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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Savior's Love

While in the temple yesterday waiting to do a session, I looked up to see this Carl Bloch painting on the wall to my right. In this depiction of the woman at the well (John 4), I was touched seeing the seated Savior looking up at the woman who is standing.  For some reason, it appeared to me as though He was kneeling before her.


I then looked to my left and saw the painting of the Savior pleading on bended knee to the Father on our behalf in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26).


After seeing these two paintings, I was reminded the story of the Savior humbly washing the feet of His disciples (John 13).


 Together, those three images taught me an important lesson.

The Savior was the greatest man to walk the earth. In Him is all knowledge and power; yet, He saw fit to kneel on our behalf continuously throughout His mortal sojourn.  Our worth is so great in His sight that He descended below all things to give us the opportunity to become as He is.  How can we ever despair when there is someone, even Jesus Christ, who loves us that much? What need have we to fear?

At that moment of understanding, the soft organ music in the background switched to the children's song, "I Feel My Savior's Love." 

I feel my Savior's love
In all the world around me.
His Spirit warms my soul
Through ev'rything I see.

He knows I will follow him,
Give all my life to him.
I feel my Savior's love,
The love he freely gives me.


I felt His love surround me and knew that He was keenly aware of me.  I needed that reassurance yesterday, and He knew that. 


 In today's world, it is so easy to doubt the Savior's miracles.  People are convinced that human wisdom is responsible for the wonders of the world, especially as technology becomes more advanced.  But the Spirit of the Lord sending us personal revelation unique to each of our lives is not something that can be replicated by man.  It is not something that can be proven wrong by even the most intelligent mortal being.  Feeling my Savior's love reminds me of His reality.  And the more I turn to Him, the more I recognize it.  Sometimes I long to immerse myself as fully in His service as I did on my mission, because it was there that I knew Him the very best and relied on Him the most.  But since I cannot go back, I must seek Him daily so I can feel His love more frequently.  

Because it is in His love that I have the power to do all things.

Friday, July 25, 2014

More reunioning!

Last week, I reunited with the girls I lived with during my first year in Millrace (my first year teaching).  This week, I reunited with the girls I lived with during my second year in Millrace! Krista, Kelsey, and Sylvia and I lived together and Shannon is our dear friend who lived in another Millrace apartment! I love these girls. There is something so wonderful about old friends. Though we change, everything feels the same when we're together again!  And by the way, I am pretty sold on going straight up traditional on cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory from now on. SO delicious. (I skipped the crust because I was being a good little GF girl...but not good enough not to order it despite the gluten content.)
In preparation for our band pre-show next week, Lane and I spend nearly 3 hours practicing all our music. I'm humbled to work with such a talented musician.  There is no one more dedicated to perfecting his art than Lane. And his homemade instruments are genius.  In the picture on the right, he is using a pill bottle for a shaker that he holds while he strums in even rhythm! And he apparently has one camera face.
I had the honor of spending Thursday evening with this handsome boy while his mom and dad went on a little date.  He is such a delight.  The picture on the bottom left is my favorite.  He has to make sure he gets all the food from his bib. The kid has a ravenous appetite. I love it!
This darling (brand new) outfit I insisted putting him in this morning lasted for about 30 minutes, after which is was stained with the blueberries that I fed him without a bib.  My sister is very patient with my learning curve.
This is my favorite thing Scotty currently does.  I call it, "Downward dog."
I about died when a friend of mine showed me this.  It's flat out hilarious.  It's not actually how I feel...but sometimes I wish I did!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Friendunion 2014

I am such a lucky girl.

Some of the greatest blessings of my life have been the friendships I have made with my roommates over the past 13 years.  I feel enormous gratitude for the women who have taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, understood me, uplifted me, spiritually fed me, and so many other things that are invaluable to me.

This weekend, I reunited with Kate (Wyoming), Tessa (Ohio), and Melissa (Orem), my roommates from Millrace #3 the year after I graduated college.  We were three teachers and a social worker, all working professionals and navigating our way through difficult changes, decisions, and the general ups and downs of life.  I am forever grateful for that time!

