Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Two M's...

Contrary to popular belief, tonight I did NOT get a husband.  I know, I know... Yep, I know what you're thinking.  Yes, gentlemen - I am still single.

Tonight was the giant, singles-stake reorganization at the Conference Center in SLC, and the running joke within our ward was that we were all going to get our spouses names handed to us... so you had better show up!  Haha... Of course, this was false.  I'm on the fence, but I'm thinking that would be a terrible idea.  Haha...  My friend Amber had to work the Real game tonight (tough break for those guys - next time!) and she told me to pick up her chosen name too...  She's gonna be really disappointed.  If I make one up, is that a bad idea?  Haha... Really - just kidding.

The meeting tonight was actually pretty great!  The majority of the meeting was about what we, as young single adults, can do to help in our wards and stakes -  and The Two M's of the evening...  Missionary Work and Marriage.

Leadership spoke, and a common phrase was, "It only takes an invitation."  I couldn't help but think of Christ's invitation to "Come Unto Me."  Their first point was all about being a member missionary and fellow-shipping.  We were all encouraged to be better friends to those around us...

The second point was that we were put into our singles wards for reasons, and one of those reasons is marriage.  I use to hate those talks... I would always think, "We KNOW already! It's not like we're not open to the idea,"  but I've come to realize that I may know, and I may be open to the idea when the time is right, but not everyone feels the same way... There is so much fear.  Elder Ballard spoke to us at one point and stated, "Cast aside fear you have for the future.  You need to replace that fear and apprehension with faith."  I agree.

A member of church leadership for the YSA's, by the name of Christensen, told a story about a girl named Nicole in a ward he was serving within.  His wife was chatting with Nicole and the wife asked her if she was dating anyone.  Nicole replied, "Nope, but I hope too!"  A boy by the name of Spencer was standing nearby and heard her say this, and asked her out.  They got married a few months later... After this story I turned to my neighbors and stated, "Maybe I should speak louder," to which all those behind and in front of me started laughing... Nope, guess I'm already quite loud enough!

Another story about an "open-mic night" (I believe it was a speaker to begin with and turned into that...) in a particular ward told of a girl who stated that she was 29 and unmarried and wondering if she should move on to somewhere else cause she wasn't having luck there.  A man a few seats down took the mic next and asked her is she'd be willing to go out with a 27 year-old... he was that 27 year old.  The rest of the night consisted in the mic being passed between rows and certain individuals asking other ones out!  How does that even happen?!  Haha... All I gotta say is that was one brave 29 year old girl who began it all!  Haha... Karin and I promptly texted a member of our bishopric (sitting a few seats up from us) and requested an open-mic night. Hahahaha!  Their reaction was pretty classic...

Regarding that example, they related this back to the fact that we are to go to the ward we live in (boundary-wise) for a reason.I also didn't realize how many people "ward hop and bishop shop!"  I didn't even know you could do that... Well, now you really can't, but I didn't even think of doing that before. It reminds me of a quote from While You Were Sleeping, "Lucy, you are born into a family. You do not join them like you do the marines!"  You may not be BORN into a ward family literally, but you aren't really expected to just join whichever ward you please.

One more quote I just HAVE to share came from Elder Ballard... He was talking about meeting his wife and said, "I used every tool I learned on my mission to convince her that I was the only true and living returned missionary..."  Haha!  Oh, how I love you, Elder Ballard.  Classic.

Moral of the story - Singles wards in the west and changing to singles STAKES and I'm happy about it... I'm happy about the guidelines they are setting and I hope that people realize how important it is to follow the counsel that has been given.  I'm excited to see wards and stakes grow and change... It seems simple enough, and in a lot of ways it is, but it can make a big difference.

Other morals:  Be a missionary... and get married. 

Song of the Day:  As my regular readers know, I like a wide assortment of music... Today, I'm in the mood for a little blues... Bring on some Jonny Lang with his song "Red Light."  He can seriously rip on the guitar and his smokey vocals - Mmm Mmm Good.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Want Fries w/ That?!

Contrary to somewhat popular belief, I do NOT spend all my time baking in the kitchen.  Yes, this woman remains without full-time employment.  However, I've been subbing like mad, which makes good cash.  Alas, I think I'll have to give in and work somewhere less desirable for a college grad for the summer before I have to start paying for Graduate School. As long as I don't have to say, "You want fries with that?," I'll live.

Sidenote:  Do fast-food joints REALLY ask that anymore?  They always attack me with happiness and offers right from the get-go, but... "Hi!  Welcome to Carl's JR!!!  Would you like to try a new Turkey Burger?!"  Yep.  No fry offer presented.

Back to the kitchen...

I admit I have become quite the passionate lil' baker since my return to the states... I think I just enjoy cooking in English again.  It's nice to know which spices I'm using each evening.  I've become specifically passionate about unique salads (stealing inspiration from Cheesecake Factory, Chilies, etc) and... cupcakes at this moment.  All around the states people will go into cute, themed shops and pay $5-8 for a cupcake covered in a large dollop of frosting, sprinkled cookie crumbs, and a mini-flag sticking out the top.  This made me curious... and competitive.

