Sunday, April 12, 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA: A FORCE FOR GOOD

While I know I often promote limiting our time on social media, this post is actually going to be a little bit different. In fact, this post was inspired by two women who I discovered on social media.   
So much MOST of what we see on social media are the highlights of everyone’s lives. I often refer to this as the highlight reel. We see the awesome vacation, photos of the “perfect weekend with the besties”, and countless gorgeous selfies. What we don’t see are the 35 less-than-gorgeous selfies it took to get that good one. We don’t see the boring days spent at home alone or the struggles that others actually are enduring. 
This week I felt especially overwhelmed. The details as to why really aren’t necessary, but the point is, I was stressed. Even though I knew better, I found myself scrolling down my Instagram newsfeed observing all the “perfect lives” of those I was following. Then I stumbled upon a photo with a caption that I really related to posted by one of my newest favorite IGers, @mstarabrooke [check her out, you won’t regret it]. The caption read,  
“I had a mini breakdown this afternoon after a few too many things brought me to my breaking point. My best friend came to my rescue, scooped me up and fork fed, yes, fork fed me ice cream and fixed one of my mini disasters for me. He told me to not stress over the little things, and to just do the best I can. Isn’t hat what we are all here for? To do the best we can? I needed today to remember to shake off the things that don’t matter and to do my best.” 
I loved the realness of her words. We really are all here just to do our very best. 
After reading that I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew and taken on one too many projects for one little girl to handle. So, I did what I needed to do and rescheduled what I could. At first I felt like a failure. I couldn’t hack it. But in reality, I was doing the best I could. Sometimes doing our best requires taking a step back. I needed to recharge before I could really put my all into anything. 
Taking a step back and putting what I could on hold was really what I needed to do. However, even knowing this made me feel like I was falling behind. I was frustrated with my current situation and again, felt like I had failed. Then, as if the flood gates had opened, in flew the negative thoughts. I felt defeated. It probably didn’t help that again, I was scrolling through Instagram. It didn’t take long before I stumbled upon the darling Allyson Rowe, Miss Washington USA 2014’s account, @allysonmrowe. 
This girl is such a lovely human. Like, she is literally gorgeous. It wouldn’t be hard to feel inferior to her. However, this girl isn’t like every typical pretty blonde. This girl is incredibly inspiring. In fact, every time I see one of her posts, I leave it feeling better about myself. Not something very typical with Instagram. I found one of her videos from awhile back and the caption said,  
“Your current situation is not your final destination.”
It isn’t overly common for me to feel so inspired after being on social media. In fact, it often has the reverse effect. However, in one week, I had two lovely girls help me in a way that I’m sure they were not anticipating. They didn’t only share the perfect parts of their lives. They were real. Tara let it be known to the world that she too has less than ideal days and Allyson constantly uses her social media to bring others closer to Christ and feel of their own infinite worth.   
Just like these darling girls, YOU too can be an influence for good. YOU too can inspire others. Social media does not have to be a place where we leave feeling “less than”. Social media can actually be a force for good. Be real. Share positive and inspiring posts. Strive to lift others up. Leave a positive comment. (And for the record,  “Like, can I be you?” are not the type of comments I am referring to). 
Let us all strive to be more real, stop comparing, and choose to use our own social media as a force for good. Maybe you too can have a positive impact one someone else just as these two lovely ladies did for me. 
Who has inspired you on social media? 
How can you use social media as a force for good?

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Monday, April 6, 2015

IN EVERY SEASON

p h o t o  ||  v i n c e n t  b r o d 
To say that I am excited for Spring would be quite an understatement. To say that I am excited for this Summer would be an even bigger one. I feel like once this time of year hits nearly all I can think about are the warmer days ahead. 
Being excited for a certain season is fine. However, looking forward to the days ahead can cause us to lose sight of the now. To be completely honest, I am not a fan of Winter. There are very few things about that season that I enjoy. During those cold months I have a choice. I can choose to be miserable and complain or I can choose to enjoy and be grateful. Although it can often be hard to find, there truly is beauty in every season. 
You might currently be going through a particular “season” of your own life that causes you to look forward to better days ahead. You might be wishing your time away wanting nothing more than for this season to pass. It might be difficult to find anything beautiful about this specific time in your life. However, just like there is beauty in every season of the year, we can find beauty in the seasons of our lives.  
Often that beauty is simply the growth and strength we earn from enduring. Nonetheless, that is still something beautiful. Instead of wishing your life away, choose to be content in the “season” that you are in.   
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” PHILIPPINES 4:11

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

WHY SHOULD WE PRAY?


