January 3, 2017

2017...Here I Come

I love looking back on the old year and seeing all the many experiences and adventures that have come about during that year. It's motivating to me to see where I was then compared to where I am now. A lot can happen in a year and 2016 pushed me in more ways then I ever imagined. 

To be honest, 2016 was probably the longest year of my life...so far. ;) So, much happened that it felt like a whirlwind that just kept on going and going.  I look back on 2016 and think "Wait, what just happened." That's what I would describe 2016 as, the year where so much happened that I can't even tell you what happened. It was a long year that felt like 10 years. I was just waiting for 2017 to come so I could just start over, realign myself and maybe find a way to balance my life.

As 2016 came to a close, I felt so many emotions. I was so excited to celebrate the new year and as we counted down, tears filled my eyes with all of the struggles and heartache of that year. But then I remembered the light and joy that came because those struggles and I was filled with hope for a brighter future.

In 2016, I made a goal to focus on taking care of myself emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.  I wanted to understand MY body. I wanted to learn what I needed to do to take care of this special gift that my Father in Heaven has given to me and create a better life for myself.

It seemed like a lot and looking back I thought that I wasn't even really accomplishing any part of that goal.  I realized that I actually stuck with this goal, much more than I thought. It just wasn't in the way that I had envisioned in my mind. The coolest part was that my Heavenly Father was there guiding me every step of the way.

I worked on myself emotionally and mentally to come to understand what it means to forgive. I learned to love and speak more kindly to myself. To let go of grudges or hurt feelings that I had been hanging on to. I learned self control. I learned how to be more loving and patient towards my husband, kids and loved ones. (Side note: these things are still a work progress)

Spiritually, I learned to make scripture study an important part of my day. I've learned the importance of saying meaningful prayers and taking time to truly communicate with my Father in Heaven. I made it a priority to attend the temple weekly and do family history names and what an incredible blessing that has been in my life.

As most people do, I worked really hard this year on my physical fitness and nutrition. This is the one that I would say I felt the most discouraged about and felt I had lacked in progress even though I felt I was working so so hard.  I would've liked to have dropped some pounds, but that didn't seem to be the plan for my body this year.

I realize now, that those pounds were of something a little deeper. Not just my nutrition or my physical fitness, though those are very important things, working on myself emotionally has made all the difference. I didn't realize how much my emotional health truly affected my physical health. I have made so many strides that are unseen by everyone else around me and I am can truly say I am so proud of myself. I am proud of the accomplishments and the things that I have learned about my body this year! I am proud that I haven't given up.

Now that I have been working on my emotional well being I am finding that my body is responding in a more healthy manner and is possibly ready to let go of some of the pounds that has been weighing me down.  One thing I decided to say to myself as I go through this process is that "I'm not trying to lose the weight, because I don't want to find it. Instead, I am coming to release it and let it go." I am so amazed by the body and mind and how perfectly well they respond to each other.

I am so grateful for the things that I learned in 2016. It was a hard year, no doubt, but I feel so blessed that the Lord was there for me every step of the way. I look at my life and I can see his hand in everything. I can see that he wants me to accomplish my goals and he his helping me reach them as I dream and as I work to become the person that he knows I can be.

A while back, I made a goal to create a Vision Board. This is a board of my life, my goals, hopes and dreams for the future that I can see daily. Finally, after 4 years, I have accomplished that goal and have created that board. I am grateful for the opportunity we have each day, week, month and year to set goals and be reminded of where we want to be and what we want to accomplish in our lives.

With my goals clearly set out before me, I am excited for what's ahead in 2017 and for all the many experiences and adventures that await me.

Goodbye 2016 and 2017...Here I Come! :)

December 2, 2016

My Parents

I grew up in a home where the gospel was at the center, with parents whose love for their Savior and family were the number one priority in their lives. My parents have taught me what it means to serve and love others. They have taught me how to recognize what is most important in life and have supported me and loved me. I love my Mom and Dad and I am so grateful for their example to me.

