Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Can Adversity Lead To Spiritual Growth?

Remember how I said I'd post my talk that I gave on Sunday? Here it is my friends. It doesn't have the first part of my talk (the jokes and introducing myself), because I didn't think it was necessary to write those down. But for your spiritual enjoyment, here you are:

I was given the assignment to speak 2 weeks ago. The topic I was given was “How can adversity lead to spiritual growth?” My initial thought was, ‘That shouldn’t be too hard of a topic to talk about.’ As time passed and I faced all kinds of adversity since getting the assignment to speak, two new thoughts came to mind: 1) I am probably not the most qualified person to talk about this, and 2) Perhaps Heavenly Father wanted me to learn something these past 2 weeks.

I do believe, 100%, that adversity can lead to spiritual growth. But I also believe, 100%, that adversity can lead us to spiritual decay. It all depends on our attitude, our willingness to turn to the Savior, and our faith in the Atonement.

So the first – attitude. I think we have all asked ourselves the question ‘why me?’ when faced with adversity. Adversity can come in the form of all shapes and sizes. It can be internal – personal weakness, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy. It can also be external – physical ailments, choices of others, or circumstances beyond one’s control. No matter the form it comes in, we ALL experience difficulties and struggles. A problem we tend to have is comparing our behind the scenes with others’ highlight reels. But the reality is every single person in this room, in this city, in this world has some kind of trial or some difficulty they are facing.

Instead of adopting the attitude of ‘why me?’, we should be adopting the attitude of ‘how can I use this to make me stronger?’

Elder Bruce Hafen taught,
If you have problems in your life, don’t assume there is something wrong with you. Struggling with those problems is at the very core of life’s purpose. As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger.

As Elder Hafen said, problems or challenges are at the very core of life’s purpose. The purpose of life is to obtain a body, to be tried and tested, and to become more like our Father in Heaven.

I love what Orson F. Whitney has said regarding the purpose and need for trials:
 “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God. . . . And it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.

I think once we start to understand the purpose of adversity, it makes it easier to embody a more positive attitude toward it. Now it doesn’t make our burdens lighter, per se, but rather we have stronger backs to carry those burdens. When we have stronger backs to carry our burdens, we are better able to fulfill the covenant we made at baptism – to carry others burdens that they may be light.

In my opinion, developing a positive attitude isn’t enough. Yes, it can help us keep our head above water so we don’t drown, but merely surviving isn’t the goal. The goal is to learn, grow, and become stronger. I don’t think we can truly do those things unless we have a willingness to turn to the Savior.

I have learned this through personal experience countless times. A few years ago I found myself swallowed in depression, consumed by guilt due to poor choices I was making, and ultimately engulfed by hopelessness. Although at times I would tell myself, “I can get through this”, it wasn’t until I turned to the Savior that I was able to gain back control, to heal, and to feel hopeful.

I know firsthand that adversity can lead to spiritual decay. At one point in my life, I had quit praying. I had quit reading the scriptures. I wouldn’t attend all 3 hours of church. I lost my testimony. I was miserable. Deep down I knew the source of happiness was the gospel, but I felt so far gone. I didn’t think it was possible to ever be whole again. The moment I was willing to turn my life to the Lord, things went up. In the midst of trials I was able to grow spiritually when I turned to the Savior for help.

It wasn’t an overnight conversion and my trials didn’t disappear. However, I was able to feel the love of my Savior which gave me the motivation to push forward. It was hard and I still have to work at things every day. But I testify to you that turning to the Savior will bring a peace you cannot find through any other medium.

There is a beautiful scripture in Matthew that says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Recently I listened to the conference talk “Choose To Believe” by Elder L. Whitney Clayton. In his talk he tells the story of a young girl named Sailor:

“Last January, seven-year-old Sailor Gutzler and her family were flying from Florida to Illinois in a private airplane. Sailor’s father was at the controls. Just after nightfall, the aircraft developed mechanical problems and crashed in the pitch-dark hills of Kentucky, upside down in very rough terrain. Everyone but Sailor died in the accident. Her wrist was broken in the crash. She suffered cuts and scrapes and had lost her shoes. The temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit (or 3 degrees Celsius)—it was a cold, rainy Kentucky winter’s night—and Sailor was wearing only shorts, a T-shirt, and one sock.

