Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of TBTL 2011

I've been seeing these posts around and I think they're a nice way to close out the year, so here is my Year In Review for The Beautiful Thrifty Life. Thanks to all of you who have made it a great year, and have stuck with me through the quieter times. I am looking forward to getting more organized (and therefore more crafty) in 2012!

January began with me sharing the lovely Princess Party decorations for Starlet's birthday gathering:

In February we celebrated Valentines Day with an Invasion of Love Bugs:

March was my most prolific month of posting, with lots of fun spring crafts, but my favorite had to be these lovely tissue paper peonies:

In April I celebrated Easter with my very own homemade Edible Arrangement!

In May I celebrated the women in my life by creating homemade soaps for Mothers' Day:

June was a big month for me because I opened my Etsy shop! (which is currently closed due to my inability to keep up with orders and keep up with my home! But I'm hoping to reopen it in 2012!)

In July I was living Appley Ever After with the abundance of apples from my apple tree. At least I got some great fruit leather out of it! Mmm...that looks really good...

In August I held my 300th post celebration giveaway in which I introduced you to my line of infinity scarf & flower clip sets (which were the items that ended up being such a huge hit on etsy!).

In September I splurged. And this scarf still makes me feel like a million bucks!

In October I shared our Family Circus Train costume along with some past family costumes we've done:

In November the Twilight madness hit and I joined in the fray with this decoupaged Twilight mirror- the paper flowers were my favorite part!

And it seems fitting that, as the year began with a party, so it should end. December brought a Winter Wonderland Party and my incorporation of several of my pins from Pinterest:

Whew! What a year it's been! I have learned and grown as a crafter, blogger, and writer, and I am looking forward to expanding and growing even more in 2012! (and that includes myself physically- much expanding happening around my waistline until July!)

Once again, thank you for your support and love- I will see in you 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Wonderland Party (and pretty snowflake ornaments!)

I just love how I don't notice things like wonky blinds until I'm reviewing and editing my photos after the fact. Nice.

A few weeks ago I hosted a Secret Santa reveal party for my friends. I decided to have some fun with the decorations and use the opportunity to finally do some of the things I've been pinning on Pinterest.

First, see that little cluster of ball ornaments at the very top of this photo? I found something similar on Pinterest and so I bought a container of ornaments at the Dollar Store and finagled a little "ornament chandelier". My kids said it looked like a big bunch of fat shiny grapes. Ha.

And notice those ornaments hanging from above (that are all conveniently turned sideways so you can't see them really well)? You'll never guess how I made them.

Toilet paper tubes! Did you know you can make really cool things from toilet paper tubes? Yep, just flatten 'em and cut 'em into little strips, then glue those together. Cool, right? Thanks, Pinterest.

Pinterest also inspired these:

Aren't they ghetto-fabulous? Ha, they didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped...the plan was to use some mini glass candleholders for the center "column" between the burner covers but they didn't have any at the Dollar Store, so I used plastic champagne glasses instead and hot glued them together. Like I said, not quite what I was going for...

And here's my lovely Goodwill-rescued Christmas tree! I remember when I found this beauty all mashed up and stuffed in a bin. All it needed was a little fluffing, some tinsel and sparkly snowflake ornaments.

This was a fun (and pretty easy!) little touch- I strung white lights between the table legs under the white tablecloth, which resulted in a really neat diffused sparkly effect. Yet another shout-out to Pinterest! ;-) Next time I think I'll iron the tablecloth first...did I mention I'm kind of lazy?

Hey, who is that under my table??

So, remember those toilet paper tube ornaments that I spray-painted white to hang from my ceiling fan? Well, I decided to take them a step further and embellish them with some sparkly glass beads. I cut a little circle out of white felt and then hot glued some beads on it in a circle (sorry this picture isn't great). Then I strung a few off the bottom and I added a white ribbon for hanging. They turned out really classy. Who'd have thunk toilet paper tubes were so stylish?

So that's the extent of my Christmas craftiness this year. Hope your holidays are lovely and bright as well! :-) Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Gift Ideas!

In years past I've done extensive posts about great ideas for homemade gifts, but this year I'm keeping it simple!

For my mom's birthday I loved all of the great horse photography on etsy, and I considered buying a photo for her from there, but then I got to thinking how much more personal and meaningful it would be if she had an artsy photo of one of her own horses.

So I took my little point-and-shoot Canon and did a little photo shoot in the barn and then picked my favorite photo and picnik-ed it! Here's the result:

(That's Chase. Isn't he a cutie?)

