What To Buy Your Missionary For Christmas (Or Anytime)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

It's that time of year again which means OF COURSE that I'm constantly finding myself having flashbacks to the mission....anxiously awaiting packages from home during the Christmas season when home seemed farther away than usual.

So I figure now is the prime time to put a list out there that's guaranteed to get the "My family (MOM) is the BEST" reaction as soon as that missionary of yours breaks through those eight layers of packing tape on the box you sent.

What To Buy Your Missionary For Christmas (or anytime for that matter:):
  • Razors
  • Leggings/nylons/socks (esp in the winter)
  • Mints/breath strips (not being able to chew gum gets real old, real fast:)
  • Sticky notes/mini notepads
  • Gift cards (generic...this allows your missionary to go out and get what they really need/want)
  • Mascara/makeup:)
  • Shoe polish/waterproof shoe spray
  • Hand sanitizer (I loved the mini ones from bath and body works)
  • Stamps (want mail? make it easier on em and send stamps)
  • Perfume/cologne
  • NEW MUSIC!! Anything from EFY to Hilary Weeks to Vocal Point:) missionaries tend to get tired of music fast out in the field;) 
  • Chapstick (esp in the winter time)
  • Scrapbook paper (I loved using this for making thank you notes, writing down cute quotes, or for decorating the bare apartment, etc.)
  • Notes to investigators (these are the best!!!!)
  • Duct are not always  never in top shape and that tape SURE comes in handy;)
  • Super glue...for the same reason above...there are always repairs to be made, from shoes to shelves
  • Home-baked goods (if serving stateside)
  • Key chain (personalized, or something to remind them of home)
  • Candle/air/car freshener
  • Mini travel containers/bottles for exchanges
  • Zebra pens/pencils, Sharpies, or colored pencils
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Mini flashlight
  • Deodorant
  • Mission/CTR ring
  • Plan of Salvation kit (this can be homemade, best made:)
  • Festive decorations/wall quotes/Christmas lights
  • Clothing/ACCESSORIES (jewelry and scarves for sisters, tie pins for elders)
  • Hot Hands (cold areas)/Sunscreen (hot areas)
  • Fridge magnet (family photo/saying, quote, home state, etc.)
  • Mini collapsible mirror
  • Watch
  • Thumbdrive (to add photos)
  •  Framed family photo
  • Small gifts for investigators

(And just a side note, it was always nice when my mom sent a little something for my companion (or vice versa when my comps mom sent me something in her package) because then it doesn't make for awkward situations:)

Alright, so hopefully this is a starting point! Most of all, don't forget to include notes (especially around this time of year) that are extra encouraging and that don't dwell too much on what's going on at home...keep them motivated and focused on the work!

If you have more ideas, send them my way and I'll add them to the list! 

Good luck!

I Almost Didn't Go

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

...I need some yoga...
....or a soak in the hot tub...
...or a manicure....
...or some dark chocolate...
...or a couple hours of ESPN....
...or a nap in the hammock...
....or a long twilight run...

ok actually....change all those OR's to AND's....

you get the picture...yea it's been a LONG week. 

This summer has kinda been all-work-and-no-play's taking it's toll. 
I've never been more of a believer in the theory of BALANCE in LIFE (even though every one of my family members and friends have been trying to preach that to me for the past ten years:).

I'm coming to find (the hard way) that balance in life is SO critical. Yea, it's not always easy to find that balance....I'll be honest...i suck at it...but I'm trying. I have A LOT of thoughts on this topic that I'm still putting together wait for's coming. For now though, there's the weekend example that reminded me of this very principle....

After a long week of work, I had only a short weekend to do everything I needed to do to prep for another long week of work traveling. Yea, welcome to Anna stressed, running around like a chicken with her head cut off, and still feeling like she's not getting anything done.

And then I get that phone call.

"Hey Anna"
"Oh hey Mom"
"We're heading out to spend some time as a family....we're going blueberry picking...we'd love to have you..."


moment of truth....moment of truth

That list...that long long list that every girl knows, with everything you have to do, but don't have the time in the world to ever get done....goes through my head....and I'm still stressed...and I'm still overwhelmed....but I also still know....that it's the moments like this that matter....and it's the times like this that create the much-needed balance in life.

I almost didn't go.

But in that moment, I decided to let let the list be the list....and to chose to live my life instead. To live it a little more the way it should be lived.....enjoying the small happinesses that life offers. The day worked itself out...and in return, I got to spend a BEAUTIFUL summer evening picking luscious blueberries with my family and I believe....i came away from that time...more refreshed and prepared for the stressful week ahead of me than I would have if I had stayed back and focused only on the loads of laundry, hours of packing, and demanding assignments. 

