Sunday, November 5, 2017

The God I Know

This weekend I took a little road trip by myself to Twin Falls, Idaho - three hours from Salt Lake. It was amazing. I had been tired and stressed and needed some serious rejuvenation and pondering time. I really just needed to get away and spend some time alone and with God. 

I got into town and headed straight for Shoshone Falls. I climbed down the stairs to a little viewing area and was immediately overcome. It was spectacular. Pictures don't do it justice. An incredible feeling came over me. It was like God was there with me saying, "Look at this! Look! I love you. I've created this beautiful earth for you!" I was the only one around when I first got there and it was perfect.

The next day I spent some time in the Twin Falls Idaho Temple. Gorgeous as well. There is a mural of Shoshone Falls in one the rooms, which I loved. I had a special experience there where I felt God's love.

I did a variety of other things on my trip - enjoyed good food, swam in the pool, relaxed in the hot tub, went shopping. It was so good. There are some things that totally stink about being single. My solo trips are not one of them. 

I've spent some time this weekend thinking about God. Who is the God I know? Because honestly, sometimes I feel forsaken. I know I'm not. I know I'm incredibly blessed with so much. But it's easy to fall into the trap. It's easy to, for a split second, feel like God doesn't love you when year after year you're just not getting what you most desire and what you're praying fervently for. 

But I know God is real. He's there. I do know He loves me. I know He has a plan. I don't know why life seems unfair at times. I'm not sure why a friend my same age has six kids and I struggle to get a date. I'm not sure why a friend of mine was taken earlier this year and I get to live and enjoy this beautiful earth. That doesn't seem fair.

For a while now I've been praying for answers. I've been praying for guidance for my life. And nothing has seemingly come. The answer has always been, "Wait. Hold on. Endure." Sometimes that IS the answer. Sometimes we just don't want to hear that AGAIN. But that's where faith comes in. That's where we have to trust that God knows what's ahead. We may not understand why our prayers don't seem to be answered, but God has a purpose. 

And so, sometimes we just have to keep on keepin' on. The words of Jeffrey R. Holland come to mind, "Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe."

The God I know doesn't forsake His children. The God I know loves His children SO much. And one day, however far away that day may seem, He'll bless us beyond our wildest dreams. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

When God Doesn't Move the Mountains

I've learned a hard, but important lesson over the past two years of my life. It's this: sometimes God doesn't move the "mountains" in our lives. He can, but sometimes He doesn't. 

Sometimes we pray with all of our might. Sometimes we've got an army of friends and family praying for us too. And still, the mountain is there. 

Sometimes we just have to climb up that mountain. And it's so dang hard. And so dang long. It seems so insurmountable. 

But I can tell you this - yes, sometimes God doesn't move the mountain, but He's certainly there climbing it with us every step of the way. 

I've had a "mountain" in my life the past two years. Actually, I've had a few mountains. It's been the hardest time of my life. But, I have to say I've NEVER felt God closer. I've never felt closer to Him. I've never had to rely on Him as much as I have had to now. I've never had to trust Him more. I've never known more that I can't do it on my own. (Don't get me wrong - there have been nights my pillow has been wet with tears because I've wondered where in the world God is and why He hasn't come through. But, I've worked through those moments and realized that He really Has been with me.)

Sometimes God doesn't move the mountains because that would be too easy for us. If He'd moved the mountains for me a year ago, would I have spent hours pouring diligently over His words and praying all of my heart out to Him, pleading with Him this past year? Maybe to a certain extent, but definitely not to THIS extent. If He'd moved that mountain would I be as strong as I am now? No, I certainly wouldn't. He wants us to grow. And sometimes that means climbing mountains for years. 

I haven't reached the top yet, but I feel like I'm getting closer. And I know when I do, the view will be absolutely incredible. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I can do hard things

This weekend I've been thinking a lot about my pioneer ancestors. I spent some time at the cemetery where many of them are buried and have been reading some of their stories. 

