The People I Find: 1 in a Million… Almost

I met Megan a few years ago and have been so impressed by her upbeat attitude. Megan and I worked at  EFY together, I really enjoyed working with her because she was down to earth and never let a problem get in the way of a person. She is literally a 1 in a million kind of girl! This week she shares her story of being diagnosed with a rare disease and how it has altered her life. Take a minute to read her story and share it. If you haven’t yet feel free to LIKE The People I Find Facebook Page for more stories!

hsIn March of 2007, towards the end of my sophomore year, just a few months after turning sixteen, I found myself running for a class officer position at my high school! I loved high school more than most and life had been going great! Even though life was going great I had an unspoken fear that something bad would happen in my life. I had seen close friends struggle with their home life and a few struggle with health problems. As I saw this in their life I became worried of trials that might creep up. I prayed for months that if a trial was going to affect my family that it would be something that happened to me and not one of my loved ones. I asked God to let it be something I could handle.

One day at school my knees started to ache, I didn’t worry too much about it, surely it was because I had been wearing new sandals and they just didn’t fit right, or maybe it was ‘growing pains’ my friends had mentioned they occasionally experienced. At the same time I started to lose my voice, I quickly wrote it off as a typical teenage politician who had been talking so much to friends and classmates with the election at school… but in the coming two or three weeks I found my conditioned worsened, the pain I had felt in my knees escalated and had spread to other joints. First my elbows then my wrists, then right down to my fingers and toes. It was at that point that it was clear to me and those around me that something was wrong. I struggled to get up off the floor from saying my prayers at night and I couldn’t extend my elbows enough to unload the dishwasher. There was also the itching hands and feet. I remember sitting in class and my hands would out of the blue begin to itch, super weird… I would then watch them in a matter of minutes turn incredibly red and begin to burn. Simple tasks that had just a few weeks prior been easy became harder for me to do and caused aches and pains throughout my body. This caused my parents to become very concerned and quickly scheduled an appointment with my Doctor…

Thus began the months of tests that would ensue. They did blood tests and declared the best they could do was try to determine what was wrong and then send me to specialist up at Primary Children’s Hospital. By the first part of June it was evident that we had a real problem, my joints would swell and stiffen up so much during the night that by morning I couldn’t even get out of bed. The joint pain was so severe I struggled throughout the day to do activities as simple as tie my own shoes, put on jeans or even lift my arms high enough to change out of my clothes. Not to mention my voice had become incredibly raspy and I was constantly getting reactions like ‘oh you must be sick’ or ‘did you lose your voice screaming at a game.’… I was falling apart. The specialists up at Primary Children’s were trying to pin point my illness and give me a diagnosis. Some of the possibilities they addressed included: lupus, diseases within the family of MS, as well as things like rheumatoid arthritis but still nothing seem to explain all my symptoms…and nothing explained my voice, that was just ‘weird’ they said. At that point my lack of voice was the least of their concerns. The biggest problem while waiting to arrive at a diagnosis was that they were unable to really treat the symptoms, problem or pain.

sanThroughout this process I had remained positive, after all I was grateful that this was something I felt I could handle and a trial I felt I could take on. I was able to trust in the doctors and most importantly my Heavenly Father that whatever was ahead I wouldn’t be facing alone. While we were waiting for test results the physicians told us to take our family vacation to San Francisco we had planned months in advance and to have a good time. That was one of my favorite trips we took as a family, but it was on the long car ride home back to Utah that fear and despairing thoughts began to get the best of me. I began to wonder how much time I had left on this earth, I worried I wouldn’t ever see my senior year, I was sixteen years old and I was dying. Surviving high school was going to be a much more literal task than I had anticipated. It seemed that all my life plans were now up in the air. I thought about how my life would be with this disease, I realized if getting out of bed was a daily struggle how would I ever be able to walk around a University campus or serve a mission, be an EFY counselor like I had watched my brother do, or get married and raise a family. I didn’t know if these dreams I had long had would be achievable in the coming years and I had to be okay with that. We returned home from that family trip and there was a diagnosis waiting for my family. I had something called autoimmune hepatitis of the liver, a rare liver disease that affects about 1 in 250,000 (about 4 in a million).

