Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Open Letter to Those Who Have Left the Church

First, I love you.  Family, friend, or complete stranger, I think it’s important to know that I love you as a child of God and I recognize your infinite worth, regardless of your affiliation (or lack thereof) with any particular religion.  I see that you are still a good person even though we know longer hold the same beliefs close to our hearts.  Beliefs are not an indicator of the quality of an individual – actions are.  I’m sorry for the pain you must have gone through on your journey to find truth and peace and comfort.  Leaving a community and religion that was likely a huge part of your life and family can’t have been easy.  It breaks my heart to think that you might have felt alone and worried about the reaction from your loved ones.  I’m sorry for my reaction to your news.  Even if it’s hard to understand, any sadness or heartbreak I experienced came from a place of love for you.  Please know that I see the good that you continue to do.  I see the love that you have for those around you.  I appreciate the service you give and the positive impact you have in my life.

Second, please don’t hate the Church.  Hatred will only cause pain and heartache.  Please recognize that, even if it is something that you don’t want to be a part of, the Church does a lot of good around the world.  It does a lot of good in my life and in the lives of my family.  It is precious and dear to me and many of our loved ones.  I’m sorry if you feel personally wronged by the religion that you used to belong to.  I’m sorry you had such a negative experience with something that has brought me so much happiness and comfort through life’s difficult times. But regardless of your feelings on the Church, I ask that you find it in your heart to be happy for me and the happiness that I’ve found.

I am pleading with you to think before you speak (or post) something negative about the Church.  Because it is such an integral part of who I am, it hurts me personally when I see you attack my beliefs.  I really am okay with having differences.  We don’t need to believe the same things or live our lives the same way.  Differences help us to learn and understand others’ perspectives, an understanding that I think the whole world could use more of.  I won’t post negative, hurtful things about your beliefs/thoughts and I expect the same level of respect from you.  Let’s share the things that uplift us and let’s do it without mockery and insensitivity. 

Finally, I hope that you have found what you’re looking for.  I hope you feel happiness in all areas of your life.  If you are looking for spiritual light, emotional peace, increased intellect, or physical well-being – I want that for you.  Whatever uplifts you individually is good in my book.  The restored Gospel is what uplifts me.  Please don’t assume that because I still believe the principles my parents taught me as a young child that I haven’t thought for myself and questioned the doctrines.  My parents taught me to gain my own testimony and understanding, not to follow blindly.  I’ve done that and I hope to continue to do that throughout my life. 

Thank you for hearing out my sincere thoughts.  I hope you can see that I’m coming from a place of love.  Now let’s spread positivity and leave the arguments behind!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Farmer Max Turns One

On Saturday we celebrated Max's 1st birthday.  His actual birthday is this coming Saturday, but we'll be in Arizona for a family reunion, so we celebrated early.  We thought it would be appropriate (and easiest) to have a farm theme since we live on a farm. Lots of Johnny's family came and my parents were even here from Arkansas for the celebration!

I can't believe my baby is a year old already! Max has changed and grown so much this year.  He loves crawling around and getting into everything that he shouldn't.  He has the loudest baby voice I've ever heard (and he uses it frequently).  He's ticklish all over his chubby little body and he's got the cutest laugh to prove it.  He is very physical and is still learning how to be soft.  He makes us laugh every day and is a champ at giving kisses.

I definitely miss this sweet little newborn of mine, but Max is getting so fun and I've loved watching him grow.  Here's to many more years of Mr. Max!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

San Diego Spring Break

In March, for Spring Break, we went on a trip to San Diego!  My cousins, Maren and Shannon were nice enough to let us stay with them while we explored the area.  We went to the zoo, Catalina Island (and a couple of other beaches), Balboa Park, a Padres game, and ate at lots of yummy restaurants!  Max did pretty well considering he had no schedule for the week and he was only 8 months old for the trip.

Tide pools at Point Loma
The view from the lighthouse at Point Loma
The Lees happened to be on vacation there the same week, so we met up at Point Loma

Max wasn't too sure about the sand but he did love playing with his dad

Had to do it

On the train at the San Diego Zoo

Johnny loved the turtles

Padres vs. Dodgers 

It was a beautiful day for a ball game even if we had to leave early because Max freaked out every time the crowd cheered

Johnny and Matt at the Root Beer Shop in Old Town Temecula 
Cute Wren and Max

We got to San Diego on Johnny's birthday, so Maren kept Max for us and we went on a great date to Hash House a go go, Balboa Park, and Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego

We loved walking around the San Diego temple

At La Jolla Cove

It's so hard to get a good family shot on vacation

Shady baby

Carson, Max, Drew, and Parker- Max had so much fun with these cousins!
We had so much fun staying with family.  I don't get to see those cousins very often and it was awesome getting to know their kids better.  San Diego is such a beautiful city and we hope to go back again!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joy Tears are a Thing

Lately I've been having so many days where I'm on the verge of tears, on and off, all day long.  The great thing is that they aren't sad tears at all; they are joy tears. I don't think this is because I'm super hormonal from having a baby within the last year, either.  I think it's because life is so wonderful right now.  I will admit that these verge-of-tears moments come primarily when I look at Max and he gives me the cutest smile in the world.  He's to blame for making me seem like an emotional wreck but, under these circumstances, I'm fine with it.

Max is about 7.5 months old.  He weighs 18 lbs 10 oz and he's getting mobile!  I thoroughly enjoy my days with him, and occasionally, I am even anxious for him to wake up from his naps so I can play with him some more.  He is without a doubt the biggest blessing in our lives and we thank Heavenly Father for him daily.

For being such a short month, February was full of big changes for the Allreds.  The smaller of the big changes is that I joined a gym!  I've never been consistent about exercising but I feel so much better when I do it, so Johnny and I decided a gym membership was a worthwhile investment for me.  I only go 2-3 times a week, once Max is asleep for the night and Johnny is busy watching one basketball game or another.  It's been great so far, aside from one creepy run in with a middle aged man that ended with me in tears (not the joy tears this time).  It's nice to have some time to do something good for myself.

The bigger change from February is that I got a job!  I work for a company called Zirtual as a virtual assistant.  The best thing about this job is that I get to work from home.  Most days I can just work while Max is sleeping, so it hasn't taken much time from him so far.  I have clients that ask me to do a wide variety of tasks for them (from scheduling to internet research to booking travel - and everything in between).  As of right now I only have two clients but I will eventually work my way up to maybe 8 or 10.  It's been a huge blessing for me to be able to earn a little extra so we can pay off student loans and such.  And it's nice for me to use that part of my brain again.

Laura and Hannah came up for the President's Day weekend.  They watched Max so Johnny and I could go on a Valentine's Day date.  We played racquetball (our new favorite activity) at Surf-n-Swim and then went to dinner and a dollar movie.  It was so much fun and we are so glad Laura and Hannah gave us a night out.  I also made Johnny a nice breakfast for Valentine's Day and he bought me flowers and Chik-fil-A the day before.  He knows the way to my heart!

this is max's "thanks for the cute onsie, aunt emily!" face

Johnny has been hard at work, molding young minds by the day.  He just started the fourth term of his second year of teaching.  Luckily he loves his job and has great students that keep him very busy.  Johnny is also in charge of the Fremont High website AND he teaches an extra class this year.  You could say he's dominating his professional life, if you want to.

Since the weather is finally nice again, we've been spending a lot more time outside.  Sometimes Max likes to help Dad around the yard.

Spring Break is the last week of March and you'd better believe we're planning a trip to Southern California!  More on that to come.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Major Post-Holiday Picture Purge

If I was bad at blogging before I had Max, I'm terrible at it now.  Turns out the little guy requires quite a bit of my time, but I'm happy to give it to him.  Max is five months old now and he's growing and changing so much.  He's really gotten pretty chubby lately and I'm anxious to see how he measures at his appointment at the end of the month.  Johnny and I are still as in love as ever with our baby boy and we feel so blessed to have him in our family.

We had a great Thanksgiving here with all of Johnny's family.  Everyone was able to make it so it was a little crazy but very fun.  Even Laura came up from Provo to join the Allred party.  Margo made a delicious feast (as usual) and of course Max woke up starving right when we sat down for dinner.  We took some family pictures from the big event:

It's so nice to be able to get together with family.  Over the break we also saw the new Hunger Games movie and went to Boondocks for go-carts, batting cages, bowling, and arcade games.  

December was a busy month for us.  As soon as Thanksgiving was over we bought a cute little five foot Christmas tree and set it up.  That was about the extent of Christmas decorating we did this year; we like to keep things simple around here.

We went to Temple Square to see the Christmas lights with Laura and our friend, Adam.  This was the third year that Johnny and I have gone to see the lights with Adam- it's kind of our thing.  

The biggest thing we did in December was a trip to Arkansas for Max's first Christmas.  We left Utah on Christmas Eve day and came back on New Year's Eve, so we were there for a week.  It was so much fun hanging out with my family! Before that trip, Max still hadn't met two of his uncles, one aunt, and four cousins, so we were anxious to bring him to Arkansas.  We stayed at my parents' house with everyone except Joseph and his family (they live about five minutes away).  All of the Drakes were together this Christmas so it was one to be remembered!  Of course we took more family pictures:

A for effort on that last one.  

My favorite thing we did in Arkansas was just taking it easy with the fam.  Being in Utah, we miss out on all the day-to-day things back home so it's nice to just relax and hang out with everyone when we get the chance.  


On Christmas Eve we did a reenactment of the Nativity.  Max got to play Baby Jesus, so Johnny and I were Joseph and Mary.  Then, Nanny and Papa gave all the grandkids matching pajamas.  Max has never been so snuggly in his fuzzy pjs!

Christmas Day was a blast.  Obviously Max didn't know that it was different from any other day, but it was still more special to me now that we've got a baby.  We did stockings and then opened presents with everyone.  We also had a delicious Christmas dinner and even got to see my Aunt Robin, Paul, and Trev!

My parents bought a bounce house for their basement.  They are out of control but the kids loved it! 

Sushi needed to happen, so we went out one night while we were home:

And finally, we got to see my best friends from high school. Terra and her boyfriend, Jake, and Erin and her husband, Josh, all stopped by the house for a quick visit.

Johnny, Max, and I made it back to Layton in time to ring in the New Year with all of the Allreds.  Max did pretty well on the flights but he did come down with an awful cold once we got home and I blame the germs on the plane for that one. All in all, though, the holidays treated us very well.  Here's to a brand new year and lots of fun memories in the making!