The Small and Simple

Recently, I realized that I used to feel so close to God, but now, all of the sudden, I feel like I am so far away from him.

As I have been reflecting I have realized that I have been forgetting the small and simple things.

What are the small and simple things?

Honestly, I think they are different for each person. But for me, the small and simple things are those little things that can build my testimony or take away from my testimony.

My small and simple things are sincere scripture study, deep and honest repentance, sincere prayer, and obedience to the commandments.

These things lately have felt like a checklist for me. I wake up and say my prayers. CHECK. I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon. CHECK. I pray before I go to bed. CHECK.

But, because they have been more like a checklist, I have gotten lost. I have not received as much from them as I could.

I have a picture of what I wished my life looked like, for example:

One day a young woman woke up. She was grateful for the new day and was full of so much energy and excitement for the events that would happen. She couldn’t wait but to thank her Father in Heaven for letting her live another day and for blessing her with the opportunities that were planned for the day. While kneeling in prayer, she prays to have her Father help her keep the commandments and notice the ways that she is falling short. She prays for the Father to place people in her path that need encouragement and love. She prays for an opportunity to share with others the Gospel and the Love that He has for them. She prays full of love and gratitude.

Then, she crosses her room and opens up her scriptures. Instead of quickly browsing through the chapter, she writes down a question. Today her question is “What is God wanting me to learn from my trial?” She reads the scriptures, pondering each verse. She thinks about how that verse applies to her. While reading, she is overcome with the spirit as she receives the answer to her question.

This young woman continues on throughout her day. She notices a little boy who is sitting by himself. She asks him how he is doing. She can tell he is glum and feeling down. She notices that he has drawn a beautiful drawing in his notebook. She tells him what an amazing job he has done. His face lights up and he offers her the drawing and walks away.

She realizes, here was the person God needed me to touch today. She sends a silent prayer in gratitude for being able to help someone smile.

Later, she is talking with a co-worker who has recently been wondering about religion. The co-worker asks the young woman what she believes. She responds with love and simply states that she believes that “God loves all of his children”. This leads to a conversation about God.

The young woman realizes that this is the missionary experience that she had prayed for.

At the end of the day, the young woman returns home. She is exhausted. She watches some Netflix, and instead of praying while laying in bed, she gets out and kneels down. Here she repents for the wrongs that she had done for the day. She repents of the judgments she made, the gossip she spoke, the hardness of her heart. She then thanks Him for the Atonement and how she has a Savior that helps her to repent. She prays to thank God for the opportunity that she had to obey the commandments with strict obedience. She is filled with so much love. She knows her Heavenly Father loves her. She falls asleep with plans to do it all again.

As I think about this young woman, I think about what I can do to change. First, my prayers need to be more sincere. This is a small and simple thing that if I just go through the motions, I could lose my testimony. However, if I pray more sincerely, it can be something that helps me come that much closer to God. Second, my scripture study needs to be more of a study versus a read. Through studying, I can gain a stronger testimony of the different gospel topics that I don’t know or understand well. Lastly, I need to focus on obedience and repentance. These are small and simple. They can be done easily in a day, but if we don’t do them, it could lead to us leaving and abandoning our faith.

I encourage you to find those small and simple things that you can do in your life to improve your relationship with God. I know that he wants us to come and find him. I know that he wants us to seek him and understand him. I know that he wants us to feel of his love. I know we can do that by following his word and continuing to do those small and simple things.

Our small and simple things

The Gardener and the Currant Bush

In Church today, a young woman got up and spoke about our trials and how God uses them to help us grow and become better. She shared with us a talk from Elder D. Todd Christofferson, who quoted President Hugh B. Brown. The story goes like this:

“President Hugh B. Brown told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”

President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”

This story hit home with me. I have been reflecting on my life the past few weeks. There are things going on that I have considered a trial. I have been thinking about the WHY. Why would God cut me down? Why would he place a trial in my life? Why won’t he take away this pain and suffering from me? Why won’t he just give me what I want?

