Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Lesson of the Train

I am so honored to have my friend Jamie on the blog today. She is someone I have so much admiration and respect for.

Jamie created www.writinginthestillness.com as a place of peace, comfort, and rest from the cares of our busy world. In this space she writes about peace, following your dreams, faith, and creating family memories among other things. She believes that in this world of evil and uncertainty, there is also so much of good and beauty—if we know how to look. Her small and simple hope is that when others read her words, they will be lifted to new heights and feel closer to their Heavenly Father. Jamie is also a contributor on www.multiplygoodness.com -- a community of like-minded believers seeking to spread goodness to the world.

Jamie has lived in several states throughout her life and Portugal for two years, where she served a mission with her family. She has her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, but is currently living her dream as a homemaker. She lives with her husband Patrick and their three sweet children. She loves to beautify her home, create family traditions, record family memories, plan vacations, and curl up with a good book and a cozy blanket.

The Lesson of the Train

Lately, I have been writing on my blog all about following your dreams: the importance of having a dream, how to find the dream you are meant to live now, and the 7 step process of turning your dreams into reality.

But today I want to focus on how to get answers and guidance as you go about creating your dreams.

Even when we make the best of plans, there will be days when we find ourselves lost, scattered, and somewhat ungrounded. This was me yesterday. The weight of all my current dreams started feeling heavy and cumbersome. Stretched in too many directions, time was slipping away all too fast. Does this ever happen to you? The words of my seven-year-old son at the dinner table made me smile: “Time is like the swoosh of a jet plane,” he commented. And he was right.

So many questions hounded me and yet I felt no spare seconds gracing my day in which to commune with my Father and wait for His answers.

So we hurried through dinner and I hurried off to a Young Women’s meeting and afterwards hurried into my car to hurry home. My fingers instinctively went to the music dial, but I paused, and decided that tonight I would just listen in the stillness of my car to the whisperings of the Spirit. I thought to myself how lucky I was to have a seven-minute drive home to ponder. But then I wondered if seven minutes would be enough to “solve my world problems.”

I rounded the corner and saw railroad lights flashing, brake lights of the cars in front of me, and the slow chug of a passing train. I slowed to a stop and put my car in park. I knew how long these trains could be and I offered an audible prayer thanking the Lord for this tender mercy.

Because in the quiet of my old car waiting for the train to pass in the twilight, Heavenly Father helped me solve my problems.  All He needed was my time, and in return, He gave me deep peace.

So on those days when questions flood, and commitments crowd, and time starts “swooshing like a jet plane,” remember the lesson of the train and choose to pause. Choose to go somewhere quiet—even if only for a few minutes, to commune and ponder. Pour out your heart to the heavens and listen.

Because He will meet you in the stillness…

Monday, March 30, 2015

Overcoming embarrassing moments - don't even worry about them

{Don't worry bout a thing - shedaisy}

Ever had a really embarrassing moment? I have two mortifying ones in my life. 
The second one happened yesterday. 

It's so easy to get caught up in these moments, replaying them over and over in your mind until they destroy all the self esteem you worked so hard for. And that's why I'm writing this post, to tell you DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT! People will forget these moments and five years down the road you're going to laugh about it anyways, right?! So why not just laugh about it RIGHT NOW! Brush it off and don't worry about it. 

It's in the past so don't let the embarrassment steal away your happiness that you deserve to have right now! Be happy that you have funny stories to tell your children and grandchildren down the road. Be thankful that you have something worth writing about in your journal tonight.

The motto I'm trying to live by is... 

"Life is only as _______ as you make it." 

For the sake of this post, I'm filling in that blank with AWKWARD. So life is only as awkward as you make it, and if I chose not be embarrassed by that moment, that is a choice that allows me to have my happiness and a peace of mind and it can't steal anything away from me. 

So next time something horrifically mortifying happens in your life, choose to laugh it off and embrace it. These moments are memories to be filed away for the days you need a good laugh! Also tell a friend about them so you can laugh together, it makes it more fun! And then they can remind you of the moment later down the road when you need a pick me up! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spiritual Lessons from Pasta

I was listening to a conference talk one morning, reminding us that if we want His spirit to always be with us, we always have to have the Savior in our minds at all times. I stopped and thought to myself for a moment, "How many times am I thinking of my Savior, especially while I am at work?" Of course thoughts of my Savior come to my mind at least a few times a day, especially when praying or feeling alone and needing comfort, but ALL the time? No, sadly that wasn't the case for me. I have at least three pictures on each wall of my bedroom of the savior, totaling about 10 pictures of Christ. They all speak to my heart in different ways and each picture has helped me through a different trial. I took one of these pictures of my Savior and put it in my purse and headed off for work.

