Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Tonight I had one of those amazing spiritual experiences, the kind that don't happen frequently because they are so special.  I went to tithing settlement.  I have gotten to know my singles ward bishop a little bit but he doesn't really know much about me.  After going over the actual tithing settlement, he asked me if we could kneel down and pray together.  He wanted to know if there was anything specific that I wanted him to mention in the prayer and there were a few things that came to mind.  As he prayed, the Spirit just flowed with such power and peace into the room.  He was specific and sincere in his prayer.  My heart was opened and I felt so close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior.  I felt like they were talking to me, not with words but through my feelings.  I felt of their love and their concern for me.  Through the words of my inspired bishop, I knew without a doubt that they are aware of me.  As I let those wonderful feelings continue to enter my heart, I realized that bitterness was slowly leaving at the same time.  Without knowing it, I finally recognized that I have been harboring feelings of frustration and pain against the Lord.  I think that I have subconsciously blamed Him when things have gotten rough or challenging over the past couple of months.  I have connected the trials that I have faced with punishment from Him.  I wanted to weep as I discovered these awful feelings that I had allowed to enter my heart.  The only way to get them all out was by allowing positive feelings and truth enter my heart.  As my bishop continued to pray, the bitterness slowly leaked out.  It was like I received a glimpse of the bigger picture and realized that any trial that I am facing right now is for my good.  If I turn to the Lord during times of difficulty then I will become more like Him.  Last night I was reading a quote in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.  I don't know why, but I have always had such a great love for President Kimball and his wife.  His words always touch me.  This is something that really stood out to me last night and came back to my mind with the experience I had tonight:
Do you want guidance? Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment? Have you prayed? How much have you prayed? How did you pray? Have you prayed as did the Savior of the world in Gethsemane or did you ask for what you want regardless of its being proper? Do you say in your prayers: “Thy will be done”? Did you say, “Heavenly Father, if you will inspire and impress me with the right, I will do that right”? Or, did you pray, “Give me what I want or I will take it anyway”? Did you say: “Father in Heaven, I love you, I believe in you, I know you are omniscient. I am honest. I am sincerely desirous of doing right. I know you can see the end from the beginning. You can see the future. You can discern if under this situation I present, I will have peace or turmoil, happiness or sorrow, success or failure. Tell me, please, loved Heavenly Father, and I promise to do what you tell me to do.” Have you prayed that way? Don’t you think it might be wise? Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer?29

 I know that I need to purify myself, cleanse myself of all bitterness.  I need to turn to the Lord and Heavenly Father in prayer.  I need to have more faith and trust in them.  I need to draw unto them because they are just waiting to help me.  They are waiting to help all of us....if we will let them.

Dessert Night

Devon, Brett, Carolynn, Amy, Justin, and Eric

Carolynn's face

Katie, Lauren, Steph, and Tish

Katie making fun of my skirt/slipper combo!  What can I say?  It is cold!
A friend of mine came over and made fun of how early my roommates and I go to bed!  How rude!  It is true, though, that if you come over after 10:30 pm you most likely will find all of us in our beds.  Because of his comment I felt like I needed to do some social tonight so I made a pan of brownies and Tish picked up some ice cream and we had a few people over.  After a long day of studying and going non-stop (seriously from 4 am until 9:30 pm) I was ready for a break.  It was so fun to enjoy the night with all of these great people!  Thanks for the fun (and crazy) night!  P.S. Brett and Justin, this post is officially dedicated to you:)  You made it again!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Drive

I never really look forward to driving to and from Logan.  I always get a little sleepy and I just don't enjoy driving very much.  Tonight I put off leaving my home to come back to Logan until 8 because I really just didn't want to make the drive.  For the first half of the drive I made a few phone calls and that was really great but after that I got a little bored and I was just ready to be in Logan already.  I know, I am a little impatient.  As I searched for some music to listen to for the rest of the drive I found my Josh Groban Christmas CD.  I popped it in and turned the volume up.  The tears started flowing.  I don't know what it is about beautiful Christmas music but it just makes me emotional.  It brings feelings of joy and warmth and happiness as well as thoughts of those who are less fortunate than I am or who are suffering at this time.  It makes me want to give everything I can to help all of them and yet I know that is impossible.  Sometimes I can start to get a little down because I am so small and I can't do much, and then my thoughts are turned to the Savior Jesus Christ, the center of this season.  Yes, I may not be able to help very many, but He can help all.  That is possible because of His intimate and infinite Atonement.  What I can do is share my testimony of Him with others.  I was reminded of that during the lesson that I heard today in Relief Society about doing and being.  I think that we so often focus on what we do in the day that we forget to focus on who we are becoming.  The sister who taught the lesson encouraged us not only to look at our to-do list everyday, but also at our to-be list.  She shared the "Be's" from President Hinckley's "Way to Be!" book:

  • Be Grateful
  • Be Smart
  • Be Involved
  • Be Clean
  • Be True
  • Be Positive
  • Be Humble
  • Be Still
  • Be Prayerful
Although I wish I could DO everything, I know that I can't.  I know that it is impossible for me to help all of those who are struggling at this time.  I know that my time is limited as well as my means.  However, I know that I can BECOME better by being grateful, smart, involved, clean, true, positive, humble, still, and prayerful.  Instead of giving one gift to the Savior this year, I am going to offer Him my heart by trying to be more like Him.  In so doing, I hope to also help someone in some small way.  Who I want to become will determine what I do.  The clip that I included is one that I fell in love with at Christmas time last year when I was in the Netherlands.  When I first became very sick I spent a transfer day at Caroline Navarro's home waiting for my new companion.  She shared this beautiful song with me.  "Yet what I have I can give Him, give Him my heart."  I am thankful that the drive was actually a blessing.  It gave me time to reflect and think and set some new goals.  I am thankful that the Spirit can speak to us wherever we are, even if it is during a drive.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Part 2

Yes, there is a part 2 of Thanksgiving.  Since we weren't able to have all of the family with us on Thursday, we decided to extend the holiday.  It has been the tradition in the past to do lip syncs every Thanksgiving but we decided to switch things up for a couple of years because everyone was getting a little burned out.  This year we decided to just do a night of fun and games.  We all met down at my dad's shop at 5:30 and we played non-stop until 10:30.  Of course, we had delicious food as well!  We provided Winger's sticky fingers and everyone else brought their favorite snack food.  It was fun to munch and visit. The games started with a simple game of Catch Phrase.  It then progressed to a Fruit by the Foot competition to see who could get the whole thing into their mouth first by only using their tongue.  Congrats Brandt!  It was tough competition between you and Derek, but you pulled ahead!  After, we played Thanksgiving baby food musical chairs.  We bought 10 different kinds of baby foods (pears, applesauce,  bananas, mixed berries and bananas, turkey and turkey broth, macaroni with beef and vegetables, ham pineapple and rice, sweet potatoes, sweet peas, and green beans).  We all sat in a circle and started with one person having one jar of baby food.  When the music started we would pass the jar around as quickly as possible.  Whoever was holding the jar when the music stopped had to take a bite.  It was disgusting...and hilarious!  Everyone was good sports.  Most people were able to take a bite without any problems, but we did have one who threw was the turkey and turkey broth.  We then played twister on an inflatable, as well as a little football and ping-pong.  Pretty soon the play revolved into one person being blindfolded and trying to run full speed in a straight line into a standing pad.  You would not believe how hard it is to really run when you can't see!  Every time someone new was blindfolded we would rearrange the pads so that they would have no idea when they would hit.  It was a crack-up!  We ended the night with some Just Dance 2 and Michael Jackson on the Wii.  It was seriously one of the best nights ever...and the best part of it was being together with so many that I love so much!

Back to the Old School

On Friday night we decided that we were up for something really exciting!  I had been putting up all of the Christmas decorations, my mom had been working on some quilts for Christmas, and my dad had spent a lot of time outside in the yard.  We were ready to play after a full day of work!  Carli and Corbin came too!  We had dinner at Mimi's Cafe and then we went to Nickel Mania.  Yeah, Nickel Mania is an arcade place. I don't really know how we came up with the idea to go there because I think I have only been once in my 23 years of living, but we went.  It was sooo much fun!  We played Ski-Ball and pinball and the basketball one.  We were laughing so hard!  After totaling up all of the tickets we earned, we were able to trade them in for a few pieces of candy, sisterhood rings, a flip comb and a whoopee cushion.  We left happy.  I don't know if I will go back for another 23 years but it made for an enjoyable night full of laughs and excitement, and a little positive competition:)  I really felt like a kid again.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


