Sunday, July 27, 2014

I LOVE the Book of Mormon {My 10 favorite verses}

I remember the first time I read the Book of Mormon all the way through. I was a senior in high school. President Gordon B. Hinckley asked all members of the church in August 2005, to take the challenge of reading the Book of Mormon and finishing by the end of the year. I had started and stopped so many times before so I took this as the perfect opportunity to get all the way through the Book of Mormon.

I completed reading the Book of Mormon on the the last day, in the last hours of December 31, 2005 -  I remember the most peaceful feeling coming over me knowing what I had read was true. While I have always struggled understanding everything in the scriptures, certain parts just spoke loud and clear to me and I knew without a doubt it was true.

Several years ago, I wasn't living my life in every single way I knew I should. The gospel has always been important to me, but things would come up that started to distract me from what I knew to be right. I hung onto my belief that God was there for me and that he heard every single prayer I was praying but I still wasn't living the life I knew he would have for me. This lead me to fall out of the habit of daily scripture study. In 2010, my grandpa challenged me to read something/anything out of the Book of Mormon every single day. He told me it didn't matter if I understood what I was reading or not. I just needed to read it every day and be consistent with it. Well I knew I wasn't as happy as I could be in life and I knew I was longing for so much more, so I took his challenge. I went home and opened the book. I have read it every day since that day and I know without any doubt in my mind - IT IS TRUE! 

The Book of Mormon has been such a blessing in my life. It offers me hope when mine is lost, strength when I'm weak and infinite peace!

My 10 favorite versus from the Book of Mormon: 

1. Alma 32:21  
"And now as I said concerning faith - faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

There are so many times in my life when I feel I am blindly being led by Heavenly Father to do something or to go down a certain path only to have no clue why. It's always for good when I choose to take the path to follow him. When I choose to let go and let God take over, that is faith and that is when the blessings seem to overflow in my life.

I remember a particular event in my life where I knew with all my heart what I needed to do but it happened to be one of the hardest things I ever had to face. My heart was broken, I cried out to God pleading for him to give me the courage to live on hope of the future, so I would have the power I needed to be able to walk away from the situation. In this moment, I couldn't see how it would turn out positively if I chose to walk away, but I knew with all of my heart it would only hurt me if I stayed. I knew God was right beside me, I knew more than anything the church was true and I wanted to live righteously but I did NOT have perfect knowledge it would be okay. This was hands down one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life but I chose to live on hope and that hope saved my life and someone else's as well. I chose to have faith and I look back now and I have been so immensely blessed for it.

2. 2 Nephi 32:9 
"But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."

Reflecting back on the most recent pageant I competed in, the Days of '47 pageant was such a lesson of faith for me. I put every ability and effort I had to offer into this competition. I prepared myself mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. I prayed every night asking Heavenly Father what more I could do to prepare for the competition. When I got there, I was so nervous I hadn't done enough to prepare myself. I wanted so badly to win this competition so I would have the opportunity to speak to girls. I knew it was the last pageant I would have the opportunity to compete in. I was hanging on so deeply to "My will". 

That Saturday afternoon, moments before the competition would begin I said a prayer backstage in the name of Christ, asking Heavenly Father to bless me on that stage. Then it clicked. I had done absolutely everything I was capable of doing and I now needed to turn it over to God and let go and let his will to be done. I had to consecrate my performance to him. I ended up in the top ten, however I did not win. Looking back on it, I would not have had the time to give that was demanded from the royalty. And you know what? The main reason I wanted to win this pageant was to have opportunities to speak to Young Women groups and this summer that is exactly what I have been doing. God's way is ALWAYS better! Turn your will over to him.

3. 2 Nephi 2:11
"For it must needs be, that there is opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensiblity."

This scripture has to be one of my all time favorites. Without opposition we can't know happiness, peace, faith, knowledge and every good thing there is. When ever storms come my way, I get really excited! When opposition is brought on by something you don't have any control over, you are obviously on the right path because Satan's main plan is for you is to be miserable like unto himself. He so often tries to stop us or distract us from our potential and the positive impact we can have on so many around us.

The week I was to compete in the Days of '47 Pageant, everything that could go wrong, did! And this pageant was something I knew I needed to do without a shadow doubt. So I embraced it! I laughed through my tears knowing that God had something so special planned out for me or Satan wouldn't have been trying SO HARD to mess it up. 

