Our Most Unique Christmas


This year we spent all of Christmas Eve and half of Christmas Day in the Hospital.

J.R. started throwing up black blood around 1:30am on Christmas Eve. (Which is nicknamed coffee ground vomitus in the medical field just-so-ya-know)  When I told him that he needed to go to the hospital he very seriously said, "No I can't. I have to go to work."

I laugh about it now, because I think he was just in denial about how sick he was.

The ER admitted him into the Progressive Care Unit until they could schedule him for a stomach scope. The doctor who performed the scope was not able to pinpoint exactly where the bleeding was coming from, but he told us that J.R. has a medium sized hiatal hernia which may have caused the bleeding. It was frustrating not having definite answers but also a relief knowing that he didn't have severe ulcers or anything that was going to need immediate surgery that day.

The doctor who performed the scope does not perform surgery on hiatal hernias, but he was able to suggest another doctor at the hospital to call and schedule an appointment with.

After the scope, we went back to our room in the PCU. J.R. had really high hopes that he would be released since they were unable to locate the source of his bleeding - but that wasn't the case. We would be spending the night here.

J.R. was crushed. Christmas is his favorite holiday and now we were going to miss his family's Christmas Eve dinner and celebration. I tried my best to cheer him up. We listed to Christmas music on his cell phone while we played Yahtzee and then we watched The Christmas Story on TV. A group of carolers came and sang Christmas songs to every room in the unit, and our nurses were very kind. I felt like they went out of their way to interact and talk with us.

I was very impressed that people, especially the carolers, would spend their Christmas Eve trying to care for and cheer up strangers. Many of the patient in the PCU were very elderly and by themselves.  My heart broke that most of them would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone. At least J.R. and I were together.

The night seemed to last forever. (Which I think is very common for most people on Christmas Eve)  Until finally it was Christmas morning. J.R. hoped that he would be released first thing, but we had to wait for the doctor to arrive and review his case. There was a snow storm that morning and I was worried that the doctor would not be arriving for quite sometime. With each passing hour J.R. became more and more frustrated and depressed. His family kept calling, asking us for updates and when it became apparent that he wasn't going to be released anytime soon his dad said, "If you can't come to Christmas, we will bring Christmas to you." So they did. They packed up all the gifts, into two separate cars, and drove to the hospital.

Everyone crammed into J.R.'s tiny hospital room and opened gifts.  Towards the end, the doctor opened the door and with a bewildered looked on her face asked, "Where is my patient?" There wasn't any room for her to walk up to his bedside, so from the hall she said, "Well, would you like to go home? Let's get you out of here."

A couple hours later we left that room behind with a garbage full of Christmas wrapping paper and big smiles on our faces. We walked out into the frigid afternoon air that day with a greater appreciation for good health, family, and the blessing of being able to spend time together.

On the way home, J.R. said multiple times how concerned he was about getting our driveway shoveled. (I'm more laid back about it, but he hates having an icy driveway.) I figured I would probably have to shovel it tomorrow, but as we pulled up to our house I practically yelled, "Someone shoveled our driveway!" J.R. was seriously stunned.


                               


We aren't sure who took the time during their Christmas day to come to shovel our long drive way, but we will always be grateful to them. It was one of the best gifts of the day and made coming home that much better.

This wasn't our favorite Christmas, but it was definitely our most unique. Do you have a unique Christmas story? I'd love to hear about it.




Choosing Clarity - Book Review

Last January I set a New Year's resolution to read five different books - all from a different genre.
I decided to read: an award winner, a mystery, a classic, a book for "young readers", and a self-help book.  (If you're curious to know which books I chose to fulfill each category click here)

Today I'm so excited to talk about the last book from my list - the self help book - Choosing Clarity.

                                              


The author, Kimberly Giles wrote an article for our local newspaper  a few years ago titled "Are you fighting for success in life or drifting?" Her article spoke to my heart, and I knew her message was something that I needed to learn more about.

Which was why I was very excited to read through her book. This book is easy to read, but it took me a while to get through it all. The chapters aren't long and the words are simple, but the message is deep. I found myself rereading paragraphs and even whole chapters, just trying to let the messages sink in.

