26 August 2013

"Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other." -Paul Coelho


Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting the most stunning 92 year old woman, whose name is Eloise. Eloise is unlike anyone I have ever met. Her spirit radiates from a mile away, and her wisdom and love for life are seriously even evident in the way she walks! She has the most beautiful soul, and I have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know her. 

She's been very involved with the things that have happened in my life. Every week we call each other, just to tell the other we love each other. We get banana splits, and we go to dinner. We go through old photo albums, and I listen to story upon story of her life. We listen to Frank Sinatra in the car and she tells me about the play she saw the night before. I watch her her in awe and amazement. Through tears we talk about the gospel. Through laughter she gives me hope for my future. This glorious little creature will never know how much she has done for me, and I feel blessed beyond reason that I have her in my life. 

She may be elderly, but I think her mission in life is to prove age is just a number, and she proves her point well. She is one of my biggest fans, and I can confidently say I am hers. If hearts ever were soul mates, ours would be. Oh, how I love my Eloise.

22 August 2013

"When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed." -Elder M. Russell Ballard

 

It is so interesting to me that the closer one becomes to God - the more one's actions are aligned with God's - essentially the better one becomes - the more humble one becomes. The better we are, the lesser we see of ourselves, and the more we see of God. It is only by good works, only by our best behavior, that we begin to think of ourselves less; realize our necessary dependance on the grace of our Savior, and truly begin to see our "nothingness". 

I genuinely believe the first step to gaining faith is by humility. There are times I get so impatient with my Heavenly Father, yet in my Father's perfection and glory He will never get impatient with me. In my vain imagination I think my plan makes more sense than His plan. I want to know His will for me and why it is His will for me, but having faith does not include knowing the things I so desperately want to know. The faith I have developed began with the overwhelming assurance that my Heavenly Father and Savior love me. They know me personally. My Savior atoned for me. The assurance of those things, that I know with my whole heart to be true, is what planted the seed of faith in my heart.

"There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn... There is another kind of faith. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worthy and prepared and unyielding... It is the kind of faith that moves people... the kind of faith that sometimes moves things... It is a marvelous, even a transcendent power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity...

Faith, to be faith, must center around something that is not known... Faith, to be faith, must go into the unknown. Faith, to be faith, must walk into the light, and then a few steps into darkness..." 
-Elder Boyd K. Packer

That kind of faith does not come without great effort on our part, and I believe the first step to gaining that type of faith is by seeing our nothingness. It is by seeing that our Heavenly Father and Savior are the only real source of light. It is by seeing that we need grace and mercy more than we would like to admit. It is by separating the sin from the sinner. It is by admitting that we are not any better than anyone else. As President James E. Faust says, "Faith... is planted in the fertile ground of a soft heart." And a soft heart comes from humility, meekness, and a complete submission to our Father's will.

I'm so grateful to Alma, and I'm grateful for the stories of his goodness and strength. I'm particularly grateful to the brethren in poverty, for the "lowly in heart" that come to Alma and his brethren, who have been cast away by the Zoramites. I'm grateful for their example of humility. I'm grateful for Alma's words, "because ye are compelled to be humble, blessed are ye." I'm grateful for The Lord's patience with me. I'm grateful for the grace and mercy He extends to me - heaven knows I need it. I am so grateful for The Book of Mormon, and I know that it is true.

19 August 2013

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” -Desmond Tutu

The most wonderful, most beautiful thing we have here on earth - secondary to the gospel - are the people that surround us. Whether it be friends, or family, or friends that become family, human relationships are central to the great plan of happiness. Today as I got the mail, this was waiting for me:


Now, there's not a whole lot of things I love more than handwritten letters, but this was a little box, with rose petals inside and a gift and a letter. Talk about making someone's Monday! 

People are so good. Their hearts are so good. Their spirits are so good. Their souls are so good. It's so common, and sadly so easy to focus on the people, who, well... let's say it takes consistent and significant effort to find the goodness in them, but (nails on a chalkboard) it's in there. It's in all of us. It's in each of us. We are all children of our Heavenly Father, and if They love each of us perfectly, it is our responsibility to strive to do the same. 

 I'm so grateful for the divine people around me. I'm humbled by their goodness and their kindness and their love. Each person I have encountered in my life, whatever our relationship was at one point or another, has morphed my spirit into what it now is. They have all taught me a lesson, and whether the lesson was good or bad, I am so grateful to them, because my spirit is more complete than it ever has been.

So, thank you to everyone in my life and for all of your sweet spirits. May we continually strive to become the person who sends boxes filled with rose petals and love, simply out of the goodness of our hearts.

17 August 2013

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts." -Oliver Wendell Holmes

At the beginning of 2009, after my Dad left his then-job at a law firm, he was given the opportunity to go to New Zealand and do legal work for the LDS church. Out of the twelve lawyers spread throughout the world, my dad was able to do legal work for the South Pacific islands. His regular "business trip" locations involved Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and Australia... just to name a few. Needless to say he had a pretty sweet set-up. 

