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.


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" :averting eyes: :looking uncomfortably around the room:



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.

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?"


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?! 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.



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.


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...

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 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..? 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.


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.


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 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.")

(Obligatory photo of myself and my offspring)

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