For My Friends and Family:

I am not one to talk about my experiences with a lot of people. I am much better at writing them down. If you are close to me and have not heard of these struggles or stories, do not be offended. Many have not, and feel free to approach me about anything you have questions about.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oh, Little Currant Bush

Hello my friends!

In my last post (which you can read here, if you have the time, please read it, it will enhance the meaning of this post) my future was up in the air and I had begun to realize I needed to make a big change in my life.

Today, I want to share an incredible lesson I learned over the weekend concerning my journey towards making that change.  Sometimes I feel as if I write about the same things over and over on this blog. But, maybe it is because I have to continuously learn the same lessons over and over.

I have always known that Heavenly Father has a plan for me.  I have experienced His guidance and counsel in my life countless times. However, I sometimes still try to go my own direction and see if maybe it will work out.   It never does work out, and I always learn more about my Father's love and patience for me.

There is a wonderful talk that my sweet Trent Vaughn invited me to read a couple nights ago that opened up a while new way for me to view His plan for me and how I follow that plan. The talk, The Currant Bush,  is by Elder Hugh B. Brown and is recorded in the January 1973 New Era (read it here, please, it will change your life).

Elder Brown tells a story from many years ago, after he had purchased a run down farm.  As he set out to fix up the farm, Elder Brown came a crossed a very over grown currant bush, that had not been pruned for many years.  It was no longer producing fruit, and he knew it must be cut down in order to be able to start producing again.  So, he went to work.  He cut, chopped and worked that currant bush down to nothing but stubs for branches.  As he finished, Elder Brown saw what looked like a tear drop on each of those stubs and though he could here the bush cry out, "How could you do this to me?   I was making such wonderful growth.  I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down.  Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn't make what I should have made.  How could  you do this to me?  I thought you were the gardener here."  

To which Elder Brown replied, "Look, little currant bush, I am  the gardener here, and i know what I want you to be.  I didn't intend for you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree.  I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, 'Thank you, Mr.Gardener, for loving me about to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr.Gardener.'" 

He then goes on to recount a time when he was serving in the British Canadian Army and was hoping to be made a general.  He prepared with excitement  to meet with the man who would give him that honor. However, as he stood before that man, he was told that appointment could not be made, and he was to return home.  Elder Brown noticed the words, THIS MAN IS A MORMON, on his file, and knew that was the reason he had been denied the position he'd worked so hard to obtain.

He stated, "I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul.  And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, 'You are a failure.  You will be called a coward when you get home.'"  

He returned home bitter and angry with God.  He began to yell at Heavenly Father and demanded an answer as to why this had happened to him.  He heard his own words from many years ago, "I am the gardener here.  I know what I want you to do."   Elder Brown immediately fell to his knees and praised God for His goodness and love.

Just over two months ago, I decided I wanted to be a "fruit tree."  I thought it was a wonderful idea.  And despite my Father in Heaven prompting me not to, I started to grow out my branches and attempted become a fruit tree.   At first, it went well!! But soon, I stopped producing fruit.  And soon, I realized, I needed the Gardener to help me.  I needed to change.  I needed to be cut down. But, I didn't want to be cute down.  People would look down on me, I wanted to be a big fruit tree, I didn't want the pain of being cut down and I definitely didn't want to admit I had been wrong.

It took some time, but I finally turned to Heavenly Father. I told Him I knew I had to change, but that I was afraid.  He took me figuratively by the hand and told me it would be okay and we would walk through this journey together.
photo courtesy of

So, I handed Him those pruning shears and my trust. And prepared myself for the journey and struggle back to becoming a currant bush.   During my first two weeks of working at the credit union, Heavenly Father began removing branches.  The branches of pride and disobedience were the first to go.    I began looking for new jobs despite the feeling of stupidity (more branches of pride gone).  I was blessed with two job offers within days of each other.  I put in my two weeks notice, embarrassingly after having only been there for two weeks; one more pride branch painfully removed.  I talked with my family, friends and co workers about my decision; each conversation was another branch of pride removed painfully, replaced with faith and hope.  

Then there I was, crying, cut down, and hurting.  I was embarrassed about my disobedience.  I was scared to make a wrong decision again.  But, then Trent referred me to this talk, and the whole experience became clear!   The Lord has a plan for me.  He knows what He needs me to be.  I will let Him cut me down any day, so that I may be the fruit producing currant bush He intended me to become.

At the end of his talk, Elder Brown thanks the Lord for "loving him enough to hurt him." 

