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Life’s Greatest Lessons

5 months ago on a beautiful, hot, summer day, I was extremely happy to find a positive sign on a pregnancy test that I had just taken. I couldn’t even believe my eyes! It was a miracle! It was my miracle!! I had to take a second test to verify the special news. Later that evening, I surprised my husband and let him know about the little peanut growing inside me. His reaction was PRICELESS! He was so happy to find out that he was going to be a daddy! I was equally as happy. That day has changed our life forever.

Fast forward to a month ago. We decided to find out the gender of our sweet little baby so that we could talk to it often and think about the future we would want to help give it. We had a friend fill balloons with paint and we had to pop the balloons to find out the gender! After several tries, we finally popped the right balloon as purple paint spewed everywhere. Again, our joy was immeasurable! Heavenly Father was blessing us with a beautiful baby girl- the miracle that our little family needed right now!

As we have been preparing for parenthood, Isaac and I have talked a lot about what we want to teach our baby girl. We want to teach her how to speak and read fluently in two different languages. We want to teach her to love reading and learning. We want her to find hobbies that she is passionate about. We want to teach her to be emotionally independent and how to manage her emotions. We want to help her be as successful as she can be. We want to teach her to be faithful and to love and serve others. We want to help her be outgoing and uplifting. This list goes on and on.

I am sure that all parents go through this- thinking about the future of their little peanut and wanting and wishing for the best life possible for their little one.

Out of all of the many things that we can and will teach our precious baby girl, I think it really comes down to 2 main things- the most important things.

  1. She is a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves her more than anything. His love is unconditional and he is always there for her.

I think one of the reasons that this is SO important is because our IDENTITY is so critical for our success in life. “The greatest search of our time is the search for personal identity and for human dignity” (Howard Hunter). Sometimes the search for personal identity is a life long pursuit. However, it is a critical one because it gives us a purpose. It shapes the foundation of our life and everything we do.

I want my daughter to know her identity as our daughter, of course. But more importantly, as a daughter of God. She is in fact His daughter and has been way longer than she will be mine or my husband’s. I am so happy and blessed that I get to be her mother and claim her for this short period of time that we call life. I’ll forever be grateful that my Heavenly Father trusted me enough to watch over and protect his precious little one. But if I am truly to help her be successful and help her build the sturdiest, strongest foundation for her life, I HAVE to teach her who she is. I HAVE to help her understand her identity.

She is God’s Beautiful Daughter.

That knowledge and identity will carry her so far in life. If she knows that she is His, she will always walk through life trusting in Him. She will love and cherish the relationship that she has with others, because she will cherish her relationship with Him. She will seek to spread happiness and joy, because she will find that through Him. I couldn’t give her a better gift than by giving her the gift of knowing, truly knowing, who she is.

2. Jesus Christ is her Savior.

I recently read through all of the titles and names that Jesus Christ is given in all the forms of scripture. There are over 50 something names for this one man. They vary from savior to wonderful, to lamb of God. They range from carpenter to mediator, to wisdom. Each name is specific to a role that he plays in each of our lives. I asked friends on social media to share with me who he is for them. They replied with love, savior, friend, redeemer, brother, example, rock, and strength.

I then began to ponder the question “Who is Jesus Christ to me?” and “Why do I want my daughter to know who He is?”

Jesus Christ to me is love. He is Hope when my world is crashing down around me. He is Peace when I feel nothing but fear or doubt. He is Strength when I am weak. He is my Joy! He is my deliverer when I am stuck and alone. He is Forgiveness when I fail to always follow him. He is my brother and my best friend. He literally saves me every single day. I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t know my Savior.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she is NEVER alone. I want her to grow up knowing that she can always turn to Him for peace, love, hope, strength, deliverance, and healing. She will be able to find some of these qualities in my husband and I. However, she’s going to be independent and on her own someday. She won’t always have us by her side. But she WILL always have Him by her side. That knowledge is life changing. I want knowing more than for her to believe in Him, know Him and love Him.

Worship at the Master’s Feet

One of the main ways that children learn is by looking at the example of their parents. You can tell them anything you want to, but they will mostly learn by looking at your actions rather than listening to your words. I have been thinking a lot about what I want to teach my little baby girl and I know that I have to LIVE what I want her to learn.

These two most important life lessons are life-long lessons on a roller coaster ride. There are moments when I know and feel 100% that I am a daughter of God. There are also moments when I doubt and am not perfect at remembering who I am. There are times when Jesus Christ is a part of every single thing I do in life. Then there are moments when I forget to include Him or strengthen my relationship with him.

However, I have a new-found determination to make sure these 2 life lessons are always on the top of my priority list. They bring my life more clarity, happiness and light. And I want my children to be able to see the clarity, happiness and light in my life because of the way that I choose to live. I want them to know that they can have that in their lives too.

I am a daughter of a loving Heavnely Father who never gives up on me and who is always there!

I have a Savior who is at the center of everything I do in my life because He chose to give His life for mine!

And this brings me immense JOY!

