Saturday, March 29, 2014

Here I Am. Send Me!

Today was the General Women's Conference. And I'll be honest, I was in tears throughout the conference. How could I not be? The spirit was amazing, and I felt a connection to the women of the church in a way I've never felt before.

I make it a point to come into these meanings with a question and an eagerness for answer. I didn't do that this time, and maybe that was wrong, but I just wanted to listen. All I wanted was to be inspired by the Holy Ghost. And my, it was impossible to not feel the Holy Ghost. It was impossible to not cry.

Rather than going into detail about each talk, I just wanted to share what I felt. One of messages I loved was in connection through the generations. When they brought up Marjorie Hinckley I almost squealed. She is without a doubt one of my heroes. I admire her so much. And in fact, the story of the 80 year old woman who was put with the mai maids rang a bell in my mind.

When I was in young womens we had a much older young womens leader. I remember her because I just sort of adored her. I thought she was the cutest thing. Being the awkward teenager that I was, I wasn't good at approaching people about my admiration. I'm still not. There are so many people even today I wish I could go up to and say, "You're so amazing. I love the example you are in my life. Keep being the fantastic person you are." I wish I could have said that to her.

This lesson hit me hard. I'd be lying if I said I didn't deal with problems of inadequacy because of my age. How can a twenty-one year old teach a class of Relief Society women who've been on missions, gotten degrees, or gone through more than I've even dreamed of? How can I do that? Even in writing his blog I feel I'm too young. What can I teach you?

When they told stories of girls of all ages it hit me that age didn't matter. It was all in my head that I had to be older. If you haven't caught on my newest calling is a Relief Society teacher and I was beyond excited until I had to teach. Then it hit me like a wave that I had no idea what I was doing. But this isn't about that, this is about the Conference.

I implore you to watch it if you haven't already. The videos brought me to tears each time. When I was a teenager in Philadelphia I used to feel so alone. Videos like that were just what I needed to know I wasn't alone. And to be honest, those feelings of loneliness don't just disappear in Utah. They hit all of us. But watching that Conference made me see I wasn't alone.

Now, I must talk about President Eyring. To be clear, I had NO IDEA he was baptized in Philadelphia. I gasped, sitting in awe for a few seconds as I processed it. He didn't think when he was eight years old that he would one day do the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia temple. And you know, I don't doubt for a second that he's as excited and touched to know there's going to be a temple in Philadelphia as I am. Everything about it seems different now. It just seems so much more real. And I'll be surprised if he doesn't do the dedication. And I have a confession, if I could I'd marry a man like President Eyring. No really. I would love to marry someone like him.

In one of the talks there phrase was brought up: "Here I am. Send me." It was brought up to ask if we are willing to be the one to say that. This made me think of Ephraim's Rescue and the scene that makes the entire movie. In this scene Brigham Young is talking to some of the men about how the saints need them. They offer to leave in a few days and such and you can see the devastation in Brigham Young's face. You can just see how hurt he is at the hesitation to help the saints. Then Ephraim raises his hand and says, "I am ready now."

I have a notebook with this phrase on it because that struck me so much. If there was ever a message to take from that movie, it's the importance of being prepared to serve the Lord. To be honest, I don't think I'm as ready as I was a year ago when I went to the temple twice a week and was studying hard to serve a mission, but I'm still trying.

I want to be the person that stands up and says, "Here I am. Send me." Looking back I know I've had those experiences, and I know that's what Heavenly Father wants. What more could I ever want than to please my Heavenly Father and serve Him? It is my heartfelt desire to be the one Heavenly Father knows He can turn to to get His work done. I want Him to know that I will answer with genuine truth when I say, "Here I am. Send me."

I also know that sometimes when you say that, He won't send you. But that's okay, because He has another direction to send you in. Perhaps it seems like I speak on this a lot, but it's taught me so much I couldn't begin to explain in one post. All I know is I want to be ready. I want to stand and say, "I am ready now. Send me."

So here I am. I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Notwithstanding My Weakness Part 1

I've been reading a lot of books and talks by Neal A. Maxwell recently. His style is just right for be because I have to take it slow and try to soak in everything he's saying. The eloquence of his speech is beautiful and yet not too hard. As of now I'm reading Notwithstanding Me Weakness. You can probably guess what it's about. Now the purpose of this post isn't to review the book. That's what Goodreads is for. Rather I decided to take one section and add my two cents while simplifying the writing style.

