Monday, June 29, 2015

A confession about my faith

I've blogged about this video before, so apparently I wasn't done learning from it then. I must confess something... sometimes I feel my faith and my testimony is much different from others. I've seen people have spiritual experiences so easily, it's almost as natural for them to believe with no doubt as it is for them to breathe. I've seen people not live their faith and still have the strongest testimony. While I have had sacred and beautiful spiritual experiences happen in my life witnessing to me the truth, I must confess, they don't always stay on my mind or become written on my heart as long as I wish they would. 

My faith is imperfect, my testimony has to be rebuilt hour by hour or I doubt. Why? I wish I knew. How grateful I am for my many weaknesses though, my weaknesses are one of the greatest safety nets I have. It is through the gaps in my life that give me a reason to a pray and a reason for my faith to become rebuilt and steady and sure. The past little while has been hard, trying to really figure out all that I should do and exactly who Heavenly Father wants me to become, the daily moments can become long and exhausting. But one thing I do know, He won't let me fall so long as I don't doubt. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. 

In this video, Christ is walking on the sea as He assures them, "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." I've been thinking a lot about the Lord's assurances, wondering why they come to me sometimes but not always. It's been a process to learn it's not the Lord who stops sending his reaffirming words to me, it's not like he's saying "Oh, she'll be okay if I forget about her for awhile." It is actually I that stops them from coming. The problem is I do it without even a realization of it. I let the smallest fears and distractions come into my mind and just like Peter, I look down and stop looking to Christ with a bit of doubt in my heart and I immediately sink. Sinking has to be one of the worst feelings on the planet!

As Elder Holland tells of this bible story "It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In...terror he cried out, 'Lord, save me." 

This quote breaks my heart, because that's me, that's what I tend to do. I look away from the Savior with wavering faith and when I realize I am sinking too far and can't do it on my own, I then turn to him. I'm so grateful the Savior doesn't run away saying "Ashley, you betrayed me. You forgot to put your faith in me and my assurances, now I can't help you." It breaks my heart because I feel I don't always deserve his selfless and unconditional love. He doesn't care how long I was lost or how many moments it took for me to believe again and recognize I needed him, he is there just as he has always been and will continue to be. He ALWAYS has his hands ready to lift me out of the water no matter how far I have sunk, willing to carry me back to the safe ship. 

His forgiveness and His love is constant and never changing. I've been learning a lot about agency and about His guidance. How does He guide us, when it is us that are choosing the daily decisions that make up what our life will become? I believe that He knows us so perfectly and He knows our hearts because he has experienced all the joy, sorrow, pain, and happiness our hearts have been through, so he knows the exact moment we will start drowning and looking for him. He knows it because he felt it, so he is constantly prepared with an open heart to forgive and to love, knowing the exact moment we will again let him in, as it is always our choice. I can't even imagine if he didn't know my heart perfectly.

While we are here to experience pain and trials, and sometimes these pains become more than we remember signing up for, the pain will NEVER be greater than the peace we can experience from his love. That peace is the reason why I believe. The peace of the Savior is the greatest blessing I could ever know. 

Do you have any distractions keeping you from feeling the peace and love the Savior is always willing to pour out upon you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Power Is In You To Arise And Shine

I LOVE summer. All the memories, all the fun, and all the joy to be found in soaking up the sunlight. I hold many sacred, spiritual experiences in my heart that came more often than not in the summer. From trek, to girls camp, to youth conference and EFY, to the once in a lifetime Day of Celebration event...these events are where a larger part of where my testimony came from.

The lyrics to a particular camp song still ring in my heart often...

To shine is to have a quality of brightness. If we want to have a quality of brightness 

within us while taking action, there are things we must do to accomplish this. 

Always remember that the power is within YOU to Arise + Shine!

8 Steps to Having an Arise + Shine 
Kind of Day

1. Arise -  

What a great word, isn't it? Arise is a verb, a call to action. In a Mormon message, the words "I'm awake, I remember Him" pull at my heart strings. I used to use my cell phone as my alarm clock. I would leave it right next to my bed and not even get out of bed when my alarm would go off. After noticing all the notifications from social media, I found I would spend more time on my phones in the morning than actually praying, so... I decided something needed to change. 

I bought an alarm clock so I would no longer turn to my phone in the first moments of the day. I made it a pattern to ARISE, roll out of bed onto my knees and seek out my Heavenly Father. For it is only through Him that I can find the counsel to know His will for me on this beautiful day.

