Sunday Thoughts: New Year’s Resolutions.

There’s just something about a new year, isn’t there? I love looking back on the past year and thinking about what I would like to improve, and what I would like to maintain over the course of the next year. I used to feel a sense of loss when I thought of the old year being over; lamenting over how I never got a chance to do A,B, or C. But now I look forward to a fresh start: a chance to better myself and my family!

I’ve noticed that, this year in particular, there have been more people mocking new year’s resolutions than participating in them. To a certain degree, I can understand where they’re coming from. It might not be the best idea to purchase a gym membership if you aren’t fully committed to getting into better shape, for example. It’s not smart to radically change your diet or force yourself into restrictive eating habits over the course of 24 hours, when just the day before you were gorging yourself on whatever greasy, nasty food you could find. That’s not realistic, and unless you have a strong sense of self-discipline, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

However, if you are serious about improving yourself and making a positive change, I think it’s worth it to make resolutions and stick to them. In the past, I have been really good about adhering to my resolutions, for example, when I chose to stop eating processed sugar in 2010. I made it for 4 years without eating a single Oreo! Because I paced myself and set realistic goals, I was able to achieve them. That’s what I want to do this year, too! So by writing my goals down and publishing them, I hope to be able to regularly check back on them and update you all on my progress! What are your resolutions?

  1. First and foremost, I will stop eating sugar again. I’ve always felt best when I’ve chosen to stay away from processed and refined sugar, and I feel that it’s an important part of my identity. Another bonus is weight loss, which brings me to my next point.
  2. I am going to lose 50 pounds this year. I’ve spent too much time hating myself and being unhappy, and I need it to stop. For my sake, and my husband’s sake, I need to love myself. I’m going to begin a workout routine, and I plan on sticking to it. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin again.
  3. Speaking of skin, I want to begin a better skincare routine. I have been researching Korean skincare for a while now, and I think it’s something I want to try. I don’t take good enough care of my skin, so beginning an intensive routine should give me a nice wake-up call (and dewy, flawless skin, too!)
  4. I want to start cooking more, and with that comes meal planning. There have been too many mediocre pasta dishes in our home this year. IT. MUST. END.
  5. I want to start planning things, writing to-do lists, and create a budget we can thrive on. To achieve this, I am wanting to start a bullet journal! I’m excited to share that process with you. Frankly, I’m excited to share all of these with you!
  6. I want to keep my apartment clean. It would be so much easier to do if we didn’t live here! I want to get better at that so that I’m prepared for random guests whenever it happens. Which isn’t very often, but still. I want to be prepared.
  7. I want to do more projects! I want to focus on my art and improving my home. Creating makes me happy. I need more of that.

Well, there you have it! My New Year’s Resolutions. It’ll be fun to come back a year from now and see where I started, don’t you think? :^)

 

-Haeley

Letting myself be loved.

Wow, blogging friends, it’s been forever! Sorry I fell off the radar for a bit. Of course, as soon as I decide to take a brief hiatus from blogging, EVERYTHING seems to change. The most noteworthy change in my life being Tanner, who is the boy I am completely, hopelessly in love with.

Ain’t we just fancy?

Being with him has been the most wonderful decision I’ve made in my life, and I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have finally found someone who seems to like me as much as I like them. We’re preeeetty much the cutest couple ever. No offense, but it’s true.

Suuuuuh cute

Falling in love with him was easy; one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. But loving him and letting him love me is a different story. Letting another person into your life isn’t easy. It takes work to stay together, and you have to make sure it’s what you truly want. But most of all, you need to learn how to be loved.
That’s what Tanner and I are learning, and lemme tell ya… It hasn’t been an easy ride.

You see, the two of us are both very independent human beings, and up until now we didn’t really NEED anyone. But then we found each other and decided that we needed someone after all. And that, friends, has been an adjustment. Going from taking care of just myself to trying my best to care for my sweet boy has been a bit of a wake-up call: do I know how to love someone and care for them? Am I doing all I can to make sure he knows how I feel about him? Am I helping him where he needs help, whether he asks for it or not?
Caring for him has been easy enough. I love taking care of and loving other people, and that part has come so naturally. The tough part, however, is when it comes to him fully receiving my love, in addition to me fully receiving his love.

