“I believe in you”

A couple months ago I posted a story on instagram about an experience I had with one of my tumbling students.

This particular student is eight years old  has a few extra trials that most 8 year olds I teach don’t have. When I first met this friend of mine he was terrified to even do a forward roll and would hardly jump on a trampoline because of his anxiety and would just repeat over and over again “but teacher it makes me too nervous.” My most common phrase I’d say to this friend of mine is “Be brave.” And you’d better believe we’ve had a several long talks about what it means to be brave. Earlier this week we were in class when I was working with my class on the trampoline. I asked them to climb up on a large box that is bigger than they are, jump off of it onto a trampoline, then continue doing specific jumps down the trampoline. When this friend’s turn came he wobbled up the box and climbed to his feet. I was fully expecting another spout of fear so I looked at him and said “are you brave?” And he just gave me a big thumbs up and said “I’m gonna rock it teacher!!” And just like that he jumped right off that box and did some of the prettiest jumps I’ve ever seen him do. You’d better believe there were tears in my eyes because at that moment I was reminded why I love what I do so darn much.

I have experiences like this all the time as a tumbling coach.

There are moments in every person’s life that are monumental. For most gymnasts, some of those events include learning difficult skills for the first time or accomplishing things that are difficult for them.

There is a special moment in each of these experiences that pierce every coach right to the center.

These moments usually happen seconds after the athlete has accomplished something difficult. It’s the moment when the athlete looks at their coach with joy in their eyes as if to say “coach! Look what you helped me do!”

I had three of these moments yesterday. The first was when one of my competitive athletes did her back handspring by herself for the first time. The other two were when some other athletes connected multiple back handsprings in a row that they had never done before.

 

That look. The look at the very end of this video. Is the reason I coach.

It’s in these moments I’m reminded why I do what I do. I’m reminded that I love these kids. I’m reminded how cool it is that I get to play a tiny part in the big events in someone else’s life.

Because it’s not about the flips or the fancy tricks, but it’s about believing in someone more than they believe in themselves. And I’ve learned that if you believe in them long enough, they’ll start to believe too. And that means everything to me because I’ve been that athlete before that’s been blessed because someone has believed in me.

The moment I did my first back handspring. The moment I landed my first full. The moment I found out I had qualified for my first national championships.

I know in each of these moments I looked towards my coaches with this same look of joy in my eyes. Because I knew they had put in just as much effort as I had. And they cared about me.

Those are moments I will forever be grateful for.

So everytime an athlete looks at me like that… I think of them. I think about how they believed in me. I think about how they impacted my life. And that means the world.

So go tell someone that you believe in them. See what happens.

 

-WhitneySue

A new chapter

 

Hello my lovely friends!

Welcome to brand-spankin’ new corner of the internet!

For the last five years I’ve documented my life over at FeelMySunlight.blogspot.com and what a joy that has been! I’ve journaled my life over there through my junior high years, through my high school adventures, through my years as a competitive power tumbler, through my journey as a tumbling coach, and most importantly, through my experience as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Orlando, Florida.

And what a journey it’s been!

But with 2018 approaching, it’s time for a new chapter!

And for all of those who have been following along over the last five years don’t you even worry… I made sure to transfer over all my archives to this blog! So none of the fun has been lost!

And in addition to creating this lovely website, I’ve also been busy updating my official portfolio site! Which can be found by clicking the link at the top of this blog!

So I guess it’s time for an update about where I’ve been the last little while, and where I am headed!

I returned home from my full-time mission in Orlando Florida last April. I left a piece of my heart there and was forever changed by that experience. After returning back to Utah I spent the summer with my lovely family in Layton Utah. This last August I went on a lovely vacation back to my mission to visit many of the wonderful people I met as well as finally swim in the Atlantic Ocean and visit Disney World. A few days after returning home from that adventure I packed up everything and moved down to school. I now live in Provo, Utah and attend Utah Valley University. I’m studying Graphic Design and am loving everything about life down here in Happy Valley. I’m right in the middle of taking finals for this semester and am proud to say I got 100 percent on my yoga final today. Y’all should be jealous. After this semester I am going to take a semester break to do some graphic design and photography work and to build up my portfolio.

I’m also a coach at a local tumbling gym and if you stick around long enough you’ll probably hear a story or two about my cute students because they are my world. I am still taking lots of pictures and drinking my grapefruit juice every morning. If you see me with headphones I’m either listening to Disney music or the New Taylor Swift Album.