Take time to breathe.

Let yourself go.


....and go pick blueberries....

Define Your Today

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday night....time to blog....and I'm typing this...on my phone...up at Lake Winnepesauke at the Romney's (yes, like Mitt Romney's) lake house. THAT's a change of venue from my typical curled-up-in-bed messy-bun-and-sweats-with-a-cold-glass-of-OJ (my fav;) bloggersphere 
(see what I did know you loved it haha:)


more on my lake house life later... for now just excuse the typos...autocorrect and I have a strict love hate relationship;)

Ok...on with this post...

One of my absolute favorite people in this entire beautiful world...(seriously I love this girl SO much)....before we reached bestie status....were having a conversation a long while back and I, for the first time, began breaking down my walls and really opening up to her about the struggles I was facing and kind of venting about life and it's challenges. 
I was getting real with her and I was trusting her with some of my more honest feelings and thoughts. It obviously took me by surprise then, when I'd finished and she paused for a moment and said, "Well, Anna, you're the captain of your own ship."


My external reaction.....

yes animated GIF

My REAL internal reaction...

pitch perfect animated GIF

Here I was...bearing my soul for the first time...and that's all I got?? But I started thinking about it....I realized that that's EXACTLY what I needed to hear. And it's exactly what I've needed to hear in my mind many times since.

You're the captain of your own ship. Whatever problems come your way, you're ultimately the one who chooses how to face to react. Choose your course. That's what my best friend taught me that day. That lesson has stuck with me, and over time I've adapted a similar phrase that's become more my that I like to remind myself of daily.

Define your today.

What will you do with the day you've been given? It's in your hands! You're the master of your day. Define it. Take control of it. And forge ahead. Don't let anything hold you back.

 It's take it!

If By Tomorrow

Monday, July 27, 2015

...I'm all about being real on this blog...


SO....kick it back...

"let's talk about life
let's talk about trust
let's talk about LOVE"

yea...i know...that escalated quickly cause I'm pretty sure I know I haven't talk about that on here this should be good...

It seems like ever since I've come home from the mission, with my two oldest siblings now married, it's been nothing but elbow nudges, repeated winks, and side smiles accompanied with an unending supply of "you're next's." 

Trust me, there's not an emoticon for the face I WISH I could make.....but don't...haha
...It seriously feels like I'm fresh meat being sent off to market....
And with that pressure and the reality that that stage of life IS fast approaching, comes a whole tsunami of questions, doubts, expectations, and concerns. 

And through it all, the world is constantly staring me--and every girl and woman out there--in the face, with a slew of unrealistic and harsh expectations, telling us that if we don't have the perfect body, the perfect skin, the perfect social life, the perfect hair, the perfect job, the perfect grades, the perfect family, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect skills, the perfect....the perfect EVERYTHING....

that we're not worthy of being loved.

too strong? sorry, but that's how I feel, and I'll guess I'm not the only only girl out there that feels the same way. Who we are on the inside--the qualities, virtues, talents, and values--that shape our true selves....don't seem to count for anything, in a world that tells us that looks are everything.

Which is why my first-hand witness of the Nielson's love story was an unexpected breath of fresh that renewed my faith in romance truly fulfilling the "I Do."
It's a love proving that beauty is much more than skin deep.

As an aspiring blogger, it's not every day that you get to meet one of the top Mormon mommy bloggers in the nation ( of your idols....btdubs), but this girl got to do just that earlier this summer at at regional women's conference where Stephanie Nielson was attending as a guest speaker.
opening ceremony of the Women's Conference

I was asked to give the prayer at the opening ceremony (...with thousands of women in attendance....NBD haha) and with that assignment, I got to slip backstage before the conference began, where I ended up seeing the Nielsons for the first time.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Neilsons story, they were involved in a plane crash that left them both scarred (Stephanie burned over 80% of her body) for life, but who miraculously fought their way back through recovery and treatment, and now live to inspire others through their story.

Sitting in that room, I first saw the Nielsons from behind and I guess I should preface this by saying...that I could write a whole screenplay called Confession of a People Watcher. (Hey c'mon, I know I'm not the only one who does it....ehhh...ehhh;) we ALL know we love to do it haha! 

 SO when I first saw them, but didn't recognize who they were, my first thought was, "That's one twitterpated couple...probably newlyweds....uh HUH...." But at the same time, there also seemed to be something more than just the starstruck casualness of young love....and when I finally realized that it was the Nielsons....i was BLOWN away by just how deep that love truly went.