When I woke up this morning I couldn't help but think of where I was and what I was doing last year on this special holiday.  It is impossible for me to forget the Thanksgiving dinner I had at Familie Koot's home.  It was amazing!  Since Karina's mom is American, she grew up celebrating Thanksgiving.  She is made it a special tradition to invite the missionaries over on Thanksgiving.  Karina and Sander had spent their whole day in the kitchen making sure we would have all of the fixings.  It was absolutely delicious!  But the part I remember most wasn't the food, it was the feeling of gratitude that flooded into their home.  After dinner we all sat in their living room and we each took the opportunity to say what we were thankful for.  It was so memorable!
All of the missionaries in Den Haag at the time: Elder Wells, Elder Bastian, Elder Favero, Elder Hawkley, and Zuster Pierson.
Because I wanted pumpkin pie so badly after not having it for two years, I decided I was going to make my own from scratch!  You can't buy pumpkin in a can in the Netherlands, so I bought a pumpkin and figured out how to turn it into pumpkin pie.  It was fun to share something American with the people over there.

 I have been looking forward to Thanksgiving for a couple of months now.  Thanksgiving in my mind is such a warm and happy holiday.  It is a time to reflect on blessings.  It is a time to be together with family.  It is a time to laugh and play.  We planned things a little differently this year.  We had a smaller group (still a group of 32) than normal for the actual dinner so we did it at home instead of at my dad's shop.  Since most of my immediate family members and nieces and nephews were at their in-laws homes we are just going to extend Thanksgiving and have a big bash on Saturday with everyone.  Why not make the party longer?!  We had dinner at 2 today and then played games and had a great time conversing.  My favorite food of the whole day was Marianne's yams....ABSOLUTELY DIVINE!  Everything was really good.  It was a special day and I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with my family.  I am thankful for all of my blessings, especially the restored gospel.  I hope you enjoy the pictures!  And for all of you Black Friday shoppers, good luck!  You must have a lot of energy to be able to go out!  I hope you find what you are looking for!
Rhett brought his turkey to be the table centerpiece.  He loved that we displayed.  I think it is pretty awesome for a 7 year old!
Before the fun began!  Everything all set up.
Rhett also brought his turkey made from legos.  This kid can seriously make anything from Legos!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I am home for Thanksgiving!  I can't even tell you how excited I am.  I arrived home at about 6:00 last night after a day at school.  I loved having dinner with my family and then going to Yogurtland afterwards.  This morning, we were all up at about 4:45.  My dad went into work and my mom, Carli, and I prepared to go to the temple.  My mom works as a receptionist every Wednesday morning and she is such an example to me.  Carli and I went to do baptisms.  It was so fun to see so many familiar faces in the baptistry.  The Spirit was extra strong and sweet.  Carli's friend Cade came with us.  He will be leaving on January 4 to serve in the Long Beach, California mission speaking Spanish.  They invited him to baptize us and that was really special.  I couldn't help but think of this little clip that my sister texted me the other day.  This is little 3 year old Lincoln singing, "I Love to See the Temple."  You might want to grab a tissue before watching this video.  It is adorable.


Monday, November 21, 2011

I am thankful...

