For this travelogue, we’re going wayyy back into February of 2019.
At this time, I had just started my mission and was pretty excited to be in a new state that naturally grew palm trees instead of importing them like Vegas did. Oops, sorry Vegas 😅
I was still getting used to the ‘uniform’ we were required to wear as ministers/missionaries of Jesus Christ- dresses and skirts. Sometimes slacks, but honestly, slacks in that weather was not great. On a usual Sunday back home I enjoyed the breezy, flowy feel of my dresses and felt confident in them. I would often plan out my outfits and choose the right shoes to go with them, deciding on the perfect hairstyle, etc. But in Florida… in Florida I would grab the nearest dress to me, slip it on, and do the same with my shoes. I would proselyte in the muggy heat of summer daily, getting little rest and often times not enough shade.
My companion and I (she was actually training me at the time) would walk and walk and walk for several hours a day in Florida. I remember walking through the warm rain and heat waves, wondering, “How on earth am I going to do this?” It felt like I was running a marathon with inappropriate attire.
But I wore those dresses and I wore those skirts. Looking back, I’m still very proud of myself for doing that. I remember being called to a few last-minute service opportunities while in a dress. It was fun and exciting, don’t get me wrong.
I loved serving and I still do. I ended up getting used to wearing dresses and skirts and it became second nature to me. And yes, sometimes my dresses would get ruined and that was okay, because I learned something important while I moved out furniture from sewer-flooded homes:
I learned about dedication while in those dresses in Florida. I learned to be strong while dressing my best. This may sound like a silly travelogue, but it means something to me and I hope it’ll mean something to you, too.
The clothes we wear really tells what type of person we are and I believe we would learn a lot from thinking about the attire we choose to wear. In my case, it was mandatory, but I learned to love it.
What good do you do in your uniform?
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The United States is under a lot of opposition. My country, my land. My home.
I’m not going to choose sides on this post because we’re all friends here, but I want to express my heartfelt dream to you. And that is that the world would again be filled withlove. Now, listen, I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s and life seemed simple then. For my parents it was even more so. People were just, lovely. Simply lovely. They were kind and could be trusted.
Today- today is a different story. The world has rotted into something dark and evil. There is a lot of bad going on and just like me, you may be feeling like the good is too small to win this. But it’ll happen. I don’t have enough years to promise you this but I have enough faith.
This endeavor to a more love-filled world might take a long time to fully develop or even partially develop, but even a whiff of that greener grass on the other side is enough motivation for me to do something about it-now.
What am I going to do now? I’m going to change my world and my circles with love. Pure love. Charity, support, and peace.
We are Vessels of Love
The poem below portrays the beauty as a being or a vessel willingly accepting love. The weighted honey is like sap- slowly but surely filling the clay vase that is my heart with love that may heal me and fill me with what I can give to heal others.
This poem was written several years ago while I was preparing to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
2017- the year I wrote this poem- was a hard road for me.
I was on a greyhound bus bound for Utah and aimlessly scrolled through Facebook for a majority of the trip. I was impressed to stop and read an article from a Latter Day Saint, Christian website about Latter Day Saint missionaries serving near Puerto Rico. The article illustrated that this group of missionaries had just heard of (what I think to be) Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico, causing tremendous amounts of damage. What the missionaries did next surprised me: they knelt and prayed. And if my memory serves me right they stopped and prayed on the dirty, unkept street for the people of Puerto Rico.
I was amazed at the love these missionaries had for their brothers and sisters from a totally different way of life, culture, belief system- everything. The concept of praying for people I’d never met was so awe-inspiring for me and my heart almost felt like it was physically swelling in that moment until I cried.
I cried for a good while and I couldn’t really explain why until I realized that it was because I was feeling God’s love. I was feeling God’s love for me and for others. It was a special feeling that I didn’t want to forget, so I decided to write my poem, ‘Vessel’! I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved writing it. This poem came deep from within the heart and I hope it touched you, too.
