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.

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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! 🙂

 

The People God Sends

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. There have been so many changes lately. My family moved to a different house, and that is always a project. I started and completed my first 2 weeks teaching 7th Grade Math, and I coached my wonderful 7th grade volleyball team in their first game. It was a lot of firsts for me these last couple of weeks, and even though I have been overwhelmed at time, I have been so blessed.

I have been blessed these last couple of weeks by the people that God has sent me.

The night before August 20th, I could hardly sleep. Here I was, the night before I would start my career. Something that I have been dreaming about for years, and something that I have been working so hard to achieve. I was so excited and so grateful, but I was also extremely nervous. I had no idea what kids I would have in my class, what their personalities would be like, and if I would even be a good middle school teacher. All of these worries and questions went through my head.

That night, I got many messages on Facebook and several text messages wishing me good luck for the upcoming day. I was so shocked, and so grateful for these amazing people who were thinking of me.

The first day of school, I continued to get messages from people who knew I would need to know that there are people who love me and are cheering for me. I also didn’t even have a Prep period my first day of school because I had so many teachers popping their head in to check in on me.

I don’t know if they understood how much that meant to me.

Then, flash forward to the first volleyball game that I coached. Our down ref got our rotation wrong, and I wanted to change it back to the way it was supposed to be, but I had no idea what the rules were. We lost that game, and I was pretty upset. Luckily, I have a great administrator, who happened to be a volleyball coach. He was there when I needed him to help me feel more comfortable coaching, and he even taught me a few rules, that I had no idea existed. Turns out that even though I played volleyball, there is a lot more to coaching than I thought there would be.

Now, I continue to get people asking me how I am doing. I have people that are supporting me and cheering for me.

I have been thinking about this a lot because it meant so much to me. I realized, that God had sent those people. He inspired those people to reach out to me, to pray for me, because he knew that was what I needed.

I have been so blessed, and I am grateful for those angels that God sent me when he knew I would need them the most.

So that led me to start thinking. I have over 120 students on a daily basis that I interact with. Could I possibly be the person that God is sending to them?

I thought about it this week, as I learned from my students. Some have really hard lives, and some have disabilities that will follow them for the rest of their life. Some struggle in math, others get bored when the class is going to slow for them. Each of them are very unique. I have readers, artists, athletes, gamers, introverts, extroverts, geniuses, class clowns, and many others. How can I be an angel to them.

I think it all goes back to realizing that everyone has their own story. If Christ were teaching my class, he would love each one of those students. He would love them on his good days and on his bad. He would make sure that each one of them knew that they had the ability to be whoever and whatever they wanted to be.

Sometimes its hard to bring God into work professions. I can’t teach a lesson about how much God loves them, but I can show them through the love that I can give to them. I can be there person who will be there for them, listen to them, and help them see themselves as God would see them.

There are people in our lives that will be there right when we need them. What a great blessing that God gives to us. But, there are also people in our lives that God needs us to be there for.

I am grateful for the people that touch my life. I know that there will be people who God will need me to touch. I hope that we can all stay in tune with the Spirit so that when he needs us, we can be there.

The Gospel is so good. God is so good. He has blessed us with a wonderful Savior who I am indebted too. I know that one day, I will get to meet my God and Savior, and I hope that I would’ve done all that they needed me too.

I hope you have a great Sunday, and hope that you will find someone this week that you can reach out too, and uplift. 🙂

God Sends Real

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.

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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!

humble post

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

1 Year After…

It has been an exact year since I have been home from serving an LDS mission in Edmonton, AB, Canada. There have been so many ups and downs during this year of being home. I had no idea that it would be this hard on me spiritually, mentally, and physically but also so rewarding.

There are a lot of expectations within the church for LDS missionaries. You are expected to serve the 18 months if you are a woman or the 2 years if you are a man. During this time you are expected to live a higher law and return better than you left and continue to stay holy and righteous. You are expected to get married and to start a family, or if that is not your path, you are expected to be excited to go to a young adult singles ward.

I really don’t like expectations. Especially these ones because I literally didn’t accomplish any of them. I did not serve for 18 months, I only served for a little over 5. I came home really spiritual, but did not keep up on the things needed to stay that way. I did not get married or start a family, and I have not been a super great sport about going to my YSA ward.

So in my mind, for this past year, I felt like I had failed in so many ways. I have dealt a lot with so many internal struggles and have faltered spiritually along the way.

I am stronger now because of it though. I have been angry at the Lord, because its the easiest thing to do unfortunately, but have learned on how to rely on him even when its hard to have faith that he wants the best thing for you. I have learned how to rely on scripture study to light the path when you feel like you are overcome by the cloud of darkness. I have learned that I can continue on with serving the Lord in a way that I didn’t think was possible and reach so many people.

Before I left on my mission, I had to give up many things that I loved. I had a really great job in the school, had a scholarship at college, had an amazing boyfriend, I was close with my family and had several great and close friends. I was promised that I would be able to have all those things when I returned and that they would be even greater. So, nows the test, has it been true?

The answer is yes. Everything that I have sacrificed I have been able to be blessed with even more from God. I am going to have a great job starting in August that I couldn’t have planned for myself. If I were still on my mission I would’ve missed this opportunity. The Lord is so mindful.

I have been able to find a university that I can afford and that I can go at my own speed. That has been a HUGE blessing in my life.

I still have an amazing boyfriend who waited faithfully for me to come home and has supported me during all the hard things that I have gone through inside of my head.

I am even closer to my family and have made more lifelong friends that I was able to meet on my mission.

So, as I reflect a year later, I still say that my mission was the best thing to have ever happened to me. Even though I have struggled about being home, I know it was what I needed to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was what I needed to test my testimony and I know I am where I need to be because of it.  I might not have experienced all of the expectations, but I was able to receive what the Lord knew I, individually, needed.

I am grateful for this last year. I have grown so much and have been blessed with so many things. I know that the Lord watches over me, and if he watches over me, I know he watches over you too! We can go through those times of struggle and realize that God really is aware of us! 🙂

 

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