Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 - October Recap

It occurs to me that I totally missed my September recap. So, before I report on October, let's do that...


Walk 500 miles: I only managed 33 miles. Not quite what I was planning on, but it IS better than nothing. Also note that I started school in there, so while it is still just an excuse, I feel it is pretty valid.

Read the standard works cover to cover: I was supposed to make it to Alma 36. Would you believe I only made it to Alma 35?!? Talk about LAME! I'm not sure where my brain was when I stopped reading, but I missed that one. That's okay though...and I'll tell you why in a minute.

Grow my hair out to donate: STILL growing...and I feel like it is taking forever!!!

As I mentioned, I did start school again which puts me on track to accomplish yet ANOTHER bucket list goal - graduate from college with a degree! Granted, this goal will take a bit longer than a year (by a LOT!), but at least I am on my way!!

Now to the fun stuff!!


Walk 500 miles: I made it 46 miles!!! During October I also walked my 400th mile! As of tonight (because let's face it, it's already late and there is NO way I'm working out!), I have completed 416 miles!! That is only 84 miles to go between now and December 31! It's certainly not time to get complacent...or to break a leg...but I feel like I can really do this!!

Read the standard works cover to cover: I wasn't about to pull a lame stunt like last month and miss my goal by one measly chapter. The goal was to read through Ether 15 and I made it through Moroni 6. That is a nice start to the next month, but again, it's no time to be casual. There is much work to be done!!

Grow my hair out to donate: I haven't given in yet!! And today I even took a picture!!

Yeah, that's my LONG hair. Seriously, I don't even remember the last time it was this long. If I remember correctly I need to have 8 inches before I can donate it. I'm a heck of a lot closer to reaching this goal than I was in January, but we're not out of the woods on this one. Does anyone have any good suggestions of how to make it grow faster??

School is still going well! I'm one night away from finishing one of my classes!!! YAY!! And since it's my blog and I can...I'll totally brag that I'm still pulling straight A's!! Now THAT is a HUGE improvement since the first college experience!!

Here we go...bring on November!! I'm thinking of tackling "no candy November"...I have a few hours to decide. We'll see...

Halloween and the Challenge to Become

"How on earth is she going to tie these two things together?"

I'm SO glad you asked!!

I was working on my computer the other night and was trying to come up with a Halloween post idea. I'm not going trick or treating, I don't have kids or pets to dress up, and I was going to claim that I don't have time to decorate my apartment, but I'm just sort of lost in getting this place to feel like a home I haven't really considered seasonal decorating. Unlike holidays like Christmas or Easter, Halloween doesn't have a religious tie. So I made it my mission to tie it out and I came up with it (or more correctly the Spirit did and I was just blessed).

On Halloween, we (or the people we know) dress up in costume and pretend to be something or someone they are not. The less you look like you, the better. We hide ourselves and do all we can to take on this alternate identity, if only for a night.

As I contemplated this pattern, I thought of our task to BECOME (my favorite word again) who and what the Lord wants us to be. Along our way, we put on "costumes" of who WE want to become. Sometimes we may only add a hat, a goofy shirt, or even add many layers, but regardless of what we wear, our loving Heavenly Father knows who we really are and ultimately what we can BECOME if we turn to Him! It isn't until we remove the costumes we've put on ourselves that we get to see who we really are.

I'm still in the process of becoming. I've gone through a LOT of different costumes. I've tried several of what I thought I wanted to be, I've tried a couple of what others thought I should be, but it wasn't until I hit a rocky patch that I decided it was time to remove everything and try to be the "me" He had in mind! And you know what? It's the most freeing feeling in the world!

So, this Halloween as you try on different costumes, give a thought or two to what you're currently "wearing" and if you should consider trying a different outfit!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brownie S'more

There are some things you think of and wonder, "why didn't I think of that before??" This is one of those things for me! I introduce you to the brownie s'more! I totally cheated tonight, though what I ultimately have in mind is much more delicious I'm sure. This, however, is quick, tasty, and for dessert, is great on Points!!