A Brighter Future
So, even though this chaos is happening on a much bigger scale than most of us can control or even understand, I would implore you to hold onto love. Love heals all things. Love is eternal. Love is pure. Love is selfless and love is all-inclusive. Love is wonderful. Pass along love, always.
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My last post, “2021, Here We Come!” is all about building a brighter future! Check it out!
I love Christmas. I love the warmth of family and company, the good food, the memories, the fuzzy pajamas, and of course the gifts.
Seeing someone open the gift I got them brings the best feeling! It makes me happy to see another that is happy.
Giving is the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it? Giving like Jesus Christ did. He gave wisdom. He gave love. He gave healing. He gave life. He gave salvation. He gave us EVERYTHING so we could inherit EVERYTHING.
Today I want to share a simple video that I hope will portray the love I have for Jesus Christ. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I love Him so, so much. I feel indebted to the most perfect and fair and loving Being to every step on this Earth. He is so merciful. Through toil and trial I have gained a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I hope you can too, if you don’t already have one with Him. He loves you, dearly. I know that. And when I knew that as a fact- when it was confirmed to me time and time again- I knew I had to share it with others. That’s why I served a full-time mission. That’s why I write these posts for you all. That’s why I dedicate time each day to serve someone, anyone.
He sacrificed everything so I could inherit everything. Because I have been given much, I too much give.
I hope you enjoy this short film. It opened my eyes to the reality of the birth and life of Jesus Christ all over again.
Please share this with someone that comes to mind.
Hey, everyone! I apologize for not posting for the past two weeks. It’s been a strange 2 weeks, filled with unexpected turns of events. It began with confusion and doubts about future. Then health declined little by little and it threw me completely off-kilter. *I know now what is causing my health issues, so it’s not a problem and definitely not COVID19.
Even so, I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck. Stuck and just not strong enough to get out. I realized that many of you may also have similar feelings that I have had recently, so I hope you can read this with a similar understanding as to what I’m speaking of and find more clarity.
When I was 6 I began taking karate lessons with my two older sisters. I was negligent to do so since I wanted to be a dancer and was very vocal about it but under the insistence of my parents, I accepted. I soon realized that I loved karate and that I had a knack for it. I won competitions, I fought against skilled martial artists, and I learned a lot about self-protection. I improved daily through hours of practice at my studioand even sparred at home to improve.
When I became skilled enough, I began to grapple- or, wrestle. I was a good fighter. When I would fight, I learned from mistakes quickly and kept improving.
One day I was fighting against a boy who was pretty strong. I didn’t know how the fight would go since he was known for being very good, but I was determined to win. We started on our feet and quickly got to the ground, trying to ‘tap’ the other opponent out.
He moved like lightning and hooked his arm around my neck, pulling me into a tight chokehold. I could usually find a little room to breath (if my opponent was careless) but this guy had the right idea and left me barely any room to breath. It wasn’t even a minute and I was in danger of tapping out.
I struggled and tried to pull his arm away. No luck. I even tried twisting in his grip to face him and create more room. No luck. I twisted back into place and racked my brain on how to get out.
This thought ran in my head over and over again:
In that moment I felt stuck. Utterly and completely stuck. No kicking, punching, pulling or twisting was going to get this kid to let go of his grip. And even worse? He was strong enough to still tighten his chokehold.
To be honest, I don’t remember how the fight ended that day. But the point is, I felt in-between the place I wanted to be (winning) and the place I was (losing).
Have you ever felt stuck? In-between? Maybe not physically like I was, but perhaps you felt In-between unresolved situations or problems. Emotional, mental, and social interactions can leave us feeling very stuck.
Some feel stuck in-between happiness and sadness. Or maybe in-between clarity and confusion, security and scarcity,hurting and healing. Life is complex; these complex feelings we have as a result can be really hard to cope with.
I wasn’t quite sure (and still am not quite sure) what to think about all of these incomplete feelings that I have. However, trusting in God has been a great help. He’s always consistent when my life is tossing and turning like a colossal tidal wave.
I was studying one day when my professor recommended a video based off of his sermon: “Our Campfire of Faith” as our spiritual thought.
