Sunday, December 21, 2014

Be the example

So there is a very special family in my ward. I had the privilege of being the sunbeam teacher of their oldest daughter when I moved into and started attending my current ward. She immediately was one of my favorites. (To be honest they all were my favorites) I fell in love with those children, more than I thought I would. Even now that I'm no longer their teacher I still look for them and am pleased when they greet me with a hug and share their love. This little girl, Lexi, is very special. I didn't know her family's story when I moved in. Honestly I didn't learn of it until I read an article her mom wrote that was published in the ensign: "Beyond the Bubblegum Machine"


Beyond the Bubblegum Machine

AMY SCHAUERS
The author lives in Utah, USA.


My trials of faith taught me that the gospel is more than a bubblegum machine that pops out a blessing for our every righteous action.
After my conversion to the gospel, I began to believe the misconception that if I lived the standards of the gospel, life would be easy and I would get the blessings I wanted. I kept hearing and misinterpreting statements like, “If you read your scriptures, say your prayers, go to church, pay yourtithing, and attend the temple, you will be blessed.” While these statements are true, I wasn’t being blessed in the ways I thought I deserved to be.
I had what I like to call a bubblegum-machine mentality: You put a coin in the machine and out pops a gum ball. Say your prayers and they will be answered. Go to church and your trials will be lifted. Attend the temple and your righteous desires will be granted in short order. My early testimony of the gospel was built on this misconception.
So it is not difficult to imagine my dismay when things didn’t always work out that way. I had to learn that having faith to turn to God and lay my burdens at His feet can be a difficult, heart-wrenching, and humbling experience. Through my own experiences and trials, I have learned that life’s challenges are meant to change us and turn us to the Lord in faith.

My First Contact with the Gospel

The process of my conversion to the gospel began after high school, when I moved to Montana, USA, and started dating Aaron. When the topic of religion came up, Aaron said that he was Mormon. He was the first Mormon I had ever met. He wasn’t an active member at the time, and we didn’t talk about it much.
After dating for about two years, we decided to move to Minnesota for better jobs and to be near my family. Just before we moved, we visited Aaron’s parents one last time. That night Aaron’s dad gave him a father’s blessing. Then Aaron’s dad turned to me and asked if I’d like a blessing. At that moment I didn’t know what I was getting myself into or how that single blessing would change the course of my life.
I don’t recall any of his words in the blessing, but I clearly remember how I felt. The Spirit was strong and undeniable. I thought I’d had spiritual experiences before, but I’d never experienced anything that compared to the feelings I had that day.

The Challenge of Following the Truth

After I received the blessing, Aaron’s parents talked with me about the Church. It made so much sense. I felt like many of the questions I’d had all my life were being answered. But at that time I wasn’t interested in pursuing the issue further. I had been raised in a devout Catholic family, and even though I hadn’t been an active Catholic for some time, I was pretty well rooted in the traditions of that faith.
So when Aaron and I moved to Minnesota, I returned to life as a Catholic. We lived with my parents (Aaron and I having separate rooms) and went to church with them, where I felt comfortable and at home. Aaron loved the one-hour church meeting, and I liked feeling that I fit in. We carried on that way for a while, but it didn’t take long before I wanted more. I remembered how I felt during that priesthood blessing, and I wanted to feel that way again. Much to the dismay of everyone in my life, I sought out a nearby LDS Church, met the missionaries, and started taking the discussions.
I felt conflicted. I had a background that included years of Catholic training, a family who didn’t understand what I was doing, and a fiancĂ© who was happy to continue attending one-hour-a-week mass with my parents. But deep down I knew that the missionaries were teaching the truth. Eventually what I felt and knew on the inside overruled the external pressures in my life. At age 21, I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. Six months later Aaron and I were married.

