Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Love Amidst Devastation



For my dear friends in Texas: Some people question a loving God during hard times like these. But I promise He is there. Look for His love in the total stranger that comes to your aid, look for His love in the hearts of the relief workers donating hours of their time. Look for Him. Evidence of His love is all around and more powerful than the devastation we see. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We have eternal hope and love because of His son. And not only has He sent His son, but He often sends you and me and the total stranger to help those in need. You are so very loved. We mourn with you, we pray for you, and we stand ready to help however we can--great or small.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Family Preparedness

When I'm feeling overwhelmed one thing that really helps me is to write down a list of the things I need to do. It helps me to know that it's written down somewhere and I don't have to try to do it all at once. And who doesn't love the satisfaction of checking off boxes on a to-do list?

One of the things I that overwhelms me is preparedness. Thinking about natural disasters, family emergency plans and food storage makes me feel panicky. For that reason, I have put our family preparedness off. We have 72-hour kits and food storage, but we're not as prepared as we could be. This past Sunday we had a great sacrament meeting on preparedness and I felt that I should try to tackle our family preparedness again--this time without the panicky feeling.

I decided to write up a family preparedness checklist. I included spiritual preparedness because that's important too. No one wants to dwell on disasters and things that could go wrong, but being wise and preparing for the worst brings a sense of peace and calm. I'm sharing this checklist with you because it helped me to see that we were doing better than I thought we were and it helped us to identify where we needed to focus our efforts next.

So print this checklist, laminate it, and stick it on your fridge. Pull it out once every couple of months for FHE and evaluate where your family is on this preparedness checklist.





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Just Poppin By To Say Hi

As a primary presidency, we like to go and visit the children in our primary at least once a year. I created this little handout to bring with us when we go. I'd love to share it with you! It's free for your personal use. Just print and tape to a bag of popcorn to take with you on your visits.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Do the Hard Things Free Wallpaper

If you're like me and you need a little motivation to do the hard things, download this free wallpaper for your phone. I believe in you! You got this!



Download this one here




Want a different background color? Just leave a comment with your color request and I'll make it for you!

Get your own large digital file to print up to 11x14! Print as many as you'd like!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Merry Christmas to You--Free Letter Practice

So many of my friends and family have asked, so here it is! My Christmas present to you is free letter practice sheets. Come back every day to get your free letter practice. Each day I will be uploading two new sheets and include the whole alphabet! 





video


Letter A Practice Sheet here
Letter B Practice Sheet here
Letter C Practice Sheet here
Letter D Practice Sheet here
Letter E Practice Sheet here
Letter F Practice Sheet here
Letter G Practice Sheet here
Letter H Practice Sheet here
Letter I Practice Sheet here
Letter J Practice Sheet here
Letter K Practice Sheet here
Letter L Practice Sheet here
Letter M Practice Sheet here
Letter N Practice Sheet here
Letter O Practice Sheet here
Letter P Practice Sheet here
Letter Q Practice Sheet here
Letter R Practice Sheet here
Letter S Practice Sheet here
Letter T Practice Sheet here
Letter U Practice Sheet here
Letter V Practice Sheet here
Letter W Practice Sheet here
Letter X Practice Sheet here
Letter Y Practice Sheet here
Letter Z Practice Sheet here

For Procreate users screenshot the practice sheets and use the screenshot as your worksheet
For brush calligraphy, print off and trace the letters with black marker 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

He's Calling to You


He’s Calling To You

Overboard seaman who’ve fallen astray
Reach for His hand while there’s still light of day
Come back to the vessel, He’s waiting for you
Return to the place of the simple and true

Give heed to the watch cry, a storm’s rolling near
Return to the Master who’ll calm all your fears
Abandon your journey that leads you away
Night closes in, there’s no time to delay

He’s calling to you through the voice of a friend
He reaches for you with the people He sends
Although you may feel you are better alone
You’re loved beyond measure, your struggles are known

Return to Old Zion where God’s at the helm
Return to His ways, leave the treacherous realm
Weary and cold, hear His beckoning call
There’s peace, there is safety, there’s love above all

Overboard seaman who’ve fallen astray
Fight not against Zion and come back to stay
Christ's open arms wait with loving concern
He's atoned for your rescue so you can return

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Get Cool Backgrounds Under Your Lettering Using Photoshop




I've had some people ask me how I get backgrounds under my text, so I decided to make a how-to video. Here's an exampe of what it looks like:

This video tutorial is for Photoshop. Let me know if you have any questions!

video

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Light That Cannot Be Hidden



In light of the political climate, and upcoming elections, I feel there is a lot of negativity and despair filling social media. Some people are resorting to criticism and callousness while others become hopeless and despondent. I have found myself falling victim to the negativity too at times. It seems easy to be consumed with worry about the future and wonder what kind of legacy is being left behind for our children. If we don't think about the future for our children, then who will? But maybe we should be just as concerned (or more so) about the legacy of faith and hope that we are passing on to our children. We must show them that hope is possible in the face of trouble and that faith is our guiding principle, not fear.

