Tag: faith

General Conference, Easter and Complacency

This is more a post for my Mormon readers.  Thanks.

What a marvelous weekend I just experienced.  It’s not that often when LDS General Conference and Easter line up but it happened this year.  This adds a special spirit to the  meeting beyond what is normally felt.  A special focus on Christ and his teachings that I was very moved by.

It was a low key Easter/Conference weekend for me. I had to get some work done for projects this week.  (Very stressful week at work because my supervisor is quitting on Thursday!).

But I started out the day making waffles and having a yummy brunch all to myself.

brunchMy cousin  Danielle and her husband Cory then came over for dinner Sunday night which was a lot of fun.  They are two of my favorite people and I love spending time with them.  I made split pea soup out of ham I had served last time they had come to visit.   This is the soup before it was cooked.  I added real peas this time for the first time and it was very yummy and healthy for an Easter dinner.

split pea soup

I had hardly any candy this Easter which I guess was a good thing but felt a little strange.  We did have brownies with dinner but no Easter baskets or treats this year (I’m 34 so I suppose that should be expected).  In a way it kind of reminds me of my recent Christmas where I was alone and had a low key, kind of ordinary day.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit sad because I’d love to have a partner to share things with but it’s just not what God has seen for me at this time.

Anyway, at least I got to see my cousins which was great and hear from my church’s prophet President Monson and apostles for 2 days.

conference tweetingI also tweeted during conference as I have done for several years.  I tried to keep it a little smaller than in previous years but I enjoyed reading others insights into talks and formulating my own.  Tweeting helps me because it involves multiple senses than if I was simply listening to the talks.

It was an immensely gratifying conference and I feel inspired to improve. One of the big themes of conference which struck me is to avoid complacency in gospel living.  To be anxiously engaged in good causes and increasing your testimony of light and truth.

This talk by my Mother’s cousin Kevin W Pearson was very moving.  Stay close to the tree:

I also loved Elder Nielson where he shared the story of his sister who left the church and for many years was disaffected but came back.  It was moving on many levels.

President Eyring spoke on fasting and reminded me to try harder to live that principle. It’s a principle that I have never had a great testimony of so I know I need to work on it.

Elder Holland told a moving story about 2 brothers rock climbing and how they were able to rescue each other.  He brought home powerfully our need to reach out to those around us and offer love, support and rescue.

Finally we got to hear from the prophet.

There were some dissenters at the sustaining on Sunday which I found extremely distasteful.  These people don’t seem to understand the church they are a part of.  This is not a democracy but a church led by revelation from God. They had their moment in the sun and got their interviews with media I am sure so good for them but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely rude and disrespectful.

Anyway, I do believe President Monson is a prophet just like Moses and Abraham were prophets who spoke for God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and His great Easter gift for all of us.  That He alone as the Son of God could suffer and die and free us from sin and death.  I know because I have felt the holy witness reaffirm it to me again and again.  It has given me everything in my life and even on those lonely afternoons when I wish I could be surrounded by a family of my own I know that Jesus loves me and has given me His truths. For that I am so grateful.

On a totally random note I went to see Furious 7 on Saturday and the review came out pretty good.  Check it out.

Did any of you get to listen to Conference?  I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.

Thoughts on Quiet

On such a night, or such a night,
Would anybody care
If such a little figure
Slipped quiet from its chair —
So quiet — Oh how quiet,
That nobody might know
But that the little figure
Rocked softer — to and fro —
On such a dawn, or such a dawn —
Would anybody sigh
That such a little figure
Too sound asleep did lieEmily Dickinson

I haven’t shared with you all any poetry in a long time but I found myself thinking of this verse today. You see, my house was empty and I was trying to recover from this darn cold and I couldn’t think of anything to watch so I found myself sitting and thinking.  In the words of Gaston ‘a dangerous pastime…’ It’s just so quiet sometimes when you are alone.

And I know you Moms are probably thinking ‘I would love nothing more than a quiet house all to myself for the day’ and there is some truth to that.  But I bet you wouldn’t find the quiet so refreshing if you knew those little voices weren’t ever coming back…

This is not an ‘oh feel sorry for me’ post.  It really isn’t.  It’s just a ‘today  I was alone and I noticed’.  What’s wrong with admitting that?  We all have our lonely moments, sometimes when we are surrounded by people.  It’s part of being human.  After all, if we never felt alone why would we need to turn to God?

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish for a companion to share these kind of experiences with.  Yeah, yeah I can hear you all saying ‘marriage is hard’ and ‘grass is always greener’.  Well, it is also ‘not meant for man to be alone’. Humans need companionship and sometimes I wish I had it. But I know God has His plan for me and I am doing my best to humbly follow His timeline for my life.  That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little sad on those days when the house feels extra quiet. Again I’m only human…

I saw The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this week and it is not a great movie but I liked it.  One of the things that I stood out to me is Maggie Smith’s character is a single woman who has never married.  However, she has found this place to live where she has an urban tribe of other seniors and a ‘child’ to help nurture in the Dev Patel character.  I had more of that in my 20s when sociability and friendshipping was so much easier but I hope I can get it again.  If I never meet Mr Sunshine I hope I can find an urban tribe like she does and maybe even a young person to help mentor.

In my 20’s I also had much younger siblings who looked to me for advice and guidance and family that lived nearby.  Now they are all grown up and my nieces are far away.  It makes me a little sad sometimes.

But again I am not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me.  I am greatly blessed. Mostly I have the miracle of all of you who are there to share in my silly life. Goodness knows why you have all read all these years but I am sure grateful.  I have a job I love, a social media presence that I think helps people, hobbies I love, great friends, a beautiful home and most importantly a faith in Jesus Christ that ensures I am never really alone.  That is never forgotten.

Thanks for letting me share and I love you all.  Can any of you relate to the quiet times when maybe it feels a little lonely in life? I’m sure I am not alone.  God bless.

Faith and Loneliness

I have lots of different readers who enjoy my posts for different reasons. I love every last one of you! This is a religious post probably best suited for my Mormon readers but hopefully encouraging to anyone of faith. If religion isn’t your thing don’t worry will be posting about your favorite topic soon. It’s a huge part of my life so it will come up on the blog from time to time. Love you!

missionLately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my mission.  This year marks 10 years since I came home which has given me pause to think about the decade which has come and gone. Plus, I recently played host to my favorite companion Julia Graves and spent time with a sister who also served around my time Lisa Luddington.  We’ve shared stories and looked back on all we learned during those very intense 20 months (I extended).

Today I went to a homecoming for a friend and it touched my heart to see how strong she has become. I hope she can keep that strength and faith for a decade as I have striven to do however imperfectly.

Called to Serve Him.  No greater work.  No greater chance to become more Christlike
Called to Serve Him. No greater work. No greater chance to become more Christlike

As I’ve been thinking about my mission I realized something special it taught me I hadn’t put my finger on before.  It taught me how to deal with the loneliness of faith.

Let me explain.  There was a time on the mission I was given a companion who was bi-polar and thought that a mission would cure her mental illness. When it obviously didn’t she took her anger out on me and was emotionally and verbally abusive. I was berated as the worst missionary, ugly, stupid, inept, you name it.  Then she would go days with the silent treatment which was better but hard when you have to spend 24 hours a day with a person.

It was an especially hard time because I was trying so hard to be a good trainer and obedient.  We were opening a new area to sisters so I didn’t know anybody and we were far away from the mission home.  On LDS missions you are not allowed to call home, just weekly letters (although my parents did send me flowers. Love them!).

Got to love Indiana corn!
Got to love Indiana corn!

I’m not saying I was perfect because I wasn’t but I was trying to be obedient and I seemed to be punished for that where other people had great training experiences. Plus, how many times can you be told your a terrible missionary before you begin to believe it.

It was one of the loneliest time of my life. That may be surprising because I was with someone all the time but it just goes to show a person can be lonely who is surrounded by people.

pres quist
President Quist helped me so much through that lonely time

Anyway, I thought about coming home but I didn’t want to let my family down especially my younger siblings who needed an example missionary in their lives. I had to call the mission president every night and he helped me to get through every day.  I had a sister swap with my MTC comp Sister Noyes and that also helped.

