Painted by the amazing, beautiful, and talented Mckenna Kirby. Thank you so much!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I am in Love with my Body

 That's probably not the most common thing you hear, huh? Well, its true! I wake up every day more and more in love with my body. But you see, here's the thing. I am not in love with it because of the way it looks. Nope. Nu-uh! I love my body for all that it is and all that it does for me! I wake up every day so thankful that my heart is still beating strong, my bones are in tact, and that I don't have any significant complications with my health. Not everyone can say that last part, so with that I feel especially thankful. I am pretty sure somewhere in every prayer I say, I make room to thank Heavenly Father for my body, because I have this weird theory that maybe if I thank Him enough, He will see how grateful I am and shield me from any complications. Okay, so maybe thats not completely how He works and if it be His will that I go through physical trials in my life, then I trust Him and will push through it. But for now, I am just enjoying my healthy body. I just love all the things that it does and can do.

I recently got back from our team's cross country camp where we ran and ran and ran some more for three days in the mountains while we all camped together. It's such an enjoyable experience and I always come back from it loving my body even more. We do this 6 mile run up the mountain on the second day of camp known as the "guts run". Coach calls it that because he says its for us to see how long we can run on pure guts and determination when every other fiber of our being wants to stop running. By the end of the run, despite the ache and fatigue, I always just look down at my legs and think, "Wow! They can really do that?!" And there are so many other amazing experiences that I can have with this complex little machine. Run to the waterfall, bike the canal, swim in the ocean, zip-line through trees, hug those I love, play instruments, taste chocolate and so so much more.

Everything our bodies can do and experience for us is purely amazing. The more I think about it, the more I start to understand Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness. Yesterday, I listened to David A. Bednar's talk called, "Things as They Really Are" (I suggest reading it if you want a moment of "oh my heck, life makes sense now!") and it really gave me such a new perspective on my body and my purpose here. It was a part of God's plan for us to come to Earth and gain bodies because He knew there was a depth and intensity of experience that we need and of which we could only experience in this state of being. Our state of existence in the pre-mortal life could not have provided us the means to experience and feel in the way our body lets us feel now. This physical vessel that carries our spirit is the instrument that helps make up the foundation of our character and mind. Our bodies are literally physical instruments given to us in order to amplify our ability to experience. With it, we are able to more fully comprehend what it really means to obey and live the principles of the gospel. With it also, we experience feelings such as joy, excitement, love, disappointment, sorrow, fear, etc. We could not have done these things had we not accepted our Father's plan to leave His presence and receive a body. (The faith we must have had in Him and His plan!) The more you begin to understand these truths of our body and its purposes, the more we honor it as the vessel and instrument to carry us to salvation and exaltation. And the more we honor it, the more we want to take care of it, feed it nutritiously, and exercise. The more we take care of it, the more we will protect it by not engaging in dangerous activity. The more we protect it physically, the more we want to protect it symbolically as we strive to dress modestly to keep it covered and sacred to us.  Our bodies are truly a sacred and beautiful instrument. Treat it well. And love it too! Don't beat yourself up because your body isn't the "ideal" image of what you think it should be. In fact, to come up with one "ideal" image of what our bodies should be is probably offensive to the One who created them, each beautifully and uniquely for each of us. Fall in love with your body and everything about it because like I said before, it is the vessel that will carry you to your salvation and exaltation!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Satan is a Bumwipe

