i'm so excited.  tonight i get set apart as a full-time servant of the Lord to go preach His gospel in China.  Hong Kong, to be exact.  i couldn't be more thrilled!

please check my mission blog for updates:  sistershayleekwilcox.blogspot.com

LOVE YOU ALL!  thank you for your continued love, support, and prayers in my behalf.

and now starts my adventure!



i forgot what a joy primary is.  i remember being in primary and being so excited to get candy, or play hangman when the lesson ended, or sing the songs really loud, or give a talk, or hide our scriptures in the bushes outside the window {haha, we really did that.... oops}, or prepare an object lesson that one of my teachers asked us to prepare.  primary was fun.  i got to substitute a class today!  lemme tell ya, it was awesome.

i went into the classroom of 10 year olds, and said, "hey guys! i'm your teacher today!"

responses: "oh cool" "who are you?" "sweet!"

so i said, "do you guys know who i am?"

class: "no.."

me:  "do you know who jaren wilcox is?"

one little girl: "he's my brother's friend! how do you know him??!"

i started laughing. "he's my brother!"

man, it was funny.

and then we went into sharing time.  i haven't been in sharing time since i was in primary.  it was so fun and nostalgic and cute.  the kids in primary have the sweetest little spirits.  their innocence and joy and love for life is so special and cute.  but something hit me today that has never, ever, ever crossed my mind before.

in sharing time, the majority of the teachers were men.  now, the world would have us think that men are supposed to be rough & tough.  NOT sensitive.  rub some dirt in it, stick it to the man, strong, fierce, prideful.  but these men of the Lord?  i watched them tousle little boys' heads and high-five little girls and whisper the answers to them and watch over their little children with such love and humility. but what got me the most was when they started singing.  these men -- grown men, with jobs and degrees and families and experience -- were singing primary songs about jesus and birthdays and sunshine and happiness.

my heart melted. 

the gospel changes us.  it makes us better.  it is so beautiful. 



yes, yes that's right folks.  this week, I ATE SUSHI FOR THE FIRST TIME.  it was erin and aubrey's birthdays this week so i trekked down to Provo and all my girls and i went out for sushi!  i was actually pleasantly surprised to find out that i liked most of it a lot!

the one covered in raw fish / fish eggs. 

if that's not the grossest thing you've ever heard of or seen in your life, i don't know what is.  the fish eggs reminded me of the one time i've been fishing with my grandpa and the fish that i caught laid eggs all over the boat.   DIS GUST ING.

buuuut, i mean, i guess i should get used to it. i'm sure they eat raw stuff in Hong Kong!

there it is... the one on the left... nooo thank youuuu.

not sure why this is so blurry...
jaydynn, ashley, julia, aubrey, melina, me, and erin.  SUSHI YA! 



story 1.  heber valley does this thing every year called piano festival.  aka, the worst weekend of the year.

{just kidding, mom!}

okay, so it's not the worst weekend of the year.  i will admit piano festival has helped me to become the confident pianist i am today.  however, it's way super stressful and we're always glad when it's over.  like, parker does heel clicks out of the building and we all scream and shout and cheer, "woo hoo! it's OVER!"

so anyway, tonight we were at the awards ceremony and it began with an opening prayer.  i didn't think a thing of it until after the prayer when someone nudged me and said, "we are so mormon."  i laughed and agreed, "yeah."

but then as i sat there, i sort of felt ashamed of myself.  yes, we are so mormon.  AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT?! 

story 2.  last night, i was at a bachelorette party for one of my friends from high school.  {and just as an aside, it is the most bizarre thing that almost everyone i know is getting married off or leaving on a mission.  it just seems like we're all so old.  what happened to trick-or-treating and stake dances and eating lunch on the linoleum floor of the high school commons?} at one point during the party, we were talking about how people that decide they're going on a mission should start acting like it.  they are now full time representatives of Jesus Christ and His church.  we have a high standard to uphold, a high bar to reach.

as a "mormon" and a member of Jesus Christ's church, i am going to do my best to be proud of who i am.  yes, we are so mormon, we are representing Jesus Christ, we pray before public community meetings in this small little town of mine, and you know what?

we happen to be extremely blessed.  people would kill to be where we are, doing what we do.

let's decide to live it, and love it.  

oh yeah, and here's a pic of the bachelorette party for your viewing pleasure.



