A whole year, come and gone. What a roller coaster of a year it was. I had lots of adventures, worked hard, and loved (almost) every minute of it.

I remember last New Year’s Eve very vividly. It wasn’t a great one to be perfectly honest. There were lots of changes happening in my life, things bringing me down. I was a little worried that was how my year was going to be. And while 2014 wasn’t perfect, there were so many picture perfect moments.

I only have time to share a few here, or we’d be here for another year;) But my whole year is cataloged right there on the right in neat little blog posts under the year 2014.

SO this year found me chugging through school and absolutely loving my classes, changing my minor to Digital Humanities, doing an internship at KSL, working at KSL and at BYU Radio, spending a fun summer in Provo where I finished the hardest class in my major, and then had a blast doing all the summer things there are to do in a college town, watched several of my good friends get married and was a bridesmaid for a few, saw the Grand Canyon, spent a blissful two weeks in California and Disneyland with my amazing family, headed to Boston (officially my favorite city in the US) for a way fun week with my family and helping my brother and sister-in-law move in, found dozens of new places to eat, became more of a grownup with rent and bills and buying big things for myself, discovered my love for the Food Network, became better friends with people who turned out to be my people, had incredible wards and callings I loved, kept blog-friendships going strong, celebrated holidays and weekends with my family, dated some non-Randys, missed that missionary more than words can describe, and then had him come home to me. I learned about myself, about my Savior Jesus Christ, about my family, and about who I can become.

Yeah, you could say 2014 has been a good year.

I will honor Christmas and try to keep it in my heart all year

Holy Cow. This Christmas season came and went SO fast. I’m not even sure what happened. I blinked, and it was gone! Here’s my Christmas and time with family in pictures! 
Spending lots of time with this guy, and making gingerbread people of each other:)
Lots of holiday shopping!

We had an amazing Christmas Eve with my extended family, and I love spending time with all these cute siblings of mine. Side bar–My brother and sister-in-law were supposed to be getting in from Boston late Sunday night, the Sunday before Christmas. My family and I head to church that morning, and guess who is sitting in our bench?? Ben and Kim! Those tricksters got in a day early and surprised us. I’ve just decided to never believe anybody when they tell me what day they are getting home. The end. 

The 18th Annual Christmas Stocking Exchange. We’re nerdy in my family. 
Christmas Day also included a trench coat I’d been drooling over, lots of books and games and so much family time. It made my heart happy. 

I just love Christmas:)

Off to see Savior of the World with my family!
This is one of my all time favorite Christmas pictures. While Christmas is about family and food and presents and snow, it’s about something much bigger. I know we kind of get that beaten into our heads, but it’s true. It’s about our Savior and the things that he did for us, it’s about his mother and her faith, his father and his trust in God, his Heavenly Father and his sacrifice, and that quiet night when the entire world changed. 
I hope you had a Merry Christmas everyone!
Happy Monday!

Go to college they said…it will be fun they said…

For most schools, finals are long gone. Even here at BYU, quite a few people have already powered through their finals and are on their way home. But no matter if you have finals or not, if college is way behind you or way in the future, the stress of taking multiple really important tests in one week along with a dating life, work, and family, is pretty crazy. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Having a missionary come home means you suddenly don’t really care about anything else. Randy got home and WHAM all I wanted to do was spend time with him and talk to him since we didn’t have a two-week delay anymore. Boy, did that throw my motivation for school for a loop!

2. Professors aren’t always as mean as people say. A lot of my professors actually understand that I have 14 other credits that I’m trying to get through, and wanted to help lighten the load. This isn’t always the case, but I loved that unexpected little delight.

3. Being an adult means biting your tongue. There were lots of things I wanted to say, times I really wanted to give people a load of my mind. But that’s what kids do. So as an adult you decide that being right isn’t as important as the relationship, and move on.

4. Never underestimate the power of hot chocolate. For real. I can’t count how many cups of hot cocoa I’ve guzzled in the past month, but it seems to have this magical ability to make everything better.

5. Good friends and family will make all the difference. Whether it’s keeping a good surprise from you, sitting up at 2 AM to chat, having a dance party, quizzing you before a test, or watching your favorite Christmas movie with you, my friends have gotten me through lots of hard times.

6. Pep-talks are essential. Mine usually start “Maddy, I’m sick and tired of everybody talking about the Soviets!” (name that movie!)