I just got off of the phone with my parents.  I always call around 9:30 or 10:00 every night just to say goodnight.  Usually it is a very fun phone call where we are able to re-cap our day together and let each other know how much we love each other.  Maybe it sounds kind of cheesy, but it has been my routine ever since I moved up to Logan my freshman year and it is a tradition I want to keep.  I love being so close to my parents!  Well, tonight when I called, my parents shared some news with me.  They told me that my cousin, Ashleigh, got in a bad car accident today.  I was a little in denial.  I always hear about those things happening to others but I never really think they will happen to someone that I am close to.  Ashleigh is one of those people that I just love and wouldn't want anything bad to happen to.  She is married and is the mother of three young children.  She is always on the go...doing things to help and serve others.  She is a joy to be around because she is always kind and happy.  She is also very caring.  Even though she is a number of years older than me, I know her so well.  She has always been someone I look up to.  She has been a wonderful cousin and a true friend.  Today Ashleigh was driving from her home in Lehi to Salt Lake.  I don't really know the specifics of what happened but from what I understand, the truck in front of her was pulling a trailer full of equipment and tools.  Ashleigh noticed that the ladder was starting to slide off of the trailer towards her and started to swerve when the driver of the truck noticed the ladder and slammed on the brakes.  Because he stopped so quickly, everything from his trailer flew towards her car.  She now has a shattered pelvis, broken ribs, and a few broken wings on her vertebrae.  Thankfully, she did not have and of her kids with her because the back seat of her minivan was cut in half.  The doctors don't suspect that she will be able to walk again for at least four months.  Yeah, I can say this is devastating to me, but I can't even imagine what it must be like for her kids and her husband and her parents and immediate family.  I wish I could do something for her...anything!  That is why I am thankful for prayer, and that I can at least ask Heavenly Father to bless her and those around her in the way they need it most.  This whole experience has made me reflect on the way she has blessed my life.  A few weeks ago I received this e-mail from her.  This will show you just what kind of person she is:
Hey there Lauren,
Now that I have your e-mail address and I'm typing, I'm not totally sure what what I was going to say, but I wanted to say Hi and tell you I was thinking about you.  I heard things haven't been too terribly great lately and you're learning that you might have Lupus.  Over the last couple of years I've realized how very grateful I am that so far in life I haven't been physically unable to to pursue and acheive all the things in life I'm always trying to fit in.  Well, besides sleeping . .  sometimes I wish I could have that 7 hours  back.  Anyway, I know that you're always busy doing something plus you're in school and that alone is a lot, and I imagine it's tough.  Tough not feeling well, but even tougher just knowing you can't do and you really want to do 
Anyway, I don't have much by way of inspiring or uplifting, but I am thinking about you and sometimes I've found that knowing that is enough some days.  Luckily you have an amazing family, an amazing attitude and you have your testimony.  
Have a good weekend.   
Love always, 

I can truly say that she is someone who follows promptings of the Spirit because this little e-mail came at just the right time.  I hope and pray that she will be blessed at this time, along with her family.

This is a picture of Ashleigh with her husband, Ansen, and her two little girls, Adison and Olivia.  It is a bit of an older picture (their little boy Drew was not born yet) but it was the only one I could quickly find.  Such a cute family!
I have been thinking a lot lately about promptings.  I have felt like I have been really guided or prompted to do certain things at certain times and yet I don't see any results, or I don't see the results I would expect to see.  Yes, I don't always understand His plan.  Anyway, last night I was really praying about something I have been struggling with lately.  Sometimes I get so focused on one person and I really invest myself in their life and situation.  I have a desire to help in anyway I can.  I have been trying to follow promptings in "helping" this person, but I still feel as though I am failing.  I was pleading with the Lord last night to help me to focus more on the many other people and kind of forget about the one.  Suddenly, a thought came to my head.  The Savior always focuses on the one.  He left the ninety and nine to find the one.  He never gives up on any of us.  He has never given up on me.  I hope to never give up on anyone else.  I am so thankful for all of those in my life who continually come to my rescue and never give up on me as they follow the example of the Savior.  I am thankful for people, like Ashleigh, who follow small promptings to do simple things, like sending an e-mail, that let others know of God's love.  With all of these thoughts and recent happenings, I have a new and determined desire to follow through with promptings, to "Never suppress a generous thought."  Hopefully I will sometime, somehow, in some small way, be able to let someone else know that I love them and, more importantly, that Heavenly Father loves them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


It has been a whole week since I last posted.  The week was not overwhelmingly busy but there were just other things that I had to get done, forcing me to neglect my blog for a bit.  Now I am back and I have a few things to post about.  They are actually quite random things but I guess the word that would connect all of the events together is "first".  Here it goes:

  • First snow fall:  Yes, this week was the first real snow fall of the season(meaning that the snow really stuck).  I love how beautiful and white it is!  I am also able to enjoy it when I don't have to drive far in it and I don't have to walk in it all day.  I really don't like it when loved ones have to travel in it and I worry myself sick!  I love the short snowball fights.  I love being warm and cozy inside while seeing it gently fall.  I also love the falling of people that takes place along with the falling of snow.  No, not when someone really gets hurt, but when it is just hilarious and you almost pee your pants because you are laughing so hard.  Tish, Steph, and I were leaving on Saturday night and Steph decided to run through the snow.  I suddenly saw a huge puff of snow and a squeal, only to find Steph sprawled out on her back in the snow seconds later.  After making sure she was okay, we laughed until our stomachs hurt.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

