I love Alaska.  I have some weird obsession with it.  I have never been - but I will make it there someday.  The beauty of that place is unbelievable.  The wildlife you can see is amazing.  I love watching any show about Alaska.  In fact, my favorite show on TV right now is Alaska: The Last Frontier.  I can't get enough of it.

I found on Facebook a lady who lives in North Pole, AK who is a photographer.  Her name is Susan Stevenson and she is amazing!  I recently ordered her 2015 calendar - which includes her photography for each month.  I love it.

Just one of my many loves of the outdoors.

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This morning I woke up not feeling well - physically, emotionally, mentally.  I've had a rough past couple of months - life just gets busy, crazy, hard, draining, my dad passing away, my at home business is busy, etc....  This morning I woke up feeling a bit off.  I guess it had just caught up with me.

It was time for breakfast.  In the pantry I see Honeycombs cereal, Rice Krispies, and Dinosaur Egg oatmeal.  Darn - the strawberries and cream oatmeal is all gone.

I chose Dinosaur Egg oatmeal.  I wanted a boost by eating healthy.  I got it.

I don't know if it was a mental phenomenon that I feel better, but man - after eating oatmeal with wheat toast this morning - it was the boost I (and obviously my body) needed.  Amazing how that works.  (Maybe it was the thrill of eating the kids oatmeal with little candy pieces in it).

The power of OATMEAL - try it today!  Who knew?!?!?

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Gird Up Your Loins

This made me giggle.  Maybe more than I should have.  You read about this in the scriptures often.  Just funny!

Original link HERE.

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My Dad's Passing

On August 25, 2014, my dad passed away.  He was very sick.  He had multiple problems happening inside his body.  He ultimately died from respiratory failure from Pneumonia.  He was 66. Way too young to die.

I loved my dad.  He loved me.  He loved my husband.  He loved my children.  He was a wonderful grandpa.  My kids are really missing him.

I have had a chance to experience the passing of loved ones a few times.  I have had 2 close friends pass, and 2 grandmas pass.  My one grandma - my Grandma A just passed away last year.  This was hard.  I was very close to her.  I took care of her for part of her last few years.  I mourned her death.

Having my dad die has been a unique experience for me.  Myself, and all of my siblings and my mom were there with him when he passed.  We had several weekends when we were able to be with him towards the end.   I feel like I had a chance to close any open doors, reconcile differences, say sorry's, let him know how much I loved him.  My children were able to see him as well.  I felt great closure to the point that I could accept his passing.  I didn't want him to die, but I knew if he did, I would be okay.  I had resolved any issues with him that needed to be resolved.  I was at peace.

As my siblings and I are trying to close out all of his estate, it has been very interesting to see how each person mourns ones death.  I was able to somewhat "get closure" before he passed.  I mourned his death prior and after he died.  His funeral was a huge closure moment for me.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I miss him dearly.  But I am at peace with his passing.  I am at the point where I have gone through the MOURNING process, and I am okay with that.  I am now transitioning to REMEMBERING him and our memories with him.  It's a much happier time.  It's not so emotionally draining.  I am enjoying this time of remembering.  It's interesting to watch as other members of my family seem to still be mourning.  There is nothing wrong with this.  It's just interesting to me to watch others still mourn when I am past that phase, as each person must mourn in their own way.  I want to remember his life way more than I want to mourn his death.

Here are some pictures of me with my dad, and a few others (none are current, but still classics!).  I love you, dad.  I miss you so much!  Until we meet again....

My brother, Mike, Me, and Dad

This is one of my most cherished pictures.
Two of my most favorite people in the whole world.
It is both of my grandma's.  My mom's mom, and my dad's mom,

This is me with my Grandma R, my dad's mom.

My dad and I on my baptism day.

My most favorite picture of my dad and I.
I was probably 6 or 7.

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Feeling Wanted

Have you ever felt not wanted?  Not needed?  I have.  I am not a depressed person.  I am not a "pity party for me" type of person.  I am usually very happy and light hearted.