I didn't go start a fire (the first modification I'd make next time), but the oven was hot and it worked just fine! Here's what you need:

1 full graham cracker (or 2 squares, whatever!)
1 Fiber One brownie
1 large marshmallow 

I broke the graham cracker in half first and laid it in an oven safe pan. On one half I laid the brownie, the other half got the marshmallow. I baked it at 400 degrees for roughly 5 minutes. You may want more or less...totally up to you! When it's finished, sandwich them together and voila, brownie s'more!! 

As shown, this is 5 WWPP!! 

I have a KILLER brownie recipe that I'd like to use next time, but I'm sure the points will be MUCH higher!! 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Must Be His Favorite

At the beginning of the semester in my Family Foundations class, we were instructed to complete a Provident Living Project in addition to our standard course load. I was panicked about this because I knew I was already going to be busy and I wasn't sure how it would all work out. But then the first project came and it was implementing/improving a scripture study program in my life. I was totally already on that because of my goal to read the Standard Works cover to cover. Check!

Then Project 2 came and I was nervous again. This time it was working on health, nutrition, and fitness. Another slam dunk thanks to my goal to walk 500 miles and working on losing weight with Weight Watchers (I seriously don't give enough good plugs for them considering all the good they've helped me accomplish)!!

That brings me to today. I happen to know that this week is CRAZY busy and I hadn't even seen my homework list for the week when I made that determination. I also knew it was time to start the next project. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, clicked on the assignment tab. This week...
I NEVER thought that I would be excited about anything to do with budgeting, but at the YSA conference I attended in August one of the speakers spoke about budgeting, living within our means, and even mentioned a cash system. Well, I took the ideas he gave, looked at my own situation and formulated a plan that would work for me. Since August I have been doing GREAT, if I do say so myself. I still have some room for improvement, and that's what I get to focus on for my project!!

As I sat in front of my computer reading this assignment, I was so incredibly humbled. Heavenly Father has been preparing me for this all along! I thought I was making all of these goals and changes because I was focusing on the woman I wanted to become, and that is true. But what I see now is the hand of a loving Heavenly Father who has guided me to make these choices at the necessary times to make all of this come to be. I may not know everything, but I KNOW that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children. And though it may be a bit selfish, today I feel like I might be His favorite (but I'm willing to share the title tomorrow). :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"His Grace is Sufficient"

I have to admit that, even though I LOVE blogging, with my new school schedule and assignments which are done on discussion boards (read "blogs"), I'm finding that my drive to write here is not quite as strong as it used to feel. But that's not such a bad thing. I'm hoping that you find what I do post now more inspiring or helpful, and perhaps just a bit less of my rambling.

This morning as I prepared for church, I listened to another talk on the Speeches page from BYU. If you have checked this site out yet, go there!! It's amazing!! The talk I listened to was entitled "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox. This gave me such a new and wonderful understanding of, and appreciation for, my Savior and the grace He offers me. Instead of my standard comments, I'm going to share just a few quote from this inspired message. I hope you'll take the time to listen to it as I did...if so, click here. :)

“Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

"The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists. "

"The grace of Christ is sufficient—sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes. The Book of Mormon teaches us to rely solely on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). As we do, we do not discover—as some Christians believe—that Christ requires nothing of us. Rather, we discover the reason He requires so much and the strength to do all He asks (see Philippians 4:13). Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power (see Luke 1:37). "

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Receiving Answers to Prayer through Scripture Study

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday. This is a similar version of what I presented (not exact because I wasn't clever enough to save the revised copy to my computer and I no longer have the original in my posession), so if it doesn't sound quite right, please forgive me.

