Friday, January 30, 2015

Think the best of each other

Do you ever have those days where you are trying your absolute hardest and it feels so right and so perfect to you that you can't see how any other way could possibly be right? I've felt that a lot lately as much as I hate to admit. Sometimes the thought crosses my mind "Well I'm right, so there is no way you could possibly be right as well." But then the other thought crosses my mind, going back to THIS people pleasing post..."Oh, well if they're right, I guess I'm wrong and I have to change the way I see things or do things." 

I've experienced this in a few different situations lately. Sometimes I forget that my way may not be perfect, and that others see things and do things differently and that's okay. We all have different backgrounds, different beliefs, different ideas, and different knowledge... because let's face it, we're different! And we were born different for a reason. But what if while we all think our way is the absolute greatest way in the world, we accepted the way others are doing things? What if others are doing the absolute best way they know how?

Sometimes I tend to forget that others are giving everything they have...

Sometimes I take things personally, but what if they were loving and giving the best way they knew how and I took it the wrong way because I could only see my way and how I would approach the situation?

Sometimes I wonder if others were paying attention in the meeting or in the class because their thoughts and ideas aren't the same as mine, but what if they just understood it differently than I did?

Sometimes it's easy to see that other's testimonies are different, but what if faith comes easier to some than others and they are giving every single thing they have to offer into their faith?

Sometimes I feel that other's have a lot more luck or opportunity than I do, but what if they struggle in areas of life that come easy to me? Or what if they have different missions to fulfill and different lessons to learn?

We each have been given different lives, different personalities, different attributes and features, different strengths, and talents, and flaws. We are not the same and we should never strive to be the same.

So what if we all just assumed all of the time that every person is doing the best they know how to do? How would relationships be better if we were more patient or understanding, recognizing that we understood things differently from one another but we are giving it everything we have to offer.

Faith is believing in people, 
because who are we to judge? 

Who are we to assume we are doing everything perfectly and other's are not?

What if we took the time to appreciate everything that others are doing? What if we stopped focusing on the things we feel are missing?

What if we all came to acceptance that while there is always room for improvement, none of us our perfect and together along this journey we are doing the absolute best that we know how.

Everyone has their own way to love, their own way to give, their own way to believe and understand. Let's be more patient, more kind, and more tolerant for those who aren't doing things "OUR way".

Elder Holland said it best! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

As you sow, so shall you reap

Reading the Book of Mormon doesn't come easy to me. I've always struggled to understand the stories and the doctrine that come from the scriptures. For the past month, I can't seem to get enough of my scripture study. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I laugh because studying my scriptures IS my free time. I'm studying while I'm drinking my hot chocolate in the morning. I'm studying when I go home to eat lunch, and I'm studying up until the late hours of the night. I can't seem to put all my amazing gospel books and scriptures down to save my life. I have a tendency of leaving these books around the house because they are in my hands at all times. 

I wanted to share some insight into why I believe that has changed for me personally.

The church just barely came out with a new bible video, if you haven't seen it, you should! The church does such a good job at putting these videos together, they are very well done. This one is called 'The Parable of the Sower'. 

When they ask The Savior "Why speakest though unto them in parables?" (Matthew 13:10) he replies... 

    . . .Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  (Matthew 13:11,12) 
The JST for verse 12 says: “For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance;   But whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."  (Matthew 13:10,11, JST)  

Christ then goes on, saying...
 "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias concerning them, which saith, By hearing, ye shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing, ye shall see and shall not perceive.  For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them."  (Matthew 13:12,13,14, JST) 

Christ had been addressing “great multitudes” (Matthew 13:2) and generalizing about the Jewish people, many who were unbelieving.  Perhaps some of their attitudes were like the attitude of Amulek who testified, “I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart, . .” (Alma 10:6). 

For the one who were faithful, however, the lessons in these parables were understood in a completely different light. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. And blessed are you because these things are come unto you, that you might understand them.”  (Matthew 13:15, JST)  Our ability to “see”,  “hear”, and learn the teachings of the parables is directly correlated to how much we desire to see, hear, and understand. 

People seeing the exact same event, reading the exact same words, and hearing the exact same words can often see, see, hear, and learn differently. This is the reason you can open your scriptures and learn something new every time you do so. You will never run out of lessons to learn depending on what you're going through in life. Depending on where we are, what we are doing, and the lesson He is trying to teach us is what determines what we get out of the words we read. Our hearts can't be touched if they are in the wrong state (such as hard-hearted and cold vs. humble). 

So for me personally, I always had the desire to understand the words of the scriptures, but a lot has changed in my life as of late. I have never sought so hard to seek out the words of Christ. I have never put everything I had into scripture studying like I do lately. My eyes were always there, but they are now constantly open as I'm reading, always searching for more. I'm understanding things differently because I'm approaching the studying differently.

Questions for pondering:

How much do you desire to understand His teachings?
What are you willing to sacrifice until you do understand?
What are you willing to give up for the Lord to be able to speak clearer to your heart?

