Monday, September 30, 2013

Music for LDS Youth

Some of you may already know this.

It's wonderful.

Fabulous.

Glorious.

Almost as good as ice cream. ;) [Okay, maybe it's even better...]

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint's website for youth has over 100 awesome songs that you can listen to and download for free! The collection includes awesome Seminary, Efy, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and For Strength of Youth Media tracks by artists like Mindy Gledhill, Jenny Phillips, Kenneth Cope, Jenny Jordan Frogley, and Hilary Weeks.

Some of my favorites are "Seeking What’s Good" by Ejay Mulitalo, "He Knows Me Better" by Janessa Buttars, and"Walking in Sunlight" by Stephanie Mabey. But seriously, they are all absolutely amazing.

So grab your ipod, cell phone, mp3 player, computer, record player, phonograph, or whatever musically inclined device you listen to auditory entertainment with and load it up like a banana split. Speaking of split, I've got to run!

See 'ya [I mean write to you] tomorrow!

-Sarah

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hope


A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a talk on hope. When I first received my topic, I thought to myself “This is great! Hope is a basic gospel principle. This shouldn't be hard to talk about.” But then I got home. I sat for a while. Pondered for a longer while. And then realized that I was completely clueless. [Like seriously, as clueless as a polar waking up from a coma only to find himself in the Hawaiian islands. That's how much I didn't know.]

What is hope anyway? We've heard about it all of our lives, but what does it really mean?

I thought the gospel topics page on lds.org explained it really well.

Basically, it said that in our modern language, we use the word hope with a hint of uncertainty. For example, unfortunately the event of me cooking is very a very uncertain situation. I have to really, really hope I don’t burn everything or catch the house on fire. I hope I don't fail my Chemistry test [this too is an uncertain event], I hope the weather cools down soon, and hopefully BYU will win every single game this season.

But, even though from a worldly standpoint hope is uncertain, when used in a gospel sense it is sure and unwavering.

Quoting from lds.org again, in the gospel, hope is “The confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.”

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So, wrapped into a nutshell, hope is the belief and assurance that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, as it says in Alma 34:41, we can have “a firm hope that [we] shall one day rest from all [our] afflictions.”

But how do we get this hope? In a conference talk by M. Russell Ballard in November of 1992 he says,
“Quite simply, our one hope for spiritual safety during these turbulent times is to turn our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ. The prophet Mormon taught: “Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

Please turn to Him if you are discouraged and struggling for direction in your life. Armed with the shield of faith, we can overcome many of our daily challenges and overpower our greatest weaknesses and fears, knowing that if we do our best to keep the commandments of God, come what may, we will be all right.”
However, even when we have hope our trials don’t always end quickly. Sometimes life doesn't go the way that we want it to. Sometimes the ice cream cone falls on the concrete. Sometimes you fall down the stairs at school. In front of lots of people. Someday you might even get attacked by millions of squirrels with rabies. The list of possibilities goes on forever.

But seriously, sometimes really bad things [way worse than viscous rabid squirrels] happen. And sometimes our will isn't aligned with Heavenly Father’s will.  However, we can take comfort in the fact that God’s will is much better and rewarding than ours could ever be. Armed with hope in Christ, we can get through anything.

This quote from Elder Holland means so much to me. 


The world can be a dark and dreary place, but through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can have peace and happiness. Whatever you're going through, it is my prayer that you will be able to find joy in life and as Elder Holland says, "believe in good things to come".

Happy Sabbath day, everyone!

With love,

Sarah

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Sweet Things in My Life 9/28

Sorry this post is coming so late! It's been a whirlwind of a day! [Literally and figuratively. The wind has really been blowing here lately. If you don't believe me, check out my hair. :D]

Here's a glimpse of what's made my life sweet this week:


1. COUSINS!

My sweet cousins came to visit from California this week. Saying we had fun is an understatement. We jumped on the trampoline, fetched with the puppy until our arms ached, played many a board game, and feasted on hot chocolate [with sprinkles!]. Sure love my family!