ACTION: Buy an alarm clock at IKEA for $1 so you no longer have to rely on your phone and become distracted. Write the words, I'm awake, I remember Him." on the clock and then start giving your thoughts to Him first thing in the morning.

2. Study the scriptures - 

One of my favorite things about girls camp was the opportunity for "solo time" in the woods. A time to be alone to seek, ponder, and pray. There is something for me about being alone in nature, God's creation and enjoying all the beauty and every detail. If you can, study the scriptures at a nearby park, take a hike until you find a nice rock to make your spot, sit in front of the temple, or simply study them in your own yard. To be an example for others, you first have to have the truth and light within yourself from daily scripture study. 

Action: Study your scriptures outside, see if you don't get something different out of them by being away from all distractions and all electronics. 
(Leave the phone in the car or at home)

3. Go outside, explore the sunshine - 

If we're being called to shine for the world to see, don't we first need some shine within us? One of my absolute favorite things about summer is the sunshine. I just can't get enough of it's warmth and light. Sunflowers have always been my favorite flower, I love the way they follow the Sun from sunrise to sunset day in and day out. 

Action: Take time to be in the sun daily (with sunscreen of course) and reflect on how you can be more like the Son of God. How can you be more like Christ to influence others to do the same? The greatest leader is the one who leads by example.

4. Smile -

To be a light for others to follow, you have to appear as you have light. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile every single morning. Find good things within yourself every single morning and then choose to believe them throughout the day. We are given choices on a daily basis. One of the most important choices we can make is to choose happiness. If you smile at others, others will always smile back at you. Happiness is contagious, pass it on.

Action: Smile in the mirror daily as you name 3 good things about yourself or your life

5. Say these words aloud, then live by them daily 

Action: Print this photo. Hang it on your wall, on your mirror, or even on your fridge. Don't forget these words as you make them your motto! Your shine will radiate from within as you live by these words. This is the secret to true beauty, living in a way that shows you're a daughter of God.

{Free Facebook cover for you to use}

6. Eat healthy + stay hydrated

It's prime time for all the delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. The more you choose to make it a pattern of eating healthy, the more you will be able to help others do the same. Your body is the temple to your spirit. If you're not taking care of your own physical health, how do you plan on helping and serving others? We will be able to take on more responsibility as we prepare our bodies for it. To shine, we have to be prepared by first taking care of ourselves.

Action: Each time you drink water, think of the Savior and remember Him. For He is our living water and we need Him hour by hour.

7. Exercise

There are countless physical activities to do in the summer. From my personal favorites of running and biking, to sports and hiking, surely there is something for everyone to enjoy. Find time to exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Make a routine of it and push yourself. The gospel is full of standards and principles that make us work hard and put us in routines, liken that unto your exercise routine. 

Action: As you are enjoying the pattern to hard work and dedication, think of the example you are being to everyone around you.  

8. Go spread shine to others throughout the day! Share love, kindness, random acts of service.

Now that you've done so much to prepare yourself to be an example and have your heart focused on Christ in the midst of these summer days, find ways to spread love and joy to everyone around you.

Action: SHINE! Go serve others as much as you can. Say kind things, write notes, give love through a listening ear, hold the door, mow an elderly neighbor's lawn, bake cookies, share a gift. Just serve!! To be a light, you must follow in the way Christ taught about service and love. Give everything you have to offer and you will be blessed! 
We all have special gifts and talents, give yours away daily! We each have a divine mission to accomplish on a daily basis, don't hide your light, allow it to shine so you will always fulfill your daily purpose.

Read: D + C 115:5 then put this scripture somewhere you will see it daily!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

To be as a little girl

{Picture of me as a little 3 year old}

I don't believe it was just by chance my windows were rolled down, I mean I rarely if ever have them down. I'm driving down the street and hear a little girl screaming "mommy" as she's running as fast as she can. I see the fear in her eyes as she starts to run faster and faster. It was as if I had a prompting without even recognizing that was the case in the moment, I see this black car and I just knew I needed to catch up and ask them if they had forgotten their daughter. I can't even begin to describe to you how I knew what had just happened, I certainly didn't see it happen. I can't explain how I knew which car was the one I needed to speak with, but the spirit subconsciously led me to do what needed to be done. I didn't have time to think, only to act. I got the moms attention, she rolled down her window and I asked her if she had by chance forgotten a daughter. She then yelled out "Sophia". I can't imagine the fear that struck that little girls heart. I can't comprehend what must have been going through her 5-year-old mind. 