The blurb from Goodreads says,
"Has Fear Become Your Comfort Zone? Fear will rob you of peace, joy, and motivation. It will damage your relationships. It is the root cause of most problems you face. Can you even imagine a life without fear, stress and worry? Author and popular life coach Kimberly Giles has created a simple system used by thousands of people around the world to beat fear and live with clarity, confidence and power. When you read Choosing Clarity, you'll discover Kimberly's revolutionary process to eliminate your fear of failure and loss, reprogram your subconscious mind and stop living on auto-pilot, feel better about yourself and your life, learn new ways to deal with people and problem, and write personal policies that create success."


One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“Your life will always be the perfect classroom journey for you and every experience that shows up in your journey is here to serve you. There is meaning and purpose behind everything that happens. There are no accidents which means your suffering through difficulties is never for nothing."

It's definitely a book you'll want to read more than once!

***

What's been your favorite self-help book that you've read? I'd love to know.







What Running a Half Marathon Taught Me About Life.



Whether you're running a long distance race, or just having a tough time in life, these pieces of advice apply equally to both: 

Your mental stamina, and a good attitude are the most important things.

Just Breath. . Seriously deep breaths. It'll get better.

Friends make unpleasant situations almost fun.

The right shoes are more important than you think.

Dreams do come true, and goals can be accomplished, 
but you have to work at it everyday. 

Its really hard, but it's worth it. 

***

What has running taught you about life?




More Than a Beautiful Life.

Carolyn Costin

I admire women who have style and class, and I appreciate artistic photos and designs.
But I believe there is too much emphasis placed on beauty.

Am I saying it's bad to want to look good? Not at all! We all want to feel confident in who we are;  but who we are is more than a body and clothes, and more than our makeup and hair. 

I believe who we are is something that is felt more than seen. It's not easily labeled or photographed, but that doesn't make it less important. 
Some of the best things in life - some of the best things about you - can't be captured in a photo.

We all know that life online is a fragment of the real, breathing, and bleeding life we live outside of the internet. Life online is framed, polished, beautiful, and misleading.

My feed is saturated with specific types of blogs; the most popular ones showing me how to make my life more beautiful: the DIY Home Decor Blogs teaching me how to make my home beautiful, the Fashion Bloggers showing the prettiest fashion styles of the season, the Beauty Blogs with tutorials on how to style my hair and makeup so I can improve my look, the Travel Blogs showcasing beautiful places from around the world, the Cooking Blogs teaching me how to make beautiful and delicious food, and then there's the Lifestyle Blogs showing us that we can have it all - everything that we've dreamed of - in one beautiful life. 

Except, my life doesn't look like any of  these blogs, and I'm not sure that I want it to anymore.
I've decided that I want more than a beautiful life - I want a meaningful life.

The greatest value of our lives shouldn't be placed on whether or not it's beautiful.

I'm sure the women who work hard to create these blogs can offer us more than just pretty things.  
What if, as women, we joined together to switch our focus from making our lives more beautiful to making our lives more meaningful?

How would the blogging world be different?

How would the world be different? 








Halloween 2015

I know November is almost over - but I still wanted to post about our Halloween party!
It was crazy busy but so much fun!


Looking at this picture makes my heart happy. These are my adorable sisters and their kids. From left to right there is Cinderella, Barbie, a Flower Child, a Rodeo Clown and a little Bull. .

I love seeing how creative people are when they making their own Halloween costumes. They always turn out way better than the typical store bought ones!


                                 

I wish I would have had more time to take pictures of all the decorations. My husband and his family went all out transforming our front yard into a cemetery. You can see below that there are two coffins, plus hand made wooden-cross grave markers. At night my husband has a fog machine going and plays scary music to give it an even creepier atmosphere. 


I'm so grateful that both of our families love to get together and celebrate the holidays.  

***

Do you have a favorite homemade Halloween costume? I'd love to hear about it.  

Local Authors and You

Have you ever had a dream that meant so much to you that you were afraid to tell anyone about it? Well that's how I feel about writing. I want to be a published author, but even saying those words out loud is scary. Why? I'm guess I'm afraid of failure, or that people will ask what I want to write about and i'm just not ready to talk about it.
Ha! Silly huh?

Well, I'm so grateful I was able to attend Local Authors and You. This is an event where authors from Utah gather to sign their books and teach writing workshops.

I spent the majority of my time at the writing workshops because (I'm embarrassed to say) I didn't know any of the local authors before this event! *face-palm* But the authors I met were amazing! The were so kind and understanding about what it feels like to be an aspirating author. I seriously left feeling extremely impressed with our writing community.

In this post I'll be telling you my favorite piece of writing advice from six of the authors' workshops.





