock. We were eagerly anticipating learning baby’s gender this Thursday, but we learned a few days early when Baby Girl came at about 1:00 p.m. Everything happened very quickly, and I’m not sure we fully internalized what was going on. Stephanie’s parents were with us in the delivery room. It was nice to not be alone. There was a lot of emotion, and yet it was strangely peaceful throughout the day.

We got to hold baby throughout the afternoon — Nebeker toes (which Tyler doesn’t really have anyway), long fingers, and her momma’s chin. With her feet tucked up, she was about the length of my hand. She was beautiful and so fragile.

After a long day and a number of treatments, we were able to come home at about 9:00 p.m. We slept quickly, but woke up throughout the night. At 4:30 we went on a walk and then read scriptures, fittingly, Moroni 7. God has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and sends His angels among us “in every form of godliness” to guide and correct us. We are so assured by the gospel!

We spent the day together at home. Stephanie is recovering well physically, and we are dealing with the changes. She is terrific!

We love you all, and look forward to seeing and visiting with you in the days to come.

Love, Tyler

Meeting the Whitings

I first wrote this post for a memory photo book Steph made for her parents’ 35th wedding anniversary in May, 2014.

I met the Whitings—all of them finally—in March 2013. Steph tried to alert me beforehand, and I thought having four sisters of my own that I was uniquely prepared for the group. Even so, I learned over that weekend that I still had a long way to go. I had learned to lose somewhat graciously in games against Stephanie, but I had never seen anything like the flying fury of Wackee Six at the Whitings. I had seen hoards of boisterous grandkids descend on my own parents’ house, but was impressed still at how six kids could have as much energy and produce as much noise as 17. I had seen girls giggle about movie lines I couldn’t recognize and break into song and dance, but I had never heard the likes of Scripture Scouts. I had stayed up all hours of the night rehashing family memories with my older siblings, if you consider 10:20 all hours of the night.

And I braced myself that weekend for the gauntlet. (Another youngest-child advantage: I had seen the treatment my siblings-in-law endured when they came to meet the Nebekers for the first time, so I was certain I was prepared for any trickery.) I wondered if something was wrong, however, because everybody was so nice! As in, “I could have gone out in Phase 10 four turns ago, but I knew how disappointed others would be if I advanced without them…” (words you will not likely hear me say, even on the slim chance I could have gone out four turns before anyone).

I’m certain the most memorable instance of that weekend was asking Rob to allow me to join the family. Growing up as a boy, you sometimes wonder how that future conversation will go. I found out when we arrived at the temple. While Stephanie and DeAnn were there early, I asked Rob if he could spare some time coming up for me to converse. In my mind I thought perhaps sometime during the weekend, or I could make an appointment in the days ahead to come back. I was caught by surprise when he responded, “I can meet you in the temple chapel in about 15 minutes!”

So there it happened. I changed quickly, aiming to get into the room before he so I could strategize my location for “the talk.” On a pew in the back-right corner, we huddled and I whispered my interest while the organ played and people filed past. I was doubly relieved when he approved, primarily because it was my first desire, but also because it would have been a long, uncomfortable temple session had he said no.

I returned to Seattle from my weekend visit to Marysville not only feeling so warmly welcomed and excited at the prospects of joining the Whiting family, but also grateful they had raised such a wonderful bunch, and had created a home that felt comforting, welcoming, and familiar to a new member. My thanks to both of you for letting me in!

St. Mark’s, a January Sunday

On a hill overlooking Seattle, each Sunday night at 9 o’clock, scores of people file into St. Mark’s Cathedral. Many look downward. I imagine they come from all parts of the city; I can see they come from all walks of life. It is often raining outside, but it seems that something more than shelter brings them in from the cold, wet outdoors. (Even on sunny summer nights the pews fill easily.) The stone floors from one end of the hall to the other become overflow seating and bedding; the enormous columns overflow backrests. For 30 minutes a chorus of men will perform the Compline, the Sabbath day’s ending prayer service.

There is a picture we use in The Church of Jesus Christ depicting the Savior healing at the pool of Bethesda. Here again, people from varying circumstances surround stone columns and walkways. The Brightest among them lifts a drape to reveal the humblest, whom he heals.

We sing a song in the restored Church:

Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden,
Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed.
He’ll safely guide you unto that haven
Where all who trust him may rest.

Come unto Jesus; He’ll ever heed you,
Though in the darkness you’ve gone astray.
His love will find you and gently lead you
From darkest night into day.

Come unto Jesus; He’ll surely hear you,
If you in meekness plead for his love.
Oh, know you not that angels are near you
From brightest mansions above?

Come unto Jesus from ev’ry nation,
From ev’ry land and isle of the sea.
Unto the high and lowly in station,
Ever he calls, “Come to me” (hymn #117).

There is something that stimulates your spirit, being able to attend church, to hear the fulness of the gospel, to worship with saints, to sing this hymn, and later in the same day, to attend another service where you see “the high and lowly in station” to whom the Savior calls, “Come to me.” And while we dress up in our Sunday best and strive to worship Him as best we can in our sacrament meetings, to realize that He loves all His children, that He invites all to come to Him, and that He sends His Spirit to touch the hearts of many who are pleading for Him, be whatever faith they may.

My testimony grew tonight of the love the Savior has for all His brothers and sisters. They are my brothers and sisters also. He loves me no better than He does any of them. And I feel overwhelmed by His love. He recognizes their efforts, their trying to reach out to Him, and He sends His Spirit. His “pleasing word … healeth the wounded soul” (Jacob 2:8). There is truth to find anywhere we are willing to look for it.

By 10 p.m. the service has ended, and people file back into the streets to face their individual lives. I don’t know where they all go — they disappear into the night — but many look upward at each other and smile as they leave.

I think of this line: “His love will find you and gently lead you from darkest night into day.”