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Monday, April 10, 2017

This is The Christ

Just in case you haven't seen this on Facebook yet...here is my brand new music video of an original arrangement of "This is The Christ" (arranged by the unbelievably talented Stephen Nelson of Gentri music).


The words of this song always make me emotional...and I had to practice singing it over and over so I wouldn't ugly cry while recording (both the audio and video). The lyrics...the feel. It's just a beautiful tribute to the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for each of us. 

A blog might be a weird place to pour your heart out about faith...but the last verse of this song always gives me chills as I sing it:
"With saints of old, in joyful cry -
I, too, can testify,
'This is the Christ.'"

I hope you're all having a beautiful, blessed Holy Week and are finding time to connect with the Savior and His incredible sacrifice that was made for you all of those years ago.

xo.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Truth About Quitting

This picture has nothing to do with this post. 
I've been working on crocheting baby blankets for a friend who is adopting a little boy from the other side of the world and I'm trying to decide if the yarn pictured is just too hideous to do anything with?? I've tried like five different stitches. Thoughts..?? PS How cute is Violet..?? All the heart eyessss....


Anyways.

On to the REAL post...

So, I'm writing for an album, right?

I've been writing for over a year now. That's longer than I've ever written for any single project.

A plan was set in motion LAST SPRING for this album to be written and recorded by the fall of 2016, and then for it to be released THIS spring...like...this month, actually.

And yet - I'm still writing for it.

Still. Writing.

I've had SO many ideas, you guys...so many demos, so many parts of songs come and go...written and then scrapped...this album has felt impossible to complete. The criticism I hear in my own mind has been deafening.

I want to quit.

Even just typing that out seems so crazy to me. Quit?? Really?? Quit what I LOVE? What I've felt so CALLED to do?? (...even though it doesn't pay well [haha - difficult truth], even when it requires more of me and my heart and my time than I feel like I can give...even when it forces me to stare into the ugly face of my feelings of inadequacy...I've felt called.)

But...yeah. Even acknowledging that feeling of being called...I've wanted to quit.

Quitting would be easier, you know? At least initially.

It would be easier to look at this whole experience and say - "I had a good run. God wanted me to be there, doing that, at that time...but now it's time to move on and do something else." That would be easier than coming back again and again for more frustration and insecurity. That would be easier than taking good, long, hard looks at myself and trying to dissect WHY the music isn't flowing the way it has in the past. Quitting would give me an easy out right now.

Have you ever felt like that? Like whatever project or goal or dream you have is so difficult, it's so frustrating and irritating and confusing...that it requires so much of you/your time/your energy...that there isn't enough promise of success to justify all of the work...that you just want to throw in the towel and just...QUIT?

Quitting would definitely be easier now.

You know when it wouldn't be easier..?

In six months from now. A year. Five years.

I know I'd look back and wonder.

I'd wonder what would have happened if I had just stuck it out. If I had truly waited on the Lord...just a little longer, you know?

I'd wonder if I had truly given everything to the task. I'd wonder if I had done everything I could have...written with everyone I could have. Tried all of the techniques I could have, set aside more time than I did, prayed harder, fasted more sincerely. I'd wonder if I made everything about ME too much...and not enough about HIM.

Listen. If you're wondering if you should give up...maybe don't..? If you think you'd look back in six months, a year, five years...and wonder...keep trying.

We're all failures. Every single one of us. Failure isn't the opposite of success, it's a part of it. We fail until we don't. And then - after we've achieved what we set out to - we set a new goal and begin the process of failure all over again. That's life. That's how it works. That's how it's meant to work, because that's how we grow.

I feel like I'm writing this blog because it's what I NEED to hear right now haha, so welcome to my brain and the way I talk to myself.

I need to believe this. I need to embrace it.

I'm not quitting...yet. Not tonight, at least.

Maybe I'm supposed to be learning something through all of this trial and error...all of this frustrating failure...all of this painful and humbling learning. To let go of my ego more? To ask for help? To ask more fervently and listen more ardently? Who knows. I don't. At least not right now.

In any case, I'm not quitting.

Let's not quit together, ok?

xo.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

This is one of my favorite songs about the Savior - in large part because of the arranging skills of the talented Michael R Hicks. Is it just me, or does this arrangement bring this song to life in a totally new and beautiful way?? I love it - and I hope you do, too :)

I hope you have the best Sabbath, my friends! Love to you all - enjoy!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Perils of Fold-Over Yoga Pants



When I was in college, fold-over yoga pants were a staple in my wardrobe. You remember those, right? The yoga pants with the big flap of fabric at the top? Those stretchy pants of goodness were my *favorite* (much like my black Nike running leggings are my favorite now). I wore them every. single. day. 
Isn't my baby sister beautiful?? Goodness gracious.
This is what I looked like when this story took place.
I wasn't wearing yoga pants because we were at a nice family dinner.
So I wore jeans. Duh. Super fancy.

One day I was at institute (institute is a religion class for LDS kids who have graduated high school). 

Right after class, as everyone was filing out of the room, I stopped to talk to a group of boys (because I was boy crazy, remember?). I dropped something and it rolled behind me, so I quickly turned around to retrieve it...

As I bent over, I reached for the undershirt I was wearing and pulled it swiftly DOWN (to cover my spandex-clad bum. because *modesty*, hello.), and immediately realized something was VERY wrong. It turns out that I had not, in fact, grabbed the undershirt I was wearing. I HAD ACCIDENTALLY GRABBED THE BOTTOM OF MY FOLD-OVER YOGA PANTS...and had, yes, pulled them *swiftly* DOWN.

