27 March 2014

I miss you, Grandpa.

Two years ago today, my grandpa Christensen passed away. As my dad said to me last night, sometimes that day feels like forever ago, and sometimes it feels like yesterday. 

My grandpa passed away a few months before my divorce process began. I can't express how many times I wish I could have talked to him about all of it... or how many times I wish I could have seen that perfect, untainted look of love in his eyes... that look I so often see in my dad's eyes. As Elder Holland said to our family, one of the last days my grandpa spent in the hospital, "I always wanted to be like Harold Christensen." If that doesn't convey what kind of man my grandpa was, I don't know what else could.

I believe in angels. I know that Heavenly Father allows loved ones on the other side of the veil to watch over us, protect us, and guide us. There has been one specific spirit I have felt with me more than any other the past two years - and that is my Grandpa. He has loved me through the hardest times, and I have felt that love so specifically. There are times in the temple that he truly is so close, and it is a feeling that is absolutely irreplaceable... inexplainable. A feeling I will forever be grateful that I have experienced.

I am so thankful for the gospel and the plan of salvation. I am so thankful to know, that if I live worthily, if I live a quarter of the life my grandpa lived, I will see him again and be with him forever. I miss you terribly grandpa, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for holding my hand each and every day these past two years. I love you so much, and I am so grateful for the life and legacy you left us. 

I am honored to be your granddaughter, 
and I am so proud to call you grandpa.

25 March 2014

Mormon Women & The Priesthood

My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways My ways -Isaiah 55:8

"...with time and eternal perspective we will see things 
“as they really are...” 
 -Elder Andersen

It has taken me a while to put together this post, mostly because I wanted to sit on it and really take time to understand and consider each point of view. I have nothing new to add to the already well-written posts on Mormon women and the priesthood, but I thought I would share my thoughts anyway.

I've spent a significant amount of time on Ordain Women's website. I have read through comments and I have read things elsewhere from women who believe Mormon women of the church should be ordained, and in all fairness these women make some very valid points. I have tried to creep into their minds as much as possible, and I feel that for the most part I can understand their thinking. In so doing what I have come to decide is this: people in the church are very different. Members of the church are still members of the church, even when their opinions differ. People in the church, who have different ideas are not automatically dubbed evil. My conclusion: we are all children of God and we are all figuring out this mortality thing together. 

Now, with that all of that being said, I am perfectly satisfied with the church and its doctrines. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is precisely that: the church of Jesus Christ. If doctrines change, or if delegated priesthood authority will change: Jesus Christ will be The One to do so, and He will give the leaders of this church revelation in His time and in His own way. 

The fact is this: women at this point in time do not hold the priesthood. The fact is this: the church is still true. The fact is this: a group of women will not be notified before President Thomas S. Monson if fundamental doctrines change. The fact is this: the efforts being made to "equalize" members in the church by ordaining women with the priesthood is in actuality dividing members in the church. How can that be right?

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and I know it is being run on earth by men called and chosen of God. I know that if changes are made in the church, the prophet of our church will be the one to convey to us those changes. I know that women are inherently special, and I know that women who want the priesthood are equally inherently special, and can offer just as much to this church as any man, even without that same specific authority. I know the church and its doctrines don't always make sense, and yet I know that God is at the head of it, guiding us every step of the way. I also know that all that is good comes from God, and contention, dividing, rallying and protesting is not good, and it is certainly not what Jesus Christ wants for His church. I know our Father in heaven and our Savior love us infinitely and perfectly, regardless of what we believe and our differing opinions.  I know that we are each commanded to love others the same way. May we be humble enough to do so, and remain perfectly faithful even when we can't clearly see.

18 March 2014

“From the moment I decide you are a friend, it does not matter how long I have known you, because I make a commitment right then and there... To be there for you when you need me. That is the way I live my life, and that fact will never change.” -Aaron Usery

In high school, I remember my parents feeling slightly sorry for themselves when my sister and I would pick our friends over them. I remember them telling us on Friday nights, friends come and go but family is forever! Chances are I laughed as I walked out the door. 

I can now say that they were right. Not all friends come and go. There are some friends that remain as true and as blue as family members themselves, but those friendships are a rarity.

There is nothing sweeter in this world than genuine and loyal friendship. There is nothing sweeter than finding a friend you feel safe with, secure with, and at home with. These people bring a specific beauty to life that nobody else can. These friendships bring a specific meaning to life, that we can't find any other way.

I have been blessed with irreplaceable friendships in my life. I have found some of these friendships through jobs, and through wards. I have found many through this blog, and I have found some simply by the hand of God and His intervening. There are some people I have had to let go of along the way... I believe some people are meant to serve a purpose in our lives only for a brief amount of time, and sometimes their only purpose is to try us, weaken or strengthen us, and test our class and character. We should be just as grateful for these people and their purpose, as we are for the others; without them we wouldn't know where true friendships lie.

Hold those true friendships close - grab on and don't let go. Thank your Father in heaven for those people who bring that specific goodness into your life, and above all be the kind of friend that brings that same magic into the lives of those around you. Be a true friend. Extend your loyalty as extensively as you do your love. And to each and all of you who have loved me continuously, supported me, and been a faithful friend: thank you. I thank you each from the bottom of my heart. You will never know how much you mean to me.

 I talked to these guys on the phone yesterday.
You can watch/listen to it here:

As I mentioned a few posts prior I have joined with some wonderful women and we have created Mormon Women Stand. I will be running their Instagram page, which can be found here: mormonwomenstand. Come join with us!

15 March 2014

Dating After Divorce

* One of my most favorite talks 
by one of my most favorite people *

Dating after divorce is quite possibly one of the scariest things I've ever done. It absolutely boggles my mind how people dive in so quickly after such a traumatizing experience. July of this year will mark two years since my ex-husband left, and I am just barely getting back into the swing of things; and by getting back into the swing of things, I mean I'm not hyperventilating before group activities and I no longer need a priesthood blessing before every date. So, for me, getting back into the swing of things basically means not being hospitalized for making small and simple decisions. I'm a champ - I know.

It's not just that it's hard to trust men--but it's hard to trust my decisions, my feelings, and my judgment. My One Saving Grace? I trust my Heavenly Father and I trust my Savior with all of my heart. I know that if I live worthily, Their hand will guide me through these detours in my life.

Last week at the temple I had a very sweet experience. As I was wracking my brain and scaring myself to death with all of life's and love's potentially disastrous outcomes, the most precious wave of peace swept over me. Everyone feels the Spirit and receives its promptings in different ways. The Spirit communicates with me, often times, by feelings of peace. Why? Because peace is not my most constant companion, and my Father in heaven knows that when I actually feel at peace; truly and entirely feel at peace, I will most definitely recognize it. Uncluttered peace and an absence of chaos is not a normal feeling I have, and I feel it when I am in good places, when I'm doing good things, and when the path I'm on is safe and secure. I have to remind myself that I'm worthy to receive promptings - and yes, even blessings. I have to remind myself that I am smart enough--and I know much more clearly what questions to ask this time around. I have to remind myself that everyone has their free agency - and just because someone used theirs in an unexpected way, it doesn't make my free agency defective. My decisions aren't wrong from here on out because of what someone once did with their free will. Does that make sense? Fortunately, I have a Father in heaven Who, occasionally, allows me to see things clearly. Gratefully, I have a Father in heaven Who loves me too much to see me down the wrong path - again - without at least notifying me - (I hope?!) Thankfully, I have a Father in heaven Who replaces my fear with faith when I earnestly seek for it and ask for it. How do people get through this mortality nonsense without the gospel? I just don't get it.

I don't know a lot of things. I hardly know anything. But I know God knows everything. I know He knows all. And I know as I diligently seek Him, His presence will unavoidably find me. I love this gospel with all of my heart, and I love my all-knowing Father in heaven, Who has blessed me with trials that have tested my faith and patience like you wouldn't believe! And why? Because the faith I now have is pretty incredible. It is founded solely in this gospel. And it is entirely dependent on my Heavenly Father and His Son.

How amazing is that?
How amazing are They?
How beautiful is Their plan? 

Seriously though.

It simply takes my breath away.

