Category Archives: Faith

Have Courage & Be KIND

This is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. One of my favorite movie quotes is actually from the 2015 Cinderella movie, as cheesy as that sounds. I love its goodness and its positivity. I love its message in a world of negativity. The world needs more kindness and less debate and division.

We all have different opinions. We all have different beliefs. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings.

Right now it seems like many people have courage, but are leaving kindness by the wayside.

So take a cheesy Disney character’s advice:

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May we have the courage to be kind in spite of our differences.

 

 

 

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Life Has Hit Us: In a Good Way of Course

Eight months or something like that. Eight months since I last posted.

This feels like my journals from when I was 8 years old. I would make a commitment to write in my journal every day with entries such as “we played dodge ball today in P.E. (the rest of the page blank) or “we had art today (the rest of the page blank). I would write for two to three days, and then the next page would say, “it’s been a year again since I wrote, but I’m really going to do it this time. Today we played dodge ball” (the rest of the page blank). I really liked dodge ball apparently.

Well, I make no commitment to write every day at this point. Not even every week. Not even every month. But I will tell you what the Plants have been doing the last while.

We’ve been on an adventure called The First Year as Parents: Mixed with Teaching, Away Rotations, and Lots of Driving To See Each Other.

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There has been The Office, books, and family to keep me company; for Parker, medical school interviews, which means lots of flying and a new hospital every four weeks.  He is loving Pediatrics! Meanwhile, Elsie is loving her teachers at daycare and is growing at what seems like lightning speed.

There have been diapers and baby food and learning to crawl and first words (more like sounds), and right now, she is pulling up and I’d wager walking within a month.

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She loves bath time and swinging. She swung for an hour on Election day, even starting to nod off once she was sleepy. So stinking cute!

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Last night she exerted her independent streak already by only eating on the condition she be allowed to feed herself.  When I would bring the spoon of pumpkin (trying to be festive here…), she would clamp her mouth tight and furrow her brow. “Yogurt bites or bust, thank you very much.”

This reads like a Christmas card or letter, but no matter. I wanted to write (for catharsis) and say we’re here! Trucking along. Both of us are counting down to Christmas because for one, who doesn’t love Christmas? And two, life will normalize a little and we can go back to living in the same spot, taking out one of the crazy variables.

I am so grateful for family and for the opportunities God blesses us with. Sometimes when life seems this hectic, we have to take it one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, simplifying as best we can and prioritizing what matters most.  God has been taking care of us. The last few months have shown us that we really are in His hands.  On Instagram, I saw a quote which said, “the Savior has promised angels are on our left and on our right to bear us up, and he always keeps his word” (Eyring). That has definitely been true for us. We have had living angels and probably others helping us along.

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Just two weeks until Thanksgiving! “Just keep swimming.”

XoXo,

The Plants

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Introducing: Elsie Karen Plant

In full disclosure, I should tell you that the point of this blog post is to have a picture overload of Elsie Karen Plant, who graced the world on January 20, 2016.  Now in generations gone by, you were lucky to have a few baby photos.  Take Elsie’s grandpa for example.  I only know of a handful of pictures from his childhood.  That’s not because his mother didn’t love him, but because the accessibility of constant pictures wasn’t quite there.  Some could even argue that my generation (I’m 29) had less pictures, though I’m not a good example to support this since my mom has tons of pictures of my siblings and I. BUT! Back to the point.  Our daughter is a week old today, and we have so many pictures of her.  I should probably count them to prove my point and maybe I should have saved the deleted ones (which are few), but alas, why spend my time doing that when I can just show you!

Ready for the grand debut? Great! So is she!

Meet Elsie, born at 12:02 on January 20, 2016.

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12:02 pm… 1/20/2016… 8 LBS 12 Ounces… 21 1/2 Inches Long

 

Elsie was really comfortable in the womb, considering she came a week late and had to be pushed out with the help of medicine to induce me.  Parker and I went to the hospital on Tuesday night, expecting a long delivery process since we had heard that many women who are induced take a long time to actually progress through labor.

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However, once the medicine took, Elsie must have decided to come quickly, though she protested throughout the contractions by still kicking my right ribs.

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Even though this is a potentially awkward photo, look how excited Parker is!

Elsie stole our hearts from the beginning.  She met Mom and Dad, who both thought, “who does she look like??” Everyone who meets her says she looks like Dad.  I kept thinking and still am thinking, “how did something her size come out of me?” The miracle of life is an enigma to me.  How can something so “large” grow for nine months inside of me? And how did they get her precious and long body out of me? Everyone who has asked me how she is has received the same answer: “she is a perfect angel.”  IMG_2018

Now that she’s been here for a week, she is a perfect angel who cries sometimes.

She met many family members and some friends including Grammy Patty, Pop Pop Johnson, Uncle Joe, Aunt Harvey and Uncle Charles, and Grandma Harwood!

We stayed with Elsie in the hospital for two days and loved getting to know her.  She seemed like such a good baby! She learned slowly how to nurse, she slept well, she enjoyed skin to skin time.  It was a little haven I won’t forget, much like the day Parker and I got married.  In the moment it was a blur, but in retrospect, I see how many special memories and moments began right there.

Take a peek into some of those memories.

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Her first outfit, which she successfully peed through in her first night of life. 🙂

 

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We’re in love with her faces!
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This newborn-sized outfit will fit her for about another minute. Now that she’s almost up to birth weight a week later, her smallest outfits won’t fit her for long.  Good thing we didn’t buy much in the newborn size.  Something told us she wouldn’t be small for long. 🙂

Eventually, it was time to brave the snow storm and take our snow baby home.  The doctors and nurses were trying to get us to check out the day before so that we could get home.  I looked at Parker though, who is from the snowy land of Utah, and asked, “you can get us home right?” He of course said yes.  (Note: I’m not trying to minimize the risks of driving in inclement weather; we don’t live far from the hospital.) As new parents, we wanted to have as much time with the professional advice for the practical things that come up with caring for a newborn; it was nice to have nurses around to answer my endless questions.

I didn’t want to leave however until we had our first family picture taken.  It took a few tries.  The ones with her in the purple outfit crack me up.  Just chillin’.

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We did make it home safely, thankfully.  She made the trek from car seat to crib.  You can’t get cuter than this!

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When you can’t find a baby sign to put on the door, find a birthday sign and cut off “day.” Way to be flexible Grammy!

During week one at home, my camera kept going!

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She had her first sponge baths.  Grandma Karen is a baby bath whisperer; I am so glad she showed me her bath tricks because they work wonders at keeping Elsie calm during what could be a squalling session, as it is with the evil diaper and clothes changes.
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Don’t you just want to kiss that little face?

She looks like an angel when she sleeps.

When she is awake, we’re trying to figure out what she likes; it’s not for long, but sometimes she’s hard to settle.  Something about not being able to talk makes communication trickier (and remember that my experience is with teenagers, not infants). But, we’re learning her cues. Hopefully. 🙂

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We love to snuggle her; this is usually her favorite spot.

Elsie had her one week appointment at the doctors on 1/27/16.  And no, though she doesn’t have clothes on in the car seat picture, she did have clothes on in route.  We just had to change her diaper and get her ready to be weighed and measured. Of course five minutes after being changed and one minute after being weighed, she wet her diaper again.  Go Elsie!

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I was trying to get some of these faces while we were waiting.  She had some funny ones!

Overall, even in just a little over a week, our lives have taken a turn.  Adjustments are being made and this little girl is the center of the universe, obviously because she is our first child and we are brand new at figuring this out.  In Babywise, my baby Bible -just kidding about the bible part- the authors say something like you know your life has changed when you spend a lot of time talking about “what’s going in” and “what’s going out.” How true that is.  Also, I know my life has changed since I can’t stop taking pictures and am fighting the urge to over-post them.

 

One of my favorite things from our week with Elsie is the further testament of God’s existence and love for His children.  When I look at her and hold her, she is proof of His creative powers.  There is no way that it could be some grand co-incidence in how her life came to be.  Her little spirit entered a body that didn’t not happen by chance.  I know some may disagree with my beliefs, but when I hold her, I feel nearer to God and feel His blessings and presence in my life, in my family, and in our little girl’s countenance.

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In a children’s church hymn “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” it says “He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings/ He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sounds of things/ He gave me my mind, my life, my heart/ I thank Him reverently/ Of all His creations of which I’m apart/ Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.” How true those words are and how much they mean when we look at Elsie.

 

He gave her to us to nurture, guide, and protect, and we can only hope to live up to the task.

With excitement and nervousness,

Sarah and Parker 🙂

Gospel or Bust: an Easter Invitation

300162_10100159693095729_1751293000_nWhen I was in high school, I distinctly remember making a decision about faith. And that decision was: GOSPEL or BUST.

I hope that doesn’t sound irreverent, but it’s truly how I felt. In the world, there are so many opinions out there about what makes people happy and what will help them have a happy life.  I think we all want to be happy.

I had been raised to believe in God and in His way of life.  I had been raised to believe that God’s commandments bring happiness, not restriction.

There comes a point in most people’s lives where they question what they have been taught.  For most of us, that happens during high school, when we come in contact with people from many walks of life and with all those different opinions that I mentioned.  That’s when the drug talks from D.A.R.E. programs get real, really fast.  That’s when all of a sudden, talks about remaining sexually pure before marriage get real too.

I remember specifically asking myself, “what if I’m wrong?” What if everything I believed turned out to be not that important in the long run.  There would be no way to know until I’d already lived long enough to see what type of fruition those ideas might bring or not bring, if I was wrong.

So…

I took it on faith.  I made a conscious decision to gamble on it.  For me, I decided it was “GOSPEL or BUST.”  If I was wrong, it would still be a great life free of addictions and harsher young heartache.  So when people accuse me or other people of faith, specifically Mormons, of not asking questions, I really am frustrated by their assumptions.  I specifically asked questions and sought answers.  I still do that.  I made the decision, and I still own it and love it.

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egg-100165_640I put all my eggs in this basket (not my Easter eggs), and the blessings have been great, which brings me to my invitation this Easter. Each April, there is a conference in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) that is broadcast to all the world. During this conference, there are messages given on all types of spiritual significance for our days, topics such as faith, family, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the importance of Baptism, and so much more.  They are given by modern day prophets who are in tune with the world’s needs, our spiritual needs.  I love that this Easter Sunday, I will be listening to the teachings of Jesus Christ, from the scriptures and from His modern leaders, the apostles and prophets.

This Easter, I invite you to join us in watching a session of this conference by clicking the link below.  It will be live streaming through any internet connection in almost any language.

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Watch it live HERE on Saturday (4/4) and Sunday (4/5) at 12:00 and 4:00 Eastern time.

To get a taste for the type of messages you might hear in conference, please see these Mormon Message videos.

Parker and I love learning, not just of medicine and history, but also of things for our spiritual souls.  I call it our spiritual medicine.  However you spend your Easter, I hope that you can feel close to the spiritual significance of the day, the day that we celebrate the Savior’s Resurrection, His victory over death.  It was a miraculous, monumental moment in the history of the world.  And because of it, we can hope for a life after death, together with our families.

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Happy Easter!

Love,

Sarah and Parker

Remembering Someone- “The Dash”

Parker’s grandfather passed away last Sunday, March 22.  He was a wonderful man, whose influence will be felt by those who loved him for years to come, even for eternity.  His traditions and teachings will continue in our homes forever.

Parker's grandfather and hero.
Parker’s grandfather and hero.

Last Christmas, he and his wife gave us a book titled The Dash, which is based on the poem “The Dash.” I can’t re-post it here out of respect for the author and the poem’s copyright, but please pause for a minute and go read the poem HERE.

