Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Letter from a new convert {guest post}

Hello friends! Happy New Years Eve! I'm celebrating with a morning of yoga, breakfast, books, and blogs, and a super awesome guest post!

Today's post comes from Marie-Rose who is the author of one of my favorite blogs, Hope Always and Pray Constantly. Marie-Rose is a new convert who was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day saints in the middle of November. 

This is her letter to all members of the church titled "Letter From a New Convert" and it is addressed to all members of the Church. In return, you can find my letter to her called "Letter To a New Convert" over on her blog. My letter is addressed to all those who, in the words of Jeffery R. Holland, "[are young in the church...] young in years of age or young in years of membership or young in years of faith. One way or another, that should include just about all of us." So don't forget to click on over to her blog after you've spent some time here!

Hope Always and Pray Constantly

Letter from a new convert,

My baptism was last month and it was amazing. Do you remember yours? The Spirit was so strong :) the water was so warm and welcoming when I walked into the font. Everything melted away for a minute, other than the words spoken, and suddenly I was underwater. I had waited for this moment for so long. I'd already had one baptism date fall through, cuz my dad wasn't sure if he was okay with my choice. For two years I knew, deep in my heart, that Heavenly Father wanted me to get baptized. I just had to wait for the right time. 

I'm so excited that I've been able to go to church regularly since I've been at college. In 2013, I took the sacrament exactly once (in like July, I think). It was not a fun time, having to miss church. Sometimes, sitting in sacrament meeting, it feels like you've heard all these things a million times before. But it's so easy to forget them if you're not hearing them! And feeling the Spirit at church is my favorite part of the week. Being surrounded by other people who love you is amazing. I think they call that a ward family.

That's a thing about us new converts, we're still getting used to the lingo :)

Have you talked to your ward's missionaries recently? I bet they're pretty awesome. My sister missionaries are the best. We've been meeting weekly since I've been at college and I love them so much. I haven't figured out how to serve them dinner yet, cuz I'm in a dorm with no kitchen and live off of a meal plan, but you should see their faces when I bring snacks to lessons :)

Speaking of missionaries, you've probably heard that you should be a member missionary, right? Guess how I first heard about the church. My friends are pretty good member missionaries. They weren't afraid to mention church things in my presence, and they certainly weren't afraid to answer my questions, even if it meant hunting down an answer and getting back to me later. They invited me to activities and seminary and church and dances and girls camp and youth conference. They gave me a Book of Mormon. Most importantly, they let me go at my own pace. They never pushed me to investigate faster than I was comfortable with doing. So when you hear that you should be a member missionary, think of new converts like me. You wouldn't be reading this letter if it weren't for member missionaries.

I have a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and is always there for us. I know that Jesus Christ is our savior. I know that prayer is powerful. I know there's a Plan, and eternity is bigger than whatever trial I might be going through at the moment. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I can feel that when I read it. 

I am so happy to be a member of this wonderful church. 

Thank you for your missionary work, 

<3 Marie-Rose

p.s. I'm searching for some awesome New Years Resolutions. What are some of yours?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

we believe in enjoying good food

Hiya friends!

The other day we were hanging out with some of our family friends and we were discussing how when people you really like get released from their callings in the church you feel like you want to do more than just raise your hand to thank them. One of the younger boys offered his opinion on the subject by saying; "ya I always want to clap or do jazz hands or something!"

Can you imagine the bishop saying "Sister Smith has been released from her calling as the primary president. All those who'd like to show their appreciation for her service make it manifest" and then the entire congregation breaks out in jazz hands?!

haha That would be priceless!

I am so ready for Sunday tomorrow. I've spent too many days without leaving my house. Although it's been a good break, I can't wait to be busy again.

I was reading in Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage today and I came across an awesome quote that I wanted to share.

"We believe in enjoying good food... 
we believe in getting all the 
enjoyment out of eating that we can."

I think that I'm going to put that in vinyl on my wall in my kitchen when I'm old and married and have a house. Isn't it just the greatest?

But I really do love the context behind it. Many people wonder why Mormons don't drink alcohol, or Coffee, or do other things like drugs. The answer can be found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is known as the Word of Wisdom.

The Word of Wisdom was a revelation given from God regarding what was made for the human body and what was not. It outlines what should not be put in the human body, but what I love about it is it also outlines things that are good for the human body.

Mormon's may not drink alcohol, but we sure do enjoy some good food!

On an unrelated note, check out these fantastic covers done by Maddie Wilson. I first became obsessed with her music when one of her tracks was on the EFY soundtrack and I have been listening to her ever since. What I love about her music is she always chooses clean songs, or changes them to make them clean. And often times I like her covers better than the original. 


feel my sunlight

p.s. Check back soon for an AWESOME guest post coming soon on New Years Day! I am so excited about this and I know everyone will love it!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

THREE {the real reason for the Season}

Merry Christmas everyone! And boy has it been a good one.

On Sunday my good friend Raegan was giving a lesson in Sunday School. She shared a story that I instantly fell in love with. It's a story that follows the lives of three special trees and what they would tell you if they could talk. This story is the perfect story for this special occasion we celebrate on the 25th of December every year, but it also lays out a pattern we should follow during the other 264 days of our lives. This is the Story of the Three Trees:

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."
Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."
Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,"and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one," and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay.
This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.
May your day be blessed. And until we meet again, may God cradle you in the palm of His hand.

As we celebrate Christmas we often make the mistake of leaving baby Jesus in the manger. We decorate with nativity sets and we sing of silent night, but we forget that Jesus didn't stay in the manger for very long.

On the last day before leaving on Christmas break I was sitting in a seminary assembly when we learned about the three levels of Christmas.

The first level is the level of Jingle Bells and Santa Clause. It is the level of stalkings and Rudolph, It is the level of elves and toys. While this level is fun, it often distracts from the more important levels of Christmas.

The second level is one of Jesus Christs birth. It includes silent night and nativity sets. When people tell the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is the second level in which they celebrate. While this is the most popular level when it comes to Christian Christmases, it is not the level we should stop at. Christ's birth was the most magnificent birth, but there is so much more to be celebrated when it comes to celebrating Christ. I do not remember who said it, but there is a quote that says "the man who leaves baby Jesus in the manger will be sorely disappointed." It is often said that if it wasn't for Christ's Atoning sacrifice, his birth would have been just another birth.

The third level of Christmas is possibly the most magnificent. The third level of Christmas follows Christ through the rest of his mortal ministry, and can also follow us into the rest of our year if we let it. This is the level of the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This level of Christmas celebrates Jesus as the Christ. Jesus was foreordained before the earth was created to become our Savior, by suffering for all of our pains and afflictions, atoning for our sins, and ultimately suffering the pains of death so that we might be able to return to live with our Father in Heaven if we might repent. The third level of Christmas is the real reason for the season.

I love the above story because it does not leave baby Jesus in the manger, but also gives a small glimpse into his life and ministry, as well as give a reminder as to why Christ is so celebrated this season; because of his Atonement. 

I also love this story because it invites you to place yourself into Christ's story. It is a reminder that while Christ's birth, life, and death are the greatest gift you have ever been given, it will prophet you nothing unless you accept him into your life and follow his commandments. 

As this Christmas season comes to a close I hope you all take a minute to celebrate the real reason for the season, and in the words of Adam, our seminary council president, "I invite you to dedicate some time to our Savior, and appreciate his eternal sacrifice and his condescension, so that all mankind may be saved. It is his birthday after all!"

I love you all so much and am thankful for you every day of my life. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the joy I can summon. 

feel my sunlight

p.s. Santa brought me mission luggage! And fun fact... I can fit inside it! haha


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

night changes

Does it ever drive you crazy 
Just how fast the night changes 
Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of 
Disappearing when you wake up 
But there’s nothing to be afraid of 
Even when the night changes

Well hello friends!

Have you ever just listened to a new album all the way through and had it speak to ever aspect of your life at that very moment? I have had One Directions new album playing for the last hour and a half and words can't even describe my emotions right now.

Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes?

I can't even explain how much this is about my life in this exact moment. It seems that my world is spinning at a million miles an hour in the right direction. It's almost like I have just begun to breath the most beautiful air just as the realization that it's all about to change knocks the wind out of me and I struggle to keep the last breath of sweet air in my lungs.

I don't know how else to explain it.

I was sitting here listening to this album when I came across a song called 18 when I thought "hey I'm 18!" but then literally thought "no... no that can't be right."

18 means I'm a senior in high school.
18 means my last year of public school.
18 means all the friends that I have gone to school with for as long as I can remember are about to become people I only see on Facebook.
18 means seminary council is almost over.
18 means my life right now is about to become memories.
18 means mission papers.
18 means college decision.
18 means graduation.
18 means this is my last Christmas before I leave on a mission.
18 means attending the farewells of all of my friends.
18 means my night is changing.

As I pondered these things I realized just how fast these changes are happening and just how little I can do to stop it.

Santa has bought and wrapped my mission luggage, and the colleges have my applications. Whether I like it or not things are about to change.

All my life has been planned up until graduation. Every year I left school in the Summer with complete assurance that I would find myself sitting in another desk within three months. This is the first time the plans have been changed.

While it's everything I've ever dreamed of-- Graduating, going on a mission, attending college-- It still drives me crazy just how fast the night is changing.

But even though it seems that things are about to change, many amazing things are happening as well!

While I've been away on holiday from my blog (do I sound British? Oh please say I sound British!) many things have happened!

Last weekend I went to Cotillion with the adorable Hayden Rigby and had a blast! Thanks again Hayden!


Turns out December was also a month for tumbling reunions. I got to see Anedy and Shawn who are some of my favorite former teammates at the Utah Gymnastics Preview...


and a few days after that I got a surprise call from one of my other former teammates, B, telling me to come to the gym because all my best friends were coming to visit!


It was so much fun to see everyone!

Another exciting gym happening took place at our annual competition team party which I was working. I was playing games with the 7 years old and under group when all of the sudden one of our little girls gets very big eyes and grabs onto me for dear life. I turned around to see a large Grinch walk into the gym just as a few other little girls begin to notice and demand hugs. All the older kids thought he was awesome, but some of the little ones weren't convinced, which was great for me because now they all think I'm a superhero because I saved them from the scary Grinch. And then after the Grinch left I gained a small fan club. It's moments like this when I love being a tumbling coach.

And perhaps one of my favorite parts of December was our annual ginger bread making party with the Daniels. Which is technically a graham cracker making party because we can't handle real ginger bread. We have done this every year for as long as I can remember and this year is the last year that we will all be here since both Lauren and I will be on a mission next time this activity comes around. I'd say it was a success even though the houses haven't gotten any better over the years.

I'm also proud to say that my house is the only one still standing at my house.

December has been good and OH LOOK IT"S CHRISTMAS EVE!!! In case I don't get around to posting again before Christmas I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday and I wish you all the joy and happiness I can summon. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my blog. Without you this blog would just be words in the universe. I love you all! Merry Christmas!

feel my sunlight

p.s. Since it's Christmas Eve, check out these two awesome videos!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

head Tilt Heavenward

Happy December everyone!

First I need everyone to admire this meme I found.

It is even funnier when you're a family history consultant...

This morning I attended a training for seminary class presidents because I am on seminary council. These trainings always make me look at the world a little differently. There is defiantly a modern army of Helaman walking the halls of Layton High.

For today's meeting we focused on two amazing conference talks that centered around the theme of loving people. You can watch or read those two talks HERE and HERE.

I learned two things this morning. Number one: If you only look down you will only see the concrete, It takes a head tilt heavenward to notice the pictures God has painted in the sky, and Number Two: you have superpowers.

Let me explain.

Because these meetings take place before school, I was lucky enough to be pulling into the parking log just as the sun came up. As I got out of my car and began to walk towards the building I was looking down at the ground and what I almost failed to notice was the magnificent sunrise that covered a good portion of the sky. I stood there for a second thinking.

Isn't this how life works? Most of the time we stare down at the concrete. We spend most of our time looking for unappealing things and searching for the negative pieces of our lives. The problem with looking for concrete is that we will find concrete. If we are living our lives searching for negative things we will inevitably find negative things.

I also realized that the next largest percentage of people are looking sideways. Many people are searching for Celestial happiness in a Telestial things, or in other words, there are those who look for happiness in worldly things.

I see this a lot in the world today. We look around us at the things in the world to find happiness. In a world were everything can be bought, pinned, or tweeted at the tips of our finger tips it seems that the tips of our fingers are the most natural place to look for happiness. We may see an occasional tree, or a interestingly built building, but these are not what we would call "beautiful." The only problem is that the happiness that comes from a funny pinterest post, or the thrill that comes from buying the perfect thing on Amazon is never enough to satisfy our soul's constant hunger for Celestial happiness.

And the most prevalent thing I learned this morning was that God has prepared us Celestial happiness, but that we must look Heavenward to find it. He has painted the most beautiful things above us because He want's us to show the faith it takes to look up. This kind of happiness can only be felt by those who take the time to open their scriptures, who attend church and strive to learn, who strive to uphold their callings, who serve others and who serve God. God always paints us beautiful pictures in the sky, and in the words of Thomas S. Monson,

"It's better to look up."

The second thing I learned was that I have superpowers.

One of our awesome seminary teachers shared a story about his son who has to receive weekly treatments at the hospital. He had been trying to teach his son to be more friendly and to get out of his shell a little bit. So he made him a deal that if he would say hi to one person that they saw at the hospital he would give him ice cream. The only catch was that it couldn't be a shy timid "hi", and that it had to be loud enough to hear.

So as they were walking into the hospital they saw an elderly couple leaving. Our seminary teacher pointed out to his son that those were perfect people to say hi to. So the little boy gave an over-enthusiastic, scream-like "HI" to the couple walking out. Startled by the powerful greeting from the little boy they both broke out in smiles.

My seminary teacher leaned down to him and said "DID YOU SEE THAT! They didn't have smiles before and now they do because you said hi to them! You have superpowers buddy!" and the little boy said "Like Superman?!" and the teacher said "yes! Like superman!" And the little boy proceeded to try it out on a few other people all giving him the same glorious response.

This simple story about a father and his little boy taught me that everyone has the super power to make someones day better. It doesn't take anything special. It doesn't take a lot of time or energy. All it takes is an enthusiastic "HI." A little love and interest can go a long way. People want to feel noticed and they want to feel important and your simple acknowledgement of their existence can go a long way in the lives of others.

So say hi to someone you wouldn't normally, send someone a text just to tell them you were thinking about them, send an email to a teacher thanking them for what they have done for you, volunteer to help serve someone in need. It doesn't take a lot from you, but it will mean a lot to them.

I just want to end with saying thanks to the people around me who lift me up everyday. I truly appreciate it.

feel my sunlight

p.s. can we please talk about this weeks episode of Heartland? I watched it last night and let's just say my reaction to the ending left me looking like this...

Where are my Heartland fans? I need to talk to you!