All that matters.

Last Friday, my Facebook showed this quote as a memory from 5 years ago:

"Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us and do so in ways which sanctify these experiences for our good (see D&C 122:7). Thereby, our empathy, too, is enriched and everlasting." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Then, this morning, I had the opportunity to be in the temple with my mom's side of the family for an early morning session. Light streamed into the temple as we entered the celestial room and my great aunt came up to me and said, "You know what? I don't know why we have to pass through the different trials we do in life or why our journeys have to be the way they are. But I do know this. This is all that matters. Getting to this point of returning to Heavenly Father's presence and being with your family." 

Simply put, but just what I needed and being with my family in the temple reminded me of this simple truth: 


No matter what. I need to be better at remembering this simple truth and I'm trying to be better at recognizing it in small moments throughout my day, rather than beating myself up over the weak parts of my day. I hope that as the trials of life continue, I can remember to keep this thought as my guide. I am loved by so many. You are loved by so many. Don't give up and keep trying. Some experiences are heart wrenching to expand your heart to fit all the reminders and ways of the love He has for you. 


I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

I've been thinking a lot today about my faith and membership in the church, because 17 years ago today, I was a new, baptized member of this church. 

{after my baptism -- 07.03.99}

July holds a special place in my heart as its when I was baptized at age 8, received my patriarchal blessing at age 14, and received my endowment at age 22. 

I sat in sacrament meeting today, thinking about getting up to bear testimony of my convictions and reflecting on my faith evolving over 17 years from those questions my Bishop asked me in an interview before being baptized. But I didn't get up. I felt like I'm broken in some ways and I probably would get up to that pulpit that seemed very daunting...a feeling I've never had about it...and sob. 

I'm not sure I've ever had a harder 10-11 months of life. I could go into that more, but I won't. More growing pains and heartache than I can put into words (and like I said, it usually comes out in sobs not words). Especially in the last couple months, I feel like I am having to lean on the faith of others more than I want to admit and trying to navigate through darkness almost seems like a lost cause. Most of the time, I feel like I am a lost cause. 

But I was reminded today, such a wonderful part of our church is the strength to be found in those around us. It is not weakness to lean on others when needed. Most especially, our Savior. The Savior was alone in Gethsemane and took on all of our pains, sins, fears, doubts, and weaknesses, so we could never be alone while navigating mortality. Our Savior recognizes even our smallest efforts we're trying to make each day. He is there with us always. While I don't know why everything is or happens the way it does and these hard times may not go away, I do know He is there with us all. All we need to do is draw near to Him and He will encircle us in the arms of His love. For that piece of knowledge, I am grateful beyond words. So I am going to keep leaning and hope that in the months and years to come of being a member of this true church will continue to show me what I am to become.

"God sees us as we truly are--and He sees us worthy of rescue. You may feel that your life is in ruins. You may have sinned. You may be afraid, angry, grieving, or tortured by doubt. But just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you. He will rescue you. He will lift you up and place you on His shoulders. He will carry you home. If mortal hands can transform rubble and ruins into a beautiful house of worship, then we can have confidence and trust that our loving Heavenly Father can and will rebuild us. His plan is to build us into something far greater than what we were--far greater than what we can ever imagine. With each step of faith on the path of discipleship, we grow into the beings of eternal glory and infinite joy we were designed to become." --President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Hebrews 10:32-39


"love is what you go through together" -- hopie j (my sister)

This post is from my darling sister, Hope. I think it's too hard to sum up all my love and feelings for Hopie J right now or I'll start a novel of a post and probably crying. It's been so amazing to watch her grow up into a beautiful , accomplished woman the past few years. 

She can do anything, literally anything in this world. She is so capable and smart. She started as an Aggie at USU the day after I returned from Seattle (this picture) and now she's getting married in 3 months! As Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast...if you don't stop to look around, you might miss it." I'm grateful I've been able to watch Hope grow up. I'm grateful Heavenly Father knew we needed to be sisters to learn and grow from each other in life. I'm grateful for how she's expanded my heart in a way only a sister can.  I'm grateful for her perfect example in all she does.  I'm simply just so grateful for her, I could go on and on.

Love you to the moon and back, sista!!


In a world that is constantly trying to define love, I believe that Mr. Thurber has hit the nail on the head. Romantic love, family bonds, and friendship are all dependent on the loyalty we show each other through both the good and the bad. I don’t know where or who I’d be without the people who have stood by me through everything.

All my life my parents have taught their children to, “Get up, dress up, and show up for family.” The eternal nature of our families make them even more of a priority. Thinking back on my life, my biggest cheerleaders and allies have been my parents, siblings, and grandparents, and they’ve always given freely of their love and time. I’m blessed to have such examples!