I'm not perfect at this by any means, but day by day I am learning and growing because this desire is in me and I'm reaping what I sow. (D and C 6:33)

This morning I had an interesting experience, I usually read my scriptures before I leave for the day. I woke up meh, there is no other word for it. My heart wasn't as humble as it could of been and I yearned for that feeling so I started studying a few principles, and nothing. I got on my knees and prayed for understanding as to why I was feeling motionless and I was putting in the effort and I still wasn't receiving anything. Then I got up and started reading some more. NOTHING! I then got on my knees again, pleading to feel the spirit so I wouldn't feel like this all day long. I started reading about a different principle and slowly but steadily light came, reading that principle led me to ask differently questions in my prayers than I initially was just a few minutes prior.

Now, I don't think what I was studying was what made the difference. Sometimes Heavenly Father will make you aware of the lessons He is trying to teach you and the principles and doctrine you need to focus on, but usually He doesn't care what you are studying as long as you are studying. What I learned from this experience, however, is sometimes Heavenly Father wants to see just how much you care to feel of His spirit. How far are you willing to walk to understand His teachings? How hard are you willing to work to nourish the seeds that have been planted within you? It took 3 prayers and an hour of reading, studying, and pleading before He was willing to show me the light. 

When light and understanding doesn't come easy, stay faithful and just keep going! The harder you work, the greater your reward!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Ways to overcome temptation

Today, my amazing friend Jared taught an incredible lesson in Sunday School about Christ being tempted in the wilderness. It was a class where after you could ponder on the questions and the doctrine being taught for hours on end. His lesson was so profound I wanted to share some of his lesson, mixed with my own thoughts so that can be reviewed over and over again. He posed the question, "What does Convenient Christianity look like?" This could make up a discussion for hours, but let's break down the word CONVENIENT. Convenience means easy, with little or no effort. Convenience fits will with another's activities, plans, needs, and dare I add desires. Convenience is not painful, not hard, not something that has to be worked at or for, and something that is not challenging in the slightest.

Think of a time in your life that has been really hard or challenging that you had to overcome? Would you take that experience away from your life, which also includes the lessons you learned, the blessings that came after, and the character that was resulted from such a trying experience? Most likely not!!! 

Christ went through three types of temptations while in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11)

(Matthew 4:2-3) Satan tempted Christ to turn stone into bread, which relates to the natural/physical man. He had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, right now eating would not be a bad thing, as Elder Holland put it, "The temptation is not in the eating. He has eaten before, he will soon eat again, he must eat for the rest of his mortal life." The temptation lies within doing it the easy way, abusing his power.

(Matthew 4:5-6) Satan tempted Christ to cast himself down the pinnacle to show angels would save him, so he could prove he Christ and have more followers. It's a VERY deserved and worthy accomplishment he is seeking, HOWEVER not yet!! It is much too soon. His ministry had just barely begun. Elder Holland states:"But even the Son of God must wait. The Redeemer who would never bestow cheap grace on others was not likely to ask for any himself." All good, righteous blessings we seek after take time and much effort, patience, and often times of aching for guidance or relief.

(Matthew 4:8-9) Satan tempted Christ to worship him to gain worldly power. To arrive at a point where Christ will one day rule the world, he first must go through much inconvenience, trial, pain, and suffering. (D&C 19:18)

Nothing easy or convenient comes without a price. Heavenly Father wants us to learn and grow and that comes from overcoming temptations and never taking the easy way through any situation. So often the prettiest view is up the longer hill, the hill that causes pain, the hill that is NOT popular or trendy. But the risk is FAR too great for fitting in. Stand out. The power to overcome temptation lies within you. There is ALWAYS a way out!! Look for it and believe in it! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The easiest way to overcome temptation is by first avoiding it in the first place:

Here are 5 ways to overcome temptation:

1. Surround yourself with people who share the same standards and moral values as you. While it's important we aren't judging others and we are loving and fellowship those who don't share standards, you can't risk your own eternal happiness. Pray often for guidance in balancing such relationships and always avoid the situations or places they may enter.

2. Memorize a favorite hymn. Any time inappropriate thoughts or a temptation enters your mind, start signing the hymn in your mind and these thoughts will leave your mind.

3. Get rid of media that could cause the spirit to leave. Books, movies, songs, posters, magazines, pictures, etc. Check out the For Strength of the Youth pamphlet to see if your media follows the guidelines of the church. 

4. Pray morning and Evening! This one is the simple primary answer that actually offers the most spiritual power. (Matthew 6:6) Heber J. Grant said, "I have little or no fear for the young man or the young woman, who honestly and conscientiously supplicate God twice a day for the guidance of His spirit. I am sure that when temptation comes they will have the strength to overcome it by the inspiration that shall be given them." I strongly suggest that you pray often for your will to match his for greater power over temptations.

5. Read scriptures daily. There are so many great stories in the scriptures that teach us about and show us why we are here, where we are going, and how to earn the greatest blessing of entering the celestial kingdom. When we are focused on the purpose of who we are and where we are going, everything else becomes easier. It's easier to make decisions, it's easier to avoid media that takes away the Spirit, and it becomes easier to focus on the Savior as he is the one we can all follow as we 'Come unto Him'.