Several people, along with Elder Gong, shared their advice for getting through hard times by focusing on Jesus Christ.
One man said,
And something clicked! 💡*Tada*💡 How had such simple words not struck me sooner?
It was SO simple, and yet so easy to look over. This man’s testimony of Jesus Christ struck me to the core. I sat on my couch, pondering for maybe 8 minutes.
My thought process was something a little like this:
Because of His Atonement, Jesus Christ knows everything I’m feeling, have felt, and will feel.
Because of His Atonement, Jesus Christ knows everything I’m thinking, have thought, and will think.
If He really knows me that well (better than I know myself) then He also knows the things I can’t even describe. The things I can’t identify myself.
If this is true, then that means Jesus Christ can bring me peace even if I’m not sure what I need peace for- at the time I need it & how it needs to be delivered to me.
Then this means, He is the Master Physician! He can diagnose any mysterious infirmity that comes my way. He knows how to succor his people and He knows how to succor me.
So the question is, how do you find answers in Christ?
Not knowing how to read yourself is tough. Like, really tough. How are you supposed to ask for help or express yourself if you can’t even decide what you think?
How are you going to heal if you don’t even know the illness?
In the Book of Mormon one of my favorite scriptures answers this question of the soul very well:
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
ALMA 7: 11-12 [emphasis added]
There are a few keywords I want to point out here:
Pains, afflictions, temptations: These words illustrate very well exactly what Jesus Christ felt while in the Garden of Gethsemane. He felt the pain of heartbreak, a broken bone or body deformity; He felt the pains of a drug addict. He knows these feelings very well.
Succor: Oxford Dictionary describes ‘succor’ as “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.” Isaiah taught what the Lord’s extent of assistance and support was in the Old Testament: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” [Isaiah 49:15-16]
Infirmities: These are the mental and physical weaknesses we may have in life, according to Oxford Dictionary. Synonyms include weakness, hesitation, uncertainty, inconstancy, indecision, and irresolution.
Infirmities are what I want to focus on. Infirmities are what make us feel like we’re in limbo. Feeling in-between feels like limbo.
However, friends, I want you to consider what the scripture in Alma means when it said, “and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
I didn’t have a deep understanding of how much Jesus Christ went through in Gethsemane until I had this epiphany and wrote this article. He knows the details of the human condition in and out. And as sad as this makes me feel, it also brings me SO much peace and joy.
Someone actually knows how I’m feeling! And don’t get me wrong, I’ve known that Jesus Christ felt my sins and burdens for my whole life- my eyes just weren’t open to the infinite capacity of that Atonement.
I want to illustrate an idea from the great Michelangelo. For several years Michelangelo’s inspired way of completing his sculpture, ‘Angel’ sat at the forefront of my creative pursuits:
“He saw theangel in the marble and carved until he set him free.”
Angel by Michelangelo (1494–1495); The Basilica, San Domenico, Bologna.
This beautiful example can be applied to most anything and I think, especially to life’s challenges.
The Beginning and the Ending
When I realized that Jesus Christ knew how to help me in my clueless state, a flood of enlightenment rushed across my tired mind. I began to imagine all the times I realized that the Lord knew how I felt; I imagined situations like a breakup, disappointment in my actions, and the pain from someone else’s poor actions.
I was so happy and even felt emotional to remember these things.
I know that Jesus Christ’s Atonement has helped me in the past. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers. And I know They will continue to help me.
Don’t these names of Christ give you the idea that He may just be involved in every detail? Not just the ones we know of?
I know I do.
He caused every tree to grow. He filled the oceans with life and beauty. He created the most beautiful arrangement of astronomy I have ever seen.
If He did all of these, then the Beginning and the Ending must know my in-between. Even if I don’t.
I always find peace when I turn to Him, even if I can’t hear Him at the moment or don’t know how to talk to Him. He gives me the strength to push through even when it seems like it may not amount to anything. I’ve learned to Give God the credit He deserves.
As I close out this article, I invite you all to read through the names that I shared and to study them, ponder them, and apply them to your daily life.
