Jun 29, 2016

I was bullied at church

I was bullied at church when I was a young adult. I’m sure the girls that did the bullying would disagree with me, but I now know that they were bullies. Pure and simple. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t recognize it and instead blamed myself.

I’m not going to go into detail on what exactly was done and said. Many people have been bullied at one time or another, and we’ve all heard stories about bullying. I will say that they spread untrue rumors about me. They called me names. They constantly talked about me behind my back. They made mean, hurtful comments toward me. They attempted to turn anyone they could against me. They ostracized me and attempted to get my friends to ostracize me.
Worst of all, their actions towards me made me question my self-worth. Their words stung to the point where I hated myself. I felt unworthy, even though I was. I felt hated, even though there were so many who loved and supported me—especially within that congregation. My mind was questioning everything about myself and turning an unhealthy direction as I thought, “What am I doing wrong?”, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why am I such a worthless person?” I’m sure these girls were going through issues of their own to act in such a horrible, cruel manner. But that doesn’t justify their actions or their words. There is no reason to treat someone the way these girls treated me.
Slide made by Emerald Gray
I’ve been bullied many times in many places: school, work, church, even social groups. But I feel that bullying should not be happening in the Lord’s church. Granted, no one is perfect. We go to church to try and perfect ourselves a little at a time and to constantly try to become closer to God. Especially when we are young, most of us haven’t learned true compassion, charity, and love yet. And I’m not an exception. So now, with years of perspective, I feel I have a better understanding of this issue. But at the time I did not. I was too young and inexperienced in life to understand the importance of attending church no matter what. My testimony was too young to survive the attacks on my person to keep attending for myself.

So, I stopped going to church and instead threw myself into other activities to escape the pain I felt. I thought that by removing myself from the situation and by not attending church, the pain would go away and I would feel better. But I was only fooling myself. I lost a powerful source of spiritual light and strength. Each day I fell deeper into darkness. I was in more pain than ever before, but I just numbed the pain by escaping into activities that distracted me from real life and my real problems. They call that addiction, and it can be anything from binge-watching TV or playing video games, to chemical dependence or participating in unsavory practices.

I wish I had a stronger testimony at that time of the importance of regularly attending church for my own well-being instead of for the social interaction. Moreover, I wish I had a stronger testimony of the importance of the sacrament. But, I was young and still learning and weak even, and the bullying from these girls was stronger than my testimony of attending church.

It wasn’t until recently, about 10 years later, that I realized I was bullied. It wasn’t my fault, but the way I reacted to it was my fault, and I reaped the consequences. That period of my life, where I allowed the behavior (no matter how justified!) of others to keep me from attending church was the darkest, most miserable time of my life. The worst part was that I didn’t realize how bad it was in the thick of things. It wasn’t until I came back to the fold and started attending church for the right reasons that I realized the light, love, and comfort I was missing. Only on the covenant path did I find true love, pure light, and lasting happiness. I won’t let anything take me away from the light of the gospel again. Ever. I deserve this. I deserve eternal joy. And although some people may make thoughtless or even hostile remarks, it no longer keeps me from partaking of the sacrament or enjoying the fellowship of the saints.

I felt that I should share this experience with bullying at church to hopefully help others who have been or are currently being bullied. I hope that you can find strength through my experience. I hope you can learn from my experience and do better than me. Please, don’t let another person's sin against you keep you from the light and hope of the gospel. You deserve to have the gospel strength and truth in your life. You not only deserve the sacrament, but you need it, regularly. You need the companionship of the saints. Just as those very people, the ones that are so hurtful and cruel, also need the redeeming power of the gospel and Christ’s atonement in their lives. God loves you, and He loves them. He wants them to repent and to return to Him. He wants you to feel of His light and be happy, and He wants you to forgive them, even if they are unrepentant. You can be happy in this trial if you allow yourself to feel His love for you, and to allow yourself to be filled with charity. It took me far too long to learn this lesson and to find true happiness in my life.

I also hope that my experience can open the eyes of those who are bullying, spreading rumors, gossiping, etc. May you allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to sanctify your life and soften your heart so that you can stop this behavior and truly repent. Only by doing so can you draw closer to your Savior, who loves you. Only by doing so can you find true peace and happiness. I, too, have had to learn this difficult lesson. It is a hard thing to approach someone you’ve hurt and to apologize, but it is worth it. Recompense is not always attainable, but make the effort to rectify the wrongs you have done against them. By doing so, you can feel God’s love for your and feel the cleansing power of the Atonement.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed the topic of bullying in a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in his talk “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.” It is a wonderful address and I highly recommend studying it. In this inspired talk, he says,

This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?

