Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Seeds You Plant


I have very mixed emotions right now.

I am elated that my Chemistry Homework is finally finished, but I am currently in the process of mourning the loss of Thanksgiving break. School starts in just about 36 hours! <cries profusely>

To be honest, this morning I spent about an hour stressing over what I had to get done and feeling really sad that vacation was coming to an end. But despite my gloom over school's impending arrival, I am thankful for what I was able to accomplish today. Would you like to see my list?

- Washed hair [It sounds lame, but if you could see how much hair I have, you would understand why I am proud.]

- Fed my kitty cat

- Helped put away groceries

- Learned how to calculate molar mass

- Discovered the wonders of the quantum theory

- Ordered our Christmas cards [It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!]

- Added a Holiday channel to my Pandora account [Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can finally listen to Christmas songs without a drop of guilt! Cue the Hallelujah chorus!]

- Finished off the Rocky Road ice cream. [Wasn't I such a kind person to make this sacrifice so my family could have more freezer space to put away the groceries? ;)]

- Read the scriptures [An even better feast than ice cream.]

Despite all the little things I got done, I was feeling pretty guilty for not accomplishing more. [Does laundry ever end?]  Then I remembered this quote I found on Pinterest the other day.

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It is so easy to beat ourselves up over the could haves and should haves of life rather than focusing on the good things we did do and what may result because of it. Never underestimate the power of what you do each and every day.

Yeah, my laundry isn't folded and my room is in dire need of a good vacuum, but the seeds I planted today cannot be numbered.

What seeds did you plant today?

Happily yours,
Sarah

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I guess what it mostly comes down to is I'm thankful for Heavenly Father. It is such a comfort to know that God knows me, loves me, and is aware of my needs both big and small. I have felt His hand in my life so many times. I will always be thankful for the patience and love He offers me.

Whether you are traveling, staying home, eating turkey, devouring ham, or enjoying some other amazing celebratory food, may your Thanksgiving be filled with love, joy, and laughter.

I am so thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for giving me a reason to write.

Sarah

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Songs for Thanksgiving

Can you believe we're only about 48 hours away from eating turkey? I can hardly wait!

Almost nothing can get a message across to me better than music. So, without further ado here are some awesome songs to help you get in the Thanksgiving spirit.

Happy Listening!

Sarah










Sunday, November 24, 2013

Magnifying the Good


I am thankful for the frosty air that nipped at my nose and finger tips.

I am grateful for the Sacrament and the opportunity I have to have my sins washed away each week through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the ice cream that is in my freezer.

I am grateful for the nap I got after church.

But most of all, today I am thankful for the ability to be thankful. [I know... paradoxical, right?]

Really, how gloomy would our lives be if we never felt gratitude for anything? Truly, as cheesy as it sounds, being thankful is the key to happiness. As this quote so eloquently states: 

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There are so many hard things that everyone has or will have to deal with in this life. Heartache, pain, and suffering are everywhere. However, when we choose to focus on what we do have instead of what we don't, we gain power to rise above our circumstances and become the people God intended us to be. 

I love this quote from President Uchtdorf:


It's super easy to get caught in the trap of "magnifying the negative" in our lives. How would things change if we focused on the things we have to be thankful for instead?

If anyone is guilty of magnifying the negative, it is me. I'm the queen of getting caught up in the woes of something stupid and forgetting all about the blessings that surround me from every angle.

That, my friends, is going to change.

Let's take President Uchtdorf's challenge. Are you in?

Sarah

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Makes You Beautiful?

Warning: 1D fan girls may experience stomach pain, nausea, ice cream throwing urges, and extreme dislike towards's Sarah upon reading the introduction to this post. But stay with me. I promise you won't regret it.

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A few weeks ago I was listening to "What Makes You Beautiful", and the lyrics really got me thinking.

The song starts off pretty sweet:
You're insecure,
Don't know what for,
You're turning heads when you walk through the door.
Don't need make-up,
To cover up,

Being the way that you are is enough.
That's nice and encouraging. [And, it says right there in the song that I don't have to wear make-up. Perfect excuse!]

But then the chorus happens.
You don't know you're beautiful,
That's what makes you beautiful.
Talk about misleading.

