Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Book Review // Faith and a Life Jacket

Faith and a Life Jacket - 
7 Truths for your Eternal Mission




About the Book:

Author: Ben Bernards

Released: 2016

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational



Book and Author Sources:


AMAZON BOOKS AND THINGS | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | 



Book Description:

Popular Youth Speaker, Ben Bernards recounts tales from his mission in Fiji, weaving stories of drunken mobs, rock bands, and rainstorms with scripture stories and principles learned.

The Result, seven eternal truths to train and guide a new generation of missionaries. These valuable lessons will help any missionary prepare for and make the most of his or her eternal mission. 

My Thoughts:

I was super excited when asked to review this book because I am a huge truth lover and a huge missionary advocate. In fact, my sister gets home from her mission in THREE DAYS!!! YAY! While this book is geared toward missionaries and teaching them truths and lessons that will really help them while on a mission, aren't we all on a mission? Seriously, this book is for EVERYONE!! So many scripture stories, so many helpful hints and tips to draw nearer to Christ, so many truths and lessons from such a great guy.


A Few of My Favorite Quotes:

"Timing is everything, and it's in God's hands."

"God can change caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into brilliant, precious diamonds using mostly just pressure and time. So if you feel like you're under a lot of pressure, maybe just give it more time."

"Change won't happen auto-magically or without consistent effort and sacrifice."

"Don't let tunnel vision prevent you from seeing God's hand around you."

"A heart full of gratitude will not have time for jealousy."

About the Author:



BEN BERNARDS // Ben Bernards grew up in a big Mormon family in a small farming town in the heart of Utah County where he and his 8 brothers and sisters were raised on a steady diet of Nintendo, Transformers, Dungeons&Dragons, and Star Wars. He geeks out on all that plus everything marching band, Marvel, and Tolkien (his autographed edition of Lord of the Rings is pretty much the coolest.)
He loves teaching youth the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it be in Seminary, Sunday School, at youth conferences or EFY. He served a mission on the Fiji Islands where he survived cyclones, rampaging natives, and swarms of giant bats while living in a hut in the jungle. (He still hasn’t convinced his wife to go back and visit.) He is the author of a new book about missionary prep for the millennial generation, which will be available in LDS bookstores this fall. 
He currently works as a project manager for a certain fruity computer company in Northern California where he loves to run trails with his wife, expand his board game collection, and make plans for building his own hobbit hole in the backyard.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Book Review // You've Got This!

You've Got This! - How to look UP when life has you down

Al Carraway, Chad Hymas, Whitney Laycock, Dallas Lloyd, Hank Smith, Tamu Smith, Zandra Vranes






About the Book:

Author: 7 inspiring people (Compiled by Elise Hahl)

Released: 2016

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational


Book and Author Sources:




Book Description:

Learn how to work through life's trials with advice from popular youth speakers who have endured a few challenges of their own. This encouraging book will help you see trials as essential stepping-stones to becoming the person you're destined to be.

My Thoughts:

I found myself picking up this book when I needed a few words of encouragement after a hard day. These stories are POWERFUL and very easy reads and they brought so much peace to my heart. I love the authors of these stories, all so funny, inspiring, and just real. I loved that scripture stories as well as real life moving events were being shared. 

Every LDS teen would benefit from reading this book to have more experiences they can add to the testimony they have already developed. 

A Few of My Favorite Quotes:

"God can use the damaging choices of others to lead us to where He wants us to be." - Hank Smith

"Sometimes you just gotta let go and let God." - Zandra Vranes

"When we recognize God pouring grace into our lives, it's difficult to remain sad and gloomy." - Tamu Smith

"Don't dwell on the could-haves, the should-haves, the wishes, and the wants." - Chad Hymas

"I focused on the things I could control, like reading my scriptures and saying my prayers. I saw these situations as challenges from Heavenly Father to prove myself and learn from the experience." - Dallas Lloyd

"Force yourself to say a prayer no matter how frustrated you are." - Al Carraway

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Beautiful and Simple is the Way of the Lord




The way The Lord works is BEAUTIFUL! I don't know how He does it. I don't know how He turns every possible thing to our good. I don't know how He has the ability to love us in spite of the inadequacies we have on a daily basis. I just don't understand...and yet He does. 

God is good.
God is merciful.
God is so loving.
God is forgiving.
God is one of hope.

I often overthink and overcomplicate things. I don't know why...it sure makes my life HARD! And yet He makes incredible things come together. He testifies of truth when I finally settle my racing thoughts and He reminds me to look in the simple things, for His ways may be MIGHTY but they are simple. They are beautiful. Sometimes I struggle to just let go and to trust. (Funny story for another time, remind me.) But seriously, every time I forget or struggle to trust Heavenly Father, He is oh so very patient with me and then it works out so perfectly. Better than I could have ever hoped for or planned on my own. 