7. Candles. Holiday Wishes is currently burning in my apartment, and can I just say that I’m obsessed. It was pumpkin spice for all of October and November, now Christmas Tree and Sugar Plums and Gingerbread and deliciousness this month. Invest. I’m telling you, you’ll be happy you did.

8. Christmas shopping is 1000000 times more fun with a boyfriend. But really. Especially when he has no clothes and you get to help pick them out.

9. Set aside time to do a lot of studying. If you say, oh I’ll study tonight, it won’t happen. Set times. That’s the only way it will work!

10. Never forget what’s the most important. Take time for the things that really matter, like Church and family. Prioritize and things will work out.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tonight tonight

Once upon a time I started my senior year of college. Now, finals week is upon me. Or as some like to call it, HBLL week. (Harold B. Lee Library for you non-BYU folk). So I’m almost halfway done with that senior year.

Um, what?

I did not give this semester permission to run by so quickly. I’m looking at my notes for my classes as I attempt to study while having approximately 0 motivation, wondering where in the world September went.

Waiting for Christmas and Randy to get home, the time ticked slowly.

Having to be ready for finals came more quickly than anything in the world.

So as I sit here procrastinating my study of World Religions, there are all these thoughts running around in my head and I know that no studying will get done until they are gone.

At some point I’ll probably write the surviving finals week post that nobody will read, but tonight isn’t that kind of night.

Tonight is a night for being strong and fearless. It’s for plunging ahead into the unknown when some are laughing while you struggle by and others are dragging you back, telling you you have no idea what you’re doing.

Tonight is all about charting your course and learning to love the ride no matter who decided to get on board with you.

Tonight is about never giving up on someone and fighting for the things that matter the very most to you.

Tonight is about all the things that prepared you for this moment, for the things you didn’t understand that now make perfect sense.

For that silent struggle with a loving Heavenly Father when you have no idea why things are happening. And realizing that there has always been a plan, and that you just have to trust.

And tonight is about being kind because you never know who else is having that same silent struggle.

Ok enough of that! Picture time!

Best homecoming talk EVER.

Sub-set of our Provo family for dinner at my favorite Sri Lankan restaurant. 

And a farewell to these two who are off to new adventures after Christmas! Mal will be teaching English in Ukraine and JD will be working with government officials in D.C. 
Anyway dear friends. Happy Monday and for anyone with finals still ahead, good luck! 

The Adventure

Hi friends!

Holy cow life has been crazy lately.

No video yet…be patient! I have finals!

I’ve been studying and driving back and forth from Provo to Kaysville and studying and working and studying and not getting enough sleep.

But life is so very wonderful.

With the Christmas season and the busy season of finals and my last semester of school coming up and so many adventures ahead, I wanted to share a little something.

In all the craziness going on in my life right now, I’ve be reminded so many times of what’s really important. And that’s the Gospel. No matter what else is going on, the Gospel is the thing I can count on and I am so thankful for that.

Now…enjoy some pictures!

Not the best pictures but like I care. 
We went along with every mutual group in Utah to see the temple lights this week! So wonderful.

Welcome Home Elder Low


Ok, what is my life?


No longer Elder Low, he finished his 2 year mission and came home!

Oh, and I had no idea that he was back until the moment I saw him.

I have a video that I want to cutesy on up and everything, so look forward to that.

Until then, here is the story!

Randy told me he was getting home on December 8th. Which is Monday. Tomorrow. I went around all excited, posting like crazy, getting things ready, etc. etc.

Well, he then proceeded to email my friends and let them know he was really coming home on the 5th! He needed me to get home to Kaysville that night so he could come and surprise me!

My friends then proceeded to tell my other friends and family to make sure they could all help pull it off!

So over Thanksgiving I go home and my sister asks if I’m going to come and spend the night on Friday, the last weekend before Randy gets home. I tell her no, I have tests to study for and things to do. Well she FLIPS OUT. Tells me I HAVE to come home for one more sister sleepover, that I’ll ruin her whole fun if I don’t, etc. etc.

So, I grudgingly agree to go home, telling myself I’ll try to get studying done there.

So Friday comes, and I go with my family to the Festival of Trees and to lunch. We had a grand old time and I had no idea what was going on. Turns out, Randy was on a plane, flying home.

I went home that evening with my family and tried to do some studying, but nothing really exciting happened. We watched White Christmas and sat around, played some games. I was SO confused why it had been such a big deal that I come home. The hours got later, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00. I went down to my room to do some studying and be upset that I’d driven all the way home for a very normal, but still fun, evening with my family. 