Image from the blog Today's the Best Day
This was a hard post for me to write, but I felt strongly that I needed to do this. That time of my life, although not the hardest, was difficult. I don't like to think back on those events, let alone relive them as I pondered over what to write. I just hope, as I said before, that my experience can help someone else. I faced a lot of adversity at that time and due to that adversity and my inexperience, I made a lot of choices I regret. However, as I overcame this adversity and the consequences of my poor choices, I grew stronger. I still face adversity, but I have so much more faith, strength, and knowledge which help me find joy and peace in my trials. I now have a solid testimony of Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His church, and I'd like to share part of that testimony now.

I know this church is true, and that regularly attending church is critical to our eternal happiness. I know that it is Jesus Christ’s church restored to the earth again by His prophet Joseph Smith. I know that we have a prophet on the earth today, and that he is Thomas S. Monson. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is truly another testament of Jesus Christ to help us grow closer to Him. Most of all, I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that They love us perfectly. They will never leave us alone. They will never forget us. They are always there for us and They will help us as long as we will let Them.

Jun 8, 2016

My Stargazing Themed Wedding

All photos on this post (unless otherwise noted) are by Jamie Tervort Photography.
Two weeks ago, I married the man of my dreams. I honestly didn’t think he existed. I figured all the good guys had been taken and that I was going to have to settle. And that’s what I believed until I started dating my Alex. He is far better than any man I could’ve ever imagined, and now we are sealed together as husband and wife for time and all eternity. To say that I feel blessed is an understatement.

Alex proposed to me while star gazing. We often go star gazing together, since I am such an astronomy nerd. Alex threw some pillows and blankets in the back of his truck, and we spent a few moments cuddling and gazing up into the cloud-filled sky with a few pockets of stars visible. As we gazed up into the eternity of the sky, Alex spoke of the perspective that star gazing offered him. Gazing into the stars gives a glimpse into the endless nature of God and the great multitude of his creations. Alex took off his CTR ring and held it up to the sky, talking about how even such a small space in the sky contains countless numbers of God's creations. He continued to talk as he put his arm down, switching out his CTR ring for the diamond ring that he bought for me. He held up his hand again to look through the ring once again, explaining that at first glance, the space might appear blank and meaningless because it is dark and incomprehensible. As one looks closer (like through a telescope), the significance gradually becomes apparent and one can see the eternal stretch before them. As he spoke, he drew the ring closer to me and, when finished speaking, turned the ring so that I could plainly see the diamonds in front of me. I was shocked since I wasn’t expecting him to propose that night. He asked me to be his wife and I said, “Yes!” This is why we decided to have a star gazing themed wedding, with the colors royal blue, black, and indigo. In our wedding, I tried to incorporate this theme into just about every aspect.
The lovely Payson Temple is my favorite!
We were sealed for time and all eternity in the Payson Utah temple. Although we’re from Texas, Payson was a central location for quite a bit of our family and friends, as well as allowed us to have a destination mountain wedding. We both love the outdoors, especially mountains and forests. And, Payson holds a special place of importance for my own family as my pioneer ancestors helped to settle the town, and since many of my relatives are buried there to include my mother.
I was going to write an awesome blog post on the whole story of my wedding, but once I started writing reviews on all my vendors, I actually think I’m going to post those instead. What I wanted to share most about my wedding were all the ideas I utilized in making it such an amazing, fun, and memorable event so that others can possibly use some of them in their event planning. So here it is, a compilation on all of the vendors I worked with, all of the Pinterest ideas I put into action, and also some of my own creations in carrying out my star gazing themed wedding reception. But really, how did people plan weddings before Pinterest?

Planning Suggestions and Website
The Knot
Our wedding website from the Knot.

I used theknot.com for all my checklists, wedding planning, and even my wedding website. It was so convenient to refer guests to the site for reception information and details. I was even able to share our story and pictures, along with recommendations on places to stay and things to do in the area. The wedding countdown was also pretty nice.

Jamie Tervort Photography
All the pictures from this blog were done by Jamie Tervort Photography.
My Maid of Honor recommended Jamie as my wedding and engagements photographer and I'm glad she did! After a week of researching photographers online (I'm from Texas, but we got married in Utah), I contacted Jamie. I'm very picky about my services when I'm paying more than a hundred dollars on them, so I put in a great deal of research to get just what I want. And after talking with her and checking out her portfolio, I knew that she was exactly the photographer I was looking for. I love her style! She was such a pleasure to work with as well. I'm not the most patient at having my picture taken, and neither is my husband, but she made the experience fun and easy. She utilized all of my pose ideas (from pinterest), captured every shot I wanted, and even suggested some shots I didn't think of that have turned out to be some of my favorite. I love all the pictures from both my engagements and my wedding session. I even filled a guest book photo album with my engagement pictures because I couldn't decide on just one for my invitations. Jamie is professional, incredibly talented, a delight to be around, and quick on getting our pictures to us. She worked well with our wedding videographer, venue, and DJ. I highly, highly recommend Jamie Tervort Photography as your photographer for any occasion. I drove all the way from Texas to use her.

