Sunday, July 26, 2015

Has it only been a week?

Last week my family was in town. While they were planning the trip I had the best idea of my life of having them come to my apartment on Sunday to have family dinner. I asked them to bring masa from back home so that we could make huaraches (my favorite Mexican dish on the planet!). I don't know what it was, but those huaraches turned out to be the best huaraches I have had in a LONG time. My dad just has this way of kneading the masa and making them taste extra delicious or maybe it was just the fact that I could once again taste my Mom's fresh homemade salsa? ¿Que se yo? All I know was that it was delicious! Seriously the best, even Ezra expressed that these were some dang good huaraches!

& lastly a cute picture of my grandmother.
We took her on a sightseeing trip of Provo 
& I thought that this crown from a local toy store was just really fitting.

Friday, July 24, 2015

I've always been a proponent of REALtalk. 

High up on my list of pet peeves is the meet-a-new-person-ritual of question asking that we all inevitably engage in though not necessarily caring about the answers that result: 'what's your major?', 'where are you from?', 'where did you serve your mission?' I understand the need to establish the foundation, but it irks me when conversations jump straight from the standard whos, whats, and wheres skipping straight over the 'whys' and landing somewhere in the realms of small-talk weather forecasting. 
These are the things that ail me in life. 

A few weeks ago, I was lounging on the nice snug brown couch in my apartment during a lunch break from work when out of a google session concerning a certain British celebrity came the birth of a beautiful idea—Facesof97.

I honestly believe that there is no such thing as a boring person. 
There are only boring questions that make people look boring. 

It was my love of storytelling that led me to become a Journalism (News Media & Design) major in my undergrad years. I'm a people person...I love them/us! If there's anything I learned during my years as a undergrad, it's that a few good questions change 
| e v e r y t h i n g |

So while seated on this brown couch I thought, what if I asked people in my ward really REALLY good questions and filmed their responses, but edited out my question asking. BOOM. That person suddenly becomes the most interesting person in the ward, & two things will naturally follow 1) other wardians will want to get to know them, 2) they'll have something awesome to talk about. This idea literally CONSUMED me and I recruited my friends Lauren Christiansen and Arielle Nelson to join me on this endeavor. 

Lauren & I developed a(n everygrowing) list of questions one day after breakfast, ran them over with our friend Kelly, and then coordinated with Arielle. We film two videos every Sunday and then post the videos on our youtube channel/our ward FB page every Wednesday like clockwork. I can honestly say that I am so proud of this little project: if anything it's helped me to recognize what a beautiful gift personalities are!
The interviews are RAW.
No one gets to know the questions they'll be asked beforehand.
& that mis queridos is personality perfection.

Monday, July 20, 2015


My family took a road trip to Utah this week. I made a list for my mom of things that I wanted her to bring from home for me, my car registration, my old iPhone case, proof of insurance to keep in my car, and my Disney backpack.

Wait, what?
Disney backpack?

One Christmas (I think I was 7) my mom bought me this backpack.

I remember hating it. I told her that I knew the kids at school would make fun of me for wearing it. She reassured me that all would be well, so I took it to school one day. Turns out, it wasn't the kids at school that made fun of my backpack, it was my teacher, Mrs. Ethirveerasingam, who told me that it looked like a parachuter's backpack. I was mortified and never took it to school again.

Over the years, I started collecting special things in the backpack, my favorite charm bracelets, programs from my graduation ceremonies, inspirational quotes I had found through life's journey. This backpack became my treasure chest. I slept with it by my pillow just in case a fire broke out in the middle of the night or some other natural disaster occurred and I had to leave in a rush. I even told my mom that if I died at a young age I wanted this backpack buried in my casket with me (I was a strange child).

I hadn't touched this backpack in years! On Thursday night, Tiana and I went through the contents and I was hit with a hard wave of nostalgia. I also got a little bit sad as I rediscovered the contents of that backpack, thinking of moments I had spent in my adolescent years not appreciating who I was and wishing I could look e a little more like someone else. I looked at my collection of trinkets and memories and thought, "these things belong to a beautiful soul!'

I've had a couple of thoughts lately on beauty and what it means to 'be beautiful.' My thoughts are not completely developed and so if you have thoughts, please share!
I'll let you in on a little "secret"...I've never dated anyone! & I'll let you in on an even bigger "secret"—that has never really bothered me! Hence my use of quotation marks. I just know that for some, this can be a scary thing to reveal...

Too often I think we define our beauty by what other's think about us, how many boys are pursuing us, how many people compliment our different physical features or overall appearance, how many 'likes' we get on a photo on instagram/Facebook, etc. On the other hand I feel like sometimes discussions on 'beauty' often leads to an unnecessary amount of hating on those who the world deems beautiful. 'They're not real!' 'They're beautiful, but really dumb.' 'She's pretty, but she has a horrible personality!' 'Well, but she's dressed super immodestly.'

I think hate in ANY form is ugly.

The following isn't doctrine. It's an opinion from the gospel of life according to Lauren. I honestly believe that Heavenly Father blesses us with different talents and gifts, and for some people one of their gifts is to be physically attractive by the standards of the world, and you know what, THAT'S OKAY! I think being physically attractive can be both a strength and a weakness. As with any gift, it can blind us, it can distract us from our true purpose, 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' Just because I wasn't given the height or body type of a model or celebrity, I don't think that God loves me any less or that I'm any less beautiful; because the thing is, I've been blessed with so many other talents, gifts and abilities! Along with that, I know that I am a daughter of God with infinite potential. & if that's true, what else matters??

Growing up, one of my happy songs was 'Video' by India.Arie (I think it was first released in 2001!) If you have never heard the song, PLEASE watch the music video blow! There is so much truth and wisdom contained in the 3:45 minutes of the music video and you can't help but feel good about yourself when you hear it.

Just to highlight some of the gems of wisdom contained in the song:

I'm not the average girl from your video
& I ain't built like a supermodel
But I learned to love myself unconditionally, 
Because I am a queen
Every freckle on my face is where it's supposed to be
And I know my creator didn't make no mistakes on me
My feet, my thighs, my lips, my eyes, I'm loving what I see

Today, I was looking at CNN's website and found this project called The Atlas of Beauty where a Romanian photographer documents her journey around the world to capture beauty in the environment of cultures around the world! I love it!
All photos from the Atlas of Beauty

Am I prone to moments of weakness where I'm not the biggest fan of myself or what Heavenly Father has given me? OF COURSE! But, I'm pretty good at snapping myself out of it because I whole -heartedly believe in what Sis. Elaine S. Dalton shares in the video below.

I have tried to live by the motto, 'be loyal to the royal within you.' It's my personal belief that when we pass on to the next stage of eternity our beauty will be measured by the glow of our countenance. Stacy Talbot shared this scripture from the Book of Mormon with me while I was in Argentina,
And they did impart of their substance, every many according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
Comely isn't a word that we use very often in today's day and age, but it means 'generally pleasant and attractive-looking.' In fact, in the Spanish version of the Book of Mormon comely is translated to atractivos.

I have such faith that light cleaves unto light (D&C 88:40) and that we can do more good when we seek to develop our inner beauty rather than obsessing over our physical features.

I truly & honestly believe that EVERYONE on this earth has the potential to cultivate a beautiful soul and that we are all Kings and Queens in training.

Friday, July 17, 2015

warm winter wishes—in july.

I was practically chastised by my Mom yesterday for not having sent this package yet. So maybe that goal of sending my brother a package a month was a bit lofty? Although, I really think it was the month in Argentina that messed me up. You would think that sending my brother a package from Argentina (which is RIGHT next door to Chile) would be less expensive—not so.  It's almost like Heavenly Father was nudging me to send this package because I also got a text from my former Young Women's leader asking about the greenie package I had sent Devin when he first left.

