Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saturday Sales

On Saturday morning we loaded up 5 out of 6 of our roosters and were headed to the farm sale. We piled in the truck (the roosters in the back) and we were off!
It's only a 30 minute drive, but I started getting a little bored, so I occupied my time by taking pictures of myself. This is the only one that actually looked halfway decent. It's difficult to take a straight shot flying down the road (at least for me).

Dad almost always falls asleep as soon as he gets in a car. He kept falling forward and looked like he was kinking his neck. I woke him up and told him to lean his seat back so he could relax. As you can see from the picture, that plan failed!
 I didn't take many pictures at the sale because I was talking it up with a lot of people, but I did manage one shot.

This guy cracked me up! Gun rack mounted to the front of his golf cart with the gun he just purchased (I watched that sale go down).
We enjoy watching the cat being tormented by the mockingbird outside. He flies from one banister to the other in front of her, and when she is outside sitting ont he porch, he sits on the flag pole and taunts her, and at times even swoops in and pulls her fur. One day he's going to get it...and then we'll know how to kill a mockingbird. 
In case you're wondering, we're not very good sellers. We left the sale with all five of our roosters plus five more babies, and had to pay the $10 fee to sit & sell (or talk)! We will be much more successful next time (that, or we'll be having a lot of fried chicken).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

We Are Daughters of our Heavenly Father

I loved all of the talks given at General Conference this year, but every once in a while there was a talk that really touched me and made me feel incredibly empowered and helped me see areas for improvement, and even allowed me some vision as to where I'm at currently in a positive light ( as opposed to the "I've got a lot of work to do"). This is one of those talks!

I will include many of my personal notes below, but I want to capture a few things that Sister Elaine S. Dalton said directly in her talk on Saturday morning (seriously, I keep rereading this talk and just want to copy and paste the entire thing here...how will I ever choose??).

"No matter the language, each time I hear these words, "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him," the Spirit affirms to my soul that they are true. It is not only an affirmation of our identity -  who we are - but also an acknowledgement of whose we are. We are daughters of an exalted being!"

"As daughters of God we are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences. And yet our part matters - because we matter. Our daily contributions of nurturing, teaching, and caring for others may seem mundane, diminished, difficult, and demeaning at times, and yet as we remember that first line in the Young Women theme - "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us" - it will make all the difference in our relationships and our responses."

"Of women and mothers, President Gordon B. Hinckley once said: "We must never lose sight of the strength of the women...It is mothers who most directly affect the lives of their children....It is mothers who nurture them and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Their influence is paramount....They are the creators of life. They are the nurturers of children. They are the teachers of young women. They are our indispensable companions. They are our wo-workers in building the kingdom of God. How great is their role, how marvelous their contribution."

I just LOVE that quote by President Hinckley! The older I get, the more I belive so strongly in the power and strength of women. I am frustrated by people who belittle women and their capacity, especially other women. We've been fed a bunch of lies about who we are and what society thinks we should be. But did you hear (or read) what she said?  We are daughters of our Heavenly Father! We are indeed daughters of an exalted being!! We need EVERY woman EVERYWHERE to know and understand that!! Okay, to my notes.

1. We know WHO we are, and WHOSE we are!
2. "Whate'er thou art, act well thy part."
     a. Be motivated to do MY part in His kingdom!
     b. Whatever our "part", they each matter! Act accordingly!
     c. When we internalize our identity, we can do ANYTHING!
3. We must never lose sight of the importance of women and mothers - their influence is PARAMOUNT!
4. Be a mentor of rightous and virtuous womanhood.
5. Women must hone and respect the priesthood.
6. Return to VIRTUE!
7. Stand as a witness of God at ALL times, in ALL things, and in ALL places!!

