Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Beautiful View That Comes From a Testimony


This past summer I went on one of the most beautiful and most trying hikes of my life. We started on a very rocky path with lots of twists and turns. I was told it would be a short hike, so I brought a granola bar and two of the tiniest water bottles. It was in the middle of the day and the sun was blazing hot. At one point, I started to fall off a steep ledge, thankfully I was rescued by a good friend watching out for me. After making it to the end of the rocky trail and seeing no other possible path to go, and the group with me wanted to keep going further, I started to panic not seeing a straight path ahead.

As we started to venture on a course that didn't exist, I noticed my leg started to itch like crazy with a sting that was so uncomfortable. I looked down and we were walking through stinging nettle. Pretty soon there were huge bushes of them and we were having to plow right through. My whole body was starting to sting by this point which only made my anxiety ten times worse. 

I was hot, I was tired, I was out of water, I was not expecting a long hike, I was terrified of getting stuck on the mountain with no way to get back down, and I was so scared the elevation I was at was going to make me sick, oh yeah, and my body itched and stung like crazy. I said a prayer in my heart as we kept on trekking. 

We started to see the peak of the mountain that still looked so far away from my perspective, but my group made it their goal that that was the destination we were going to arrive at. I was terrified. Trail blazing with no path and no service on your cell phone is miserable. I didn't know if we were going to survive quite honestly. My anxiety was becoming out of control and I couldn't say enough prayers in my heart. Thankfully the people that I was with were so patient and kind to me and they started coaching and cheering me on. One of the guys let me share their water so I could have the energy to keep moving forward. Slow and steady with each step of belief and support, each step started to seem more doable. I felt strength from the Heavens start to pull me up. 

Finally, we arrived at the peak and it was beautiful. The view was so glorious and I had never seen anything quite like it, especially in person. I knew I wouldn't have made it without the support and guidance of my friends that were with me.

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I think life and a testimony is sometimes like this hike. Sometimes we think we can do it all on our own and we don't need anything more than what we brought with us, then life throws us some curve balls and we start to panic. We know there is no way we are going to survive without extra help and support, for we have used all the strength we have been given.


A testimony has never just been handed to me, it is something I have to work at every single day of my life. Quite honestly I have moments in my life where I find myself asking the question "Why do I need a testimony, isn't life a lot easier without all the rules and restrictions? Without all the checklists? Wouldn't everything be a lot more simple if I could do what the world is doing? 


But every single time I find myself in this trap of thinking, Christ reaches His hand down to rescue me and tell me that that is simply not true. He reminds me of the blessings that come from following His words and teachings. Christ gives me the strength to ask for help as I am refocused on the blessings that come from a testimony. It is only when I allow the Lord into my life that with help and strength to take each step that I reach the beautiful view that seems so far away. It is only through Christ that is the living water, that I become refueled and re-energized to keep going through the weeds and thorns that life seems to put in my way. It is only when I give my WHOLE heart to God that I become the happiest I could ever be and I reach my full potential.

Sometimes in life it seems like we don't need to prepare, like the small amount of water we have will be enough. We can also get in that trap of thinking with prayers, and scripture study, thinking we have read enough or prayed enough and the days we are skipping don't really matter, but little do we know the journey ahead will require us to have prepared a little bit more.

Never let a day go by without morning and night prayers and scripture study. You're not going to make it without it. Happiness, a joy that is unexplainable until you experience it awaits you on this journey. Give it your all! You won't regret it.

"With the Lord at your side, you can experience miracles. You can do the thing that you first thought impossible. You can overcome any problem. You can rise above anything that would pull you down. You can reject evil and embrace everything that is good. You came to earth for a purpose, and with the Lord’s help you will achieve that purpose." - Russell T. Osguthorpe

This quote came from my all time favorite CES devotional

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Eternal Happiness is Impossible Without Christ


I love the Book of Mormon and I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt the church is true in my heart, but I have a confession. 

Some moments I am weak and I realize how incapable I am to do everything on my own. I instantly recognize the need for a Savior in my life and I open heartedly welcome Him in. In those moments, when I am broken and feeling as if I have no control over my life, I allow the Savior to take over. I invite Him into my heart and my life to clean up the mess and mend my heart. I'm grateful for the broken moments because of the humility that comes pouring into my life.

