Tuesday, November 25, 2014

There is Nothing Wrong With You: Being Single in Your Mid-Twenties

I once again woke up feeling bogged down by the feeling that by this point in my life I am not where I thought I would be. I grew up being taught that I would graduate high school, go to college, and snatch up Mr. Right. I never thought I’d make it past my early 20’s and still be single.  At least I felt like I was taught to think that way. Marriage was said to be the supreme beginning to happily ever after.  No one ever talked about the self-discovery and a sense of purpose I would need to find before that.

I don’t recall anyone telling me how hard marriage would be or the struggles that would come from merely sharing your life with another individual that may think differently than you.  I found myself at 20 years old feeling inspired to serve a mission for my church.  That was never in the plans.  At the time I attended young women, missions were rarely discussed for girls.  I can remember countless lessons on how to prepare myself to be the perfect wife, developing hobbies so that I would become more attractive to men, and how to achieve my ultimate role of being a mom. I wasn’t even sure what a mission would consist of.  I just knew the Lord wanted me to go, so I would go.

Well I found myself on a mission in New York City, and realizing one day exactly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. I remember reciting our missionary purpose over and over again in the Missionary Training Center… “Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.” I thought it was very simple purpose that was easy to understand.  It wasn’t until I was out in the mission field that I realized our missionary purpose IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I thought about how simple it truly is.  I was really disheartened by the fact that I couldn’t recall one lesson on that growing up.  I do not remember anyone ever sitting me down and telling me what the Gospel was.  I feel like I was taught many lessons on how to improve myself, and how to prepare for the future and becoming a mom.  Those were great lessons and I am sure one day I will be able to apply them.  However, I wish I had been taught the Gospel in its pure and raw form. Those four principles, when applied to my life, changed the entire course of who I would become.  They helped me to develop a sense of who I am and what the Lord needs me to be doing at this point in my life. It was simply the doctrine of Christ that I had been needing, perhaps yearning for, and not knowing how to find it amidst all the other lessons I had been taught.

I learned so much about the Gospel, about my Savior, about who I am and what I can become through serving my mission.  I learned lessons that changed my life.  I was taught to love without judgment.  I was taught to have empathy and to allow myself to feel what others are feeling so that I can help them.  I learned to understand the Atonement of Christ at a whole new level.  I was taught the beauty of the Lord’s hand in my life.  I was shown miracle after miracle.  Many of them were for the people of New York City and many of them were for me. I started picking up pennies as a reminder that I need to trust in God and to know that a miracle was about to happen.  I came home from my mission with more pennies than I can count.  My friends and family started collecting pennies, other missionaries started collecting pennies, and many people have thanked me for helping them realize the Lord’s hand in their own lives.  My mission changed the course of my entire existence. It changed the way I thought and viewed the world, it changed how I looked at my problems and trials, it changed how I reacted when people offended me.  My mission taught me to turn to Christ and to trust in Him and know that everything would work out perfectly. 

I came home and not long after the questions started coming again of who are you dating, is it serious, when are you going to get married? At first it was ok, but then people started throwing in their opinions.  They let me know that my next step needs to be marriage.  I went to church one day and a man I didn’t know asked me what my plans were for school.  I told him I was thinking about going out of state to another university.  He immediately responded by saying I need to stay here and find a husband.  That is what my next step is and if I wanted to follow the Lord, I would not leave Utah.  I was blown away. Seriously??

I recall another time at work where a man came in to get some assistance. As I was helping him, he said “Wow! You sure are beautiful, are you married?” I told him I was not.  He looked at me with a confused look on his face and said “Well I wonder what is wrong with you… there must be something wrong or otherwise you would be married by now.” He was completely serious.  I politely smiled and told him I’ll have to look into that. It really bothered me that he assumed there must be something very wrong with me if I am not married by the age of 22. I understand he probably meant well, but nothing about these routine conversations with people makes me feel better about myself. I think marriage is a beautiful thing and it happens at different times for different people. 

I have come to understand that people give their own advice based on their own experiences.  For those that got married young and have a good relationship, they will recommend I do the same.  For those that got married young and ended up divorced, they will recommend I wait and figure out who I am first. For those that got married later and are happy, they will recommend I focus this time on my career.  For those that got married later and perhaps struggle having children now, they recommend I get married as soon as possible.  Do you see why this leaves a person feeling confused? I have had to learn that everything will work out according to the Lord’s plan.  He is the ONLY one who knows us perfectly and who knows what we each need.   He has a plan for each one of us, and every person’s plan is going to be different.  The beauty of the Gospel is that we have a Savior who knows us and who guides us to where we need to be.  I don’t believe there are set rules on marriage or on missions or on having careers.  For some people those may be part of His plan for them, for others it will not be.  The one who knows us perfectly is the one we should be turning to for direction. Don’t you see, He is the only one who is unbiased. He is the only one who can see clearly what we need to do and which direction we need to take.

I’ve started to think about many girls I know who are in the same boat as me.  I start to wonder if they feel the same way. This morning I woke up and after prayer and meditation, I realized there is NOTHING wrong with me. I look at how much I have learned about myself and about what I want out of life.  I look at the experiences I have had and the adventures I have taken.  I look at how much I have grown and changed and learned. I know there is a reason I am not married yet.  It simply is not the Lord’s will for me at this moment.  I do believe that everything happens for a reason.  I believe we are where we are because there is a Divine purpose to it.  Each day the Lord teaches us something new if we are humble enough and allow Him to do it.  He sees the big picture.  He knows what we each need to return back to live with Him again. He alone knows what is best for us right now and He is leading us.