When I got to work, I taped it to my computer. I'm an extremely visual person. I knew I needed to be able to see him and visually feel my Savior close to me if I wanted to keep him in my mind and heart at ALL times. As I got to work, it started to be a pretty busy day and I was feeling a bit bogged down. My happy spirit that was shining through so brightly the day before seemed to be lacking. Then an individual did something to me that hardened my heart. I was frustrated and annoyed and didn't understand the why. I quickly forgave and continued on serving this individual, but something in my heart was still frustrated and I couldn't seem to let it go from my mind. After I was done assisting, I sat back down and my desk and there it was, the picture of my Savior and the words instantly followed, "What would Jesus do?" My heart softened a bit more but I was still pretty worn from the day and I just wanted the day to be over.

I headed home for lunch. Deciding what I was going to eat, I put on a cd of peaceful piano music by Marshall McDonald. I then realized I was really desiring pasta, so I decided that's what I was going to make. While the water was coming to a boil, I sat down to read from my favorite book EVER, 'Becoming His'. I read a story in there about a wise heart (you'll have to read it for yourself) but I could feel the spirit start to speak to my heart and energy started to exchange the feelings worn out exhaustion I had five minutes previous. 

I started to pour the box of pasta into the boiling water. Stirring the pasta I recognized my state of mind and the excitement I felt to precede with my day. AND THEN my mind was led to recall an experience from while making pasta three weeks ago. During this experience, the spirit told me to ponder upon lessons I could learn from my boiling pot of spaghetti. I thought long and hard about the concept of hot water and how it softens noodles and makes them so much better, it changes the formation because of heat. I had reflected upon what other lessons to take away from that experiences a few times since but I never came up with anything too profound. I kept wondering what Heavenly Father was trying to teach me. What principle was I missing that he would have me learn? Why would he desire that I reflect so hard on such an interesting thing?

As I was standing in my kitchen, reflecting upon that experience, I looked down at the noodles softening to an edible taste, this experience flooded back into my mind and the words SOFTENED HEART spoke loud and clear and the spirit surrounded me. I really wasn't supposed to learn anything too profound from my boiling pot of water three weeks previously, but I was supposed to learn the concept of pondering. Of really focusing and reflecting on the principles Heavenly Father tries to teach me daily. 

This experience taught me the more I ponder over principles, or scriptures, or spiritual lessons and replay them in my mind over and over again, the more it sticks in my mind and becomes written on my heart. I have been overlooking pondering for far too long. I think of every principle that has ever stuck with me and it's because I took the time to ponder it, mediating over it, and think of it from every angle I could comprehend.

Joseph Smith even says he "reflected on it again and again." {JSH 1:12}. The more we reflect, the more it becomes a part of who we are. I want to reflect more. I want to open my eyes and my heart for understanding of what the Lord is trying to show me. 

This was such a simple but extremely spiritual experience. I find that I learn in the simplest and silliest of ways, and I LOVE it! It wasn't by accident this all happened in the same day either. Heavenly Father helped me to recognize His hand in helping me to soften my heart as I kept praying for it over and over. I LOVE the way the Lord teaches me. I LOVE the way I can fill the spirit so strongly as I boiling a pot of noodles. Perhaps you don't learn this way and that's OKAY! Just remember to PONDER and to ponder often! Pray about what you ponder and you will learn how the spirit speaks to you. Spiritual lessons are supposed to be found in the every day journey of life. Look for them and you will find them. Ask Heavenly Father to teach you and I promise He will, just be sure your eyes are open and your heart is in a place where the message will get through!  

"The Lord has told us continually to ponder His word in order that we may understand." (Knowing what you believe, believing what you know) I STRONGLY encourage you to read this talk!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The secret to seeing daily tender mercies

Have you ever felt lonely or like you have been completely forgotten? That feeling where nothing is working out the way you expected it  and you find yourself seeking out Heavenly Father's help more than ever before? And even though you have this deep knowledge engraved inside of you that He loves you and cares so much about you, you can't help but wonder how much He cares or when it will stop feeling like you have been forgotten or when relief will come.