I am not saying that we ignore what is going on around us. I do, however, believe that our children are watching the way that we respond to this heated topic. Healthy, intelligent debate is good. It shows that we are involved and that we are concerned. But when contention or complaint is our tone, we leave the space of faith and hope and enter into the enemy's territory. If there is no solution or the situation can't be changed, then does complaining about it, blaming others or joining the voice of negativity help the problem? It might make you feel better for a time, but in the end, no one is better for it.
Say and do something positive that will help the situation; it doesn't take any brains to complain. Robert A. Cook
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertaco297536.html
"Say and do something positive that will help the situation; it doesn't take any brains to complain." Robert A. Cook
It's true that there is not a lot we can do to change the political climate right now. But there's a lot we can do to change the climate on Facebook and the climate of our homes and interactions with others when we speak of these things. We don't have to preach the gospel of despair. As Christians we should be preaching the opposite. We have access to a type of peace that is independent and operates separately than world peace.

Elder Quentin L. Cook said,
"We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness. This peace is a promised gift of the Savior’s mission and atoning sacrifice."
As the world gets darker and the future seems more bleak, there is a light that grows brighter and brighter. That light is the light of the gospel and the hope it brings. We don't need to join the voices of pessism and despair.
"For many years now...we have witnessed increasing expressions of a profound sense of what has come to be called existential despair, a hopelessness beyond hope. We are custodians and possessors of a gospel of bright and realistic hope. It is a hope for which many hunger more deeply than we can possibly imagine." Neal A. Maxwell
This statement by Harold B. Lee bolsters my faith and hope in times like these:
Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail. I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges.
I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through.


For a beautiful talk about the power of hope in a despairing world, watch Neal A. Maxwell's "Shine As Lights" conference talk:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Someone Is Waiting for You to Find Them



I will never forget the first family I found. I was in the BYU Family History Library looking through microfilm and I had no idea what I was doing. A nice old lady came over to help me. I explained to her that I did not have the names of my 5th Great Grandparents on my mother's side. She asked me questions and lead me in the right direction. She helped me find the right film and she helped me learn how to read censuses. She taught me more about family history research in those two hours or so than I've ever learned prior or since. To this day, she is my angel and I don't know who she is or how to thank her.

After hours of research, when we found my Grandmother on the 1880 census and her family, my life changed in an instant. I was filled with such elation and pure joy that I could not contain my tears. I had found someone! I had found a whole family! Shortly after that, it was my privilege to be a proxy for their baptisms and other saving ordinances. The experience was surreal, and what I imagine Heaven feels like. I was filled with a new kind of love. I was filled with love for my forefathers. And an eternal connection was forged.

Fifteen years later, much has changed in the world of genealogy. So much is available online. I cried, literally cried, when all the censuses became available online. There is so much available now at the tip of our fingertips. Family History is not just for old people anymore either. Family History is for anyone who wants to learn more about their roots and who wants to participate in the Hastening of the Lord's Work. And who doesn't want to be a part of that?

Family History is worth your time. Every so often I wake up with the thought that someone is waiting for me to find them. I am sure someone, one of your dear ancestors, is waiting for YOU to find them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Legacy



I once thought my life would be
like a drop rippling in an endless sea.
Instead, I find no drop at all
comes from my life, into it fall.
But like a seed into the ground
slowly digging, growing down.
My life, like roots, sink deep below
to find nourishment to overflow.
Forever forging deeper still
until its roots completely fill.
Giving life to a growing tree,
a link into eternity.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party on a Budget



It is a surreal feeling to have my baby turn 5 and go to Kindergarten this year. I can't believe 5 years ago I was craddling my last little baby. There are so many happy and wonderful things about this age, I wouldn't trade it. But there are times when I wish I could go back in time, if only for a day and hold my little baby again.


As a way to simplify, we have decided to only throw "friend parties" on the big years, Kindergarten (5 or 6), Baptism age (8), 12, 16 and 18. This year was Lily's year! Even though we only have birthday parties every couple of years, I still like to plan it on a budget. I did a Harry Potter Birthday Party on a budget that has become my all time most visited post.