With all the strength of my soul, I declare that I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for loving me enough to hurt me.  For loving me enough to let me use my agency to make decisions. And most especially for His willingness to help me when I have made wrong decisions.

I know that no matter what we have tried to become, our Father in Heaven will always help us become what He created us to be.  When we ask Him for help and hand him those pruning shears, we can become thankful little currant bushes.  It may be painful, it will be hard but, I testify that it will always be worth it!  

Listen to Elder Brown tell this story  (here) in a beautiful video made by Jared Mahoney (he combined the original recording of Elder Brown and the images from the Mormon Message made with Elder Cristofferson's retelling of the story.)  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stubborn as a Mule

I have spent the last month trying to decide what to write about in this post.  I have started writing multiple posts only to experience writers block a few paragraphs in.

I have struggled tremendously about what I would like to share with you!  I have so many things I could write about, but each time something came to mind, it didn't feel right.

Today, I feel impressed to share with you a couple lessons I have just recently learned.  I pray it is what I need to share and that it will uplift at least one person who reads this!

From the time I graduated from High School, I have been very blessed with wonderful jobs! I have had the opportunity to hold multiple positions with companies who provide services and care for individuals with disabilities.  I love learning from these amazing people and have enjoyed my time spent with them.  However, about six months ago, I began to feel worn out.  I felt as if I needed a change.  But, I didn't want to think about that right away and so, I put it off.  I quickly became frustrated with my duties, hours and even the amazing individuals I was supporting.

I put off finding new employment until I knew my path concerning school in the coming years (as mentioned in an earlier post, the outcome didn't go according to my plans).    Once I learned that I would not be attending school for at least a year, I finally decided that it was time to seek out a change in employment.

One of the main struggles I had experienced with my job was the hours.  I would work really early some days, swings other days or both in the same day.  I felt as if I couldn't get a routine going and I struggle to accomplish much of anything without a solid routine to keep me in check.  So, I decided a job at a bank or credit union would be good for me.  I wanted holidays off, nine to five hours, no yelling or swearing, no diaper changing, etc.  I wanted to try something completely different, and I was excited!!

I began applying for jobs and quickly got a call to interview at Goldenwest Credit Union.  I was ecstatic!!  Trent can attest to how excited I was to have the opportunity to interview for and possibly get a new job.  However, as the interview drew closer, I felt anxious, very anxious.  I just pushed that anxiety aside, saying I was just nervous.  

I went and rocked the interview.  I left knowing deep down that I would get the job.  But, I didn't feel excited.  I felt...even more anxious.  I once again pushed that anxiety aside, saying I was nervous about not getting the job.

The next day, I was offered a full time position at the Roy branch and was told I would start in two weeks (perfectly giving me time to provide two weeks notice to my current employer).   I accepted, despite the anxious and now almost sick feeling I had.  I put on an excited face and told everyone the great news! I finally was free and would have my ideal job!

I however, did not feel at peace.  At this point I should have listened to that anxious feeling I have come to recognize as the spirit telling me a decision I am making is wrong.  I have had multiple experiences where the Lord has asked me to go a different direction through the still small voice of the spirit.  But, I wanted this job! I wanted a change.  I wanted better hours.  I wanted more money.  I wanted the easy path.  And everyone else was so excited! I didn't want them to think I was giving up something good just because I was nervous.  I didn't want to sacrifice something I wanted just because I felt anxious about it.

So, I put my wants and what others thought of me ahead what Heavenly Father thinks of me and wants for me.  I once again put on that happy face and began my last two weeks at my current employment.  Those two weeks were very bitter sweet for me.  I gained a perspective I had lost throughout the years.  I saw the individuals for who they are and was able to look passed all the little things that had started to drive me crazy.  My last day at the group home, I went home and cried like a kid, knowing I was leaving a huge part of my life behind.

But, I was leaving for a good reason, right?  I was doing what I wanted.  I was following my "dream".  So why did I feel so darn anxious and afraid?  I continued to tell myself it was because I was starting something new and didn't know what to expect.  But deep down I knew, that maybe the path I had chosen was not quite as easy I was hoping it would be.

I started the two week training for my new job and didn't hate it.  I was learning new things and had fantastic hours! I even got a holiday off! I was excited to be reaping the rewards of the bank job I had chosen.   I excelled in training and soon it was time to take the end of training test.  I was a wreck the night before the test!!  I was afraid not to pass the test.  I was afraid to pass the test.  I knew that passing this test would send me to the branch and I would begin actually being a teller.  I also knew that not passing this test would result in my termination from Goldenwest.  Then, why did part of me wish I didn't pass?