You know those adorable stories of the child who loses their toy, and after praying to find it, it miraculously appears? These precious children have such unwavering faith. They truly believe that if they pray, God will answer. Maybe at one point you were that little child with unshakeable faith. Maybe you still are. But for the rest of us who might not be as confident, this post is for you.  
If God is aware of us and all of our individual needs then why should we pray? If God is all knowing then I am sure He doesn’t need us to inform Him of the desires of our hearts. Right?   
For the longest time I felt slightly confused by these two concepts and had different questions about the importance of prayer. I knew that I needed to pray, so I always did. But It wasn’t until recently that I realized that is wasn’t God who needed my prayers but rather, it was me.  

Q U E S T I O N  1: 

If God already knows what I need, then why should I bother in asking Him? 

A N S W E R :
"The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them."  (Bible Dictionary, p. 753
God is all knowing. He does not need us to tell Him what we need in order for Him to know. However, He does expect us to ask. Personally, I have found that it has been the times that I have sincerely prayed for something, that I recognized the answer when it came. It strengthened my faith in God and prayer because after praying, I received. When we pray, we are more conscious of our needs, and will likely be more attentive to the answers we receive. 

Q U E S T I O N  2: 
Are my prayers even important? 

A N S W E R :
YES. You are important. Your prayers are important. God is aware of YOU and He is concerned with your happiness. This weekend has been Conference Weekend. The LDS General Conference is an opportunity for us to hear and learn from our church leaders. It is often recommended that you pray before conference and listen for an answer to your individual prayers during each session. 
Again this is an example of those “miraculous” stories where someone received the very answer they had been praying for. I always left that opportunity to “someone” else. Don’t get me wrong. I love conference. I ALWAYS get something great out of it. But for some reason that yucky demon of doubt inside me would make me believe that my prayers were not as important as the other millions of people who would be watching conference. And on top of that, I didn’t feel like I had any burning questions or desires I needed fulfilled anyway.  Even with all that being said, I prayed. I prayed about three very specific aspects of my life. I figured one would be at least touched on but I was fairly certain the other two would not. 
I was wrong. During the very first session of conference ALL THREE aspects were touched on and my prayers were answered. Little Ceciley from Utah received an answer to her prayers. ALL THREE.  As I sat in the Conference Center I realized the reality of the power of prayer. Right then I wrote at the top of my notes,  
“God is aware of YOU and He hears YOUR prayers. He is concerned with YOUR happiness."
If Heavenly Father felt like it was important to answer MY prayers, then he certainly feels the same way about YOURS. 


Q U E S T I O N  3: 
But what if I don’t receive an answer? 

A N S W E R : 
“When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence. When He answers no, it is to prevent error. When he withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth.” -Richard G. Scott.  
In my example above I received an answer fairly quickly. And not only that, they were the answers I wanted to receive. Prayer does not always work that way.  I truly believe that Heavenly Father knew that I needed that confidence. He gave me the answers I desired because for this specific situation, that is what I needed. On the other hand, I have also experienced the no, and the, withheld answer. Looking back at each situation, every answer came in the form that I needed, not necessarily the form I wanted
Often our prayers are answered but we don’t recognize the answer because it is not in the form we want. When it comes to answers to prayer, we need to be open and willing to receive what God has planned, over what WE have in mind. Be aware that answers are not always boisterous and overly apparent. Sometimes they just come in the form of peace. “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?D&C 6:22-23
This Easter Sunday I truly hope that you have felt of our Savior’s love for you. He died for each of us, but He loves us individually. You are not just a number. You are important. Your prayers matter. Our Father in Heaven is genuinely interested in your individual happiness. We are so blessed to have a Savior who gave His life so we can live, and a Heavenly Father who is consistently invested in the outcome of that life.
"Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege.” -Richard G. Scott
If you have  your own answers to these questions I would LOVE to read them! 
Just share them in the comments below this post!  

