Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Best Christmas Music

I'm not going to lie, I started listening to Christmas music a few weeks ago. Zac insists that Christmas shouldn't start until after Thanksgiving, but I disagree. I think that Thanksgiving and Christmas are part of the same long holiday season. We start by soaking in and appreciating the gifts God has given us (Thanksgiving) and then we turn around and share that love with all of those around us (Christmas). So really, part of celebrating Thanksgiving is celebrating Christmas. So there is no reason I shouldn't have started listening to Christmas music when I did. Right?

But I get it, the music can get repetitive and annoying after listening to the same ten songs for a month. BUT THAT'S WHY I DON'T LISTEN TO THE SAME TEN SONGS.

I usually use Pandora when it comes to listening to the radio. I get way better music and much more control over what type of music I'm listening to. So if you really want a nice blend of holiday music this year, you really need to just log in to Pandora and make sure you add these 5 stations. Each will give you something unique so you won't have to suffer from boring blah Christmas music once this year.

1. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! - Michael Buble

I'm a goner when it comes to Michel Buble, so it's  no surprise that this is my favorite Pandora station. It has a great mix of more jazzy stations.

2. Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Holiday)

This is what I listen to when I want to remember and worship during the season. The MOTAB has some of the most glorious holiday music I've ever heard. I could listen to this station forever.

3. Mindy Gledhill (Holiday)

Last year, one of my favorite artists, Mindy Gledhill released a holiday album. I loved it. I listened to it almost every day while I was at work and I am still loving it this year. I like that her sound is different. This station is full of more indie/fold holiday music. It is simple. It is genuine.

4. Lindsey Stirling (Holiday)

Lindsey is another one that is not afraid to go out on a limb and make the music her own. She is a violinist, so you will very rarely hear singing on this station. Just pure beautiful instruments. Watch this video if you haven't seen it yet. You will be left with a sense of humility and awe.

5. the Disney Holiday Station

Ok so this station will drive Zac nuts. Full disclosure there. But it is perfect for kids. The chipmunks singing still cracks me up no matter how old I get and well it's Dinsey, so it belongs here on this list. Side note - this is a sponsored station so there are no annoying commercials if you are using the free Pandora.

Okay, well I am thinking you are a trooper if you read this whole post. Thank you for stopping by! Are there any stations or Holiday music that fills your heart this time of year? If so tell me! I want to hear about them!

Merry Christmas! and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you are truly enjoying whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Time I Spoke at Chruch

Yesterday I had the privilege to speak at church. I chose to share a part of my heart and part of my personal story. I was scared to share such a raw part of me, a part of me that I don't always like to share with the world, but I felt like it was right. I was glad that my church hommies loved this part of me too.  I'm going to share here as well for anyone who is interested (Hi Dad) I hope you are having a fabulous week. 


Good morning everyone.  It really is a treat  to  be here with you today.  Thanksgiving week is a special week for me.  I love kicking off the holiday season by taking time to appreciate how wonderfully the Lord has blessed me.  I’m starting to know a few of you  but for those we haven't met yet my name is Suzzie.  My husband is Zac and our little girl is Zoe.  We moved here a few months ago and have been so grateful for the love and support we've been welcomed with.  

Last week while I was out in the halls with Zoe,  I noticed a beautiful painting.  I don't know about you,  but usually I walk right past the pictures in church buildings.  I rarely take the time to appreciate them.  To soak in the beauty of the story the painting is telling,  the meaning behind the strokes of paint.  In the hallway outside is a painting of Christ healing a man near the pools of Bethseda.

We read the story in St. John 5: 2-9, 16-17 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

I love this moment in Christ’s ministry. He healed many many people. But this one especially touches my heart. There are many sick in the area around the pool, in fact I’ve been told that it was pretty competitive to be the first one in the waters. Hey I would want  to be the first one too. And here is this man. Sick. Sick for a long time. Too sick to help himself. But he has come as far as he can on his own and it is not enough. All this man can do can never ever be enough to be healed.

