Eric & Sierra

It sure is crazy how fast time goes. I’m sure people think I am so weird because every single month I just say “wow!!” It’s already such and such date?! haha. But seriously! Eric and Sierra are two kiddos that definitely make me realize how valuable and short time is. The Steagalls moved to Ogden when I was in high school. They were looking for someone to be their nanny for their kids Eric and Sierra. They had made contact with one of my friends who made contact with me to see if I was interested. Also, huge side note, they had just recently moved from Jacksonville Florida where Sue and the kids had recently been baptized as members of the LDS church. Jacksonville would eventually become a very sacred place where I would be called to serve as an LDS missionary for a period of a year and a half.

I’ll never forget spending several nights at their home when Sue and Jeff were in Germany and I’ll definitely not forget flying back to Jacksonville Florida with them to meet many of their friends. One family in particular I remember distinctively having the impression of wanting to share the gospel with them. When I opened my mission call a few years later, it was that time my mind went back to, with that exact family and remembering those words in my mind. It was a confirming witness to me that God was very involved in my mission call. There was no other place I had much of any connection to. I sure love these kiddos. I would take Sierra shopping and run a lot of errands with them. Sue and Jeff have always been so good to me. When I got home from my mission, Sue even gave me my camera which I am so grateful to them for!

Sue asked me to do Eric’s senior pictures and allow Sierra to tag along so we could get some with them together as well. So fun to be with them both for a little bit again.

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The Wards

We have some really fun couples our age in our ward. Sidney talked to me a while back to see if I would be be available to do Byron’s family pictures since his parents are leaving to serve an LDS mission soon. We ended up doing them in a friend’s backyard which turned out great. It seems like there’s always unpredictable weather with photo shoots, however his sister is a meteorologist so she was giving us a play by play for when the wind or rain was supposed to stop. I am ALWAYS so nervous going in to shoots and then sending off pictures wanting to make sure those I took pictures of really loved the way they turned out. Sidney was talking to me on Sunday and was telling me how much they loved them, so I was so grateful to hear that. Here’s just a few!

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Kinzie and Josh’s Wedding!

Before we left for Cali, we made a trip up to Rexburg for one of my former companions from my mission, McKinzie and Josh’s wedding in the Rexburg Idaho temple. It seriously was a freezing cold day. The forecast for several weeks just showed dark clouds, rain and more rain. The sun peaked out a few times which was perfect! Although it was really cold, rained or hailed a couple times and the wind was blowing pretty hard, it really was such a beautiful sealing. I couldn’t help but smile the whole time in the temple watching them. It was so sweet to watch someone you love so much find the perfect man for them!

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect companion during that time. We were very busy with about nine trade offs during a six week period time frame. I always remember at the end of the trade-offs, we would get back together (no matter how wonderful the sisters were) and just say how grateful we were to be one another’s companion. I think that’s kind of how marriage is in a way. There are moments where you think, “Ahh! I can’t stand it right now” but if we were to do a theoretical “trade-off” we would always come back to our sweethearts and realize they really are the perfect ones for us.

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I’ll always remember Kinzie’s non-stop service. She always, always is looking for ways to serve others who are at a point that may need a little pick-me-up. She is a go-getter and I love that about her. I always laugh about the time at the end of our morning work out the non-spoken full on sprint race back to Sister Pearce’s house. Haha. We still laugh about that and how we were in ornery moods that morning. Add a little competitive fire in us both and we had a pretty good competition. It was so much fun to be her companion. We were both new to our area and it was notorious for being a “hard, rich area” from all the former missionaries. Nine sisters before us had gone home early in that area. Despite all the things we heard about that area, it turned out to be one of my favorites. I’ll never forget the miracles and incredible people that we taught.Josh & Kinzie's Wedding Day-94Josh & Kinzie's Wedding Day-69

California Hoorah.

