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Friday, February 28, 2014

project: USED

The last day of December, the counselor and I were taking down the Christmas tree.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we had the doors open.  The kids were helping, running in and out, stopping to help package ornaments and commenting on the lovely days of Christmas. 

Quite literally, it was a perfect day.

I think I had cooked something with butter and sugar; maybe a peach cobbler or peanut butter oatmeal cookies.  I love when the counselor’s home; we eat, love, embrace, share.
The kids had all run out to the trampoline and the counselor and I took a moment to steal a kiss.  His eyes sparkled.  Do you know how many times I’ve been lost in those eyes?  Like the stars, too many to count.  We started tearing down the artificial tree; talking, teasing, just feeling happy and I watched as he dragged the tree out the back door to the garage.  Something came over me and I felt so happy.  Right there at that moment, I contemplated the sheer beauty of my life.  I wondered how did I get here?  Was this a dream? Then, something happened that I can’t quite explain but I’ll try to do my best.

In my mind, the 41 year-old me and the 25 year-old I once was started a conversation.  I don’t know how it’s possible, but I literally felt the girl I once was walk into the room.

25 year-old self: “Wow!  Laura, you’re living an amazing life!  You did good.”
41 year-old self:  “I can’t believe it.  If only I’d known back then everything was going to turn out, think of how differently I might have lived.”
25 year-old self: “You did the best you could.”

41 year-old self:   “I would have been better, especially to myself.  I would’ve believed in myself.”

This is where the situation turned ugly as the emotions of that 25 year-old girl entered into my conscious.  The sheer happiness I had felt only a moment earlier was gone.  Now, I was feeling extreme loneliness, anxiety and insecurity. 

25 years of age was a difficult time of my life, a time I’m not very fond of revisiting.  My life was great on the outside.  I was a returned missionary and full-time college student.  I loved my nanny job and was competing in marathons any chance I had.   But inside, I was running from an ugly past. 

At 25, I was on my own and needed to rely on myself more then ever, but things were catching up with me and it was a juggling act about to crumble. 

How had I forgotten those years and that time?  I live such a sheltered like now, had that girl really been me?  It couldn’t have been as bad as I was feeling it at that moment, but then I remembered.  I remembered through emotion the horror of trying to find a safe place in this world.  At 25, I was alone. I had kept too many secrets thinking the things that had happened to me weren’t a big deal.  Bad things happen to everyone.  I was strong enough to handle it, but I was drowning.  So much of my life was good, I tried to focus on my blessings, but the memories of abuse haunted me.  And, because I was so vulnerable I was unable to fight off new predators. 

I turned to see if the counselor was walking back from the garage.  I needed him.  I was desperate to run away from the feelings running through my blood.  Why was this happening?

This experience probably lasted less than a minute when a word came into my mind like a flashing neon sigh:

I was USED and with the emotions of my past running through me, that's what I felt like.  USED.  Why would anyone what me?  What was I doing here?  I didn't deserve this beautiful life and the reality of it stung.  
That's when a spirit of calm came over my body, like water drowning out a fire.  It’s a feeling I immediately recognized because it’s rescued me so many times before.  It was the spirit of God, calming my heart and bringing me out of the experience.  The emotions lifted and I felt safe again.  I looked around and could hear the children on the trampoline.  The 25 year-old visitor was gone.  She was gone.  

In my mind, I immediately asked why?  Why did I need to remember the awful place I was before I met the counselor? I had turned 25 a few months before he came into my life.  He was my hero, he was why I had survived and again, the word USED – like typeset on a computer screen came into my mine.

Used:  secondhand; that which has endured use

In a flash, I realized what was happening.  I knew what I had to do.  I needed to remember.  Ideas came into my mind and I could barely keep up with the inspiration.  Please watch the below video.  It’s time I reach out to those who are struggling.  It’s what I’ve wanted to do all along, it’s just now I’ve found the strength because I remembered.  Thank you, God, for letting me remember the feelings, even for a fleeting moment.