Lately though, I have felt a little unwanted.  I won't bore you with the details, but let me give you some pointers on how to treat people - anytime.  All of us want to feel needed, wanted.  It is a normal human being feeling.  This is what keeps us going.  Someone needs us.  Someone wants us.  If we don't feel this way, we tend to slip into a dark place, which for some - never come out of.  I have known people who have gone to this dark place, and now I will never see them again.  It is very sad, but such a reality for some.

I have two pointers to help you help everyone feel wanted:

1.  If you are working with a group of people - for whatever reason - be sure you ask everyone's opinion, and don't bash those opinions.  Most of the time we don't always need to be right, but we do always want to be heard.  Everyone usually has a thought of how something might go.  Even if someone's opinion isn't what is finally decided upon, ask it anyways.  Everyone needs a chance to be heard.

2.  If you are offered service by someone - whether it is great or small - accept it.  The offering person would not have offered unless they really wanted to help.  Turning away service turns down a person's opportunity and willingness to help.  Even if you don't want the help, or think you need it, in some way, accept it.  That person probably needs a little extra boost in their life - and serving others is one way to do that.  If their service is never accepted, they think they are worthless, and never needed or wanted.

Everyone needs to be loved.  Everyone needs to feel wanted.  Everyone wants to be heard.  Open up your own generosity door and let these people in.   I'm not saying this is easy - it is way easier to give service than to receive it.  But, when you look back, you will have grown because of it.

Now - go help someone be happier today!  Spread some SUNSHINE!

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Last Thursday, I received a phone call letting me know my dad had been admitted to the hospital for difficulty breathing and swallowing.  While he was there he tried to stand up to get out of his bed.  He fainted.  He "crashed".  They had to revive him.  They had to put him on a ventilator (life support).  He was now in ICU.

Of course, I dropped everything, got on a flight from Utah to California that afternoon.  Was by his side Thursday night.  My sister came with me.  My two brothers arrived the next day.

While doing tests for why he couldn't breathe well, they found cancer by his kidney.  His kidneys were not performing as they should either.  There were numerous problems with his body.  They couldn't even figure out what all of them were and why they were happening.  Side note: Chemotherapy can't begin until his body is healthy enough to handle it.  Kidneys play a major part in Chemotherapy.

We were all sort of in a scramble to get our spouses and children there to say goodbye.  The diagnoses wasn't good.  We thought we would all be saying our goodbyes to our dad within the next day or two.

But - he improved.  He started to breathe on his own.  He woke up.  Slowly, day by day the IV's came out.  His breathing and coughing (to cough up all the gunk that pooled in his lungs while on life support) improved.   We called off the mass exodus of more family members to California for the time being.

Yesterday he was moved out of ICU.  Off all the IV's.  We were so excited to see such great progress.  He was taken to get an MRI of his throat to see why his swallowing wasn't improving.  Nothing.  This is still a mystery of why he can't swallow.  If he can't swallow, he can't eat.  If he can't eat, he can't get the full nutrients he needs to get his body strong enough for Chemo.  If he can't have Chemo, he was given only a few months to live because of the cancer.

We're in a hard place.  But there is hope.  We hope the doctors can figure this whole swallowing thing out.  So many prayers are being offered in my dad's behalf.  We are still in a very tough place with his health.

But - while we were there, we had SO MANY tender mercies.  Too many to list, but I testify that God is on our side.  He is watching us.  He has blessed us beyond measure these past few days as my siblings and I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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It's Monday.  It is raining outside - has been most of the night.  The smell of the air is fresh and clean.  I like Mondays.  Last night we went and visited my sister and her family.  The kids were able to play with each other (they love cousin time!).  I have lots of work to do today.  Get a hoodie order done for a youth group, cut some vinyl for Christmas projects that have already begun, yummy dinner to plan and prepare, Family Home Evening tonight.  Mondays are good.

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Simple Obedience

Obedience.  It's quite simple really.  You simply obey what you are told or taught.  Not much to it.  Until you don't obey.

My daughter has wanted a Wubble Bubble Ball for a while now.  They are sold out everywhere and very hard to find!  They're even sold out on their own website.