My parents lived in New Zealand for about four years, and with my four visits combined, I was able to live there for about a year. There are days that are especially hard, because I miss it there more than I can put into words. The beauty, the people, the culture, and the experience is more than I could have dreamed of. I miss the accents. I miss the lingo. I miss the terms jandals, and nappis, and kindi. I miss hearing heaps at the end of every sentence. I miss the five minute walk to Lake Pupuke. I miss the ten minute walk to Takapuna Beach. I miss the Takapuna library down the street. Oh, how I miss that library! I miss my best friend Eva. I miss her sweet and perfect soul. I miss Sissy, the beautiful polynesian woman who became one of our dearest friends. I miss her faith. I miss the faith of the people. I miss seeing bare feet left and right. I miss the perfect weather, and the temperamental rain. I miss Auckland. I miss that often-took ride under the Auckland bridge. Heaven forbid, I even miss the weekly doctor visits! I miss the short walk to the grocery store when I needed a quick Tim-Tam. I miss the little island boy in nursery, who had the most beautiful long surfer-looking-shaggy hair. I miss the most scenic most beautiful two hour ride to the temple. I miss every last thing about New Zealand, and I will always consider New Zealand my home. 

There was one particular night, we were having dinner as a family and my dear friend Eva was with us, (she qualifies as our family). As everyone was eating, I had my sprite. I was so sick when I was there - (stress can do a number on you). I walked to the bathroom, and couldn't even keep my sprite down. I sat on the bathroom floor, which I had to do far too often, and I cried. Eva came in and wrapped her arms around me, and cried right along with me. We talked about the gospel. We talked about trial. We talked about strength. The spirit was with us; and it was so evident. I have never felt so much love. I think about that experience often, and when I look back I feel that summed up the past year pretty accurately. It was so hard, it was so difficult, but the love that surrounded me was truly tangible. The spirit I always felt and continually feel has lifted me, supported me, and saved me. The friendships put in my life have changed me. That miserable but cherished night on the bathroom floor is one of my most favorite memories, as totally strange as that sounds. I will forever be grateful for the Lord and His hand in my life. I will forever be grateful for the people who have changed my life, and Eva will always be that person for me. I will forever be grateful for my time spent in New Zealand. New Zealand is a large part of who I am, and remembering my experiences there - so often - keeps me going. 

I always tell people, that if Christ came down to earth and had to choose a place to reside, it would be in Takapuna, New Zealand. I am convinced that it is the closest thing we have to heaven here on earth. It is my heaven on earth, and it brought me closer to heaven than I ever thought I could have been.

10 August 2013

"All things work together for good to them that love God." -Romans 8:28


I've seen divorce do a lot of things to a lot of people. I've seen a lot of shaken testimonies, a lot of bitter hearts, and a lot of fragile souls. For some miraculous reason, my testimony in the last year has never wavered, but not because it's been easy, and definitely not because I understand what's happening. My questions aren't answered; my feelings of doubt not resolved. At the end of the day I make a conscious decision and personal choice to believe in this gospel. 

There are aspects of this gospel I don't understand, and so much of it runs deeper than my small mind knows how to go. However, the basic and most fundamental principles are ingrained in my heart, and when it comes to adversity, my ability to understand stems from this:

"I reckon that the sufferings 
of this present time are not worthy 
to be compared with the glory 
which shall be revealed in us." 
Romans 8:18

"For we are saved by hope: 
but hope that is seen is not hope: 
for what a man seeth, 
why doth he yet hope for? 
But if we hope for that we see not, 
then do we with patience wait for it." 
Romans 8:24-25

All I know is that it's going to be worth it. The injustices; the unfairness of it all. The wet pillows and the angry prayers. The broken hearts and the wounded souls. To the battered and bruised: we have beautiful things waiting for us, but more importantly there are beautiful things we need to become. Those who return to their Father and Savior have been prepared to live in that celestial glory. They didn't get a free pass. There are no VIP's there! There is a price to be paid, and the price at times is quite hefty, but no one is exempt. Would we really want to be? We ascend to the extent we descend, in other words, the happiness we feel can only be as great as the pain we suffer. This is the plan.

I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and Savior, Who all-knowingly give us the trials and heartache we need, to become the glorified beings we are meant to become. They won't give us any less, and how grateful I am! In my mortal and earthly eyes, I am nothing but a meek, inadequate soul, but the eternal possibilities I have are positively endless, and each trial I overcome righteously I get one step closer. I'm grateful for the pain, and heartache I have come to know so very well. In the development of that relationship, I have been introduced to My Redeemer, the Savior of the world. I know wholeheartedly the sufferings I experience now, cannot compare to the glory the Lord has prepared for me. This church is true. It is the foundation of life; it is the fundamental building block. There is nothing more real than the plan of happiness. It is there and it is waiting for us to embrace it. I love my Father in heaven with all of my heart, and oh how I love His only begotten Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

01 August 2013

Sometimes you turn the page, or throw the book away.


In the very back of my coat closet, hangs a beautiful lace wedding dress. In the bottom of my nightstand sits a wedding ring full of memories and dreams. Today, after hesitation and procrastination, I took that beautiful wedding dress out of it's bag, and I held that wedding ring for the last time. Memories of that one prominent day come flooding back. The first time I put on that ring feels like yesterday, and for a second it's hard to breathe. 

After those initial few seconds, a feeling of peace sweeps over me. Relief, even. Most of all strength. I, in my own right, am my own hero. I have some battle scars. There are still some wounds, but those wounds are healing.

Today, I said goodbye to the remainder of any memories of the hopes and dreams I once had, but no longer do. It's only noon and I have felt every emotion the human body can feel, but I'm still here. My heart is still beating. I'm still smiling. My spirit is still what it was.

Goodbyes signify beginnings - hello's - if you will. This isn't the beginning of a new chapter. This isn't just the flip of a page. It's a new book. As C. Joybell C. would say, "that first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas." She is right. This new book has just begun. I am on the first page. And it is a beautiful one.