I know the video doesn't fit in this blog layout, so link up to youtube by clicking: project: USED

Here are the details for the next project: USED.  
When:  Saturday, March 1st 
Time:  3:00 to 6:00
Where:   Alex Baird Photography - Epiphany Studio
Address:  1761 w. University Dr., suite 145 Tempe, AZ
Contact: or
Like us on facebook by clicking:  project: USED

  1. If you are under 18 years old, please have a parent sign the waiver (click here to print it off) and bring it to the session.
  2. If you own a used dress, you are welcome to bring it; however, there will be plenty of used/vintage dresses to choose from at the event. I try to purchase dresses in a variety of sizes.   
  3. You can go barefoot or wear funky shoes.  It’s your call.
  4. Our goal is to help you feel as beautiful as possible.  Come as beautiful as you’d like with make-up and hair done.
  5. There is a large shared women's dressing room and one bathroom on sight.
  6. You may be nervous, but this event is fun.  We all come together to help others.

I am working with some amazing people on this project. Please come.  We will have another project: USED in April 2014.  I've been collecting used dresses to share.  If you participate, a used dress is my gift to you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dressers and Hawaiian Prayers

Fixing up other people's trash was my round-trip ticket to the Island of paradise.  
At first, I even thought this dresser was hopeless and I have a high tolerance for trashy furniture, but that was  before I introduced it to my sander.

I peeled away the Barbie and Scooby-Doo stickers.  I sanded the sticky cough syrup out of the drawers.  A little Tiffany Blue paint and some butterfly fixtures made it fabulous!


I also painted this beauty.  The turquoise blue knobs make this dresser a knock-out!

While in Hawaii, I had several special ah-ha moments, but I'd like to share one most meaningful.  

Although we experienced several days of rainy weather, we were able to do almost everything we wanted too.  

Most of the rain was more a mist and provided plenty of shade (no sunburns to report).  

My goal was to get in the ocean everyday.  Unfortunately, I missed a day, but for the most part, my mermaid appetite for ocean adventure was filled.  During almost every ocean swim, we would see turtles; sometimes one, sometimes several.  In addition, Chandler and I were always on the lookout for whales, but not just while we were in the ocean.  We drove to the North shore several times and since the drive is mostly coastal, we stayed on the lookout for whales.  

We stopped at  the scenic Stairway to Heaven, a giant ladder/staircase taking you up this glorious mountain.
From what I understand, it's not open to the public because people have fallen.

We saw China man's Hat.  

We stopped at Bubbie's ice cream shop. Yep, that pretty much sums up my philosophy of life.  

We saw all sorts of street signs we had a difficult time pronouncing.   

I teased the counselor, telling him I found this amazing dresser on craigslist-honolulu for $50.  "If I could just ship it home," I joked.  Actually, this dresser is sitting in the lobby of the Marriot Ko Olina resort and is probably worth thousands of dollars.  

We stopped at Pipeline, home of the Volcom surfing contest.

And not to forget our wonderful time at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

On every adventure when we could, we kept our eyes on the waves of the beautiful ocean, hoping for some sort of whale sighting.  Our hope was not just for whales, but throughout the week because of the gray skies, we also hoped for an Hawaii sunset.  On our last day there, we hadn't seen either.  I prayed our last day for a sunset to remember and God, in all his glory, painted the most beautiful sunset for us to share. 

The light seemed to kiss everyone and everything. 

After some photos of the sunset, Chandler came to me, hopeful yet realistic that we hadn't spotted any whales.  I told him I'd prayed for a sunset on our last day.  "Why don't you pray that we'll spot a whale," I suggested, reminding him God hear's even little prayers.  So, Chandler walked off into the distance and I watched as he bowed his head in prayer.  Then, with great faith he looked back out at sea.

I don't know if I've ever been more proud of him.  
It took about two minutes.  

"Mom, did you see that," Chandler said, ecstatic as a big spout of water shot up into the air.  Then, another and we watched as two whales rounded up, swimming just past the  beach.  A moment later and they spouted water again.  For several minutes we watched as they swam into the sunset.

I am most thankful how God teaches my son he can turn to Him; anytime, anywhere and that's how God answered our Hawaiian prayer - with kisses of sunlight and towering sprays of water.

Linking up to:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Udderly Sweet Vintage Boutique This Weekend

Hope you can make it out to see us this weekend!  There will be Food Vendors, a petting zoo and lots of vintage finds! 
 Here's a sampling of some of the items I'll be bringing...