Choose Love

“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved” (Thomas Monson). Wise words from a very wise man. Oh how this counsel is needed right now!!

Social Media and the world around us is filled with such hatred, disgust, unkind words, judgements, and ridicules.

I understand that these times right now are tricky because the election is coming up and people are entitled to their own opinions and have freedom of speech.

Everyone is so agitated and on edge about what the future might bring. In the midst of all of this, we, the people have forgotten how to be human.

We have forgotten how to love. We have forgotten how to use kind words. We have forgotten that a person’s vote does not define their whole person or personality. We have forgotten to love our neighbors, even if we do not agree with them.

It truly makes my heart sad to see what is happening to friendships and what is happening to our communities. Never has there been such a great division with no love at all in the equation. How sad I am to raise my daughter up in a world full of hate, disrespect and unkindness.

Is it naïve of me to think that we can have our different opinions and still get along? Is it wrong of me to believe in a human race that can still show love and kindness to one another even when we don’t agree?

In the bible, the greatest two commandments are based off of love. Love the Lord, thy God, with all of thy heart. And love thy neighbor as thyself.

I get it. Loving someone who we consider our enemy is not easy. It actually feels like quite the impossible. But like Monson said- a person to be loved is more important than a problem to be solved.

There are times in my life when I have been hurt by someone’s unkind words. Or when I have been agitated by someone’s personal decisions. It wasn’t easy for me to love them. Actually, it took me a long time to figure out how to love them.

But the love came. The love came because I was willing to take a step in their shoes. I felt love after I prayed for those people, even when I knew they were causing some waves in my nice, smooth ocean. I felt love after I stopped thinking about fixing the problem and started thinking about the good qualities that these people had. I thank my God for allowing me to see with clearer eyes and to understand with a more open heart.

If we really want to live in a better world, we have to BE the change we wish to see in the world.

I grew up singing a song that went like this: ” I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right, you see. So I say to myself, remember this, Kindness begins with me”.

Although this song is the simplest of songs, its words teach a powerful message. Kindness does begin with me! And it begins with you too!

Showing loving and kindness does not have to be some grand act. It can actually be quite simple.

Kindness is smiling to a stranger that you see at the store.

Kindness is helping someone in need.

Kindness is keeping our thoughts or unkind words in our head when we see a Trump or Biden supporter.

Kindness is not judging the person in the car next to us by the stickers they choose to place on their car.

Kindness is being a friend, even if you may not agree with someone’s ideas or principles.

May we all take a step back from the hatred, the unkind words, and the irrational judgements. May be look to others with love and kindness. May we remember that we are all human and no one is perfect, so lets just love one another.

In a world where we can be anything at all, may we choose to be KIND!!

The Beauty of Letting Go

Holy Moly! It has been a HOT minute!!

I am sorry for being M.I.A. during these last few months. When the corona virus hit and the many months of quarantine, I just got lost in all the madness.

We’ve had quite the year already and it is just September. We have 4 more months to see what 2020 will throw at us. Between the Corona Virus, cancellation of schools and other pastime pleasures, elections coming up, the many fires and natural disasters around the world and all the rioting, it has been easy for anyone to get weighed down with the weight of the world.

It is almost like we are carrying a backpack full of heavy books or rocks everywhere we go. That weight can create an excess of stress and unwanted pain.

When I was meeting with my psychologist a few years back, we did an activity that has since helped me to manage the heavy rocks in my figurative backpack. She had me hold out one of my arms. Each time we talked about a burden or something that was weighing me down, I had to put a book on my hand. Some of these trials included fear, guilt, uncertainty and the inability to love myself. The weight got REALLY heavy! I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hold up all of those books for a long time.

My psychologist and I talked about what each book represented and how to let it go. We talked about why I was letting it weigh me down and how I needed to let it go to help me more truly be myself. After we talked about each one, I got to take a book off the load. When we got to the last book, my arm was definitely feeling lighter but it was shaking from having all of that pressure on me. Finally, I was able to let go of what that last book represented.

Guess what happened? My arm HURT. It hurt bad!! I was not expecting to feel so much pain when I had taken that last book off.

I learned an important lesson that day. Sometimes letting go HURTS. Say what?!? Yup, you read it right! Sometimes letting go HURTS. In a very real and powerful way. Even when all of those things were weighing me down and causing my arm to shake, it still hurt to let them go. Odd don’t you think? Once we let that load go, shouldn’t we feel like a million bucks?

It made me realize that change HURTS. It is so uncomfortable. Letting go and being weight free comes at a cost. The cost is feeling that pain and discomfort for a while.

But then, the beautiful thing about it all, is that after you experience that discomfort, you get to fly! You get to SOAR! You get to be free of the things holding you back! You get to be who you truly are and LOVE every minute of it!!

I feel like during these last several months, those books were piling up again. Fear, doubt, uncertainty, no answers, boredom, not fulfilling my dream job, lack of social interaction, having to decide who to vote for, a test of my faith, etc. Those books piled on REAL quick. And let me tell you, it was REALLY heavy!!

