Five Tips for Traveling in Iceland (with 7-day itinerary)

by | Travel | 1 comment

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Iceland scenery

Okay, so it seems like everyone is going to Iceland (due to a combination of cheap airfare and Instagram), so I thought I’d save you hours and hours of research and help you plan an itinerary to get the most out of your week in Iceland. This is the blog post my wife and I wish we had prior to going.

 

(Also note: We are not getting paid for any links or tips here–this is straight up our opinion.)

 

Overall here’s what you need to know about traveling to Iceland: Getting there is cheap, staying there is cheap, doing ANYthing there is super pricey, but man…the place is beautiful!

 

My wife and I did the whole trip for $2,700 for 1 week ($1,400 flights and hotels through Groupon Getaways + $300 rental car + $1,000 food, gas and activities for both of us).

 

 

1. When should I go?

 

For us, it all revolved around the northern lights. That was the main reason we went. I’ve always wanted to see them and we got lucky enough to catch them for a bit.

 

Summertime pictures look incredible, but no northern lights. Wintertime is simply enchanting, but northern lights are fickle (http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/ that is the site where you can get a forecast of how strong the lights will be and the cloud cover).

 

Northern Lights were a bucketlist item for us, so we went in the winter and were lucky to have a day where the lights were strong and the cloud cover was minimal.

 

 

2. Should I rent a car?

 

renting a car in iceland

They drive on the right side of the road and renting a car for a week should set you back less than $350USD. If it is stormy and wintertime, the roads will be pretty rough, but it is WAAAAAAaaaAAAAY cheaper to rent a car (even with gas being $7-$8/gal) than doing tours the whole time.

 

Also, I loved being able to stop along the way to pet Icelandic horses, video goats battling and stay longer/leave earlier as we wished. If you don’t want to drive, and are okay paying a lot for tours and need the local history voice-overs…then do the tours.

 

 

3. What should I eat?

 

Iceland breakfast

So I’ll give a couple of restaurants that we ate at, but don’t be shocked to see that the prices are way more expensive.

We ate burgers and fries (no drinks) and paid $60USD.

Yeah.

Not even kidding.

And no, it wasn’t the best burger OR fries I’ve ever had…in fact, they were pretty okay.

 

We did breakfast in the hotel every morning, made a little sandwich for the day and bought some snacks along the way and then ate out for dinner in Reykjavik. I thought it was a good combo and helped keep costs down for meals.

 

There were four restaurants that I MUST recommend in Reykjavik (and keep in mind, Iceland is known for their incredible fish dishes…but I detest fish and yes, I’ve tried it since I was 4 years old and yes I still don’t like it and no I don’t take Omega 3 pills and yes I’ll probably die from it…but I’ll die without a fishy grizzled look on my face).

1. Bergsson Mathus for great breakfast and brunch

2. Kryddlegin Hjortu has amazing soup and salad bar for dinner

3. Snaps Bistro Bar for some great sandwiches and duck salad

4. Vegamot for just all around great food–the open steak sandwich and the noodles were great and this is a popular local eatout

 

 

4. What should I do there?

 

So make plans, but be willing to change the days around of those plans depending on weather.

 

We were based out of the CenterHotel Klopp in Reykjavik, which was a GREAT hotel with a central location. Hot water had good pressure, good breakfast every morning and great service.

 

Day 1: See the city and chill.

reykjavik church

Get in, take a short nap, walk around the city and keep yourself up until at least 7. You can lose the first 3 days if you go to sleep too early to take too long of a nap. Not worth it. Also, the drive to and from the airport from Reykjavik is about an hour or so and is fairly pricey. If you have a rental car, you save the money of transportation to and from the city.

 

Day 2: Blue Lagoon and northern lights.

The Blue Lagoon Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

The Blue Lagoon is the super cool hot spring you always see on Instagram. It is even cooler than the pictures. Yeah, it costs like $100USD to go, but sheesh, it is cool and I did not feel that I overpaid. Note, you MUST have reservations. Also note: there is a dry sauna and steam room–try both of those out too while you’re there!

