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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. . . . Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

 I recently had a hard trial that left me feeling down and sorry for myself- I did not get my dream job. I was devastated to say the least and the weeks to come were filled with moments of tears, confusion, and a lot of self doubt. I was annoyed and started wondering why things came so easily to others and why I was in a low place with a trial I worked so hard to avoid. 

 During this time, I had humbling moment that changed my perspective on trials. I was listening to a podcast that told the story of a talented 18 year old horseback rider who had an accident which left her paralyzed. At the end of the story she said the number one question that gets asked of her is, “what if you could go back to that day and change it so you never got paralyzed, would you do it?” I was blown away when she responded that she would not change a thing about that day. She explained how the following 10 years of experiences and lessons taught her to look at the big picture and believe in God’s plan instead of her own plan. In the midst of my trial, I stopped and thought about the lessons I had learned over the previous 2 weeks. I realized I had learned some important and powerful lessons from this trial and, despite the pain I had felt, I was actually grateful for it. 

 My next thought was, “now how do I get to a place where I accept my trials before they happen, so when they do happen, I see them as a learning opportunity instead of trying to fight and pray them away?”.

 I think our perspective is key. On one hand, a trial could be an ugly monster blocking you and ruining your life plans. Or, a trial could be an ugly monster that is teaching you a lesson so the next time you have the knowledge and ability to get around him easier. I decided to change the way I think about trials and to see them as learning experiences. After pondering this more, I realized that trials are actually gifts from God because without them we would never progress. Additionally, when we accept a trial before it happens, as on opportunity to progress, we are putting ourselves in a position where Heavenly Father can teach us so much more from that trial. I think this is really neat- if trials are inevitable, we might as well learn as much as we can from them.

Another example that can help us be grateful for a trial is to remember that trials are like homework: inevitable, not fun or easy, but worth it when we get good grades and see how much we improve academically. When I was a child, I learned so much more when I set time in advance to do my homework because I accepted that it was the time for me to learn. Again, like homework, trials are not fun or easy, and they are an inevitable part of life, but they are worth it, when (with the right perspective) we see the big picture and our knowledge and testimony of God’s plan increases. 

My perspective on trails changed after listening to the story of this 18 year old girl. I know that Heavenly father gives us trials because they will make his stronger and help keep us on the path He has planned for us.  In this month of gratitude, I would like to invite everyone to think about whatever trial you are going through and make a list of the lessons you have learned from it so far. When you start to feel overwhelmed by your trial, go back to your list, and add more lessons and focus on the opportunity this trial has given to you! This perspective has helped bring me a lot of happiness and I know it can bring happiness and peace to you too.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!   

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My mama was in Orange County yesterday, which means we had to find something fun to do together! Luckily, Laguna Beach has some terrific adventures to offer. Some of my favorites:

  • Victoria’s Beach- with crystal clear blue ocean tide pools
  • 1,000 steps and beach- this is a family favorite; it feels like you have your own tropical private beach
  • Montage Resort Laguna Beach– they have amazing views, food, gardens and beaches. It is a pretty penny to stay the night, but you can visit during the day to explore resort for free 🙂
  • Surf and Sand Resort and restaurant- really cute hotel on the water! They have amazing views and the downstairs restaurant is basically on the sand. After we finish eating, we always take off our shoes and walk along the beach… because it is literally right there 🙂
  • Rooftop– Is on… you guessed it, the rooftop of  La Casa del Camino hotel. It overlooks the ocean and the vibe is amazing. They have the tastiest appetizers and really good virgin pina coladas.
  • Banzai Bowls- they have delicious refreshing acai bowls!
  • The hidden lighthouse- we got to it through the beach entrance of the Montage. You have to walk around a half mile to get to it, but it’s totally worth it!
  • Top of the World Laguna trails! Amazing 360 views of ocean and valley!!

We had the best time. I love these little surprise trips. She was here to help her best friend (and my second mom), Debbie Mitchell with a jewelry show for her company Twisted Silver– which is the most stunning jewelry, if you ask me!

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Top of the World Laguna!

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Story of my life…. my mother’s hair blowing across my face in every photo lol

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Montage Laguna Beach

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Montage Laguna Beach

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I have the most beautiful Mama!!!

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Leg goals!! hahah

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Surprisingly the water was not even the slightest bit cold, like really, I am a baby when it comes to cold water and I didn’t even think twice about it… and it was not even cold getting out!!

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Question of the day: “Are you guys sisters or twins?”

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No clue what I’m doing hahahaha

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Favorite picture of all time hahahahhah

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Is this not the coolest???

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My mama and Debbie!!