While it would be so easy to believe that grace is enough and we can live a convenient life at all times, what good would that do? How would we become changed and renewed? How would we then become more Christ-like, more humble, and experience the greatest happiness that will ever be made known to man-kind? Everything that is hard and difficult and costs a price or a sacrifice, will ALWAYS, always, always be worth it in the end. 

I bear you my testimony that I know when we choose to avoid or resist temptation, we are always blessed for it. Succumbing to temptations will always have a consequence whether it is now or later, there will be a price to pay. I know living in the world we live in today, it can often be tempting to set aside standards so that you "fit in" or become popular, and while a social status may mean everything to you, I promise nothing will bring you greater peace and happiness than choosing to follow Christ. Sure, you may be lonely at times but as I've told many girls before, when you feel lonely or left out, Heavenly Father uses that time to get your attention to teach you something important. This is time you can use to become like Him. I bear my testimony to you that this sacrifice, no matter how burdensome you feel this it is, it's worth it and you will be blessed! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

"Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well." - Elder Holland

Thanks for the great lesson, Jared!

For more info on this topic found HERE and HERE .

And THIS talk is incredible for turning your will and desires to match His.

Oh yeah, and I just LOVE this quote!! I couldn't not share.

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ because He was the only man who never yielded temptation, is the only man who knows to the full what temptation means." 
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, P. 142)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sister Dalton {My Role Model}

Sister Dalton came and spoke to the University of Utah Institute today. She is one of my absolute favorite people in this world, in fact, she is my role model!!

If you don't know much about Sister Elaine S. Dalton, allow me to tell you how absolutely incredible she is. She was the General Young Women's President from 2008 - 2013. She has ran 17 marathons. She loves running because that is her time to be alone with Heavenly Father. She is now a member of the board of trustees for Utah Valley University and serving with Uplift families (an organization founded by Utah's First Lady). Oh yeah, and her lucky number is 13! :)

To every girl out there, it's important to have a role model. Someone who inspires you to be better. What do you look for in a role model? You see how they act, how do they dress, how do they treat others? These traits will give you clues to what they love in their life and how they choose to respect what is most important to them. 

By the way Sister Dalton acts, dresses, and displays such love for all those she is around, I know that she loves Heavenly Father and she constantly seeks to invite the spirit into her life.

Here are the notes I took from the fireside...

* You are not ordinary! You have been prepared and reserved to be on the earth at this time!

* So many are listening too much to the voices of the world.

* In the Young Women's theme, it states "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who love us" "We will stand as witnesses of God at all times." - These two statements are absolute truths and they are never changing!

* Each of you have a divine and unique purpose to fulfill.

* Always act will thy part!

* The atonement makes it possible for us to repent and change because of who we are and where we are going. Because of the atonement, we can one day stand spotless before Heavenly Father.

* You will be prepared for ANYTHING if you will give 100% to three things. Pray morning & evening and read the Book of Mormon every single day! If you can only fit in 5 minutes of reading some days, then fine. Just do it, never, ever missing a day!

* You are here on earth at the time opposition as well as opportunities are here at the greatest they have ever been. 

* 3 things to look for in a husband - Honors his priesthood, Loves the Lord, and wants a family - everything else will take place on it's own. 

* You can change by relying on the Savior's atonement to do that.

* I can do hard things! {Hanging in her office} THEN she added "In the strength of the Lord, I can do ALL things!

* You are getting too many worldly messages that are saying you are not enough! You are enough because you are a child of God!

* Families are the central plan of the gospel and our purpose. Of course Satan is going to try and attack it the most. 

* Put the Lord first in ALL things!

* What are you spending your time on? Time is such a precious gift from Heavenly Father and you can't waste a single minute of it.

* There is too great a risk if you lose the spirit. That's why every show, every song, every movie you choose to watch and listen to matters!

* We CANNOT yield or compromise if the world is against us.

* We are surrounded by things that keep us from being pure. Guard yourselves constantly!

* Purity is such a big deal that we have the opportunity for the sacrament every single week so we can become pure again to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

* You've got to do EVERYTHING you can to be pure so you can be worthy of the Holy Ghost.

* There was a war in Heaven and WE WON THE WAR!!

* You are here to stand as a witness to Heavenly Father.

* One of Satan's biggest goals is to distract you from the temple.

* The closer we come to Him, the closer we come to each other, and that's how we can make a difference.

* You can learn differently than any other person on the earth through study and by faith through the Holy Ghost. Because you have the spirit, you can be put on the cutting edge.

* Invite the Spirit into your life always!

* Be pure so the spirit can dwell within you!

* Pray every single night for forgiveness.

* The secret to success - Turn your life over to the Lord and He will make something incredible of you!

* Success comes from PROS - Pray, Read, Obey, and Smile

* Smile even if you don't feel happy!! The Holy Ghost does not dwell around unhappy or grumpy people, it just doesn't happen.

* One virtuous Young Man or Young Women led by the spirit, can change the world!!

Here are some of my favorite talks she has given:

And this video NEVER gets old {Deep Beauty}:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Twitter

I'm on twitter a lot, maybe you could call it an addiction. I don't know, but if so I would call it a healthy one because twitter is my outlet. It's my place to share thoughts and send positive messages out into the world. 