Let’s detour from our story for a minute. I forgot to mention something about this week of Thanksgiving. One of my very favorite Sundays was this day, the Sunday before Thanksgiving several years ago.  I was sitting in church, in the pews just like you are now when something strange happened. Sacrament meeting started as usual, announcemnts, prayer, song sacrament. All the normal things. But with one thing missing. There was nobody sitting up on the stand, you know on this side where the speakers sit. And over on the other side, the bishop was looking increasingly uncomfortable. Even a little green if I do say so myself.

After the sacrament was given. The bishop stood up. Came to the podium. Looked to the right, looked to the left. and said - today we have no speakers. There was a long pause as everyone looked at each other - what happens now was running through all of our minds. But then the bishop continued “so instead of listening to me or anyone else come up with something off the top of our heads, let’s have a thankimony meeting where we all can share what we’re grateful for this season.’  And then proceeded the most amazing sacrament meeting I’ve ever been in.

This was a student ward. I think anyone would have expected to hear I am grateful for my family and for my friends and for a roof over my head. Which we did hear a lot of and are important things to be grateful for. But not one of the thankimonies left out some version of this phrase “I am grateful for how the Lord has healed me. How he has comforted me in my challenges this year. How he has changed me.”

And I sat there in the pews as person after person got up and told of how the Lord had changed their life. And I started to cry. Because frankly it was a little unusual for me to be in the pews at church. I had been back at church for maybe a month or two after years of staying away. For in my youth I had thought to myself “I don’t belong here. I am too broken, I am too lost. This is not the place for me” Before I understood clearly the message of Christ, church was a painful reminder of all the things I wasn’t. All the things I thought I could never be and never have. Ut reminded me of how sick I was.

And I sat that Sunday of the Thankimonies and I listened to how Christ had healed so many of my new friends. And I was glad that I had come to sit by the pools of healing and to hear of all the many miracles Christ had performed for these people that were quickly finding a place in my heart.

This was the day that something miraculous changed. It was the day I learned that it was BECAUSE I felt broken, wounded and sick that I belonged at church, not inspite of those things. I wasn’t here because I was already perfect, but because I could never be perfect. There were things in my life that no matter how hard I wanted to change, I would never be able to change on my own. It was there that I learned that it was enough to be like the man in that painting outside and  come to the waters of healing as I was - hurt, unsure, confused. Over the next few months as I learned and studied of Christ - I learned that Christ can heal. That he does heal us in very real and substantial ways. I felt God’s love surround me, uphold me and then change me.

A few years ago President Uchdorf told a story about a statue in Germany he said “ A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.””

One thing that I have been incredibly grateful for in my life is the people within the church who truly know that they are part of the body of Christ. I am grateful for the students around me when I was younger who opened the door for me to come to Christ. As I have learned more of him, I have been grateful for the examples of love who have reached out and lifted me and I have been equally grateful for those who have let me lift them. It is in my opinion impossible to do one without the other.

Coming here to Portland, where we have next to no family and hardly know a soul was terrifying. But I have quickly been reminded that there are people here who are actively ready to lift those around them. I am grateful to my neighbor who understands that it can be lonely coming to a new place and will take a break from her busy day to go for a walk with me. I am grateful for those who know that service may be a smile, but it also may be picking up a box and physically carrying another's burden. I am grateful for the community here that has clearly been inspired and led by Christ’s love. I am grateful for those who are part of the body of Christ.

Satan will give us many reasons why we don’t belong. Why we aren’t good enough to be here. Why we can’t come to the place of healing and actually be healed. Why we should spend one more day disheartened, depressed and alone.

There is a lady I much respect that said "I don't care if you smoke, drink, abuse substances, are unchaste, wear pants to church, hate relief society, don't sustain church leaders, don't have a testimony, have a weak testimony, wear tank tops, don't know if you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, have had an abortion, don't love your husband, don't like being a mother, think women should have the priesthood, are LGBT, don't know if you believe in God, don't relate to Jesus Christ, don't want to go to the temple, wonder about polygamy--you belong here. You belong here. We need you and you need us."