When you KNOW and expect opposition in everything, it gives you more of an eternal perspective, knowing that it is part of God's plan and you are on the right path - you just have to endure to the end!

4. Ether 12:27 
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

This may be the most comforting scripture ever. I will be the first to admit that I am full of weaknesses. I was diagnosed with OCD the end of 2008. My mom has had it my whole life. Growing up it was really hard for my family and I, we weren't perfect at showing the amount of patience or compassion she needed. Well guess what? That weakness was given to me and it has definately humbled my perspective and my patience for it. 

Life is really really hard when you are living with OCD. At the time I was diagnosed, I was not living my faith as strong as I should be. As soon as I fully started to live the covenants and standards of the gospel, giving everything I had to Christ, I noticed something. It was through my faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and through the practice of humility that God started to make me strong. Yes I still have OCD but it is 75% cured as I am living my life with full faith in the gospel. I testify and I am living proof that Heavenly Father makes weak things become strong when faith is practiced in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

5. Moroni 10:4 
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

This is the golden scripture of the Book of Mormon. This is the scripture that missionaries probably use most often. When I am doubting something, I turn to this scripture, I then pray with all of my heart to know if what I am seeking is true. This is the scripture that taught me the Book of Mormon is true.

I had an amazing spiritual experience the beginning of this month. Heavenly Father guided me to a guy, I remember praying one night and I got this strong impression that there was potential to marry him. After going out several times with him, I got a strong impression he was not the one for me. I was confused, how could this be? I prayed seeking for understanding. Then I was instantly reminded of this clip from Elder Holland. I watched the clip then prayed with everything I had to know if what I had just experienced was true. This scripture guided me through the process of knowing with all of my heart the things I had asked and felt were indeed true. It was a test of faith and an experience for me to learn how the spirit speaks to my heart.

I testify, if you ever come across something and you want to know if it is true, pray with faith in Jesus Christ and you will know!

6. Moroni 7:12
"Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God; and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually."

It is so important to keep an eternal perspective in all things. Anything that makes us happy and brings us peace and joy is from God. Anything that makes us feel sad, lonely, scared or rebellious is coming from the devil.

I use this scripture every time I am asking a question in prayer. When you are trying to decide what Heavenly Father is speaking to you, sometimes you have to think of an answer on your own and then compare it to this scripture. 
Is it GOOD? 
Will it bring you closer to Christ? 
If you don't feel that strongly about it, it probably is from the devil. But if the answer is yes and you feel it is right, the best thing you can do is pursue it.

7. Alma 41:15 
"For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all."

This is what my best friend Jared taught me as the "Mormon karma scripture." Everything good you are sending out into the world will come back to you. If you serve, it will come back. If you give up something, something better will be restored. I think of all the times I have acted on faith blindly, not knowing what the result would be and  every time I was immensely blessed in the end. 

I honestly LOVE this scripture!

8. 1 Nephi 3:7 
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

The Lord will give us no commandment, no temptation and no trial without preparing a way for us to get through them. 

Once upon a time I was dating this guy. It got to a point where I was spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausted and I knew it was time for me to say goodbye. It was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my entire life. It was God that guided me through the process. He prepared the way. There is absolutely no way I could have done it on my own. He started to change my heart in a way that made this process easier.

Sometimes Heavenly Father's commandments and requests seem far from what we want to do. In the times when we can only see our way and we start to design our own plan, our heart can become hardened and we no longer feel happy, but confused as we cling onto what we think we want. It is in the moments when we let go and cease to God's commandments that peace can fill our hearts and souls. When we follow the will of Heavenly Father, we will experience TRUE HAPPINESS that can't be felt anywhere else in this world, only then will we never want to return to our will ever again.

9. Helaman 5:12 
"And now, my sons, remember remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

This scripture has been on my heart for a very long time. It was the seminary theme for when I spoke at seminary graduation. 

When we have a firm foundation in Christ, little and even major temptations can have no power of us. It is all on us to build a personal, strong foundation. No matter how much we ache, how lost we may feel or how deeply our faith is shaken - if we have a solid testimony in our Savior Jesus Christ, he will always lift us up and it will be impossible to fall. 

Christ is my strength and my anchor for every fear I face and every broken heart I felt. Christ is the light in my life, for he knows every sorrow, temptation and pain I have and ever will have to go through. 

