Logan Adventures: Les Miserables (And I’m still alive…barely)!

Wow. I can’t believe that I haven’t posted for almost three weeks! I survived finals week and boy, can I just tell you how stressed I was that I wasn’t going to do well. Thankfully, I did! I got an A in my Storytelling class and a B in my Math 950. Math is something that I’ve always struggled with and I am so grateful that it’s finally starting to “click” with my brain.

Anyway, as a celebration for my good grades, I baked some cookies (they didn’t turn out so great because I may or may not have burnt them. I’m tellin’ ya, my baking skills are not great. I can cook a handful of things but baking . . . oh, my poor future children. They are going to grow up on burnt cookies. Bless their souls) and watched “Saving Mr. Banks” with roommate #2 while we did nails. It was super nice just relaxing after an insane semester.

Then I moved into my new apartment and school started. And the cheery on top: I have phenomena. So, there are no pictures to post of the new roommies or apartment. Once I’m better, we’ll do that. However, I failed at posting about seeing Les Miserables on stage a few weeks ago with Sarah. Here we go!

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We kicked off the night with some homemade pizza that Sarah’s husband Jacob made. It was amazing and I’m pretty I can still taste it as I write this.

 

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Then the time came for us to see the incredible production of Les Miserables! And boy, was it amazing (though I must say the gal who played Fantine was a little weak compared the rest of the cast)! I really loved the opening scene and if I could I would’ve recorded the entire musical.

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And of course, we just had to take pictures of our beautiful faces!

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Very beautiful, right?!

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All in all, it was a great little adventure in Logan. We loved it! Five out of five stars!
xo
SamAugust 057

“Lord, Give Me Mountains To Climb.”

President Eyring gave a talk a few years ago called, “Mountains to Climb.” It’s always been one of my favorite talks and it was one that I frequently shared on my mission (you can watch it at the bottom of this post!). Anyway, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the trials that I’ve been given as of late.

As most of you know, I came home six months early from medical reasons. Unfortunately, those reasons have yet to be solved. I keep getting phenomena or bronchitis and for some reason, I can’t get over it. Many doctors have called me a “medical mystery” and have told me that there isn’t anything that they can do. But I’d beg to differ. There is always something that can be done.

I went to the doctor’s SEVEN times last year because I had phenomena. This year, I’ve gone three. Three years ago, I went twice. Year before that three times. So on and so forth. You get the picture. It hasn’t been easy and believe me when I say that I’ve gone insane just sitting around watching Netflix. But the one thing that has been consistent is the Lord’s hand in this whole thing.

I’m glad that He gives me those mountains to climb so I can become more like Him. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to learn and grow from the hard moments. But most of all, I’m grateful that I’m given so many chances to come closer to Him each day. That’s what makes climbing the mountain worth-while.

xo
Sam

His Plan A

Samantha:

Throw back Thursday to when I wrote this a little while ago.

Originally posted on Destination Sunshine:

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This is the week that I would be returning home from my mission. In fact, it would be this Thursday that I would be walking off the plan and seeing my family for the first time in 18 months. But seven months ago, I came home early. My health wasn’t going to allow me to stay and finish the last part of my mission and it was devastating for me.  I loved being a missionary. I loved sharing my testimony of the Savior every single day. It was the best thing that I have ever done in my life.

For the past seven months, I’ve wondered a lot about why I had to come home. Why couldn’t I have just gotten over the bronchitis/phenomena and regained my health back? Why couldn’t the doctor’s find out why I kept getting sick? Why, why, why? All I wanted was answers. Seven months…

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Lesson #2: Always Be Kind

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There is a hymn that is seldom sung at church called “All Creatures of Our God and King.” It’s one of my favorite songs. The first stanza says, “All creatures of our God and King/Lift up your voices and with us sing/Alleluia, alleluia . . .” Every time I hear this song, I always think of Shurleah. Shurleah loves animals. She has a beautiful garden and at the time she had nine cats plus all of the birds and strays that came and visited. It wasn’t something that I understood but looking back, now I understand why she loved them so much.

One day, Sister M and I left Shurleah’s house. It was just another wonderful visit that we had with her. The typical visit went something like this:

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Shurleah: “Who is it?”

Me/Sister M: “Shurleah, it’s us–the Sisters.”

Shurleah: “Oh, okay. Come in Sisters!”

Us: “Good morning, Shurleah! How are you?”

Shurleah would then tell us about her day or something that one of her cats did or something like that. She LOVED her cats.  Sister, Penny, Snow, Buttons, Tigger, Bebop, plus three more whose names slip my mind at the moment…were the cat names. They were all adorable. They loved Shurleah; and Shurleah loved them.