Here's 5 reasons why I love twitter and why maybe you should too:

1. Twitter makes you think 

Every situation I go through, I try to create an inspirational thought or lesson I learned from the experience and I tweet it. This is a great way for me to have an outlet, it's kinda like free therapy in a weird way. It's also the perfect way to keep track of all the amazing things I learn, while inspiring me to think out of my box throughout the day. On top of that, I've found many things I have tweeted out have impacted others as well. I'm constantly trying to make a simple lesson out of everything that happens in my life. It's fun, it's rewarding, and I love the opportunity it gives me to think optimistically about every situation. If I'm struggling, I'll tweet the positive side of what I'm facing and it's a great reminder to me that it's not as bad as I sometimes make it to be.

2. Twitter allows you to make incredible connections 

I have made so many friends on twitter who inspire me daily. Some I have had the incredible opportunity to meet, and there are still so many I have yet to have an in-person conversation with. To be honest, as weird as it may sound, my life has been impacted and changed by a few of these people. The right people have been sent into my life at the right time and shared their stories at exactly the right moment I needed them! It's so fun to find those connections that can help me in my personal life as well as connections for opportunities for upcoming project collaborations.

I have a dear friend who has the same mission and vision in life that I do. We love catching up on each other's lives as we have only met twice. It's like we have been friends forever though, and we provide each other with encouragement and help all the time. It's such a blessing!

3. Twitter is a place to spread your message {#ShareGoodness} 

Twitter gives me a space to create a positive environment in my own little cyber world. You can literally inspire the world through your simple but empowering messages of goodness. Your impact could be huge, but you will never know if you never try. I have seen some pretty amazing experiences and opportunities come my way because I was sharing goodness. There is so much negativity and wickedness around the world. It's amazing what a little goodness and light through a message can do for individuals. 

I also love sharing my spiritual thoughts and inspirations on my blog, and Twitter helps me get my thoughts and posts out for more to see. I love spreading positive messages because you never know if someone needs the words you are willing to share, the moment you share them! 

4. Twitter helps you gain better writing skills (really in all communication)

I have found that because I'm writing so often throughout the day, I've really found myself thinking before I'm typing. My grammar has improved tons and I'm more aware of how I write all because of simple tweets. The more you practice something and do it frequently, it becomes a part of you and you become an expert in the field. I'm no where close to an expert but reading and typing messages provides me incredible amounts of opportunities to practice. Usually you write how you speak, so Twitter has also helped me in speaking my ideas as well as expressing my thoughts. The more I tweet, the stronger I feel I am at communication. 

5. Twitter allows you to become an expert at getting your point across  

Tweeting makes you think, with only 140 characters to express your thoughts with, you start to become an expert in getting your point across. Sometimes I have big ideas or stories to share and I have to reevaluate my wording to make it fit. For me this is essential because journalism is my major. It's a great way to learn how to make things short, concise, and to the point while to instantly capture the readers attention.

I'm very aware that many don't like twitter. They haven't found their need for it. However, I'm so grateful for Twitter. I realize how silly this sounds, but Twitter has had a huge impact and positive light on my life, and for that I am full of gratitude. I am grateful for every follower I have. I am grateful for the girls that message me for help and advice. I'm grateful for the constant encouragement I receive.

To any girl (really anyone for that matter!!!) that ever feels alone, lost, broken, lonely, or just needs a friend, never hesitate to direct message me. I love offering my advice and wisdom that I have gained over many life experiences. If you're going through something or just want to talk - reach out! I want to empower girls with strong self-esteem and confidence daily and I have found Twitter to be the perfect way I can do just that!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Spiritual thoughts on Christ

Today was an incredible spirit fed day. I love those days! I love making connections and learning about my Savior. I wanted to share some random but spiritual thoughts and connections that I have made today.

We sung Hymn #191 today in sacrament. I had never really studied or pondered upon these words as closely I did today. The text was written by Eliza R. Snow who was the 2nd General Relief Society President and the sister to Lorenzo Snow who was the 5th President of the church.

Behold thy great Redeemer die, A broken law to satisfy. He dies a sacrifice for sin, He dies a sacrifice for sin, That man may live and glory win.

While guilty men his pains deride, They pierce his hands and feet and side; And with insulting scoffs and scorns, And with insulting scoffs and scorns, They crown his head with plaited thorns.

Although in agony he hung, no murmring word escaped his tongue. His high commission to fulfill, His high commission to fulfill, He magnified his father's will.

"Father, from me remove this cup. Yet, if thou wilt, I'll drink it up. I've done the work thou gavest me, I've done the work thou gavest me: Receive the spirit unto thee."

Verse three hit me hard. "Although in agony he hung, no murmring word escaped his tongue." Christ so willingly came down to go through the greatest sacrifice that will ever be known to man-kind and yet he didn't even murmur once. About a month ago I had bronchitis. It took all my energy and I thought I was going to pass out every time I stood up. I was drained and physically exhausted. It was painful, it was hard, and it was frustrating not being able to do the things I could normally do because I just didn't have the strength. I'll be honest, I murmured over my simple burden.

Murmuring is a quiet or depressed reflection of ones circumstances. It is expressing discontentment with the situation you are in. 

I wasn't loud or expressive to those I was around but I was in bed wishing for the illness to go away. I remember praying about the pain I was in asking so fervently for it to go away. I know my trial was so small compared to the pain and trials that others are faced with, but I can't even fathom the sacrifice Christ so selflessly went through for you and I. His willingness to save the world and bring hope unto the lives that may never love or accept him. The pain he must have experienced and he didn't murmur one word. Wow! That's incredible and I stand in awe of the selflessness Christ carried with him everywhere he went. He was always willing to submit his will to the will of the Father. He showed admiration of Heavenly Father by magnifying His will. 


As I was studying my scriptures today, I studied 3 Nephi 17:1-10 where Christ is appearing to the multitude of the people at the temple.

Verse 1: Christ tells the people it's time for him to leave
Verse 2: Christ tells the people that he can see they are weak and they can't understand His words and teachings right now.
Verse 3: He tells the people to go home and ponder about the words he has spoken, for he will come again. He also tells the people to ask Heavenly Father for understanding.

Ashley's Perspective: Learning in school and understanding the scriptures has always been a struggle for me. I struggled to read the scriptures for awhile because it just didn't come easy and I had no idea what was going on. I've been able to personally experience for myself what it means to ask Heavenly Father that I may understand the things I am studying. The more I pray for help, prepare my mind to learn, and then I take action and study and dig deep, the greater of an understanding I have. If you have ever felt like learning is difficult for you, I testify that with deep faith and sincere prayer for help, you can start to understand and comprehend the things you need to learn. Heavenly Father wants you to learn the scriptures, He wants you to do well in school, so test this principle for yourself.

I think pondering is the greatest thing you can do for understanding.

President Henry B. Eyring said: "Reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully" ("Serve with the Spirit," Ensign Nov. 2010).

Verse 5: Christ was about to leave and he looks around at the multitude of the people and sees them in tears. appearing as they wanted to ask him to stay a little longer. 
Verse 6: He says I am filled with compassion towards you
Verse 7: He tells the people to bring all those who are sick or burdened to come hither and he will heal them.
Verse 8: He saw that their faith was sufficient, it was because of their faith that Jesus heals them.
Verse 10: All who were healed and who were whole bowed down and kissed the feet of Jesus. 

What do I learn from this study? That Christ is so selfless, he was about to leave and he saw the faith of the people and he let his heart full of charity and compassion pour over. Who can you help? Who can you bless and have more compassion for? He didn't just have compassion for one or two, he had compassion for all the multitudes. I want to become like Christ and this is an attribute I want to evaluate in my life more this week. Also in these scriptures we learn how important faith is. It was because of their faith that Christ remained a little longer to heal the sick, pray for the people, and to heal the children.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Live like you believe

About five years ago I desired to be Miss Murray. I wanted this dream to come true more than I had ever wanted anything before in my entire life. The thought of earning the crown and representing the city I had so much respect for, meant the world to me. I had competed for the crown before, but this time I knew I had to step up my game. I had been trained in positive psychology enough to know that what you believe comes true. What you think about, you bring about.

I started going on bike rides every single day during that summer, riding all around Jordan River Parkway. {Riding bikes is my favorite, I could do it all day every day in the warm summer months} As I would ride my bike, I started to think about my dream. I started to envision what it would mean if I were to really represent Murray City and have that crown placed on my head. I knew I would become a role model for so many girls if I earned that crown. I started to envision myself as if I were already Miss Murray. I would wave confidently to everyone I passed by on the parkway, "Hi. How are you? Lovely afternoon, isn't it?" My head was raised high, for if not the crown would fall off, right? Each day the more I practiced this and believed I was Miss Murray, the more I felt like I was Miss Murray and started to feel like my dream was becoming a reality.

I started to live my life as if I had already achieved my dreams. The way I walked, the way I spoke with more grace, and even the self discipline in my heart started to change. I worked hard and kept imagining over and over what it would feel like to wear the crown. This confidence of believing I was already 'her' changed my life. It changed every action, every thought, and every motivation. The crown became my focus and I believed with all my heart I was actually going to win that year.

The week leading to the night of the pageant was a hard one for me. I had prepared so well, I had believed with my entire heart and the time had finally come. I started to get to know the girls I would be competing with on a whole new level. They were amazing and I soon started to see that they had prepared and believed just as I had. I wasn't more qualified or more special than any of them. They all had the potential to take the crown. 

As I evaluated each and every girl and her talents and strengths, my heart started to sink. The faith and belief that I could win started to become covered up with doubts and fears. What was I thinking, could I really do this? I let fear get the best of me and I let negative self-talk start to eat up my faith. Slowly but surely it chiseled at a huge portion of my confidence and I didn't take home the crown that evening. I was announced as second runner up to Miss Murray. 

Why do I share this story with you? Because it relates to gaining and keeping a testimony.