Our first item of business as reunited friends was to eat at Cafe Rio.  Ohhhhh man.
My parents generously let us stay in their condo for one night.  Melissa had the brilliant idea to give Tessa a little surprise baby shower. I was in charge of secretly decorating before everyone got there.  When Tessa walked in, she said, "Who had a baby shower here?"  to which Melissa replied, "You!" It was a really fun moment.

For the baby shower activity, we made baby mobiles (inspired by Scotty Pendleton's mobile).  It was unanimously one of our favorite parts of the entire weekend, and they were so inexpensive to make.  While working, we were highly entertained by the movie Sydney White with Amanda Bynes.

For dinner, we hit our favorite roommate restaurant, Magelby's (now located in Springville).  They had their seasonal strawberry shortcake this time! I was very sad to miss out on that, but I enjoyed ice-cream with raspberry sauce and frosting from the cake!
After spending the night in the condo, we worked together to make a killer GF breakfast. Tessa made the pancakes, I made the syrup, Kate did the fruit and whipping cream, and Many did the bacon. It was a true team effort and was VERY delicious.  My sissy and my Scotty joined us, which was delightful.  I love how comfortable my sister is with my friends and vise versa.  Scotty continues to be hilarious and adorable and can now wave and give five!

Our reunion was in Park City. We headed first to the Olympic Park.  I LOVE THE OLYMPICS! I loved this activity...and it was FREE! I would love to go back again soon.

I was shamefully proud of the reflection picture (top right).  The bottom two pictures are props and costumes used in the opening ceremonies!

They had ski uniforms on display from different decades.  Our personal favorites were the ones from the eighties, as pictured above. Check out the leg warmers on the top right!

Olympians have a tradition of exchanging pins. They had a display with lots of pins from the 2002 Olympics, including the "Mormon Muffin" in the top left corner! Top right picture are the Olympic mascots. The bottom right picture is the pool where the ski jump aerialists practice year round.  More on that later!

I was excited about the ski boot from the 1930's.  We also had the chance to have a virtual "experience" ski flying. We even got snowed on!
After our park visit, we headed to Main Street for lunch.  This delicious restaurant now has a gluten free menu! Yessssss! I was stoked about the Mug root beer (my all-time favorite) and excitedly bought a fountain drink.  Many had to sit me down when I got to the table and break the news that the syrup was gone. I was devastated. But, I found a frozen lemonade that eased my aching heart and the waiter even brought me a free bottle of root beer :-).
So what did we do on Main Street, you ask? Well, we went shopping for expensive jewelry we can't afford, which may have included Melissa and I trying on several wedding rings (though neither one of us are engaged).  Good times. Really good times.  I find my style has changed very little in the past several years!

After our Park City jewelry tour, we checked into our hotel for a little R&R.  Kate got a KILLER deal on a beautiful Marriott hotel.  We all crashed on our beds and played each other in Scramble with Friends, Words with Friends, and Quiz up for a good solid two hours.  This was one of my top three favorite things we did on the trip! It was so fun.  We then went to Red Rock for dinner.  At Kate's suggestion, each of us took turns telling the others about our lives as high school students.  We learned so much about each other! I didn't remember that Kate was involved in mock trial, that Tessa had won 2nd place in a talent show singing a Jewel song, or that Melissa was the mom in Bye, Bye Birdie! We then came back to our hotel and hit the jacuzzi and pool and talked about our favorite musicals.

While at the Olympic Park the day before, we saw an advertisement for the Flying Aces show, a team of ski jumpers who train at the park.  We decided to come back on Saturday with picnic lunches.  It was $10 a person but was so worth it! In the top right picture, the athletes have climbed to various points on the ramps from which they will take off. On the bottom right, you can see the bubbles that are used to break the tension of the pool surface so it won't hurt when the skiers hit the water.

The announcer walked us through the steps of those who begin training in this sport.  Top left is the trampoline where they first learn to flip.  Top middle is the carpeted mini ramp where they first jump.  We saw kids as young as 5 jumping! And the top left is the highest jump they have! There are a couple of other heights in between the second and third picture :-).
So many people came to watch!