She cried out for her mother and father, but no one answered. Summoning every ounce of courage, she set off barefoot across the countryside in search of help, wading through creeks, crossing ditches, and braving blackberry briars. From the top of one small hill, Sailor spotted a light in the distance, about a mile away. Stumbling through the darkness and brush toward that light, she eventually arrived at the home of a kind man she had never met before who sprang to her care. Sailor was safe. She would soon be taken to a hospital and helped on her way to recovery.

Sailor survived because she saw a light in the distance and fought her way to it—notwithstanding the wild countryside, the depth of the tragedy she faced, and the injuries she had sustained. It is hard to imagine how Sailor managed to do what she did that night. But what we do know is that she recognized in the light of that distant house a chance for rescue. There was hope. She took courage in the fact that no matter how bad things were, her rescue would be found in that light.

Few of us will ever endure an experience as harrowing as Sailor’s. But all of us will, at some time or another, have to traverse our own spiritual wilderness and undertake our own rugged emotional journeys. In those moments, however dark or seemingly hopeless they may be, if we search for it, there will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief. That light shines from the Savior of all mankind, who is the Light of the World.”

I testify that is true. I testify that spiritual growth increases not only by developing a positive attitude, and by turning to the Savior. It increases as we develop and practice faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

If the source of our adversity is due to sin, the Atonement covers it. If we repent, if we commit to being better, and if we ask for forgiveness, the Lord will grant it. He loves us perfectly. He paid the price so that eternal happiness and exaltation is a possibility for each of us. I love the hymn “I Stand All Amazed”. Especially the second verse which says:

“I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me,
Enough to die for me.
Oh, it is wonderful. Wonderful to me.”

I am so grateful that the Savior was willing to atone for my sins so that I may experience peace, joy, and happiness.

Oftentimes the source of our adversity is not due to sin though. But the Atonement covers that too. In Isaiah we read that he “hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”. The Savior has literally felt every single thing we experience. How can we not grow closer to Him if we know that? In a world where sometimes we feel so alone or that nobody understands us, it is such a blessing to know we have the Savior. He has perfect empathy.

In conclusion, I know that trials and difficulties are part of life. I know sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the challenges that face us. But I also know that though developing a positive attitude, a willingness to turn to the Savior, and faith in the Atonement we can experience a growth in spirituality through adversity. 

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Life In Kirksville: Week 8

Aside from the week when we were moving in and making trips to cities to buy furniture, I'd say this last week has been the busiest week so far in Kirksville! It made the week go by really fast.

I guess the biggest thing that made the week so busy was that I started working. I already knew this about myself, but it was confirmed to me again that the busier I am, the happier I feel. I was in a much better mood this week than last week. On Monday I had a training meeting for the online platform and I felt like it went pretty well. The class I teach is on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The class itself is 2 hours and 20 minutes in length. In addition to teaching this class, I hold a Study Lab for the students where they can log in and ask me questions about their homework or concepts they didn't quite grasp in class. Overall, I'm really liking getting to teach online. Maybe because I get to wear slippers when I teach. Maybe because I get to work from home. Maybe because I get better participation. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to still work for Ology; I love it!

I've got to be honest though - there were a lot of technical problems the first day of class!! The audio wasn't working for the first half hour. It was really frustrating because I had done so many test rounds before class started, and I didn't understand why it wasn't working when it counted the most. I ended up switching browsers and the problem was resolved, but boy was I a bit stressed out for the first bit! I was afraid all my students would leave. Thankfully they all stuck around. We didn't get through all of my lesson plan (partly because of technical difficulties and partly because pacing is a lot different for a virtual classroom as opposed to a real classroom), but I think I can get back on track this week. I'm still trying to find a good balance/get things all figured out. I've had enough experience teaching this class though that I know what can be cut out and what I need to make sure I don't skip over.

I probably worked about 17 hours this last week with teaching, training, study lab, grading homework, tutoring, and answering emails. Like I said, I kept a lot busier this week than usual and it is SO NICE to have something to do during the days now!