10. Mosiah 2:17 - 
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

At last, my favorite subject - service! I love service! I love serving God. 

Quite a few months back I was having a really rough day. I felt so alone and so lost. I prayed to Heavenly Father asking where to go and what to do to overcome these feelings. A name immediately popped into my mind, Leeila Manwill, my adopt-a-grandma back when I was in the Young Women's program. I hadn't seen her for at least 7 years. I got up and went to the store to get flowers to take over to her. We sat, laughed and talked for at least an hour. We had so much to catch up on with each other. God needed me to serve her that day and it made me forget about every sorrow I was facing. 

I truly believe that God put us on this beautiful earth for each other, so we can serve one another. He magnified what I was willing to offer her and in the end, it blessed both of us.

All I can say is this book is true. I LOVE the Book of Mormon with all of my heart, might, mind and soul.

 If you would like a free copy for yourself - go here!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Walk with confidence in INTEGRITY

How do you decide if something fit's your INTEGRITY
- Does it bring you peace?
- Does it bring you happiness?
- Do you feel you won't feel guilty if others find out?
- Does it allow you to feel confident when you need to ask Heavenly Father for help?
- Is it consistent with what you have believed in your entire life?
- Is it consistent to what you KNOW to be right and wrong?

Integrity is a value that I was taught at the age of twelve, as I entered the LDS Young Women's program. 
I started studying this standard out in a deeper manner, trying to understand more fully why it was a value by which we should strive to live.
As I worked on personal progress experiences, I quickly learned that the main concept of integrity is to stand up for what you believe in. This is a great definition, but what if it goes even deeper than that?

Just recently, I noticed a few things in my life with which I wasn't comfortable. I have the personality of being a "people pleaser." I just want to make everyone around me happy. While this appears to come across as Christ-like, the line is missing of what I will and will not do to please others.

You have to STAND for something, or you will FALL for anything!

Integrity has been on my mind a lot lately as my relationship with Jesus Christ is getting stronger.  So I decided to take a step back and evaluate my life. I evaluated everything I was doing and, for it to stay, it had to truly make me happy. I had to feel confident in it and that The Lord would be proud.

One of my absolute favorite quotes comes from President Eyring. He said " A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return."  This is very true. Everything I have ever given up to better myself and come closer to The Lord I have been extremely blessed for it. Heavenly Father makes it easy for me to live the gospel principle I am choosing to stand by. 

3 things I chose to give up!

1. Selling a product I didn't love for myself
The first thing that came to my mind was Mary Kay. I love Mary Kay products, but not every single one. 
I also HATE pushing people to buy stuff, I am not the sales type one bit. I hated asking my friends and family to book a makeover when I knew they weren't interested. So I sat there thinking about Mary Kay, I love using another brand of cleanser, eyeliner and mascara. Why would I try selling everyone these products, when I wasn't IN LOVE with them myself?

And the fact that Mary Kay was making me feel guilty all the time, I felt like I was never doing enough to be where I needed to be. So I thought about it, prayed about it and quit! I felt a million times better when I gave up something I had been hanging onto for so long. It simply wasn't making me happy. If I didn't use every product, why should I try to sell those products to others? 

I am now so happy, and my life is so much more fulfilling, without Mary Kay in it. I have nothing against the company, and I have so much respect for those who are selling, but it just didn't align with my moral standing.

2. Immodesty

The next thing I decided wasn't lining up with the values I was working to attain was immodesty. I have never worn anything too immodest, but I noticed a few years back I started adding clothes to my closet that were slightly not long enough to cover my garments, if I had them.

These clothes offered me no satisfaction, I'm not even sure why I started purchasing them. 
So, I cleaned out my closet. I took all the clothes I knew would not cover me after I go through the temple and I donated them. My closet is now a beauty. I feel confident and comfortable with every piece that is now in my closet. It was the most rewarding feeling ever. 

3. Advertising/Supporting things I don't want to associate myself with

With my degree in broadcast journalism, I am going to be asked by a lot of different people, if I will advertise certain products, events and maybe even people.

I need to start today to figure out what I will and won't support. The other day I was asked to promote the "Mr. Utah Pageant." I had second thoughts about this one, but I posted it on my Facebook wall anyways. I noticed after posting it on my wall, it was all I could think about. I felt guilty trying to solicit an event that I wasn't even sure if I stood by. So I took it down. 
Now I don't know if the pageant is unfitting to what I believe or not. I'm honestly not sure on my opinion - but what I do know is that my heart wasn't in it. It wasn't something I could definitely see myself supporting, so I decided to not to attach my name to this event any longer.

The thing about integrity is it's personal. It's between YOU and God. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your heart is in it. If it makes you feel uneasy in even the slightest way, obviously it isn't meant for you and that's okay. Give it up! You will be at so much peace with yourself and you will be able to approach Heavenly Father with more confidence as you go to ask of his help.

Evaluate everything in your life. 
Is everything you are doing in your life right now, bringing you the happiness and fulfillment that you are seeking? If not, what can you do to change this?

I know without a doubt, if you give Heavenly Father what you have been holding on to, he will bless you in more ways than you can imagine and you will walk taller with more confidence in all that you do.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 Reasons I support Pageants

I feel my mission in life is to empower girls to have strong self esteem and confidence. 
I have found many opportunities and avenues to fulfill this mission, but sometimes I get asked the question why I support pageants, if healthy self esteem is important to me.

That is why I am writing this post. 

1. Confidence - 

So much confidence can be gained through competing in a pageant. 
However, the misconception comes from thinking it is found in the outcome of the competition. 
Confidence is never gained automatically from winning a pageant, it comes from the preparation and the involvement beforehand. Whatever is put into the competition is what will be taken out of it. The more you push yourself, like anything in life, the more you realize how strong you are and that you are capable of just about anything you put your mind to. 
Confidence comes from doing something outside of your comfort zone. You will never know what you are capable of, until you try something new.

One other way you will gain confidence is by knowing that no matter what the outcome is, someone believes in you. This cheerleader could be a parent, sibling, friend, coach, grandma or you may even find out the person who believes in you the most is YOURSELF!! You may not believe in yourself now, but once you work hard at something, you will surely find that belief that was deep in your heart all along, shine through.

As I was I was competing in pageants, I noticed I would be thinking about what it would be like to represent a community in such an honorable way and it inspired me. So then I started to sit up straight, give out more compliments and act if I was already Miss Murray. The more I did this, the more that belief set in and I started to really believe I could actually be Miss Murray. I carried myself differently than ever before and this made my confidence grow immensely. You are what you believe you are! The more you believe, the more confidence you will gain.

2. Friends -

You will undoubtedly make so many friends through this pageant  process. You may even find mentors and role models along the journey. When you are competing in a pageant, you will find you are among girls that share common values and goals. You will meet people you never expected to be friends with and it will just click. 

There are so many misconceptions that just because this is a competition, it means you won't be friends, because of the competitive spirit. While I won't deny there are girls who get really caught up in the crown and this is the only thing that will matter to her, this is very uncommon.
For the most part, every pageant I have seen (which happens to be A LOT), friendships will be developed and these friendships I am talking about will last for life. It's like a sisterhood bond. 
Who wouldn't want that? 

The Miss Congeniality award is actually the most honorable recognition you could receive in the pageant, in my opinion. This is the award given to the girl who is the most friendly, helpful, loving and dependable girl. She is voted by her peers. It is amazing to me that this type of friendship is encouraged in pageants, as it should be.

3. Community Service - 

Community Service is the heart of a pageant. In the Miss America system, the contestant chooses a platform. This is a cause that the contestant chooses to volunteer time to, raise funds, implement a program or simply raise awareness of the issue that inspires her and usually hits close to home. 

When a girl is competing in a pageant, most people just think of a girl getting up onstage to parade in a swimsuit. It is SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS! A girl committing to compete in a pageant is a girl that has an endless passion for service. She is competing for a title that is going to allow her to raise awareness for causes that no one even thought of as issues.

My true belief is volunteerism and service is the strongest way a girl could build self esteem. Yes a girl can volunteer on her own without a pageant, and I encourage this strongly. But when she has more opportunities to serve or can use a crown or title as a way to open doors, this is truly inspiring. The contestant is going to have so many opportunities to serve her community in every way she sees fit. The Miss America program allows her to serve until her little giving heart will just soar. In fact, I believe a stronger passion for service will be born.

When I competed in pageants, I was able to hold a huge raffle for my platform, which at that time was Children's Miracle Network. To be honest, it was competing in a pageant that inspired me to do this. I don't think I would have had the idea or the motivation for all the work if I didn't have a second purpose behind it. I walked away feeling so accomplished and like I could do HARD things. All the organizing & planning that went into it also helped me gain communication skills that have been so beneficial to me.

