What Channing Tatum Taught Me About the Gospel


It was in a little run-down town about 20 minutes from Pittsburgh with a two-lane street, some run down apartments, and a car body shop. Honestly, the biggest establishment along the street was a small mom-and-pop restaurant that probably couldn’t fit more than a handful of people. And yet a never-ending line of excited teenage girls continued along both sides of the street, huge smiles on their faces. The road was flooded with traffic, too—unheard of in this little town at this time of day. Yet there it was as my husband drove our car slowly along the run-down street, wondering what all of the commotion was about. What in the world were these girls waiting for? What in the world could they be excited about in a town like this?

Curious as I was, I went to my smart phone. Google to the rescue again! I searched the name of the town and up popped news that Channing Tatum was shooting a new movie there!


Large group of excited girls.

Horrible traffic.

Channing Tatum.

A movie shoot.

The puzzle pieces were all starting to fit together.

It was the biggest thing that happened to this little town, let alone to all of Pittsburgh. (Well, at least since “Jack Reacher” and “Abduction” were filmed in the city. Yeah, Pittsburgh is that cool!)

The group of girls swelled with excitement taking up every inch of that sidewalk as we drove up closer to an apartment complex that we had passed a hundred times before and never noticed. And yet we noticed it that day. There in the space in front of the apartments, we saw the numerous movie trailers, a large film crew, and Channing Tatum himself getting ready for a scene that they were filming.

McKeesport apartment

The group of girls started to squeal and scream with excitement. I, too, felt the excitement building in my stomach that a real movie star was shooting a movie in a nearby town I was familiar with, and I got to witness some of it.

Later, I found myself subtly bragging on Facebook that Channing Tatum was filming a movie not far from where I lived. Of course, the fact that it was a run-down town that some people were actually scared to drive through didn’t matter. The excitement of the movie being there overcame the embarrassment I sometimes felt to admit that town was close by.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t have much to brag about. In the movie, the point of the scene was to show the run-down, crappy apartment that Channing Tatum lived in, not the high-class digs the actor is normally used to. In fact, I wondered what Channing thought about the town:

“Wow, they really found a run-down place for this scene! I’m glad that I don’t have to be here more than a few days! If I was from this town, I would never admit it.” (Of course, Channing is probably a lot nicer and more respectful in person.)

I thought about that run-down apartment that had throngs of girls waiting to see it. I thought about how the owner of the apartment could probably rent that apartment for waaaay more after this movie came out since it was famously in a movie scene. And then I thought about the temples—the Lord’s house—some of the most beautiful buildings in the world that we are all invited to go to, yet some of us actively choose not to receive a temple recommend or even go because it’s too far away or it just doesn’t excite us. The temple, the place where we can receive saving ordinances, receive power from on high, and feel closer to the Savior, and yet we cast it aside as too-hard to achieve or not worth the effort.

20140301_135106 edit

Thinking about all of that, I realized…

We have our priorities really messed up!

Why is it that we are excited to be a part of something that’s popular and worldly even though, if we thought about it, it’s really not that great in the end? Like is my life any better because Channing Tatum filmed a movie close by? Not at all. In fact, the excitement of him being there went away in about a week.

And why are we not excited about the things that are the most special and wonderful and soul-saving? Every time I attend the temple, I find answers to my prayers and leave feeling edified. My life is truly better for having attended the Lord’s house.

So looking at my excitement over seeing a movie actor in a run-down town, I decided to apply that excitement to the gospel. How can I get just as excited about the gospel as I did about seeing Channing Tatum…even though it was in a run-down town?

How to Get Excited About the Gospel
Lessons I’ve Learned From My Excitement About Celebrities and Movies

1) Get to know the Lord better.
If a friend invited you to a movie with an actor that you never heard of, you probably wouldn’t be too excited to see the movie. But if your favorite actor Taylor Lautner just happened to be in the newest movie, how much more excited would you be? The same goes for the Lord. If we don’t take the time to get to know Him through reading the scriptures, having MEANINGFUL prayer, and attending church, then of course we’re not going to be excited to go to His house. The more we get to know someone and love them, the more we will want to be around them and make them happy.

