Sunday Thoughts: the decision to stay.

Back in October of 2012, our prophet President Monson made an announcement regarding the age change for missionaries. All throughout the church, young people celebrated and began preparations to enter the mission field.
I, along with many other young women, began considering serving a mission. It was an exciting thought, and originally I was very gung-ho about it all.
But then I realized something- I wasn’t sure why I wanted to serve a mission. Was it because I honestly wanted to, or because I felt like I had to because of the age change?
I’ve mulled this over countless times, and I have come to the conclusion that most of the reason I was planning on serving a mission was because I didn’t want others to think less of me.
Can you think of a more poisonous thought?

I soon came to realize this, and stopped to evaluate myself.
After some soul-searching, I made the decision not to go on a mission.
What I think people fail to realize is that serving a mission is a very personal decision, especially for young women. It has been taught, time and time again that serving a mission is not required of women, and yet, I have felt so much judgement from almost every person I’ve told about my decision to stay. I have felt like in their head they’re saying, “oh, you’re one of those Mormon girls. You’re too ‘good’ for a mission. You’re probably not worthy, or maybe your testimony just isn’t strong enough.”
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
After they try to hide the disappointment in their eyes, they will invariably say something along the lines of, “oh, but you’re young. You can still change your mind!”

While that is true, what if I don’t change my mind? I am not going to be any less of a person just because I decide not to go on a mission. God will not stop loving me. I will have opportunities to share the gospel EVERY DAY for the rest of my life. I am not going to be condemned.
In the end, though, God’s opinion is the only one that counts. And you know what? God loves and will love me the same whether I go into the field or not. God’s love is unconditional, and He has a plan for me. Maybe a mission is not in my agenda right now, and that is okay. I still have a strong testimony of His gospel, and I am worthy to serve a mission, should I ever choose to. And I will remain worthy, because that’s all I want- to be worthy to enter His house, and be worthy to receive the blessings He has in store for me.
So while it may sting a little to feel other’s disapproval of my choice, the thing is- it’s MY CHOICE! What a wonderful thought! I’m not forced to go, (nobody is, really) and my life can still be every bit as fulfilling as someone else’s.
I’ve felt that what I am supposed to do with my life after high school is to further my education, and prepare to be a wife and, someday, a mother. Isn’t that a mission in and of itself? Being a wife and mother are two of the most important callings I as a woman will ever have.
I am loved regardless of whether I go or not, and you are, too.
If you are a woman choosing to serve, I am so proud of you. You will be an amazing light and example to countless people in this world, and your light is needed in this world. Let’s work together to help the world heal, okay?

~Haeley

My first beauty tutorial!!

I’ve been contemplating making beauty tutorials for a while now, and I finally got the guts to do it!
It’s a really simple, clean look you can wear pretty much anywhere your heart desires.
I went for the natural, “no-makeup” look that’s pretty popular nowadays.
It’s a really short little video, and I’m personally really proud of it. ;^)

I think we all need to lose the idea of having to have a boatload of products on hand when trying to create a “natural” look…. Does that sound stupid to anybody else or is it just me? It’s like trying to create banana-flavored banana bread without bananas…. When you have bananas sitting RIGHT NEXT TO YOU.
The fact of the matter is, you are beautiful. I know I’ve been saying that a lot lately, it seems, but I think it’s one of the most important lessons you can teach yourself. More on that later.
Get out there and show off your natural beauty, you gorgeous human being, you!!

~Haeley

What’s your favorite temple?

Today has been quite the Sunday, my dear readers. Quite the Sunday.
In sacrament meeting, as I sat and waited for the bread and water, I thought to myself, I hope I can feel the Spirit today. 
Lately, I’ve been having some troubles really, truly feeling the Spirit, and I’ve noticed its absence. It’s not a good feeling, and up until today I wasn’t too extremely stressed by that (read: not missing its presence very much), but finally I came to terms with my recent weakness and had that quiet thought.

I guess Heavenly Father has been waiting for me to have that thought, because today was one of the most powerful meetings I’ve attended in a long time.

During the sacrament, I read this talk for Sunday school, and it touched me and inspired me to be more diligent in my daily scripture study, and to try to learn by way of the Spirit and by faith. That prepared me for the rest of the meeting, because instead of giving talks, the bishop invited the congregation to come forward and share our experiences going through the Gilbert temple these past weeks.

But first, we had a special musical number by the war choir. The choir director came to the podium and invited those of us who weren’t in the choir to come to the front and join them, and I decided to go up and sing with my mother. What a good experience that was! It further allowed me to feel peaceful and ready to receive, and it only got better as the meeting progressed.