I purchased a nice but inexpensive frame and mat and had it all ready to go for her birthday. It's now hanging in her office.

Artsy photos are a great gift, and with great editing programs like Picnik, it's easier than ever to make something really cool.

Alida over at I Make Stuff had several great ideas for homemade gifts, thanks to Pinterest- click here to see how she's making 25 gifts for $39! (yes, that's $1.56 a gift!)

And for some oldies but goodies, be sure to check out some of my older posts for homemade gift ideas. :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Mac, anyone?

I am not a big fast food eater, but every now and then when we're out and about we'll stop off at McD's and grab a quick lunch or dinner. Living Social has a great deal going today where you can get a voucher booklet for 10 big macs and 10 large fries for only $13!

If you'd like to get in on the deal, just click here.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spiritual Sundays: Secret Santa

Last year I wrote this story as a submission to a blog about service. Because we're in the middle of "Secret Santa Season" right now, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share it with you! :-)

It’s just after seven o’clock on a Wednesday night as I drive slowly past the single-story brick house. There are lights on, but the blinds in the front window are closed. Excellent sign. Less chance I’ll be caught.

I turn around at the end of the cul-de-sac and drive slowly back the way I came, past the house again, this time carefully planning my strategic approach. There’s a thick row of hedges right up against the wall- if I can stay low and hug the bush, I should be able to make a clean getaway.

I begin to slow the minivan and carefully pull off to the side of the road just past the house. I debate leaving the car running for a quick getaway or turning it off to avoid drawing attention to the lights…I finally decide to turn it off. I’ll lay low and wait, then I’ll go once it’s all clear.

I pull my long black coat tighter around me, then tug on a black cap that I borrowed from my husband, pulling it low over my ears. I grab the black scarf from the seat next to me and wrap it around my neck, pulling it up over my mouth and nose as well. Better safe than sorry.

“Mommy, you look like a ninja!!”

“SHHH!!!” I say. Then I stop. We’re in the car. Nobody can hear me. Boy, am I jumpy.

“I mean, I know Mommy looks funny, sweetie,” I say in a normal voice, “Just sit tight in the car for a second and I’ll be right back.”

I grab the gift bag from behind my seat and carefully open my door, feeling the rush of cold air as I step out into the night. I immediately get down into a crouch, taking long, swift steps as I slink sideways across the lawn, heading for the bushes. Suddenly, I bright light is shining in my eyes, illuminating the yard and everything in it- including me!

It’s a motion light! Curses!! Suddenly my swift slink turns into an all-out sprint as I fling the package onto the front porch while simultaneously ringing the doorbell. On the way off the porch I skip the steps altogether, taking a flying leap off the landing onto the walkway below and immediately breaking into an all-out run as soon as I hit the ground. The bushes!! The bushes! Must make it to the bushes!

Just before I reach the safety of the boxwood hedge I catch a glimpse of my minivan out of the corner of my eye. I can just barely make out my six-year-old son with his wide-eyed face pressed up against the glass, watching my manic sprint with what I believe to be surprised awe. I manage a quick smile and a wave before throwing myself to the ground out of sight.

My breathing is heavy as I wait, my heart pounding in my ears…I really need to get in better shape for this…I can hear voices inside, gradually growing louder as they reach the front door, and becoming clear as the door opens wide.

“Oooh!! I think I got something from my Secret Santa!!” she says. “Thank you, whoever you are!” she calls out into the night.

A smile spreads across my face as I hear the door close and the voices recede once more into the house. I peek around the bush just to make sure the coast is clear, and then I walk quietly but quickly back to my car.

As I slide into the driver’s seat, my son yells, “Mom, I’ve never seen you run that fast before!! That was AWESOME!!!”

I just laugh and say, “Yeah. Yeah, it was.”

And so it is every year in our ward. The little holiday tradition that started with a few friends has now grown to an annual event that involves nearly half the Relief Society. Young mothers, single women, even grandmothers have found themselves suddenly acting like they are twelve again, sneaking around leaving small gifts and planning acts of service for women they often didn’t even know before their name showed up in their e-mail inbox.

Every year these six weeks of secret service culminate in a holiday party where each participant learns the identity of their Secret Santa, and sisters laugh and cry and hug as seemingly silly tokens of affection take on a greater meaning when the givers learn how much a particular boost was needed that day, and when recipients learn how much the giver went through to share an act of love.

