Friday, November 23, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 23: Time

I'm grateful for time. Time to spend with people I love. Time to do things I enjoy. Time to serve those around me. Time to work. Time to sleep. Time to play. I'm also grateful for the healing that time provides. Over the course of my life I've experienced a few heartaches due to a variety of reasons, as I'm sure you have too, but the one thing that all had in common was that as time moved on, so did I. I wasn't stuck in the hurt or the memory of that loss or pain. Time truly is a great healer and a wonderful blessing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 22: Repentance and The Atonement

I have always been grateful to have the opportunity to repent and to be clean again, but it hasn’t been until this year that I’ve really grasped what an amazing and wonderful gift it is. As I make mistakes, and I’ve made some doozies, I’m grateful to know that a loving Heavenly Father wants me to come to Him and repent, to forever leave those sins behind. I’ve been holding on to some things I realize have been holding me back. I see now that part of the reason I’m having trouble moving forward is that I’m stuck living in the past. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. I am grateful for a loving Savior who gave His life for ME and for YOU! By choosing not to repent, of things big or small, we are not accepting the most precious gift. Accept that gift, let it work in your life (note to myself as well), move forward and experience full joy again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 21: The Book of Mormon

I am so grateful for The Book of Mormon. I'm ashamed to say that over the summer I got a little lax in my scripture study and found myself going days without even looking at it. But sometime in August something struck me that part of the reason I was having a hard time making some decisions and receiving answers to prayers was that I wasn't searching and studying the scriptures like I needed to.
I love the power I feel each time I read The Book of Mormon. The feeling I have the minute I open it's pages is incredibly peaceful, it's almost indescribable. I love the power I feel to resist temptation and sin as I consistently study. As I've delved back in and have tried to get back into a routine (and honestly I'm still working that out, but I'm making great progress), I feel more at peace - like everything in my life is on an even keel. As I posted a couple of months ago, I went through a period of time in which I felt completely out of control of my life. I was trying to make decisions that I didn't need to make, just to feel like I was in charge of something. Hindsight is 20/20 (boy, I'm learning that's true) and I realized that during this time when I needed the most help, I wasn't reading my scriptures.
I've heard over and over in my life that if you want to talk to God, pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures. I can trace to changes that have come into my life over the last couple of months to getting back on track, to spending more time studying the scriptures.
The promises and blessings that come from reading The Book of Mormon are incredible and real! As a child I relied on the testimony of others regarding this. As a teenager I had my own experiences, I prayed to know if it was true and received a spiritual confirmation that indeed, it is. As an adult, I continue to strengthen my testimony by studying the teachings therein and applying them to my life.
So, have you read The Book of Mormon? If you haven't, will you (click here to learn more)? If you have, have you prayed about it in earnest to know whether it is true? I can tell you from my experience that every time I pray with sincerity to know whether the things I've read are true, I feel the Holy Ghost confirm to my mind AND heart that it is true, that it is the word of God. I'm grateful to have this in my life!