I'm so blessed to serve in the calling that I do. This week I have had three beautiful experiences that show me I am meant to be where I am at this moment...proving God is involved in all the details. Tonight I had the beautiful opportunity to sit down with my presidency and we had some great gospel focused real conversations. We were talking about the empathy we gain through the experience we go through. We discussed the perfect timing of God and the way He prepares us perfectly, we may not be perfect when we arrive but God's timing is one we can't understand but it surpasses anything we could have the ability to plan. We talked about the lessons we need to learn and we are all learning the same things, just on different roads to get to the same destination. 

These ladies are a huge blessing in my life, more than I give them credit for. This presidency is a team and not one of us runs the show above the other...we are all in this together and it's a beautiful journey. We help, we lift, we support, we encourage, and we celebrate with one another. 

I'm so blessed that God puts people in our lives at the times that He does. I'm so thankful that those that open their hearts to the Spirit can often say the things that are so needed at the times they are said. I'm incredibly impressed by the compassion of the Lord to give us second chances to learn lessons we have learned once before but possibly forget to apply.

I don't have too many answers right now, but what's beautiful is I have every single answer I need at this moment. Heavenly Father will guide me to more and more as the moment's press on. 

I know this post was random, just so many thoughts have been on my mind today and I wanted to testify of the beautiful spirit that's been with me today because I was willing to put my life in a greater balance He could be pleased with. Obey the Lord. Trust Him. Be accountable. Blessings will flood in your life, this I testify of. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Overwhelmed in the Grace of Christ



The thirteen-year-old in me decided this was the picture that was going to pull me through the rough times in life. Life is beautiful in so many incredible ways, but sometimes it gets hard. I don't want to focus on the hard today, I want to focus on the grace; the grace of Christ. Lately, I have felt a little overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed with time. 
Overwhelmed with planning.
Overwhelmed with mind games.
Overwhelmed with chasing perfection.
Overwhelmed with cooking and eating healthy.
Overwhelmed with a lack of balance.
Overwhelmed with inadequacies. 

In life, as seasons start to change and new chapters begin to unfold it can be hard. Even if they are the very seasons we have been pleading Heavenly Father for, they still take a time to adjust. I've been stretching myself so thin lately that my life has been missing a little balance...or maybe a lot. My Savior has given me everything and I mean EVERYTHING. I wouldn't be the girl I am today without him and his atonement. 

For some reason, I keep stressing and problem-solving as if I have to do every little thing on my own. Why would I take my problems on myself when I've not once been able to overcome them on my own? My Savior has always helped Him when I let Him. When I don't let him, I sure make a mess of things. And it's not like worrying solves my problems for me. It adds more stress, more chaos, and subtracts balance out of my life. 

I may be imperfect as I desire perfection. I may lack faith at times I need it the most. I may let inadequacies in myself get the best of me and at times stop me right in my tracks from even trying. I may not have every single thing in life figured out quite yet. But it doesn't matter because I know my Savior. I know He walks this path with me. I know as I turn to Him, the powers of Heaven are opened and prayers are answered. I know every single answer I need is found in the scars of His hands. He paid the price for me to have hope and every single day He will without a doubt bring me that hope if only I ask and then allow Him to do so.  

Why fear? I don't have to do this on my own. Christ is on my team!!


The scripture doesn't say I or Him - it says WE!!! How exciting is it to have Christ on your team and on mine? The only perfect person to ever walk on this earth. The only one with complete faith to always have the ability to draw down the powers of Heaven. The only one with perfect patience in spite of my countless imperfections. I have CHRIST ON MY TEAM! And so do YOU!! 

I've been pondering lately on how to access the atonement. We hear all the time that the enabling power of the atonement is for us to use, but how do we access it?

Here is what works for me:

1 - PRAYER! 
Pray morning & night every single day without fail! Tell Heavenly Father EVERYTHING...seriously, don't leave anything out! 

Sometimes if you need more divine help or to develop a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father it's going to take a TON more prayer. I have had days where it feels like I'm not doing anything but prayer. Praying in my car, while I'm exercising, praying with my scriptures open, praying through the tears. Embrace the moments that call you to your knees. These are the moments that build your faith, that shape you, that help take you from a piece of coal to a diamond.

2 - SCRIPTURE STUDY
You can't know Christ without studying the words of Christ and His stories. To access the atonement, you must invite the word of God into your heart and mind and allow it to be written on your heart. This is one of the basics which means EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

3 - OBEDIENCE
Striving for exact obedience and honesty in all things is what helps me to access the atonement and invites the Spirit into my heart. Even if you come up short a time or two, trying counts. 