For privacy purposes, I won't show any pictures with the children at the party, but I am going to share the party details. The cheapest and easiest way I have found to do the cake and icecream tradition is with cupcakes. They are fast, affordable and easy to make.


I made these with the new Mini York Peppermint patties for the ears and the middle sized ones for the head. It turned out to be the perfect size!


What would a Minnie Mouse party be without Minnie Mouse ears? I made mine out of felt and glued them to a bow onto a bow clip. Here's the video tutorial I used to make the bow. I got two large sheets of black, stiff felt for the ears (only .79 each) and a roll of ribbon (1.49) and metal hair clips (2.99). I made 12 Minnie Mouse ears for $5.79! And they are quality and likely to be used for a while and not just thrown away like the cheap papers ones that cost even more money!



For activities, we tried to keep it simple. First we did our "Minnie Mouse Make-over" and put everyone's ears and bows on. Then we served lunch. After lunch, we played hot potato with a stuffed Minnie Mouse, we played "find Minnie Mouse" by hiding a toy Minnie Mouse outside and having the girls go find her. We also colored a Minnie Mouse coloring page. Our last game was "Pin the Bow on Minnie." I made Minnie's head with the extra black felt and the bows with some pink, polka dot felt. It worked wonderfully.


For decorations I kept it affordable with tissue paper flowers, streamers and a chalkboard paper Minnie Mouse door sign. Here is everything all pulled together:







Lily had a wonderful time and so did her friends. I stayed within my budget ($30) and only spent about 2 hours of prep work on the party. Now that's what I call a good time. Happy Birthday, sweet Lily.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summertime Visiting Teaching Handout



What says summer better than s'mores? I wanted a fun visiting teaching handout for summer that helped reinforce the visiting teaching messages about the Savior. I thought this was a fun summer treat and reminder that we are loved dearly by our Advocate with the Father who, out of love is ever pleading for us. 

I hope you like and share this handout with the sisters you visit teach or anyone who needs a reminder that they are loved. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What Lupus Has Taught Me



I have spent the last 7 years of my life in poor health off and on, not knowing what was wrong with me. My kidneys would swell up and not function properly, I would get terrible migraines, fevers, muscle aches, heart palpitations and fatigue. Heavy fatigue. I had surgery on my kidneys, tubes coming out of my back to drain them and several trips to the ER to find my kidneys backed up and inflamed. Finally, last summer came an answer; I was diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body attacks its internal organs and causes muscle and joint pain, fatigue and inflammation in the body. There are flare-ups where the disease is worse and other times when I feel fine. Initially, I would only have a flare about once a year, but gradually their occurrence increased to an unbearable-near constant amount.

I believe this deterioration in my health happened because I gave up. Being a personal trainer and nutrition advisor for 5 years, I lived for fitness and nutrition. I loved eating fresh, whole foods and exercising my body. However, having ill-health while simultaneously doing everything in your power to be healthy is really discouraging. I came to believe that there was only so much I could do and the rest was determined by genetics and predispositions to disease.

In vitro I had "drunken from the shallow end of the gene pool" and my medical chart read like a comedy of errors. I have Factor V Leiden, Ovarian Cysts, Endometriosis, SAD, Migraines and now Lupus. Feeling defeated, I gave up. It's a hard thing to admit. But I did. I figured that it was my lot to have poor health, so why waste my time exercising and eating healthy? Everyone else I knew ate tons of processed food, sugar and soda...and many of them enjoyed better health than me. It seemed impossible to keep swimming against the current.

That is until the Lord sent me the inspiration I desperately needed. This inspiration came in the form of a dear friend of mine named Laura. She was everything I was 3 years ago before my disease got bad--fit, healthy and inspired about fitness and health. The difference being that she has a deep, immovable conviction that you can heal your body and overcome bad genetics and an unwavering determination to do her best. She inspired me to try again and I am forever grateful to her.

On my 33rd birthday, this January, I decided to get back into shape--even if it meant it would hurt. And it did hurt. My joints and muscles ached...I had fevers and couldn't control my temperature. I was so tired that my body felt like lead. But I made it to the gym and began running through the pain and fatigue. I didn't feel better right away. In fact, in many ways I felt worse. My body began detoxing, increasing my fatigue and number of headaches. But I didn't give up. Having a friend who believed in me, encouraged me and inspired me, kept me going on the really hard days. She was like an angel in my life--like the Lord's gentle voice saying, "keep going, don't give up."

And then another breakthrough came--another tender-mercy from Heavenly Father. Laura's husband, Kyle, remembered a product called Tungusta that had helped a friend of theirs who had Lupus. The product had since changed names to Live360. They purchased a bottle for me in hopes that it would help. I noticed an almost immediate change in my energy. The fatigue was gone for the first time in years. I was able to make it through the day without taking a nap. It felt like a miracle. It was a miracle. And I learned once more how Heavenly Father often answers our prayers through other people.