Thirty minutes later, on the public stage, Stephanie would tell us that in the aftermath of the
accident, she would be told by therapists and counselors to prepare herself for divorce.....that it was almost inevitable--based on statistics--that her marriage wouldn't survive such a devastating life event. And then she would say, (this is me paraphrasing) "But they didn't know that Christian and I had a life and a love based on much more than what was on the outside. And we were determined to make this work."

Right before we walked onto that stage, I had just a few minutes alone with the Nielsons as the staff was trying to figure out logistics, and in those few short minutes, I witnessed first hand what she was talking about. I saw a man who treated his wife--a woman who to the world, as Stephanie would say, was"a monster," but to him, was BEAUTIFUL, and he treats her as such. He treats her like his QUEEN......I could see every look he gave her, in the way he spoke to her, the way her opened the door for her, held the curtain for her, let her go first in everything, waited for her to be seated, held her things, squeezed her hand and kept his arm around her whenever he could.....and not only that, but it came as NO surprise to me when he treated other women with equal respect.

and her loves her now....
he loved her then...

Now I don't think that Mr Nielson will ever know the impression he had on me, but to a girl, being launched into a stage of life, with the world constantly shouting at her that she has to be a certain way physically in order to find love.....seeing the Nielsons that day gave me hope. 

Hope that true love......TRUE LOVE....the kind that cannot be lost but only grows stronger with time....the kind that doesn't just ride off into the sunset or ends with "happily every after".....the kind that doesn't fade when the glass slippers eventually collect dust and the music of youth dies away in the night....

They gave me hope that there are still men out there that see beyond the fleeting flashiness of pretty face and instead look for the beauty of the soul and mind. Hope that there are still those that believe that love is a commitment, not a hobby.

As I heard Stephanie tell her story, while her husband looked on with nothing but admiration and love in his eyes, I could not help but think of one of my FAVORITE old-school songs that I remember my Dad turning on and singing along to when I was growing up....

Jenny Oaks Bakers' rendition of it is absolutely I'll let her do the honors:

Ok, if you don't know the lyrics to this song....go look them up.....NOW (here:)

The lines that repeated over and over in my head as this post was formulating in my mind were the words, "Believe me, if all those endearing young charms which I gaze on so fondly today, were to change by tomorrow and flee in my arms...thou would still be adored...."

For the Nielsons, this WAS their story.



In one moment.

Those charms, those faces, that loveliness, that so-called was all gone.

But what remained.....was their deep incredible TRUE love.
They are a living testimony to what truly matters in any relationship. 

Ok, I'm going to get on my soapbox here for a if ya don't wanna hear should still read it:) haha cliche as it sounds....focus on what really matters. Prove to the women and girls in your life that they are are loved NO MATTER WHAT they look like. Respect them because of who they are on the inside. The world puts enough physical (and often inappropriate) expectations on us; treat us in such a way that we aspire to improve ourselves inwardly, rather than desperately trying to only satisfy the world's demands. 

Honestly, the hottest thing a guy can EVER do, is make me feel grateful that I'm a girl...and NOT physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Make us feel needed, appreciated, respected, loved, and valued for who we are as daughters of GOD. Help us realize our potential, our worth, and our true inner beauty.

Ok girls....our turn....and this is basically my to-do list, so again....this is me breaking down my walls and being honest. We will never be able to satisfy the world's expectations...EVER. But God's...YES. Because His love is unconditional. So focus instead on THAT love. You are always worthy of love. Even if every ounce of physical beauty was taken from you tomorrow, you would still be worthy of every ounce of love this world had to offer, because YOU are a daughter of it's CREATOR. For those of you who have reached out to me with your questions and doubts on this.....i want you to know specifically that you are loved NO MATTER WHAT. PERIOD. 

I don't have answers to everything in life, but I DO KNOW that God is a LOVING Heavenly Father....and I believe that He has a special place in His heart for His daughters. 
Girls, never doubt your worth. 

You are beautiful.

Inside and out.

I don't care what the world says.

Neither does HE.

And one day, He's going to tell you that Himself.

For now, remember that YOU ARE HIS, and He never forgets His own.  One of my favorite quotes from Stephanie Nielson is this, 

"It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, 
that leads to a beautiful life."

...So go make a beautiful life for yourself...
And don't let the world or anyone else tell you differently

(And one last warm-fuzzy video....)