 

The northern lights is one of those things that makes it so much easier to have a rental car because the tours are charging you tons of money to just drive you 15 minutes out of the city and if you have a car, you can decide when to do based on the forecast.

 

Day 3: The Golden Circle and City Pool

Gulfoss waterfall Iceland Zack and Annie Oates

This place is seriously awesome. It is a beautiful day-trip to catch a lot of the main attractions of Iceland: waterfalls, horses, hot springs (if you want), hikes, custom foods, etc.

 

Here are three sites I found useful in doing this drive:

  1. http://theblondeabroad.com/2015/09/23/the-ultimate-guide-to-driving-icelands-golden-circle/ This one has a simple map you can use
  2. http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2014/12/drive-it-yourself-the-golden-circle/ This one has a more detailed map
  3. https://expertvagabond.com/golden-circle-iceland/ This is a good overview

 

We then came back to the hotel and went to a pool in Reykjavik. There are some sprinkled all over the city, so just pick one and go. They have hot and dry saunas and hot tubs of different temperatures. Very relaxing ending to any day.

 

Day 4: Snæfellsjökull National Park

Black beach in Iceland Annie Oates

This is a few hours to drive up there, but it is so worth it! The countryside is breathtaking and the views along the way are incredible. The black beaches, the cliffs, volcanoes, wildlife, lighthouses, churches, everything is just awesome.

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/50/e0/f8/50e0f82f8641738ac96c6f1ef0ae2b6c.png This is the only decent map I’ve found on this drive.

 

Day 5&6: Drive the South Coast

So admittedly, we were not able to do this because of the weather, but from what I’ve heard this is such a lovely trip and can be extended to stay for one day out there at the end of the dive and come back the next day.

 

http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2015/01/drive-it-yourself-a-south-coast-adventure/ That is the link we were going to use…but alas, it will have to wait until next time we go (in the summer).

 

Day 7: Snorkeling

20161124_123559

Okay…I know it sounds crazy, but I’m telling you…snorkeling was so much fun–even in the winter!

 

It was soooooooo cold and seemed crazy at the time when it was sleeting rain and the water was just at freezing, but it was incredible to snorkel between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It looks like a stream from above, but when you get down there, it goes down over 100m and you can see all the way to the bottom if the sun is shining. The water is that clear.

 

I’d recommend going in a dry suit (they do have a wet suit option is you are a masochist) and this is another one of those things that must be booked in advance with a tour company. We ended up booking it the day of, but had to go through a bunch of hoops and almost didn’t get it done.

 

My body was not that cold, but my face and hands got a little chilly. Even though I’m a baby when it comes to cold, I wasn’t uncomfortable–it was just the thought of it that made it cold. The dry suit kept me pretty warm. Bring an extra change of clothes though, because water leaked into my suit and I was sure glad I had something dry to change into in the car.

 

A tour company we saw a lot of people using was this one: https://www.adventures.is/iceland/day-tours/snorkeling-and-diving/into-the-blue/. You can find it cheaper though.

 

 

5. Any last thoughts?

Snæfellsjökull National Park

Yeah…go!

 

Iceland is a beautiful country with amazingly kind people. I loved sitting in the hot tubs and just talking with the locals (and don’t worry, because almost everyone speaks English). They are really used to travelers since there will be 1.3M people who visit this country of 300k in 2016.

 

It is a great way to spend a week of your life and will be a trip you will remember forever.

 

Like with all traveling, you will never have the time, you need to make it. If die never going to Iceland, it isn’t because you couldn’t find the time, it is because you didn’t want to go–and that’s fine. Just be honest with yourself. You have full control over going and can do it for a very reasonable price. Look, you’ve made it this far into the post, so either you are seriously considering it or already decided to go.

 

If you have decided to go: yeah man! Rock on and enjoy the trip. Let me know of any other good restaurants/activities I can post.

 

If you are still considering it: just do it. Put aside $50/mo to go and you’ll be able to afford it in no time. If you can’t take that much time off of work, for for fewer days. Just make the decision and do it.

