Category: religion

Feeling Happy and Hopeful

Hey guys! After being sick for a few weeks and feeling a little discouraged, I am feeling great at the moment!

The biggest thing that has me feeling on top of the world is on Sunday we had our first meeting of the new Mid-singles ward.  This is something I have been dreaming of an praying for these past 4 years I’ve been in the family ward. The first fireside was better than I could have imagined. I felt the spirit more than I have in literally years and there were quite a few people I recognized from former YSA wards, activities and committees.  I think it is going to be an excellent fit for me and great thing for my life!!

The bishop and other leaders spoke and I felt a connection with them right away and that is something I have missed with my recent wards. Family ward bishops are so busy with marriage counseling and welfare concerns (and the youth) that it is tough to even meet with them, let alone get the kind of attention a YSA bishop can give. I just have a good feeling about this new bishopric.

And honestly I can’t wait! I can’t wait for the activities and FHE and just to have renewed spirituality and focus in my life. I know I will have to do  my part but I feel excited and enthusiastic- and I haven’t felt that way for a long time about church. The gospel and my faith of course are always huge in my life but the church has taken a back seat the last few years. I hope that will change with this new ward. I’m going to do my best to make sure it changes.

Anyway, I am feeling very optimistic and encouraged. I am also feeling good because this week has been a great week over on my youtube channel. Through various situations I ended up doing 3 podcasts this week. Yesterday I talked about Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan with my friend Tom and then tonight I talked with my friend Mark about the Best Indie Films of 2016.

These discussions were so much fun. And then on Saturday I am talking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with my friends Abby, Jeremy and Richard, which I am greatly looking forward too.  I’m almost at 1000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! I think you will really enjoy the content. Thanks so much!

Tomorrow I am going to see the Broadway touring company of Newsies which I can’t wait to see as I loved the musical movie growing up.  And then on Saturday I have book club where we are discussing 2 obscure Jane Austen novels- Love and Friendship and Lady Susan. I LOVED the new movie based on Lady Susan but called Love and Friendship. If you can find it see it!

So things are looking good for me. Oh and I am going swimming with Etsuko on Friday. We decided we needed to get in the water to assuage our guilt at not swimming the GSL this year. It will be so much fun!

News and Updates

Hey guys! I just wanted to give you a quick update as Memorial Day is coming to a close. I hope you had a great day! I am happy to inform you I am pretty much healed from my illness of the last 2 weeks. It was brutal but I’m so grateful for all the support I had. If there’s one thing a tough experience can teach you it is it shows you all the love you have in your life. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.

I have some fun news to share with you! The first exciting news has to do with the church congregation I go to. I have done my fair share of complaining on this blog about my family wards and how out of place I feel. Unfortunately it was my only option because I was too old for the YSA singles ward and the midsingles ward was 30 minute drive and that wasn’t going to happen. Well, I am so excited to announce that we are getting a midsingles ward in Draper!!!!  They announced it last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It is going to start up right away with a fireside to be held on Sunday and the first meeting on June 12th!

This does have its downside because the ward will be massive- containing singles 31-45 from 28 stakes in the Sandy and Draper area. I am sure I will feel somewhat lost but as I already feel that way in the family ward at least there is some potential to make friends/date. Currently my life has little opportunities to meet new people so I am most excited for activities/Family Home Evening and other gathering times in the new ward. It should help my social circle at least a little bit (hey even if I meet one additional person that is a plus!)

midsingles

The other drawback is I will lose my home teachers, The Porters, who I love very much. Hopefully we can still stay in touch because they are only 2 houses down from me but I will miss their visits. They are the coolest people I know and so warm and accepting of me with all my flaws. I could talk to them for hours and have on a more than a few occasions.

Other than that I am excited to at least try something new. Hooray!

The other exciting news is I had to get my passport because I am going to Spain for the beginning of July!  I will be visiting my sister Anna in Valencia, Spain. I was determined to go to the beach this summer and she was there so I figured why not take advantage of it? I don’t know much about the area but am doing research. It looks like a neat place with beautiful water, which is most important to me.

valenciaI have been to Europe since I was in high school and haven’t been anywhere aside from a Mexican cruise since 2005! I am very excited.

I also don’t think I will be swimming the GSL race this year. It was a very hard decision for me but this recent illness finally sealed the deal. I just don’t think I will be strong enough Saturday to take that on. It’s so hard on my body with the salty water that it just doesn’t make sense. (It pains me to write that and a side of me still wants to do it. Darn it all!).

Anyway, that’s my news. I hope you are all doing well.  Let me know what you think!