But then some moments I feel strong, I feel courageous, I feel happy, and in control. In these moments I have a really hard time remembering it was God that brought me to this point and I didn't get here on my own. In these moments I have to be extremely careful in my thinking or pride will start to take over and it feels as if I am strong because of what I did, not what He did.

This seems to be a constant roller coaster in my life. A roller coaster of emotions of needing Christ in my life and recognizing every good thing is because of Him while still enjoying the happy and beautiful moments in life.

I'm not quite sure when I'll get it right, when I will let Him in without any hesitation even when everything is going perfectly. I do know that Christ forgives me instantly when I recognize and repent of the pride that starts to fill my heart. Sometimes I am so happy that I don't want anything to change and I start to live in fear that if I submit my will to God, everything will fall apart once again. That is a lie of the devil. 

Moroni 7:12
 "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God..."

These next few days as the celebration of Christmas and of Jesus Christ draws near, I want to be found yearning for Christ and recognizing the need I have for Him even if I don't feel broken or helpless. I want to trust in the gifts He gifts me more than any other gift I could give or receive. I want to be found yearning for Christ in every season of my life whether that be joy or sorrow. I know Christ's love is perfect, and I know every drop of strength I do have comes from Him. I know that because I have felt helpless before, and I will feel helpless again. 

Once we know what it feels like to be helpless, it is His gift to us that we gain a deeper understanding of the need we have for a Savior. #ASaviorIsBorn for a reason. We NEED Him. It would be absolutely impossible to gain eternal happiness without Him no matter how happy we may think we are right now. Christ is the greatest gift we will find or receive this Christmas. 

If you struggle to remember just how deep of a reliance we have on the Savior at all times like I do, change something to invite more peace into your heart. Perhaps like me, you don't recognize it's missing until you let it in.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Parables in the Snow

It sure is a winter wonderland outside lately. It is beautiful. As I was driving to work on Monday, with the freshly laid snow, I couldn't help but notice the Salt Lake Temple all dressed in white. When I think of the temple, I think of purity. When I think of white, I once again think of purity  "...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)



The temple had never seemed to glow as much as it did right then. Purity covered in purity, what a beautiful concept. Seasons sure have their time and purpose in this beautiful world. God created the nature, the animals, the moon and stars, and even the seasons with their perfect timing just for us. I always said I was going to move far away from the snow when I got the chance. I get cold way too easily, driving in the snow is a disaster, and I've never been a huge fan of the shoveling and maintenance the snow entails.

I started pondering on winter and how it always takes place at the end/beginning of the year, never in the middle. Snow comes to clean and purify our world, and isn't that what we need to have happen in our hearts? The sacrament happens at the end/beginning of the week; the gift where we have the opportunity to change our hearts, renew our covenants, and be purified from every whit. The sacrament bread we use is usually white, which also ties in perfectly to purity. 



The snow has a greater purpose than I ever realized, it is there to remind us of new beginnings and renewed hope. It is there to remind us of repentance and the atonement of Christ. It is there to remind us that though we have sins as scarlet, through Christ and because He was born, they can become as white as snow.

If you've ever made mistakes you thought you would never recover from, if you have ever hardened your heart to the point it felt there was no return, if you have ever felt that red stain was never, ever going away, know that that is Satan trying to stop you from progressing and becoming who Heavenly Father longs for you to be. Repentance is real. Hope is beautiful. Every single mistake you have ever made can be washed away and purified and it doesn't have to hold you back ever again. Look at the snow, look how pure and gorgeous it makes the world look, let that be a resemblance and an anchor for you to know that hope is real and repentance has all the power to wash your sins away.

