Monday, December 29, 2014

Music Monday: Tiffany Alvord

Ha. After my freeing post regarding, and I quote, "throwing the blogging schedule to the wind", here I am following it. Ironic, I know, but today's spotlight music artist is so cool you'll probably forgive me.

You know those songs that make you say "Omgoodness this is my Jam! I love the beat, rhythm, sound, and 97.85% of the lyrics, but not that one part that makes me blush as bright as Rudolph's nose and want to hide under my For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet"?

I have many of those songs. But alas, dear friends, I have found a solution!

In addition to combing her gorgeous voice with great music arrangements and stunning videography, many of Tiffany Alvord's videos save me and thousands of other Youtubers from the 2.15% of lyrics in popular songs that just aren't up to par with LDS standards. (Yes I just had to use a calculator to subtract my random made-up percentage from 100. #my brain is too tired to math #finals were brutal) 

You've probably seen her song covers and original pieces around the internet, but in case you haven't, here are some of my favorites.

Note: You may spend the next 3.74 (Great. There I go with weird numbers again) hours on Youtube rocking out to amazing songs and soaking in the awesomeness instead of being productive. You have been warned.

1. All About That Bass Cover

I love Alvord's version of All About That Bass because it has the fun beat of Trainor's original while replacing the questionable phrases and swear words with a message about real beauty. Plus, Alvord's witty take on bass (think baseball base, bass instruments, and bass fish) can't be beat.


2. Titanium Cover

I don't think there were any blush-inducing lyrics in the original, but I just couldn't help include this cover in my list of faves. While Alvord strays a bit from the fierce feel of the ballad and goes for a more heartfelt approach, she conveys the emotion of this piece very eloquently.


3. Magic

This is one of Alvord's original songs. I really like the theme she used. What's not to love about magic? That mixed with such a great beat makes for a catchy song that I may or may not get stuck in my head on a daily basis. But I'm not even mad. It's a cool song.


4. We are Never Ever Getting Back Together Cover

I just can't do a post about music covers without including some Taylor. This cover is the bomb. And it makes me want to play my guitar by a swimming pool.



5. Out of the Woods Cover

I know, more Taylor. I just can't help it. This cover of Out of the Woods is simply enchanting. It has a much softer feel than the original song, but I love it. And the videography? Amazing. 



So there you have it, folks. Productivity = temporarily destroyed, but at least you'll have great music to dance to, right?

Happy Listening!

Friday, December 26, 2014

And She Returns

Note: This post has nothing to do with butterflies, I just felt like a picture would make it look nicer.
You're Welcome.

I am a lame blogger.

What kind of writer just drops off the face of the technological planet for over five months without any sort of explanation, cliche goodbye post, or Pinterest pin?

Me, apparently.

I wish I could write about some amazing excuse keeping me busy like hiking up Mount Everest, finding out I was half super hero and learning how to channel my powers (hey, maybe my specialty could be invisibility and disappearing? haha), or skydiving with Taylor Swift (that would be scary...especially if we fell and ended up lying on the cold hard ground...see what I did there?), but the truth is, I have been wrapped up in a swirling chaos of computer crashes, homework, doctors appointments, and chores mixed with smiles, laughter, and of course bowls of ice cream. In other words, life is what has kept me away. And I'm sorry.

You see, it's more then that. I kind of scared myself out of writing this summer. This little blog kept getting more and more views and I was like holy blogging Batman, people actually read what I write! Ordinarily, this is a most excellent predicament for a writer to be in, but this chicken soul was, well too chicken, to handle it and got caught in a perfection trap so deep that not writing at all seemed better than messing up.

Am I talking about myself in third person? This just got weird...

Anyway, try as I might, I can't stay away. I'm back, and I promise I won't be a chicken any more (unless I am doing the chicken dance in which case I reserve the right to flap my wings and cluck for all the world to see).