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Monday, March 30, 2015

BOUQUET OF WEEDS


Recently I had two adorable neighbor girls come over to bring me a bouquet of flowers they had picked out special for me. Once they arrived at my house they proudly handed over the beautiful arrangement... of dandelions. 
We quickly put them into a vase of water to assure they wouldn’t die. I giggled to myself thinking about protecting the life of a weed. However, to these darling young girls, they were not weeds. They were magnificent flowers. 
How often do we look at what we have been “handed” in our own lives and feel like we have received a bunch of "weeds”? Just this week I was scrolling down my Instagram newsfeed feeling like my life was a pile of weeds compared to the lavish "fields of blossoms” I was viewing. 
One account in particular left me feeling a little, ok super jealous. There were images of this girl on her private jet, her recent vacation to Thailand, her “all organic” breakfast, fantastic legs, and expensive shoes. I couldn’t help but feel like she was far ahead of me in the game of life. I mean, at my age she had already accomplished more than I could even dream of. 
These two scenarios have taught me a few things... 
1. It’s all about perspective. What most of us might see as weeds, my darling little neighbors saw as gorgeous flowers. Life truly is so much about perspective. If you are constantly looking for the negative you are bound to find it. However if you choose to look for the good, those “weeds” in your life might soon appear to be “flowers”.
2. The trials you are living through right now might seem to be nothing more than yucky weeds, but in reality its through our trials that we are best able to learn and grow. If everything in life was perfect and beautiful we would never be required to stretch. It’s through the “weeds” of life that we are able to become the outstanding creations we were meant to become. 
3. Just as I was feeling quite envious “viewing” this perfect stranger’s life, there may be some people out there who are just as envious of the life they perceive that I am living through my own social media. (Again, perspective). All we see are the highlights of everyone else’s lives and we compare that to everything we know about our own, (even the not so perfect parts). Don’t compare your “weeds” to someone else’s “flowers”. We ALL have our own weeds, even when we can’t see them. Instead of being envious of the “perfect” parts you see in the lives of others, focus on your own. They are there, whether you believe it or not, they are. We have all been so blessed. Sometimes it just requires recognizing our blessings as blessings to realize it. 
Your life might feel like its completely full of weeds right now. You might be looking around at all the stunning gardens other people are producing wishing that yours looked different. Quit it. Quit comparing. Stop envying. Just start blooming. If you have weeds you need to pluck out from your life then do it. If your garden needs some watering, start watering. If there are trials that you can’t eliminate then allow them to allow you to grow. If all you see when you evaluate your life are weeds then it might be time to change your perspective. Stop comparing and start blooming. Remember, the grass is always greener where you water it
What “weeds” have you had in your life that you later realized were really “flowers”?

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?


What is your purpose? 
Each one of us is here on Earth at a very specific time for a very specific reason. You might not know exactly what your purpose is, however it is vital that you understand that you have a purpose.   
Each of us has been blessed with different skills, interests, and talents that make us unique and because of this each of our “purposes” will likely look different. I am not good at math. Even a little bit. My purpose in life is definitely not to be an engineer, math teacher, or really anything that involves much calculating. However, as much as I hate math, I am incredibly grateful that there are people who enjoy it. I’ll gladly leave all the numbers to them. 
Our Heavenly Father created a plan for each of us. He knows our potential and what we are capable of accomplishing. He knows each of our unique talents and interests and wants us to use them to find our purpose in life. He wants nothing more than for us to be happy, not only while we are here on this Earth, but for eternity. He has offered us loving direction and guidance to lead us happily and safely through our journey.
On the other hand, there is someone who wants exactly the opposite. Satan does not want you to be happy. Satan wants to skew your perception not only of the world around you, but also the way that you view yourself. He may not be able to tempt you to do anything drastically wrong, and if this is the case he starts working on you in different ways. He will cause you to doubt yourself and your worth. He will make you lose sight of your purpose and potential. He may even try convince you that you are not good enough or cause you to compare yourself to others. 
Do not let him win.  
Understand that YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU truly matter. YOU are of worth and nothing you do can ever change that. You will always be a child of God with a divine purpose. Satan knows your worth. He knows what you are capable of achieving and he will stop at no end to halt your progression. 
Be determined. Fight for your purpose. If you don’t know what that purpose is, pray to find out. Heavenly Father wants you to know who you are. He wants you to know and understand your own unique and personalized purpose here on Earth. He wants you to BE all that you are capable of being. Never allow Satan’s lies to become stumbling blocks in your path of discovering your true worth.  

"Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you;
The weight of your calling he perfectly knows.”
 
(HYMN 266 “The Time Is Far Spent”) 

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Friday, March 13, 2015

BARING IT ALL, ALMOST

 
In honor of our latest project “BARING IT ALL WITH BE WISE” I decided to literally bare it all. I wanted to prove (mostly to myself) that I didn’t need to wear makeup and that if I went a week without makeup no one would even notice. By doing this I would essentially be “baring it all” just in another way. 
Makeup is basically a mask to hide any real or perceived “imperfection” that we might have (or in my case, think we have). For me, makeup is not so much used for hiding but rather adding some color to my otherwise super white skin. Now if you read my post about being a former “tanaholoic” then you might be thinking, “Wow this girl really never did get over her need-to-be-tan-phase.” And to be fair, that is partially true. I still do feel better when I have a little color to my face - but on the bright side, I am no longer using damaging UV rays to achieve that. 
On Tuesday, my “baring it all” quest began. I didn’t wear any makeup to work. (I did wear some mascara because otherwise I really would have looked like I had just rolled out of bed). Everything went according to my plan. No one said a word. Now I need to make something quite clear. I work at a high school. With high school students. High school students who have NO problem speaking their mind. I was sure I would hear many comments about my pasty face. Nothing. I kept thinking to myself, “This will make for an awesome blog post!” 
Wednesday came and I was more than ready for another makeup-free day. In fact, I even slept in a little longer than usual thinking I could really get used to this. I got to work anticipating the same reaction. Wrong. I received comment after comment. Luckily for me I have students who are clearly concerned for my well-being because I got asked over and over if I was sick. Nope, I felt fine. Great in fact. Other than the shot to my ego. 
I felt defeated. I was so ready to write a super inspiring post about knowing you are beautiful and not needing makeup to feel that you are. How could I write that post when didn’t feel it. All I felt was that without makeup I look sick and tired. Not a super great start to proving my original point. 
Thursday morning came and I went straight for my makeup. No way was I going to risk another day of “looking ill". I got ready, with makeup, and headed to work. Although I felt more confident, I felt like I had failed. I can’t motivate others to feel confident in their own skin if I’m not. Then it hit me. It wasn’t the makeup that made me confident and it wasn’t my pasty skin that made me feel less-than-beautiful. It wasn’t even really the comments about me looking sick (although that didn’t help make me feel any better). As silly as it might seem, it was the simple fact that I didn’t feel ready. Its hard to feel perfectly confident when you aren’t feeling like you look your best. 
Now, I know it shouldn’t take makeup for me to feel like I look my best. But.... it does. Silly, I know. Each morning as I get ready, doing my makeup makes me feel pretty. Its not that I am covering my face to look different, but as I use makeup to enhance the features I already have, I learn to love them and I feel pretty. 
This post turned out entirely different than I had originally planned, but it actually ended up being just that much more real, and that is exactly what this project is all about. Being real. I learned that I can go without makeup and it really was fine. I survived and even got a few extra minutes of sleep. But I also learned that it is OKAY to get ready for the day, (even if that means doing your makeup), putting your best foot forward, striving to look your very best. 
If it takes a little bit of foundation and blush to help you feel your best. Go for it! If you are just as confident with completely bare face, Awesome! (and I’m slightly really jealous of you). The truth is, being perfectly confident all the time can be hard. Let’s all cut each other (and ourselves) some slack. Now go FEEL beautiful! 
What helps you FEEL confident?

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here:

Monday, March 9, 2015

FEAR NOT, FOR I AM WITH THEE

Have you ever looked back over your life, realizing how much Heavenly Father stepped in, and thought, “Oh, that’s what you were trying to do...”? You realize that your trials were simply a part of the process and the weight of their importance in your journey is finally clear. Those experiences that once didn’t make sense, you now realize God was weaving together into a beautiful, wonderful safety net. 
Recently I have had some pretty exciting but daunting changes happen in my life. Sometimes getting exactly what you want can be a little frightening. The reality of some of these changes has really finally hit me and honestly, I often wonder if I am ready to receive the blessings I have been praying for.  Yesterday was one of those days... 
To say I wasn’t feeling myself would be an understatement. I was on-edge and even a little angry. The weird part was that there was nothing that was actually upsetting me. I was just mad. This is not normal for me and even my family began to notice. I could not explain what was bothering me. Truly, everything in my life was great, but even still, I was bugged. Seriously bugged. It got so bad that I literally broke down crying to my parents. (I think my little brother found it quite amusing, ha). I didn’t know why I was crying, I just was. 
Then my sweet mother, (who might I add I am so blessed to have) pointed out that I was worrying about things that I didn’t need to worry about right now. But more importantly than that, she validated my feelings. She told me that what I was feeling was real and that now, more than ever, Satan was trying to get me down. She told me, “You are so blessed... Satan Hates you right now... fight! You are better than him. Be happy!” 
It was then that I realized she was exactly right. Everything I was worrying about and fearing were wonderful blessings that I had been praying for for years and I was allowing Satan to get in the way. I can finally see clearly what Heavenly Father has been trying to do. I understand the trials that I dealt with and how they have been important for my own personal journey. Most importantly I have realized that worrying doesn’t fix or help anything. When we worry, we are literally taking things into our own hands and out of the hands of our all-knowing Heavenly Father. 
As I look back over my life I can truly pinpoint pivotal moments where God really did take over. He has a plan for me and He is not going to allow me to get in the way of that plan. When I allow Him to take over, things always work out better. 
At BE WISE we are starting a brand new project with a corresponding hash-tag: #baringitallwithbewise.  We are super excited about this project because not only will it allow us to be real and “bare it all” with you, but we would love to have you “bare it all” with us. 
We live in a world with so many different pressures and unrealistic expectations that we often hide under a filter of fake. Let’s be real with each other. Too often we rely on our social media “highlight reels” to avoid sharing the less than perfect aspects of our lives. We are as guilty as the next person of this and we want to make a change. 
We would love you to share your stories and experiences that are “less than perfect” just like I have done in this post. It isn’t easy to admit when we are imperfect or when we struggle but it’s even more difficult living in a world of fake. Use #baringitallwithbewise to share all your “realness” we can’t wait to discover the real you! 

Never Miss A Post! Enter Your Email Here: