Friday, December 21, 2012

My Company is Cool: Google Analytics Reference Guide Style

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I work for an amazing company with very intelligent and cool people!

Here's one of the latest awesomeness that's come out of this group: Google Analytics Reference Guide & Tips. If you've ever hoped to get better at Google Analytics, check this out.

It is FREE! And PRINTABLE! And AWESOME. Because that's just how we roll at Blast.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Looking to the Future...

I sit here tonight watching the Presidential Election results roll in. At this point, most of the news networks are calling the election in favor of President Obama. As I look on Facebook, I see so many friends lamenting that it is now the end of the world, or at least of America. I can't bring myself to accept that.

I wanted Mitt Romney to win. I voted for him and I would vote for him again. I believe he would and could be an excellent leader. I think he has the experience and knowledge to do good things for our country, but it doesn't look like that will be the case. I remember sitting in a very similar situation 4 years ago. I remember actually feeling scared for what would happen if Barack Obama was elected president. I didn't want it to happen then either, but it did. And we survived. Yes, we are struggling...and we may struggle more in the next 4 years, but I don't think it's the end. And, I hope that I'm right.

In the last few weeks, I keep thinking about an experience I had when I was young. It must have been in 1993, which means I was 12. President Bill Clinton was elected president and I said something negative about him in front of my grandpa. Now, I was 12. I didn't know anything about politics really, or even about the president. I'm sure whatever I said was based on things I'd heard my older family members say. In fact, I distinctly remember hearing my grandpa say negative things about President Clinton before the election. So, it surprised me on that day, when I said something negative, that my grandpa said to me, "It doesn't matter if you don't agree with him, he is the president of the United States, so you need to respect that". That has always stuck with me.

I don't agree with many things that President Obama does or says, but he's still the president. This is the way that our country works. Sometimes the people we don't want to be elected are. Sometimes the bills and propositions we don't want to pass do. And the good news is that sometimes the opposite happens. We win! We get what we want! But, no matter what, we can't give up. I believe that.

The good news, in my opinion, is that the President should answer to the people. I know people are concerned that he won't listen to what we, the people, have to say. I know there have been time this has been the case in the past even (i.e., Obamacare). But, I choose to hope for the best. I think the key now is to STAY INVOLVED. Keep track of what is happening. Write to your congressmen. Make things an issue. Don't let things slide by. Keep the president, whoever that may be, on track with what we believe as a country.

I think that this is where we fail sometimes as a people. We talk a lot about politics, but we don't follow through. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I need to be more involved. And I think many people are just like me; WE all need to be more involved in how our country is run.

Yes, sometimes the majority gets it wrong. Personally, I think this may be the case here. BUT, I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to throw my hands in the air and say, "that's it! America is over!" We can never give up. We, the people, of the United States of America can and should constantly stay involved in what is happening in our country. Because, you know what? I'm still proud to be an American!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whatcha Watchin: Hotel Transylvania

My parents went out of town a couple weekends ago, so I thought I'd treat my sisters to a girl's night and take them to a movie. I let them choose the movie (there are a few I want to see right now), and they chose Hotel Transylvania.
It was actually really cute! I thought it was a fun Halloween movie...and I love Halloween! I like a good scary Halloween movie (I really want to see The House At The End of The Street still), but I also like the fun little movies too.

Here are some other cute Halloween movies that I like if you're looking for something to get you in the mood (without being too scary):
What are your favorites? I always love to discover new Halloween movies!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

18 Months: An Addendum

I woke up this morning right before my alarm (am I the only one that does this every day? my alarm is really just a formality, I always wake up a couple minutes before it goes off. In fact, somehow my alarm stopped working when I got to the mission field, so I went 16+ months without one and there was only 1 day my whole mission that I didn't wake up on time). As usual, I lay in my bed pondering life. (I know I'm not the only one that does that!). This is usually when I receive many promptings (or in the shower, or driving in my car...pretty much the only times I am alone). Anyway, my thoughts turned to the blog post I wrote the other day, and I realized I forgot something, so I wanted to clarify.

I don't think that everyone should go on a mission. I do know that Heavenly Father knows each of us and what we each need. I needed my mission. It was essential for the life He wanted me to live and what I needed in order to get there. I know many amazing men & women who have not served missions (my own amazing parents are the perfect example). It is not an essential part of being a good saint or mother or father or wife or husband or friend.