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We were able to take a little trip to California with our friends Reggie and Erin. Reggie and Erin are going to be in Texas for the summer doing summer sales so it was our last little hoorah with them for a little while. We had a great time. We tried our first Airbnb in Santa Ana which turned out to be great! We were pretty close to most everything we wanted to do, except once you take in to account the LA traffic, it seemed to take us at least double the time to get to our destination. We decided we wanted to do the beach a lot, go to Universal, go to an Angel’s baseball game and just have a lot of fun.

At the Angel’s game we were on the Jumbo Tron for a second (not sure if that’s how I spell that ;)) and got ourselves some nicely overpriced nachos which were super tasty. I’ve been to Universal once before in Florida, but this was my first time going in California. It’s always been one of my favorite amusement parks. Harry Potter world is always a must and sipping on frozen butter beer made our day that much better. We ended up doing the main Harry Potter ride in the castle later in the day which we realized was a bad choice of timing since the line wait time was over an hour and a half. We decided it was worth the wait though and hoped in line. After waiting in line for a short time and hitting a point where we had to put our things in lockers, there was a lady in front of us who was pretty ornery to one of the workers trying to direct. After the lady left and the worker was left to help us, Nate teasingly made fun of the rude lady to the worker letting her know she wasn’t in the wrong. She laughed and said how much he had made her day. She gave us a secret password to give to one of the workers to completely bypass the main part of the line. The supposedly hour and a half wait turned in to about two minutes. It definitely made our Harry Potter experience even that much better. Another one of our favorite rides was Jurassic Park where there are huge machine dinosaurs with a giant drop at the end. I’m pretty sure my capris were soaking wet for at least half the day after that. ha! I loved the studio tour though where they took us to some of the sets of movies that have been made. It was so cool to see some of the actual building sets that looked so real in the movies.

 

 

My Random Thoughts.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. It’s ironic how captivating these two social media hot spots are and yet how lousy they can make you feel. I love photography. I love the way I can look at a picture and say, “hey, I remember that, or this” or even see something I’ve taken, and think, “wow, that’s pretty good”. There’s this picture on my grandma’s wall from when she was a little girl doing chalk drawings with her sister outside of their house. A younger gentleman who was learning photography snapped this moment. For whatever reason I love every little thing about this photograph. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s that vintage black and white, or seeing my grandma as a young girl, or imagining what life might have been like right when this photo was taken, but whatever the reason it is, I am always drawn to it. This photograph hanging in my grandma’s office seems to represent my whole love for  taking pictures. Photos allow you to capture moments that are so authentic they can’t be replicated because it’s real. It’s a real moment.

I love looking at really raw photos and seeing the emotion that is held within them. I think sometimes social media with all the photos posted desensitizes us to the really raw stuff. I was scrolling through my friends list on Facebook the other day wanting to write to someone. The thing that stood out to me most was all the photographs. Everyone was smiling. Yet, in my mind, as I thought to myself, there are so many who are not smiling. Life is hard. We struggle. We cry. We hurt. And sometimes we hurt immensely.  To the world it can look like a perfect life. It can become very deceiving for others to look and say, “wow, isn’t their life perfect”, when there are so many other broken things behind their walls.

Knowing how easy it is to fall in to this trap, makes me want to take more authentic photos. Not because that’s something someone wants to see as a viewer, but because it’s something I want to see. If I post that I am happy, then I want to be genuinely happy. If I post serious, than that’s because I am feeling serious. I don’t want to be manipulated by what the media world tells me to be. I just want to be me. 🙂

PS The sweetest little Bickley family at Utah’s State Capitol the other day with the cherry blossoms. Such a beautiful family.

Lexie’s 3 Month Shoot

Ok. Let me first start off by saying I have some super cute little nieces and nephews. Cute little Lexie is now three months!! Hailey, my beautiful sister in law, asked me if I would do her three month photos. She is such a happy baby. She just kept smiling and giggling and squeeling the whole shoot. It was so so fun to see them. I decided by the end of the shoot Lexie looks just like the cute little Gerber baby.. am I right? Here are a few of my favorites!

