If We Loved The Savior More

I don’t thank my Savior enough. Even though it isn’t the popular thing to do on the internet, it is necessary for me today, and especially during this special time of each year. Yesterday was my Grandpa Ray’s 93rd birthday and I love him with every ounce of my being. But sometimes I worry about him. I worry about his health. I worry that he might still carry emotional pain from serving in World War 2. I worry that he is lonely. As I listened to my Grandpa Ray’s cute, squeaky voice over the telephone, I was reminded of this story by Robert D. Hales from October 2016: “Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was in the hospital recovering from open-heart surgery when he was visited by his five-year-old grandson. As the little boy looked into his grandfather’s eyes, he saw his pain. “Grandpa,” he asked, “if I loved you more, would you hurt less?” Today I ask a similar question of each of us: “If we love the Savior more, will we suffer less?” -Robert D. Hales I wondered the same question; if I loved my Grandpa more…if I called him more, sent him post cards more, prayed for him more…would

Friday’s are for Journal Writing (or Reading)

I love Friday’s. Particularly this Friday. Aaron and I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night because, HELLO, Stranger Things Season 2 premier! I’m not big into sci-fi, or even fantasy or adventure fiction for that matter, but this show is strangely addicting (ha, see what I did there?). Because of our late night we both slept in until about 10:00 this morning. #heaven Due to the late start, Aaron decided to stay home with me today and do his school work here so we’ve been sitting at the table together now for about 3.5 hour pecking at our keyboards. Well, he has. I’ve been entertaining myself by reading my journals from 2008 & let me tell ‘ya something…I was totally a teenage girl! My life was all about boys, Target, dance, work, high school friends, EFY, girl’s camp, etc. etc. And about every other journal entry I wrote something like, “Life is good! Gram & Papa bought a condo in Saint George, I passed my history test, and… I gotta pee so I’ll write later!” Some things really never change. In my journal from Sophomore year in college, I found an entry about my experience attending a funeral

Grandma Rose’s Recipe for 50 Years of Good Life

I had the best birthday present of indulging in the small-town charm of Carson, Washington the past 5 days with my husband and my father. My 93-year-old Grandpa Ray, my dad’s dad, lives there and it’s where he raised his family on 7 acres of evergreen forest with the Columbia River Gorge nestled right behind it. Growing up, I loved our vacations there. We hiked, we swam in my aunt & uncle’s pool, we jet skied on the Gorge, and I got to know the Matta family a little more. But the truth is, I never got to know my grandmother. My Grandma Rose passed away with cancer when I was four years old. I don’t remember her, but Grandpa Ray says my smile reminds him of hers. We spent several hours a day laughing with him, eating with him, listening to his polka music with him (he was quite the musician in his young years), and learning of his stories about he & Grandma Rose. They met at a dance hall, had a double wedding, traveled Europe together for 3 weeks, were devout Christian’s, and raised 4 sons. What I didn’t know about Grandma Rose, though, is her love for

25 Quarter-Life Lessons (& Realizations)

Happy 25th birthday to me! I almost went out and took pictures in a dolled up little black dress holding gold balloons to look Instagram perfect. Sometimes as a blogger I feel that’s what the internet expects of me, but let’s keep it real. I woke up early for a morning run, packed my husband’s lunch, met with a dear friend for lunch (she drove 2 hours just to come see me. Gosh I love her), read a book on the grass in the backyard, and spent the remainder of my day pecking at my keyboard in sweat pants, hair pulled back, no make up and my thick purple glasses eating Mike & Ike’s. That’s real life for an aspiring writer. I’ve been contemplating this milestone for about a month now, and it’s made me feel a little nostalgic to think back through all the years that have flown by. In 25 years, there’s plenty I’ve realized, and even more I’ve learned. So here it is: 25 lessons I learned by age 25. 1. Life is really what you make it. Be creative. We so easily get lost in the mundane routines of life. It can be boring and

“Voices of early-returned LDS Missionaries: The Daily Universe”

“Overtime, I learned that I served exactly the time I needed to serve and taught the people I needed to teach.” When I was thirteen years old, I attended an EFY (Especially for Youth) the summer before eighth grade and my counselor had asked us on the first day to think of questions we wanted answers to. They could be gospel related, familial, or academic – anything we wanted – and she promised us by the end of the week, if we sought for answers from the scriptures and prayer, we would receive an answer. The question I wrote was: am I meant to serve a mission? I had watched my older brothers prepare and serve and I felt that experience was something I wanted. During the week, I read a particular scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that influenced my decision. The spirit was so overwhelming in that moment that I knew I had my answer. From then on, I tried to live my life in a way that was preparatory for a mission and read that scripture on a daily basis. I served in the Illinois, Chicago mission for exactly seven months. I entered the MTC on July