14 March 2014

"Everything I hold dear and precious in my heart, I can trace to my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Elder Robert Backman

& post a photo of your own hand-written “I pray when…” 
statement on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag 

On another note, last week I received an email from Kathryn Skaggs,
who asked me and some others to join with her
in creating a Facebook page titled Mormon Women Stand.
Our intent is simply this:

Within nearly two days over 2,000 women have joined with us!
As women, it is time we publicly gather together to fully 
sustain our church leaders, honor the priesthood, 
honor the role the priesthood is intended to play,
and embrace our calling as being women of God!

I am humbled to be in contact and surrounded by such inspiring women who embrace our church and embrace the way it was designed. Take a sister by the hand, and come join with us.

10 March 2014

"A testimony is not that which you say at the pulpit, but a testimony is that which you become." -Edson De Marques

Until now, I haven't understood what it takes to develop and maintain a testimony. I assumed that if I lived righteously and did good things, it would simply fall into my lap. If I did what was right, the Lord would bless me with faith, belief, and trust in Him and His plan. Right? Wrong.

The year I graduated from high school was hard. My rebellious streak came into full bloom when my parents moved away to New Zealand. I wasn't attending church, and I made a lot of wrong decisions. Apathy became my partner in crime, and I didn't feel a whole lot... for anything or anyone. My conscience took an unprecedented vacation, and I somehow convinced myself that what I currently had in life (which was nothing) was really all that life had to offer. Family prayers, and family scripture study was just something my family did. Tradition, perhaps. Going to church was just something we would do. In those 17 years of my life I had "done" the right things, but I didn't know why. 

There was one dark night in particular, a night where I remember feeling I couldn't sink any lower than I had. I hit rock-bottom. My life, and my salvation, were dependent on the decisions I needed to make. With the love of my always-active family, and with the unfailing love of my Father in heaven and His Son, I wanted to change. I came to my Father in heaven, and I told Him of the pain I was in. I told Him of the hopeless and miserable existence I was living. There was nowhere to go but up and for the first time in my life, I caught glimpses of the power of the Atonement. Through my repentance, and through my desire to change, my heart literally changed... my very being changed. It was hard. It was so hard to get where I knew I needed to be. Except this time I had the love and support of my Heavenly Father and Savior. They were fighting with me. They were fighting for me. And Their love sustained me when I never, ever deserved it. For that, I owe Them everything.

It was a long process, and it was a constant process. It took consistent effort on my part, daily, consistent effort, and slowly, The Lord's grace changed who I was and how I was living, and for the first time in my life I believed in something. I believed that there was more to life than what I had been living. I knew I had a Father in heaven who loved me so much, despite my failings. I knew His love for me would never waver. I knew that His Son, Jesus Christ, atoned for me. I knew that He had experienced every dark and miserable night I had lived. I knew that He gave His life, quite literally, so I could find mine. And for the first time, I found love in the right place. I found my purpose in life. I found my Maker. 

As I was getting out of this dark place, I met someone, and I saw this someone for who they could be. I was now worthy to enter the Lords house. I was now worthy of His blessings and promises. And I thought I was strong enough to make a decision as significant as marriage. Looking back, I now see I had not yet fully accepted just how much I was worth. I knew I had been forgiven, I had felt the Lords forgiveness very specifically, but I still wasn't yet where I needed to be, where I could have been and should have been when someone is making a decision as significant as eternity.

There was more than a seed of faith on my part. I had made so much progress, so much improvement. But those glimpses I caught of the Atonement? They were still that: glimpses. I had not fully learned and appreciated exactly what the Atonement can do.

I "did things the right way." I was married in the temple, held a church calling, paid my tithing, and lived the commandments, but I wasn't progressing. I was once again existing, righteously, but merely existing. 

My divorce hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one ton after another. Crushing me, at times, quite literally killing me. But - this time - I knew how to overcome it. I knew Who I needed to turn to so I could overcome my trials. The second my ex-husband was out the door, my knees hit the floor. Day in and day out, at all hours and in all places, I was entirely and completely dependent on my Heavenly Father and Savior. They were my Saving Grace. They were all I had - but I finally knew They were all I needed.