Saturday’s Warrior Review

I normally don’t review movies on this blog very often but since Saturday’s Warrior is an LDS film I felt like it belonged here more.  It was interesting because I saw Everybody Wants Some, the new film from Richard Linklater today along with Saturday’s Warrior.  Both films are set in the late 70s and both are heavily nostalgic and both rely on music to tell their stories.  It’s funny because on the surface they couldn’t be more different but seeing them back to back I saw some similarities. To read my review for Everybody Wants Some go here.

Anyway, let’s talk about Saturday’s Warrior.  Based on the popular stage play written by Lex de Azevedo, Saturday’s Warrior is a musical focused on a Mormon family in the 1970s.

It starts in the premortal spirit life where the family is gathered to say goodbye as each of them leave to join their earthly family.  The oldest Jimmy and Pam promise the youngest Emily that they will make sure their parents don’t get tired of having kids before they can have her, the 8th child.

Then Julie, the second daughter, sings to her love Tod that they will find each other on earth. The last group is Wally Kestler who is desperate to go on a mission and convert the world.

saturdays warriorOnce they get to earth things get more complicated with the appeal of that darn old rock and roll music (gets you every time!) and Jimmy gets dragged into a band that is up to no good.  They even start singing a song literally called ‘Zero Population’ criticizing his big family and threatening the birth of little Emily.

Meanwhile Tod hasn’t been born with the gospel and is an artist and poor Elder Kestler doesn’t have much luck on his mission (until he meets Tod…spoiler alert).

The main appeal to this movie is the songs.  If you have nostalgia for the songs than you will probably enjoy it.  There is no attempt to lessen the camp at all and this is true for the songs.  Aside from having popular Mormon singers like Alex Boye involved they feel like they are straight from the 1970s.

saturdays warrior2I guess you either go with that kind of vintage feel or you don’t.  There’s also no attempt to update the production either.  It might as well have been shot on the Brady Bunch set how low budget 1970s it looks.  That has some appeal but wears thin after a while.

One thing that was weird is the camerawork seemed off the entire time. I am wondering if there was something wrong at my screening.  It felt like everything was chopped off.  You’d have characters talking and their foreheads would be chopped off of the shot.  It was very weird but when I watch the trailer I don’t see that happening.

saturdays warrior3The acting feels low budget and it is a religious film where the Mormon way is the right way and the other is the way of the devil.  Not a whole lot of in between.  If you are looking for a subtle movie about faith this is not the film for you. It’s very cheesy but I knew that going into it.  No surprises there!

Unfortunately the acting isn’t very good and it all feels like a Mormon episode of Saved by the Bell.

If you are a big fan of the music than you will probably enjoy it.  I had fun with it on that level but I can’t really recommend it.  It’s not a good movie but not the worse thing I’ve seen either so take that for what you will.

Overall Grade- D+ (2/5 stars)

My youtube review- If you like this review I would really appreciate subscribing to my channel or giving it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Screenwriting interview with Melissa Leilani

Hi guys! Many of you know I have dabbled in writing over the years and participate in Nanowrimo each year.  Of course, I also love movies and especially a well written script.  Well, today I had the cool experience today where I got to interview Melissa Leilani and find out what it is like to be a screenwriter.  She was the main writer for a film I loved in 2015 called Freetown.

Freetown is a faith-based film but one that is approachable to anyone.  It tells the story of a man who must smuggle 6 missionaries out of Liberia during their brutal civil war.  Things are tense and Brother Abubakar is a man of practical faith mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism.  It makes him a very compelling character.

What I really appreciated about Freetown is that it told a compelling story and let the messsaging take care of itself.  Unlike many faith based films (that I still find some value in) I didn’t feel it was preachy or forcing a message upon me.  In fact, my friend Yusuf who is Muslim liked the film as much as I did.

Here are both of our reviews:

I think you might find it interesting to watch the film and then listen to the interview about her experience.  However, I also think it will be interesting if you are just interested in screenwriting or writing in general.  It was really cool to hear about her process, the research that went into the film and how she approached characters and faith.

We do get off topic a few times (we have very similar movie and theater taste!) but it was a lot of fun for me.  She has a theater background so her transition from playwright to screenwriter was very interesting.

Anyway, this is only the 3rd interview I have done, so if you have any feedback that would be great.  I hope you enjoy it.

Paris and the Ability to do Nothing

I am sure most of you have heard about the horrible terror attacks in Paris today.  I heard about the events later than most because I was innocently watching My Little Pony of all things on a binge watch (it was an animated show I still had yet to check out and I really liked it).  Then I noticed on my twitter feed a bunch of comments about Paris and I turned on the news.  It was awful.  People at a concert, out to eat, at a soccer game attacked and at least 153 brutally killed.  It’s hard to even wrap my brain around.  I remember feeling that way after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Why would anyone do such a thing?