By the way, just so there is no confusion here, the dog in the photo not my cousin. [Despite what Disney may say, I am not a dog with a blog;) As I said before, my cousins and I like to fetch with my puppy. That's why I'm using this picture for my description of my cousins. Not because my cousins are canines. haha

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2. RUNNING

Between flus, colds, busy schedules, [and an unfortunate lack of motivation on my part], it had been way longer than I'd like to admit since I went for a run. I finally got out this week and it felt great!


3. RAIN

I love rain. The sound it makes as it pitter-patters on the ground will probably never get old to me. [Plus the smell before and after it rains is almost as delicious as a cake baking in the oven. [*key word = almost. Cake still trumps, but it's a close call. ;) ] Yay for fall rainstorms [and for cute rainboots] !


4. HTML CODES FOR BLOGS

I learned how to make a picture become a link to another website with html coding this week. [If you click the photo above, it takes you to our homepage! Cool, huh?] Yes, it's a small triumph, but I'm still pretty proud of my accomplishment. "Ladies and gentleman, this was one small step for a not very technologically talented blogger, but a giant step for blog-kind". ;) Just kidding.

 



5. LDS GOSPEL LIBRARY APP

My family got a Kindle Fire last week and I finally tried out the gospel libary app last night. I am so addicted. I'm afraid I *might* have gotten a little happy with the highlighting function yesterday. Let's just say, more verses in the chapters I read are highlighted in beautiful shades of pink, yellow, and blue than I left plain. So much for having highlights stand out...Yeah, I should probably tone it down a bit. haha

So besides ice cream and the glories of not having school on the weekends [hallelujah for Saturdays!], these are the things that have made my life special. What are the sweet things in your life?

-Sarah

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Temple: For the Dead and the Living

I am so thankful it is Friday. More thankful than a pilgrim on Thanksgiving. Wait, make that more thankful than an alive turkey the day after Thanksgiving. [Can you tell delicious Thanksgiving food is on my mind? Ever since the weather has cooled down in my neck of the woods, I can't stop craving pumpkin pie...]

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Anyway, instead of doing a Fashion Friday post today, I keep feeling like I need to talk about something else.

Something more important than fashion will ever be.

The Temple.



Last night, my ward had the privilege of going to do baptisms for the dead. [For more information on why my faith believes in this practice and how it works, visit the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on this topic, here.]

I love going to the temple because it provides two awesome gifts [well, there's a lot more than two, but for the sake of this post I'm summarizing a bit. ;)]

1. Saving ordinances for ourselves
2. Saving ordinances for our ancestors

But there's something else that doing temple work does-- It offers us peace.

Yesterday, I realized that sometimes I only focus on the ordinance parts of the temple and end up getting so caught in the motions of doing baptisms that I forget to stop and savor the sweet spirit that fills the Lord's house.

The session before ours was running late, so our ward had the opportunity to hear from the temple president. What really stood out to me was that he asked us to stop and think about each person we were doing work for. The names coming across the screen weren't some mystical character from years gone by. They were people. People with names. People with lives. Hardships. Joys. Struggles. Fears. Hopes. Dreams.

And they are our families.

At that moment it all became real to me. I wasn't just there doing some religious ceremony merely for technicality purposes. I was an important link in providing my ancestors with salvation. They had to go through this harsh mortal life without the gospel or the gift of the constant companionship of the  Holy Ghost. Can you even imagine? I don't know where I would be without those blessings in my life. But last night, I was able to help them get those gifts. And that's when the Holy Ghost hit me. I felt the spirit yesterday like I never have before felt in the temple. The peace that flowed through my heart was so strong. And what made all the difference was feeling the love and gratitude of those who had gone before.

All along, I thought I was at the temple to bless my ancestors. But it turns out, they were really blessing me. And for that, I will forever be thankful.