I can't help but believe everyone has had this feeling or one very similar to it in their life. It is painful and it hurts. It's one of the most painful feelings and it brings me to my knees and to tears every time I experience this very keen feeling wondering why Heavenly Father hast forsaken me. Remember, Christ asked that same question once and I know without a doubt my pain can't even slightly compare to the agony Christ felt in Gethsemane, taking on all the pains, sins, and sorrows of everyone in the world. And while Christ asked "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Heavenly Father had actually not left His side, but He had to know how we would feel as mortals. 

Yesterday morning I woke up with this very sharp feeling of sadness that made getting out of bed extremely hard for me.  I remember specifically saying my morning prayers, kneeling at my bedside and I asked Heavenly Father to show me that He is in the details of my life. I knew that He cared but I needed a reminder. I went about my day, it was a hard one because emotions have this power to cloud your mind and take away all of your energy. That evening something happened that made me feel even more alone than I had felt earlier that day. I thought I knew what brought me happiness and I was expecting that to happen. When it didn't and I noticed I had been left behind, I felt a little betrayed and forgotten. Until a few moments later something worked out so miraculously that was even better than I had planned for myself. The plans I had wanted and started to create in my mind for myself didn't even seem nearly important as the plans that now laid before me. An opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands stood right before my eyes and I soon started to forget all about myself and the emotions I had been feeling that day.

I then remembered my prayer earlier that morning, "Heavenly Father, PLEASE show me that you are in the details of my life." This answer to my prayer shone brighter than the sun. He has always been in the details, but this experience was something that proved I was not forgotten. He already knows exactly what you need before you ever ask for it. {3 Nephi 13:8} but we pray so we can have help in seeing that those are the blessings we needed. We pray to remind ourselves to always keep looking for the tender mercies. We pray so we can witness the miracles and blessings Heavenly Father is always giving us on a daily basis.

Sometimes in the rough moments, we forget that Heavenly Father always has a better way. We forget that He knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. We forget that His ways are amazing and His timing is perfect. Sometimes I find myself having to ask, "Dear Father, please remind what I may have forgotten." It's the little things we can't afford to forget. We can't afford to stop asking to see Heavenly Father's hand in our lives. We can't afford to forget that His love is infinite and doesn't only come in certain moments of our life, it is always there! We can't afford to stop looking and inviting that love in. He will lead us to incredible experiences and opportunities to be an instrument in His hand. He will show us through small and simple things that His love is ALL we need, if we would just but ask. 

What might you have forgotten or be overlooking to know that Heavenly Father is in every single detail of your life? If you can't see the blessings pouring over you, ask yourself - what simple principle have you forgotten to believe in this very day!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

#DearMe - International Women's Day

This post is in celebration of International Women's Day, which is today March 8th! You Tube took a global initiative to inspire and empower girls everywhere through the hashtag DearMe. Encouraging girls to give advice to their younger selves. 

With my passion for girls and empowerment, I immediately knew I had to jump on board and give some advice to my younger teenage self. While we can't go back in time and relive moments or all of high school (which, let's be honest, some days I dream of doing), we can start now to take these lessons learned and pass them on, and that's why I had to get involved. 

This may be a letter to my younger teenage self, but it's also a letter to every teenage girl out there! Perhaps as girls, we can all unite together and learn from one another.


Dear Ashley Marie,

Make more friends!! Get to know others and stop being so inwardly focused. Don't ever worry about what others will think of you! Just be yourself and you'll make more friends than you can possibly imagine. Ask questions, the deep questions that will help another to pour their heart out to you. Be vulnerable and let others into your heart. The only way to make friends is to establish connections.

Stop living in your confined comfort zone. You say you suck at all sports, well how would you know if you haven't played a whole lot! Get up and go live a little. Take a chance on the things you think you're not good at. You won't ever learn to become good at something  if you make up a preconceived notion. You won't ever know your passions and what you enjoy in life if you don't take a chance and explore what this beautiful world has to offer.

Try out for teams more often and learn to enjoy taking chances. Try out for the dance team, even if you don't think you will make it. Join the track team, even if you don't have any friends that will do it with you, I mean hello, what a perfect opportunity to make more friends. 