My Dad is a gentle, kind and loving man. He cares so deeply about his children and family and has done everything he can to support and take care of us as we have grown. He has taught me what it means to have a worthy priesthood holder in the home and has always been a source of guidance to me.  I look up to my Dad. He has sacrificed his time to help with countless hours of math homework when all I wanted to do was give up and cry and has taken the time to sit and talk with me about...just life.  He is an incredible man. He is a protector and will do all in his power to keep his family safe. He works hard and is selfless, working to do what is best for his family.

School was not always something that came easy to me, especially when it came to math and testing. But my Dad was always patient with me. He was there reminding me that even when I feel like I am failing, as long as I am giving it my all and doing my very best then my best is good enough.  That is a lesson that my Dad has taught me that has always stuck with me and I strive to do best every single because of him and his example to me. I love my Dad and I am so grateful to have him in my life. The Lord has truly blessed me with a loving father here on earth, who cares and loves me and for that I will always be grateful.

My Mom is an incredible woman, who is selfless and sacrifices so much to take care of her children and her family. She is an example of what it means to serve. She will do all in her power to help those in need. She will be there for you when you are having a hard day and give you a hug, she will bring you a meal the moment she hears you are struggling with something and will take you to the grocery store if your car is in the shop.  My Mom hardly thinks of herself. More often than not she is thinking of what she can do to help the person next to her.

My Mom is kind and has a good heart! She is loving and cares deeply about others. No one is perfect, but my Mom is the perfect Mom for me.  In learning how to be a Mom myself, she has taught me that it is okay to have hard days where you just can't handle life and need a break. It's okay to have dirty dishes and toys all over the floor, if the kids are happy that's what's most important.  My Mom has taught me how to pray and study the scriptures. She has shown me through her example, of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. She is a teacher and has taught me the importance of learning and growing. She has shared her love of the temple with me, which impacted me and my life. My Mom works hard to take care of those around her and to show them how much she loves them.

Every week there would be one or two days where I would come home from school and she would be making chocolate chip cookies.  It seems like a simple, but the smell of homemade chocolate chip cookies and the warmth I felt coming home after a hard day at school, made our home feel like a safe place and place of love.  My Mom made sure that our home was a place that we could come to find peace from the struggles of the world.  It still is.  I am grateful for my Mom and for all of her love, devotion and service.  She is a wonderful example to me of our Savior. I love my Mom and look up to her. I am so grateful for her and for all that she has done and continues to do for me.

I have learned so many lessons from my Mom and Dad. These things are just a few and I am so grateful for them and the love they have shared with me and continue to share with me each day. They have been a huge blessing in my life and have taught me so much! I am so grateful for these beautiful parents of mine.  They may not be perfect, but they are the perfect parents for me!

I love you Mom and Dad!

December 1, 2016

Lifting Others Burdens

This is the most wonderful time of the year. A time where we get to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is such a spirit of love and joy surrounding this time of the year and I love that it is a time to reflect on my life and see the struggles I've faced throughout the year as well as the beautiful blessings that have come from it all.

This year has been one of the hardest years that I have experienced so far. I received some news back in January that turned my world upside down. My heart was heavy and my heart was broken from the events that had taken place. I was crushed and I felt like I was in such a dark place. I felt lost and alone and knew that all I could do was draw nearer to my Savior. 

The year started out for me as if I was drowning in the deep sea, just trying to keep afloat. I was lost and unsure of what it was that I needed to do, who to go to for help and who I needed to be. I was confused and I prayed everyday to my loving Heavenly Father for help and guidance. There were days where prayer was all that would sustain me throughout the day. It was a tender time for me, where all I wanted was to feel peace and love. 

I've had experiences this year that have changed my life in ways that I am so incredibly grateful for. I've had loving friends be answers to my pleading prayers. I've had friends who have come to bring me a sweet note and treat just to say they were thinking of me. These friends have lifted my burdens by coming to my home or just by being out on the playground talking with me. I could not have made it without any of the these wonderful people who have thought of me and served me in these simple, but oh so meaningful ways. 

To those who have ever watched my children for me, those days may have been the most needed of all. I felt like anytime I needed a break, it was on a day that my heart was the most tender and I either had a babysitter lined up, or someone just offered to take them for me for an hour or two. Even just something as simple as talking with me or bringing me a meal, has meant the world to me! I can't tell you how much my dear friends in the village have meant to me this year. My heart is about to burst with gratitude for you and your sweet service and love.Thank you for being the kind of friends I can come to for help or for thinking of me when I needed you most! You have lifted my burdens in ways that you would not have ever thought would mean anything, but in reality meant EVERYTHING! 

I have received kind notes and friendly hellos on my hardest of days and have had strangers cheer up my tearful and uncontrollable children in the grocery store when I clearly couldn't do much more. I had a man take my cart for me when I was, what felt like a mile, away from the cart rack with my kids already in the car and put it back for me. Compliments of any kind from strangers or friends made me feel so good and lifted my spirits. 

Even my children have lifted my burdens with their sweet and gentle hugs, kisses, laughter and service. They have brought so much joy into my life despite the struggles I have faced. Travis, has been here through everything and although he may think he hasn't done much, he has supported me and strives to lift my spirits and bring joy into my life, each day. My family has been my strength amidst trial and tribulation. 

But my Savior, is who I lean on the most to get me through my hardest times. This year, may have been one of my hardest, but it has also, been one of growth. I have grown closer to my Savior and have a deeper love for him and I have come to recognize more, of his love for me.

 I love my Savior, Jesus Christ with all of my heart. He is everything I hope one day that I can be. I know that he came to this earth for a reason, to atone for each one of us. I know the atonement is real and that Christ atoned for me. I know that he loves me...and that he knows me. He knows everything I have felt and am feeling and knows who I can be. I am grateful for this Gospel and I know that it is true.  

In Matt 11:28-30 it says: 

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest  unto your souls. 

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

This year, I have felt this. I have felt what it means to come unto Christ and have felt his rest. I have learned, and continue to learn, so much of who Christ was and is and his love for me. I have learned that his way is the most sure and easy way, that he can make your burdens light if you let him.

I found a lot of peace and love in studying the scriptures and in attending the temple weekly.  My heart has been lifted and strengthened as I have studied the word of the Lord and as I have served in his holy house. My burdens has been made light despite the heartache and hurt and I am so truly grateful for the blessings that have come through doing as the Lord has asked of me. 

I don't know what burdens I may have lifted for those around me, but I do know that my burdens have been lifted in more ways than I can count by so many of you. I am grateful to those who have been there and lifted my burdens in the times when I really needed them most. But I am especially grateful for my Savior and for the burdens that he has lifted as I have come unto him. 

November 22, 2016

The Blessings of Friends and Family

Living in the Village, I have met some wonderful people. I have met people from all over the world and have come to have a deep love and appreciation for them and their cultures. I have made lasting friendships with people who have been great examples to me in my life. The friendships I have made here are ones that hold a special place in my heart.

These are incredible people who are striving to better themselves and their families, who sacrifice for something far greater than money, who serve and lift one another. These are people who take advantage of the opportunities they have to learn and to grow and to make lasting friendships. This is a community where we serve and lift one another up during the hard times.  We are all going through similar things and in that way it helps strengthen our relationships with one another. 

Although we don't have much, we have all we need! I feel so blessed! I am grateful for the people in my life who have come and gone and who are here with me now. They are truly amazing people and I feel so blessed to be among them.

One of those amazing people, is my sweet husband, Travis.  Although, life hasn't been very easy for us at times, and there have been some really rough patches, we've made it though and our love for each other has grown in ways that I never imagined.  Neither one of us is perfect, but despite all of the struggle we have faced in our life together, we have learned some precious lessons and have grown to respect and love each other more and more each day. 