So often in our lives, we desire to have a testimony, we desire to believe, we desire to work on our spiritual growth but something is lacking. We start to say, "Well if this happens, then I'll believe" or "If only my testimony was completely solid and firm, then I could actually live all the standards and commandments". Well that's not how Heavenly Father works. Faith is a beautiful thing. They don't crown you as Miss Murray, then say go prepare; go get in shape, go develop a talent, go prepare for interview, go choose a platform because now you have the crown so you know it will be worth your time! No, no, no!!! That would be SO backwards. You have to prepare FIRST!!! You have to take a chance, have faith in the process and work really, really hard for that crown.

The only sure way to gain and build  a testimony, is by living as if you already believe! A testimony will not come to you before action, faith precedes a testimony.

When I was working on rebuilding my faith back to the strength it was when I was in high school, it was hard. I struggled a lot because I was wanted my faith to come before my actions. It's so much easier to do something when you believe in it, right? I felt stuck, I didn't believe enough to have the motivation I needed. If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. I started out very slowly doing the things that I did when my faith was strong. I started diving into my scriptures more, I started to make my prayers more meaningful, and I started to serve with my entire heart. It was vital for my testimony that I took action and believed that my testimony would once again become strong like it once was. 

I had days where I was so frustrated and discouraged, thinking I would never reach my destination. I remember thoughts crossing my mind on this journey thinking I had lost my testimony forever. I longed for it more than I had ever wanted anything before, even more than I desired to be Miss Murray that year. So I thought back to that time and I started to act as if my testimony was as strong as I wished it was. I started to use the power of my mind, believing that this dream to have faith back in my life would come true. 

You have to faith it till you make it. You have to pretend you are already the person you wish to become. If you want to be a strong faithful member of the church with an unwavering testimony, live like you already do. Live your life as if you know without a doubt the church is true, then answers will come to you. Live like you believe. Make the changes and then the faith will come.

Mosiah 4:27 

 27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

Diligence and persistence will lead to a burning testimony. When the changes you are striving to make become hard, hold on to your yearning and desire and you will find it will get easier and easier! The prize will come after you do everything you can in the order Heavenly Father desires. 

Remember the week leading up to my pageant, when I started to allow doubt and fear to replace all that I had worked so hard for? Don't you dare let that happen to you! When you start doubting, and YOU WILL, listen to the spirit. The spirit is your compass, it's quiet and small but it will never lead you astray. Keep walking in the dark. Keep walking when you can't see where you are going. You are bound to go through many dark alleys and under many bridges that are without light. Don't let that scare you! Prepare for the dark times! Believe, hang onto what you do know, and let your desires and your righteous actions lead you to a very strong testimony. This will bring you the greatest happiness you could ever dream of. 

Dreams come true and testimonies can become a solid foundation for your life when you act as if your testimony and faith are perfect. Start and begin where you are right now. There will be things in your life that will need to let go of. Some things will be big, others will be small, but the more often you take the steps to get rid of the things in your life that are holding you back from progressing, the more you feel of the spirit and the stronger your faith will become.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

10 things Mary Kay and Missionary Work have in common

After being a Mary Kay consultant for 5 years and going to meeting after meeting, I learned a lot! Mary Kay has many great lessons and ideas that have really impacted my life. While I no longer sale Mary Kay, I wanted to compare what I learned in this company and apply it to what matters in my life RIGHT NOW! Missionary work is on my mind all the time, so I thought this would be a fun post. This post applies to both full time missionary work as well as every day member missionaries. 

Missionary work is one of the greatest blessings we have, yes I just said blessings. It's hard work, but it is so rewarding!!! Pray for opportunities and then start putting these ideas to work!

10 lessons I learned from Mary Kay that apply to missionary work

1. Go for the no's - talk to everyone

Mary Kay - There is this book called "Go for the no" that my directors had me read. It's a great book!! In Mary Kay, recruiting people to join your team is all a number's game. In Mary Kay, you are encourage to talk to everyone you see, everywhere you go! You never know who needs the Mary Kay opportunity in their life. You don't know who hates their job or needs an opportunity to make new money. The goal is to establish new relationships with the cute girl in line at the grocery store. You can't prejudge either. You don't have a clue what the other person is thinking or if they would be willing to come get a facial or host a party for you. The goal is to just talk.

Missionary Work - Missionary work is a number's game too. While I'm still learning about missionary work and I have a far way to go, it doesn't sit well with me that we are teaching others to count baptisms or to see how much success we can have. I personally don't believe missionary work is about success, I don't believe conversions are the main event of missionary work. While missionary work can fit in perfectly with being a number's game, I don't think it should be. Go for the no's - not just because of statistics and if you get this many no's that you will get this many yes's. To me that doesn't feel right! But go for the no's so you have the ambition to talk to EVERYONE you see. Go for the no's so you aren't prejudging because you have no clue who needs the gospel in their life. You have no idea how broken someone might be and how much they have been praying for the message you have to offer them. I personally believe that missionary work is about the people and the love they need in their life - NOT about the numbers and the statistics that prove to be true. {Just my two-cents for what it's worth}