The purpose of said book is to teach how to overcome weaknesses and progress in the great work without letting them set you back. Now I haven't finished the book but I believe a book of such magnitude (or any theological book in general) needs to be studied out in a long stretch of time. It wouldn't be right for me to read the scriptures all in a few days, taking away from the precious spiritual moments gained through months of deep study. To be honest it can be irritating and pull on my impatience but it's worth it.

That being said, I may bring this book and the few others I'm reading up more (assuming I get around to posting) as time goes by. This post will not summarize what is to be learned in this book. Indeed it specifies one small part in the first chapter. Yes, the first chapter. But you can find such gems in all literature. This just has the extra bonus of scripture to go with it.

These are the half of the fourteen steps he recommends in fighting weakness, particularly one's self conscious struggles with their weaknesses. I had a wonderful time studying out each point and trying to find scripture for further study but I do recommend reading the book. I found it for three dollars at the DI and it's every bit worth it. Without further ado, here are the (simplified) steps Maxwell recommends to combat weakness and low self esteem.

1. Determine if it's divine discontent or Satan.
Remember the purpose of recognizing weaknesses is to strive for bettering ourselves. It's not meant to belittle us or to damage our self confidence. This is something I struggle with. When I notice a weakness I tend to dwell on it and think of how horrible I am as a daughter of God and how I'm undeserving of His love. That is not of the Spirit nor is it true. We are all imperfect and yet He still loves us. When dealing with a particular weakness we must come to know if it is in fact from the Spirit or Satan. We know from D&C how to receive answers to prayers and this is a great way to determine such things. Once we are able to discern between the Spirit and Satan we can move on to the next step. (Read: Proverbs 22:10)

2. Remember how far we've come.
In the long journey to perfection we've had a number of years to improve. While we shouldn't dwell in the past we can use it to know how far we've come for further reassurance that things aren't as bad as they used to be. It may also be a humbling tool to remind us of what to fall back into or that we still have a long way to go. The trick is to not get caught up in the past. Don't get lost in the issues and fallacies of the past when a bright and wonderful future is ahead of you. (I'm a little proud of that sentence). (Read: Luke 17:10, D&C 48: 14-15)

3. Accept help and don't be afraid to ask for it.
Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to better ourselves and trying to project a perfect outlook that we neglect the importance of asking for help. It's not easy admitting our faults to others when we want them to think the best of us. Yet sometimes an outside look can help lessen the load and make our vision clear. General Naaman asked his orderlies for help (See 2 Kings 5: 1-14). We have a ward or branch to help us. That's why they exist! Everyone in that ward is imperfect just like you and they're all trying their best to get better. There's no shame in turning to your bishop or branch president for help. (Read: Alma 5:23)

4. Let others be.
This bit surprised me. I never thought my concern for others would get in the way of my progress. Yet it makes sense and I've seen it in my life. It's hard to not worry about those close to us and to not want to fix them. I once read true love is when you stop trying to change someone into how you think they should be. How true is that? Don't worry yourself with how others are doing. If they ask for help, give it, but don't make it your business when they don't allow you to. (Read: 1 Nephi 19:6, Ether 12:37)

5. Write it down.
Now this doesn't surprise me. I often tell people when they are serious about writing they should write a list of their strengths and weaknesses. If they find it too hard to think of their weaknesses they aren't a real writer. I then tell them to write a list on how to improve on their weaknesses. And yes, I do the same thing in real life. In fact I just wrote a list of things I wanted to do better in and then a list on how I could achieve that. The important thing to note when doing this is to take it little by little. Making a realistic goal list helps to stay motivated while taking it one step at a time. Sometimes it can be daunting but it's every bit worth it. Don't over do it. Start small with the list and don't over work yourself. (Read: Ether 12:27, Ether 12: 37, Jacob 4:7)

6. Remember you are loved.
Despite our weaknesses and insecurities we are loved. There are people who care about us. And we have a wonderful Heavenly Father who loves us so stinkin much. Don't ever let yourself believe you aren't love or that you don't deserve to be loved. Our Savior didn't go through with the atonement because he thought you were okay. He loved you so much he willingly atoned for you. Perfect and imperfect people love you. Don't get discouraged. (Read: D&C 49:25, D&C 117:7-8)

