.... 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