Living with Intention

Living with intention doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with conscious, often times small, changes you make to put yourself on a path that leads to a life full of purpose and joy. It’s about continuously reevaluating your life and taking note of what your day consists of…what can you skip tomorrow, what are you grateful you did that day that you feel really benefited you? This 7-Day Challenge – Living with Intent, will help you get started on the path of being more aware of what you are surrounding yourself with, how you are spending your time and making intentional changes if needed to make time for what is most important to you. Lets get started!

beauty in every butterfly

Life is full of beauty, love, and blessings. It is also full of trials, temptations and sorrow. I want you to picture for a minute that you are sitting on a bench (or maybe a comfy chair, whichever you choose) in the middle of your happy place. Maybe that bench is in the middle of a beautiful park, or up on a mountain with no one around. Maybe it is on the beach or overlooking a lake. It is wherever you are happiest.

Mine would be a location like this. Beautiful shot by Mark Leader

Now picture that as you sit there minding your own business a beautiful butterfly comes and lands near you. Do you notice it? You are already surrounded by beauty so maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s there.

Now picture that a bunch of these butterflies come and land by you. You would probably notice them then, right? You would take in their beauty and admire their unique traits. You would watch them interact and fly around noting the added beauty they bring to an already rich scene.

Now lets move your location to a dreary, drab, dead location. Insert picture of the Elephant Graveyard from The Lion King into your mind. If you are sitting there and single butterfly comes and lands near you, are you going to notice it? YES!!! To finally see such beauty in such a dull place you would absolutely notice it. You would be in awe with the colors and grace it shows, enjoying every minute you get to experience such beauty before it flies away.

When life is going well and we are surrounded by beauty and blessings it can begin to be hard to notice the smaller blessings that are in our life. We are so grateful our house is not falling apart and our job is going well, our kids are doing great in school, our cars are not breaking down, the weather is ideal and we are finding all the time to get everything done on our to do list. In such a perfect world though we would often forget to enjoy the little things throughout the day. How grateful we are that the toilet did not over flow today and the car started so easily. How humbled we are that our kids are healthy and striving and you just got that promotion at work. We forget to have gratitude that things went smoothly enough today to check off every item of our to do list for a change.

You see, that’s why we rarely live in our “happy place”. If we lived there all the time, it would no longer be our happy place. When the cold weather has been lingering for 4 months we can’t wait to feel the sun kissing our bare skin, only to have 3 more months pass and find ourselves wondering when the weather will finally cool off so it can actually feel like fall. We have to CHOOSE to look for the blessings in our current circumstances because our circumstances are constantly changing. Thankfully, they are always changing.

Unfortunately, more often then we wish, we have to live in the Elephant Graveyard. Lucky for us, we don’t have to stay there forever. While we are there though, we can look for butterflies and soak up every second with their beauty before they fly away. Maybe your butterfly is a friend showing they care, or a stranger smiling at you. Maybe it is the weather working out in your favor or a moment of gratitude that you have your five senses. Sometimes the only blessing we can see is that God made our days short so they can come to an end, give us a couple hour break, and start over again anew.

At times the butterflies may seem to come few and far in between while other times you seem to be surrounded by them. Occasionally, you may find yourself lucky enough to be removed completely from the Elephant Graveyard and find yourself in your happy place and when you do, don’t forget to continue to look for those butterflies. They never stop coming. They are there in the good and there in the bad. Sometimes there is still only one and a time but it’s there. It’s beauty is the same whether on it’s own or in a group. Do you notice it?

Ritzy Chicken

If you are like us and always have chicken breasts on hand and usually have Ritz (or some sort of buttery cracker) on hand, then this recipe is great for a last minute dinner. I’ve had this recipe since long before the days of printing recipes off of blogs so I have no idea who to credit, it’s just a typed up recipe from my recipe binder.

Ritzy Chicken

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1 stick of butter
6 chicken breasts

1. Crush Ritz crackers. Pour into medium – large bowl (the wider the better)
2. Add cheese to crackers and stir well.
3. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Dip chicken into melted butter, then in cracker mixture and place in baking dish.
4. Drizzle any leftover butter overtop of chicken. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until the chicken juices are clear.
5. Devour.

Parker’s favorite part is always crushing the crackers.
Raw chicken I can actually get excited about because I know what’s coming

Since this is often a meal I have not planned in advanced but throwing together last minute, we mix up what we serve with it depending on what we have on hand. Sometimes is just a side of veggies, sometimes we get to throw a roll in there too and other times we luck out and have the ingredients to make a side of sour cream and chive mashed potatoes. No matter what you serve it with though, this chicken will most likely be a hit with the whole family.

