Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review // Blog Tour - A Thankful Heart

A Thankful Heart


About the Book:
Author: David A. Christensen
Released: 2015
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational

Book Sources:

My Rating: 5.0 stars

Book Description:


BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY to greater gratitude with this book of daily mini devotionals.


  • Connected to the people around you
  • Content with your present life
  • In tune with the Spirit's still, small voice
INSIGHTFUL AND INFORMATIVE, this book guides you through thirty-one days of increasing gratitude with quotes from church leaders, self-examination questions, scripture passages to ponder, and personal stories and experiences. 

My Thoughts:

This book is powerful. We have heard so many prophets and apostles say over and over that we need to grateful and express gratitude more frequently and opening. I have read countless textbooks, articles and essay's when I took a positive phycology class that proves you will live a happier and healthier life if you will just be grateful and recognize blessings daily. So once again, the church is ahead of the world. The gospel is here for our well-being and happiness in this life and the next.

So, back to the book. In the gospel, emphasis may be put on how important this book is, but where do we begin? In this book, David A. Christensen does an excellent job at leading us through 31 teachings on how to apply gratitude into our daily life. With So many great quotes, analogies to relate to YOU, scriptures, and even self-examinations, gratitude is sure to become a part of your daily life as it has in mine. 

The concepts in this book have become invaluable to me and made such a difference in my life. There are so many blessings around you, and after reading this book, your heart will be more open to God's love and grace that has always been there for you!

I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book, it will bless your life and all those around you as you live these 31 teachings. You will be changed forever!

About the Author:

DAVID A. CHRISTENSEN // David A. Christensen's love for present-day prophets was sparked as a young returned missionary student at Brigham Young University when he took the religion class "Teachings of the Living Prophets." He has a testimony of listening to and seeking to follow those who are charged with helping us understand the Lord's will and direction in our lives. David has taught the same course, "Teachings of the Living Prophets," for over two decades at BYU-I. He sought to pass on that same testimony and love for the counsel given by living prophets to missionaries when he presided over the Chile Santiago North Mission, the Guatemala MTC, and in his service as stake president and bishop.
     He counts his eight children and growing number of grandchildren as his most important converts, and his best friend and wife, Deena Bond Christensen, his eternal companion.

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Christ is With You in Your Battle of Depression

Depression is on my mind today, and I feel inspired to share. Depression can be a scary topic because of how real it is, and how different every individual battle may be. I was hesitant to share because I don't want this post to be a "woe is me." I don't have all the answers, I have the support that I do need, and I am very blessed by what I learn and feel on my journey. I'm sharing because I feel someone needs to hear this. Even if it's just ONE person, writing this is worth it, because I feel we go through painful experiences to help others.

Yesterday was hard.
Yesterday I felt all of my hope start to hide behind a cloud.
Hope being lost is hard enough for anyone to go through, 
but the struggle can be unbearable if you're trying to become like Christ,
and you feel miserable because suddenly the Christ-like attribute you're SUPPOSED 
to be living by has left you and you don't know how to get it back.

In my battle of depression, it hits like flashes.
Flashes of despair that feel as if they will last forever and ever.
Flashes that cause so much anxiety and make you want to call it quits right then and there.
And pleas of help for the atonement to come rescue me take up every drop of energy I have,
and the relief isn't immediate.
And then once again you feel miserable, like you aren't giving enough or not doing enough
to have the help from Heavens come rescue you.

It's like this constant battle of just trying to make it through the moment,
but then looking at real the powers of Heaven are and feeling beyond unworthy of them,
because you're not giving everything "that is expected of you."

Tears streaming down my face, feeling so trapped and isolated is an experience so hard to forget.
When your heart seems to breaking, it's a very keen pain,
one that makes every bit of hope you had at one point appear to be tucked away.

In those moments, I think that is the darkness and the burning fire 
we have to experience in this life. 
The kind of pain that forces us to our knees without any control.
I think depression can be a gift, a gift that reminds us of our constant need for God.

The beauty of what feels like these very deep, dark despairing moments
is the sun, the sun always rising, and THE SON always comes.
It may feel like we have been left alone. We may not see hope or feel Christ in these moments.
But I testify HE is there and He feels what we feel.
I testify He cares. I testify He still loves you no matter what you feel.

