Wednesday, January 29, 2014

the bucket list.

Alright folks. It's Wednesday night. Formally known as Hump Day. And I simply could not handle anymore scholarly related brainwork. So I took that brain energy and put it to something useful.... like a list of things I hope to accomplish before I "kick the bucket".

Without any specific order, let's goooooo

1.     Study abroad in a foreign country
2.     Be a counselor at EFY
3.     Live in Europe for at least 1-2 years. Why not?
4.     Run a marathon (and/or) complete a triathlon
5.     Take a ride in a hot air balloon
6.     Be someone’s maid of honor
7.     Smash a pie in someone’s face
8.     Have someone smash a pit in MY face
9.     Learn to play the guitar (at least a couple songs)
10. Backpack through Europe for a whole summer
11. Get married in the temple
12. Go on a camping trip and sleep in hammocks
13. Do humanitarian work in a third world country
14. Have kids of my own
15. Ride an elephant in Thailand
16. Take a trip to Lake Powell… for like at least three weeks straight
17. Hike the Narrows
18. Go to Moab
19. Go repelling somewhere incredible (like down a waterfall)
20. Go streaking
21. Learn to scuba dive
22. Take a gondola ride in Venice
23. Meet Will Smith. Perhaps give him a nice smooch
24. Watch the running of the bulls in Spain
25. Fly first class to an international destination
26. Order room service in a 5 star hotel
27. Catch a shark
28. Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square
29. Ice skate a Rockefeller Center during Christmas time
30. Cut myself a piece of expensive gouda cheese using that special cheese tasting device
31. Dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
32. Swim in the Dead Sea
33. Go snowmobiling
34. Build an igloo
35. Kiss my lover on the kiss cam at a sporting event
36. Go to Disney World
37. Go to Harry Potter World
38. Plant a garden
39. Get one of my photographs in The National Geographic Magazine
40. Learn a foreign language
41. Watch baby turtles hatch and find their way to the sea
42. Party at the Carnival in Rio
43. Witness the Northern Lights
44. Visit the seven wonders of the world
45. Publish an article about my travels
46. Go on a safari in Africa
47. Cross a glacier on foot
48. Climb an active volcano
49. Create a “signature” dish of my own to serve at family gatherings
50. Attend Coachella
51. Touch a musician’s hand while they are performing
52. Attend the Olympics (at an age I can recall. I simply can’t count my childhood experience)
53. Lock a love lock to the bridge in Paris with my hubby
54. Be in the stands when two rival South American club teams play each other in soccer
55. Adopt a furry friend
56. Get that rock hard six pack
57. Kiss a stranger
58. Make a difference in someone’s life
59. Shower in a waterfall
60. Kiss under the fireworks
61. Be serenaded to
62. Go white water rafting
63. Go cliff jumping into the ocean
64. Ride a camel
65. Road trip to California with ma ladies before we get married
66. Tell a boy “I love you” and really mean it
67. Play an elaborate practical joke on someone
68. Be kissed in the pouring rain
69. Pay for the person’s meal behind me at a fast food place
70. Learn to ballroom dance properly
71. Spend a whole day reading a novel
72. Tell a judge “You can’t handle the truth!”
73. Host a tea party. Make it utterly sophisticated. And perhaps play a quaint game of croquet
74. Go ice fishing
75. Pet a polar bear
76. Learn self defense
77.  Serve a mission with my spouse
78. Scream at the top of my lungs on a mountain top
79. Make spaghetti tacos like the ones in ICarly
80. Learn to surf
81. Wear really red lipstick on a casual day just for fun
82. Kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower
83. Drive a sports car over 150 mph
84. Stay at a Bed and Breakfast with my significant other
85. Enjoy a really really expensive dinner at one of the world’s best restaurants
86. Go to Lake Tahoe
87. Ride a Farris Wheel at sunset
88. Crash a wedding
89. Find a cause and raise a significant amount of money toward it
90. Go to Marti Gras in New Orleans
91. Milk a cow
92. Visit Machu Picchu
93. Go on date to a drive in movie and cuddle in the bed of the truck
94. Learn CPR
95. Eat a foreign delicacy that sounds disgusting
96. Send the President an invitation to my wedding
97. Send Mickey and Minnie Mouse and invitation to my wedding
98. Choose a favorite painting, and then visit it in person
99. Go on a sleigh ride at temple square during Christmas time
100.  Bury a time capsule at the top of a mountain

I am sure this list will continue to grow as I live on, but I hope I can be checking things off along the way. 
This was a pretty fun exercise, so whatcha waitin' for? MAKE YOURS.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Gospel is a Gift

It's true. This gospel I am so blessed to have in my life, is a gift. It is the perfect gift. And I am so happy to have it.