God planned His seasons perfectly, are we missing the beauty and His love when we are always wishing for the things we don't have?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Listen - God is Speaking to YOU



Listen - Colton Avery 

Everybody's going somewhere and we're trying to find our way
But we get lost sometimes and think we're all alone
We don't know our destination and we're running in place
Because of all of the distractions on the road

But he is there
And he knows where you belong
And he runs to bring you home

[Chorus]
When you're trying to find the path you should take
When you lost inside the wind and the waves
His voice will break through
He is speaking to you
When you don't know where to fasten your gaze
When the world's distractions get in your way
He will be your guide
If you just close your eyes
And listen
Listen

Everybody's looking forward never knowing what will come
Moving on with faith of fearing what's ahead
But we can let and help us through it and decide to feel his love
We can do it all our own and fall again


Because he is there
And if we hold on to his grace
He will help us find our way


[Chorus]


You will hear him every time, you listen.

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I love this song! Did you read the lyrics above? What a powerful message! 

I can't tell you how many times I get lost or hit a dead end, or slip off of the snowy road only to have to begin again. 



I saw this picture on Facebook and I fell in love. Besides, it fits this message perfectly. I believe God is looking upon us, He can see the entire picture. He sees where we are, He sees where we're going, and He sees the sliding that is happening when the roads are just too slick for us to keep on going. Christ is the light that takes up the entire picture, adding beauty to our life no matter how hard our journey is ahead. Sometimes we get stuck in fear, not knowing exactly when we will slide off the road, but knowing how strong of a possibility it is. 

Our destination is the temple; or in an eternal perspective, Heaven. We long to feel of God's love and guidance for our lives, but sometimes we can't see where we are going or the big tall buildings stand in our way blocking the view or distracting us from the light. God is always there. He is still watching over you and I, no matter how beautiful or crazy the world becomes, the only things we ever have to do is LISTEN! It's that simple. 

We have to slow down, and let Him guide. When we are going the wrong way and we are as lost as it gets, God comes running to help us through every distraction we will ever see on the road. When you feel lost, forgotten, alone, sorrowful, or simply broken - close your eyes and listen for God to lead and guide you once again. 

If you take a wrong turn, it's easy to feel like God is so disappointed or He never wants us back; that's the adversary speaking. He loves you so much and He longs to help you find your way. Trust in Him. Trust in His love. Trust that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will guide you, His mercy is endless and it's all because of Christ. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 12 - The Light of Christ

3 Ne. 18:16 "...Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you." 

We live in such a dark and dreary world, darkness constantly surrounds us, we don't have to look far to find it. But have you ever seen a light, no matter how bright it is, shining from a dark room? It's not hard to miss, is it? A light is easy to follow amongst the darkest of all nights. So why then does it sometimes appear so hard to follow Christ, for isn't He the greatest light of all? 


Often times we think the room got darker, making the light harder to find. Darkness doesn't keep us from finding the light. Obstacles in front of us, keeping our eyes from seeing what is really standing in our way of light.

What is blindfolding your eyes today; keeping you from following the example of the brightest light of all? What distractions are in your way?

Pray about it, Heavenly Father will answer you!

No matter how dark the night becomes, Christ's like shines bright enough for all to see, as long as you are looking!

Make that be one of the gifts you give Christ this Christmas season, a true evaluation of everything that is covering your eyes from seeing the light of Christ. Once you know what's standing in your way, repent about it, then take action so your eyes may be open to the greatest source of light we as Spiritual children will ever know. 


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Book Review // Book Tour - More Than a Tattooed Mormon: Al Carraway

More Than a Tattooed Mormon






About the Book:

Author: Al Carraway

Released: 2015

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Genre: Spiritual/Inspirational



Book and Author Sources:


AMAZON | DESERET BOOK | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER



Book Description:





My Thoughts:


This book is an incredible read. Al shares her story of faith, trials, and endurance on her journey to conversion and what happened after. This book is more than just a story though, it's a written testimony of the love and mercy our Heavenly Father has for each one of His children. This book will make you laugh, this book will make you cry, and this book will give you hope of better days ahead. I admire Al, her faith and testimony to teach others about the gospel as well as her constant drive to spread goodness on social media daily.

I was so excited when Al released her book, I would pick it up and read it when I needed to be reminded of God's love and goodness. What I love about her book is all the great scripture references and quotes from the leadership of the church she has included while telling her story. I love reading what she feels about a scripture, then picking up my own Book of Mormon and studying that verse to see what I get out of it. I love how Al explains the gospel in such simple but powerful forms.