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After our picnic, we went to Cow's Ice-Cream on Main Street. This shop holds significance for us.  We discovered almost exactly five years ago in Prince Edward Island where it originated.  We took a picture on the cow (top right picture).  Five years later, we recreated the cow picture (bottom left), which was slightly more difficult. Getting on and off a giant cow is not as easy post 30 years old (not to mention Tessa is 4 months pregnant!).  But we were pretty proud of ourselves.
I introduced the crew to my boyfriend the bear. I was a little jealous of all the attention the other girls were giving him, but I am learning to share.
We got pedicures, took pictures of our matching bracelets from the Olympic Park, and saw the moose with jeans on.  We also did a little outlet shopping (I got J Crew wedges for $21.99!). It was such a wonderful day!
Our final dinner of the reunion was Bandit's BBQ on Main Street.  The top right picture is in the hotel just before we left.  The food was INCREDIBLE!  I definitely think we'll be back.  During dinner, we wrote down all our memories from the trip (bottom right picture) to put in our time capsule for the next reunion.  We made a time capsule before we all went our different ways as roommates back in 2009 and revisited it during one of our reunions. We decided it was time for an update!

It was an unforgettable weekend.  At dinner, we all went around and said our top three favorite things from the weekend.  Melissa talked about how fun it was to remember all the things we love about each other. I loved that and it has inspired me to spotlight something each of these women bring to our friendship.

Many is so smart.  If you need to know what to say in a text to a boy you like, ask Many. If you don't know where you are, have Many look at the map and figure it out. If you aren't sure what a word means, Melissa knows it. She's like our informal leader whenever we go anywhere because we trust her to do what's best for all of us.  She's got the street smarts AND the book smarts!

The perfect word to describe Kate is gracious.  She is loving and kind and looks to see that each of our needs are met before her own.  She is supportive and makes us feel like a million bucks.  Shopping with Kate is the best because she is so positive.  She has a clear understanding of what is most important in life, like meaningful relationships and spending time with the people we love. She is integral in making sure these reunions happen. 

Tessa never complains. Tessa is up for ANYTHING! Tessa is a fabulous, sympathetic, and thoughtful listener.  We find ourselves pouring out our concerns to Tessa, because she always knows the right thing to say.  We joke all the time about her "Missing Out Syndrome" because she always loves being part of the fun and hesitates to leave the room for fear of missing out on the party! She is an absolute joy to be around.

Thank you Kate, Tessa, and Melissa, for enriching my life so greatly!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Update: The Mormon Bachelorette

Hi, friends! 

Some of you have been asking me about the status of the Mormon Bachelorette.  They have finished posting all the candidates on their website (www.themormonbachelorette.com) and they are now opening it up to voting on their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TheMormonBachelorette. If you're interested in voting, go to my FB page, find the voting post I shared, click on my picture (very important- it has to link to their FB page or I won't get the vote), like it and/or leave a comment, and share it with friends!

Thanks to everyone who has been so sweet and supportive. Many times I have questioned whether or not I was crazy to go for this, but really...why not?! Those who aren't chosen for the show will get a consultation with someone from their dating team, so it's a win-win. 

Also, my friends Tracy Mills and Kylee Shields are in the running and they are AMAZING girls. Check out their videos on the website and vote for them, too!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Keepin' Austin Weird


What an amazing, relaxing, heart warming visit with my family. I really, REALLY wish the Houston/Lanzetta family lived closer.  Once or twice a year is simply not enough! We had such a wonderful time simply being together, no matter what we were doing.


Joe picked my mom and I up from Austin and gave us a snack pack that Shana prepared for us to take to the hotel.  It was so thoughtful (and entirely gluten free! Spending vacation in a fellow gluten-free home is a dream come true!).

Everyone was overjoyed to see each other!
Sure do love this brother of mine!

Granna and Ella were especially pleased to be reunited.  Ella spoke"kitty" to my mom because she knew Granna would understand it :-).

Ella made all of us beautiful necklaces from a kit Granna gave her.  We had fun going on outings together in our necklaces!
I started watching Shrek the Musical with Sutton Foster (they filmed the stage version) and decided she wanted to watch. She was intrigued by the ogre and asked lots of questions. I loved attempting to explain each and every part as she asked about it.  I love seeing the world through the eyes of a child!