I’m so excited to have this opportunity to speak today, and I’ll tell you why. Somewhere in December last year I decided that I was going to set some really ambitious goals for the year. I was serious about taking charge of my life and wanted to become more than I was then. A few of the goals I set were to walk 500 miles, grow my hair out to donate it (which is taking a LOT longer than I would like), and to read the standard works cover to cover. That was a goal I had set for myself a long time ago but I don’t think I ever intended to do it any time soon (in all honesty I think I imagined myself with gray hair before that one ever actually happened). Don’t get me wrong, I love the scriptures and I love to study them, but the idea of reading the Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price all in one stretch seemed just a  bit out of reach and a little more time consuming than I felt I wanted. But January 1st came and with it came my determination! I started this goal. I had a counselor in one of my student wards that would always tell us that if we read just 7 pages a day we would complete the entire set of scripture by sometime in November. I’ll tell you now that I’ll likely still be reading to complete this goal in December, but I will finish it this year if it is the last thing I do (and it very well may be). This goal of mine has turned what was a love of the scriptures into a passion for them. I’ve learned so much during this journey and it’s truly only scratching the surface of the experiences that I know I can have with the scriptures.
To continue with the reason that I’m excited to speak today…about a month ago I started school again. I’ve returned to BYU-Idaho where I started my college experience, this time doing so online. One of the classes I’m taking is a religion class entitled Family Foundations. The course is broken up into six – two week units. During each unit, we are asked to focus on a project above and beyond our course study called a “Provident Living Project”. As I’ve outlined, I set a lot of goals already for the year and had a pretty stringent schedule to accomplish these things. Then I decided to add just a bit more excitement with school. THEN I found out about these projects. Before I even knew what I was going to be required to do I started feeling a little overwhelmed. That evening as I began my study, I started with a prayer as I always do, but asked specifically for help to organize myself in such a way that I could accomplish all of these tasks whatever they may be. Imagine my surprise when I opened the project to find that the first assignment was to create a plan to implement/improve scripture study in my life. This wasn’t necessarily adding anything to my existing list, but it would enhance the experiences I was already having. It was such a sense of relief and felt like a direct answer to my prayers.
Now, I’m going to shift gears slightly, but I’ll be coming back to explain this further.

Why do we have the scriptures?
In a talk entitled, “A Reservoir of Living Water”, Elder David A. Bednar said:
   “You and I must look to and come unto Christ, who is “the fountain of living waters”, by reading, studying, searching, and feasting upon the words of Christ as contained in the Holy Scriptures. By so doing, we can receive both spiritual direction and protection during our mortal journey.”
The scriptures are our road map, our game plan, and our warning system. If you are heading out on a cross country trip, you use a mapping device. If you’re going out for the big game, you reference the game plan. And if you are experiencing stormy weather, you consult some sort of warning system to know what you can expect and how to prepare yourself to weather those conditions and to come through it undamaged.
How we study?
Is there a right or wrong way? Absolutely not! Just get in there and read! Due to your own circumstances, there may be times where you study or use them differently. For instance, from the same talk, Elder Bednar stated that there are “three basic ways or methods of obtaining living water from the scriptural reservoir: (1) reading the scriptures from beginning to end, (2) studying the scriptures by topic, and (3) searching the scriptures for connections, patterns, and themes.” Based on my need to complete this goal, I’m focused on reading the scriptures from start to finish. There are times where I want to gain deeper understanding of a certain topic and I study that specifically. And as Elder Bednar mentioned, there are times where we should or have need to search the scriptures seeking for patterns and themes. It’s up to you!

Another way to study is to memorize scriptures. Elder Scott once said: “Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.” 
“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.”
Why do we need to study the scriptures?
Elder Perry shared an experience in the April 1993 General Conference of the Saints in Peru who, due to strife within the country, were struggling. The area presidency realized a need to fortify them through this time. After much fasting and prayer, they determined that they needed to emphasize prayer and scripture study within each family. Of this experience, Elder Perry stated:
                Among the Peruvian Saints, who live in this nation racked with heartache and despair, there has emerged a stronger faith and devotion to our Father in Heaven because they heeded the counsel of His servants to hold daily family prayer.
A special maturing in the gospel has developed among the members of the Church in Peru because they added to their daily family prayers the practice of having daily family scripture study. When the revealed words of the prophets found their way into the hearts of the Saints, they brought about a mighty change in the way they lived and believed. Questions, personal problems, and important concerns were answered for them by the inspired counsel of the scriptures”.
It is interesting to me that two of the most basic teachings of the gospel, prayer and scripture study, can have such a profound effect. From his talk we note that not only do the scriptures provide a spiritual strength to us, but in studying the scriptures, we can receive answers to our prayers.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, if you want to talk to God, pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures! I know that this is true. God does hear and answers prayers, and often uses the experiences we have in the scriptures to give us those answers.