Is not knowing we're beautiful what makes us beautiful? [That is a lot of beautiful's in just a few sentences. Sorry for my lack of synonym usage.]

Don't get me wrong--I get what the song is trying to say. There is absolutely nothing beautiful about being stuck-up, prideful, or boastful. But isn't it okay for a girl to know she is beautiful and have confidence in who she is?

According to this quote from Elaine S. Dalton:


Notice the words she used. There is nothing more beautiful than a young woman who is confident. Nothing more lovely than a daughter of God who honors her divine heritage and lives a virtuous life.

One Direction Fan girls, please don't hate me or shove ice cream in my face like Mia does to Lana at the end of Princess Diaries. [Acutally, just kidding. You can totally shove ice cream in my face any time you want. Yum! :D]

I'm not trying to bash the band or the song. Honestly, I like them both. The point is, don't let the message of the song throw you off. It's bad to be rude and conceited, but it is okay to be confident in who you are. 

So what makes you beautiful? Remembering your divine nature. Knowing who you are. Being virtuous. Having confidence in yourself because you live close the Spirit. 

It's what we say in the Young Women's theme every week:

We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him.

Knowing and believing this truth is what makes you truly beautiful.

Sarah



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Tale of Three Stumbles

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Once upon a time, a tired looking, sleep deprived teen named Sarah went to school. After enduring many non-riveting tales of algebraic expressions and classic literature of the romantic era, a bell sounded and the peasants of her place of academic nourishment scattered into the dark, frigid air of the early dawn. [Okay, so it was 10 am, but that's pretty early in my book. ;)]

Frantically scrambling to zip her overflowing backpack, Sarah stumbled out the door and galloped quickly down the hall. [I know, people don't usually gallop. However, saying I was walking would be a lie. Perhaps limping is a better word?]

Trying to walk gracefully as she bore the weight of the books upon her back, she pictured a beautiful princess walking through a brightly colored path speckled with a plethora of wildflowers covered in morning dew. [I honestly don't remember what I was really thinking...probably something about what I wanted to eat for lunch. ]

Soon, Sarah noticed that her backpack felt a little odd.

"Oh, no! I hope I didn't leave the front pocket unzipped like I did yesterday. That was a little awkward." She thought to herself. "I should take my backpack off and check just to be sure."

So, she slid her backpack off her weary arms and frowned as she almost dropped it.

"Phew, that was close!" she thought in vain as she stumbled and clambered to catch the falling parcel.

After checking to be sure that the troublesome pocket was indeed shut, she began to embark on the ever difficult journey of donning her burdensome pack once more. But instead of thrusting it onto her back like a buff superhero as she had planned. she twitched as it fell to the ground with a thud of solemn defeat.

Not wanting to give up so easily, she tore her bag from the grabby hands of earth's gravity and finally managed to balance the pack again.

However, Sarah's day of adventure was not yet through. Having become so absorbed in the apparent strenuousness of putting a backpack on, Sarah lost her footing and fell down three steps.

Miraculously, she caught herself and transformed the clumsy happening into a sweet dance move. Just then, a representative from "So You Think You Can Dance" came walking down the hallway. He saw her amazing skills and recruited her for the show. She later won a million dollars and a trip to Europe. [Okay, so this didn't really happen. The only people who saw me were the smirking peers. I still can't figure out why they were staring at me oddly...doesn't everyone dance with their backpack between classes? ;)]

And so, with a dumb smile on her face and feeling oddly proud of herself, Sarah continued on her merry way.  She made it safely to Chemistry class without any broken bones. How this happened, she will never know, but she will forever be grateful that she didn't have to go the ER for dropping her backpack and tripping down the staircase, because that wouldn't be an exciting story at all.

The end.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Have I Done Any Good?


Hey guys,

Have you seen this new music video from the Mormon Channel yet? We saw it in Seminary the other day and I'm totally loving it. When two of my favorite singers sing one of my favorite songs, I just can't help but jump for joy. [Well, I didn't actually start jumping in class. I contained myself and did a mental happy dance instead, but you get the idea. :D]

I wish I could say more, but homework is calling. [If only it was a real phone call and not just a figure of speech. Then, I could reject the call and hang up on my school work. That sounds lovely... :D] But alas, the looming doom of finals forces me to bid thee adieu.