Please read, watch, or listen to this message here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt

I've gotten back in the kitchen again and have been trying all sorts of..."different", healthy recipes. Well, I was craving something delicious for dessert last night and came across Ambitious Kitchen and her recipe for Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt. I was a bit, uh, terrified! Chickpeas? Dessert? Really? I got up my courage, purchased a can of chickpeas, broke out the food processor and got to work.
The result?? A surprisingly delicious dessert. Here are a few thoughts:
Pros: Great peanut butter flavor (a favorite!!). Very moist. Great sweet and salty balance.
Cons: The chickpeas were a bit grainy and left just a slight aftertaste...but that's it! 
These haven't quite worked there way into the "new favorite dessert" category, but they were quite good. If you're looking for a healthy dessert, just a little out of the ordinary, this is the dessert for you!
Here is the recipe!
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup all natural almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar (you can also use honey if you’re not vegan)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegan (or regular) chocolate chips plus 2 tablespoons
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, I like to use dark chocolate because it has less sugar but it’s up to you. Note: Batter will be thick and super delicious, so you could actually just eat it on it’s own!
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top. (The batter may stick to your spatula, so I like to spray my spatula with nonstick cooking spray first.) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown. The batter may look underdone, but you don’t want them to dry out!
  4. Cool pan for 20 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with sea salt then cut into squares. Makes 16 blondies.

**WW PointsPlus: 3 per serving.**

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm Losing It

I've been debating about whether or not to post this, but I'm way to excited not to share. When I started my journey of walking 500 miles in a year, that's all it was meant to be - no goals or ulterior motives. I just wanted to prove that I could do something HUGE in my life! On January 11 I figured that by walking so much, I just might lose weight and I decided that I should document this journey with pictures, just in case that was true.

On January 23rd, I had an "aha" moment. I had never really tried to lose weight. It was always something I wanted to do, but it was too daunting to me and I didn't know how to start. I also knew I wasn't really committed to it (if you're committed you find a way...and I hadn't yet). I figured that since I was TOTALLY committed to completing my walking goal, this year would be the best chance I would ever have at TRYING to lose weight.

So, I joined Weight Watchers online and let me tell you, I was hooked from the get go. I lost 8 pounds the first two weeks and then evened out and was steadily losing 1-2 pounds per week. This truly has been an amazing journey and continues to be. This is only the beginning.

Jan 11, 2013

 Feb 3, 2013
Mar 5, 2013

April 26, 2013

This week officially marked 20 pounds lost...TWENTY POUNDS!! I never thought I would be able to do this, but it was pretty easy! And I'm not done yet! I feel so good! I feel happy, I have energy, I am confident in my abilities to do the things I set my mind to. This also comes after working crazy hours, eating out more than I'd like (ah, work lunches), and vacations!

I have established new habits in my life. I rarely sit and watch TV without doing some sort of exercise. I try to be home every night before 8:15 so I still have time to get in a workout before bed. I eat really good food and have found (and invented) some really strange but delicious and healthy recipes. I've also started substituting foods so I can still eat great and get more. Instead of drinking skim milk in my smoothies, I drink almond milk. Instead of regular bread or tortillas, I eat pitas (AMAZING stuffed with a stick of string cheese, turkey pepperoni, and bell peppers). I have cut out a lot of sweets but still enjoy them as often as I allow myself (about once or twice a week), but the portions are a lot smaller and I generally choose to make it as healthy as possible. I even eat fish now...and like it (as long as it isn't too fishy). Basically, I eat whatever I want, whenever I want...I just have to "budget" and it has been AWESOME!!! I'm excited to see what the next three months bring!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Best Life

Today has been one of the best days ever!! I'm not only living "the good life", I'm living "the BEST life"!! And it's only 4 PM...can you imagine how great the next several hours are going to be??

Already today I got to meet my counterpart that works in Savannah...she is AWESOME!! I just love her and I'm so grateful the company hired her. She and I and the accounting manager get along so well, it's ridiculous!! She came to town today and she and I got the full tour of the plant that I work at. I've been here 9 months and finally saw the inner workings of this place. I thought my company was cool before...now I think we are even MORE cool, if that's even possible. We can take a tree and turn it into a pellet in less than two days! Crazy!! We drove all over the place, saw (and heard...WOW) all of the machinery, and climbed to the very top to see the whole thing.

Also, today is Administrative Professionals day. It was my first day to have such a title on this day, so the company took her and I out to lunch...and since it was "our" day we elected to have just the three of us go. Nothing against anyone else, but we were having way too much fun!