If you're looking to build your testimony, if you're looking for a reason to keep going, if you're strong in your faith and want to read another testimony, if you are thinking of converting, if you are a convert, if you want to be reminded of God's goodness and mercy through the trials, if you simply want to be inspired, this book is FOR YOU! It's a quick read with powerful insights. 

I'm big on highlighting a book so I can remember quotes and wise wisdom, this is a book you better believe is all marked up. I want to share a handful of some of my favorite quotes from this book.

A Few of My Favorite Quotes:


"The Spirit always speaks, but it is up to us to actually listen and not just listen for what we want to hear."

"Everything God does is to help us succeed."

"I can't think of a greater feeling than the Lord's approval of what you're doing."

"Nothing was going to affect my relationship with my Father in Heaven."

"Faith is not a feeling; it's a decision you have to make every day, sometimes several times a day, in each situation."

"Everyone needs to learn different things in different ways."

"We find whatever it is we are looking for. Look for the good; it's there."

"God is for us, so it really doesn't matter who is against us."

"Life without God is life without real happiness."

"When you're serving the Lord, of course everything works out, and you will always have the resources you need to continue."

"Fear, confusion, or anger should never be an option for us once we remember who is speaking to and guiding us."

"When it is His time, it will happen almost immediately."

"You may not have gone where you had in mind, but you will end up where you need to be with better blessings."

"God can't help us and bless us if we are not moving and we are not trying."

"Change is more difficult when we aren't fully committed or don't fully know why we should. Love for and an understanding of Christ can fix that."

"Distractions stop us from receiving and hearing answers."

"With God, life is oh so good."

With God, you have the power to do anything."


About the Author:


AL CARRAWAY // Al Carraway is an award-winning LDS speaker, a blogger, and a convert. She was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where she became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2009 and earned her degree in graphic design. 

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 11 - A Few Simple Thoughts on Charity

I'm in the mood for short and sweet because this day has been long and trying. But I just want to testify on the power of praying for others. It's okay to ask for prayers when you're in need of them. It's okay to pray for others, just because. It's beautiful when we can take a moment to think of who may need some words of love and encouragement in their life. Taking the time to think of others, and just a little less of ourselves allows the Spirit to flood over you and for your heart to become a little more selfless, inviting the greatest Christ-like attribute into your heart that there is - Charity, the pure love of Christ.





Today I studied Alma 33. If you're wondering who Christ is, or how to get to know Him on a better level, this chapter is perfect for that! For God is merciful, and as it says in verse 11, all of that mercy is because of Christ. Then it asks the question in verse 14, "I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?" What a powerful question! If we haven't read the scriptures, either for a day or ever...how can we really know Christ and choose to believe in Him if we have nothing left to go off of? 



I know the days I struggle the most are the days I'm not putting any bit of effort into scripture study, and I'm not thinking of who to pray for and how to make someone's life easier. I have the choice to dwell on my problems and make myself miserable, or allow Christ to enter my heart and help me sort them out, while I go serve someone else in the meantime. God is good! Christ is perfect! They both love us, and together that love is infinite!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 10 - 5 Books That Bring Me Closer to Christ

I've been thinking a lot about Christ, and how I don't know Him as much I would like to. Every time I forget how dependent I am on Christ, I find it's because I know of Him and believe in Him, but I don't KNOW Him, like really truly know Him as much as I need to. The times I know my Savior the most are when I study about Him and apply that principle that day. Without learning of Christ daily and thinking about Him constantly as I covenant while partaking of the sacrament, I end up lost and broken that day. So back to my favorite books to learn of the Savior. 

I thought I would share them with you incase you would like to join me on my journey, or if there is anyone on your Christmas list you would like to purchase these books for. 




5 Books that bring me closer to my Savior

(Click on the books to purchase)



1. Continuous Atonement - Brad Wilcox



 


The Continuous Atonement is a book I love and hold close to my heart because of the peace it brings. It's a book about how Christ gives us so many opportunities to start again. 
Continuous progress is made possible only through the atonement of Jesus Christ and I love the way it is explained in this book.