The liver specialist at Primary Children’s told me the way her and her team saw it was I had 3 options: go on steroids, have a liver transplant or die… and she wasn’t fond of plan b or c. So I was scheduled for a liver biopsy to determine how severely I had been affected and how much of the steroids I would need to begin to fight this disease within me. In that time I was surrounded by people who loved me, countless people from my extended family, community and our church had been praying. I went into have my liver biopsied and we awaited the results. Now I’m mindful that not everyone’s story ends the same way mine did, we all experience healing in different ways. Some healing takes place within us from enduring a disease, other healing occurs from having the burden of sickness taken from us. We received the call that the test results had come back and in that time my liver counts which had been previously high had decreased, we were told from experts in the field that they couldn’t explain it. It seemed that my results of this rare liver disease had not previously dealt with a case that ‘on its own seemed to turn itself around…’ it seemed that we were no longer dealing with a disease but instead a miracle. At first I was doing well enough that the doctors held off in giving me steroids and eventually within two years my liver counts and tests were normal. I still occasionally find symptoms surfacing whether it be joint pain once or twice a year after a strenuous day, but those symptom’s only seem to last long enough to serve as a reminder of the day-to-day struggles I faced 7 years ago.

The conclusion to the story of my ‘nasty raspy voice’, is a little different story from the liver. My lack of voice, or I guess more accurately the presence of a really hard to understand raspy voice I had, lasted for 4 1/2 years! From sophomore year of high school through sophomore year of college… which I mean who needs a voice during those prime identity forming years and when adult communication skills are being learned! Those closest to me were able to understand me… and by that I mean those who stood really close to me could usually make out what I was saying J. The doctors hadn’t really encountered anything quite like it so they said to just ride it out, they had done a surgical procedure scanning for things that could cause such a change but found nothing. I was on medication for a year, I even tried The Little Mermaid approach by getting my first kiss in that 4.5 year span… but nothing cured or even seemed to help. It was decided that it was linked to acid reflux. What we did discover was my voice would be altered by anything acidic I ate so anything that was citrus based or tomato based, even things like chocolate, mint, cinnamon, or too much oil would make my voice leave, which left me with a short list of things I could eat. I eliminated everything in my diet that would be a problem to simply eating rice chicken, peanut butter sandwiches potato chips, milk and water. On this diet for two weeks my voice did come back! Yet one stick of mint gum it was gone again and so I decided to just live with the raspy voice because 16-year-old me was not okay with going out on dates and being able to find nothing I could eat on the menu. Through that time not only was I not able to communicate clearly but often I couldn’t control the volume my voice would come out at when I did speak. People who were consistently around me got used to it and were very nice and understanding, people I just met often in attempt to make conversation said something about me being sick or that I sounded terrible and should be home in bed until my voice returned… I would often just smile and say ‘yeah this pesky cold’ instead of trying to explain what I had been through in the last years trying to get my voice to sound like a peppy 17-20 year old something I was. So often on days when speaking took too much energy I kept any non-essential thoughts to myself, and all my sarcastic or witty quips in. After all it’s terrifying to chance saying something ‘under your breath’ when you don’t know if it will come out at full volume or not at all, therefore all sarcastic comments had to be kept in. Which made for the commentary within my mind (what I thought was) hysterical but no one else around me could appreciate it. However, through this I discovered a lot about communication and about others, I had to fight to be heard whether it was putting forth enough energy to speak or speaking loud enough for others to hear me and so between that and my liver disease I discovered a great love and respect for the days we have to live and the words we choose to speak… and not to mention a deep appreciation for texting.

gradI have been so blessed to live out my dreams of not only surviving high school, but also attending and graduating college! Within the last year I have gotten strong enough to hike and run, I even passed a milestone of running five miles just for fun this year and even sang in public, These milestones and progress consistently remind me of the profound lessons I learned as a 16-year-old: Diseases are real, but so is God and because of that, so are miracles. How grateful I am for that knowledge. Whether they be a physical disease like a liver disease or a long-term squeaky voice ;), an emotional struggle, a spiritual temptation, a hard family situation or just a rough patch in life, they exist but so does healing and miracles, whether the struggle in your life is removed completely or simply you receive enough strength to make it through the day and endure the trial miracles are all around us.


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The People I Find: Food Truck

This week’s post is on Karen Zimbelman and her Food Truck! I met Karen while I was preparing to be a missionary for the LDS church at the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah. She always had the biggest and brightest smile. She would come and visit us girls in our dorm and make us feel like we were number one. I have yet to try her calzones because I am so far away, but the pictures alone look heavenly. Many of my readers won’t be able to try these calzones any time soon, but her story is worth the read! My husband and I are always looking for Food Trucks because for some reason they have the best food and the best people. Here is the story of a determined woman, a woman who made her dreams come true and opened Mama Z’s Food Truck.

Food Truck 3My 82 year old mother in law called me last April. She hesitated a moment and then started the conversation: “I just got off the phone with Karen (my sister in law) and I told her you were starting a food truck. She said there was no way that could be true and I must of have dreamed it. I told her I was pretty certain but she insisted that it must have been a dream. So don’t laugh at me but I just wanted to see if I really did dream it… are you starting a food truck?”
I assured her that it was not a dream; we laughed, chatted a few more minutes and hung up. I seem to get that a lot these days. What’s a 50 year old wife, mother and grandmother doing driving a 2000 Cummings Diesel step van around Utah Valley? Selling calzones of course! I had always thought owning a food truck would be fun but only if you had something unique and tasty to sell, but at the time I had no ideas.
Fall 2013. After 32 wonderful years as a full time mother, my youngest daughter moved out to attend BYU and I found myself largely unemployed. My grandchildren were split between California and South Carolina with me somewhere in the middle. I was working part time in my home teaching Kindermusik to preschoolers, which I loved but I was often bored. I seem to have a need to have a project that I am passionately involved in but at this point I had redone the front and back yard and remodeled almost every part of our house. I was running out of projects. My husband teaches at BYU and while there was not a real NEED for me to make a lot of money I felt like I wanted to contribute more towards our retirement and future mission fund.
The week before Christmas 2013 as my husband and I were driving home from our married daughters house in the Sacramento area we were talking about our goals. It seemed that with all the taxes and other expenses of teaching Kindermusik I was only making about $6.00 an hour. Maybe I needed to find something else to do. It has always been an option to go back to school and get a masters degree and work as a family therapist but I wasn’t really excited about it. I didn’t know what to do.
Food Truck 1
A week later we were headed to Arizona to visit family there and thaw out a little bit. For 10 years we had brought our children with us but this year it was just the two of us. In years past my mother in law (and her husband) would come up from Green Valley, south of Tucson, for a day and we would meet at Marie Calendars for a few hours and then go to a nearby park. When she came up this time we decided to go to Marie Calendars for old times sake – only when we arrived, it had been bulldozed. Once we got over the shock we pulled out our phones and looked on Yelp! My husband found a place nearby that served Cornish Pasties and was very highly rated. Mark and I didn’t know what those were but my mother in law did and she said they were great so we ventured out. It was 5:30 on a Thursday night and the place was crowded. We each ordered a different kind of pasty. I choose marinated Portobello mushroom, Mark got a salmon and his mom got a fancy cheeseburger one. We all tried each others and they were awesome, this was it! I didn’t know much about pasties BUT I do know how to make calzones… and everyone loves calzones! After months of perfecting recipes and getting feedback from neighbors and friends Mama Z’s began to take shape. I have to admit that it took me a day or two to get the courage to drive the truck for the first time but now I’m pretty good at it. I often find myself  smiling as I drive down the road – I can’t believe it either.
food truck 4 Here is this week’s schedule!
THURSDAY (9/18/2014): We will be at the Provo Food Truck Round-Up from 4:00-9:00 pm located at The Start Up Building (560 S 100 W Provo)
FRIDAY (9/19/2014): Canyon Crest Carnival (4664 N Canyon Rd. Provo)! If your kids go to Canyon Crest, be sure to try us out while you are at the carnival supporting your school! We will be there from 5:00-7:30pm.

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I Will Never Forget

911Thirteen years ago, I woke up just as I usually did… To my sister’s alarm. Emily has always been a deep sleeper and it was a miracle if she woke up on her own. Every day, I would listen to that annoying BEEP BEEP BEEP, I considered myself lucky if she just hit snooze. On September 11, 2001 she slept through her alarm. So I made my way through the Jack and Jill bathroom we shared and turned her alarm off. Well I thought I had. It switched to the radio and I could tell something was different. The announcer didn’t sound like her preppy self, but had more of a reverence to her. She had broke the news to me, the first tower had gone down. At that moment I had NO idea what was going on. I was eleven years old. I was in sixth grade, for heavens sake I had just gotten my first training bra, I had no idea what war or terrorism was. I ran downstairs to tell my mom who had just gotten back from running, she turned the television on and we watched. I continued getting ready for school and made it to Pierce Park to sit in Mrs. Hiesler’s class. That is where I learned the second tower had gone down. I still didn’t know what was going on. As I look back I feel bad for my teacher that day. We all had questions, and she didn’t really know how to answer them. I remember walking home from school that day, constantly looking over my head to check and see if a plane was coming towards me. Irrational I know, but I was terrified. The rest of the night I watched the news. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what was happening. Later the news broke that we, the United States were at war. I used my knowledge of war, I thought back to the episode of Boy Meets World when they flashed back to the Cold War. I wondered if I would be doing drills of diving under my desk at school just in case Idaho was attacked. I thought about World Ward II and the concentration camps I had recently visited while in Germany. I thought to myself, would we be put into those? I feel asleep that night dreaming of planes…crashing. 9112

It has now been 13 years since that day and we are still fighting this battle. Almost half of my life has been lived during a war. This war hasn’t touched me physically, but I have seen it alter lives around me. I think about the people who were on those planes and in the buildings that died that day and pray for your families. My heart goes out to the police, fireman, and medical personal who died that day trying to save lives. I will forever be indebted to those who serve our country. I just want to thank you men and women who put your lives on the line so that my family can sleep soundly at night. I know what a blessing this is for me and a sacrifice it is for you and your families. I just want you to know I will never forget.

The People I Find: Cake Decorating

This week’s story featured on The People I Find (go like the FB page :)) is about Ashely who is the owner, designer, artist, and sweetheart of AshCakes. I have known Ashely for what seems like forever. She is the same age as my younger brother and we were often at church activities together. I have never met someone who is as genuinely as sweet as she is. My number one rule when it comes to picking out a cake is, never buy a cake from someone who isn’t as sweet as their frosting… So her cakes taste good! Ashley is an artist and someone who inspires people to follow their passion. Take a minute to read and share her story.


ash cakesThroughout my life, I have always been known as an artist. Being creative was just a part of my identity, and since a young age I was constantly involved in the visual arts. Cake decorating has become a firm passion of mine, but only because I was an artist before I became a cake artist. And I also happened to like baking. A lot. J

My cake obsession started when I was nine. (I like to say I was a nerd about cake decorating before it was cool. Ha.) When I was that age, it was ordinary for my mom to take me to the local craft store to let me roam around on my own. She knew I could spend hours in that store scanning every item in every isle. I’m pretty sure she noticed one day how I became fixated on the cake dummies at the front of the store. (They looked SO cool.) They were set up to advertise for a beginner cake decorating class. As a surprise, she signed us both up. Not only was it fun to learn with my mom, but this class ignited something inside me. I was captivated by the concept of cake design. It was almost like sculpting. And drawing. Except with cake and frosting. The challenge was to have everything on the cake be edible but still beautiful. A true work of art! That’s when I feel like I learned the meaning of the famous quote “creativity loves constraint”, and I was immediately hooked.

My first cake I ever did was for my 5th grade teacher’s baby shower. I was still nine. (I wish I still had pictures, but my early cake pictures were lost because our family laptop died. Lame.) It was also the first time I saw how people react to cake. They love it! I just love seeing people smile and be super excited about something, especially about a cake I made for them! It’s this very reaction that I work for.

I continued to do various cakes for friends, families, even ash jeepfor church events. Every cake I did, I learned something new about the skill, and about myself. I made SO many rookie mistakes that still make me cringe just thinking about them. (I’m not going to share those). But every cake I learned, learned and learned.

Funny enough, a while later when I was 14, I wanted to get a job at a bakery so I could start gaining experience in a commercial kitchen, and if I was lucky, eventually shadow a professional cake decorator (I love that title). There was a local bakery not too far from our house that my parents suggested I try applying at. I printed off nice pictures of all the cakes I’d done, put them in page protectors along with my very official looking “certificate of completion” from my beginner cake decorating class, all of which went in a sturdy binder. I walked in, talked to the manager, filled out an application, showed her my binder, and left. I didn’t get the job. Even though I applied two more times when I was sixteen, I actually never got a job there, nor at any of the other bakeries I applied at.

Then Cake Boss premiered. Immediately I became a nerd and watched every episode. It gave me the inside look into a professional bakery that I had been wanting to see for years! I became more and more educated every episode. (I still re-watch them often just for fun.)

ash weddWhen I started college, cake decorating and my artistic side took a back seat, and eventually became a little lost from me for a couple years. I was so focused on school that I didn’t give time to those skills. It really wasn’t until I got married that I realized how distant those passions had gone from me. But a few months after Tyler and I were married, it was reawakened by my first ever wedding cake I did for one of my best friends.

It was also at that time that Tyler suggested I make a Facebook page for my cakes. Initially the idea sounded silly. I imagined only getting a few followers. After we made the page, we got almost 200 likes in the first few days. It was amazing. I had no idea how much my friends and family supported my little fetish for cake decorating! Since then, I’ve done some of my favorite cakes ever. And yes, I did many of them while I was in the middle of going to school.

In 2013, I did three cakes in the period of one week. My husband’s birthday cake—just for fun, and just because I like to spoil him on his birthday—, a graduation cake, and a wedding cake. That same week happened to be finals week as well. I know, I’m crazy. It was the definition of insanity. The whole week felt like one long adrenalin rush. I somehow did all three cakes and passed my finals. I’ll never do it again. (Maybe.)

A lot of people don’t understand how much work and time goes into making cakes. I did a cake last year which wasn’t large. It was 9 inches round, double layered. I kept track of how many hours went into that cake: 24. There have been other larger cakes that have taken up to 46 hours total. Doing these high detail custom cakes are no joke! They take a lot of planning, work, time, focus, and energy especially when you’re a one woman show. It’s a marathon as well, because things have to be done within 2-3 days to guarantee optimal freshness. If you did the math, you can get a feel for how much work these are in a short amount of time. After that cake leaves my door or we drop it off at the event, I am drained. In every way possible. Mostly physically and mentally. I’m usually starving and brain dead. I pulled at least one all-nighter. (My husband says it’s not an Ash Cakes cake if we don’t stay up all night working on it. He’s my Sous-Chef. J) I also look like crap because I’m covered in frosting, grease and who knows what else. But I do this over and over again because it’s simply my passion! It’s just what I do, and I can’t imagine life without it. Every project is an adventure, and I embark on each one because I’m in my element when I do, and it brings me so much happiness and satisfaction.ash tmnt

I just got to say this to anyone who has a passion/talent for something: Don’t let that passion fall to the back burner in your life. DO something about it! And don’t let yourself become afraid of failure.

