Be Unbreakable

Today was an interesting day for me. Kind of got me thinking deep about my dreams, goals and current emotions. It has been a wonderful and strenuous last couple of months. I feel like if I needed to describe it in one word it would be: VULNERABILITY. I keep typing and erasing and typing and erasing. What I am feeling is hard to write down but I want to so badly so I can look back on it one day and say, “YES! I DID IT!”

I have recently started my photography business. I have been doing it on my own this last year and am finally getting the ball rolling. I have GONE PUBLIC. SCAAAARY!!!  It is my dream to be a photographer and it has been since I was a little girl. It has not been an easy road to get here but I am happy to say that I have arrived. I am ready for the future and ready to finally start living my dream.

You may think that my experience today has nothing to do with photography. But it did for me. It inspired me and motivated me. Just stay with me okay?……

So today I was sitting in my drawing and composition class. It is a required course for my major, and so far I have enjoyed it. Goodness, I am NOT a fantastic drawer.. if that is even a word. Don’t get me wrong, I love to doodle, but I am no Picasso. The only reasons I registered for the class was because it was required and I thought it would be fun for me and good for my photographers eye.  The class has been pretty intimidating. I am surrounded by LEGIT ARTISTS that mean serious business. No one talks to anyone in that class, there is no lecture and absolutely no interaction whatsoever. I was surprised by this at the first of the semester. I kind of thought the professor was going to teach me how to draw, but nope. haha. He introduces a new project, whether its pencil or charcoal or pastel and etc, and then sets us loose. I watch videos to teach me techniques and then I practice. I am not going to lie I have been pretty proud of myself. As long as I don’t compare myself to my classmates, I leave the class feeling pretty good. In all honesty, I am probably the least experienced/skilled student in the class but I have managed to keep up with everyone else. This is not meant to be arrogant, I am just proud of my hard work. That is the key- hard work.

Well, in my art class we turned in our big drawing pads last week to be graded for midterm. I didn’t think much of it because I had done all of the required projects, showed up for class and had worked hard.  Wasn’t too worried. He then started handing back our grades. I got mine and froze. B. I got a B? But why? I looked down the paper and saw his markings on the required projects, NOT ONE DRAWING got full credit. At this point my face was flushed, my eyes burned and my chest was tight. So basically my professor didn’t think I was good enough for an A? I could hear him in the background praising students for their work and hanging some of them up. But mine? Only B worthy, clearly. I was embarrassed and upset and also maybe a tad bitter.

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This same day in a previous class we had learned about creativity and how it was impossible to fail at. Our creation’s success can not be determined by others, only ourself. But here in my drawing class I felt like I was in fact being graded on that, or maybe my skills, but that was almost worse! This was a beginning class and I was being self taught.  I know I know, a B? Not that big of a deal. Shouldn’t make a fuss about it. But I was fussing. It meant so much more to me then just a silly grade. I was working hard, and I thought I did a good job. How could my teacher determine that my drawings weren’t good enough for an A. They were MY drawings, not his. The whole thing sort of boiled down to the fact that I was being vulnerable, and I wanted my work to be accepted. Whether it was drawing or photography or anything else. I had made something, with hard work, and it was being judged harshly. It was my worst nightmare.

So basically I was upset, and stuck. There I sat with a blank page in front of me, expected to start my next project. I couldn’t though, not until I confronted my problem. I called my professor over and put my artwork in front of him. I said, “I want to know why I didn’t receive full points and what needs to be improved for my upcoming project. What was wrong?” I wanted to see if my score was legit. Did I forget an important concept? Were they not complete or something? Clearly he wasn’t marking me down because he didn’t think they were good enough, right? My pride was hurt. Well his response was less than satisfactory. He took me through each piece and said things such as, “you needed to blend here more” and “you lacked a contrast in darks and lights” and “I thought more could have been done here to make it exciting”, etc etc etc. BLAH BLAH BLAH..

What I wanted to say to him was, “you suck, now leave.” Instead I just nodded and said, “okay, thank you,” and tried to pull my thoughts together. He marked me down because he didn’t think they were good enough, despite my hours and hours of work. Maybe I could have blended there better, but I remember specifically choosing not to blend because thats how I liked it. Maybe one of those things he pointed out I could learn from and improve on for my next piece but I thought the way he went about the whole thing was just wrong. It was more than an art grade. I took it personal because everything I am doing right now in my life is up for critiques and likes and dislikes and so on. Despite my minor internal meltdown I am glad with what happened next. I felt a fire inside of me be lit. Did I like my professor’s answer? NO. Did I agree with the way he conducted and graded his class? NO. Was I going to stop trying? NO NO NO!

MAN OH MAN did he start something. He just fueled my fire, my motivation to succeed. Little does he know how much I have put into my photography and art and passions lately. Little does he know how much work and how many hours I have spent learning and learning and practicing to be better. Did I care if I was good at drawing? nah. Did I want to be successful at photography? More than anything. I have strived so much to find myself, my style, my passions, my everything these last couple of months. I take pictures, evaluate, critique, learn and take more. And more. And more. AND MORE. I post them for the world to see and cross my fingers they are accepted. I watch videos. I read. I practice. I have poured my soul into my photography these last couple of months because I want to be good. I want to be successful. I want to capture beauty, and moments and memories and let people have them and cherish them forever. I want to share my love with others through my photography and I want to do it my way. My work is different than others, and I am thankful for that. I have SO MUCH TO LEARN. But I am SO SICK of comparing myself to others and allowing the fear of failure HOLD ME BACK. This B on my midterm was sensitive to me because I have felt lately like my work and photography is constantly out their in the world to either be accepted or rejected. I could end up thinking like that my entire life, but I am so over that. I realize I have a lot to learn and I will continue to get better and improve the rest of my life. But whether I am successful or not is up to me. I determine my grade. I determine whether I am working hard enough, or being sincere enough or taking the time necessary to succeed. MY SUCCESS IS NOT DETERMINED BY OTHERS. Everyone has room in this world to succeed.

I am a new photographer. And with that comes a lot of anxiety and pressure. But with that also comes freedom and excitement. I am so thrilled to be starting this journey because I love it. And I think that I could be really great at it. My confidence in myself is key. I am tired of not believing in myself. Wow. I feel like screaming and sobbing and laughing and jumping around. CRAM SAND DRAWING PROFESSOR. You know what? THANK YOU FOR THE B. He has no idea the fire he has lit. Who cares if my drawings don’t get hung up on the wall. They are amazing.

Bradon sent me a simple but powerful text after I got my grade and thought I was going to throw pastels at my professor. He said, “Be unbreakable.”  You know what? I am.

I am unbreakable.

So for all of you out there second guessing yourself. Thinking maybe that you aren’t good enough, or it’s too hard or too scary to try. Tell those doubts to get out and

BE UNBREAKABLE.

After I raged and felt empowered and all that during this typing fest I had a photo shoot. And you know what? I. Nailed. It. I feel so motivated right now to TAKE ON THE WORLD. All is well. All is well. Best B I have ever been given.

(some pics of this blue eyed babe from my session tonight)

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The Ninja Turtle Valentines Day Card

Our Story

PART ONE   (2011-2013)

***Fine Print:  This story is the opinion and memory of myself, Haley Frodsham Burningham, and my husband Bradon would like it to be noted that he may remember things differently. Facts get foggy, things are said, feelings are involved. So before you embark on this journey of words brace yourselves for some hard truth. If some of it gets iffy and you doubt, I’m sure Bradon would love to tell you his side of the story. 😉  LOOOOOOOVE.

Woof, our story? It seems kind of like it started forever ago (cause it did) and writing this all down might take forever. Oh well. I want to remember the beginning. I love reminiscing about what once was or how it all started. I always pester Bradon with details, his memories or what he thought of us before now. It is fun to compare and remember. So to save myself from getting burnt out and to break the story up a little I’ve decided to split it into parts. Time to begin part 1! So let us take a trip way back to 18 year old Haley and cute missionary Elder Burningham.

Senior year of high school, 2011.

I was getting ready to graduate and had finally decided that Utah State University was the place for me. My older brother and great friend Jeff had just returned from home his mission to Florida, Tallahassee, and we were planning on embarking to Logan together. If my memory serves me, this is around the time that I received my first letter from the mysterious Elder Burningham. I remember he was funny, inquisitive and had impeccable handwriting. He also spelled my name wrong. This mystery Elder had been a companion with my brother for just one transfer, but I guess that is all the Lord needed to push him in my direction!

FLASHBACK– Elder Burningham and my brother were companions when Valentines Day passed. My mother, being the great supportive missionary mom that she is, got a small package together to send to my brother and his companion. We wrote on cards for each of them. I remember that my mom did this for a lot of the holidays. She would put the cards on the kitchen table and each member of the family would write a small message or note to Jeff and then something to his companion as well. This time I was signing a card that would be the beginning of my forever. I signed my Cowabunga Ninja Turtle valentines day card for Elder Burningham with a “heart” Haley. That is apparently all it took! Being the tease that he is, Elder Burningham hung up the valentine from me on his wall and would comment on it regularly to my brother, saying that his sister “hearted” him. Turns out I really would one day. Once Jeff came home, his old companion found a way to finally send the younger sister who “hearted” him a letter. It was a short time of correspondence, about 3 months only, before Elder Burningham came home. Pretty sure I read fiction Mormon romance novels in high school and dreamed up what a great story it would be if I married my brothers mission companion that I came to know through letters. What a dreamer!  I was excited to hear that Elder Burningham, now Bradon, would be rooming with my brother up at school. I like to think that I convinced him to go to Utah State as well as room with Jeff, even though none of that is probably true. Well he had promised me in one of his letters to teach me how to snowboard and I wanted to hold him to that.

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Freshmen year

 August of 2011. Logan, Utah. GO AGGIES! 

The first time I met Bradon was in front of his and Jeff’s apartment as he was moving in. In his letters he was smooth and confident but to my surprise in that first moment he was quiet and fairly shy. Come to find out that isn’t like him at all, he was just as nervous as I was! I think we exchanged quick hellos and that was about it. First things I noticed? His wavy blonde hair, lots of freckles and vans shoes. First awkward encounter- check! That night a group of girls from my building and Jeff and his roommates met at the ice rink for a huge back to school FHE get together. I remember the nerves of finally being at college. I was a typical giggly, silly and crazy freshmen girl. Gag. Bradon decided to try and approach me again, this time on ice skates and once again only mustered up enough courage for about 5 seconds. Mustered up way more courage then I had let it be noted! He skated up to me and said, “Hey. Thanks for writing me on my mission, I appreciate it.” Then he skated away. Playing hard to get I see.

Once we got over our first two awkward meetings we quickly became good friends. It was easy to be with him, he made me laugh and he brought out a side of me that I liked. I was more comfortable around him then most guys. Well that was until I started liking him. Then I got weird.  Bradon tried to make some moves and I got scared. RUN RUN RUN. Why? Still not quite sure. I think I was afraid of really what could be with him. I was young and I had things I needed to do first I guess. I also unfairly pinned him as a ladies man. All the girls liked him, still do actually. He was a bit of a flirt, and that at first irked me. But it is something that I learned to love and needed later on to get me out of my bubble. Well, 18 year old Haley was not ready for a relationship with the cute, flirty 23 year old Bradon. We gave it a small go at first, it was a painful disaster. I’ve always been so surprised we bounced back from it and were able to be friends. I guess that’s what happens when it is meant to be. I would also like to point out that our attempted dating that went down in flames was mostly my fault. I let the fear get the best of me and kind of ruined any chance of us dating for a while. Serious recovery time. No need to write the details of that! However, there is need to write the details of what started the avalanche. Because it is hilarious, and I’m fighting to remember as much as possible. We call it, “The 2nd Worst Date of my Life.”

My 2nd Worst Date. Ever. Halloween 2011. 

Bradon finally asked me out. He invited me to a Halloween party with his friends in Bountiful. Catch? They were all married. Some even had kids of their own. I probably would have been a better fit as a babysitter for this event at this time in my life. They are all great I’d come to find out after we got married. So he asked me to go with him to a Halloween party, in Bountiful, with his married friends, and I had to wear a costume. No No No. On our way to the party we made an unscheduled stop at a family members house. Apparently they had a party of their own going on because basically the whole clan was there! We had to stop by because Bradon had to help someone fix a computer or something, details are hazy. Well while he was in the other room fixing the computer I was left in the living room, with all the kids. I was basically right at home then. Probably the most comfortable I felt the whole night! I played with the little ones, met some more family and we headed on our way. Wow it was all such a blur for me. Next up the party, oh wait no…… his parents house. It’s fine, first date, meet the whole family, whatever. Basically at this point I was completely traumatized. It should have never been so bad to meet his family but for some reason I was totally freaking out. It also was never in Bradon’s plan for it to happen, the stars were just aligned I guess! hehe. Now this next part was the most terrifying for Bradon I think, but I’ll be honest, I don’t remember it. I’ve kind of blocked most of this whole experience up, its all fuzzy in the brain haha. What a shame! Well according to him we walked in his house and sitting in the living room was his dad, with a scary mask on, greeting us with a booming Halloween voice! Man I wish I could remember that. I went downstairs and changed into my costume and had a mini panic attack. I was dressed as a flapper or something in my sparkly sparkly dress and big feather headband. Bradon dressed as Mario. I mean we at least should have tried to match or something. LOL. We were about to make a bust for it and his mom came out with a camera. PERFECT. It was okay though I was used to this, since I had JUST GRADUATED from high school. Prom pictures right? Well we posed where he did all his high school dance photos and snapped a picture. This photo will go down in history as one of my very favorite, most painful, most uncomfortable and super hilarious photos of all time. Mario and the Flapper, a pair for sights.

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Once we escaped the “meet the parents” episode we went to the married party + us. I am literally laughing as I type this. I wish I could truly express the experience through words. Honestly it wasn’t as dramatic as I made it to be. I was just so young and I was so afraid. I think I said two words the whole party. Mario and the Flapper entered the house and were greeted by all the spouses, matching costumes of course, and a baby or two. We ate and then sat around and chatted. Bradon abandoned me for a bit with all the guys and I was stuck at the table with the ladies. If we had a chance to do this party again today, I would have been just fine. It would have been enjoyable. Too bad.  Well all the girls talked, if I remember correctly, about their favorite OBGYN’s and some of the Young Women they were struggling with as a leaders in the YW Program. I could relate to that one at least, I was just a Laurel a few months ago. The conversation went on to pregnancy I think and then we finally went downstairs to watch a scary movie.

This is where the story gets foggy. What I remember happening is a little different then what Bradon does. But I’ll lightly note on both to keep it fair. In my scratchy scratchy dress I sat next to Bradon, and eventually ended up holding his hand. The hand holding happened, we are sure of that. The motive? Different opinions. I remember holding Bradons hand because I liked him and I wanted to. I also remember feeling a little pressure from my surroundings if we are being completely honest. Bradon says that I claimed later that the only reason I held his hand was so that it wouldn’t be awkward because we were surrounded by married people. I like to think that I was at least a little more mature than that but, ouch, if it is true what he says. Either way, we held hands! Once we left the party I felt a little numb. Kind of like I got hit by a bus. I liked Bradon but did that mean that I had to marry him right then?! Why was it all going so fast?! All his friends were married and he took me to a party with them, did that mean he wanted to get married ASAP?! etc. etc. etc….. This was the panic stage that I went through on the way home from the date. I liked him but no way was I ready to be married and sitting around the table talking about OBGYN’s. hahaha. To be fair, Bradon was also horrified by this whole turn of events. He never wanted me to meet the whole family on the first date and to be tossed into a shark tank of married people, but alas it happened. I’m sure he pictured it going much better, he is a great planner and all.  Well after the date was all said and done and my numb body got feeling again, my immature self didn’t handle it great (details NOT included) and we drifted a part for a while. Or to better say it, we entered the dangerous: FRIEND ZONE.

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(time in the friend zone :p)

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Sophomore year of college. 2012-2013

I spent the summer after my freshmen year working at the Grand Canyon and communication with Bradon was minimal. Occasional text here and there. Bradon was busy that summer too working like 1,000 jobs!  The time apart really solidified the whole “just friends” thing for a while. Once back at school our groups of friends hung out quite often. Bradon and I and a few others took an institute class together, Preparing for Eternal Marriage. Go figure. We would walk home from class and I made him lunch every once in a while. We got to a point where we were very comfortable together again. However, if we were ever alone just the two of us, I was so nervous. Our relationship was so bizarre. We were so good at playing the just friends card but also just fooling ourselves. Some people didn’t think we would be a great fit, boy were they wrong. During our just good friends period, A.K.A denial stage, I would swear to anyone that Bradon and I would never date. What a big fat lie. I was so determined not to fall for the charming Bradon Burningham. Once again, I was a loony.

***Fine Print:  Bradon would like it to go down in history that he was never ever in denial that we were meant to be. He was just patient enough to play the friends game until I came to my senses. Cutie.

I recieved my mission call to Managua, Nicaragua South in November of 2012 and was leaving in April of 2013. Bradon was very supportive and even offered to teach me a little Spanish before I left. I never took him up on the offer because that would mean we would have to be alone together, yikes! Before I left Bradon took me on a “happy birthday/going on your mission/I’m secretly still interested/playing it cool” date. It was enjoyable, and confusing. He acted so casually about it all that I had no idea what his intentions were! So we went and had fun. He took me rock climbing and since we are both so competitive with each other, he really pushed me to my limits. Planted a seed for my love of rock climbing, it is one of our things now. I remember a few specific details from the date. One thing I remember was him telling me some things he loved about me while I climbed. Loved? Did he say loved? Clearly that maybe casual or maybe not casual ‘loved’ stuck in my brain. I began to notice that Bradon liked some of my things that could be considered flaws. He liked my imperfections. I was stubborn and he called me feisty. I was sarcastic and he called it sass. I was all of these things, that he knew. Bradon knew Haley and cared about what Haley cared about. That was why I loved being with him. No pretending. No filter. No changing for the crowd. This wasn’t the first time nor the last that I recognized how Bradon knew the real Haley. It is hard to explain, but from the get go, he got me. And still does. The other detail I remember from the date wasn’t so sentimental. Ya, he touched my bum. HA. I fell on a climb and couldn’t grab back on to the wall, I just kept swinging back and forth from exhaustion in the air. Before I knew it I felt both of his hands planted on my backside, reaching up to push me to the wall. Trying to help but entering the major personal bubble of mine to do so. WHOOPS. It was awkward, hilarious and unintentional (I think). I remember laughing it off, because it was funny, but also being a tiny bit petrified. We joined a group of friends at a USU event after climbing and our date kind of just fizzled away, with no real ending. Sort of classic for us at this point in our relationship.

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Going on a mission

Two weeks before I left on my mission a group of our friends went on a spring break trip together to San Diego. It was awesome!  My hidden feelings about him stayed hidden the whole time but I remember I was sad and worried to be saying goodbye to him for such a long time. I would tease him on this trip about how he would be married by the time I got home and he assured me that he would not. Even though I was just “joking” about him getting married, it was a legitimate concern of mine.  He was such a catch and I thought I had completely missed my chance. I mean how could he still like me after I had taken him through the ringer freshmen year?! I was sure he would never ever step foot in the dating Haley water again! Despite my concerns the trip was awesome. I remember he would do little things throughout the week that gave me the butterflies. I put those off as Bradon just being a flirt. Didn’t want to get my hopes up! Plus I couldn’t, seeing I was leaving just two weeks later! I specifically remember sitting next to him when we all went out to eat. I had timed it just right, or he had, and we were squished by each other. Probably closer then usual or necessary. He would occasionally touch my leg and paid attention to me but I remember I couldn’t look at him in his eyes without blushing. Plus we were sitting so squished that if I turned towards him our faces would we way too close! I remember exactly what I ate, the surroundings and how I felt. It’s amazing to me that I can remember these memories so clearly. Should have been an obvious sign that he was special.

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Spring Break 2013

So up until this point I had been determined not to date Bradon. I was too busy trying to convince everyone, myself included, that I didn’t have feelings for him. I think I was fighting to keep us just friends because I hadn’t really taken the time to get to know him. Truly know him. I thought he was this or I thought he was that, but I would come to discover later that he was not any of those things. All of those preconceived ideas I had of him were all wrong. And all of those great attributes about him were so much more. If I knew the Bradon then that I know now I would have never waited to be with him. So we get it, I was confused. I knew that I liked him, but was trying not to. I wasn’t ready for something serious with him and truthfully maybe the Lord was hiding our true potential from me so I could serve a mission. That was definitely supposed to happen. I also was convinced, like I mentioned earlier, that he had given up on me completely. That he was content with staying friends forever. I even mentioned that to a few people. I was dangerous to date. I think he was afraid of getting to close, like he did before, and risking our friendship. What if I ran again? We definitely couldn’t bounce back two times! I can’t blame him. So there we were, both drawn towards each other, yet not together. So despite the goosebumps he gave me and my secret crush on him, all of that would have to go on hold for a time. I had a mission to serve and he had some waiting for me to do.

TO BE CONTINUED……

Our Drive

I had one of those moments recently. I’ve been meaning to write about them for a while. I do not want to forget them. My sister and her consistency on her blog has really inspired me tonight. I have a lot to do and its late, but the feeling to write is here, so I am going to go with it!

My moment happened when I was watching Bradon carry his sleeping niece in his arms after a long day at the water park. He is amazing with kids. We are primary teachers for CTR 4 and wow he is an all-star with our 12 four year olds. lol.  The Primary Presidency has deemed him the cutest primary teacher of all time. duh. Anyway back to my moment. I watched him and thought, “he will be such a wonderful dad. And he is all mine.”

It was kind of like one of those moments from the movies where the motion slows down, everything blurs in the background, the music gets dreamy and the main character talks in their head about the other person. That was it. I saw Bradon and for just one moment the world slowed down. It struck me, as it has throughout these last 9 months that I was married to that boy. The deed was done. He was mine. Forever.  I still like holding his hand everywhere we go. I miss him even if he is gone for a couple of hours. I like to kiss his face while he drives. I like to rub his head and light tickle him until he falls asleep. I like him.

On our last drive through Logan Canyon before we moved to St. George I was so emotional. Man had we made that drive a lot. So many fond memories during those night drives. I honestly think that during those drives was when I really fell in love with him. I cried during that last one because it seemed so final, and terrifying. We would have to find new drives. On those journeys back home through the canyon we would always listen to music quietly in the background while we talked. Those were the moments where we got real and scary with each other, where we became vulnerable. Shared secrets, memories, fears, dreams. I loved those drives.

As I write this, time kind of feels like it has frozen. I am soaking up the nostalgia. I recognize how lucky I am. I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with Bradon as part of my plan. The biggest part. Who knows what I did to deserve him. He is my everything.

Since our Logan drives ended and our new journey down South began we have been molded, shaped and stretched in different ways. The adjustment has been both hard and enjoyable. Life has continued and we grow closer. It is comforting to know that no matter where we go or what lies ahead that I have him. Anything is possible with Bradon. Okay, my lovey gushy mushy entry is over. But I assure you there will be MANY more. I mean can you blame me? Have you seen and met my husband? #blessed img_3527

Recipe Driven

PLANNING. My middle name. Right next to the word CONTROL.

I like to know what exactly is going to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen and why it is going to happen. I enjoy being in control of everything. It is like trying a new recipe for a large group of people you want to impress. In order to avoid any mistakes and for a perfect outcome it is important to know each little ingredient, follow each step with perfection and then create a delicious masterpiece that everyone loves. This is how I have spent most of my life- Recipe Driven.

Living like this resulted in stress which lead to anxiety and eventually dissatisfaction and different sorts of unhappiness. When I got home from my mission in October of 2014, I realized that the way I was trying to live my life was getting in the way that the Lord wanted me to live my life. Thus started my journey towards faith, patience, following, and true happiness. I had and continue to have a lot of help. I could make a list of people that influenced my life and helped me throw away my recipe for a perfect life. I hope to find a way to thank them one day.

It wasn’t easy and isn’t always easy to live more by faith and less by a plan. It is a battle to have trust in something that maybe you can’t see or even imagine. A plan that I’m not in charge of is scary but has become exhilirating. I am happy to say that my recipe book of life has been recycled. It is a feeling of freedom, peace and joy. Two years ago if you told me that I would be where I was today I would have laughed and then told you to get lost because that wasn’t part of my “plan”. But boy was I wrong and boy am I happy now. I am happy that I have turned it over to my Heavenly Father. His plan is better, He is wiser. I know that if we trust in Him we will be happy and ultimately free.

Isaiah 55: 8-9 … “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” 

Throw out that recipe book and be made into something great.