"Christ doesn't just make up the difference, He makes all the difference."
 - Brad Wilcox

2. The Peacegiver - James L. Ferrell
How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes



This is a book that my bishop told me to read after he realized how much my heart was in need of mending through the Spirit. This is a book that is an incredible parable of how Christ is the answer to healing, hope, cleansing, and the redeeming power of Christ. Perhaps this book has some answers your longing for as well.

" The Nephites came most readily to Christ when things were hardest and their burdens were greatest."
- James L. Ferrell


3. 21 Days closer to Christ - Emily Freeman



Oh my goodness, where to begin on this book. Every single time I am struggling or seeking answers, I open this page the personal stories Emily shares in this book dig deep into my soul and mend my Spirit. The way Emily teaches of Christ have really helped me to come to know my Savior more, and recognize my deep and everlasting love for Him.

Also, all the artwork is by Simon Dewey, you're bound to fall in love!

"Jesus Christ can refresh you spiritually, strengthen you in the face of adversity, and help you find more joy in the common tasks of your life."
- Emily Freeman



 4. The Infinite Atonement - Tad R. Callister



This book was written by Tad R. Callister, who has served as a Sunday School president in the general presidency. He has done an incredible amount of research, and this book shares incredible insights on the atonement, all sourced with scriptures. This book teaches me something new every time I open it, I highly recommend it! 

"One does not speak lightly of the Atonement or casually express appreciation. It is the most sacred and sublime event in eternity. It deserves our most intense thoughts, our most profound feelings, and our noblest deeds."
- Tad R. Callister



5. Becoming His - Emily Freeman



The collections and Christlike attributes found in this book are sure to speak to your heart and inspire you to become His. So many incredible quotes, personal stories that help you relate to Christ, scriptures, and stories of Christ in words that tell of a story (which I love because understanding the scripture language is hard for me at times). This book is organized in 12 parts to become a better disciple of Christ. Perfect to spend a month of the year on each one. 

"When we become altogether committed to knowing and loving the Lord, we begin to understand how altogether committed He is to knowing and loving us."
- Emily Freeman

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 9 - No Better Tutor than Christ

My heart has been so humbled today as anxiety entered my heart from an unexpected and unwelcomed visit. I instantly turned to the Lord and told Him I couldn't do this without Him. Heavenly Father understood, He smiled, and He said "I'm so glad we both agree". Christ came to my rescue, not by taking the anxiety away, but by allowing my heart to turn to God with trust that it would be okay, I didn't know how and I didn't want to face it, but I just knew with Christ fighting my battles for me, it would all be okay.



I hate anxiety, I despise it because I feel paralyzed in thought and action. Panic has to be one of the worst emotions we can feel in this world. But without the anxiety bouts that sometimes hit my life at the most unexpected times, I wouldn't come to know the Lord in the most intimate and personal ways I have had the privilege of experiencing. 

There is no better tutor I could ask for in this life than my Savior, the one I must place every bit of trust I have in. Trials are often a way I can welcome a personal visitation from the Savior. As I look to Him, He always leads the way, brings peace to my soul, and leaves a handprint on my heart of the lessons He needed me to know. Without the trials I have gone through in my life, I can't imagine how prideful and selfish I would be. It is only through storms and bitterness that life has to offer, that I submit my entire will to Heavenly Father and utter the words "Thy will be done." 



Trials, no matter how heart-rending they may be are the turning points that are my greatest blessings. It is in the middle of these moments that I develop the deepest companionship I could ever wish or desire to obtain with Christ. I love Him with all my heart and I want to show that. To strengthen my love for Him more, I must come to know Him on a deeper level than I have ever known Him before. And it begins through study, prayer, and ponder!

That is my challenge for you today: 
Reflect on these two questions. 
1. Do you love Christ with your whole heart, might, mind, and strength?
2. Do you know Christ well enough to truly know you love Him?


If you hesitate to say a strong affirming YES with no hesitation like I did today, spend time in the scriptures and understand His stories, let them live in heart and allow them to change you from your very core.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 8 - The Atonement is More Than Just a Switch We Flip


I'm going to keep today's post simple, because Christ loves to teach in simplicity. 