Blog to you soon!

Sarah

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving Armor

I am so ready for Thanksgiving.

Stuffing. Turkey. Gravy. [Lots and lots of gravy. :D]  Mashed Potatoes. Cranberry Sauce. Green Bean Casserole. Ahh, my mouth is watering now. To put it in the words of Campbell's Soup, that sounds mmmm mmmm good!

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Besides having irrational early food cravings, I am also super glad for the opportunity Thanksgiving provides us with to remember the things we are grateful for.

One of the best things about being thankful is how happy it can make us. Life truly is better when we focus on the good in life instead of letting the bad things drag us down. We talk a lot about how being thankful brings joy into our lives, and for good reason. The principle that a grateful heart yields bounteous joy is undeniably true. But there's another thing that gratitude does: It protects you.

I had a little bit of time between classes at church today, so I flipped my topical guide open and looked up "Thanksgiving". After I realized how rusty I was on my ABC's [what does T come after again?], I found this phenomenal reference to D&C 46:7.


I don't know about you, but as I walk down the hallways of my school, sometimes I feel like I'm being "seduced by evil spirits" and "doctrines of devils". Even if it's not as direct as a punch to my face or a kid offering to sell me drugs or something, the temptations are still there. Values I hold dear such as dressing modestly, not swearing, staying vitreous, and even just being kind to people are attacked every day.  Even in the midst of all of that, the promise of this profound scripture shines forth like a beacon unto all. If we walk uprightly before Him and do all things with prayer and thanksgiving, then we will NOT be seduced by the doctrines of devils or commandments of men. The temptations we face will not have power over us. How cool is that?

I've shared this quote here before, but I love it so much I just had to share it again. 


What better strength for getting through the muck and scum of this life is there than the love of a merciful Father in Heaven? When we remember the things we have been blessed with and thank Him for them, we become nearer to Him and thus receive strength beyond our own.

As you grab your shield of faith and take the sword of truth this week, I challenge you to also put on the armor of gratitude! Suit up! Armor up! Go forth mighty, grateful soldiers!

Sarah

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Laugh for Today

I wish right now I exemplified the perceived image of a has-it-all-together blogger, but as of now, I am sitting on my recliner with runny eyeliner and crazy just-woke-up-from-a-nap hair. But I have a relatively decent excuse. I have a sinus infection. The good news is I have antibiotic and should be on the mend soon, but the bad news is for the time being I feel like somebody threw a bunch of hungry termites into my ear canal and nasal passages. haha

So, anyway, I could use a good laugh right now. How 'bout you?

Here are some things that made me smile this week.

I think we may need to adapt this one a little bit. Love is when someone asks me for a Starburst and I give them any. haha


Yes, this is how I feel when I eat Nutella. [And I probably look like that, too. :D]


Choosing a favorite Studio C sketch would be almost like choosing a favorite child, but this one is high on my list.


The elemelons would be so cool! [Well, except for maybe the air melon...that might not have much flavor...]


Signing paper like a boss. This permission slip might not get the student on the bus, but I say he/she should get an A+ for ingenuity. 

What has made you smile lately?

Sarah

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beauty in the Blur


Usually when I think of stunning photography, my thoughts turn to crystal clear, remarkably sharp pictures. However, there are times that blurry photos can be even more dynamic.

But let me tell you, it takes lots of practice. Let's start with an example of how not  to do it, courtesy of yours truly. <blushes and hangs head in shame>

Presenting Exhibit A: The mystery elephant.


I took this picture [that can hardly be called a photograph] at my local zoo. Upon first glance, it looks like a very poorly composed photo of an elephant. However, my zoo does not have elephants. Trust me-- I'm just as confused as you are... ;)

As you can see, it is obviously important to keep most of your picture in focus so that people can tell what in the world you are taking a picture of. On the other hand, despite my oft failed attempts, there are times when blurry is better.

For example, I'm sure we're all familiar with the wonders of bokeh. Doesn't light do gorgeous things when it's out of focus?



But wait! There's more blurriness can do! [I think I must be unleashing my inner infomercial actress now. Sorry you had to hear  read that. :D]

I have a small [okay, pretty big] obsession with taking photos of water. I love the different effects that can be achieved by varying the sharpness of my images.

This first one of the waves is in focus. I really like how this photo captures the energy and wildness of the sea. The water is frozen in time giving the photo a sense of action and movement.


Now, let's take the same subject and throw it out of focus a bit.


Completely different mood. Rather than ravenous rage, this photo has a sort of dreamy, slow motion feel to it. Using focus to your advantage can really help you convey emotion in your artwork.

The same concept goes for this waterfall. In the first image, the water if crisply frozen. The water droplets almost give it a furry look. [Personally, I'm not exactly a fan of this pic of mine. It reminds me of those scary monsters on the Matterhorn ride at Disney land. haha]


To create the second photo, I lengthened my shutter speed a bit to give the water a stringy effect. Once again, you get a whole other feel to a photo. While the first one alludes to fast movement, this one feels oddly tranquil. 


The final example I have for y'all is one from my trip to the Oregon Coast this summer. The fog in the background combined with the somber blue tones just seems to scream mystery. I don't think the photo would be quite the same if it were crisp and sharp. I think the blurriness adds a nice touch to the dreary mood of the piece.


What can you do with blurry pictures? Try it. You might just be surprised. Just don't go too overboard like I did on my mysterious elephant. ;)

[Now, if only we could convince Disney to make a new version of Beauty and Beast for photographers. Beauty in the Blur. I can see it now. :D]

Happy Tuesday!

Sarah

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thankful for Vetrans

Today I am thankful for all who have sacrificed to serve our nation and protect our freedoms. Whether soldiers on the field or families left on the home front, your efforts are not in vain. Thank you for all that you do.

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The Lower Lights

I usually listen to pop and indie rock, but I have to admit that I'm a total sucker for a good folk song. The Lower Lights combines two of my music loves-- Hymns and the folk genre, into a completely fabulous blend of splendid indie-country awesomeness. That's a combo as wonderful as a big mac and fries if you ask me.

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So who are The Lower Lights and how did they come to exist? According to their website:
"The Lower Lights convened in fall 2009 for five days of diving into the hymns - familiar hymns, overlooked hymns, Hank Williams hymns, and more. The hope was to connect with these beautiful old songs of testimony on a deeper level, to have a new and personal experience with them. Drawing equal parts reverence and celebration from the rich mine of hymns, we ended the week with 30-plus songs that feel part-revival, part-vigil. We hope our time with the hymns can help others reconnect and have their own personal experience with these songs as well."
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By reviving hymns and giving them new life, The Lower Lights are able to create energetic, cheerful versions of songs we all know and love. Their unique sound adds a happy dimension to the beautiful tunes while increasing their spiritual feel to an even higher level.

You can learn more about The Lower Lights on this episode of The Song that Changed my Life on BYUtv. I love the explanation that they give in the show as to why they chose to portray the hymns in such an upbeat way. In our present day, we tend to sing the hymns very slowly and solemnly. Don't get me wrong-- this is all fine and good for certain things like Sacrament meeting and such. However, whey the hymns were first written, pioneers and settlers probably spend a good deal of their leisure time happily singing the beloved songs around  an open campfire. I think it is so awesome that The Lower Lights are able to portray the hymns in this authentic manner.

Here are two of my personal favorite songs they perform:



If you're ready to embrace the hymns in a whole new way, The Lower Lights is the band for you. Check it out!

Happy listening!

Sarah

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Sweet Things in My Life: 11/8

Greetings loved ones!

I hail from a land of homework and studying where bloggers get eaten alive and spit out quicker than a gorilla devouring a bunch of bananas. [Do gorillas even eat bananas? According to this photo from google images they do, and the internet is obviously always correct. Yeah...I should probably go to the zoo more often...]

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Anyway, even though I had to hike many a mountain of schoolwork, this was a pretty good week. Here's what's been making my life sweet lately:

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1. PLANES

What does a mature teenager do on a Saturday afternoon when she has some spare time on her hands? That's right! Grab a friend and head to the theater to watch a totally awesome Disney movie. But seriously, aren't children's films the best? They completely trump grown-up movies as far as I'm concerned.