Unfortunately I did not reach my goal to finish cross-stitching the 24 squares for my Christmas calendar by the end of the month. But I'm getting closer. I think I have 8 squares left. I probably won't be able to do one a day like I was doing before, but as long as I finish before December 1st, that's all that really matters!

This was also my first week teaching piano lessons. I taught 3 different kids. A 6 year old, a 5 year old, and a 4 year old. I feel like piano lessons went okay. The 4 year old was really hard for me to teach and I think it's mostly because I don't have any experience teaching that young - so I didn't take into account he wouldn't know how to do a lot of the things that were essential to the lesson plan actually being successful. The 6 year old seemed to grasp it the best, but I have a feeling that teaching piano is going to be more of a learning experience for me than for them. I definitely feel like I'm better at teaching math (or maybe it's just teaching grown ups that I feel I'm better at.haha). Jonathan told me to not quit on myself yet - it's only been a week of piano lessons. Secretly I'm thinking the first piano lesson is the easiest material though. If they struggled with that....eeesh. I'm nervous for the weeks to come. I think I'm going to need to just be really creative with my lesson plans and come up with lots of games and activities to hold their attention.

Thursday was our 2nd Monthiversary! We went on a walk and were reflecting on the last 2 months. We both agree that on the one hand, those 2 months have gone by really fast! But on the other hand it feels like we've been together for so much longer than that. Time is a funny thing. I am grateful for him though. He sure does make me happy and I know without a doubt we are perfect for each other. I keep learning more about him every day and I love him more and more.

We made a trip to Nauvoo on Saturday. One of the goal we made was to try and make it to the temple at least once a month. Well, August was coming to a close and we still hadn't made it to the temple yet so we went on Saturday! It's about a 2 hour drive to Nauvoo and I drove us there so Jonathan could get some studying in. We stopped in Keokuk, Iowa (about 20 minutes away from Nauvoo) and got some lunch at Wendy's, then headed to the Nauvoo temple grounds. The craziest thing happened - I actually ran into somebody I knew from Utah! We went for a walk around the temple ground before going inside, and we ran into Kallista, my friend Kacie's sister-in-law. Kallista currently lives in Illinois about 2 and a half hours away from Nauvoo. She happened to be in Nauvoo for a wedding that day though. Timing is a crazy thing and she and I happened to cross paths. It was fun seeing a familiar face because that is so rare here!

The temple session was great. It was my third time going through the temple for an endowment session and it is starting to all feel more familiar to me now. It was my first time going through without another girl I knew to sit next to (who I could maybe turn to for help or to ask questions to), but it was fine! I love the spirit I feel in the temple. I especially love the spirit of the Nauvoo temple. I just love the history that the town has and it's really cool to drive by all the historical buildings. It was nice to spend time with Jonathan too. I feel closer to him in the temple. He drove us back to Kirkville and I loved just having the time to talk about how things were going in life and thoughts we had. It was literally an all day trip. We left our house a little after 10 am and got back about 7 pm or so.

On Sunday I gave my talk! I typed it out and every once in a while I liked sharing my thoughts about gospel topics on this blog, so I'll post it tomorrow maybe. Funny story though - at the beginning of Sacrament meeting the counselor was doing releasings and sustainings and he called my name (by mistake) to stand. Confused and terrified, I stood up. He recognized his mistake and I got to sit back down, but I was so scared I was getting a calling on demand! The ironic part is I was talking to Jonathan just the day before about how I was afraid that one day I'd show up to church and get a calling without warning. Also something else worth mentioning - at the start of Sacrament meeting I went up to confirm I was still giving a talk that day (since it had been postponed from the previous week). The counselor said, "Yeah. If you're not prepared, you can just wing it." When he called my name about the calling I was a little worried the "you can just wing it" thing applied to callings as well! Luckily I did not get a surprise calling. I tell you what though, the anxiety from that sure made me less nervous for my talk!

Sunday night we started making a cheesecake, which we will be finishing making today. It is a triple chocolate cheesecake and I am SOOO excited to eat it! It'll be yummy. While we were baking our cheesecake yesterday we played Pictionary just the two of us, which has kind of turned into our new favorite game.