I don't understand the atonement fully, I don't understand how it's done. The more I study about it, the more I realize how much I don't know. But I know the atonement is real and has an incredible impact on my life daily, even when I don't recognize it.



For me personally, I sometimes get caught up in thinking the atonement is a switch I just need to flip on and then all will be well. You know those deep, dark moments of despair and anguish when you ARE doing what's right and you're praying + reading your scriptures in that moment, in those moments I think I am flipping the switch to access the atonement so all my pain should go away immediately. I have learned it doesn't work like that. In those moments I am drawing on the powers of Heaven to access the atonement and on God's timing I receive hope, happiness, and strength when He knows I need it most. I don't know my limits, but He does. The atonement makes my weaknesses in sin, doubt, education, and insecurity to become strengthened and with the atonement of Christ I feel whole and complete. I couldn't ever do it without the atonement of Jesus Christ!

I'm so grateful for the atonement, the greatest gift I will ever know! Christ lives and loves us. If I had one wish, it would be for everyone to understand the need and powers of the atonement in their personal life. To know that even though the pain doesn't always go away immediately, Christ is the greatest healer and in His perfect time, we are made whole. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

#ASaviorIsBorn - Day 7 - Christ Loves Me in Ways I Don't Love Myself

I just love that Christmas time is a time to reflect upon Christ and all the gifts that have
 come to this world in result of his birth. One of the greatest gifts Christ brought down with him was the gift of hope, peace, and an endless love that encompasses us daily when we allow it to. 

This morning when I woke up, I started pondering how to get to know myself perfectly. How to understand what I want to do for the rest of my life, what are the weaknesses I have that I should be focusing on first, and even as simple as what is the greatest talent God has blessed me with. While some are lucky to have the answers to these questions, I always thought I knew growing up, and then life started to pull me in another direction and I just wasn't sure anymore. I see it as a gift, it's a gift to have to explore who I really am because there is only one person who can fully help me learn and understand, and that is my Savior Jesus Christ.



Not only is it an opportunity to draw near unto Christ in this phase of soul searching I am in, but it is the only option I have if I really want to know myself perfectly. No amount of soul searching I could do on my own will ever give me all the answers I need. It was Christ that walked my path before I ever did. It was Christ that helped me to understand who I was when I lived in Heaven, and it is Christ that will help me to understand who I am now.

Sometimes I have moments of weakness where I can't seem to find any beauty within myself. I forget my worth, I forget my talents, I forget my strengths, I forget that Christ said I was worth dying for. It is only when I open my heart to Christ and allow him to take the needle and thread to mend my wounded heart that I start to see that beauty once again. Christ loves me for who I am and who I am not. He loves me in spite of my weaknesses, mistakes, sins, shortcomings, and sorrows. He loved me even when he knew every single mistake I would make coming to earth, and he still believed I was worth dying for. He believes that about you too, the love he has for you is immeasurable! Nothing on this earth is more fulfilling and joyful than the love our Savior has to offer. 

Lindsey Stirling released her #ASaviorIsBorn campaign music video today and her words hit this message right on the nail.


I know on the days I don't feel beautiful inside and out, Christ sees the beauty that I don't see. Christ loves me in ways I don't love myself. Christ delivers hope when it feels as if hope will never come again. He has the power to heal the broken, mend the sick, counsel the lame, and serve those that feel hopeless and worthless. Christ is my best friend and confident.



His love is real. 
His love is perfect. 
His love is honest. 
His love is unchangeable. 
His love is for YOU no matter what you
 have or have not done. 
Christ will never stop loving you.

Find a way to draw near unto Christ by the small and simple things such as prayer, reading scriptures for just five minutes a day, watching bible videos, listening to hymns, and serving someone outside of yourself. As you let Christ into your heart, I testify you will feel changed from the inside out. Your heart will grow, your happiness will expand, and your self esteem will be made stronger than you ever thought possible. 
I know this because Christ has on many occasions helped me see the beauty I couldn't see in myself.