 

Let’s put it this way: I’ve been to 34 countries and this is the only one I already have plans to go back to.

 

Happy journeys and if you have any questions, drop me a comment.

 

 

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5 Reasons You CAN’T Call it a “Date”

by | Dates. Single | no comments

date frustrations

 

The following is an unfortunately true story.

 

Some of you will be completely shocked.

Some of you will completely understand.

And the rest of you, well, you are the reason I’m writing this public service announcement.

 

It was a warm day in the early summer when a girl named Foxy bumped into an acquaintance named Dickson (names have been slightly altered).

 

The following conversation ensued.

 

Dickson: Hey Foxy, you should come over tomorrow night.

Foxy: What time?

Dickson: Whenever.

Foxy: Ummm…well I’m pretty busy.

Dickson: Whatever. Just come!

Foxy: Okay…I guess I can pop by.

 

The next night Foxy knocked on Dickson’s door.

 

He yelled for her to come in.

 

dating is hard

What Dickson may have looked like.

Dickson was on the floor in his PJs playing a video game. Without even looking up, he told her to sit on the couch…where she remained for 30 minutes suffering through semi-distracted side-conversation. She wasn’t offered a drink, a snack or at the very least a turn at the game (and I do mean the very very least).

 

Foxy finally had enough.

 

“Hey look Dickson, I’ve got to head home now. Like I said, I’m pretty busy.”

“Oh no…let’s go to get a snow cone real quick!”

[sigh] “Okay…but I don’t have a lot of time.”

 

After Dickson finished his round, he changed, did his hair…and then off they went.

 

When they arrived at the snow cone shack, he turned to her and said, “You can get whatever you want…as long as it’s under $2.” She ordered a Tiger (ripping Dickson apart and spilling his) Blood…small.

 

After a terribly long drive back to Dickson’s flat (which was about how the date was going), the evening was finally over and Foxy was free at last.

 

Now if this whole saga doesn’t just toast your muffin…then there is this.

 

The next week, Dickson bumped into a group of Foxy’s friends.

 

And while he didn’t have the decency to actually ask her on a date, or the courtesy to plan anything, or the tact to show respect, or the class to not put a price tag on her options…after alllllll that…he somehow had the gumption to brag to her friends that he took her on a “date.”

 

That’s right…he called that abomination of a human-to-human interaction a “date.”

 

Not an “all the reasons why I’m single” evening.

Not an “I skipped every class on social interactions” exhibit A.

Not even an “I was raised drinking Uncle Pappy’s moonshine” excuse.

 

A “date.”

 

Now if you are floored this is a real story…you had/are having a really good streak of dating. Stay in deep waters.

If you are thinking you might be Foxy in this story…I am so sorry men like that exist.

If you don’t see something wrong with every single detail of that story…listen up. You are probably Dickson.

 

Here are your 5 Reasons it ISN’T A DATE!

 

1. If you do not use the word “date,” you can’t call it a date.

Now, I am speaking a bit hyperbolically here in that you don’t actually need to say “date,” but you must make your intentions clear. Saying, ‘come over’ like a feral nimrod is a lot different than saying, ‘I’d love to take you to dinner this weekend.’  

 

2. If you don’t set a time, you can’t call it a date.

In a bind it could be, ‘I’m not sure when my soccer game will end, but it should be around 8. I’ll let you know if that changes, okay?’ But usually is it just, ‘I’ll pick you up at 8.’

 

3. If you do not have something planned, you can’t call it a date.

Please remember that figuring something out when they show up is not a plan. Also…why are they coming to your place anyway? Go pick them up.

 

4. If you aren’t respectful, you can’t call it a date.

Ask about them, be courteous, listen, and put away your phone.

 

5. If you give them a price limit, you can’t call it a date.

You give your kids a budget, your employees a budget and yourself a budget. If you can’t afford anything more than a $2 snow cone, then either plan a different activity or stop going on dates because you need to spend your evenings looking for a job.

 

 

So if you do any of those five things, my friend, your only bragging rights should be to your WoW (World of Warcraft to everyone else still reading) friends whose sole social interaction consists of the pizza delivery calls to get extra cheesey crust.

