Sunday, December 15, 2013


I made a couple personal discoveries this week. Both relate to missionary work. I was telling my mission buddy about it in an email, and I wanted to share it...

I wrote:
"I realized 2 big things in relation to missionary work this week:
1) My (formal) missionary service is over. I need to stop living in the past about it. I can't go back. I can't put the tag on again and leave all these worries (as much as I want to). The stewardship and revelation for those people has been removed from my shoulders. I can still love them, support them, keep in contact with them, and be some for them to lean on. BUT my direction in life has changed. And that's OK. Heavenly Father has new things for me to focus on. 

It was a really hard pill to swallow. Because all I want to do is be a missionary. All I want is to be back in that world. I want the schedule. I want the lifestyle. I want mission presidents, silly missionaries, quirky members, testifying at all times, and constant fulfillment. But my missionary role has changed. Now it involves strengthening those in my new stewardship. Now it is training up the new leaders in Relief Society. 

2) I found myself thinking yet AGAIN about a friend of mine from High School. For the last 8 years, whenever there is a lesson, in YW, Sunday School, MTC, mission daily life, district meetings, or random promptings, it was ALWAYS to share the gospel with *****. I was sooooo scared about it. I thought about her constantly while in the field. I got home, and rarely thought about it. Then, for the last month, in Elder *****'s emails, he has asked me to share the gospel with someone. And every time I read it, I got scared. WHAT!!??!!??!! scared? That's dumb! I have been a missionary! What the heck??!! I can share the gospel with anybody! I have taught crazies, drunkards, and gang members! I CAN BE A MISSIONARY! 

"I need to do something about that prompting," I filed away in my brain. And then I read the First Presidency message in this month's Ensign. SLAP IN THE FACE!!!!! Melinda! Get your act together! Do it NOW! This Christmas! Share with her the thing that is most precious to you! So the next day I went out and bought a hard-cover copy of the Book of Mormon, and I am going to send it to her this week. I plan to write her today. I couldn't believe I was scared. COME ON MELINDA! good grief! I CAN BE A MISSIONARY! a dang good one too. 

That was a particularly long email, but I just had to share it with you. My life is soooo different now from the one you are living. Not in a bad way, just different. Totally different. I miss your lifestyle, but it is now in my past. I have lessons to learn that are different then yours. And I have a different focus. I was sad to admit that to myself. I didn't want to leave my mission behind. Not ever. I wanted to constantly live in it. I didn't want to loose it. But I realized a critical principle: coming home isn't about forgetting or leaving it behind. Coming home is about adding more to it. Adding another type of maturity and understanding. About keeping that which I discovered. About living a higher law in a tougher environment. Its ok to move on. I didn't think it would be ok to move forward, but heaven has assured me that its the right path to take."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

West Jet

I am such a boob! I cried while watching this! Please Enjoy. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


So, if life wasn't crazy before, it sure as heck is now. It is the end of the semester, and all of these huge projects that I have been working on the entire time are finally due.

With that in mind, I have locked myself in the computer lab in the McKay Education Building on campus. Every hour or so I have to stop staring at my essays, and do something for me.

I just watched a youtube video....and I was trying sooooo hard to keep my mouth shut. I was laughing so hard I was crying. You may not find this as funny as I do, probably because you are mentally sane and doing just fine.

But I hope you enjoy it anyways.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Roommates are the best

My old roommate Kelli shared this quote with me, and it is just too good not to share.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. … All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable."
 -Elder Orson F. Whitney

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wake up and do it again

There are moments...or weeks....or months....and sometimes even years, where there is so much on our plates, that we don't know how to function or even face another day of
But today I found a scripture that sums up how you keep moving forward:

Psalms 3:3-5    
"But thou, O Lord, art ... the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me. ... I laid down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Which Road am I on?

I do not know the answer to this question currently, but...

Which Road Am I On?

Her is a beautiful Mormon Message Video from my Favorite Apostle of all time, Jeffrey R. Holland.

Friday, November 8, 2013

the Tenders (part 5)

Tender Mercy 6: This Girl

This is my dear friend. We couldn't figure out how we became friends, or how it became so close so fast....and then our lives both took turns we didn't see. And they were similar paths. And we realized Heavenly Father put us together so we could draw strength from each others insight. I love her. You should follow her blog. Its a bit more intense than mine, probably because she is a bit cooler than me...but only a little bit ;) You can click on the image to take you to her blog.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Tenders (Part 4)

Tender Mercy 6: My Dad

Have you talked to my dad? You should. He makes me laugh. All the time.


This week he had 2 particular episodes that made me laugh more than I have in a while....