It's a lot to go through by the age of twenty two. I feel like I've grown ten years in the past two! But looking back, my heart is filled to the brim with peace and gratitude. My testimony is my most treasured possession. It is something I have fought for, and will continue to fight for. It is the one thing that I hold closest to my heart. It is absolutely everything to me, and I will protect it in every way I can, for the rest of forever.

I'm still learning, I'm still growing. I will be today, and tomorrow and thirty years from now. The hard times will come and the hard times will go, but I know now what I never knew then. I know entirely that this gospel is true and that my Father in heaven and Savior love me so much. I know that Their love is unyielding and infinite, and I know it will always be there. I know They are with me. I know They are guiding me, and I know Their hand is so completely involved in my life. It takes a lot of effort. It takes an hour of scripture study every day. It takes prayer, constantly, all throughout the day. It takes a temple trip every week - without fail. It takes consistent worthiness and recommitment. It takes the sacrament every week and it takes obeying each and every commandment in its entirety. But I now know what it takes.

I love my Father in heaven and I love His Son, my Redeemer. I don't understand Their will for me at times, but now and forever Their will is MY will. No matter how hard it is. No matter how unwanted or confusing. All I want is what They want for me, and FROM me. I have quite literally given my life back to my Heavenly Father and said, tell me what to do, I am in Your hands. I know now who I am because I know Whose I am and Where I came from, and I will do whatever I need to do, every day for forever, to remember the things I know and to feel the way I have felt. I found my life by losing it; by returning what was never mine to the Lord. Their will is finally my will, my life is in Their Hands, and there is no safer place for it to be. They hold me so close, and in return, I promise to always and forever love Them with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength.

And every day for the rest of forever,
I will make that choice.

They will always be my choice.

07 March 2014

Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

"I believe that in our own individual ways, 
God takes us to the grove or the mountain 
or the temple and there shows us the 
wonder of what his plan is for us. 
We may not see it as fully as Moses or 
Nephi or the brother of Jared did, 
but we see as much as we need to see 
in order to know the Lord’s will for us 
and to know that he loves us 
beyond mortal comprehension."

I, too, along with Elder Holland, believe God allows us to see glimpses of what lies ahead of us - if we remain worthy. I too, believe those glimpses of light reflect nothing but His infinite love for us. I am forever grateful for this gospel, for my Father in heaven and His Son, and for the precious gift of the Holy Ghost that knows just what I need exactly when I need it. This church is true. With every last part of who I am I know that this gospel is true. It has saved my life, time and time again. It is my heart and soul. It is my everything.

05 March 2014

A drop of ink may make a million think. -George Gordon Byron

As most everyone knows, one of my very favorite things in life are words. I love reading them, I love writing them, and I love looking at them. I love watching the way they change and the meaning I find in each change they make. I own quote books by the dozen, whether it be The Quotable Lewis or Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book. I have The Book of Positive Quotations that has been read hundreds of times, and marked and colored to the point of no return. 

Words bring color and magic into our lives. They place peace in our hearts and understanding to our minds in a way that nothing else can. Just like anything else in the world, they can be forgotten, and we need to be reminded of them often. 

One day when I have a home, words will be on display every which way you look. My walls will most definitely be lined with books and most likely something just like this.

Tom Stoppard says, 
"I don't think writers are sacred, 
but words are. They deserve respect.
 If you get the right ones in the right order, 
you can nudge the world a little...” 

To Tom Stoppard:
Consider my world nudged.

02 March 2014

Are you a true believer in Christ?

"True believers are settled 
in their views of Christ. 
Despite their weaknesses, their spirituality is 
centered on the Savior, so their views of everything 
else are put in that precious perspective. 

True believers gladly perform 
their duties in the kingdom...

True believers are humble...

True believers are willing
 to do what Christ wants.
... Are we willing to let the Lord lead us into 
further developmental experiences? Or do we shrink back? 
The things which enlarge the soul inevitably involve stretching.

True believers pray...

True believers have both right conduct 
and right reasons for that conduct. 
They are so secure in their relationship with 
the Lord that their goodness would 
continue even if nobody was watching...

True believers rejoice 
in the success of others... 
They don't regard colleagues as competitors. 

True believers remember that 
forgetting is part of forgiving...

True believers are happy."
-Elder Neal A. Maxwell