I’ve always been a very independent person. I like to take care of things myself, and I don’t enjoy asking for help. It’s not that it makes me feel weak, I just hate to feel like I’m inconveniencing them somehow. And so I try to avoid asking for help wherever and whenever possible. Because I can take care of myself, and until now, I haven’t realized just how wonderful it is to have someone take care of you. Whether it be getting me some bottled water because he knows how much I hate the tap, or buying me lunch when I get home from work almost an hour late, to staying around to make sure I feel better when my stomach starts acting up, my Tanner has been there. I appreciate those little things more than he’ll ever know, and I can only hope to reciprocate them somehow. But here’s where it gets difficult:
I don’t know how to react to or ask for help. So, more often than not, I react with “you did NOT need to do that for me!” “Oh, I didn’t need this,” or “I’m fine. I don’t need anything right now. I can handle it.” But he’s stubborn and usually helps me anyway, bless him.
I find myself saying “need” way too often for it to be effective. Do I really NEED a water bottle when I have tap water at home? No, I don’t. But do I NEED Tanner to know he’s appreciated, and that I love it when he does those things for me? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

I adore this sweet boy of mine.

Likewise, I need to be able to help him and serve him in any way I possibly can. He is so important to me, and helping him out when he needs-or doesn’t need- it makes me happy.
However, he has much of the same problem I do. He’s an independent person, and doesn’t always want to accept the help I try to offer. But we’re both stubborn, so I usually end up helping him out anyway. ;^)

The hardest lesson for both of us to learn so far has been to swallow our pride and let ourselves be loved. It’s certainly not a walk in the park, but I wouldn’t want anyone else working through it all with me. I’m SO lucky to have found him, and I can’t wait to love him forever.

Oh yeah…. Did I mention we’re engaged??

I’ll tell you that story soon! ;^)

~Haeley

Why.

You know, each year it gets harder and harder for me to be okay with General Conference passing. On some occasions it’s because I slept through one too many talks (you know you’ve done it, too) and I feel guilty about missing those inspired words, but more often than not it’s because conference weekend is full of so much good. This year was no different.

Since I no longer live in Mesa, I attended conference at the institute building right next to my apartment. I could have stayed in my apartment, but I knew I would eventually get distracted and eat the whole kitchen or fall asleep or something. Plus, I figured I would be able to see some friends, and that’s always a good thing. So off I went to the institute building, and there I was able to watch all four sessions of conference.

I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t on a super comfortable couch the whole time, I didn’t have ready access to a kitchen full of food, or because I couldn’t easily fall asleep without everybody noticing, but I got SO much out of this conference. I was inspired to try harder to be better, and I was reminded of how good I have it. I feel one of the themes of this session was building up our testimonies for times of trial, and I realized I need to work on that. Specifically in regards to prayer.

 In Richard G. Scott’s talk, he highlighted the importance of prayer, and it really hit me. Heavenly Father is interested in ME. He is interested in YOU. Whatever you have to say to Him is important to Him. God is our biggest fan, and the more I learn of Him the more I know that to be true. He is rooting for us even beyond the veil. His love for us is unfailing and everlasting, and all He wants us to do is come back to Him. Isn’t that awesome? We aren’t merely a passing acquaintance to God. We are His children, and His love for us encompasses all that we have. You and I are alive today because He wants us to be here. He wants us to have the experience of having a body, because He knows how wonderful bodies are, and He loves us enough to share that with us. I need to remember to pray to Him more often and let Him be a constant part of my life. There can be nothing but good that comes from keeping the way of communication open between us and God. How grateful I am that I was reminded of that.

You know, in today’s world, religion is often openly mocked and scorned. It’s easier to not say anything at all, or perhaps even abandon your beliefs rather than stand up to such an oppressive wave of hate. But it is imperative that we do so! We can only truly be happy if we stick to our guns and stay strong, no matter how hard they push against it.

Before moving here, I was worried I would leave the church, but now I know I won’t. I was scared that, because of my newfound independence, I would get lazy and stop attending church slowly but surely. It’s not because I was lacking in faith, but Satan is patient and will stop at nothing to drag us down. I was worried that because of the work of the adversary, I would stumble and fall. But having been raised in a family as wonderful as my own, church attendance has been hard-wired into my brain. I have never once questioned whether or not I should go, because it is a natural desire to do so. And I love my ward! I love who I am surrounded with. Being a part of this church is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know I will not leave it, because, simply put, it makes me HAPPY. I am comforted knowing I can return to my Father in Heaven, and I can be sealed to my family forever.