4 - SERVICE
Accessing the atonement is really hard when your heart isn't focused on giving love. It's hard for love and forgiveness to warm your heart if you're not seeking opportunities to extend it to others.

5 - FAITH
"After all that Christ and you" do together, as a team, do you believe? Do you believe that the atonement and it's enabling power will be used in your life? FAITH is the answer to just about everything you hope and seek for in this life. Without faith, nothing matters. Faith drives us to action. It drives us to beliving in possiblities and things we never thought were possible. Believe, and if you don't believe just yet ask for help in your beliefs. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

I Survived Week 1 of Whole 30



Well, I survived Week 1 of the whole 30. Whole 30 is an eating whole program for 30 days being very cautious of every single label. I'm not doing this program to lose weight, I am doing this program to take charge of my health and power over my life. A symptom isn't just a symptom; a headache isn't there just because, every single symptom we experience is a signal trying to tell us that something is out of order. Since I have been facing a lot of bloating for over a year and acne for over two years on top of a few other things like emotional distress, eczema, low circulation, etc. - I decided I was  ready to take power over my health before these minor symptoms turned into bigger problems down the road. Prevention is KEY in health.

I feel SO STRONGLY that Heavenly Father wants us to take care of our bodies, he's given us very specific instructions on how to feed them and stay healthy (see word of wisdom) and he wants us to be healthy if we are willing to care for them. He desires healing, health, and happiness in our lives and I'm so grateful I've found resources that give me power to take action.

So here's what week 1 has looked like for me:

Day 1: I did not feel like eating healthy or doing this program. I was so tempted to give up before even starting. It was a long day and I just wasn't in the mood to jump in and take on this challenge. Thank goodness McKay was doing it with me, he sure kept me motivated and disciplined. That's how I know Satan cares so much when we choose to take power over our physical health and eat healthy; from May until now I have been studying health and nutrition like nobody's business. I've spent so much time learning about the benefits of the food Heavenly Father has blessed us with, and I was SO excited about it; but when it came down to me really taking action to do something about it, all my motivation was lost. Satan truly desires to stop me, and that is so motivating for me to push harder.

Day 2: Overall it was a pretty good day but I had such a headache. I went to a kickboxing class that night and I couldn't give it my all because I didn't have all the energy I needed.

Day 3: I made McKay and I lunch and then we were about to head out to the store and I suddenly got so dizzy which turned into nausea. It lasted the rest of the day. I was weak and I couldn't really move. I hate feeling icky but I got excited when I googled to see if this was normal and boy was it ever. These icky feelings were coming from the bad toxins rising up and wanting to be released. My body had been storing these ugly guys for who knows how long. It was exciting to me that the pain meant I was healing.

Day 4: I felt so much better this day. I had a lot more energy and overall I seemed happy. My emotions did feel a little off, like I couldn't experience emotion as much as I wanted to but it wasn't too big of a deal.

Day 5: I started to feel a little bit nauseous again but nothing quite like day 3. By the end of the day I was just exhausted, all I wanted in life was to sleep, sleep, sleep.

Day 6: Emotionally I felt fine. I couldn't take normal medication for some pain I was experiencing which sure made things worse, but overall the day wasn't horrible.

Day 7: I was so happy, it was like I could think clearly while experiencing so much happiness. We made Sheperd's pie, it was good but I've been in the kitchen more this week than I have been in my life, I'm kind of over cooking right now haha.

I'm so grateful I've made it through seven days! Bring on the next week. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

What I Thought Was My Disadvantage Turned Out To Be My Advantage



Sometimes our disadvantages are really our advantage. 

I've asked the questions so many times...the what if questions.

What if I had played sports in high school?
What if I had attended a University away from home instead?
What if my family had been more into health?
What if I had been born at a different time?
What if? What if? What if?

Oftentimes I have felt as if I was at a disadvantage; as if others were better off because of you name it. I've wondered what life would be like without so many weaknesses or if I were more like so and so. I've spent so much time wishing that my life were different than it was. I've wasted so many moments feeling as if I was at a disadvantage.

But what if what I thought was a disadvantage turned out to really be my advantage? Let me explain. Growing up I was so picky and my parents never forced me to try new fruits and veggies. I grew up in a comfort zone of macaroni and cheese and frozen dinners and for some reason, my parents were okay with that. I became undernourished to the point of malnourishment. I rarely ever had veggies, I'm talking like maybe two times a week tops. I never felt super amazing and I remember staying home from school a lot. I didn't make the connection that what I was eating was really affecting me mentally, socially, and physically. 