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in life with all our responsibilities. But I’ve learned that if you don’t have time for something, you have to make time for it. It’s not always easy, but who wants to live an easy life anyways? That’s boring. J If you have something you love doing, it has to be a part of your life. It would be tragic loss if it wasn’t! Not only for yourself, but for those around you. We all have interests like this, and I believe that we are given these innate talents and skills because they have the potential to make us very happy if we chose to act on them and grow them. Also, don’t let failures stop you from pursuing something! I love what Bob Sutton, Stanford Professor at the (design school) said: “Failure sucks, but instructs.” You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish, because those accomplishments will be things you never thought you could do in the first place.

Just take it from the cake lady: Making your passion a priority in your life will simply make you a healthier and happier human!

“Individuals with a growth mindset believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to forsee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil and training.” –Carol Dweck, Stanford University

For more information on ASHCAKES check out her website here!

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We Are Conditioned.

Last week I wrote about “cutting corners.” All week I have been thinking about that personality trait I had. It has inspired me to try new things. Mr. Bird has been patient with this new trend of mine. Yesterday I felt particularity apt to trying something new in the kitchen. During #clotts last date night we spotted a Zupas and decided it would be better to go into debt then pass this up (just kidding, but almost). We tried a few of the soups and I fell in love with the Mushroom Bisque. I decided I would one day master this soup and make it dairy free. After I finished work yesterday I went to the beloved Winco and picked up the ingredients I needed to make the soup. The recipe looked a little advanced for someone who still burns Ramen Noodles, but that didn’t scare me. When I got home, the mess, I mean cooking, began. I spent an hour and twenty minutes putting together this gourmet soup. I soaked the mushrooms in a separate bowl and used the left over mushroom juice as an ingredient just like the recipe said. I was so proud of myself for following the recipe thus far… I melted the butter, mixed it in with the garlic and onion and poured in the chicken broth. I heard Mr. Bird yell from the other room that it smelled delightful. In my mind I thought, what a cute husband, he took a break out of his super busy study schedule to tell me that my cooking smelt good. I think he has picked up on the fact I need compliments if he wants me to keep feeding him.

While the soup was simmering, I broke out the tomatoes and basil and began making some brushetta for a side dish, because men like multiple dishes of food for a meal. Last night I learned that you make side dishes to feed your husband when the main dish fails. After the soup had simmered for 30 minutes it was time to stir in my homemade dairy free whipping cream. This is where things got a little experimental. I had used my 2% lactose free milk, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla as a substitute. It didn’t change the taste too much, but it was lacking the thick consistency. I thought oh well, Mr Bird can handle soup that’s a little runny. He came into the kitchen as I was trying to clean up some of the dishes so we could play Yahtzee (a dinner tradition) through dinner without me being distracted. Mr. Bird tasted the soup and said it needed a little more salt. I gave him the go ahead to add a little to the pot. About 45 seconds later, he turned around and said “Well I ruined it.” He had poured in about a cup of salt… I just started laughing. I tasted it too and it was ruined. He looked at me and asked if I was mad. I will say that for about 2 seconds I was and then I realized it was just food. We had a good laugh for about 20 minutes. We had cereal and brushetta for dinner. Throughout the night we continued to laugh about the whole ordeal.

There are many life lessons I could get out of this event, like the stomach pain might be worth the dairy, don’t pick recipes with too many directions, and life is too short to be upset, especially when it comes to your marriage or partner. He kept asking all night if I was mad at him. We are a people who are conditioned to think that when something goes wrong that someone has to be MAD. It is okay to make mistakes, that is how we learn. If we become too afraid to try something new because we fear a mistake is at the end, we will no longer try. This event didn’t scare me away from trying new things, it only made me want to try more.


Cutting Corners


I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew everything about myself. I know I enjoy television shows. I know I enjoy pumpkin ice cream. I know that I don’t like my towel to touch the toilet. After five months of marriage, I have learned more about myself than in the previous 23 years of my life (don’t worry not in a bad way). Marriage includes living with someone 24/7 and sharing EVERYTHING with them. Your first few weeks of marriage are an adjustment that end up being an exciting adventure. I remember in my Senior Capstone Communication class we learned about Tenacity. It is something I will never forget. It is about “tradition” or persistence in doing something. John Sieter told the story of the pot roast. When “Jane” left home and cooked her first pot roast for her husband she cut the end off of it and threw it away, because that is what her mom did. Years later, her mom came for dinner and asked why she had cut the end of the roast off. The daughter replied, with “well that’s what you did.” The mother, laughing, replied with, “I only cut if off, because it didn’t fit in my pan!” Tenacity. We do things the way we see them done, monkey see monkey do. When you get married, you are combining two sets of tradition. You go into it thinking YOUR way is the best because that was what you grew up with.

Mr. Bird and I have seen tenacity when it comes to cooking. When I began cooking for him, I would come up with a meal that I thought was perfect… It included a small piece of meat and one side dish. Mr. Bird played along with this willingly until he confided in me he was still hungry. He explained to me that a meal to him included meat, vegetables, maybe fruit or bread. I had been so use to my tradition of eating rice with butter and soy sauce in college and then a large dessert, that our definitions of meals were different. I laughed out loud. I was only a few weeks into marriage and I was already starving my husband.

IMG_4387Something else I have learned about myself, is my willingness to cut corners. I believe in getting a job done and doing it as fast as I can so I can move on. I am a quick fix it kind of person. Mr. Bird is the complete opposite. He is so good at paying attention to every detail and doing something right the first time and with success. Our tendencies have both pros and cons. For me when it comes to cooking, I get bored of using the exact ingredients and measurements. I decided to make up a recipe one night and it was DELIGHTFUL. Mr. Bird and I loved it. The next time I tried to make it, it was completely different, I hadn’t written anything down… I cut corners. Mr. Bird on the other hand does not (and I LOVE it). Another example of my cutting corners would be that last shelf I assembled… I was so excited and wanted to get it done as fast as I could so I could start putting stuff on it, that I put some of the shelves upside down, and when I realized it my thought was “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” so I left it. During the first few weeks of marriage it was his job to clean the bathroom. To me cleaning the bathroom is spending like 10 minutes tidying up and wiping things down. Mr. Bird goes all out. He would take everything out of the bathroom, sanitize everything, scrub the bathroom from top to bottom. It was a piece of art when he was done with it. All I can say is, we balance one another well.

After being married awhile, you learn how to work the system. This is bad, and Mr. Bird knows it. But when I want something to be deep cleaned, I tend to leave it a little too dirty for his taste. That is when he goes into detail mode and cleans the room head to toe. Just kidding, it doesn’t work like that but wouldn’t that be nice? Those are only two things I have learned in the past 5 months being Mrs. Bird. It has been an adventure, and I have loved every minute.


The People I Find: Zipline

I almost forgot it was Wednesday with the long weekend! I have loved finding people to share their stories, it helps me get out of my comfort zone, and learn more about the people around me. There is power in a person’s story. This week’s post is written by Morgan. I met Morgan a few Summers ago while working EFY. She always had a sunny disposition that drew people to her. I was impressed with how she looked at life. As you read her story you will see!


The summer of 2010 was full of life-changing events; high school graduation, a senior trip, registering for classes at BYU, and falling off of a zip line, breaking seven vertebrae and my top right rib, cracking my sternum, and getting 11 staples in my head. It was one of those moments where my life flashed before my eyes and I can honestly say I had no idea what my future had in store in that moment I woke up from being knocked unconscious after flying up-and-over a 15-foot tall zip line.