But I walked around with that weight anyways. It just seemed easier at the time then letting go and having no control. If I kept them in my backpack a little longer, maybe it would get better. Maybe it would turn out like I wanted it too.

Silly right? But how often do we do that to ourselves?! How often are we carrying around unnecessary weight because we are too stubborn to let go?

So I decided I needed to do the book activity again. I needed to think about what each book represented and think about how I could let it go. It is NOT easy and it sure has been uncomfortable. With tears and growing pains all along the way.

But I am starting to free myself from all of that pain, stress and worry again. I am starting to feel FREE! That is truly one of the best feelings ever!!

When we decide to let go of those things that are weighing us down, we can begin to grow and work on ourselves. That is how change works. It is a life long process of letting go of those things holding us down. But in the end, it is ALL worth it! More than worth it!

I can honestly say that these last few months have been hard on me. But they have pushed me and stretched me and helped me to become a better version of myself. Those trying times sometimes turn into the best of times. They turn into a beautiful heartbreak!

“Every fear, every doubt,

All the pain I went through;

Was the price that I paid to see this view;

And now that I’m here I would never trade…The grace that I feel,

And the faith that I find;

Through the bitter-sweet tears,

And the sleepless nights; I used to pray he’d take it all away.

But instead it became a beautiful heartbreak.”

Hillary WEeks

The Unexpected Beautiful

I never expected 2020 to become the crazy, unique year that it has been. On December 31st, 2019 I was surrounded by family members and my sweet husband. Love and laughter abounded as excitement grew for the new year. I stood there counting down the seconds until 2020. What a remarkable year it would be? I’m sure thats what we all thought…

Now, looking back, we might all agree that the events of 2020 thus far have been nothing but unexpected. We might even agree that it is not our favorite year and can it just be over now? But there is no growth, nor fun in that.

It was unexpected that we would all have to cancel our travel plans.

It was unexpected that thousands of missionaries would have to return home for an intermission.

It was unexpected that schools would close down and teaching would take place online, through zoom calls, google classrooms, and packets.

It was unexpected that graduates wouldn’t be able to walk like they normally do and celebrate in ways that they had always imagined.

It was unexpected that weddings had to change and couldn’t be celebrated as normal.

It was unexpected that we woudn’t be allowed to go to the theater, the park, Disneyland, restaurants, or even to visit our relatives.

It was unexpected that toilet paper and food would go out of stock and that people would go shopping in masses to stock up.

It was unexpected that face masks had to be worn at every event outside the home or that life as we knew it would change.

Every bit of this worldwide pandemic has been unexpected. This virus has taken us out of our comfort zones. Although, most would agree that the comfort zone is the place we like to be, there is no growth or change there. There is no progress and no happiness. Because we were all content with that comfort zone, God- our Heavenly Father- decided to teach us all many incredible lessons.

We shouldn’t take what we have for granted. We should often tell people how much we love them. We should be going about doing service and helping others in need. We should be thanking people that are essential in everyday normalcy. We should think creatively to enjoy time with loved ones. We should take what time we have, and enjoy it. Quarantine should have taught us that we should NOT go back to the way things used to be.

As I was thinking of all that is unexpected, I began to think about how God ALWAYS works in unexpected ways.

It was unexpected that I would marry a man from a different country and fall in love with him through a long distance relationship.

It was unexpected for Isaac to leave his home and culture to come and be with me.

It was unexpected for me to go on a mission when it wasn’t a requirement and when it was something that would put my career on hold.

It was unexpected of my family to do foster care for 12 years and end up adopting 3 more daughters to our already big family.

It was unexpected for me to find the hobby of painting, which I deeply love and enjoy.

And just like that, I began to think of all of the unexpected miracles and blessings in my life.

But the unexpected didn’t start their either. Heavenly Father has been giving us unexpected, yet beautiful experiences ever since the world began.

It was unexpected for Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. It was unexpected for the world to flood even after Noah had warned the people. It was unexpected for Jonah to be swallowed up by a whale and to survive that experience. It was unexpected that people would reject and kill God’s prophets. It was unexpected that Heavenly Father sent his son, Jesus Christ, knowing full well that he would suffer and die. It was unexpected for Jesus to be baptized even when he was the only human being to walk the earth that had no sin. It was unexpected for Jesus to heal the blind man or for him to heal a paralyzed man. It was unexpected that Jesus forgave the adulterous woman and that he raised Lazarus from the dead. It was unexpected for Jesus to give his life for us-sinners- and then to rise from the dead.

It is pretty clear that Heavenly Father works in UNEXPECTED ways.

So instead of fretting when things don’t go according to plan. Or instead of doubting and fearing that things aren’t what you expected- Think to yourself:

“What miracle is God going to perform in my life through this unexpected circumstance?”

“What is God trying to teach me because he has given me this unexpected blessing?”

“What am I going to do to grow through this unexpected experience?”