Good friends are hard to come by. Great friends are somewhat of a miracle! Even though we’re at different colleges, in different states, and even different countries, I know that the memories—some sad but mostly happy— and laughter we’ve shared have formed bonds that will last through this life and into the next. Although my transition to college life happened as seamlessly as one could hope, I missed my good friends and family. This past September I found myself feeling more alone than I ever had, praying to Heavenly Father for a best friend--someone I could rely on as much as Him. I am forever grateful for His wisdom and sense of humor, for it was the next week that the love of my life and I started dating. Joshua Deron Tinsley is the all I could have hoped for and more, and he constantly amazes me with his capacity to love so purely. I know that life can be bitter and sweet, difficult and easy, but there is absolutely no one I would rather go through all of it with. I am so grateful to call him mine forever, starting on May 20th.

One more kind of love, the most notable of all.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
-Alma 7:11-12

If “love is what you go through together,” then there is no match for Jesus Christ’s selfless sacrifice. Not only did He die for us but He went through EVERYTHING with us—every pain, disappointment, and sorrow. We don’t have to do it alone because He is there every step of the way. How thankful I am for the knowledge of my Redeemer’s infinite and unconditional love. 


an unexpected love -- jessi meyers north

Again, where to begin with Jess? We met in our sorority six years ago and our friendship blossomed while we had the opportunity to serve alongside her in our sorority presidency and briefly be in the same major together. We spent many hours laughing, crying, doodling in class, getting all kinds of foods and dessert and talking about life, being birthday twins (we're born one day apart). The greatest thing was watching her fall in love with her sweet husband, Michael. They both are true examples to me of selfless love. 

And even this summer, she came to Seattle with her friend, Jenna, and I was able to take her to one of my favorite restaurants on Alki Beach and then get my favorite cake in the entire world. I still remember, it was a Tuesday night in early July and we stood in the bathroom of Cactus, washing our hands, and she randomly said to me, "You're going to find love. It will work out. And then you'll wonder why you ever worried about it." 

If anyone can inspire me to have even a little more faith in things working out, it's this girl. I cried while reading this post, because I still remember going to dinner after she returned home from this trip and hearing about her boys, knowing in my heart that it will all work out, somehow. 

Thank you for being my friend over the years, Jessi. I sure do love you. 
“When God puts love and compassion in your heart toward someone, He’s offering you an opportunity to make a difference in that person’s life. You must learn to follow that love. Don’t ignore it. Act on it. That person needs you.”
This quote took on an entirely new meaning to me in April of 2013. I sat next to my husband, tears streaming down my face, as our plane took off from the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We were on our way back to the United States after spending 10 life-changing days remodeling an orphanage in that beautiful country. Every part of me ached at the thought of leaving. Once I felt those wheels leave the ground, my heart felt as though it had been broken into a million pieces.

Rewind to ten days earlier. Our van bumped along the winding, narrow dirt roads on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. It was hot, the air was muggy and I was stunned by what I was seeing outside my window. Poverty in its truest form surrounded me at every turn. I had tried to prepare myself before leaving for Haiti for the things I would see. I thought that I had a pretty good idea based on the research I had done on the internet and pictures I had thumbed through. The reality was that my research hadn’t even come close to preparing me for what I was seeing. Shock, sorrow, fear, love, gratitude, and awe were all the raw emotions I felt on the van ride to the orphanage. Upon arriving at the orphanage gates, we were greeted by some of the most darling children you will ever meet, but two boys in particular caught my attention. These two boys were not excited like the others. They stood clinging to one another sobbing uncontrollably. We soon came to find out that they were brothers, ages 18 months and 3 years, and they had just been dropped off at the orphanage that morning. Undoubtedly they were confused, terrified, and missing their mother. Everyone in our group tried to console them. We offered them toys, candy, attention; but they wanted no part of it. We decided to give them some space while we got out some soccer balls and frisbees for the other children, and began to organize the equipment we would need for the remodel. Close to a half hour later, my husband and I were standing on opposite sides of the room when the two brothers approached us. The older one came to me and the younger went to my husband. I remember being a little surprised that out of our group of 15, they came to us. We held them close and dried their tear-stained cheeks. We tried to get some smiles out of them for the rest of the evening, but they were hurting and in no mood to smile. 