This Blogging Life Though...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's a good thing I don't get fined for late-posted blog entries like I do for late-returned library books, otherwise I'd have to take on three penny-pitching student jobs instead of just two:)

Geez laweez

At least my heart's in the right place. Every me....I wake up thinking, 
"Sunday...blogging day!!! :D :D :D"

....and thennnnnnn......

.....frantic breakfast....
.....frantic shower...
....frantic makeup....
....frantic outfit selection that leaves the bedroom looking like a WAR ZONE...
.....three to five hours of church....
...loooooonnnnngggg meetings.....
....loooonnnggg drives back from church (while trying to stay awake)....
....fam time.....
.....puppy time.....

......and then.......

that darn food coma sinks in after those mashed potatoes and homemade orange rolls

and it's >>DOWNHILL>> from there.

If this isn't sounding familiar to you...I guess all I can say is......IT's A MORMON THING:)

 Anyways...moving point is.....


Guys...I'm telling's one heck of a roller coaster, and this summer and has been something else. And I've missed keeping up with life through writing....its my creative outlet annnnnndddd...lately....yea...I'll say it...I've kinda sucked at it haha:)

break up to make up
lezzzz do this

I gotta get back into my groove. Weekly posts...uh huh....keepin it do-able:)
Ok......confession session over....update on the life...


 yikes case i didn't need an excuse for being too busy to blog...hahaha

this girl's officially a business intern...#officelife

Yea my personality-perfect adventuresome plans of kicking it at the local sports complex, managing the desk at the local gym or health club, spending the summer giving horseback tours in Alaska, or looking banging in those National Park Service khakis....while getting paid....DIDN'T HAPPEN (though yes....I DID in fact look into all of them haha) when I was two weeks away from summer and cramming to find a job that would pay enough to buy me at least one hotdog at the BYU football games this fall in addition to my cost of living all the other unseen and unexpected expenses that no one ever tells you about:) #realworldproblems

And JUST when my prayers for a job started reaching the desperate stage, this internship landed in my lap, and here I am...

wearing high heels, VS perfume, and pencil skirts every day.....40 hrs a week...behind a laptop.


haha! It really is a great place to work though, for real! I'm a sales operations and finance intern for a start-up company called Perfecto Mobile.....fine.....Google it....i can wait:)...........

(Yep...that's it: )

The office is uber chill, my boss is awesome and SO easy to work with, and yes, all of us interns have WAY too much fun together in what has been officially labelled "the intern pit".....our makeshift office:)

what happens in the pit.....stays in the pit:P

While the work can sometimes be a bit tedious (standardizing data and combing through dozens of PO's and invoices a day can leave me BRAIN FRIED)....the real-world business experience has been SO good for me one of my co-workers pointed out, "at least your not just refilling coffee and running errands like a New York intern"....true....

though...i mean...Ryan Reynolds makes anything look good....

Occasionally, we get a break from the mundane work and get to go on field trips to places like this, the data center where Perfecto keeps all their devices.....

Straight outta Ocean's Eleven:)
.....except for the fact that it was FREEZING cold in there...NOT pencil skirt friendly if any of you were wondering...

Ok....enough of that....for all my techy friends out there that are interested in what Perfecto Mobile actually does/offers...Google it....and then explain it to me:) hahaha

At the end of the day...I'm spending more time behind a laptop than I am in the gym....TRAGIC.
BUT....I'm making more bank working at a laptop than I would at the gym....SCORE... (?)

.....The struggle is real, my friends...... there's update #1 for ya.....the work life....a.k.a. excuse for the post-less life....

Here's to better days post a post a week...
And I'm out...gotta go pick out an outfit for tomorrow's work day;)

(annnnndddd...of course....some of my fav business intern outfits for all you intern groupies out there:)

To Those Who Feel Forsaken

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What is your biggest fear?

A family member asked me that not too long ago, and I immediately knew what my response would be. Coincidentally, our answers turned out to be identical. 

The fear of being left alone. 

Ok, I'm not talking about going to the bathroom without your besties or those car rides where you roll the windows down and belt it out with the radio just because there's no one around to hear you. Trust me....I need my alone time just like any other human being. 

No, I'm talking about the fear of being left completely alone..abandoned...forsaken

It's a fear of being loved, valued, supported, appreciated, protected....and then having that stripped from me. Some might chalk it up to my extroverted side (or my need to talk my entire life out to someone in order for it to make sense to me:)...but I think it goes deeper than that. Turns out, it's also one of the most common universal fears. 


I think...and again...this is just my personal opinion...that it's somehow related to our spiritual divinity--that real need for heavenly companionship through this often difficult life.