I’ve always been a cat person. Expect until my mission. The dandruff made me sneeze and my eyes really itchy. And sometimes my asthma would flare up but I learned to just deal with it because I desperately wanted to see Shurleah.

Anyway, one day Shurleah told us the story of how she found her cats. Most of them were strays that she had taken in and were pretty beat up when she found them.

Me: “Shurleah, why did you take them in?”

Shurleah: “Because they needed a good home and needed to be loved. Everyone needs to be loved, feel kindness towards them, and be cared for. Jesus created them and He loves each of us. So, I have to love them because Jesus does.”

Shurleah continued on for a few minutes about how much she loves the Savior. As she spoke, I thought about how true her words were. Jesus loves all of us–including the cats, bugs, dogs, and other creatures that He created. So, how could I not be kind to them? How could I not love them? The Savior taught to love everyone and to treat them kindly too. He taught us that kindness begins with one person. Kindness spreads fast. Kindness is something that every person and thing needs. The Savior shows every single one of us kindness on a daily basis. So, how could I not show kindness to those nine cats that drove my allergies up the wazoo? How could I not show kindness to everyone around me?

Missed a lesson from Shurleah? Click HERE to read them.

xo
Sam
P.S.
Lesson #3: Fitness is Important will be posted shortly!

Finals Week Blues

Dear Readers,
Have you ever felt like a zombie during finals week? I have and at this moment I am a zombie. Hair frizzy. Glasses on. Basketball shorts. And yes, I showered. It’s an accomplishment, I know. And as I sit here and write this I have come to the happy realization that I have one more final, one test correction, and two assignments (that I can do if I absolutely want to). I seriously could sing because of how happy this makes me. Finals week is something that I’ve never enjoyed. So, naturally, I’m procrastinating like a good student does . . .

[Thank you Pinterest for all of the pictures!]

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. . . I should probably get back to studying now.

Until next time!
xo
Sam

His Plan A

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This is the week that I would be returning home from my mission. In fact, it would be this Thursday that I would be walking off the plan and seeing my family for the first time in 18 months. But seven months ago, I came home early. My health wasn’t going to allow me to stay and finish the last part of my mission and it was devastating for me.  I loved being a missionary. I loved sharing my testimony of the Savior every single day. It was the best thing that I have ever done in my life.

For the past seven months, I’ve wondered a lot about why I had to come home. Why couldn’t I have just gotten over the bronchitis/phenomena and regained my health back? Why couldn’t the doctor’s find out why I kept getting sick? Why, why, why? All I wanted was answers. Seven months later, I’ve found them.

Coming home early one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It was so incredibly hard. I felt like a failure. I felt like I hadn’t fulfilled my purpose as a missionary 100%. I felt like I was being deprived from the best part of my mission. I felt judged. And I really questioned if my reasons for coming home early were the “right” reasons.

90% of my reasoning for coming home early was from my health. I entered into the MTC with a cold that turned into bronchitis then phenomena. I was sick with it on and off from January to the beginning of June. Then August rolled around. I got sick . . . again. I was sick until March. It sucked. I hated it. And I hated that I had zero energy all of the time. 10% was because of things that were happening with my family. As time went by, I got my health back and it became very clear to me that I wasn’t going to be returning to Maryland.

I remember the day I called my mission president to tell him I wasn’t coming back. I called four times, each time hanging up before it rang. I wanted to go back. I wanted to finish the last six months. Finally, I dialed his number one last time and told him what was going on. I  cried. He reassured me and said, “Most of life is ‘Plan B’ and Sister Brand, you returned home with honor. You were a stellar missionary. You served the Lord to the best of your ability and that’s all He asks of any of us.” Though his words were sincere and true, I still struggled with coming home early.

I questioned my faith in Heavenly Father and I even questioned my testimony a little bit. Satan really worked on me. He helped me doubt myself and my faith. He encouraged the thoughts of failure. He helped me believe that I wasn’t a good missionary, and that I really hadn’t done everything that I was supposed to do. Needless to say, I was struggling. Then out of nowhere I was spiritually speed slapped.

I came across a scripture that I love very much and would share with everyone. It’s in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 4:20 which reads, “My God hath been my support; he hath led me though mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.”  I realized in that moment that my afflictions were part of God’s plan for me. I realized that He had always been there. He had given me so many blessings since I had returned home, one of them being my health was finally restored. He had placed people in my path that I was able to share my testimony with and help them turn to Him. He had given me opportunities to be a missionary without wearing my name tag. He had blessed me in so many different ways that I hadn’t even realized.