.... wait. let me back up and preface this little story with this:  i have been babysitting so much lately.  this week alone, i have been gone from like 8 in the morning until at least 9 or 10 at night.  it's been pretty nuts.  i now know why moms of little kids yearn for adult conversation every once in a while.  i feel like i talk baby talk all the time.  sometimes i catch myself and laugh.  it's been fun being able to "practice" being a mom.  i really love these kids that i spend hours with. but back to the story.

so.  tonight,

i was babysitting.  {shocker.}  i had put the kidlets in bed and was watching american idol while straightening up the disaster of a playroom.  all of a sudden i hear, "miss shayleeeee!!"  {maddie calls me "miss shaylee."  cutest thing ever.}  so i go upstairs to her room and poke my head in the door.

"what, maddie girl?"

"um, my finger started hurting."

i looked at it.  no blood, no scrapes, no nothing.  i kissed it and said, "does it feel better now?"  maddie smiled at me.  "yep!"  i shook my head at her and said, "okay maddie, time to go to sleep now, okay?"

"okay.  goodnight! see you in the morning!"

"goodnight maddie. see you in the morning."

"yeah! see you in the morning too!"  this is a direct quote. haha sooo stinkin' cute.

and i go back downstairs.

literally 30 seconds later: "miss shayleeeee!!!"  i ignored it.  "miss shayleeee!!!"  trudge back up the stairs.  poke my head in the door.  this time, it's that the light is too bright in the hallway.  i turn it off, say, "maddie, you really need to go to sleep, okay?" and after another round of kisses and hugs and 'goodnights', i'm headed back down the stairs.

this happened about 12 more times.

after i finally convinced her to go to sleep {or she got too tired to keep coming up with excuses}, i had some time by myself to just sit and think.  and lemme tell ya...

i love this part of what i'm doing right now.  

i love kids and their sweet spirits, their innocence, their laughter, their tight hugs, their messy kisses, their freedom.  they are absolutely precious.  Heavenly Father knew what He wanted me to do these months before my mission.  i can say wholeheartedly that i am in love with my life right now.

God is in charge.  i can either wish for time to go by faster and miss what's right in front of me, or i can embrace the beauty in every day, every hour, every minute.  i can either be frustrated that maddie wants me to go upstairs 15 times after i've tucked her in, or i can be grateful that she trusts me, that i'm there for her, and that her sweet spirit can affect me and the way i think.

yes.  yes he is.  and how grateful i am! 



the day of love consisted for me of:

  • making homemade valentines for everyone in my family
  • getting a box of my favorite cereal from my mom 
  • babysitting little ones and helping them make v-day crafts
  • costa vida with my fave girls
  • taking a birthday pic to send to morgie poo for her birthday! 
  • going to see safe haven
  • actually getting a rose from the movie theater!! fun! 

"10 ways to love: listen, speak, give, pray, answer, share, enjoy, trust, forgive, promise." 
-will smith



lately - as in, the past week or so - my life has been, it seems, a series of little moments that i want to capture forever.  perhaps it's a series of tender mercies the Lord is giving me right before i embark on my great adventure.

i can't say i take credit for finding this great quote, but i can say that i absolutely fell in love with it the moment i heard it.

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees
takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. 
          -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

i was fighting tears. this poem fits exactly how i've been feeling about the past few weeks.

when my dad was called to be the stake president, i sat on a pew with my grandma, grandpa, and little cousin.  the three oldest on the bench cried our eyes out.  i sat there, bursting with pride and loyalty and humility and love for my daddy.  as the tears were squeezing out of my eyes and rolling down my face and sliding onto my shirt, i happened to notice my cousin looking at us.  first at my grandma.  then at me.  then at my grandpa.  he seemed a little confused as to why we were all crying.  my heart seemed to expand in less than a second.  all of a sudden, i felt so much LOVE i didn't even know if i could stand it.  i wanted to take my little cousin by the shoulders and say, "this is what love feels like. that's why we're crying."  it was a precious moment, one that was "crammed with heaven."