#1....Today we got Google Fiber at the house, and he is pretty excited about it. But he texted me frantically: "QUICK! think of something clever to name the wireless network!" So I rattled off a bunch of silly phrases we could name it....but then I found the winner. Its a phrase heard often in our house.....


He loved it. And I love him for loving it.

#2....When I was at the house earlier this week, he was prancing around the kitchen trying to kill a fly. He was able to carry on a conversation too...but I thought he was distracted by me when he stopped moving. And then.....


He takes his fly swatter and slaughters the ugly black bug.

and then he BOOMS.....

(name that movie)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Tenders (Part 3)

One of the greatest blessings in my life is morning scripture study. I often wake up with a natural man mindset and thing, "No, not today. I will do it later. I must do something else now."

But then the still small voice whispers in my ear and nudges, "Do it now. You will thank me later."

After serving the Lord for 18 months, I have learned to listen when that voice comes.

This morning, I felt like a mortal human, with things to do...

...but I listened...

and at this moment, I feel calm, empowered, and hopeful.

Who doesn't need those? That is the perfect way to start the day.

Tender Mercy 4: The Ensign article I read this morning.
Becoming Men & Women of God, by Elder Craig A. Cardon. You can click on the image above to take you right there.

It was amazing. I love the individuals Elder Cardon describes. I love the strength and power of his wife. I strive fro the characteristics he highlights. Please read it.

Tender Mercy 5: 2 Nephi 31:20

This is my ABSOLUTE favorite scripture. (Which is saying something. I don't like to be a band-wagon member...I don't want to like something, just because everyone else likes it. This is a scripture that everyone by default I should DISLIKE it. But I love it)

This scripture was written for me and the struggles in my life. It has given me strength during NUMEROUS life trials, and I am sure I will find power in it forever more.

 20) Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

I bolded the parts that are most influential for me. What inspires you?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Tomorrow is the 9 Month Anniversary of me returning from my mission! That is HALF OF A SISTER'S MISSION!!!!


I have been reflecting upon my mission a lot the past couple when I had the opportunity to give the spiritual thought in class today, I spoke on a major lesson I learned in the field.


I realized:
1) as a missionary it can sometimes feel hard to follow ALL of the rules. It seems restrictive and confession, sometimes there is the desire to rebel
2) coming home and following the rules is different, and harder
3) the path is not laid out straight in civilian life, like it is a missionary.
4) its harder to know what the right choice is, and its harder to be EXACTLY obedient when there are so many choices

I shared some of these thoughts with my class....and then later in the day heard a quote that also connected to the topic.

M. Russell Ballard:
"Sometimes we are tempted to let our lives be governed more by convenience than by covenant....But there is no spiritual power in living by convenience. The power comes as we keep our covenants."

Civilian life easily turns towards convenient-focused rather than covenant-focused. I want to be covenant-focused,  like I was as a missionary.

I want to be exactly obedient to commandments and promptings, because "exact obedience brings miracles."

The tenders (Part 2)

To continue with my Tender Mercy list...
3. Brian Thacker. Brian is a wonderful friend from before my mission. He pops in periodically to check in on me. Sunday night, I started to feel really ill right before the CES Fireside. Brian had met up with me to watch the broadcast together, as we have done many times before. Well, me being sick, I was probably not very good company...but Brian stuck it out and helped walk me/support me back to my apartment, listened patiently to my woes, tried to use his pre-med knowledge to help with my knees, nursed me back to health, and did my dishes. Tender mercies don't get much more blatant than that.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The "Tenders"

So, if my new focus is finding the Tender Mercies in my life, then I will start catolouging them.

Here are a few.

1. I am a stinking good Mary Poppins! 
Tender Mercy: I won the costume contest. Free Lunch at Costa Vida!!

2. Elder Huff, one of my favorite missionaries of all time, knew I was having a tough time, and today I got a surprise package with a friend inside! He sent me a minion, because he knew I needed a friend to cheer me up. 
Tender Mercy: sweet and thoughtful friends
Tender Mercy: cute minions

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tender Mercies

Maybe you have noticed, maybe you haven't....but I have been struggling with some serious elements of life recently. I try to fake being happy all the time, because I have this silly mental complex where I feel like I need to be miss peppy for everyone ALL the time. HA! So not possible. But this silly brain of mine tries anyways.

This week I started reading the Book of Mormon again, and it has sent a flood of mission memories: reading with companions, studying with investigators, and powerful revelations received.

I remember 2 similar instances. I remembered studying 1 Nephi 1 with Sister Maynez and Sister both instances, they were both struck by a comparison I made to Nephi's life. Nephi opens his first chapter with life is tough, but the Lord has blessed me. He closes the chapter with life is tough, but the Lord blesses me.