You’ve read it? Okay, let’s go on.

I love this poem for many reasons, one of which is the power of grammar.  People brush punctuation off, as if it doesn’t communicate anything.  In fact, I bet some people are rolling their eyes right now, but give me a minute.

The dash is crucial. 1986date of death? 1933-2015. How is that dash in between birth and death not important? It’s the middle. It’s the in-between life and physical death. It’s the childhood and birthdays.  Adolescence and adulthood. It’s marriage and a first home.  It’s middle age and arthritis.  It’s retirement and grandchildren.  It’s family vacations and hard work.  It’s laughter and tears, good times and hard times too.

So much happens in the middle.  That dash, that simple dash, is the way you spend your life.  That poem has me asking:

“how will I spend my dash?” 

What will be my middle? What will be my contribution on this earth? 

Parker’s grandfather spent his dash so well.  I only knew him for a few years, but these things I do know-

  • He had a strong testimony of Jesus Christ.
  • He taught my brother-in-law about hard work.
  • He taught my husband to go to church and to have faith.
  • He taught my mother-in-law to carry on.
  • He taught my sister-in-law about love.
  • He taught me to welcome new members of the family.
  • He gathered his family around for the most important moments in life and ultimately in death as well.
  • His family looked up to him more than anyone I have ever known.

I wish I could have known him longer, but my prayers are with my husband and his family tonight, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks, as they put their patriarch to rest.  Goodbye for now, until they meet again.  

I am grateful for this Easter season.  For the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.  I am grateful for the knowledge that this life is not the end of our relationships and that families can be together forever.  

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Take a Break: I Took My Own Advice

It has been a while.  I took my own advice and had to simply slow down.  I was feeling very overwhelmed by life with both its beauties and stresses. I found myself trying to balance work, home, church, and writing; all combined it is sometimes too many balls juggling at once.  I don’t have children yet, so I can only imagine what an adventure that will be.  However, this week, we had multiple blessings and I want to share some of the things we were able to enjoy because we slowed down.  Just a little bit.

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The daffodils have come! My heart, like William Wordsworth, really does “dance with the daffodils,” especially the first time I see them in spring.  It seems like they appear overnight. Hope springs ahead. Daylight savings means there’s more time to enjoy the sunlight after work and school. And we all know that we can use the Vitamin D. Parker and I really believe it affects us.
I don't know how it happened. (Wink Wink!) I was walking in the library with my students and this book just jumped right into my hands!  Get a new read!
I don’t know how it happened. (Wink Wink!) I was walking in the library with my students and this book just jumped right into my hands! Get a new read! I’d been meaning to read this one for a long time.  Also see Fed Up! I had Book Club this week too, which is such a great time! Nothing like a group of southern women laughing about great reads. 
Went to a baby shower.  There were actually two that I needed to attend, but could only attend the one in the morning because I needed to take a practice test to prepare for a PRAXIS test this upcoming Saturday.  That's right! He's not the only one who studies!
Went to a baby shower. There were actually two that I needed to attend, but could only attend the one in the morning because I needed to take a practice test to prepare for a PRAXIS test this upcoming Saturday. That’s right! He’s not the only one who studies!
We also went on a date this week with some friends both from Parker's school and my work.  Laura goes to school with Parker and Austin and I work together.
We also went on a date this week with some friends both from Parker’s school and my work. Laura goes to school with Parker and Austin and I work together.
So fun playing a large Kerplunk game!
So fun playing a large Kerplunk game!
And shuffleboard.  Turns out I'm not very good at it.  It's the same problem with tennis.  I don't know my own strength.  The puck goes flying off the end!
And shuffleboard. Turns out I’m not very good at it. It’s the same problem with tennis. I don’t know my own strength. The puck goes flying off the end!