The Challenge of Staying Converted

I knew I made the right decision to be baptized, so after my baptism—with my bubblegum-machine mentality—I thought that everything would be easy and I would feel blessed. Instead, I felt I had immersed myself in a brand-new culture that was radically different from what I was used to. The ties of my old life tugged at me constantly.
I was at a crossroads where my core beliefs were being tested. Either I could forget my baptism and go back to living what I saw as an easier path, or I could dig deep, grab the iron rod, and stay on the path. Though I wasn’t as abundantly blessed as I thought I would be by joining the Church, I did know the gospel was true, and that knowledge helped me turn to the Lord in faith and get through the challenge of joining the Church and remaining an active member.
Eventually membership in the Church got easier. My family became accepting, and we were able to discuss some of their misconceptions about the Church. Aaron and I were blessed to make great friends in the ward, and we were later sealed in the temple.

The Challenge of Unfulfilled Desires

Sometime after our marriage, Aaron and I decided we wanted to start having children. I thought it was a righteous desire. We had been living gospel standards—putting our coins in the bubblegum machine, so to speak—so I figured that we’d quickly be blessed with a child. But that did not happen.
We tried for years to have a baby. After several miscarriages, I was finally pregnant again and felt that this time my prayers had been answered, that the trial was over, and that I could now reap my reward for living the gospel. Aaron and I began planning for our baby girl. Then, when I was six months along, our baby died.
Since my testimony was built on an unsteady, bubblegum-machine foundation, it quickly and easily toppled. This time, instead of turning to the gospel and leaning on my faith, I turned away from it. I couldn’t see beyond the loss of our daughter. For the first time since joining the Church, I stopped attending meetings altogether. I became hardened and bitter. I blocked the Spirit and built walls of anger and bitterness, which resulted in my own unhappiness.
When we moved into a new ward years later, we decided it was time to make a fresh start and return to the gospel. Nothing else was filling the gaping void in our hearts. As we turned back to the gospel, my outlook on life improved and my anger began to ease. The bitterness slowly subsided, and I allowed the Lord to work changes in me. Little by little, He lifted me up. Simply opening my heart and mind to the possibility that God’s power could mend my broken heart resulted in a dramatic change.

The Blessing of Building My Testimony

Rebuilding my testimony on a firmer foundation was a difficult process. I had to ask myself hard questions about my core beliefs. I learned that I needed to consciously decide every day to turn to God and work at living the gospel. I shouldn’t expect to be blessed immediately for each action I perform in the way I might anticipate.
Having trials of faith is uncomfortable and frustrating and stretches me outside my comfort zone. But I know that trials of our faith are the only way to receive the witness Moroni talks about: “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).
The blessings I hold most dear are the ones that didn’t come easily; they are the ones I had to fight the hardest for—the ones that came after a trial of my faith. I fought hard to join and stay active in the Church and—eventually, miraculously—to have children (we now have two girls).
I hope I can learn to turn to the gospel more quickly in times of great challenge and become what Heavenly Father wants me to become. I know that when our trials overwhelm us and it seems there is nowhere to turn, Heavenly Father is there waiting patiently. Whenever we are ready to extend our faith, however small that faith may feel, He is right there, closer than we can imagine, waiting for us to come to Him. We only need to exercise our faith, even if it’s just a particle (see Alma 32:27), and ask for the strength and guidance we need.
Put God first in your life. See November 2013 Ensign: Dallin H. Oaks,p. 72Thomas S. Monsonp. 85Russell M. Nelsonp. 106.

Christ As Our Center

President Thomas S. Monson
“The history of the Church … is replete with the experiences of those who have struggled and yet who have remained steadfast and of good cheer. The reason? They have made the gospel of Jesus Christ the center of their lives. This is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. We will still experience difficult challenges, but we will be able to face them, to meet them head-on, and to emerge victorious.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “I Will Not Fail Thee, nor Forsake Thee,”Ensign, Nov. 2013, 86.

Amy is an amazing example to me of being faithful and patient. Everyone has moments in their life where they struggle and despair creeps in, but if you remain faithful the blessings will come. Amy now has been blessed with two darling daughters, and is pregnant with a little boy. Every time I see them at church I am filled with hope. I know that God does bless his children. Every one of them. Those blessings may not be what we expect, or come when we would like them to, but they always come. I know that despite all the challenges we face, if we but remain true and faithful we will be blessed beyond our mortal comprehension. 
Thank you Amy for being a righteous example for me and so many others. It is wonderful to me to see real examples of perseverance and deliverance. God is Good.




