Wednesday, April 12, 2017


McKay and I on our wedding day.
Photography // Sadie Banks 

I was the girl that dreamed about going to BYU, finding the perfect guy, and getting married just a few years out of high school, I mean at least by the age of 20 because that's what Mormon girls do, right?. (Shh...don't tell McKay - this is our little secret) Clearly, God had other plans for my life....

Plans that then I didn't understand.
Plans that broke my heart and shattered it into a trillion pieces multiple times.
Plans that made me question if He even loved me.
Plans that could have filled an entire ocean with my tears.
Plans that had me questioning my worth, my value, my potential, and often my beauty.

Plans that made every single tear, fear, and heartache worth it! 
Plans that were better than anything I could have ever imagined.

I can't thank Heavenly Father enough for the joy that I feel on a daily basis, or for the love that I have for my dear husband that never ceases to stop growing, or for the tender mercies of a beautiful place we call home where we make yummy healthy food, share the same hobbies, have tons of inside jokes, and laugh at least twenty times a day about the most random things. Life is incredible and my heart is indebted to my Heavenly Father for His patience with my doubts and tears.

Let's rewind a little bit to the hardest 10 years of my life to this point, shall we?

Ugh, dating... it's the worst. Don't get me wrong, it can be tons of fun and amazing, but man is it hard. It's not for the weak, especially when a little bit of heartbreak is involved. I can't even count how many times my heart got broken, and some were caused by the same guys over and over again. 

Dating was exhausting, there were times where it felt hopeless, times where I questioned my faith or wondered if I had completely blown the promises Heavenly Father had given me. 

I remember a particular season in my dating life where I just felt like I wasn't beautiful enough to be the wife of any guy. I would look in the mirror and the comparisons of girls in magazines ate me alive. It was my every thought and I felt beyond know why? Because Satan knew the great happiness that awaited me right around the corner. He knew the joy that my heart would sing and he wanted me to feel worthless... and girls, when you feel as if you don't have value or when your self-esteem isn't where it should be... you make poor decisions, you start to compromise your values, you become vulnerable to even more lies of the adversary which is why self-esteem is SO important!

There was another chapter of my dating life where this guy would be on again, off again all supposedly by the council of Heavenly Father. This guy said he wanted to marry me but God didn't want that for us and it broke my heart. It shattered me into pieces for well over a year as this was the length of time this guy would play the game. It wore at my heart and actually started to weaken my relationship I had taken so long to build with Heavenly Father. 

To be honest, I have no idea if Heavenly Father really gave him that revelation that he wasn't to marry me, or if he was just confused with his own feelings... I'll probably never know the truth about that one in this life and that's okay with me. But I do know I didn't receive that same revelation and for some reason, my mind started to have me believe that I wasn't spiritual and smart enough for this guy from the Lord's point of view. Not feeling enough really takes a toll on the spiritual, mental, and emotional health of a person. I honestly started to feel unloved by the Lord as this experience had my mind creating all sorts of thoughts and cognitive distortions that simply weren't true.

I do remember a particular evening when this guy and I had plans to go on a date as we were trying to make things work. Without even going on the date, he took me to a church parking lot where he told me for the umpteenth time that we couldn't date due to the revelation he had been given. It broke my heart and I couldn't stop crying. I received a priesthood blessing of comfort that night and in the blessing, one line stood out. It said, "This is the last time you will have to go through this." I thought that line was really interesting but wasn't quite sure what it meant. I felt strongly that it meant the next guy I would go on a date with would be him, the man I would marry. But of course, it didn't go as easily as I had hoped.

I actually broke up with McKay 3 months after we dated the first time based on strong spiritual promptings I couldn't shake away despite the fact that I REALLY didn't want to. But I was obedient...and then came the hardest 4 months of my life. Months where I spent anywhere from 3 hours to 20 hours a day crying. Some days I knew why I was crying and others I just couldn't even process anything but depression had never been so real. Never have I ever felt so worthless, only to feel like a grain of sand had more value then I. I was lonely more than I had ever been in my life...the only people I spent time with during these months were my brother, my mom, and my dad and there was quite a bit of contention at home and not a good environment. I was broken to my very core.

And then something happened, McKay texted me out of the blue one day to say he was sorry. I couldn't believe it... he had done nothing wrong. I was elated but worried all at the same time. I sure wanted to talk to him because I really liked him, but I was so scared that we couldn't be together because of the surety I had that it was the Spirit that had me break it off with him, and what if we would have to go through that all over again?

Well, we met up together to talk and started seeing each other every single day after that. Somedays I would beg Heavenly Father that McKay could be mine forever and always. For some reason, there was a fear though that seemed to linger and follow me everywhere. It was this fear that we wouldn't end up together. It was this fear that pierced my soul and caused me some of the greatest grief I had known. You see... I think I was suffering from PTSD of not having it work out with any guy I had ever dated. I had this deep fear that Heavenly Father wouldn't approve because that seemed to be the pattern in my life. 

I wish I could explain to you just how much agony I was in as this fear paralyzed me. I would often cry in McKay's arms and ask if marriage was ever in our future. (Heavenly Father's love is real... the proof is in the fact McKay didn't go running for the hills. For reals though, if there is hope for me - you better believe there is hope for you.) The anxiety I felt was immense pain, however, the joy that came after made every single moment and tear worth it! 

I can now look back and see what the line in that priesthood blessing meant, giving up McKay the first time was a test... a test for me to know how much I love the Lord. And then for Heavenly Father to not make me give up McKay the second time, was a token from Him to show how much He loves me and just how closely He listens to prayers. For all those years, I didn't even realize the bread God was offering me because I kept turning it into a stone. 


A special note to girls, if you're in the dating phase right now, just remember how much God loves you and that you are never alone! He is guiding you, He is watching over you, He is keeping His promises.

If you are waiting on God, know that His plans are perfect. He may not give you everything you want, but He surely will give you everything you need to have everlasting joy! His promises are better than anything our hearts would even know to long for. 

TRUST GOD & DO GOOD!! This is the formula to joy no matter what waiting phase you might be in! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Learning to LOVE Yourself through Serving Others

Service used to be my middle name. I lived to help others, it was on my mind ALL THE TIME. I would come home from school to go pick up trash in the neighboorhood park, or I would ever so sneakily take up my neighbors trash can for them, or I would clean the entire house and leave notes on the beds for my family to find. It is what gave me great joy.

Then life got a little more hectic as I started to deal with some personal hardships and trials and somehow I allowed my heart to become blinded of the needs of those around me. 

The other day I was listening to a talk by President Eyering when a few words he said suddenly pierced my heart. 

"Sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love."
- President Eyring

 These simple words were a wake-up call, I had been feeling great sorrow in my life. Yes, so many incredible joyous blessings are happening around me but the mental and emotional battles I was facing inside made me feel as if I were drowning and somehow I allowed these weaknesses within me to shrivel up my heart as I become filled with much selfishness, causing much sorrow.

This winter season has been long, oh so very long. It's been a very dreary winter, but yesterday as I was in my car, I saw it. I saw the light. I saw the beauty of the snow. I saw the joy of the season; the winter season that Heavenly Father created with his intelligence of knowing what is best. I felt God's love overpour throughout my body and I felt peace and hope. It was there all along, but yesterday was the day it truly spoke to me.

It was a wake-up call to give love and serve those around me. It was a reminder that when we feel God's love, we can pass it on. But on the flipside when we serve and invite love into our hearts, God's love suddenly becomes more extremely acute even though it's been there all along.

Then this morning as I was searching for something I came across not one but two videos about service from two of my top 10 role models. It was an incredible wake-up call to me to DO SOMETHING! Yes, Heavenly Father needed to get my attention that service is love, it's forgetting you and going to work. 

Here's the videos:

If you want to love yourself a little deeper and you're looking for a remedy to have more joy, more confidence, and more kindness towards yourself....SERVICE is the answer! I will be finding ways to give service today. They may be small and simple things, but that's where the POWER lies. 

One scripture that I absolutely love is in 1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."

 Charity is the antidote to selfishness, because it CHANGES us. From the inside out it makes us want to sin no more. The mistakes we are making on a daily basis become almost non-excistent because our hearts change to become a little bit more like Christ. Yes, I have so much room to change and I am jumping up and down right now as I type this because Heavenly Father has wanted to remind me of what service is, He's wanted me to get up and do something for a long long time and how humbled I am by His gentle and peaceful reminder today.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 - Finding Hope and Healing Admist the Mess

This past year has been an interesting one. It's been very messy emotionally, it's been a struggle to find balance for all the things I feel called to do, and it's been one of learning and growing in a new life as I've fallen in love with the most amazing man. 