Sarah

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Create Your Own Chevron Background in Photoshop CS5



I have a thing for chevron. Its little zig-zag stripes remind me of tiny mountains expanding over a vast, empty plain. Or like a pristine ski slope on a frigid winter's day. Or ice cream cones. Yeah, I think I like ice cream cones the best. ;)

Anyway, it's one of those trends that's been all over the graphics world lately. Thus, I thought it would be an entertaining and beneficial exposition for us to learn how to create our own chevron backgrounds. So, let us embark. [Isn't that one of the coolest words ever? Embark. I like it...]

1. Establish Your Boundaries

Every time I hear anything to do with the word graph, I shutter a bit while part of me dies. Graphing is the unit in Algebra I can never quite wrap my mind around. However, in Photoshop it can be quite delightful, so don't freak out on me yet.

First, make sure your ruler and guidelines are visible [ctrl+r for ruler; ctrl+q for gridlines].

Start off by marking the center of your document. I used an 8.5x11 inch template, so my half way point was 4.25 inches. Click on the vertical ruler and drag your mousey clicker thing [I know, I'm super technical ;)] left --> right across the document until you reach your center point. Let go of the mouse and you will be left with a beautiful, aqua grid line. [Don't worry, you can hide these later.]

Once you have the center marked, place a guideline at each quarter of the page [or if you need it in less mathematical terms like me, mark half of the half]. 



After you have that figured out, mark your horizontal guidelines by clicking and dragging grid lines from the horizontal ruler at the top of your work window. I did mine about 1 inch wide.


2. Select Your Shape

Meet the polygonal selection tool. It will be one of your good friends during this tutorial. [P.S. It's the third one down on the tool bar. You may need to right click it to make sure the polygonal, and not the magnetic or lasso tool is selected].


Basically, we're going to be playing a giant game of dot to dots. You click on the corners [or dots] of what you want to select, and when your done, Photoshop connects them in straight lines for you. It's amazing!

To make your chevron stripe, start by clicking the upper left hand corner of the first box in your grid. Then, click the corner that is diagonally down from it on the lower right hand side. A wonderfully magic little line should connect your two points. Keep clicking the corners in a zig-zag pattern until you get to the last box.


As you can see, on the last box you need to extend your line over the edge of the document. There is a reason for this-- it's how you'll get to the next row.

Click on the edge of your paper next to the first horizontal grid line to get your selection back on the paper. [I just realized that sounded really confusing, so I demonstrated this step in red for y'all. Pictures = much clearer explanations of Photoshop than words, sometimes.] 



Now keep clicking on the corners of the boxes to draw your chevron stripes just like you did before, but backwards! When you get to the last box, just click on your starting point and Photoshop will outline the entire selection for you.



3. Paint!

Now that you have your lovely chevron shape selected, create a new layer [ctrl+shift+n] and use the paint bucket tool to make your stripe a beautiful color of your choosing. [After you paint your stripe, you can press ctrl+d to get rid of the little marching ants around your selection so you can see your fabulous artwork better. Your welcome. :D]


4. Copy, Copy, Copy

Duplicate your stripe layer until you have enough to fill your page. Using the move tool, drag them into the proper positions on your grid.

5. Adjust

Of course, these chevron stripes are a little too wide for my liking. Instead of having to click on a million points during step 2, I start off wider than I like and then squish my design down later.

To do this, first merge all your stripes into one layer.


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Then, use the move tool to shrink the layer to the width of half of your document.


Duplicate this layer and move it into the other half of your document. Adjust as necessary.

Now you can take a deep breath, press ctrl+q to hid the gridlines, and admire your beautiful masterpiece.


So there 'ya have it folks. It's your own custom chevron background! Just save it as a .psd file and you can use it for tons of different projects for months, years, and generations to come [we'll see if the fad lasts that long. haha :) I hope it does.] 