I heard some squealing and some running around upstairs, and then my mom called me up. Only to tell me a funny story about my dad swatting a fly. All I could think was, “My family is crazy!” Turns out, they had just heard from Randy and he was ready to come surprise me!

Then, my dad and sister Olivia say they have to run an errand. It’s 10:15 and I’m so confused. SO confused. My mom and my other sister and I sat down to play games, and I was thinking my dad and sister must have gone to get a cake or something for me, but I had no idea.

Then I hear the garage door open and my dad walks in with his iPhone up, recording something.

Then, I see him. He had the biggest smile on his face, he was crouched down to run over and pick me up.

I screamed and ran over to the best hug I’ve had in 2 years.
Turns out that Friday December 5th is best day of my life so far.

Thanks to everyone who made this surprise happen, and cute Randy for planning it SO long ago (senior year of high school). I’m one very lucky girl. Now prepare for the sap.

Can I just tell you how surreal it is to have my best friend home?

Sometimes, I can’t believe that it’s real. That we did it. We made it. There are still hard things ahead, adjusting to do and figuring out how to click back into place, but I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. So much is different, but somehow we’re still us. Things just picked up where they left off, but with the two of us a little older, and smarter, and stronger.

So welcome home Elder Low.

And happy Sunday everyone!

The Past Two Years, My Best Two Years

This is another one of those posts that I’ve been writing in my head for a long time. I can’t believe I’m just one short week away from seeing Elder Low again! It doesn’t feel real, but I’m beyond ready. He’s been an incredible missionary, he’s changed lives with his testimony, grown so much stronger in the Gospel, and been an example to everyone, especially me.

For a lot of people, the best two years comes while serving a mission. For me, this wasn’t the plan. I’m glad Heavenly Father knows what he’s doing and was able to point me in the right direction. I learned and grew so much by listening, following, even though I didn’t always understand.

So here’s a quick look at what I’ve been up to for the past two years, what I’ve learned, who I’ve become, and why I wouldn’t change a thing.

1. I traveled. From places like Saint George and Park City, to Idaho, to Arizona (and crossed the Grand Canyon off my bucket list) to Disneyland and Dodger Stadium, to Boston, Cambridge and Concord. I had some pretty amazing adventures and loved seeing new places, meeting new people, learning and having fun.

View of Boston
Louisa May Alcott’s House in Concord

The Grand Canyon!

I also fished, a lot!

2. I had some incredible work opportunities. I started working for BYU Radio, and was able to do some fun work on national radio there. I then got an internship at KSL where again, I met some amazing people and learned so much about my career path. Then I got hired at KSL (twice), learned even more about working in a newsroom, and found a place to stick around for a while.

BYU Radio–The Matt Townsend Team

3. I powered through my freshman, sophomore/junior, and half of my senior year of college. I worked hard and got good grades, had some classes I absolutely loved and some that I tolerated, and just overall had a great time going to school.

And a cutie roommate of mine got married! 

4. I worked for BYU Student Alumni. I ran the communications for the BYU Food Drive for two years in a row, and ran communications for the Traditions Ball last April. The friends I made at Alumni will be people I cherish forever. I loved serving my university and having fun while doing it!

5. I made some amazing friends. Friends that will last me for a lifetime. And beyond. I figured out who was really going to be there for me when the going got tough, and I feel so lucky that I was able to meet those people.

6. I dated. Some of these guys were not so good. Others were part of a larger plan to help me learn and grow. I don’t regret that for a second. I was able to learn so much about myself, become a better version of myself, and make friends that will never, ever let me down. That’s pretty lucky if you ask me.

7. I became more confident and comfortable with myself. I can honestly say I have never been so comfortable in my own skin. I love that over these past two years I figured out how to stop caring so much what other people think of me, and really focus on what I think of myself, and what my Heavenly Father thinks of me.

8. I spent much needed time with my family. It’s been amazing to go home and chat with my parents, go on fun outings with my sisters, and we’ve grown closer together over the past months as we’ve all grown up.

9. I wrote to Elder Low every single week. And I wrote other missionary friends often. It was awesome to get to learn and grow with them.

10. My testimony grew exponentially. I had experiences that I’m sure I needed to have, that were planned and placed so I could learn, and become stronger in this gospel. I had missionary moments, service opportunities, church callings, and was able to go from knowing about my Savior, to knowing him so personally. I learned how my Heavenly Father speaks to me individually. And I learned how to be a better instrument in his hands by obeying what he asks me to do.

And that’s all folks.
Happy Thursday everyone!