25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

The thought of my Savior lying in a manger tugs at my heart strings in a way that nothing else really can. Can you imagine seeing the Savior of the world, so small and so fragile? So soon after leaving His home and His Father in heaven? I can't begin to imagine the spirit that was felt in that humble setting on that night so long ago. I cannot begin to comprehend what it would be like to look at this perfect, small Being, and to know that His birth would change everything forever. His life would be the leading example for all of mankind. This baby would one day suffer the sins of the world. This beautiful, precious, divine baby Boy, would not only change the course of history, but would ensure our future for the rest of eternity--if we so choose.

I know that Jesus Christ was in fact born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. I know that Jesus Christ was held by His mother Mary. I know that there were humble shepherds huddled around our Savior, and I know that angels accompanied them.  I know that there was a star that lit the sky in Bethlehem. I know that our Savior was indeed born, did indeed live a perfect life serving and loving others, and did indeed atone for all of our sins, prior to Him being crucified. I know these things took place the same way I know the dawn will break. Morning will come. The night will pass.

I love my Savior with every piece of who I am. He makes up who I am. I love Him in a way that cannot adequately be described, but only felt. His name is so sacred, He is so sacred, which makes today so sacred. I was never given a mortal brother here on earth, but with my whole heart I know I have an older Brother, who is Our Father's Son. He is my Redeemer. He is my Saving Grace. He is my best Friend. He is my hope, and He is my guide. He is my Protector, and He holds my heart in His hands. I am His, and somehow, miraculously, in the most beautiful way, He is mine. 

22 December 2013

With faith, and prayer, and humility, and sources of strength from an eternal world, we are able to live unspotted in the midst of a world of temptation. -Howard W. Hunter

It's hard not to confuse the feelings of sin, and temptation, and guilt and normality. It's hard to determine whether the guilt you are feeling is good, and helpful, or unnecessary and ultimately damaging. What I have found is there are two kinds of guilt - and those two kinds of guilt come from two different sources.

Unfortunately, in mortality, we will be plagued by temptations; some addictive and destructive. If the Savior Himself was given temptations to deal with, how we could expect any differently makes no sense. Somewhere along the way I think some people have misconstrued the idea that temptation isn't good - in and of itself. Temptation isn't always good. Some desires are normal and needed and actually a very good thing, and then there are desires that are dark, and wrong, and sometimes, even evil. Again, each kind of desire come from two different sources. What we do with those desires, is our choosing of which source we will heed.

In our world, we are plagued with temptations and desires of just about every kind. Sins dealing with morality come by the dozens. Some are prone to addictive behaviors dealing with the word of wisdom. Temptations can come in all forms and every form: anger, depression, resentment, judging, and awareness, just to name a few. There is righteous, necessary judging, and then there is unqualified and unkind judging. There is healthy awareness of the evils around you, and then there is the constant and unrelenting and unproductive awareness of the evils around you. Again, our reaction to temptation is evidence of Who we render our loyalty to.

There is a balance: a balance that is hard to define, and frankly, I believe a balance that every mortal signed up for in the pre-mortal life. We don't necessarily define the balance... The Lord, thankfully, has defined most of it for us; however, our agency is a gift designed to make us choose. The most incredible part? We have a Father in Heaven Who, if we ask worthily and faithfully, with a meek spirit and with a lowly heart, will guide us and teach us exactly what that balance is. We won't always know - hence the Atonement. We won't always know - hence the free agency. We won't always know - hence the need for diligent and consistent righteousness. But ultimately, after we have proven ourselves, after long and diligent efforts, The Lord will make it easier for us. The line will become a little more clear. The balance will seem to weigh a little more easily. The testimony and strength we gain along with the way will ultimately, make it a whole lot easier as to which source we give power to.

Yes, temptation can be a weakness, or it can be a reminder. It can be an unnecessary and unwarranted feeling of guilt, or it can be a loving reminder from God, a God who lets us know we still need Him. We need direction. We need help. We cannot do this on our own. Temptation can be His gentle reminder of His love, His trust, and His faith in us. And I choose, to let it be a reminder of who I really am, who I can be, and hopefully, through His goodness and glory and grace, will become.

21 December 2013

"Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself - these are of the true essence of Christmas." -Gordon B. Hinckley

You know those beautiful moments that we all so desperately need, when God kindly but so perfectly puts us in our place?

Today at work, a beautiful woman walked in. We made small talk, briefly talking about Christmas shopping and the snow, (yuck!) She said to me, you know, I'm just feeling very grateful this Christmas. My 24 year old son is on life support in the hospital. The doctor called us on Wednesday and told our family to come in and say our goodbyes - but he's doing much better now. He is my Christmas miracle!

Out of the two of us, it definitely would have made more sense if she was the one who started crying, but it was me. I asked her if I could hug her, because I honestly just wanted to squeeze the daylights out of her. Her radiance and faith is exactly what I needed to witness this Christmas season, and her goodness stayed with me all day. God knows when we need to be shaken a little bit... reminded of what this is all about. All I can say is I am forever and eternally grateful for my Father in heaven and for His children here on earth, who so constantly reflect the goodness of Him, His beloved Son, and Their plan for us. 

Little did this woman know that as she told me about her Christmas miracle, 
she quickly became mine.

18 December 2013

... So let's arise with joy in our hearts.. & share it with everyone. The meaning of Christmas will always be, The birth of Jesus Christ – God's son. -M.S.Lowndes

I work at a bookstore. It's retail. It gets crazy around this time of year. I get it. There's a running joke that customers are always meaner at this time of year... and can I just tell you the running joke is 100% accurate but not very funny.