It was the strongest awakening to me though that Heavenly Father really is in every detail of our lives. We just can't afford to forget that. There is no other possible way to describe what I felt or even the perfect timing of being where I was and reacting how I did in that moment. We can't afford to forget how much He cares and loves us. Our weaknesses can be our greatest blessings as an awakening that we can't do this without Him, if we allow them to be. Some days when I feel I have more strength and things are going so well, it can take a lot more effort on my part to remind myself of the dependency I have on the atonement. It takes so much humility for me to be able to say "Life is going great, but still I need you." When all is well, isn't it just so easy to get caught up in the "all is well" moment? 

We are nothing without Christ, he is the only way to eternal life and yet it can be so heart aching to be reminded of that constantly because of gaps and weaknesses, yet on the other hand, it can be very scary when we don't have the reminder. Either way it's going to be painful. So if I had to choose, I would choose the very painful life recognizing that Christ is walking by my side instead of feeling content and not even recognizing He is there until I break and every piece of my life falls apart. With Christ, no matter what we go through it is always held together. 

I want to trust deeper into Father's plan. I want to trust more that He knows me, He loves me, and He is in the details of my life. I will take upon pain to know Him a little more and to trust Him a little bit more courageously. 

So back to the girl. This innocent little girl recognized so full heartedly and in complete meekness that she was dependent upon her parents. She knew she wouldn't make it without them. She knew her love for them and she knew how fearful her life looked without them. I want to be like this girl... Running as fast as I can if I ever recognize that Heavenly Father as Jesus Christ aren't as close to my life and my heart as they should be. They aren't going to let you down. Sometimes we can have the desires to hide, and not ask for their input because we already know what we want. But how can we? We will spare ourselves some pain if we race back to them in every moment of every day in humble gratitude, recognizing that they are in the utmost details of our lives. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review - #Eternity

#Eternity - 
An LDS Guide to dating + marriage for young adults

About the Book:
Author: Terry R. Baker, PhD
Released: 2015
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational/Marriage/Dating/LDS

Book Sources:

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

Enlightening and entertaining, this book helps you apply now the principles taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
With topics like
  • Faith
  • Prayer
  • Forgiveness
  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Work
  • Wholesome recreational activities
Popular author and speaker Terry R. Baker shows you what true love is and what it’s not. Discover how to find and nurture a relationship you want to keep forever.
Whether you’re a teen, a young adult, or a newlywed, these sacred scriptural precepts keep you on the path to perfection and a loving marriage that lasts eternally.

My thoughts:

Marriage has been heavy on my mind for quite sometime. I've been playing the dating field for a while and I've been blessed to have some incredible experiences to give me a taste of what marriage is and how important it is to treat it with the deepest respect it deserves. 

I absolutely love this book! The way it is organized based off of the Family Proclamation is a huge seller to me. There are so many dating and marriage books in and outside of the church, many are based primarily on experience and opinion. This book comes from divine inspiration because what the author does in this book is entirely unique. On basically every page of this 203 page book you will find a quote from a church leader or a scripture that really gets you thinking about marriage is a new and selfless light. The author does such an incredible job at helping you understand and then apply the principle into your own life so it becomes a part of who you are.

Terry R. Baker has wrote dating, courage, and marriage institute manuals for the church and has taught marriage classes at BYU for 15 years, it was very evident as I was reading this book, feeling the spirit and understanding marriage is a new and divine light. Marriage is essential to the plan Heavenly Father has set, so something ordained by God is something we shouldn't take lightly. 

This book gave me a deeper desire to prepare now for the marriage I would like to have one day. Helping me understand how vitally important it is to be selfless to have the marriage I desire to have. My favorite concept from the book was when he applied perfect love unto a seed. Check out this book to read more about faith and marriage and how they go hand in hand. Learn about how to apply the family proclamation into your life as a young adult through his wisdom and compliment of quotes and scriptures. I know this book has been a blessing to my life. 

My favorites from the book:

- There is a self evaluation quiz in almost every chapter of the book, see for yourself to know what areas you need to work on to prepare for marriage. 

- The amount of scriptures (especially from the Book of Mormon) used to give you a deeper understanding of marriage. I loved seeing how many Book of Mormon scriptures could relate to marriage in so many countless ways.

- Personal stories and examples are talked about in this book to really inspire you. I love learning from others, but having scripture and quotes to back up the experiences. 

- So many lists of examples to apply to each principle covered in the book.

- Ideas and inspiration of how to apply the teachings and principles into your life. 