For those six weeks every year, we are all sisters in the gospel, warm in spirit and young at heart. We “delight in service and good works”, and we find ourselves loving women we barely know because we are serving them. We expand our capacity to love and we discover our ability to run- really, really fast!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness Week: How Did You Do?

How FUN it was to look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness this week!! Here's how my week went:

Monday- Got my hair done and gave my hairdresser an extra big tip.
After that I went to a store and I overheard a grandmother talking to her young grandson who apparently had to go to the bathroom. She seemed flustered and told him they would have to look around and try to find the restroom. I was familiar with the store (it was Michael's. Ha.) so I told her where the restroom was.
When it was time to check out the line was kind of long and I had several things in my cart. There were two sweet ladies behind me who only had two things so I offered to let them go ahead of me. They were so grateful!

Friday- My kids are doing a food drive at their school and the class with the most items in their box in each grade wins an ice cream party. I was going to be going over to the school anyway to help out in my daughter's kindergarten class so I stopped by the store on the way there and picked up about 50 non-perishable items. It was great to know that I was helping the hungry and making my kids happy at the same time! The teachers were a little shocked to see me lugging all that food through the door! :-)

So I probably didn't do as much as I could have, but it was just great to have that constant attitude of service. I'm hoping to make it last beyond this week!

So tell me, how did you do this week? Any random acts of kindness going on out there? Leave a comment and let me know!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Twilight Delight!

Behold, the latest addition to the Etsy shop! Isn't this one just lovely? I just mod-podged my way into Twilight bliss with this mirror/frame.

I also took some cues from other crafters around the internet and created these fun flower embellishments. I would share the link, but Pinterest seems to like deleting things from my boards lately...

Anyway, to make the rose I basically just used a similar technique to my tissue paper peonies- just make a bunch of petals in various sizes, and then this time I curled them a little bit (didn't do that with the peonies). Then I started with the smallest petals in the center, kind of spiraling them around, then just gluing and adding more petals as I went along. I used my hot glue gun on a low setting.

For the medium-sized flower I simply used my scallop-edged scissors and cut out a circle, which, because I used those scissors, looked like a flower. I cut out 3 sets of circles (3 layers of paper in each set), small, medium, and large. I stacked them on top of each other (largest on bottom, smallest on top) and then poked through them with a paper piercer and inserted a brad to hold them together. Then I just lifted each layer, one sheet of paper at a time, and scrunched them around the brad. Then I just kind of fluffed the whole thing. Nice, huh?

Here are some close-ups so you can read the juicy text. ;-)

And there is my mirror! Oh, and I painted the outer and inner edges black, because really- who wants to mod-podge a beveled edge? ;-) I also like the nice contrast.

Can I possibly mod podge anything else with Twilight? Why yes, yes I can...stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness Week! Nov. 13-19th

Wow, 3 posts from me in 3 days? What's going on??

Well, what's going on is RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS WEEK!! I found out about this from a post that my sweet bloggy friend Alyssa did over at Live. Love. Craft. She got the idea from another friend who got the idea from another blog...well, anyway, I've decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Alyssa posted:

"From November 13th - November 19th, I challenge all of blogdom to complete just ONE random act of kindness (or more if you like). Do one thing that you know will help someone other than yourself and blog about it. Then on Saturday, November 19th, we will have a weekend linky party and everyone can link up thier Random Act of Kindness and we can all see the good that was done in the world for just that week. With all the pain and suffering we see everyday on a very regular basis, wouldn't it be beautiful to see a linky party filled with nothing but good?

* * *
What could you do for your Random Act of Kindness? Is there someone who could use your help?

Join us in this venture to spread just a little bit of kindness and cheer in the world in the name of Thanksgiving."

I am totally in! Let's all look for ways to brighten the world this week!

Spiritual Sundays: Do the Impossible (or Part II of My Thoughts are not Your Thoughts)

This is me approaching the finish line at the 10k. My shirt says, "You don't have to go fast, you just have to go."

Sorry about the hiatus in Spiritual Sundays posts- I have been trying to get over bronchitis and last Sunday I was only semi-conscious most of the day...Anyway, I promised a Part II to my last Spiritual Sundays post, My Thoughts are not Your Thoughts, and I am excited to share that with you today!