 

Don’t be a Dickson.

Go on real dates.

 

Please share this to raise awareness so that the Dicksons of the world know, or everyone else can help not propagate his gene pool.

 

 

Also, don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list for the Bowl of Oates book and enter for your chance to win a free copy! 

Dating Never Works Zack Oates

 

 

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BEFORE YOU GET MARRIED, Know There’s Someone Better

by | Love. Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | 1 comment

alone thinking

 

So you’re thinking about getting married.

 

Well before you do, there’s something you should know: there’s someone better for you out there.

 

That’s right. This little bundle of perfection you are personifying as your spouse is not the best match for you. There is someone who aligns with your dreams, your goals, your political persuasion better. There is someone more attractive, funnier, smarter. There is someone with a better family, with cooler friends. There is someone wealthier, more ambitious, more spiritual.

 

Here’s the catch: You can’t find all that in one person.

 

As my boy Leo Tolstoy has said, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content” (Anna Karenina #TheRealRussianNuke).

 

Sure, find someone who has a better family, but maybe they’ll be a total slob and smell bad. Meet someone that is funnier, but maybe they aren’t as kind. Chat with someone who passionately aligns to your political views, but maybe you don’t want a debate partner for a spouse. Connect with someone who is a model, but maybe then you can’t eat hamburgers and fries.

 

And even if all those “but maybe’s” are true, good luck at them being interested in you.

 

Yes, you found someone that meets the 5 most important criteria (after you made your list) and they exist. They are there and they are real. And no, that’s not settling–that’s falling in love with a human.

 

Now don’t get me wrong. Marriage is not a cavalier choice that you can make after two months of knowing someone when one of those months is long distance; it is an important decision to be weighed out and prayed about over time. (But then again, you might get lucky.)

 

Because once that decision is made to take it to the next step, don’t worry about any lists you’ve made in dating.

 

What I’ve admired about the best marriages I’ve seen is that the spouse becomes the other person’s “list.” It is no longer a ‘I wish you had this’ or ‘If only you didn’t have that,’ but rather a beautiful appreciation of the person for who they are that leads to a love and commitment that last forever.

 

Plus, regardless of who they are and who you are now, you’ll never stay married to the same person. You’ll change and they’ll change. The key is changing together.

 

You do that by setting your long-term goals as the same destination. If you both are constantly working towards that singular goal, you become less of single individuals and one whole.

 

So stop looking for the one. There are ones all around you. They key is to choose your love and then love your choice

 

As an author at The Blaze commented after hearing the devastating news that Nicolas Sparks and his wife separated, “I didn’t marry The One, I married this one, and the two of us became one.”

 

 

Stay up to date on the book and preorder now!

 

 

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I Never Knew How Much a Person Could Hide Until I Married My Wife

by | Marriage. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

hiding

 

I never knew how much a person could hide until I married my wife.

 

It was about six months after we had been married and I turned over in bed to see a stranger laying there next to me.

 

Granted, I proposed after exactly two months of knowing her and we were on different continents for one of those months.

 

And granted, we got married exactly four months after I proposed and were in different states for three of those months.

 

…but still.

 

I mean, who was she?

 

I thought I had it all figured out when I was dating. Before we met, I created my “must have” list for a spouse. It consisted of 5 things:

  1. Beautiful
  2. Positive
  3. Kind
  4. Leader
  5. Who put God first

 

From the day we met until the day we married and even until this point, she had shown her colors as truly exemplifying all of those traits.

 

But still…something wasn’t adding up.

 

I mean, before we were married she would make jokes, but I wouldn’t consider her very funny.

She would occasionally cook, but it all was quite bad–burnt, bland or soggy.

She would watch me clean my room on Skype, but revealed a scene behind her that looked like a candidate for Hoarders.

 

But you see, I didn’t marry her because she was funny or a good cook or could clean. I married her because I loved who she was and was willing to work with those things that were in my “nice to have” list. Not in any way feeling like I was settling, but realizing that some things in life need to be de-prioritized.