another time, when i knocked on the door to babysit the little girl that i've grown to love, i saw her peeking out the glass of the window by the door.  when she saw it was me, her whole face scrunched up with the biggest smile.  there went my heart -- expanding yet again.  later that day, when i went to answer the calls that meant her nap was over, she smiled again and reached for me like she trusted me.  i know she's not my own child, but spending all day {for many days} with this little one has made her dear to me.  and these sweet moments alone with her are becoming special to me.

when my family sits down to read scriptures and ends up laughing till we're all holding our sides.  when one of my best friends leaves for the MTC and we say goodbye, but know it's not really goodbye.  when i get a letter from another one of my best friends and it makes me laugh and joyfully recall so many good memories.  when my cousin gives his farewell talk in church and makes us all cry.  and then after that we gather, young and old, to eat together -- a loud, crazy, chaotic party that makes my insides feel fuzzy because of how much i love it.  quiet time by myself in the temple, where i feel so much peace and love and the confusion of everyday life seems to melt away.

these little things in my life, these "common bushes", are afire with God.  it seems that my sweetest moments of late have been in the most commonplace things.  instead of thinking, "here we go, another calling, my dad's going to be even busier!" or "here goes another day of babysitting -- poopy diapers and whiny baby, here i come" or "yet another of my cousins is leaving on a mission", i have noticed the beauty in the little things.  just as Moses did when he noticed a common bush on fire.  i'm quoting again here, but a wise woman says it much better than i could:

He rewarded Moses for turning aside, seeking out the miracle.  We will also be rewarded for seeking out the miracles.... We can train our eyes to see the "bush afire with God" -- to notice the things that could not be, without the influence of the Lord.


GUYS. I'M 20.

weird!  i have now lived for 2 decades.  my birthday was awesome.  i'm so grateful for the many, many wonderful people i have in my life.  i feel spoiled, blessed, and extremely humbled by everyone i know and love.

if you're reading this, i love you.  thank you for making my birthday {and my life} the best :)

birthday pic with the bro



since being home, my life seems to be moving in slow motion. it seems like every day is saturday. lemme just say,

limbo. is. driving. me. INSANE. 

i want to go to the MTC NOW.

i've been thinking about how hard it's going to be.  saying goodbye to my friends and family for 18 months is going to be the hardest part.  yesterday i got my hair cut and we were talking about how hard that part of a mission is.  why don't they just make it so you can talk to your family?  why can't i just call up my mom and tell her how my day tracting went?  that would make it so much more bearable for me!

and then janelle, cutting my hair, made a comment that i had never before considered.

"you can't talk to your parents or your siblings or your friends or anyone else because the Lord simply wants to give you the experience of total sacrifice." 

i had never thought about it that way. but of course that's it!  anything worth doing in life is hard.  incredibly so!  if i were just going to hong kong to spread the gospel and still had comforts of home -- cell phone, computer, talking privileges to my family and friends -- then i don't think it would mean the same to me.  i am not going just because i feel duty bound to do so.  i am not going on a mission because everyone else is.  i am not going on a mission because i feel that others want me to go.

i am going to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to show the Lord what i am giving up for HIM.

2 months and counting! .... :)

by the way, ^ this guy is the new stake president!
he is going to be SO great.



today i put on my favorite jeans and a hoodie and, after working for a few hours, spent the day snuggled up, writing letters, listening to music, and being grateful that i don't have to go outside in this -18 degree weather. {nothing worse than being outside when your boogers freeze, your legs don't want to work, and you can't even breathe. ugh!}

winter is NOT my favorite. at all.  cold, cold, go away!



mina and i -- reunited once more!! <3

i went down to provo on saturday night to see my friends who are all back from the break.  i expected everything to feel the same, and it did... and at the same time it didn't.  i mean, with my friends, it felt exactly the same.  seeing melina and rob and jewels and brey and amby and kevin and erin and jen and tanner and tom and mike and dennis and brandt.... i could go on.  but that part was the same.  it felt soo good to see them again.  but my apartment no longer felt like my apartment.  i guess that was to be expected but i didn't expect to feel that way.  it was sad feeling like a stranger in what used to be the most familiar place to me.  my ward - who i love to bits and pieces - felt a little more like "home."  but i still felt as though i no longer belonged there.