About the author of this book:

Terry R. Baker was born in Ontario, Oregon, and completed degrees at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. After teaching LDS seminary classes for three years he joined the Army and served as an LDS Army chaplain. He was deployed to Vietnam and while there became interested in why so many soldiers’ marriages ended in divorce. In hopes of finding answers to this question, he returned from the war and completed a PhD in Family Studies and Marriage and Family Counseling at BYU. He then taught LDS Institute classes in California, Texas and Utah. In 1995 he was assigned by the Church Educational System to re-write the curricula for the dating, courtship and marriage classes taught in institute classes world-wide. He finished this assignment in 2000, returned to teaching at the Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah and retired in 2010. This book presents lessons learned from over 40 years of research, teaching and counseling LDS youth and adults and soldiers about dating, courtship and marriage principles. It also represents many of the curricula ideas that could not be included in the current LDS institute manuals because of space limitations.
Terry met Parry Robinson in 1962 at the University of Utah where he had a scholarship to play football and basketball and Patty was a cheerleader. After a mission to Southern Australia Terry married Patty in 1965. They have eight children and an expanding posterity.

                                                   I received a free copy of this book for review but all opinions and rating are my own. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What would the converted heart do?

I woke up this morning with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. A spirit that was more than willing to do anything to follow Christ and be on the Lord's side of the line. I have felt something lacking for several weeks now, the problem is  I can't exactly put my finger on what that might be.

As I was contemplating on how to become more converted to the gospel and to Jesus Christ deeper than I ever had before, a few thoughts kept coming into my mind. Thoughts of things I could do to take action. If I were to act upon these actions, they would be really inconvenient and I wasn't really sure if they were necessary. I didn't feel a strong burning, I didn't feel it was a complete prompting from Heavenly Father, but as I started to ponder on it more I found myself reflecting on a question "Is it something the Savior himself would be found doing?" The answer to this question was a strong and firm YES, absolutely!! It was in that moment I knew I had to take action. It's not something that is easy, it's not something that is done everyday, and I'm still not even sure if it was a prompting from the Spirit.

But this situation taught me something. It taught me that we are capable of making good choices, Heavenly Father truly desires us to become good decision makers. Heavenly Father desires for us the ability to use our choice and accountability so we can become more like Him, which is why He asks us to study it out in our minds first like taught in D+C 9:8. 

D+C 9:8 
"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."

The absolute first thing we must do is study it out! He wants us to decide. If it's a good thought without a burning feeling, He wants to know if we will treat that thought with importance. Are we willing to choose to follow our Savior and become more like him even when we are not prompted or chastised to do it? 

I find myself thinking about conversion a lot. What would it be like to be Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. We talk a lot about how Heavenly Father sacrificed His only begotten son, but Mary sacrificed her son too, can you imagine how hard that must have been for her? She was willing to do absolutely anything and everything for God, for she knew where her heart lied. A converted heart is one that goes seeking for opportunities to become like Christ without receiving a gold star for every baby step taken. A heart that is willing to sacrifice everything unto the Lord no matter how treasured or inconvenient the sacrifice may be. 

When I was in Young Women's, I had such an incredible leader. She made me a CD with 6 different songs on it, 6 songs that resembled how she portrayed me. I still treasure this CD. 
One of the songs on there was, "I'll do whatever it takes." She gave me that song because that's what she saw in me a converted heart that would do whatever it took to always stay a disciple of Jesus Christ. I think back to the little 16-year-old me often, am I still that girl she once saw? Is my heart still in line and fully converted or have I allowed any interference's to get in my way and make me forget what I am seeking?

I absolutely love these lyrics...

So after being reminded of who Heavenly Father expects me to be, I chose to act on the two very inconvenient things I felt I should do today. No it wasn't a burning in the bosom, no it wasn't this spiritual fire or ah-ha moment. It was just a thought, but a very good thought (like Moroni 7:12-13) that would lead me to deeper conversion. 

If you ever have a thought and you're trying to decide if it's good or if it came from the Spirit, I would encourage you to see if you can answer yes with certainty to this question: "Is it something the Savior himself would be found doing?" 

If you can, then do it!! It doesn't matter if it was your thought or a prompting from the Spirit, it is a call for you to act! No matter how inconvenient it may be, you will be blessed! It is our leaps of faith that take us to the destinations we can't even dream of. 