Shana is an amazing decorator.  She has put shelves up for a craft area for Ella. It's her little work station.  It is full of all the things a crafter could dream about- punches, paper, stickers, glue, glitter, safe scissors, pipe cleaners, buttons, and so much more.  She makes projects daily and we were proud recipients! I joined her to make a summertime card.  Joe and Shana also have a delightful porch area with a hammock where I spent many gleeful moments.  Ella would come in the hammock so we could play mommy bird and baby bird in the next and we'd do things on our bird list like count to 20, spy different things, say our favorite foods, and more.
As previously mentioned, Ella loved pretending to be an animal with Granna (see top left corner).  Aside from being close family, they have a strong connection through the animal kingdom!  While I do not share the same affinity for animals, I have been known to pretend to be an alligator with a unicorn head a time or two.  Shana and Joe have a beautiful pool in their complex that we got to visit three times and I loved it. My brother and I are both grateful as adults for the time we spent on swim team learning all the strokes.  We both still enjoy it so much.  Though I'm not fast, I've never forgotten the basics, which is a gift my parents gave me by enrolling me in lessons.

For the most part, we were content to spend time together working on projects, talking, playing games, laughing, etc. My one "Austin experience" request was BBQ.  My brother took my mom and I to Rudy's where they weigh the meat and customers pay by the pound. The put it all in a crate with wax paper that serves as plates. They have big bottles of BBQ sauce and all-you-can-eat wonder bread for sandwiches! While bread was not an option for me, the meat was FANTASTIC.  I still don't understand why they call themselves the worst BBQ in Texas. Joe just said it's a thing.
When we visited for Thanksgiving in 2012, Ella and I made faces on photo booth on my mac and it was so cute. She would stick out her tongue or blow out her cheeks depending on what we told her.  We re-created that experience, this time calling out different emotions to imitate.  She is such a clever girl! (Seriously, you have to meet her to believe her! Three years old going on thirteen.)  This collage features mad, excited, silly, twitterpated (that required some explanation), scared, and confused.


Granna and Ella exchanged gifts to remember each other by.  Ella gave Granna a bunny puppet which she told Granna she could look at and think of her.  Granna got Ella a My-Little-Pony named Rarity.  In honor of the gift bestowal, we all sat and watched an episode together and the adults liked it as much as Ella! Joe confessed that he and Shana watch it without Ella sometimes. It's darling and quite witty!
Ella and I made GF chocolate chip cookies together! It was so fun. Ella is an excellent sous-chef.  Shana made her famous lasagna and taught me how to cook Lanzetta style (i.e. without measurements and according to look and taste.)  She would grab a bottle of this spice and that spice and add a little here and there to make the sauce. I was in awe.  She let me try for the second lasagna.  My sauce didn't turn out as good, but practice makes perfect!
Shana has a gift for taking board/card games and adapting them to Ella's level.  This game of memory sardines became a favorite. We got it on a trip to the toy store and played a matching version together.
When my mom asked Shana what she could get her for her birthday, she wanted plants.  So, the two of them went and picked out a plethora of flowers and succulents for the porch garden.  I told her I wanted to help her with a project for her birthday and she wanted assistance with her garden.  Shana got Ella her own tools and she and I planted one of the plants together. I was supposed to help more than that, but time got away from us and we had to take an earlier flight. I'll just have to come back!

Shana and my mom realized recently that there are no pictures with just the two of them! We, of course, had to fix that and Shana remembered just as we were on the way out the door. Here are our parting pictures! Sniff, sniff.

My brother and his wife are amazing parents. It was so fun (and helpful!) to see how they helped her problem solve and taught her about the world around her. Ella is one lucky little girl. They are so sweet with her and have raised her to be a kind, loving, thoughtful, polite, sweet, (and a million other adjectives) little lady.  And I am one lucky sister!

And now for a very special movie:

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Playing with Fire

A couple days after the 4th, my parents and the girls and I busted out the snakes and sparklers. We were less impressed with the snakes. 

We were like giddy little school children trying to figure out how to take pictures writing in the air with the sparklers. 

Speaking of burning out, this is how I feel after studying for my music history midterm. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Saturday Outing

 Ready to explore the Draper Aquarium!



PENGUINS!




My family decided the caption should read, "We haven't seen you at church lately...how are you doing?"




A trip to South America












Starfish, etc.



Looks like a ghost! Photo cred to my Mom.


SHARK ATTACK!


 The "Italian" on GF bread from The Melty Way, one of my new favorite eating joints.

Fresh mozerella, tomatoes, and basil.  Puts all other sandwiches to shame.

Visitors