1. The first workshop I attended was given by Mette Ivie Harrison on "Writing Through Fear".
I found it comforting to know that other people experience the same fears that I have about writing. The workshop covered 13 different reasons why writing can be scary and what we can do to overcome those fears. My favorite quote from her is:
 "People choose for themselves whether or not they are going to get good enough to get published... Fear is what prevent you from practicing to get good enough. You will find the time to write if you remove the excuses, by removing the fear."
On her website, Mette has devoted am entire page to giving writing advice. You can find it here.
Mette has written a 2014 New York Times Notable Book titled The Bishop's Wife.


2. The second workshop was "The 10 Must Haves in Romance" given by Cindy Hogan.
Of course this workshop was full of only women. Ha! I won't list all ten items because I feel like that would be plagiarizing, but I'll share with you my favorite tip from her. (Which could apply to any genre.) Cindy said,
"The key to making one of your character's qualities stick with your reader is to show that quality three separate times. For example: if you have a character that you want your readers to believe is loyal than you have to show your character being loyal during three separate incidents."  
Cindy wrote "Winner of Best YA Novel of the Year 2013" titled Gravediggers. You can find Cindy's website here.


3. The third workshop was given by Ka Hanok titled, "Every Character needs a problem: Conflict with a side of turmoil." During this workshop, the few key points that stood out to me was how important it is to reveal your character a little-by-little as the story unfolds. The reader wants to learn something about your character that isn't obvious in the beginning. Ka also said:
"Sometimes you have a great idea and great conflict, but your not comfortable enough to write about it. You need to be honest in telling the story. Be fearless about telling the character's story."
Ka Hanok wrote the book Dancing on Broken Glass.


4. The fourth workshop I attended was titled "Character Development" and was hosted by Rebecca Ethington. The workshop was set up as a Q&A - where we could ask her any of our questions regarding characters. My favorite quote from her workshop was:
"If the reader is not connecting with your characters, they're not connecting with your story... When you write it, and you feel it, all your readers will feel it too." 
Rebecca wrote the Imadalind Series, starting with Kiss of Fire. Click here for her website.


5. Jo Schneider held a workshop called "Character depth: git rid of the water wings and let your characters soak up some substance." She based this workshop off of the book Getting into Character - Seven Secrets a Novelist can learn from Actors. She had very interesting suggestions and talked about "interviewing" your characters to learn more about them. It sounds kinda crazy, but it gets results! She said,
"Dig into your character until you find something interesting. Then keep digging." 
Jo wrote the book New Sight. Click here to find her blog.


6. The last workshop I attended was by Laura Bastian titled: "How to get over writers block."
She had some really great tips, like setting a timer and writing for 30 mins to see how many words you can get on the page. But I have to say that the biggest piece of advice that stood out to me was how important it is to have a writing group or at least a writing friend that you can bounce ideas off of. Each author had mentioned how influential their own writing group had been on the success of their careers. It made me realize that I need to find a support group with the same passion. I asked Laura if she had any suggestions for me and she gave me a list of online communities:

LDS Story Makers Conference
League of Utah Writers
Sprintwriters.blogspot.com
iwritenetwork.com

Laura wrote the book Eye on Orion. You can find her website here.

I also won a book, from the raffle that was held, called Dead or Undead written by Angela Scott. It's a book about zombies in the wild west (which isn't a book I would normally pick up) but because I'm obsessed with The Walking Dead I gave it a chance. You guys, it was so entertaining!

***

Have you read any local authors? I'd love to hear about them.

More Than Beautiful

Our Instagram feeds (and the internet in general) are over saturated with beautifully staged, flawless pictures and posts.

Do you ever crave something more than just beauty? Does your heart ever seek for something more?

I know mine does.

Chantelystudios and I (together with you) are hoping to create a change.

We believe as women, we can offer more to this world than beauty; we can contribute to something more meaningful.


#morethanbeautiful is a new Instagram hashtag focused on opening our hearts and building a community of women who have something more than just beautiful pictures to share. Women who have something meaningful to share.

We want to see past your perfect pictures and read what your heart and mind have to say. Share something with us that's inspirational, educational, entertaining, or heartbreaking. We want our hearts touched and our minds opened. We want to know the real you.

How does #morethanbeautiful work?