Growth through journaling

Growing up, I often thought of journaling as something we should do for our posterity’s sake. So they would have a record of what life was like for us, how we handled trials and what type of things we looked forward to and found enjoyable. I do think this is an added benefit of journaling, a huge blessing that comes from it, but I no longer hold this as the most significant purpose of journaling.

Brad Wilcox has said, “A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to ‘become’…it is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember, and dream.” You see, a journal is where we can grow. We can reflect on our day, dream of what lays ahead and plan for how to get there. We can reflect on things we are grateful for, contemplate areas of our life that could use some modifying and sort through all the feels we have been bottling up all day (or week).

There are many different types of journals we can have as well. Some may like to keep all their thoughts, dreams, hopes, gratitude and fears in one place while others may choose to have different journals for different purposes. Travel. Gratitude. Planning. Personal. I’m sure you could think of more!

When we are very intentional with our journaling we can create a space where we can truly tap into our spirits, draw closer to our Savior, and grow stronger into who we are meant to be. We can also create a book full of stories, lessons and memories that will help posterity to follow learn from our joys, mistakes, trials and strengths.

Below is some ideas for journals you can start and ideals of what to include in them. You could just write in your book(s) or you may choose to also tape in ticket stubs, pictures, leaves, etc. Have fun with them. Turn them into a mixture of journaling and scrapbooking! I also have on here an “all about me” paper that I think is great to write down in a journal once a year. It helps give you time to reflect on where you are, where you have come from and where you want to be heading but its also lets your posterity see how much you may, or may not, have changed from year to year. It’s also fun to look back on. It’s the adult version of the birthday questions. 🙂

(print friendly version if you’d like!)

Who should keep a journal? EVERYONE! You don’t have to write in it daily. Maybe you take time each Sunday to write about the week, maybe once a month, maybe it’s only once every few months or only right after something big has happened in life…however often it is, it’s better than not at all! Strive for improvement, not perfection.

I personally have chosen to have 1 journal each year and I keep everything in it. Personal notes, spiritual experiences I have had, I journal trips, take notes at church and during my personal scripture study, I tape in pictures of big moments, tape in movie stubs of a movie that I loved so much I saw more than once (this is rare but yes, The Greatest Showman ticket stub is in my journal from that year), I write about things I am struggling with, lessons learned and the goals I am working on.

I also keep a journal for each of our children. I tape in awards, write about accomplishments at school, home and in their various activities, note who their friends are, what they like to play, what their favorites are, why we are proud of them, struggles they are having and I put their answers to their birthday questions all in their journals. When they turn 8 they begin their own journals but I still keep on with mine as well and when they leave the house for college/marriage/work I will give them the journals I have kept so they can see their childhood through my eyes.

We do have a family journal as well and it’s kind of like a calendar/journal. When something big happens (move into a new house, start a new job, have a baby, go to Disneyland etc) we turn the journal to the date and record very simply what happened and include the year. So, as the years have gone by we can see, “Hey we went to Disneyland today and 3 years ago on the same day is when Tyson started his job at Infusionsoft!” It’s fun to see and yet takes so little time.

The most important thing that will come from journaling is seeing an improvement in your attitude on life. Those who regularly take time to reflect on their life will be taking much larger strides to becoming their best version of them and much swifter than someone who is just going through the motions of life. Make an intentional choice to slow down, reflect, meditate, record and grow!

Sweet Redeemer, Rescue Me

I was in 8th grade and I felt SO alone and could not figure out how to pull myself out of such a dark and lonely place. Could I really trust to tell anyone what had happened to me? How I was feeling? How ashamed I was?
I was home alone, cutting an apple for a snack, when I looked at the knife in my hand and I had the thought that I could put an end to all the pain right then and there. I knew immediately I could never go through with it and slid to the floor uncontrollably sobbing. There are no words I have ever been able to find that can describe the feelings of hopelessness that I felt then.
As I sat on the kitchen floor I cried out, “What do I do?!” And the most beautiful experience I have ever had took place right then. I saw my Savior with His arms outstretched and me, as a little girl, running into his arms. NOTHING but pure joy and love filled the room in that moment.
I had just had a flashback of sorts. You see, when I was 6 or 7 I had that dream of me running to the Savior. Him kneeling, arms outstretched, big smile on His face. And I had woken from that dream with the same feelings of love and peace and acceptance. Here I was, 6 or 7 years later with such a vivid remembrance of that dream, like vision returning.
I knew right then, I was not alone. He wasn’t only by my side because He had to be, but because He WANTS TO BE. I could run to Him at any moment, have Him bear always. He would help get me through.
No matter what you are facing, no matter what you have done, no matter what you have experienced…He wants to be near. He wants to help. There is NOTHING that will change that. He also knows who here in Earth can help you through your dark days. Let them in. Let Him guide you and guide them. If they are reaching out, reach back, He may have sent them.