And just remember, the Beginning and the Ending knows your in-betweens.
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As I was doing my reading for my weekly General Conference post, I had many thoughts come to mind as to where this could all go. I thought of embracing charity, talking about some awesome growth moments I had a few years back, or even ‘spiritual souvenirs’. However, I think I’ll leave these to another day.
Just this morning, my family huddled in the living room and shared the miracles that each of us had personally experienced. I listened to their stories and even shared some of mine while I nestled into my salt and pepper, chenille couch.
It soon occurred to me that the miracles I’ve had truly influenced me to change. Some were big changes and some were small. But nonetheless, I changed. I gave that gift back to God, as Sister Craven said. And even though I won’t be able to repay the entire amount of love and life my Savior provided for me, I gave Him something. I sacrificed something.
So, instead of talking about the other topics I mused over, I’ll stick to sharing a bit of my miracle and how I changed.
At this time, I was working at the Grand Canyon, North Rim in 2017. It’s much prettier here, by the way, I recommend it 100%.
Anywho, I lived in the little ‘village’ just behind and beside the lodging area where tourists would come and go.
At the time I was preparing for my mission and needed to finish some paperwork. I was called in from the hospital to go pick my papers up in a town 2 hours from where I lived. So, right after work, I made my way down there, arriving at about 5. After a short dinner at 8, I left.
On the way back, a few very mysterious things happened.
Once I began my drive, I started to grow very tired. I found this odd since it was only 8 pm (despite it getting dark rapidly) and I’m usually a night owl, but I had to get home and work the next day so I dealt with it.
While driving up the winding slopes that overlooked the distant land of the Native American reserves, a policeman sped past me with his lights flashing. I hadn’t seen another person on the road that night.
I decided to stop at the Inn not even 30 minutes from my destination to pick up something for a friend. I distinctly remember seeing that the vacancy sign said ‘0’. I picked up my stuff and left.
Not too far from my stop, I noticed that the police officer that sped past me earlier was helping a couple who had hit a deer on the side of the road. I waved as I passed by, thankful that wasn’t me. The funny thing is, I saw that accident and said, “Aw, man…that sucks.” And sped up to hurry home, but just after that- BOOM…. I crashed into a small black cow the color of the night sky. I saw his eyes first, mistaking them as a distant car and didn’t pay any mind…until I stopped moving.
The officer happened to be close enough to hear me crash and ran up to me to see if I was okay.
I was so incredibly grateful for this! If I had been badly injured or worse, then I could have bled out. I had no signal but he just happened to be there at the right time, in the right place.
He called me a tow truck that dropped me off at the Inn I mentioned before. When I walked in, the sign suddenly said ‘1’. I remember looking at the sign, and assessing my luck said, Who would check out at 9 at night? I don’t know. But I do know that that vacant room was meant for me. The people inside checked me in and somehow, everything else miraculously worked out. Everything.
My point in saying this is that I became much more aware of God’s awareness and love for me that day. There is no way I should have survis veryved that car crash, or been even within 20 feet from any police officer, and I definitely should not have been lucky enough to find a room that late at night. But I was, wasn’t I?
This miracle, or string of miracles, rather, changed my entire mindset. I saw life and my current circumstances very differently. I mean, I had a near death experience for goodness’ sake! Someone was watching over me. And over time, my relationship with that Someone strengthened quite a bit.
I learned how to have complete trust in my Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ. I learned how to pray- really pray- and talk to Him in vulnerable and honest conversations. I understood the value of life. I learned that God is there and always will be.
The priceless gift I received from the accident that day was newfound knowledge of God and a different lifestyle because of that. At that time, I wasn’t really sure if He cared, if He loved me, or if He was going to make everything alright. But this experience was almost like He was saying, “Can’t you see? Of course I love you. Of course I will. My promises don’t fail. “
True conversion depends on seeking freely in faith, with great effort and some pain. Then it is the Lord who can grant…the miracle of cleansing and change.
President Henry B. Eyering
That was just one experience, too. But that change was amazing. And I plan to keep it to the end of my life.