And when you do just that, you will be surprised to see the touch of the master’s hand in your life. You will be surprised to see that God is the mastermind and that he is creating a life for you that has so much more meaning and purpose than the life you could create for yourself. You will be surprised to see how it transforms your life into something truly beautiful– how it transforms YOU into something truly beautiful!

Keep Sunshine Going

Have you ever looked at something and it just took your breath away? Lately, I have been so drawn to sunflowers. They take my breath away and I have this desire to just surround myself with them!

I don’t know why this random obsession with sunflowers just popped up. If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have told you that my favorite flowers are roses and lilies. 

But not today. 

There is a quote that I have seen that is always accompanied with sunflowers. It says “Keep Sunshine Going”. How can these simple flowers keep sunshine going? Especially in the middle of a worldwide pandemic?

These simple flowers have brought some powerful messages into my life…

1. It’s okay to be HAPPY!

One thing that I love about these flowers is their color. They are so vibrant and happy!! Maybe that is why I am drawn to them. So much going around in the world is negative and gloomy. It makes life seem all dark and gray. But then, you see a beautiful, bright yellow sunflower and it instantly brightens up your day. Yellow to me has always been a happy color and these bright yellowed flowers do make me happy!

2. Each sunflower is actually made up of many tiny flowers.

I didn’t know that fun fact about them but I think that this plays a role in why they are so beautiful. Right now we are all struggling with stress and anxiety as we live through a time with so many unknowns. It is hard to go through all of that alone. However, when we all stand together and support one another, we create something truly beautiful. The WHOLE world came together to fast in behalf of the world and the fight against the corona virus. It was amazing to see so many countries, religions, ethnicities, and people come together to fight for a common cause. It brought strength and comfort to us all. We are stronger when we stand together, rather than when we stand alone. That truly keeps sunshine going!

3. Each sunflower contains up to 1,00-2,000 seeds. 

I never thought that I would learn so much about something so simple that just impressed my mind the last couple of weeks. God is so good!! Have you ever wondered what impact you have on the people around you? Sometimes we don’t see what good comes of our actions. Just like sunflowers, we have thousands of seeds that we constantly go about spreading, without even realizing it. We spread seeds when we smile, when we hold the door for someone, when we do a random act of kindness, or even a planned act of kindness. Sometimes we don’t get to see the impact we have, but we do know that we are spreading thousands of seeds every day and that keeps sunshine going.

4. Sunflower in French is “tournesol” which literally means “turn to the sun”.

These beautiful flowers KNOW what they need to grow. In their bud phase, they seek out the sun. They purposely face it. In the morning they will face the East and by the afternoon, they are facing the West. These sunflowers follow the sun wherever it goes. The sun helps them to grow and to become breathtakingly beautiful! Just like the sunflowers need the sun, we also need the Son- a.k.a. the Son of God. We need Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives. We need the reassurance that there is a God that loves us. We need the knowledge that we aren’t just specs in the universe without a purpose. We need the spirit to learn and grow and to develop wonderful personalities. We, without realizing it, also turn to the Son for hope and for strength.

5. Sunflowers, if planted too close together, start competing.

This is such a cool random fact. If you are ever planting these flowers, don’t plant them too close together. They compete with each other and end up losing their full potential. Sometimes we follow that same pattern. We get lost in the game of comparing and thinking that we have to be better than one another. We begin to judge others if we are insecure about something in ourselves. That leads us far away from our true potential. We need to have our own space to grow, without comparisons and competitions. Without judgements and criticism. We have to stand tall and be ourselves. That is what makes us reach our true potential and that increases our own unique beauty.

6. Sunflowers have a history of healing.

They have been used to sooth chest pain in some areas. Other areas use sunflower leaves to treat kidneys. This flower has the power to heal. Fortunately for us, we do too. We might not be able to physically take away someone’s pain. But we can be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. We can pray our hearts out in their behalf. We can be there for them when they need us. That in its own way is a healing power. Our ability to be there for one another keeps sunshine going. 

Can’t you see why I just LOVE sunflowers?!? They are beyond beautiful. Even more than that though, they teach these astounding lessons that help us remember who we are and how we can stand tall and sure. They teach us how to keep sunshine going and how to reach our full potential. 

I am like a sunflower, that is growing everyday. It is up to me to keep sunshine going!

I AM FOUND

A couple of months ago, I went to see the new Frozen II movie. I know, I know. Its a kid movie and it may be childish of me to LOVE it. But I’ll admit it- when it comes to Frozen or any Disney movie, I do become a little kid again. They make me so happy!

Anyways, I was at the theater with my family and of course I had to be sitting next to Jacob, my brother. He is hilarious and he kept me laughing the whole movie. We couldn’t take any of it seriously. But to be honest, when I left the movie, I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t what I had imagined or expected. 

A week later, the 4th graders I work with were going to see the same movie and I thought to myself, why not? I’ve got nothing to lose. At least I can get a good laugh again! But when I watched it the second time, it started to grow on me. 

A week after that, my best friend wanted to go to the theater. I was down to go with her because I mean, movie theater popcorn, count me in! We decided to watch Frozen II again. 

That third time was the charm, even as cliche as that sounds. The third time I saw it, the message of the movie hit me harder than ever. 

I guess when God was trying to speak to me and I didn’t get it the first time, he had to get me there again. And then when I didn’t get the message a second time, he had found another way to get me there. But then BAMB. I got it. And I am ever so grateful for that! I just love the fact that God speaks to us in ways that He knows we will listen… even if it takes 3 tries!

In the movie, Elsa is on a journey to find this voice that is calling out to her. She has to go through many trials and challenges to get to that voice, but she doesn’t give up. But then! She ends up finding the voice and it wasn’t quite what she expected. 

Elsa was searching for someone. She was longing for that someone and she had worked so hard to get there. And then BAMB- SPOILER ALERT!!- Elsa doesn’t find someone, she ends up finding HERSELF! Her mother says “Come my darling homeward bound” and Elsa responds with “I am found!” 

The one person that Elsa needed in her life was herself. 

How many times do we lose ourselves in life? How many mothers work so hard to be a wonderful mother that they lose themselves for their kids? How many people go to work everyday trying to be someone they are not so they can get a promotion or look good for the boss? How many people go through life living someone else’s dream and not their own? How many people become what others expect them to be rather than what they want to be? 

I think finding yourself and loving yourself is one of the bravest things you can do in your life!!

I have been on a journey for the last several years to find myself. There was a part of my life that I sadly lost myself in. I wanted every person that I came in contact with to be happy. I wanted to please every single one of them. I wanted to be the person that I THOUGHT they wanted me to be. 

I lost myself trying so hard to fit in to what I thought everyone wanted, that I didn’t know how to be me. I didn’t know how to love myself.

I was like Elsa. Content with where I was, but knowing that there was something more for me. I was hearing something calling out to me, but not knowing that it was actually me. 

When Elsa sings those three simple words- “I am found”- I can relate to her 100%. I feel like Heavenly Father says to me “Come my darling homeward bound”. And that is how I am found!! The closer that I walk towards my Heavenly Father and my heavenly home, the more that I am found. I feel like my Heavenly Father wanted me to know that its okay for me to be me and for me to love myself. He wants me to be who he created me to be!

The one person that I needed in my life was ME!

I need to be me so that I can be a good wife for my husband. I need to be me so that I can be a good daughter and sister in my family. I need to be me so that I can be a good teacher and a good example to my students. I need to be me so that I can be a true friend. I need to be me so that I can be truly happy.

I AM FOUND!

No. It is not easy to find yourself. Yes. You will go through challenges and trials that test you. Yes. You will feel guilty at times for choosing yourself over what others want. Yes. You may be rejected for being you. BUT, I can guarantee that it is 100% worth it. 

Once you are able to find yourself, everything else will fall into place. Heavenly Father didn’t create you to be just like everyone else. He created YOU to be YOU! 

My Witness

“Week and wounded sinner. Lost and left to die. Oh raise your head for love is passing by. Come to Jesus—come to Jesus. Come to Jesus and live” (Kenneth Cope).

My heart is so full right now. I don’t even know how to put it into words. 

Today, April 5th of 2020, on Palm Sunday, I had the opportunity to participate in the Hosanna Shout, run by President Nelson, the Prophet of the world. I shouted Hosanna- God Save Me– along with millions of people around the world.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history of Easter week, on the Sunday before Jesus Christ was crucified, he entered back into the city of Jerusalem for what would be the last week of his life. 

The believers and people who loved Jesus welcomed him in a beautiful, sacred way. They gathered palm fronds, a symbol of victory, triumph and peace. They laid their garments on the ground for Jesus to walk upon as he entered the city. They gave him an entrance fit for a king. Because he is literally our Savior and King. Then they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21: 9). This they did because they knew that Jesus was the only one who could save them. 

The believers knew that Jesus Christ was the prophesied Messiah that was going to deliver them and save them. He may not have delivered them in a literal way, but He did come to deliver them from an unseen enemy, from the guilt of sin, and from the pains of death.

In the same way that they welcomed the Savior during his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, we shouted Hosanna to our Savior, with a white handkerchief, symbolic of the palm fronds, to welcome him in again- for his second coming. 

Wow. Just wow! 

Let that sink in. We just welcomed Jesus in again! We raised our voice in unity for him to save us!! 

In all the history of the world, the Savior ALWAYS came to his people in a time of fear! In ancient Jerusalem, he came when the people were afraid of the Romans; that’s initially who they wanted to be delivered from. He spoke to them and calmed them and taught them. He gave them hope and provided a way for them to have peace. He established His gospel that could save them from sin and from the bands of death.

When Jesus was resurrected and his disciples were distraught and afraid, he visited them to calm and reassure them. He gave them hope that they could continue what he started.

Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of Ancient America during their time of fear and grief, after experiencing the terrifying signs of his death- earthquakes, fire, thick darkness for 3 days. They were filled with fear, but then He came to them. He calmed their troubled hearts. He spoke peace to their souls and taught them his gospel.