Don't Get Burned

We had the missionaries over for dinner the other night and were sharing some experiences and memories we had. I was telling them of when we lived in Boston. Our ward there shared the church building with a Portuguese speaking branch. No one in their congregation played the piano or organ, so for special occasions they would ask me to play for them. I was asked to play at a baptism once and the missionaries there translated for me. The speaker at this particular baptism was reading the scripture that talks about being baptized with water and by fire. As this missionary translated, he told me that when we are "baptized with fire", our desire to sin is burned.
If you've ever burnt yourself (and let's face it, we've all done it one time or another), you learn quickly where those hot surfaces are and you take great care to make sure you don't touch it again. Typically you don't keep going back for more, taking the chance that this time it won't hurt you.
It made me think more about my life and the sins I've committed. I've thought about habits I've developed, not necessarily bad, but not good either. In the context of getting burned, there are things that are burning me, and I don't want to feel that pain. I want to live knowing that I'm avoiding those things that cause pain. Unlike an actual fire, you may not immediately feel the effects of those acts, but over time you will find that the damage is much more widespread and may take longer to heal.
I see that in myself. It's easier to do some things because I'm not doing other things right. And I'm done living that way. I've been working on removing those things, thoughts, actions, etc. from my life. I recognize more and more that I can always do a little better.
As time goes on, I feel those wounds healing. I feel more joy in my life, more contentment. I feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost more on a regular basis; confirmation of being on the right path.
I've been particularly focused on the media in my life. Instead of listening to the radio, I have been listening more to conference talks, hymns, and other uplifting things. Instead of some of my "favorite" TV shows that are not in line with what the gospel teaches, I've replaced them with more appropriate shows (and if you're wondering about giving up things (TV, music, friends, just to name a few) you love, or just really like, for something is SO HARD!!! But the rewards are SO GOOD).
I had a stake president  one use the acronym GIGO = Good In, Good Out. As I've changed the content of what I've been putting in, I realize that more good is coming out. I am more loving and hopefully more Christlike. My thoughts and actions feel more clean and overall more genuine, like it's who I really am, more than just someone I'm trying to be.
Back to the analogy of being burned, I feel that as I take these actions to improve my life, those wounds are healing. As I encounter the temptations to watch/listen to things I shouldn't, or to do things I shouldn't, I feel that pain and I want to step away, change the channel, get out of whatever place I am in, whatever it takes to avoid that. Does that mean I'm perfect at it, that I don't mess up? Absolutely not. I'm still very human, but I'm making great efforts to avoid the evil, or more correctly in most cases, the less than good things that surround me at times.
As I type this, a hymn keeps coming to mind and I have to share. It is hymn #256: As Zions Youth in Latter Days (specifically verse 2 with regard to what I've been thinking about here). I hope it inspires you as much as it does me.

As Zion's youth in latter days, we stand with valiant heart
With promise shining in our eyes, resolved to do our part.
Upon a noble past we build; the future fills our view.
We face the challenge of our day and pledge we will be true

The truths and values we embrace are mocked on every hand
Yet as we listen and obey we know we can withstand
The evils that would weaken us, the sin that would destroy
With faith, we hold the iron rod and find in this our joy.

Thru test and trial we'll have our fear, but we will not despair
We're here to serve a righteous cause; truth gives us strength to dare
We'll love, and learn, and overcome; we'll sing a joyful song
As Zion's youth in latter day, triumphant pure and strong.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Taking a Break

I've decided to take a break from the blog. I love to write, but I've been over thinking things and it's causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety - it's losing its therapeutic qualities. There are a few posts that are scheduled out for the next couple of days, but that will be it until the new year. So, I guess I'll see you in 2013, hopefully with a clearer head, a better plan, and a calm soul ready to actually tackle my future.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 20: Modern Medicine

I really don't enjoy taking medicine. If I could get away without it, I would. That being said, I have been in situations where I've NEEDED medicine, particularly pain meds. When I had my back surgery, meds were a life saver - pretty sure I wouldn't have made it that first week, or even month without that beautiful pill (though I was thrilled when I was able to move on without them - I stopped sleeping so much!). When I had my wisdom teeth removed, yeah, I was glad for meds then too, and every time I go to the dentist. I'm grateful to live in a time with clean medical facilities and physicians with extensive training.

The Truth of It All

So I have this blog for the world to see,
But the person I’m writing for most is me.
I vent my frustration and share my joy,
I pretend to be bold, yet I feel timid and coy.

As things happen I downplay the pain
Hoping that somehow my life it won’t stain
I try to be happy; try to hide it away,
But my heart keeps on hurting, day after day.

I beat myself up and try to make sense
Of decisions I’ve made, it makes me feel tense.
The people I thought would be part of my life
Are the people I’ve hurt, and it causes me strife.