How Shopping At Target Taught Me Compassion Today

I tucked Tessa and Navy into their beds, kissed them good night, and closed the door behind me. I watched Aaron across the hall as he gently laid blankets across Lewis’s small 3 year old body and we met at the top of the stairs, greeting each other with a high-five. “Nice job! We had another great day,” I said. “Yeah,” he smiled. “They are great kids.” It was our fourth night babysitting the Stringham family but the first in a long time that I’d be on my knees at all hours of the night praying for a miracle. … The commotion of Sports Center buzzed through my ears as I slowly peeked open my eyes. I could feel that something was wrong. Aaron lay next to me wide awake with the remote firm in his grip. The clock on the night stand read 12:03 A.M. I leaned off the edge of the bed and unplugged my phone, swiped the unlock screen, and was frightened by the little number 4 on my messaging icon. Four unread messages. Something is wrong.  “Hey Marlee.” Whitney wrote. “Did you see the text about Krystal?” My stomach immediately flipped. I pressed the back button,

Easter Is a Time for Quiet Moments Where We Can Focus on Him

This morning I was able to share a precious moment with a 6-year-old little girl. Aaron and I are here tending for a cute family of three kids while mom & dad are taking a little TLC in Costa Rica and I woke up this morning to this sweet little thing who had a bad dream. I cuddled with her on the couch and pulled out my phone. My mom had messaged me the link to the LDS church’s Easter videos and I asked her, “Navy, do you want to watch these videos with me?” She kindly smiled as we tucked ourselves underneath the white, velvety blanket. I loved teaching her new vocabulary words like “tragedy,” “gratitude,” “sculptor,” “hostile,” and “perspective” throughout and after each two minute video, I wrote down a few of my thoughts in my blue journal. Navy looked at me and said, “I have a journal!” I excitedly responded, “Do you write in it often?” “I mostly just draw pictures,” she told me. After watching Jon’s video about gratitude, I wrote down his words: “I have so much to be grateful for that I’d be disrespecting God if I wasn’t happy.” Navy wrote, “I love

Our Last Day in Sunny San Diego: Old Town Trolley

Hey, guys! We’re back in Utah even though it took me three potty stops during the drive (sorry, Aaron) and a 40 minute detour because we missed an exit (again, sorry Aaron. I’m not the best navigator). We still love each other anyways! Before I get too carried away with life and its responsibilities, I want to tell you the last few activities we did while in sunny San Diego. Mainly because I’m suffering from vacation withdrawals and also because some of you might find it fascinating. Wednesday was our last day there so we woke up bright and early to catch the Old Town trolley in no other place than Old Town, San Diego. We bought our tickets on our first day at a ticket booth in Seaport Village but there are other booths around the city and you can also purchase them online. Plus, the tickets are good for any weekday and they never expire. Isn’t that cool? Throughout the trolley tour, you are taken through the city to seven different “ports” that are narrated along the way. Your guide tells you about the historical landscapes, why San Diego is called “America’s Finest City”, and see the

My SoCal’ed Life: Good Morning from San Diego!

We are loving it here in sunny San Diego! After spending a few rainy days in Washington State and the weekend in cold little Logan, Utah, it’s nice to be in a place of palm trees. Sunday after the morning session of General Conference, Aaron and I drove straight from Logan to Draper to say a quick hello to my parents and switch out our rain jackets for swimming suits & sandals. We nibbled on some left over Olive Garden (have you tried the Steak Gorgonzola?! It’s delectable) then off we went. Sunday night we boarded at the Virgin River Hotel & Casino which was actually nicer than where we stayed at for our first year anniversary — haha! We’re cheap. Monday morning began bright and early with our remaining excursion to California. Our original plan was Las Vegas but it didn’t take much flirting for me to convince Aaron to spend six more long hours in the car to come to…yes, SEA WORLD!! But before I get to that, we are huge fans of airbnb, anyone else? We use it on all of our trips and we are staying in thee coolest spot! It’s like our own little oasis here in

“This Is The Place I Was Telling You About!”

HOW IS EVERYONE?! Oh, I have missed this — sitting down at my computer with a bowl full of snacks (today it’s carrots & club crackers) and having so much to say but lately, I’ve had exactly zero time to say it. The good news, though, and the update about us is: WE SURVIVED THE INTERNSHIP! For those who are just tuning in and haven’t read previous posts, my husband has been interning with KPMG, an accounting firm in downtown Salt Lake City, for the last few months. Let me tell ya, it wasn’t something easy but what good comes from easy things? Sure, it was long, exhausting hours for him to work and to be away from home but together we were able to find ways to keep our relationship strong and our love so passionate. I’ve been humbled by him, too. Somehow through all his responsibilities, business trips, and coming home to cold dinners, he was able to find time to nurture me and treasure those precious moments we did spend together — morning prayers & pillow fights while making the bed, to name a few. The last three months have taught us a great deal and