Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't you dare give up

The past three weeks have been hard. Things weren't going the way I had hoped or planned. I had many moments where I just felt like breaking down. I had many instances where I deeply contemplated giving up and quitting on things that I knew were important. Stumbling blocks stood strong in front of goals I had set for myself. Every time I would get up or use my strength to climb up the mountain that stood in my way, I would start to slide back down. I found myself brainstorming easier ways to get to my end goal without having to climb up the steeper parts of the mountain. I honestly felt like I just couldn't do it any more. 

These negative thoughts started to take over my mind, that's when I knew I needed to pray. I started to pray about what to do and asked if quitting was the right thing to do. As I listened, expecting an answer immediately, God was silent. I felt lost and then really had no clue what to do. I woke up the next morning and these simple, small thoughts were singing in my heart, "Just keep going! Don't give up!" I immediately knew that was the answer I had been searching for, however it wasn't even close to the answer I wanted. There were many obstacles in my way. God knew this! They were weighing me down to a point I couldn't even see, how was I possibly going to get around them?

For the next three days, the words "Just keep going" followed me everywhere. Every time I started to have doubts or feel like it was just TOO HARD, I felt lifted. It was through the grace of Jesus Christ that I started to see the things that I thought were impossible for me to do were becoming possible!

You see, I'm absolutely helpless on my own. I can't even explain to you how my times I have had to rely on the strength of the atonement through my brother Jesus Christ. I know that the atonement is real. Life isn't meant to be easy because then we would never learn, we would never grow and we would forever stay the same.

That simple line of encouragement "Don't give up!", was God's way of telling me that I would get through and there was a reason and purpose things were hard but I would make it! It was the knowledge I needed in that very moment to know I wasn't doing this on my own. The grace of my Savior would be there for me to get up the very steep mountain. That same day, I was listening to a talk and this quote struck me like a ton of bricks.

"Grace is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel."
 - Brad Wilcox

It's through the small and simple things that grace will be there to help us every step of the way! It's still been a journey as I'm fighting through the obstacles but it's given me a whole new perspective on the way God answers our prayers and how he provides opportunities for us to struggle so we have more opportunities to rely on him. 

Sometimes we expect this big huge answer from God and we don't get them, then it can become easy to question whether he is there. But that's just it, while God has the ability to answer us in these HUGE ways, it's usually in the small and simple answers that amazing things come together. He has the ability and power to take the problem away but he doesn't. He allows us to struggle because he is an incredible father and he wants us to become like him. I truly believe he weeps with us and he sometimes wishes deeply that he could take the pain away but he knows what's best for us.

God knows exactly what we need to grow and what we need to get us from point A to point B. My whole life he has never made things easy, giving me exactly what I thought I wanted. He makes things a challenge and that's when I know I'm growing and I'm on the right path! This scripture is the one that speaks to my heart through this trial as it's through the small and simple things that Heavenly Father is showing me he is there and he cares. 

Alma 37:6 "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."

When challenges come your way, embrace them! Challenges are such beautiful learning opportunities. Trials and mountains can either move you closer or farther from God. When you choose to rely on God, you will find more sweet and tender mercies in your life that will help you lift the burdens you have been asked to carry. 

You are NEVER, EVER alone so don't you dare give up!

Friday, September 12, 2014

6 Ways I Stay Inspired

6 Ways I stay inspired:

1. Being Outdoors 
 I love being outside, especially when it's bright and sunny. Nature and the beauty of the sky and the mountains and the trees and the beautiful flowers all seem to speak to me. If I'm ever having a day where I don't feel like myself or things 

2. Staying in tune with the spirit
All of my greatest and most inspired ideas actually don't come from me, they come from the spirit. When I am in tune with the spirit, inspiration comes to me in the most incredible way. I am who I am because of the grace of Jesus Christ. Without his guidance in my life, I am like a lost sheep with no inspiration and no purpose.

3. Reading and Researching
I love researching and reading about topics I am interested in, this is often where a lot of my new ideas will spark. Reading about things I care about will often spark a thought or idea for a project and then I feel inspired to work harder.

4. Working with Mentors

I feel like I have a few mentors in my life, people that are willing to offer my advice when I need it. These mentors inspire me to reach beyond what I ever feel like I'm capable of.

5. Positive Affirmations
Positive Affirmations remind me of my worth and to just keep going.When I feel my mind with positive thoughts, there is barely any room for negative thoughts, leaving tons of room for ideas and inspiration.

6. Writing in a Journal or Blogging
Writing is a passion of mine and something that allows me to connect with my inner most thoughts and often times my spirit. My spirit has all the answers and solutions to my problems and when I tune into it, inspiration seems to flow in!

Who inspires me the most?

I'm going to have to say Miss America 2008, Kirsten Haglund. Kirsten is girl full of leadership, success and optimism. She makes such a difference through her non profit and public speaking and she is whom I strive to live my life like.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 things I love about myself

Making a list about what you like about yourself is a great way to get out of the negative self-talk cycle we all tend to go through. Focusing on what you love about yourself is one sure way to build your self-esteem and confidence. 