The combination of the pulling-down motion on the bottom of those blessed fold-over yoga pants and my bending over produced what can only be described as a FULL MOON, GUYS. AS A YOUNG ADULT. AT INSTITUTE. WHERE I WAS TRYING TO BE COOL AND SCORE DATES AND MAYBE GET MARRIED SOMEDAY.

I wasn't endowed back then, you guys. People saw things they can't ever un-see.

YEP.

Is that the only time I accidentally flashed people inappropriately? NOPE.

A couple years later, I had a migraine and went to the doctor for help. As luck would have it, my usual physician was out - so I got an appointment with a new doctor at the office. This particular doctor, it turns out, was SUPER hot. (Ugh. I hate that! STOP BEING ATTRACTIVE, MEDICAL PEOPLE. I DON'T FEEL WELL AND YOUR ATTRACTIVENESS IS STRESSING ME OUT.) Anyways.

He said I needed a shot, and that it would need to be in my bum. (seriously?? yep.) He left to get the medicine, and I sat there thinking, "DON'T BE AWKWARD. DON'T BE AWKWARD. DON'T BE AWKWARD. THIS IS NORMAL. THIS IS FINE. WE'RE ALL ADULTS HERE, STOP FEELING WEIRD.”

So, in order to make it LESS awkward, I got all prepped and ready. What did "prepped and ready" look like to me in my hazy, migraine state? Well, I took my pants off, for starters. Like, 100% off. No pants. I remember feeling like it was the reasonable, logical thing to do. I folded them neatly at the end of the table.

Then I stood up and leaned against the table in the position I imagined the doctor would need me to be in to give me a shot in the bum. THAT felt pretty awkward, but I was trying to just keep it professional and remind myself that doctors probably see people without pants on all the time and this is just no big deal.


So Dr. Hot walked back in and his response...hahaha...that's a moment I *WILL* rewind in the eternities.  I couldn't see him at first because - hello - I was facing the wall (waiting patiently for my shot. duh.) "OH!" he blustered. "Oh...ok. Wow. Umm...Ok..."I turned around and realized that he looked very much like he did NOT - in fact - often see people without their pants on in his office (laughing/crying emojis forever followed by embarrassed and skull emojis for forever). "You can definitely keep your pants on for this shot. I just need about a half inch of skin at the top of your hip...so..." :averting eyes: :looking uncomfortably around the room:

YOU GUYS.

I WANTED TO D.I.E.

I put my pants on, he gave me the shot, and I never went back to that office again. Not even to see my regular doctor. Haha. 

What's the point of this post?

The point, I guess, is that embarrassing things happen to all of us and you *can* and *will* recover from whatever your latest embarrassing situation is/was (even if the other people involved never do hahaha). 

I'm so pretty.
Was then. Am now.
Why am I single.
xo.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Worst. Date. Ever.

Once upon a time (December 2010), I found myself excitedly traveling to Utah for New Year's Eve.

I was living in San Diego at the time (I grew up there! sigh. I miss you, California!) (enter crying emoji), but a veeeeeery cute boy had been texting me for a few months and had invited me to come watch him sing at a big NYE event. (You've seen this boy on a televised singing competition called 'The Voice'. He's freaking dreamy as all get out.) (Note to the boy I'm currently dating: I am absolutely crazy about you. Don't freak out.) (Anyways.) I had packed a cute outfit, had a double date planned with my sister and her husband for earlier in the evening, and then was planning on partying the night away with this handsome fellow (I shall henceforth call him 'Dreamy Guy') - and, let's be real...I was excited for the possibility of our first kiss happening at midnight. Sigh. The idyllic, romantic stars were aligned perfectly to launch this text-flirtation into full-blown dating-exclusivity-bliss. I was PUMPED.

The afternoon/evening started off well enough. Dreamy Guy came to dinner and was handsome and swoon-worthy. Check and check. My sister and I ordered the same dish - smoked turkey leg - from the menu (a delicious-sounding option from one of Provo's high-end, trendy establishments).  I remember thinking,"The texture of this meat is a little weird. Kind of...chewy? It turkey supposed to be this chewy??" As I went to ask Nikki (my sister) if her turkey was chewy, too, her phone buzzed and her face went pale as she read the text...

My Mom had been battling a resurgence of her colon cancer and it had been difficult enough to leave CA even for a weekend, so it was terrifying to hear that the text was from our family back home - letting us know that Mom had been rushed to the hospital and was in critical condition. Suddenly the chewy turkey didn't matter at all. We quickly got up and left. (Dine and dash is ok under those circumstances, right?) (JK we paid.) (When I say "we" I mean the men at the dinner table. Duh.)

By the time we got to the party I had cried all of my make up off and was a mess. We looked for flights home, we talked about leaving right then and driving all night to get there. After debating what the best move was, we decided that sleeping for a few hours first would be best - instead of taking off right then and driving our emotionally-drained selves through the wilderness all night.

Nikki and I spent most of the evening in the truck, instead of inside the party, watching Dumb and Dumber (or was it White Chicks, Nikki? In any case, it was something REAL dumb.) I think we might have napped. By the time 11pm rolled around, we went in to watch Dreamy Guy sing some songs. YOU GUYS...watching a man pour his soul out through music when his voice is as deep and rich as raw honey - whhhhheeewwww hand me my fan, Josephine! (I don't know what I'm saying right now. I'm imagining myself as some old lady in Alabama complaining of the sweltering summer heat. Am I the weirdest or what?)