I got to thinking, "I could do that!"  One lovely morning I headed to Lindon to meet my bestie, Sam, for two-for-one massage day (aka: Heaven by Hands for CHEAP!) and some Kneader's French Toast (aka: Heaven for Mouth for... not expensive).  We kinda love that stuff... Well, I saw some of their "amazingly unique" cupcakes in the display window and scoffed.  I could create the same thing... and was determined to do so, but better.

I'm not saying I'm amazing, but I'm getting better and better at it!  Remember how I created my own cupcake batter recipe from SCRATCH?!  Yea.  That was a good moment.  I felt rather triumphant... Also, do you recall the cookie monster cupcakes, or the bumble bees?  I'm getting more and more creative... or better at stealing ideas off of google, then  implementing them into my designs.  Either way, today I created the following masterpieces (giving credit for the idea to Bridget Smith):

Awesome, right!?  I know...  Hamburger cupcakes!  That picture at the beginning is NOT a hamburger, but a cleverly disguised cupcake!  Cleverly disguised by yours truly...
I was impressed that they turned out so cute the first time... Someday, when I have kids, I'm going to make my kids pretty bomb cakes for their birthday.  Haha!  OR, right now I can make anyone's birthday cake/cupcakes...?  Haha!  Below are pictures of the steps to create them in case you wanna do the same:

Above: Bake yellow cupcakes till golden - like a bun!  Below: Dye some coconut green (for lettuce), make some red frosting (for the tomato affect) and make rice krispy treats adding a Tbsp of cocoa into the marshmallow/butter mix (to get the hamburger color/look goin'...).

Above:  Cut the cupcakes in half (obviously) horizontally.  Below:  Put the "pattie" on the "bun," squeeze some red frosting around the outside and in the middle of the "pattie" to create a "tomato."  Add some of the green coconut on top the "tomato" for "lettuce", and put the top "bun" back onto the "burger!"  Seal on with more frosting if needed...
Sidenote:  That was way too many quotations...
 Now, take pictures of your ridiculously, cute creations and... EAT!  Mmm Mmm Good... Now, I just have to figure out how to make fake fries to go with them!  Hm... I smell a challenge - literally.

The best part of making these?  Nope, not eating them.... Giving them away!  I wrapped them, took them out to my VT girls and friends, and just visited with different people for awhile - AKA:  It took m five hours to deliver nine cupcakes to seven homes within a five-six mile radius.  It was pretty great...

Song of the Day:  This song, "Thought of You" by The Weepies is fantastic!  However, the video that this animator created is also AMAZING!  I can not believe how much time this must have taken - it's beautiful... Watch it.  Listen.  Love it.  Enjoy! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pornography: An Epidemic

I am surrounded by exceptional people with unique and important talents!  I have amazing friends, acquaintances, teachers, leaders, and family.  Today this was re-manifest to me through the genuine innovation of some of my old friends regarding their involvement in the creation of video promoting an amazing cause... The fight against pornography.  They are two of the individuals seen in THIS video:

THIS is a fantastic video (brought to us by! I'll say what I said to some of the creators: This style of video is so much more accessible for teens to watch because it's not so in-your-face with "Porn is bad!", but yet it is SO clear... Pornography is addictive. This is a resource that WILL bless lives...

I am passionate about this topic.  I have seen pornography destroy relationships, goals/dreams, families, and lives.  It's sad that we don't always realize how the little things can harness us, and get in our way... Pornography creates false expectations and emotions - it does not instill in us anything that is worth embracing, or that is real.

One of my friends once told me he began an anti-porn presentation by saying, "I have a problem with pornography."  The room got uncomfortable.  He continued, "I have a problem with it, and I am willing to bet that everyone in this room also has a problem with pornography." People began to look at one another uncomfortably and look worried... He began again, "We all have a problem with pornography, because we are all against it... It's an issue."  As he demonstrated in those few seconds prior to the meat of his presentation, it's an uncomfortable topic... The fact that we don't talk about it is part of the problem.

We must create a safe-space where those with a real problem with pornography, even an addiction, are comfortable getting help.  I am NOT saying that we need to create a place of acceptance for porn, but for the addict... Hopefully by creating that safe-space, we can stop the issue before an addiction comes into play.  Additionally, by educating people on the negative effects of pornography and the sense of false love and false reality it produces, we can stop the epidemic from growing...

Yes.  It IS an epidemic As I said before, I've seen it first-hand destroy lives.

Become a fighter.  Spread this video and other information about the negative effects of pornography and help Fight the New Drug.

*I'm giving full attention to the video above today... :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cartoon Set #1: Food Issues

Recently my mom put together a few slide shows on differing topics where "social commentary" or "political" cartoons were to basis for discussion... She teaches sixth grade. They loved it - of course. Is she not already fabulous in your mind? If not, she should be.