Grieving with pain seeking thy grace

Savior, oh please give me strength

Oh sweet Redeemer, rescue me,

Into thine arms my burdens ease,

cast down my fears, lay down my tears,

bid me to dwell at thy feet

-lyrics from the song Sweet Redeemer by City of Enoch

Ham & Hashbrown Casserole

We still have some leftover ham from Christmas and it’s getting close to it’s lasts days so I figured it was time to make more than just sandwiches with it. Enter a yummy, cheesy, ham and hash brown casserole that is easy to make and will make you feel like a boss making a homemade breakfast for your family. (maybe this is a norm for you, but it certainly is not in our house) . I love using leftovers in a less obvious way so rather than kids feeling like we’re eating ham, AGAIN, I sneak it into dishes like this. Also, this dish is super easy to make the night before and cover in the fridge over night. Then in the morning you can add the topping while your oven heats up and then stick it in to cook while everyone gets ready for the day and by the time they come downstairs dressed you’ll have breakfast ready to serve.

Click the link above for the printable version of the recipe. Continue to scroll to watch me in action, I promise it’s short.

Spray your 9×13 pan. Dump your potatoes, diced ham, bell pepper and cheese into the dish and stir to combine. (note: I am using a foil dish because…well I like as few dishes to clean after as possible but if you are using a glass dish it may not be as deep so you may need to mix the hashbrown mixture in a large bowl before dumping in the casserole dish)

In a separate bowl combine your eggs, water, onion powder, smoke paprika, salt and pepper and beat them real good. Stir in your can of green chiles and then pour over your hashbrown mix.

This is what it looks like after you mix it all together. I realized after I made this that it would be yummy with some crunch added to it. Think funeral potatoes meets breakfast casserole. So, I added a step to the printable version of the recipe. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small mixing bowl, add 2 cups of Cornflakes and mix well, you want to make sure its covered in butter as to prevent burning. Sprinkle on top of your casserole and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes at 375

Here we go…

In 2 separate blessings I have been told I would do work that would touch the lives of many and that if I stayed in touch with the guidance of the Spirit I would be used to influence many in a positive way. I was told I would be given opportunities to celebrate and rejoice with others as a result of the work I was doing. I have pondered over these comments for more hours than I could possibly count. 

About 1 year ago I started receiving these nudges. Little promptings and ideas would come about what I could be doing to make the comments given in those blessings a reality but I continuously pushed those thoughts to the side. “I’m about to have a baby that would be crazy to start now.” or the most common thought, “What do I have to share that would be of worth to anyone?!” or “Having 6 kids is kicking my butt, now is NOT the time to start anything”. But the reality is, I can find time for anything if it’s really important to me but I am just SCARED OUT OF MY MIND of trying something and failing miserably. being a joke, and scariest of all, not making a difference when I feel like I should be and letting Him down in the process. I have started to take baby steps here and there but honestly I still don’t have the full picture of what I am even supposed to be doing here, top that with trying to balance life and again, being terrified of putting myself out there and really starting this new venture and what do you know, a year has passed with nothing concrete. 

Well that all stops here because about a week ago during my personal study, I received another prompting of something I could/should do. My next thought was, “I don’t even know where to start with all of this!!!!” And immediately a very distinct prompting came, 

“Start with being vulnerable. Tell them what you know and what you don’t and go from there.” 

So here it is, friends. This is what I know: I am hoping to use this Instagram account to spread positivity, encouragement and hope. I want to create a community where everyone feels like a friend, and what do we do with our friends? We encourage them, we help give inspiration when we can, we help them out when they are starting a new venture, we share our stories of laughter, we tell them they can have the life they want and help them in anyway we can and we share experiences that help strengthen our testimonies, we make them laugh when they are having a bad day and cry with them when they are having a bad year. 

Here is what I don’t know: how I am going to do all of the above. 🙂 For real though, I’m not sure what all this account will have on it but I do know I won’t be trying to sell anything, and I’m not looking to make anything. I know there will be DIY projects (trust me if I can do the stuff I post, you can too), products that I love (but am not paid for telling you about), quotes that inspire me, recipes I love, accounts that I think are awesome and think you should follow too, articles that have moved me or that I would just love to discuss and maybe even the occasional challenge to spread some cheer or service. 

I’m not an expert in any field, I’m not even crazy good at just about anything 🙂 so I’m not sure why I’m feeling like I need to do this but I’m going to take a leap of faith and see what He has in store for me. I would feel so humbled to have your help. Tag a friend if you feel inspired to do so on any of the posts, make comments and let me know your opinion on articles or quotes or let me know what your family does if I’m sharing something our family does. I want this to be a place where we talk and discuss and share all that we have to share. I sincerely thank everyone who took the time to read this novel and I am so grateful for all the support from those who tag friends and make comments and support me in anyway while I figure out what my purpose is in this.