Laura and I began lifting weights, swimming, hiking and biking together and she inspired me to start getting into triathlon shape again. My passion for exercise returned. I remembered just how much I loved the challenge of working out and becoming stronger through exercise. She had a unpretentious way of motivating me. She built me up while at the same time being the ultimate example. Hearing of her daily runs pushing a stroller filled with crying kids up and down the hills in our neighborhood showed me that there was really no excuse to not exercise. It was then I came to realize once more that exercise is not a luxury for me or anyone really--and it is worth the sacrifices to fit it in your schedule.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, my month supply of 360 ran out. And then we encountered a problem. The product had been discontinued. At the time, it really felt like a blow. My energy tanked once more and my Lupus flared up again. I almost gave up hope. But Laura wouldn't have it. She kept searching, kept encouraging me to not give up. I had found some similar formulas...but still nothing had the same impact on me as the 360.

I now know what a blessing that was. It forced me to tackle my biggest hurdle yet--my diet. I believe the 360 was just the boost I needed to give me hope that I could someday have my health back, but it was never meant to be a permanent solution. Right at this pivotal moment another angel was sent into my life, another friend of mine who is enthusiastic about healthy living. She was my workout buddy until she moved away about 5 years ago. Our distance from each other made it impossible to keep working out together and we only saw each other about once every 2-3 months. But she invited me to take part in a 14 day "clean eating" challenge on Facebook where we report our meals for the day to keep accountable to each other. It was just the push I needed.

I thought I was eating relatively healthy since I started to overhaul my life in January. However, after starting the challenge, I was surprised at how much junk I was eating. Not to mention, there was still the BIG elephant in the room, my diet soda addiction. My energy was so low, my headaches so frequent that getting off of soda became my personal Goliath in my diet. Every time I would try to get off soda I would get HUGE, unbearable migraines that lasted for days. Not to mention that the only thing I could use to effectively treat my migraines was and still is caffeine and advil. This caused a horrible cycle of addiction. And I know for a FACT that drinking diet soda was making my health worse.

Once again, Laura's unassuming inspiration changed my life for the better. She loaned me her Champion juicer and I began juicing to replace my diet soda. Of all the things I have done for my health, juicing and getting off of soda has had the biggest impact. Even more so than the 360. I am not exaggerating. I have had so much energy that I feel like I am alive again. It brings me to tears and fills my heart with gratitude to my Heavenly Father. It's a journey, and there's still more work to do, more improvements to be made and more to learn. But I am so grateful for where I am, even if how I got here is by great trial and hardship.

I have learned and relearned several things along this journey and have advice for anyone who is currently living with chronic illness or seeking better health:

1) Exercise is not a luxury. Your body needs exercise to oxygenate your blood, increase your lung capacity, strengthen your heart and prevent muscle atrophy, injury and bone loss. Not to mention your mental health and hormone balance benefits tremendously as well.

2) A diet filled with God-made foods is non-negotiable to health. If your health is bad even with healthy habits, going back to junk food will only make it worse. Guaranteed. Learn from my experience. Your body doesn't run well on sugar and heavily processed foods--in fact, they increase inflammation in the body which is the cause of most diseases. Eating non-inflammatory foods helps to heal the body. I am seeing this miracle in action. God gave us so many wonderful, healing foods to enjoy.

3) Diet soda (or any soda) is making you sick. It is making you tired. It gives you a temporary boost and you pay for that fake boost in energy immensely. By tapering off and replacing it with a healthy alternative you can get rid of that addiction.

4) Accept help. If the Lord inspires someone to mention or offer a solution to your health, don't ignore it. Take it into consideration. Your humility to take advice or accept help from someone else might bring about the miracles you've been waiting for. Having Lupus has helped me see how the Lord works--through other people.

5) Find support. Filling your life with like-minded people that build you up and inspire you to be better is one of the best ways to stick to healthy life changes. I am so thankful and indebted to Laura and Kyle and my friend Stephanie for inspiring me to change and work hard so that the Lord could work miracles in my life. If you don't have anyone like that in your life, let me be that person. Let me be the voice that says, "keep going, don't give up."

6) Life is meant to be enjoyed. Finding exercise that fills you with joy and relieves stress while giving you the physical benefits, is key to your success. Pick up a new hobby. Learn to swim, go for a hike, take a walk at sunset. You will find exercise becomes a joy and a blessing and it will no longer be a chore. Go biking with your family, play a game of soccer with your kids in the backyard--these things will not only increase your physical health but strengthen family relationships. Exercise shouldn't be something you dread; it should be a way of life. If you approach it with this mentality, you will find your life enriched and blessed.