 

Sure, I love laughing, food is my second religion and messiness is something I cannot function in–but with funny friends, eating out and my self-satisfaction in cleaning, I figured we would be fine.

 

But, six months in, I found out that I was so wrong about her.

 

She was funny. At least once a week I was crying laughing because of her jokes.

She was an incredible cook. Her dinners became the daily culmination of a culinary crescendo–no matter how expensive my expensed lunch was.

She was cleeeeeean! Her cleaning habits made me look at the budget to see if she had hired help.

 

Yes I married her not even know how amazing she was.  

 

Truly, I fell in love with a sandbagger.

 

Turns out we just weren’t around each other enough in person for me to really get her humor. The few meals she made all happened to be without a some key ingredients. And the room she was temporarily living in until we got married was really a family storage room.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I discovered some new weaknesses too. Like how she isn’t good at opening bags of chips (she hulk-rips them “every” time sending cereal cascading down the hall) and can’t find a way to snap and sing at the same time; but my manly thumbs and amerature beatboxing solved both of those.

 

And while she has had some surprises from me too, I’ll leave that for her to talk about.

 

So six months into marriage what did I learn? As you get to know people, allow them to build themselves on the foundation of their strengths. Let them pleasantly surprise you.

 

For marriage isn’t so much a matter of being grateful that you found the one as working together to become one as we help fill the weaknesses and discover the strengths together.

 

Seek for the good and you will find it.

 

Everyone is incredibly loved–find out why (especially with those closest to you).

 

 

Don’t forget to subscribe and learn about the book!

Dating Never Works Zack Oates

 

 

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A Message to Those Tired of Being Single

by | LDS Living. Single | no comments

all alone

 

It was the week before I met my fiancée—but for all I knew, I was going to be waiting another 10 years.

 

I felt discouraged, disheartened, and just plain tired.

 

“The day will come when you feel you have met your eternal mate.”

 

It was right there in my patriarchal blessing.

 

I read those four words over and over and over, “The day will come.”

 

I knew that my patriarchal blessing said that I would be married. I felt that the blessings which I had received were real when I was promised a spouse. I believed that if I was obedient, then everything would work out— at least in some kind of a the-Lord-knows-better-than-me type way.

 

But knowing about those blessings didn’t change the fact that loneliness had become my constant companion. I distracted myself with dates, and instead of isolation, I chose business as my solace.

 

I attempted to weary the Lord. I tried to play the dating game exactly right, I prayed, I fasted, I went to the temple. But despite going on over 1,000 dates, my attempts felt completely fruitless.

 

I felt like Sheri Dew when she said, “Believe me, if fasting and prayer and temple attendance automatically resulted in a [spouse], I’d have one” (“You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory,” BYU Speeches, Dec. 9, 2003).

 

 

To read the rest of this post, go to this link at LDSLiving.com.

 

 

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Don’t Try to Hook them on a First Date; 5 Steps to Be Single, but Not Desperate

by | Dates. Single | no comments

Peter Pan

 

So you’re single.

 

Like Captain Hook, you fear that ticking clock coming closer and closer.

 

Your skin is getting more wrinkles, is your head is getting balder, your energy is going down and you are having trouble getting to sleep at night.

 

And while WebMD says you have Hypothyroidism based on those symptoms (and your word processor can’t figure out what that is)—it’s just called getting older.

 

And sure, all of your married friends and their spouse are off the fat races, your expanding circumference leaves you with one single fear: being alone.

 

So with a shot of 1 part determination and 2 parts desperation with a chaser of “Agency or Inspiration” by Bruce R McConkie, you commit to commitment…once again.

 

You are not going to be that aunt or uncle at the family reunion in 20 years. You are doing it. You are getting married.

 

You are a shark on the hunt.

Here’s the problem: yeah, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but how many of them are attracted to sharks?

 

When the purpose of our first dates stop being to enjoy time with “someone” and becomes a prolonged speed date hunt for “the one,” it wears like an unwashed sweater from a Goodwill bin. Because the truth is, desperation is much more potent than determination.

 

The object of our affection may misinterpret our intention when we pointlessly point our hook into an unsuspecting audience and call out “YOU!” Instead of the lesson in flying and happy thoughts you had in mind, they feel like a future victim of the boo box.

 

So what are you to do if you’re on this never never ending search for the one and can feel yourself starting to jump to too many conclusions?

 

     ONE. Make a list of 5 things and ask out/get asked out by anyone with those 5.

 

     TWO. Remember that the purpose of a first date is to see if you want a second, not to see if you want a 50-year wedding anniversary.

 

     THREE. Don’t get trapped into negativity. No amount of makeup or gym-time can be a suitable replacement for that. (Note: I’m not talking about depression or anxiety. Negativity is a choice.)

 

     FOUR. Stop looking at the clock. No one got through the movie Australia any faster by knowing how much of it was done. Your movie might feel too long, quite boring and like it should have ended three times…but even that flick had a credits (so I’ve been told).

 

     FIVE. Remember that you are amazing. You are not losing time. Keep trying. Your tears are known and your fears are felt—and great things await you. Yes…you.

 

Yeah, sure, you aren’t going to stay this young Peter/Penny Pan forever…but you hold onto your happy thoughts of what is eternally important, and you will mount up on wings of eagles.

 

GET UPDATES ABOUT THE BOOK BY SIGNING UP BELOW!


 

 

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In the Friend Zone? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Panic

by | inspiration. LDS Living. Love | no comments

Young couple enjoying in night music festival

“I thought it was over,” he exhaled. “I mean, she said that I was her friend…her friend!”

 

It had been a rough road for my buddy, Jack. He had been married for 25 years until a recent divorce. Then he had met a lovely woman online. She was living in a domestic violence shelter at the time; they both had a few kids and a lot of baggage. But in time they connected and started chatting, then texting, then calling. Jack felt things were going well until she dropped a bomb.

 

She called him her “friend.”

 

“How did you deal with getting friend-zoned?” I probed.

 

“Well, I took it hard,” he said. “At first, I cried, then I came to terms with the fact that it was over. That is when I went to see my therapist.”

 

Then, Jack got a serious look on his face and told me what his therapist said—a message of wisdom that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

 

“When I told my therapist, he laughed! I was offended and then a little hurt until he patted my knee and said, ‘You know that, to her, the word ‘friend’ is the highest compliment she can give?’

 

It suddenly dawned on Jack that this woman, who had spent her whole life trying and failing to trust another man, simply wanted—and needed—a friend. And so by saying that he was her friend, it was actually more like saying, “I trust you.”

 

With that vote of confidence, their relationship kept growing and growing.

 

A year later, he married his best friend.

 

I have long believed God gives us friends so that we might choose family, but only once in a lifetime or so, do we get to actually make that best friend family.

 

In life and in love, there are the crushes, the dates, and the games—but in the end, the thing that makes life sweet are the friends we can enjoy it with. When you have a best friend to share the joys and the sorrows of life, then truly, the best place you can ever be is the friend zone.

 

If you are married, keep the love alive by treating your spouse as your best friend. You might be surprised by how much joy it brings.

 

And if you aren’t married, don’t be discouraged if you simply seem to be acquiring a lot of friends. Continue to cultivate those friendships, and one day you might just find one that turns into something eternal.

 

But even if you don’t, remember—the reason we have life and joy at all is because of friends. After all, didn’t Christ lay down His life for friends? (John 15:13)

 

 

This post was originally posted on this link at LDSLiving.com

 

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You’re looking for Happiness in the Wrong Places

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

father and son piggybacking

 

My wife and I recently went to Austin, Texas, to go to a concert with another couple. We got to the venue and saw a line wrapped around the block. After going into an underground lot and practically signing away our first child for permission to park there, we found the venue again and proceeded to walk three blocks to the end of line. After waiting for a while, the women had to use the restroom. Thirty minutes later, they came back with new shoes they had bought (I was confused, but my buddy who has been married a few years longer than me didn’t look surprised at all).