Anyway, it has been a good week and I think from here on out things will be a lot happier and busier since I've got myself a job now. Hurray!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Life in Kirksville: Week 7

Guys, last week was a roller coaster.

It started out pretty okay. We had the missionaries over for dinner Monday night. I was wearing my Pikachu slippers and one of them complimented me on them. I said thanks, and then proceeded to tell him I was Ash Ketchum for Halloween last year. He asked, "Who is that?" My jaw dropped. I turned to his companion, expecting him to match my expression. Alas, he didn't know who Ash Ketchum was either. Whaaaat!? Am I that old? I was very disappointed...haha. They were nice though and they taught a good lesson, so it all worked out in the end.

About mid Tuesday until late Wednesday night/Thursday morning was not so great though. I'm not entirely sure where it came from, but Depression kicked my butt. I was feeling all the things that come with Depression: apathy, loss of interest in activities I normally enjoy, boredom, slowness in everything (thinking, action, activity), out of whack sleeping patterns (excessive sleepiness, insomnia, restless sleep), no appetite, hopelessness, emptiness. It was awful. I couldn't snap out of it or shake the feelings off. I was essentially just a shell of myself and had no desire to do anything. Frankly, I had no desire to even be. I have struggled with Depression (more specifically Bipolar Depression) since I was probably 13 or so, but I hadn't had an episode like that in quite awhile.

My sweet husband was so patient and kind despite my behavior and attitude. I am so grateful for him. I know it wasn't easy for him to watch and I know he wasn't sure what to do a lot of the time to help. The problem with Depression is a lot of times there really isn't anything you can do. I tried going outside, taking walks and being active, talking...but finding the motivation to do any of those things was hard sometimes. A lot of times I just have to wait for the wave of Depression to pass. It was miserable and I hope it doesn't swallow me up again (or at least to the extent it did last week) for awhile. I know Depression is something I'll always have to deal with, so inevitably it'll come back. I'm just grateful I have a husband now who is there for me so I don't have to suffer silently. I'm grateful I have someone who is here to keep an eye on me and support me and remind me I am loved and of worth on a daily basis.

Things got better on Thursday. I got a call from the general manager at Ology with the good news that students had signed up for the online class and that I would be able to teach! I was offered about 17-20 hours a week and I am soo excited! It was nice to talk to my manager again because to be honest, I miss interacting will all my coworkers at Ology. It was an awesome job full of awesome people!

I worked on my Sunday talk on Friday for quite some time. The topic was "How Can Adversity Lead to Spiritual Growth?" I thought it was kind of ironic that I was assigned a topic about adversity when adversity was the definition of the beginning of my week. I pretty much had it all done and then Saturday evening received a message from the 1st counselor saying my talk was to be postponed a week. You hear it all the time that talks and lessons are really meant more for the person preparing though. So I see it as Heavenly Father knowing I needed to work on that talk for my own benefit, at least at that time.

Saturday we made a trip to Columbia (the city about an hour and twenty minutes away). It was....interesting. The trip itself was productive. We went to a lot of stores and got a lot of things that we needed. Most of the things were in preparation for teaching the online class and teaching piano lessons. But the first store we went to, Target, put both of us in bad moods. We were both a little tired from driving. We were both hungry. We were both irritated at how ridiculously crowded and busy Target was. In addition to those 3 things, I was annoyed at how many things Target did not have available. This stressed me out immensely. I had already been having an emotional week and was still recovering from it, and so I eventually snapped. The straw that broke the camel's back was forgetting to pay for our purchases with our Target gift cards. I don't know why this upset me so much, but I kid you not I threw a tantrum outside the store. It was embarrassingly ridiculous and pathetic how upset I was. Even though Jonathan was restless, hungry, and annoyed with the crowds too, he was patient and soft spoken and helped me relax. We went and ate something and I came to my senses. We went to several other stores, were able to find everything we needed, and we even stopped at a pet store so we could hold and play with some kittens. Kittens make everything better.

Once we got back home, we worked on setting up the spare bedroom for piano lessons and online classes. I had received my online purchases (whiteboard, tripod, and piano seat) earlier in the week, and it was exciting to finally have all the pieces to put the room together.