7. Don't compare.
Easier said than done, I know. This is something I struggle with. No matter what you don't win with comparing. If you think you're better than someone you have a pride issue. If you keep measuring yourself up against someone and feel you felt short you have a confidence issue. There's no winning in this. Remember you don't know the full story. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has problems. Everyone has imperfections. We tend to compare our behind the scenes to another's spotlight. It's easy to think they're better than us when we know all of our weaknesses and transgressions but not theirs. Take it from someone who struggles with this, it's not worth it. And hey, if it makes you feel any better, even Moroni was insecure and compared himself to Mahonri Moriancumer. Don't worry about anyone else. Just keep moving forward. (Read: D&C 46:8, James 3:16, D&C 64:8)

I'm going to stop there because this post would be way too long with all fourteen. The best advice is coming up too. Now I know I've talked in the past about comparing ourselves to others and it's clear this is something I struggle with, but I don't think it can be discussed enough. I know for myself these things get in the way of my progress. How can we progress if we're letting the irrelevant events of another's life tare us down? (another nice sentence. I'm on a roll!) Plus I got to go crazy with scripture study for a good two hours with these and who can say no to that?

I'll get more into this in my next post but remember that struggling with our weaknesses is all part of the plan. We're supposed to have weaknesses. And we can overcome them through Christ. I've loved reading this book and finding these hidden gems and look forward to finding more (I'm starting Standing For Something by Hinckley and I'm stoked!). The words of the prophets and apostles are scripture and are for us. Don't neglect them.

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Simple Testimony

I realized I hadn't done this yet and thought I should. I'm going to be brief and simple, as a testimony should be. I just want to tell you what I know to be true from the bottom of my heart and with everything I am. Webster defines testimony as "proof or evidence that something exists or is true." Here is my evidence. My testimony.

I testify that God lives and Jesus is the Christ, our loving messiah. He was born of a humble birth in Bethlehem and lead the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father. I know the atonement is real. I've felt it's power and strength in my life and shall continue for the rest of my existence, both in this life and the next. I know, with a calming and beautiful peacefulness in my heart, that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ that lovely morning in the Sacred Grove. I've been there, and the spirit is so strong and beautiful. But it doesn't take being there to know that, as I realized throughout my life. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. I know it. And he translated the sacred record that would become the Book of Mormon, the keystone of our religions, and of my life. It would be impossible for me to deny that I have felt the promise made in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:4. I know this book is true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is real and true. I know Heavenly Father loves us and guides us because He wants us to come back to Him. And yes, I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. The leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are inspired men who strive to serve the Lord and lead us back to Him. And I know, with all my heart, that I will see them again. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior so much, and I want to live every day of my life worthy of their love as well.

This is my testimony. It's not going to make me a million dollars. It's not going to protect me from criticism and trials, but it will be my rock and my foundation for the rest of my life. I know these things are true. I bare witness of them in the name of Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior. Amen.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Spirit of Gratitude

 D&C 78: 19 And he who receiveth all things with athankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an bhundred fold, yea, more.

I have a confession to make.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

No really, it's my hands down favorite time of year. Is it the turkey? Tasty but no. The football? Nope. Pumpkin pie? I do love my pumpkin pie, but no. So what is it then? Why is Thanksgiving, a rather mediocre holiday, my favorite?

Every year on Thanksgiving I sit down in my room and pull out my journal. There I write my testimony of gratitude and share what I'm thankful for. And FYI, I've never finished writing all I'm thankful for. But that's it. It's that spirit of gratitude.

Now yes, we should have that every day of our lives, and I try to do that, but I like taking a day and not asking for a single thing. I don't like to pray and ask for anything on Thanksgiving. Nope. I just say thank you. That's it. And I love every minute of it. That tender feeling of the spirit is one I wish I could have every day. And I try to, but it's nothing compared to taking a whole day to have gratitude.

So I suppose it's not a surprise I'm very against anything Christmas related before Thanksgiving. I hate Christmas music before Black Friday (also I hate Black Friday. It's my least favorite day of the year.). We always pass by this holiday and treat it like a day to eat a ton of food and watch football, but it always meant so much more to me. It was always a holiday I held close to my heart.

I know it's easy to forget Thanksgiving because of the excitement of Christmas, and that's a wonderful holiday too. Remembering the humble birth of our Savior is not mediocre (though it's turned into a holiday about presents more than Christ), but neither is giving a sincere prayer of thanks to our Heavenly Father. I'd challenge everyone to try to write down your testimonies of gratitude and to really take the day to share with your Heavenly Father how much you appreciate everything He does for you.

I'll probably write mine and post it on here, but you don't have to share what you write. There's great power in keeping a personal journal to yourself. Just remember what this holiday is about. It's not about the turkey or the stuffing (though they are delicious so by all means enjoy them). It's about being thankful for all the blessings in your life. And my aren't we blessed.