One week ago tomorrow, I went and passed that test.  I then began my new job as a teller.  The first day, I just observed, and decided that maybe this wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.  Maybe I really had just been nervous and now it would get better.  Tuesday came and I was the one being observed, it was hard but I survived.  I went to bed that night wondering if I had made a wise decision, but decided to give it a couple weeks and then decide if I'd been stupid or not.  By Wednesday, I was alone.  And I was sick with anxiety.  I went home for lunch (another reason I thought I'd love this job, I actually got a lunch break!) and just cried.  Trent came over and listened to me complain about how I hated my job and didn't want to go back.

I went to bed that night crying, aching and dreading the next day.  Morning came too quickly and I arose feeling weighed down and unprepared for another day of feeling lost and confused.  I went to work and hated it.  I didn't want to be there. I felt as if I was making no difference and that I was making countless mistakes.   I felt stupid, ashamed and awkward.  I went home crushed and relieved I had only one more day until the weekend.   I muddled my way through Friday and emerged certain that I had absolutely chosen the harder path.  I knew I should have listened to the prompting I had received.  I knew I had made a mistake. I just didn't know what to do about it.

All day yesterday, I hardly did anything.  I felt paralyzed by guilt and shame.  I felt as if I couldn't be happy. I was disappointed in myself. I felt as if Heavenly Father was disappointed as well.  I realized all along that I wasn't supposed to take this job. Heavenly Father had something else planned, but I had been too stubborn to listen.  I cared more about what everyone else thought of me.  I didn't want to look like someone who never finishes what she starts. I didn't want to be stuck in the same job.  I wanted routine.  And the list goes on and on.   The problem with this list is, it is full of "I's".  Where is the HE (God), where is the WE (Him and I together), where is the trust, the faith, the hope, the joy??

I had abandoned all of those things.  And for what?  A path that seemed easier?  A path that has really turned out to be wrong?  A path that is even harder and rockier than the one He had planned for me?

I was so ashamed!  (I still am actually)  I felt as if I shouldn't be allowed to be happy. I should be punished.  I should just stay there forever and live in the misery I had decided upon. I was depressed and lost.  I had hardly prayed all week because I was embarrassed.  (I didn't realize that until after, but now I do see I was distancing myself from God.)    I felt unworthy to be blessed or helped in this situation, because I had put myself into this problem, I needed to get myself out.

I was expressing these feelings to Trent last night and he stopped me.  He declared that what I was saying and feeling was false.  Satan had planted this guilt, this embarrassment and this shame in me. He doesn't want me to turn to Heavenly Father for help.  He wants me to figure it out on my own, because Satan knows that I never will be able to do that.  Satan knows that I am too weak to overcome this myself. He knows that I don't have the perspective to see what my options are.  He knows that if I separate myself from God, I will be lost and it will be so much easier for him (Satan) to pull me even farther away.

I know that we must face the consequences of our decisions.  I know that because I decided to disobey the promptings of the spirit, I am in this situation.  But I also do know that my Father in Heaven loves me no matter what!! He isn't going to abandon me because I made a bad decision.  He will ask me to face the consequences of those decisions, but He will stand  by my side and hold me up as I do so. My Savior knows exactly what I am feeling.  He knows how to help me overcome this. He knows what I need to do to fix this.

I just need to ask.  I need to give up my pride, my guilt, my shame, my embarrassment and my plans and turn my life over to Him.  I need to ask for help.  I need to ask for guidance. And I need to listen and follow when that guidance is given.

I haven't decided what to do yet.  But I do know one thing, no matter the decision I make, I will only follow the promptings of the spirit to confirm if it is a good one.  I will look to loved ones and priesthood leaders for advice but, in the end, the decision will be made between the Lord and myself.

When we put other things above God, we set ourselves up for failure.  No matter how alluring the job, party, movie, book, outfit, song, car, friendship, class, university or any other worldly distraction is, we will eventually realize our mistake. We will eventually come before God (whether it be in days, months, years or even in the next life) and realize that He is what really matters. His path is the correct path. He has a glorious plan for each of us. A plan that leads us to a future more beautiful and full of more joy than we could ever imagine.  We just have to trust Him and stop listening to the lies of Satan.

We are all His sheep, He will do whatever
 it takes to bring us back into His fold,
even when we feel we don't deserve it.
Picture courtesy of
There will be times in all of our lives when we realize we have been dumb in one way or another.  Whether it be that we have sinned, ignored promptings, put other things over God, been lazy or distanced ourselves from God, we will all have to swallow our pride and walk
back to Him.  We will have to apologize.  We will have to feel that pain.  We will struggle.  But, I promise, we will not be alone!

He will welcome us back with open arms!  He will wipe away our tears and rejoice in our return!! He will walk through the mud, the dark, the pain and the aching.  He will carry us when needed.  He will never give up on us.  

There is a wonderful talk that was given in the April 2013 General Conference by Elder Craig A. Cardon titled "The Savior Wants to Forgive" that has helped me realize that the Savior will love me not matter how dumb and stubborn I am. (you can read it here)    There are many quotes I would love to share with you from this talk but rather, I encourage you to read it and find what sticks out to you.

My favorite quote from this talk is...
"If we exercise faith in the lord Jesus Christ, the enabling power of His Atonement strengthens us in our moment of need, and His redeeming power sanctifies us as we "put off the natural man."  This brings hope to all, especially to those who feel that recurring human weakness is beyond the Savior's willingness to help and to save."  

I love this because I am continually making mistakes. I am always weak.  But, my Savior is always willing to help me! He died so that I can be saved! He will never throw me to the curb and decide I am not worth is. Because in His eyes, I am priceless, I am of eternal worth.

That knowledge gives me hope and courage to face whatever comes next.  Whether it be quitting a job I just barely started (and probably facing ridicule and embarrassment), staying in a job I dislike or taking a route I can not yet see.  Whatever it is, I will face the future with hope and happiness.  I know I will have good and bad days. I know it will not be easy.  But I know my Savior loves me and is proud of me.  He is ready to help me.  All I have to do is reach out and take hold of His loving hand and He will guide me to Eternal Happiness.

I testify that, through Christ, all will be well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mission Story, Part One

I've been having a really hard time deciding what to write about this week.  I have so many ideas but when I go to write them, the words won't come.  As I've thought and prayed over the last week I feel as if it is time for me to share a story that has shaped me into the person I am today.  I wish to share with you the journey I undertook a couple years ago, a journey that I had no idea I was even embarking or where it would land me.

The picture that went in with my
mission paperwork
In 2012, I decided I was going to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and that was that.  I'm the type of person who when I decide to do something, I go full steam ahead.  I began working on the paperwork as soon as possible and submitted my papers in June of 2012.  I then received my call to the Georgia Atlanta North Mission and would report to the MTC on...December 19, 2012.  I had six months before I reported! SIX MONTHS!! I was secretly really relieved when I found out I had six months to figure out what I really wanted.

You see, there was a fairly secret battle raging within me, I was no longer certain I needed to or even wanted to serve a mission.  I remember awaiting a feeling a peace and assurance that serving a mission was the correct path for me. However, when I opened that big white envelope, surrounded by family and friends, my heart didn't do anything.  It didn't stop.  It didn't skip. It didn't even sink.  I felt nothing.  Well, I did feel confusion!

I had started to feel a little doubtful about the wisdom of my decision to serve a full time a couple weeks before my call came (maybe deep deep down I knew months before that, but never wanted to acknowledge it).  Not only had I started kind of dating a cute guy, I had a deep feeling that although a good choice, it wasn't the right one.

I didn't understand though! Why wouldn't Heavenly Father let me do this great thing?! Why couldn't I just do what I wanted? I mean, serving a full time mission is a righteous desire right?  I spent many days, weeks and months wondering, praying, crying and fasting about this decision.

I told myself that if it worked out with the aforementioned cute guy, then I wouldn't serve a mission.  But, things weren't working in that arena either! What was I to do?

I became obsessed with what I needed to do.  I wanted Heavenly Father to TELL me what to do, serve a mission or try to make things work with the man I was falling in love with.  (I know, sounds dramatic right?)  I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think, I couldn't even function.  I felt lost and extremely forgotten.  I felt as if Heavenly Father was ignoring me and leaving me to make this decision alone and I was not happy about it.