 

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Bradley and I went to Chicago for a school visit! Brad is applying for graduate school for next fall, so we will see where we end up! 🙂

We both love Chicago. Brad served his mission there, so naturally he is infatuated with the city and the people there. My Grandma Williams was born and raised in Chicago, so I have heard wonderful stories of the city since I was very young. So we both really love it there!

We happened to fly in the day the Chicago Cubs made it to the World Series. It was also right before Halloween, so the city was extra energetic. It was great! I had a day in the city alone while Brad was on campus and I had the best time exploring.

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Still craving Shake Shack!!

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The Bean!

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If you want to get a photo at the bean with no one in it go early! This was at 7:30 am 🙂

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Hyde Park

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University of Chicago

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Art Institute of Chicago- Note the Cubs hat haha

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Here is a Monet!! Monet is one of my favorite painters and The Art Institute of Chicago has a whole room full of only Monet’s paintings! I was in heaven!

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Sears (Willis) Tower Sky Deck!!

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Rothko!!!

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More Monet!

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Fall is possibly my favorite season and I ALWAYS go home to Utah to see the colors. However, this year our schedule was already full, which meant it would be hard to get to Utah.  So… while we were in Arizona visiting Brad’s parents, we decided to drive up to Flagstaff to check out the fall colors; they were incredible!!! Growing up in Boston and Utah made my expectations pretty high when it comes to fall colors, but Flagstaff really blew me away!

Big thanks to my husband and in-laws, Ed and Leslie, for the awesome weekend!!

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img_7876-1-2You could say I am a (recovering) perfectionist.  I want a perfect house, family, job, lifestyle, husband (which I am lucky to have). I want to be the perfect friend, sister, future mother, daughter, wife, visiting teacher, and church member. My thought process is, if I can be perfect at all the things I think are important, my husband, family, friends and everyone around me will be more happy. I think being perfect will some how refine me and make me a better person, always lining me up with the perfect service opportunities, which will help and make me more Christ like- which is the goal right? It is exhausting trying to obtain perfection and right when you think you have conquered a tiny bit of it, the perfectionist check list grows. 

Brad and I were talking a few weeks ago about self-esteem and where we think ours comes from. We wrote down on a piece of paper all of our life accomplishments, things we have done, and things we do that build up our self-esteem. After we were done we categorized these into three categories: “being,” “having,” and “doing.”

The “being” category holds areas of our self-esteem which reflect who we are, particularly at our core.  The “having” category holds the self-esteem that comes from having something. It could be having the perfect figure, having the perfect family, job, Instagram profile, lifestyle, GPA, or anything else. The “doing” category holds the self-esteem we get from accomplishing something. For example, we might feel good about giving a great talk on Sunday, or teaching a captivating lesson, or planning the perfect service project, completing an MBA or a doing well in a hard class. 

As we talked, we asked each other which category is the most important. We decided that “being” is the most important.

“Having” and “doing” are great and everyone gets self-esteem from these categories, which is not a bad thing. But here’s the kicker – when we were done making our lists, we realized that our “being” lists were significantly smaller than the other two. So if you were to take away all of our accomplishments and the things we have, our self-esteem would be kind of stagnant and pretty weak. 

Brad and I agreed that naturally it is so much easier to measure, see, and build your self-esteem from the “having” and the “doing.” Perhaps this is why we tend to focus most of our efforts on these categories. However, who we are at the core and what lies in our hearts is the category that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ care about.  When our life is done, what will we be judged on? According to the scriptures, we will be judged on our hearts and who we have become, which is the “being” category.

I think the adversary plays a trick on us, telling us that what we have and what we do is more important than who we are. Part of his trick is giving us a truth and a lie together. The truth is, it is great to plan a service project or get an “A” in biology; these are wonderful things that should be recognized and do make us feel good. The lie is, that these things make up who we are and without them we are nothing. 

I feel like we live in a day that is hyper focused on the “doing” and “having” categories. With social media and the internet, these categories are spread and positively re-enforced by almost everyone we know and many people we don’t. This can leave us feeling like our self-worth and self-esteem depends on feedback from others or personal satisfaction from having or accomplishing something or another. This is Satan’s biggest, most cunning, most deceitful lie and it is wrapped and packaged perfectly in a Rifle Paper Co. box, accompanied with a perfect piece of stationary.

I encourage all of our friends and family to make this list and really ponder where our self-esteem is drawn from. If you are like Brad and me, and find yourself having much longer “having” and “doing” lists than “being,” evaluating your “being” list and putting extra focus there will build you up faster and more than any fancy car, perfect lesson, or number of Instagram likes, because who you are as a person will always trump what you have and what you have done in Heavenly father and our Savior’s eyes.  

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