In that last post I mentioned another story that I thought fit with my topic. This story was told by a sweet and very funny woman, Laurel Christensen, who confessed that she had been struggling with her weight. She ended up going to a "Biggest Loser"-type camp, and the experience was really tough for her. She told about a particular experience she had one day on the treadmill. Her coach was having her and her group set their treadmills for the highest speed they could possibly go for two minutes, then she gave them a 1 minute recovery. Then they had to go hard again for another minute and a half, then rest for less time than before, and so on. She started running her hardest and then she started to falter. She said that she didn't just think she couldn't complete the two minutes- she KNEW it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Her coach saw her difficulty and she "got all Gillian" on her and said, "Don't you dare be the one thing standing in your way." Laurel recalled that she was pretty sure that was something inspirational and she'd appreciate it later, but it wasn't helping her a bit in that moment! She still knew she couldn't do it, but she kept on. Before she knew it, her coach said, "30 seconds." Laurel thought, Okay fine, but I'm not going to make it 30 seconds. Her coach said, "15 seconds." Laurel thought, 15 seconds? How am I still alive? And then before she knew it her coach was counting down, "3, 2, 1, and stop."

Laurel was shocked. She hadn't just thought she couldn't do it- she had KNOWN she couldn't. So how on earth did she finish? The realization that she could do something she had been thoroughly convinced she could not do was astounding to her. She began to wonder, What else have I been wrong about all these years? How many things have I told myself I could not do?

Laurel then went on to explain that we all spend a lifetime putting limits on ourselves that are just WRONG! I really appreciated her story because I have taken my own journey with running that has completely shattered some lifelong limits I've had. Even as a kid I struggled with the required mile run in school. I KNEW that when I got older it would just be harder. If I couldn't do it as a kid, then how could I possibly do it as an adult? But then one day I got a tiny inkling of a thought in my head- I want to run a 10k. It was a completely ridiculous idea, and I knew it was entirely unattainable, but I thought hey, if I shoot for the moon then maybe I'll land among the stars, right? If nothing else I'll get some good exercise out of it.

Well, long story short, I started training and soon I was able to run for more than a minute without stopping- huge accomplishment. Then I was able to do a mile! Then I could run my neighborhood- without stopping!- 2.2 miles. After that it seemed whatever farther distance I aimed for, I reached. 3 miles? Check. 3.5? Sure. 4? Heck, it's just 1 more than 3. And then I ran the 10k (6.2 miles)- the whole way, without walking. It was slow, but I did it.

It's amazing to me how pushing yourself to do something that you really don't think you can do and reaching your "impossible" goal can just fling open doors in your life. Without that 10k, I don't know that I would have started my etsy shop. I probably wouldn't have finished and submitted my book to a publisher. I was able to blow the top off my tightly-set limits for myself and realize that I am a child of God. He is limitless. He has given me talents and abilities not so that I can tuck them away for a day when they might come in handy, but so that I can magnify them and begin to scrape the surface of His purpose for me.

One of my favorite quotations is by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

God has created us for greater things than we can imagine for ourselves. If we allow our thoughts to rule our lives rather than His thoughts, then we can never reach our true divine potential.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

What is our divine potential? What are His thoughts for us? One more quotation that I LOVE:

“The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were 'gods' and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him … He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Ch. 31
"With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27

So what is the impossible thing you know you cannot do? Isn't it about time you did it? ;-)

To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Get outta town! Look what I made!!!

You know that feeling you get when you see an idea for something you can make and it just looks so simple and doable that your heart starts racing and you run to find your supplies and get started??

Oh, well maybe it's just me.

Anyway, that's what happened when I saw this tutorial for making Christmas bows! And since I've been all Twilight-y this week, I decided to use book pages from Twilight!!

Is it not just so adorable?

And in case you were wondering what I meant by Twilight-y, here are the newest additions to my etsy shop, just in time for the release of Breaking Dawn and the upcoming Christmas season!

I'll admit it, I am a Twilight fan. Not the screaming and crying and woooo-hoooing at the movie theater kind, just the kind who loved the books and is really enjoying the movies. I thought I'd combine my Twilight love with my crafting and make some pretty things that other fans would also enjoy!

Stay tuned to see what else I can do with a $0.25 paperback copy of Twilight... ;-)

Linking up to:

Keeping It Simple
shabby creek cottage

Monday, November 7, 2011

Because I'm Hungry

I've done it! I've joined the cult! I have succumbed to that devilish guilty pleasure....


