Surprise Birthday trip to RiSE Lantern Festival

This is a VERY late post… but better late than never! Brad knew a lantern festival had been on my bucket list and he was sneaky and surprised me for my birthday with tickets to RiSE Lantern Festival, which is in the Mojave Desert.

First, let me tell you that this festival was amazing. If you live on the West Coast and are dying to go to a lantern festival, I would recommend going to RiSE. On the way to the festival, we took a day to explore the Valley of Fire which was 20 minutes east of the festival grounds. For all my Utah friends and family who make the drive to Vegas or California often, the Valley of Fire is only 20 min off the freeway and is a really cool place to check out!!

Here is a little video I made from our experience at RiSE!

 

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our first christmas tree- how to make popcorn garland

We had the most fun time picking out and decorating our first family Christmas tree. We wanted to save some money, so we decided to not buy ornaments and instead string popcorn and cranberries. We both had never done this before, so it was a learning experience and if you follow these tips it is really is quite simple and fun!

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Tips:

  • What you need:
    • Popcorn, cranberries, fishing line and a needle
  • Use stale popcorn or the popcorn will crumble. I popped the corn the night before and left it in the fridge to accelerate the process.
  • Try to only use the harder cranberries because the soft ones are somewhat messy and might stain the popcorn.
  • Have your popcorn garland be no longer than 4- 5 ft. If you do it too long, it can get tangled easily.
  • Always start with a cranberry and end with popcorn.
  • Don’t use burnt popcorn because then your living room will smell like burnt popcorn all month long.

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Note: Clearly we had not strung the popcorn yet lol!

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Anyone who knows my husband personally knows he has a heart of gold and cringes at the thought of turning down an opportunity to love and serve others. Bradley and I were friends for almost 2 years before we began dating. I remember watching him emulate Christ’s ability to serve others in our church ward. I was not the only one who noticed his desire to serve others; people were always talking about his Christ like demeanor and I would often hear people talk about the “light” that he seemed to have upon him. While we were dating, I told Brad that he had a light about him. He humbly replied with thanks and went on to say that others have also told him this. 

Christ is often called “the light of the world.”I believe the “light” Bradley possesses comes from his desire and ability to serve God’s children and be more Christ like. So Essentially Brad’s light is the light of Christ, which I think is pretty cool!

So how can each of us get this same light? We find a ray of hope in Matthew 5:14; when Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount he says, “Ye are the light of the world.” Here we have Christ telling us that WE are the light of the world, meaning this light is available to everyone. I believe we all can obtain the light of Christ by following in His footsteps through serving others. 

During the holidays we see dazzling lights span across our cities, buildings, parks and homes. This holiday season, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put out an initiative to “LIGHT the WORLD,” which I interpret as filling the people of the world with the light of Christ. The #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative is inviting everyone around the world to participate in at least one act of service for 25 days. It starts on National Service Day, December 1st, and goes until Christmas Day!

I would like to share the Light the World and 25 days of service initiative to all my friends and family and invite you to do it with us. Bradley and I started our own#LIGHTtheWORLD 25 day experience by watching a 2 minute inspirational video on Christ that showed ways He served people during His life. Next, we printed a blank calendar from the web. Finally, we brainstormed service ideas for the 25 days and wrote them into our calendar. You can also get daily service ideas from this link:

https://www.mormon.org/christmas/in-25-ways-over-25-days

We hope our friends and family will become inspired by those they know who radiate the light of Christ and by Christ himself and act on this invitation. I know it will make the world a more peaceful and loving place.  

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This past weekend we drove to LA to meet Brad’s parents and sister for a big dinner at his dad’s colleague’s house!

Brad and I decided to stay the night in LA so we could explore before going to a friendsgiving at my good friend Jackie’s house! We are so grateful for the good friends that hosted these amazing dinners for us this weekend!

 

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Way cool flower wall

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Not much water in these canal today

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My heart!!

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I loved these broom looking plants

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Silly hubby

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Touring the Venice Beach canals was like exploring a museum; there are really cool houses!

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Super cool Tetris wall in Santa Monica

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My cute sister in law Taylor and her girl friends!

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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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