 I have the blessing/curse of needing to label and organize things. Acer is Ology's sister company. I will potentially be teaching for them in a few weeks when their classes start up.

Set up for piano lessons! We got that seat for the piano but because our piano stand in an awkward height, the seat was a little too low. To have them match at a good height, I got some foam interlocking mats from Lowes and stacked them underneath the seat! I chose this option because they were pretty firm. It was an added bonus that they were so colorful :) We also got those black crates at Walmart for $2 a piece. One of them was to store our music books, and the other was to store a little stool and towels that I'll use for lessons. The towels are for the kids to sit on so they can reach the keyboard easier. The stool is so their feet will have something to rest on. I put those rainbow paint cards on the wall a few weeks ago but never posted a picture of the result. I think it really adds to the room!

Here is my teaching wall! We got the whiteboard all set up and it is beautiful! You can kind of see the reflection on the whiteboard of our ceiling light, which is why we got that lamp to use for when I'm recording lessons. I ordered that tripod online and it is fabulous! And the webcam is a Logitech c920 that we got from Best Buy because Target was deceiving and told me online that had it available but then they didn't have it at the store. Oh well. My laptop's built-in webcam is a piece of junk, so I'm liking this new webcam a lot. I especially love that it is tripod compatible!

That room has really come to life this past week and I am loving it!!! Before we wouldn't really go in that room a whole lot because it was so empty. I'm excited to utilize it more now.

Guess what else I did this week? I read a book! Woot woot! It has been awhile since I've actually done that.... I was randomly thinking about some of my experiences at BYU and I suddenly remembered a few years ago getting interviewed for a book one of my professors was writing. It is called "Standing Up for Standing Out". Essentially it is a self-help/motivational book about how to deal with being "different" physically; that is - not fitting society's mold of "normal" or "average". My professor interviewed tall females, short males, people of different cultures and races, individuals who are overweight, individuals who are underweight, and those with other differences (burn scars, deformations, etc.) I was curious if he actually finished writing the book and if it was published (I was interviewed the summer of 2011, I believe.) Sure enough, the book was finished, published, and available for reading! It wasn't a terribly long book. I think I read it in about 2 and a half, maybe 3 hours.

Sunday was nice! I didn't have to give my talk because we got a new bishopric, so the old bishopric and new bishopric members were the speakers. Jonathan and I took a much needed nap that was maybe longer than it should have been. We also enjoyed ourselves a nice little walk outside. We go on walks a lot and I am a fan.

Already week 8 is going a LOT better than week 7. I'm excited to finally have a job to keep busy!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Life in Kirksville: Week 6

This last week wasn't the most exciting of weeks in Kirksville. Jonathan has a huge exam today and so he was studying a lot for it last week, which kept him pretty busy. Sometimes he would be gone studying with a group on campus, and sometimes he'd study at home. Usually when he was studying here at home I was annoying and distracting though.haha

Exhibit A:

I've been getting a lot done with my cross-stitching project, which is making me hopeful that I can get it done in time for Christmas this year. Here's my progress so far:

Lately I have been working on those little squares. My goal is to have all 24 squares made by the end of this month. I only have 12 more to go - I can do it!! I still have quite a bit to get done on the calendar, but at least it's looking like a calendar! After I finish all the sewing, I'll need to cut the squares to the correct size (so they fit on the calendar) and then do the backing (I'll be honest- I have no idea how to do the backing....) I'm sure it'll all work out though.

I think one of my favorite things during the week was Wednesday. We went on a spontaneous little hike in the afternoon. The hike itself wasn't what I enjoyed, but it was good getting to spend time with Jonathan. I enjoyed getting to talk together and just being outside. Sometimes I get a little restless being cooped up inside by myself, so the hike was just what I needed.

I also did some research and online shopping to prepare for my potential jobs that would be starting up next week. We ordered a whiteboard and it should be getting here sometime this week. We got a tripod. I did research on webcams (will probably be making a trip to the city Saturday to get it). We got a piano seat. And I looked into ideas to help with the height for little kids playing piano. The solution I'm going with is using those foam puzzle piece play mats. They're not too expensive and I like the idea of adding as many layers as you need. It's adjustable and more importantly not permanent if we do it that way! I can't wait to have everything all set up. That spare bedroom is looking more and more like a teaching room. :)

Of course we also made all kinds of yummy foods since we have the Almighty Pinterest to give us ideas and recipes. We made loaded mashed potato casserole (holy heaven), we made tamale pie, we made stuffed-crust pizza, and we made chicken & dumplings. We also enjoyed eating leftover cheesecake throughout the week too.