Last night I really got a glimpse of Satan's work in action. I witnessed the destruction he has caused in a loved one's life. It made me mad. Not at my loved one. At Satan. I had never felt the true reality of Satan and his mission to destroy the way I did in that moment last night. Before my eyes, it was like I could see Satan's joy in every frown line on the face staring back at me. To spare you from any unnecessary details, lets just say, I ended the night feeling pretty stinkin' helpless despite my best efforts to help and enlighten the situation. I realized the helplessness of my situation, but I also realized the fact that I did not feel hopeless. The Spirit really just gave me the biggest confirmation of the power of Jesus Christ. Words not of my own thoughts entered my mind and just comforted me saying, "Satan has a strong hold on 'said loved one' but Christ is so much more powerful. Satan is a no good, wimpy little spirit who has never had a body and who has never accomplished anything worthwhile. But you see, Jesus Christ, He is someone truly powerful. He is not only a being of flesh and bone, He is a being of resurrected flesh and bone. Jesus Christ Himself has overcome death and broken the bonds of sin. He is real power because He has real power! Satan has nothing on Christ. So fear not, because Satan can not win. Just pray for a miracle and pray for the atonement to heal and redeem 'said loved one'." Last night, I truly just gained such a strong conviction in my heart that Christ is so much more powerful than Satan. When we look around our world today, it may seem like Satan is winning sometimes, but we must have faith in Heavenly Father's plan and in the eternally powerful atonement that Jesus Christ performed. However, you might wonder why so much bad and heartbreaking things happen if Christ can beat Satan. Well, Satan only has "power" over us as we let him and because this life is supposed to be a test to prove if we can choose the right, we often find ourselves in a war against Satan. But because Christ loves us so much, He is constantly working for our happiness and in the end, we can trust everything will be okay through Him who has All Power. We must remember that no matter how strong of chains Satan has on someone's heart, Christ can break those chains. He can overcome anything Satan throws His way. Whenever you feel like Satan is winning in your life, or in the life of someone you love, I plead with you to stay strong in the faith of our Savior Jesus Christ and to always remember the infinite power of His mighty atonement. It may not feel like Christ has won yet, but I promise HE WILL. Not one fiber of my being doubts that Christ will win and not one morsel of my soul doubts that everything will be okay in the end. Just have faith in our Savior and know He is forever more powerful than that little bum wipe named Satan.

"Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which CANNOT BE HID IN DARKNESS;" D&C 14:9

Take that Satan...take that.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We're Wasting Eternity on our Phones...Literally

Airports are a regular place for me to be. I spend time waiting and people watching at the airport at least once a month. In the summer that average goes up to about two or three times a month. One time while I was at the airport, I was waiting for my luggage at the carousel and I was watching a woman and her adorable little kids. The mom looked like quite the fashionable woman. Cute white jeans, pretty pink blazer, bow-tie hair bun, bronze watch, and giant heels. She had a little boy and girl running around her. I enjoyed watching them frivolously playing with each other, chasing each other and laughing. They were adorable and I couldn't help smile as I listened to their little shouts of thrill and their adorable cartoon-like laughs. Every once in a while they would run around their mom and grab her legs and pull on her shirt. But something that caught my attention about the situation was the mom's pure fascination with her iPhone. I don't know what she was doing but her eyes and thumbs were glued to her phone. I continued to watch, simply just intrigued by the scene before me. I noticed that never once in fifteen minutes did she look up to acknowledge her playing children or even watch when they would run into the busy crowd at the carousel. Whatever she was involved in with her phone had her full and undivided attention. Now I have to take a step back for a moment just to address the fact that I don't know what she was doing nor do I judge her. The point of this post is not to chastise or judge this woman. After running into her later, she seemed like a very enjoyable, loving woman. But back to my point, it was initially sad for me to watch. How divine of a moment was given up to enjoy the simple scene of her children being happy, laughing, and playing. The opportunity was sacrificed to even just be in the presence of those she loved. Maybe the situation wasn't anything precious at first glance, waiting at a luggage carousel and all, and yes, maybe she has already given so many moments of her life and attention to her children, but it still seemed like such a withdrawal from the presence of her children. The presence of human existence for that matter, and it really got me thinking. These little devices that are supposedly connecting us with more people, seem to be doing just the opposite. It seems that the more people get drawn into their electronic worlds, the more they withdraw themselves from the real one. And it got me thinking personally. How often do I withdraw from my real life in order to build up my electronic one? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, whatever it may be. How many precious moments of eternity have I plain and simply given up, wasting my time over things that in the end, do me absolutely no good? Whether those moments be precious times with those I love, or opportunities to interact with strangers that I could learn a lot from? How many opportunities to serve someone in need have I let pass me by because my eyes were glued to my phone? What if a frazzled mother holding a new baby was struggling to corral her busy children when her purse spilled all over the ground, and I couldn't offer my help because my eyes were fixed on my phone. My point is that we are here for a divine purpose. Every moment is precious and often quick to pass us by, so let us not give up those moments because our phones have us entranced into their tricky behaviors of slavery. Who knows what small and simple moments of beauty or opportunity God may put in our path? Great things come to pass by small and simple means and we must not give them up. Our phones and our social media life have their time and place, so let's make sure we are controlling ourselves and giving the appropriate time in the appropriate places for these things. It's something I know I need to work on, and if you agree, I hope you will admonish yourself to do the same. After all, "moments are the molecules that make up eternity", so let us savor and make something out of each one. Let's build our own Eternity to be something beautiful with the moments we allow ourselves to experience (and I don't think our phones will do that for us, do you?).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Joseph Smith, my New Friend and Hero