So there ya have it!

Here’s to a new blog! And here’s to a new adventure!

Love ya lots!

-WhitneySue

 

 

 

 

 

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato

The other day I was at the gym coaching one of my little competitive tumbling teams. This team likes to give me grief every now and then and on this particular night they were having an especially difficult time.

They were having a really hard time listening to and following directions. Their attitudes were out the window and every few minutes I had another kid in tears for menial reasons. And as every minute passed I felt my blood boil more as I started to slip into what I call “strict coach mode.” Pretty soon everything they did made me mad and I stopped being their friend and started being their dictator.

I had about had it.

It was at this point that one of my seven year old students flopped on the ground wailing about how he couldn’t do a back handspring the way he wanted to as tears streamed down his face. This was probably the fifth tear episode from the class and the second one from him in about 20 minutes.

I swallowed everything inside of me that wanted to yell at him and say “get up. you’re fine. stop crying.” and I pulled him aside and sat him down on the edge of the tumbling floor. I knelt down on his level and put my hands on his knees and said “buddy… how come everything is making us so upset today?”

I expected to him wail back at me something about me and my coaching. I expected him to complain about how he didn’t like what I was making him do or something along those lines.

His response shocked me.

He looked up at me with tears pooling from his eyes and said “I got in a fight with my mom on the before tumbling today. She was yelling at me and it hurt my feelings. I just can’t stop thinking about it.”

It had nothing to do with back handsprings, or tumbling, or my coaching. It had everything to do with what this little boy was experiencing in his life.

So I asked him to tell me more. I just sat and listened and didn’t say anything. I just let him talk. After a few minutes of him telling me this story he wiped away the tears and I asked him if he felt better. He nodded and I said “should we get up and try our back handsprings again?” and sure enough he popped right up and did his back handsprings perfectly.

So often in our lives we interact with people without really taking the time to know what’s really going on behind the curtain. We judge them for the things they say or do and we don’t take into consideration the fact that there might be more to it than meets the eye. And even worse, we interpret their actions to have something to do with us. As if they don’t like us or they have a problem with us, when in reality, most of the time it has nothing to do with us.

There is a quote that keeps coming to my head every time I think about this experience that says

“Be Kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato.

Isn’t this just the truest statement?

So since then I’ve made an effort to take this philosophy into the other classes I teach. I’ve made an effort to take the time to talk to each child during class to ask them about school and their families and different parts of their lives. I’ve been amazed at how much just a little kindness makes in someones life. I’ve been so surprised by how the children have responded to this small gesture of listening. During one of my classes this week one of my small quiet girls ran up to me and gave me the biggest hug and whispered “we are going to be best friends, okay?” I know she never would have done that had I not taken the time to show her I wanted to be her friend first.

And I’ve also noticed how much of a difference the little kind acts of others have made in my own life. I’ve noticed myself become physically happier when I walk into work and my boss takes the time to say hi to me, or when I walk into one of my school classes and the girl sitting next to me takes the time to ask me how my weekend was, or when the random friend snapchats me to ask me how I’m doing because he hasn’t heard from me in a while. All of these things have made such an impact on my life and sometimes I don’t even notice it.

Kindness is real. You might not be able to change the world, but you have the power to change someones world with just one small act of kindness.

So there’s some food for thought for your day today. Take the a minute to consider the people in your life and your current relationship you have with them. Are you taking the time to listen to their stories? Are you talking the time to be kind to them? Because I promise you, it will make a world of difference.

My friends, don’t forget to be kind today.

-Whit

Another Earthquake. Another Hurricane. Another Shooting.

My companion and I participating in the Mormon Helping Hands cleanup after Hurricane Matthew in 2017.

Another Earthquake. Another Hurricane. Another Shooting.

It’s flooded our news feeds and there is no escape to it.

But maybe we’re not supposed to escape it.

Maybe we’re not supposed to try to fix it.

Maybe we’re supposed to turn to God.


In the recent General Conference that took place this last weekend, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spoke of hope in a fallen world. They spoke of a peace that comes only through the Savior Jesus Christ and liberation that comes only through Christ’s Atonement and the wonderful sacrifice He made for each of us. It is only through him that we can have peace and direction during these trying times.

But what about the tree on your house? What about the lives that are lost? What about you’re own personal trials that you’re going through that aren’t plastered on the news or seen on anybody’s twitter feed? The kind that nobody knows about, but that keep you up all hours of the night? What do we do about those?