This summer I get to participate in the Southeastern YSA conference that kicks off this Sunday and runs with monthly events that will culminate in August at the end of the conference in Orlando. I'm so excited about this!! I've never been into YSA activities, but that was before I lived in a place where there were NO activities. I'm in serious need of people to do things with. I'm so glad this is happening this summer!!

And if that isn't enough to be happy and excited about, I get to go to institute tonight...we haven't met in several weeks due to scheduling conflicts (there are only two of us plus the teacher, so if one person is out it pretty much nixes it for the rest of us) and I'm really excited to get together again!

See?? Best life ever!

Monday, April 22, 2013

One Year

I can't believe this day has come! Its a day of interesting anniversaries, but the one that blows my mind is that it's been a year since I moved to Georgia. I have been trying to formulate what I would say on such a day, but nothing comes out quite right. So I'm going to let somone else (or something else, rather) say it for me.

Unanswered Prayers

Do you know the country song “Unanswered Prayers”? Over the last couple of days I’ve seen the true blessing and benefit of what seem like unanswered prayers.

Before I continue, I need to make clear that I do not believe in unanswered prayers. I believe that a loving Heavenly Father hears and answers EVERY sincere prayer. Granted, the answer we seek may not come in the time we want, or we may not receive the answer we want, or perhaps we only receive a piece at a time and feel a little empty handed. Regardless of what we see or feel in relation to our prayers, every prayer is heard.

With that being said, I do want to get back to these blessings I have recently been seeing that, for my purposes today I will call unanswered prayers.

When I have decisions to make, I take them to the Lord. I had a friend tell me once not to take my choices to the Lord, but rather to take my decisions. Basically, I use my best judgment to make a decision between two or more choices and then go to the Lord. I know He will always stop me if I’m going down a path that I shouldn’t be on. I have seen it in my life personally to not believe that. In one particular situation I took a decision to the Lord and told Him what I had planned to do. I felt good about my decision and didn’t feel anything telling me not to go down this path. As I went along down this path, I started feeling promptings to look again at this decision, which I did, but only half-heartedly because I was on the path I wanted and I had felt good about it and I was hesitant to reconsider in case I was becoming a bit…fearful (for lack of a better word - perhaps having second thoughts or doubts??). I continued making choices on this path, some good, some not so good. Finally, I knew I needed to choose another path and I again, in full sincerity this time, went to the Lord and asked for some direction in connection with the decision that I had reached. When I did that, the path was opened to me. A new path emerged that I hadn’t previously seen and, had it come into sight sooner I don’t know that I would have selected it…at least not with some major help from the other side.

Since that time I have looked over that journey. I look back to the first time I prayed about that decision and note how “right” it felt (or at least that it lacked any sort of negative feeling that would have guided me away from that decision). I see where my life has taken me since that time and I see things that I feel I have missed out on. In my mind’s eye I can see what I think things would have been like if I had stayed on that path. There are times where I long for the days of my past to be my present, to have things the way they were.

How blessed I am that the more time that passes, the more I see that things wouldn’t be the way I hoped. There were realities that I wasn’t aware of or refused to see. I was young and unprepared, and besides, things rarely are what they seem. More and more frequently I am having experiences, and I even had one of these experiences this weekend, where I can see VERY clearly that my life, though it has changed direction many times, is as it should be. My prayers for one thing weren’t answered the way I hoped. Instead, I was given something far greater, and the blessings continue to come (I seriously don’t deserve any of it)! I am grateful for my UNFULFILLED prayers (yay!! I came up with an alternate name!!) and the way they help me grow and count my blessings and allow me to learn to trust in the Lord with greater capacity.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Sure Foundation

This talk was given by Dean M. Davies on Saturday morning. He begins his talk by relating his experience in the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay area in 1989. He shared that there were particular apartment buildings that had been constructed on a landfill and therefore did not have a sure foundation.

He said, “The Loma Prieta earthquake impacted many lives, including my own. Pondering the events of that day reaffirms in my mind and heart that in order to successfully withstand the tempests, earthquakes, and calamities of life, we must build upon a sure foundation.”
With the bombings in Boston and the earthquakes in Oklahoma, Iran, and Pakistan this week, and with everything else that is and will continue to, bombard us, we must be sure we are built on a solid foundation, and if we are not, we need to work quickly to repair any unsure areas.

A few things I made note of:
1.       If we are built on the rock we WILL NOT fall! Be cautious and aware of where we’re building.

2.       Daily prayer, scripture study, temple participation, etc., are the material building blocks. The exclusion of these things, in part or in all, will make us and our foundations weak.

3.       Our spirits and souls will be renewed as we study and pray DAILY.

4.       The Spirit acts as a type of mortar. It brings things of importance to our remembrance and acts as an anchor to Jesus Christ and will keep us grounded.

Read the full message here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reflection - Part 2

There was never supposed to be a Part 2, but when I start writing, sometimes I just start going and I end up with pages of words that I want to share, but have to thin down (and sometimes redirect). Some get deleted and I never think of it again (yes, my brain really does work like that), but some get saved and rehashed, thus Part 2.

This is a truly insane time. Bombs went off in an attack on US soil – things like this seem impossible to me, but I guess with evil out there, nothing should be considered impossible. Over the last year, with particular emphasis on the last several months, I have been feeling a need to get my life in order, to be living right, to be doing everything I can to live in accordance with the will of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This week, I felt a small portion of why that is so important. Without being involved in any kind of plot like we experienced this week, but especially during horrific experiences like the one in Boston, people leave home for work or play and never come home, be it due to an accident of some sort, or the direct and intentional actions of another individual or group of individuals. I’ve had several experiences over the last year where I asked myself “if something were to happen to end my life, would I be ready?” That brought an onslaught of questions but really focused on two…1. had I told and shown the people I love that I love them – do they know, and 2.had I done anything that I should have repented of and hadn’t? And that’s when it became time to make some changes and go to work. I knew what I had to become!

When I return to the Father, I want it to be in great joy – joy in knowing I am clean to be in His presence, and joy in knowing that though the separation for those I leave behind may be hard (hopefully I’m living so that people WILL miss me when I’m gone…haha), I have done the best I could to help them and to show my love for them. I hope that I’ve been a good example and that through me people can come to know Christ and have this same hope and joy for a bright future that I have.
If it’s up to me, I’m not ready to go Home yet. I feel I have a lot of work left to do and I have so much planned for my life (to which, I’m sure, Heavenly Father chuckles a bit and says “good one – tell me more”, all in love of course). But when that day comes, and surely it will, I know I’ll be living as I should, that I will be clean. I may not be able to control what is happening in the world (accurately put – I CANNOT control what is happening in the world), but I can control myself, my actions, and my reactions (still working on that one).
My heart still breaks for those innocent lives lost and for the hundreds and thousands who were affected in one way or another by this attack. It breaks my heart that things like this happen to good and innocent people. But through it all, I’m grateful for my testimony and the knowledge that hard times bring. Challenges are opportunities for us to draw near to our Heavenly Father, but some people let it move them further away from Him. We need to CHOOSE to go to Him in these dark times so that we can have a perfect brightness of hope!!

Friday, April 19, 2013


It’s 6:15 A.M. My alarm goes off – it’s time to get going on this Friday. I notice a notification on my phone from a news channel – there are some major developments in Boston. A gun fight, an officer killed, one of the suspects killed, a major manhunt, and the entire city of Boston on lockdown.

