A whole month!

Well, you guys, I’ve officially survived living on my own for more than a month! I haven’t really documented too much, so I will now do so. I’ve come up with a list, so in no particular order, I’ll give you the 411 (does anyone say that anymore?).

  • let’s talk about the weather. Oh, this beautiful weather! It’s almost always super cloudy, and it’s been so much nicer here than in Mesa! I love the clouds, I love the rain, I just love everything about this weather. Okay, except the mosquitoes that come out in full force right after the rain. Not very fun. Nevertheless, my rain boots have been getting a good amount of use here! And Mount Graham? Lovely. It’s breathtaking when covered in clouds. Oh, my.
Ugh these clouds are perfect
Is this not PERFECT? Gosh, I love Arizona.
I am a fan of big, puffy clouds like this one. Cloud for president.

What use are puddles if nobody splashes in them?

  • About three weeks after moving in, I hit a wall of sorts. I felt completely alone, and friendless. It was a really lame slump to be in, and I couldn’t seem to figure out what was going on. Then I read this article that my bishop shared on Facebook, and I realized what was wrong: I was staying in my apartment all alone, all the time. I wasn’t making an effort to make friends! I was unhappy because I wasn’t putting myself into situations that would make me happier. Missing my family was a big part of it, too. I never really realized just how much I loved those crazies until I moved out. Guys, your families are AWESOME. Hug them often and remind them how much you love them even more often. Eventually, I started becoming more social again, which leads me to my next bullet point:
  • I’m finally making friends! Just by putting myself out there more, speaking up in class, and generally looking/feeling more confident, I’m slowly but surely becoming the social butterfly I used to be. I’ve met some really, really wonderful people here in good ol’ Thatcher, and I’m finally feeling like myself. So if you live in Thatcher and you’re reading this, there’s a good chance I’m talking about you. ;^)
  • Alright, kids. Let’s talk about cleaning. Before moving out, I HATED cleaning. HATED it. Basically, unless it was the bathroom (which for some reason I love to clean), I did not enjoy a second of it. But now I actually really enjoy it! Maybe it’s because I want my little house to be as nice as possible for all potential guests, but there’s just something immensely satisfying about having a clean house. 
  • I’ve also discovered how nice it is to cook! I was never really big on making food, instead being perfectly happy to let my mom take over (I know I’m terrible and selfish and whatnot, but what else was I supposed to do?), but now I love making my own food- and I’ve been getting creative, which is always an adventure. For example, spaghetti waffles. I’ll tell you later. But wow! This is so fun! I’ve also really been enjoying making food for other people, because cooking for one gets boring. 😛
Tuna melts. Also, that is not mayonnaise. It’s Greek yogurt,
thankyouverymuch.
Chicken Alfredo!
  • Also. Laundromats. They aren’t all that bad, I guess, I just don’t love dragging my laundry basket around the corner. I’m really afraid one of my bras will fly out or something, so laundry day is always a bit of a scary ordeal. But I get clean clothes and some exercise, so it’s not all bad.
  • I got a big kid calling! I’m now a Gospel Doctrine teacher, and it’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I feel so inadequate when it comes to teaching, but I know that it’s what I’m supposed to do at this point in time, and I’ll be okay. It’s just a bit overwhelming right now and I’m very critical of myself. :^)
  • Each Sunday evening, a bunch of us single adults make our way to the local retirement home to sing hymns to the residents, and that has become the best part of my week! Seeing their faces light up and hearing them sing along makes me so happy. I love visiting them. I’m so glad I’m part of a community that wants to reach out in any way possible, especially in a way that’s as personal as music. What a blessing.
  • Even though I’ve hit some lows since I’ve been here, I’ve been ridiculously happy here in this beautiful town. I wake up every day smiling! Just kidding. I wake up every day after hitting the snooze button approximately 57 times, and even then I have to practically tape my eyes open. But about three hours later, I’m good. I’m happy, and it stays that way for pretty much the rest of the day. I don’t even know why I’ve been so happy lately! It’s just that life seems to be going perfectly right now, and I feel so free. It’s a good feeling. I want everyone to feel like that!
Shameless selfie, because I am cute.

  • Two weeks ago, I surprised my family by visiting for the weekend. Best. Idea. Ever. I wish I could have recorded their reactions! It was, quite simply, the bomb. I wish I could go back and relive those moments! It was weird being back at the house though… I didn’t feel like I fit there anymore! I kept forgetting where things were, and I felt guilty for eating my family’s food. Is that not the weirdest thing ever?! Totally bizarre. But it was so awesome to see them, and to see my dog again! Oh, don’t get me started on how much I miss my dog. I just miss dogs in general since there are, like, three in the Gila Valley. It’s disheartening, really. But I digress. My family is supa dope.