It was nice just to take a night off from the normal routine.  I also have to add that on Friday night, some friends ding-dong ditched us in the best way.  They left a bag of candy, popcorn, and a movie for us to enjoy!  God’s looking out for us.  Or at least, He’s sending his angels in the form of friends to lift us when we’re overloaded.  There are so many people that the Lord puts in your life to take care of you when you need it. Sometimes they are close by, ready to literally ring your doorbell or go on a walk.  Sometimes they are far and you simply Facetime.  Sometimes your best friend above is watching it all.  I should really say that He’s watching all the time.  Look for His hand and tender mercies in your life. Hope you can find a way to take a break for yourselves this week! Love, S & P

I Believe in Being SINGLE First

I believe in marriage and that’s what this post was supposed to be about, and this is how it started originally:

“I want to speak to multiple audiences.  Those who are happily married, those who feel unhappily married, and those who aren’t married.  I’ve been in two of those positions at least and I’ve witnessed the third.  Here’s me in my single days.”


But… when I got to my “single days,” I couldn’t stop looking through the pictures that I wanted to share.  There are so many moments that were an integral part of developing into who I am today, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t have the marriage that I have today if I hadn’t had those experiences.  I had a blast and I grew up so much!  (Sing it with me: “Now I…had…the time of my life…).  And so… the topic of my post has changed. “I Believe in Marriage” will have to wait for another day because

I Believe in Being Single First.

I’m going to photo-blast you with the building blocks of the young adult years, also known as The Decade of Decisions, that shaped me.  Look for the captions because they fill in the gaps.

This girl started her college years as a dork.  Definite Harry Potter nerd.  She didn't know how to fix her hair or buy a shirt that wasn't a T-shirt.
This girl started her college years as a straight-up dork. Definite Harry Potter nerd. She didn’t know how to fix her hair or buy a shirt that wasn’t a T-shirt.
She loved adventures and was all about travel, which continued throughout those years.  By the way, this is in the early days of selfies, and it was taken with a real camera, not a phone! (gasp!)
She loved adventures and was all about travel, which continued throughout those years. By the way, this is in the early days of selfies, and it was taken with a real camera, not a phone! (gasp!)
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She attended football games, though she didn’t know the rules. It was a social event at that point.  Yes, she was one of those.
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She would go home in the summers to work, save up, and see old friends.
She would also spend time with her family at Christmas and in the summer.
To see her parents.
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and siblings.
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Back at school, this was the life! 
She did a study abroad in Spain while in college.  Best college advice ever. It's the same living expenses and tuition. No other time can you get the same bang for your buck.
She did a study abroad in Spain while in college. Best college advice ever. It’s the same living expenses and tuition. No other time can you get the same bang for your buck or learn to be brave and daring and unafraid to make mistakes.  Learning a new language is hard! You definitely get outside of your comfort zone.
And stay friends with those people.  They're the ones who will go try international cuisines with you. (And they'll like them!)
And she stayed friends with those people. They’re the ones who would go try international cuisines with her. (And they liked them!)
She served a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salta, Argentina mission.
She served a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salta, Argentina mission.
During that time, she asked herself how she could be so blessed in her life?
During that time, she asked herself how she could be so blessed in her life with so many opportunities.
College, work, a mission, and an untold future? She was feeling overwhelmed by the love of God, both for her and for the people she served and got to know.
College, work, a mission, and an untold future? So many people have blessings, but she was getting to “do it all.” She was feeling overwhelmed by the love of God, both for her and for the people she served and got to know.

But as many young women, coming into their own, she did sometimes struggle, especially once she graduated school and began working without knowing the future. This is what she learned.