Over the course of the next few days, our bond with these boys continued to grow. Each morning when we would arrive at the orphanage, they would come straight to my husband and I. By our third day there, the younger boy started calling me Mama and would not let me put him down once he was in my arms. All of the work I did in the orphanage I did with him in my arms, unless he was down for a nap. He would cry if I even tried to put him down for a second. The minute that little one started calling me Mama I knew I was in trouble—the love I felt in that moment and over the course of the next few days is something I will never forget. My husband and I played and laughed with them, their smiles melted our hearts. They would reach up for my husband and I and we’d wrap them up in our arms silently wishing we could hold them forever.
I began to panic as our days with them drew to a close. All I could think of was that they had just been abandoned by their real mother and now I was going to have to leave them too. What would they think? How would they react? Would they ever be able to trust and truly love someone again? These thoughts spun round and round in my head. I tossed and turned, prayed, and cried at night under my mosquito net thinking about it. Unfortunately the day came when it was time to say goodbye. My heart broke as I held them for the last time. I had to hand my little man off to one of the older girls in the orphanage and literally run out the doors before I could hear his screams and cries for “Mama” once he realized I was gone. I knew if I heard that I would turn back and not be able to leave. The minute I got outside of the orphanage I broke down…sobbing, a very very ugly cry. I never knew I could love a child that wasn’t my own that much. I never knew I could hurt that badly at the thought of not being there for those boys. My husband and I cried ourselves to sleep that night, and I found myself weepy the entire flight home the next day and for weeks after that. I turned to my husband at some point during the flight home and said, “This isn’t good enough for me. There has to be more that we can do. I love those boys.” He agreed and we started planning. We knew it was a long shot, but we wanted to adopt the boys the second we got home. Unfortunately, we were far from meeting the requirements at that time. We were however immediately able to sign up to be their sponsors so that they could begin to attend school and get the basic necessities that they would need. To this day we often send clothing and other items that they are in need of. I have been blessed to be able to go back and hold them in my arms since then, and to no-one’s greater surprise than my own, that connection and that love between all of us is still there. They still cling to me and argue over who gets to sit on my lap. They cuddle up in my arms and fall asleep with their little arms wrapped around me. 

I thank my Heavenly Father every single day for leading me to those boys. He has certainly put a whole lot of love and compassion in my heart for them. I have tried my hardest to follow the love I feel for them and act on it. It has helped me grow and change in ways I never could have imagined. They’ve helped me understand what is truly important in life. It’s not the big things that matter most, but the little things. Serving them and loving them is one of the biggest blessings in my life. I often thank Heavenly Father for allowing me the smallest glimpse into a portion of the love he feels for all of His children no matter where they are in this beautiful world, no matter what struggles and trials they may face. From the moment I met these boys there was a connection that I couldn’t and still can’t explain. I do know that it has changed me. Their love for me and the love I feel for them has all become a part of me. There is no going back. There were no coincidences in ending up in Haiti on that spring day. I needed to be there, I needed them to be a part of my life. Heavenly Father had a purpose in mind and he has continued to lead and guide me down this path, on a journey that I have a strong feeling is just beginning.



healing through charity -- natalie allen pulsipher (natterzzz/nattlezzz)

This is my dear friend, Natalie. One April day of freshman year, my roommate, Rosie, invited me to come to dinner with her high school friends, Ally & Natalie, at Paradise Bakery. We're classy. And it was love at first sight/salad spill with those two. Grateful that no matter where we are in life/the world, we've been able to stay in touch whether it was skyping while she was in Chile or the amazing Christmas cards she and Mark have sent out the last two years (seriously amazing/laugh until you cry sort of stuff).
Grateful for your example of love and kindness in my life, Nat, and your advice and testimony when I've needed it. Love you dearly! 
I have worked the past several years as an elementary school teacher. My first teaching position was in a small, low-income town in northeastern Connecticut. The effects of poverty were rampant in the community as well as in the lives of my students. Besides being extremely below level academically, many of my students’ most basic needs were not being met at home, and as a result there were a wide variety of behavior issues in my classroom. The physical and emotional trauma that my 9 year old students had to deal with on a day-to-day basis was heartbreaking and difficult for me to comprehend. After just a few days, I wanted to quit. BAD. The task of giving these kids what they needed was far too daunting for a young and inexperienced person like myself. Most days, I would come home feeling overwhelmed, tired, and disrespected. I’d think to myself “I CAN’T DO THIS, and I DON’T NEED THIS.” Over and over again, my friends, family, and husband, Mark, would have to talk me down, and convince me to keep going back to work. 
I had one student in particular who was extremely difficult. His name was Michael. It’s hard for me to explain Michael to you. Michael had a really hard home life. He was neglected in pretty much every way possible. He’d come to school hungry, with dirty clothes, and smelling terrible. He often didn’t receive the medication that he needed to be able to function at school, and as a result his relationships with his peers suffered. Michael could be a really sweet kid at times, but he was very sensitive and had a very volatile personality. Most school days would start with Michael screaming at me and slamming a door because something I had said or done had made him unhappy. He was impossible to reason with and his anger would often escalate to violence. I was often concerned with my own safety as well as the safety of the other students in the classroom. When I shared my concern with my principal, her response was simply: “Sorry, it’s just going to be a hard year.” 
It didn’t take long before I reached the end of my rope. I had exhausted any and every behavior intervention plan I could think of, but nothing worked. Around this same time, I was reading a book about how people throughout history have confronted aggression and anger with love. It gave many examples of non-violent resistance overcoming violence by assertively, not passively, showing love. I decided to try this with Michael. In the coming days and weeks when Michael would lash out, I would try to calmly express how much I cared for his well-being and success. I would constantly try to point out anything positive that Michael said or did, and tell him how special and capable he was. I will tell you that this was in no way easy for me. Sometimes it would take every ounce of my energy to think of something nice to say to Michael.  But the results were tangible and immediate. I have never seen a person change so drastically in such a short period of time. His entire demeanor changed. His peers even started to take notice and treat him with more kindness, which further added to his self-esteem and success. In this short stretch of time, nothing changed for Michael in his life situation--except for how he was treated. Watching how Michael reacted when he was treated with sincere kindness is perhaps the greatest testament to me of the power of pure, Christ-like love. 