This past week I had an experience I am really grateful for. 

Have you ever felt like you are just too busy because you have to read a million chapters, write a really really challenging article, find people to interview, fill out an application to live in a foreign country, try to understand statistics, and have to come up with a speech to impress a class full of strangers? And when all this weight is on your shoulders, all you want to do is delete anything extra from your life? Like maybe... umm... institute? That is exactly how I felt on Thursday.

I am not proud to admit it, but when I was on the verge of tears from all the building stress, I seriously considered this option. But then I thought again. We had recently had a devotional on the importance of institute and why it is so necessary for young adults... and in this fine devotional there was a mention of receiving "extra" blessing if you attend it regularly. So I thought to myself, "I could really use some extra blessings." I know, I guess I didn't necessarily go for the "right" reasons, but it got me there. And I am so happy it did!

The institute class I am enrolled in is called "Teachings of the Living Prophets". That day in class, we were studying Elder Russell M. Nelson. After learning a couple random fun facts about his life, we got right into the talk he gave last General Conference in November.

I didn't see it coming, but there was a paragraph that hit me really hard. This paragraph gave me the peace I have been looking for the last seven months. After my sweet, loving friend Becky passed away, there wasn't really anything anyone could say to me that gave me a whole comfort in my heart. I knew the things they told me were true, but nothing anyone ever said made me feel at peace with reality. 

"The aging process is also a gift from God, as is death. The eventual death of your mortal body is essential to God's great plan of happiness. Why? Because death will allow your spirit to return home to Him. From an eternal perspective, death is only premature for those who are not prepared to meet God."

Nothing in this paragraph is new news to me. I have known these things are true for a long time. But somehow, the way Elder Nelson worded it finally stuck out to me in the way I have been searching for. 

Death is a gift. Death does not always come from the aging process, but it is still a gift. Death is essential to God's great plan of happiness. Death will allow your spirit to return home to Him. Death is only premature for those who are not prepared to meet God.

Becky's death seemed premature to every person who knew her and loved her. But, in God's eyes, SHE WAS PREPARED. Even seven months ago, I knew she couldn't have been more prepared to meet God. I wrote:

"There is no doubt Becky Smart made a difference in everyone's lives she touched. She honestly made me feel like a million bucks even when she wasn't around. She was taken from us at such a young age because she had already mastered what few people are ever lucky enough to learn in a full lifetime: how to truly love. I can't think of a better example of this than her. She was always so full of light and love and could change the mood of any setting with her wonderful sense of humor. I hope we can all remember her example and seriously, go tell someone what they mean to you because you never know what could happen! I love you Becky and I couldn't be more grateful to have had you in my life."

She was ready. Even if I wasn't, she was. I didn't think about it this way before, but I am so grateful for the living prophets we have been blessed with today to help me see the light and truth!

I love you Becky Smart. I know this life is just a tiny portion of God's plan, so guess what friend? I will be seeing you soon. <3

I never got around to posting this picture during Christmas time. This is a scan of a DRAWING my best friend in the whole wide world, Bethypoo Hansen, made for me. Without a doubt, theeeee best present I have ever received. She snuck into my house the night of Christmas Eve and hid this present under the tree without telling anyone. When I ran across it Christmas morning, I was so surprised. No one knew when it had got there, but I went right ahead and opened it, not suspecting what was inside. When I turned the picture frame around, I instantly began to bawl. I never know tears could form so fast, but they streamed down my face as I looked into our perfectly happy faces. This is a picture I will treasure for the rest of my life. These girls on each side of me are two of the closest friends I have ever had. Although we knew each other for almost our entire lives, we never ever had an argument or annoyance with each other (excluding who got the prettiest Barbie Doll...maybe). But seriously, everything in our relationship with each other was perfect, and will be for eternity! I can't wait to be silly and loud in Paradise with you, Becky. Until then, Beth and I will keep your spirit on earth alive reminiscing all the great times we had, and we will continue to make many more as you watch over us safely in your Earthly Father and Heavenly Father's arms!