This is a pic of me and Nikki that night. Post-crying, post-redoing make-up, post-terrible-bangs-and-bleached hair decisions.
What am I doing with my arms..?? Am I a genie? Smell-checking? I honestly don't know.
My family has a running joke that I always take really awkward pictures. #proof
Midnight came and went. No kisses. Boo. My emotional-wreck-status was transitioning into numbness and exhaustion.

"Want to come back to my place and watch a movie?" Dreamy Guy asked.

My brain quickly translated his request into what he really meant: "Want to come to my place and cuddle on the couch and maybe kiss me while a movie is playing?"

NOTE TO ALL TEENAGE GIRLS: THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN "NO". "NO, SIR DREAMY GUY. WE SHALL NOT SNUGGLE ON THE COUCH LATE INTO THE NIGHT AS IT IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE ACTIVITY FOR OUR (TECHNICALLY) FIRST DATE." (Also, kissing on the first date is not cool. We'd just been texting for so long! And, you know, I like kissing. I digress.)

So, you know, I said yes.

Off we went.

The drive to Dreamy Guy's house took about 15 minutes. Approximately 5 minutes into the drive - you know, while I've got my flirt-game going STRONG - my stomach suddenly threatened to send its contents directly onto the dash of his car.

I asked him to pull into the Del Taco so I could use the bathroom real quick.

I ran a little faster than was attractive, I think, into the bathroom and waited. "What is happening??" I thought, "Is this karma for planning to kiss Dreamy Guy?! ...am I going to puke right now..??"

After a few minutes, the sensation passed. I chalked it up to having an incredibly emotional and draining experience earlier in the evening that I was still processing/dealing with, and got back into Dreamy Guy's car.

NOTE TO SELF: If, at any point on a date, your body warns you that puking may be in your immediate future... END. THE. DATE. Right that second. END IT!!!!!!

I did not end it.

I went to Dreamy Guy's house.

...and then it happened...

(No, not the cuddling and kissing. That was fated to never, e.v.e.r. happen...)

As we sat on the couch mulling over movie choices, he looked up and asked, "Hey - are you ok?"

I realized that no, in fact...I did not feel ok. I was sweating. Like, DRIPPING SWEAT. Hahaha I'm actually giggling so uncomfortably as I write this because I remember wanting to die in that moment. WHO just starts sweating profusely for no reason?! ON A FIRST DATE?! COME ON, BODY, GET YOURSELF TOGETHER.

Then the rumbling. The sound of what a breaking dam sounds like, I think, only happening on the inside. Then cramping. Like bolts of lightning tearing through my abdomen.

"Where's your bathroom..??"

Curse you, Provo. Curse you for your tiny, adorable townhouses. Curse you for your 200 sq ft living rooms with tiny bathrooms attached RIGHT there. Curse you for your awful construction, for the huge gaps at the bottom of the bathroom doors...which allow sounds and smells to escape that should NEVER escape. Curse you for forever.

I'll spare you the details (although, I REALLY don't want to haha)...I'll just tell you that I had to yell for a bigger trash can. I think I shouted it, actually. Screamed it.

Yes, Dreamy Guy brought me a trash can. Into the bathroom of death, so I could empty myself of all contents from every possible bodily outlet with total confidence that absolutely NOTHING remained.

It was...horrific.

The sounds, you guys. Oh my gosh. And I can only imagine what he must have smelled. WHY, DATING GODS? WHYYYYYYYYYY?! Hahaha I seriously have tears rolling down my face...I did that night, too, but they were out of fear because I honestly thought I might need to go to the hospital haha. ACK HE WAS SO DREAMY!!!! THE UNIVERSE HATES ME!

Unfortunately, this episode was only the first of many.

MANY.

Hours.

All night.

Just when I thought I couldn't possibly have anything else inside of me, my body proved me wrong. It was violent. I texted Nikki desperately all night long,"WHERE ARE YOU FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY ON EARTH COME AND SAVE ME FROM THIS NIGHTMARE I AM LIVING."

She was sleeping.

I couldn't bring myself to get into Dreamy Guy's car to let him take me home, because I couldn't go longer than a few minutes without getting horrendously sick. Getting horrendously sick all over the leather interior of his nice car?! UMM NO THANKS.

At one point I came out of that stupid tiny bathroom that was literally 5 feet away from the couch Dreamy Guy was sitting on, to find candles lit on the floor outside the bathroom hahahahaha AAARRGHHHHH noooooooo

Poor Dreamy Guy. He's probably scarred for life. I know I was.

Fast forward to about 6am. Nikki shows up. "Are you ok?! Oh my gosh what happened?!"

I cried as I told her. I'm sure I looked like a nightmare.

"Wait...where's your bathroom??" she suddenly asked mid-story.

Remember how we BOTH had the smoked turkey leg..? YEP.

My sister and I tag-teamed that tiny bathroom for the next several hours. Too sick to get in a car and go home.

You guys...there aren't even words.

Can I tell you something incredible, though? That Dreamy Guy...he lived up to the nickname I've given him in this blog post. I was too sick and wobbly inside to get on the flight I had scheduled for later that morning. You know what that dreamboat did..? He offered to drive me. And he did. He drove me in his nice car all the way from Utah to San Diego. Even when he knew he'd have to immediately turn around and drive right back to make it to work the next day.

Want to know what happened on that drive?

There was a freak snow storm in the high desert we were driving
through - and a drive that normally takes about 10 hours took 17. SEVENTEEN HOURS. Also, he leaned over to kiss me on the cheek as we sat in stop and go traffic for the fifth straight hour, and he rear-ended the lady in front of us (so many alternating laughing and crying emojis in a row). I honestly couldn't even make this stuff up.