It wasn’t till today when I realized that he has “cut me down” because he KNOWS what he wants me to be.

I have thought about my latest big trial of coming home early from my mission. Now that it has been over a year, I can see that God had to cut me down so that I could grow. If I wouldn’t have come home when I did, I wouldn’t have finished the schooling that I have and I would not be teaching this year. I wouldn’t be able to touch his other children if I was still in Canada.

I think about when I had my first surgery, on my knee, and I was told that I shouldn’t pursue college sports because of the condition of my knee. My doctor was worried that with all the wear and tear that I would have to have a knee replacement. I realize now that if it wasn’t for that trial if I would’ve pursued college sports, I would be on a very different path than I am now. Now, instead of playing sports, I get to coach kids and watch them compete. That has been such a blessing in my life.

God loves each of his Children. Sometimes the things that we find hard in our lives is just him cutting us down, like a gardener, so that we can grow into something more beautiful and amazing than we are now.

If you are going through something right now, if you feel like you have been cut down, that you can go no further, I promise you that if you kneel down, and ask God that he will help you understand the why. He will help you see the person you are meant to be after all of this. He loves us. He wants us to be better than we are now.

I know that to be true with all of my heart.

The Gardener and Currant Bush.png

If you would like to read the full talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, here is the link: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/as-many-as-i-love-i-rebuke-and-chasten?lang=eng

P.S. If you have been missing reading blog posts, don’t worry. I have been working on some content to be released in October! 🙂

 

My Two Words

The other day, my family and I were asked “If you could describe Christ’s gospel in 2 words what would they be?” I don’t know why, but this question was so hard for me to answer. There are so many words to describe Christ’s gospel. My family each took turns responding to the question and my mind was still blank. It is hard to put into two words something that is so important to you.

I responded to the question by saying “a path”, but as I think about it more, I wish I would’ve responded with the two words “My life.”

My life is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I live the gospel. Even during the times that I am struggling with commandments, or doubting God, I am still living the gospel because I am exercising the gift to choose and am applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ into my life.

We each have our downfalls, our struggles, our desires, our weaknesses, but He helps us understand that we can find strength. That we can find hope. That we can find true JOY.

I wish I could’ve answered differently because “a path” is just too simple of an answer. It doesn’t describe really how much this gospel means to me. But, I think that describing the gospel as “My Life” adds so much more understanding of what the gospel means to me.

I am beginning to study more about my Savior. I am really trying to understand him better. There have been times in my life where I felt like I knew him very well, but lately I have so many questions about Him that I am trying to figure out for myself.

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I do have about Christ. Every time I learn about him, I realize how great of a person he is. How perfect, loving, caring, and selfless he is. When I think about Christ I think about how he has changed “my life” and how he has helped me want to make “my life” better.

I truly wish that I could’ve changed the two words that I chose. I wish I could’ve expressed to those missionaries what the Gospel of Jesus Christ means to me. Because, the gospel truly is my life and I am eternally grateful for it.

My two words.png

Discovering a Part of Me

So there I was, in Barnes and Noble, staring at all of the titles in the Psychology section. I wanted to purchase every one and just sit and read them. I have always loved to read. When I was younger, if you asked my family where I was, they would say that I was downstairs in my room, reading. In fact, one of my favorite memories was when I would come home from school, and the next book in my favorite series would be laying on my bed with a cute note from my mom in it. This has happened on multiple occasions and it meant so much to me. I have always loved to read, and it wasn’t till this particular book that I realized something. I am an introvert.

I have always thought that I was an introvert, but I never truly believed it. Until recently, I thought that introverts were people who hated being around other people. And, I don’t hate being around people. I love each persons story and energy that they bring to the world.  I thought that introverts are like all of the really weird cat ladies, but it turns out I was totally wrong. I got the book “The Secret Lives of Introverts” by Jenn Granneman from Barnes and Noble and I learned so much.

First, I learned that I am an introvert and that introverts like people. Introverts just get overstimulated when they are around major groups of people for long periods of time. When I read about that, I felt the fireworks go off in my head. I realized that I am not the only one who experiences this.