200 years ago this month, when a 14 year old boy was praying in the woods and was seized upon by some unseen force, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Him. They spoke peace to his soul and restored Christ’s true and living Church through this young boy. 

Today, when I am living in a world of fear and chaos, He came to me. Not literally but in a very real way. He touched my heart and whispered to my soul that He is here. That He knows me. That He can heal and strengthen me. 

He is peace. He is hope. He is love. The Lord Jesus Christ is the master healer and the Savior of the world. That knowledge runs through me like a bolt of lightening. I feel it in every fiber of my being. 

Jesus is the Christ. He is here for us in our deepest and darkest struggles. He is the Alpha and Omega. The great I Am. He is the Savior and Redeemer of the whole world. For all the souls that do believe in him. But also to all those who don’t. He is still their Savior and Redeemer! 

I want to shout this on the roof tops and tell the whole world and everyone I love!! 

I glory in MY Jesus. I glory in MY Savior. I glory In MY God! 

“He lives! All glory to his name!

He lives, my Savior, still the same.

Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’” 

The Quarantined Life is still a Beautiful Life

Right now we are living through a pandemic that has the whole world going crazy. Panic and chaos are all around us every single day as we try to get through this trying time. Change is around every corner and we are stuck with lots of unknowns. 

Do you think its a coincidence that Elsa’s song “Into the Unknown” came out right before all of this? LOL

We are headed into the unknown and that can bring fear and chaos and panic into our lives. 

But I firmly believe that there is SO much to live for right now and so many wonderful lessons to learn through it all. Despite the boredom, there are many things that are making life so meaningful now!! 

I don’t know about you, but I have learned quite a few lessons.

  1. FAMILY TIME IS THE MOST PRECIOUS TIME

I don’t think it is a coincidence that we have to be social distancing. During this time of social distancing the only people we can be around is our family. There is nothing right now that is really keeping individuals from the family apart. Isaac and I have had so much more time together than we normally do. We have been able to study together, to read together, to cook together, to shop together. Our jobs and everyday life used to prevent us from seeing each other throughout the day. Although there are times when I do need personal space, I now value the time that I get with my husband more than ever.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND

I don’t know about you, but for me, I have been so bored that I just scroll and scroll and scroll. It is actually quite draining. It doesn’t benefit me on any level. There are so many posts and comments that confuse or misinterpret what is going on. It is hard to know what is true and what is not. Yes, there are hilarious memes that keep me laughing but when it comes down to it, that is all it does for me. If anything, I realized that I was MORE grumpy and MORE bored, the longer I scrolled on social media. I learned that it is NOT my best friend and there is so much more I can be doing. Putting my phone down and enjoying what is around me is changing my life for the better. 

3. QUARANTINE GOT MY CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING

Do any of you remember being a kid and not having technology to entertain you? You actually had to come up with your own games, your own challenges, your own stories! I remember when my siblings and I would play with legos or barbies for hours on end. We would be entertained with the sandbox in the backyard. We would read books like there was no tomorrow. That helped me to be creative and to think outside the box. Now that I don’t have a particular schedule, I again have to think outside the box. It has been good for me to just let my hands be free. I have had time to enjoy reading, painting, singing, dancing around the house, organizing, writing, etc. It’s amazing what our hands and bodies can do WITHOUT technology. 

4. FIND VALUE IN THE THINGS YOU DO HAVE

I have learned to find value in the things I already have. This may have been the longest two weeks of my life, but it has also been the longest time I have gone without spending any money. I have been able to go through my clothes and find outfits that I forgot about. I am able to look through my old journals and notebooks and laugh about experiences that I have had in the past. I have been able to find letters and things that are so important to me. Things that money can’t buy. Its incredible the precious gems you can find all around your house.

5. I ACTUALLY HAVE TO COOK

I don’t mind cooking, but the question I hate most of all during my day is “What should we have for dinner?”. But being stuck at home and not really wanting to eat out has forced my hand into being creative in the kitchen. Thank goodness I have been able to have Isaac around to help with that creativity. Although quite challenging, we have been able to come up with different ideas and get to enjoy new meals. 

6. KIDS GET TO BE KIDS

I am a teacher and I know how important it is for kids to learn and to study. BUT, sometimes we push kids too hard. There brain needs time to develop. Kids also need to learn how to do normal every day activities. During this time they can learn about doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, painting, writing letters, actually playing. All of these things will benefit them in the long run. Even though they might not be learning math or science, they still get to learn critical life skills. They also have the opportunity to explore books and find their own love of reading. They can work on math facts with the family which in turn will help them when they do get to return to school. Kids need the opportunity to just be a kid. 

7. SELF IMPROVEMENT

I no longer have the excuse of “I don’t have time”. How often do we use that excuse to lessen the pain of failure of our goals? Get your hands up! I’ve said it a plethora of times and I know I’ve heard it all around me too. Right now, we truly do have time. We have time to work on ourselves and time to be the people that we want to be. We have time to change and to reach our goals. We have time to do what we haven’t already done. Why not take advantage of this time?!