 

After what seemed like hours of waiting, we finally made it up to the front of the line, went through security, and at last reached the ticket counter.

 

The Austin dude (I don’t know how else to describe him) at the counter took one look at our tickets, and said, “Whoa, man. This is the wrong venue.”

 

Turns out, our venue was on the other side of the line. We just assumed that we needed to be in the line we had waited in because that’s where everyone else was. And yeah…our venue had no line.

 

This experience has come to my mind again and again. The thought of waiting in the wrong line just because other people were waiting there brought to my heart the realization of how many other lines I wait in—just because everyone else is.

 

Especially the long line of happiness.

 

 

**** To read the rest of this article and see what the 5 most dangerous words in the world are, go to LDSLiving.com!

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The 3 Simple Words My Grandma Brought Me from the Spirit World

by | inspiration. LDS Living | no comments

Jesus Christ Beyond the grave

 

My grandma was in a coma for nearly 10 days. She had flatlined a few times and doctors said that things were not looking good.

 

It’s interesting how when someone is so close to death, memories of their life begin to flood your mind. I remembered her teaching me to let my little sister win at Go Fish, or her waking up an hour early to grind fresh wheat for her famous homemade pancakes after a cousin sleepover, or her gathering the family and making everyone say something nice about each person on their birthday (during family reunions these “Nice Talk” sessions could last a few hours).

 

But it wasn’t just what she did when everyone was around; it was the countless personal letters of encouragement, or the call right when I needed it, or simply pulling me aside to let me know that she thought I was special.

 

She just had a way of making everyone feel loved and helping us keep perspective. Everything she did was to bless others. Let’s put it this way—if she doesn’t make it into heaven, I’m quitting now because no one will!

 

She was the glue of my family and truly a best friend to me. So upon hearing the news that she wouldn’t live much longer, my heart broke. As I had done the previous 10 days, I made the hour-long drive to the hospital to be there—maybe for her, maybe for my family members, or maybe just for me, I’m not sure. But there I was, in her hospital room when all of a sudden—she woke up!

 

She was weak and her mouth was very dry from the ventilator, but she could whisper just enough to talk; only a few belabored words per breath.

 

She asked me about my wife. At the time, I was single—super single.

 

Upon hearing that I wasn’t married, she informed me that she knew my wife and that the woman I would marry was very beautiful and kind and that I was going to be very lucky. I tried in vain to get a name or address, but now, almost eight years later, I wonder if she knew just how right she would be.

 

After talking about other things for a few minutes, though, I asked her, “Grandma, where have you been these last 10 days?”

 

“Oh,” she responded, “I haven’t been alone.”

 

She proceeded to tell me about the life after death so casually and candidly that I found myself in near shock. She told me about her mother and mother-in-law and how other members of the family were doing who had long since passed. She had everything in her travelogue except pictures. Then came the part that changed my life forever.

 

“Zack, I was sent back with a very important message.”

 

 

To read what the message was, continue reading at LDSLiving.com.

 

 

 

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A 3-Step Spiritual Guide to Successful Dating & Marriage

by | LDS Living. Relationship and Marriage Advice | no comments

A loving young couple spending time together at home

 

I had just received the news through some not-so-subtle hints.

She wasn’t interested.

 

(Insert disappointed sigh here.)

 

Not that I was counting on it working out, per se, it’s just that . . . well, I was really hoping it might have. Yeah, it was just a crush; yeah, we might have only gone on a couple of dates; yeah, I wasn’t super emotionally invested . . . but I was at that point in life where it seemed that nothing was working out. (You know what I mean.) I was frustrated because whenever I liked a great girl, they weren’t interested; and when a great girl liked me, it didn’t seem right.

 

I was standing on a packed train when I had a prompting to open up to Doctrine & Covenants Section 90. I was not sure exactly what was there, but when I came across verse 24, I realized that God had put in a formula so that my relationships—in my dating life and in my future marriage—would really work! He packaged it up in three simple steps that could help me keep perspective. It filled my heart with hope—and it can fill your heart too.

 

 

To read those 3 steps, continue to LDSLiving.com.

 

 

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