I try to keep busy and push thoughts aside
Until I think clearly; my tears, they have dried.
One day I’ll look back and undoubtedly know,
These were the times I learned how to grow.

To focus on others, to learn how to love,
To enjoy life and what it consists of.
To follow the Savior, in good times and bad,
To repent and be clean, there’s no need to feel sad.

And so the journey it continues to move
My thoughts and actions I will work to improve.
The temptations I’ve given into in the past
Serve as reminders to move ahead fast.

I know who I am and I know what I want
I do not lay these goals out to flaunt.
You see what I want is to happily be
With all that I love; for eternity.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 19: Dreams

I am grateful to have dreams and ambitions! Granted, I realized that tackling all of my dreams may not be exactly feasible, but they are out there just waiting for me to turn them into a reality. I found this quote on Pinterest (surprise, surprise), and feel it sums my philosophy of dreams up pretty well.
I love the dreams I have for myself. They may be far fetched. They may be unreasonable. They may never actually happen. They may land me with a broken heart, but as a song that came out over the summer says, "Keep on dreamin' even if it breaks your heart". You never know unless you try, so dream big and get to work!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Parmesan

I haven't spent as much time in the kitchen as I'd like - life has been busy and lately its been a matter of just eat and run, or depending on how late I get home from work, eat and sleep.
I've also recently switched from wanting to bake tons of sweets (I LOVE baking and sharing sweets - just saying!) to discovering really tasty  "healthy" food - mostly meaning more vegetables. Veggies and I just don't get along as we should, and I'm not really sure why. Probably because I'm supposed to eat them. Whatever the case, I've been trying to do better on that front.
One veggie that I'm still battling with is squash. I go through phases of loving it and hating it. I'm heading back into an "I love it" phase, but it's a slow process. On Pinterest (oh, beloved Pinterest), I found several spaghetti squash dish recipes and decided that I wanted to try one. My concern was that it made a pretty large amount and I didn't want to make something new just for the three of us at home, so I decided to make it for the ward Thanksgiving potluck last night (sorry- it's true...if you try something I've brought to a ward function, 9 times out of 10 it was the first time I made it...and I am ALWAYS crossing my fingers that it's not horrible). As I put the squash in the oven, I began dreading it. I was fairly certain that I had lost my mind and that this wasn't going to even turn out, let alone taste good.
But I followed the instructions and behold, I have a new FAVORITE dish. Seriously!! I told my mom I may never crave macaroni and cheese again (which is HUGE if you know me well)!
I've heard people say "it's just like eating spaghetti" - wrong!! DON'T expect that! Expect squash with a noodle-like shape. If you're expecting pasta, you're sure to be disappointed. I'm also planning on playing with this recipe, and of course making my own version at a later time. I'm imagining pesto for starters...
Here's the recipe...original recipe and comments can be found here:

Spaghetti Squash Parmesan
1 (1 1/2 lb) spaghetti squash
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper

  1. 1
    Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. 2
    Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place squash on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Separate the strands of squash with a fork and place in a medium bowl; discard shells. Maintain the oven temperature.
  3. 3
    Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low. Cook mixture, stirring continually, for 5 minutes.
  4. 4
    Dissolve bouillon cubes in hot water. Stir into flour mixture. Add milk gradually, whisking continually.
    1. 5
      Cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt and black pepper.
    2. 6
      Add squash to the sauce and mix well. Spoon into a 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.

Me First

I can't take credit for this idea, but I want to delve a little deeper into it. I heard this from a fantastic woman in our ward in Pennsylvania. She shared that they were taking their children on their first flight to see their grandparents. They were sitting on the plane and the flight attendants were doing their little safety pep talk before the flight took off. When they started talking about the masks that would fall from the overhead compartments in case of a change in cabin pressure, they were told that each person should fasten their mask to themselves first before helping anyone else, even their children.
Now I don't know about you, but at this point in her story, I made a very quick, spiritual connection. I realized then, as I was reminded again today, that none of us can be equipped to care for anyone else unless we have taken care of ourselves first. As I type that, I'm afraid it sounds a bit selfish, but I don't mean it to be. If you are on the plane and the masks come down and you're losing oxygen, you may not be any help - or much help - to anyone else if you are about to lose consciousness. From where we stand in our lives at this very moment, we may ask ourselves, do we have our masks on, so to speak, to allow ourselves to help anyone else?
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about seeing someone in the store while I was going through a particularly hard time and she mentioned to me that she had also been struggling. At that moment, despite my desires to help her fasten her mask, I was losing oxygen for myself and was beginning to lose consciousness (just had to follow the pattern). Luckily, I realized this quickly about myself and worked to make sure I was taken care of so I could help the person "sitting next to me". That person could be the friend you run in to at the store, or someone you see in church, or a co-worker, or even a stranger you pass on the sidewalk. 
The point is, we need to take care of ourselves first, spiritually speaking, so we can care of others in the same sense. Imagine being in an emergency situation, the paramedics have been notified. Do you want someone who happened to hear the call and had no emergency training of any kind (and 911 wasn't available - trying to cover every aspect of that) to show up to help, or do you want someone who has the right kind of training, who may have even seen this situation before. Personally, I want to be aided by someone who knows what they're doing, not by well intentioned, but ill-equipped persons. And the same thing applies in a spiritual sense. 
And so I ask this question, not only for you, but for me...Are you prepared? Is your mask still dangling because you've started helping others next to you, but at a possible risk to yourself? Or do you have it securely fastened, enabling you to see the needs of others clearly because you are not losing your spiritual consciousness?

Gratitude Challenge - Day 18: Prayer

I got to spend some time with one of my favorite kids recently. This little girl has a great routine for bed which includes saying her prayers. As I tucked her into bed one night, she asked if I would say prayers with her. She looked a bit disappointed and almost embarrassed as she looked at me and stated that she only knew one prayer. I told here that it was okay and she could say her prayer, but I felt so sorry that this little angel doesn't know that she can just pray to a loving Heavenly Father at any time, over anything; that there aren't just a few prayers to memorize.
I am grateful to know that I can pray and talk directly to Heavenly Father. As of late He and I have been communicating a lot more in depth as things happen in my life. I treasure that relationship and want to do whatever I can to keep those lines of communication open. I'm so grateful that He is always there to listen to me, to comfort me, to guide me.
I hope that I have the opportunity with this child to teach her about the importance of that relationship and to help her understand the blessing of prayer in her life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 17: Mom!!

I know I already expressed gratitude for family, but today is my dear mother's birthday and it just seems fitting to pay special tribute to her today!
My mom is amazing!! She has put up with me for 26 years (and trust me, there are days I push her patience to the absolute brink - I really need to work on that). Several of those years were good, mostly the ones before I started talking and developed my own little attitude. :) I feel like there may have been times after they taught me to speak that they wish they had waited a bit. I have been talking ever since, and my wonderful mother listens to me! She listens as I tell her about the fun I have during the day, the stupid thing(s) I did, the hurt I may be feeling at the time, everything!
My mom spent a week with me in the hospital, no breaks, when I had my back surgery. She was in a lot of pain with her hips and she slept on an uncomfortable couch in my hospital room so she could stay with me. She taught me to feel the Spirit, but more importantly how to recognize and act on it. She taught me to serve with a smile, to work hard, to love music, to cook, to value family, and to put my relationship with Heavenly Father first and to do whatever it takes to be close to Him.
I love you, Mom!! Happy Birthday!! I can NEVER even begin to repay you for all you have done for me. I hope to be able to be half as good of wife/mother to my future family as you have been to us!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 16: Friday's/Weekends