Below are some of those cartoons on the topic of food and eating healthy...

I kinda love these... a lot.  It's funny how I turned to my mom and said, "See!," regarding the cartoon where the little girl is arguing that fairy-tale characters (Not BoM characters - haha!  Inside joke, sorry - and END.) don't eat their veggies for fear of dying by poison, giants, or trippy mushrooms, but I actually love most vegetables.  Okay, that last on is a legit fear... really.

I'm not going to write a blog entry about the social commentary in these cartoons and how they depict our generations love/apathy for unhealthy food and failing health.  I'm not going to write a blog entry about how children constantly come to school with sodas, candy bars, hostess snacks, and pringles (all things I too love...) in their Hannah Montana or Superhero lunch-sacks, and the parents are often the ones packing these lunches... Or at least buying these items specifically for quickly-packed lunches.  Nope, I'm not going to write that... Oh wait...

Just enjoy the cartoons for what they are... a little observation on society's current state.  Also, they're dang funny.

Song of the Day:  As it is Easter, I wanted to post a short video with music, pictures, and words about why I choose to celebrate Easter... I know my Savior lives and loves me.  Here is a video called "His Sacred Name."  Amidst all the candy, fluffy rabbits, and dyed-eggs (which I too LOVE), remember the most important part of Easter is the empty tomb...

Bleeding Decisions... and the Path They Create

Wikipedia says that a girl's night can be defined as the following: A gathering of women who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, and recreation. A girl's night will typically feature food and beverages, and often music and dancing as well.

Urban Dictionary gives the following definition: A planned event, usually held at a cheesy Irish pub or dance club, where groups of females dress provocatively, flirt incessantly, dance badly, and accept free drinks from desperate single men.

I choose to go with the first definition, as that is my usual girl's night out.  If the latter is the case, my drinks are always non-alcoholic, the clothing isn't so revealing, I flirt only on occasion, and I've got moves when it comes to the dance floor... good ones, in case their was any question in this regard. 

Tonight, we had a much more chill girl's night with girls from both the wards in our surrounding area.  We headed to a home, sat around on the living room floor and couch, and just talked for about three hours.  It was fabulous!  I have to say that a girl's night out can give one a LOT to think about... Of course, we discussed boys here and there, but that is not the basis of a girl's night out - contrary to certain beliefs of those who shall not be named.  Adversely, we usually hold a girl's night to talk about other things and remove our minds from the relationship stresses in our life.  Tonight, the conversation varied.... but all led back to life changes, decisions and growing as an individual. 

We're all at the stages in life where we're moving forward - hopefully avoiding the option of staying stagnant in our development.  We should be changing emotionally, spiritually, mentally... It's amazing how this "decade of decisions" (Thanks for that talk, Elder Hales) comes around to help shape who we are and the direction our lives are taking, or are going to take.

Tonight I realized how powerful a decision can be... how each decision I make seems to bleed into the next.  Perhaps that seems a weird visual image, but it proves that as we break down our lives, we can literally see how even the little decisions we make bring us to where we are today.  Sometimes you can't see the tie-ins now, but someday you will if it's important to you... I'm confident in that.

Example -->  Since I was 4 years old I was planning to serve a mission for my church.  It was on my mental "to-do list" and goal-line.  However, as 21 approached (the year I could put in my papers to go serve), I felt like I shouldn't go... It just felt wrong for me.  I put it aside, and came back to it the next year.  Again, I felt weird about that decision.  I talked with my parents, friends, bishop, and they all told me to just make the real decision and trust my heart, the spirit, and myself.  I did just that.  I decided that I felt wrong about it for a reason, and I decided that I wasn't going on a mission.

I was upset with myself.  I felt a bit dejected spiritually (I know, ridiculous, but it's how I felt...) and somehow "less" than what I was in reality.  However, I got over it... I forged forward and took a job teaching at a local school in Special Education Department, gaining an even stronger love for teaching and education.  Now, I've decided to go back to school and get my Master's degree - a Master of Teaching (MAT) degree.  It was greatly because of the experiences I had while at this school that led me to realize that I really did want to teach.  So, shortly I'll return and become certified to teach Theater and English!

Another example (related) is that because I decided not to serve a mission I remained in UT for a time... and I ended up hanging out a LOT with my brother and sister-in-law, Derek & Cami.  It was one of the best years of my life - they're my best, closest friends.  One week, we decided to head down to the road to a local water-park where my brother experienced a crazy accident on one of the water slides.  It was on that terrible trip that we killed some time by wandering around BYU campus, and I found the little note-card on the Wilk Job Board that led to the Au Pair position in Germany.

That job/experience changed my life... It was my mission, and I mean that quite literally.  I had SO many opportunities to share my beliefs, grow in who I am, learn more about myself and my talents, serve others, and learn a foreign language... well, part of one.  Haha!  Germany truly was where I needed to be for the family I was with, and for myself last year... and all because we decided to hit up a water-park one hot July afternoon.