Looking back, I’m still seeing so many blessings and the real reason why I came home early. It’s been a hard road but it’s helped me put so much more faith and trust in Him. Today, there is no question in my mind if there is hope in God’s plan because I know that there is. He knows what is best for each of us. He loves every single one of us. He wants to help us in every way possible. There is always hope in His light. There is always hope that He will make things work. It may take patience, waiting, faith, and some bad days but He will always show us His ‘Plan A’ when we’re ready.

xo
Sam

Logan Adventures: About Time Antique Mall

This morning, Sarah and I started on our Logan adventures! We had a blast. Logan is the cutest town ever. I am falling in love deeper and deeper the longer I live here. Anyway, before I get all mushy-gushy, let’s talk about this great adventure we had. Sarah, as you may or may not know, is my best friend from high school. We’ve stayed close since we graduated and now that we are both in Logan, we’re determined to have epic Logan adventures. Something that both of us have always really enjoyed are antique shops. There was really cute one back home that we would go to all the time. Thankfully, we found one that is similar to the one back home. It’s called About Time Antique Mall and it’s located off of main street. We had a lot of fun going there! Before we went, we stopped to pick up some drinks. As we were walking down the drink aisle, this happened:

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Sarah spotted her name on the Diet Coke bottle. She pulled it out and then BOOM. There was my name. We just had to take a picture before we got our drinks.

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We’re kinda obsessed with Calypso drinks. They are not healthy whatsoever. Loaded with sugar and all sorts of naughty things that you probably shouldn’t have on a daily basis. But it’s okay. Cheating every once in a while isn’t a bad thing.

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Finally, we arrived at the About Time Antique Mall. Sarah was a little excited. . . . just a little if you couldn’t tell.

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We started outside of the store because there was a TON of stuff that was sitting outside and behind the shop. It was pretty cool.

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When you first walk in, there is a bunch of beautiful jewelry under the class counter which I completely forgot to take a picture of (I may go back to snag a picture). After that, the shop is laid out like a typical antique shop. Most of the antique shop looked like the pictures that are above.It was pretty cool.

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This is the super cool bottle cap car. It was a little pricy but still cool. Oddly enough, I used to collect bottle caps so this really caught my eye.

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There was an incredibly pretty vintage wedding section that I’m pretty sure we spent a solid five minutes just staring at. It was so pretty.

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This is part of the shrine to the lime green dishes. We loved it! Especially Sarah! She has the cutest kitchen with lime green and a bright blue so she was in paradise when we saw this.

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And this would be perfect for her kitchen too! Isn’t it cute?!

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Like any antique store, there are always those weird odds and ends that are just lying around.

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I like me some antlers. How ’bout you?

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And of course, Mickey and Minnie Mouse were all over the shop. These were my favorite ones that we saw.

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At some point, we saw this pillow. I feel like this describes the both of us very well.

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Then there was this creepy glass doll. Classic vintage piece (I actually have a couple of glass dolls sitting in my hope chess at home) that creeps everyone out. We saw a bunch of cups that had faces on them and other dolls but they were too scary to take a picture of.

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At some point in the store, we saw this beautiful elephant. I LOVE elephants. When I was a little girl, I rode one. It was terrifyingly cool. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with them.

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The elephant made me really happy.

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There were a ton of really beautiful jewelry boxes. Most of them played music when you opened a drawer. They were so pretty. I just love jewelry boxes. They make me very happy.

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Hmmm…what is this?

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It’s a full-body suit that sparkles! I think Michael Jackson would be proud.

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We found a lot of pretty Chinese and Japanese things. Sarah’s husband served his mission over there so anytime we see anything like that we have to stop and admire it.

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Sarah’s husband drives a motorized bike. She was pretty excited when she found this helmet because eventually she’s going to get one.

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I swear, every single antique store that I go to always has Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boy books. It’s a classic!

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Sarah and I saw this at the exact same time. HOLY FREAKIN’ TURKEY!!! It was far more terrifying than the glass doll we saw.

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All in all, this was a cute shop. There wasn’t really anything that we just have to have at this antique shop. And we were pretty disappointed that there weren’t a ton of tea cups. They are the cutest things ever! But it was a cool store. Customer service wasn’t all that great. We were greeted towards the end of our tour and she talked to us for about a minute. But other than that, it wasn’t great.

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Our rating: Three out of five stars.

xo
Sam

P.S.
Have you ever been here? Have you gone to an antique shop lately?