Let me say that again. We need you and you need us. I need you and you need me. It is that simple. We lift each other. We open doors to each other. We lead each other to Christ who is the ultimate healer of every malady sadness and distress.  As I have been reflecting this  Holiday season on what I am most grateful for it is these two things: first the Love of Christ that has entered my heart and healed my soul and  changed everything about my life, second, the people that have led me to him and continue to keep me here.  WIthout these two things, my life would be completely incomplete.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dreaming New Dreams

A year from now where will you be? 

I remember last year thinking and day dreaming about holding my little baby in my arms.  Rocking her to sleep,  all those sweet moments only a baby makes so special (although I never day dreamed about the late nights,  but those aren't so bad either.)  I dreamed about staying at home.  Cleaning more - really our apartment was getting dusty and I just didn't have the time to keep up while working full time and growing a baby and doing all the other fun things I was going about doing.  And you know,  it's a great feeling to have accomplished my dream.  I love my life.  And I am proud of how hard both Zac and I have worked to get where we are now. It is a really great feeling to spend a few minutes in quiet reflection about my life and appreciate that I am living my dream. Every day I get to live my dream. I am so blessed. 

And it all started with just that, a dream, a hope, a plan. 

It's great to be right where I want to be.  But at the same time, if I don't move forward I know I will slip and slide backwards to a place where maybe I don't want to be. So now it's time to set some new goals.  

A year from now,  it will be a Wednesday morning,  the second Wednesday of November to be exact.  Zoe will be 16 months old.  Life will be different.  Here are some things that I would like to have going on then.  

I want to wake up I  the morning to my husband getting ready to go to an incredibly rewarding job.  I want to make a smoothie and chat before Zoe wakes up.  When I hear her stirring,  I want to go to her room (not ours where she currently stays - which I do love for the moment)  and welcome her to the day with a big smile.  Hopefully we will have a fun day planned.  Maybe a mom and me swim lesson or dance class or book time at the library like we did today.  Followed by lunch with a good friend, because right now I have very few people close enough to have lunch with.  While were out,  the cleaners will come to do a thorough clean of the house, sweep, mop, vacuum.  All the stuff I really hate doing but hate not having done even more.  Maybe we we will run some errands and pick up our groceries for the week. Instead of buying what is cheapest, we will pay a little extra for organic veggies and happy meet.  

Then dad will come home and we will meet him at the door with a smile.  This is the best part of the day,  every day.  We'll spend the night playing and laughing.  Maybe we will plan one of our Saturday outings,  because those Saturdays when we have the entire day to explore and play are cherished around here.

When I go to bed I will be tired from the full day I had,  but my eyes will be shining and my heart full.  

Honestly,  it's not too different then today.

Where do you see yourself in a year? 

Our family on one of our favorite Saturday adventures.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Zoe 4 Months

Dear Zoe,
Mom usually writes these, but you've been keeping her so busy that she hasn't had the time. So your daddy gets to write to you this month! I don't get to spend as much time with you as mom does because I am working hard so mom can stay home and take good care of you. I love it when you come and visit me at work - it just brightens my day. My favorite part of the day is coming home to see your cute smiling face (or even your sad face).

We are have been getting settled in the new apartment and exploring our new city. You really like being in the beautiful outdoors. You've been fascinated with all the green trees and plants that you observe from the comfort of mommy's wrap. You've been to the top of Multnomah falls, the Pacific coast, deep in Forest park, and seen the majestic Mt. Hood. You don't mind the car rides as long as you can see mom in the back seat with you (except for that time when mom and dad didn't bring enough diapers and you had to sit in a messy one for too long... we are hoping you don't remember that).

You are becoming quite the social baby. You are meeting lots of other babies and aren't scared to have other people hold you. Everyone comments how well-behaved and alert you are. You seem to enjoy the weekly visits to the library to have book time with the other babies and moms. Although you are more interested in sucking on the books right now, mom sure does love getting out of the apartment and visiting with other moms!