I really try not to wish my life away, but I l-o-v-e Friday's and weekends!! It really is the perfect reward for making it through 5 days of work. I remember working jobs where I had to work every Saturday. The weekend just didn't mean as much to me. Granted, I was given a day off in the middle of the week to compensate, but it just wasn't the same. So, I guess again I'm grateful for my job now that allows me to work Monday through Friday so I can have my Friday nights and weekends.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 15: Moving

I am grateful for the experiences I have had in my life from moving. I imagine what life would have been like if my parents hadn't moved from Georgia when I was 4 years old. For one thing, I'd have a strong southern accent. I wouldn't have gotten to experience life in Utah, Florida, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Massachusetts. I wouldn't have met all of the AMAZING people that I have. I wouldn't be the person I am now if we hadn't moved. I love the person that associating with so many people and places has made me and I look forward to other moves I may make in my lifetime.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 14: Food

I am grateful for food!! I am grateful to have food to eat. I am grateful to be able to cook/bake! Seriously, I love to be in the kitchen creating things. I love that food brings people's easy to share and brings me joy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 13: My Body

I really am grateful for my body. I have a metal rod in my back, so that causes a few minor issues, but overall I can do just about anything I want (gymnastics, horseback riding, etc aside). I don't have major medical issues, I don't spend a ton of time in pain or sick. I am truly blessed in that respect. I'm trying harder to take better care of this body-after all, I only get one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 12: Airplanes

I am grateful for airplanes!! Actually, I'm grateful for all forms of transportation. I love that I can get from one coast to another in just a few hours time. It really is something miraculous! I am also grateful that I was born in modern times as I really don't think I would have made it as a pioneer. And, while I'm on the subject, I'm grateful for the sacrifices they made and the legacy they left behind. It gives me a bit more encouragement to think of them and want to do better so their sacrifices weren't in vain. I have things so easy in comparison - the least I can do is what I'm "supposed" to do.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who I Really Am

I was watching "Once Upon a Time" last night and loved the line that said "Sometimes we need someone to remind us of who we REALLY are." I have had times in life when someone has snapped me back to reality. Tonight, the person I was a year ago gave me that push. As I've shared here recently, I am making great strides to get my life where it should be. It has meant sacrificing some things from my life; some big, some small. In all of that there is some major opposition. I know I have a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of me and knows the details of my life, but Satan also knows me. He knows my weaknesses. For me, he knows if he can make me feel depressed or discouraged, I may back down, I may look back and want things to be the way they were. Tonight was one of those nights.
The great news is that I didn't give in. I read my scriptures and "discovered" two verses that had specific application in my life, RIGHT NOW! I wanted to remember those things, so I broke out my study journal. This is the same journal I started when I moved to Utah.
The thing about the time I spent in Utah is that I learned who I wanted to be, but more importantly, I was moving down that path. Tonight I found some notes I had taken on this very subject. It was just what I needed. I'm sad to say that I am not the person I was a year ago, but I am doing everything I possibly can to get back to her and then move forward. Turns out it is really easy to become lazy, complacent, and even just content to stay where you're at. I've been reminded from my notes of the goals I have for myself, of the person I want to be, and what it is going to take to get there. Sure, going back to the way things were would be the comfortable thing, it would make the pain I feel go away to some extent, but the decisions I was making versus the decisions I am making now (and in the future) are different...better (for lack of a better term). I am making the right choices for the future me. And for that I am grateful.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 11: Kids