I know the promise made in the scripture above and the words of the prophets and apostles on gratitude are all true. Gratitude is a powerful tool against Satan. And it leads us on the path to joy. Take the time to immerse yourself in the spirit of gratitude. It's a beautiful and wonderful day to celebrate. Remember to be thankful.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Ideal Body

We live in a world today that is constantly trying to tell women how they are supposed to look. We can't go on social media websites without running into advertisements on how we can lose weight fast and easy. We can't even go on Pinterest without being bombarded with pins telling us how we can achieve our perfect body. Yet how often do we see in our world advertisements or posts online telling us about how we are daughters of a king who loves us no matter what our measurements? How often are we told about our divine qualities given to us by our Heavenly Father? And why is it stressed that we have "an ideal body?"

Your body is a gift. It's a gift from your Heavenly Father. If you want to look a certain way that's up to you, but know now that you are not just a body. You are a person with a soul, a personality, attributes, and yes, divine qualities. Your Heavenly Father wants you to progress and learn more to enhance those divine qualities so you may return to Him. Does He want you to take care of your body? Of course. That's why we have the word of wisdom. But He loves you no matter what you weigh or what you look like.

I'd be a liar if I said I too wasn't affected by the bombarding images of what I "should" look like. Sure, I'd like to have a smaller waist. I can't stand my pale skin tone, and sometimes I even wish I didn't have curly hair. But one thing I love about my Heavenly Father is His message to me. Not once in my entire life have I ever received a blessing or any sort of revelation from my Heavenly Father pertaining to my looks. When I go through my patriarchal blessing I'm touched by the spirit and come to love myself more. Does my patriarchal blessing say anything about "obtaining a perfect body?" No. It tells me how I can become more like my Savior and of the divine qualities I already have and can develop later in my life.

I am more than my body. Sure, I like to dress up and do my hair, and I can't stand bad hair days, but I know who I am. I know what my Heavenly Father sees in me (for the most part). And I know my potential. How can we all come to know this? By turning away from the world and what it tells us we must be and turning to our Heavenly Father who uplifts us. The number one example you should follow in your life is your Savior. He has paved the way back to our Heavenly Father, and it's not exclusive to those of a particular size, skin tone, height, or looks. It's for everyone. The potential to return to our Savior and Heavenly Father and be like unto them is in every single one of us. Every. Single. One of us.

Now I'd like to share my ideal body. This has come with much debate and thought through the years. This is the body I want:
- Hands worn and used to help others
- Legs that race to the aid of my fellow man
- Eyes that see what our Savior sees in others
- A mouth that speaks through the spirit
- Arms strong enough to hug and hold those in need
- A mind open to learning and new experiences
- A heart big enough for all of God's creatures

Before I close, I just want to say that if you want to be healthier and work out, do it. We're encouraged to take care of our bodies. I try my best to do what I can, but not to achieve an image the world tells me I must. It's up to you what you do. As for me, I want to achieve that ideal body listed above. I want to meet my Savior and Heavenly Father as a tired old woman who spent her whole life serving others, and in turn serving her God.

Remember not to heed the worldly standards but to turn to your Heavenly Father. He will uplift you because He loves you. It's as simple as that. He loves you. He loves you for the person He knows you to be. Not for your body. Don't let anyone ever let you believe otherwise.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Nephi the Spiritual Giant

I may have mentioned before but I've decided to try reading the Book of Mormon in full in 3 months. I'm pretty bad about keeping up with my seven pages a day, but I make a point to catch up and do it. And I've found it's been an amazing experience. I confessed before I'm really bad about scripture study. But once I get reading I can't stop. Somehow reading seven pages doesn't seem like enough.

This time around I've been trying to journal and really study what I read. I want to get as much as I can out of it for this time in my life, and journal for future reference. I can't put everything I learn and come across on here, but I thought I'd share some of my experiences. And what I've found.

In my post about cancelling my mission, I shared some of what I learned in 1 Nephi that helped me in accepting my decision and trying to understand it from an eternal perspective. Yet that was only the beginning of much learning that has taken up so many pages in my journal.

I realized as I started reading 1 Nephi that I know this story really well. I've watched the Book of Mormon film, heard the story in church, and seen it portrayed many times at Hill Cumorah. Every time I've read it I've passed through passively because it was all the same to me. I've read this. I know this story. What more can I take out of it?

So this time I tried to understand it deeper. As a big reader and a writer I wanted to analyze it like I would a book. Every word in the scriptures has a deeper meaning. We know this from Christ's parables but it's true of every single word in the scriptures.