PLEASE make your a list of things you love about YOU - then hang it somewhere you will see it OFTEN. That way when a negative thought pops into your mind, you can replace it with something on the list.

10 things I love about myself:

1. I love that I have perfect knowledge that I am a daughter of God - 
This knowledge empowers me and strengthens me to do things that are often past my own capacity. This knowledge brings me hope in my life that I am never alone and I am always being watched over. This knowledge makes every decision in my life so much easier. I know when I choose God to be on my team, I can see him guiding me every step of the way and that is the only thing in the world I need. With this knowledge, I know without a doubt I am destined for greatness and happiness for eternity.

2. I have an incredible ability to love and accept everyone - 
I remember back in high school being on the Peer Leadership Team. We were discussing each others strengths and weaknesses to make our team stronger. It was brought up that I never say anything bad about anyone. After class, one of my team mates came up to me and said "I know you never say anything bad about anyone, but how is it possible you don't even think bad about anyone?" Her question made me really stop and think, I finally came up with an answer for her. There is so much good in every single person and I was at a point in my life where I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we were all once upon a time spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father. It is a gift that I have to see good in everyone and accept it ONLY when I am choosing to trust God and living my life to the absolute best of my ability. I remember a point in my life where I lost this gift. This is proof to me that grace is real and it makes up for what I lack when I am choosing to live my life in faith and meekness. (Ether 12:26-29)

3. I can balance work, full time school, being a pageant director, being a relief society teacher,  working out and starting my own business -
I may not be completely able to balance each of these areas in my life at all times but somehow I am fully able to get done what needs to get done when it's due. I love staying busy, I always have and I find great joy in wearing many hats that all seem to revolve around one focus for me. That focus is becoming my absolute best self as I strive to empower girls in all that I do.

4. I am so persistent, I don't give up on a goal - 
Many of you know that I competed in 9 different pageants. If I want something, I go for it and I don't give up on the goal no matter how long it takes to get there. I believe dreams and goals are put in our hearts for a purpose and it is our job to chase them. When there is a will, there is a way. And sometimes, the end result of your goal will turn out different that you expected. 

My favorite quote:

5. I truly believe I can change the world - 
This has been my dream since before I can remember. I remember at the age of 8 believing that I had a purpose to fulfill and I needed to be aware of my thoughts and my actions as they would influence those around me. I have the strongest desire to start a nonprofit (or for good business) that will help conquer the negative beliefs girls have about their selves. I believe it just takes ONE person to change the world and you don't even have to do something drastic to change the world. Small, little actions that make a change all add together and that is what ends up changing the world. And I plan on doing my part and truly believe that my part will make a difference.

6. I am so passionate about working with girls - 
Starting and directing the Miss Murray's Outstanding Teen Pageant has been one of the hardest things I have ever done but oh, so very rewarding. Every time something goes right and works, two things will go wrong and while at times I have been tempted to throw in the towel, there is this very calm peace and inner my voice shouts "You're doing the right thing" so I listen. At the end of the day when you take away the recruiting, fundraising, production, website management, paperwork, PR, phone calls, and all the other tasks that can be daunting - working with the girls one on one is the greatest thing I have ever experienced. It has been the most incredible year this year to have Lauren Wells, the current titleholder by my side. Lauren is incredibly strong & talented in so many areas and I learn from her every single day. She inspires me to be better and work harder. This girl is made up of persistence and dedication that have I never seen in anyone her age. {Watch out world, Lauren is coming for you!} It honestly is the greatest thing to watch these girls transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly. You can't compete in a pageant without changing, it just happens after all the interview and confidence preparation and I love that I have the opportunity to watch it happen.

7. I am optimistic -
I honestly love life! There is so many incredible things in the world to go after and to aspire to be. If I am ever faced with a challenge, I find a way to work around it whether it be calling up a friend for advice or finding a deeper way to rely on God to help me through the challenge. I have so much faith that while life can be very difficult at times, Heavenly Father has purpose in every trial he sends our way and there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

8. I love the color of my eyes -
This may be the feature I get the most compliments on. I really do love the beautiful blue-green color and the way they pop depending on what I'm wearing.

9. I am passionate about speaking to girls and I am blessed to receive opportunities to be a guest speaker for many Young Women nights.
Speaking to Young Women's groups about being beautiful to Christ is something I thrive upon. It is such a blessing to me that I have gone through experiences that I can now talk about and share with girls to help them realize their worth. I want girls everywhere to know that their beauty comes from Christ and that's where it should be looked upon. Beauty should never be found or sought after in the world's standards. Every time I share my message, my testimony grows that much stronger. It is my dream to get to speak to girls across the nation. 

10. I am SO passionate about service, I give more time to service than I do to work and school.
I love that service is something that I can easily give and it always puts a smile on my face. I just love making others happy and it is so rewarding to see the difference that is being made and the lives that are being touched because you chose to think out of your box for just a minute and dedicate your thoughts to someone else for a change.

