Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back, Moving Forward

"Light in the wilderness." Photo taken in Albion Basin over the summer. 

When I had the prompting to move back to Utah last year, I had the distinct thought/impression that I needed to move back in order to progress in life. 

Filled with hope and faith, I suppose my vision of "progress" was a lot different than what God had in mind for me. I imagined I'd move back, immediately find an amazing job and maybe find my future husband too. I'd certainly progress in life in that way. 

Here I am at the end of 2016, looking back. Yeah, that vision of my life was definitely not how things went. 2016 was hard. It is humbling for me to say that. But, I realize it's ok to admit that life isn't perfect. This year was full of job rejections and disappointments. And here I am, still as single as ever.

But, oh how I have learned! I think I have progressed. I have learned that progress comes from challenge. We absolutely cannot grow without struggle.

I have hit rock bottom and had to rely on my Heavenly Father to help me and guide me. My challenges have humbled me. They have made me realize that I CANNOT do things on my own. I need my Heavenly Father's help so much. 

My challenges have helped me to appreciate the small and simple joys of life. This year I didn't get to travel as much. But, I did get to spend a lot of time after work enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Utah. I am so thankful for those experiences. They helped me draw closer to God and to the friends that came on those adventures with me. 

This year, I've read about and thought about people in the scriptures who've been on journeys in the "wilderness." I've thought about how that applies to my life. Sometimes, I feel like I am in the "wilderness" - not sure where I am headed in my life. Especially at this point. I'm not where I thought I'd be at 30 going on 31. But, I have realized that God never leaves us alone in our wildernesses. 1 Nephi 17: 13 says,  

"And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."

Most of all, I've realized I am not the one in charge. God is. He's in control of my life. He knows where I'm headed. I have limited vision. He sees the whole picture. 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." I love that quote. I came across it recently and have thought about it a lot (I see a potential art project coming on... Ha.). I'm sure God is making a beautiful mosaic in my life. 

And so, I will press forward. I look forward to a new year, a new start. I am grateful for the ways I grew this past year and for the many blessings I was blessed with. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives."

Here's to 2017! It's going to rock! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Faith in Every Footstep

*Preface: The Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847 after a long, long journey west. They settled here. July 24 is known to Mormons as "Pioneer Day."

 This is the place monument - where the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley 169 years ago today!


I remember when I first found out I have LDS pioneer ancestors. It was July 2007, right before I left on my mission. I was doing some family history and was so surprised and excited to learn about my pioneer ancestors. I thought (and still think) it was the coolest thing! I was so nerdy about it, I drug my family along to some cemeteries in American Fork and Pleasant Grove to see these people's gravesites. They are marked with cool pioneer emblems. 

Ever since then, I've felt a strong love for them and a connection to them. I honestly cannot even fathom what it was like to be an early pioneer. They were persecuted for their beliefs and driven out of their homes. They didn't know what was ahead. They had to deal with brutal cold weather, starvation and even the death of loved ones. And yet, they had faith. 

I heard the following story in church today and was really touched. 

Some years ago President David O. McKay (1873–1970) told of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company. Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. President McKay related an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus:

“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.”

Then President McKay quoted an observer who was present in that class: “Some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.

“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.

“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? …

“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’”

He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’” 
(Entire talk here: 

How amazing is that?! "The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay." Wow!!!

I've thought a lot about them and the faith they had to press forward even though they didn't know what was ahead. I guess I can relate in some ways. I certainly do not know trial and hardship like they did. I thankfully have not had to face persecution like they did. 

But, as a 30-year-old single adult, I find myself feeling like I'm in a "wilderness" sometimes. I don't know what's ahead. Sometimes the (single) journey seems long and difficult. But I remember that I need to have "faith in every footstep." I need to press forward towards my "promised land," trusting that God will guide my path. He's with me every step of the way. That doesn't mean life is easy. But, like the pioneers, I have seen miracles come as I have put my trust in Him and allowed Him to guide me. 

I love the pioneers. I want to learn more about them and their stories and learn from their faith. I'm grateful they were willing to sacrifice so much. I'm grateful for their examples of testimony. They knew the Gospel is true. 