One of my favorite blessings promised to those that are converted comes from Elder D. Todd Christopherson... 
"As you become converted, you will have comparable protections to keep you from temptation and deliver you from evil. Sometimes evil will not find you. Sometimes you will be protected when evil is made invisible to you. Even when you must confront it directly, you will do so with faith, not fear."

I want that more than anything! Protection and faith to be be delivered from evil. I want to be a true disciple and follower of Jesus Christ today and every single day hereafter. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Christ is the Hope in a road that doesn't seem to end

The road I have been traveling on has seemed overwhelmingly long for quite some time now. I was pondering and praying about my road on my way back from an internship when I passed two guys walking. I took a second look as I glanced over in confusion of how they got where they were and how would they ever get off.

I was on the freeway as two guys were walking along the left side opposite to where the exits were of a very busy highway. I immediately prayed for these two guys, where were they going and what were they doing? I couldn't figure it out as I tried to recall the last exit I had seen, it had been quite a bit of distance back and there was quite a bit of distance ahead until the next exit. Let alone walking on the freeway has to be one of the most dangerous situations you could put yourself in.

My mind began to panic as I looked at the long and perilous road that laid before them, and even if they did make it safely to the exit, how would they cross to get off with cars flying by at 75 miles per hour? I prayed harder for them. I prayed for their safety. I prayed for what seemed like a despairing journey in my mind that they would find hope ahead. 

As I pondered what I had just seen, I knew that no matter how difficult or fearsome that situation might have been, hope would certainly be found. Perhaps someone would see them and be braver than I to give these two guys a ride. Perhaps possibilities would come for them that I hadn't thought of or am unaware could even be a possibility. All I knew is what seemed to be the most despairing road I would ever want to be on I knew hope still lied ahead.

Elder Holland once said, "Often in our most difficult times the only thing we can do is endure. We may have no idea what the final cost in suffering or sacrifice may be, but we can vow never to give up. In doing so we will learn that there is no worthy task so great nor burden so heavy that will not yield to our perseverance. We can make it. . . however long and hard the road."

Sometimes we are called to be placed upon a long and treacherous road, a road we just don't want to be on. A road that tempts us believe we are set up to suffer defeat all along. A road that brings us an urge to have thoughts of surrender. But then I think of our Savior and redeemer, the one who suffered so much agony and pain on our behalf. The one that loves us perfectly and knows exactly what we are going through and the pain that we are facing. The one that offers us hope and peace in the moments we need it most. If Christ was willing to go through all that he did for us, surely there must be hope ahead. Surely this path we are placed upon would not be the end.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read of Joseph Smith in Carthridge jail. We read of his agonizing moments where we wonders how much longer he has to wait and why he is being faced with so much pain and turmoil after all he has already sacrificed... it says:

 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;

 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
Those sound like a lot of REALLY hard and REALLY difficult things to go through "IF" they come true. The word if was just mentioned ten times in these verses. Ten scary IFS to be faced with. I'm a worst-case scenario kind of girl, I think so much about what could and would happen in different situations. I try really hard not to let fear define me but sometimes I become overwhelmed in my mind about everything that could possibly go wrong...and yet did you read the last Thirteen words of verse 7? Thirteen life-changing, hope-bringing words that bring an incredible happy ending to our journey whatever it may be "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." No matter what we are faced with, no matter what if's in our life come true, it will be for our good. The Lord promises us that! He promises that no matter how dark or dreary our days may be, it will all be for our good! Aaah that brings such hope to darkest days. 
I'm still waiting for the day to come when I have perfect faith. The day when I'm faced with a very hard trial and I don't question it, I don't complain about it, I don't ask I and I just fall into the arms of my Savior without any hesitation at all. Perfectly and wholeheartedly trusting without any fear. That day isn't here, and sadly I don't think I am going to experience that day until the afterlife, but for now I will keep pressing forward in faith knowing that Heavenly Father desires me full and complete happiness and everything that I am faced with will be for my good!
Those days when you are on a long and treacherous road, where it doesn't seem like the end will ever arrive, those are the days Christ teaches us a little bit more about hope. Those are the moments when we desire our hope to be changed the most and we desire to become more than we have ever desired in our life, and yet they are the moments where we feel like we are changing the least. The times we are becoming who Heavenly Father desires us to be, achieving the divine potential He saw in us all along are the moments when we see it the least. It wouldn't be a test of faith if we saw where we were going all along.
When you can't see where you're going and you can't imagine how you're going to get there, I promise you that you are closer than you think. Christ steps in after all we can do and He fills the gaps. I like to think of "all we can do" as time passing by verses checking things off of the list. Sometimes we fall short of the list we had planned for ourselves, but when we make an effort and Heavenly Father sees that effort, it's just a matter of time and patience before every single gap we need to have filled will be! Christ is our hope, do you believe? Do you know that? If not, keep walking, keep staying on the journey. 
This quote is one of my new favorites -
"Another affirmative endowment of grace is the gift of hope which blesses with the state of mind necessary to deal with the gap between where we are, and where we seek to be. - Elder Bruce C. Hafen