With a new year and a new beginning for this blog, there are going to be a few changes around here. I will still be writing about church, my favorite things, books, and Photoshop, but my scattered mind just can't handle a blogging schedule any more. The thing I have loved most about writing this blog (besides meeting amazing people) is the way I can say what I want to say and let the words fall out (why am I diving in to song lyrics again? Somebody save me from this madness! :P). I want to do that a little bit more, so I'm throwing the schedule to the wind (not that I ever followed it that well anyway <coughs nervously>).

Since it's the new year, a post of goals is basically obligatory, so here y'all are.

1. I am going to write authentically. Straight from the heart. Even if that means there are lots of chicken jokes and song lyrics. (Sorry in advance...) ;)

2. Consistency. I don't want to disappear any more. My goal is to post at least 3 times a week.

3. More sweet. As always, I want this little corner of cyberspace to be a place where people can come and remember the little things that make life special. You know the #sharegoodness thing that is going around the LDS social media community? I want this to be a place where goodness is shared.

4. Eat more ice cream. This has absolutely nothing to do with actually writing (unless you are willing to count it as research for my title and theme) but it seems like a good goal.

Fare well for now, my dear blogging friends. Thank you for understanding and hopefully not hating me for hiding under a bushel and being more chicken then the fried stuff we eat on fast food sandwiches (is that even chicken?).

Happy New Year (well, almost) !

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5 Photoshop Secrets that will Save Your Sanity

I have a love-have relationship with Photoshop. Mostly Love. Probably around 95% love. However, sometimes that 5% of hate seeps in and I want to pull all the hair off my head strand by strand and throw an entire bucket of clear Legos on the floor of Adobe headquarters.

You get my drift?

Over the last few months I've picked up a few tips that really helped me use Photoshop more efficiently and avoid that 5% of pure agony. While I know they are probably well known throughout blogdom, I comprised a list of my top 5 Photoshop "secrets" to share with anyone who was a little slower to learn like <cough, cough> me. It's time to spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, and have a giant burrito eating party. [What else would you do with all of those beans? Do cats like to eat burritos? I hope so, or else it will be a pretty lame party, what with only me eating burritos and all...]



1. Right Click

You know that elusive side of the mouse that is rarely clicked except to change the background image on your desktop and for an occasional copy and paste when you don't feel like using your keyboard shortcuts? Guess what? That little lonely side of your clicker is full of magical surprises on your Photoshop toolbar. About 4-5 additional  tools live behind each main tool, and in order to behold their marvelous beauty you must put your ring finger to good use. Simply click and an entire plethora of new goodies appears for you to experiment with at your leisure.

A few gems hidden there include:



Patch tool: Underneath the Spot Healing Brush tool [the band-aid with the circle]

This tool allows you to draw around an area you want to fix and then fills it in by surveying the surrounding pixels. It's just like the Spot Healing Brush tool, but with tons more flexibility. I like to use it to correct under-eye circles and acne. 

Magic Eraser tool: Under the Eraser tool. 

This eraser really is like magic. You know how the magic selection tool selects pixels of the same color? Well, the eraser is just like that, but instead of selecting, it erases.  TIP: Adjust the tolerance to erase more shades of the same color. This also works great with the magic selection tool. 

Horizontal Type Mask Tool: Behind the Horizontal Text tool.

Quickly create text from an image without having to go through an endless run of layer masking steps. Just grab this tool, click on your image layer, type, and you're done!

2. Grid Lines

It may seem simple, but knowing how to adjust and hid/show grid lines can make all the difference in creating centered, straight, and even work. Use these keyboard shortcuts to view and/or hide them:


Then just click on the white ruler and drag until you have set the grid line where your little heart so desires. I love to use these to create even boxes and exact selections. [Click here to see how to use them to make your own chevron background.]

3. Layer Masks


I was terrified of these little guys for the longest time [masks are kind of creepy. Except for Batman's. His is awesome.], but once I faced my fears I quickly became hooked on this digital version. With a layer mask, you can customize which parts of a layer show and which ones hide by using black and white painting tools. It's like being able to erase and un-erase. It is great for fine tuning borders, selections, and erasing. Just click on the layer you wish to adjust, click the "layer mask" button at the bottom of your layers panel, and draw away.