They went through SO much. I learned recently that one of them froze to death after they arrived here in Utah. They also suffered much hardship on the plains- lack of food, mobs in Nauvoo, sickness, death of family and friends, and on and on. I really have a special place in my heart for them. Despite all of this, they keep their eyes on their goal of reaching their destination and they did so with faith and trust in God.

While I can't fully comprehend what they went through, and my trials differ from theirs in many ways, there's one thing that has really resonated with me especially lately. It's this: they did hard things and so I can I. 

They had faith in their trials and so can I. They pressed forward not knowing what was in store and so can I.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said: 

"The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life."

I love that. My challenges are different today, but they are still challenges God's asking me to go through. Life has been hard lately (or so I think. I know my challenges could always be so much worse.) I'm so grateful for the heritage I have. I look to the pioneers as examples of strength and endurance. God wants me to be strong and have faith, just as my ancestors did. 

I can do hard things. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Live More Fully, Love More Deeply

Tomorrow marks 6 months since my beautiful friend passed away. Gosh, I miss her. I miss our deep chats about life and the Gospel over Chick-fil-a. I miss her texts. I just miss her.  She was such a strength to me. Although she's gone, I know she's actually not far away. I think of her often. Her life and her passing have made me appreciate the simple things that get taken for granted. I'm blessed to experience this life. I'm blessed to breathe on my own, to walk, to run, to hike, to drive to the store on my own when I want. So many things she wasn't able to do. Life is a precious gift. I want to live it more fully and love more deeply because of Brittany Trevino. How grateful I am to know she's in a better place and because of our Savior I can one day see her again.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I'll go where you want me to go

Over two years ago, I made the choice to move back to Utah after being prompted to do so. It was not easy. From January to September, I was job hunting and figuring out how it'd work out. Finally, in September, I felt it was time to just go. Although I knew all of the good reasons to go, I struggled with it so much. I'd be leaving behind friends and family, snowless weather and a good job with an awesome company. 

On my way to church one Sunday, I made a deal with Heavenly Father. I told Him, "Ok, Heavenly Father, if we sing "I'll go where you want me to go" in church today, then I'll do this. I'll move back to Utah." Well, I couldn't contain the tears as we sang "I'll go where you want me to go" in Sacrament meeting that day.

Since that time, it's really hit me that that hymn says, "I'll go where YOU want me to go," not, "I'll go where I want ME to go." I've had to remind myself of that often. Because my vision and His vision were different. 

I ended up in Salt Lake City. I did not want to move here. I wanted to stay in Utah County or end up in St. George. On my way out the door to move my things, I told my Mom, "I don't want to do this." 

Sometimes God makes us do things we don't want to do. I've pondered that fact quite a bit. There are plenty of examples in the scriptures of people who are asked to do things they don't want to do. 

Why does God make us go places we don't want to go? I'm still figuring that out. But over the past year, I've learned that a huge reason is so we'll grow. I've been stretched in ways I never thought possible this past year. This has hands down been the hardest year of my life. I've been humbled (and am still being humbled) to the core. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm on a wild ride and I'm just hanging on for dear life! I never could have planned a lot of this. This weekend I moved to another place here in Salt Lake. This came out of nowhere. I was not planning on moving at all.  Let's just say, I'm not very fond of moving. But this opportunity was presented and well, here I am. Moving yet again. It's reminded me that while I do have my agency, I am not the one in control here. God does have a plan and even though I feel lost at times, one day it'll all make sense and come together. Neal A. Maxwell said, "What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic. For there is in each of our lives this kind of divine design, this pattern, this purpose that is in the process of becoming, which is continually before the Lord but which for us, looking forward, is sometimes perplexing."

I don't have all the answers. But I know God has a plan. I know that He wants us to be humble. It isn't an easy thing to align our will with His. But, it's the best thing to do. I'm working on remembering that God is the one in control. One of my favorite scriptures says, "Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works." (Jacob 4:10)

So here I am in Salt Lake City, Utah. I should mention that while this has been the hardest year of my life, there's so much good that has happened since living here. I've met incredible people. I recently started attending the Midsingles Ward (congregation) and it has been the best experience for me. I've finally felt that that's where I'm supposed to be. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me there. I love being so close to the mountains here that I can go on a hike with friends after work. I've also developed a greater love for Temple Square and the history there. So much good. And it's not all about me. God needs me here. Perhaps to help someone else. Who knows. But I'm here because God wants me to be here. As hard as it is, I'm learning to trust Him and go where He wants me to go. 