I really enjoyed Disney's Planes. It had a really great message about never giving up and believing in yourself even if you're different than others around you. I'd definitely recommend it.


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2. CLEAN BATHROOM

I know, I'm a riot. My house is the place to party. Come on over and we'll spend Friday night cleaning my bathroom. It sounds pretty lame, but you won't believe the sense of accomplishment I feel right now. I might start cleaning my bathroom for Friday night entertainment more often. [Plus, I found lots of really cool things I forgot I had in my make-up drawer. Yeah, it has been a little longer than I'd like to admit since I went through there. :D]



3. FAMILY PHOTOSHOOT

I finished editing my 6th official family photoshoot today! I'm so thankful for the internship I was able to do this summer. I still have a long ways to go, but I've definitely learned a lot about photography!

Note: In case you were wondering, the family I took photos of did actually have heads and arms. However, for privacy reasons, I could not place the entire image on this blog. On the bright side, at least we can admire their nice shoes from a close-up angle. ;)

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4. CHEM TEST

Long story short, somehow my school's counselor accidentally placed me in my school's college level Chemistry 101 class. It's been...an...adventure to say the least, but I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. Since I hadn't taken the required prerequisite courses, it's taken a lot of extra work to keep my head above water. However, I must say that the 91% I got on my test this week made it all worth it.


5. FALL

In my neck of the woods, we're right in that funny transition phase where it's nice and warm [for now], but winter keeps peeking its frosty head at us from just around the seasonal corner. I'm really thankful for the little bits of sunshine we've been getting this week. The wonderful shades of reds, yellows, and oranges on the trees are so breathtaking. [Plus, autumn weather is a wonderful excuse to break out the hot chocolate. Yum!]

What are the sweet things in your life?

Sarah

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Song That Changed My Life on BYUtv


Has a song ever changed your life?

I had never really pondered this question until a TV series aired on BYUtv a while back, but now it really has me thinking.

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First off, the show is absolutely amazing. Basically, a different artist or band is spotlighted each week. They talk about their career, how they got started, how they wrote their songs, and most importantly, the song that inspired them.

Moved them.

Taught them.

Pushed them.

Encouraged them to do better and be better.

The song that changed their life.

Many of you are probably already familiar with the show. Honestly, I tend to be one of the last ones to jump on the train when it comes to TV and music [I swear I must lose all of my tickets or get distracted buying ice cream at the figurative train station or something...I'm pretty slow to catch onto trends. :D]. The show has been out for a while, but I've just recently discovered how awesome it really is. For all who are late to the train like me, let me tell you: It is amazing.

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One thing I love about the series is the inside look it gives into the ins and outs of the music industry. Learning how each artist finds their voice and style is absolutely fascinating, and hearing about how their life's experiences have prepared them for their careers is ever so touching.

I have to admit that my favorite part of the show is hearing the musicians perform their music. After hearing their stories, the songs become so much more special and meaningful.

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If you're looking for something fabulous to watch, check out The Song that Changed my Life. You can watch all 15 episodes on BYUtv's website for free, here. [Lonestar and The Lower Lights are two of my favorites.]

Is there a song that has changed your life?

Sarah

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grateful for Smiles

Everywhere I look, tons of awesome bloggers are sharing something they are thankful for each day in November. Honestly, while I really, really, really, admire everyone who succeeds in this, I don't trust myself to be consistent enough to make it all 30 days. <blushes>

However, my heart is so full today that I can't help posting about one of my favorite blessings.

I am thankful for smiles.

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I'm thankful for the five year old boy I babysit who grinned from ear to ear and waved at me after church. It made my day.

I'm thankful for the beehive who sat in front of me and shared her radiant spirit. Her sparkly shoes and sweet giggle brought a smile to my face. It's good to be reminded that sometimes we need to take a step back and feel the joy of life without all the drama of high school. They say a little child shall lead them, but today it was a Beehive who lead this Laurel along.