4. Actions

I'm all about saving time wherever possible. [Less time editing = more time eating ice cream.] Actions are perfect for this because they record what you do and save it so you can apply the exact same steps to a different image or layer. You can make your own [see my tutorial here] or download them. There are lots of great ones out there for free. Some of my faves are The Pioneer Woman's action pack and basically every single download on The CoffeeShop Blog.

Check out some of the awesome effects you can get with the click of a button!

   


                

5. Character/Paragraph Menu

While I spend most of my time on Photoshop working with photos, I love to do typography every now and then. I used to get super frustrated when I tried to type quotes and things in CS5 because the text tool leaves a LOT to be desired. Like you can type, and that's it. Lame. Then, I discovered this handy little menu that gives you all the flexibility you could ever wish for. My heart sang and I have been in love ever since.



Note: To access this this handy menu, click window --> character

So there you have it, folks. 5 little tips that saved my sanity when it came to Photoshop. Now if I could just figure out how to save my sanity while doing laundry...#priorities

Happy Photoshopping!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Infinite Worth and Potential

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Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

Forget that. I'd say the phrase should be more like Mosquito, Tics, and Bugs, Oh My!

Can you guess where I've been? If you said camping, you are correct and should probably win an awesome prize or something. Here is a virtual confetti popper and disco party. You're welcome. [Can I come disco with you?]

I was blessed to spend a week at Badger Creek in Tetonia, Idaho (near BYUI) and participate in the Adventure for Youth program. It is very similar to EFY, but you get to do lots of awesome stuff like white water raft, canoe, horseback ride, and jump off 40-foot telephone poles (more on that later), along with amazing spiritual things. To say it was a big testimony builder would be an enormous understatement.

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The theme this year was "Infinite Worth and Potential".

Infinite.

I love that word. Shall we dive into the definition a bit? I know it's summer, but how about we dig back into the archives of our brains and look at some prefixes and root meanings? [Please, don't hurt me.]

The root of the word is finite. What in the world does that mean? I have no clue, but thankfully Google does. #hurrayforspellcheckanddictionaries

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Typically, the prefix in means opposite or not when placed at the beginning of a word. So what does in + finite yield?

No limits. No bounds. Endless. Eternal.

When we say we have infinite worth and potential, it isn't just a pretty catch phrase. It is real. You, I, Billy Bob, and your next-door-neighbor's-second-cousin's-fiance's-niece's-step-nephew have all received that beautiful gift of an endless capacity to learn and grow and become who we were meant to be.

As children of Heavenly Father, each of us carry the potential to become like Him-- Gods and Goddesses. Our Father in Heaven cares about bringing that to pass so greatly that it is the driving force behind all that he does. "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

Says President Uchtdorf:
Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters....This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
Think about that. You have the power within you to do amazing things. You have already done remarkable things both here on earth and in the premortal existence. You will continue to do marvelous things here and in the eternities to come.

Right about here in the discussion is when my palms get sweaty and my heart starts palpitating like a butterfly hiked up on Diet Pepsi. Though wonderful, the concept of infinite potential can be super overwhelming. If I'm going to be a Goddess someday, that means I have to be super perfect now, right?

Take 10 deep breaths and calm down, sista.

I think the key here is the word  potential. A seed has the potential to become a great tree and a cake mix has the potential to become a decadent dessert, but that doesn't happen all at once. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes work. And you know what? We don't have to do that alone. That's why we have a Savior. Through His grace, we can rise up and become who we were meant to be, one minute, hour, and day at a time.

An analogy they used a lot at AFY is a toddler learning to walk. When a baby is stumbling along taking their first few steps, you don't yell at them when they fall and tell them they are a bad child and will never amount to anything. You don't scold them for tripping or ground them for being so clumsy. You encourage them to get back up. You cheer for them with each step. You help them toddle across the floor. And then, one day they are walking and running 'til the cows come home.