I have always felt so guilty for not really wanting to go out and socialize with people that I do not know. I have such a hard time in big groups of people, even if its family. I think it is all the energy in the room or maybe its the small talk that I absolutely hate, but I just would rather be at home. Often I would come home after spending time with lots of people and just feel exhausted. My mom always says that she has more energy after being with people, but I have never had that happen to me with large groups of people.

My parents have been worried about me and my social life since we have moved. Even throughout High School I never really did anything with any of my friends because I had just seen them all day at school and spent 2 hours with them at practice. I never really had energy to do anything after that. Now, I am finishing college, getting ready to start my first year of teaching, balancing a long distance relationship, family and trying to keep myself sane. I am already exhausted, I can’t imagine what would happen if I tried to attend a social event every night… But, I learned that I am okay the way that I am. This is normal for people who are introverts like me.

I have always thought I was a home body, and I am, but I also realized that I am at home so much in the evenings, because I get overstimulated after spending a whole day working with big groups of people in school and I need to recover so I can make it through the next day. And guess what? It is totally okay that I am that way. I don’t need to feel the guilt anymore.

After reading this book, I have figured out so many WHY’s behind why I do the things I do. I loved learning that other introverts have the same problem I do. I learned why people often have a different idea of who I am when they first meet me. Often when people that I have known for a while tell me about what they thought of me when they first met me, they all same the same thing “I was intimidated by you” or “I thought you hated me” or “I thought you were going to be really mean, but you aren’t”. Turns out, many introverts have this same problem.

I promise that even though I am 6 feet tall, I like to think that I am not too scary. I don’t hate anyone really, and I am not usually mean. But, I have my moments. But, when you first see me, or even if you have seen me multiple times, I probably have the same look on my face. It’s my concentrating look, but often people view it as a really mean looking face. I promise, when I am mad, you really will know, but most of the time I really am just constantly in thought. I am always thinking and concentrating on something. Whether it is about what I need to do that day, or what I could do to be a better person, or even how the moon became shaped to look like a face. Really, I am always thinking about something and trying to make it make sense. Maybe that is why I like Psychology so much.

Anyways, I just wanted to share this book and the things that I learned from it, because I think there is someone else out there, like me, who has been trying to figure out the bits and pieces of who they are. Maybe they haven’t been able to figure it out and need a little bit of inspiration.

I am just starting to discover the parts that make up who I am, and why I am the way that I am, but it all leads back to one thing.

I am a child of God. He loves me. He created me as an introvert and my many other qualities because he knew that was what the world needed. I have always loved the saying that, God made this world. Everything beautiful, and everything with a purpose. How great is it that he looked at the world and thought that we needed one of you?

There is so much truth in that. Each of us have those things that we are learning about ourselves. Maybe we are even frustrated with ourselves because we aren’t like the other people that we know. But, God didn’t intend for us to be like that. Instead, he wants us to use our gifts, or personality, our genetics, our thoughts, our ideas, our words, to make a difference in the lives of others.

What is a way that you can turn OUTWARD this week and use yourself, ALL OF YOU to help someone else?

Introvert Post

It Is NEVER Too Late

During church last Sunday, a sister gave her talk on our self worth. She did an amazing job, and I felt the spirit so strongly. But, what meant the most to me is a quote that she shared from a talk by Jeffery R. Holland. It goes like this:

“I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness… but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have NOT traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

He continues on to say:

“There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. ‘Come boldly to the throne of grace,’ and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast ‘without money and without price’ at the table of the Lord.”

How much hope does this bring to you? Think about that. Reread it.

This brings me immense hope. Because it reminded me that no matter how far lost I feel I can turn to the Lord. That no matter what I have done, the Lord is still there. It is so true. He is beckoning for us. He is waiting with his arms wide open. He is knocking at the door. He is by our side.

All we have to do is want His help.

All we have to do is recognize that He is there and turn to Him.