The trials that came up this year were unexpected, but that's just how life goes. Heavenly Father likes to keep us on our toes so we can learn and grow. We are here to be changed, changed for the better. We are here to draw near to our Savior, and to learn of Him and have the empathy and compassion that He unfathomably has. 

This year I've had some incredible experiences, ones that weren't so incredible in the midst of me going through them. There was a time this year when all I wanted to do was disappear off of the earth. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and yet after it was over my heart had this new connection to the Savior, one I hadn't felt before in all the 20-something years of my life.

It was the greatest blessing to be able to launch, everything came together perfectly with the website design and the video we made, and the inspiration for what this blog was to be... I felt so connected to God and everything I had been working towards for the past 10 years was finally coming together; THEN life took over once again. I felt writer's block, I felt what I was doing didn't really matter, I felt STUCK (which is something I can't even begin to explain, but if you've experienced it before, you simply GET IT), and on top of all of that I had anxiety that paralyzed me and I don't use those words lightly. I knew my life had turned into chaos and something had to be done. On top of all of this I was experiencing some digestive issues and some not so fun physical symptoms and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. 

I had been to my family practitioner over and over again and nothing was ever being found. I asked a friend if she had any references of where I could find some help as she gave me the name of an incredible lady. Someone that has helped me immensely this year to have a deeper love for myself and a pointed me towards the messages Heavenly Father has had for me all along. As I've been able to filter out some false beliefs I have had about myself and the nature of God, I have found so much hope and a new sense of wholeness I've never had before. I learned that I have leaky gut which has been one of the main culprits of all the emotional and physical struggles I've been experiencing. 

Upon learning I had leaky gut, I've been approaching eating an entirely new way this year. At first, it was hard. At first, Satan would try and stop me with incredible dark forces from being healed. There were moments this year where I lost all hope, all light, and had no faith or hope in healing or in a need to be healed. I know Satan knows me, He knows my mission, and He knows how to throw the dark forces that have the potential to keep me from fulfilling what I was born to do, which I know with my whole heart ties so deeply into health. I've been able to line upon line learn how to silence Satan's words so I can take power over my own life and eat the foods that are good for my body which means completely getting rid of the SAD (Standard American Diet, it really is SO sad) I've been so accustomed to and eating ONLY whole foods and whole ingredients. 

It's been hard, I go to parties and people either think I'm weird or anorexic. People will say things to me like "You're already so skinny, you don't need to be on a diet." and other people will say "Someone has to be THAT person." UGH. Why do people say things like this? You know what, I know. It's because they aren't comfortable with who they are yet. They are still learning who they are, what their mission is, and what it means to truly love themselves. I've been there, in fact, I'm still there. Learning to really love me. We make judgments about others when we aren't content with ourselves. These judgments come in many forms from jealousy to comparison, to the unkind words we speak directly to others, to even the silent words we may say through our looks, our attitudes, or even the gossip to those whom we most trust. 

On this journey of learning about my physical and mental health, I'm embracing change and a chance to heal; fully and completely. It's not going to be easy. I have brokeness and emotions buried in me that haven't been dealt with, we all have these buried emotions. But it's beautiful that Heavenly Father allows the trials we experience to have deeper meaning than meets the eye. His plan is perfect!

I've been studying so much about holistic health and the way our bodies have the ability to heal and were meant to heal. We have the obstacles we have in this life so that we can learn to OVERCOME! Christ overcame death and we are here to learn how to be like Him. I have found so much incredible peace and joy in studying about healing, wholeness, and the nutrition benefits in all the food God has blessed us with. This year I will be going through a course to be a holistic nutritionist. I'm so incredibly excited. I want to help bring hope and wholeness to others. If you've had any questions about holistic health, we should talk. It is only through Christ we can find complete and everlasting wholeness, but nutrition sure plays a role in our relationship with Him because our emotions have a way of getting in the way and blocking off the Spirit.

So while it's been a year of learning, and growing, it's also been a year of answers, of hope, and of finding Christ in the most beautiful way. Good things are coming and the best is yet to be!

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:


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 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.

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.

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. 

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.

"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.