While running errands yesterday I ran across a few that were actually in stock at a store (sunshine moment!).  I couldn't believe it.  I bought my daughter one.  We played with it lots yesterday.  It was fun.  This morning she wanted to take it over to play with it at the park - so she could play with it in a larger area.  Pine trees line the edge of the park.  As she was walking out the door I kindly reminded her to NOT let it touch the pine trees.  It would pop it.

Five minutes later she was back in the house with a popped ball.   She let it hit a pine tree.

Simple obedience.  It's simple really.  You simply obey what you are told or taught.

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Mopping My Kitchen

We own a shaved ice stand.  It's only open in the summer.  So, as you can imagine, our kitchen floor in the summer is constantly sticky from making our syrup.  And the fact that the kids are home all day eating and spilling.  Needless to say, I mop the floor often.  In May I owned a mop called Swiffer WetJet.  I loved it.  It held the cleaning solution in the handle of the mop.  The cleaning pads were disposable.  It maneuvered easily where you needed to mop.  You simply sprayed where you wanted to mop, mop, then toss the cleaning pad.  Easy.  Until you ran out of cleaning pads or their own cleaning solution (and the bottles are very hard to open to add your own - they really don't want you doing this).  This got expensive.  Especially for someone like me who is mopping my floor quite often.

In June - I had a HUGE sunshine moment!  I found this mop called Rubbermaid Reveal.  Can I just tell you - this mop is so much better than the Swiffer.  It maneuvers like the Swiffer, if not better.  The container that holds the cleaning solution comes empty.  Which means you can use your own (you can even mop with just water if you wanted)!!  I love my Lysol cleaning products.  I can use them with this mop!!  And the cleaning pad....reusable!!  You simply wash it out when you're done.  Let it dry.  And use it again.  It's even machine washable (I wash mine by hand for about 3-5 mops, then after that - wash it in the machine).  You can even buy extra pads and bottles if you need to.  I love this mop.  I actually like the spraying mechanism on it better than the Swiffer.  It is a pump handle, so you have a little more control over how much you're spraying out.  And you can adjust where you are spraying by simply tilting the handle up or back - you can't really do this with Swiffer.

This mop has made my life better.

Now - lets get mopping!

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Ramen Noodles

Ok - this is kind of a random post but I had to share - so read on!

It's summer time.  That means lots and lots of Ramen noodles are being consumed at our house.  We try to think of ways to change them up a bit.  We've put sliced meatballs in it (which is really tasty), sometimes we add veggies - but the kids don't go for this too often.  I've thought of adding soy sauce and pineapple to it instead of the flavor packets, but I have yet to try this - maybe tomorrow.

My favorite is adding hot sauce to them.  Never done it?  Do you like spicy food?  If so, try it.  You'll have to test to see how much you like, but I like mine somewhere in the middle of hot enough to taste and too hot that your nose it like Old Faithful when you're done eating.  Give it a whirl.  You'll love it.

One pointer on how to cook these quick - a great way for kids to make these on their own:
While still in package, crush noodles up.  In a microwave safe bowl (a little bigger is better because it can get hot) pour crushed up noodles into the bowl and add enough water to cover well.  Microwave on high for about 3 minutes.  Strain off the water you don't want as juice.  Add flavoring and anything extra (hot sauce).

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See Something, Say Something

In a parking lot of a store tonight I witnessed a man being very verbally abusive to a woman (pregnant) and physically holding her back from running away.  They walked around the parking lot - he following her and saying very mean things - for several minutes.  I wasn't sure what I should do.  I sat there in my car waiting for some sign to do something as I watched them continue this confrontation.  As I began to drive away, not sure what to do, a police car - two in fact - drove into the parking lot!  I was so relieved.  They stopped.  I walked over to one of them and reported the public domestic confrontation.  He immediately drove over to them.

I am so relieved I said something.  I didn't stick around to see what came of it with the police officers, but I pray that I stopped something terrible from happening once these two people were out of a public setting.

Be someone's sunshine when they can't reach out, but obviously need help.

If you see something - say something.

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I once heard: "Smile all the time - people will wonder what you are up to."

I also read once: "Be so happy, that when others look at you they become happy, too."

Smiling.  Pass it on.

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The Nice UPS Guy

It was a simple act.

I had just gotten out of my car to head into Target.  I hear a honk.  I look up.  The UPS guy, in his big brown truck, was honking and looking to the side of him.  A young lady who had just exited the store looked up.  The UPS guy pointed to something on the ground.  She looks back - she had dropped a bright red shirt on the ground.  The UPS driver drives away before the young lady has a chance to thank him with a smile, a wave of her hand, or a verbal compliment.

A simple act, yet, it made me smile.  Thank you UPS guy for being observant and brave enough to honk your loud truck horn to help a young lady.

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It's been a busy Spring and start to Summer.  We own a shaved ice stand so summer is a CrAzY time around our house.  I hadn't had a chance to get outside and plant my little flower garden.  I have a small spot in front of my house.  It used to be quite large and wrapped around the porch.  Not anymore!  It's actually quite perfect for me now.  I love to plant and to weed and to be outside in the dirt.  But I don't have the time, or desire, to have a large area of plants.  Finally on Monday night for Family Home Evening we got outside and got it done.  I put my kids and hubby to work.  I forgot to take a before picture, but just picture this spot grown over with grass and weeds.  It was not beautiful.  It is now.  (The bigger green plants in back are mums.  They will bloom in the Fall and are just gorgeous!!)

I am on a mission to simplify my life - which includes my house and my belongings.  I simplified my flower garden.  It is small and simple, but still just as beautiful. It will be easy to maintain and to weed. I believe that as a culture we have way too much "stuff".  I have realized this more and more as I get rid of things in my home.  I don't miss them, and my life seems to be lighter, simpler, more enjoyable.  There is something to be said about not having a lot of "things".

What can you do today to simplify, organize, or change today?  See how it makes you feel.  I know it will make you have a brighter day!

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Have a Great Day

Yesterday, while driving through the little town of Fairview, Utah, this sign greeted me as I left town.  It really did make my day.  What a fun sign to see!  Thank you, Gerald & Rhea Anderson, for bringing sunshine to my day, while traveling through a town you obviously love.

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The Farming Game

The past few days my son and I have been playing The Farming Game.  It's a game I played growing up, and am so happy at least one of my kids likes it as much as I do.  It is set on the kitchen counter (annoying everyone else) until we get done.  We only can play it for about 30 minutes each day, but we're close to having a winner (you win when you get $250,000).  Great summer memories!

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Happy Trees

This picture just makes me smile.  We need more signs like this on our roads.

Picture is from: The Meta Picture 

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Conquering Fear

This is me on the pole about to step out onto the wire.

This week I was able to go to Girls Camp.  This is a camp for girls ages 12-18 in my church.  We attended a camp near Heber City, UT.  It's a beautiful place, high in the mountains.  One of the confidence courses (similar to ropes course type activities) was a zip line.  You had to climb up this tall power pole to a wire that you then shuffled along to get to the perch where you were hooked up to the zip line, then you were able to fly.

One girl, Kaylee, was SCARED TO DEATH to go.  She didn't have to, but was encouraged to try it.  The other girls were so sweet to her, trying to calm her and to calmly let her know that she could be brave and try it and that she could do it!  Kaylee was willing to give it a try.  She got harnessed up, helmet on, and told the safety rope holder "climber ready".  She took 4 steps up the pole and started sobbing - hard!  Saying she couldn't do it.  The rest of us in our group sat silent as she climbed so she could be calm.  One girl in particular - Megan - was asked by Kaylee if she would help her through this terrifying challenge.  Megan calmly started talking to Kaylee telling her she could do this and to take one more step up, then another, then another.  Kaylee finally made it up the pole to where she would now have to step onto the wire.  Sobbing, almost uncontrollably.  Yelling out "I can't do this, I'm going to fall!".  Megan calmly talked her through taking one step up onto the wire.  She did.

On the other side of the wire (on the perch) stood an elderly man who voluntarily serves with his wife and 2 other couples at this camp all summer long.  He helps all the girls at this camp at this particular station.  He knew exactly what to say.  Kaylee is clinging for her life (or so she thinks) to the last hand hold on the pole.  Sobbing.  The man calmly asks her her name.  We tell him from the ground.  He begins calling her by name and asking her if she would like him to meet her half way across the wire.  She nods yes.  Then asks if he can come more than half way.  He calmly convinces her to step onto the wire to see how it feels.  Still sobbing she steps on the wire with one foot.  Still sobbing.  She steps on with her other foot.  Sobbing.  He steps on the wire headed towards her.  Kaylee is still sobbing and frozen where she's at.  She can't move.  He calmly tells her to grab the rope handle and to shuffle towards him.  She makes it half way and instead of grabbing her hand, he gently hands her the next rope, slowly moving back towards the perch hoping Kaylee will keep coming.  One rope done, another rope done.  She's almost there!  Still sobbing the elderly man gently hands her the last rope to shuffle towards.  She grabs it.  He reaches out his hand to hers and she is on the perch.  She made it.  We scream and clap and holler her name.  She did it!  She did it!

She gets harnessed onto the zip line and off she goes.  She's made it.  She conquered her fear.

The love that was expressed to Kaylee that night, particularly from Megan, was unbelievable.  It was tear jerking.  What an experience this was and to witness such love from a group of girls to the one who needed it most at that moment.  Needless to say, Kaylee was the hero of the day to every single one of those girls and leaders who witnessed her terrifying, yet courageous act.

Doing scary things is hard.  Conquering those fears is even harder.  I am so proud of you, Kaylee, for the courage you exhibited.

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Helping the Elderly

It always makes my heart beam with sunshine when I see someone helping another.  In the grocery store on Saturday a sweet little old lady (in her ride-on cart) was trying to get her groceries onto the belt.  A stunning young lady in line behind her stepped up and asked if she could help.  The older lady said yes, and there it was.  A simply act of kindness.  A simple acceptance of service. A day made brighter by another generous soul.

Thank you, sweet young lady, for doing something I should have done, but noticed too late.

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Losing a Loved One

I had a cousin pass away - suddenly and unexpectedly - at his home last week.   He was young.  In his 50's.  I wasn't very close to this cousin, but his death still hurts.  He leaves behind an amazing wife, and daughter.  His parents, however, I am close to.  They are some of my two most favorite people who I have the privilege of calling Aunt and Uncle.  It is very heartbreaking that they have to bury a child.  No parent should ever have to do this. I did know some of his siblings better than others.  His sister is so willing to let us stay at her home while traveling through Albuquerque. Very gracious people.  Very loving and kind family all around.  I feel the love of the Savior just by being with them.

I find great comfort and peace in knowing that Randy is in a better place.  I know he is with a loving Savior.  I know his family will see him again.  This knowledge doesn't make the pain go away, but it does make it easier to continue on.  Robertson family -  I love you.  I pray for you.  I know you miss your sweet husband, father, brother, son so very much, but you will see him again.  He is in good hands.  You are in good hands.

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Fine Young Gentleman

Etiquette these days isn't what it used to be.  Young men who hold open a door for a young lady are few and far between.  They're out there, but not as prevalent as they used to be.  When I hear a story about a young man who put his great-grandmother above himself, I take notice.  It makes me smile.  This young man is a stellar example of being someone's sunshine.

To read about this young man taking his great-grandmother to his prom, and to see a heart-warming video of them dancing there,  CLICK HERE.

I hope I am raising my sons to be as exemplary as this fine young man!

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Spring Blossoms

This is the view from my kitchen window.  It's just beautiful!  The Spring blossoms are in full bloom around my neighborhood.  When I go outside I can hear the bees buzzing & the birds chirping.  I can feel a change in the air.  Everything is breathing new life.  I love Spring.  It is so renewing.  Everything is coming back to life after a long, cold winter.  I feel like I am new again.  New summer adventures to look forward to.  Fish that will be caught.  New undiscovered trails to hike.  New goals to focus on this year.  New opportunities.

It seems the SUN SHINES brighter in Spring.

What do you love about Spring?

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Popcorn.  Who doesn't like popcorn?  I like my popcorn buttery and salty.  It's almost about the only thing I add additional salt to (when eating a meal) in my diet.  But it's gotta be nice and salty and buttery.

My son wanted some popcorn this morning.  I know - it's only 10:00 am and he's already wanting popcorn.  I think it's because he asked for some last night at about 10:00 pm and I told him "In the morning".  He didn't forget.

I didn't want to make a whole big batch in my normal Stir Crazy popper that I love.  So, I thought, "I wonder if I could make some in a paper bag, like microwave popcorn?".  (Which I normally don't buy because I prefer fresh popped).  As you can see in the picture - I buy the big container at Costco.

I tried it.

It worked (the second time).

I think I have found my new "microwave popcorn", and for pennies per serving.  I am beyond thrilled that it worked.

Here's what I did:

I put 2 Tbsp popcorn kernels in a white paper bag (I'm sure brown paper bags would work fine, I just buy the white one - they look cuter).

Fold down the top twice (small folds, maybe 1/2 inch fold)

Microwave on high for 1 minute 15-30 seconds.  (The first time I tried it I put the time on for 3 minutes, after 1 min 45 seconds I had burned popcorn).  That 15 seconds made a huge difference.  The cooking time may need to be adjusted for your microwave.

Done.  I poured on a little melted butter, added some salt and shook it up in the bag.  I probably added about 1-2 tsp melted butter.

My son loved it.  He is currently munching away on it watching his Saturday morning cartoons.

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While I'm typing this - thinking about what to say - I can hear the rain outside hitting hard things like roofs, cars, the picnic table in my back yard, the bike that didn't get put away last night.  It made me think about the rain.  Rain is cleansing.  Rain makes the sun shine that much brighter.  I love rain.  I love the smell of rain.  I love the sidewalks after rain.  I love that the rain greens up my lawn.

When I was a child, I would play in the rain.  I would splash in the gutters.   I would chase sticks down the gutters.  I would just let it get me wet.  I remember one time during an approaching storm, I was looking out of our bay window in the living room.  The storm was coming.  I could smell it.  I could feel it.  It started to rain at the end of our street, and I watched the rain move its way up to my house and engulf the house in a downpour.  I loved it.  This was always a happy time for me.  The rain was my sunshine.  That sounds a little weird, but it is true.  Rain does something to my soul.  It lifts me.

When we lived in Oklahoma, I loved the thunder and lightening that always accompanied storms there.  Although the threat of tornadoes was always there, people in my neighborhood would literally all come out and sit on their porches when a storm was upon us.  The lightning was indescribable and beautiful.  The thunder was loud and powerful.  The rain - a literal downpour (like someone dumping a bucket of water on you).  But, I loved it.  Our whole area loved it.

Rain is powerful. Sunshine is powerful.  Kindness is powerful.  Forgiving is powerful - both for the forgivee and the forgiver.  Forgiveness is cleansing just like rain.  This includes forgiving yourself - which is probably the hardest forgiving to do.

Doesn't this picture just make you happy?  Picture source: National Geographic

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You Never Know Your Impact

A personal experience I had today:  While reading my scriptures this morning in Exodus (Old Testament), I read Exodus 14:14: "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."  I posted it on my LDS Young Women Facebook page.  A few minutes after posting it, I received this comment on the post (translated from another language, so it may sound a little off):  Thank you very much for this scripture, I am crying in this moment for that. Yesterday I was thinking I don't want to know nothing, is so hard how can to follow here? Is very special only God he know how can I feel. I am so grateful for this scripture!

WOW!  I posted it because it impacted me this morning.  I didn't know it would help anyone else.  You never know the impact you will make on someone, by simply doing what you do everyday.

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Have You Done Good Today?

This is one of my favorite Church Hymns.  Have you done any good today?  When someone needed your help, were you there?  This song lifts me to a place where I am confident I can be of help to someone today.

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Eat More Cake

Oh, how I love this sign.  It is so true!  My day is definitely better when cake is involved.

Saw this sign on IHeartNapTime.

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Eggs for Breakfast

This morning my sweet husband made me eggs for breakfast.  Thank you, sweetie.  You started my day off right.

Who made your day a better day just by doing a simple act of kindness?  Did you make someone's day today?  Come on - give yourself credit - and post it in the comments.  Be proud of what you do!

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