2) Be consistent.
If you see a movie with Josh Hutcherson and absolutely love him as an actor, don’t you consistently watch every single movie that he comes out with (and absolutely love it)? Don’t you buy his poster and tape it up on the wall and then swoon over him every day before you go to school? You will never become a fan of something if you aren’t consistently making it a part of your life. The same goes for the Lord. Be consistent in your prayer and scripture studies. Encourage your family to be consistent in Family Home Evening. Tape up a picture of your favorite temple on you wall. The more you do those things, the more you will find that you are a big fan of them. You will wonder how you ever survived without them.

3) Share some of the amazing things that you have learned from your scripture studies with your friends or others at church.
When you love something and then share it with someone else and find that they love it too, your enthusiasm intensifies tenfold. (Can anyone say Divergent? Did you feel that little bit of a flutter of excitement there?) That’s why going to a movie with friends is so much more fun—you’re all excited about the same thing. (Like Star Wars.) The same goes for the scriptures. If you have an AWESOME scripture study and learn something that you never thought of before and then share that insight with a friend, I can assure you that they will think it’s awesome, too, and you’ll both be super excited. Having great scripture studies and then sharing what you’ve learned is a great way to prepare for and have excitement for the temple.

4) Ask for help.
One day on my mission, my companion and I were attending a talent show at the small Spanish-speaking branch we were serving in. I started to notice that many of the Young Women were beginning to whisper excitedly to each other and staring at a young man with a ball cap on that was sitting in a position as though he didn’t want to be seen. Not knowing what was going on, I turned to my companion and asked, “What’s going on? Why are the Young Women so excited? Who is that kid anyway?” My companion turned to me matter-of-factedly and stated, “Because that’s David Archuleta.” Not having ever seen American Idol before (crazy, right?), I had no idea that he was in our midst and would have never known if I hadn’t asked for help. I wasn’t excited that David Archuleta was in our midst because I had no idea that David Archuleta was there or even what he looked like, but when I asked for help and learned that he was there, I was as excited as everyone else.


I had to do the same thing the day we were driving through the small town. I turned to Google for help to figure out why so many girls were overwhelming the tiny town.

The same goes for the gospel. If you are confused about a topic or wondering what a scripture means, it is okay to ask for help. (Just make sure you go to the right sources.) Ask a teacher or someone that you trust questions about it. Read Church books to gain further insight. Or go to the Lord in prayer. If you are reading a chapter in Isaiah and have no idea what it means and don’t take the time to ponder it or ask an expert or read a study guide about it, you will never learn what it means or even have the opportunity to get excited about it. Asking for help will not only provide you answers but will help you to gain more excitement as well as you gain more knowledge and understanding.

5) See the blessings in the little things.
Driving through that small town was usually a normal thing, but seeing Channing Tatum made it exciting and special. It’s when we appreciate the little things and see the blessings in the everyday and supposedly ordinary that we become more excited about life in general. Appreciating a beautiful sunset or a kind person in the store can make you more appreciative of the Creation and the Atonement.


6) Ask the Lord, “What’s keeping me from getting excited?”
When I was in middle school, all of my friends loved N’Sync, but I just couldn’t get excited about them. (The Backstreet Boys were my band.) Honestly, after careful reflection, I realized that I was choosing to not get excited about N’Sync. Why? Because I didn’t want to like a band just because everyone else liked it. I wanted to be different. When I was honest with myself about my lack of excitement, I realized that in all actuality, I really did like their music. I just didn’t want to admit it. (“Bye Bye Bye!”)

If you’re not feeling excited about the gospel, I encourage you to go straight to the source and ask the Lord what is keeping you from getting excited. Knowing that the Holy Ghost gives each of us customized counsel (read “What Lack I Yet” by Elder Lawrence to learn more about this), the Holy Ghost will let you know exactly what’s keeping you from getting excited. And it might be something different than what you think.


Certainly, seeing Channing Tatum in a nearby town is a fun tidbit that I can playfully flaunt in front of others for the rest of his movie career, but being a part of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and having the true joy and happiness that comes with it is WAAAAAY better than seeing an actor walk around in a run-down town. I challenge you to get excited about the gospel. It is possible and so much more fulfilling than anything else…even meeting Channing Tatum. 😉



Emily Punjack is the editor-in-chief of Celestial Shine Magazine, a modest fashion magazine for Young Women. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2007 and then proceeded to serve a mission for the LDS church in Oakland/San Francisco. Although her passion lies in working with youth and uplifting them, she has also worked with children with autism and loves to make a positive difference in the world in whatever way she possibly can. Emily currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, stepdaughter, and 2 fur babies.




Photos of Channing Tatum:
Copyright: <a href=’’>buzzfuss / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Copyright: <a href=’’>buzzfuss / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Photo of sunset:
Copyright: <a href=’’>ultimagaina / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


Once I Was a Beehive Released on DVD!


The movie all about Girl’s Camp is now available on DVD. Buy your own copy at Deseret Book, LDS Bookstore, or Seagull Book.

Lane Speer is a 16-year-old dealing with her father’s death as well as her mother’s remarriage to a squeaky clean Mormon when she lands on a trip to Girls Camp with some interesting characters: her new cousin Phoebe, an over-zealous Young Women’s President, and 8 other girls with personalities all their own. Through setting up camp, hiking, and trials that are unique only to camping in the wild, Lane discovers she is not alone, learns how to forgive and love an “enemy”, and uses her experiences to help those around her. Who knew that one could learn so much from camping?

Read our review of the movie here.

This Christmas Eve, an Elevator Ride Will Change Your Life

Christmas Eve

New York City. A city where more people live in one square mile than in any other city in the United States but never talk to one another. And this Christmas Eve, a handful of strangers are thrown together in six different elevators for a night that will change their lives. Seeming like any other ride on an elevator at first, the power to the city is lost and these strangers are faced with more than the 30 seconds that they had anticipated with others. Forced to look each other in the eye while stuck in a small space, tempers begin to flare before they start to see each other as people, get to know one another, and have meaningful conversations about what’s most important in life.


Christmas Eve is not your average cheesy Christmas movie. With its cast of vivid characters as varied as any city block in New York City (from the Brainiac to the musically inclined to the eccentric photographer to the introvert  to the girly girls to the unbelieving doctor to the guy who was just fired to the guy who just has to pee), the movie is both thought-provoking and humorous. It’s about real people with real problems that don’t seem to have any solution. But as the Brainiac points out, “Take an empty wine bottle. Drop a coin in it and put a cork in the top of the bottle. How can you get the coin out without removing the cork? There’s no such thing as a question without an answer. You might not know it now, but it’s out there waiting to be found. Wanting to be found. It’s almost always simple…so simple it’s almost silly. And when you find it, there’s no feeling like it in the world.”


Written and directed by Mitch Davis (who also wrote and directed The Other Side of Heaven), there are some definite gospel undertones while not being too presumptuous or preachy. A simple prayer spoken by the unbelieving doctor at the request of his patient is the most religious act in the entire movie. Christmas Eve is definitely a movie that can speak to the masses and remind all of us that there are others around us with concerns and needs just like us. And the season of Christmas is the perfect time to look outside of ourselves and get to know and help others.


Watch the preview of the movie Christmas Eve here, and go to see it in theaters on Friday, December 4, 2015!

Find tickets and see if the movie is playing in your area at the movie’s website or order the movie through iTunes starting December 4!


Note: There are a few times when swearing is vocalized, so even though this is considered to be a family movie, the PG rating does fit the bill.

Watch the Cokeville Miracle. In theaters tomorrow!

If you like movies about miracles, then this one is for you.

When a madman and his wife take over an elementary school in 1986 and set off a bomb, no one should have survived. And yet only 2 lives were lost: the life of the madman and his wife. Every teacher and child that day exited the school alive. But how? Join the Sheriff’s Investigator as he gathers the evidence. Will you just see coincidence or will you see miracles?


Then watch this gorgeous rendition of Suo Gan by Jenny Oaks Baker from the Cokeville Miracle.

Fav Movie of 2015?

beehive movie


There have been so many great movies this year so far! (Can anyone say Insurgent and Cinderella?!?!?) The good news is that the year isn’t over yet!

Did you know that a movie about Girl’s Camp is coming out this summer (August 14)? Watch the trailer for it here: