Sunday, November 23, 2014

Because of Him

Today brings a lot of reflection as I prepare to move, again. Moving always brings the opportunity to find things from the past that bring memories and reflection. Today I began reading my missionary journal from 4 and a half years ago. I cannot believe that it was over 4 years ago I left Provo, UT to start a journey in New York. The day I left my family was the beginning of a long, treacherous journey of pain; both physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. A journey through fire, refinement, and transformation. A journey from what I saw as a good life and being thrown down to the rock bottom pit of despair. A journey through hell. My mission was not a good experience. It was actually the beginning of one of the worst experiences of my life. As I read my journal, I began to relive the painful moments of the past. Every day was hard. Excruciating. I saw the pain I experienced every day, the person I was 4 and a half years ago. And then I came home early from my mission which only made things worse emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. I experienced an overload of pain. I lost all faith in myself, and my Heavenly Father. I doubted His very existence. Coming home began an even more treacherous journey back to health. This is when I hit the absolute bottom of the pit of despair. I will not go into detail about the long journey, but I just want to say that I am grateful for hitting rock bottom. I am grateful that my Heavenly Father did not keep me from feeling the pain I felt. I am grateful my Heavenly Father loved me enough to let me have the experiences I had because I truly am a different person. I am not the same person I was 4 years ago. I am so much more confident in myself, in my abilities, and in my Heavenly Father. I also gained more confidence in my Savior as I began to allow Him to give me strength as I suffered through my pain. As I look back at the person I was 4 years ago, and then look at the person I am today, I see my Heavenly Father's hand guiding me through it all and my Savior carrying me when I could not walk. There was a point in my life I thought God was not there, that He had either forgotten about me, or didn't even exist. Because of my experiences, I now recognize that He has been by my side through my darkest and most painful experiences. It is because of my Heavenly Father and Savior I am where I am today. It is because of my Savior I was able to overcome the obstacles that were placed in my way. It is because of Him I have increased strength. It is because of Him and His love for me I am alive today. I am so grateful for my Heavenly Father and his guiding hand in my life. I am grateful for my Savior in leading me on the path back to Him. I look forward to where he is guiding me with this next move. Coming to Las Vegas has been one of the hardest, but best experiences of my life. I know my Father in Heaven led me here as part of my divine mission. I know He is an integral part of my life.  I could not live this life without Him, so I will do all I can to recognize and allow Him to be a part of my life. He is everything. Because of Him, and my Savior, I am more than I could ever be! I am so grateful for their presence in my life, forever and always!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Parable of the Plants

What is Faith?
I have recently been studying the scriptures to answer the question “What is Faith?” Faith is a concept I have struggled with my whole life. Living in this world where everything is shown to you; a world where we get instantaneous results; a world where the definition of patience is hearing the phrase, “one moment please” and then waiting for but a moment to get what you need right then. Faith is hard to find when you have a lack of faith. With a lack of faith, it is hard to even find the desire to find just a particle of faith. And after finding that particle of faith, using it. It is hard to take that first baby step of faith into the darkness of the unknown. It is hard to have faith when curveballs are thrown your way. It is hard to find faith in a world with so much commotion and noise; where it takes much effort to find a place of solitude and silence. Our inner and outer worlds are full of so much commotion!

This past week as I have been studying faith in hopes to better understand it and exercise the last particle of faith I had. I learned a lot by sitting in my bedroom, early one morning, and pondering about faith. I sat in solitude, away from the distractions of the world. I found myself looking around and comparing faith to the various plants I have in my bedroom. From this I came up with “The Parable of the Plants.”

The Parable of the Plants
I have a few different plants in my bedroom, all at different stages of life. In my room I have a beautiful plant that is flourishing. It is bright green, grows quickly, and has many leaves. I also have a small portion of that same plant that has been transplanted and now has new growth. I have a few lucky bamboo plants. And I have a vase of flowers that have been clipped from their original plans to form a beautiful arrangement of roses, lilies, snapdragons, and other various clippings foliage. Each of these plants are beautiful and have taught be a bit about faith.

The Flourishing Plant

 I received this plant in it’s full beauty as an “adult plant.” It is strong, has a good root system, and continues to grow fuller and more beautiful as I take care of it and nourish it. It receives light daily, water weekly, and extra nourishment when needed. If I neglect it, it will flourish for a while because of it’s strength. 

Transplanted Plant
This transplanted portion of a plant came from the same plant that is flourishing. It has new growth and will continue to grow. Before talking about this portion I want to first talk about my efforts in getting the one that I have now. I wanted another plant like the one previously mentioned. It is beautiful! And two is better than one right? So, I knew my dad knew how to transplant, do all that nifty stuff to get another plant. I told him I wanted another plant and he told me how to take a clipping, put it in water, and root it. I tried this a couple of times and it kept dying. I told my dad it was unsuccessful and he then told me I could uproot part of the plant, put it in some dirt and take care of it, and it would grow. I tried this a couple of times as well, and found myself unsuccessful. I was a bit discouraged because all I wanted was a plant like the original, but I was failing at my attempts to grow another. 

I decided I would take my plant to my dad and have him show me how to do it. He uprooted a portion and planted it in some of his topsoil he had gotten from his compost. He said it was the best soil I could use because it was filled with nutrition that would give the plant the strength it needed. At first this plant looked normal. After a few hours, it started to look all wilted. I was afraid the same thing would happen to this plant as with the others. I was afraid it would die. My dad told me not to worry; to water it only when needed, but not to overwater it. He also told me to put it by a window for some light but not in full sun. I listened to his specific counsel and followed every word of advice. I checked the plant every day so I could give it the care it needed. This plant stayed wilted for a while, but it was still alive. I trusted in my dad and the results he said I would get. After a couple of weeks the plant started to receive it’s lifeback. It started to look more alive and strong. Now a couple of months later, there is new growth coming in. Little buds of new life! This plant will continue to grow and become stronger as I take care of it. One day it will be flourishing like the plant it came from. I brought the plant the the “Master” and trusted him and his advice and directions, and now am seeing the results.

Lucky Bamboo

As I look at my bamboo each day, it does not look much different. It is green and living but does not grow very fast. It grows so slow that it almost does not grow at all. My bamboo does not need much care to live, but it needs some. All it really needs is some water to sit in and an occasional cleaning of it’s container. It does not produce very much new growth like the first two plants. In the three years I have had one of my bamboo plants, the leaves have gotten only a few centimeters longer and there are a couple more leaves. Other than that, it looks the same. Very little.difference.

Vase of Beautiful Flowers

I have a vase of beautiful flowers. This vase includes roses, lilies, snapdragons, and a few different types of foliage. They were absolutely beautiful when I got them from a friend. Two days later the lilies opened and were even more beautiful; bright yellow lilies that lit up the room. Those flowers were beautiful but are now beginning to perish. They are dying now and there is nothing I can do to keep them alive because they do not have the essential things they need to keep them alive. They do not have roots nor anything to give them strength like the other plants in my room.

Lessons of Faith
From each of these plants I have learned so much about faith and effort in increasing my faith. I want to be like the flourishing plant, sure in who I am, and living up to my full potential. But I am not there yet. This kind of faith is found in people who are absolutely sure in what they believe. They know who they are! They know that by putting their unwavering faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, they will not fail! The best examples of this kind of faith would be those who have had much adversity but still remain strong and faithful in the One who gives them the ultimate strength. I want to one day have this unwavering faith be apart of every fiber of my being.

I feel like I am more like the transplanted portion of the flourishing plant. I have even been the portion of the plant that I kept trying to make work but in which kept dying. This has been my life lately as I have taken just a few steps off the path of my Savior, distancing myself from my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ. Because of this, my faith died. When it would die, I would try something else in hopes of bringing it back to life and it would die again. It was not until I turned to my “Master” in how to grow my faith that I found growth. It was not until the touch of the Master’s hand brought me back to the path that would give me enough nourishment to stay alive and eventually flourish. Just as the transplanted plant that survived has new growth, I have felt new growth in my faith only because I have included my “Master” in my efforts to increase faith in my life. This growth is both beautiful and real! I know that if I continue to nourish my faith, it will one day flourish like the plant it was pulled from. I want more than anything to be like the flourishing plant.

Next, the bamboo. The bamboo plant is still alive and will continue to live as long as it is nourished. But this plant is not flourishing like the first plant. I relate this plant to those who have become relaxed in their faith. Relaxed in nourishing their relationship with their Father in Heaven and their Savior. These people just go through the motions but don’t have much sincerity. These people do not have much growth, but they still continue to stay alive. I have also been here before. I have lived my life going through the “checklist” of things I need to do to be a “good person”; to “choose the right.” It was all a facade. Yes, my faith may have been alive, but it was not growing or flourishing. I was at a standstill because I was not regularly exercising my faith.

The last example is the vase of flowers. These flowers are beautiful but have been pulled from the very source giving them life. They have no chance of living. They will brighten up the room but will eventually perish. I relate these flowers to those who cut themselves from God and the Savior. Those who leave the truth behind in search for something beautiful, in which they may find, but in which will only last a moment. The beauty will soon die and be left to perish. As I was thinking about this last example, a bit of sadness entered my heart.because I hate endings and the “end” to my flowers came much sooner than I wanted. As I started to think a little deeper about these flowers, I realized that all hope is never lost! With our Savior there is no end. I had a beautiful bit of inspiration that flooded my heart and overtook the bit of sadness that previously dwelt in my heart. All hope is not lost nor will it ever be lost! As these cut flowers die, they will start to decompose and create nutritious soil that will one day bring new life. Soil like the topsoil that was used to nourish the growing, transplanted plant. Soil that came from the decomposed matter. This was the only soil that brought success in the growth of the plant. So though the death of these flowers may seem like the end, there is no end. There is an endless cycle of new chances for growth. Endless. There is no end to chances in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Continual Growth...
This is my transplanted portion of the flourishing plant now! As I nourish my faith I know it is growing. This plant reminds me that my faith needs constant nourishment to live and just as this plant is growing, my faith will continue to grow!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Love Me!

My happiness does not depend on others. It depends on me. I am not happy because of what others think. I am happy I love who I am.  I love my imperfections, I love my flaws, and I love all that is me. They are what make me me! And I am a pretty awesome 'me' 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I have a new favorite song. Unconditionally by Katy Perry. The lyrics have so much meaning and hit the spot for me. I have been doing some soul searching recently and have been wondering what is right? What is wrong? Who am I? What am I supposed to do with my life? etc. many many questions. I have listened to others and what they think I should do and have allowed them to determine what SHOULD make me happy. 

I have realized that the only thing that can truly make me happy is to listen to MY heart and do what MY heart is telling me to do. Not what someone else thinks I should do. As I was listening to the lyrics of this song, I realized one of the first things I need to do is love unconditionally. And this unconditional love needs to start with me. One of my resolutions for the year is to love myself unconditionally. As I love myself unconditionally, I will be able to love everyone around me unconditionally. As I love myself unconditionally, I will be able to do what is best for me which in turn will be best for everyone around me. I can only be my best self when I love my worst self unconditionally.

Here are some of my favorite lyrics from the song:

Unconditional, unconditionally
I will love you unconditionally
There is no fear now
Let go and just be free
I will love you unconditionally 

Come just as you are to me
Don't need apologies
Know that you are worthy
I'll take your bad days with your good
Walk through the storm I would
I do it all because I love you, I love you

So open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart and just let it begin
Open up your heart

Acceptance is the key to be
To be truly free
Will you do the same for me?

I do love myself; my strengths, weaknesses, imperfections, gifts, talents, joys, and everything that makes me ME! 

So, Love yourself unconditionally so you can do the same for others!