I LOVE kids!! I really do. I tell people that and I think they think I'm joking. I love their energy, their wild imaginations, their love of life, their honesty (it's sometimes a little too honest), and their love. I spent the weekend with three of my favorite kids - a niece and two nephews of mine. They are so fun.
I also get to spend an hour each Sunday with the children at church. We spend time learning the gospel together and learning through music. But mostly, I'm learning from them. I am so impressed with the children who come ready to learn. Children really are like little sponges, especially when it comes to things of the Spirit and of eternal significance. They are open and receptive to learning the teachings of Jesus and are eager to follow His example. I'm grateful to have a very small part in that learning process (and hope that overall I'm doing more good than bad).
I am so grateful for all of these experiences and for all of the children in my life.
I also have to share a funny kid story from church today. One of the 5 year old boys raised his hands between songs and I called on him. He so sweetly asked if I was wearing any buttons. I thought it odd and told him that I was not wearing buttons. He asked again where my buttons were. I stopped for a second and looked at him and asked a couple of followup questions, finally remembering a conversation we had last week. Last Sunday the kids were a little wild and loud (we chalked it up to the Halloween candy still in their systems). They kept talking and wouldn't listen and I was getting frustrated. In my pleas to get them to cooperate, I told them that they were pushing my buttons. I guess to a 5 years old, there should be an actual button if you're going to use that kind of phrase.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 10: Fall

I love the change in seasons. For the last 12+ years I've lived in places that have VERY distinct seasons - 4 of them. Here in Georgia I've only really seen one - summer. I'm seeing another, and it's some sort of fall/winter version. And it's beautiful here now as far as the temperature goes. I'm breaking out my sweatshirts and cozy blankets and I'm loving it. However, I missed the bright and beautiful colors of changing leaves, though thankfully leaves have fallen here.
I remember my last fall in Boston (I didn't know at the time that it would be my last fall there) struggling with something at the time and was feeling depressed about whatever it was. As I drove to work this one particular day, I felt all of this emotion building inside me that I didn't know what to do with. I drove down this cute little street lined with trees. The wind had just picked up and the leaves were falling like snowflakes. There was something so freeing, it was almost as if the trees held my emotion and as I watched the leaves fall down, it was like nature was telling me to just let go. Each fall since, this year included, as I watch the leaves fall to the ground I feel this need to let go just a little more. Some years it's been ideas, other times; plans. This year it is emotion that I need to let go. As I watch each leaf fall, I take a deep breath and let another piece fall, and I feel just a little bit more free. I love FALL!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 9: Technology

I am grateful for the many advances in technology. The things that I waste time on, the things I spend all day working with, the things that keep me connected to the people I love. I often complain about the issues technology cause, but in all honesty, I am so grateful. Technology can be used for so many great things!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cake Monster

I spent the night going through all of my pictures from the last two and a half years (since I moved to Utah to present) and relived some great memories. Lots of CAKE pictures...and a video! Oh, the good ol' days!

Gratitude Challenge - Day 8: Ward Families

I've moved around quite a bit in my life, but every place I go I immediately join another family - a wonderful ward family. The ward I'm currently in is just as wonderful as any other I've lived in. As I continue to settle in here and really make myself at home, the more blessed I feel to have such a great support system and hope that I can contribute to that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Have Work To Do

Since I've been on this quest to clean up my life, I've turned off many of the shows I watched on a regular basis as I felt I could spend my time doing something better, or at least watching something better. I usually listen to something as I fall asleep. I used to turn an episode of something on Netflix, but have changed to listening to a conference talk. Last night I started listening to the Priesthood session of the October 2012 General Conference. I clicked on the first talk of that session, given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson entitled "Brethren, We Have Work To Do".

I actually managed to hear the entire talk before I fell asleep and two quotes struck me and I thought I'd share. Though it was directed to the men of the church, I feel it applicable to women (myself) as well.

"You adult men - fathers, single adults, leaders, home teachers - be worthy models and help the rising generation of boys become men. Teach them social and other skills: how to participate in a conversation, how to get acquainted and interact with others, how to relate to women and girls, how to serve, how to be active and enjoy recreation, how to pursue hobbies without becoming addicted, how to correct mistakes and make better choices."

"The Church and the world and women are crying for men, men who are developing their capacity and talents, who are willing to work and make sacrifices, who will help others achieve happiness and salvation. They are crying, "Rise up, O men of God!" God help us to do it."