One of my favorite conference talks comes from the October 1993 conference. In it Elder Jeffrey R. Holland tells a story about four year old Katie Lewis as recounted by Katie’s mother. As I look at the horror happening in the world around me, I can’t help but feel like the world needs to hear this message. In this talk Elder Holland says that Katie lewis is his neighbor, her father, Randy, was his bishop; her mother, Melanie, was a saint. And her older brother, Jimmie, was battling lukemia.

Elder Holland shared what follows;
“Sister Lewis recently recounted for me the unspeakable fear and grief that came to their family when Jimmie’s illness was diagnosed. She spoke of the tears and the waves of sorrow that any mother would experience with a prognosis as grim as Jimmie’s was. But like the faithful Latter-day Saints they are, the Lewises turned to God with urgency and with faith and with hope. They fasted and prayed, prayed and fasted. And they went again and again to the temple.

“One day Sister Lewis came home from a temple session weary and worried, feeling the impact of so many days—and nights—of fear being held at bay only by monumental faith.

“As she entered her home, four-year-old Katie ran up to her with love in her eyes and a crumpled sheaf of papers in her hand. Holding the papers out to her mother, she said enthusiastically, “Mommy, do you know what these are?”

“Sister Lewis said frankly her first impulse was to deflect Katie’s zeal and say she didn’t feel like playing just then. But she thought of her children—all her children—and the possible regret of missed opportunities and little lives that pass too swiftly. So she smiled through her sorrow and said, “No, Katie. I don’t know what they are. Please tell me.”

““They are the scriptures,” Katie beamed back, “and do you know what they say?”
Sister Lewis stopped smiling, gazed deeply at this little child, knelt down to her level, and said, “Tell me, Katie. What do the scriptures say?”

““They say, ‘Trust Jesus.’” And then she was gone.

“Sister Lewis said that as she stood back up, holding a fistful of her four-year-old’s scribbling, she felt near-tangible arms of peace encircle her weary soul and a divine stillness calm her troubled heart.
Katie Lewis, “angel and minister of grace,” I’m with you. In a world of some discouragement, sorrow, and overmuch sin, in times when fear and despair seem to prevail, when humanity is feverish with no worldly physicians in sight, I too say, “Trust Jesus.” Let him still the tempest and ride upon the storm. Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.”

My friends… I echo Elder Holland’s counsel he learned from four year old Katie Lewis. Maybe when we look at the world around us and see it crumbling we need to “trust Jesus.”
Our government can’t stop hurricanes. Our laws can’t stop people from having cold hearts. But with the hope that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ our hearts can change. We can begin to help one another. We can begin to be Saviors on Mount Zion.
In this recent conference President Henry B. Eyring spoke of the recent hurricanes that have hit Florida. He told a story of a family who was on vacation when the hurricane hit, but was anxious to serve. He said that when they got back to their town they asked their church leader what they could do to help. This family later recounted that when they got home they found a tree on their house and being so overwhelmed by this they decided to reach out and serve someone else and trust that God would provide a way for their tree to be removed. In so doing they were blessed with an army of helping hands to lift this tree from off their roof.
My friends, we all have metaphorical trees on our houses. We all have things that seem to be crushing us. We, as a nation, have trees that have toppled over that no amount of political debate can provide the physical force to lift it off. We can’t remove our trees alone. But as we follow the counsel of our beloved church leaders to turn to others, we can trust in the hope that God will remove our trees.
As we trust Jesus we have no need to fear. He has won the victory over death and sin and trial for each of us before, no doubt He can continue to do so for us today, but only if we allow Him. 
So my friends, in these times of trial, trust Jesus. For He is the only one that can help us overcome this. 
-Whit

Dear Blogosphere,

Dear Blogosphere,

I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’ve missed you.

Wow so much has happened over the last little bit. I decided to take a break from blogging for a minute while I lived up the last part of my summer. Now I’m sitting here realizing I should probably smack an update on this little corner of the internet.

In June I was able to go to Yellowstone National Park with my YSA ward. That was a party and a half. And then I also got to go to Chicago with my cute family and that was non-stop fun.

July was amazing. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to girls camp with my home ward as the “camp photographer” which basically translates to the fact that my 12 year old sister wanted me to come so she walked straight up to my bishop and said “hey bishop… can Whitney come to camp?” and he said “Sure! We’ll find something for her to do!” and KABAM I found myself at girls camp as the leader that everyone kept forgetting was an actual leader… including herself. I’m secretly still 12 at heart.