I get that it's stressful. I understand you're in a hurry. Roads are icy and there's not enough time in the day. But you know what I bet was more stressful? Being pregnant, (a pregnancy which wasn't really expected, by the way,) preparing to have this baby and having no place to stay. By the way, that baby was Jesus Christ.

No doubt Mary and Joseph felt the stress but no doubt they handled it gracefully and beautifully. Remember what this season is about. Remember Who was born so long ago. Remember Who still lives. Remember Who is the reason for this season. And for heaven's sake, be kinder.

This season isn't about you. 
It's about Him.

17 December 2013

"Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will." -Ben Stein

Dear future husband,

Sometimes I wonder where you are. I wonder what you're like & what you're doing. I wonder what experiences you've had in life that make up you, & who you are. I wonder what your laugh sounds like. I wonder if you'll find my sense of humor funny, (let's be real... of course you will.)

I've been told a lot about you. In priesthood blessings, you're mentioned a lot. Our future is mentioned too. I know that we will be happy, "abundantly happy," to be exact. I've been told of our beautiful children, & the "eternal love" that we will share. I've been told many special things, & I hold those things awfully close to my heart.

I wonder when the Lord will guide us to each other. I don't worry about it though, because I know He will. It may be in five years, it may be in fifteen, but He will lead me to you. You're going to be a great husband, but more importantly you're going to be a great father. You are going to lead our family in righteousness, & you are going to be a worthy priesthood holder in our home. I know this.

I'm grateful for you already. You give me hope in my weak moments. 

You know, I've heard that good things come to those who wait, & I don't know how but somehow I already know, that you, future husband, are very worth the wait.

13 December 2013

Our limited perspective would be enlarged if we could witness the reunion on the other side of the veil, when doors of death open to those returning home. Such was the vision of the psalmist who wrote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” -Elder Russell M. Nelson

In my teenage years, I intently looked forward to receiving the Readers Digest in our mail, only to skim the pages so I could read the jokes in the back. There was one joke, that apparently I found funny enough to remember 9 years later. It went something like this: I apologize in advance for butchering it.

... "I was talking to a friend, and I profoundly asked him what he would want someone to say about him at his funeral. My friend said, "well that's easy. I want someone to say, "look!! He's alive!"

I got a good laugh out of that one, (it's funnier at 13,) but in all honesty, when I die, that is probably the last thing I would want someone to say, because let's be honest, after 60 or 80 years of this mortality stuff, I'm pretty sure I will be more than happy to peace out and head over to the other side. I've pondered that joke a lot, and have wondered what words I would want said at my funeral.

Creepy or not, I want every person there to be rendered speechless; just content in the silence. I want my loved ones to simply sit there, and smile. They will smile because they will know how beyond excited I am to meet Nephi and tell Gordon B. Hinckley he was my favorite. They will be happy because they know I'll be wandering around aimlessly until I find C.S. Lewis, and Neal A. Maxwell, and bothering them to their wits end with my questions and intensely awkward compliments. They will know that I am running around trying to find each and every last animal in heaven, because my goodness, heaven wouldn't be heaven without the animals! But above all, they won't have a lot to say because all is well, life is how it should be, God is in control, and hopefully my feeble efforts in this life might, maybe, may... sneak me in to re-unite with my Heavenly Father and my Savior again.

Death is an interesting thing; an emotional concept. It sounded so scary when I was younger. Death was the last scene, the close of the curtain, the doomed ending where it all stopped. As I have walked through more pathways in life, and as my understanding of the gospel has developed, death is a beautiful five letter word; a five letter beginning. It is the final victory - the last triumph. And as my Grandpa, my incredible, beyond unbelievable Grandpa laid in his hospital bed, hours before his last breath, he feebly raised his arms and said, "I did it. I won the race."

I imagine that will be my reaction the day I pass. I might be weak and frail, but the joy I will feel won't be hidden. "I did it. I made it. Look at what I did. Look at where I am." All of this will be nothing but a beautiful journey, which to be perfectly honest, it is already starting to feel that way. 

I know there is life after death. I know there is forever after death. I don't really know what it will be like, but how amazing is it that because of the knowledge we have, we know there is more beyond all of this? Sometimes - but not enough - the veil is more thin. I have felt support and love from the other side that I cannot deny, love that has cemented my testimony even more. I am so grateful for all of this, and I cannot help but be overly grateful for all of it this month. It started with the birth of our Savior, and this month His life and ministry weighs so heavily on my heart. I'm grateful for His Atonement, and for what that made possible. I'm grateful for my Grandpa, who feels so near at times like these, and I'm grateful for a loving God, who so willingly allows me to feel that.

10 December 2013

"To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ." -President Thomas S. Monson

"As our great Exemplar, Jesus taught us how to live, to love, and to learn. He taught us how to pray, to forgive, and endure to the end. He taught us how to care about others more than we care about ourselves. He taught us about mercy and kindness... He taught us how to find peace of heart and mind.
Those who so suffer can turn to the Lord. His is the consoling message of peace on earth and good will among men. Brothers and sisters, peace can come to your soul as you build faith in the Prince of Peace.
Peace can come to those whose labors are heavy...
Peace can come to those who mourn...
Peace can come to all who earnestly seek the Prince of Peace.
Peace can come to all who choose to walk in the ways of the Master. His invitation is expressed in three loving words: “Come, follow me.
We’ll sing all hail to the Prince of Peace, for He will come again."
Elder Russell M. Nelson

06 December 2013

It is a pretty weak girl if she has only her body to attract somebody. -Spencer W. Kimball

I whole-heartedly believe that the way one dresses speaks volumes of what one thinks about themselves, and how consistent one is with their beliefs. I think it speaks equal volumes regarding the respect they have for others, and of course themselves. I believe it says everything of what one considers their body to be, which, fyi, shouldn't be an object on display for the whole world to see. 

When I was younger, I'm sad to say I didn't appreciate the significance of modest clothing as I should have. I honestly didn't consider modesty a concept worth worrying about until I truly began to see and recognize the love my Father in heaven had for me. It was by my Father's love I began to understand my worth as His daughter, and it was only by understanding my worth as His daughter, I truly began to cherish that role.

When I see outrageously skin-tight clothing, or shorts that aren't really shorts, and swimsuits that aren't really there, I think one thing I think... you know, that lovely daughter of God hasn't yet discovered her worth, or she hasn't yet come to appreciate who she is. When a woman comes to the realization of who she is and what makes her matter, the amount of clothing one wears and the skin we reveal is irrelevant. I say this like I know this - because I was once that girl.

Maybe it's something you only learn over time. Some perspectives only come with experience; and maybe this perspective is one of them. But from someone who has been on both sides, I know the importance of modest clothing, and to be perfectly bold, with the rise of pornography and the destructive objectifying of women, those who are immodest are not only justifying these things, but encouraging it. And to be even more bold, dressing immodestly is entirely selfish on our part, selfish to our Father in heaven who - in purity - created us reverently and righteously, and selfish to future generations, who will lead by our example.

Recently, I have been fortunate enough to coordinate with some clothing companies, who's intent is to promote modesty. I feel very blessed and privileged to be a part of something so encouraging, and am happy to participate. At the top of my blog, there is a link that says: #promotemodesty. I will be posting pictures along with links to clothing websites, in an effort to support them and what they represent. I would love for you to be a part of it with me, so regularly come and check out what is new.

"Modesty in dress is one of the identifying characteristics of true saints.  It is an aid in preserving chastity and an outward sign that the modest person is imbued with humility, decency, and propriety.  Immodesty... is an outward sign that the immodest person has become hardened to the finer sensitivities of the Spirit and been overcome by a spirit of vanity and pride."
-Bruce R. McConkie  

04 December 2013

"From our sorrow we might seek out the sweetness..." -Richard C. Edgley

Tonight, as I was saying my prayers, 
an interesting thing happened.
I felt nothing.
And by nothing I mean I felt no anxiousness.
I felt no burden.
I felt weightless.
I was on my knees, saying nothing, 
but completely content in that moment.

There was no problem I needed to 
talk to my Heavenly Father about.
There were no tears, and no frustrations.
In that moment there was nothing but peace,
nothing but surety, nothing but an overwhelming 
assurance that The Lord was there,
He was aware of me,
He knows the intents of my heart and soul 
even when I don't speak. He knows me.
The ins and outs and the in-betweens. 
He knows my spirit. 

Tonight that was all I felt.
I felt nothing.
And somehow by feeling nothing,
I felt everything.

03 December 2013

"I am as my creator made me, and since He is satisfied, so am I." - Minnie Smith

At the beginning of this year I was sitting in my dermatologist's office, talking with him about the prescription I had been using for my skin. My doctor went on to tell me that most people think their skin is far worse than it actually is. Then, he asked me if I knew what body dysmorphia was. I told him I did and he told me that he was confident every girl ages 13-40 have been sufferers of body dysmorphic disorder at one point or another in their lives. Unfortunately, that came as no surprise to me, and sadly, I have fit into that category.

In 2007, Forbes magazine came out with an article stating that Salt Lake City was the vainest city in America.  I remember the first time I heard that I immediately felt ashamed of where I lived, but not necessarily surprised. I don't pretend to know why that would be, but I can't help but wonder if it is the perfectionism thing we have going on - Latter-day Saints in particular. We want to become more Christ-like so we are constantly trying to become better, aiming toward perfection. The problem (or at least one problem) comes when we apply that standard physically, taking it a little way too far.

If we are truly made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), which I believe we are, why are we so adamant to change our image? As women, we are blessed with bodies that can bring life into this world, which is insane and amazing, but we are trying to perfect that insanely incredible body to the point of hurting ourselves, and we, being in the world, unfortunately become very much of the world. 

Are we really suggesting that the Lord didn't do His work well enough for us to remain satisfied? Are we really telling our Father in heaven that, "hey! You've got the concept right, but there's still a lot of work to be done." Are we really so far gone that we are more worried about what our appearance looks like to the world, than what our spirits look like to our Heavenly Father? How sad would it be to return home only to come to the realization that we spent more time and energy in perfecting our outward appearance than we did in perfecting our spirits, which, by the way, is the only thing that will prove our worthiness. Guess what!? Looking our best and dressing our best doesn't include changing every last thing we've been given. Looking our best and dressing our best doesn't involve anesthesia, boatloads of money, or unnecessary feelings of inadequacy. The Lord would not - would not - ever subject us to that.

  • 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.
  • 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat.
  • One out of four college-age women have an eating disorder.
  • Three-fourths of girls with low self-esteem engage in negative activities, such as disordered eating, bullying, smoking or drinking.
  • Only 2% of women think they are beautiful.

All I know is that just because we are in the world, we aren't given a free card to become like it. Just as there is a constant war with sin, there is a constant war with people telling us we just aren't good enough. It is a constant fight, and an on-going war, but it is a fight that needs to be fought.

Remember who you are - who you really are. Stop looking in the mirror so much. Eat a freaking cupcake and put the scale away. Feel beautiful and confident in the fact your Father created you, and remember that He is pleased with your creation! And every time someone makes you feel less beautiful than you actually are (which by the way, is really, really beautiful), get on your knees and ask your Father to remind you. And with God reminding you I promise you'll win. Every single time.

28 November 2013

"A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness." -Elder James E. Faust

At the end of last year, I made a gratitude jar. It is a simple mason jar, but it is all pinterested-out, andddd it is adorable. Every night, I have taken a piece of paper and written an experience I was grateful for that day. Every Thanksgiving I plan to read those papers, and start all over again until next year. A few of my papers from this last year were humorous, but in my defense, written with serious effort. 

A solid 25% of my papers said something to this extent: I'm grateful today is over. I'm grateful today will never come again. I'm grateful today is one day further away from my past. I'm grateful today is one day closer to my future. But mostly, I'm grateful today is over.

Those words weren't a feeble effort on my part. I genuinely felt, in that moment, that the fact that day was over could very possibly be the only thing I could be grateful for. Looking back, I feel silly saying that. I was living in New Zealand for heaven's sakes. I have the greatest family and friends I could have ever asked for. I have this gospel. I have a Father in heaven and I have a Savior, Whose love for me knows no ends. But, in my defense, I attempted to find something to be grateful for. I tried. And sometimes, that effort is seen by our Father in heaven and I believe, is enough.

This year, what I am most grateful for is this past year. I am grateful for who I have become. I am grateful for who I have become through the grace of my Heavenly Father and Savior. I'm grateful for Their unspeakable and unyielding love. I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for my closest friends. I'm grateful for Heidi and our eight years of friendship. I'm grateful for Eva, who is on the other side of the globe but who I feel close to every day. I'm grateful for my grandfather, who is in heaven but so often feels like he is here. I'm grateful for his love and constant support that is so evident, even on the other side of the veil. I'm grateful for my job. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have spiritual experiences every day where I work. How amazing is that? I'm grateful for the men who lead this church. I'm grateful for their wisdom and for the love they have for the members of this church. I'm grateful for each of you. I'm grateful for my testimony. I am grateful for what I have fought through to develop my testimony. I'm grateful for every awful moment that has brought me to today. I am grateful for the air I breathe and the heart I have, that somehow still functions despite the heartbreak. It beats just the same. And I am unbelievably grateful, for all the things in my life that give my heart a reason to keep beating.

25 November 2013

My Name Used To Be Muhammad - The True Story Of A Muslim Who Became A Christian

There are special moments in life when you meet someone and hear their story and you are reminded in the most powerful way that this Gospel is true, and that this person, this beautiful, extraordinary person standing in front of you, is a precious gift from God. This person and his or her story are precious gifts to you.

There is a man whose name was once Muhammad. His name is now Tito Momen, and he is a convert to The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had the opportunity and privilege of hearing him speak tonight. 

I could go on and on about his insanely, unfathomable story of conversion and endurance, but I'm afraid my writing couldn't possibly do it justice. You can find Tito's story here, and here. However I will take my chances and attempt to share one part of my experience tonight.

For a solid two hours, Tito described each and every injustice he endured on his road to Christianity, but unfailingly his faith overshadowed his fear and his determination owned his doubts. As he talked about his trials, as he was in the very thick of them, the only words he ever uttered were, "Thy will be done. Thy will be done." He was once asked by a friend, "if you could go back 15 years and do everything differently, would you?" Without hesitation and with no reservation, Tito said he would do it all over again. And why? Because of his unwavering faith and his undeniable belief in this Gospel.

There is no doubt in my mind there are times Heavenly Father looks down at the wickedness of this world and weeps for His children. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and the heartbreak He feels. However, there is no doubt in my mind Heavenly Father looks at some of His children, like He did tonight, and the joy and happiness He feels is indescribable. No doubt our Father in heaven is filled with love and gratitude for this son, whose endured unspeakable things and for the rest of his life will bear witness to the world of his faith and be a precious blessing to everyone he meets. What a gift he is to the world. May we each strive to live our lives worthily, and pray for opportunities that we, too, may be a blessing in someone else's life.

24 November 2013

Because Some Things Are Worth Waiting For.


Past statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. First of all, uhh, can you say depressing?

From the age of sixteen, and up until the point I was married, there was never a substantial amount of time I wasn't dating someone. The past 16 months have really been me, myself and the Lord, for the first time in my life! Relationships are funny. They can teach you who you are and make you forget who you are all at the same time. How does that happen?

The thing that scares me the most, is seeing people so quickly jump into a second relationship, to say nothing of a second marriage. I think loneliness gets the best of people, rebounds sound enticing, and moving on from an experience somehow equates to moving on to someone else... What??? Maybe I'm crazy, but I would think the second time around you would want to be super careful. Get to know yourself a little better. Get to know your Father in heaven better. Breathe for a little while, and take care of yourself. I can't help but think people kind of miss that step - and ultimately, another whopping 17% end up in the same boat they were before. Now, I am aware I am clearly not equipped to explain why marriages don't usually work, but I can't help but think that has something to do with it.