Friday, December 12, 2014

Time for sleep!

I did it. I finished it all. This week was a blur... Well all except yesterday, it dragged on and on... I'm never pulling another all nighter ever. So not worth it! You know what tho, everything turned out great! 
I slept so wonderfully after getting home from dropping it off. I'm so glad that my friend Deb came with me to keep me awake. I did make it safely! 
Today Elyse, Kjarsti, and I went and got a Christmas tree and decorations. It was the most fun getting ready for Christmas ever. I've been dreading this year. I've felt a lot of responsibility to make sure that our holidays don't end up lame, and that everyone has a good time... I can't possibly make sure of all of that. So I've decided that I'm just going to do my best to make the holidays wonderful for me. I'll of course invite others to come along and be a part of it all... So I started to get excited again once we were getting decorations, lights, and the tree. I love Christmas. I've got the excitement of the season back. I know that there will probably still be emotional times, moments... But I choose how my outlook and attitude are. And I choose to be happy and cherish the moments of Christmas joy that abound! 
Life is beautiful, and I am happy!

Weddings and all nighters

I am officially pulling an all-nighter because of this wedding I agreed to do ages ago. It's not as easy as it use to be. I am so very exhausted. :) I have made two cakes, which will turn into the one tier wedding cake... Easy enough. But then I had the 200 cupcakes to bake and frost. Plus I couldn't get my icing right in order to do icing flowers... Luckily enough I had left over black fondant from my cousins wedding in April. I used that fondant and whipped up 250 flowers to use for the cupcakes, and wedding cake. Thank goodness for Netflix who kept me company during the night. See I'm losing it. I just referred to Netflix as a person. Sheesh... Maybe I can close my eyes for ten minutes? Yea probably not a good idea if I'm wanting to make it to work. I should be getting up right now! Here is the photo of what the bride had in mind... You'll have to tell me once I get some of my own photos how it turned out. I think it's gonna be fabulous!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Non-stop

That's what my day was like today. I was going and going, and going, and going... and....

Work was wonderful. I made a killer sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce to go with the blackened chicken that I served in my little expo area. It was fabulous. After my shift I gathered all of the food I ordered for my ward's widow's dinner (or single adult Christmas dinner) from work, (only forgetting one little teeny tiny thing that I was suppose to do at work, that's a record! Sorry Eric!)
I took all my bounty, picked up a few last minute things and dropped off half the work load at my dear bishop's house for his wonderful wife to help me. She roasted the veggies while I went home to start the roast... yea with only a couple hours of cooking time I should have thought it through better and at least cut the 17lb beast of a roast into smaller roasts... yep... I didn't think of that. Next time! So with my WHOLE 17 lbs of beef in the oven roasting I had one hour left to decorate a monkey birthday cake and make a chocolate mousse sheet cake for my friend Kristen's little boy Carson. And you know what?!!! I did it!! yes I did. I finished just as the knock on the door happened. Too bad I wasn't as prepared as I should have been and actually had boxes for the cakes.. oops. Sorry brother-in-law that had to transport those little delicacies!! I hope you made it in one piece, and without mousse all over your car! How come I didn't take pictures? Again! I totally spaced! And the little monkey was so cute! bummer! Well after that I ran over to the church, and started doing what I do best... waiting around... Yep! Waiting for everyone to figure things out and what was what... I finally decided to just start doing my thing... putting spring mix on salad plates, (so fun!) Once I got started everyone wanted in...I'm a trend setter! I knew it! Actually it turned out that I really didn't do much for this event. It goes to show that when a bunch of people get together to put on a service, that things just all work out and get done! I love it. My friend Trina may have almost stabbed a couple of people walking around with the knife that I lent her... ummm... I think I will have to keep my knives to myself next time Trina! Well other than cooking up some delicious roast, and saving people's lives the evening went rather well. It's good that we had a very accommodating and flexible Bishopric. They may have changed the program around so the roast had a few extra precious moments in the oven. And you know what... I didn't even have to slice the roast Thanks Bro. Turnbow. Everyone is just so super helpful. (did they even really need me? Huh?!) Well there you go...