Months passed and I wan't any closer to getting an answer from my Father in Heaven.  When one day, I learned something very profound from a wonderful man I work with.  For privacy's sake, I will call him John.  I work at group home for individuals with disabilities and have the opportunity to support amazing people in their ever day activities.  One day, I was helping John make his lunch and cottage cheese was on the menu.  I went to get the cottage cheese out of the fridge was frozen!  I calmly explained to John that we would need to wait for the cottage cheese to thaw,  just eat apple sauce or leave that portion out of the meal for that.  John wanted nothing to do with that option! He wanted cottage cheese, and nothing else could be an acceptable substitute.  To my surprise, he got upset and refused to eat lunch, despite having stated earlier how hungry he was.

To me, his reaction didn't make sense.  I thought the options I had given him were fair, but I had a different perspective.  I could see the big picture, but John could only focus on the fact that he couldn't have his cottage cheese right that very second.

This makes me think of Christ and how to He can see the big picture.  He can see that life will go on.  There are fair and sometimes even better options out there for us.  But, we get so stuck on our "cottage cheese" that we don't trust Him or our Heavenly Father's plan for us.
Picture courtesy of:

This is what I was doing during most of the six months it took me to make a decision.
I was demanding Heavenly Father to make the choice clear and not make me choose.  That was my cottage cheese, to be told what to do, so I wouldn't feel guilty about or regret my decision.  I wanted either to serve a missi
on or to be with this amazing guy.

It took me many months to really learn to trust Him and me to make a decision together.  I had to let go of the idea of being told what to do. I even had to let go of the idea of having two clear cut options. I had to learn that sometimes there are other options I can't see, that are even better than "cottage cheese"!  Heavenly Father has an all encompassing perspective of our lives, we have an extremely limited view of what our lives have in store for us. As we let go of our obsession over our own "cottage cheeses", we will learn to trust in the Lord and partake of His blessings we are hungering for.

*There are many lessons I learned on my journey towards deciding whether or not to serve a mission, this is just one of them, hence the title of this post containing part one.  Please continue reading for more stories about this time in my life and much more!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Finding Solace in Times of Anguish

I feel like it has been forever since I was able to post! I have be pondering what I would like to write about and I finally decided earlier today (after over a week!).

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the Hymn Number 129 "Where Can I Turn For Peace?".  This Hymn has one line that contains a questions I have asked many times..."Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace when other sources cease to make me whole?"

First off, what is solace?  The definition of solace (as defined by Google) is "comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness." I think we can all think of multiple times in our lives when we have earnestly searched for solace.  However, we often turn to sources that only bring temporary relief.

I have mentioned before that music is a huge driving force in my life.  The music I listen to dictates my mood and how I handle life's challenges.  Over the last couple years, I have truly come to appreciate the healing effects of sacred music.  The music I have decided to surround myself with has brought me lasting solace that has brought me through the hardest of times.

I want to point out that Christ is the source of all true solace. Only through the atonement and the support and love of Christ can we find eternal solace in times of trial.  The music I listen to and sing only brings me closer to Christ and thus, provides me with eternal solace.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been facing a waiting period in my life that has caused me to seek out solace.  One day in particular I was feeling weighed down by trials.  Not only was my patience being tried, my faith, hope and optimism were also being tried.  I have a few beloved family members who face major health issues on a daily basis.  I have never actually experienced close to the tribulations they have overcome but, I have faced watching them overcome those tribulations.  That comes along with a whole different set of experiences I wish to cover at a different time.

Picture courtesy of
It was one of those days when I sat in my car and just cried. I was spent. I felt I could no longer carry the burdens that had been place upon me.  I was ready to just quit, I didn't want to experience this any more. Then, I turned on my music and heard the song "Life and Death" by Paul Cardall.  I felt a peace and calm come over me instantly.  Each time I have listened to this song since, I have felt as if he wrote the song just for me.  The beginning is slow and feels sad, how I sometimes feel in the midst of struggles.  It then gradually builds to an outpouring of spirit and love.  I used to reach that point in the song and imagine my trial ending.  However, in that moment, I imagined me, there, still in pain, but uplifted through the love of Christ.

I realized that solace doesn't come at the end of the trial.  When the trial is over, we have no need for comfort.  It is in the midst of the darkest times that we need the light and consolation from Christ.  We can find joy and peace in times of great tribulation.  The pain is still there.  We still must grow and learn.  But, if we seek help and support in those times, we will be able to have joy.  Whether we seek that help through the scriptures, prayer, temple worship, service or music; we will find solace in the arms of our Savior and Brother, Jesus Christ.  Philippians 4:13 reads, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
He is our Solace, He is our Joy and He is our strength in times when we feel we have none left.  

Thank you for reading!!

Listen to more of Paul Cardall's music at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Unconditional Love

I've been out of town in Yellowstone for almost a week and have been anxiously awaiting an opportunity to post again! I am so excited to share just a couple thoughts with you today.

I have been pondering God's unconditional love for us.  He loves us no matter what.  He loves us when we sin, when we complain, when we're perfect and when we feel as if we fail.  He will never stop loving us, no matter what.  Satan will always try to convince us otherwise.  I advise you to ignore Satan completely and instead, turn to the word and promise of the Lord.

There is a wonderful talk from the October 2006 General Conference given by Anthony D. Perkins titled "The Great and Wonderful Love" that teaches incredible truths concerning the love of God and the lies of Satan.   There are many other things I could talk about from this talk but I want to focus on one paragraph that helps me on hard days.  It reads...

"God the Father is merciful and has infinite love for you despite your faults.  Only the voice of Satan will cause you to feel of no value."

Oftentimes we are our own worst critics.  We are not kind to ourselves.  I once had an Institute instructor, Brother Saunders, who taught me a very important thing to remember concerning how I treat myself.  He taught me never to say anything to or about myself that I wouldn't say to my friend or neighbor.  When I wake up in the morning and say "Melissa, you have three new zits, that takes away from your beauty", I am saying something I would never say to my neighbor.  Or, when I say, "you've put on some weight, you look terrible", I am insulting myself and cutting down my self worth.  These statements and many others come from Satan.  They are planted in our minds to make us feel of no value.  They are destroying thoughts.  They will ruin mine and your spirit.

Instead, love yourself as God loves you, UNCONDITIONALLY.  As Anthony D. Perkins said, God loves us, even with our faults.  He never gives up on us.  He will never cut us down.  So why do we keep doing it to ourselves?!

In the scriptures we are taught, "...the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)  We are of great worth, to God!! He is the creator of all things.  Yet he knows and loves us personally.  How do we know that yet still not like ourselves?

It could be due to the paradox President Uchtdorf addressed in the October 2011 General Conference in his talk titled "You Matter to Him."

He says "This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it."

I think we start to expect perfection from ourselves.  We want to be just as great as God wants us to become, now!  That's not how it works though.  This life is the time for us to learn how to be that wonderful, that Godly.  Heavenly Father knows we will fall short, that is why he provided the Atonement  for us.   He expects us to do the best we can, and He will help us with the rest.  He knows we can't do it all alone or perfectly.  He will HELP us! And we need to help ourselves by loving ourselves unconditionally just as He does.

I've experienced this debilitating cycle time and time again during my life.  One time that has stuck out to me recently was when I was called as a ward missionary.  I had participated in missionary efforts in my ward and began serving with enthusiasm.  I went on visits, talked to less active members and even gave some one a Book of Mormon.  But, somewhere along the way, I lost my enthusiasm.  I stopped serving to the best of my abilities.  I then became discouraged and ashamed.  I didn't want anyone to know that I'd failed.  I had been so excited to be a ward missionary.  I was given the chance to serve a "mission" at home instead of the full time mission I had recently decided not to serve.

Months passed and I would do visits sometimes.  I did what I could.  I taught Gospel Principles and had some amazing learning experiences there.  But, I still felt inadequate.  I would skip meetings because I was ashamed.  Then I would experience increased guilt because I didn't go.  No one said anything to me. Trent and my family assured me I was okay.  But, I could not shake the guilt I was feeling.  I even prayed about asking to be released.

I now realize the guilt I was experiencing came from Satan.  He wanted me to feel so wrapped up in shame that I lost sight of my purpose.  He succeeded for quite some time.  I still sometimes even struggle with the same guilt and shame.  But, Heavenly Father had a plan to let me know He loves me and appreciates my service, no matter how meager I felt it was.

I got a call from our ward secretary asking me if I could meet with our Bishop a week from then.  First off, a week?!?  I had to wait a week to find out why Bishop needed to meet with me, I thought I'd die!  Second, I was sure I was going to be chastised for being a terrible ward missionary and then abruptly released and never given another again.  I spent the next week worrying, crying and talking with Trent about how scared I was to meet with Bishop.

Then, the time came to meet with him.  I nervously entered his office, ready to be thrown out of my calling.  I was bursting with shame and guilt.  Then, the very opposite of what I expected happened.  He thanked me for my service as a ward missionary.  He then extended a calling as first counselor in the Relief Society Presidency.  I was stunned.  I was speechless.  I said thank you through the tears flowing down my face.  That is all that would come out.  My heart was too full and my shame too washed away to even think.  My patient Bishop carefully asked me if that was a yes and I assured him it most definitely was a yes.

I walked out of that office uplifted and full of God's love. I thought Heavenly Father would never trust me with another calling again.  Yet, He showed me he loved me despite my faults and He saw my efforts.  He appreciated what I had done.  And He was ready to bless me even more with this calling.  The shame was gone.  It was replaced with love from God and for God. And an excitement to serve.

This experience helped me realize that no matter what I do. No matter how bad I think I've failed, my Father in Heaven will always love me. He will always give me opportunities to progress and learn.  I am great in His sight.  And at this time, He taught me that I will be given second chances when I have righteous desires. I did not fail Him.  I learned a great lesson.  He loves me no matter what.  And He is teaching me to love myself.  

I chose this picture because I often feel shamed like the woman taken in adultery but, Christ did not judge her.  He loved her and forgave her sins.  Sometimes we are our own pharisees accusing ourselves of being terrible when Christ is there telling us we need not be perfect, we just need to be repenting and progressing.
*Picture courtesy of*

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Rivers of Sorrow...

I have yet another hymn to share with you today!! 
Many of you are probably familiar with this hymn, or about half of it I should say.  Many times, we only sing the first few verses of extra long hymns and miss out on the amazing second half! Such is the case with hymn number 85, How Firm a Foundation.  

My favorite Verse in this hymn is verse four.  Okay, really they are all my favorite, but I want to talk about the message that verse four contains.  It reads...

Picture courtesy of
4.When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

Where do I begin with this verse!? There will definitely be another post not only about this verse but the rest of the hymn.  

Today, I want to focus on the first two lines.  WHEN THROUGH THE DEEP WATERS I CALL THEE TO GO, THE RIVERS OF SORROW SHALL NOT THEE OVERFLOW.  This message has carried me through times of unspeakable sadness and confusion.  I have filled pages with these simple lines, repeating them until my heart no longer aches.  

The first time I heard these words I was singing in a choir for the Ogden LDS Institute of Religion.  I was struggling with significant challenges in my life and did not know where to turn or what to do. You know those times when your heart feel heavy constantly?  When you put on a happy face but really you just want to cry?  This was one of those times for me.  

I was facing a waiting period in my life that I did not want to experience.  I HATE waiting!! (My family and Trent can attest to this fact if you at all doubt how much I really do hate waiting.)  But, the Lord was determined to teach me to trust and have faith in His timing, not mine.  

A year and a half ago, I decided I was going to get married.  That was it, I'd found the man I loved and we would have a quick engagement and live happily ever after.  Little did I know, the Lord (and Trent) had a different plan for me.  I should have known, seeing as I've had experiences in the past that taught me the Lord always has a better plan.  But, I'm stubborn and learn really slow.  

Anyways, so I had decided we were going to get married right?  I started looking at rings, telling my friends and family and waiting for the chance to go...Ring shopping!!  The official start to a journey down the road to marriage.  And then, it didn't happen.  We didn't go! My plans went up in smoke...and I was devastated. I didn't understand why we would need to wait. Why it wasn't the right time. Or why my plans never could work out.  I was mad. I was grumpy. I was well...not engaged!! And I didn't like it.  (Just a side note, Trent and I have had many discussions about why we needed to wait and why it has worked out for the best, and I have permission to share these stories with you.)  

I had devised my plan to be married as quickly as possible. I would choose a month and say, we'll be married by then.  Then when that wouldn't happen, I'd choose a different month and decide to be married then.  This vicious cycle went on for over a year.  (I now realize that I can't make the decision, Trent and I need to decide together along with the Lord, and the right time will come when it does, a later post will cover that.)  
Trent and I a year and a half ago

During this year, I learned a lot about myself and my relationship with the Lord. I learned that I need to trust him more fully.  That to have faith and hope is to endure well and happily.  And I learned that I need to be happy with my circumstances now, and not choose some event or later date to allow myself to be happy.  

Most of all I learned that sometimes we must wade through a river that may seem too deep, too fast or too wide for use to possibly cross.  Sometimes we are not meant to cross that river quickly or even at all.  Sometimes we put ourselves in that river or sometimes someone else will put us in it.  Whatever the circumstances, it is easy to get swept away and feel lost.  I was in this river.  My river was one of sorrow and impatience.  I felt like I was drowning and losing everything I had hoped for.  People would ask why we weren't married and my heart would break.  Trent was constantly reassuring me it would work out.  Everyone said I was the patient one for waiting for him to be ready.  He really was the patient one, listening to me complain and doubt.  

And then, the words of the How Firm a Foundation came to my rescue right at the time I was in desperate need of them.  About three months into my cycle of planning, disappointment, anger and more planning, we began singing this hymn in choir.  The reassurance from my Savior these words brought to me saved me when I could have drown in a river of sorrow.  He provided these words for me at a critical turning point in my life.  I was on the verge of becoming bitter and angry.  I had waded into deep waters and needed help getting out.  

My Savior is the help I needed.  I had to turn to Him. Trust in His plan and know that He knows what's best for Trent and I.  I had to trust in Trent's feelings and promptings and listen to the promptings I was receiving. They both helped me so the rivers of sorrow did not pull me down.  

Sometimes I still get caught up in that river.  I feel as if I am reaching the other side now, but am still not there.  I am still being tried and tested.  I am still waiting (I hate it a little less than I did 18 months ago, slightly..).  But, I can wait with a smile!  I still have my good and bad days.  I have times when I still feel like I'm going to be overcome by this river.  In those times I can turn to these words and remember that no matter what, THIS RIVER OF SORROW WILL NOT ME (OR YOU) OVERFLOW!!  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

One Step Enough For Me

There are hundreds of stories and topics I want to share! It is so hard to pick just one...
But, there has been something on my mind lately and I think this is where I'll start.

A couple years ago I discovered this gem of a hymn during a huge trial in my life; when I was trying to decide whether or not to serve a mission.  Today I don't have time to talk about that particular experience, I promise I will soon though.

(All of the hymns I reference will come out of the LDS Hymn Book)

Picture courtesy of
Hymn 97 Lead Kindly Light

1. Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom; Lead thou me on!
The night is dark and I am far form home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene--
One step enough for me.

2. I was not ever thus, not prayed that though shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path but now, Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears.
Pride ruled my will.
Remember not past years.

3. So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still will lead me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent till the night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since and lost a while.

I have turned to these words countless times since then, and they have helped me keep an eternal perspective every time. See, Heavenly Father has a plan for me. He has a plan for you.  Sometimes we can't see the path He needs us to walk.  Sometimes we (I) lose faith and don't trust that his path is better than the one I think is best.  However, this thinking is flawed.  This thinking leads to days months and even years of fear, tears and confusion.

In order to eliminate that fear and confusion I have had to learn to trust in the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (King James Version) reads; "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths for good."  
This is one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp and apply.

I have been going to college for four years now.  I have changed my major 3 times and have even transferred to a different school to apply for the program I felt prompted to apply for. I thought I had finally found my path.  I thought the decision making in that arena of my life was over.  Little did I know (OK, looking back I did kind of have a feeling) that I wouldn't be accepted to that program.

Five days ago my plans for the next two (and basically all working) years of my life were shattered.  I found out I was not accepted to the program.  I can reapply in a year.  A YEAR!!!  I know that isn't too long. But my master plan is now all thrown off! I was looking forward to being done with school, soon.  And for a minute (or couple days, sadly) I was mad.  I was embarrassed. I was crushed.  But I still felt oddly at peace.  I felt the reassurance that everything would be alright, that it would all work out.  I was still devastated, but I knew, this too would pass.

I still don't know what path I am going to take.  I don't know if I need to apply again next year.  Or if I should go back to school for something else.  Or, if I should do something completely out of my comfort zone, stop school all together.   My path is not yet clear to me.  I do not know where I am going or what I am doing.  Sometimes, that thought overwhelms me and threatens to send me into darkness.  But then I remember... ONE STEP IS ENOUGH FOR ME.  I don't need to see my whole path.  I don't even need to see my next step.  I just need to trust in my Lord and now that he will "direct my paths for good."  He will not let me fail.  He will not forsake me.  He will always be with me. He knows what I need to do.  He knows what He needs me to do!! :)  He will not tell me what to do. But He will support me as I make decisions and help me feel at peace as I make the correct choices.

And that is enough for me.  One day at a time. One hour at a time.  I will trust in my Lord and know that His light will lead me along. That is an ironic eternal perspective isn't it?  Eternal in the sense that I am trusting in an all knowing and loving God and yet limited in the sense that I can not see.

I know all will be well.