We never did kiss on the lips. (I'm sure you're all shocked hahaha.)

I see Dreamy Guy on social media now. He's still dreamy. Still single, from what I can tell. I blame myself, you guys. I really do. I hope he can recover someday from the trauma.

Anyways. I hope your Valentine's Day is less painful, awkward and embarrassing than that one time I got food poisoning on that first date. That is my wish for you. Because I love you. You're welcome.

xo.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Come As You Are

Do you think  I'll ever set up all the recording equipment I purchased to make YouTube videos? Lights, microphone..? Maybe when my kid starts sleeping consistently, or when I stop feeling pulled in a million directions all day long? Then again, maybe not. Haha.

I figured that sharing this practice session, complete with amazingly hideous comfies and crazy end-of-the-day hair, is in line with the spirit of this song. It doesn't matter where you're starting from, whether you feel totally ready or not, or if you feel your progress is good enough...the love of God will meet you where you are when you open your heart to it.



I'll keep working on this one. I'll let you know when I've got it down. Until then...

LYRICS:
Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are

There's joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

Want to watch the full version by Crowder? click here

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Who are you..?

A few years ago I was asked to give a fireside to a group of Relief Society sisters in Tooele. Sharing music in fireside-settings is one of my favorite things, so I was thrilled and said,"Of course! What's the theme you'd like me to present on?"

"Wonderful! We'd like you to speak on 'Remembering who you are'," came the answer.

"Ooh...ok...great!" I responded...while I silently screamed,"NOOOOO!" inside.

My mind immediately started churning: 'What on earth am I going to say to this group of women that they haven't already heard a MILLION times? How is anyone going to stay awake?? How am I going to stay awake?!' (This was back during the dark days of Violet only sleeping 45 minutes at a time...and I was defying all the laws of nature by somehow staying alive.)

Photo from the 'dark days'
I remember beginning my preparation for that fireside with a prayer that I would somehow be able to approach the topic of being daughters of God in a new way...that whoever needed to be touched and impacted, would be.

Preparing for that fireside ended up being one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life.

You know who needed to be touched and impacted..? Me.

I want to share a few things I learned while preparing to speak on that subject.

First, let me say that I grew up in the LDS church. I can't even begin to imagine the number of times I've heard that I'm a child of God. From hearing and singing the beloved primary song "I am a Child of God" in nursery as a toddler and junior and senior primary, to repeating it in the Young Women's Theme each week between the ages 12-18, to graduating to Relief Society and hearing it spoken weekly there. Sacrament meetings, youth conferences, girls' camps, EFY's, every time I left the house as a teenager hearing,"Remember who you are!" being shouted at me from somewhere in my home, any and all meetings with any leader, the frequent message printed on adorable handouts and bookmarks...I mean...you get the picture. There comes a point at which you kind of go,"ALRIGHT ALREADY. I GOT IT. I GOT IT!! I'M A CHILD OF GOD, OK? CALM DOWN."

When I came across this quote by Marion G Romney while studying for that fireside, though, it stopped me in my tracks:

"Man is a child of God - a god in embryo. That man is a child of God is the most important knowledge available to mankind." (see here)

"The MOST IMPORTANT knowledge available to mankind..??" I thought, "If it's the most important knowledge available to mankind, why have I never studied this before..? ...how have I never fasted and prayed about it..? How have I gotten to THIS age and I've never sought out a specific witness from God that I'm His child..??"

I think there are probably many reading this blog right now who are in the same boat. Have YOU ever studied being a child of God? Fasted and prayed about it..?

Why not?

I think the likely reason is that we've heard it so often - from the time we were tiny babes until now - that we just take it for granted. Sure, we think, I'm a child of God. Sure, I believe that.

But do we REALLY believe it..? Have we internalized that knowledge through study and prayer?

**Some of you might be wondering,"But WHY is it the most important knowledge..?" The quick answer is - because it affects EVERYTHING. Who we believe we are/positive self-image is the foundation and framework for our everyday reality. Many scientific studies have been conducted where the truth of that statement has been verified. Don't believe me? Google it.**

Let me walk you through an exercise that will help illustrate what I'm talking about...

Let's imagine we're walking down the street, and I stop you (in a super non-creepy way) and ask,"Hey! I recognize you! What's your name..? Who are you?"

I want you to think of the first ten things you'd tell me about yourself. Go on. We all have our favorite things we tell new people we meet! Maybe you'd start with your name, where you're from, the ward you're in, or what you do for work. You might continue with your hobbies, what your favorite Calee Reed song is (naturally), or what you're up to that day. At ANY point...would you throw in,"Oh! And I'm a child of God."

....

Would you??

No?? Why not!

Because it's a little socially awkward to lead with your faith? Ok, fine. Fair answer.

BUT would you at least THINK it..?

Would being a child of God be on your list of the top ten descriptors of yourself in your mind...? What about the top twenty? Is it anywhere on your radar..?

I've posed this question to hundreds of people at firesides since preparing for that initial fireside, and I've had maybe three people total say that they thought it. Everyone else? Not even on their mental list, let alone what they'd say out loud.

CONTINUING OUR SCENARIO:

Let's say you were to walk into church this Sunday, and in Sunday school there's a question written up on the board, "Who are you?" with a big plate of brownies underneath it.

WHAT'S YOUR FIRST ANSWER?

Not only your first answer...your ONLY answer.

It's "I am a child of God", right..?

YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A FIRST NAME ANYMORE, PEOPLE (...let alone hobbies or kids).

You are STRICTLY "child of God (now hand me my brownie, please)."

Isn't that interesting..? Why is that? What magical thing happens when we're out in the world that being a child of God isn't even on the list of things we would use to describe ourselves, but as soon as we walk through the doors of a church building it's literally THE ONLY phrase we'd use to describe ourselves?

I think this is indicative of an incredibly important disconnect that many members of the church experience when it comes to the doctrine of our divine heritage: we know that we're children of God in our minds...we've heard it so often that the message has been ingrained in our minds, but we don't know it in our hearts. We forget to internalize the knowledge through sincere study and prayer, fasting, focused asking.

Why does any of that matter? For starters, we open ourselves up to being defined by the Adversary in our every day lives - giving in to critical self-talk, comparing, judging, negativity - when we don't have that true, deep, abiding conviction of who we are. We lose the benefit of having an actual testimony of that most precious truth, and set ourselves up for failure with shallow understanding.

The promised blessings that come with a conviction of knowing who we truly are are countless; in my studying, I've found that those blessings include things like confidence, freedom from fear, freedom from peer-pressure, peace during times of intense struggle and heartache, self-forgiveness, a natural increase in daily discipleship, loving others, forgiving others, perspective in challenges, and more. The blessings are so useful in real life, so powerful and life-changing.

As I began to study and pray to God to receive a personal witness that I am, in fact, His child...amazing things started happening to my testimony and heart. I started to see evidences of His love for me all around. I started to see myself as more than simply what I look like, how 'good' a person I am, as more than a Mom, more than what I do or how I do it. The process has been incredible - and I'm so, so thankful now I was asked to give that fireside...so I could realize all that I DIDN'T know about being a child of God.

If you feel like you've received a witness that you are His, then maybe it's time to reconnect with that knowledge. After all, President Henry B Eyring said,"Faith has a short shelf life." (see here)  If you're like I was a few years ago, however, and have never studied or asked God to tell you that you're His...there's no better time to start studying to gain a testimony of the most important knowledge available to mankind than now! Speaking from experience, doing so will change your life.

So, what are you waiting for?? Get to studying!

(PS I hope that if I ever meet you on the street, the first thing out of your mouth will be - "Hi, I'm a child of God.")

xo
(Obligatory photo of myself and my offspring)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

How Much Does It Hurt?

I researched getting my eyebrows microbladed for over 10 years before actually taking the plunge. I was gifted brow tattoos once, actually, haha as a birthday present! ← weird, yeah? Who gives someone eyebrows as a present?? I never redeemed that gift. Anyways.

The question I've always had (after wondering if I'd end up looking like a total freak and regret everything forever - I mean, you can't exactly hide jacked up eyebrows, you know? They're kind of...RIGHT on your face...), is how much does it hurt? 

Let me answer that question for you! 

If the pain scale is from 1-10, getting my brows "powder filled" was like a 5 overall. Not super comfortable, but also not the worst. It kind of felt like someone was ripping my eyebrows out over and over again. Haha. That's so gross (*and* very accurate).

Getting hairstroke brows done?? Now THAT hurt. Like a 7 or 8. I may or may not have bit the inside of my lip the whole time and my tears may or may not have come out unintentionally. THAT felt like someone scraping my eyebrows with a red-hot razor blade over and over. Is any of this information helping anyone anywhere..?

Before and After


Wondering what the process is like? You show up and talk shape, density, and color. Your fabulous brow-magician draws your brows on (if you're crazy, like me, this part takes like an hour because you're so freaked out that they're going to look insane), once you've decided on a shape and color...the party begins! Numbing cream goes on for ten minutes (which you'll spend staring at the ceiling and questioning all of your life choices),  then your brow-magician pokes your eyebrows with a weird poky tool for ten minutes, then adds more numbing cream. Note: the SECOND round of numbing cream is waaaay more effective than the first. Don't ask me why. I have no idea. Your brow-magician pokes your eyebrows some more, and then - VOILA - you're all done! You look in the mirror and have a mini-panic attack because your eyebrows look WAY TOO dark. Don't freak out! They fade around 40%. After a few days of keeping your eyebrows totally dry (yeah, that means no getting your eyebrows wet when  you wash your face. It doesn't sound super hard, does it?? It's HARD, you guys.), and slathering them with lovely grapeseed oil (dark, boxy, slimy caterpillar eyebrows. Mmmm. delightful.), they'll peel and then - VOILA (again!) - you're REALLY all done! Your brows are beautiful, natural-looking, and not going anywhere (for at least a year. haha.).




For the record, getting my brows done (semi-permanently, ok? they're not technically permanent, so take a deep breath if you're having a moral dilemma with my so-called face tattoos) was 100% worth every second of pain and discomfort. You see...I'm one of those poor souls who got super into the over-plucked eyebrows trend of the 90's (thanks for NOTHING, Gwen Stefani and Drew Barrymore! UGH) - and once those delightful, wispy rainbows went out of style? Well...I was out of luck. 
This was after high school. Eyebrows don't grow back, y'all. 
That's a lesson I learned the hard way.

I got soo tired of penciling in my brows everyday - tired of accidentally rubbing an eyebrow off after working out, or getting splashed in the face by my baby in the pool. DISAPPEARING EYEBROWS ARE NOT MY JAM. 

Having eyebrows that I can count on to be there? That, my friends, is priceless.

So, bring on the numbing cream and yearly fills!! Bring on the red-hot razor blade eyebrow torture tool (I honestly don't know if I'll have the courage to do hairstroke next year haha. It huuurt!)!!

Something I've decided: blogging is so weird. Thanks for reading! Byyyyyeeeeee

xo.