2. Establish deeper relationships

Mary Kay - In Mary Kay, you're so busy with your three priorities, the principles that the company was built upon {God first, family second, and career third} and sometimes this can be the only thing you live for and focus on. To be honest, this was probably the thing I disliked the most about being a consultant. I LOVED the idea of having a business where you put God first and making money came last, however I disliked that they encourage Mary Kay to be your driven force in all things. I found myself calling friends to plead with them to hold a party just so I could reach a goal. Thank goodness I had such supportive friends and they were so willing, but I often found myself feeling so guilty that perhaps they felt used. Ever since I have stepped down from being a consultant, that is the one thing that allows me to just feel free, when I call up a friend, I'm not calling them JUST so I can reach a goal and make more money, I'm calling them so we can strengthen our friendship. I'm calling them so we can get together and catch up.

Missionary Work - So it is with missionary work. If missionary work is your goal right now and you have great intentions to invite others to come unto Christ so they can find that peace and happiness that is in your life - be sure that isn't your ONLY focus. What if they aren't interested right now? What if this isn't the time for them to join or come back to church, can you accept that? Do you have enough faith to trust that Heavenly Father sees your efforts and it's not about you, but about them? Are you going to stop being their friend after you find out they aren't interested, or will you love them and serve them anyways? No matter who the person is or what they believe in, they NEED friends, we all need friends! Don't make others feel like they were just a "project" or that they were doing you a favor. Make them feel as if they are so important you will love them to the moon and back no matter what the end result is. This leads to the next point. :)

3. Imagine everyone is wearing a sign that says 'make me feel important'

Mary Kay - Mary Kay Ash, the founder of the company and recognized as one of the most outstanding business women was an expert at people building. It was a passion of hers to make others feel good about themselves. She loved you no matter who you were or what your background was. She would always say "Imagine everyone has a sign around their neck that says 'make me feel important'." She was an expert at writing thank you notes, giving prizes, recognizing others for their hard work, and just loving them. When you were in the presence of Mary Kay Ash, you would undoubtedly leave her space feeling better about yourself, with an extra spring in your step. People mattered to her more than anything. Everyone secretly wants to feel like they matter, no matter who they are! We all want love and attention. Her focus in her business was the people!

Missionary Work - When trying to bring others to Christ, isn't the first thing they need is the ability to feel of God's love. The greatest way this is going to happen is through YOU! You have the greatest power inside of you because you know how real God's love is! Once His love gets inside of you, you can't hide it! The light of Christ begins to shine forth and everyone in your presence will begin to see it and feel it. Lift others up! Lift their burdens, love them! It is through the simple acts of love and kindness and just noticing others that they will feel of your love for them and right through that they will recognize the love their Heavenly Father has for them. When you make others feel important, you automatically are bringing others unto Christ.

4. Always look your best

Mary Kay - I was always taught to dress professional in Mary Kay. The company has a motto, "dress for the position you want, not the position you have." Something about dressing up makes me feel successful and I am inspired to work harder. People are attracted to people that look like they care about their selves  This has nothing to do with beauty, glamour or being conceited - this has to do with hygiene and confidence. 

Missionary Work - I believe this can be applied to missionary work too. whether full time or as a member missionary, you are an ambassador of the Lord. It's important that we represent the church in the best light. When others see you, you want them to earn your trust. Looking your best will help those you meet to be able to listen to your message because of the great first impression you have made. Dressing up may not just be for the investigators, when you're dressed nicely you tend to have ambitions of working harder. It's also respect to the Lord, you're doing His work and you love Him, what a great way to show humility.

"Appropriate dress and grooming will help you earn respect and trust. Your appearance is often the first message others receive, and it should support what you say. Always strive to present a professional, dignified, clean, and well-groomed appearance. Never allow your appearance or your behavior to draw attention away from your message or your calling." - Found HERE

5. Have materials ready to hand out at ALL times!

Mary Kay - You are strongly encouraged to have a mobile office in your car so materials can be accessed at all times. Think about it, you are out meeting so many new people on a daily basis, you never know what materials you might need and you will want to sign up and be on your team right there on the spot.

Missionary WorkStart keeping Books of Mormon, pass along cards, and reading materials with you or at least in your car. Carry a small Book of Mormon wherever you go. You never know when you'll be prompted to talk to someone. Heavenly Father loves preparation, and when you show you are prepared that is when He will bless your efforts and you will see miracles happen. Show Heavenly Father you are willing to serve Him and when you put in this effort, He will recognize it and you will be blessed.

6. Don't ever give up, don't ever loose hope

Mary Kay - Mary Kay Ash would always say "Never give up, because you never know if the next try is going to be the one that works." Another one was "The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment the miracle happens." Sometimes it would get frustrating putting in so much work, so much effort, and having success at the forefront of your mind at all times and then not seeing anything. But isn't patience a virtue? Mary Kay taught me a principle that blessed me life in many, many areas - this principle is tenacity and endurance. My directors encouraged me and pushed me past what I ever thought I was capable of doing. This hope gave me a purpose and a reason to get out of bed each morning.