I LOVE this mormon message by Elder Holland

I testify that things will get better, if you aren't happy with where you are or where you think you are headed, just know and believe that this isn't the end. Good things will come to those who keep walking and keep trying. Christ is our ONLY hope at arriving at the destination we diligently seek with the only hope we have.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

To sit or to stand for truth and righteousness

There have been many issues and debatable topics popping up in the media lately. As exhausting has it has become, I am not about to step down from defending what I know to be truth. We knew this time would come, it's talked about in the Book of Mormon a lot, we can't hide or ignore the issues and so we have a choice.

I saw a few posts today about how we should be encouraging Bruce Jenner because that's what love is. My heart sunk, is that what we are teaching our children nowadays, that it doesn't matter what another person is doing, we need to support them and tolerate everything we see because that's what love is?

I believe there is a STRONG difference between showing Christ-like love towards someone and agreeing and tolerating everything a person is doing. Just because Bruce Jenner is our spiritual brother DOES NOT BY ANY MEANS mean that we have to approve and support everything he has or will ever do. If we all became tolerant to every decision everyone was making, wouldn't we become numb ourselves to the standards we have, the covenants we have made, and even the beliefs we stand for?

You can still love someone and not support their choices. You can still address issues while being respectful. You can still make appropriate judgements to protect yourself while displaying Christ-like respect to another individual.

I thought really hard about sharing a blog post voicing strong opinions on my Facebook page before I actually did it. I came to the conclusion that it was more important for me to risk confrontation than to just stand on the sidelines not doing anything to defend truth.

Sister Oscarson gave an excellent talk this last conference, she said "The Lord needs us to be brave, steadfast, and immovable warriors who will defend His plan and teach the upcoming generations His truths."

I don't think the timing of her talk was by accident, while I can't for tell the future, something is telling me this isn't the one and only debatable issue that will happen this year. Even if I'm the only human on the planet that feels this way, I want to be the one that is willing to risk anything and everything to defend truth and righteousness. I am willing to risk respect, I am willing to risk opposed opinions, and I am even willing to risk my life if I must, but I am NOT willing to stand still and sit on the sidelines not defending truth and righteousness anymore.

Elder Holland said "You will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part." 

We don't need to name call or hate others for the choices they are making, but we DO NOT have to agree either. I can't and I won't just stay stagnant.  I refuse to just sit by watching others make choices without defending what I believe in. Christ was one with Heavenly Father, he was bold in his proclamations and he knew that facing towards Heavenly Father was essential and more important than the approval of others. He had enemies, not everyone agreed with what he taught but he stood for something, that's the example I want to follow, STANDING not sitting!

If we teach our children to tolerate everything they see, they too will become numb and oblivious to the calamities happening around them, and they too will drown. In institute tonight I heard a quote I just loved, "If we don't teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to." When we are saying yes to something, we are constantly saying no to something else. I want to be found saying yes to truth, yes to honor, yes to fighting for what I believe in and no to acceptance of sin. So I will keep my opinions strong and I will keep my love even stronger. 

Right as I was graduating high school, a boy came into my life. I knew he had problems, problems that worried and scared me. I voiced them but was in quite a bit of a conflict with myself; what about loving everyone? What about missionary opportunities through acceptance? What about tolerance? I regrettably gave into these questions believing it was the Christ-like thing to do, allowing this boy to become a bigger part of my life that I should have permitted. The line on this conflict I was put in was so thin that I ended up being too accepting to the point that I was the one that ended up losing that day. I learned my lesson hard and so clear through such pain and sorrow that I will never allow tolerance to overtake defending important beliefs ever again. 

In the hymn 'How Firm a Foundation', we sing about how we can not and will not stand still. I know I personally can't afford the cost to not defend what I believe in. I can't afford it as a daughter of God, I can't afford it as a future wife or mother, I can't afford it as a disciple of Christ, and I can't afford it as a defender of the Book of Mormon. So today, I choose to stand. I choose to stand as a witness of God, no matter the cost because with Heavenly Father on my side who could ever be against me?