Stop dwelling on not getting asked to many of the dances. Your worth does not come from boys and their opinions about you. Your worth does NOT come from the amount of guys that are interested in you and asking you on dates. The way your dating life looks in high school is not determination for how it ends up in college and beyond. Dating should NEVER be a popularity contest or where self worth is stemmed from. Just be you and opportunities will arise at the perfect time. 

Homework and studying has more of a purpose than you can imagine, the lessons you are learning right now aren't just going to help you in the career field, they will carry you through life. Push yourself more to study subjects that don't come easy to you. Stretch your mind and obtain all the knowledge you can possibly acquire. I promise your future self will thank you ten fold for it.

Be courageous! The only reason you are so shy is because you're living in fear. Who cares what others think. Who cares what others say! Who cares if they don't like you, and if they don't agree with you. Heavenly Father is for you, so who could ever be against you?

You have SO MUCH power to make a difference that it is unbelievable. Service is your forte', compliments are second nature to you, and letter writing is your greatest strength. Don't ever believe that voice inside that says "You can't make a difference by smiling". Turn off the voices that are telling you that you don't matter or that you aren't even noticed. Just a "Hey" in the hallway has so much power to change a life. You have more compassion than most people your age - USE it! Give everything you have to offer because this is your calling, this is your strength. Notice others more and STOP waiting on others to notice you!

Choose a mentor, someone a grade or two older than you and ask them questions about life, school, boy advice, and friendship. You need more people in your life to open up to and also to help. Be open and forward in finding those who can teach you and build you up on this long journey. You're going to make it, I promise!

When your parents ask you how school was, smile and kneel down right there to thank Heavenly Father for providing you with a mom and a dad who care about you. Don't roll your eyes or get annoyed that they care, be overwhelmingly thankful that you have such a good home to return to every single night.

I think the biggest piece of advice I could tell you is to BE FEARLESS and BE PATIENT! Heavenly Father is in control, boy, oh, boy I wish every second of every day you could see just how important you are to Him and how he is guiding your life. He is in every single detail of your life. He loves you and He will never let you fail. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I want to be a journalist when I grow up...

People always ask me why I want to be a journalist. I pause and think for a moment, usually with a "uhh..." Or "I don't know". Then I'll say because I love writing stories and then I'll quickly change the question because I didn't have an answer I believed would actually satisfy the individual probing. 

Well today something clicked. I believe we ALWAYS have the answers inside of us. How far they may be buried is a completely different story but today the answer to this particular question floated to my conscious level and I felt a burning in my heart that had been missing for awhile. 

Journalism ignites this passion within me because, well...I hate talking about myself. If you know me in the slightest, you know if you ask me a question, I'll answer it very quickly and maybe not even fully, then I'll very quickly turn the question or multiple questions right back to you. I love learning other people stories and I feel we as humans have so much to learn from the stories and experiences of others. They happen to us to create who we are after all. Today I realized how inspired and enlightened I feel after I  learn about an individual's past and the journey they have been on to get where they are right now in this moment. I realized the strength and skill I have at asking the deep questions that can bring emotions to the surface level which can help that individual learn more about who they are as a person and the strength and endurance that lives inside of them.

Now I realize I sound like I describing the job of a therapist, and I've thought about that occupation many times, believe me. But I have just have this passion for learning about individuals and their stories and wanting the world to see who they are after the mountain they have climbed. Journalism (in a positive light) is an opportunity for many, many lives to be touched. 

Robin Roberts story has personally touched my life. If you are unfamiliar with it, go here. Robin's strength and optimism inspires me in multiple ways. When I'm struggling or going through a rough patch, I think of her and how she was able to overcome her weeks and months with no sunlight. I want stories to be told. I want to ask the deep questions and inspire others. I want to change the world through the simple and profound stories. I want the words I write on a page to touch others. 

I only write these words because I had the coolest experience today that made me feel as if I was living me dream, these ah-ha moments just kept rising to my conscious level. Some of the reasons I'm not going to write out at the moment, and to be honest I'm still discovering a few.

If you get anything out of this post, just please trust what you feel to be right for you. After praying about something but still not having the WHY of what you feel you need to do, TRUST it and in the right and perfect timing, it will be the Spirit that reveals the answers to you. But don't give up, keep at what you feel to be right in your heart after speaking to Heavenly Father about it.