Monday, October 26, 2015

good friends + s'mores cookies.

this weekend, i'm super extra grateful for great friends.

liana + i realized that we hit our 2 month anniversary of being best friends this past thursday! aka we met that first night i was doing laundry here at the plum house in the laundry room (and over the course of the next 24 hours we came to find out we had a lot more in common than is probably normal for most people to have in common with someone they've barely met). so we count that as the first day of our best friendship. happy 2 months to us! so crazy to think that someone i didn't hardly know 2 months ago i now consider one of my very best friends. life's great like that. (:

saturday morning i had lots of fun out with one of my great friends from the mtc, lauren watts (previously sister mcmurray!). we met because we were both always going to the vending machines at the end of each night (#guilty hahah :) and bonded over our mutual love for pretzels. this sweet girl went on her mission to germany and i'm so glad we were able to reconnect when we returned home from our missions! she's a fabulous photographer and we had lots of fun shooting some photos up in rock canyon. (:

also, the temple is wonderful. you know, in case you didn't know already. (: received some great personal revelation while there. i love, love, love the temple!

a couple of weeks ago, when my brazilian friends daysa + davidson came into town, i met one of their friends (who is also from recife!) named tiago, who's currently going to byu. we became friends pretty fast and saturday night we went to the marriott center on campus for the broadcasting of the multi-stake young adult devotional with elder m. russell ballard, a member of the quorum of the 12 apostles. basically it was so awesome and exactly what i needed and the church is so true i can hardly handle it sometimes. (: probably one of my favorite parts was when he invited all of us to go somewhere where we could be alone and take some time to have a personal interview with ourselves. i've since done that and it is mega clear what i need to do/what my focus needs to be in my life right now. moral of the story: i am so so grateful for inspired leaders! and answers to prayer. (:

post-devotional, we bought some ingredients to make s'mores cookies (recipe found here) for my ward choir members on sunday! #1 lesson learned from this experience = i need to buy a mixer. blending butter and brown sugar and flour (+ etc.) all by hand was a LOT of work, hahahah. but you learn as you go, right? (: but it all worked out + they turned out super cute + yummy!

before putting them in the oven (you place each one on a graham cracker):

right out of the oven (nice and exploded like normal s'mores with marshmallows in the middle!):

yum yum yum. they were a BIG hit (re: i made about 4 dozen and all that are left are 2 at present). highly recommend it, especially if you love s'mores as much as i do. (:

sunday was so, so great. church was wonderful, my talk went well (thanks to lots of preparation + mostly just the guidance of the holy ghost, 100%!), and i just always love having choir after church. (: came home and facetimed two of my favorite boys before going over to a friend's house to (share some remaining s'mores cookies and) hang out and go to ward prayer.

scripture for the week (this week + last): alma 37:6: "now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold i say unto you, that by small + simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."

+ with that as my guide, here's to a week of more focus on the small + simple things! (:

Friday, October 23, 2015

reflections on fall(ing).

today was the first time in over a month that i went for a run.

the past few weeks have been quite difficult for me. as much as i thought i had already gotten through the "awkward returned-missionary adjustment phase" of my life way back in january-march (as i returned from brazil in late january of this year), i feel like i've been thrust into my second phase (is that a thing?) of awkward returned-missionary adjustment.

it's hard. going from being a full-time missionary for 18 months and living in a foreign country, to living at home where most of your expenses are paid for by your wonderful parents (seriously you guys are awesome!) and where you seem to be living in an eternal summer for 8 months, to jumping right back into more social-ness/dating/schoolwork/responsibilities/freedom than you've experienced in over 2 years.

so, it's been a little rough. it's definitely a process. i've been out here for about two months now, and feel like i've finally had some kind of a breakthrough. it's been the result of lots of prayers, lots of tears (usually during said prayers), and lots of learning to be honest with myself and not be embarrassed to ask for help or admit that life isn't what i expected it would be.

but the fact is, that life's actually better than i thought it would be. it's just different. and life's like that. we may think sometimes that we have it all figured out, that we know exactly what will make us really truly happy, when God really has another plan for us in store. and it's different. so we might reject that at first. and again. and again. and try to do things your own way instead of learning to trust in His plan for you ((guilty)).

but eventually, you get it. (or at least you start to get it.) and you recognize that life isn't about being better than anyone else and that it's really about working towards earning the "most improved award" in your process to make it back to heaven. it's about taking the talents, abilities, and other things you've been blessed with and using them to really make something of yourself - - and then some. it's just like running (for the very reason i got into running in the first place): it's all about competing against YOURSELF for that personal record. sure, usually in a race you're running alongside other people, too. and sure, there are plenty of people vying for first or second place. and there's nothing wrong with that. but the fact is that in running races, just like in life, there are always going to be people slower than us, faster than us, and right around the same pace as us. and maybe sometimes we end up at the very back of the pack (or the very front!). but the fact is that while we're all running at the same time, in the same race, what we're all really looking for in the end is both the same (generally) but different (specifically): to beat our own personal best time. to improve individually.

i think that's one of the reasons i love autumn the most (#favoriteseasonbyfar). the leaves are constantly changing - and all at totally different rates. each tree changes it's leaves at different times from the other trees, and each of the leaves on any one tree change at different times. and guess what? we all think it's beautiful that the tree is so many different colors all at once; that it's not all the same.

on my run this morning, i realized that that's probably how Heavenly Father sees each and every single one of us: each of us is like a tree that is constantly changing. we might make changes in our lives at different times, and may even feel like we're late bloomers or not able to keep up with the people/trees around us. but the fact is that, even in the mess of changes, we are beautiful to Him. our differences are what make us beautiful and unique. just like how all the leaves changing at different times are what make these beautiful explosions of color on the trees that we all love to see. there's nothing wrong with taking a little bit longer to work through our individual changes and personal growth. there is a time and a season for all things, and, just like all the trees will eventually turn and all their leaves will eventually fall, so we, too, will keep on changing and working through things throughout our lives: all in our own personal and individual time frames.

and then it will be time for a new season.


so, i was really excited to finally get out this morning for a run after going so long without it. however, i had only run about .2 miles when, totally and completely out of nowhere, i twisted my ankle and fell down, and ate it, hard. my knees hurt. my palms hurt. i was frustrated and could feel tears coming on and the thought literally came to mind "okay, you fell down. you failed. time to turn around and go back home." but then i realized - maybe i was going too fast. maybe i was distracted. maybe i was pushing myself a little too much. but that doesn't mean i have to give up now. i can do this. i can work through and overcome this. so i got back up, turned off my music, and just started to continue forward, walking. after another .2 miles i started to jog again. and by the end of my 1-mile run, i was actually running again, just like i was in the beginning.

the fact is that today i finally realized that surprise surprise, life isn't easy. we are going to stumble and fall, we are going to have moments of failure and despair. but that doesn't mean it's an excuse to stay down on the ground and weep and wallow and give up. the trials we face are blessings in disguise, and we will never (ever ever ever ever) be given more than we can handle. one of my favorite scriptures of all time (that got me through so many hard times on my mission) is 1 nephi 3:7: "and it came to pass that i, nephi, said unto my father: i will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for i know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

so, life's what you make of it. it's all up to us. scraped knees, self-doubt, it's all part of the plan. opposition is a necessary part of growth. it may be frustrating, but just think of it this way:

if we were never weak, could we ever truly become strong?

we can overcome it all. i know it. i am so grateful for the power of prayer and the power to overcome. with God, i know it: all things really are possible. and that is a definite #fact. (:
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