I also was blessed with the opportunity to spend HALF of August in Florida. Oh what a dream that was. I spent the first week with one of my mission companions, Kathy Glover, running all over Florida. I was finally able to go to Disney World thanks to some wonderful friends I met while I was on my mission. Then we spent some time up in New Smyrna Beach which was one of my favorite areas. When we finally got up to the area it was about 10:00 at night. Kathy and I looked at each other and said… “well, we don’t have a curfew anymore. We don’t have to go home yet. What should we do?” and then said “well, we are allowed to go in the ocean now.”

So you’d better believe we drove straight to the ocean, parked our car, and ran full speed straight into the open waters fully clothed. What a liberating experience that was to finally stand in the water I spent eighteen months looking at from a distance. I’m in love with the ocean. My other favorite part of this trip was being reunited with the people I came to love so much as a missionary. Many people didn’t know we were coming so it was such a joy to knock on their doors and surprise them.

The second week with a crew of maniacs I’ve been friends with since Junior High and High School. It was such a magnificent experience. If you know me very well you’ll know that my soul belongs in Florida, and it was so fun to be able to introduce my friends to my favorite places. We were able to storm around Disney World some more and it was just incredible. I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I had.

So where am I now?

I came home from Florida and moved to Provo a couple days later. I’ve now been a student at Utah Valley University for a couple months and am LOVING every second of it. I’m rooming with some mission friends and have a hard time going to bed on time because we’re always up laughing. I’m currently a competition coach at an incredible gym in Provo called High Altitude and am loving coaching more than ever.

Earlier this month my beautiful little sister was set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is currently in the Provo Missionary Training Center and she is absolutely loving being a missionary. She will serve in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission and we are so proud of her. But I must say that when we were dropping her off at the MTC I was pretty dang jealous it wasn’t me leaving on a mission.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sky, outdoor and nature

 

Now it’s almost October and I’m doing good! I don’t quite know how to handle this colder Utah weather because I’ve spent the last two winters in Florida, but my gym that I work at is next to a candle company and when I left work the other day the air smelled strongly of pumpkin spice so I’m not complaining. I’m excited to see the seasons change for the first time in a long time.

I figured I’d throw this quick update on here since I’ve had a hard time keeping up this little corner of the internet. I will hopefully be better at updating now that I’m a little more settled into my new life down here in Provo.

I hope you are doing well and that life is treating you good. I promise to stay in touch better this time.

Love,
Whit

What I learned from Elder M. Joseph Brough

Good morning my friends! And happy Sunday!

Since I’ve been home from my mission I’ve had the sacred opportunity to teach my stake’s mission preparation class early on Sunday mornings. It has been such a wonderful blessing to share the experiences and knowledge I gained on my mission with those preparing to serve. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve.

This morning, however, I didn’t teach mission prep. We were blessed to have  who is the Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency come speak to us. You might have remembered his talk in General Conference this last April. What a wonderful opportunity that was to sit and listen to him teach as I reflected on my service as a missionary.

The first thing he talked about struck me because it had nothing to do with missionary work. He talked about relationships. He said that “relationships are everything. They are the plan.”

The plan he was referring to was of course, God’s plan of happiness. The plan He made so that each of us would be able to return to live with Him again someday. What I realized this morning is that none of us can return to live with our Heavenly Father alone. Eternal Life is a group activity.

That got me to thinking about my relationships. How important are each of my relationships on my path back to Heaven.

Obviously families are very important. Because we know that through Priesthood Power families can be sealed together in temples. How grateful I am for the blessing that I have in my life to have such a wonderful family.

But what about my other relationships? As I sat there thinking I realized that every single person I’ve ever come in contact with has affected my journey back to my Father in Heaven.

When I was fourteen I had an EFY counselor that challenged me to pray about the Book of Mormon and ask if it was true. I’m sure this counselor doesn’t realize the impact that had on my life or the lives of the thousands of people I met in Florida that I shared that experience with. There were many people who were able to enter the waters of baptism because they prayed and asked if it was true. They never would have asked had I not challenged them to. And I surely wouldn’t have offered up that challenge had I not believed in it with every fiber of my being. And that testimony never would have come to me had that counselor not challenged me to pray on that Thursday night six years ago.

The people we meet on a daily basis have so much more influence on our lives than we realize.

