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.