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.