Hearing my ward family express their love for the temple and the peace it brought them was a good reminder for me, as well. When I went through the temple for the first time, I remember thinking, this is where I want to get married. It’s so beautiful, really, and the pictures would turn out great! Then, as I continued thinking about getting married, I realized that WHICH temple I got married in was small potatoes next to getting married IN a temple.

Photo cred goes to Lexi. Thanks for sending them my way! :^)

Friday, I was able to go to Thatcher, AZ with my friend Lexi to tour our future college, EAC. It was an exciting and intimidating experience, but my favorite part was being able to go to the Gila Valley Temple and just sit there for a few minutes.

How blessed I am to be able to attend college with a temple so close by. I know I need the temple in my life, and having one so close to me is going to be a tremendous help. I’ve never lived more than fifteen minutes from a temple before, and not having one really near me would make me so sad. I love the temple for all it symbolizes, especially the truth that families can be together forever.

The Gila Valley Temple. So, so perfect.

Family is so important to me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I love them more and more with each passing year. They are literally my best and closest friends, and I wouldn’t trade the relationship I have with them for anything. I’m so grateful that God saw fit to send me to a family that loves me so much (even when I don’t deserve it), and I’m even more grateful that sometime in the near future, I will be able to have a family of my own.
The mere thought of my future husband and I being able to raise tiny children to walk in righteousness is overwhelming to me. I hardly feel adequate enough to give talks in church- how will I be able to be a mother? As scary as it is though, I know that I have been given the ability to bear children because Heavenly Father KNOWS I can do it, even if I don’t think I can.

In Sunday school, we briefly talked about the gift of music, and how wonderful and sacred it is.
I have a testimony of good music, as well, because I’ve seen the blessings that come from both listening to and creating beautiful music. Singing and making music is literally a prayer unto God. Isn’t that wonderful? I can think of no higher form of worship than reverently singing songs dedicated to them.

Finally, in Young Women’s we discussed our bodies as temples. My leader has struggled with cancer in recent years, so this was a very emotional lesson. At the beginning of the lesson, she explained that she wasn’t going to talk about our bodies as temples in the usual sense- as in, we weren’t talking about the law of chastity, and we weren’t talking about modesty. She said she felt that we were all living in such a way that we didn’t need to be reminded of those things just at the present. That right there was a comfort to me, because I realized that I really don’t have an issue with being modest, and I know who I am and what I will not stand for in terms of chastity. It was so sweet to recognize that the girls sitting with me were each living their lives in a way that was harmonious to God’s ways, and that we would have an opportunity to learn about our bodies in a different way.

We discussed the amazing abilities our bodies have, and how precious they are. We spoke of physical trials, and how we can overcome them because our bodies are built to heal. Our bodies can do the most amazing things, and it’s not very hard to guess how and why. Heavenly Father created these awesome bodies for us, and He gave us abilities to get the most out of them.

However, we read in 1 Corinthians 6:19, which reads:
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Ye are not your own. Isn’t that an interesting concept? We may say that we can do anything we want, because it’s “our body”, and it doesn’t affect anyone but us, but in reality, these are God’s, on loan to us. Would you want to loan someone a book only to have it come back completely trashed? Of course not! Heavenly Father wants us to take good care of ourselves so that we may return to him in a more perfect condition. It’s OUR responsibility to care for ourselves. And that doesn’t mean just physically, either. It means emotionally, too.

So often in the past would I look at myself in utter disgust. I hated who I was, and I couldn’t believe how ugly I looked. Nothing was right with me. I was next to worthless, and the worst part of all?
Nobody ever said that to me. I was the only one convincing myself that I was of a lesser caliber than someone else. I was the one who couldn’t see my own beauty. I yearned for perfection, as I’m sure so many of us do. The airbrushed skin, the firm, smooth muscles, the flawless hair and stunning makeup. I wanted it all! And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I still have days where I feel ugly or fat, but you know what? My body is beautiful. I can do so many things with a body like this! Why should I rely on some twisted “standard” of beauty? I am ME. THAT is awesome. I am a very healthy individual, and I have so much to give! Why waste time wishing for what I’ll never have? I appreciate this temple, and there is nothing wrong with loving it.

Think about that. The next time someone asks you what your favorite temple is, you could easily answer yourself! YOU are one of God’s most wonderful temples, and I hope you can remember that.
You are loved. :^)

~Haeley

Valentine’s song of the year!

Happy Valentine’s day, everyone! Hate on it all you want, but Valentine’s day is and always will be my favorite holiday. The hopeless romantic in me just brightens right up around this time of year, and even though I’ve only ever had one particularly lovely Valentine’s day, the prospect of having a Valentine each year makes me happy.
I just love love, I guess. Knowing that such a force exists in the world is magical to me. It binds people together time and time again, and it really is beautiful. No matter how many times the word is used, love is my favorite word. It’s so simple, but it means so much to pretty much everybody. It’s “the biggest little word ever said”, after all.
But I digress. I’m not going to preach about love again today; rather I’m going to start a new tradition on my blog! And since it’s only once a year, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to keep it up. ;^)
I’m going to do a Valentine’s song of the year! Inspired by this post, I fell in love with the idea, and since I already have a love song I’ve been obsessed with as of late, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to share it!
The song of the year is Bright Eyes’ “First Day Of My Life”. It’s a really simple, laid back love song that I just cannot get enough of these days! The message is sweet and timeless and classic.

I can’t pick a favorite line from the song, because they’re all so tender. It may take some getting used to, because his voice isn’t exactly, how you say…. Pretty. It’s shaky and not very strong, but I think it lends a kind of sincere vulnerability to the song. It sounds less like an autotuned One Direction ballad and more like a song sung quietly to the one you love as you sit in front of a fire, or maybe a song you sing to help them fall asleep. Either way, it’s just the perfect song, and to be honest, I kinda want it in my wedding video. Ha.

I guess we’ll see on that one. ;^)

The last part where the boy points to his lady and says “I love her!” just kills me every time. Melting on the floor right now.

Until next year, my darlings!

~Haeley

Food adventure #3 & 4: Seaweed snacks and a sugar cookie milkshake!

Wow, you guys! Two birds with one mouth stone!
I am really getting the hang of this whole “adventurous eating”  thing, dontcha think? I tried not one, but TWO new foods, AND I even found a new recipe in a newspaper! I’ll try that one someday, because it sounded WONDERFUL. I’ll also put up the recipe when all is said and done. And tasted.

The first thing I decided to try was:

My mom got these little beauts from Sprouts, and I figured, what the heck? Why not try it out. Here’s the reaction:

It was almost palatable. It had an interesting flavor, kind of like the smell of a fish hatchery mixed with mustard dipping sauce. My tastebuds didn’t actually know what to make of that one.
Also, the taste lasted longer than I would have liked, which was a turn-off. Better luck next time, seaweed.

My next venture was a milkshake.
Originally, I wanted a strawberry milkshake, but upon realizing that I don’t actually like strawberries that much, I perused one of my favorite websites, Chocolate Covered Katie. She has some really great recipes, and they are all healthy and (mostly) sugar free! Yessss.
I made her Sugar Cookie Milkshake, because it sounded intriguing, and who doesn’t like cookies?

And no, I did not spike the shake. I’m just a creep.

I think I added too much banana, because it was a liiiiittle too fruity for a cookie-flavored shake. However, I haven’t actually had a sugar cookie in years, so that may just be me.
I definitely enjoyed the shake more than the seaweed.
Until next time, fellow foodies!

~Haeley

Food adventure #2: Fried pickles.

I’m not sure when or how, but somehow I became aware of the existence of fried pickles. At first the idea repulsed me, but soon, I was entranced. I mean, pickles are already delicious, but could there be MORE? Was I missing out on a crucial life event, not eating these things?
Yesterday, I finally decided that it was time. I took to Pinterest in order to find the best recipe. Since I am afraid of actually frying things, I found an oven-baked recipe, and set to work on that. Here was my process:

  •  obtain ingredients
  • realize all we have for bread crumbs is tortilla chip crumbs
  • weep a little inside
  • get over it
  • assemble the pickles
  • drink all the pickle juice while they are in the oven 
  • realize I am gross for liking pickle juice
  • get over it
  • whip up some dip
  • take pickles out of oven
  • taste them
It’s…. An interesting experience, fried pickles. I can’t decide if I like them or not, because the tortilla flavor from the crumbs is a bit overwhelming, but the dip tastes really nice with them, so I consider this a success.
dip

plus pickle

equals this

taste test

consensus: I would make these again.

In case you’re interested, here’s the recipe.

Until next time, fellow foodies!
~Haeley

Sneak peek of my senior pictures!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be able to be a senior rep for a photographer, Emily Bridgman! She was super friendly, funny, and cute, but most of all, she let me be, well, ME! I loved how she was able to really capture my personality (and made me look pretty darn good while doing so!), and she’s let me “leak” a few shots for the general public to enjoy! :^)

I felt totally comfortable with her the whole time, and by the look of these, the shoot turned out WONDERFULLY! I’m so excited to see the rest, but for now, these are here to tide ya over. ;^)

ALSO: Seniors, if you are in the market for a good photographer, you should seriously consider Emily. She’ll be able to do sessions until around the end of March/beginning of April because she’s expecting a sweet little baby right about that time! And anyway, it’s better to do it now rather than later, because that way you can make graduation announcements! Who wants to do THAT mess last minute? Nooooot me. I’ll link up her info at the bottom of this post for your convenience. :^)
(ps- if you mention my name when setting up your shoot, you get $25 off your session! Isn’t that nifty?!)

~Haeley

Emily’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EmilyBridgmanPhotography
Emily’s website/blog: http://www.emilybridgmanphotography.com/

One more time…

I swear, I’ve written a variation of this post THREE times in the past three days. I’ve really been trying, you guys. I promise. I suppose I just needed to get a feel for having a pixie before I wrote about it, you know? But this time. THIS time, I will actually finish what I started.

So let’s go to the beginning! On Thursday, I was finally able to do what I’d been wanting to do for months, and I got a pixie. Believe you me that this was not an impulsive decision, and I don’t say that just because it took me months to finally do it. No, I say it because I researched the crap out of pixies. My Pinterest board is a testament to that. If there was anything on the internet about a pixie cut, you can be assured I read it. I read some discouraging posts, and some really, really awesome ones (here, and here, and here, oh! and here.).

Over all, I decided that in the end it was MY HAIR, and my business, so if anyone hated it- that was their problem. And if I never attracted another male again? Also their problem. (and kind of mine, too. I WOULD like to get married someday…)

Thursday came, and this:

Turned into this:

Which then morphed into:

And finally….

And then, for added measure, I colored it.

It’s just a shade darker, and with some added red, but I really think it pulled it all together.
It’s funny… I’ve come to realize that you should really just focus on what YOU want, and not what people THINK you should want. I guess I’ve already said it dozens of times, but it’s so true! It’s YOUR hair! Do what YOU feel is best. (which is totally hypocritical of me, because I know there are some people and I’ve basically begged them not to cut their hair. I’m a work in progress, okay?)
Case in point: a week or two ago, my mom, sister Geneal and I went to a salon to get our hair done as a birthday present, and while I was getting mine straightened (because it was literally so long it wasn’t holding a curl), my stylist said I had such pretty hair I shouldn’t cut it.
“Or,” she added, “if you do, do NOT get it cut up past your collarbone. It just wouldn’t look good with your face.”
….Um, thank you? I really appreciate hearing that my face would look awful with short hair. To be honest, this haircut has done nothing but GOOD for my face. It shows off my features, and you know what? I’ve got some nice cheekbones. Cheekbones that were hidden behind mammoth curtains of sad hair, and now they’re out for the world to see!

Also, when I got my hair cut, my stylist said I shouldn’t color my hair. Truth be told, I already had an appointment set up that afternoon for it to be darkened. I don’t like my hair short and with it’s natural color, so again, I just had to go off what I wanted, and not what anyone said. And once again, it turned out beautifully!

Getting a pixie was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a loooooong time. I finally feel like MYSELF. It’s weird, but looking back, I can see that long hair just isn’t “me”. I was hiding in it. I was trying to please the masses (read: boys), and in that, I kind of lost myself. Sound dramatic? I know. But really- I never DID anything with long hair, it just… sat there. As Tracy Turnblad said, “hair can’t just hang there like a dead thing on your cheeks!”
Well, mine certainly did. And that fact quite honestly grosses. Me. Out. I held my ponytail yesterday and had to put it down because I was getting disgusted. For some reason, as soon as hair isn’t on my body anymore, it immediately turns into something yucky and alien. Anybody else have that problem? I don’t understand it, but at any rate, I don’t have to deal with it anymore!

Buh-bye!

All in all, I am finally happy with my hair, and I think I’ll be happy for a very long amount of time. I really don’t care about impressing anyone with it anymore, especially boys. For the record, I’ve actually gotten more attention from guys in the THREE days I’ve had a pixie than I’ve gotten in weeks. Boys don’t like short hair, eh? I don’t believe that for one second. They just haven’t seen the right girl in short hair! ;^)

~Haeley