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It's the same way with God. He knows who we can become, and He is anxious to help us get there. He doesn't get angry at us when we slip up. He wants to help us up, encourage us, take us in His arms, and walk with us every step of the way, and He will do that, if we let Him.

Repentance is not a sin. We need never feel bad about using the atonement in our lives. That's why it's there. That's why it has been a part of the plan of salvation from the beginning. Armed with its power, we can reach our full potentials.

Your potential is infinite. Your worth is infinite. God's love for you is infinite. Boundless. Limitless. Without End. Always remember that.

Sarah

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Currently

Hey folks!

I honestly thought summer would be less crazy than the school year, but between the ACT, college tours, church callings, camp, and home reconstruction, I am stretched as thin as a spaghetti noodle on a diet right now. The good news is, this is the last week of intense craziness. Then, I shall finally be able to return to the regular blogging schedule of yesteryear in all it's tutorial-laden glory. [knock on wood...] Aaahhh, it will be wonderful. I can't wait.

Despite my lack of time, I'm still itching to write. To get me though until the waves of business cease, have you seen those "Currently" posts that have been popping up all over the blogging world lately? I know I'm super late hopping on the train...like it's already 100 miles from the station and quickly on its way to not-trending-anymore-ville, but I just can't help myself. I want to try one. So here goes.

Currently, I am....

Listening to: The soft hum of the new air conditioner. I know, you were expecting to read about some awesome new song or something, but when your furnace has been out for a few weeks while a replacement was being shipped in, the sound of cool, soothing, flowing air is a gorgeous thing. But if you're still wanting to hear some amazing music, this cover of Happy by Pharrell Williams by BYU Vocal Point makes me....well...happy. :D



Eating: Well, that's a no brainer-- obviously ice cream. On that note, do you want to know what unicorns eat? I'm no mythical animal expert, but I'm pretty sure it's vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup and loaded with fresh strawberries and almonds. That combination is simply magical.

Dreaming: About college. There are so many decisions, I'm not sure if it's a good dream or a nightmare...but I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome. I'm so thankful for the opportunities for education that are available to us here in America. Even though the decisions are overwhelming, it is such a privilege to be able to choose for myself what college to attend and which profession to pursue.

Watching: Studio C! Did you see this sketch last week? So funny!


Wearing: Sweat pants and a messy bun. It doesn't get much more glamorous than that, people.

Wishing: That weekends lasted longer and that I had a life long supply of strawberry banana smoothies. Also that I went to the same High School as Napolean Dynamite. We would be friends. It would be awesome.

Feeling: Sleepy. I'd better go to bed before I write anything else...this post just keeps getting weirder.

Sleep well, my friends!

Sarah

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Make Text Look Like Gold in Photoshop CS5

Hello there lovlies!

It has been far too long since we did something Photoshoppy in this corner of the blogosphere. [Is Photoshoppy a word? It is now.]

Gold and glitter seem to be all the rage in the graphics world right now, so here is a quick tutorial I made that will help you quickly transform your text [or shapes, etc.] from blah, to metallic magnificence.

Enjoy!

Sarah





A Fresh Start

     

Monday, June 2, 2014

Music Monday: Carry On by Olivia Holt

Oh, the internet. Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me cry. Sometimes it has me shaking my head in wonder at the crazy trends that circulate through it ever so quickly.

Amid the swirling sea of dynamically changing Willy Wonka, Harlem Shake, and Frozen parody sensations, a series of infamous signs has successfully invaded the blogger/pinterest/internet world for several years now. From the classic red and crowned version to the many variations relating to knitting, Netflix, panic attacks, and any other coping method that can be imagined, the message of "keeping calm" and "carrying on" has seemed to resonate with many people. Why? I think it has something to do with the fact that everybody has to go through hard things.

In Olivia Holt's words:

There's always gonna be some canyon in the way.
There's always gonna be a river I cannot cross.
Somewhere along this path that's chosen me
I know I'm gonna fall down, feel lost, feel weak.