These are just 7 of the lessons that I have learned while I have been social distancing and in this Corona Quarantine. Yes, there are things that scare me about the future. Yes, I know this isn’t the ideal situation. But I do know that there are things we can still enjoy right now. I do know that this time can benefit us, just in a different way. Maybe, this was all a part of God’s plan. Maybe he wasn’t trying to scare us but rather he was trying to teach us. Maybe his love and our faith in Him are what will get us to go into the unknown with courage and strength. 

Just Choose JOY

I am not going to lie. I am not always “enjoying the moment” or choosing joy. I wish that I could say that I was. But sometimes, life brings on a new challenge or mountain to climb and I don’t look at it as positively as I could. 

In November, Isaac was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that the only thing that I really wanted was a trip to New York. I wanted an opportunity to visit my “second family” over there and a chance to visit my glorious mission. I also wanted to be able to do all the fun touristy stuff with Isaac too because he has never been to New York. 

In December, we found pretty cheap tickets and we did not hesitate. We bought those tickets and I was SOOOO excited. Beyond excited!! I spent the next 3 months preparing, planning, and getting even more excited. I contacted all the people I wanted to see and told them I was finally going to be able to visit them. Dreams come true…!!

But then, sometimes things happen that are out of our control and we have to roll with the punches. Sometimes our dreams shift a little or get delayed. But that doesn’t mean that they still can’t come true.

As you all know, Coronavirus is the talk of the world. Things are getting canceled left and right. People are getting sick all over the world. There is mass hysteria and panic. This is something we have never really seen or experienced before. 

Isaac and I had to consider whether we were going to brave going to New York in the midst of all of this craziness. We were going to go. We thought to ourselves, nahh we got this. Everything is fine. But then we listened to the voice of the Prophet that suggested we take care of ourselves and prepare with 2 weeks of food and reach out to those around us in need. 

If supporting home-centered church  and keeping people from traveling was so important to the prophet of God, then it had to be something important for us too. 

We ended up canceling our trip to New York and I was so depressed and distraught. I wasn’t going to be able to do the things that I had been planning for the last 3 months. I just wanted to break down and cry. If I couldn’t go to New York, I didn’t want to do ANYTHING else! 

I know. I was a bit dramatic. Or maybe a lot of bit. But, I was upset and I was NOT looking for Joy. That thought didn’t even cross my mind. I would rather choose moping around and being depressed than choosing joy. 

But then, my sweet husband reminded me that sometimes bad things or unwanted things happen, especially things that are out of our control. No matter what though, we still have to enjoy the moment. Heavenly Father gave us this life to enjoy it and to learn and grow.

Sometimes I hate it when he’s right. But that did make me sit back and think a minute. Was it worth it to still find joy and be happy even though I wasn’t feeling it and things didn’t go how I expected them too? 

Words from the Prophet came rushing through my head. “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays… My brothers and sisters, there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today”.

That really got me thinking. I am the one who controls how I feel and how I think. I am the one in control of my reaction to every day life. I am the one who gets to decide what my life turns out to be. 

Rather than having a bunch of empty yesterdays, I do want a bunch of full and happy todays. 

I remember when I was on my mission, serving the Lord. I was the closest to God than I have ever been in my life. It was then that I learned to find joy in every moment and that I purposely chose joy even when it was hard. 

There was one day when something was bummy. My companion and I were feeling down and the situation wasn’t what we hoped. I had just said out loud “man, this is so upsetting”. The other missionaries around me noticed and just burst into laughter. I was like what, why are you laughing at me? They said that I could have my leg cut off or be starving or be in a dangerous situation and I would still be “upset”. But that my tone of voice and my reaction didn’t show that I was really upset. I realized it was because my reaction was so nonchalant. The situation was upsetting but I couldn’t do anything about it so I just kept moving forward. That became an inside joke for us. It is something that I had forgotten about, but I hope to be able to get to that point again.

One of the jewish survivors from the holocaust had shared his experiences from his time there. He said that the guards had taken his clothes. They had taken his food. They had taken his family. However, there is one thing that they couldn’t take away and that was his thoughts and feelings. He knew that he was in control and that he could be happy, even in the worst trial he would ever experience. Even when his life was on the line. And he was. He was probably the happiest soul living in those concentration camps. That was the choice he made. Because if those were going to be his last days of life, he was going to live his life to the fullest and enjoy it.

I have been kicking myself in the butt after remembering all of this. But I was able to find my faith again. How could I ever forget the miraculous and powerful hand of God in my life? He did take something that I love and so desperately want. However, I know that he is going to give me something better. That is a promise he has made to me in return for living my life for Him. 

When we are closest to God and when we have faith that He knows us and what is best, we start living in the moment and enjoying the life that we do have. We stop feeling major disappointment and grief but rather hope and confidence. We start trusting in his timing and know that he’s got some pretty awesome things in store for us. We start choosing joy so that we have a bunch of full yesterdays and beautiful todays.

Legacy

Legacy… The power that comes from that small, simple word is indescribable. Legacy. What actually is a legacy? How do we determine our own legacy?