Well I did my 10, let's hear yours! If you make a list, leave a comment and I will definitely be over to check out your blog! This exercise is the perfect start to building your self esteem!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Today we have beautiful Kimberly to share a challenge with you!

Beauty is something that's talked about frequently, but what is it exactly? I'm sure we have all heard that the world defines beauty as a set of physical requirements one must meet. For example, to be "beautiful" one should be: skinny, but not TOO skinny, tall, but not TOO tall, etc. etc. Then again, we have all heard the opposite definition that beauty comes from within and that what makes someone beautiful is their personality. I happen to disagree with both definitions. Why? Well, I believe that beauty is a feeling, an emotion. I believe that in order for a woman to be beautiful, she must FEEL that she is beautiful. You can tell a woman that you think she's beautiful a million times and she won't believe you until she sees herself as such. Sad, but true.

A few years ago, I received a Canon rebel XTi (AKA one of those "fancy" digital cameras) for my birthday. For a while I did not know what I wanted to take pictures of. I grew up in a family of professional photographers that each found their niche. I started off by taking photos of landscapes, flowers, and even just capturing memories at family parties and events. Last year, I had a friend approach me about wanting me to take some pictures of her for a fun "photo-shoot". She knew I had a nice camera so she wanted to try and see if she could use nicer pictures for her Instagram and other social media accounts. So, I agreed and decided to expand my hobby and try to see if portraits would be my niche. We picked out a random location to use as the backdrop and I just started snapping and clicking away. It was a lot of fun and both of us enjoyed it. I emailed the pictures to her later on that night and she told me she couldn't believe how pretty she looked. To be honest, I don't really like to do intense editing outside of fixing the brightness, shadows, and exposures of the photos I take. It made me really happy to know that she saw she was pretty in the pictures. So, that's basically what I've been trying to do, which is make girls see for themselves that they really are beautiful daughters of God. Once they start seeing that, they start feeling it more and more which shows on their countenance and makes them even more beautiful. Also, I think showing someone that they're beautiful is a lot better than telling them. Knowing that I help girls, even for a moment, see themselves as beautiful is enough for me.

A few weeks ago, I noticed on Facebook how women were posting pictures that they felt beautiful in. I decided to take that challenge over to Twitter and it was SUPER successful! Girls were posting pictures of themselves using the hashtag "#BeYOUtifulChallenge". I will not take credit for the idea, but I sure do endorse it a ton. Posting the pictures may not have given someone an automatic, 100% self-esteem boost but it did give them time to reflect and notice the beauty they hold. And that's what I think beauty is.

If a woman has to wear makeup and put on pretty clothes to see that she's beautiful, let them be. And if a woman feels beautiful without all of those things, let them be. All that matters is that they feel beautiful and see it for themselves. That's what Heavenly Father wants. Society does not give a great example on how we should see beauty so it is up to a few of us to rise to the challenge and see ourselves as beautiful. I challenge you all to try and see for yourselves. See the divinity in you. Wear your crowns proudly, you beautiful princesses! Stay beautiful, ladies.

(Metaphorically Crowned)

I took the challenge - Here are three pictures that I feel beautiful in. 

Don't forget to try the challenge out for yourselves! :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Modesty Refashion - A reflection from a 16 year old girl

Today we have Rebekah Sadok here with us talking about Modesty Refashion.
Rebekah is 16 years old and is the laurel class president. She is from Portland, Oregon.  

 To show respect to my body and invite the spirit, I choose to dress modestly.  One of my motto's that I truly believe is "modest is hottest".  I know a girl who chooses to respect her body is respected by others.  Finding appropriate clothing that is not too revealing is challenging to say the least, which is why I often turn to my sewing machine for help.  Surely I am no expert seamstress, but by using the basic knowledge that I have, I'm able to take clothing I see potential in and redesign it to be fashion friendly.

I love creating modest articles of clothing that would've been rare finding otherwise. Taking already made clothes and just altering it for your standards is much easier than making an entire garment by yourself.  Altering something is more simple than you may think.  In the past, I have completed some great modesty refashions. I have cut and sewn a pair jeans into shorts to give me the perfect length. I have added length to fashionable skirts and dresses I felt I couldn't dare part with.

Recently I've found a love in thrift shopping. I enjoy finding treasure pieces and mixing old clothes I own with newer pieces. One day I came upon a floral maxi dress with short sleeves but it was very large and dated.  I saw it as the perfect canvas for something new. I had been dying to be a part of the floral skater dress trend so I was very intrigued. I went home and began pinning. I started by hemming it to the perfect knee length and taking it in on the sides. It was a constant on and off the body challenge being that I was the model, but it was totally worth it when I it was completed.  I felt super confident and comfortable wearing it to church that following Sunday. Returning to the thrift store I found another maxi dress and skirt I plan to alter to fit my size and standards. I know that you don't have to compromise your style for modesty and I'm glad to understand these principles at such a young age.