All of us-- young, young at heart, ice cream lovers, ice cream haters [do such people really exist?], members of the church, those who have yet to find the truth or who have wandered from it-- every single person in the entire world is bound to have trials. It's how we learn, grow, and become more like our Father in Heaven. However, the fact that adversity is prevalent and necessary doesn't make the hard times fun or easy.

What must we do in these times of trouble? I'll let the little red poster answer that for you. 


How do we "keep calm and carry on" or as Mormon lingo would put it, endure to the end?

2 Nephi 31:20 explains it very eloquently.


I love how that scripture puts it. When hard times come, we are to "press forward", "feast upon the words of Christ", pray, find the direction of God, and keep going no matter how hard it may get.

Ready for the music tie in? Carry On by Olivia Holt has been on my playlist for a month or so now and I'm completely smitten. I know that this isn't how she intended the song to be interpreted, but I like to imagine that the words of the chorus are being spoken by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

No one said this would ever be easy, my love!
But I will be by your side when the impossible rises up.
We will travel this life well-worn,
No matter the cost, no matter how long.
We will leave our footprints behind
And carry on.

No matter what hills, valleys, shadows, or thorns may lie in our path, we can always find strength in the hope of our Savior to "keep calm and carry on".

Who knew that tiny little red sign had such a big message?

Sarah

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Aaaahhh.... It's Finals Week!

Oh finals week, why must thou plague me so? Shall I compare thee to a summer's day. No. Because you are not even close to one. Thou art far more contemptuous and less temperate.

Okay, so I'm done with the bad Shakespeare rant now...sorry you had to hear that.

The good news is, even though I've been as elusive as the disappearing Cheshire Cat lately, I'll be back full time soon with the summer blogging schedule! I'm super pumped. I already have a bunch of ideas for Photoshop tutorials, book reviews, and random musings all planned out. It's going to be awesome!

But before we can get to that, I have to pass my finals or I'll be stuck in summer school, which is not cool like blogging is.

I firmly believe that good laugh makes everything better, so here is a compilation of random school related things that made me smile and inspired me to be better. I hope they brighten your day and outshine the gloom of the semesters impending end. :)

May the grading odds be ever in your favor!

Hugs!
Sarah



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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Just Poppin' In

I looked out the window and what did I see....


Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!

Speaking of popcorn, it feels like forever since I've popped into this corner of cyberspace. How have you been, internet peeps?

I promise I have a good reason for my lack of writing. I have been in Indianapolis for a National Leadership Conference in conjunction with Business Professionals of America. I was honored to place 2nd in the nation for my division! <Enter full celebratory parade complete with trombones and a person riding an elephant. Not because that actually happens in real life, but this is a day dream, so, you know...>

Anyway, on that happy note I thought it would be fun to give you a little update on my life. Here are 5 things that are making it sweet right now.

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1. CHEDDAR CARAMEL POPCORN

I'm sorry....one more popcorn reference and then I'll stop. I have now discovered another food I cannot live without. On a throne very near that of my beloved ice cream resides this masterpiece of snackfood: G.H. Cretor's Chicago Mix popcorn. When my parents brought this odd flavor combination home from Costco I thought they had lost their marbles, but with one taste my teasing was silenced. It is absolutely ah. maz. ing.

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2. LDS GOSPEL APP AUDIO

A couple of weeks ago I started putting the Book of Mormon on audio as I got dressed each morning. I have been shocked at how much more I have felt the spirit. My days go so much better when I make the scriptures a part of my routine.

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3. CHEMISTRY T-SHIRT

Sometimes my nerdy side takes over. I must admit it went a little crazy when I was on eBay.com a few weeks ago. Long story short, I am now the proud owner of this fabulous frock.

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4. GRANITE FLATS

It's not secret that I love me some BYUtv and Granite Flats is definitely no exception to this universal law of my world. The mystery of each episode draws me in like a bee to the honey [or a Sarah to the ice cream carton...] It is a wonderful series that takes places during the Cold War era. Between satellites, spies, and secrets, every episode leaves my mind whirling in a happy flurry while I try to guess the outcome of the season. It airs every Sunday. You can watch the full episodes online any time, here.



