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Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Thanksgiving is the Hardest Holiday for Me

On Monday, Jordan and I went to our institute class.  Institute is an LDS school of religion.  We can choose classes about things like certain books of scriptures, church history, or parables of Christ.  Our class that we've been taking is about the history of our church, and it has been really good.  The teacher is an amazing historian and has so many great stories and insights that make the class absolutely fantastic.  The lesson on Monday was about some of the struggles and hard things that the early LDS people had to go through, which was a little odd to teach right before a holiday where we are thankful for our blessings.  He challenged us to spend some time this weekend to be alone and say a prayer of gratitude.

Today, I was trying to do just that.  This time of year is probably my least favorite part.  Three years ago, my friend died in a car accident.  Two years ago, my wonderful grandma was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  Both things happened just days after Thanksgiving.  So on this holiday when I am encouraged to be happy and grateful for what I have, I am reminded of loved ones I have lost.  Those memories come back with full force, and though I try to think about other things, I can't avoid wishing that they could be here.  

I know I already posted about being grateful for hard things, but I really felt like I needed to say this today.  Though Thanksgiving is hard for me, it is also beautiful because for a couple days I remember and think about all the people I have loved who have passed away.  I remember who they were, and what made them unique.  I remember the ways they shaped me into who I am today.  And I remember that although there is heartache, it will not last.  Because of Christ, they will live again.  I have felt His love and their love too many times to doubt that fact.

So, I choose to be happy, despite the pain.  I choose to have faith in my Heavenly Father's plan, even if I can't see the end right now.  I choose to cherish the memories that I have, because they encourage me to be a better person.  I want to be like the early pioneers of my faith, and hold strong no matter how hard it may seem.  This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for love, and family, and Christ.  I am grateful for the people who have loved me and helped me grow.  If you have ever made me smile or laugh, you are on that list.  I am grateful for for my health. I am grateful for my wonderful, amazing husband and for his example to me.  And I am grateful for my angels. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Illinois

When I was in 5th through the first part of 7th grade, I lived in Illinois.  It's been eight years this week since I moved back to Utah, and Illinois has been on my mind a lot lately.  This post is for my friends in Illinois.  I want you to know who I am now, and I want to know where you are now.  I've been thinking a lot about what I would have done differently if I could have another shot at living in Illinois, and the only thing that I can think of is that I wish I had talked about my church more.  Let me explain.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  A nickname for members of my church is Mormons, which is easier to remember and more commonly used.  And now I have a confession for you.  Part of our church history is that after the church was organized, the members moved to Nauvoo, Illinois to avoid mobs that were trying to kill them all.  They eventually had to leave Illinois because of the threats from the mobs, and came to Utah where they settled down.  When I first moved to Illinois, I was afraid that I would be treated much the same way, so I didn't talk about my religion very much.  I shouldn't have been afraid, but in my child's mind, I decided to just not talk about it much.  My biggest regret is that I didn't talk about it.  Remember how I avoided boys and boyfriends like the plague?  The prophets have taught that we should avoid steady dating or boyfriend/girlfriend relationships until we are old enough to start looking for a spouse.  This is why I never told you who I had a crush on.  And believe me, I had plenty of crushes while I was out there.  Ha!  I should have just told you, but I was afraid of mobs.  Kinda silly, huh?

I am deeply religious.  Next to my family, my religion is the most important part of my life.  If I didn't have my church, I would not be the person that I am today.  Some of the key doctrines that I believe is that God is our Heavenly Father, His Son is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost testifies of them.  I believe that God speaks through prophets and apostles, and that His church has been restored on the Earth today through Joseph Smith.  God's prophet today is Thomas S. Monson.

I believe that families can be sealed together forever in temples.  Families are why we come to earth, and God has devised a way for us to be with the ones we love for eternity.

I believe that God hears prayers, and that He answers them.  We are His children, and He wants us to talk to Him.  I promise that if you pray and ask Him how He feels about you, He will answer your prayer.  I can guarantee that you will be surprised at how deeply He loves you.  I know that I am always surprised when I ask.

I believe that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read, and I know that it is true.

After family and religion, learning is a big part of my life.  I'm studying horticulture in college right now.  I'm not sure where I'm going to go from here, but I love learning.  When I am done with college, I'm gonna keep learning as much as I can.

I love music!!! While I was in high school, I played violin and saxophone.  That's another story in and of itself.

I love my husband.  He's kind of amazing, and I am definitely the most lucky girl in the world.  We've been married for four months, but some days it feels like it's been years, and other days it feels like it can't have been more than a week or two.  Some day, I hope that you can meet him.  I've told him all about you guys, so it's only fair, right?

This is just a brief list of the things that are important to me.  So much has happened since I moved back to Utah, and I want to tell you everything.  That'd take a while, though.  Could you do me a favor?  Send me a message with a question, and I'll answer it here.  And please, tell me about your life!  Are you working, are you going to school, are you married?  Dating?  What is your religion?  I'm sorry that I haven't kept in contact with you as much as I wanted to, but I hope that maybe this will make it up to you some how.

Before I say goodbye for now, I want you to know just how much I love you.  When I first moved to Illinois, I was afraid of not fitting in.  But you loved me and accepted me in a way that I had never been accepted before, and only a handful of times since.  Your friendship changed my life in a very real way.  Thank you for loving me, and for being you.  I love you all!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gratitude

I read a scripture in the Book of Mormon that says, “… being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.” (Mosiah 26:39). 
God wants us to pray.  I've been thinking a lot about that for a while, and will post something about it soon.  Right now, I kind of wanted to talk about the second part of that line. 
I’ve always understood that it’s important to show gratitude for blessings and to say thank you when someone does something kind.  But this scripture says to “give thanks in all things.”  Not “give thanks in things that make you happy” or “give thanks for beautiful, lovely, wonderful, hmm-that-smells-good things”.  Give thanks in ALL things.  That does include good, wonderful, hmm-that-smells-good things, but it also includes the bad, hard, cold, lonely times, too. This has made me think a lot about my attitude towards trials.  We all have things that push us to our limits, but I’ve never thought about giving thanks for those times.  I just want them to end.  However, I believe that there is something important in this concept, of being grateful for everything.  I’ve been trying to implement this in my life, and it’s not a natural reaction, let me tell you! It takes a LOT of effort to be grateful for something that hurts, more than I would have ever guessed.  But I think that this is worth a shot, because this process can change us to become people more like our God.  That’s why He gives us commandments.  They are His path to become like Him.  I challenge you to resist the urge to complain when something unpleasant comes up, and instead say a prayer of gratitude that God has a plan for each of us and He lets things happen that help us grow.