You are starting to teeth now; it's not very fun for you (or mom and dad). When your mouth is hurting, mom and dad put lavender oil on your jaw and that makes you feel better for a while. It can be hard for you to sleep at night, but if you are snuggled up next to mom you usually sleep really well. But just think - soon you will be able to use those teeth to chew real food! Right now you are just eyeing the yummy looking food that mom and dad eat. You try and reach out for it, but we won't let you eat it yet. In fact, you are reaching out and grabbing everything in sight. Mom's hair seems to be your favorite thing to grab on to. And girl, do you have a strong grip!

I love being your dad and can't wait to see all the new things you will learn to do this month!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burrito

I did a little healthy recipe exchange with some of my friends this week and I have so many new recipes to try. I was sad that I hadn't typed this one up yet though because it has made its way on our menu almost every week the last month and it would have been a great one to share. I've been making an effort to eat cleaner and also eat less meat and this makes that goal seriously easy.

Have you ever heard it said that you should it lots of vegetables and the more vibrant the color the more nutrition they pack? I love that both red peppers and sweet potatoes fit that description. 

Burrito Filling 
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 T olive oil
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili pepper
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper

black beans


1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/2 in chunks. Wash and cut the red pepper into 1/2 chunks as well.
2. Toss all the burrito filling ingredients, except the black beans, together until the sweet potatoes and pepper are well coated.
3. Bake at 450 for 15-20 min. They should be soft but not mushy.
4. Add a can of cooked black beans.
5. Wrap your toppings in your tortillas and enjoy!

Ps if you blend 1 avocado with a handful of cilantro and 1/2 cup salsa, it makes a great sauce and an excellent salad dressing.

We never have leftover of this and always have tummies that are full from overeating.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Zoe at 3 month

Zoe Zoe Zoe.  3 whole months.  A quarter of a year old.  I honestly have no idea how much you weigh or how tall you are because we haven't gone to the doctors yet.  You are growing taller every day and your thighs have the most adorable rolls on them.  But you would still be counted as a tall and skinny baby.

The  defining event of this month was a move,  from Provo, Utah to Beaverton, Oregon.  We spent two full days I  the car,  and you know what, you did great! You usually hate the car so we did everything we could to make sure that you were calm and happy before the trip started.  It's always much easier to accomplish something difficult if you start with a clear unstressed body and a happy heart.  This was a huge group effort because it took days to pack and clean and the house was pure madness and chaos, and you are sensitive to change.  But between mom, dad, grandma A and grandma E, you remained constantly in loving arms that could help you adjust as our home was boxed up.  We couldn't have had such a great start in this new home without all the loving support we received.  I hope you never doubt if you are loved. If you ever wonder, just look around at all the people willing to do so much for you and you will find that you are surrounded by it.  

This month you've started smiling so big it spreads across your whole face. But I can't get a picture of it because you get distracted the moment you see a camera or phone. You love being an airplane and when I make you dance.  You even giggle sometimes.  It's a very special treat to hear you laugh.  

You are healthy and happy.  Someone said you are the happiest baby they've ever seen and you know,  I have to agree with them.  

I'm  so glad to be your momma sweetheart.  I love you more every day.  Can't wait to see what this month has in store for us!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

the Socialist Pancake Party

Breakfast for the win. Yep, labor day weekend started off with breakfast for dinner party. mmm. pancakes, and more importantly, bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. When you're pregnant, everyone reminds you that you are eating for two. For some reason that logic stops after you have a baby and you literally are eating for two. But not when it comes to bacon. I most definitely ate enough bacon for both me and Zoe.

And this wasn't just any breakfast party. Zac and I joined the creators of the Socialist, a web series premiering NEXT month. And from the sneak previews I've seen so far, it's going to be as good as eating an entire plate of bacon. 

I love seeing people invest their time, talent and money into something they are passionate about. Olivia (the mind behind this project), her husband and the rest of her cast have really done that with this webs series. Next month they are hosting a red carpet, black tie event for the premiere of the first 6 episodes. And trust me, I've seen Olivia's wedding pictures and she knows how to host a black tie event. Why did I not know you before you were married? And WHY oh WHY am I moving RIGHT BEFORE this next gala takes place? 

Seriously though, if you are any where near Provo, spend the $30 and get your tickets now. Not only will it be a night of fun, but you can forever and always take credit for being one of the first to know and support this show.