The decisions we make in life, even the small ones, create our path and provide us opportunities to go places, do things, meet people, learn lessons, and make more decisions.  Each decision we make is fractal (shout-out to Jan for that word-choice!)... Just like a snowflake, or a mirror image within a mirror, the results of our decisions are infinite (even more so that the video below...).

I'm happy that I have made some pretty vital decision for myself that have been positive ones... Ones that keep me from being anything but unfulfilled and stagnant.  In fact, in dedication to tonight's girl's night, my life has been fairly legit so far.  I've carved my own path from one decision to another, and the process will just continue on and on and on... and on...

Song of the Day:  I loved this song when sung by the original artist (Missy Higgins), but this version is great.  I found it on a friend's facebook... Here is Caroline County with "Where I Stood."  A rather poignant song... Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Initial Vehicular Mishap... AKA: First Car Accident.

It was a beautiful sunny day (at the time), and though rain clouds were headed my way literally and metaphorically, I was content to drive through Provo with my best friend.  I had just grabbed lunch with Sarah and was headed to Kiwanis park to eat there.  We were dying to soak up the last few minutes of sunshine the day had to offer.  Moments later, while stopped at a stoplight off Bulldog (for those who know not what I'm talking about, it's a street), I felt my car slam forward.  I literally sat there for a second and thought, "What did I do?!  What just happened...?" I collected myself and my thoughts, looked in the rear-view mirror to hand out the death stare, and sternly signaled for the boy to get out of his car... I was in complete teacher/mom mode.  Haha! 

Jumping forward five minutes, my car was fineSarah was fine, and I was fine.  Still, I made the significantly nervous boy give me his name, number, and I copied down his license plate number.  First, it's not my car - it's my dad's car.  Second, if it was my car, I would have done the same thing.  Third, it was my first time ever having something like this (no matter how small) happen to me while driving.  Plus, what if I drove away and suddenly the tailpipe exploded or the back bumper fell of?!  I know - unrealistic.  However, I was going to be prepared in case. 

If time slows down in a car accident where nothing was harmed, and that literally only took two seconds to happen, I can't imagine being in a full-blown, few-seconds-long accident and not freaking out.  Time genuinely felt slower.  My thoughts were clouded and blurred.  It was insane... I felt invaded, ruffled, shocked... mostly shocked.  I just couldn't believe that it really happened.  I KNOW nothing critical happened, but I was still so flusteredI rarely get flustered.

I had a realization through the whole experience though... A girl shared an experience during FHE a few weeks ago where she had prayed to be safe while she traveled and then got in a car accident.  She was so angry and felt that her prayer had gone unheard.  However, her sister pointed out that they were okay... The car was a bit banged up, but they were safe and unharmed completely.

Today, before I left for Provo I said a prayer that I would be safe in all my travels and that no harm would come upon me or the car.  The back of the my car was hit, and was left unharmed.  I was safe and protected... It might seem simple, but I was really grateful.  God loves us, and He answers prayers.

That's pretty great. 

Song of the Day:  This was one of the free songs from ITunes, and I actually loved it!  Sometimes, with the songs they give for free, it's apparent as to WHY they are free.  Haha!  However, THIS song is great... Here is Beth Ditto with "I Wrote the Book."  It's got a great beat, classic lyrics, and her voice is unique... The video is a bit weird and artsy-fartsy... but, I love it.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Date Does Not Mean We're Dating...

This past weekend I spent a great deal of time talking to and catching-up with some of my closest girlfriends.  Some were girls that I see each weekend, and others were girls I hadn't seen in awhile.  It was fantastic, but I felt a common theme in our discussions... Dating.  I know - big shocker, huh?  I actually don't spend all my time talking with friends about dating and boys.  We have a fair share of talking about our jobs, education, favorite shows or music, family, politics, funny/awkward real-life occurrences (Oh the books we could write!), and yes, boys.  However, this weekend's set of discussions were different.

Let me just say, I haven't gone on a date in quite awhile.  I just got back in the country, and I'm still getting to know people.  Nevertheless, the about-to-be-proposed-argument is still applicable to situations that I have been in, and to the situations that many of my friends are in right now...  Let me begin by making three points:

1 - If someone asks you on a date, they aren't asking you to DATE them - aka:  They are not asking you to be exclusive, to be committed, or visualize marriage a few months down the road.

2 - If one of your friends gets asked out on a date by someone, that can be your cue to get excited for them.  However, it is not your cue to start talking about it as though it is an eternal commitment.

3 - If you see two individuals on a date one lovely, Spring evening (or any other season, for that matter) it is not obligatory (or wanted) to broadcast the "event" to those in your community, ward, cell phone directory, or even your circle of close friends. 

Let me begin back at point numero uno - That's point number one for all those who didn't know... I'm getting so bomb at Spanish.  Haha!  If someone asks you on a date, they aren't asking you to DATE them.  When a guy would ask my roommates out in college I would witness one of two tendencies.  If they were already diggin' on the guy, they would get really over-excited.  If they were not already diggin' on the boy, they would say, "Well, it's only once.  Let's get this over with..."

THANK GOODNESS that phase of my life is done!  Not the dating phase, as that is still very much happening, but the phase of pre-judgment and assumption.  The phase of reading way too much into one date.  We ALL read more than is necessary into certain social interactions, but as I've gotten older I find that I'm able to be a bit more realistic.

A date is a date.  (Thanks Captain Obvious...)  We need to get back to the real essence of dating is... getting to know each other.  I think that's the biggest problem with dating and my generation.  We make ONE date into something so much bigger than it is, and it causes stress, pressure, and the inability to be one's self.  We over-analyze everything from the asking, to the date, to the post-date text... It's ridiculous - though I've done it too.  Remember what good ol' Billy Shakes said, "To thine own self be true."  How can you do that if you are putting monumental pressure on yourself?

Which leads my to nummer zwei - Number two in German... I'm pretty much trilingual. If one of your friends gets asked out on a date by someone, it is not the time to start putting the pressure on them and hyping things up.  I love that my friends get excited for me when a guy ask me out, especially a guy I'm already into.  However, when you over-hype the situation and start making a huge deal out of it all, you add pressure to the dater.

By all means, help your friend pick out their outfit (or men, their cologne?) and let them know they look great with their hair all the way down.  Tell your friend to have a great time and you'll want details afterward, and even do the little girly squeal before the date is there to pick your friend up - or manly grunt from the couch for the men.  However, leave it at that.  Tell them to relax, be who they really are, and just enjoy... Help them take the pressure off the situation and actual potential with the two daters could become possible because they'll get out of their own way.

Now, III - Roman Numerals?  Yes, please. If you see two individuals on a date, do not begin the gossip-train that will undoubtedly hit the two daters over later as they are run down with questions from a million and one friends, thus adding more pressure to the what-should-be-chill date.  Now... before you think, "Linze.  We ALL do that!,"  I admit... I am guilty.  I'm not always guilty because I'm usually oblivious to that fact that two friends are on a date when I randomly see them, but I've been guilty in the past.  I've probably been guilty of all of these "rules" at some point, but we grow and learn... and this rule is quite vital.

Outside gossip and assumption adds pressure and stress back to a situation that should merely be about getting to know another individual better and forming a stronger friendship.  When it blooms into something else, I truly believe it's because the daters are able to ignore the outside pressure, and let down their walls.

Which brings me to my last point - number four - the secret answer and advice at the end of the "column."  If someone asks you out, they are NOT asking for an eternal commitment from you... Too often we read too much into one date, which I believe to be the biggest problem with dating in general.  Additionally, just be you.  That obviously got you far enough to be asked out, and you should be happy about that.  Someone wants to give up some of their precious time to get to know you better.  That's quite a compliment!  Your only job is to be who that person asked out in the first place - YOU.  

Relax, have fun, and you never know... The date could lead to falling in love, making a really great friend, or learning more about what you do/don't want in a potential relationship.  Remember, if it doesn't work - It was one date.  It was a few hours of your time (minutes if perhaps it really didn't work...)Now, move on and find another person you can get to know better.  After all, that's what dating is really all about.  

Song of the Day:  Josh Radin played this song at his concert back in March and I kinda fell in love with it... Here is Sam Cooke with "Bring It On Home."  It's one of those songs you can picture yourself dancing too around the kitchen with your man (or woman).  Maybe it's just me... :)  Enjoy! 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Talks and Moments of Spring!

Flowers bloom in Spring
Oh that I could smell them now
To bring me hope's bliss

Well, I feel as though Spring finally has genuinely graced us with her presence - thank goodness! I am beyond ready for sun and warmth! I had to stop on the way home and grab some shots of the glorious blossoms around my building and neighborhood.  I'm over the snow, so if you are one of those buzz kills sent to tell me that it's suppose to snow again... just let me be. Let me dream of today and times of pure Spring bliss... Let me bask.

I actually wrote the Haiku above (yes, that's what it is...) as an example for the student's in the Creative Writing class I was subbing for the other day. I also wrote the follow one, because you have to relate to kids on their level right?

Justin Bieber grows
But he cuts his hair - that's sad
It will grow again

It was a class of eight 8th grade girls. Enough said.
(Sidenote: I love the Biebs as you all know form THIS POST. I remain unashamed.)

This week I was asked to give a talk in my ward for church today on the Gathering of Israel... HUH? Haha... I'm aware of what it is and why they were scattered. I did my research, but the hard part was figuring out a way to approach the topic and make it relateable (apparently that's a made-up word? I had no idea...). So, the result of my talk is below... I spent a chunk of Thursday writing it, and then the next 72 hours trying to think of a good intro. Haha! I ended up just jumping straight into it - no anecdote needed. Anywhere.... This isn't word for word what I said the entire ten minutes, but it's close. Just know that I know the gospel is true and that we're a part of the gathering of Israel -->

"“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the ten tribes…” – AoF 10

Going back to a time before Christ’s birth, The Lord scattered the twelve tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness. However, the Lord also used this scattering among the nations and continents of the world to bless those nations. As people learn about and accept the gospel, they are being gathered back into the fold under Christ. Our job is to help with that!

There are three specific ways that I believe we can do our part in this gathering of Israel. First, we can do missionary work. Second, we can do temple work. Third, we can work on personal development.

First – missionary work. We are the dispensation, one of the chosen generations, that have been given the responsibility and opportunity to share the gospel in a greater capacity than it has ever been shared in the past. We’ve heard it a million times before, and we’ll hear it a million times more… because it’s that important. We are the missing link for our families, friends, and those surrounding us.

“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” – D&C 4:3

Sometimes, however, you aren’t called in the traditional way….

When I was living in Germany this past year, I had the opportunity to visit The Netherlands (where my ancestors are from) and meet a lot of my family that still resides there. They aren’t members, because those who were baptized years and years ago had to flee the country in order to practice the LDS religion. So, these family members knew a little about the reason why our ancestors left, but not anything about Mormon doctrine.

So, me being who I am went to visit them with a Book of Mormon in Dutch stashed in my bag, praying that I would have the chance to talk to them about religion over the week. In that first weekend alone, and I spent three weekends with my family from there, I was asked SO many questions about our family and my beliefs. I left a BoM in my cousin’s room with my testimony inside before I left. He found it later and thought I’d left it there by accident, but I told him to read the note I left for him in the front and it was a gift.

We spent two other weekends, hanging out and always talking a lot about religion. He hasn’t read the BoM yet, but I’m content to know that my meeting him had an impact. He also made a great impact on me... After I left, he wrote me an email in which he said, “I’m proud to have a niece like you. You have such a strong passion for your church and I hope to have that someday. I’ve never seen that before. This week, I’m going to make time for God.” I have faith that he’ll get there someday, in this life or the next, and I feel SO blessed and honored to have been a part in helping him and my other family gain knowledge of the gospel.

"There are few things in life that bring as much joy as the joy that comes from assisting another improve his or her life." – Richard G. Scott

I’m glad that I was willing to simply open my mouth and share what I believe – even if I didn’t “have all the answers,” I knew that I had the spirit with me.

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God" — William Carey

Every other dispensation has been limited in time and in space. For example, every other dispensation ended in apostasy, and thus, time was cut short for teaching others about the gospel. Additionally, other dispensations were limited in space – meaning, they were limited to the area surrounding them – they traveled and journeyed to different cities and valleys, but didn’t have the means to extend information through a full mail system or any kind to different nations. In years ranging from 1700 BC to 500 BC there are claims of having the first message carriers, but that could only extend so far and it took so long. In reality, people and nations of that time didn’t even know all of the other continents that existed.

Russel M. Nelson spoke of OUR dispensation – our generation and those to come – saying, “This dispensation of the fullness of times would not be limited in time or in location. It would not end in apostasy, and it would fill the world.”

Today we have boats that travel much faster than Nephi's, planes, international mail systems, email, blogs, cell phones, texting, and a general knowledge that other continents and people even exist… They didn’t have that before. We have the means to share the gospel now that no other generation had before.

Second – temple work. A great piece of the gathering of Israel is progression we make, and help others make, through temple ordinances and work. Again, we are the missing link for our families, friends, and those surrounding us.

“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord…bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” – Alma 37:6-7

I always equate this scripture to missionary work, and that’s legitimate. However, I often fail to realize that temple work IS missionary work. Missionary work is not only done by teaching in a traditional way, sitting down with scriptures and Preach My Gospel. Missionary work is furthering the kingdom of God… and that is EXACTLY what temple work is accomplishing.

My mom has always said, “I do my missionary work through temple work , because I know that they can’t run away from me! Think about it – they can’t slam a door in my face!” My mom is also a FANTASIC missionary, but temple work has always been her thing, and I’m blessed to have her example.

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “This work [being temple work], unselfishly given in behalf of those on the other side, comes nearer to the unparalleled vicarious work of the Savior than any other of which I know.”

Finally – work on personal development. The gathering of Israel is not only about missionary work, but also working on bringing yourself to the gospel of Christ. YOU are as important as those you teach. To be the teacher, you must FIRST be the student… In D&C 132: 31-32 it reads, “This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham… Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.” You are a part of the gathering and YOU are important. Each member, each individual, has a divine reason to be here on this earth and to be a part of this gospel. Are you living up to it?

I encourage each of you to think about a way that you know you could be closer to Christ – whether it’s something you should change in your actions, or a habit you could improve upon (like prayer or scripture study – they seem so simple, but we hear them so much because they’re THAT important…), make the change this week. PUSH YOURSELF and live up to the divine heritage you’ve been given. You are a daughter or son of a true and living God. I know that’s true. I am a Child of God.

In Galatians it tells us that we are “heirs through the promise” – through Christ. You are literally an heir to God’s throne… and He loves you. He wants nothing more than to have you and His other children next to him after the final judgment, and through missionary work, temple work, and bringing ourselves closer to our Savior, we can accept that divine right He has saved for us.”

Then, I just bore my testimony fit to what I was feeling and what I know… which I’ll take the chance to do again NOW:

I know my Savior lives, and that he loves me. I know that through missionary work and temple work we can help others to know those same things. We are children of a Heavenly Father, who also loves us, and all that he does for us - all that he gives us – is for our benefit. Even our trails, as crazy as that sounds. It means that he trusts us, and knows that we can grow. He wants nothing more than for us to be happy. I know that gospel is true and I am thankful for the eternal power of the Atonement. I know that is works… I have a testimony of scripture study and prayer, as them being our link to our Father in Heaven and Savior. Use them in your life. I am grateful for this church, and I bear testimony of its truth in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I am a blessed woman.

Song of the Day: Today I was thinking I should do something that’s Top40 meets Spiritual. So, when I was listening to my IPod on the way home today, this song came on, and was perfect. Here is Regina Spektor with “The Call." Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Master's, Coupons, and Kennedy's...

So, I've been looking at Graduate Programs and thinking, "Perhaps I really should go back to get my Master's now..."  I should have had that idea a few months ago, as most of the deadlines for applications have lapsed.

I've also been continuing to apply for different jobs around the area, with no luck whatsoever at landing a position.  I'm getting a lot of sub work... so, that's good.  I've realized that I really love teaching and kids, so I'm back to debating Education (getting my MAT) as my choice for my Master's Degree.  However, it's not what I wanna do RIGHT NOW.  Right now, I'd like to be working in events... I think that's the area I've really come to love and enjoy.  I like theater and acting... but I'm growing more and more weary of wanting that as "my life," and haven't really done anything but a few shows and auditions here and there to make that dream take off.  Not that I couldn't now, but you get what I'm saying.  Well, you do or you don't, but I get it and this is my little online journal.

It's hard when you have so many interests and talents.  I do NOT mean that in a cocky way, but it's who I am.  I feel like I'm good at numerous things and I like doing lots of different kinds work... Now, it's just finding someone to let me in - take me under their wing. 

Here are my main points, and I've been through this before... My mind goes to film/theater, event planning and management, and education for professions.  I like all of the above, but education takes MORE education.  The others don't necessarily require that, and yet I can't seem to get my foot in anywhere... I KNOW (I really do) that it'll come.  I have faith, and I know that I'm doing what I should be doing for myself by being back home from Germany and looking for work.  However, I'm frustrated.  Today was one of those days that I was having a difficult time not having solidified work (though I DID pick up four more sub jobs!).  When people ask me about it, I smile and happily talk about how I know "it'll all work out," and it will.  I believe that, and usually, I don't let the fact I am jobless bother me and my attitude.  That's because I KNOW it'll all work out... in due time.

Isn't that the hardest part?  Waiting?  Yep, the worst....

Moving on, because I'm done worrying for today, I wanted to be an extreme couponer Well, I thought I did, but then I saw HOW they do it... THAT'S INTENSE.  I'm not sure I can deal with that.  I didn't watch the show, only clips, and I'm over it.  I'm not spending six hours of my time to save $20... nope.  However, I do want to be better at finding deals and freebies.  Haha!  In other words, especially since I'm unemployed (but even when I'm not) I'm diggin' on the idea of free stuff.  I love free things.  Bam!

Another thing to note, I love the mini-series on Reelz Channel called "The Kennedy's."  It's so great!  This is coming from the girl who will read anything on JFK and the assassination, and is fascinated by the Kennedy's in general... but still!  It's so great... amazing.  The acting is great (even Katie Holmes does a good job - really!), the costuming and makeup, the directing... It's interesting to see how they portray certain events to be seen in a certain life.  Example: They have Lydon B. Johnson appearing very smug when he called Bobby about being sworn in as the new President, so you almost think that he's happy about the situation or at very least, excessively prideful... However, in real footage and pictures it did NOT appear that way.

This is the beauty and the curse of historical fiction.  It allows the author/creator to express their viewpoint.  However, to the uneducated mind (in general, or on that specific subject) they might take the subtle nuances or blatant opinions as fact.  Something to keep in mind when you're viewing or reading your next historical fiction piece. 

Point is?  The mini-series "The Kennedy's" is fantastic and I think everyone should watch it.  Additionally, if you want to discuss the series with me or debate what really went down during the assassination (aka: conspiracy theories) - I'm game.  The end.

Song of the Day: This song was discovered when one of this year's contestants sang this song on American Idol.  It's a great one... It's totally perfect as a breakup song or just a good power-jam.  Here is Reba McEntire's "Turn On Your Radio."  LOVE.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Bliss

I love Sundays.