Last night, I sat bored in my bed, postponing the idea of going to sleep. Then I got the idea of watching a movie on Netflix. Just a few days earlier, I discovered 17 Miracles, a very moving movie about the Mormon pioneers, was on Netflix and after it was done, a list of similar movies popped up. So many looked good and I was impressed to see so many uplifting movies featured on Netflix. So last night I decided to see if there were any that interested me while I lay there bored in bed. I suddenly came across the Emma Smith-My Story movie and thought it appropriate considering earlier this week I just watch the Joseph Smith-Prophet of the Restoration movie and like I said, the 17 Miracles movie. It's not like these are the only kind of movies I watch, but I guess ever since Youth Conference, I have just been on a "Restoration" kick. Anyways, back to the Emma Smith movie. I really loved it! It was such a personal depiction of the life of Joseph and Emma Smith and it really made them come to life for me. They were no longer just characters I have heard of many times in church stories, and they were no longer just figures in history that I often learn about. It hit me that they were real people with real lives. Not just stories. I started getting emotionally attached to the characters as the movie carried on and such a strange feeling of familiarity and friendship with Joseph Smith washed over me. I felt like I was watching a friend that I loved dearly. During the movie, I shed a few tears, but as soon as it ended, for some reason I just started crying. So much emotion just swept over me. After the movie ended, two things about their story touched my heart deeply. The first thing was their love. The love and affection and commitment they had to each other is heartwarming and quite honestly super cute to teenage-girl-hopeless-romantic me. I don’t think I can ever think of Joseph Smith ever again without thinking too of Emma. Together, they pushed through the fires and storms of hell and built each other up out of their weakness. Their strength and unity and complete love is a beautiful story in and of itself. But that is not all. The second thing that inspired me was their truly powerful, powerful impact that I can still feel, sitting here generations later. Their faith was astonishing. I just love how strong their faith and love for God was no matter how weak they were. Their whole lives revolved around their work as wholly devoted servants to their Heavenly Father. Their testimony of the gospel restored to them was so amazing. Everything they did was for the building of the kingdom and nothing could slow them down or distract them. That is a trait inspiring to me personally. I think the part that got me crying the most was the scene where Hyrum (Joseph's brother) and Joseph were watching Emma play with the children and Hyrum turns to Joseph and asks, "Are you scared to go to Carthage?" and he just looks at Emma, then nods his head. I really think he and Emma both had a pretty conscience idea of what was going to take place at Carthage jail. How heart wrenching?! To know that you were leaving your family behind! To see your husband and love of you life trotting off on a horse to his impending death. My chest literally aches thinking about the emotions they must have felt. But despite their fear and the reality of the situation, he still went through with it! He knew that it was in the best interest and safety of the people of Nauvoo and knew it was his duty to defend what he knew. Like I said, after the movie, I just starting crying thinking about my new friend Joseph Smith and the wonderful gospel I have and the convenience at which I have it. How blessed I am. My last thought as I pondered what I just watched was how hard it is to deny the truthfulness of this gospel once you understand Joseph's own witness and undying testimony. He knew what he saw and what he experienced and the things that God revealed to him were true. He knew the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints truly contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His life itself was a testament of these things and that testimony was sealed with his martyrdom at Carthage jail. I was thankful that just by watching these simple movies, my testimony and relationship with Joseph Smith was deeply enhanced and I can now say that Joseph Smith truly is my hero!