She was stronger than she thought. (She got to be an EFY counselor out in Nauvoo.  So fun!)
You are stronger than you think. (She got to be an EFY counselor out in Nauvoo. So fun!)
Exercise is AWESOME!
Exercise is AWESOME!
It feels so good!
It feels so good!
I Believe in Marriage & in Being SINGLE First
Adventure and vacations are a must!
The best things in life are those things and those people who build you up.
The best things in life are those things and those people who build you up.
Don't compare yourself to others.  (She's in a bathing suit and she just put that picture online. 10 years ago, that never would have happened.)
Don’t compare yourself to others. (She’s in a bathing suit and she just put that picture online. 10 years ago, that never would have happened.)
Embrace your inner-nerd. We're all nerdy in our own way.  Plus! The funniest sitcom characters are the nerds. Big Bang Theory?
Embrace your inner-nerd. We’re all nerdy in our own way.  Plus! The funniest sitcom characters are the nerds. Big Bang Theory?
She was capable of independence and self reliance.
You are capable of independence and self-reliance.
...which coincidentally or NOT, is exactly what her husband was looking for.
…which coincidentally, or NOT, is exactly what her husband was looking for.

Okay! Switching back to first person!

When one by one, my friends started getting married, I learned that independence and self-reliance even more, which has really paid off.  By the way, you can play I-SPY in these photos.  Find me! (There were plenty more I could have added too.)

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Being married to a medical school student requires a lot of independence, so it’s a good thing I started working on it early!

She got her first teaching job.  This is a group of fellow teaching majors at one of our college reunion dinner dates.  We all taught English throughout Utah.  Some of us even attended conferences together.
I got my first teaching job. This is a group of fellow teaching majors at one of our college reunion dinner dates. We all taught English throughout Utah. Some of us even attended conferences together.  I was Ms. Johnson at the time.
Made even more friends.
I made new friends.
I Believe in Being Married, But Being Single First
And more!
And I took vacations.
And I took vacations.
The Harry Potter nerd part never died, but seven years later, the hair improved.  Don't bother telling me if you disagree.  ;)
The Harry Potter nerd part never died, but seven years later, the hair improved. Don’t bother telling me if you disagree. 😉

Now I understand that we all have different paths in life and we probably have them for a reason, but I needed those times before I got married. There’s a cheesy song that I love from the musical Wicked that says “we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them, and we help them in return.”  Those lyrics are true of not just the people in our lives, but in our paths as well.

I needed to step forward through a tunnel, not knowing what lay ahead all by myself so that I could develop the faith to keep stepping forward.  I needed that, and my faith did grow.

Margaret Nadauld said, “The world has enough [men and] women who are tough; we need [men and] women who are tender. There are enough [of us] who are coarse; we need [men and] women who are kind. There are enough [men and] women who are rude; we need [men and] women who are refined. We have enough [men and] women of fame and fortune; we need more [men and] women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”  Those are the types of characteristics, I was working on in that phase of my life and that I continue to work on.

Kristen M. Oaks, who married at 53, received a blessing where she was told,  “if you cannot bear the difficulties and challenges of single life, you will never be able to bear the difficulties and challenges of married life.”  I believe that was true in my case as well, and I loved hearing it when I did.  She called herself the poster child for Single Adults.

While most of the above pictures are of the moments that uplifted me, I also had challenges and disappointments.  Funnily enough, I don’t have pictures of them. We as human beings of the Social Media age don’t typically take pictures of the inner worries and fears or setbacks.  But Oaks is right.  The resilience I learned while not in a relationship, has been such a blessing in my marriage today.

And so, though I am happily married a decade after that young adult adventure began in 2005 and though I believe in marriage, I believe in being SINGLE first, even in a community where many people marry younger.  I wouldn’t trade those formative years. I would have missed out on some of the pieces that I personally needed to be ready for life’s next big adventures: marriage, medical school, teaching in the South, having kids, and so on. And aside from helping me grow in my faith, man, it was fun!

God does have a path for each of us, and our choices affect that path.  That continues being true and will be true for all my life.

Thanks for joining me on my Throwback Photo-jam! I hope you are enjoying your own ride!  This One’s for the Girls.  (Stay tuned for Part Two next week: I Believe in Marriage.)

Besos!

Sarah

Though I believe in marriage, I believe in being SINGLE first.  Those are the formative years that helped me become who I am today.

*Note: this post was not intended as a brag-fest, simply a statement of gratitude for the lessons learned.