I understand that marriage is a very important part of life. I understand one of the core concepts of my religion is eternal families. But I don't think it's right, that young people feel so entirely pressured to begin that part of life. A young man emailed me last week after reading my article, and said, thank you for helping me realize that my relationship status isn't the source of my validation as a human being. That makes me sad. And I don't think anyone under any circumstance should feel that way.

So many people want to get married, but that can be the very core of the problem. They want to get married. The right person, the right place, and the right time is just an after-thought because hey! I want to get married. Let me tell you, forever is a very long time to just "be married," and far too long to be married to the wrong person.

I can't sufficiently express how beautiful I believe marriage is, and the importance of it, but I also cannot sufficiently express to those who are not married that you are no less a person, and your life, as Kristen M. Oaks would say, is no less a life. It's worth it to wait. It's worth it to get it right. It's worth it to find the person who is going to lead your family in righteousness, and be a worthy example to your children. It's worth it to wait for The Lord to do His work. It's worth it to wait for God's plan - not yours. It is worth the wait. Trust me. Trust your Heavenly Father. It is worth the wait.

I'm grateful for my Father in heaven. I am grateful for His plan for me. I am so grateful we have a Father Who loves us enough, to perfectly and carefully plan and design each of our lives merely for our benefit. He has prepared a path. And I testify that path, however long it takes to get there, is a path worth waiting for. 

19 November 2013

Making the covenant to be a disciple of Christ is the beginning of a lifelong process, and the path is not always easy. As we repent of our sins and strive to do what He would have us do and serve our fellowmen as He would serve them, we will inevitably become more like Him. Becoming like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective—and essentially the very definition of true discipleship. -Elder Daniel L. Johnson

This past week has been interesting; overwhelming, to say the least. I've wondered if it was worth it, publicly announcing to everyone and their dog that I'm divorced. Let me assure you - it was worth it. And let me say again how much every email and comment and letter has meant to me. 

Today at work I had an interesting experience, and by interesting I mean amazing. I was putting some things away, when I saw a woman waiting at the register who obviously had a question. There was someone there to help her, but for whatever reason I felt that I needed to be the one to help her. I walked over to her and asked what she was looking for. She asked me about a specific book regarding self-esteem for women. I searched the title and we didn't have it, but for whatever reason A Single Voice by Kristen M. Oaks kept coming to my mind. It's a great book, and I guess it touches on self-esteem, but the book is based on being single in the Mormon culture. I was trying to hold a conversation with this woman, but the words in my head were literally so loud I couldn't hear what she was saying. I knew it was weird, and totally not what she was looking for, but I asked if I could recommend something anyway.

As we were walking towards the bookshelf she said, "I don't know why I'm sharing this, I don't like sharing this, but I recently went through a divorce." I stopped walking, and there was this moment of complete peace and security. I looked at her and her eyes filled with tears. We talked for a while. I told her how much her sweet spirit touched me. As she left she looked at me and said, "I really needed this," and with that she thanked me and walked away. 

I think Heavenly Father must look at me sometimes and think, seriously Kenna, don't you EVER doubt that I am here, and that this gospel is real. Don't you EVER doubt that the Spirit is with you as you live worthy. Don't you EVER doubt that what you are feeling isn't real, because it is. 

I can humbly and gratefully get on my knees and tell my Father in heaven I know it is real. I know He is there. I know that this gospel is my saving grace. It is not a part of me - it is who I am. It is my soul, and my spirit. It is everything.

I'm grateful to my Father in heaven and to His Son for blessing me with these amazing opportunities to love my brothers and sisters and to serve them in whatever way I can. I am grateful for Their trust in me. There is nothing more rewarding in life, and absolutely nothing more fulfilling, than knowing that Heavenly Father trusts us with His precious children to try to lift them and serve them in whatever capacity we can. That's what this is about guys! That's all this is. Love each other. Serve each other. Bear your testimony. Don't you ever doubt if your testimony, and your faith, and your experience, is worth being shared. It is meant to be heard, and it is beautiful, and it is good. The Spirit is there. The Spirit is waiting to help you. The Spirit will help you find the words you cannot think of, and the Spirit will help you say those words when you don't know how. Don't doubt that. And in return, your faith will prove to your Father in heaven you are worthy of more opportunities to serve, more opportunities to love, and more opportunities to claim your spot and prove your place as a true and loyal disciple of Christ. 

14 November 2013

"There will be occasions in each of our lives when we will be called upon to explain or to defend our beliefs. When the time for performance arrives, the time for preparation is past." -President Thomas S. Monson

Yesterday, the Deseret News posted an article about my blog, my divorce, and my struggles with it. First of all, I want to say the outpouring of love I have received has been overwhelming. It is far from easy to share so openly such a painful part of life, but I cherish each and every email I've been sent, and those emails have made every weak moment worth it. To all of you who have dealt with divorce, you are in my prayers continually, and if you ever need a friend, you have always, always got one in me. 

Secondly, I want to make very clear this article and this blog has never been written to point fingers, to blame, or to make someone else look bad, or feel bad, and especially, not to make me look any better than I am. I have tried to avoid sharing too many details, but have tried to only share enough so people can relate. This is simply my story, my heartbreak, and my attempt to relate to someone else and be a source of help to someone who may need a friend. This story is about the relationship I have developed with my Father in heaven, and with His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

Again, I thank each of you for your kindness. This gospel is true. I believe that with every last part of me. I am so humbled, and am so grateful to each and every one of you. Seriously though, my goodness. I just deeply love you all. Thank you, thank you.