It was just Monday that the Boston Marathon was going strong. I was watching reports on Facebook from friends along the route, and also of friends who were running, or were there supporting someone who was running.  As I sat there that morning, I was kicking myself for never making it to watch any part of the Boston Marathon, or celebrating Patriot’s Day in true Boston style while I lived there. And as the thoughts went through my mind that morning, I could never have expected what would happen next.  A bomb, wait, two bombs. What is going on? News alerts begin pouring in, pictures begin to surface. Is this really happening? Is MY city really under attack?
Boston will ALWAYS be home to me. I lived there only three years, but they were the BEST three years. Everything I would become as an adult started in Boston (okay, maybe not everything). I love how vibrant the city is, I love the people, I love the fast pace. I love the skyline at night, and the beautiful sunrise over the bay in the morning. Boston is just a magical place!
I’ve been watching for updates from friends to make sure they and their families are okay. I emailed a friend this morning that works downtown and asked how things are going. She said it is like a war zone, it’s scary.
Over the last almost 12 years we’ve watched wars, and bombings and destruction. It is always hard to see. My heart always breaks for those involved, but it never really affected me. It happened on the other side of the world, by people and to people I don’t know and that I’ll likely never meet. Though it is horrific, my days move forward with little fanfare, and daily as we hear of a new attack or a new bombing on lands across the oceans we barely blink in surprise.
But this? Boston is MY home. This happened in MY country. This happened to people I know and love! And all of a sudden I see that this attack in MY city isn’t just an attack on Boston, or just on the United States. It, and all others like it, is an attack on humanity. And my heart breaks even more! How could I not see this before?
It’s now 1:00 in the afternoon and the manhunt in Boston continues for this other suspect. Like everyone else, I just sit and wonder how things like this happen? Most of my friends live on the north side of the city and are not currently under lockdown, but there are a few that are. I pray for everyone involved.
Today, for some reason, I feel incredibly patriotic and so PROUD to be an AMERICAN! I’m thankful for the hero’s here. Watching stories of the many trained personnel to the “average” civilian going to the  rescue and giving aid immediately following the bombings, to the dozens (well, probably hundreds) of police, SWAT, and military who are actively pursuing this suspect, directly facing this danger and running toward it, all in an effort to protect our home. And I can’t forget the many military men and women serving here and abroad who are fighting daily to protect our country, our rights, and our freedoms, and for the safety of those in the countries they are in.  What incredible people we have!

Monday, April 15, 2013

For Such a Time as This!

Okay, I’m almost at a loss for words (that would be too much to ask for, I’m sure) with gratitude for the peace and understanding I’ve been receiving lately. As I’m sure we all do, we find ourselves looking at our lives, wondering what we’re doing, or how we got where we are, or wondering how to get out/move forward. I’ve gone through this cycle and have asked myself all of these questions, and then Heavenly Father helps me see…again…that He’s got it all under control. And I’m good for a little while, and then it starts again.

I’ve been on the up side of this cycle for the last couple of weeks. I’ve known that I need to be here, I’ve decided that, given the option to leave, I would still choose to stay, and that at this time I’m right where I need to be. But that doesn’t mean the human side of me just quiets down and I don’t have those thoughts. I started feeling that way again the other night and happened to be reading in the book of Esther where I read this verse:
4:14 “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there aenlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

As I read that, it hit me…I have a purpose! I may not be here at this time just for myself. That’s not to say that I think I’m here to accomplish some great good, or make a huge difference in someone’s life, but we all have good to give, and there is always work to do.  What I do know is that for this moment, Heavenly Father wants me here “for such a time as this”. Maybe that “time” is an opportunity for me to learn from those that I am around right now. Whatever the “time” is, it is a time of growth, a time to work, a time to become! That gives me such comfort and brings me great joy!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

These Things I Know

I REALLY loved General Conference this year. It was exactly what I've been needing. It helped me find clarity, the Spirit touched my heart and I learned so much. I was able to see where I need to make improvements in my life, and to see that though I'm far from perfect, I'm really on the right track and headed in the right direction. Over the next several weeks I'm going to highlight the various conference talks based on my notes.

I'm just going to have to apologize in advance on the length of this post, but I LOVED the poem that President Boyd K. Packer shared in his talk on Saturday morning. Directly from his talk he says:
In 1992, having served nine years as an Assistant to the Twelve and 22 years as a member of the Twelve, I reached the age of 68. I felt impressed to start what I called an “Unfinished Composition.” The first part of that work goes like this:

I had a thought the other night,
A thought profound and deep.
It came when I was too worn down,
Too tired to go to sleep.
I’d had a very busy day
And pondered on my fate.
The thought was this:
When I was young, I wasn’t 68!
I could walk without a limp;
I had no shoulder pain.
I could read a line through twice
And quote it back again.
I could work for endless hours
And hardly stop to breathe.
And things that now I cannot do
I mastered then with ease.
If I could now turn back the years,
If that were mine to choose,
I would not barter age for youth,
I’d have too much to lose.
I am quite content to move ahead,
To yield my youth, however grand.
The thing I’d lose if I went back
Is what I understand.