Emily Goodman
Emily Heap was our videographer.

My photographer actually recommended Emily to me as a videographer. I wasn’t sure I was going to even have one, but after I saved so much money on my dress, I could afford to hire one, and I decided I would regret it if I didn’t get a video. I did a lot of research into videographers. I didn’t want just a couple  of montages. I wanted my whole reception captured, I wanted to hear dialogue and voices, I wanted interviews with my guests. Essentially, I wanted a journal-like capturing of my wedding. Emily’s prices fit right in my budget, and on top of all the wedding shoots, she even threw in a love story shoot. That’s where Alex and I shared the story of how we met and fell in love. She even guaranteed our wedding video to be done and to us by the end of June, and I'm very excited to see it.

The Dress
Fantasy Bridal

I found my dress at Fantasy Bridal in Murray Utah.

I had just about given up hope of finding a wedding dress that I was not only happy with, but was also within my budget when a friend referred me to Fantasy Bridal. The girl that helped me was so wonderful and so helpful. She made me feel special, and was a delight to talk to. After trying on about ten dresses, I was giving up hope of finding a dress I was happy with, until I saw another girl trying on a gorgeous gown. After getting her permission to try on that same dress, I knew I had found it. The dress I would wear on my wedding day. The bet part was that it was right within my budget to the point where I could afford to also get a sparkling belt and hair clip. The saleswomen at Fantasy Bridal are absolutely wonderful! My only negative experience involved the seamstress, who was very rude and downright mean to me. She almost ruined my entire view of the dress and it took a wonderful Maid of Honor to help me get past her mean remarks. I still had an overall good experience shopping at Fantasy Bridal, and I do recommend them, just beware of the seamstress and make sure you have thick skin or bring emotional support when she is around.

Bridal Jewelry
USA Bride
Necklace and earrings from USA Bride

I ended up loving a simple wedding dress, so I knew I would need some sparkle to really make me feel like a princess and this dynasty jewelry set from USA Brides was exactly what I was looking for! My dress had a sweetheart neckline and the necklace fit beautifully with it. I received many compliments on my earrings and necklace, and I continue to wear them for more formal events. This was the perfect finishing touch to my bridal look.

Hair and Make-Up
Signature Brides

Signature Brides did my hair and make-up.
Signature Brides did the most wonderful job on my bridal hair and make-up! Even though I had unfortunately broken out in hive all over my face just 4 days before my wedding, they were able to make me beautiful. In fact, I have never felt so beautiful before in my life!  I received so many compliments on my hair and make-up, and I feel I look amazing in my wedding pictures because of it. The women at Signature Bridal were also so personable. They were fun to talk to, and very sweet. Now that I'm moving to the Provo area, I don't need to search for a new stylist. I'm just going to keep going to them. They are amazing, and I highly recommend them to anyone who wants to feel gorgeous.

Manicure and Pedicure
Erika’s Nail Room
Erika's Nail Room did the exact mani/pedi that I wanted.
I'm from Texas, but I was getting married in Utah, so I asked around for mani/pedi recommendations and my Maid of Honor sent me to Erika. I'm so glad she did, because Erika did an incredible job on my bridal nails! I sent her pictures from Pinterest of what I wanted and she did exactly that. She also made some suggestions of her own to ensure that my nails would last well through the honeymoon. I highly recommend Erika, and now that I'm moving to the Provo area, I don't have to worry about finding a nail salon because I've already found her. 

Star Bridal Garters
Star Bridal Garters made garters that matched my theme. (garter picture from Etsy site)

These garters match my wedding theme exactly to include a little star on the bow. And I even got two of them! One for the garter toss, and one for the wedding night. Okay, it’s really just a keepsake garter.

Venue/Wedding Planner/Caterer/Cake/Florist
5th East Hall
5th East Hall, American Fork
I live in Texas, but my fiancé and I wanted a destination mountain wedding, so we decided to get married in the Payson Utah LDS temple. Being a destination wedding, wedding planning was much more difficult as I had to do everything from a distance. I'm so glad that I found 5th East Hall on a wedding website search. Their venue packages included everything I needed except for the DJ and photographer. They even had an on-sight wedding planner who was supremely helpful in every aspect of my wedding planning and wedding day. 5th East Hall did my decorations to match my theme (stargazing) and my colors (royal blue, black, and indigo). The food was delicious. They hand-served the chicken piccata we wanted, and made a kid's option of macaroni and cheese. I couldn't be happier with the job they did making my wedding a success.

Their ceiling even matched my theme with a black background filled with tiny white lights that looked like stars. There was even an indoor waterfall, which I had my head table set up by. The whole layout of the venue was gorgeous with an entrance foyer, reception hall, and separate bridal room. They did the exact centerpieces I wanted. They even did my decoration flowers and my cake--which was delicious. Their wedding package even included the catering, and I was able to have my hand-served dinner complete with kid meal options. Additionally, they set up all my seating place cards. I'm very impressed with their service as they were easy to get a hold of either by phone or email. They were very accommodating with all my requests and even last-minute changes. I highly recommend 5th East Hall as an excellent venue for events and event planning.
5th East Hall did a wonderful job on my dream wedding cake and table decor!
Invitations and Save-The-Dates

Invitations by VistaPrint.
After searching through what seemed like dozens of online invitation vendors, I finally checked out Vista Print. Not only did they have the best deal and the best prices (to include an additional 20$ off at checkout!), but they were the only vendor that truly had the exact design I was looking for for my stargazing themed wedding. They even include envelope, save the dates (I was able to get magnetic ones!), RSVP cards, and reception inserts! I didn't settle with Vista Print. I found exactly what I wanted with Vista Print at a price far below my invitation budget. I highly recommend Vista Print if you're looking for a great product at a great price.

Return Address Stamp
Paper Peach Shop
Paper Peach Shop made me this exact stamp design for our return address. (Picture from Esty site)
I hate having to address hundreds of envelopes, let along return address them, so this stamp and ink set was such a lifesaver! I love how it, too, matched my wedding theme with its stars around our names. And I can even use it for normal correspondence once my thank you cards are sent out.

DJ and MC
One Above Entertainment
DJ Cooper Brown from One Above Entertainment
DJ Cooper Brown made my wedding reception a success! My guests told me that my wedding was the most fun reception they have ever attended and mostly because of the DJ. He got the guests engaged and kept everyone informed about the big events (cake cutting, first dance, bouquet toss, exit). Not only did he keep them informed, but he got them excited for everything that was scheduled. I did a lot of research for each of my vendors, and One Above Entertainment won me over with their easy to navigate website, the fact that he lists his prices online, and with his quick responses to my questions and schedule updates. I highly recommend One Above Entertainment for any event you want to be fun and successful.

Bride and Groom Flowers
Kelli DuBois

Kelli did a spectacular job on our flowers!
Now, for mine and my husband’s flowers, I wanted something a little nicer and more customized. I still opted for silk flowers, and my bridesmaid Kelli loves arranging flowers, so she and my bridesmaid Linzy went to Hobby Lobby with me to pick out my bouquet and Alex’s boutonnière. We went with white roses, a single red rose to commemorate my mother (her favorite flower), some green and purple accents, and blue ribbon. Kelli also got rhinestones and added them to my bouquet for some bling and sparkle. She did such an amazing job! I don’t think anyone else could’ve done better for me.
Bridesmaid and Groomsmen Flowers
The Bride’s Bouquet
Bridesmaid and Groomsmen flowers were from the Bride's Bouquet.

I’m not a big flower person, and flowers weren’t that important to me. I just wanted my bridal party to have some sort of bouquet or boutonnière, but I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of my budget on it. Luckily, I found the Bride’s Bouquet online. Their silk flower arrangements are quite pretty, and they are very affordable! They were just what I was looking for and I’m very happy with them.

Memorial Candles
Sweet Memory Flame
Sweet Memory Flame made our memorial candle wraps.
I have been trying to think of a way to honor my mother is my fiance's father at our wedding, and these memorial candles are perfect. I had them made up with pictures of our parents, and had the ribbon colors match our wedding color scheme. Sweet memory flame made the wraps and provided the glass candle vase. I bought flameless LED candles from Hobby Lobby to go inside. They were the finishing touch for our memorial table.

Bridesmaid Constellation Earrings
Karla’s Design
Karla's Designs constellation ear cuffs
I love these earrings. They  were perfect for my bridesmaids to wear since they matched the stargazing theme. They also made great bridesmaid gifts as I ordered them in each of my ladies' birthday zodiac constellation.

Flower Girl Constellation Necklace
See Flower
Capricorn constellation necklace from See Flower
For my beautiful flower girl who doesn’t have pierced ears, I got her this constellation necklace in her birthday zodiac constellation. She loved it, since she too is an astronomy nerd. I got it in silver, and it matched the rhinestones on her dress.

Seating Chart and Table Labels
Thomas Taylor Designs
My brother designed my star chart seating chart
Continuing with my stargazing theme, I wanted a star chart seating chart. My brother is a graphic designer and he went ahead and designed the whole thing for me complete with table label cards. Each table was named after a constellation, and each guest’s place card had that constellation on it. Since I’m a sci-fi nerd, he even snuck in a tiny starship onto my seating chart. I loved it even more.

Temple Cake Topper
Naag Tag
Naag Tag Cake Topper
I wanted something more personal for my cake topper than the usual bride and groom figures. As I was scrolling through pinterest (I seriously don’t know how people can wedding plan without it!), I found a laser cut temple topper. I contacted the company and they made me a time and all eternity cake topper with a bride and groom standing in front of the Payson Temple. It was perfect.


I’m not very crafty, but I do love making photo books on Shutterfly to the point of near-obsession. I’m so particular about my photo books that I decided I wanted to make my own Guestbook using our favorite engagement pictures (taken by Jamie Tervort). And that’s exactly what I did. It was perfect—exactly what I wanted! As this was a special book for a special occasion, I even got all the upgrades: matte cover and lay-flat thick pages.

Card Box
I got everything I needed for the card box at Amazon.
Since we were doing a destination wedding, just about all of our guests were travelling to get there. In anticipation of receiving mostly cards, I wanted a cute way to collect them, and I found this nice wire card box on Amazon. I also purchased a small string of white led lights to string throughout the box, giving it a more starry appearance. I think it turned out pretty cute.

Flower Girl Dress
Girls Dress Line
Girl's Dress Line royal blue flower girl dress
Since my daughter was our only flower girl, I let her pick out her dress. She wanted a blue one so that she could match the bridesmaids, and after scrolling through pinterest for a while, she found the exact royal blue dress she wanted. It was even complete with her own “stars” or the rhinestones on the top, a cute ruffle in the front, and a flower on the side. She wore a tiara from my Mother in her hair, and she looked like an absolute princess.

Bridesmaid Dress
Diviine Modestee
Diviine Modestee Alexandra dress in Cobalt Blue
Most of my bridesmaids were traveling quite a distance to come to my wedding, from both coasts even, so I wanted to find a nice, but under $100 bridesmaid dress. It needed to be modest, LDS church appropriate with sleeves and at knee-length. This was probably the most stressful search for me. I spent months looking for a dress that wasn’t frumpy modest, or cute immodest. And it had to be in the exact right shade of blue—royal blue—because I don’t like navy blue at all. All the dresses I found that I liked were either too expensive or the wrong color. I even searched all through Utah, thinking I could find a dress there, but to no avail. I about gave up and was just going to have them wear a long skirt with a shirt (not as fancy as I wanted), when I came across Diviine Modestee’s dress line. There, I found it! Finally. A dress that was the right shade of blue, that was long enough, that had sleeves, and that looked cute! And, they were only $50. As far as they’ve told me, they really like their dresses, and they looked so good in them! The pictures look fantastic, and I am so glad I found that site!

Men’s Wearhouse
Groom's and Best Man's tuxes from Men's Wearhouse
The guys were easy. I just wanted them in black suits (which they all had already), black dress shirts, and with a royal blue tie and pocket square that we provided. The best man really wanted to wear a tux, so we put him in an all black tux with an indigo tie and pocket square. My handsome husband also wore a tux, but his was black with everything else white. The tuxes were from Men’s Wearhouse, which was very easy to work with. The guys got measured at our Texas location, and were able to pick up and return their tuxes to the Utah location.

Bridal Shoes
Giani Bini from Dillards
I love these Giani Bini shoes! They added a nice pop of color.
With shoes, I wanted tall pumps so that my 5’4” frame would look good in my pictures alongside my 6’3” tall husband. And I wanted them to be royal blue. And, I wanted them to be as comfortable as high heels of that magnitude could be. I found those very shoes in the very first store I looked, Dillards. Not only did I find them, but they were on sale. Score! I love the contrast of the bright blue next to my wedding dress, and it tied in my bridal look with my bridesmaids. I love these shoes so much that I wear them regularly when I dress up.

I am so unbelievably happy with how my wedding turned out! It was everything I wanted it to be and more! All the planning and hard work came together in exactly the way I hoped. It was lovely, elegant, and a lot of fun.  And now I have all these memories, pictures, and videos to view and remember the significance and joy of my wedding day.