I think those with depression happen to be the hardest on themselves.
They tend to feel guilt in extremely painful ways.
But I honestly believe there is no need to feel guilt.
If hope becomes lost in your moment, fight for it, YES!
But feel guilty about how tucked away it feels? NO!

It's okay to accept that hard moments exist.
It's okay to love yourself anyways.

Sometimes I become discouraged because you hear of all these stories 
where the atonement completely cured them, and their lives have been changed.
Christ brings me hope. He brings me light at the right moment. He is there. 
But my story isn't one where it's been a permanent healing.
Maybe I'll get there, maybe I won't.
But no matter what, I won't stop believing in the atonement.
I won't stop fighting for hope no matter how lost it may sometimes feel to be.

If you have depression, my heart aches for you.
Look to Christ, let Him bring you hope.
It may not be immediate relief, but Christ is walking this journey with you.
He gets it, He knows.
Find the blessings and the goodness in what these trials are doing for your heart.
You are NEVER alone, this I testify. 
When you feel unloved and forgotten, just remember, 
it is completely the opposite.
This journey is a hard one, but allow it to bring the good out of you.
Allow this journey to bring you closer to Christ than ever before.

{The Sun is Rising - Britt Nicole}

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

10 Songs to Help You Enjoy the Rain

Welcome rain!!!

If you've looked out the window lately, it's kind of hard to miss how rainy it's been. I'm not the biggest fan of the dark and dreary clouds hanging out, covering the all too beautiful blue sky. 

Rain can make a mess and even lead to disasters like the ones we've heard on the news lately. Rainstorms can even appear in our life when we least want it or expect it. I do believe that any kind of rain can bring about beauty though, I've seen many rainbows in the sky and many spiritual rainbows after the deepest storms of my life. I believe rain drops have purpose and so... I'm going to say, welcome rain! I mean, I can't help but think about where it comes from after all. I'm going to embrace it! I'm going to pull out my sweaters, delicious hot cocoa, and I'm going to dance in the rain, what about you?

In honor of the rain, I've pulled together 10 of my favorite "Rain" songs... Enjoy!

1. Dance in the Rain - Hillary Weeks

2. Storm Before the Calm - Stephanie Boyd 

3. Sometimes He Lets it Rain - Katherine Nelson

4. Sometimes He Calms the Storm - 

5. Bring the Rain - Mercy Me

6. Stronger Than the Storm - Vicky Beeching

7. Blessings - Laura Story 

8. It's Going to Rain - Freddie Ashby 
(Power in Purity EFY)

9. Set Fire to the Rain - Adele

10. Singing in the Rain - Gene Kelly 

BONUS: Master of Tides - Lindsey Stirling (No lyrics - great music video & talent)

Have more you want to add to the list? Leave a comment! :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Woman I Wish To Become...

I was visiting another ward last week, I rarely get to hear testimonies of the elderly.
My heart was so full, as so many gracious and inspiring women in there 70's and older stood up to testify of the truth and wisdom they have learned and gained over their precious years.

These women were so graceful in their words, and full of wisdom in their hearts that I couldn't help but think of the woman I hope to become someday. 

So... I wrote a poem about it.

While pondering on women in their later years,
I consider the reflection I will see in future mirrors.
As I am growing in wisdom and learning from age,
I realize how often I take for granted this stage.

The years all seem to quickly pass by,
as the moments linger and scarcely satisfy.
How I desire to treasure my single years more,
for I am finding how quickly they really do soar.

I yearn to strive in being more diligent in humility,
and as the days pass, to always look for God's mercy.
I have a need for service to be written on my heart,
and this I know, that now is the time to make that start.

Faith is the foundation of character I want to possess,
and in this process, there are many lives I wish to bless.
A strong, devoted woman of courage I long to be,
trials that have created a softened heart for Christ to see.

Longing for spiritual beauty to show in my face,
and to fully recognize every drop of God's grace.
Wrinkles to show where all the smiles have occurred,
And to be a strong follower of His every single word. 

Possession of luxury, fame, and fortune I need not,
Beholding a generous spirit is how I want to be caught.
Living of His every word so faithful and true,
Always valiant and virtuous in all that I do. 

Looking to the future of my own posterity, 
An example I wish to set of familiarity.
A life full of praiseworthy quality we have thrived,
to the home of Heaven we have finally arrived.

Yes, this is the woman I wish to become,
For I will not waste another of my days young.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Being Healthy Goes Way Beyond Body Image

Good health habits are important to living a balanced and happy life, wouldn't you agree? I feel like somewhere in our culture the value of being healthy and the desire to have an attractive figure meshed together and the motivation behind healthy eating has become a broken one with nebulous notions. Let's start first with confessions, because we should probably get those out of the way. I love sugar, a little too much. I eat more ice cream than I dare to confess, I have a strong love for chocolate Ghirardelli brownies, and M+M's seem to be my weakness. I often go through phases where I know I need to eat healthier, so I drop all the sugar at once and I step away from the chocolate. It's not easy, and that's why I never succeed for too long.

When I decide to go off of sugar, it's usually for a specific reason. Sometimes it's because I want to see if it will help with battles of acne, other times it's because of mental health reasons, and sometimes it's just because I feel it's the right thing to do in my life at that time. The problem lies when I mention to others that I'm off of sugar this week then all the comments start coming; "Your metabolism is fast enough that it doesn't matter for you anyways." "You don't have any pounds to lose." "You can handle sugar, I'm the one that should be off of it." Wait, what? First of all, I have my own, personal reasons for being off of sugar, and second, why is it wrong to strive for a healthy life style even if you aren't overweight?

I've been the more slender side my whole life, I've heard many jokes from being too skinny to people actually asking if I had an eating disorder. In fact, after I graduated high school is when I started eating more unhealthy because I just wanted to put on weight so people would stop talking. I realized I was becoming unhealthy and that was not the right type of weight I wanted to gain. So I decided to make a change. At the end of 2008, I officially went off of soda and fast food and I haven't looked back since. As I share this on dates or with other people, I get a lot of flak for it. Now I don't understand this for two reasons, one, isn't it ultimately my choice?; and two, shouldn't we be encouraging and complimenting others for their decision at a healthy lifestyle?

Why should only those who are considered "overweight" be praised for the healthy decisions they are making? Why do the 'skinny girls' get such a bad reputation for trying to do something good for their body? I strongly believe our culture has some mixed up ideas about what it means to be healthy. Healthy isn't a certain jean size or a number on the scale. Healthy looks different on everyone, in many various ways. Different people choose healthy for several different reasons, but is the reason really everyone else's business? What if when we saw someone making a healthy decision, no matter if it's just one time or daily, we praised them for it instead of making them feel like they aren't qualified to be in the "healthy club"?

I understand eating disorders are very real, but just because someone is skinny or they aren't eating all the calories and carbs you think they should be partaking of, doesn't mean they have one. The truth is, just because a girl chooses to eat healthy doesn't mean she is worried about her body image. I don't eat healthy and exercise to change my image, I do it to prove to myself that I can. I do it to get healthy and to take charge of my body and my life. I do it to increase my daily capacities as far as increase in energy and the ability to be strong and happy. I do it for my future husband and my future children because a healthy lifestyle is something I would like to live by when I have a family of my own. I do it to prevent illness now and in the future. I do it because it's my choice. 

I know you mean well with the comments and jokes of having no need to live healthy because there isn't too many pounds to lose, but it can sometimes be demeaning. Being healthy goes way beyond body image. Healthy shouldn't be about what we look like, it shouldn't be about self objectification. It should be a personal decision, made for personal reasons. How you look and the curves that you do or don't have shouldn't be anyone else's business but your own. Let's encourage and lift each other more for the healthy decisions that we decide to make, and let's focus less on the appearance that comes from living healthy. Healthy should be about being strong and being happy. It should be about taking care of our bodies because we cherish them for the abilities they give us.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lessons On Adversity From Cinderella

We all know the story of Cinderella. Cinderella had been KIND, GRACEFUL, and COURAGEOUS through every trial she faced, and let's be honest, she didn't have an easy life.

I happen to have a favorite scene from this movie:

Cinderella hits a point where she utters these words...
"I said I'd have courage but I don't. I don't believe anymore."

So often in life we plan because let's be honest, most of us are planners in one way or another, right? We come up with a vision or a dream that sounds utterly perfect for our life and then somewhere in the pull of life we hit a dead end, or a roadblock, or a 'wrong way sign' and we are asked to turn around. I think we all reach this stage in life one way or another, where we will feel broken and left in despair because we have reached our limits, but little do we know something is always greater right around the corner.

In the story of Cinderella, she was all ready to go to the ball when her dress was torn up. It took her reaching her breaking point, her lowest of all lows before her fairy godmother appeared. 

Reminds me of this bible video, where the disciples faith was put to the test:

Christ asks, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it ye have no faith?" Christ will never let us drown, it gets dark and really stormy at times but He ALWAYS comes. 

What I find so amazing about Cinderella, is that in the middle of her 'pity party' the old lady came up to her, whom little did she know at this point was her fairy godmother, to ask for a bowl of milk. Cinderella stands up, wipes her tears away, forgets herself and goes to get her a bowl, just like that!

It's hard to forget yourself when you're having a pity party! Like REALLY hard. Have you ever been there? Is kindness written on your heart when you are in your deepest moments of grief and despair? This to me is what courage looks like, the courage to forget yourself and be selfless. Courage is pushing forward no matter how you feel or how hard it may be. 

In the words of Elder Uchtdorf "It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop."

But let me remind you, IT'S HARD! While it may be hard, that doesn't mean for one second that it is impossible.

Philippians 4:13 even teaches us it isn't impossible:

{Free Printable found HERE}

I have experienced very painful, heart-aching moments in my life. Moments when I didn't think I could take any more, moments when I wondered if there was even any hope left, moments where I felt so much sorrow that I just wanted to plead with my Father in Heaven to make it all just go away, moments where I simply wanted to give up and give in.

While I have experienced these painful moments, I know others have experienced trials of pain and sorrow as well, some trials much greater than mine, trials that I can't even fathom the pain or tragedy. I think of my pain on top of the pain of the billions of other people on this planet and it is absolutely unfathomable for me to comprehend, but because the Savior loves each one of us so very much, He bled from every pore in the garden of Gethsemane for you and I. I don't know to what extent of pain and turmoil He faced, but what I do know is He did it because of His perfect and complete love that He has for every single person that will ever live, in a very individual way. He was willing to go through this pain to save me from mine.

If we're going to turn this scene from Cinderella into a parable, I believe Christ would be the fairy godmother.

Christ is the one that comes to rescue us when we reach our lowest point. 

Christ is the one that brings hope when we feel all is lost.

Christ is the one that shows us what courage looks like through example.

Christ is the one that allows us to have another chance, every single day.

Christ is the one that brings us faith when we are on the road of fear.

Christ is the one that we need to turn to for our life story to develop. 

Christ is the one that pleads our case with the Father to bring us the pleas of our hearts.

Christ is the one that makes every blessing we will ever inherit possible, it is only because of Him that we can experience everlasting joy and eternal life. 

Christ is the one that gives us to strength to
overcome ALL things!


For you are NEVER alone.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Tour: Understanding Your Endowment

Understanding Your Endowment

About the Book:
Author: Cory B. Jensen
Released: 2015
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational/Temple Work/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Book Sources:

My Rating: 5.0 stars

Book Description:

This easy-to-read book clearly explains the meaning of the temple ordinances in your life. While still respecting the temple's sacred nature, this book helps you unravel some of the mystery and more fully appreciate the beautiful purposes for these ordinances. Packed with insights, Understanding Your Endowment will enrich your temple worship by increasing your comprehension of the temple's teachings.

My Thoughts:

I went through the temple for the first time in March, six months ago and it has been such a blessing to my life. I prepared hard before I went and I studied tons, but at the same time, I didn't know exactly where to start in my studies. If I had had this book then, I know I would have been able to comprehend things a little bit deeper. I'm grateful I have been able to read this book now to understand the ordinances in a broader light. 