What an amazing blessing it is to have the Atonement of Jesus Christ. How great is it that we know that there is someone who UNDERSTANDS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH. He knows what it feels like to be right where we are. He knows how much we may want something, or are sad about something, or are disappointed. He KNOWS, and he UNDERSTANDS.

The main message that I wanted to leave today is to invite you to turn to the Lord and join him. To leave a message of HOPE that everything will work out and that He is there for us.

I love my Savior and know that he loves us unconditionally.

The talk mentioned in this post is titled The Laborers in the Vineyard by Jeffery R. Holland. It was given in the April 2012 General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My Ponderize Scripture

I love my ponderize scripture for this week. Already I have learned so much. This week I chose to follow along with the Book of Mormon Monday video and chose the verse Alma 32:25.

It says:

“For I do not mean that ye all of you have been compelled to humble yourselves; for I verily believe that there are some among you who would humble themselves, let them be in whatever circumstances they might”.

There are many reasons why this verse stood out to me and why I want to learn more about it.
1. I feel like I could do so much better at humbling myself before the Lord.
2. I think about the times in my life that I have felt humility and often I was compelled to be humbled.
3. I want to learn how to humble myself in whatever circumstances.

Humility is something that I have always struggled with it. Ever since I was little, I have always done things by myself. So much so, that when I was in Kindergarten, I was the Red Hen in the Little Red Hen play and one of my lines was “I will do it by myself”. My family jokes around with me a lot over it because it has been so true.
It takes a lot for me to realize that I need help and to reach out and ask for it. I don’t know why. So humility and realizing that I can’t do it all by myself and that I need the Lord is always something that I am looking to develop.

I hope to one day feel like I don’t have to do it all on my own. I hope that I can truly let go of the burden that I carry and give it to the Lord.

I think this scripture is one that will help me. As I ponderize verse 25 this week, I am going to be thinking about what I can change in my life so that I can be humble in any circumstance. I am going to study the word Humble and look for verses all throughout scripture that can teach me more. But, most importantly, I am going to turn to the Lord, pray for humility, and seek to find ways to let him hold the reigns for a while.

I love that the Lord and our loving God have given us the scriptures. They are my light in the darkness and my guide down the confusing path.

I hope that you pick a scripture this week that you can ponderize and apply into your life.

Check out my Facebook page for the Book of Mormon Monday video!

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HOW TO: Ponderize Scripture

What is Ponderizing?

Devin G. Durrant said “The word ponderize is not found in the dictionary, but it has found a place in my heart. So what does it mean to ponderize? I like to say it’s a combination of 80 percent extended pondering and 20 percent memorization.”

When I first heard Brother Durrant’s talk, I jumped on board with the Ponderizing challenge. I have since stopped because I let life get too bus. But, as I have been thinking about what I am needing to incorporate into my life, I was reminded of Ponderizing and have decided that I need to start again.

There are two simple steps:

Durrant says “First, choose a verse of scripture each week and place it where you will see it every day.
Second, read or think of the verse several times each day and ponder the meaning of its words and key phrases throughout the week.”

I liked to put my scripture verse in my car, but you could put your scripture on the fridge, on the lock screen of your phone, on your computer desk top, on you desk, wherever you are most likely to see it the most.

I wish I would’ve stuck with Ponderizing longer than I did. I remember when I was thinking about my scriptures, and trying to apply them in my life, I remember the strength I got to fight against the Adversary and fill my mind with good versus the bad.

Ponderizing happens in those simple steps.

  1. Find a verse of scripture every week, and find a place where you will see it.
  2. Read, study, think about the verse and why it is important.

Seriously, how hard is that?

Durrant finished his talk by saying “I promise you will not regret writing a verse of scripture on your mind and heart each week. You will experience a feeling of perpetual spiritual purpose, protection, and power.
Remember the words of Jesus Christ when He said, “’Do the things which ye have seen me do.”’

I hope that you will take the challenge to ponderize a new scripture every week. I know that you will find spiritual strength as you do so! 🙂

Devin G. Durrant “My Heart Pondereth Them Continually” https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/my-heart-pondereth-them-continually?lang=eng

PONDERIZE