Tag: scriptures

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.”

Read the Scriptures

This morning I want to tell my fellow Mormons about something exciting I have discovered.  First a confession- for years I have struggled to find a system of scripture reading that worked for me.

As a single adult I would often get distracted from my intent on reading and forget to do it and when I did remember the results were frequently less than satisfying.  Maybe it’s bad to say but more often than not I felt kind of bored reading the same material week after week and hearing the same commentary track inside my brain, new insight seemingly few and far between.

I tried different study guides and reading systems but nothing seemed to help, so scripture reading became something I do more out of obedience than anything else and that will only get you to remember so far and help you so much.  What to do?

With recent obstacles I had been challenged multiple times to make scripture reading more of a priority.  In particular, my bishop asked me to read the Ensign (our Church magazine) each day but if I struggled to read the scriptures how could I add The Ensign on to it?

Well, I have come upon a solution that will sincerely help me and I hope you as well.  There is a website called http://www.readthescriptures.com and it is a paid service that makes reading the scriptures and other church materials in an organized way easy.    It costs $4.99 a month but I’m very excited about it.  Seems well worth it to me.

Here’s how it works:

You log on to www.readthescriptures.com and make an account.   Then you select ‘Create a Schedule’.  This will take you to the ‘Available Reading Selections’ screen.  You can see below that you have a wide arrange of choices including reading your sunday lessons, church cannon and The Ensign.  Select what you want to read and then it will ask you how frequently and how fast you want to get through the selection.  This will create a reading schedule for you to accomplish your goal.

available readingEach day of your schedule you will receive an email with a link to what you are reading.  email scripturesYou then follow the link and it takes you to the scripture or article on lds.org and you can read or have it read to you.  Then when you are done you log back on to your email and click ‘Complete’.  If for some reason you don’t want to read that section you select ‘Send More’.   After selecting complete you will be taken to this screen where you can get an idea of your progress:

READ THE SCRIPTURESIt’s a simple system but I think it is really going to help me to organize my scripture reading, be reminded and set goals.  They also have journal, highlighting and other services to work with your reading.  The fact is I’m a creature of routine and this website is going to help me make those reoutines.  It’s pretty exciting.

Like I said, clearly you can get all of this information without the service.  You can just read the scriptures in bed at home but I found this way more engaging and helpful.

What do you do to make scripture reading work in your life?

Inspirational Quotes Quiz

Tomorrow I am teaching a Sunday School lesson on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  It is a challenging lesson because both books are collections of inspirational quotes that jump from one topic to another.  Reportedly written by Solomon the “words of wisdom” cover everything from marriage to overcoming grief.  While reading I couldn’t help but think of my own love for poetry and inspirational quotes.  I’m often quoting poetry on this blog, and  I have 2 inspiration boards full of motivational quotes/images in my office.  I’ve taken a few attempts at writing my own poerty but failed miserably- I just enjoy reading it! I love the power of words and the way a verse can capture my emotions and life experiences perfectly. Poetry and inspirational quotes also help me to keep an eternal perspective and remember my many blessings.  Life is often hard and when I face challenges it is nice to hear encouraging words.  As the name suggests I find motivational quotes motivating!

To prepare for my lesson, I gathered a number of my favorite quotes and created a little quiz.  I’m not sure if I will have time to use it, but I figured I’d post it on the blog to see if anyone out there in cyberworld could guess who said what!  I will post the answers in a comment tomorrow (I don’t want to give the answer away for my students!).  Enjoy these modern-day Proverbs!

Guess the Quote

Thomas Edison            Walt Disney             Eleanor Roosevelt

Ralph Waldo Emerson       Michelangelo         Dr. Seuss

Mother Theresa          Winston Churchill    Albert Einstein

Gordon B. Hinckley       Mahatma Gandhi    CS Lewis

1. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured

2.  Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

3. The ancestor of every action is a thought

4. If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius

5. I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much

6. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

7. You’re off to great places.  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!

8. Success is never final.  Failure is never fatal.  It is courage that counts

9. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams

10. Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe

11. Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

12. Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another:  What! You too?  I thought I was the only one!

I particularly like this last one about friendship!

Exercising My Life

As many of you know in recent months I have started a new fitness challenge with the goal to lose 100 lbs by my 30th birthday.  This is a bold goal but like they said shooting for the moon you at least will hit a few stars.  I have already lost 13 lbs in just over 2 months (really I started full force after returning from California).

It can be hard to understand how difficult the process of losing weight is if you have never experienced it.  When you have to lose a significant amount of  weight it is overwhelming.  I could lose 150 lbs and still be considered on the higher end of normal weight. Even more than the daunting numbers is that, it is like fighting your inner-voice because basically everything it is saying  is wrong.  It tells me I should slow down, eat more, go to fast food or not exercise today.  It rebels against my attempts to save my life (which is what I am doing!).   It says “Rachel, why are you putting me through such pain when you could be happy doing….”.  Fighting this voice is the hardest thing I will ever do in my life.  When I drive down the street I  hear the voice say “stop in there” or “get a little of that.  It’s not that bad…”.  You never realize how many places there are to eat out until you are ignoring that voice!  (there are 9 places just in the strip mall outside my apartment!). In the past I have always given into the voice but now I am determined to shut it out and turn to Heavenly Father instead.  It reminds me of my favorite scripture Mosiah 3:19:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

My natural man (or woman) is my enemy.  It is making me tired, sore and frustrated.  It invents lame excuses and brings on discouragement. I have tried so many times to lose the weight but somehow this time feels different.  I know I can do it.  I am willing to do whatever it takes even if it means missing work hours because I am too exhausted to function adequately.  (Thankfully I have the full support of my father/boss in this endeavor).   I have conquered every other obstacle in my life and I have done it as a plus size woman.  I am proud of my accomplishments and I do not feel that my weight is some kind of disgrace.  Being a bigger girl does not mean that life ends and that you spend each day on the coach eating potato chips. I travel, swim, sing, work hard, am involved in church and other activities etc.   There is much greatness to be achieved at any weight.

I also actually feel that I am beautiful just the way I am.  I really do. I have been heavy since I was 8 years old and from an young age I was blessed with the gift of self-acceptance and a happy heart.  Sure I had my moments of self-doubt (particularly when it comes to interacting with boys) but deep down inside I always knew I was beautiful.  I learned early on that Heavenly Father loved me no matter what I looked like.  I gained that testimony and it has carried me through many challenges to be the dynamic person I am today.  As I have said on this blog many times I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Why change you may ask?  It is precisely because I love my life that I must change.  I want to live a long life.  I want to be healthy and try my best to avoid heart disease, strokes, diabetes etc.  Even more than that, I want to live a full life.  I am tired of being limited by my weight.  I want to be able to take surfing lessons when I go to Hawaii.  I want to be up for pick up basketball games when everyone plays or to have the energy to ride a bike with my dad (or just ride a bike period).  I want to go to Disneyland and not be wiped out for a week  from walking around.  In short, I want to improve upon the greatness of my life- make it richer and at least easier (eventually!)

Already this has been such a struggle and I know it will continue to be so for many years (that’s right years).  Thank you in advance for any positive feedback given for my baby steps and for listening to me moan and groan on occasion.  In return I will make a commitment to post photos and updates of my journey on this blog and to do something athletic with all of you someday!

To having energy, to living a full life.  Don’t you’all let me stop!