But, I hope that more young people consider it now. I loved my mission. I wish everyone could have that experience. I imagine that's what it feels like (except probably stronger) when people get married and all they want is for other people to get married and see how amazing it is. And, just like a mission, not everyone will get married. And that's ok because we each have a personal path in this life and all will be right in the end.

I am a firm believer that each person should pray about a mission if they have the desire to serve. I know that God will answer their prayer and tell them what to do. Maybe that answer will be "no", or "not yet", or "yes", or even "if you want". This applies to all men and women considering a mission. When I first started thinking about a mission and went to talk to my bishop about it, he told me the same thing. I didn't understand it then.  I understand it now. Missions are hard. Every person will need that confirmation that they were supposed to be there while they are on their mission.

Ok, I feel better now. So, on this Tuesday morning, I want to leave you with this thought: You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and knows you and wants to be a part of your life. Pray to Him, listen for His guidance, put your faith in Him, and move forward with whatever he asks of you. This is the key to a happy life.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

18 Months

Surprise! It's me! {Maybe I should have waited one more month to start again and then it would have been a full year since the last time I posted. I'm not sure where my motivation went. But, I just didn't write. I do want to get back into journal needs some love too. My life may not be very exciting, but I do believe even this needs to be recorded.}

P.S. (I know it's not really where a post-script should be...just go with it) This turned out to be much longer than I had planned. Forgive me.

Every 6 months I attend the annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with millions of others worldwide. So, the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October are some of my favorite weekends all year. During the Conference, we are blessed to hear messages from the Prophet, the Apostles and other General Leaders of the Church. It really is one of my favorite times of the year. Every once in a while, a new announcement is made during conference to tell the whole church (and any others tuning in) at the same time.

Yesterday, President Thomas S. Monson made the historical announcement that the missionary age is being lowered starting immediately.  Young Men may now begin service at the age of 18 (previously it was 19), and Young Women can now begin their service at the age of 19 (previously it was 21). I almost cried. It was so exciting to me! I think this change will bless so many lives and I feel that it is the right time for it to happen.

I don't think there has ever been a time when the world needs more messengers of truth than now. And I don't think there has ever been a time when more young people need the foundation serving a full-time mission brings than now.

10 years ago, at the age of 21 1/2, I left on my mission. September 25, 2002 was the exact day I landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil and entered the MTC (or CTM - Centro de Treinamento Missionario as it is called there), and began an 18 month adventure that changed my life.

I had a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before then, but it grew exponentially in my time there. I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ's ancient church restored to the earth, but it was confirmed there.

I knew God knew and loved me and played a part in my life, but I left knowing just what that meant in my daily life, not just in the "big" things. I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he saw God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, but I left with an unshakable faith that that experience changed the world and could change anyone's life, no matter where they began or what poor choices had been previously made.

I developed habits of journal keeping (which I need to repent of now), scripture reading, and constant praying that continue to bless my life. And, perhaps most importantly, I knew before it was important to serve others and to serve my God with all my mind, might and strength, but I left knowing that nothing is of greater worth.

My life is constantly blessed because of my time as a missionary. I am so much stronger now. I know I will be a better wife and mother because of it. I believe I am a better sister, friend, daughter, employee, and servant.  I owe it all to 18 months of full-time service to my God.

And so, I'm excited for so many others to serve. Excited for the fun they will have, but also for the hard times that will strengthen them. Excited for them to go out street contacting for the first time in a language they are just learning and meeting someone who wants to argue with them. They don't want to argue, and they don't know a lot of what to say, but they can say with full conviction, "But I know that this is true". (true story)

Was I a perfect missionary? Far from it. There have been so many times since I've been home that I have thought, "I wish I had known this as a missionary". But, I believe I went at just the right time for me, and so I can't regret what I didn't know then.  The Lord never asked us to know everything to do His work, he asks that we only have the desire:

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; 
(Doctrine and Covenants 4:3-4)

As I was driving around between sessions yesterday, I found myself thinking, "what would I have been like as a 19 year old missionary?" I think 21 was the right age for me. I was still very shy at 19. I needed to go when I went. And it made me thank my Heavenly Father once again for a renewed witness He knows us individually, so perfectly. But, I hope this lower age helps more sisters to serve and receive that strength. We will all be blessed by it.