Another reason I want so badly to stay a part of this church is because my children deserve it. They deserve to be raised in a home full of Christlike love, and I feel my husband and I can only give that to them if we are united in belief in the church. I want my children to come into a home that is as close to heaven as they can get, because I don’t want any less for them. I was raised in such a home, and I know it works. Because of two parents who have a rock-solid foundation in the church, I am where I am today, and I know how I want to raise my sweet babies.

Conference has a way of bringing those feelings to the surface for me. I’m scared about the world we live in today, but I am so excited to be able to bring children into a world where I can help teach them wrong from right. I look forward to the day when I kneel across the altar from a worthy young man and we become a forever family. I am so excited to know that we can be sealed together forever.

I am not perfect. You are not perfect. But by listening to these messages and applying them, we can eventually become like Christ, who is perfect. I love that! I hope to remember these things the next 6 months.

~Haeley

(find the messages from this conference here.)

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

I’m sorry.

I am a young woman.

That is a very obvious fact, and it shouldn’t even need to be stated, but the thing is, young women are often faced with one of the most self-destructive behaviors known to mankind:

Bodily insecurities. 

I am a young woman with insecurities.

Now, I’m not one of those people who hates on herself all the time. In general, I like how I look, I like what I wear, I like who I am. But sometimes, sometimes, a little monster crawls up my back and takes control of my vision, and suddenly all I can see are flaws. And for some reason, as if my self-destructive behavior and thoughts weren’t already terrible enough, I begin to think of my sweet future husband, and I feel so sorry that he is going to have to settle for someone like me. My mind begins to list apologies to him:

“I’m sorry I’m so short. I’m basically dooming our future children to a life of midgetry, and you don’t deserve that. They don’t deserve that. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I’m not super skinny. I know washboard abs are way sexier than my tummy, and I know my arms are fatter than normal. You deserve a supermodel. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I have a big nose.

I’m sorry I laugh so loudly.

I’m sorry I don’t have long, beautiful waves of hair.

I’m sorry I have such a flat chest.

I’m sorry I hate shaving my legs.

I’m sorry I have bedhead and morning breath.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.”

The list goes on. Do you see how ridiculous it is? Most, if not all of those are things I can’t control without spending tons of money on surgeries and treatments, and that’s just not worth it. I realize it’s stupid, but in all honesty, when it’s the heat of the moment, it only seems rational to apologize to the wonderful man I’m going to marry, because he deserves better. I don’t think that makes any sense, personally. Obviously, if he’s going to marry me for time and all eternity, it means he knows everything about me, and accepts and loves me just the way I am. He will love me despite (and maybe even because of) my flaws. That wonderful man is not going to expect to marry a perfect supermodel. He’s smart enough to know they don’t exist off the pages of a magazine. He knows his future wife will have flaws, and he will love her for it.

Likewise, I know I’m not marrying a sculpted, unblemished god of a man with luscious hair and out-of-this-world white teeth. He is not going to be perfect. And you know what? I already love him. (before you get any ideas, I do NOT actually know him yet.) But I am expecting him to have flaws, and I know that in the long run it won’t matter.

We will both have scars. We will both have things about ourselves we would like to fix and can’t. We will both need and rely on the Atonement continually, because we are both humans, and that means having challenges and being imperfect. But that’s why we’re here! We’re not here to be perfect from day one, we’re here to learn in order to someday reach that ultimate goal of being exalted.

 And my husband and I will be in it together. Two imperfect people learning and stumbling and messing up and loving each other through it all.

So why should I feel like I need to apologize for being a human? I’m not going to grow my hair out to please anyone, because I love how it is, and I can’t change my height, or my laugh, or my bodily proportions- and given the opportunity to do so, I would most likely decline. God gave me this body, and it’s my responsibility to love and take care of it.

So this will be the first and hopefully only time I ever apologize to my future husband about my imperfections. We accept the love we think we deserve, and if I don’t learn to love myself, I can never be with him the way I so often dream about. I need to love myself, so I can in turn let my husband love me as well. I need to do the same for him.

Sweetheart, I am excited to meet you. I am excited to learn all about you, even your imperfections. And I look forward to the perfectly imperfect life we have ahead of us.

~Haeley

Why I Frickin’ Love the Single’s Ward.

Originally, this picture was going to have a purpose in my post. 
Now I just have it because it makes me laugh so hard. 
It’s a representation of me in the single’s ward, can’t you tell? I can just pick and choose whoever I want! (never mind that I can’t actually date James McAvoy, nor can I marry the Bollywood actor my hand is reaching for.)