Ten years later, I decided to add a few more lines to that poem:

Ten years have flown to who knows where
And with them much of pain.
A metal hip erased my limp;
I walk quite straight again.
Another plate holds neck bones fast—
A wonderful creation!
It backed my polio away;
I’ve joined the stiff-necked generation.
The signs of aging can be seen.
Those things will not get better.
The only thing that grows in strength
With me is my forgetter.
You ask, “Do I remember you?”
Of course, you’re much the same.
Now don’t go getting all upset
If I can’t recall your name.
I would agree I’ve learned some things
I did not want to know,
But age has brought those precious truths
That make the spirit grow.
Of all the blessings that have come,
The best thing in my life
Is the companionship and comfort
I get from my dear wife.
Our children all have married well,
With families of their own,
With children and grandchildren,
How soon they all have grown.
I have not changed my mind one bit
About regaining youth.
We’re meant to age, for with it
Comes a knowledge of the truth.
You ask, “What will the future bring?
Just what will be my fate?”
I’ll go along and not complain.
Ask when I’m 88!

And last year I added these lines:

And now you see I’m 88.
The years have flown so fast.
I walked, I limped, I held a cane,
And now I ride at last.
I take a nap now and again,
But priesthood power remains.
For all the physical things I lack
There are great spiritual gains.
I have traveled the world a million miles
And another million too.
And with the help of satellites,
My journeys are not through.
I now can say with all certainty
That I know and love the Lord.
I can testify with them of old
As I preach His holy word.
I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.
I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.
I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”1
Now on to a few notes I took during his talk (in all instances, these notes may be based on exactly what he said, or they may have been a thought I had while listening, just in case you get lost):

1. Age brings the things that make the Spirit grow. We are meant to age - it brings knowledge.
2. The family is under attack by forces seen and unseen. We will not always be safe from the adversary, even in our own homes. The priesthood in the home is there to work to protect the family.
3.Fathers, love your wife so your children can see that love!! (I love ALL quotes like this!!)
4. We, with our mortal bodies, have power over those who do not have bodies.
5. The Lord CANNOT look upon sin with the least degree of allowance - neither can I!
6. The Lord has a way of pouring pure intelligence into our minds and hearts
7. "I know He lives"

Full message can be found here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 11, 2013

April 11th has come and gone again. If you haven’t already heard, April 11th is my favorite day and my very own, self-proclaimed, personal holiday. I just wanted to have a day that didn’t already have something on it just to celebrate for no really good reason. It’s become quite the tradition for myself, but each year I seem to forget its coming and don’t celebrate like I used to. Oh well, I still LOVE it!!

I ended up working a fourteen hour day which leaves very little time for celebrating. I treated myself to a healthy lunch at home with my dad and we had a nice little chat. That evening I also treated myself, this time not so healthy! I have been doing really well at my new eating habits, and that includes no Dunkin runs. For work I had to make two trips to Dunkin Donuts and decided that for dinner I would splurge and have a bagel and cream cheese. It has been so long, and it was SOOOO good, but I likely won’t do that again anytime soon (I didn’t miss it that much!). After that I went home and walked my five miles, played a game with mom AND dad (best day EVER!!) and then called it a night.
One thing I did do yesterday was a little blog stalking. I found the blog of a couple I graduated high school went. They’ve moved out of country since and have three kids and recently adopted the sweetest little boy from Ethiopia. Oh my goodness!! My heart just goes crazy when I read of these children in orphanages around the world and I want so badly to help and to bring as many children home as possible. I hate feeling so helpless when there are so many children who need a home and a little love! It renewed my desire to one day adopt children…in a BIG way!

Now it’s 6:30 AM and I’ve already been going for two hours…another LONG day, a mirror image of yesterday – 5 dozen donuts, 4 gallons of OJ, 2 30 minutes meetings, and a lot of paperwork. But it’s good. I’m exhausted, but because of several experiences lately, I feel a sense of peace, like everything is falling into place exactly as it needs to, even though I don’t really see that picture yet or understand what it means. More than I have in a long time, I FEEL how much my Heavenly Father loves me and guides me and wants me to succeed. He didn’t leave me or any of us stranded on our journey here, He’s got a plan and I trust Him! I love this life I have, and I love the reasons I have to celebrate, even if it is my own made up day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Utah - Day 3 & 4 & Coming Home

Okay, so the first two days were a whirlwind. I saw a lot of people and was having a great time, but that was just the beginning. Saturday morning we were up early and heading to General Conference (BUCKET LIST!!!)! We got there bright and early. See, the sun hasn't even officially risen over the mountains yet!

We were on the top floor and they had this look out point that you can look all the way down. Luckily, they also have mirrors across the way so if you don't want to look down.
They also have this amazing skylight so you can look up!

We went in and took our seats! I'm pretty sure there isn't a bad seat in this place! Even from the balcony! And can I just say that as excited as I was to be there, nothing could have prepared me for the feeling I had as I and the entire congregation stood as our beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors, walked in. When you put thousands of people together, you can imagine the noise. But there wasn't a sound (other than people coughing occasionally) as he entered the room room and sat down. I've NEVER doubted that he is the prophet on the earth today, called by God through revelation, but my testimony of his role and the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was strengthened more than I ever could have hoped for!

We asked the handsome stranger next to me to take a picture of the three of us as we were waiting to leave. Small world...he was from Georgia too, and knew all about my town and even the company I work for! Too bad I didn't know anything about the town he was from.
(I feel like I look like an orange rubber duck. Oh well!!)

We exited the building on the top floor and walked down outside. We got to see the beautiful Salt Lake Temple.
 We were lucky enough to acquire tickets for the Saturday afternoon session of conference (lucky Audrey had people handing her tickets left and right) and then she also brought tickets for the Sunday afternoon session! It was an incredible experience and I learned SOOOOO much. Look for coming posts about what I learned from Conference!
Saturday and Sunday evening, Shelly and I stayed up playing games with her parents. It was so much fun! I learned a new game and learned, once again, that I have no strategy! But I still had a blast!!
I took the red eye home Sunday night and arrived bright and early in Jacksonville on Monday morning. By the time I made it to my car I was SOOOO ready to be done. So I taught myself to drive with my knees to make the time pass more quickly. And thankfully it worked. Turns out I also have a talent for this! I titled this picture, "Look Mom, No Hands!".

Utah - Day 2

I forgot to mention a few things about Thursday...and I forgot to take pictures of it too!! I was able to go and see my former bishop on Thursday night. I just love popping in on people unexpectedly. It was a short visit (that's what happens when you make no plans) but it was so good to see them and to catch up with them and with all that is going on.
Afterwards I went to my aunts house. She and my uncle and I stayed up way too late talking and having a great time!! It was so much fun...man I miss them!
Friday morning, Audrey and I got up and went to the Mt. Timpanogos Temple! It was such an amazing experience and was so fun to be there with a friend!

After the temple and went and met up with a few former coworkers for lunch. It was fun to chat and catch up with them as well (again, no pictures...lame).

We went to the RG apartments in the afternoon to visit Emily. As we were walking down the stairs, we noticed that the hot tub had a sign on it stating that it was closed...STILL! That hot tub has been closed for YEARS!! Perhaps they should just close it permanently and make a new patio.

While we were in Provo we got to drive by the Provo Tabernacle Temple construction site. It is incredible. All that is left currently is the outer walls, "floating" on the air on stilts! It is amazing!

That night we met everyone at Thai Mango for dinner. There ended up being about two groups, the RG group and the Branbury group. The RG group left first and we ran out and got a picture with everyone (except for Elric and Archie - they were too quick in escaping!).
We finished dinner and then we all went for frozen yogurt (ah, delicious!). I was planning on getting a picture with everyone afterward, but alas my brain is shot and I forgot. I guess we'll have to leave that to memory (unless I forget that too!)
Thanks to everyone who was able to come!! It was so good to catch up with everyone and to be surrounded by GREAT friends!! Let's do that again soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Utah - Day 1

I just got home from the most incredible vacation which means it's time to recap! As usual, I am horrible at taking pictures. Most of the pictures I have, someone else took with my phone...what is wrong with me??