Out of all of the people I've met, previously in my life, he was the one that I chose. I chose him, because I knew that whatever was in store in the years ahead, would be worth it. I knew he would be the one I would want cheering me on making life a fun and entertaining ride. Travis, is my best friend, the love of my life and I am so truly grateful for him and all of the love that he gives to me. 
He is a great example to me of what it means to be a disciple of Christ and has a great capacity to keep trying and never give up when things get tough.  He keeps pushing through despite all the hurt and pain that may come into our lives. He will brighten anyones day with his silly jokes and smile. This man enjoys life and loves new experiences. He strives to be a better husband, father and person every single day. I know we still have plenty of adventures ahead of us in the future, some great and some...not so great, but I am so grateful I get to go along for the ride with him.

I'm grateful for our 2 crazy and energetic kids, Emree and Miles.  They each have a special spirit about them that goes beyond anything that I can comprehend. They teach me so much about what's most important in life and help me to be a better mother and daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. 

 Emree has a beautiful, independent spirit. She loves dancing, singing (both on her terms),watching movies, dressing up, doing her hair and makeup and loves to be silly (just like her daddy.) She loves the outdoors, playing with friends and the Little Mermaid. She loves painting, drawing and reading stories. 

Emree is very observant and can recognize when someone is in need. She is a leader and will take the intiative to do whatever needs to be done and get it done (except maybe when it comes to cleaning her room.) ;) She teaches me to be kinder and to take a deep breath when I just can't handle life. She is very compassionate and loving and is a great example to me. I am so grateful for her and for the love she brings into our home.  

Miles, is a sweet, sweet boy. He has a more gentle nature about him, although he can also be very independent himself. He is my child that gets into EVERYTHING!! If you don't want him to find it...he will. ;) He LOVES trucks! He loves books and riding bikes with daddy. He is a silly one and will brighten your day with his little jokes and laughter. 

Miles is a cuddler and hugger. Whenever I'm having a hard day, he is the first one to give me a hug and a kiss. He is thoughtful and kind. I remember one day sitting on the floor thinking to myself "I'm a little cold," and the next thing I knew he was bringing me my cozy blanket. I'm grateful for Miles and the spirit that he brings into our home. 

 I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be Emree and Miles mother! They mean the world to me and have brightened my day, even when I didn't want my day brightened. ;) They bring such a sweet spirit into our home and I am so, so, soooo grateful to have them in my life!

I am so grateful for my family! There is nothing more important to me!

There are so many, many more people who have made a difference in my life and have meant so much to me! You are one of them. I am so grateful for those of you who take the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me to know that you enjoy the words, thoughts and stories I have to share. Thank you!! I am grateful for you and the examples you each are to me! 

I hope that you all have a great week, spending it with those that you love! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 


November 15, 2016

It's the Little Things

Every year, at this time of the year, I am reminded of the little blessings that I have been given.
My gratitude stems from lessons I learned during our time in Guatemala. That time is close to my heart and probably always will be. I never realized how much I had till I didn't have it anymore. Now I am even more grateful for all that I have and I want to share some of those things that mean so much to me, even now, a little over 2 years, later.

I am so grateful for clean drinking water. Other countries don't have the luxury we do to have clean water that we can drink. Often just drinking the water from the tap, you would get some sort of parasite and would be sick for days. Because we had to buy our drinking water from the store in Guatemala, often times we would find ourselves drinking more soda than water, because we needed to conserve our water for other things. I am so grateful for the water that comes from the tap and for our Brita! What a blessing it is to have clean water in our homes.

I am also so grateful for door knobs. In Guatemala, all we had were gates and latches/ locks. Anytime we went in or out of the rooms in our home, our door would lock. We had to tie a string to the inside of the door so we could open the door without having to unlock it every time. It was a little bit complicated and didn't look very pretty. I am grateful to live in a home that has door nobs.