i guess that's because i don't.

odd how we travel down paths with different people/experiences during our lifetimes, isn't it?  it's not that we have different lives.  my elementary school life and high school life and heber life and provo life and byu life are all the same life.  they're all just different paths that interconnect and make up who i am.  but the friends that i've made on these different paths are different, too.  some are the same and i know they'll stay the same for a long time to come.  but others have fallen away as i've continued to move forward in my life and pursue different experiences.

as i continue to grow and learn, i've realized that's what life is.  people fall in and out of our lives at different points, and that's how it's supposed to be.  sometimes -- might i venture to say most times? -- it's painfully hard.  we become attached to people we care a lot about, and it's never easy to say goodbye.

i'm not looking forward to the many, many goodbyes that are waiting on the horizon of my future.  but i am looking forward to the beginning of a new path.  and as i look back on the many paths i've traveled so far, i feel extraordinarily blessed.  each path has allowed me the chance to meet wonderful people, do amazing things, and unlocked another piece of who shaylee k really is.

here's to preparing to travel down my new path.  i think i'll start tomorrow.



my best friends and i will be apart for almost 2 whole years.  morg to chile, haley to vegas, me to china, melina to byu and arizona.  i don't know if anyone else knows how hard it is going to be (and already has been) for us to be apart.  a few weeks before morg headed into the MTC, we decided to do something that would keep us all a little closer for the next few years.

the traveling scarf. 

at target trying to decide which scarf to get

we went to target and bought a scarf that we all loved.  and now we're sending it to each other.  {yep, just like in sisterhood of the traveling pants ;) } we have a log that we keep all our adventures in and the things we're learning and how we're growing.  and of course, how much we love and miss each other.

morgan wearing the scarf into the MTC!

me wearing the scarf when the 4 of us went to SLC to see Savior of the World right before morgie left

2 years is a while.  but we're all going to be becoming better people.  and for that, i am so grateful!

bring it on.  with my friends/sisters, the traveling scarf, the Lord... i can beat anything.



two. zero. one. three.

guys, we made it through the end of the world.  woot woot!! 2012 was a crazy year and i feel like my life took a LOT of unexpected turns. i think i've grown up in a lot of ways. let's see...

  • grew a lot closer to my bestest best best friends in the whole world.  seriously, they save me every single day.  i don't know how i got so blessed to have such wonderful friends.  i know i talk about them on my blog all the time, but they truly are wonderful.  it's hard to imagine where i'd be without them! 
  • so of course after growing closer to them, we had to say goodbye.  probably the hardest thing i've ever done was say goodbye to morgan as she left on her mission, chile-bound.  but i think this is a blessing in disguise.  our friendship will grow stronger as we're all apart these next 2 years, and i am excited to see what it brings to us! 
  • i've lost touch with some friends and regained friendships with others. how lucky i feel to have so many people i love. 
  • being able to work at red ledges was so much fun.  i'm so grateful for the people i met there -- michael, chris, chris, will, kacie, abigail... they have blessed my life and i'm grateful for their influence! 
  • third semester of college -- check!  it feels so weird that i won't be going back until january 2015.  i absolutely LOVED my ward this semester and i miss so many of them so much. i met so many wonderful people who i already love with all my heart.
  • mission age changed!!!! the chance to serve a mission {especially in hong kong!} is the biggest blessing of my life.  it scares me, i'll admit that, but i'm so excited to get out there and serve. i know it's what the Lord wants me to do. 
  • being able to go through the temple is by far the best thing 2012 has brought to me.  i love the temple with everything that i am, and i feel extremely humbled that the Lord sees me worthy to be in His house.  i want to go weekly before i leave for hong kong.  
i hope to soak in as much time with my amazing family as i can before i go on my mission.  twenty thirteen will see me fly across the world and immerse myself in a culture and language i know nothing about, but i am excited to see what else the new year will hold! 

happy 2013 to you all! :)