5. THE SOLUTION TO I DON'T KNOW

The phrase, "I don't know" is officially going to be out of my vocabulary. How long do you think it will take me to memorize this most classy alternative?

What makes your life sweet?

Sarah

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Price is Already Paid

I have a confession to make.

Though I'm a teenager and with such youth is supposed to come almost magical technological abilities, I am really quite clueless sometimes when it comes to the realm of computers. This fact was made manifest about two years ago.

I was working on some design projects in Photoshop when I decided I was in desperate need of a new script font. Remember when Scriptina was all the rage? From the moment I saw first saw it, I knew we would be friends. I soon fell head over heels in love with the giant loopy letter h's and the gorgeous calligraphic lines that connected each elegant character.

See what I mean? Isn't it gorgeous? Image Source

Knowing that having this font in my possession was imperative to my life's success [okay, so maybe not imperative, but it seemed pretty urgent at the time...], I immediately started doing some research. I looked at a few websites and soon realized something: fonts cost money. Money I did not wish or have to spend in my early teenage years. Enter some random free font website with a url something along the lines of freefonts.com. [I'm still not sure if that sounds reputable or fishy....]

It seemed like the angels sung as I found the download package of my dreams-- not one, but two fonts for zero dollars and zero cents? Count. Me. In. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you're aware not everything on the internet is safe. Thus, one should always be careful when downloading files. I knew I should find a more reliable website and run a security scan on the file before I saved it on my computer, but I was busy. I wanted the font and I wanted it right then.

As you can probably guess by now, I downloaded it.

At first, everything seemed fine. Apparently the rules of internet security did not apply to my invincible computer. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and all was right in the world until about a week later.

As fate would have it, the fonts did not come alone. Turns out my version of Scriptina loved partying with viruses and invited them to come along to the fiesta in my hard drive. Over the next few days, my computer started to get very glitchy. My Word documents saved wrong, I couldn't open some of my computer programs, and Internet Explorer was even slower than normal.

Now let's rewind for a few seconds. Knowing of my technological issues, when my computer was purchased my Grandpa also bought me a crazy warranty from Geek Squad at Best Buy that basically covered any repair job under the sun for free. I knew I could just take the laptop in there and they would fix it, but I was scared. I felt like an idiot for not being more careful online. I was too busy to get to the store. I was embarrassed to talk to the salesperson. I was too attached to my laptop--virus and all to part with it for a few days. And the list of my excuses could take up the rest of this post, but I will spare you the pain. [You're welcome.]

I kept putting off taking my laptop in for a clean-up for a couple weeks. I figured It would magically fix itself, or maybe If I had the enthusiasm of this meme character I would some how figure out a way to get it working again all on my own.

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Finally my computer wouldn't even turn on. I knew I needed help. Red-faced and humiliated, I went to the store and confessed my error to the computer technician. To my surprise, she didn't laugh at me. She didn't gawk at my stupidity. She didn't yell at me for not running a security scan. She was kind and understanding. Before I knew it, my laptop was fixed and good as new.

As I've thought about this experience more, I realized that sometimes we use the atonement like I used my laptop warranty plan.

When we sin and mess up, rather than repenting and applying Christ's mercy to our lives, sometimes we put it off. Be it shame, guilt, business, pride, or whatever else-- sometimes we let things get in the way of making things right with the ultimate repair technician-- our Savior Jesus Christ.

From the very minute I bought my computer, the warranty plan for it was already in place. Even with this great benefit, I didn't use it when I needed it most. Rather than going to get it fixed right away, I painstakingly dealt with a glitchy computer and ran it 'til it died.

Let us not do this with our souls.

There is no need for us to wallow in our shame, guilt, and pain. The price for our sins has already been paid by our loving and merciful brother, Jesus Christ. We need not be afraid to come unto Him. No matter how big our problem, He will help us fix it. Best of all, his repair jobs are even more complete than any computer tuneup will ever be.