It may not be on the mountain height

Or over the stormy sea,

It may not be at the battle’s front

My Lord will have need of me.

But if, by a still, small voice he calls

To paths that I do not know,

I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:

I’ll go where you want me to go.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Evening With an Apostle

Last month I turned 31 and aged out of my young single adult congregation. This weekend, my new stake (group of congregations) has stake conference. The speaker and presiding authority just so happens to be Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 apostles. That right there is the principle of compensation. Whenever we lose something, we can something greater. I hit the jackpot! 

I went really early tonight so I could get a good spot (and ponder beforehand). I was ten rows away from this apostle of God. It was the most amazing church meeting I've EVER been in. When Elder Holland speaks and testifies it is POWERFUL. He said so much I needed to hear. I am on cloud 9.

He talked about broken things. How God loves broken things. And broken things can be made whole again. He talked about how there is happiness ahead. We will make it. We will overcome our trials. He said, "The only way we can be a disciple of Christ is to walk where He walked. We have to feel pain." We have to have the experiences we have in order to become the people God needs us to be. 

He mentioned several times that when we sacrifice, we get blessings back ten fold. 

He mentioned the scripture: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:9) He said, "God will keep every promise He's ever uttered." 

Tonight was honestly life changing for me. I've been dealing with some difficult things and the things he spoke about really helped me to put my challenges into perspective. He said, "Whatever the tunnel is, there is a light at the end of it. And it's Jesus Christ."

I'm so glad I got to experience this. I know I'm lucky. I was actually supposed to be somewhere else tonight (story for a different day), so I'm glad it all worked out and I went. I needed to be there. Jeffrey R. Holland is an apostle of the Lord and I got to hear him testify of Christ tonight. It's surreal and amazing and I'll never forget it. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Thoughts on Motherhood

Mother's Day weekend always tends to be one of reflection for me. I think about my mother and the many ways she's influenced my life. I think about my Grandmothers and the legacies they've left.

Admittedly, I also think of myself. The reality that I'm not a mother always crosses my mind and sinks deep. The pain is real. I don't have children (or a husband) of my own. Yet. However, I think about the fact that I DO have 11 nieces and nephews to love and learn from and be "motherly" to.

I think about the kind of mom I want to be. I think about that a lot, actually. As hard as it is, I know being childless (and single) is preparing me to be the kind of mother God needs me to be. I imagine the experiences I've had and lessons I've learned from this season in my life will help me help my children in a variety of ways. 

For a long time I've tried to brush off the pain. But I've realized that it's ok and necessary to acknowledge it (I just can't dwell on it). 

It's hard when I hop on to Facebook and 3 + of my friends blessed their sweet babies that day at church. It's hard when I see another pregnancy announcement. Or another person saying how being a mom is the best job in the world. Although, I know I'd totally do the same if I had kids. 

I was really put in my place about a year ago when I was chatting with a friend about how much we want to have kids of our own. And she commented, "well, at least you have nieces and nephews. I don't." Well, talk about being humbled, huh! 

I am truly grateful for that gift. Being an aunt has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I have learned so much about love and life from those adorable 11 kids. So much happiness has come into my life by being an aunt. And I can say I've learned a thing or two about parenting from it. 

I don't know why God hasn't blessed me with the greatest desires of my heart yet. But I do know when those blessings do come I will NEVER take them for granted. My children (and husband) will never have to wonder if they are loved and appreciated. That is for sure! 

I am grateful for the many wonderful women who are such great examples of motherhood. You might not know it, but I am definitely watching and learning from you. 

I know that motherhood is a sacred gift and calling. Motherhood is not easy and I'm in awe of those who do it. I can't even comprehend how tiring and emotionally exhausting it is. But, I hear it's the most rewarding thing. It has been said that, "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind." I know that's true. I look forward to the day when I get to experience it myself.