Today at church I went to the family history Sunday School class and spent some time learning more about my pioneer ancestors. I learned about David Adamson. I learned that he worked at Neff's Mill in Millcreek. I also learned that that site is just 5 minutes from where I live. After church I went over there and saw it. It was so awesome. I just love learning about these people. I hope to find more stories and learn more from their lives. They are truly incredible and deserve to be honored and remembered. 

Blessed, honored pioneer!

The site where my great-great-(probably 3 more greats) something worked on the mill.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The story behind submitting my story

One of my lifelong dreams/goals since I was younger has been to get published in one of the LDS Church's magazines. 

When I was probably 10 or 11 I wrote something and submitted it to the Friend magazine. I was crushed when I got a rejection letter. (Yeah, they actually mailed me one via snail mail back in the day.)

I've still just really wanted to get something published since then. I even put it on my "30 by 30" list. I had a lot of experiences I thought about writing about. But I always wondered if I was a good enough writer.

Well, three years ago I had a special experience in the Mesa Temple. When I left the temple I had the thought to submit my story to the Ensign. Immediately I thought, "No. It's way too personal." But the thought to submit it persisted all the way home. I ended up staying up really late that night and putting it all on paper (well, you know, Microsoft Word). Honestly, I felt I was guided to know what to say/how to word things. I hit submit late that night.

For the next several years it was always in the back of my mind, but I figured they must not have liked it/wanted to use it. 

Imagine my shock and THRILL when one afternoon just before Christmas in 2015 I got an email from someone at the magazine asking me to review my contribution for accuracy. I was SO excited. He said it'd probably be published in June.

So, I've anxiously waited. 

Back in March when I visited Arizona I attended my previous ward. My former Bishop told me the Ensign had contacted him right after I moved (so, in October of 2015) to make sure I was a good person before they published my contribution. Haha. I thought that was so interesting.

Talk about a timetable here! THREE years.

I am so excited to have accomplished this goal. I realize it's only a couple of paragraphs. So, it's probably really silly how excited I am. But I am really, super duper excited (which is why I can't keep quiet about it!).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Those Who Want To Improve

So, I hate commuting. It's rough. But I can't deny how awesome it has been to spend two hours a day listening to church talks and the scriptures, inspiring music and or pondering. (Ok, and daydreaming. Some of that time is definitely daydreaming. Good thing I'm still a safe driver.)

One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is:
"The Lord blesses those who want to improve."
(Jeffrey R. Holland, "Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You," April 2016.)

I've realized I fall into that category. I think that's one of my biggest desires. (I mean, we're here to grow and progress, right?) I haven't realized it as much as I have lately, thanks to the Spirit enlightening me and kind of saying, "Hey, that's you."

As I mentioned in the last post, I want to be perfect. And I am not. I realize so much that I am not. Sometimes I leave church feeling so overwhelmed at how much I need to improve and be better at. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and get so sad that I am not what I want to be. I am not where I want to be with my weight. I am not the sister, daughter and friend I want to be. I am not as smart as I want to be. I want to be better in so many ways.

Good thing Heavenly Father loves me. And good thing the desire to improve is a good one. And thank goodness for the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, which covers all inadequacies and imperfections. I am forever grateful for that.

Sometimes we need to stop and look at how far we've come. A few years ago I made the decision to improve my health. The picture on the left was me at my heaviest - 35 pounds heavier than I am today - the picture on the right. I'd say that's an improvement! I'd say Heavenly Father is happy with how far I've come. (I couldn't have done it without His help.)

I've come so far in my spiritual progression in the past few years too. I've improved in a lot of ways. But somehow, satan gets me to focus on everything I am not.

I'm thankful for the Spirit's gentle nudges and reminders of how far I have come and how I am doing ok. It's ok I'm not perfect today. I've just got to do my best and keep moving forward.

As Elder Holland said,

Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Perfectly Imperfect

I've now finished week 3 of commuting. It takes about an hour each way. So, needless to say, I've been spending a lot of time in the car.

While I am not a fan of sitting in traffic, these long drives have provided me ample time to ponder.

One thing I've been thinking about lately is this quote:

I've finally realized something about myself. I want to be perfect! Yup. I do. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a problem to want perfection NOW. Or, I want to put things off until I am perfect. 