Love this talk! Can't wait to hear the next.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 7: Music

Music to me is AMAZING. Everyone learns differently, and music is the most meaningful to me. Once I hear something to a song, more than likely I'll have it forever. I can still remember songs we learned in elementary school. I remember our school elementary song (at least once I get it going); I remember the song that taught me to "cough on my cuff, and sneeze on my sleeve"; I remember the songs I learned the New Testament scripture mastery verses to. For me, music has the power to instantly affect the Spirit. There are certain tones, chords, and overall songs that instantly make me feel "dark", that I don't feel the Spirit as strongly. Conversely, there are some songs that instantly bring the Spirit, they bring joy and make me feel happy. I've been focusing on ensuring that I'm only listening to music that does bring the Spirit as part of my endeavor to become the person I want to be. I have noticed a change in myself in a short time of doing this. My thoughts and ideas have changed, my desires have become better. Music has an eternal, familiar sound.
I also love playing music. There is this incredible feeling of sitting down at a beautiful piano with a piece of music you've been practicing for weeks or months and when you play it, it sounds right. You hit that one note that always seemed out of reach; or that one part that where the timing was off and you nail it. There comes with this accomplishment a "high" of sorts - it makes me want to keep playing.

A Few Thoughts about the Election

It’s November 7 and the election is over. Life goes back to how it’s been, sans campaigns, which in my opinion isn’t a good thing. The person I voted for didn’t take office, but I still live in and love AMERICA! I feel privileged to live in this great nation. While the change I was hoping to see won’t happen in this 4 years, as a nation, and as latter-day saints in particular, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. Our force for good and our commitment to this belief can still be our quest.

To all the people who have started posting “it’s the last days” statements because of the outcome of the election, I mean no disrespect when I say, “duh”! I couldn’t agree more, but it isn’t because of this outcome that I believe it. We’ve been told for quite a while that we are living in the last days. We see signs and prophecies being fulfilled all the time, and at an increased pace. This isn’t new…it’s just becoming more pronounced.

And lastly, the point that I’ve heard multiple times this week and think holds great value to us at this time is something President Thomas S. Monson (I think – I really need to check my sources before I speak) said: “Your future is as bright as your faith”. This shouldn’t shake our faith – this should cause us to bolster our faith and continue to do the things that we NEED to do. The Lord needs valiant servants, regardless of who sits in the president’s chair. It’s time to step up!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 6: Freedom

I am grateful to live in such a great nation where I enjoy my freedom. I know I take it for granted all too often, but I am grateful for the men who founded this country seeking freedom, and for the men and women who continue to fight to protect those rights.
I am also grateful for the freedom to be able to vote!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 5: Our Savior, Jesus Christ

If I were going in an order, this should have been absolutely first. As I continue to study and grow in the gospel, the more grateful I am for the teaching and example of our Savior. I am so grateful for the gift of His atonement. As I face both good and bad times in life, I find fewer words to express the love and appreciation I feel. I am grateful that he died for me, but even more so that he lives for me! It is Him who I follow and pattern my life after.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Three posts in one day...I know - OBNOXIOUS, RIDICULOUS, whatever! But this is what we call a tender mercy...or really good Pinterest timing - take your pick.

Gratitude Challenge - Day 4: Challenges

As odd as it may sound, I'm grateful for the challenges in my life; the one's that I've brought on myself, and others that have happened to me; the one's I've already overcome, and the one's I'm going through or that are ahead of me. Without them, I wouldn't be who I am today. These challenges have taught me much of life. I've seen through these times how fortunate I really am. In recent history, the challenges I've faced are specifically helping me become the woman I want to become. I've accepted that challenge head on and am making changes in my life now, right this minute. In the last 14 days, I've already become better than I've been, and I'm only going up from here. And while I don't enjoy going through these struggles (sometimes they REALLY hurt), I appreciate the lessons they bring me.

Deciding Who I Am

I've been doing a lot of thinking (in case you haven't heard) lately. I've been putting together THE definition of who I am, but more importantly, who I want to be. Today, all of the pieces of that puzzle came together as I sat in our Sunday School lesson. About two weeks ago I had conversation with someone who knows me pretty well; someone I truly respect. He mentioned to me that it seemed that I hadn't decided in my life where I was/wasn't willing to compromise my standards. In my head I had this idea of who I wanted to be and what it would take to get there (I know, none of this is new...I promise, it's coming), but I wasn't really living the standards I claimed to hold. I would say one thing, and then do something similar, but not quite in line with that idea. What I decided at that time was that I needed to be consistent in what I say and what I do. I needed to uphold those standards.
In General Conference a few weeks ago, President Monson announced that the age for missionaries to apply for missionary service had been lowered from 19 to 18 for guys, and from 21 to 19 for girls. Someone stated today a stat that I had heard already this week, but that the number of applications for missionary service had increased from an average of 1,000 to 4,000. That is HUGE! This person also brought out the point that has been on my mind since conference weekend, and that is that the Lord is hastening His work on the earth. There isn't time to be lax, or to settle, or to permit myself to lower my standards. Hearing this statement from the mouth of someone else helped me see that I wasn't being too strict on myself. Somehow I've let myself think that by wanting to live at a higher standard makes me a "bad" person (I don't actually mean "bad" - I just can't come up with a word at this moment, maybe snobbish or something??). My expectations for my future may be high, specifically in terms of thinking about marriage and family, but the thing that gives be some sort of comfort and encouragement to continue on this path is that I'm not expecting anything I'm not already willing to do, and I'm doing those things now. If you play basketball, or know anything about basketball (I talk like I do, ha ha), it is called the basketball standard. It isn't lowered because someone may not like the height. No, the players see where it stands and they rise to the challenge. That is our challenge, our opportunity.
I have to echo what I heard today. The Lord is hastening His work. He needs us to step up our game...He needs ME to step up MY game.
In case you're wondering, it's not an easy path. If it were easy, everybody would be doing. But I do know that, as cliche as it sounds, it is completely worth it. Don't believe me? Give it a try.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 3: Fabulous Family

Where would I be without my family?? (Hopefully you've assumed these aren't in any particular order) I have  an AMAZING family! I have parents who have taught me how I should live my life, they've given me great examples to follow. I have amazing siblings. I didn't get to know my older siblings well until the last couple of years just because we lived far apart, and as being younger I didn't feel we had a lot in common. But as I've gotten older, I've gotten a bit wiser and I now know I was wrong. We have quite a bit in common, and I'm loving being in closer proximity to them to get to know them. I'm soooooo looking forward to the day that we all coordinate our schedules and have all 5 of us and their families all together. Who knows? By the time that happens I may have a family of my own, haha.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gratitude Challenge - Day 2: Amazing Friends

Life surely couldn't be complete without having great friends. I am so grateful for the friends I have. The ones who call/text to see how I'm doing, the ones I have great memories with, and most especially...the one's who know too much...about me. :) I love the game nights, midnight Denny's runs, trips to the canyon, road trips on multiple occasions, late night chats, early morning breakfasts...everything! These are some of my most treasured memories...and they happened with great friends!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gratitude Challenge -Day 1:The Best Job Ever

November is HERE! I can almost smell (and taste) the holiday season. In an effort to live in the moment and not wish my days away, I'm starting my own gratitude challenge. Each day in November I'm going to pay particular attention to something that I'm grateful for. Besides, I think it's a healthy thing to do. So, to start us off, I'm grateful for my job!
I'm pretty sure I say that about every job I have, but this one seriously may be the best! Sure, it is a little crazy sometimes, but I get to work with people, run an office, plan events and meet people from all over the world. What's not to love? I work with wonderful people who I'm learning a LOT from. I'm challenged to be my best on a daily basis. Who could ask for more?!?