PS Call Stephanie and Imani Artistry if you're in Utah and looking for an awesome eyebrow expert to make all of your semi-permanent eyebrow dreams come trrruuuuueeee! You're welcome.





Sunday, January 22, 2017

King of the World

Several years ago I was introduced to Christian worship music. I remember that night with surprising clarity (I don't remember a lot of things now that I've been chronically sleep deprived for four years haha). It was after closing at work, I was 19, and a dreamy boy with a guitar made me fall in love as he sang "Overwhelmed" by Joel Weldon (listen here). I remember having such an overwhelming emotional response to his voice and testimony as he sang - it remains one of my most beloved spiritual experiences. I hadn't ever heard anyone sing a song to/about Christ without using the formal "thee"/"thou"/"thine". Hearing that incredible man sing about our Savior in such an intimate, familiar way was a major game changer for my faith.

I didn't start listening to Christian worship music regularly until a few years later (another post for another time) - and, since listening to contemporary Christian music regularly, I've felt impressed over and over that I need to share this music with my LDS brothers and sisters. Not only has my heart been touched and comforted by these songs, but my faith has been challenged and expanded and deepened. I know my Savior and God so much more because of artists like Casting Crowns, Francesca Batistelli, Matthew West, Chris Tomlin, Crowder, and many more. Maybe your's will be, too...♥

SO! Here's a new side of Calee for you! I'm going to post live videos singing some of these songs. They're unedited, raw. You'll probably hear Violet running around in the background in some of them haha. I've struggled with my own imperfection, and have thought maybe I just shouldn't post at all. So please be nice to me haha as I share in a very real way ♥

This is my first installment of Christian worship music for y'all: King of the World by Natalie Grant.




I love this song. The lyrics read:

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world
Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world

Ooh you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to be
And you're holding on to me

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world

Who out there DOESN'T relate to this song..? Where are my fellow control freaks at..? What I love most about this song is that it highlights how perfectly powerful God is. How can I possibly expect to understand all of His motives and designs? How big of a waste of energy is it for me to constantly try to explain every challenge and trial away? Or every blessing? A little more faith in His love, His constant care and concern would do me a LOT of good. 

Maybe start a Christian music play list and add this one to it, yeah?

(Listen to the fabulously talented Natalie Grant sing it for you here)

Have the best Sunday.

xo.


Calee

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Weirdly Relatable

I teach Relief Society once a month in my ward (for my non-LDS readers out there, that means that I've been asked to teach in our adult women's class). I was *thrilled* to be called to teach again! Teaching has always been one of my favorite callings...except when I was called to teach a class of ELEVEN four-year olds...holy. that's the closest I've ever been to leaving the church haha. (jk.) (kind of.). ← can someone teach me about punctuation because this looks insane to me...

Sometimes teaching in RS can be a bit...well, weird. I stand up in front of this group of women and try to make stories from the scriptures or church history relatable. The problem, I've found,  is that a lot of these stories are really UNrelatable...and it makes my job a little bit tricky.

EXAMPLE FROM LAST MONTH'S LESSON: Can we talk about Abraham sacrificing Isaac for a second?? How is that story relatable?? To anyone?! I mean...honestly. Is the person who wrote the lesson manual really expecting for all of us to go, "Yes, I need to strive for the faith to sacrifice my kids if I heard a voice telling me to." ...umm WHAT?! No, lesson manual writer, no that's not how I would respond if I heard that voice. I know what the lesson is getting at, for the record, but it's hard for me to get past how bizarre the story is! And we just get so used to hearing these stories that we forget to stop and really LOOK at the surrounding circumstances! I mean, they're bananas!

If I heard a voice telling me to sacrifice my child - my ONLY child...the child my wife begged God for over the course of a lifetime and then gestated that child in an 80-year old body (can you even imagine the misery?!) - I would probably check myself into the nearest mental hospital. For my own safety, really...because I know that my wife would KILL me if she knew I was thinking about harming that child. Wait - why do I have a wife in this story?! This is getting weird. You know what I'm saying, though, right?

So instead of even getting to the deeper meaning behind the story of Abraham and Isaac, I led a very interesting discussion on being pregnant at 80 years old and what a hardcore woman Sariah must have been. TRUTH: 'hardcore' is the edited version of the word I first typed to describe Sariah. I was pretty sure they were going to release me after that one. NOTE: I have not been released...yet.

This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just like it and think it's cute. 
I though I'd post it right here in case you're thinking,"Wow Calee is a total crazy person"
because...this picture is so cute that it might make you decide that you like me anyway.
...is it working..?

My lesson this month was on being an ensign and a light to the world (I taught this last Sunday). When I first glanced over the lesson, I felt a little nervous to be tasked with teaching such a broad topic...where would I even start? The section on the early pioneers and their 'prophetic vision' had me particularly worried. I mean...what kind of strange and unrelatable things was I going to find in there?! I'm not a pioneer. I don't do pioneer things. ← I want to change the title of this post to 'I don't do pioneer things' haha. best line thus far.

But you know what happened..? I had a real moment while reading that section. A moment where I felt...connected...to those early pioneers, those leaders with prophetic vision. Here's what caught my attention:

'I marvel at the foresight of that little group. It was both audacious and bold. It was almost unbelievable. Here they were, almost a thousand miles from the nearest settlement to the east and almost eight hundred miles from the Pacific coast. They were in an untried climate. The soil was different than the black loam of Illinois and Iowa, where they had most recently lived. They had never raised a crop there. They had never experienced a winter. They had not built a structure of any kind. These prophets, dressed in old, travel-worn clothes, standing in boots they had worn for more than a thousand miles from Nauvoo to this valley, spoke of a millennial vision. They spoke out of a prophetic view of the marvelous destiny of this cause. They came down from the peak that day and went to work to bring reality to their dreams. '

As I read that section, my mind went to each woman in my ward. I wondered how many of them feel like they've been working hard to follow God's voice in their lives, how many of them have experienced treacherous (emotional/mental/spiritual) paths? How many feel they've been asked to 'walk' (mentally/emotionally/spiritually) over a thousand miles with little resources, experiencing intense suffering along the way? And then, after choices have been made and 'arrivals' have been realized (like, starting a family or committing to a career path), how many of them feel like they don't have the tools to figure out what to do next? How many are exhausted and feeling like they could really use a break from all of the hard work..?

Each of us stands in 'untried climates'. With each new challenge we face - financial struggles, marital issues, a child who has been hurt or abused, a child who is rebellious, health problems, addiction/substance abuse, etc - we find ourselves on new ground. We've never 'raised crops' on this ground, we've never experienced this exact challenge before. Maybe you don't feel like you have the spiritual/emotional/mental tools or resources to 'build structures' to protect yourself or your family along the way. Just like those pioneer families, though, we are a part of this marvelous cause. Can we work on faith..? Can we rely on God to follow through on His promises?

I'm sure there were days when the saints wondered if God had forgotten them. It's 13 degrees outside right now in American Fork, Utah, and I can't help but think of those early saints in rudimentary houses braving that first winter. They survived, though...although I have no doubt that survival was hard fought.

The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is this: We might not know HOW God is going to bring all of the pieces of our messy lives into focus and make all of the brokenness right...but if we have enough faith in the WHY, we'll be ok. HINT: the WHY is that He loves us. 

Heavenly Father has been leading His children through deserts and across oceans and out of slavery and through the wilderness since the beginning of time.

YOU are a part of that glorious heritage - embrace the journey.

AKA Put on your hiking boots and get to walking, lovers. ♥

xo.




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Boy Crazy

You guys. I was...so...awkward in high school. Not like the socially reclusive or quiet kind of awkward...you know, like the pretty but shy girl who wears glasses in the movies and then gets transformed into the Prom Queen and falls in love with the cool, recently-remediated bad boy? No, no..I was not that kind of awkward.

I was awkward on the other end of the spectrum. Liiiiike the loud...slightly obnoxious (haha let's be kind to Calee right now, ok??)...in-your-face kind of awkward. Cheerleader (I'm not saying all cheerleaders are obnoxious, calm down), ASB, honors classes, weirdly Mormon and obsessed with boys.

I thank heaven daily that social media wasn't around when I was 13-19, because, YOU GUYS, it would.have.been.B-A-D. You know people who post cryptic, overly emotional post-break up Facebook statuses? I would have been the QUEEN of those...and my reign would have been gloriously uncomfortable and awful.

you're welcome for sharing this fantastic photo of my no-eyebrow, greasy middle-part, long-hair-with-no-layers self.
sophomore year. 
please don't kill me, ashley.

I was a very nice, loud person. A person with a lot of feelings about a lot of things and very little ability to keep any of it to myself. I'd cry in English class (haha oh man - a story for a different time), I'd tell hysterical stories LOUDLY to my entire seminary class every. single. day at 5:45 AM (I don't know how they didn't murder me. probably because they were just too tired...it was so early). Were ANY of my stories truly hysterical? I'm not sure. I remember being very pleased with myself everyday. So, we're going to go with it. WAIT is this sounding like me as an adult?! Hahahahaaaaawaaaaaa :sob:sob:

Why am I telling you about high school? When it was the WORST? Because I know that there are a fair number of you in high school right now. And it's nice to know that you're not alone in your awkwardness, right?

I can only imagine how devastatingly impossible it must be to ever feel like you're enough in high school these days. Instagram?! Pinterest?! PHOTOSHOP?! Oh my heavens...I struggled with a major inferiority complex with just my big sister - who wore headgear at night and drove a hideous gold car (nothing but love, Nikki!). No one contoured. Everyone's eyebrows were HIDEOUS. It was fine. I mean, Britney Spears was a tricky one to navigate...I was NEVER going to get out of the house wearing a school girl outfit with knee-high socks -  how could I compete with HER for Derek Simper's heart?! PS Derek, if you ever read this - I was obsessed with you from like 4th grade until we graduated. If you asked me out right now I'd totally go for it. So. What are you doing this weekend..?... I digress.

A part of why my HS experience was so weird, I think, lies wrapped up in a gospel truth. A truth that I  didn't understand fully - and that ended up causing me a lot of pain and heartache.

Some people will talk about girls who are 'boy crazy'. You know what I mean when I say that, right? A girl who's entire self esteem depends on a boy liking her? Who can never seem to go too long without a boyfriend? Who is majorly devastated if/when any relationship fails to live up to the 'happily ever after' hype? That was me. Only, I didn't see it that way. I saw it as me becoming who I was meant to be.

Let me explain:

I grew up listening to lesson after lesson in Sunday school (and sacrament, and Young Women's, at mutual and FHE...) talk about the importance of family. My purpose as a daughter of God (yeah, this is oversimplified, maybe - but it's what I understood in high school) was to get married and have kids. I was meant to be a Mom. I listened to women share their testimonies on the beauty of marriage, how having kids was the most incredible thing ever, how they knew that God wanted them to have families and - even though their husbands weren't perfect - they knew their husbands were the perfect match for them.