Examples of how scripture study has helped me receive answers to my prayers
Elder Scott mentioned memorizing scriptures. There was a time that I was trying to break a habit I had. I knew I didn’t need to do this thing, but I was having a hard time breaking myself of it. I prayed sincerely for help to overcome this thing, but I still struggled. One night after weeks and likely months of struggling to break myself, I was reading in Moroni 9 and came across verse 28 which says:
Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God.”

As I read that, I realized that I needed to change my prayer and desire just a bit. Instead of simply asking for help I needed to ask with a firmness unshaken and commit to always serve God. With that as my focus I knew I could go ahead and change my life for the better and break this habit. That night I committed this verse to memory. I would recite it throughout the day, especially if I started trying to allow myself to get off track. The answer to my prayer was found then through the scriptures and because of the time I took to study and memorize it, I continue to be blessed by it.
So, do you remember the assignment I mentioned from the beginning of my talk? Implementing or improving my scripture study? As I mentioned, I already had my goal to read the Standard Works this year, so I was trying to figure out a way to improve the quality of my time in the scriptures. At that point it was about trying to maximize my efforts as opposed to expanding them. I prayed for some guidance as to what would be the most beneficial thing for me given my circumstances. I considered everything I had going on, my concerns, and the things I had been focusing on in my prayers. I decided that as I read the scriptures, I would seek specifically for examples of having patience and trusting in the Lord. I was amazed as I read how frequently examples of this theme came up! They are everywhere!! 
At the beginning of the project I thought I was busy and was a little stressed. This week, the game changed a bit due to an extended work schedule, a lot of transitions and a variety of other factors, all of which equated to even less time to do my homework and do the thing I had committed to do outside of work, and that sent my stress level right through the roof. You can ask my parents. I would be the person having mini breakdowns in stores and restaurants. I could never have predicted that the themes I was seeking in my study a couple of weeks ago would help me in a VERY future time. At the time I started the project, things were going pretty smoothly. I was adjusting to my class schedule and though I felt nervous about things, I was managing. There was really no need to suppose that things would change from that. I believe that because I prayed to know what Heavenly Father wanted me to know, I was assisted in making my theme selection. It is also because of continued prayers for guidance, strength and comfort that the scriptures have been opened to me in a way at this time that is strengthening my testimony that Heavenly Father knows and loves us individually, and is quite literally sustaining me day to day.
One last experience that I’d like to share occurred on Friday night. Mom and I had talked a bit about everything and she was trying to help me realize that I need to find a way to free my schedule just a bit. As we were driving, I pondered everything I’ve been tasked to do right now, and the thing I realize is that I’ve brought most of it on myself. As I tried to think of things I could either rearrange or eliminate, a verse came to mind. Mosiah 4: 27 which says: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and aorder; for it is not requisite that a man should run bfaster than he has strength.”
In times of need, when the prayers of our heart say more than we could with words, the scriptures that we have read can be brought to our remembrance and provide us  with the answers and direction we desperately need.
A Promise
President Gordon B. Hinckley made a promise regarding reading the Book of Mormon. He said: “There will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
In addition to the blessings promised by a prophet of God, I testify that our Heavenly Father uses the tools He’s given us to speak to us. As we pray and study in faith, we will be blessed to find the answers we seek. I can tell you that because I’ve tested and tried it, and know it to be true.
I know our Heavenly Father loves us! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. I’m grateful for the gospel in my life and the ways it helps me strive to be a little better each day.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Did you hear that it's pumpkin season again? Forget's all about the pumpkin. I've been busy with a LOT of things, but one of the things I'm happiest about is finding ways to use one bottle of canned pumpkin (thanks mom!!). I've made pumpkin cinnamon rolls (I'm doing that one again and will take pics and post a recipe), pumpkin smoothies for breakfast (the only problem is that when I'm finished, I want another!!), and this morning I made Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal for breakfast!