Originally, this post was going to be about Growing Up and being in the strange limbo stage where I’m just barely out of high school and yet I’m now considered to be “on the market”.
Not that I’m planning on getting married soon, but a girl can dream, right?

Originally, this post was going to be a lot of things- the perfect blend of serious and funny. But I just couldn’t focus long enough to finish it! And so it has sat in my draft folder for two weeks, silently reminding me that I need to get my crap together and just WRITE.
In the end, what got me writing this post was the fact that I discovered I recently acquired a new follower (hi, Haley!), and how the heck am I supposed to acquire more followers and become a famous blogger if I NEVER POST?! So without further ado, I present:

Reasons why I frickin’ love my single’s ward.
  • Well, for starters, my bishop is AWESOME. He cracks me up, and has made sure I’ve felt welcomed into the ward- which is huge. I hate being ignored, so having someone make sure he remembers my name and some basic facts about me is huge. Thanks, bro. (or is it bish? No, that sounds bad. We’ll stick with bro.)
  • Relief society. In one of my previous posts, I wrote about how excited I was to begin relief society, and honestly, this ward has a wonderful program. Maybe it’s because we’re all more or less in the same stage of life, none of us have to run out of the room quietly because our baby suddenly decided to unleash a tidal wave of spit-up, or maybe it’s because we’re all really young. Either way, I just feel like I’m in Young Women’s 2.0, which is a preetty good way to begin relief society.
  • I have the mornings to myself. My ward starts at 1:00, and my family’s ward begins at 8:30, so I get to have the house to myself for a few hours each Sunday, which is nice. I have time to just enjoy the quiet house, and can prepare for the meeting without having to yell at someone because they’re taking too long in the bathroom and I need my toothbrush, or whatever else. I’ve also found myself singing hymns around the house while I get ready/veg in my pj’s because I don’t want to get dressed yet, and I like that. I don’t really like doing that in front of everyone, so having my own private concert is nice. ;^)
  • Since we are all so young, I feel like there is wayyy less judgement from my peers. I think we all have a silent, mutual understanding that these years are weird, and wonderful, and experimental, and we respect that. I feel like nobody is competing to show off how perfect their life is, or how cute their dress is, or how adorable their children are. We just… Are who we are. We wear what we want (within reason), we say what we want, and we don’t worry what anybody else thinks. We’re NOT perfect, and we’re not trying to convince people we are. I’ve never seen so many different hair colors in church before- purple, pink, and blue, namely- and you know what? It doesn’t matter. They are who they are and if pink hair expresses that, more power to them. I just think that in a family ward, the people who look different than your average, cookie-cutter churchgoing person are silently looked down upon, and separated into a category known as Those Mormons. You know, the ones who just don’t really fit the mold? But here, it doesn’t matter. We take you as you are, because we’re all young, and still learning. And you know what? Being different is AWESOME. I like not feeling like I haves droves of people to impress with my righteousness. I like knowing that I, along with my peers, am still learning how to get closer to my Savior. I’m not perfect. Neither are they. But together, we’re all connected in our beliefs. And looks don’t matter, after all. It’s what’s inside that counts. (can I get some props for totally sounding like a fortune cookie right there?)
  • I LOVE the activities! They’re so fun, and I love getting to know these people. 
  • Okay, fine. Yes, it’s nice to have so many good-looking boys in my ward. Yes, it’s wonderful and refreshing to have nothing but dateable young men in my ward. Yes, heavens yes, it is nice to have young men in the ward who know how to fit their suits…. Also, I didn’t know this before, but really awesome socks are a huge turn on. Does your ensemble have lackluster socks? Sorry, sweetie. Not happening. Give me the socks that straddle the line between whimsical and practical. (a weird attraction to have, no?)
I guess what I’m trying to say here is… The single’s ward is wonderful! It’s not a scary cult that forces you to marry. It is a gathering place where young adults come to get closer to their Savior. I’m so glad I decided to make the change. I have not regretted it once.
Man, I’m going to miss this ward when I go to college.
~Haeley

Sunday Thoughts: The End of an Era.