It seemed pretty straightforward to me that in order to really achieve my highest potential as a person in this life, I would need to fall in love and get married. I don't think I've ever heard a talk, to this day, where a woman said, "I recognize that God has a different plan for me in this life - outside of having a family." We don't talk about it in those terms. I *HAVE* heard ,"God hasn't blessed me with children or a husband in this life, and I've had to make peace with that." but that's a completely different thing. My entire worth and future depended on a nice, returned-missionary falling in love with me and making me his wife and mother to his children. Had you asked me back then, I would have probably told you that I wanted to go to college and that I had hobbies and dreams outside of having a family, too, (which was true) - but ultimately, on the most basic level, I wanted to be a super-Mormon-wife and mom. I wanted to live the dream. Be what God wanted me to be. Every other decision and plan was just a blip on the roadmap toward marriage and a family - every situation outside of that marital bliss was just buying time until I was able to achieve it.

The issue with hearing and internalizing all of those messages over the years (for me, at least) was that it translated into this weird obsession with love - specifically, a BOY falling in love with me...and not just ANY boy...but THE boy. My eternal companion. :enter sighing and lights streaming from the heaven and angels singing sweetly from the dewy heavens: Being attractive and desirable to as big a pool as possible, therefore, was important - so I could be sure to attract the right boy. The sad news for you, high school Calee, is that your standards and concept of what the "right" boy was pretty naive...

Oh my goodness this post isn't at all what I thought it was going to be. I set off to share an embarrassing story or two about my HS experience...but it turned into some real self-realization haha.

The important stuff I've learned SINCE high school about this: God cares about ME more than He cares about me falling in love and having a family. Just me. Me and what I am and who I'm becoming as a human being. Me as a person who is learning every day. I've learned that there isn't a sure-fire path that leads to happiness for every person. Everyone has their own path, their own timing. God knows and loves each one of us - married, unmarried, with kids, without kids. Whatever your familial circumstances look like, God loves you. And THAT love...HIS love...is the only love I'll ever truly need. His love is the love that I'll never have to fight for, I'll never have to worry about losing. My worth is based in what God sees when He looks at my heart, not what some other imperfect human being sees when they look at my face or my waist size or my bust size or make-up/clothes. Every blessing (marriage, financial gain, other dreams being realized) will come as I focus on my everyday walk with the Savior - people will come into my life that I'm supposed to meet, experiences I'm meant to have will happen.


Whew. I should probably edit this before I post it, but you know what? I'm just going to leave it raw and real and let you do what you will with it. So there you go. My thoughts for the day. Maybe I'll come back to it and talk about why my vision of men was so naive, or how I shifted my perspective away from specifically marriage-focused, to God-focused. We'll see.

Until then.

xo.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

An Update of Sorts

WORLD. I AM ALIIIIIVE.

You know what I've discovered? (other than the HOT IRON HOLSTER and holy crap it's changed my bathroom's life - and, no, no one is paying me to say that haha) What I've discovered is that I really like Instagram. I like Instagram because I can snap a cute picture on my phone, add a humorous/silly/thoughtful few lines of text, post it to my IG and - within a few minutes - I have likes and comments and validation (go ahead and judge! social media validation might be pretty pathetic, but it's a real thing and it helps me sometimes when I'm having a bad day, ok?!) and the entire process takes me less than two minutes. I feel connected to all of you, and I feel good about it. 

Blogging is a little more difficult. It requires more thought...more planning. All of the additional space for words and thoughts equates to a deeper level of honesty for me. Looking around the blogging-world I recognize that honesty isn't necessarily something that ALL bloggers feel motivated by (have you read THIS article yet? it's been posted and re-posted all over my facebook feed lately...I haven't decided 100% how I feel about it yet, but he makes some interesting points!)

"So, what's the problem?" you might ask. "Is being honest difficult for you, Calee..?"

The answer isn't that simple - but, if I were to get right down to it, I guess I would say: yes.

I want to be honest, believe me. I'm one of those people who was born (gifted or cursed depending on the situation haha) with the tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, to share my opinions and feelings openly. It seems, though, that being really - totally and completely - honest isn't always acceptable. Being brutally honest can garner feedback about how I need to work on being more positive as a person (don't worry, I've kicked all of those people in the kneecaps), feedback about being careful to not air my dirty laundry for the world to see/hear/be shocked by, feedback about having more faith.

The reason I'm telling you all of this, is because I'm going to start opening back up and being here more often - even though that level of honesty feels a bit scary and daunting lately. The last few years have taught me a lot of things (my marital issues, my sick baby, my divorce, etc)...one of the hardest lessons for me to un-learn has been the need to be quiet. To keep my mouth shut and suck it up emotionally and just be quiet. Have any of you wondered why I complained so loudly all over my social media about V being so sick..? Other than the fact that her first year and a half was nothing short of hellish, torturous and nightmarish - I was experiencing other incredibly difficult things that didn't have a voice. I didn't feel like I could say those things, I didn't feel like they were safe to share. Anyways.

There is healing in honesty. There is healing in not being quiet. Don't worry, all of you worriers out there, haha. I'm not going to start spilling my guts about all of my deep darkness (OR WILL I??). I'm just going to stop being stopped by the fear of judgement and chastisement. 

So here I am. Hey. Hi. Hello. It's been a while. Good to see you again. ::virtual high five::

I'm going to try to share weekly here - with videos of my favorite Christian songs and thoughts on life and motherhood and being single and dating and how it's all scary and wonderful and crazy and awesome and weird and hard. 

Thanks for caring - and even if you don't, thanks for reading all the way down to this last line.

xo.

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