4. Communication and Interview Skills -

It's always been a joke in the pageant world,  if you can handle a pageant interview with 5 judges who come from all walks of life, you can handle ANYTHING! Prepping for a pageant interview and answering on stage questions allows a contestant to gain skills that will benefit her for the rest of her life.
Communication skills develop, the more she works hard to prepare for what is to come.

I believe communication skills are very important for any girl looking to gain confidence. A pageant encourages her to get out of her shell and meet and talk to new people. A contestant will also be given several opportunities to public speak allowing her to feel comfortable in front of big and small groups of people.

The communication skills she will gain, will not only help her in the pageant world, it will also help her in all other aspects of her life; such as getting a job, public speaking, asking for connections, public relations and it will even enhance her normal every day conversations.


Scholarships provide an amazing opportunity for girls to carry on with her education when financial setbacks may not allow this. Scholarships are not just reserved for the winner, they are often given to several attendants as well as the winner of the Miss Congeniality award.

Scholarships encourage a contestant to take her education seriously. When a girl feels school is important, she does better in all areas of life. Education is so important for any girl wanting to develop strong self esteem and confidence.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I was never meant to win...

Many of you know I have competed in nine pageants. They never came easy for me. I didn't have a performing arts talent growing up. I had to spend 3 hours a day practicing the piano, just to even be decent enough to perform one song on a stage. 

But I do know Heavenly Father had a purpose in this situation. I was never meant to win.
Yes I was meant to compete; it was an option I know he approved of, because miracles and tender mercies happened in the most incredible ways. There were so many times where things worked out that I had no control over AT ALL. But God did and he made it possible for me. 

Today I was reading an article about the newly crowned Miss Utah and it hit me strong and to my core. It was something I had thought about, but this was Heavenly Father's whisper - confirming my thought. 

I will share a bit of it with you. Miss Utah's platform is "Get Real: Embracing a Positive Body Image Through Media Smarts." For the past few years I have felt that I have a very strong purpose to help girls gain confidence and help them love who they are from the inside out. I have started working on many projects to make this happen and with God's help, it has started falling into place.

But here is the confirmation I needed. One of the comments on this article stated "I'm sure she is a lovely person, but honestly...listening to someone talk about positive body image can be a bit tough to swallow coming from a beauty queen." This is a very good point. Someone who seems to have everything going for them with all the beauty and glam and crown, it would be hard for girls to truly believe what she is saying, because she appears perfect from the outside.

Here's where I am going to get vulnerable and let you in. I want girls to know why I am so passionate about building their self esteem, because it means the world to me.

I had the OPPORTUNITY of being shy growing up.
am GRATEFUL I was an introvert which lead me to feel like I didn't have as 
many friends as I wanted. 
I was LUCKY to experience low-self esteem in Jr. High.
It was an HONOR to go through heartache in relationships.
I was BLESSED with acne after pageants.
I was PRIVILEGED to be bullied in elementary school.
I was FORTUNATE to know what a manipulative relationship feels like. 
It was a GIFT to only get asked out twice in high school.
I had the BENEFIT of going through peer pressure, loneliness, body image issues, 
doubt, anxiety, OCD, not having dreams fulfilled and SO MUCH MORE.

Every single thing I have gone through has made me that much more relate able to teen girls and women. I am the girl that I am today, after going through some really hard experiences. I am now able to see how all of these things can really affect a girl's self-esteem, but I have the tools now to help her build her own confidence and find the beauty within. 

I know exactly what it feels like to be THAT girl, so I seek every day to help girl's know
that these worldly things do not define who she is. Worth and beauty will always start and be 
found from within.

Had I won a pageant, maybe I wouldn't be able to relate to girls on the level they
need me to be on. Just maybe Heavenly Father has a plan for me to reach girls in a way I could never reach them, had I worn a crown on my head telling them 
something they couldn't even see past.

Heavenly Father knows what he is doing. He uses your triumphs to bless the lives of 
others. If I have gone through everything I have in order to help girls, it has all been 
worth it. All the glory goes to him, my desire to help others goes to him.
What a blessing it is that he gave me the strength I needed to get through these 
trials and overcome them so I can hopefully  help empower many girls along the way.