I am grateful for a washer and especially a dryer, even if I have to pay for it. ;) At times I remember having to wash my clothes by hand and there weren't many dryers in the town we were in so we air dried our clothes on a clothes line. It was a day, sometimes two day, long process. It is such a blessing to be able to have our clothes washed and dried within a few hours.  

Awww...look how little she is ;) 

Guatemala Power lines 

I am grateful for electricity. We had electricity in Guatemala, but nothing like here in the U.S. Our internet down there was also, so slow that we would have to pause netflix every so often to let it load...it's so nice to have fast speed (well in my mind fast speed) internet!
The power would also, either go out or be shut off often and randomly. And with no electricity, that meant you also didn't have any water...we are so blessed!

I'm grateful for my bed! Oh man, this one I look forward to every single night! We slept on a twin mattress for 5 months, me and my husband...together. Some people have thought I may be a little silly for making a big deal out of this one, but it really was hard sleeping on a twin mattress with 2 of us trying to stay on the bed at night. I was also pregnant at the time so it made it especially difficult. So far in the course of our marriage, I have slept on an air mattress for over half of each one of my pregnancies and as most women know, pregnancy isn't always the most comfortable thing so...yeah...I am so so soooo grateful for my queen sized bed!!

I'm grateful for comfy blankets! Anyone who knows me well, would know that I can't be without a comfy blanket, especially at night. The country of Guatemala doesn't have many comfy items around and I had a difficult time adjusting to the fabrics there. I remember one night, we stayed in a hotel and when I saw they had soft towels, I cried, because it had been so long since I had felt anything soft. I am so grateful for comfy things!

I am grateful for privacy. Oh boy, do I treasure privacy. We basically didn't have any for 6-7 months. Our home was 3 rooms straight off of a patio area. The people in Guatemala sure did know our whereabouts. ;) Plus, you had to be very quite or write down certain information so that others could not hear. The people were very good at ease dropping down there and would make very good use of the information they received. ;)

I am grateful for an oven. All we had in Guatemala was a gas stove with 2 burners.  It made it hard to cook all the things we were use to eating.  We had to learn a whole new way of cooking, but we survived. I am also, so grateful for a microwave. We have had one for almost a year now and it has made life so much easier. Cooking can be done without one, but it sure does make it a whole lot easier! ;)

Lastly, I am so grateful for our car! We went 2 years without a car before getting the one we have now. The day we got a car was a beautiful day and every day I thank Heavenly Father for the great blessing of having a car. It's not the perfect car, but it gets us around and I am so grateful for that blessing in our life!

My experience in Guatemala and the memories I've made during that time, has helped me to keep gratitude for these simple things alive in my heart. We have been blessed with so much! Each day I try to always remember those blessings and recognize the new blessings that come my way! It's the little things that make up the big blessings! Take a moment and look at the little things in your life that make up the big things. Your life is so good and you are so blessed, just look around! :)

November 6, 2016

Embracing the Craziness

Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, and into my teen years, I hated my curly hair. I never knew how to make it cute like all the other girls I saw with the long, beautiful, soft barrel curls, but my hair refused to do what I wanted it to.

Instead, it was a mess of curly waviness that could not be tamed. So, as I approached High school, I began to straighten my hair. I straightened my hair everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, never giving it a chance to be it's wild and natural self. I even contemplated straightening it permanently.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago. I was in a rut, tired of the same old thing and frustrated with straightening my hair. Despite all of my hopes, my hair did not want to be straightened any more, leaving me with half straight half curly hair and that was just not workin' for me.

So, one day I decided to let it be it's natural, wavy, curly self. To be honest I was really nervous to go out in public and let others see my curly locks in all of it's glory. No one had seen my hair down and curly since I was little, I always wore it up (unless it was straightened of course.)

The day I wore it down, I finally felt like me. I finally felt like I didn't have to try so hard to be like everyone else, having cute, soft barrel curls that I always dreamed of having. Instead, I decided to embrace the craziness and you know what?! I LOVE IT!!

For me, letting my hair down and be itself, was like giving me permission to be myself. It might sound silly going on and on about hair, but it was given to me for a reason and whatever reason that may be, I am so grateful for my crazy, curly hair!

Instead of feeling embarrassed about who I am, I am embracing it and showing myself that it's okay to be me. The more I let myself be me, the more I grow to love who I am and love all that the Lord has given to me.

As this month goes along and I share some of the things I am grateful for with you, I hope that you take a moment to see the little things that you have been blessed with in your life.

The Lord has blessed me with so much and my curly locks are one of those blessings that I have learned to truly be grateful for! :)

September 4, 2016

A Home is a Gift

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the many blessings he has given to me and my sweet family. We have been living in a small 687 square foot 2 bedroom apartment with our 2 kids for the past 2 years. Some might think we are crazy for living there as long as we did with such small space for 2 growing kids, cinder block walls and carpet you find in your elementary schools,but for us this apartment was a gift from God.

For 2 1/2 years, we moved from place to place searching for a place to set roots and call home for a time. We moved a total of 10 times, before we landed here in the village. It was an emotional roller coaster ride and for those 2 1/2 years I wondered if we would ever find that place we could call home.

Before moving to the village, we were preparing to move back to the U.S. from Guatemala. We had no idea where we would be going next. We had to rely on the Lord to help us get to where he needed us to be. Eventually, we found student housing at the U of U. We were excited, but nervous to move into a place that we knew basically nothing about.

We applied without even looking at the apartments and saw just what was online. We had had some bad luck with apartments with cockroaches and such, and this time we were just hoping and praying that this time would be different.

The day we moved in we felt an immediate sense of relief. We felt so at peace with the space that was given. Compared to everywhere else we had lived, this place was a palace. The kitchen and living room space was combined with 2 small bedrooms in back. The kitchen itself was small with very little counter space, a single sink and a half size oven. Cupboard space was limited, but to us it was more than enough.  It was no mistake that the Lord had given this space to us as a gift. A place to call home.

Yesterday, we moved one stairwell over to a 3 bedroom apartment that is a little over 1100 sq. feet. Double the size of our little 2 bedroom apartment. It's been so exciting to have more space for us and the kids to run around, but at the same time it's a little bitter sweet.

I know we didn't move very far, but for us it's not about how far you go, it's about what you are leaving behind. We lived in that apartment longer than we've lived anywhere else our whole marriage. It was the place that I called home. I had experiences there that taught me some important lessons. I have learned so much there and have grown in ways that I never imagined. My husband Travis describes the feelings we felt as we left that apartment:

"My favorite part about moving day is going back into your old place when it is totally empty and clean. There is something really special about it. I think it is because there is nothing in the house to distract your mind. There is nothing to fill that space except the memories you have of living there. You just look around and you can see the special times and the hard times and the fun times all swirling together. You can hear the sounds of life in your mind and can't help but just feel the importance of raising children, and the spirit present in a home where the gospel is taught and lived. 

We inadvertently have a tradition of going into the now empty house and saying a prayer together. Every place we have lived has always felt like a gift directly from God to us, and it is always my favorite part of moving day to soak in all those memories, and just express real sincere gratitude to God for the journey in that house."

Each place we have lived has been a gift from God. It is part of our journey and growth in this life. I feel so blessed and so grateful for all the my Heavenly Father has given to me. Our sweet 2 bedroom apartment has filled me with so much gratitude. It was truly the first place in a long time that I could call home. Even though so many may think our little home wasn't anything special, it meant so much to me. It was a sacred place that was just a piece of my story on this journey we call life.

 At times things may get hard and at times it may be hard to find joy in the journey, but if there is anything I have learned it is that I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. He has blessed me so much through all the struggles I have faced and I feel so incredibly grateful for him and his love. Now, we are moving on to what feels like a new phase of our lives and I know that the he will always be there leading and guiding me every step of the way.

What a blessing it is to have a place to call home!