Each Monday a prompt for the week will be posted on our Instagram accounts. It will be a single word to help guide you. Then you can post anytime during the week using the hashtag to share something with us that is more than beautiful. It doesn't have to be profound; simple messages often have the greatest impact. 

Everyone is invited to participate. This hashtag is about meaningful connections. 

Join us. Share with us. Contribute to something more.

(The first prompt will be given Monday November 9th)




Blind Burger Challenge


In the last six months or so J.R. and I started watching a YouTube channel called Good Mythical Morning. Guys - if you haven't watched Rhett and Link before you are missing out on some major laughs! One of our favorite videos of theirs is the "Blind Burger Challenge."





To start the challenge you have to buy cheese burgers from five different fast food restaurants. We used: McDonald's, Wendy's, Carl's Jr., In and Out, and Burger King. (Sense there were going to be 6 people all together, we bought three burgers from each fast food restaurant and then cut each burger into quarters.)

We ordered cheese burgers with ketchup only from each restaurant (except In and Out had their special sauce) because we thought it would make it a more difficult challenge. By ordering them with ketchup only, the other toppings wouldn't give it away. (You know, like how McDonald's hamburgers have chopped onions and Carl's Jr uses rings?)

The first level of the challenge is to be able to taste a hamburger (while blind folded) and then name the fast food restaurant where the hamburger is from.


The Knolls Utah

10/17/2015

We feel so blessed to have been able to spend the day riding around The Knolls with our friends. 

J.R. used to ride before he went on his mission, and we just haven't been able to buy him a new "toy" sense then. But my little sister and her husband let us use their Polaris RZR -  which lived up to all of our expectations.  



Tracking the travel of the sun was impossible with the cloud cover, so time felt endless and the amount of open space limitless. Each of us with salt and a smile on our lips. An infinity of wind, dust, and freedom. Reminiscent of childhood days when the concept of time didn't exist, and the only purpose in life was to explore this world with your friends.


And there was a lot to explore! Out on the salt flats, people have built some quirky and amazing structures. I didn't even get pictures of all of them!

September - The Moon and Us.





Sunday
September 27, 2015

In a few minutes there will be a Blood Moon and a Total Lunar Eclipse. A rare astronomical event. Many speculate that it's a sign of "the end of times".  The ushering in of the end of the world.

But today has already held a significant ending. An end to a special hope. An end to a future life.

My body feels tired as I sit in a rocking chair facing the east window in our living room. The night is quiet and still, everyone waiting.

 I watch the light slowly drain from the moon and the darkness envelope her.

It's then I realize everything in this world must pass through darkness - even the moon. But what if the moon never reflected light again? What if the moon was somehow swallowed up in the darkness? 

Watching the moon, I can't help but ponder the last two days. My thoughts return to Friday morning. The beginning of the end. 



Three Book Reviews

Remember way back in January when I set
a goal to read 5 different books: A Mystery, 
a Classic, a book for "Young Readers", 
a Self-Help, and an Award Winning book?

Well its ok if you don't remember because 
 I almost forgot about my my own goal! 

But I'm happy to say I've read 3 out of the 5 on my 
list and still have a quarter of the year left to go.

So here is a review of the three I've read so far:


Image from Amazon



Catcher in the Rye - A Classic:
I started and restarted this book three times. It's written in first person from the perspective of the main character, whose name is Holden.
I had such a hard time with the narrative (and the book) because it took me a while to figure out if I liked Holden as a person or not. 
About half way through the book though, he started to tug at my heart stings and I couldn't help but hope the best for him. 
This is one of my favorite parts of the novel: 
"It was raining like hell and we were out on her porch, and all of a sudden this booze hound her mother was married to came out on the porch and asked Jane if there were any cigarettes in the house. He had a lousy personality. Anyway, old Jane wouldn't answer him when he asked her if she knew where there was any cigarettes. So the guy asked her again, but she still wouldn't answer him. She didn't even look up from the game. Finally the guy went inside the house. When he did, I asked Jane what the hell was going on. She wouldn't even answer me, then. She made out like she was concentrating on her next move in the game and all. Then all of a sudden, this tear plopped down on the checkerboard. I don't know why, but it bothered hell out of me. So what I did was, I went over and made her move over on the glider so that I could sit down next to her – I practically sat down in her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over—anywhere—her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears—her whole face except her mouth and all. She sort of wouldn't let me get to her mouth. Anyway, it was the closest we ever got to necking. I asked her if Mr. Cudahy – that was the booze hound's name – had ever tried to get wise with her. She was pretty young, but she had this terrific figure, and I wouldn't've put it past that Cudahy bastard. She said no, though. I never did find out what the hell was the matter. Some girls you practically never find out what's the matter." 
                      