I decided to take a surprising turn in studying 1 Nephi. I wanted to understand the story from both Nephi and Laman's point-of-view. Specifically, I wanted to see how I could relate to Laman. The results were startling. I could relate to him way more than I wanted to admit. But already it's taught me a valuable lesson.

While it may seem strange to try to understand and relate to Laman, my thought process was that if I knew how I related to Laman then I knew what I had to work on. And while it was easy to see everything from Nephi's point-of-view since it's written in his point-of-view I wanted to try to see it from the eyes of a young man, not an older man recalling his youth.

All my life I thought Nephi was a spiritual giant and it came easy to him. I thought he just knew. He didn't struggle like me. He always said wonderful things and always acted on unlimited faith. To me, he was the perfect example of what we should strive to be in this life (save only Christ). It just seemed so easy for Nephi.

Yet, what I found was the opposite. Nephi didn't have a testimony right away. He didn't have a perfect testimony and perfect faith. Does anyone? But not only that, Nephi had to work for it. This has become so much my mantra I've put a post-it on my mirror to remind me.

When Nephi was in the wilderness (prior to getting the plates) he knelt down in prayer to know the things which his father knew. In that moment he received a testimony that was vital to him being able to get the brass plates. I got more into this in a previous post. But I think this is so important.

Remember, becoming a spiritual giant like Nephi doesn't come easy. Nephi worked for his testimony and he continued to be faithful and try to do what he could to please his Heavenly Father. We can't become Nephis over night. That takes time and effort. It's not impossible though. We can be strong and faithful like Nephi. Like him, we have to work hard for it.

But, we can become Lamans too. It was interesting to reread 1 Nephi and to try to see it from his point-of-view. I always thought Nephi and Laman were black and white. I just thought he was all bad. It has to be understood that Laman isn't bad. He just lacks a testimony. Now I'm not saying this to scare anyone who lacks a testimony (I recommend reading Elder Holland's recent talk at General Conference in regards to this topic) but what needs to be understood is Laman both lacked a testimony and wasn't willing to work for one.

How many times do we expect Heavenly Father to bless us the way we want? Can you really say you aren't guilty of that? Well I hate to break it to you, but that's very much like Laman. In fact, I bet every one of us has a little of Laman in us. More than we want to admit, too.

Laman wanted things to be easy and simple. He loved his home and had a comfortable life. Imagine having the life you always wanted and suddenly being told by your father you had to leave for the wilderness. You have to leave everything and everyone you love behind. That's not easy. Can you blame Laman for complaining and not wanting to go?

The big difference in how Laman and Nephi handle things is that one has a testimony and sought it out and the other didn't. While Nephi was still young and premature in his testimony it still had a tremendous impact on his behavior. And likewise, not having one or striving for one effected Laman's behavior and attitude.

What we need to ask ourselves now is who do we want to become. Do we want to be like Nephi? Do we want to work hard for our testimony, continually trust in the Lord, and strive to better ourselves? Or do we want to be like Laman, comfortable in our worldly pleasure, lacking in testimony, and lazy?

Yet somehow in our every day decisions we end up striving to be a little bit like both of them. What I've gotten out of this study so far is how important it is to make it a daily goal to choose our Heavenly Father. We need to decide for ourselves what we want. It's easy to see things from a short perspective. It's easy to make a decision that won't effect us until later in life. But we need to decide now who we want to be now, tomorrow, and forever more. And we need to constantly do what we can for that.

I love the scriptures. I don't think I can say that enough. No matter how many times I reread them, I always get something new out of it. And I'm excited to see what this new goal will teach me and to see what messages I get that pertain to my life right now.

I'd encourage everyone to take the challenge to read seven pages of the Book of Mormon a day. It's okay if you're not perfect about it. I'm actually a bit behind, but I catch up. You can do it. I promise if you do and you really study and ponder what you read you'll find the messages you need at this time in your life. Heavenly Father often blesses us through His teachings in the scriptures. Even when we think we know it all, we find more richness when we reread.

I know this book is true. I know it. And I'm so thankful for having them in my life. And I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Truth About No

Often times when discussing the cancellation of my mission people would say to me, "Why would Heavenly Father say no to you serving a mission?" It's a hard question to answer. I've asked myself this question and often wondered if it was because I wasn't worthy or good enough. But I've come to find that, as Heavenly Father humbles and uplifts, that isn't the answer. Rather, when Heavenly Father says no it's for a reason we don't often realize.