Organic Lavender Sachets.  Hope to see you there.  Love, Kelly

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Leis, Love and Laie in Hawaii

Yes, I did earn the money for my plane tickets to visit my brother in Hawaii by selling trash; items I found at thrift stores and garage sales.  I hardly slept the week before I left because there was so much to do to get everything in place.  Thank you to family and friends who helped. 

Because the counselor and I have young children and it was financially impossible to take them all with me, he volunteered to stay home.  Yes, the counselor would work all week and hold down the fort while I traveled to exotic places, spent lots of money and ate fresh pineapple.  This decision was followed on my part by lots of homemade cookies, kisses and afternoon phone calls full of “thank you” and “what did I ever do to deserve you.”  The counselor has always been like this:  selfless.

The boys would be in school and I could find afternoon help while the counselor was at work, but there was no way I could leave Eden; my mini-me.  If I left her, I would be worried sick the entire time.  Yet, I knew if I brought Eden I would need some help too.  So, my decision to bring my oldest and youngest child was made.  It was definitely the best decision.  My middle boys were so sweet and understanding about it.  Here are their responses when I told them about my idea:

Payson – “That’s ok, Mom.  I don’t want to go Hawaii anyway because I trying to earn perfect attendance at school.”  Sweet, Payson.
Mayer –  (while crying) “I’m just going to miss Chandler so much.  He’s my favorite brother.”  I didn’t know that.  Chandler was really touched by this.
Reef – “Is Dad taking me to monster trucks?”

Alrighty, then.  They were going to be fine.

I’ve told my middle boys as they get older, I look forward to planning a trip with them too.

The flight there was perfect, as the pilot, who was a 25-year veteran was flying his last flight before retirement.  My brother, Matt, and his wife met us with flowered leis. 

Once we arrived at Matt’s place in Ko Olina we immediately put on our swimsuits and ran down to the beach.  Matt's wife, Monique took us to all four lagoons in the area.
We saw turtles and the water felt wonderful.  
Eden poising yoga-style.  Eden's swimsuit was a gift from my sister Becky.

The next morning, I took the kids out on one of many walks and we would go down to the lagoons.  
I marveled that this was my son.
We had our required daily Hawaiian food; I swear shaved ice is a prerequisite if you're visiting.    

But, the best day by far was Sunday when we were all together.
Drinking a coconut.
Dancing roadside- tiki style and looking for bananas in the trees.

This family is so precious and fun.  Everyday is a celebration. They "coo" like love birds.

We walked into an enchanted forest; imagine Lord of the Rings meets Princess Bride's swamp forest.
It's hard to describe how big this tree was, so I'll let Chandler show you.
That's how Hawaii was to me; larger than life, pinch me because I think I'm dreaming and is this for real type of experience.  It was like "Wow, that looks just like Hawaii!" only to realize I was in Hawaii.
We walked down the path and found a beautiful quaint cove with no one around.  Imagine walking out of the jungle onto a white sandy beach.  I ran right into the water and when I looked back onto the beach, my brother had written my name in the sand.
Matthew is such a gift in my life.  He knows my heart and celebrates.

Eden was singing while running into the water with me.  She couldn't get enough.

Later that day, we drove to Laie and visited the Mormon temple.

I didn't realize being on the grounds of the temple was going to be such an emotional experience for me. I cried and cried and could barely keep myself together.
Why was I crying the entire time I was there?
Temples are very specials to members of the Mormon church.  It is here we are married or sealed for time and all eternity.  Through God's love and the power of the priesthood, families can be together forever.  I was missing the counselor and my other children, but I was also feeling the love I have for them and gratitude for all my many blessings.

We drove around towards the north shore,but it was closed due to record breaking waves.  We watched the ocean hit the rocks like fireworks and explode into the air.

The next day we snorkeled at Hanauma Bay.
Chandler and I took turns playing with Eden on the beach.

Pearl Harbor was also very emotional.  There are no words to express my gratitude to those who serve to protect this country I love.

There is so much more about this trip I'll share next week.  
Linking up to:
Jenny Matlock