7) All healing comes in the due time of the Lord. Even when I was doing everything right a few years back, Heavenly Father did not see fit to remove my trial. Find the balance between patiently waiting and enduring a trial well and not giving up. Accepting the Lord's will is important. You may have ill-health because it is how God is refining you, making you a better person and teaching you to rely on Him. But don't give up hope. There is healing. It can come in an instant or it can come line upon line, struggle upon struggle, hard day after hard day. But those blessings of health will come if we work hard, keep the word of wisdom and seek inspiration and personal revelation to what our bodies need.

8) Be grateful. For those who have been called to endure physical pain and disease all the days of their life I say, find a way to be grateful and don't stop taking care of your body. Even if you never taste of the fruits of your efforts in the form of health and vitality in this life, I know Heavenly Father will bless you for taking care of the body He gave you. You will someday have a perfect, resurrected body. But even with your imperfections, you are precious. Your life is precious and a gift from a loving Father in Heaven that wants us to be happy. Being grateful, no matter your health, is key to your happiness. We show that gratitude by taking care of the precious gift of our bodies.

If you are not in a wheelchair, be grateful. If you're in a wheelchair, be grateful for your mind and your breath. Be grateful that you are here to experience mortality to learn and grow. Perfect health and perfect bodies are NOT needed for happiness and gratitude. On the contrary, I have found my ill-health has made me MORE grateful for the good days. Lupus has been one of the vehicles with which the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself to me in my life. He has used it to refine me and force me to look outside of myself and ultimately lose my life in the service of others. For all of that I am eternally grateful.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Mother's Nest; A Poem For My Mom


All three of my mothers are in the stage of life called "Empty Nesters." I cannot pretend to understand or know what that feels like. But I do know how I feel about my mothers even though I have left the nest myself. From the perspective of a mother, who still very much loves and depends on my mothers, I have written this poem. Feel free to share and pass this poem along to a mother who needs it, just don't forget to include the author's name (that's me) or link back to my blog. 



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Visiting Teaching Message: The Redeemer


“Heavenly Father sent His Only Begotten and perfect Son to suffer for our sins, our heartaches, and all that seems unfair in our own individual lives." (Linda K. Burton)
Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. He redeemed us from the fall. He redeems us from our own sins and transgressions. He has paid the price we cannot pay. Through the priceless gift of His sinless life we are made free from the bondage of sin and the trials of mortality. I personally have experienced the sweet joy of repentance. I have felt the weight of sin lifted from off my shoulders. I have "come to sing the song of redeeming love." I am eternally indebted to the Savior for wiping away my tears of sorrow and remorse and filling me with hope. I love the song "Amazing Grace" because I have experienced the chains of hell and I have also been set free. There is no one so lost that Christ cannot find, no one so broken that He cannot heal. I have a sure knowledge of this sweet truth.


As if personal redemption from sin wasn't enough to fill your heart with eternal gratitude, the Atonement also reaches deeper into our soul to relieve the suffering and injustices of mortality. Elder Christofferson eloquently teaches,
"Having satisfied the demands of justice, Christ now steps into the place of justice; or we might say He is justice, just as He is love. Likewise, besides being a 'perfect, just God,' He is a perfect, merciful God. Thus, the Savior makes all things right. No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again. No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy." (The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, April 2014 General Conference)
The Savior truly "makes all things right." I rejoice in that thought. Mortality is not fair, but Jesus Christ is fair and all things will be rewarded "good for good and evil for evil." This concept was thoughtfully explained by Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy,
"Heavenly Father placed us in this lone and dreary world to teach us what we need to learn so that we may become like Him. Our lives are changed daily by the incorrect decisions of others, by our own poor judgment, by the laws of nature, and by unforeseen circumstances in a world that was never designed to be fair.

"I have learned much from a book titled Why Did This Happen to Me? by Ray Pritchard. He says: 'Sometimes we will face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, ‘Quiet: God at Work.’ Meanwhile, hold on, child of God. Keep believing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Let God do His work in you. The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles.” (Trials, Tribulations, and Trust in the Lord, March 2014 Ensign)
Heavenly Father loves us so much that He provided the means necessary to find fulfillment and joy with Him in the eternities and here during our sojourn on earth. The means for this is our Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him. I am so grateful to Him for all that He has done for me. He has removed the burdens of my sins and He daily lightens my burdens of mortality. He is there for everyone of us. He is truly our Redeemer.

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