                     ***                         




Image from Amazon
                     



We Were Liars  - A Mystery: 
This was also written in first person through the eyes (and unreliable mind) of Cadence Sinclair Eastman. 
I have never read anything like this before. The style of this book was completely foreign to me. It's poetic, beautiful, and tragic all at once. It really pulled me in and I soaked up all the artistic imagery, while at the same time falling in love with the story. 
But when I got to the end and the mystery was revealed, I was so crushed that I literally could not talk to anyone about it for three days. I threw the book in a drawer and still haven't touched it, and now I can't even decided if I like the book or not.
There are so many quotable lines in this novel - it's hard to pick a favorite! I like this one though: 
"We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed." 


***



from: The Tip Toe Fairy.com



All the Light We Cannot See - An Award Winner: 
After finishing this book I could not stop thinking about it! For two weeks it was all I wanted to talk about. 
The story is told in a nonlinear fashion, which at first I found slightly annoying, but as the story progressed I was amazed that the author could spin together such an amazing story this way. The nonlinear form created the most dramatic and emotional effect. The story had me quickly turning pages from the very beginning, but it took a while for me to get attached to the characters - I'm not exactly sure why. Mostly, I just felt like I was watching them from a distance, but towards the beginning of the end I realized I was hooked. 
There is so much beautiful language throughout this novel, it's hard to pick a favorite quote so here's two: 
 
"To men like that. time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it's a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop."
"Don't you want to be alive before you die?"  

***

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? 
I'd love to hear from you - even if you have 
a different opinion than mine! 

Have you read anything that you've fallen in love with lately? 


El Habanero Mexican Restaurant

Its has been awhile sense I've done a restaurant review.
I only spotlight local restaurants and diners. It's always a special occasion when we get to eat out and it's seems to make the experience even more special when you know the food you're enjoying can't be duplicated anywhere else. 
This review is on one of our local favorites:

If you like Mexican food, then you gotta eat at the El Habanero.

Don't judge a book by it's cover - or a restaurant by it's size. 
Even though this place is small, they serve up 
large portions full of amazing flavor.  







25th Birthday + 25 Random Acts of Kindness

Ever since I turned twenty I've had a 
really hard time with my birthday. 
I know. People tell me I'm crazy (maybe I am) 
and that I should NOT be feeling sad about 
my birthday because I'm still young.  

Maybe they are right - but it still doesn't help. 
Each year when my birthday came around 
I would spend the majority of the day feeling really down. 

This year, I knew I had to do something different. 

I had read about people doing Random Acts of Kindness 
on their birthday and I really liked the idea because 
I felt like it would be the perfect thing to distract me 
from dwelling on the fact that I'm another year older.

Plus, if in the process of celebrating my birthday, 
I could help other people have a better day 
then it's a win-win for everyone. 


I asked, my twin sister, Chantel if she'd like to celebrate 
our birthday together doing Random Acts of Kindness, and together we came up with this list of 25 acts - one for each year we've been alive. 


Photo credit: heather a. stillufsen 


Free Acts of Kindness: 
1. Compliment a stranger. 
2. Collect all the shopping carts in a parking lot. 
3. Let people go in front of you at a checkout stand.
4. Write inspirational quotes with chalk on the sidewalk
5. Hold the door open for someone. 
6. Write kind words on sticky notes and leave them on a public bathroom mirror
7. Tell a Random parent that you think they are doing a good job with their kids.
8. Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people.
9. Write your husband a list of things you love about him.


2015 Summer Camping

We did a lot of camping this summer so I'm just going to lump 
all our camping adventures together in one big post.

 American Fork Canyon - July 17

We headed up the American Fork Canyon Friday night after work. 
We were supposed to leave around 6pm but of course we didn't leave until 8pm.
We had planned on camping at the Salamander Flat Campground which is first come first serve, 
plus it's free to camp there. So we knew it would fill-up fast. 

As we got there we realized the site was completely full, and now the sun was setting and night was falling fast. Completely disappointed and not sure what to do next we lingered 
by our vehicles trying to figure out where we should go. 

Just then we realized an older couple with a camp trailer was packing up the last of their belongings. We asked them if they were leaving and they said they were and that we could take their spot.

We seriously lucked out! 



There is a ridge lookout just up the hill from the campsite, 
and the next night we caught the most beautiful sunset. 

                                   
                   

                               



Bear Lake- August 1

This camping trip was the yearly Groberg Campout. 
We went to Bear Lake and camped on the Idaho side.
 Unfortunately, we didn't have a motorized boat, but John had borrowed two of
 the pontoon boats from his brothers, so we still had a lot of fun out in the water.  

On Sunday we drove up to see the Minnetonka Cave.  
We got there right when they opened so we ended up being the ones there. 
It was really fun, because it made it felt like a private tour. 









         This is the first major stairway in the cave. There are 896 total stairs in the cave. (round trip)
We also saw a few bats flying around, which I wasn't excited about, 
but overall it was a super fun experience!



And of course, we caught another gorgeous sunset on the lake. 
I really wanted to have a fire on the beach, but it would have been difficult for 
some members of J.R.'s family, so we'll have to try that another time. 




Mirror Lake Highway - August 13

This was the camping trip J.R. and went on by ourselves. 
We wanted to try and redeem ourselves from the last years camping trip
 when we tried to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. 
(You can read about last year's experience in the post called: Moonlight Camping

We headed back to the mirror lake highway to try and see this year's display of shooting stars. 
We hadn't made reservations or planned out exactly where we wanted to camp. Plus, neither one of us had ever driven the entire Mirror Lake Highway or even been to the actual Mirror Lake -  
which definitely made this trip feel more like an adventure. 



We eventually decided to stay at the Moosehorn Campground at site #4.
 And even though it was one of the only sites not reserved or taken, it was still a really good site. 
  


We loved everything about Moosehorn. There is a beautiful large pond and because the elevation is so high, the temperature stayed cool all day. 


We were worried about not being able to see the shooting stars because of the cloud cover, 
but around 10 pm the clouds cleared and we had the most spectacular view of the milky way.
We counted over 15 meteors, and didn't even stay up to see the peak hours. 
We were both so tired that we went to bed around midnight. 
Everything about it was absolutely perfect though. 








Not gonna lie, it took a few hours to get used to the elevation change. 
There was a point when we were setting up camp that we both 
started feeling light headed and dizzy, I never thought I'd 
get elevation sickness but it happened. haha




The next day we went to the Provo River Falls and explored some
 of the lookouts and cliffs around Bald Mountain Pass. 

Then we drove about two minutes from our campground to Mirror Lake. 
You guys - the pictures do not do it justice. This place is beautiful. 




There is a trail that goes all the way around the lake. 
It took us less than an hour and it's flat most of the way.  
As we walked around the lake, we counted six or seven people who caught a fish as we walked by. 
I don't know if we're good luck charms or if the fishing is just that amazing here. 




We can't wait to come back to this area. 
As we were leaving J.R. said, "Next to our honeymoon and our vacation to 
Disneyland, I think this is one of the best trips we've ever done together." 




Hot Time

July 7th 2015

Mom sent me a text at around 5:00 am that read, "Our barn burnt down last night but we're ok."
I sat up in bed, squinting my eyes as they adjusted to the back light of my phone, and read the text three more times.  My sleepy mind unsure if I was awake.

Our barn? Our barn burnt down?
With a pounding heart I called mom.
Her voice seemed tired but I could hear an edge of adrenaline.
"Yes. We're Ok. Yes. Penny is fine. Yes. The house and the neighbors property are fine.
Four alarm fire, four fire trucks. We're lucky it wasn't worse. Heavenly Father was really watching out for us."

Deep breaths.

 "No. I don't think you need to call into work. We're ok"  

I can tell when she's lying.
I pulled into their driveway an hour later. 
The smell of fire and ash thick in the air. 

It really did burn down.






Smoke was still rising from the pile of charcoal, so mom placed a 
sprinkler on it to help prevent any new flames from jumping back to life. 

The barn that burnt was where we normally kept our cows. We had placed sawdust in the barn as bedding which only fed the fire as it ripped through the structure. 

We were all grateful that at we hadn't purchased any cows this year, or
we would have lost them in a devastating way.  







In the picture below, the fence on the right is the
property line between our property and our neighbors.
We're still not sure how the fire didn't jump the fence, but we're all grateful it didn't.



Our family will forever be grateful to everyone who helped us this day. Everyone from the excited firefighters, to the random stranger, to all of our family and friends who took the time to help us dig out the smoldering floor of the barn.