  • In love with this kid. In love.
    I ADORE THIS DOG

  • I never really enjoyed group chats until I started one with my childhood (heck, adulthood too) besties, Nikki and Kaitlyn. I love those girls so much and I don’t know what I would do without them. I’m so glad we started talking again. I needed them more than I knew. Kisses, you two sexy babes! :^)
  • Let’s talk about my bike for a second. That thing is my love. She gets me from A to B in no time, and let’s face it. She is one fabulous shade of blue. I’ve been having some issues with thorns in the tires recently, but I was able to get it fixed with some bike slime, a good pump, and a cute boy who knew what he was doing. :^)
  • I got a job as a 2nd grade teacher’s aid! It’s the most perfect job, and I get to spend my morning with a bunch of adorable kids, so what’s not to love? I even had two little girls come up to me during a football game this weekend to say hi, and one of them said she remembered me because of my pretty pink rain boots. Reputation- secured. I am now the awesome TA with totally legit shoes. Scooooore.
  • I miss dogs. A lot. And babies. The baby hunger is so real, you guys. So real.
  • I went to the temple this Saturday, and oh, my. It was bliss. I love the temple, and I’ve finally figured out how to start attending regularly… But it’s going to be closed for the next two weeks. Oops. But as soon as it re-opens, I will be there as often as I can. I love being there! It’s like going home for a little bit, and I get the satisfaction of knowing I am helping others, so really, what’s not to love?
    Isn’t this beautiful? Love me some temples.
  • The stars up here are so GORGEOUS! I’ve never seen so many before. I want to stargaze all the time now.
  • With the recent rainfall we’ve received, it unleashed this hidden supply of some of the largest bugs I have ever SEEN. My lanta. I mean, there are a ton of huge black beetles all over the place all the time, and the occasional cricket, but I swear we are having another plague or something, because there are SO MANY GRASSHOPPERS AND CRICKETS NOW. And they. Are. Humongous. There are these horrifyingly fascinating black, green, yellow, and red grasshoppers that are bigger than my middle finger, in addition to less colorful, massive hoppers. And crickets. Normally, I’m not opposed to the occasional cricket, but these ones are disgusting. Pure black and huge. I call them Satan-crickets, because they look like little demons. And the worst part is they really seem to enjoy my mouth. I am not even going to go into how many times a six-legged little pal has found its way into the warm confines of my mouth, because I would bore you to death, and this blog post is long enough already. But just trust me when I say that I am ready for bug season to be over.
Well, I could bore you with more details about my life, but I think that’s enough word vomit for one day, yes? Catch you later, peeps!
~Haeley

A letter to my thirsty 16-year-old self.

Dear 16-year-old Haeley:

First off, happy birthday! If I haven’t told you yet, you’re beautiful. I know that sometimes you hate looking at yourself, but believe me. It’s true. And trust me, you’ll only get prettier from here! I mean, look at me now. I’m (we? You? Us?) a babe now. ;^)

Okay, okay. That’s not why I’m writing to you today. I have a purpose, I promise. You see, I just got off the phone with Geneal, our beautiful, precious sister (do you know how lucky you are to have a sister like her? Because she’s amazing. Never forget that), and she was telling me all about Homecoming and how great it was. Eventually, our conversation wandered off into where it usually goes: boys and relationships, and she brought up something I have been thinking about for a while.

She talked about how much of a relief it was to not have a boyfriend right now. You’ve told yourself time and again how glad you are that you don’t have a boyfriend, but you’ve never really believed it. Don’t try to deny it, sweetie. I know you want a boyfriend so badly you can taste it. The thing is, you’re in high school. You’re a sophomore, and I don’t care how mature you think you are, the thing is, you are so unbelievably young. You don’t even have your license yet! (Don’t panic. You’ll get it in March, and you will get terribly lost just a few days after receiving it. But your dad will call and help you find your way home. Aren’t dads just the best?) You haven’t experienced hardly anything in life. Why would you want a boyfriend right now?

I know how it feels to want to be loved. I’m still you, remember? I’m just a little bit older and (at least in my 18-year-old opinion) a little bit wiser than you are at this point. Our craving for someone to love and care for hasn’t changed; in fact I would go so far as to say it’s only gotten stronger. But that’s because I am finally at a point in my life where seeking male companionship is acceptable and okay.

Haeley, you’ve read For the Strength of Youth before. Countless times. You always flip to the Dating section, because you love reading about it. All your life you’ve looked forward to dating! And trust me, it is so much fun. Dating is one of my favorite things about life! But you need to be careful. I can’t stress it enough. Boyfriends are so great. They will make you feel on top of the world! At least, that’s what I’ve been told. At this point I’m still dating around. Don’t get too excited just yet. ;^) But just know that the prophets know exactly what they’re doing when they advise us to not only hold off on relationships until we’re out of high school, but to only go on group dates. TRUST THEM. Does it seem like a total buzzkill to have to wait to single date and have a boyfriend? Yep. Not gonna lie. But it’s so worth it to look back and not have any regrets. You have no idea.

Now, just because you’re not going to have a boyfriend in high school does not mean you’re going to escape without heartbreaks along the way. You will have your heart broken. And it will hurt more than you ever thought it could, and it will hurt for a very long time. But you will be better for it. Heartbreak sucks, but it’s such a good growing experience. Never say to yourself that the boy wasn’t worth it. Everybody is worthy of love, and even though it hurts, don’t stop giving it.

Love is always the answer, whether it involves boys or not. Never believe you weren’t worth it. You are worthy of love. And just because a boy hurts you doesn’t mean you’re worthless. Keep your head up and keep loving. You were given a heart that naturally wants to love. Don’t hold that back. Let everyone know you care about them, because this world needs more love.

And dances? Dances are every bit as fun as you think they’re going to be. Granted, there will be a few that will not be fun, and you will cry over them on more than one occasion, but the good ones will more than make up for them. Go all out! You’re a babe.

You’re worried about so many things. You’re worried about impressing boys, and being as attractive as possible to them. You’re worried nobody will ever ask you out. You’re worried your weight will act as a barrier between you and all potential crushes. You’re worried your hair needs to be a certain length, or your clothes need to hang a certain way, or your first kiss is going to be a total disaster.

Haeley, here’s the thing:

  • You will be asked out. A lot more than you think.
  • Who cares about your weight? You’re a bodacious babe. Beauty and personality will surpass any insecurities you have about your weight. 
  • Your hair does NOT need to be long for boys to like you. You will eventually cut off all of your hair and it will be the single most freeing thing you’ve ever done, and- spoiler alert- boys will still like you after that. 
  • Your clothes are FINE.
  • Your first kiss will be absolutely perfect.
Stop worrying so much about boys. Love your life! Embrace who YOU are, and what makes you so special. Your time will come. I’ll make sure to write you again when we find Mr. Right. ;^)
I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Love, 
~Haeley

My first big kid talk!

Good morning, brothers and sisters! I’m Haeley Whetten, and I am grateful to be here this beautiful Sabbath morning to speak to you on the blessings of everyday prayer. As I was thinking about how to speak on prayer, I remembered a thought I had had frequently growing up: if Heavenly Father knows all we do and feel, why is it still so important to pray to Him daily? I guess I’ve always known how important it was to Heavenly Father to hear from His children often, but it never really sunk in until I moved out. You see, like most of you, I have various social media accounts- Facebook, Instagram, and a blog. I record a good portion of my life on those outlets, and my parents have continuous access to them. They know what’s going on in my life through these means, and they can view them any time they desire, but what is even more important than communicating through social media is personal, one-on-one conversation. For instance, I could write about something on my blog, have my parents read it, and then tell them the same story over the phone. Even though it would be the exact same story, it would mean just that much more to my parents to hear it directly from me, not just from words on a page.
Likewise, Heavenly Father wants to hear about our lives from us. One-on-one communication is so important in any relationship, especially the relationship between you and the Lord. Prayer is the sure way we can vastly improve our lives, and, just like vitamins, we need to partake of it daily in order to reap the blessings we desire.
Now, I’m sure we know all those things already. We know what prayer is, we know how important it is, and we know we need to pray daily. But how do we make our daily prayers more meaningful? How can we make them more of a conversation with God, rather than a “vain repetition” of words? In  2 Nephi 32:9 it says: “Behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” In this scripture, it says that we must council with the Lord in all things- I think that if we were to truly adhere to this advice, and go to the Lord with everything, we would begin to sense a deeper purpose in our prayers, and a closer relationship with Him. In the October 2010 issue of the New Era, Elder D. Todd Christopherson states, quote: “Everything we do ought to be done with an eye toward our Heavenly Father’s blessing and consecrating to our good all of our activities in a given day. So if we sense our need and think about it, prayer becomes more meaningful.
Beyond that, it’s important to remember we shouldn’t just be praying about ourselves, because there are a lot of people in our sphere of acquaintance who have great needs as well, and we ought to be remembering them and what kind of help they need from the Lord. Those kinds of prayers are like when Enos prayed. He prayed about himself first and then about the Nephites and then the Lamanites—even his enemies were a part of his concern. That really makes prayer meaningful, to focus on others.
Lastly, when you’re grateful, when your prayers include a lot of thanks to the Lord for your blessings, they become much more meaningful.” End quote.
 I’m going to let you in on a secret: I pray for myself a lot. More often than I probably should, in fact! And it’s not because I think I deserve more blessings than my fellow men, nor do I think I’m more important than them. But late at night, or early in the morning when it’s just me, I suppose it’s easier to think of what’s going on in my life than others, especially with school, and work and the like. There’s nothing wrong with praying for yourself, don’t get me wrong. That’s part of personal prayer, after all! You need to council with the Lord in all things, yourself included.
That being said, I know I’ve felt particularly close to my Father in Heaven when I pray for others. When I am focused on more than just my immediate situation, and am looking outside of my surroundings, searching for someone who may need the blessings of Heaven, I feel that God guides me towards those that need it the most. I have tried my hardest to never ignore a prompting to pray for someone, because I believe those are not random. They need your prayers in some way or another, though you may not know what they are experiencing that necessitates a blessing. Prayer is one gift that will never run out. You can pray for anyone continually, and you will always be heard.
Elder Christopherson also mentions how important prayers of gratitude are. He reminds us that if we pray in gratitude, our prayers will become more meaningful and sincere. Have you ever said a prayer where you asked for nothing, and instead let your Heavenly Father know all you were grateful for? While it can sometimes get difficult because it’s easier to ask for something rather than focusing on things you’re grateful for, I can promise that prayers of gratitude are so fulfilling. When I am forced to think outside of my needs and the needs of others, I am suddenly overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the blessings I have been granted. I can assure you that each of us has been blessed beyond imagination. If we try to pray in gratitude at least once every day, we will begin to see other blessings here and there that we may not have noticed before. I know that my life always seems just a little bit sweeter when I make sure to include gratitude in my prayers.
The purpose of prayer is to have communication with the Lord, and communication means more than just speaking to one person and not receiving an answer. It wouldn’t be a conversation if only one person was speaking, would it? God will always answer us, for He always hears us. Even though it may not happen immediately, God WILL answer. In the April 2007 session of General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott said in his address “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” which I highly recommend you read, quote:
“Some misunderstandings about prayer can be clarified by realizing that the scriptures define principles for effective prayer, but they do not assure when a response will be given. Actually, He will reply in one of three ways. First, you can feel the peace, comfort, and assurance that confirm that your decision is right. Or second, you can sense that unsettled feeling, the stupor of thought, indicating that your choice is wrong. Or third—and this is the difficult one—you can feel no response.
What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” End quote.
I never thought of it that way- seeing no response as a blessing, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? God trusts us. We are here to be tested and tried, and seeking things through our own free will. This means that when we don’t have an answer quite yet, it is a trust exercise of sorts. We may prayerfully continue on the path, always listening for guidance. Think of it this way: We are like small toddlers learning to walk. We will need the firm, loving, supporting hand that the Lord provides for us. His hand guides us in everything, and it’s like when He answers our prayers. He guides us to the choices that will benefit us, and shields us from those that would harm us. Occasionally, however, He lets us walk alone for a time- not to say He abandons us, because He will never do that, but He steps back and lets us walk by ourselves for a time, to let us choose. That may go on for a little bit, but He will always come for us when we stumble. His hand will always be there to steady us. I’m so grateful He allows us to be independent every now and again. Knowing we are fully accountable for our actions can be a heavy weight, but oh, is it worth it. Gaining experience in this life through trial and error is essential. How blessed we are to have a Father in Heaven who cares enough about us to let us try things on our own.

I have a testimony of these things. I know that prayers are answered, and God knows exactly what’s best for us. I believe I was asked to speak on prayer because Heavenly Father knew I needed a reminder that I am heard, and I needed a reminder of what real, meaningful prayer was. It’s a commonly stated phrase in the church that the teacher is often taught more than the students, and I believe it is the case here. I have been struggling to make my personal prayers meaningful, and I have needed to remember the importance of making prayer a daily habit. Just as I need to continue communicating with my earthly parents while I’m away from home, I need to continue speaking with my Heavenly Father while I’m away from my heavenly home. Keeping in contact with my Heavenly parents is every bit as vital and important as it is with my earthly parents. How grateful I am for this subtle reminder to speak more openly with God, and it is my prayer that each of you will strive to deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father. I know this gospel is true. I know it exists for us, and I know it is good. I love this church with all my heart, and I know that by praying continually, my love for this church will only deepen. I hope that you, my brothers and sisters, feel the same. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

~Haeley