 For me, that fear of spiritual abandonment is as frightening--if not more--than the prospect of physical or emotional abandonment. Ok...why am I talking about this?? Because one of the most difficult experiences of my life involved, what I perceived to be a reality of this fear. 

I was serving as a full-time missionary--dedicating my life 24/7 to serving God and helping His children around me--and because of this choice in lifestyle and dedication to Him, I assumed that at least spiritually...I was set.


I was about to experience one of the most spiritually-difficult times of my life...that would ultimately change me forever. Just when I thought I'd figured life out, multiple challenges, unexpected changes, and unforeseen pressures began to mount in my life. 

At that time, I began to feel a keen sense of loneliness. Here I was, trying my best to do God's work and follow His will for me...and yet I felt so alone. I remember agonizing because I felt like heaven was silent during those long nights when I would cry myself to sleep and then cry more the next morning as I woke up to the reality of my challenges. 

I began to doubt. I began doubting whether or not my service was worth it. I began doubting whether or not it was all true--what I was dedicating my life to teaching. I began doubting whether or not He was even there listening to me. I began doubting like I've never doubted before. 

And with that doubting, I began to feel like I had been abandoned..

Through it all, I continued to pray and read the scripture though, with still that (perhaps desperate) hope that I would find relief. I remember one night, though, praying and through tears begging, "Where are you?? I need you...why do I feel so alone??"

It wasn't until a few days later that I came across the account of Christ's suffering on the cross found in Matthew 27. I had read this account before, and especially on that morning my studies were less than deep since my mind was caught up in my own doubts and frustrations. 

I was starting to feel like giving up. 

However, as I came across verse 46 I read, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" My mind immediately flashed back to a religion class I'd taken in college where our teacher had read this verse to us and then explained, "So many times we rush through that verse without realizing the significance of this moment in time. This isn't's just my personal opinion....but when I read that cry from the Savior, I hear 'My God, my God...why hast THOU forsaken me?'"

In a moment of desperation and frustration, I immediately burst into tears and turned to heaven with my own cry, "My God, my God....why hast THOU forsaken me?" Almost instantly the words came into my mind, "Anna....I know what it's like to truly be forsaken. And because I know what that feels will never fully know what that feels like. Because I have been forsaken, you will never be forsaken."

It was true. 

I realized then that the one person--the ONE person--who knew exactly what I was going through and knew exactly how to help me....I was being tempted to forsake because of my weakness. Because of my doubts, I was about to walk out on the one person--the ONLY person--who truly was there for me, all of the time. Yet when those words came into my mind....that all changed, because I was shaken to the realization that I NEVER.....EVER....want to hear those words from my me. 

"Anna, Anna, why didst THOU forsake me?"

After everything that He has done for me--the pain He's felt for me, the tears He's shed for me, the price He's paid for me--how could I ever turn my back on Him? 
All He was asking of me in that moment was to not forsake Him. 

My problems didn't immediately go away. My struggles didn't vanish completely. I still faced challenges and heartbreak. But what did change was ME....because I realized that Christ had to experience being completely forsaken...not because He had to know what it was like when God chooses to forsake us....but because WE choose to forsake God. 

We caused that pain that caused the Savior of the world to cry out in agony, "My God, My God, why hast THOU forsaken me?" And I realized in that moment, that I never want to cause Him that pain ever again. 

Shortly after that experience, I came across this quote from Jeffery R Holland, 

"Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.

But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us.
("None Were With Him," Jeffery R Holland)

I had felt like heaven was silent, like I was alone, and that God was distant from me in one of the most difficult times of my life. But I realized from this experience that there's no need to yell when you're standing right beside someone....a whisper will do. 

I believe that sometimes the Lord is quiet because the teacher is always silent during a test. 

He wasn't atop the mountain, calling for me to catch up or just keep going. No....He was right there beside me as I climbed that mountain. He was supporting me, guiding me, and yet still allowing me to struggle so that I would come out on top stronger than I had ever been before. I truly came out of that experience knowing my Savior and His love for me in a way I had never known before. My relationship with Him has changed forever, and I can say now that I am grateful I went through that trial. It has changed who I am.

He had never left me. And He never will.

Because He was forsaken.....we will never be forsaken.

Reach out.

Continue to press on.

Go to Him in sincere prayer and scripture study.

 Ask the Lord to show you what lessons He's teaching you through your trials. 

"Doubt not...only be believing" (Mormon 9:27). 

Trust that He will never leave you. 

Look for His hand in your life. 

Hold on and have faith. 

And this post wouldn't be complete without the words to one of my favorite hymns:

"Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"


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