We made stuffed-crust pizza for our date night. It was really good!!! You just cut up string cheese and then wrap the dough around it to make it a stuffed-crust pizza. Super easy!

Oh side note, see that scarf I'm wearing? Totally got it at Walmart for only $1.50 and I may or may not have 4 new scarfs from Walmart now....

I taught Primary again. It was the 6 year olds. We talked about how Jesus loves each of us and spent most our time talking about other cultures and sharing stories about how the Lord blesses children all over the world in many different countries. I made a PowerPoint slideshow to show pictures of different cultures but the kids were all too preoccupied with wanting to push "Enter" to go to the next slide for me, I don't think they were really listening to the stories.haha Oh well! Primary is still fun. I enjoy it a lot more than Gospel Doctrine class.

Finally I got to wear the pink dress my Grandma altered for me! To catch you up to speed, I've had it in my possession for a few weeks now and have been wanting to wear it but wasn't able to the previous 2 Sundays. I absolutely love the dress! It fits perfectly, I think it's really cute, and the best part is it is really modest! Finding a dress I can wear without tights is quite the challenge because of my long legs. But this one was long enough and even has sleeves. I might be a little obsessed with it...

Fun Fact: This was the dress I was originally planning on wearing at our luncheon. However, I ordered it online and it was too big for me. There were a couple extra inches of material around the sides and the sleeves weren't fitting right. This was also the color I originally chosen for my bridesmaids to wear, but then I ended up switching to a lighter orange/peach color. I couldn't return the dress, so I had my Grandma fix it for me instead.

This next week will be better. Things you get to look forward to reading about during week 7 in Kirksville: dinner with the missionaries, a trip to Columbia, status on the job situation, pictures of our spare bedroom all updated, my talk in Sacrament meeting, and...well, I'm not sure what else yet. Week 7 hasn't happened yet!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Wedding Festivities - The Open House

Alright, this will be the last wedding post!

A little less than a week after we were married, we had our open house in Hurricane, Utah (where Jonathan is from). It was a really quick trip (we got there Thursday afternoon and left Friday morning), but I'm still glad we did it. Although, I will admit we were both already pretty sick of driving in the car by this point. We'd driven from Folsom to Tahoe. From Tahoe to Yosemite. From Yosemite to Vegas. From Vegas to Hurricane. Then Friday morning we left to drive from Hurricane to Kirksville. Looooots of driving!!! Good thing we didn't have a baby to travel with too!

Our Open House was at 6. It was kind of a nice break for me because I didn't have to do any of the planning or setting up for the open house - his mom took care of it all! I thought it turned out really cute! I loved the backdrop we stood in front of. There was an adorable wheelbarrow and wishing well as part of the decor. Jonathan's dad made all 3 of those things too! The tables were decorated cute. It was very nice.

Most of the people that passed through were people that I didn't know. I recognized all his family members (cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles), and my parents and sister were there too. Oh! And I was really surprised because the Porters came down from Provo! Brother Porter was a counselor in the bishopric of the ward I was in my sophomore year at BYU. Kacie, JulZ, Alix, and I got to know Brother and Sister Porter well because we would have dinner at their house pretty much once a week for a semester or two. Every now and again the Porters invite us all over for dinner and it's a happy reunion. I also saw an ex-boyfriend's mom at the open house and I felt all kinds of awkward about it. The worst part was I didn't realize it was her until after she passed through the greeting line.

The open house wasn't as structured as the reception - we didn't have a cake to cut or dances or things like that. But at the end Jonathan sang "And So It Goes" for me again. I sang the song I wrote for him accapella (which surprisingly didn't scare me as much as it should have). It was fun to get to sing those songs for each other again.