I find joy in afternoon naps, family dinners, and movie/game nights.  I find joy in seeing friends and church leaders.  I find joy in learning more about my Savior and my relationship with him.  I find joy in turning inward and becoming a better person through the Atonement and the weekly administration of the sacrament. 

Today, I had all of the above, and it was quite glorious.

I could tell you that Relief Society's lesson was about honesty and that we studies the teachings of Matthew 18 in Sunday School (the parable of the talents, becoming like children, and dealing with your issues head-on - not gossiping).  I can tell you that sacrament meeting was predominately about missionary work and reaching out to those around us.  However, even most important I can tell you how I felt.  There are certain times in my life where I have unique moments (each different - each wonderful) when I'm reminded of ways that I need to grow or improve and of the promises that were given to me through the gospel.  I had one of those moments today and was inspired to "stand a little taller" and "be a little better."

I was inspired to be a better scriptorian and  become what I am meant to be.... 
Along with an inspiring and personally fulfilling day, it was quite an entertaining one as well... I have a great ward.  I mean it.  I've heard stories about some shady singles wards and I always worry that I might get into some that are going to be terrible.  However, I have always found myself in good ones and THIS one is one of my all-time favorites.  We have a great singles stake, and a kick-butt ward.  I have a FANTASTIC ward and AMAZING bishopric.  They are so fun and loving - it takes pretty amazing couples to be the "singles ward parents," and we have a few good sets within our ward.  I feel very blessed.

I'll give you a taste of my bishop's humor...

As the meeting began today the bishop announced the scheduled outline for the speakers.  "First we'll have Karen ____, followed by Ethan ____.  He's just put in his mission papers ladies, so don't ask him on a date... for two years.  We'll then have a musical number, and last you'll hear from Bishop Scott (speaking of himself) with a talk called 'Hell, Fire, and Damnation.'  It's going to be a good one."  Haha! 
That was not what the talk was on at all...  He talked about many different things, but to start off he talked about the challenge that the single men in the church got last week in General Conference.  He stated, "Now ladies, you heard the chastisement the boys received last week during conference.  Ladies, they got it even worse in priesthood!  So, to help you all along I have created a chart.  Here goes.  Those who are 22, 23, and 24 - you have one year to find your eternal companion.  Those who are 25, 26, and 27 - you have three months.  And those who are 28, 29, and 30 - you have until the end of sacrament meeting... Okay, GO!"  

Haha... I love him.  I turned to my neighbor (who is in the latter group) and said, "Pull out your phone, let's getting texting.  We gotta find you a spouse!"

When sacrament was over, I was talking with some of the older girls and they said, "Well, we had till the end of the meeting, and that didn't happen. So, what now?"  I replied, "The talk was called 'Hell, Fire, and Damnation...'  There you go!" 

I love my ward.


Song of the Day: 
I found this little jam that I completely adore from Thompson Square called "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not."  I love it...  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Appropriate Reference? I Think... Okay!

I just need a place to post this hilarious short-story... My friend posted a status on facebook that read as the following:

...While wedding dress shopping a friend commented, "That other dress was great, it was perfect...but it's the 'Jacob' dress. It would totally be the one if it weren't for the more awesome seemingly non-existent 'Edward' dress that you are wearing. It's the one!" 

I read this and died.  Yep, I died laughing on the spot.  I love Twilight, don't get me wrong, but who would think to compare real-life decisions to that series... I suppose I do that with many books, songs, films, etc. at times.  So, it's legit... and priceless.  

Song of the Day:  Lenka, "Heart Skips a Beat."  It's a good one - Sam, I think you'll dig this one. There are two different versions of the music video... and I'm posting both.  Which one is better?  I like the first better, but the second is def. more "budgeted."  Enjoy!

A Boastful Baker

The kids from my mom grade made a goal to get 100% participation regarding the school's annual giving.  That means that each student in their individual homeroom had to donate at least a dollar to the school.  When they had reached their goal, I decided that I would offer to bake each child a cupcake, decorated to "epic proportion."  

Thus, when my mother came home on Friday with the news that her homeroom, as well as another homeroom in her grade, had accomplished 100% participation, I grabbed four boxes of cake mix and made a HUGE batch of frosting.  Sunday afternoon, during and after the final session of General Conference (entry regarding GC to follow), I proceeded to bake and create 65 masterpieces.  In other words, 65 works-of-art on a slab of cake... It was worth it.

For my first attempt, I'm pretty dang proud of my little creations... Not only did they taste awesome (as I've learned to add little bits of this or that to recipes, making them "my own"), but that looked pretty awesome.  Next time, they'll be even better.

Song of the Day:  I'm currently in love with this movie called Tangled.  It's the most recent Disney animated film, and if you have not seen it before, you should.  It's funny, visually beautiful, tenderly cute, and the music's fantastic... I like it a lot.  The "love song" of the show - though it's about more than that too - is called "I See The Light," and is sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.  Enjoy!