Last Sunday I bore my testimony in my singles ward. And today, a week later, I found myself sitting at the church waiting for a temple recommend interview with a member of the stake presidency. As I was sitting there a lady came up to me and said “you’re name’s Whitney right? I really enjoyed the testimony you shared last week!” To think that something I shared at church could have affected someone and helped them feel the spirit made me want to go out and share the gosepel that I love with more people.

A couple days ago I was at a college orientation and had to find an office somewhere on a campus that I didn’t really know. I wandered around for a little while and suddenly found myself a little lost. I started to pray right away for someone to help me. Not two seconds later a lady looked at me and said “do you need help looking for something?” right away I knew she was an answer to my prayers and was grateful for her help! I know that she was sent to that hallway specifically for me. I may never see her again, but I know her small act of service affected my life because she was willing to go out of her way to help me. That’s what the Savior would have done.

So I challenge you to ponder these relationships as you go thought your week this week. Think about your families. Think about your friends. Think about those you see at school or at work. Think about that random person you see sitting across from you on the bus. We have the opportunity to influence the lives of all of those around us for the better if we choose to act as the Savior would act.

So this week do something to strengthen a few of these relationships. Give your mom a hug. Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Smile at somebody in the hallway. Write a letter to a missionary. Say thank you. Share your testimony. Do something you’d imagine the Savior would do.

I know that we are all brothers and sisters and in this great eternal plan that our Heavenly Father has made “relationships are everything.”

-Whit

The answers that hurt

God’s timing. It’s always right isn’t it? But it hurts sometimes.

In my short twenty years of living I’ve come to learn this a few times.

I grew up a competitive power tumbler. It was my everything. I carried a little notebook to school with me and wrote my tumbling goals in it. When I was at the gym I was happy. And when my head would hit the pillow at the end of the day I’d dream of leotards and back flips.

Maybe you’ve heard this story if you know me very well. But as I was finishing my junior year I competed at the Power Tumbling Utah State Championships. I did the best I’d ever done and found myself with a silver medal and a score that qualified me for what would have been my fourth national championships.

I had it made. Or so I thought. But at the time I truly believed I was on my way to achieving the one thing that would make me happy.

Fortunately for me God knows what would really make me happy. And He knew that tumbling wasn’t it. Long story short I received one of the most distinct promptings that I needed to quit tumbling. Many questioned this decision because it didn’t really make much sense. And while I couldn’t see what would come from this decision I decided to act anyways. I did the hardest thing I had ever done. I quit tumbling.

Over three years later I look back on my life and see how much God has directed me to where I need to be. I see the blessings I received from following that one little prompting. But at the time I knew I just had to act in faith that everything would work out for my good. Even if it hurt.

But while I see the blessings from that experience, I still sometimes have a hard time believing that the trials I face now really will work out.

When I came home from my mission a couple months ago I met a boy. A cute boy I might add. I liked this boy a lot and we started dating. I felt like the protagonist in a Disney Channel Original movie. Again, I felt like I had it made. I felt like I was on my way to achieving the one thing that would make me happy.

But I guess I still had something to learn about God’s timing, and His plan because this cute boy recently told me he had been praying about our relationship and received an answer to his prayers. As he told me about the answer he had received my throat felt like it was choking as I fought the tears that were flooding to my eyes.

This answer hurt.

And doesn’t it often feel like this? Haven’t we all looked towards the heavens and questioned why things aren’t working out the way we want them to?

I went for a drive tonight as the sun was setting just to think.

I watched the sun set with beautiful pink colors as I talked to my Heavenly Father. I asked Him about His plan. I asked Him why things have worked out the way they have. I asked Him what I needed to learn from this.

A familiar song from my phone played through my speakers.
While I can’t say I know how things will turn out for me and the trials I face in my life, I can say that I have faith in God’s timing. I know that His plan is to make our lives beautiful. Sometimes God’s creative process includes a little heartbreak here and there. But I know it’s those strokes of heartbreak on the canvas of our lives that creates the contrast that allows us to see the beautiful and bright parts of our lives. Our lives just wouldn’t look quite as beautiful without them.

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”
-Mosiah 4:9

So now I’ll trust in that. I’ll trust that He knows what He’s doing with my life even if I can’t see the outcome yet. Because just as it says in Romans…


“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” 
-Romans 8:28

So to all my friends out there in similar situations… have faith. Trust that things will work together for your good as you trust Him. Because I know without a doubt that His plan is always and forever will be the best plan.

-Whit