Missionary Work - Missionary work is based off of faith, yes? Let me hear a big astounding YES! There will be days or weeks where you are praying for opportunities at missionary work. You will be working hard and doing everything that you can to show God that you are willing and ready and sometimes you will see it immediately and other times you won't. But you can't stop believing, you just CAN'T. When the going gets tough and the signs start to fade away and you are left with no proof that what you are doing is making any difference - that is an opportunity to put your faith to the test, will you pass? Always keep going and never give up, it's worth it!

7. You are planting seeds

Mary Kay - I was always taught in Mary Kay that they have to hear the marketing plan over and over, again and again until they really decide to do it. It's rare that someone would sign up for Mary Kay right there on the spot. But each time you share the Mary Kay opportunity, you are planting a seed and one day when the timing is right for them, they may decide to join and it's because you were planting the seeds. A huge beautiful garden of flowers doesn't just happen instantly, it's usually one seed at a time that makes a beautiful bed of roses. One thought, one marketing event, one party, one product, one interview later and all those seeds then turn into a recruit. In Mary Kay, this can also be referred to as layers.

Missionary Work - Missionary work has many layers too. First the person you are trying to befriend may or may not already be a member of the church, so it's possible they have felt the spirit before and that would be a seed. Often in missionary work, many seeds have to be planted before a conversion happens. Sometimes these can be small seeds and sometimes they have to be huge seeds. Depending on the individual, some people need more time, more water, more sunlight, more tender care than others before they are willing to come back or join the church. Being a friend is a seed, sharing your testimony is a seed, talking about church is a seed, inviting them to an activity is a seed, teaching them to pray is a seed. Sometimes you will see the miracles of these seeds right away and sometimes you have to patiently wait and one day the miracle will happen. The focus should be on the seeds, not on the result because you have no idea where their heart is and what Heavenly Father has in store. It's NEVER about the numbers, it's about wanting others to feel the peace and happiness you have in your life because of the gospel.

8. Maybe she needs me poem {OR he}

Mary Kay - In Mary Kay, this poem "Maybe She Needs Me" was shared with me and I fell in love with it. We have the knowledge of the gospel, something that can bring so much hope and happiness into another persons life. The point of this poem is to once again teach that we shouldn't prejudge because we have no idea who's life we could change by the career opportunity that we have to offer.

Missionary Work - There are SO many individuals out there who are going through life broken. Many people are searching and praying for something more, you don't know who needs the message that you have to offer, so why not offer it to everyone? It can often be selfish NOT to share! Why not get rid of you fear, put your trust in the Lord and open your mouth because who knows if you just might be the answer to somebody's prayer!

9. Mental bath only for full time

Mary Kay - Mary Kay directors STRONGLY encourage you take a daily "mental bath" to get you to the successful destination you are striving for. 

This stands for...

B - Bookings (the goal is two bookings a day - a facial, a party, or an interview)
A - Affirmations & Attitude
T - Training (30 minutes of Mary Kay inspiration and education)
H- Hotline (reporting to your director the results of your day)

Missionary Work - How do we apply this to missionary work?

B - Bookings

It is a goal of a full-time missionary to keep bookings on their schedule often so they always have someone to teach. The more they make this happen in a day, the better.

For those that are not full-time missionaries, this can be done by being actively involved in missionary work in other way. Create bookings by going out with the missionaries or by making an effort to visit someone on a daily basis. Apply this one how you see fit!

A - Affirmations and Attitude

When I think of affirmations for a missionary, I'm thinking of D&C section 4, or saying the missionary purpose aloud. Even the Young Women's theme could be applied here! 

Attitude is essential for a missionary. You have to be happy and humble if you want any results. Heavenly Father cares about your attitude so much and it is your attitude that will take you to success and happiness. Also, attitude is contagious. When you're happy and the light of Christ radiates, others are going to want what you have!

T- Training

So many ways to apply this - scripture study, conference talks, spiritual music, gospel books, Preach my Gospel. There are SO many resources for to learn more about the gospel and all of these resources will help you stay in tune with the spirit.

H - Hotline 

The most important way we can relate the hotline to missionary work is PRAYER! It is essential that we call up Heavenly Father often, asking Him for opportunities, blessings, thanking Him and even just keeping the connection open to receive revelation that will be helpful to us.

We could also relate this to reporting to mission presidents, zone leaders, bishops, or even friends that are holding you accountable.

10. Tracking, planning, and scheduling 

Mary Kay - It is essential that you plan and track every detail if you want your Mary Kay business to grow. If you don't know the numbers and the results, how will you know if you are succeeding or not? How will you know what's working and what needs to be adjusted? You have to write down the results so you can see where your going and what direction your headed. Planning is just as essential. When you plan out your day (every single hour) you get things done, that's just how it works because you know things will be off if you mess it up.

Missionary Work - In preach my gospel, planning and scheduling is strongly emphasized. Planning holds you accountable. You have to plan out your schedule and you also have to plan out your lessons and what you want to teach and when. Planning helps you to set goals, if you don't have a goal you're not going to get anywhere. Heavenly Father loves when you set goals and He feeds opportunities to you when He knows what you're trying to accomplish.