“We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,
Who loves us and we love Him.
We will ‘stand as witnesses of God
at all times, and in all things, and in all places’
As we strive to live the Young Women’s values, which are:
Faith 
Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Knowledge
Choice and Accountability
Good Works
Integrity
and Virtue.
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
We will be prepared to strengthen home and family,
Make and keep sacred covenants,
Receive the ordinances of the temple,
And enjoy the blessings of exaltation.”
I remember, six years ago, standing up for the first time in Young Women’s and saying that beside other young women in my class. I couldn’t believe it- I had become a Young Woman. I was going to go through my teenage years in this program, and I was going to change a lot in the next six years. I guess I just didn’t know how much. 
Being in the Young Women’s program has changed me for the better in so many ways. I’ve made so many friends in this program, peers and teachers. I’ve learned that love is so abundant among sisters- not just blood relations, but among the sisters in my ward. 
We really have been there for each other through everything.
And my leaders? Gosh, they’ve been so wonderful. They’ve been like mothers to me- warm, compassionate, caring, and some of my best friends. I really don’t know what I would do without those leaders of mine. If you read this, be it one of my young women or one of my leaders- I LOVE you. I really, truly do. You’ve helped shape me in some way over the past six years, and I am so grateful for that. 
This Sunday was… Weird. It was my last Sunday not only in Young Women’s, but also this ward. As of next week, I will officially be attending the Single’s Ward! It’s fast, but I need to start growing up somehow, no? 
Saying the theme for the last time brought on a barrage of memories in true movie-montage style. From me saying it for the first time ever, to the first time in my ward, to saying it with each of my sisters as they entered Young Women’s. 
And yes, I totally cried. Just training for Relief Society! ;^)
What is the strangest thing about moving on from Young Women’s is that after this, Relief Society is all I will ever be a part of. I can’t re-start Young Women’s. I can’t go back to Primary and begin anew. I am now, and forever will be, a member of Relief Society. Sure, I may get callings elsewhere, but I am in Relief Society for good now! I know a lot of girls are afraid of entering Relief Society, but honestly? I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve always gravitated more towards adults anyhow, and now I will be one of them! Wow! It will be such a blessing to serve with so many wonderful women. I already know that together we will do great things. 
So although it is a bittersweet parting, it is a beautiful one. I am more ready than I think I am, and I will be blessed in my new ward. 
Here’s to adventures!
~Haeley

Sunday thoughts: Easter.

In the past few years, I have realized that I’m not a huge easter person. I don’t like coloring eggs, I don’t care for the easter bunny, and jellybeans are thoroughly unpalatable to me. I don’t like easter.

But I do like Easter. 

I like having a day where all around the world, people remember our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and what He’s done for us. I love knowing that even though we may be of different faiths, we all believe that Christ died for us, and because of Him, we can be with Him again and we can live once more.
Today in Sunday school we watched a video entitled, “Because of Him.” It details so many things we are able to do, and have done, because of our Saviour. How amazing and comforting it is to know this truth!

Because of Him, I can be with my dear family forever.
Because of Him, I don’t have to be afraid of death.
Because of Him, I know that I am loved, and will always have Someone willing to listen to me.
Because of Him, I will be sealed to my future husband and children forever.
Because of Him, I can be forgiven.

We had a wonderful, wonderful discussion in Young Women’s about the Atonement today as well. We watched a very touching video about Christ’s last days through the eyes of one of His apostles. It was a new perspective on that event, and brought now things to light that I hadn’t seen before.
Then we had two leaders sing a song about the Atonement, and it was so, so beautiful. I love songs about the Saviour, because they are always so clean and pure and true. Music brings the Spirit in a way that words can’t, and it illustrates flawlessly my feelings.

We bore our testimonies of the Atonement afterwards, and I knew I was going to say something, I just wasn’t sure about what. But I got up and followed the Spirit.

I spoke of how this was my last Easter at home, and how as exciting as it was, I was also terrified. I feel like I talk about it all the time, but it’s true. Growing up is a foreign concept to me- being the oldest in your family has some challenges, after all. I said how even though I was going to miss my family so much, and even though being alone would be hard, it would all be worth it. Because even if I’m alone physically, I am NEVER alone spiritually. Jesus Christ is ALWAYS right there for me, and because of Him, I know that moving out doesn’t have to be scary. It will be a wonderful experience! I will grow and become better because of it, and my Saviour will be there every step of the way.
I couldn’t hold back my tears as I spoke of my love for my Saviour and my family, and my heart has been full ever since.
How truly grateful I am to know that I am LOVED!
I hope you know that you are, too. I hope you never feel completely alone and hopeless, because you are NEVER alone. There is ALWAYS hope for you. Christ is always there.

His hand is stretched out still.

Happy Easter, everyone. I hope you remember the reason for this beautiful day. :^)

~Haeley

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

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