Here are some different pieces I created using my original chevron graphic.

My Etsy Shop Banner

Quotes, Quotes, and More Quotes. ;)


The Blog Logo

My Photography Business Cards
As you can see, you'll be able to use your chevron background for lots of cool things. Send me a link! I'd love to see what you make! :D

Enjoy, and happy Photoshopping!

-Sarah

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Am Gold by Alex Boyé


Do your dreams ever seem overwhelming?

Sometimes mine do. There are so many things I want to accomplish. But then I look at myself in the mirror, and think can I, Sarah-- lover of ice cream and all things photography really do this?

And then I remember "I Am Gold" by Alex Boyé.


First off, Alex's story is absolutely amazing. As it says in his mormon.org profile video, when he was about twelve years old, his mother left him in London and went back to Nigeria. She was supposed to be gone for three weeks, but ended up being gone for eight years. Homeless at age sixteen, Alex overcame poverty, loss, and great personal struggles to become the wonderful musician he is today.

Now, Alex Boyé inspires people across the globe with his powerful music. 

In a Deseret News article from September 15, Alex explains the song, "I Am Gold" as follows:

“I was listening to the athletes being interviewed after they’d won their respective medals, and there was this pattern going on with the athletes," Boye said. "It was like, the ones that won the bronze (said), ‘Oh, I didn’t think I would make it this far. I’m just happy I got to represent my country.’ ... And then the silver medalist would say something like, ‘I tried my best.' But the gold medalist would say something like, ‘I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was a child, I knew I’d won before I even got here.’

“It kinda got me thinking ... about life outside athletics. What’s the quality of our daily thoughts and our conversations with our family ... at work (and with our) friends? Are we engaged in bronze talk, silver talk or gold talk?”

‘If you want to know what you’ll be like in five years from now, just listen to what you’re saying about yourself today,"

In the article, he also quoted 2 Nephi 24:24 [isn't that an awesome reference number? haha]. I absolutely love the message of this scripture.



Isn't that great? I truly believe that our thoughts have the potential to shape our actions and choices. Now don't get me wrong-- you can't make dreams happen just by thinking about them. You have to act, too. And sadly, sometimes even when we do act, we don't always win. But 'ya know what? We're still gold because we believed in ourselves and tried our best! How much better would life be if we stopped being our own worst enemy and instead, became our friend?

You are gold! 

Enjoy the music video, and have a fabulous Monday!

Hugs!

Sarah

Hairspray and the Worth of a Soul

Do you ever have one of those hair days where no matter what you do you look like a long-haired, fuzzy topped monster? Thursday was one of those days for me.

No matter what I did, the back of my hair looked like a wild animal had been let loose and hosted birthday party right in the middle of my unruly curls. I was late for school and being ever so desperate, so I reached for the ever controversial glue of the hair industry.

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Hair spray.

But, unfortunately, I forgot one important fact: Hair spray has a very strong smell, thus one should not bathe herself in it, no matter how desperate the cause.

Thus, drenched in sticky spray, reeking of chemical, and still looking like a cavewoman, I ran out the door feeling quite ashamed of myself. Thoughts as scrambled as the eggs I eat for breakfast ran through my anxious mind. Surely if my hair looked bad I would never have any friends, the entire school would shun me, and I'd die a failure.

But then, I caught myself. Why was I letting something as trivial as a bad hair day ruin my self esteem?

I'm reminded of this quote from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“As I have said before from this pulpit, when the process of creation occurred, Jehovah, the Creator, under instruction from His Father, first divided the light from the darkness and then separated the land from the waters. There followed the creation of plant life, followed by the creation of animal life. Then came the creation of man, and culminating that act of divinity came the crowning act, the creation of woman…Each of you is a daughter of God, endowed with a divine birthright.”
No wonder the adversary tries to confuse us about our worth. As President Hinckley stated, women are God’s crowning creation and have a very important role in the Plan of Salvation. We have missions to fulfill. We have work to do.