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Rainy Days + Spring Flowers

It is really fun to see everything that looks so dead finally come to life. We have had a lot of rainy days recently. As much as I love all sunny days, I’m grateful that the rain has completely revived everything that has been dead. There have been so many pretty blossoms and flowers starting to bloom. Nate and I decided to enjoy one of the days that was starting to warm up by playing tennis and going for a neighborhood drive. He was nice enough to let us to stop at the side of a road and take a couple shots of us and some pretty yellow flowers. Sometimes it’s awkward pulling off to the side of the road and having the camera out, but at the end of the day, I’m always glad that I can have some pictures that will last us forever and bring me back to different memories and times in my life.

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Sweet Hour of Prayer

For church I went with the girls that I am over to the “Priest/Laurel Banquet” where we had a catered dinner and a speaker come and speak to us. It was a great event. It was at the new location of Union Grill in Ogden.  I was sitting there listening to the speaker and could feel the sweet presence of the Holy Ghost. In that moment there was nothing shared that was some spiritual awakening to me, but just truth about God and communicating with him through prayer. I thought of the blessing to feel that spirit by being in the right places.

All of us were dressed in Sunday best. I thought about this fact as well. There are a lot of churches that choose to wear casual clothing to church. Tonight, as the speaker spoke, it reminded me as to why I like to wear my Sunday best each Sunday to church, or going in to the temple, which is the House of God. The speaker talked about President Eyring, a leader in the Church, describing moments where he goes into a private room and kneels on the floor and prepares himself to speak to his Heavenly Father. He prepares himself spiritually to speak to the creator of all mankind and creator of the Heavens and the Earth. This is one reason I feel it is important to dress up for spiritual occasions like going to church. As I prepare myself, I try to dress and think in a way to show God my respect towards him. In return, I feel I am more spiritually prepared to receive guidance in my life. I find when i am spiritually prepared for church and ready to partake of the sacrament, my relationship with God is strengthened and additional peace is brought in to my life.

Kneeling to our Father in prayer also shows humility. Thinking back to President Eyring’s example reminds me of an experience he shared of his father when he was dying of cancer.

President Eyring said, “When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: ‘God needs brave sons.’ And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.” (Full talk here)

When I read this story for the first time, it encouraged me to take the time to kneel in prayer. If a dying man of cancer can take the time to kneel to our Heavenly Father, than I definitely can as well.

Our relationship with God is so important. We can strengthen this relationship through many ways, but one of these ways is through sincere prayer. I’ll never forget in a particular area on my mission, seeking so desperately for peace and comfort each night. I remember after my companion and I had made arrangements for our next day through planning, I would go to our bedroom, kneel down at the side of my bed and pour my heart out to my Heavenly Father. It was as if a huge blanket of comfort wrapped over me. I could feel my Savior’s love and His direct guidance in my life. I can’t say I feel that indescribable feeling every single time I say a prayer, but I do know that He listens to me because I feel the Holy Ghost witness it to me as I pray.

Another essential part about prayer that was mentioned tonight was on the subject of repentance. He mentioned briefly something Elder Maxwell stated in a talk when he was alive. I found the direct quote since I liked it so much. Elder Maxwell, referring to repentance said, “…personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the ‘sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit'” (You can read his talk here). Recognizing–which is often one of the most difficult steps–what animals are inside of us and giving them up will help sanctify us through Christ. Christ can help us bring those animals inside of us to the altar so that we can become more clean again.

I am grateful for the reminder tonight to be more sincere and meaningful in prayers to my Heavenly Father.

 

When the Livin’s Easy

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Sam decided to come up to Idaho with us for Spring break. He’s been wanting to go rabbit hunting with Nate. Unfortunately they didn’t see any which was a bummer. We still had a good time checking out the horses and shooting. Nate’s dad just bought this land from his grandpa which is about fifteen acres. It holds some pretty good memories for me like when I went up to Rigby for the first time when Nate took me on a tractor ride and when we would go shooting.