We all knew it was just a matter of time, right? Well, I've found it a lot of fun, mostly when I'm sitting on the couch with my husband at night and he lets me commandeer his iPad so I can pin away. I love showing him the fun, funny, beautiful, yummy, and sometimes crazy things that pop up on pinterest.
So today I thought I'd share a few things I've pinned for the upcoming holiday treat season.

You might remember my tendency toward small, ball-shaped, bite-sized treats like my Easy Decadent Truffles and Cake Balls. Here's a new delicious round morsel:

Pinned Image

Up next is some more raw-flavored goodness: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge. That title right there may have all my favorite words in it.

Pinned Image

Okay, I'm going to TRY to be a little bit healthier. Apple nachos, anyone?
Pinned Image

And since I was totally kidding about the "healthy" part, here's some ooey-gooey goodness of the smooshy deliciousness kind:

Pinned Image

I feel fatter already.


Friday, October 28, 2011

A Milestone!

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am an aspiring writer (that's code for someone who likes to write stuff but has never actually been published). Well, this week I hit a milestone: I submitted my first manuscript!! AAAAHHHHH!

Scary stuff. Anyway, it's an exciting step for me to take. I decided to send it to Deseret Book, an LDS (Mormon) publishing company because the material is about the Mormon faith.

It's a book called, "The Grocery Store Under My Bed and 50 More Fun Poems for LDS Kids." Think Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" meets the "LDS Primary Children's Songbook." It's been about a year in the making, and I wrote around 65 poems and just picked my favorites.

The title poem is about a kid whose family keeps their food storage in his room- Latter-day Saints are big on food storage and it's kind of a running joke in the Mormon community that we put it wherever there's space!

Yes, I did the "artwork" on the front cover myself. I sketched illustrations for most the poems, not because I'm an illustrator (or an artist) by any stretch of the imagination, but just so that the publisher will have an idea of my vision for the illustrations. They're all pretty cheesy.

Anyway, now that I've sent my baby off to the big leagues, I'm working on a new project- a YA Fiction novel. Exciting, no? Well, it's one of those things where the characters are constantly writing their story in my head and I can't get them to shut up. Yes, apparently if you hear voices in your head it doesn't mean you're crazy, it means you're a writer. Well, that's what I tell myself, anyway! Just go with it, people.

Fortunately, it's an incredibly fun project and so it will hopefully keep me very busy in the 12 or so weeks that it will take to hear back from Deseret Book. Hopefully.

By the way, remember that surreal video clip I posted a few weeks ago? Well, last weekend I got to meet Jason F. Wright! As luck would have it, he was a presenter at that Time Out for Women conference that I attended. He spoke at the Friday evening session, which I didn't get to go to, so I was a little bummed because I had hoped to meet him. Then on Saturday I was sitting having lunch with my mom and stepmom and suddenly he comes walking in to the food court at the conference center. I had that, "Do I risk appearing weird and pushy and go introduce myself or do I not and then regret missing a great opportunity?" Yeah, I went with weird and pushy. Well, he was very kind and friendly and I was able to tell him how much he had inspired my writing. I went to sit back down and then he brought his sweet wife over to meet me! Such a pleasure. They are a great family, I can tell. :-)

I just feel like God has been whispering in my ear my entire life that I was meant to be a writer, and for some reason I'm just now listening. I know it will most likely be a long road (I have an empty frame all ready for that first rejection letter!) but I am just happy to walking it, one step at a time.

Join me, won't you? :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Homemade Halloween: Family Circus Train Costume!

Every year our church has a Fall Festival, which is basically just a fun get-together with costumes, games, food, and a Trunk-or-Treat at the end in the parking lot. Usually for Halloween we let the kids choose their own costumes, but we like to do a family costume for the annual Fall Festival.

My son loves trains, especially Thomas the Tank Engine, and he thought it would be really fun for us to be a train. I liked the idea, but I thought it would be more interesting to take it a step further and have us wearing costumes *in* the train cars! I'm not sure how I came up with the idea of a circus train, but as you can see above, that's what we ended up with!

My husband brought home some boxes from work and we had a great time making a big painting mess in the kitchen one night. My son was our engine, my husband was the clown (my son decorated his train car with him), my daughter Starlet was the Amazing Acrobat, Little Boo was the Monkey (she wanted to be a monkey for Halloween anyway), and I was, of course, the Ringleader. I always think it's fun to have us in costumes that are kind of fitting to our roles anyway. ;-)

For my costume I just used stuff we already had- my black boots, my running leggings, a white button-up blouse, a red velvet blazer, and a hat from an old Zorro costume we used once that I just made taller and fancier with black and red paper. Oh, and some white gloves we happened to have (I wanted my hubby to wear them but he wasn't interested. Oh, well).

For Starlet I picked up a gymnastics leotard and black tights from Target. It was a little bit of a splurge, but she may be taking gymnastics again soon, so I figure she might get some use out of it. My husband got his clown hair and nose/glasses from Wal-Mart, and I picked up Little Boo's costume from Old Navy- 50% off sale, so I got it for $12! And lastly, Monkey had his Thomas costume from many years ago when he was Thomas for Halloween.

Here are some photos of our family costume 2 years ago (just after Little Boo was born):

Our teams don't exactly match (Starlet is a Virginia Tech cheerleader!) but it had the overall effect we were looking for. And I loved that I was the referee. How fitting, right?
Can you see how I put Little Boo's hair up in tiny little pigtails? How cute is that!

This Halloween, be creative! If you have little ones who aren't TOO opinionated yet, then a family costume is a really fun way to go. Or, you could do like we did and do a family costume for a special function and then let the kids wear their own costumes for Halloween night.

I'm getting more creative later this week with Monkey's costume...stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Have you ever done a family costume before? Leave a comment and tell me about it! We need ideas for next year!! :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spiritual Sundays: My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts

The view from Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, Virginia. Amazing how the view from above can give you such a larger picture than what you can see from below...

I had the INCREDIBLE opportunity yesterday to attend an amazing event in downtown Richmond called Time Out For Women. It was an all-day conference for LDS women (and any other women who wanted to be uplifted and inspired!) and we heard some wonderfully funny, motivational, and spiritual presenters along with beautiful music as well. This will probably be the first of a few Spiritual Sundays posts that will be based on the things I learned there, because truthfully, it was so hard to choose just ONE topic!

So for today's post I drew from a few different things I heard at the conference. The first was a story told by a member of the "boy band" Jericho Road. He told the story of the birth of his first child. Prior to the baby's birth, doctors discovered the child had holes in his heart. The family prayed that the holes would close so that the child might be healthy. The singer described the scene surrounding the delivery as one straight out of an ER drama, with everyone rushing around. When the baby was finally born, it was discovered that the baby had an overflow of blood inside one chamber of his heart, and that the holes were what were actually saving his life- without them his heart would have stopped. The singer reflected on the fact that the very thing they were praying for God to remove was the very thing that God, in His ultimate wisdom, was using to save the child's life.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

So many times in our lives we might pray for that which we believe to be good, only to discover that our own view is so limited that there might actually be something greater in store for us.

Another speaker, Brad Wilcox, told a very funny, yet very moving story about how he had to do a lot of soul searching while on his mission. He told of the day he felt he had lost his testimony, and how that night he knelt down on his bed and prayed to the Lord that He might show him a sign. He figured Joseph Smith got to have a vision, why couldn't he? Suddenly his room filled with light- and then the car passed. Joseph Smith got God and angels and he got headlights. Go figure.

Well, he was disappointed, but he was determined to discover what the truth really was. Suddenly, his biggest problem was not trying to stay awake during his study time- it was finding enough study time. He read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price. He prayed. He read Jesus the Christ, the Miracle of Forgiveness, and other books by prophets and apostles. He prayed some more. Finally, he had a moment when his mission president asked him after an interview if he had any questions. He paused, then said, "President, is there a God?" He said, "Yes." He asked, "Does He know who I am?" The mission president replied, "Yes." "Does He really love me?" "Yes."

Those simple responses suddenly filled Brother Wilcox with the Spirit and he knew it was true. In his presentation, he reflected on his journey. He pointed out that if God had answered his prayer and showed him a sign that night in his room, would he have done all of that studying, pondering, and praying? The Lord knew what he needed, and that night in his room the Lord knew that he needed to not receive an answer. The Lord knew it was a journey Brother Wilcox had to take on his own, to gain more knowledge before he could have that testimony he was so desperately seeking. Once he had completed the journey he was meant to take, the Lord answered His prayer in a sweet, simple, unmistakable way.

Consider this Part I of this post...I realized as I was writing that there was another GREAT presentation from Time Out that will fit right in with this one, but there's too much to write to fit it into this post.

For now, think about that scripture, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts...", and think about how you might seek to better trust in God, and know that He has a better plan for you. More on that next week.... ;-)

To find out more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit
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