How likely am I to focus on others and serve people around me if I am constantly worrying about my hair and feeling horrible about myself? Not likely. The adversary knows this so he tries to keep all of us girls so worried about our looks and appearances that we don't have the confidence to serve and do those things that God would have us do.

So you know what? Today I decided I was going to fight back. I'm not going to let bad hair days, clumpy mascara, baggy jeans, or any other fashion disaster get me down 'cause you know what? I'm important. I have value. And I'm worth a whole lot more than physical appearances can ever amount to [even if I'm covered in hairspray] because I am a daughter of God. Nothing, not even rude peers and bad hair days can ever change that. 

This quote by President Uchtdorf says it all:


Notice, he said infinite worth. Not some worth. Not partial worth. Not mediocre worth. Infinite worth-- Infinite worth that reaches beyond even bad hair days and stinky hair spray.

As sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, we are all of infinite worth. No matter how we look, what we wear, or how crazy our hair is, He loves us. The most powerful being the universe values us. He cares about us. He cares about YOU. Never forget that.

Sarah

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Sweet Things in My Life 9/21


How is your Saturday going? Mine is crazy, but it's wonderful all the same.

Here's a glimpse of what made my life sweet this week:



1. PHOTO PRACTICE

Call me crazy, but I found it extremely enjoyable to photograph cereal for an hour. I'm learning how to utilize the manual settings on my camera, so though it was tedious, it was oddly entertaining. Speaking of photography, I have another family photo shoot tonight. I can't wait!



2. ICE CREAM SOCKS

When I saw these at the dollar store, I knew I had to have them. I'm always a sucker for crazy socks, but when I discovered these were covered in ice cream cones I knew they would definitely be coming home with me. They make me smile every time I wear them.


3. SHOE CUPCAKES

I made cupcakes that looked like high heels for mutual to symbolize this years theme, "Stand ye in Holy Places". It was quite the adventure [fragile cookies, exploding frosting, and me on a sugar high from eating too many broken heels...how could I resist?], but I think they turned out pretty cute.


4. PSYCHOLOGY

Remember the Psychology course I was taking? Well I got my portfolio back yesterday and discovered that I earned a 99%! Not bad I say! [Cue the happy dance, confetti, fireworks, choirs of angels, enormous amounts of popcorn, singing with your pet llama, or whatever other celebratory traditions you may have. I'm as happy as a duck after a rain storm! That's pretty happy, isn't it?]

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5. MY FAVORITE SONG 

Is it just me, or is it normal to have extreme amounts of anxiety at the salon? It's funny how I hate the way my hair looks when I need a haircut, but as soon as I walk into the beauty parlor I become extremely protective of every split end. Anyway, Brave by Sara Bareilles came on the radio, so I decided that I could be brave like the song says. I took a deep breath and allowed the nice stylist to touch my hair. I'm glad I did. It feels better now. Courage isn't just for wars and tragedies, people. Sometimes, it takes courage to get a haircut. ;)

What's made your life sweet this week?

Until next time,
Sarah


Friday, September 20, 2013

Sister Missionary Website: A Resource for All


Hey guys,

I'm keeping this post short and sweet because I'm reviewing a website that completely speaks for itself-- the Dress and Grooming Guidelines for Sister Missionaries website.

Don't shriek and don't shutter. Just prepare to be amazed.

It sounds crazy, but the official church website for sister missionaries has a ton of awesome hair, makeup, and fashion ideas. The abundance of photos provides some awesome modest fashion inspiration. I'm always at a loss for how to mix and match my wardrobe, but these ladies have it all figured out. 

Here's some of my favorite looks:

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Check it out, here! Whether you're a full-time missionary or not, dressing modestly has so many blessings. Let me tell 'ya, these sister missionaries sure do know how to rock modest fashion!

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Sarah







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