My immediate concern was also to my sister who is currently living in Spain and traveling all around Europe on a fairly regular basis.  She just finished up a trip in Amsterdam and I wanted to make sure she was ok.  I didn’t know if I would wake her up but I sent her a text saying I was worried and I guess she had a nightmare and then read my text right after waking up.  That must have been a very surreal experience for her.  She is fortunately safe and not in a major city likely to be targeted but I still worry with her being over there.  I hope and pray she is able to stay safe.

It’s just so awful.  There’s no other way to say it, and what makes it worse is there is so little that can be done about it. Yes we can do more to fight terrorism and I have my own views on the current administrations job in that department but in the end if some wacko wants to go into a public place and do something like this there is little we can do to stop it.  We can’t be under guard and security all the time for every meal we eat, every movie we see, every concert we attend.  That’s not to say we can’t do a heck of a lot and it is a miracle more incidents like this don’t happen but at a certain point we can’t stop it. It’s not like the conflict of old  where a peace treaty is signed and a cavalry withdrawn.  These are soldiers who do not differentiate between civilian and soldier and don’t need a cavalry to do their damage.

It’s very scary time and was foretold to us by Timothy

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”.

And I guess for me it is a weird experience watching the carnage and hearing the reporters talk about it.  I find I can only listen to about 15 minutes because it becomes circular and I end up weeping at the stories. And yet I feel guilty watching or doing anything else.  But on the other hand, what good is it for me to be upset here in Utah?  Aside from making a donation to the Red Cross or other worthy organization there isn’t much I can do about it.  It’s a very strange feeling to be presented with so much suffering and just have to sit and watch. It’s kind of a no-win situation.

So I went back to watching other programs and considered going to a movie but again for some reason that felt wrong and disrespectful, which I own is kind of ridiculous but that’s how I felt. You kind of feel like in the story of the Good Samaritan the Levite and the priest who leave the suffering man to die, but in this case there isn’t anything you can do despite seeing the images of suffering. Have any of you felt that way?

I guess if it can be any comfort we also know that during these difficult times God will be in the midst of the faithful to give us strength.

Zephaniah “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy”

We must never forget that He is mighty to save and He will help us and our leaders get through this perilous time.

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Jesus-Christ-Lamb-MormonI know it’s been said a million times but pray for Paris and all those in need of comfort on this horrible day.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and I rewatched this video.  As someone who had a dark time (although never suicidal), I found the video very moving.  Especially the story of the man and his brother who listened.

I hope we can all be people who will listen and withhold judgement from those that are struggling with these issues.  We truly all matter and add something unique to the world that nobody else can.  If there is anything I can ever do I hope to have my eyes out for it and be there in the best way I know how.  In the least I can pray for you when you are struggling.

No more goodbyes!

Temple in Indiana Dedicated

This is a post mainly for my Mormon readers.

templeI have very exciting news!  Today in Carmel, Indiana (just outside of Indianapolis) they dedicated a temple for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the LDS part of Smilingldsgirl).

This is important to me because I served my mission in Indiana from 2003-2005.  Back then I could never have imagined a temple in Indianapolis because there were so many nearby (2 in Illinois, 1 in Kentucky 1 in Iowa, 1 in Michigan etc).  My mission was a great experience but it was incredibly challenging.  I can honestly say I left it all out there and gave m all spiritually, physically and mentally.  I’m not saying I was perfect but just that I did the best I could and I had a confirmation from Heavenly Father when I was done that he accepted my effort.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard the news of the temple way back in 2010.  But then it seemed to be taking forever to even get construction started so I started to wonder if it would ever happen.  I’m not sure what kind of difficulties they had because typically temples go from announced to built much more quickly.

However, I’m just so excited that it is done and the great work can go on there for the Hoosiers I love so much.  They are a giving, loving people who are deeply involved in community, churches and civic organizations.  I’ve never lived anywhere where high school and college sports was that important.  Anything that could be cheered on and celebrated was whether it was Indy Car racing or Notre Dame football.  It was deeply felt and passionate like nowhere I had ever seen before.  I can only imagine when that fervor gets turned to temple work what great things will be done.

temple4 temple3 temple2Seeing the Indianapolis Temple makes me want to renew my goal to go to the temple more as I am far to quick to let that slip.  And the sad part is I really need it.  It’s such a peaceful, quiet, lovely place and really is my sanctuary from the world.  I’m so happy that my Hoosier friends will have such a place for them to commune with the Lord.

I do have a witness of this work and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God through a spiritual witness and it is my greatest desire to serve Him each day.  I know Jesus died for me and has suffered for my sins and shortcomings.