I got to the airport in Jacksonville at 6:30 AM. I've taken up some new eating habits and one of them item I have developed an affinity for - Greek yogurt! They must have known I was coming because they now have them in the shop there!! This was when I knew it was going to be a GREAT trip!!

I followed two cute missionaries off the plane and through the airport. It made me just that much more excited for Lori to come home! I was right behind them when they took the escalator down and realized I needed to give them just a little space. Their families were yelling and cheering for them as they came downstairs. And besides, I didn't think they needed me in all of their pictures.

This is the first picture of the mountains!! I forgot just how beautiful they are!!

Shelly and I went out to dinner when she got off work. She took me to a restaurant called Yellowfin. Turned out to be a sushi bar and grill. I went with a spicy grilled chicken and veggie plate...very hot and delicious!!! Shelly opted for another meal and the salmon roll. It looked pretty enough, but I have this "thing" about sushi - it is just not happening!!

What I didn't know about Shelly is that she is VERY convincing!! She talked me into trying a bit of sushi (but I requested a half piece - pictured on the fork)!

I really thought about backing out, but there it is, fork in hand!

Oh, the horror!!

Pretty sure it was still alive and was trying to run away!!

The point of NO RETURN!! (I made a mistake and smelled it before it went in my mouth!)


The point at which there was seaweed draped over my tongue and it was going to take the same motion to spit it out or to swallow. I didn't really want either option, but I actually swallowed it! And no! I didn't NOT like it and I will NOT try it again! YUCK!! (But a great memory)

What we don't have in Waycross...a total of 12 lanes of traffic!! Holy smokes, I forgot how crazy this place is!!

It was so fun to make it to Utah and we had such a fun day!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Balloon Fun!

I got a phone call the other afternoon from a friend who asked if I could watch her granddaugther for a bit. I immediately jumped at the chance - I mean, this girl is just too sweet! I went and picked her up and we came back to my house so I could finish baking some muffins for a coworkers birthday. While they were baking, she found a purple balloon in the house. We took it outside and had so much fun playing in the sunshine with a magic purple balloon (because it would have to be magic to elicit such an incredibly bright smile from a child, right??).

She also came up with a new game - throw the balloon in the air and try to hit it with a fly swatter. Such a fun afternoon! I want to do this again soon...and probably forever!!

 Please take note of the incredibly BLUE sky! It was the PERFECT day to stay outside and play!

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 - March Recap

Hold on to your hats, this year is FLYING!! Let's recap on these goals of mine, shall we?

Read the standard works cover to cover: According to my handy little chart, I needed to read through 1 2 Chronicles 36...check!

Walk 500 miles: I made it my mission to make this month the BEST month I've had yet as far as walking goes. My minimum to reach the goal is 42 miles. Well, I made it to 60 miles!!! It has been awesome and I'm so ready to start April!

Finish sewing a baby blanket: This wasn't on my bucket list, but it was something I wanted to finish. About 5 or 6 years ago (we were still living in PA) I was really into cross stitching and I bought a baby blanket kit to cross stitch. And it has been sitting in my drawer ever since. Since I'm tackling big goals, I figured it was time to get it done and out of my house. It was REALLY ambitious to think I could complete it  in a month, but I tried. I would say I'm about 60-70 percent complete, so I am really going to try to have it done by the end of April.

Grow my hair out and donate it: I'm still hanging in there. I am able to pull my hair back into a complete ponytail (just a few strays who refuse to cooperate) and that is GREAT while I'm working out...and on Saturdays when I don't feel like trying to make my hair do what I want. I might actually accomplish this!! (I'll have to take a picture another time).

April is going to be awesome! I have a goal to attend General Conference in person, and I'm going!!! I bought a plane ticket several weeks ago. On top of crossing something else off my bucket list, I get to see my friends!!! I am SOOOOO excited! It has been way too long! This is going to be amazing!!!