I get emotional just thinking about Michael. He taught me the profound lesson that every one of my actions will affect the people around me for better or for worse. In the beginning, I truly had to force the words out because it was hard for me to feel any kind of charity for a person who had treated me so poorly and caused me so much grief. But with time, that forced charity evolved into pure concern, and by the end of the year I could truly say that I loved Michael. Through the process of charity (and love), we were both able to heal. 


love is a battlefield -- averill corkin

As I said in Sydney's post, Sydney and Averill were meant to be my roommates in Seattle this last summer. 

(Syd, Ave, Me)

(Here Averill is wearing "the dress"; both of us had the same anthropologie dress with slightly different floral patterns and it was our dress to wear when we wanted to look especially good/for special occassions)

I feel like I learned a lot from Averill as we had long chats about all the things and shared the upstairs of the house for the majority of the summer. Seriously the second day she was in our house (June 3rd), we talked for almost three hours on the porch when I came home from school until I went to do a session at the temple with Laurel later (see, I told you all, I really do have the greatest women in my life). And as she talks about in this post, we were together amidst the battlefield of love this summer...everything from jumping into Green Lake after institute on a uncharacteristically cold summer night to waking each other up after exciting dates to tearfully sharing stories on each other's beds. On top of being a wonderful friend, she is a fabulous writer. She has about 50 little notebooks/journals with her at all times and along with her theater/musical background, I think it's the perfect storm for her creative mind to come up with beautiful little stories and memoirs. She kept track of the happenings of every day during the summer and it was so fun to tearfully go through that before we said goodbye and she moved out to Washington D.C.

Love you, Averill! 

Love. What an extraordinarily complex, universal and yet ineffable topic. How to even approach it?

I used to visit an old lady on the weekends just to keep her company for a bit. One day I asked her about her and her late husband’s courtship. She said “Oh Johnny was so sweet…but there was this other man who came all the way from Boston—and he had a car… but it was Johnny in the end … Took seven years before we got married. It was the war years.”

I replied in my head, “I hear ya, sister. The war years.” Schlepping through bad date after worse— it is war out there.

Of course I then realized my sweet old lady was referencing actual war years—World War II. And suddenly my silly dating life didn’t feel so dramatic.

But the more I thought about it, between the crazy highs from wonderful romantic moments, and seemingly bottomless lows from crushing romantic losses, the dating world certainly feels like a kind of war. It can be as annoying as life in the bottom bunk of the barrak, or it can be as painful as continuing to fight in the trenches with a gaping open wound in your chest.

I’ve been on many a bad date. Highlights include a charming gentleman who, while wearing a shirt that said, “who wants a ticket to the gun show?” with arrows pointing to his (very small) biceps, dropped me off at my car, and scripted a ‘secret message’ on my back windshield: “Wash Me.”

I dated a guy who kissed my best friend and me on the same night. True story.

After 3 weeks I fell madly in love with, and was sure I was going to marry a man who turned out to be a certifiable psychopath, (and was also engaged to another woman.) That one was about 5 months navigating through the trenches with an open flesh wound in the head.

But I’ve also had some really wonderful relationships, too. Some D-Day Victory equivalents in love. I once had a boy who would have crossed oceans to bring me lemonade. When I first moved into a single apartment, he would talk to me on the phone every night until I fell asleep so I wouldn’t have to go to be alone. He called me at 4:00am (his time) to wish me good luck on the morning before I took the GRE. Stayed up very late helping me edit grad school applications. He took a 2-hour train ride to the airport, so he could help me pick up a rental car for the first time. He promised that he’d always answer when I call. Always. Ending that relationship was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. But it was the right decision at the time.

And those are the kind of decisions that are the hardest. The sticky jumble of romantic entanglements that leave us all with the constant status of “it’s complicated.” It’s always complicated. People are a part of your life, and then they hold claim over a little piece of your heart, whether you want them to or not. 

And then there’s the bullets pelting you from every angle: Tinder, blind dates, expectations from parents, from culture, the temptations of wild passion, and the regrets of rash decisions.

In the words of Joni Mitchell, in her immortal song, "Both Sides Now"
I really don’t know love at all:

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it's cloud illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way that you feel
as every fairy tale comes real; I've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show. You leave 'em laughing when you go
and if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
from give and take, and still somehow
it's love's illusions that I recall.
I really don't know love at all.”

So we don’t know anything about love. We slog, and search, and wrestle through the painful years of war. But we find solace in the friends with whom we share it—In the soldiers we fight beside. We commiserate and compare battle scars. And in them we find witnesses to our lives.

Then we glean strength from the success stories of people who have found love, and who decided on commitment.—the warriors who made it out of the combat alive. 

And we live to fight another day as hopeful romantics.


gratitude for the little things -- hesper kohler

when i moved to seattle, i was the 6th girl in a house of LDS girls. i didn't know any of them, but i was so grateful it had worked out to be in this house, the coveted "treehouse" as it was. within a few hours of moving in, i was at a birthday party for one of my roommates and meeting all of the people while my parents were at the hotel. it was a bit overwhelming to meet everyone at once after only being in seattle for three hours. and people kept saying, "oh have you met the seventh girl in your house? hesper? she basically is another roommate here." and while hesper will tell you i stayed in my room for the first three months of living in seattle (hello, starting graduate school and studying neuroanatomy took up a lot of time), i was so grateful to have her around. she always made things more interesting, more fun.
as time went on, we had more adventures (karaoke, cafe rio nights, target FHEs, etc.) and her friendship has been a huge blessing to me. even on my last day in seattle, we went to the temple and then she helped me pack. we sat on my floor laughing and loving macklemore's video for "downtown". and when i came back to visit in november, we walked around green lake together, with her boyfriend paul. that afternoon was one of my favorite experiences with her. she truly loves life and reminds me to do the same. love you, Hesper!!
One of the best compliments I ever received was when someone told me they loved how in love with life I am. They said this in a casual conversation, but that compliment has stuck with me ever since because I hadn't realized I had made it to that point. Three years ago I was embarrassed about where I was in life. I had expectations that weren´t being met, and not just in romantic relationships. I was unhappy with where I was and had no idea how to change it. I then received amazing advice. I had always heard some version of the saying, 
¨When you are grateful in life, it will be easier to see the blessings you have.¨
Well this person switched it. They said, 
"When you focus on what is missing in your life, you will begin to only notice those things and not see what you have." 
A simple truth that hit me hard. 
So I started to keep a gratitude journal. I wrote three simple things a day. There were rough days where the entries were simply 1. I didn´t swear today 2. Netflix 3. Sweatpants. However as time passed I began to notice the amazing things and people in my life. I fell in love with my city. I fell in love with live music. I rediscovered my love of kayaking, running, laughing, dancing and the outdoors. The little things became amazing to me and it completely changed my outlook on life.
Since then, I still keep that silly journal. Life of course has not been smooth just because I´ve been grateful. I found love and then absolute heartbreak and had to start all over again. And I am still not where my 22/23 year old self wanted me to be by now. Instead I have done amazing things I never imagined like live on a boat in Alaska. I've seen amazing places like Valparaiso, Chile. And I've done things I never imagined. I still don´t really have a career. I still work retail. I´m not anywhere near where I planned to be, but in this time of scrambling about, I have learned to love what's around me. I've found new amazing places and new friends who have shown me true love and support . And recently, out of nowhere, I found a man who has redefined everything I ever thought about love. In finding these people and these things, I realized I love who I am and where I am at. In these last three years of struggle, I have fallen completely in love with being alive in this beautiful and amazing world.

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