Giving Thanks Today!

I am a traditionalist.
Holidays are the most important thing to me ever.

But somehow it's Thanksgiving that gets completely abandoned. Thrown under a bus with no consideration from the Holiday Fairies. I've only been home once in November in the last 6 years. Even as a little kid I would trade off holidays with my Mom and Dad's families. It's Thanksgiving that has helped me to be adaptable and find family wherever I am. Here's a few clips from National Eating Day of years past:

In 2009 I went to help out the Christensen's in Boise with their holiday workload and we celebrated meatless style! (Ok, I cheated a little bit and made some chicken for myself). It was so much fun to work together on all of the dishes and to create fun memories together.

2006 was my first year in college and I had no idea what to expect for any of the holidays. All I knew was that I had no way to get home and my roommate Jaimee was awesome. We went to her parent's house in Eastern Idaho and worked off our meal in the most unique way we could think of. It was also my only experience in black friday shopping. Not something I would repeat.

Fall of 2008 I was fed up with just about everything and I went with my friends on a ride home. 16 hours in the car. Both ways. But it was worth it! My favorite Thanksgiving tradition that I DID get to do was making gumdrop turkeys with my Grandma and my little sisters.

2011 Is going to be a different story altogether. There will be no road trips home and no long distance phone calls with my family. But I do have family right here in Nashville. The members of the church here have embraced me and Sister Jasper with loving arms and welcomed us into their homes for the celebration. I'm excited for the many chances that I will have to share a message of gratitude for my Savior with these families. It's the gospel traditions in my life that are really the most imporant ones.

What are you grateful for this year?
Since I've been so long winded about everything else, here is a link to my list from last year!

Someday I'll Be

living in a big old city and you're ever gonna be is mean.

My head isn't really working straight today so I'm just going to write a stream of consciousness post. You can pretend I'm James Joyce if you like.
Although I'd like to think that we don't have much in common.
And there I go being mean again.

Mean by Taylor Swift on Grooveshark

The rain here in Nashville has been pouring down hard enough to start another flood.
Thank you T*Swift for playing on repeat in my head today. I've needed a constant reminder to be a little nicer. I've been realizing just how hard I am on myself sometimes, but I can be just as hard on other people.

My reminder to be less judgmental comes from the New Testament. Sister Jasper and I watched the video Finding Faith in Christ with some of our friends the other day and Jesus's admonition to the crowd of accusers when they bring a woman before Him who was found committing adultery always cuts to my heart. "He that hath no sin among you, let him throw the first stone." I'm far from being sinless. (Drops the rocks clenched in my fists).

My "thanksgiving resolution" (because why should they only come at the new year?) is to be a little nicer. To myself, to my friends, when no one else is listening, when I think no one else is listening. Being mean gets me nowhere but in the dumps. It's time to be a little more friendly.

Study Journals 2.0

So these posts about journaling are based of of a mini-training I did a few weeks ago with a few missionaries.  I was worried that it might end up being me talking about something I love with no one else really caring. Can I just tell you how excited I was when Elder Lund tapped me on the shoulder the other day and held up his journal showing me the last page with notes scribbled all the way down the the very last inch?? Hooray for note taking!

When I grab a pen I never put it down!

As I was preparing the training I thought of reasons why I take notes in meetings or when I am studying the scriptures. It used to be that I'd take notes or doodle during devotional meetings in college to keep myself awake (at least I'm honest about it right?) but then I realized how much more I gain out of a meeting if I take time to review what I'd written.

There is a phrase used repeatedly in the scriptures that says, "Ask and ye shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. Seek and ye shall find." It is one of my favorite promises that the Lord gives us because He's always going to hold up His end of the deal. If I'm searching for answers He is going to give me answers. Therefore I coined a new phrase, "Seek and ye shall find, not sit and it will fall in your lap." My study has more meaning when I write down the answers I find so I can go back to them again.

I have a few different approaches to writing. The picture above shows a whole ton of journals that I'm using right now! They each have a unique purpose with specific things I write in them. One is my blogspiration book, personal journal, scrapbook, family history, "bye bye book" for when I leave an area, and 3 study journals. Sometimes its a little frustrating to have things written in so many places for instance right now there is a poem in one that I would love to share but I don't have it with me. But the great thing about having so many is that they are organized and I know where to go back and find what I've written.
Some days I just write bullet point lists of things I've done. When I'm frustrated or trying to make a big decision I make pro and con lists. If someone says something silly I write it down because I know in 10 minutes we're going to forget about it and it will be funny all over again. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to record your personal history. The most important thing is to just do it! You'll be grateful you did :)

Books About Myself

I've always been a writer. My mom will roll her eyes and tell you about the dresser drawer full of journals tucked away in her office that I can never bear to part with. Most of them are probably filled with "Oh my goodness the boy that I loooooove was sitting next to me at lunch today. It probably means he likes me" and other such sappy 13 year old thoughts. Some of them are poetry books where I expressed my high school angst with phrases that didn't rhyme and meters that didn't quite add up correctly, and others have lists of what food we ate when we were on vacation...general oddities of life.