I was at my friend’s cabin where a few of us were spending the weekend. Toward the end of our first day there, we decided to ride their recently finished zip line. I had ridden it one time before so I didn’t think much of it as I proceeded to climb the ladder to reach the seat of the zip line and brace myself for the short, exhilarating ride. I hit the end of the zip line harder than usual and the momentum caused me to lose my grip, fly off the seat, and do some sort of acrobatic back flip over the top of the zip line, landing on the ground headfirst, knocked unconscious.

I don’t remember much about what happened from when I got on the zip line to when I woke up with a profusely bleeding head, but my friends who watched the whole thing said that it looked pretty intense.

morganI woke up on the ground, totally confused. I knew where I was but I had no idea how I got there and how seriously hurt I was. One friend was at my side when I woke up while another one was on the phone calling 9-1-1. They explained to me what had happened and kept reassuring me that everything would be okay, but it was hard to believe them when I knew they had no more medical knowledge than I did, and I was freaking out. None of us had any idea how serious my injuries were, so it’s a miracle that I got up, walked to the car, and let my friends drive me down the bumpy private road to meet the ambulance. As I got out of the car, the paramedics were asking me all sorts of questions – none of which I remember, but apparently I answered them all correctly because they didn’t seem to think my injuries were very extensive based on my coherence. They strapped me down to a backboard, put me in a neck brace and got me into the ambulance (I felt like I was staring in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or something).

As we arrived at the hospital, I was in shock. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was confused; it was like I was in the middle of a bad dream that wouldn’t end. The doctors proceeded to do CT scans to determine the extent of my injuries. While waiting for the results, they decided my head was bleeding badly enough that I must have had an extremely deep gash in my head and, sure enough, the gash was deep enough that they could see my skull. They shaved a small section of my hair around the gash, gave me a numbing shot, and stapled it shut with 11 staples. A shot into my head was never something I thought I would cross off my “never have I ever” list, but it makes for a great getting-to-know-you crowd pleaser now.

The results of the CT scan came back shortly, and as the doctor was explaining my injuries, he kept saying, “You are so lucky to be alive.” It was an extremely humbling experience that was only about to keep getting humbling as I learned all that could have gone wrong that didn’t. I was experiencing miracle after miracle, in every sense of the word.

The neurosurgeon met with us the next day, describing my Morgan 2course of treatment. I was immediately fitted for a brace that would become my best friend for the next three months. I’m ashamed to admit that my immediate thoughts weren’t “I’m so grateful I won’t have to have surgery” or “I’m lucky that in three months of wearing a brace I will be completely healed.” They were more like, “Three months? I can’t do this.” And “What about starting college in six weeks? What about my social life? Why did this have to happen?” I started crying for the first time since the accident occurred the night before. Ironic, isn’t it?

I stayed in the hospital for a total of four days, after which I was able to go home to begin the recovery process. I had to defer my schooling and start college one semester late in order to fully recover, but the things I learned in those three months taught me more than one semester of college ever could and I would not have had it any other way.

It was scary going home, not having doctors and nurses available 24/7 to check on me and I suddenly felt extremely vulnerable. It took some adjusting, but that adjusting brought a whole different perspective into my life. It changed the way I look at the world. It strengthened my relationship with my family, close friends, my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I realized that I needed to rely on these people more than I ever had before, and I learned to be grateful that I wasn’t paralyzed or killed. I learned to be grateful that I had such loving, supportive friends and family to turn to in my time of need. I learned to be grateful for life itself and the optimism and peace that come from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My attitude in that hospital bed was completely changed by the time the three months were up. While I still felt somewhat vulnerable, I began to realize that bad things can happen to anyone and, in turn, it is possible and likely that good things can come from those bad things. It all comes down to our attitude. My favorite quote quickly became “Think happy; be happy.” I learned that positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, and that lesson has been so valuable.

It might sound pretentious, but I am so grateful for the blessing of falling off a zip line and breaking my back. I am grateful for all it taught me, how it strengthened me, and the perspective I gained through it all. God is good—always.

morgan 3

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