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I'm thankful for the friend who could laugh at how hungry we were in Sunday School instead of making fun of my growling stomach. [Why must it always make noise in the middle of the lesson's most spiritual part?]

I'm thankful for the odd sounding noise that came from the wall outside of the church bathroom today. Our chapel has been having trouble with the heater breaking and making odd noises. I'm pretty sure the heater was trying to pry itself out of the wall with a pick axe or something during Young Women's. [Either that or somebody gave the CTR 5's sling shots and an endless supply of bouncy balls. Or maybe a family of squirrels made their home in the rafters and decided to play a nice game of bowling.]  Whatever the source of the popping racket, I must admit I am thankful for the laughter it brought to the room. It was kind of a laugh or cry situation, and I'm grateful we could all smile and giggle about it.

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I'm grateful for the smile that came across my face when I realized my favorite chocolate chip ice cream was still in the freezer and hadn't yet been devoured by my dessert loving family.

I'm thankful for my cat who pounced me like a cougar today and tried to eat the inside of a pumpkin. There's nothing a like a sweet animal to bring a smile to your face. [And you've ever seen a kitty try to eat pumpkin, it is quite an interesting sight. The look on her face was priceless.]


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But most of all, I am thankful for the gospel. It is the reason I am happy. It is the reason I can smile even amidst adversity. The Lord is my strength and my joy. I will always be thankful for the smile this knowledge brings to my face.

What makes you smile?

Sarah


Friday, November 1, 2013

Blog Swap! Making Cookies for Him

Hey y'all,

WhitneySue from Feel My Sunlight and I are doing a blog swap this week! Let me just tell you , she is AWESOME! [More awesome than ice cream!] 

I love Whitney's blog. Every time I read it, I always end up feeling joyful and inspired. It's just like the name of her blog says-- you can literally "feel her sunlight" pouring off the pages and into your soul. 

After you read Whitney's inspiring words, you can also check out my post for today on her blog.

I hope you enjoy feeling our sunlight while enjoying sprinkles on your ice cream. ;) [How's that for combining blog names? :D]

Sarah

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For those of you who don't know me, my name is Whitney and I am the author of the blog called feel my sunlight. I spend most of my time at the gym either tumbling or babysitting teaching children to do flips. When I'm not at the gym I'm usually planted in front of a computer somewhere poring over the things in blogland. I'm that weird kid that loves speaking in church. I love all things citrus, I love my guitar, and I never leave home without my notebook. I aspire to share the sunlight I have been given with the world around me. This is my sunlight.

Since it is the first day of November I guess this marks the first day of #30DaysOfThanksgiving. The thing I am grateful for today is a word called grace.

I always thought grace looked something like this.



But I have come to find that grace looks a whole lot more like this.


https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/food-drink?lang=eng#cookie-stack-839914
{view original picture HERE}


 2 Nephi 25:23 says:

 "We know that      
       it is by
     grace      
      that we are saved           
      after           
   all we can do." 


I want you to imagine making your favorite dessert.

This is my all time favorite!


Christ doesn't tell you "I will give you the flour you don't have", but rather, he gives you ALL the flour you need, as well as every other ingredient required to make your dessert.

Your part now is to not just take the ingredients you are given and set them on your counter to look at, but to use them to make cookies for him.

This is how grace works.

Christ didn't just pay for part of our mistakes and struggles, but rather, he paid for all of it. He paid for every big sin as well as every little lie told, or every wrong thought. He paid for it all.

Now, because he has paid for everything he can demand something of us.

His only request is to
"Keep my commandments"
-John 14:15


By keeping his commandments we don't repay him for the ingredients he gave us, but keeping his commandments is how we make cookies for him.   

"Making cookies for him" is how we thank him. It is how we show him that we appreciate him for what he did. It is also how we become perfect.

By allowing us to practice with the ingredients he has given us, we are able to prefect our recipe. His atonement allows us to fix our mistakes and to one day become prefect like him.

I know that my Savior paid in full all of my weaknesses and that by keeping his commandments, repenting, by and striving to be a little bit better today than I was yesterday I can show to him that I am thankful for what he did. I think that we all need to be a little bit better at making cookies for him.



WhitneySue,
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