The dictionary would define Legacy as “a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from on person to another”.

Have you ever thought of legacy as a gift? I sure haven’t. I personally thought of legacy as the way people would see us when we are gone. Basically when we are dead! But our legacy isn’t just built in the day that we are gone. It is a life long process built by how we live.

What gifts do I go about giving every day? I’m not talking about the gifts that are wrapped in a pretty pink bow or that money can buy. I am talking about the small acts of kindness, the connections we make with others, the impressions we leave with people, the service that we perform, or even the advice we give.

I have never truly thought of any of those things as gifts. However, I don’t know what my words or actions actually mean to those around me. To them, it may in fact be a gift. That’s not for me to decide.

There is a quote that I really like (P.S. I really LOVE quotes so you’re going to see them a lot in my posts!). It says that “legacy is planting seeds in a garden that you never get to see”. Sometimes we don’t get to see the fruits of our labors or the effects that we have on others. And that’s okay.

A few months ago, my grandpa had a brain aneurism and he was left unresponsive. That day was one of the most terrifying and stressful in my life. Many thoughts passed through my head. Was he going to die? How was my grandma doing? What would happen to her if he didn’t make it? Would my grandma have to choose to end his life? How was my mom? This was her dad. I would be a horrible wreck if it was my dad. What would I say to him, if I had to say goodbye to him? What was the most important thing that my grandpa taught me? So many questions, none of them answered.

That very day, all of my family members, from all over Arizona, rushed to the hospital to see my grandpa and to say goodbye. As I walked into the room, I immediately started to cry. Seeing him hooked up to machines that were keeping him alive was not a friendly sight to see. Looking around at my family members that had gathered, they were all just as devastated as I was. Looking at my grandma, who was probably going to have to say goodbye to the love of her life, broke my heart.

As I walked up to him to say goodbye, all these flashbacks came into my mind of moments that I have had with this marvelous man. Each one had touched me in a way that I can’t explain. Each memory was a precious gift that my grandpa had endowed to me. I grabbed his still hand and told him how much I loved him and how he had changed my life for the better, by his example and the precious gifts he didn’t know he gave me. 

Tears came to his eyes, even though he was unresponsive. Seeing him cry, made me know that he was there. He was listening. He knew how much I loved him. He knew how much we all loved him.

The following morning my grandpa peacefully passed away in his sleep. I went to be with my grandma that day as we both held each other and cried.

A week later, we held a funeral service for my wonderful grandpa. As I sat there in the service, listening to his children talk about the life he had, that one simple word came to my mind. Legacy. What had my grandpa left behind? What impact had those small gifts throughout his life had on me? On all of us?

My grandpa’s legacy was one of joy and happiness. He left a legacy of service and unique love. He left a legacy of never giving up and always doing his very best. One of his best sayings was “Suck it up and do the right thing”. That is the gift that my grandpa left his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

As I watched my grandpa’s casket lower into the ground, I took a moment to ponder on my own life. If I were to die that day, what would people say about me at my funeral? What would my legacy be?

A few months after that, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints celebrated the 95th birthday of our beloved prophet, President Russel M. Nelson. The church broadcasted this birthday event so anyone around the world could participate. His children were able to speak about the kind of man their dad was. Members of this church got to talk about what kind of leader he was. Even his companions at the hospital he once worked at got to talk about the kind of surgeon he was. 

I watched this celebration with great joy, marveling in the life that this powerful man led. Although he has not passed on from this life, he has 95 years of a legacy behind him that he continues to develop today. When that word came to my mind again, I thought about the life that this man was living. 

President Russel M. Nelson

President Nelson’s legacy to me is one of service, love and hope. One of a sincere love for the Lord his God. One of always taking time to bless the lives of those around him, especially his family. Everyone that talked about him, shared their nuggets of gold that he was able to give them throughout his life.

Again, the questions started flowing to my mind. If I were celebrating my 95th birthday today, what legacy would I have already developed? What would my family, friends, co-workers say about me? What would my legacy be?

Since then, I’ve continued to ponder these questions in my mind. I have been thinking about the little gifts I have already left behind in my 25 years of life. I’ve thought to myself “Are these the gifts that I want to be remembered by? If not, how am I going to change that?”

I have a choice. Today and everyday. My legacy isn’t something that just comes by accident or chance. It isn’t something that I don’t have to work on. It isn’t something that will just slide right in. It is, however, how I choose to live my life each day. It is how I choose to respond to people. It is the random acts of kindness I perform. It is the small little gifts I choose to give to others. It is something that I will spend the rest of my life building. My legacy is what I decided to make of it. It truly is up to me.

“Legacy is not leaving something for people. Legacy is leaving something IN people”.

I challenge you, right now, to ponder what legacy you have already developed? Then, take time to ponder what legacy you want people to remember about you? If they don’t coincide, then change. Your legacy is in the power of your hands. You get to decide, the same as I do, the little nuggets of gold or gifts that you will leave with people every day. 

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