For example, I've recently realized that I have been telling myself I don't think I can get married until things are perfect in my life. Until I am at the perfect weight, until I've finally paid off my car and my student loan, until I've overcome my weaknesses, and so forth. What a flawed idea! No one is perfect! Elder Hales said, "we don't marry perfection, we marry potential." So, I hope one day (preferably sooner rather than later) an imperfect guy will come along and see my potential. And then we can continue to work on improving ourselves. 

Back to the Elder Nelson quote. This is so important. We are our own worst critics. Guess what? It's ok that we're not perfect right now. We can't be too hard on ourselves. Satan wants us to. But recognizing his influence is important. We need to remember that we are children of God with weaknesses and shortcomings. We can become better day after day through the enabling power of the Atonement. And one day in the far far future, because of our Savior we can become the perfect beings we so much want to become. Until then, let's be patient with ourselves and with each other.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Hallelujah! I can't think of a better word to describe this Easter season. After 15 months of job hunting (6 of them back in Utah without a job)- which included hundreds upon hundreds of applications, some interviews and hundreds of rejections- I got a job. In fact, I have been blessed with two jobs. I have been so humbled and am so grateful.

I know it is only because of my Savior's grace and mercy. I am weak on my own. I am nothing on my own. I have come to know my Savior more intimately the past few months. I have felt alone and rejected. I have come to know that He knows my pain. He knows what it is like to want so badly to know the Father's will and then be blessed to have courage to accept it.

I know He lives. The following words have meant a lot to me:

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart
(From the hymn, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives.") 

 Christ is real. He is my friend. The enabling power of the atonement is real. I'm so grateful for all He has done and continues to do for me. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Temple Blessings

Went here today. Got home and checked my email and voicemail to find two interview invitations. It's not like that's happening every day (I wish)! You can't tell me the blessings of this place aren't real. They are! (They don't always come that way, but today they did.) In addition to that, I must mention the peace and comfort I feel here. It's real!

I can't believe tomorrow marks 5 months since I quit my job. This was never my plan. I've always known I need to have another job before I quit the one I have. At least, that's the logical thing to do. But when God tells you to do something, you do it. I know it's crazy and at times I truly doubt. But, I try to hold on to the faith I have. I've grown much closer to God the past few months because I have had to rely on Him. And I have been amazed to see how He has taken care of me.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Eyes to See

Last week I went to Salt Lake to get together with a friend. As I was riding back on the train, I had some time to ponder. My thoughts were filled with my worries and trials I am dealing with right now. 

And then, I had a powerful, humbling experience. I saw a blind man exit the train. That was it. But, it changed my perspective completely. We are all given trials that we need to learn and grow. But suddenly, my trials didn't seem too bad. I can't imagine how hard this man's life is. I'm sure he's learned to cope, but it can't be easy. 

I was filled with gratitude. Gratitude that I can see (and walk, talk, hear). I can see the beautiful sunset. I can see the smiles on my nieces and nephews faces. I can see the beautiful mountains. I can see where I am walking. I can drive. I can take pictures of this beautiful earth. The blessing to be able to see is incredible. It's one that should never be taken for granted. 

This experience made me realize I should be grateful for the trials I have. Life could always, always be worse. 

I had those thoughts and then got off at my stop and drove home where I immediately had a couple of (small) trying experiences. I dropped my phone as soon as I got out of the car and the screen shattered. But, I picked it up and I took the picture above anyway. Sometimes I see through shattered glass, but I can see. And life is still beautiful. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Plan For Me

Today at church I took my nephew for a walk in the church building. As we were walking down the hall and approached the primary room (classroom for the kids), I saw written on the chalkboard, “My Heavenly Father has a plan for my life.” I know this was meant for whatever lesson the kids were having, but I was really touched. I had been praying and fasting today to know that God DOES have a plan for my life. Because, sometimes, it's a struggle to remember that. There was my answer - written out right in front of me. It was a really special experience. Sometimes answers from God aren't as clear. Sometimes, they're right in front of our face. God is real. Pray, he is there. Speak, he is listening.