When Heavenly Father says "no" it's because he has an even bigger "yes" in mind.

Think about that for a second. Sometimes we linger so much on the no we forget he has something else in store for us. Imagine what it's like for Heavenly Father. He wants to bless us. But we have to do the right work and ask the right questions.

What needs to be understood about a no is you're given that answer because what you're asking for is not good enough for you. Heavenly Father will bless you with the best that you need. Not the best that you want. I recall a story of a woman who was dating a young man and wasn't sure if she wanted to marry him. He shared his desire to marry her so she knelt down in prayer. What was her answer? Absolutely not. Following that prompting, she ended it and later realized the blessing of that answer. She ended up marrying a wonderful man who was a much better choice for her. He was the best option for her. That other man wasn't. Heavenly Father had a wonderful yes in mind for her.

If there is one thing we need to always remember in regards to these sometimes heart breaking answers, it's that you should always listen to it. If she married that man her life wouldn't be what it is today, and she's thankful she made the right decision. Likewise, I once heard the story of another woman who, the day of her wedding, knelt down in prayer to ask if it was the right decision. What did she get? No. Did she listen? No. Many years later after a hard divorce and a marriage to another wonderful man she realized her mistake in not listening.

The truth is a no is never given without strong reason. Actually, no answer is every given without strong reason, but a no must never be ignored. Remember a no isn't your Heavenly Father turning against you. He isn't mistreating you or abandoning you. While receiving a no as an answer to a prayer can be hard, it can also be a wonderful blessing we don't understand at first.

One time I knelt down in prayer to my Heavenly Father about going to college. I desired to apply to certain colleges and sought an answer of encouragement. But it wasn't to be. I was devastated. It didn't make sense to me. Why didn't He want me to go to college? Isn't college a good thing? Several months later my father lost his job and we went into the process of moving. It blessed me so much more to listen to my Heavenly Father. I thought He was punishing me and didn't want me to succeed in life. What I later realized was he had other ideas of how to bless me and help me grow.

"It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us... If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Receiving answers to prayers and heeding them takes a lot of faith. When we exercise that faith and show our Heavenly Father we're willing to do what is right, even when we don't understand why, He blesses us. Besides, what better person to put your trust in than your almighty Heavenly Father?

Sometimes receiving a no and moving forward with that takes more faith than a yes. I've learned that ten fold since cancelling my mission. Sometimes I'm down on myself and I think, "What now? I don't understand? Why would he say no to this?" While I may not see the blessings now of that decision and what's in store for me, I can't expect Heavenly Father to just hand me the blessings right away. As President Hinckley said, I need to be worthy and trust Him.

But remember, when you get a no listen to it. Always listen to it. It's easy to think of no's as Heavenly Father punishing us. Like when I was praying about college, I thought that no was meant to punish me. Instead it was given because I was needed elsewhere. Heavenly Father says no because he has something else in store. Something better. When we see it that way it's not so bad, but it's not easy to get to that understanding and to keep holding on to that understanding.

My father once told me, "Sometimes it's not Plan A. Sometimes it's not plan B. Sometimes it's plan C. You just have to keep praying and trying to figure it out. If you get a no try to figure out what to do." Think of it this way, Nephi and his brothers didn't get the plates the first time. They didn't get it the second time. They got it the third time. Sometimes it takes quite a few times before we get a yes. But there are blessings in the journey to a yes. Look at it from an eternal perspective. How do you think Heavenly Father feels when we put in the effort to try to find the right answer? He knows He's giving His blessings to the right person for the right reasons. We need to work and prove we're worthy of it. He wants to bless us. We just have to do our part.

So a no really isn't all that bad. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's hard and awkward. Sometimes you don't understand why. Sometimes you don't get it. And sometimes you just want to cry on your pillow because you really wanted a yes. But you have to trust your Heavenly Father. He knows what He's doing. A no isn't the end of the world. The truth is a no is just the beginning of you finding better things. There are greater things in store for you than that no.

I know in my own life right now it's been taking a lot of faith to move forward and to figure out what I want to do. I guess really the truth about a no is it takes a whole lot more faith than I thought. And that's okay. Heavenly Father loves us and He wants to bless our lives and to help us grow so we can return to Him. I'm excited to move forward in my life and find out what's in store for me. Maybe I don't know what's in store and maybe I'll stumble along the way, but I'll figure it out.

Just to finish with my testimony, I know this church is true and that Heavenly Father lives and loves us. He desires the best for us. Can I say that enough? Well it's true. I know it is. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.