Monday, April 21, 2014

"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." ~Winston Churchill

     This very post is one of the reasons I started my blog back up again. It's taken me weeks to formulate my thoughts, decide how to spew them out on the page and determine whether or not they were important enough to share with those close to me and those that I don't even know who might come across this blog. Over these past few weeks, I have had to make some decisions on a few things. Of those decisions, I decided that my thoughts are important and that I want to share them. Now.
     As many of you know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was baptized by my grandpa when I was 8 years old and have loved the gospel ever since I can remember. One thing that I love about this true gospel is that we believe in the immense saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. You have probably seen the hash tag #BecauseofHim going around social media networks the past few weeks. This was created in order to show people that LDS members know that because of our Savior, we can live again. We can be forgiven. We can live and learn. We can get back up when we've fallen. We can live eternally with our families. We can be our best selves. I have had to apply the atonement in my life countless times because I haven't quite made it to being my best self yet, but I know that my Heavenly Father is cheering me on and gives me the strength to be a little better when I desire to be. The atonement is a very real power and I hope that this post will help you understand my testimony of it.
 13 weeks and 1 day ago my life changed forever. I know that sounds like a cheesy line to get you all interested in what I'm about to say next, but I really mean it! 4 short months ago, I began dating the love of my life. Nick Hebert is the most fascinating man I've ever met. He makes everyone laugh, lights up the room as soon as he walks in, is witty and intelligent, and the list seriously goes on forever. The first week that we began dating, I knew he was something special and couldn't wait to see where our relationship would go. He tells everyone that I proposed to him on our very first date, and I'm not ashamed to say that I sorta did! I immediately wanted to hold on to him for as long as I could. Well, it looks like I got my wish, because in exactly 4 weeks and 5 days, I get to marry this incredible man. I know, I know. Most of you probably think I am crazy, and to that I say, I know I am! But 4 months was all it took for us to realize that we are meant for each other. God found a way for us to find each other and I'm so glad that He did. I cannot imagine my life without Nick in it. 
     In our church, marriages are done through the temple. For nonmembers who have continued reading this post up til now (thank you!), you may have seen our large temples with huge spires and a golden statue of an angel at the top. That picture is the temple closest to my hometown in Bellevue, WA. As I grew up in the church, I never thought I would have anything other than a temple marriage. A marriage in the temple is eternal, celestial, forever. But in order to have an eternal marriage, you have to be living in a way that makes you worthy for that huge blessing. I write this with a prayer in my heart that my friends and family will understand what I have to say next. That they will support me, offer loving advice and welcome me and my (soon to be) fiance in with open arms. Nick and I will be getting married on May 24th, 2014, but not in an LDS temple. As I said before, heavenly blessings require heavenly actions. We are not yet ready for the temple, but we are ready to marry each other. Heavenly Father prepared us for each other, but we failed to prepare for the temple. Is it disappointing? Of course it is. I have no idea how to plan a civil wedding. I never thought about what song I would walk down the aisle to because that isn't what I learned about when I went to church every Sunday. However....
     I am excited. I am excited that in the year we have to prepare to be sealed in the temple, we have a a huge goal to be working on together. The first time around, we fell short. But is it worth it just to quit when you falter? Heck no! They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, especially when you haven't lived with the person first. I say, heck yes it's going to be hard, but we have a goal. An eternal goal. It is going to take a lot for us to reach that finish line. We need our loved ones to cheer us on and love us to death even though this isn't what they had planned for us. We want to use this opportunity to show how applying the atonement can change lives. I may not have learned about bridesmaids, flowers and aisle music while at church, but I sure did learn a lot about how much love my Savior has for me and every one of His children. I know this post is turning into a novel, but I cannot express enough how much I know that this gospel is true. I have struggled, faltered, and fallen. I didn't quite reach my goal. But will that stop me? Us? Never. Failure is not fatal. Our faith is bigger than our fear. Our God is bigger than our weaknesses. His atonement is more powerful than our mistakes. His plan for our future is brighter than we can imagine.
     I invite my awesome readers to use my story as a testament to the redeeming power of repentance. Often times I have felt that church members don't like to admit that they have mistakes that need fixing, yet they talk about how we all need to be fixed. Is it fun to talk about failing? No. Is it embarrassing at times? Yes. But imagine what good a group of saints who are not afraid to be imperfect but who are working on achieving perfection together can do. Let us try to view those struggling through the repentance process with love and acceptance. The quote "don't judge me because I sin differently than you" became very popular in the Mormon community a year ago after President Uchtdorf quoted a bumper sticker he once saw. I call all of us to action just as President Uchtdorf did that day with that quote. We all sin. Every. Person. Does. Is that a bad thing? No! That is what this life on earth is for! To experience heart ache. Pain. Love. Suffering. Endurance. Patience. Trials. Weakness. Joy. Repentance. Now, in no way does that mean that I'm saying to throw your life away to things that won't lift and edify you. What I am saying is to remember that we are a church of imperfect Saints, loved by and moved by a perfect God and a perfect gospel. This post isn't about my wedding. It is about my testimony of how my weaknesses can be made strong through the way paved by my Savior. Smile with me on the day that I get sealed and look at me with eyes full of hope until that day comes. I am not ashamed to share my story "for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ." It is the principles of His gospel that encourage me to use repentance to become better. Please, please use these principles to allow yourself room to grow and help others grow as well. I have an immense testimony of how serving others, even in small ways, can make a huge impact.
       I hope that this post brings about more understanding for my readers, especially those whom I know and love. How can this apply to you? You may already be sealed in the temple, or you may be planning on doing so very soon or sometime down the road. Whatever the case may be, you can always use Christ's love to create change in your own life and the lives of others. Work through Him to build up the Saints. For me, this is a new beginning. A new life together for Nick and I. A new family. I find joy in all of the newness. I find joy in my future husband. I find joy in our humble testimonies. I find joy in my Savior. I find joy in my future.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The blog has been resurrected!

It has been almost exactly a year since I last wrote on my small and humble blog. Once I finished my Book of Mormon class here at BYU (which is how I decided to start the blog) I couldn't find the motivation to continue writing. I started working and continued school and truthfully, when I wasn't receiving a grade for it anymore it was a lot easier to quit writing. Well, I am here today one year later and have decided to bring the blog back from the dead! I really feel that I need to begin writing again, mostly for my own sanity. I would love it though if people shared their thoughts and comments with me as I revisit this fun hobby. I really want to focus on the gospel and its impact on my life and I really enjoy writing, so this is a great way for me to focus on the gospel, share my testimony and find an outlet for my love of writing. Help me stay motivated! If, heaven forbid, I begin to slack off on my posts, please tell me! I've had a few people tell me that I should start my blog back up and I really appreciate it when people notice what I have written. So, if you enjoy learning and pondering the gospel with me, let me know! I would love to be held accountable for my posts. Then again, if no one is reading this and I'm just talking to cyberspace, well I guess it would be kind of hard for the computer to tell me to continue writing if it isn't that good.....Anyway, I'm excited to be back and hope that through my simple words people will see in a small way how being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has immensely blessed my life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Alma 5

Good evening! Sorry it's been about a week since I last posted...things are getting pretty crazy around here as finals and saying goodbye to new friends draws nearer. Today I wanted to discuss Alma 5. I know I'm skipping over several books since I last posted, but I read this chapter for my Book of Mormon class this week and really love the message. In this chapter, Alma asks over 40 questions. 40! A lot of them have really made me think this week about my calling as a member of this church. I am going to list some of my favorite questions that Alma asks and I challenge you to just ponder them. You can comment if you want, write down your feelings in a journal or just think about it. I won't be writing very much today because I think these are good principles to think about and apply to our personal lives.
1) v. 14: "...have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your heart?"
2) v. 15: "Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith...?
3) v. 16: "...can you imagine yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that last day: Come unto me ye blessed...?"
4) v. 27: "Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?"
5) v 39: "And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye?"
 I would like to end with verse 26: "And now behold, I say unto you my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
Elder Quentin L. Cook gave an excellent talk regarding this very verse. It is a a great way to get ready for General Conference this week and an excellent way to ponder Alma's questions: Can Ye Feel So Now

Friday, March 22, 2013

2 Nephi 25

Hello all! I apologize for making this post so late this week. March Madness, homework and socializing have gotten in the way this week. Aw, who am I kidding? Really it's just been March Madness and socializing.....anyway....Today I will be discussing chapter 25 in 2 Nephi. Throughout Second Nephi, Nephi and Jacob both quote the prophet Isaiah. Often times it is hard to understand the symbolism and the history that Isaiah describes. I know when I get to some of these chapters I think "alright, get through it as fast as possible and it will all be over soon." I don't recommend that kind of thinking. Verse 4 explains, "...the words of Isaiah...are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy." Luckily, we don't all have to be prophets in order to have this spirit. The Lord has blessed us with the ability to receive inspiration for ourselves and our families. This blessing comes with obedience to "the laws and ordinances of the gospel." If you feel stuck reading Isaiah, or any verse within the scriptures, pray, ponder, and wait for the Lord to reveal understanding to you. Moving on to verse 23 we read, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ..." and onto verse 26, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ..." I love these verses! I think this might be my new life motto. With all the missionaries now going into the mission field, I am so excited to hear about how how the gospel is growing throughout the world. For those (like me) not going on missions, it is still our job to "rejoice in Christ." Be an example to kids at school, coworkers, fellow athletes. I am so grateful for missionary work and for Latter-day Saints who are fantastic examples to others. We were each given the light of Christ and we just shine with it when we share our testimonies through word and deed.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2 Nephi 13

Good afternoon and happy Pi Day! Get it? March 14th, 3.14.....yeah. Here at BYU we are celebrating! Pi day shirts are being worn, games are being played, and I'm sure there will be lots of pie served at the Cannon Center tonight (woohoo!). Anyway, today I am focusing on 2 Nephi chapter 13. Mostly I want to focus on the last 11 verses or so. Verses 17 through 26 talk about how the daughters of Zion will be cursed because of their focus on jewelry, clothing and fine objects. In today's society, men and women are constantly bombarded by advertisements, commercials, movies and magazines that display people with supposed happy lives because of their fame and fortune or brand name jeans. It is important for all women and men to know that pure happiness does not come from a certain kind of perfume or pair of sunglasses. Your house doesn't have to be perfect. You are going to have a bad hair day sometimes. Your car might not be the most expensive one in the parking lot. Realize that it's okay! Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said, "Fixation on the physical is spiritually destructive." Heavenly Father gave us the privilege to have responsibility of our bodies. They are on loan from Him to us, so of course we should take care of them. But our bodies are the homes for our precious spirit. With our bodies, we were also given the privilege to come to Earth to learn and grow and strive to be like the Savior. I love this quote from Sister Elaine S. Dalton (and it can apply to young men, too), " I wish every young woman assembled here tonight would know and understand that your beauty—your “shine”—does not lie in makeup, gooey cream, or the latest clothing or hairstyles. It lies in your personal purity. When you live the standards and qualify for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, you can have a powerful impact in the world. Your example, even the light in your eyes, will influence others who see your “shine,” and they will want to be like you. Where do you get this light? The Lord is the light, “and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” A divine light comes into your eyes and countenances when you draw close to your Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ." It is hard to live in the world today. As President Packer once said, living in modern times is like living in the building full of pride found in Lehi's vision. We do not have to be of the world though. As Sister Dalton explained, our light does not come from sparkly clothes, but from the light of Christ that dwells within us. I am grateful that we have church leaders who emphasize this over and over again! Together as Saints in the Latter-days, we must stand together and make sure that everyone knows their worth. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2 Nephi 9

Good afternoon! Sorry this is my first post this week. Things have been a bit crazy around here with midterms and such. I wanted to try something a little different today. Chapter 9 is kinda long and there is a lot I could write about it, and since I'd rather not write a novel on this chapter I am going to pick my top five favorite verses and then you guys can read them so you know why I love them so much!
5) 9:14- We were given the ability to remember our sins, but we can also remember the lessons learned from them. Treat this as a blessing, not a curse!
4) 9:51- What are your priorities in life? What are you spending your money on? How about your time and effort? It's okay to have to sort out things that are taking up room in your life! We aren't superheroes, and Heavenly Father knows that.
3) 9:42- Jesus Christ is always issuing an invitation to come unto Him.
2) 9:16- The word "still" implies that we are given chances over and over again to become like Christ.
1) 9:18- The righteous are promised blessings. These blessings will come, even if you have to be a little patient and wait til the next life to receive them.
        I hope you find inspiration and joy in this chapter as I have! There is a lot to get out of this chapter, so I definitely encourage you to read it. Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2 Nephi 6-7

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you are relaxing a little bit and taking a breather from this week. I know I am! For my second post this week I want to touch on just a few verses in 2 Nephi chapters 6 and 7. The end of verse 7 reads, "...and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me." Part of verse 13 reads, "....And the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; they still wait for the coming of the Messiah." Verse 7 in chapter 7 reads, "For the Lord God will help me, therefore shall I not be confounded. Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." So, I'm guessing you are sensing the pattern I found about not being ashamed. I think this is such a great principle for members to know, especially the youth and young adults. This is the time in our lives that we get to learn how to stand up for ourselves. We make more and more decisions without  our parents, we have to rely on our own testimonies, we are growing up all while the world is throwing evil at us left and right. I know it isn't always easy to declare your membership in the church. In high school there were times when I wondered if keeping my standards and living as a Latter-day Saint all the time was worth it. Believe me when I say it is! Heavenly Father has mansions in heaven prepared for those that endure to the end. I challenge you, but the youth especially, to say, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" when you wake up or when you feel tempted to lower your standards or as you walk down the hallways at school because "it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). Be a proud follower of Jesus Christ. I know some people think we are weird, but really, every person on Earth is their own kind of weird :) Remember, "I'm a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it." (Click on the link to watch a cute video)