Its fun to go back to read how weird I was but I'm realizing how what I write is leaving a legacy for my family. One hundred years from now all that my posterity will know about me is what I have shared with them through my journals. My journals are most importantly written for me so I can go back and learn from what I didn't want to forget. Have you ever done that? Gone back to read the books you've written about yourself? It's GREAT! Sister Jasper was laughing at me the other day because I grabbed a highlighter and I was basically finding my favorite quotes from myself.

Want to know what is so cool about that highlighter? The journal that I was reviewing was one I filled with notes during my time at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) back in May and June. Those notes were taken during classes and meetings that were begun with prayer where we invited God to open our hearts to receive revelation so we could learn by the spirit as well as from our teachers. The things I have written in that notebook are my own personal revelation! They are in essence scripture for Elle!

I'm going on longer than I thought I would about this so I think we're going to have to leave it at this point TO BE CONTINUED....

(and if I wasn't so lazy I would have taken a picture of my own journal. The one I used is stolen from Pinterst)

A Reminder From A Friend

You know why God gives us friends? Because sometimes we're being too stubborn to remember what He's taught us. And for some reason we're more willing to listen to them. There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants where God tells us to go back and remember that He's given us answers before.

And lyrics always help as well. Here's what Kelsey reminded me of yesterday:

Getting Into You by Relient K on Grooveshark

When I made up my mind
And my heart along with that
To live not for myself
But yet for God
Somebody said
Do you know what you are getting yourself into?

When I finally ironed out
All of my priorities
And asked God to remove the doubt
That makes me so unsure of these
Things I ask myself
I ask myself
Do you know what you are getting yourself into?

I'm getting into you
Because you got to me
In a way words can't describe
I'm getting into you
Because I've got to be
You're essential to survive
I'm going to love you with my life

I've known this song for years and before my mission I'd listen to it to fall asleep on nights where I didn't think any good what coming from my decisions. I can't listen to this song right now but I can hear it in my head and it's giving me the strenght to remember how great it is to live my life for God!


I've promised a few people that a post would be coming about journaling and what do you know, I'm once again at the library with my notes left at home.

What I will share today is something that I wrote in one of those journals I forgot to blog about. When I was making a list of reasons I was happy am on a mission and the things I think I'm sacrificing to be here I had a realization. I left behind an ok life to experience a fantastic one! Lets face it I wasn't exactly the most dedicated person 6 months ago. My biggest determination was that I was going on a mission, not necessarily staying, but I would go.  Now that I have actually taken the opportunity to lose myself in the work and service for others it's turned into something that I love and I see the importance of sharing my faith with less hesitation when I'm in "the real world"

“We have to forgo some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.” -Dallin H. Oaks

Today a part of me might be wishing that I could be sitting at a sewing machine making fancy schmancy blocks for a quilt or listening to music with my brother or cooking with my mom and grandma for the holidays or laughing at some weird thing my little sisters said but in the eternal scheme of things my dedication right now to others is going to bring greater happiness for them and for my family! This one is for y'all back at home!

Some Counsel That I Love

President McKee's wise advice: Don't ever be afraid that you will offend someone by sharing what you believe. We all love to know that our friends care for us and there is no better way to show them your love than sharing Eternal happiness with them!

(Another great picture created by Elder Dallof)

Mix It Up!

We had a district wide exchange for Monday and Tuesday this week. I went to Bellevue to serve with Sister Koford! We had a great time with lotssssss of walking. We do exchanges to mix up companionships a little so we get more opportunities to learn about missionary work. It's easy to get set in our ways of doing things. I think that's pretty much true about anything. We came up with a little tag line of what we learned together, "Different isn't bad, it's just different!"

Here we are along part of our mega journey. We had some wonderfully helpful members who drove us to appointments in the evening but during the day we used these great things called feet! Want to know a cool fact about that great blue book I'm holding up? It works as a Kroger card! (Kroger is a southern grocery store) At the checkout line I told the cashier "If this book is true then it will give me a discount." I saved $6. So it's definitely true and I gave him a copy to keep.

All fall we've seen these weird greenish yellow balls along side of the road. Don't they look like a pile of giant tennis balls? When we got to our appointment we asked the family if they knew what they were. In steps wikipedia with the answers! The tree they come from is commonly known as a Hedge Apple tree and the green "fruit" part has bug repellent qualities! They are super sticky so I don't plan on rubbing them on my skin any time soon but it was fun to learn about some of the local vegetation.

Lesson learned in the south: don't expect any of the streets to make sense. We were really grateful to have Sister Koford's GPS with us for this adventure! It's nice to be back in the Old Hickory area again with Sister Jasper but it sure was fun to experience a different area and see how the work just goes on no matter where I may be!

Smoothing Out

The smile is back! I'm being tumbled around in a spiritual rock polisher and some of my theoretical rough edges were made a little bit smoother this week. Thank you to those who commented on my last post. It's reassuring to know that I have a "team" even when I might not be on it myself.

It really is in the depths of our despair that we can choose to continue to wallow in that misery that I imagine to be a pit filled with those ugly creeps from Labyrinth:

Or we can turn to the Savior and trust in the power of His Atonement.

Personally I want absolutely nothing to do with the greasy little Jim Henson monsters. I choose Jesus.  Elder Lund shared a talk with us called The Faces of Pride, given by the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson in 1989. He encouraged us to each to pray, read it and make some goals based on the promptings received while reading. I'd like to share a paragraph that impacted me.

"The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they  have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judge to be on the ladders of worldly success.  They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, 'if you succeed, I am a failure.' If we love God, do His will, and fear His judgment more than men's, we will have self-esteem."

I choose to follow the Savior and trust in Him for help in my hard times. My success is not based on the achievements of other missionaries. Elle is doing ok. Excuse me. Sister McCall is doing ok (sometimes I need to remind myself that I'm still me). I'm going to share one more quote that comes from Preach My Gospel that I read this morning.

"Your confidence and faith should be in Christ, not in yourself. Rely on the Spirit rather than your own talents and abilities."

So here I am. Still swimming. And I hope you're doing the same :)

Hold Me Forever

So I'm going to describe last night right before I went to sleep as "fetal position prayer". And a forewarning that this post is pretty personal, I just feel like it is important to share. The day had gone pretty well and I felt like my work and my effort were more than I usually put forward, but something wasn't right. I made the decision a few weeks ago to choose to be happy when things are hard and it has been incredible to see that choice affect my attitude. When I'm choosing to be happy the hard things are a little bit easier to handle. But not always.

I fell to my knees because I just couldn't handle the stress anymore. Stress that I didn't even realize I had. I wrote a post a while ago about goal setting because I think it's really important to set big plans with smaller attainable ones to work on daily and to set those dreams in motion. We were encouraged last night as a companionship to work on a few more things and I just didn't know how to go forward anymore. Cliche time: it was the straw that broke this camel's back.

What I really wanted to do was rebel. I didn't want to follow any of the rules for another minute. It was time to find a good radio station, call my mom, and I wanted to never put on another skirt again.

I knew none of those things would get me anywhere and ultimately they would just make me feel even more guilty. As I started praying God answered me by the words of the song "Hold You In My Arms" by Ray LaMontagne. It was like I could hear it playing in my head. And I knew it was my comfort that my Father in Heaven knew I needed. It was His promise to me that He can hold me forever.

"When you came to me with your bad dreams and your fears it was easy to see you'd been crying. Seems like everywhere you turn, castatrophe it reigns. But who really profits from the dying? I could hold you in my arms. I could hold you forever."

Now that the night is over and a new day is begun I will be honest that I don't feel 100% myself right now. What I do know is that things are going to be ok. I am the one in control of this ship. I'm the one to sets the standard of what has been a successful day. And I am the one who will work on being happy with what I accomplish.

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain” -C.S. Lewis

Welcome to November

On the last night of every month I sing a variation of that song by Green Day "Wake Me Up When September Ends". This morning I was thrilled to wake up to November! Sister Jasper and I took some pictures the past few days of the changing leaves.
Autumn is my absolute favorite and I've never experienced one this beautiful before! I feel very blessed to have had chances in my life to see different parts of the world and how diverse beauty can be.
I heart Tennessee!!!

Its almost like they are on fire! I think it's amazing that the world is so diverse and there are so many things that are beautiful. It's just another way I can see how much God loves us!