From Alma 11:44 we read:

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame...

I love that phrase, "restored to its perfect frame". Just like my laptop ran smoothly again once I finally allowed the store to repair it, the atonement can heal our hearts and make all things new once more, if we let it.

To quote Elder Holland:


Our Savior suffered for each one of us. He knows our pain, sorrow, heartache, guilt, shame, and desperation better than anyone else because He's been there. He's felt it. He carried that pain so we wouldn't have to.

Don't treat the atonement like I treated my laptop warranty plan. There is no need to wait for repentance. The price for our debts has already been paid. Let us come unto Him and be made whole.

Happy Easter!

Sarah


Monday, April 14, 2014

He Never Changes

Today I was watching the first Hobbit movie and it hit me: I am a Bilbo Baggins of sorts. Not always in the courageous selfless sort of way, but in the reluctant to accept change sort of way. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, please allow me to explain.

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Bilbo is a humble hobbit who lives in a lovely home that has been in his family for generations. He has worked tirelessly to gain respect in his town and revels in the comforts of his simple life. One day, Gandalf, a wise wizard, comes to see Bilbo and invites him to participate in a grand adventure that will save an entire kingdom-- the chance of a life time. But what does Bilbo do? He turns it down. Why? Because he loves his china plates, doily table coverings, puffy recliner, and stocked pantry too dearly to give up, even if his participation in the mission is crucial to the success of a desperate, homeless people.

So there you have it folks. Call me Sarah Baggins, because there are a whole lot of times when I'd rather sit happily on my comfy couch and eat ice cream from the carton while hiding from the world rather than face my fears and serve God as He would have me do.

I've come to realize that at the root of this hobbit  habit [haha see what I did there?] lives an intense dislike for change. Not all change-- sometimes change is good. For example, I highly recommend changing fire alarm batteries, baby diapers, and band-aids. I'll admit, change is central to progression and growth. Without it, we'd still be stuck in the dark ages. Even with it's perks, sometimes change just stinks, and let's face it: this world is full of it. 

There are not many things we can count on in this life. Ice cream melts [*gasp* the horror!], lockers jam [wait, what was my combo again?], Internet Explorer freezes [wait, this if frequent enough it might not count as change...more like consistency...], and sometimes spaghetti drops on your favorite shirt [why did I have to outgrow my baby bib?]. In all seriousness, there are big changes in our lives, too. Job changes, family changes, emotional trials, natural disasters, fear, anxiety, health problems,  and the list could go on and on.

But in the midst of all this chaos, there is one thing that never changes. 

God is always there. 

His love is unconditional. 

No matter what, He will always be there for each and every one of us. All we have to do is come unto Him.

I love this quote from Sister Jean A. Stevens in the April 2014 General Conference:


How comforting it is to know that no matter how scary the future might seem, we are never truly alone. God is always there, and His love is always in reach.

A favorite song of mine is You're Not Alone" by Meredith Andrews. I especially like the chorus where God answers the plea of His distressed child.

You're not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every tear.
My love, I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life.

I've discovered that the stability of God's love is the key for getting through the trials of this trying world. Yes, all around each one of us lies a constant whirlwind of change and unknown resolutions, but God's love will give us strength to make it through. 

In a place where everything changes, He doesn't. 

Sarah


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday General Conference Re-Cap

General Conference was just what I needed today. The messages of hope and perseverance were so timely. I'm so thankful that we have a living prophet and that we are able to hear the words of our Heavenly Father through Him. The comfort and peace the gospel brings cannot be compared to any other feeling in the world. Even though I'm super sad conference is over, I'm so glad that we don't have to let these feelings of joy associated with the spirit go away. As we live in harmony with the principles we have been taught, we can have the Holy Ghost with us every single day and continue to bask in the light of our Heavenly Father's love.

May we remember and apply what we have learned this weekend.

Happy Sunday!
Sarah

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to watch General Conference or missed a session or something, you can stream it for free here.









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