Even after high school, there were so many vegetables I hadn't ever given a try and what I called a healthy meal was whole grain noodles cover with cheese and broccli...and I would have that every single night for years. I was clueless to the damage I was causing my body. I was left to a disadvantage from the way I grew up, a disadvantage I knew nothing about. 

Well, time went on and I started subscribing to all the health magazines I could get my hands on. Studying about health intrigued me and I wanted to learn everything I could. I had symptoms I wanted to know how to treat and I then learned I had leaky gut which was causing acne, eczema, digestion issues, brain fog, ADD, and anxiety to the extreme. I wanted to learn how to treat it. I have never studied and been so passionate about health until I hit this wall and I wanted to find a way out.

It was my disadvantage to not knowing enough about health and seeing the first-hand effects of poor nutrition in myself and my own family that has made me this passionate about health. If I had grown up in a healthy family, yeah there is a chance I would have this passion, but it's so much more real and personal to me to say that I overcame an obstacle in my own life through my own research. Research that is allowing me the tools I need to pass it on and inspire and help other people to do the same. A passion for digging and pouring out my heart in the word of wisdom to understand it like I never have before. 

This research has lead to a personal health journey, the journey of Whole30. McKay and I are embarking on this epic journey starting today. A journey that will test our patience, our emotions, and even our wallets but what we hope will bless our lives forever. If you haven't heard of Whole30, you should look into it. But the gist of it is to eliminate certain food groups for 30 days and eat foods that are whole such as meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. We hope to achieve better health, more energy, more mental stability, and allow our ab definition to shine through. No, we are not doing this for our appearance by any means, we want to learn to master the body; a great instrument Heavenly Father has given to us so we can be better equipped to use it in ways He would want us to, such as serving others. 

I don't plan for this to be easy, in fact, I am planning on there to be many obstacles and weaknesses that come up, but weaknesses are an opportunity to come unto Christ and lay it at his feet. I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. My disadvantages are always turned into advantages when I give it to Christ. He makes weak things become strong and all things shall work together for my good.

I choose to take Christ on my journey to health, healing, and wholeness because I know I won't succeed without him. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Give It All To Christ



This morning I was studying my little heart out on nutrition and health. I was trying so hard to self-diagnose and take every little matter into my own hands. The more information I read, the more opinions I contemplated over, the more ideas and possibilities I felt there could be. I became overwhelmed and exhausted very quickly, to the point that anxiety washed over me and I felt helpless and very frustrated.

"Why? Why? Why?" were the only words I could seem to think. Why do they believe that? Why am I believing that? Why the timing? Why the circumstance? I just wanted all the answers and to know what was truth and what wasn't. Why was I so confused on what to believe and what to do about it?

This sharp panic started to take over to the point where I had to choice but to pause and take a deep breath, and that's when it hit me. Why did it matter what was right and wrong at this moment? Why did I need all the answers? I didn't. I was trying to do every single thing on my own. I was trying to come up with all the answers to my problems and solve them all by my inadequate-queen-in-training self. The girl that has weaknesses for a purpose and I thought I could overcome every single one of them by reading enough and then following a plan. Yeah, there's definitely some good intentions and desires in that plan, but it's lacking. 

How on earth could I possibly do it on my own? I CAN'T! And really I don't want to. It's too anxiety causing, it's too overwhelming, and it's too impossible. Christ is the answer. I hadn't included him. I thought back to all the times I thought my life was ruined or that I would never recover. Every single time I felt I had to do it on my own and felt that weight, it was burdensome and I didn't end up winning. All of the times I allowed Christ to help me, to lift me, and to strengthen me; it all worked out.

The scripture doesn't say I can do all things on my own; it says "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENGTHENETH ME"! We need Christ, it's part of who we are and the way we are wired; to NEED Him. We shouldn't try and do it on our own. We weren't asked to and it is impossible to find hope without Christ, simply put He is the ONLY way. 

In Relief Society a couple of weeks ago we were discussing the Book of Mormon when a member of the bishopbric made the comment that the Book of Mormon is the ONLY scripture that talks fully about the grace of Christ. In the bible we learn a lot about the character of Christ and get to see first hand his endless miracles and unconditional charity, but we don't fully get to experience the testimony and beauty of his grace. The Book of Mormon is the only book on this earth where we can fully learn and understand the grace of Christ, something we all need.

I'm so grateful for my Savior. He is always there for me. His grace means the world to me, it's my favorite thing about this gospel. It's the answer to my every plea and it's the hope to my endless weaknesses. But those weaknesses don't matter and aren't permanent when I give it to Christ and allow myself to be perfected in Him. With Christ on my side and as my advocate, absolutely nothing is impossible!