But in the end I had to turn to my Heavenly Father in a way I hadn’t done to that point. He was all I had to really lean on. I read my scriptures and I prayed so hard my knees hurt. And you know what? He filled me up.  He let me know I wasn’t a bad missionary.  He helped me to forgive her, which was incredibly hard to do.  He loved me and I was not the same after that.  I was in 100% to the mission and while again I was far from perfect I know I was the missionary He needed me to be.

purdue
Purdue campus was the new area with tough companion but it was the site of many sacred experiences too

As hard as that experience was, and it was brutal, it gave me a gift.  In the 10 years since I came home there have been lonely times.  I don’t need to go into all of them but just trust me there have been lonely times. I’ve felt attacked, disappointed in the choices of others, angry, frustrated, confused and alone, as all humans do from time to time.

But I’ve always had that time on the mission in my pocket to carry me through.

I had discovered God’s ability to strengthen me during the lonely times and have never forgotten it and never will.

If you are feeling lonely or life is giving you a shellacking (we’ve all been there!) maybe it’s a moment God is trying to turn you into something better, like He made me the best missionary I could be?  Maybe he is trying to make you strong?

I absolutely believe moments of loneliness are essential to understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ and really applying it to your heart. We need it so bad in those moments and only then are we teachable and humble enough to make the tough choices and rely on His mercy completely.
me-in-snow-on-missionNever forget the scripture says

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

An Original Expression of Faith

Back when the movement of feminists within the Mormon church started (ala pants protest) I had a bad feeling about it. I chose to show my support for people, not protests in my own way. My opinion on today’s events is basically what it was when I wrote this post.
I have not commented on the recent hoopla because I felt like I couldn’t add anything new to the discussion. I’ve written a number of posts on the blog about being a Mormon woman and I’d love for any of you to read them. However, I felt reposting this said everything I wanted to say.
There is nothing more important to me than my faith. It is the anchor of my life and I know it is where I am supposed to spend my life engaged in it’s service.   Every time I read it, I feel anew that the  Book of Mormon is true. I am a daughter of God with a unique mission and gifts. It is not my place to judge anyone else for their choices and I wish all peace and comfort.  God bless you all.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

“The number of people who subscribe to these beliefs and values is dwindling, but you and I remain true. We have covenanted with the Savior to represent Him...

We must be bold in our declarations and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. We want others to know that we believe He is the central figure in all human history. His life and teachings are the heart of the Bible and the other books we consider to be holy scriptures. The Old Testament sets the stage for Christ’s mortal ministry. The New Testament describes His mortal ministry.

The Book of Mormon gives us a second witness of His mortal ministry. He came to earth to declare His gospel as a foundation for all mankind so that all of God’s children could learn about Him and His teachings. He then gave His life in order to be our Savior and…

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Spiritual Holes

(This is one of my more LDS related posts but I think any person could find ways to relate to it).

So it’s late and I should probably be asleep but what else is new!  Today was another amazing day.  It started out unpleasantly dealing with Comcast from 7-12 (the whole morning).  Nothing was working and I traipsed up and down all 3 levels trying to get a read from technician on what was wrong.  In truth he was clearly applying a wack-a-mole approach to fixing the problem.  Try one thing, hit down the problem, whack the next one, until hopefully they were all whacked.  Hopefully…

Anyway, they were finally done and I was tired.  An early morning wake up does not have any effect on my go to sleep time.  I wish insomnia worked that way!  I would tell myself I had to wake up early every day!  So, I crashed and woke up about 2 (I never take naps so you know I was really tired to do that). I had missed church and I felt a little bad about that but I know I will be there next week so it’s ok to have a moment of sleep induced truancy.

Fortunately I was not left spiritually adrift for long because my wonderful friends and home teachers came over for a visit.  I think they both might have missed their callings as psychiatrists because they are so pleasant to talk to.  I’m afraid I take up way too much of their time when they come but I enjoy it so much.   We chatted about the Olympics, my fun weekend, my job etc and then they shared a prayer and spiritual thought.

These thoughts remind me of my Grandpa who I love, so you can imagine I love them.  Today’s topic was one I have been contemplating lately- the unanswered prayer, the seemingly unexplained tragedy, the leaps of faith, the almost unforgivable act…the really tough stuff and the stuff that confuses, troubles us, or that we simply do not fully understand.

In an ideal world all of us would have 100% testimonies on all parts of our faith all the time, but unless we are Jesus, that is impossible  There is always going to be something that at least for the moment you struggle with accepting.  Things that don’t make any sense.

I think of those moments as spiritual holes.  It’s just like standing on the edge of a deep pit and if you let yourself take too large a step you will fall.

spiritual holesI don’t know if it was just Indiana but I met a number of people on my mission who struggled to feel the Book of Mormon was true.  They had strong testimonies of the priesthood, restoration, prophets but couldn’t get into scripture.  This could be very troubling.  Others struggled with the priesthood, marriage, judgement, prophets, and even the atonement.  They’ve thought and thought about it and just haven’t been able to take that leap yet.

I’ll be honest and tell you mine.  I’ve never had a great experience with fasting.  I believe in being obedient but it’s a bit of a mystery to me.  If I let it, I could focus on that spiritual hole and my faith would get submerged by it. Instead I hope that it is true, I fast and I remember the things I do know including my relationship with God, love of the temple and testimony of the Book of Mormon.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety I know more than most, a small problem, thought or issue can creep inside and get larger and more troublesome. This can happen with spiritual holes as we allow them to get bigger.  At times they can seem almost overwhelming and all-encompassing.

So what do we do about it? Well to start, focus on what you do know and build on that.  Then try to face your fears and always be obedient.  Most importantly recognize that everyone has testimony holes.  That’s why we need each other so badly.  Where I am weak, you are strong, and vice versa. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t take away the holes?  He knows how badly we need each other. I’ve had friends who have fallen into their spiritual holes, letting them consume their faith, and I miss their testimony strengths..

One of the best talks I have ever heard was in a Sacrament meeting on my mission.  We were visiting a ward so I didn’t know the couple well but they started telling their conversion story.  They were on a military base in Germany when they learned about the gospel and became converted.

Being on base, they didn’t have a car so a member family picked them up for church each Sunday.  One day a little girl asked the new convert why he “smelled funny?”  The truth was, he had started smoking again (very common after baptism to relapse.  It’s ok), and he was very embarrassed.  At first it was laughed off, but the father of the little girl knew hurt had occurred and this was a crucial faith moment, so he acted.

He called up the convert and said ‘Look I don’t care if you have to smoke a pack between meetings, we need you with us’.  Instead of feeling ashamed of his testimony hole, the man felt love and acceptance and started coming, eventually kicking the habit completely.  He did not allow a testimony hole to ruin all the good he did have and his family will be forever grateful to that brother who noticed and acted.

Sometimes I feel as a single woman I have to face holes by myself.  Anxiety grows when I am not able to deal with my anger, fear, hurt, and resentment well, and the hole gets bigger and more ostracizing from those wanting to help me.   Fortunately, however, I have always been able to lean on God and remember my convictions on so  may things and become stronger.  I’ve always been amazed at how many people God gave me that love me.

So, please friends if you are feeling like ‘how can I believe when I’m not sure about …..’  remember we need the holes and solid foundation.  Both make you strong.  Even the Savior briefly asked to have the bitter cup removed.  Even He had a hole He felt momentarily was beyond him and that’s when God sent down an angel to give Him strength.  He certainly overcame all for us.

In the end, you have to pick something to guide your life by, and I know I have chosen the right way for me to be happy and feel close to God- holes and all.

There is a great example in Nephi.  He is conversing with angels and later Christ, seeing visions and dreams and yet he says ‘I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things’.   Even faithful Nephi had holes, but he did not let that hold him back or allow him to forget the greatness he did have.  He knew that God loved him and that has power.

I love a talk by Elder Holland called ‘Lord I Would Believe’ where he talks about the man hoping his son can be healed but lacking the faith he says ‘Help thou my unbelief’.  In other words help me with this hole.  Help me to not slip and fall:

“Observation number one regarding this account is that when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: “Lord, I believe.” I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.

Hold fast!  Everyone is needed to help us bridge our testimony holes.  We all need each other so don’t give up.  I’ve known far to many who have.  Don’t.  A relationship with Christ and His happy plan is far too worthwhile.  I know that is true of my self, independent from any other person.

Love you guys.  I love my Heavenly Father, and I really do have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His church being restored to the earth.  So let’s help each other out of our holes.  🙂

Just want to remind the trolls out there if you post unhelpful, unconstructive, attacks on my faith they will not be posted, so don’t waste your time.

Happiness: A Journey

Happiness-quotes-31097737-500-441

Today I was visiting with my home teachers and they asked me an interesting question.  They said ‘we’ve met many single individuals over the years but not many who seem to be as happy and content as you are.  What is your secret?’.  After thanking them for the compliment I had a hard time putting into words why I am happy.  Its kind of a hard question to answer?  There are lots of things that make me happy.  How do you sum it up?

They then talked about all of the different activities I’m involved in and how I take control of my life.  I again thanked them for the compliment and made a fumbling attempt to explain why I am happy.  Here’s a better explanation:

About 7 years ago I was seriously unhappy.  I think only God knows how low I really got.  Its again hard to explain because I wasn’t doing anything wrong per say I just felt this cloud over my life.  I hated my job.  I didn’t get to spend enough time with my friends and things I loved like school and church callings were getting crowded out by long work days and other responsibilities.  In the end, it doesn’t even have to do with that particular job.  It was this ghost of unhappiness that haunted me every day.

I related many times on this blog the events of that period- how I pushed the feelings of depression inside until they burst out in full blown panic.  It still amazes me that with all the challenges I had on my mission and being bullied at school the thing that really broke me was a perpetual stupor of unhappiness.  It makes no sense to the outward observer.  In fact, one could claim I was suffering from first world problems and should be grateful I had a job, and I was. Still, that feeling of grayness in my life is something I will never forget.

Once I had shown the world my unhappiness I had little left to gain by pretending and started to take the leaps of faith necessary to remove the cloud-cover from my life. I lowered my hours and eventually quit my job.  I graduated from school with my MBA. I moved to Draper.  Found out that working from home was right for me, started taking voice lessons, was introduced to open water swimming,  and started a book club, the list could go on and on.  cs-lewis-quotes-sayings-god-happiness-peace

Everything good in my life is because I learned what it felt like to be unhappy and chose to never allow myself to hit that kind of funk again.  Of course, I have unhappy days, even months and been through severe disappointments and anxiety in the last few years but nothing like it was in 2007.

So that’s why I am happy now. I am happy because I know what it feels like to be unhappy and the great thing is that God was with me through it all.  He never stopped telling me that He loved me and He helped me learn the lessons I needed to learn.  He kept reminding me that I needed to make a change.  He never gave up on me.  He never will.

Probably most importantly I learned from that period that God’s plan of happiness is not simply a checklist of big things to do, ordinances to make but literally a plan for our happiness down to where I worked and what I do with my life.  If he is so involved in these microdetails how can I not faith in the big things such as finding my Mr Sunshine out there.  Regardless, I will never let myself feel that way again for an extended period and that is a life-changing lesson.  I am happy because I learned that I mattered to God and His happiness requires my happiness not just my obedience.

To happiness! (Hopefully someday I can find someone to share that happiness with.  All in God’s timetable).

Inspirational-children-quote

The Book of Mormon: My Testimony

There has been a youtube movement called ‘The Two Minute Book of Mormon Challenge’.  This is a channel set aside for people to bear their testimonies about the Book of Mormon.

Here is the introduction on the channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B36GZ4HLx0

Someone from the site asked me to contribute and I finally was able to put my feelings into words and on to video.  It ended up being 4 minutes but I think you’ll forgive me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjEaTwnYSgE

One time I was driving with my brother and he was debating various points of doctrine with me and I said to him ‘you know when I read that book I just know its true’ and its really as simple as that.  When I read it I know its true.  I don’t need any other witness than that.  I know the covenants it teaches are real.  I know the faith and priesthood has power.  I know there was a dark ages and then truth was restored and it all comes down to my witness of The Book of Mormon.

I repeat my warning I gave of previous religious posts.  I will not post any comments that are disrespectful or unkind (and that goes for youtube too).  Have enough courtesy to understand that people feel differently about these things and maybe listen for something that could strengthen your own faith.

I hope you all have a great Sunday!  And if you have any questions, would like to meet with representatives or receive a copy of The Book of Mormon go to http://mormon.org/eng

book-of-mormon 2-BookOfMormonCoverPage.480x480-75