06 November 2013

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side.

"His wish for us there, and His answer to our prayer was to get us on the right road as quickly as possible, with some reassurance, with some understanding, that we were on the right road and we didn't have to worry about it. And in this case, the easiest way to do that was to let us go... on the wrong road, and very quickly know without a doubt that it was the wrong road and therefore with equal certainty, with equal conviction, that the other one was the right road. 

I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship, when something doesn't seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, we keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace, and hear Him say, I told you it'd be okay, I told you it would be alright." 
-Elder Holland

I can't tell you how many times I have wondered why, at a certain point in my life, I felt "okay" about taking the wrong road. Often times, it's not until we are down that "wrong" road, that we are able to look back and see that road for what it truly was. It may take a while. It will probably take longer than we would like. Hate to burst your bubble - it will. But to know without a doubt what the right road is? To have that knowledge and to learn lessons along the way? To know the good from the bad, to know the right road from the wrong, to taste the sweet after the bitter, that is worth it. That is so unbelievably worth it. Every second. Every extra step. And with every last part of me, I cannot wait until I am able to fall in my Fathers arms and hear Him say, "I told you it would be okay. I told you it would be alright." 

What a day that will be. 

28 October 2013

"Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does." -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

After my nasty experience with marriage, you might think I wouldn't be a big fan - but surprisingly, that couldn't be further from the truth. Because of what I've been through I believe I have a clear view of what marriage should be, and I know exactly what it shouldn't be. When marriage is between a worthy man and woman, and when that man and woman are invested and willing to live a pure and worthy life, both entirely and only dedicated to the other, both completely willing to work through whatever trials and hardships may come, marriage is absolutely priceless and irreplaceable. It is the most un-selfish experience one can embark on - when you do it right. It amazes me how half of married couples in America don't quite understand that concept, but this beautiful couple couldn't be a more perfect example of people who do. If you are married - treasure it, and hold it terribly close to your heart. If you aren't - breathe and believe there are marriages this precious to look up to, and continually strive to be worthy of it.

23 October 2013

As I Have Loved You

I love. I love a lot. I love too much. I love to a fault and without reservation. I love with every last ounce of me. You want my heart? Take it. You want to be friends? Best friends we are. You want to feel loved? I will give you that and more. Scared yet? Me too!

The earliest I remember feeling this was when I was a little girl, probably around the age of twelve. My dad and I were picking up a pizza for dinner, and as we left Little Caesars I noticed a man sitting at a table by himself. I remember walking out the doors, looking up at my dad with teary eyes and asking, "what if that man eats that pizza by himself? What if he has nobody else to eat dinner with tonight?" I vividly remember my dad lovingly looking down at me and saying, "Kenna, he's probably just waiting for his pizza to be ready so he can bring it home to his family!" The entire way home I couldn't shake the genuine concern I had for this man, hoping whole-heartedly he had someone to enjoy his five dollar pizza with.

Last year I came across an unfortunate video of animals being mistreated, and week after week I couldn't eat meat. One day when I was grocery shopping with my mom, she put some super nasty fish flesh in our cart, and I immediately got this ever so large pit in my stomach. Granted, I was going through a billion of other sad things, which I know intensified those emotions, however my spirit was still sad and discouraged for this little helpless dead fish that my parents would be eating for dinner.

Because I am the way I am, sad situations are usually infinity times more sad than they actually are. I feel more. I experience more. I hurt more. And good heavens I love more.

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, an American psychologist and professor at John Hopkins University, has to be one of the most intelligent and beautiful human beings on the earth. She has written books and been very candid on her struggles in life, including depression, divorce, and death, all of which, again, she has experienced firsthand. Dr. Jamison says this: 

"As a result... I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences more intensely; loved more, and been more loved; laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters; appreciated it - and life - more; seen the finest and the most terrible in people, and slowly learned the values of caring, loyalty, and seeing things through. I have seen the breadth and depth and width of my mind and heart and seen how frail they both are... I have been aware of finding new corners in my mind and heart. Some of those corners were incredible and beautiful and took my breath away and made me feel as though I could die right then and the images would sustain me. Some of them were grotesque and ugly and I never wanted to know they were there or to see them again. But, always, there were those new corners and... I cannot imagine becoming jaded to life, because I know of those limitless corners, with their limitless views." 

Let me be honest, there are days I straight up wish the Grinch was my father, resulting in me being born without a heart. I wish I could blame the absence of those raw feelings on genetics. But I know if those painful feelings went unfelt, the love and happiness and gratitude I have come to know wouldn't be nearly so sweet. Chances are, when I see an accident on the road I will pray for four hours, desperately hoping they are okay. When my heart is cracked, it usually means that it's shattered and the pieces have gone missing and will never be found. And yes, I am going strong with my vegetarian lifestyle, because I can't handle the thought of animals in my tummy. 

As much as this  - at times - may be a burden, I also know it is one of my greatest blessings.

I hurt more than I probably ought to. I feel more than I would like. But the added amount of happiness and love I experience are absolutely and inexplicably irreplaceable. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior for the not-always-wanted, but inspired, talents They have graciously given me. I love Them with my whole heart, and I will forever be grateful for Their example of ultimate pure, unyielding, never-ending and overwhelming Christlike love.

22 October 2013

"As our prayers ascend heavenward, let us not forget the words taught to us by the Savior. When He faced the excruciating agony of Gethsemane and the cross, He prayed to the Father, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Difficult as it may at times be, it is for us, as well, to trust our Heavenly Father to know best how and when and in what manner to provide the help we seek." -President Thomas S. Monson

"There will be times when you will walk a path 
strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. 
There may be times when you feel detached
- even isolated - from the Giver of every good gift. 
You worry that you walk alone.

We were not placed on this earth to walk alone.
He who knows us better than we know ourselves, 
He who sees the larger picture and 
Who knows the end from the beginning, 
has assured us that He will be there for us to 
provide help if we but ask.

Your Heavenly Father loves you - each of you. 
That love never changes.
It is simply there. It is there for you 
when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. 
God’s love is there for you whether or not 
you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.

... We do not ever walk alone. 
I promise you that you will one day stand 
aside and look at your difficult times, 
and you will realize that He was 
always there beside you."

-President Thomas S. Monson

18 October 2013

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me... Shine on until tomorrow, let it be... The Beatles

When can be an unhelpful, distracting and stubborn word.

When: defined in the dictionary
"at the time that..."
"as soon as..."
"during the time at which..."

I don't mean to imply when is a useless word. At times it can be an efficient word. It can give structure and meaning to a sentence, sometimes the very glue that holds that sentence together. When used in a proper and helpful context, it's a wonderful word. When the word is used to distract, excuse and procrastinate, it's an unfortunate word.
You know what word I like better?
With the word be,
there are zero hidden agendas.
There is no unknown timetable.
There are no uncertainties or ifs, ands or buts.
Being can hold so much power,
and not just being,
but peacefully being.

When are we going to take that vacation we've been talking about?
When will I be happy?
When will I find fulfillment?

I will find purpose in my life when some type of circumstantial shift takes place.

William E. Gladstone said this,
"Be happy with what you have and are, 
be generous with both, 
and you won't have to hunt for happiness."

Have, are, 
Having, being, 

Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't wait to be happy until you've landed that perfect job, or found your long-lost soul mate, or successfully shed those ridiculous 15 pounds. As Gladstone says, "be happy with what you have and are," and may I add that who I am and what I have is centered in my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and an unwavering testimony of this gospel. Happiness is at your fingertips, and it is yours for the taking.

Don't give that four letter word 
so much of your power. 
Slow down!
Be happy now. 
Discover your fulfillment today. 

There is nothing stopping you.

10 October 2013

"... However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them, than acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure." -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

This blog has never been intended to uphold high expectations of me or to put myself on a pedestal in any way. It has been written with one intention, and that is to possibly help relate to someone else, which is why I'm publishing this post. 

As someone who has felt "held-hostage" because of a term referred to as medical depression, I listened intently to Elder Holland in the Saturday afternoon session of Conference as he vindicated and validated each and every last person who has felt less of a person because of a misunderstood and unwarranted stigma attached to mental disorders. 

Medical depression is something I don't openly talk about, other than with a select few who I trust, but Elder Holland offered his voice, which gave me a voice, and I believe gave every victim of an emotional disorder a voice.

For me it started at a young age - the residing sadness that seemed always to continually linger. Without making this a terribly overdrawn story, I was diagnosed with medical depression in my young teenage years and it has been a struggle I have lived with ever since. 

I believe I was always confident in who I was, secure enough to know my depression didn't define me. However, there have been, and unfortunately probably always will be, a few people in life who for whatever reason attempt to hold one liable for it; even to belittle or demean one for it. I'm so grateful the Lord seemingly single-handedly took me out of such a situation so recently. 

This blog post isn't intended to point fingers. It is certainly not to call anyone out for their misinformed notions. It is not to differentiate people with their differing disorders. It is simply to say this: I struggle with depression. It is not who I am, but it is what I am going through. It is a mortal illness I agreed to take on in the pre-mortal life. It doesn't make me less of a person; in fact because of the strength I have gained from it, this struggle has only refined me and, in essence, made me more of a person. Emotional disorders, mental disorders, physical disorders, call them what you will, are just like any other sickness, and just like any other sickness we will be healed again, we will be made whole, and, if worthy, we will become glorified resurrected beings, in a total and complete perfect state. As Elder Holland put it so perfectly, men of the caliber of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Elder George Albert Smith (and Elder Holland himself) were and have been sufferers of this very thing, and to be given a trial that those men were given, well my goodness, I will take that in stride.

We are all sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. If it wasn't depression, it would be cancer. If it wasn't cancer, it would be a victim of abuse. If it wasn't abuse, it would be a mental handicap, or a limbless body, or a death of a loved one. We are each given trials, trials that may not seem personally chosen, but trials that are perfectly and completely tailored to our plan here on earth, to return home to our perfect and all-knowing Father and Savior. I love this gospel with every part of my being. I sustain and support these men who lead this church and who are so evidently called of God. And I am not ashamed, of any trial, that the Lord in his all-knowing goodness has given me.

07 October 2013

If you had let me settle for something less I would not have seen, that You had better promises for me. -Hilary Weeks, Better Promises

Two years ago today I knelt across an altar in the House of The Lord and was married. If someone had told me on my wedding day that in two years time, this person would leave and be re-married, I never would have believed them.

There is an often quoted poem by Robert Frost, whom I absolutely adore, called The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Some could say my life's plan took a face-plant in an unexpected ditch along the way. Some could say "that's not how it was supposed to turn out." And all I could say to them, is how terribly wrong they are. I believe this is exactly the way it was supposed to turn out. 

The Lord hand-crafts our trials to teach us exactly what we need to learn. I don't think the Lord intends people to get divorced, but He allows it, and if He knows it's going to be the best thing in the world for them, He's going to let it run it's course. 

There are days I feel like I took that road less traveled by. Unlike the person in the poem, I didn't really see the other road when I chose this one. My road ended up an unexpected one, with a ridiculously large ditch that I didn't see coming, but I took it. And I walked it. And I'm here. And I'm grateful. I'm so unbelievably grateful for each and every stumbling block along the way. It has been a rocky road but a beautiful road, more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed, and the best part is I didn't walk it alone. I had a constant and forever walking companion, who is my Savior Jesus Christ. He watched me face-plant. He carefully watched me crawl out of that ditch broken and bruised, in despair but certainly not defeated, and He took my hand and squeezed it tight and He never let go.

I have come to learn one thing, and that one thing is this: regardless of the road the Lord allows you to take, whether that road is what you expected or what you did not, if you are walking it with your Father in Heaven and His Son, you are and you will always be on the right road. 

Have faith. Your Father in Heaven and His Son know you perfectly. You have come this far. They  have got you. They are always an arms-length away. They will never mislead you.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

03 October 2013

"I testify that He is utterly incomparable in what He is, what He knows, what He has accomplished, and what He has experienced. Yet, movingly, He calls us His Friends." -Neal A. Maxwell

Tonight, I took the long way home. I made every possible turn and detour to extend the ride. I don't know where I was driving to, or what I was driving away from - for that matter - but I kept on going. 

Once I officially lost my way and had zero idea where I was, I pulled over. For a long time I sat there. I didn't have a million things on my mind. My thoughts weren't racing. I think it's safe to say I wasn't thinking about a single thing. 

Then I glanced at my dashboard, and I saw this: 

Technically, I see this picture every day, but I don't look at it the way I did tonight. For whatever reason, it was like I saw that picture for the first time tonight. It was like I saw my Savior praying for the first time tonight.

We have moments when He is more real than we can comprehend; His presence and His Being is so evident. We have these life changing moments, and after those moments life keeps moving on. We don't know where we are walking, or what we are walking away from - for that matter - but we keep walking. 

In this moment, every minute I have felt loved by my Savior was multiplied. This very missed, sought after, not-familiar-enough feeling of love came over me. This reassurance; this reassurance I have felt a million times but I needed to feel once again. He was letting me know He was still with me. He was confirming that we are still in this together. And he was wrapping me up in His arms, only the way the Savior can.

I can confidently say in those moments I know nothing; my journey or my destination, those moments that feel empty, hollow, and terribly emotion-less, His love overcomes and overpowers all of it. 

We need those moments. We need those moments to keep us going, to keep some spark of hope in our hearts. We need His love, so completely and entirely. We need our Savior, and He never fails to remind me exactly when I need Him most.

My Savior is simply that - my Savior. He is the Redeemer Of The World and The Constant Peace I have in my life. He saved me in Gethsemane, He saved me on the cross, and unfailingly He saves me time and time again. He is my Lord, He is Jesus Christ, He is my everything, and I am His.

29 September 2013

I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live. -Psalms 116:1-2

Unfortunately, in life, people hurt us. Life hurts us. And it's a life-long journey to learn how to deal with that hurt in an appropriate way. It's hard, and it won't come easy. Forgiveness is a challenge, one I have had to consistently work on. And today, in church, a friend said something I desperately needed to hear.

We were talking about forgiveness, and I told her of a situation I was in, and in this situation I was - and am - looking to find that forgiveness somewhere in my heart. She asked what I was doing to obtain the mercy I am seeking for someone else. I told her that I constantly and seriously pray and ask for charity. I ask for charity and love not just for this situation, but in all situations, with all relationships I have in my life. I pray for love. I pray to find love in my heart. And very simply she said, "you don't need more love. You need His love."

It all made sense. In those few moments there was clarity, and there was understanding. Tears filled my eyes and this burden, this ridiculously heavy burden I have tried so foolishly to carry on my own was lifted. 

I am not perfect. I am very human. My weaknesses are very real. My difficulty finding love in a situation I'm in is not fault of my own, because I do everything I can to find that love. And foolishly, I try to take care of it myself. I try to forgive this situation on my own. 

In that moment, with my whole soul and my heart I asked the Lord for His love. It is only through His love I find enough love for others. I cannot obtain that love any other way. I know - because I have tried. I explained to Him I have done my part. I have done all I can do. I have done as much as I can. And I told my Father in heaven and my Savior, that I was leaving the rest to Them. 

We can't do it on our own. I can't do it on my own. This life-long journey isn't my journey, it is a journey the Savior has so lovingly planned for me, it is a journey my Savior has so willingly felt, and a journey He has already perfectly walked through. This isn't my journey to be walked alone. And there will be times I can't walk any further, and sometimes I forget that my Savior can carry me for a little while.

I am so grateful for the ongoing, patient and perfect love my Heavenly Father and Savior have for me. I get frustrated with myself, for not being better, for not forgiving more easily and completely, and I know with every part of me my Savior understands. He's telling me it's okay. He's telling me it's not always easy and He's telling me He will carry the load. He is enough. His love is enough. I am enough.  And what I offer is enough, only through and because of the difference my Savior has already paid. 

My heart is full. My heart is at peace. And that's enough.