It's winter in South America and I felt silly gathering things associated with cold weather, but que se puede hacer? nada!

in this package:a fluffy pullover sweater, a cardigan, a Messi soccer jersey (a souvenir from my time in Buenos Aires), a pack of Halls cough drops, packets of Abuelitas hot chocolate, a container of something called 'mallow bits', honey, two packets of campbell's soup, carmex, yierbabuena tea, and a package of EmergenC. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

this week's happenings.

Somehow blogging this summer has turned into a weekly update type post in the form of a Sunday activity. Not that there's ANYTHING wrong with that, in fact, it helps it feel even more like a journal with a tone of a missionary-email update. Summer is strange in that my weekdays feel more like weekends and Saturdays have turned more into my I've-got-chores-and-errands-to-do days. So strange, but I like feeling like I have more weekends than chore days. 

On Monday I got to cross off a BYU Bucketlist item... (It's been a while since I did one of those)

#36 Feed the ducks at the duckpond

My FHE (Family Home Evening) group had a boat building competition and race down BYU's nice little nature walk. I didn't have time to gather boat making materials, but I had inherited some bread ends from a ward breakfast and brought those along so that we could feed the birds ducks. 

On Wednesday we had a combined RS2/EQ2 Cultural night activity where we had a cultural potluck, listened to cultural music, and even danced a little cultural dancing. I made 3 things of 9x13 enchiladas. I would have made more, but my big bag of cheese ran out. Also, thanks Mom for teaching me your Mexican cooking skills. Enchiladas brought to you by years of training by Liz Flores.

This week at work I got to help out with a Religious Freedom conference. Yara, a sweet girl from Barcelona (who studies in PARIS!) came as an exchange student for the week and I got to show her around Provo on Thursday. I loved being able to speak Spanish with her, mostly because recently I've just fallen in love with the Spanish accent (thanks Gran hotel!) We listened to Julieta Venegas in my car and ate really delicious food at the Provo FoodTruck roundup. I'm obsessed.

This week I tried the Mousetrap Truck which boasts some delicious gourment grilled cheese sandwiches.
I tried (& LOVED) the Nicolas Cage—sharp cheddar cheese, sliced apples, pulled prk, brown sugar glaze and spring mix. 
& there was a DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!!
The sky was too beautiful for words that day.
We told Yara she had to try a pie shake from Zeke's. She was kind of grossed out by the concept of a pie blended in liquid form, but she got over it. Mine was voted the most delicious! #pumpkincheesecake
On Saturday, I went with ward friends to the Timpanogas temple (Provo is closed). It was JAMPACKED! We stopped at in-n-out on the way home. I love burgers, but I seriously want to eat nothing but salads this week. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

To Forgive is Divine.

This story really begins last Sunday.

The name of a mission friend popped into my head and I felt impressed to text him, 'but I haven't seen him/heard from him/talked to him in SO long' I thought. In fact, I didn't think I had his phone number anymore. I technically didn't have his number, but somehow my phone linked his name with his number #iCloud. Anyways, we got in touch and that was a spiritual experience in and of itself (let's just say we thought about each other at the same time, and I was able to help a friend in need!), and I felt impressed to invite him to church with me this Sunday.

We made plans and they became concrete, BUT in the back of my mind I had this little voice that was like, 'honestly, this probably won't happen.' You see, literally EVERY time we've made plans they've fallen through, and so I kind of had that mentality, although during the week he had assured me he would be there. To make a long story short, I was sitting in ward council when I got his text that began, "You're gonna hate me..." I didn't even have to read the rest of the text to know what was happening. Honestly, my first thoughts weren't exactly Christlike. I contemplated giving him a piece of my mind and sending him on this guilt trip, but then I thought, "just say 'ok' no need to make someone feel worse than they already do...' So I did, along with the smiley/blushy face emoji (it's one of my faves).

Later, as the sacrament was being passed I was saying a prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for the week that I had been blessed with when the word 'forgive' came into my mind. I was so confused. (The events from the morning were completely out of my mind at this point) When I think of the word 'forgive' I think of the big time grievances; I think about BIG sins and how I could probably forgive someone if they hurt me physically or if they hurt someone I love. There was no entry in the Bible Dictionary on forgiveness, so I searched the word 'forgive' on I found a message from the April 1983 general conference entitled, To Forgive is Divine and found the following passage that spoke straight to my heart.
That forgiveness which comes from our Heavenly Father is so complete that he will not even call to mind the sins we have committed. His forgiveness is so all-inclusive that the Lord will not even remember those sins. . . As we plead for mercy, we need to show mercy to others. The injury people do us may appear at the moment to be very great. Yet, just as time heals the wounds of the body, so time also heals the wounds of the soul. As we apply disinfectants to aid in healing the wounds of the body, we need to apply love and understanding in disinfecting the wounds of the soul. To the extent we give forgiveness to others, we can expect to receive forgiveness for ourselves. It is all part of the process of repentance. 
I was instantly reminded of a blessing I had received on the mission by one of my greatest mission friends. In the blessing I was told 'to have the humility to accept the weaknesses of others.' I remember feeling pretty bothered by those words. I had been raised by my parents—especially my father—to always be diligent, always strive for perfection, always be considerate, and so I naturally expected others to push themselves just as hard. My father would always counsel me by saying the word 'prudencia,' prudence and that word really permeated into everything we did growing up.

It hit me today that while I may be able to forgive the BIG things people do, I have the HARDEST time forgiving little mistakes. I reflected on how I didn't have the best thoughts this week about certain people, but how I had thought to instantly pray for help. I had actually said a prayer of gratitude this week for that specific inspiration to pray.

I reflected on how this week I learned to love someone who honestly I hadn't been the biggest fan of. This however was completely MY problem. This young man came over to my apartment this week and as I was thinking about his visit beforehand, Mother's Teresa's words came into my mind, 'if you judge people, you have no time to love them.' Talk about a slap in the face! I decided to treat him to ice cream, came up with a list of #REALtalk questions for him and truly listened to his responses to those answers. I can honestly say that the ill feelings that I had towards him completely dissolved. I learned to love him! I even asked him for a hug before he left my apartment because in that moment I could feel the love Heavenly Father had for him and I saw his divine potential laid out before me. After having spent time with him this weekend, I feel so ashamed that I ever harbored ill feelings towards him.

I'm reminded of the story of Naaman and Elisha. Naaman was a leper who had sought the counsel of the prophet Elisha and when Elisha did not meet with him, but sent a servant to tell Naaman to wash himself in the river Jordan, Naaman was wroth and angry. I love these words
And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, wash, and be clean? 2 Kings 5:13
I have been a bit of a Naaman in that the big issues: I can forgive; the teeny tiny ones—not so much. I was reminded of Nephi speaking to his brothers about the children of Israel and the fiery serpents and how the Lord had a prepared a way for them to be healed, but "because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished." & so, I realized I haven't been doing as well as I thought I had been in this whole repentance process thing, but I'm grateful for the promptings of the spirit that help me to be a better version of myself.

Here's to a more forgiving heart!

This spiritual experience only gets better! I sent a text as I first started writing this to the Elder who gave me that blessing on the mission, below is a snippet of the conversation.

It's days like this that make me love Sundays even more! I love this gospel with all my heart and I am so grateful for the miracle of personal revelation.

...These pictures kind-of have to do with the story, but mostly are just pictures from 4th of July weekend—because this is my blog and I can.
Me, Ryan, Ethan, & Marisa putting in some work at the church's welfare farm in Lindon. It just seemed like the perfect way to celebrate this wonderful country we live in, you know?
Got to see Stadium of Fire from the greatest view you could possibly have without going.
Ryan & I taught a combined RS/EQ lesson today. It was the first time I had taught with a companion since the mission. It was kind of shaky at first due to some MAJOR time constraints, but it was also pretty amazing to feel the spirit direct a companionship again. Sadly, that is not our truck, but we wish! & we didn't even need to coordinate on the red-white-&blue combo. :) #inspired