  • First Thanksgiving at home eating pie since 2004:  After my brother and sister-in-law were married in August of 2004, I decided that I wasn't going to eat ANY sweets for a week because I had an overload during all of the wedding festivities.  Well, long story short, it kind of became a habit and I didn't eat sweets again until July 11, 2009, right before leaving on my mission.  Yes, that was a good five years without them, and, to be honest, I didn't miss them a bit.  I have to admit that I am thankful that I ate sweets during my mission because they were amazing in the Netherlands!  I can't imagine never trying the delicious European chocolate, oliebollen, vla, kruidennoten, is all to-die-for!  Back to the point.  I am overly excited for Thanksgiving this year because I will get to eat pie at home.  YAY!  Which leads me to my next "first":
  • First time making this pie:  I found this recipe on Our Best Bites and decided I had to give it a try.  It is really easy to make and it was quite scrumptious.  I love the mixture of cheesecake and pumpkin pie...two of my favorite things!  I am not sure if I am totally satisfied with the tastes a little bland.  Good tasting or not, it was really fun to make and it made our apartment smell divine, so I guess it was worth it!

  • First time going to the OB-GYN: I am not going to go into much detail about this one.  It is a little private, wouldn't you say?  But I do have to mention it because it was a large part of my week.  On Monday I really decided that I better go but I was not very anxious about it.  I asked my mom to just make an appointment with our family doctor but then really felt like I should probably go to a specialist.  I was able to get a referral from someone and the appointment just fell into place.  I really think that timing was such a blessing!  I got the number for the doctor late Wednesday night and snuck out of the classroom the next morning at about 10 to see if I could get an appointment before Thanksgiving break.  They said they were all booked and almost hung up when she blurted out, "Oh, wait!  We just had a cancellation!  Can you come at 3:45?"  It was perfect!  Or so I thought until I hung up the phone and realized that I had carpooled with Katie and we wouldn't be back in time to make it to the appointment.  I tried to think of everyone possible to ask to give me a ride and prayed that it would work out.  Tish was just able to take a short break from work to come and get me and take me to my car.  I was so thankful!  Needless to say, I made it on time, the doctor was great, and the procedure was awful!  The doctor assured me that it was the worst pain I would experience next to child birth.  Bleh.  Glad that it is over with.  I go back tomorrow for a check-up.  Hopefully I won't have to have another appointment for a long while.
  • First time going to bed at 7:20:  Yes, I went to bed that early one night this week.  I was just so tired that I really just fell asleep on accident and stayed there for the rest of the night.  It was wonderful and much needed.  Definitely not helping my social life but definitely helping my health.  
  • First time teaching all seven temple prep lessons:  Today was the last lesson of the temple prep course.  I have loved every minute of being able to teach, and really seeing how it is the Spirit that does the teaching.  I have come to love the members of my class.  I have learned so much more about the temple.  My testimony has been strengthened.  I am looking forward to starting another round of the course.
  • First time doing initiatories since before my mission:  I have been to countless sessions and to do sealings since I have been back from my mission, but I was finally able to do initiatories on Wednesday for ward temple night.  I loved it!  It was just what I needed.  The whole time I was just reminded of God's love for us.  He loves us so much and desires to bless us!  It was a great time to reflect on my blessings, especially during this special season.  
  • First time teaching the whole class:  Tomorrow I will give my first, whole-group lesson in the Kindergarten class I am working in.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this practicum and the experiences I have had.  I love the kids and I love the teacher!  I have enjoyed doing one-on-one or small-group lessons with the kids, but I am really looking forward to whole-group lessons.  Even though I am a bit nervous, I know that experiencing it is the only way I can really learn and improve!
 Well, that is about all of the firsts that I can think of right now.  Other highlights of the week include Carli spending the whole day with me today, playing with the roommates over the weekend, a visit from Brett, Eric, and Justin, being completely honest with others (in how I feel), locking myself out of my room, and making chicken tortilla soup.  That is all for tonight, folks!