There were so many miracles that took place and we all believe that Heavenly Father was looking over us, our neighbors, and the animals.

  





How I Live my Big Dreams in Little Ways + a Link-Up

Do you have a big dream in life?

Something that seems like it will 
almost always be out of reach?

Maybe it's something that your mind tells you
 will probably never happen, but your heart is 
in love with this idea so you daydream about it anyways?

Well don't spend your whole life wishing and dreaming! 

Starting today - make an effort to live those big 
dreams in small ways.




I have a big dream of being a paid writer/published author. 
So in order to live this dream in a small way, 
I started this blog and I occasionally
 submit articles to our local paper. 
Am I getting paid to write? Not really - but I still love it!

I also set a new writing goal for myself for the month of July. 
I want to write 500 words a day for 30 days 
to develop the first draft of a novel. 

Is this first draft going to be perfect? 
Absolutely not.  

But its a small step on my writing journey, 
and I'm excited about it  


Another dream of mine is to have my own garden 
and a small homesteading farm. 
At this point in my life, I don't have the ability 
to make this dream a reality.

So, to live this dream in a small way, planted
 one fruit and one vegetable plant this spring. 

Am I anywhere close to having my own homestead? No. 

But seeing those plants grow and develop 
still brings me a small piece of happiness each day.  

And that's what this idea is all about. 

It's about the daily pieces of happiness and the excitement 
that comes from not only setting goals, but reaching them. 


So, don't put off those dreams 
that seem impossible! 

I want to encourage you 
to start living those big dreams in small ways. Not only does each small step carry you closer to realizing your ultimate goal, but it will bring more happiness into your life. 

***



Do you have a big dream that you live in a small way? 

I would love to hear about it! 

If you feel inspired to write your own blog
post about this, please feel free to use the link-up below! 







Why my Parent's Divorce was Good for Me


My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I spent a majority of my life thinking my family was broken or inferior to those families that had not experienced divorce. I believed that my parents divorce created a life of disadvantage for my siblings and me.  

As I reflect back on my life though, I've come to the realization that in some aspects my parents divorce was actually good for me.  At a young age, my parents divorce taught me four important life lessons: I gained a deeper understanding about what is most valuable in life, what it means to be resilient, that life isn't perfect, and that love takes work and patience.

1. I learned that not everyone gets to live "happily ever after".  Love, in real life, is different than the love portrayed in fairy tales. "Happily ever after" isn't something that happens to you. Lasting love is something spouses work together towards everyday.

2. My parents divorce made me realize that I'm not always going to get what I want in life. Life isn't perfect. It doesn't go according to our plans. What we wish, hope, and pray for doesn't always happen. 

But Heavenly Father cares for, and is aware of, each of his children. When your heart is crushed and the darkness starts to dim your faith, Heavenly Father's love for you is still there. Even when your world seems to be falling a part, the Lord extents tender mercies to each of us.

3. By going through the struggle and heartbreak of a divorce, and by realizing that life is not always easy and that we can not wish our problems away, my parent's divorce taught me resilience. 

The dictionary defines resilience as, "The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness." I know that in life, things often get worse before they get better - but they do get better.

Forgiveness, faith, and love each contribute to the healing process. Healing doesn't always happen as fast as we want, but slowly you'll heal and become stronger.

4. Because of my parents divorce, I have almost no attachment to material possessions. Items can be disregarded, lost, or stolen but the love found in relationships can be carried within our hearts through space and time. My parent's divorce taught me that the most valuable things in life are the relationships we have with ourselves and the relationships we share with those people closest to us.

The attitude we have towards ourselves and the thoughts we carry within us have a huge impact on our individual healing process. Which is why the relationship you have with yourself is one of the most important relationships to nurture and develop.

It's our family and friends, not material possession, that are the most important blessing in life. I'm grateful to have learned, at a young age, that the relationships and interaction we have with ourselves, our friends and our family members are some of the most important blessing in life.



                  



Please understand that I am not an advocate for divorce. Divorce is devastating for everyone involved, but it is especially heartbreaking when it involves children.

I wish that more people would learn ways to better themselves so that they could better their marriages. 

In a perfect world, couples would fall more and more in love with each other each year they've been married. But we don't live in a perfect world. Divorce is something that effects thousands of people and hundreds of generations. 

I just hope that those who have experience divorce are able to recognize the valuable life lessons it contains.