The best part about the open house was getting to see my new little niece and nephews. I've seen them/interacted with them a few times now, but they weren't at the wedding and it was fun to see them at the open house wearing our colors. Rosalie, my niece, was absolutely adorable. She made me feel like a princess. She kept saying how much she liked my dress and there were several times she would come stand close to me or want to give me a hug or sit next to me.

The open house was a nice little hurrah before we left for our adventure in Missouri. It was good to see my family one last time before we left because I probably won't see them till Christmas. And I was glad we got to have a wedding celebration that his family and friends could attend!

 With the kiddos. Jacob, Michael, and Rosalie. By the time we have 3 of our own those ages, my hair will be turning grey and Jonathan's hair will be gone. ;)

 Brother and Sister Porter!

 Wishing Well

 Jonathan's brother Adam and cousin Karl

 Wheel barrow

Rosalie :)

Family Picture! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Wedding Festivities - The Wedding Day

The Ceremony

Our sealing was at noon on Saturday, June 27th. Jonathan and I had to be there early, and it was nice to have the morning together. I picked him up from the hotel he and his family were staying at and we drove over to the Sacramento Temple (about 15 minutes away). The sealing was wonderful and my heart was full when I walked into the sealing room and saw the faces of so many family members and friends who were there to support us. I definitely felt a lot of love and a lot of support. There were a lot of tears as people came over to congratulate us, but I was somehow able to keep it together. The only time I found myself starting to get misty eyed was when I made eye contact with my dad. It's a long story, but basically I wasn't sure if he was going to be able to be there. It meant so much to me that he was there though. I got emotional too when I looked across the alter at Jonathan, but I knew I wasn't going to cry. Mostly I felt peace that it was the right decision and I felt so much love toward him. Also I was really excited to be sealed to him for eternity and to officially end the stupid having to be long distance stage.

Waiting & Pictures

Aunt Wendy and Mom helped me get into my dress, fix my hair, etc. Then Jonathan and I waited a minute and walked out of the temple. I'd have raised an arm up in excitement, but as I mentioned in the post about my wedding dress, the sleeves were pretty restricting, so I could lift my arms much...haha. People cheered and clapped and took pictures and then basically our photographer took a bunch of group photos.

 Britni, Aunt Ronali, Jayse
 Abram, Braden, Bryce
 Camden, Uncle Rob
 Emily, Paula
 JulZ, Kacie, Jake
 McKell, Mitch
 Kiley, Ella, Katelyn, Edgar
 Maxwell, Trevor, Abram
 Lily, Grandma
 Uncle Dave, Aunt Wendy
Camden, Sam, Jake, Lily

Photos by: Whitney Justesen Photography
 All of our supporters!
 Supporters of the bride
 Supporters of the groom
 My side of the family
 My family
 Crazy siblings
 My mommy
 My daddy
 My new family!
 New siblings

 Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

 JulZ and Kacie

 When did my baby brother get so tall!?

The Luncheon/Ring Exchange

After our pictures we had a luncheon in the Mormon Center cultural hall. Mostly it was for family and close friends - especially those who were there for the sealing. The food was yummy and I was pretty hungry by this point of the day. It was also nice to just visit with people and not have to worry about upcoming things or details or plans or anything like that. Our reception was the night before, so we were off to Tahoe after the honeymoon.

After we ate, we did a ring exchange. I decided to do this outside of the temple because there were family members who weren't able to be at the sealing and I wanted to involve them as much as possible. Jonathan and I sang a song together, his dad said a few words, and then Jonathan and I gave each other wedding bands. It was really short, nothing super fancy, but it was fun to wear the rings to symbolize our union in marriage.

 McKell, Mitch, Uncle Dave, Aunt Wendy
 Grandma and Grandpa Brizzee, Aunt Rachelle, Uncle Mark, Kiley
 Food, glorious food!
 Aunt Laurie, Uncle Hal
 Carter, Maxwell
Singing "God Bless the Broken Road" together

The End!

We pretty much left for our honeymoon after that! Our family and friends all lined up and blew bubbles that we walked through. I'll be honest, I don't think I realized that I wouldn't be seeing many of them again till Christmas (because after Tahoe we had our open house in Utah and then moved to Missouri). But I was really grateful to have so many people there supporting us. We have awesome family and friends. :)