It was a GORGEOUS Saturday morning here in southeast Georgia! I had quite the to do list beginning with about 3 hours of homework. That takes some serious brain food. So, I grabbed a bowl full, got my assignment, sat down at the desk and enjoyed (and did some homework). I'm pretty sure I'll be making this again!!

Here's the scoop:

1 cup water
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup bottled pumpkin (if you are using a store bought can of pumpkin, you'll probably want to use a little less, but make it to suit your may want more!)
Pumpkin Pie Seasoning (to taste)
Cinnamon (to taste)
1 T almond milk (just for a little creaminess)
1/2 T spiced cream cheese frosting (optional...and a bit sinful!)

I'm not so good at the "wait for the water to boil" stuff, so I put the water, oats, pumpkin, and seasonings in all at the beginning, stirred it really well (my pumpkin is a little chunky as its bottled, but it's SOOOO good!). Place on medium heat until it starts to boil, reduce to a simmer. When oatmeal has reached the consistency you want (I like mine just a bit thicker than most), transfer to a bowl. If you were lucky like me and have leftover spiced cream cheese frosting, place a small dollop in the center and allow it to melt a bit. Then stir it up and enjoy!!

This makes 1 tasty serving!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I hadn't planned on writing tonight, but my heart is full and my mind is racing. School has been in session now about 3 weeks (it's bad...I've already lost track of time). I am SO grateful that I didn't finish my degree when I started school as an 18 year old. Waiting almost 10 years certainly isn't the right path for everyone, but then again neither is finishing in four years. I don't regret starting, or attending a couple of semesters. I learned SOOO much! Also, if I hadn't started when I had, I wouldn't be able to be online now! It's truly remarkable how that worked out. Another testimony to me of just how much Heavenly Father loves me! Also a reminder that He is always in charge, even though I think I'm driving. :)

One of the courses I'm taking is called Family Foundations. For the basis of this class, we are using The Family: A Proclamation to the World. If you've not read it before, I invite you to do so now. Family has always been important to me, but I'm learning so quickly just how important it is in the eternal scheme of things. Heavenly Father didn't just throw together some plan and decide that this unit we call a family might work. This is an eternal pattern. We are all part of God's family. He wants us to create our families and his ultimate goal is for each of us to live ETERNALLY in our families! That's sort of a HUGE deal! Like I said, I always knew it was important, but I didn't really get it. I would imagine that I'm just now scratching the surface of understanding.

Though I've always wanted to be married and to have a family, in recent months I've found myself wondering if that was really what I wanted. I think its safe to say that ultimately I knew I did, but I was scared. I see so many unhappy marriages, so many broken homes, so many bad relationships between spouses and between parents and children. But as I've studied and prayed, and now as I study for this class, there is NOTHING more that I want in my life. I may not have those blessings now, but I can live for it, and I can stand for it, I can teach the importance of it to the children I'm with in Primary, and hopefully live as an example of it.

I had a stake president (the leader of many local congregations, called wards) tell us once that each individual is a family in embryo. Satan's goal is to destroy the family and to make a mockery of the law of chastity. Sure, he is attacking families and trying to tear them apart. But he is also trying to influence those of us who are single into staying that way, to convince us that being a part of a marriage/family isn't what we want, and that marriage isn't actually essential.

I KNOW that families are central to God's plan for His children. I may be single, but I am a family in embryo. That means that I'm living for my family right now. The person I spent years thinking I wanted to be as a wife and mother, well, I should be that person NOW! And I'm happy to report that I'm well on my way. I've spent the better part of a year focusing on that goal specifically and I'm so glad. I'm still unfinished, but I'm moving in the right direction. I'm so grateful for the knowledge of the importance of families!!