So I just wanted to write this to the people who sometimes feel down because they are made to feel there is something wrong with them. Keep going. Keep improving yourself. Keep learning. Keep loving others and finding joy in your own personal journey back to Christ.  Things WILL work out. They always do.  In the end we will see why our lives took the directions they took. Find happiness and peace in yourself.  Share it with others. Look for those miracles and believe that you are exactly where the Lord wants you to be in this moment. In honor of this time of year, take the time to thank the Lord for exactly where you are right now.  For Him leading you to this place at this time. Look for the miracles and find ways to become someone else’s miracle. And most importantly please know that despite how others may try to make you feel, there is NOTHING wrong with you!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 30: "Step By Step The Lord Will Guide Us"

I have learned so many significant things this past month about my Savior.  I was reminded once again that He lives! He is with me always! I was reminded of His love for me and for all those around me.  I was reminded that He knows who I am, my thoughts, and my desires.  He knows what I worry about and what I hope to see happen.  He knows my concerns and He constantly reassures me that He is aware of them too.  He lets me feel of His peace and to know that it will all work out.

Our Heavenly Father knows the beginning from the end.  He knows everything we will go through and He knows the outcome.  He knows what will help us grow closer to Him.  He knows what will help us to become better people.  He knows that it is through our difficult times that we gain wisdom and compassion and a deeper understanding of our Savior.  He knows that at some points in our lives we will struggle.  He also knows that once we get past those struggles, we will obtain a greater level of peace and happiness.

Our Savior guides us step by step because it allows us to rely on Him completely.  We don't know the beginning from the end, but we can trust that as we rely on Him, we will see the desired results.  We can feel of His love daily.  We are blessed to be able to communicate with our Heavenly Father every day through prayer.  He wants to hear from us.  He wants us to come unto Him.  He wants the best for us and He will do all in His power to help us.  All He asks is that we turn to Him, we believe in Him, we trust in Him.  As we are obedient and follow the Lord, we see blessings and miracles in our lives.

Our Savior fills us with hope.  He is hope! He is the reason we can feel joy in our lives.  He is the motivation for all good in this world.  I know that as we come unto Him we will be filled with love, joy, and peace! I am SOOOO grateful for Him!! I am so grateful He inspired me to do this 30 day challenge.  It has changed my life.  I recommend it to anyone who may be wanting to strengthen their relationship with the Savior.  I saw miracle after miracle as I placed Him first each day!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 29: "The Hard Times Refine Us"

Ive found that it is the hard times, the challenging moments, the uncertainty… that refine and molds us. It is usually in the dark that we are being prepared to enter into greater light.  We are being given more knowledge and understanding from the Lord through the things we experience.  When we feel we are in the dark, it usually means that a brighter light is around the corner.  We need to have the faith to get us through.  It isn't until we enter the light that we understand why we needed to be in the dark.

When we feel in the dark, that is when we need to cling to the Lord.  We need to remember that He has our best interest at heart, even if we do not understand why we are going through what we are going through.  We can know that the Lord knows and that is all that matters.  Faith and trust in God can get us through anything!

I believe for me that it is sometimes hard to have faith and trust because it means I am not the one in control.  I have found that that is hard for me to accept.  However, when I remind myself that the God is in control then it all seems ok.  I remind myself of how much He loves me.  Things have always worked out in the past and they will continue to work out in the future as I place my faith and trust in Him.

I am SOO grateful for my Savior.  I am grateful to know that He is in control.  I am grateful for his unconditional love.  I know that with Him, I can make it through anything! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 28: "Stillness Brings Clarity"

I can't believe my 30 day journey is almost over. I feel like I have grown so much through this past month. I have learned more about myself and who I want to become.  Ive learned my strengths and discovered some weaknesses.  The most incredible thing is that once you discover your weaknesses, you can make changes and turn them into your strengths.  Ive been working on that.  Ive seen a lot of improvements.

I've learned that we determine how free we are by the choices we allow ourselves to make. If I choose to do things that look fun but are addicting, I could get addicted and give away some of my freedom.  If I choose to get in situations where my standards are compromised, I may make mistakes and give up some of my freedom.  If I choose to eat a bunch of junk food and make myself sick, I may spend the next day feeling awful and give up some of my freedom.  On the other hand, If I choose to pray and ask for answers, the Lord may give them to me and I gain more freedom.  If I choose to go to school and gain an education, I may get better job opportunities and gain more freedom.  If I choose to keep the commandments, I keep myself from bad situations and gain more freedom.  I see how it works. My choices determine my freedom.

I find that in the moments where everything around me is still and calm, I have more clarity.  Things are able to process in my mind better and I understand more than I did.  When I put myself in places that are clean and quiet and still, I am able to feel the Spirit of the Lord.  That is when it is most clear to me that I am not alone; that I am being watched over.  When I step away from the hectic, crazy, busy life and just reflect I am able to get more direction and guidance.  Ive become so aware of it that sometimes in the car I will turn the music down instead of up.  I do that so that I can hear through the silence.  I do it so that I am in a place where God can communicate with me easier.  My favorite quote says "When the student is ready the teacher will appear." Sometimes we need to make an active choice to show God that we are ready to hear what He has to tell us.

One thing is for sure… stillness brings clarity.  Take out the distractions and you'll feel the Lord close to you. 

Day 27: "Live in a State of Gratitude"

When we live in a state of gratitude we are blessed! We also start to see all our current and past blessings more clearly.  We see that we did not get to where we are by ourselves.  We recognize God's hand in our life.  We see how much He truly does help us from day to day.  It makes us even more grateful.  Gratitude creates more gratitude.  We live in a more optimistic way, because we see that life really is good.  We develop a deeper faith in humanity.  We believe in good things to come.  We have hope for the future.  It becomes easier to trust God, because we see how much He has guided us in the past.  It is a rippling effect.  Gratitude creates more gratitude.  The thing I find interesting about that is that when you appreciate what you have, you are given more.  The Lord loves us.  He wants to bless us.  He wants us to focus on the good and to trust in Him.  He is with us and He will always continue to be with us.  I promise that the more things we find to be grateful for, the more blessed we will be.  We will be overwhelmed by all the blessings the Lord has given us! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 26: "Give Yourself Permission To Forgive Yourself"

I had a huge awe inspiring moment today! I was enlightened and became aware of the fact that I needed to give myself permission to forgive myself.  I tell myself to forgive myself all the time.  I find that I still struggle with it.  However, today was different.  I finally realized that I haven't been giving myself permission to forgive myself.

I started to tell myself that I give myself permission to forgive myself, to forgive others, and to be happy! I actually think it is working! I have been happy all day.  I started changing my thought process and I found myself being grateful for every mistake I have ever made.  I am grateful because each mistake taught me something about myself and about the Lord.  Each mistake gave me the opportunity to grow and change and improve.  Each mistake made me a new and better person.  I became grateful for them!

As I have been doing this, I feel like my world has gotten a little bit bigger.  I feel like I see things more clearly.  I feel enlightened and inspired. I feel more hope and more peace.  I see the world as a little bit better than I did earlier this morning.  I have a whole new perspective on life and on others.  I see everything as a means of teaching me important life lessons.  Everything I experience has the potential to shape and mold me into the woman God wants me to become.  I do not regret my mistakes.  In fact, I feel at peace with every single one of them.  I feel like I left that baggage behind me and I have walked forward.  I have taken the lessons and thanked God for the opportunity I had to learn them!

I have let my burdens go.  The Lord has taken them from me.  I learned what I needed to learn.  I realized that my past mistakes do not define who I am.  I have become accepting of the woman I am right now in this moment.  I am showing myself the love I would show to others.  I am focusing on seeing myself the way the Lord does.

The closer I get to the Lord, the better I feel about myself because I am seeing myself more the way that  He does.  My self confidence comes from within.  It comes from knowing I am in good terms with the Lord.  It comes from knowing I am loved and that He accepts me as I am.  My confidence comes because of my standing with the Lord.  I know I could stand before Him, look Him in the eye, and not be afraid of what He would see.  I feel that way because I know I am being obedient.  I am trying to do all that He has asked me to do.  I know that doing my best is all He requires.  Obedience to His commandments truly does bring me joy.  Long lasting joy and confidence.

I am so grateful for the answer I received today telling me I need to give myself permission to forgive myself.  That will definitely go down as a life changing lesson I learned.  What a miracle and a blessing! I LOVE my Savior!! I love that He answers my prayers every day.  I love that His love is made manifest in my life at all times!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 25: "Let The Son In"

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without the knowledge of the Savior? Sometimes I think about that and I picture myself being totally lost.  I wonder what I would think the purpose of life was… I can imagine my life would feel pretty empty.  I would have many questions… questions that were unanswered.  I think there would be a void of hope.

Ive heard it said that you don't know what you have until its gone. Well, I can reassure you that I appreciate my Savior.  I have an idea of what life would be like without Him and I don't like it.  Whenever Ive had times in my life where I wander off the path a little bit, I feel a void.  I feel a separation between me and the Lord.  I recognize that I have walked away from Him and I don't like the state it leaves me in. It is in those moments where I realize how much I have come to rely on Him.

He is a part of my day to day life.  He is walking with me step for step.  He answers my prayers and He allows me the opportunity to answer others prayers for Him.  When we are striving to be close to Him, we are given more opportunities to be like Him.  We start to understand what He did for us better and in the process we start to understand ourselves better. We learn our true identity as children of God.  We realize that this life has purpose and that this isn't the end.  In fact, it is merely the beginning.  We can see ourselves in a more eternal perspective.  We understand that we make mistakes.  We fall a little bit.  Each time we fall we have the opportunity to stand up again.  We learn new things.  We have experiences that change us.  They shape and mold us into a stronger version of ourselves.

Every time we fall we have the chance to turn it into a good thing.  We can take the experience and gain wisdom.  We learn what to avoid in the future.  We learn how to be more strategic the next time around.  We learn to walk as far from the edge as possible, because therein lies our safety.  We learn that sometimes its better to walk away then to put ourselves in a tempting situation.  We learn our weaknesses, and if we make a conscious effort, we can change them into strengths.  We can do this through the Atonement of our Lord and Savior.  HE makes it possible! HE helps us to change.  HE is our biggest supporter, the one person who understands us, and HE has provided the way.  Our Lord does not leave us to do this on our own. He knows who we can become and He is going to help us in any way He can.

I know that as we turn to the Lord, we WILL find Him there.  We will feel of His love.  If there is any one thing I have been learning these past few weeks, it is the importance of letting the Son in.  Letting ourselves feel of His warmth.  Letting ourselves be guided by Him.  Letting ourselves trust Him enough to do as He asks.  As we do this, miracles happen.  Things you thought were impossible become possible.  Our hope becomes brighter.  Our load becomes lighter.  Our lives begin to be filled with joy, and we can know with a surety that we are never alone!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 24: "His Peace Will Be Yours As You Wait Upon Him In Faith"

"Only the Master knows the depths of our trials.  He alone offers us eternally peace in that time of adversity.  He alone touches our tortured souls." -President Thomas S. Monson

I've been feeling overwhelmed and discouraged this past week.  Sometimes when things don't go exactly the way I thought they should, I start to doubt.  I know that things will work out.  Honestly, deep down I know it, however that doesn't prevent doubts from seeping in.  I have to be aware of my thoughts so that I can change them.  I have to believe that things will work out perfectly according to God's timing.  I know that there is so much that I can't see.  I am viewing things from a very narrow perspective.

I find that as I remind myself that God knows all, that I feel better.  I feel hope and peace.  I know that I will see results.  I just need to press on.  To keep moving forward with faith in what will come.  These quotes helped give me reassurance.  I know that God is with me.  I know it! I am grateful that I never have doubts about that.  It is something that I can say I know without a doubt.  I know every time I pray that He is listening.  I know that He knows me so well and that He knows what is best for me.  I know that He knows my struggles and my challenges and my disappointments.  He knows what breaks my heart and what causes me to worry.  He knows my desires.  He knows they are good.  He knows that I will follow Him.  He knows He can trust me to listen to Him.

"He knows your sacrifices and your sorrows.  He hears your prayers.  His peace and rest will be yours as you continue to wait upon Him in faith.  Every one of us is more beloved to the Lord than we can possibly understand or imagine." -Elder Robert D. Hales

"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but giving up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.  Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair- these are the long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.  You are as young as your hope, as old as your despair." -President James E. Faust.

I don't want to waste my time and energy worrying about what will come.  I want to continue to increase my faith in my Savior and trust that things will work out.   They have always worked out in the past.  They will work out in the future.  He sees everything from an eternal perspective.  He knows what timing is right.  I don't want to "grow old" from the things I let creep into my thoughts.  I have realized that Satan is subtle.  He sneaks in, you barely notice him.  In fact, if we aren't aware, he could sneak in and make himself at home.  Satan tries to destroy self confidence.  He encourages us to doubt, to question, to worry.  He feeds us lies and hopes that we will believe him.  We need to be aware and shut them out before they settle in.  

I need to remember that Heavenly Father ALWAYS keeps His promises.  He is ALWAYS there!! I can put my trust in Him and know without a doubt that things WILL work out! They always have and they always will.  I can view this time of uncertainty as a way of becoming closer to Christ.  As I rely on Him, I start to see His hand in my life. I realize once again just how much He loves me.  This is a time for me to strengthen my own testimony of my Savior.  As I learn to wait upon the Lord in faith, I WILL feel His peace.  I will feel hope and joy through the unknown.  I can trust that all things happen for a reason!

 I am SOO grateful for my Savior, my Heavenly Father, the Gospel, the Spirit, my temple covenants, the scriptures, and the prophets. I am grateful for my family and their support, my good health and the knowledge I have been given.  I am grateful for every single one of my experiences (good and bad) that have led me to where I am at today!! Sometimes experience is our greatest teacher. Our challenge is to learn from it and move on.  Always move forward… leave the past in the past. Take the lessons, let them mold and refine you, and leave the rest behind.  What a beautiful blessing we have to be able to do that because of our Savior! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 23: "Let God Be in Control"

Today I learned a lot about myself.  Mainly that I like to be in control of everything in my life.  I like to control how things go and I like them to go my way.  I realized that this causes me a lot of stress and pressure in my life.  I like knowing what is going to happen and when it will happen.  However, most things in my life don't happen that way.  I have learned that I need faith.  Faith is believing that God is in control, handing it over to Him, and moving forward.

I know that Heavenly Father is there.  I know that He hears my prayers.  I know that He is in control of everything and that He has my best interest at heart.  I am very aware of that! I see it on a daily basis.  I am happier when I hand things over to Him.  However, I find myself taking them back from Him and trying to control them again.  It is subconscious.  I don't do it on purpose.  I know that Heavenly Father can take care of them way better than I can.  He sees the end from the beginning.  He knows what will happen.  He knows when it will happen.  He knows how it will happen.  If I keep that in mind then it is soo easy to trust Him.

This morning I was running late for school.  It normally takes me about 30 minutes to get to school, from the time I leave my house until I walk into the classroom.  Today I had 15 minutes to get there.  My teacher is very chill and would not care if I walked in late.  However, I cared.  I prayed that I would be able to get to class on time.  Every light I came to was green.  There was no traffic. I got to school and someone was backing out of a spot right as I pulled in.  I walked into class right before it started. I was SOO grateful!! To me, that was a huge miracle!! I know that I was on time because Heavenly Father helped me.  He knew it was important to me and so it was important to Him.  I know that He was with me.  I am amazed by all that He does for me.  All I had to do was pray and ask for it, and then I let Him figure out the details.  I gave my control over to the Lord and He blessed me for it!

I am SOOO grateful for my Savior! I am sooo grateful for the Gospel in my life and for the knowledge I have of who I am and where I want to go.  I know that I am a child of God.  I know that He loves me more than I can comprehend.  I feel His love each day.  I am soo grateful for His constant guidance and reassurance.  He has led me to where I am and I know He will continue to lead me.  All I need to do is trust Him, give Him the control, and keep moving forward.  I don't need to know how or when or why or who or what.  I just need to know that He knows.  That is enough! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 22: "Christ Came to Lift Us Up"

"Christ came to lift us up, not to put us down."-Brad Wilcox

I don't know about you, but I often find myself focusing on things I did wrong.  I spend more time dwelling on my mistakes than I do on my accomplishments.  In my mind I am thinking of the disappointment I must have caused my Savior and my Heavenly Father.  I get frustrated with myself for not being better.  I realized that I am a perfectionist.  I have tried to hide it for a long time.  However, now that I have been able to acknowledge it, I can find way to improve it.  I realized that we can't fix a problem until we have determined there is a problem.

I have found that I expect perfection from myself.  I don't really expect it from others.  I hold myself to a higher, unrealistic standard.  My perfectionism does not come from a place of what people will think of me.  It comes from a place of what will God think of me. I try to do the best I can and when I mess up I am really hard on myself. I don't want to disappoint God.  However, I am coming to realize that Heavenly Father loves me no matter what.  He wants me to do my best.  He knows my best is not perfection.  He knows I will mess up.  I think He just wants me to learn from it.  I do not need to beat myself up.  I just need to learn the lesson and move forward.  I have learned that it is important for me to build myself up.  To talk to myself the way the Savior does.

In no way is it beneficial to me or to the Lord, to put myself down.  It doesn't help Him, and it doesn't help me.  Christ came to lift us up, not put us down.  He doesn't focus His thoughts and attention on my flaws.  Instead He sees everything I am doing right.  He sees the path I am on.  He knows the intents of my heart.  He knows my desires to follow Him.  He loves me and He understands when I make mistakes.  He is full of mercy and grace.  When we fall down He isn't there to yell or to demean us.  Rather He is there to offer us His hand.  He is there to pull us up.  He is there to help us regain our balance so that we can keep going.

I'm going to try to focus more on seeing myself the way the Lord does.  I am going to try to build myself up and focus on all the good that I possess and not my faults. It's always amazing to me when I can see things in my life that I need to work on.  It's like a light turned on and it is illuminating the path in front of me.  I know what I need to do if I want to get even closer to the light.  I think anytime we are shown something we need to work on, that it is an answer and a blessing from the Lord.  In short, it is nothing less than a miracle! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 21: "Let Go of Worry"

Today I was reading in a talk by Boyd K Packer called "The Balm of Gilead." He talked about the importance of cleaning out our minds.  One of the things he said that stuck out to me was ridding yourself of worry.  I find that I worry way too much.  When I am aware of it, I try to stop it.  However, it tends to be a fall back.  I think worry comes from lack of faith on the matter.  
Some of my favorite parts of the talk include:
"The first thing a doctor does with a wound is to clean it out. He gets rid of all foreign matter and drains off infection—however much it hurts.
Once you do that spiritually, you will have a different perspective. You will have much less to worry about. It is easy to get all mixed up about worry.
Somewhere there is a message in the protest of a man who said: “You can’t tell me worry doesn’t help. The things I worry about never happen.”
All of us carry excess baggage around from time to time, but the wisest ones among us don’t carry it for very long. They get rid of it.
Some of it you have to get rid of without really solving the problem. Some things that ought to be put in order are not put in order because you can’t control them.
It will then be as though a cloudy, dirty film has been erased from the world around you; and though the problem may remain, the sun will come out. The beam will have been lifted from your eyes. There will come a peace that surpasseth understanding.
In my dream last night I was told that I need to stop worrying so much about a situation that will work out in the end.  It was a huge answer to my prayers.  I know that was inspiration from the Lord.  I don't need to worry.  It was a great reminder to place my trust in Heavenly Father and stop trying to control the details. It brought me a lot of peace.  I know the Savior is there and that His hand is in the details.  However, in the moment of worry, I tend to forget that.  I am SOO grateful that He reminds me that I can trust Him.  I can give it to Him and He will work it out! 
There is an indescribable peace that comes when we can turn over our concerns to the Lord. I am so grateful for the reminder I was given to let go of worry.  Everything will work out in the end! That is all I need to know! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 20: "The Blessing of the Restoration"

I was on vacation for the past couple days and could not blog.  So I will be extending my 30 day challenge an extra couple of days.  I am currently reflecting on all I learned about the Savior from my study abroad to Italy. One of my good friends was teaching a class in church and she asked me to write up my thoughts and what I had learned.  I will share with you what I told her.

There was a huge understanding gap before the Restoration of the Gospel. The people were taught to fear Christ.  He was viewed as a damning judge.  It brought resentment, bitterness, and depression.  The people did not understand who God was and how much He loved them.  Because of the Restoration of the Gospel, we have a more clear understanding of who God is and who the Savior is. We see how the Atonement gives us hope.  We understand His love for us… His powerful infinite love.  We see how He is full of grace and mercy.  He is there for us through it all.  He is cheering us on.  He is our biggest supporter and friend.  We see the world differently when we understand the true character of God.  It literally changes us.

Going into all the churches in Europe and seeing how these people worshipped the Lord, taught me so much.  It helped me to appreciate the knowledge that I have been given.  It helped me to see how much I have been blessed.  I know how much my Savior loves me.  It is not a question.  I don't make my decisions based on fear.  I can allow God's love to be my motivation.  His love is warm and sweet and all encompassing.  It gives us strength and peace.  God's love allows us to make corrections in our lives without causing us to become bitter. We can feel inspired to change rather than beat ourselves up for our mistakes.  God's love is not dependent on what choices we have made.  He loves us no matter what.  He will always be there for us.

I know the power of that love. It is real! It is there for all of us to experience.  His love is healing! When we can allow His love to be our motivating force, miracles happen.  I can promise you that is true! Miracles happen everyday.  God is with us at all times.  He blesses us constantly.  We can choose to see it, or we can choose to find a logical reason for why something happened the way it did.  I am here to testify that He has His hand in our lives.  He performs miracles for us all the time.  He is watching out for us and He has our best interests at heart.  When we can take a step back from the situation and remember that He is in charge, then we can relax and trust that all will work out.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  This knowledge we have is a blessing of the Restoration.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 19: "He Keeps His Promises"

Today I had the most incredible thing happen! Something I have been praying about for a very long time actually happened.  The Lord told me it would, and for the longest time I have just been waiting. Today it started to happen! Every one of those pennies I have found that told me to expect miracles, they are promises from the Lord. I am seeing that He does in fact keep His promises.

I also realized that His timing is perfect.  I just need to keep trusting in Him.  Everything will work out the way He has told me it would.  It isn't my job to plan the details and figure out how.  It is my job to trust my Heavenly Father and to keep moving forward.  I know that as I am focused on doing His will, that He can direct me in the way I should be going.

I am so grateful for this journey I have started.  I am so grateful for all that I have been learning.  The miracles I have seen have been huge! I have been in awe at how much the Lord knows me and the things I desire.  He knows what makes me happy and He knows how to send me answers so that I will recognize them.

I KNOW this is Christ's Gospel.  I know that what He has asked us will bring us happiness.  I know that it is simple.  Faith, repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  Those things are what will bring us happiness. Those will bring us back to the Lord. I know that through our obedience, we are blessed! I know without a doubt that the Savior lives! He lives and He is with us each day! I know that as we try our best that He will make up the difference.  His grace will carry us through.  I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father SOO much! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 18: "Expressing Gratitude Brings Us Closer to Him"

There is something liberating that takes place in your life when you can set aside your pride and express gratitude for all that you have been blessed with.  Gratitude puts our minds in a higher state of being. It's almost as if it allows our eyes to be opened wider and we can see more than what we could before. Gratitude puts our focus on all that is good.  It lets us see everything that is right in the world.  It shows us just how much the Savior has done for us. 
I read a conference talk by President Monson today called "The Divine Gift of Gratitude." The following are some of my favorite parts from the talk: 
"We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” 
He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.
Ultimately, He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” 
Who was this “man of sorrows, … acquainted with grief”? “Who is this King of glory,” this Lord of lords? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the Author of Our Salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” He pleads, “Keep my commandments.” 
Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude."
Anyone that knows me super well, knows that I am a huge believer in the power of positive thinking. When I am focused on all that I have been blessed with, the more blessings I continue to receive. I believe we attract things to us based on our thoughts; whether they be good things or bad things.  If we focus our thoughts on things we are grateful for, then we will continue to see more and more things to be grateful for. 
I know that being grateful brings us closer to the Savior.  It allows us to recognize what He did for us.  We turn to Him, we increase our faith, and we try to be like Him.  Our actions show Him that we are grateful for what He has done for us.  
I love my Savior! I know He is with me.  I know that He wants me to be happy.  He answers my prayers.  He guides me on the path that will lead me back to Him.  He is full of love and mercy, forgiveness and understanding.  He is my comforter and my Redeemer.  He is my inspiration and my motivation.  He is everything to me!! For all of that and so much more, I am SOO grateful! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 17: "Believe The Lord Has Great Things Ahead For You"

Today I woke up, got ready, and was out the door for school.  I didn't have time to sit down and really study my scriptures before the day began.  I got in my car and I had the scriptures read to me as I drove.  It wasn't the best way to really study, however it was better than nothing.  It read where I had left off in Doctrine and Covenants 6.  This is one of my favorite sections in the scriptures.  I find that I read this section every time doubts start to come to me about answers I have received from God.

14 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time.
 15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;
 16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.
21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am thelight which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
 22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
 23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?
 24 And now, behold, you have received a witness; for if I have told you things which no man knoweth have you not received a witness?
This is a reminder to me that I have received answers.  I have been guided to where I am at.  I know I would not be who I am today were it not for my experiences.  I would not have had my experiences had the Spirit not prompted me to be in certain places at certain times.  I know I have been molded into the person I am by the Lord.  I know that He knows who I can become and He is helping me to become that person.  
I am a big believer in personal revelation.  I know that the Lord will give us personal direction for our lives.  He loves us and He wants us to come back to Him.  I know that God will give us answers in a way that He knows we will recognize them.  One of the ways He answers me is through pennies.  They let me know that He is with me and that He hears my prayers.  Each penny represents a miracle that is going to happen in my life. On the penny it says "Trust in God." It's a reminder to me to put the things I cannot control in God's hands.  A reminder to have faith in Him, because He is in charge.  He knows all and He has a plan for me.  
Today I was running a couple errands for work.  I had to drive out to a home and pick something up.  I missed the turn and ended up driving in the back way.  It caused me to park on the wrong side of the street.  I normally don't do that.  When I got out of my car I thought to myself "I would love to find another penny to remind me that there is going to be a miracle." I walked up to the house, picked up what I needed to, and walked back to my car.  I walked to the passenger side to put it in my car.  As I was walking around to the driver's side, I looked down and saw something circular in a crack on the road.  I bent down and sure enough it was an extremely old, rusty penny.  I am not sure how long it has been there.  I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude.  

Once again the Lord answered my prayers in the exact moment I asked.  He knew I would ask that before I even woke up this morning.  He knew I would miss the turn and come in the back way.  He knew I would park where I did and I would see that penny there.  He knew it would represent more to me than just a penny.  He knew it would represent hope and encouragement.  He knew what that penny would mean to me.  It is a reminder that the Lord has great things ahead for me. Sometimes it's hard for us to see the good things that lie ahead.  I know that if I am looking for His hand in my life then I will see it.  I just need to trust Him, keep believing, and continue to move forward.  I am a huge believer that things always work out.  I believe that everything happens for a reason and that if we are looking, we will see miracles in our lives.  I am SOO grateful for a Savior who takes the time to answer my prayers and give me the strength I am needing.  I know without a doubt that He lives! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 16: "Music Can Dull Our Spiritual Sensitivity"

I was listening to music this morning as I was getting ready.  A song came on that was loud and fast and had somewhat risqué lyrics.  I started to dance to it and then I realized that once the song came on I had started to numb my spiritual side.  I tuned the Lord out as I focused on the beat and the way it made me feel.  I became aware of how significant music is in our lives.  It can either bring us closer to the Lord or further away.

President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk called "Inspiring Music- Worthy Thoughts."  I read it and I really liked it.  Some of the things that stuck out to me were:

Recently the First Presidency restated this counsel: “Through music, man’s ability to express himself extends beyond the limits of the spoken language in both subtlety and power. Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves.” (Priesthood Bulletin, August, 1973.)
If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them you will have a happy life.
As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.
In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the musicinwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.
Music,” said Gladstone, “is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind and spirit of man.”
I loved this talk! I feel like everything he said is true.  Music directly affects my mood.  It either uplifts me or it doesn't.  It either brings me closer to my Savior or further away.  I want to fill my life with uplifting things; things that bring me closer to the Lord.  I don't want to have to numb my feelings in order for me to feel comfortable in a given situation.  I want to be fully present, fully awake in the moment.  I don't ever want to do things that push my Savior and the Spirit away.  I love music! I love that it causes me to think and to feel.  Music can speak to our souls in a way that words cannot.  I want to be more aware of what I choose to listen to.

Today's miracle: I walked out of my psychology class and directly in my path was a shiny penny.  I picked it up, smiled, and said a silent prayer of gratitude.  I know it is Heavenly Father helping me to know that a miracle is about to happen in my life.  I know that as I am searching for His hand in my life that I see it.  I see it multiple times each day.  I see it so clearly, and I know without a doubt that He is with me.  We are not alone.  He walks with us each day.  He is our greatest source of strength! I am SOO grateful for my Savior in my life.  I am grateful that He understands me.  He knows the intent of my heart and He answers my prayers.  He loves me! I know that because of Him, I am enough.  Realizing that I am enough has made a huge difference in my life, even in just the past week.  It allowed me to let go of unwanted pressure to be something I am not.  It allowed me to free myself of an impossible burden to carry.  It allowed me to see myself through different eyes.  

I am not perfect and that doesn't matter.  I am enough! :) What an incredible blessing and reassuring knowledge that He has given me.  I am worthy of love just the way I am! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 15: "Our Covenants Keep Us Safe"'

I didn't mention yesterday all of the details about what happened at the lake.  When I got to the lake there was a man sitting on a bench by himself.  I drove further down from where he was and I passed a middle aged man leaning against a metal post all by himself.  He was staring at me.  I didn't think to much of it, except that I knew I didn't want to park my car close to him.  Something about him didn't feel right.  So I chose to go in between the man on the bench and the man against the pole.  I wasn't quite sure what they were doing.  They were just there. Staring at me.  I pretended not to notice and I walked past.  I pulled out my phone and I started taking pictures of the lake.  A minute later the man from the bench was right behind me.  He asked if I wanted him to take my picture.  I smiled and said "No that's ok.  Thank you though." He just stood there and watched me.  I waited a couple seconds, so as not to appear rude, and then I walked further away from him.  A minute later I saw the man from the post walking towards me.  I got the feeling I needed to leave.  So I started walking to my car.  I only stopped long enough to pick up that shiny penny that I knew was from God.  I could feel the other man behind me.  I walked faster and got in my car.  I immediately turned it on and put it in drive.  The next thing I saw was the man from the post saying something to the man from the bench.  The man from the post got in his car and was right behind me.  He went the same way as me for awhile until I lost him when I turned left on a yellow light and he got stuck as it went red.  Something about him made me really uncomfortable.  I prayed I would be ok and that he would not be able to follow me.  I didn't think much more of it after I saw that he was stuck at the red light.

I went to work today and was talking to my coworker.  She started telling me about her daughters friend who had something awful happen to her.  She said this girl was driving and she felt something hit her car. She thought she blew her tire and so she stopped to check it out.  As soon as she got out, this man attacked her.  He dragged her to the bushes and beat her up.  He broke both the bones under her eyes.  My coworker said in the middle of beating her up he all of a sudden stood up and ran away.  He took some things from her car, but he was in a hurry to get out of there.  My coworker told me that the place the girl was driving was the exact place I was at yesterday.  She had to be in the hospital for several days and they are still trying to fix her face. 

I started to reflect more on the situation I was in yesterday.  I didn't feel too unsafe.  All I could think of was that I know the Savior was with me.  That knowledge makes me feel safe.  I know that He warns me and protects me all the time.  I know that the covenants I have made with Him protect me.  I normally would have stayed a lot longer than 15-20 minutes. However, I had that feeling that I needed to leave and so I did.  I thought it was weird that the two men pretended not to know each other.  That as one approached me and I walked away from him, that the other man started to come towards me.  

I know that as we live the Gospel, as we follow the Savior, and as we keep our covenants, that we will be protected.  I am able to see that over and over again.  I know the Savior keeps me safe. I am so grateful for Him and for all He does for me.  I know that as I have been putting Him first these past couple weeks, that I have been SO blessed.  Miracles have taken place in my life.  I am receiving answers to my prayers daily.  I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and Savior in my life.  I know that I am never alone. I know without a doubt that my Savior lives.  That He knows what we are going through.  He is there to help.  We have to choose to open the door and let Him in. 

 I look forward to the day when I can understand fully Christ's Atonement.  I am amazed each day as i continue to learn more about Him and I am able to see what exactly He has done for me.  I am SOO grateful for Him for making it possible for me to live with Him forever… to live with my family forever. I have this theory that we won't fully understand what our Savior did for us until the day we are living in heaven with our families and we experience that infinite joy.  I think it will be in that moment when it hits me and Ill realize… I would never be able to have this were it not for my Savior.  I know in that moment I will sob out of gratitude for all He did on my behalf to bring me the ultimate happiness.  He has given me the one thing I desire the most. I love my Savior!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 14: "Trust in the Answers the Lord Gives You"

I get answers through my dreams a lot.  I started to pray for that while I was on my mission.  Another girl who was serving a mission with me received a lot of answers through her dreams.  I started to have faith that if the Lord would do that for her, then He would do it for me too.  I now keep a journal just for my dreams.  I write the dreams down that I have (the ones I can remember) and I am able to see the answers the Lord is giving to me.  The hardest part for me was trusting in those answers.  I knew they were from God, but sometimes I have a tendency to doubt.  I also receive many answers from finding pennies.  Every time I find a penny it is a reminder to me to trust in God and to expect miracles.

I had a dream last week where I was given the answer that I needed to spend time by the water.  I live in a place that is no where near the ocean, so I figured it meant the lake.  I made a mental note to spend some time walking by the lake and then I put the thought aside.  Today I was at church and I started to think about something in my life that the Lord told me will happen and I haven't seen it happen yet.  I felt sad and I was trying to tell myself to keep having faith… to keep trusting Him.  I had brought my dream journal to church and I was reading over the dreams that I had.  I read the one about spending time by the water.  I decided I needed to go on a drive to the lake.

So I got in my car and I drove to the lake, I pulled my car over to the side of the road, and I got out.  I started taking pictures, and I just found myself talking to God.  I stayed for about 20 minutes and then I felt like it was time to leave.  As I was walking back to my car, I looked down and saw a shiny penny right in front of me.  There were no other coins.  It was just one shiny penny.  Immediately I felt God's love for me.  I knew how aware he was of me.  He knew that penny would help give me the extra bit of faith that I was lacking in that moment.  He answered my prayer at the exact time I needed it.

I would not have gone to the lake had it not been for that dream.  I had no intention of going to the lake today, but the Lord knew that if He told me to go there then I would.  He knew I would see that penny and feel peace.  It reminded me again that the Lord is in charge.  He is in the details of our lives. He cares about me and about my concerns.  He knows my worries and my fears.  He loves me so much and He is always with me.  It made me so grateful that I am living in a way where I can receive answers from Him daily.  I know what it is like to push God away and I know the feelings that come along with that. I know the heavy pressure of feeling like I need to control every detail of my life.  I know how it feels to be alone. I know the confusion and the fear that comes as I make choices that push God away.  I know that never makes me happy.

For the past two weeks I have been happy.  I have felt lighter.  I have felt closer to Christ than I have in a really long time.  I know it has been that way because I've made Him a priority in my life.  Not only have I been accomplishing my goal of feeling closer to my Savior, but I have also seen how much He is blessing me for it.  I see miracles everyday.  I am consciously aware of Him in my life.  I am blessed beyond words.  I feel peace and comfort.  I feel strength beyond my own.  I feel the Lord's love for me personally.  I know that I am enough.  I know that He is proud of how I am living my life, and that is my greatest desire.  I want the Lord to approve of how I am choosing to live my life.  I want Him to see my actions and know that I love Him. I want there to be no doubt about whether or not I follow the Lord.

Today showed me once again that I can always trust in the answers the Lord gives me.  I can trust that He will lead me where I need to be, things will happen the way He said they would, and as I continue to obey Him, I will be blessed! I am so grateful for Him and for all He does for me each day.  My Savior is my best friend! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 13: "Show Your Love for Others"

I listened to a talk by President Monson this morning called "Love-the Essence of the Gospel".  He spoke about the importance of loving those around us.  He said that if we truly love God then we will show Him by loving all we associate with. Christ loved everyone. In the talk President Monson said:
"Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us. Said President Spencer W. Kimball: “We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters.”6

Often our opportunities to show our love come unexpectedly."
I've found this week that service isn't convenient.  It doesn't present itself to us when we have nothing else going on.  Sometimes we are asked to do things when we are tired or busy.  It would be easy to say no, and yet it is in these moments that the biggest opportunities to serve are found.  
When we serve others we are given the opportunity to experience a small portion of what the Savior did everyday.  We are able to come to know Him more, because we are spending our time doing what He would be doing. We are able to step outside of ourselves and find ways to make others burdens lighter.  
I just keep being amazed each day as I learn about my Savior and all that He did for me.  I think of His selfless love and I want to be more like Him.  I want to put God first always.  When we do that we are blessed beyond comprehension.  I've been in awe as I see how much my Heavenly Father and Savior care about me.  I know they care about the details of my life.  They know my worries and my fears.  They know what makes me happy.  They know the concerns I have.  They know how to comfort me and they do it. They are always there for me.  Always! I am so grateful that each day I get the opportunity to pray and communicate with my Father in Heaven. I know that it does not matter what time it is, He will be there and He will listen.  What an incredible blessing that is!!