Congrats to my Indiana Mormon friends!  I love you!

temple5

Family Movie Night 2- Wild Thornberrys Movie

thornberrys

Today wasn’t feeling great but really didn’t want to miss out on week 2 of my Family Movie Night series.  The goal behind this series is to provide a recommendation from off of Netflix stream that you can watch for FHE or a family movie night.  This week’s choice is The Wild Thornberry’s Movie.

If you haven’t seen the movie it is based on the Nickelodeon cartoon about a family that makes a nature television show in Africa.  The youngest daughter Eliza is given the ability to talk to animals but she must keep this power secret or she will lose it.

thornberrys2In this movie version Eliza is sent to England to keep her safe but she is worried about a cheetah cub she saw abducted.  She sneaks away and makes it back to Nairobi and starts on adventure to find her parents, save the animals and find the poachers.  It’s very exciting, beautifully animated with good vocal performances by Tim Curry,  Lynne Redgrave, Lacey Chabert, Marissa Tomei, Rupert Everett and more.

Quality: Original. Film Title: The Wild Thornberry's Movie. For further information: please contact your local UIP Press Office.

The music is very well done with songs from Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon to name a few.  It’s funny without being too immature and I like that the lead is a little girl who doesn’t always make all the correct choices.  She’s a well rounded believable character.  Her sister Debbie is a bit of a caricature as the snobby teen but you do see some growth from her over the course of the movie (She is kind of like a grown up Angelica from Rugrats).  She does get a lot of the good humorous lines in the movie so I don’t mind her Valley Girl character.   Darwin the monkey is also a source of a lot of laughs.

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There are some moments of peril but they are broken up by humor and I don’t think too scary for little children.

It’s a movie I think would easily work into a FHE lesson about conservation, nature, endangered species etc. Plus, you could talk about how we all have special gifts like Eliza has the gift to talk to animals. She also never gives up no matter the obstacle put in her way.

Here is the trailer.

If you have any ideas for a Netflix film you’d like me to pick for next week’s family movie night pick let me know.  Thanks and thanks for watching my review on youtube, giving it a thumbs up.  Take care.

Family Movie Night 1: Penguins of Madagascar

Hey you guys I am trying to start up a new series on my youtube channel where I pick a movie available on Netflix stream as my pick for a family movie night pick.  I know most who follow this blog are LDS and have Family Home Evening so I would love for your feedback on this.

What do you think?  Would you like me to include a lesson?  A treat recipe?  Or is it best to keep it very short?  I have found my Mom friends don’t like to listen to long videos so that’s why I kept it short.  I want to keep it fairly non-denom friendly so that anyone can have a family movie night but open for suggestions on that as well.

My idea behind using Netflix was that most families I know have Netflix stream and so it would make the film choice easy for them to pick for Family Movie Night. They wouldn’t have to go to Redbox, pay extra for a rental or the big bucks for the theater. I could do new releases if you think that would be good?  I really am just curious for your feedback.

If you think it is a good concept I would love if you shared the video with your friends/followers on social media.  Also as always any thumbs up or comments on the video are always appreciated.

Thanks in advance for that feedback and for those that have already given me feedback and shared thank you!

Life is Good

How are you guys doing?  I’m doing great!  I just had Sunday dinner with my extended family.  A bunch of my cousins and aunts and uncles are in town for the holiday so it was great to catch up .I should have taken some photos but it was great to see 22 of my family members.  My sister who lives in DC was there with my nieces, my parents, sister Madeline, Grandma, cousins, aunts and uncles.  My aunt and uncle who are in the foreign service in Shanghai were there so that was a real treat.  It was just a great time.

It made me realize how much I have to be grateful for.  I have so much love in my life, so many people who care about me and want me to be happy.  I am so richly blessed.

I also have amazing friends most of whom I don’t get to see near enough.  But I know you are praying for me and I you.  (And I miss you all so much. You have no idea).

I have wonderful social media friends and associates who bring perspective and laughter into my life.  I know it is easy to get cynical about online but I have met so many wonderful people through facebook groups, twitter and this blog.  My life is so much richer and better because of each of you.

All week I kept trying to express my complex reactions to the Supreme Court ruling.  It is not a simple thing for me as I know it isn’t for many of you.  I tried and tried.  Then with my family tonight I realized what was important.

What is important is to let you all know that I love you.  My life is great and I look forward to a new era of friendshipping, faith and working with people on common goals.  Do not feed the negativity.  There are extremes on both sides of any debate. Just be grateful for all the blessings in your life and do the best you can to be kind to others. Love people for all their goodness. That is what Jesus would want us to do.

I was thinking of this.  It’s so easy to do the cynical thing and not reach deeper and really try and understand people.  I hope I can do better and be kind to others.

Anyway, God bless and thank you again for being a part of my life.