There is so much symbolism to be found in the temple, and many of the ordinances found in the temple today are also found in the scriptures. I love how these scripture references are explained in this book and you will find so many of them. These scriptures are so well described by the author and it has increased my understanding to a whole new level.

I also very much respect that every single thing in this book is described in a way that it doesn't take away from the sacredness of the temple and everything in the book is appropriate to talk about. My understanding has increased tons, and I love reading a little part then going to the temple to see it, learn it, and really feel it in my heart, and then I come back and read a little more.

This book is perfect for all ages and it doesn't matter how much or how little experience with the temple you have, I think everyone will find something valuable to them in this book.

About the Author:

Cory B. Jensen // Cory B. Jensen was born and raised in Utah, growing up in the shadow of the Logan Temple. He developed a love for the temple early in life and has been an avid student ever since. He graduated with honors from Brigham Young University with a master's of business administration. A lifelong devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served a mission in Rome, Italy, and is looking forward to the completion of the temple there.

He and his wife, Traci, are the parents of four children. Together, they currently serve as ordinance workers in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. That service has greatly blessed their lives and marriage, though Cory still hasn't gotten used to getting up at four a.m. for their shift.

He hopes the message of this book will bless your life, enrich your personal temple experience, and help you in your journey to better understanding your endowment. 

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

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Faith: One Day At a Time

Today has been hard. I would put it into words for you, but I can't... I already tried to in my journal and it didn't work as well as I would like it to. I'm trusting that it's one of those journey's that will make sense to me later, while right now just embracing the fact that I just don't even understand all that Heavenly Father saw in my heart today.

When I go through painful situations, I try to do my absolute best to prevent it from happening again. Why would I want to go through it twice or multiple times when once was hard enough? I believe I only made my situation worse because I wasn't just dealing with how I felt in the moment, I was so worried I would feel this way over and over again which would lead me with no hope in all that I want most in life. Now is this true? NO! With Christ, there is ALWAYS hope. But in that difficult moment I became so overwhelmed with my future. 

What would life look like if we took it one moment at a time? 

How would our thoughts and our actions be different if we focused on THIS day?

Would our attitude and faith change if we were to put 
the energy of our hearts on this very day?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson tells a story: 

"In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, but difficult as that was, the surgery was followed with dozens of painful radiation treatments in what would now be considered rather primitive medical conditions. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since: “I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, ‘Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.’ She said, ‘Can you go today?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.’ It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.”"

3 Nephi 13:34: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof."

Being concerned about many days at a time can very quickly lead to negative thinking. Our futures, and the trials and evils we feel we will encounter therein can overwhelm us and become so discouraging that somehow the faith we have worked so hard for becomes buried in worry and anxiety. There is enough to worry about in just one day's time, and it's our trials and worries that often bring us to seek out God. It is vitally important we seek out God on a daily basis. Can you imagine as we worried about many days at a time and He took away those worries all at once what that would be like? Would we seek out His loving guidance and direction daily if we had all the answers? Would our relationship be as close and as strong if we didn't have a constant need for Him?

We will have very difficult days, on those days we can use them to learn more about ourselves, about our faith, about our strength, and about our relationship with our loving Heavenly Father and His beloved son, Jesus Christ.  On the good and happy days, we should make the choice to live it to the fullest! We should take the time to do the things we know we should do that we won't have the strength for in our weak moments. Just like a squirrel collects nuts and stores them for later, we too must collect the blessings and the tasks that we only can experience on our strong days, that way we will have them to look back on when we need them the most. 

Thomas Carlyle said "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." As we practice having a positive belief that Christ knows our names and walks by our side even when we don't see or feel Him, our faith will grow brighter and brighter. It may seem like a slow process, but why do you think Heavenly Father decided to break our mortal experience into days, so we could take it step by step at a time, choosing to seek Him more often through prayer and His word for divine help. Day by day you will find how close to Him you've grown and that you can get through every single trial with Christ by your side. 

Don't let all the days attack you, 
live in this day, and this day alone 
and blessings will pour!

Watch this CES Fireside "Give Us This Our Daily Bread"

By Elder Chistofferson January 2011