That just kept going and going too huh?! Well know you know how one of my busy day's looks! I like em busy... especially right now. Today was a happy day though... and I thank the Lord for that.

So, I've decided that I need to take up blogging a little more seriously than I have in the past. I was talking with my therapist, (yes, I have a therapist!) and besides just the therapeutic outlet of writing, he told me that maybe someone else may need what I have to say. ME? Really? I thought about it, and I have so many thoughts about the gospel, life, everything that I'm going through... and I really, really, could...I could have something to say that would interest, or dare I say maybe help someone... help them to at least know that they aren't alone in feelings they may have. Who knows... but here is the first day of my blogging journey, I'm going to give it a shot..Here we go world... I'm planning to share goodness! I will even share the sad and real days I have... because you know, without the bad, how can we know what the good truly is?

So Let us begin....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Life isn't ever quite like you expect.

At least mine hasn't been. My mom just passed away last month. I still at times don't feel like it's real. It was a sudden death, heart-attack. I think this one is going to take me some time. At least with this death unlike the death of my dad... I have the support and tools to grieve properly. I am better able to understand and analyze my emotions and feelings. I have a wonderful counselor/therapist who I visit with, I have a wonderful family, and a fabulous ward and bishop, all of which have helped me, and I'm sure will continue to do so. 
This is crazy. I can't believe I'm blogging about my mom! 
I am so very grateful for all I have learned and grown in this past month. I have felt the spirit so much more intensely than I ever have before. I thought I knew angels existed before... Now I really do know! I have been uplifted and guided. I have been led to the very people I needed to help me with the difficult and confusing things I now have to face... And I have been overwhelmed by all of the love and power/protection I have felt from prayers offered in my behalf. I would hear others bear testimony of that power, and how they feel it, and I always kinda scoffed at that... Thinking they were just saying what sounds good. Now I know better. I immediately after receiving a blessing after my mom's passing felt that protection, and out pouring of love and strength... I couldn't have made it through those first few days without it. God literally was answering prayers, and giving me additional strength. I felt it. I know sounds crazy to some... But it was one of the most powerful things I've ever felt. 
So, I thank you. I thank each and every person who prayed for me and my family. I thank you for your prayers on the behalf of so many others. We may not be in-tune, or as sensitive to that added strength or power, whatever it may be according to our needs... But that power is real! Very real! And I know that God hears! He answers! And He loves all of his children. 
So even in all of the hurt, sorrow, and pain... I am grateful for what I have felt, and what I have learned.... I am a better person because of it. 
I won't complain... In the end it will all be sorted... And It will all make sense. 
I am okay, and I will grieve as long as it takes... And you know what? That is just fine... It is okay to feel things! I will cry, I will laugh, I will get angry, and I won't feel bad for doing so. 
#sharegoodness

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nursery

Surprise!!!! I'm meant to be with these little people! I was called today and set apart as a nursery worker. As long as I can be surrounded by innocence and sweet souls I'm gonna be fine.
I have been so blessed to be in this ward among so many beautiful souls. I feel so loved and valued. I have a hard time thinking I'd ever have to leave. My God has blessed me.
I have a fabulous job where I have gotten to know some fabulous people.
I have an incredible family that are close by.
I have been blessed with talents, a testimony, and a love for others.
I am never alone, and when I fall, I have angels that help me get back up. Life is good!

Oh my little blog....

Last week I was surprisingly released, or as I've joked, 'fired' from primary. I definitely cried over that. I love my little sunbeams and would be happy having that calling forever. The unconditional love, excitement for life, and innocence, lifted me up and gave me extra incentive to make it to church. Especially on those days I really didn't want to go.
Maybe this is one of those times where God is pushing me out of my comfort zone into a new challenge so I can learn and grow. Bleck!!! Sometimes that's just no fun.
Whatever happens, I know God's hand is in it, and everything will turn out alright, whether I deserve it or not!