1 Nephi 1:20 - "...But Behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

I have been thinking extensively about tender mercies. The natural man wants to wallow in self pity, but the celestial element within me wants me to look for blessings, mercies, and things to be thankful for.

Most of the time, the natural man has won.

I keep putting up walls and refusing to see the good, because I want to mope....

...which is a stupid idea. I don't recommend it.

Today I could not fight it any longer.


I got 2 sandwiches.

Sandwiches? What?

2 Sandwiches changed me.
I can't ignore all of the blessings in front of my face anymore because of 2 sandwiches.

The blessings have been EVERYWHERE...but I have been a stinker and have refused to acknowledge them.

Today I bought a single sandwich from the vending machine before class....the coils twisted one rotation, but it didn't fall. After years of experience, I know the BYU machines have sensors that tell the mechanism to twist again....

It twisted twice....and 2 sandwiches fell.


1 for FREE!

Tender Mercy.
Slap upside the head.

I get it.
"There are blessings in your life. Knock off the moping! That's stupid! I am still here for you! I never stopped watching out for you! You don't see it now, but this is all a blessing. Trust me you silly girl. I am still here. Open your eyes, and you will see my hand in everything."

My eyes are open.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"I'm sooooooo confused"

In high school my mom said my theme for life should be:

"I'm so confused"....

She was right.

I am still confused. I hate being confused.

I like having a plan. (Boy oh boy do I like having a plan. Anyone who knew me as a child must be laughing profusely at this moment)

I like to know what is going to happen.

I ask Heaven for answers.
I receive answers.
I have more questions.
I ask more questions.
I receive more answers.

But I can't see how those 2 sets of answers go together. And I don't see the whole plan... I get confused....
like right now.

I am confused...
and then I get frustrated...
and then I cry...
and then I feel like a silly girl...
and a boob....

and I think of a joke from Farmington where someone said, "Don't worry, we like big boobs."

And then my mom buys me chocolate...and puts me to bed, and it starts allover the next day.

I'M 23. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE IT ONE DAY WITHOUT FREAKING OUT!!!! Its just a plan.....that I don't know. Good Grief!


Saturday, October 12, 2013


Lauren always pins dancing links on Pinterest.
And then I start you tubing video clips...
And I find treasures.

I just discovered one of the most beautiful dances I have ever seen.

I want to share this beautiful moment in time with you.
There is pain. There is beauty. There is life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I heard this quote in my Old Testament class today, and I wanted to share it with you.

Neil A. Maxwell: "God does not begin by asking about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability."

Monday, October 7, 2013


Did you have a wonderful weekend? Because I certainly did.

It has been a weekend of answers, hope, and peace.

I was reading last month's LDS Ensign magazine, and found a quote I wanted to share with you. When someone has a question about their future, hope can be the segway to peace. It can lead to looking up instead of looking down. This weekend I felt hope. It was beautiful. And the peace that followed can only come from on high. 

I plead with you to be hopeful. Why? This is why:

"Research demonstrates that hopeful individuals make healthier lifestyle choices, recover from illness and injury more effectively, and experience increased life expectancies. They manifest less depression and anxiety, find greater purpose in life, and experience improved mental health and increased life satisfaction. They persevere when barriers arise, are more effective problem solvers, and adapt when circumstances warrant it. They are successful in finding benefits from adversity. They enjoy more positive relationships and seek and receive social support. Hopeful students experience enhanced academic success."      (Vaughn E. Worthlin)

If you would like to read the entire article, click here.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Have you ever watched one of those silly Yogurt commercials where the women on the screen seem to be having an emotional connection to the stuff on their spoon? I usually roll my eyes at them, because NOBODY reacts that intensely.

Wellllllllll, I thought nobody did.

Confession, I might have had a commercial moment with my yogurt this week.

I got sick. Really sick. I couldn't breathe, hear, smell, or taste. I didn't realize how much I was missing out on, until my ability to taste kicked back in....AND .... IT ... WAS ... BEAUTIFUL!

I my eyes rolled, but this time it was to the back of my head. I closed my eyes and saw/felt the color fireworks like in Ratatouille.

It felt as though the flavors were spilling across my tongue and I felt like every new spoonful I floated a little higher. It was thick, smooth, and beautiful.

(I may have turned on music and danced blissfully to the flavors being happily discovered in my mouth)

Friday, September 27, 2013


Every once and a while, you read a talk or hear a statement that changes your life. I experienced one this morning. I was reading in the September Ensign, and came across a talk by Brad Wilcox: entitled His Grace is Sufficient.

I have studied grace multiple times, but nothing as ever hit me so profoundly. Nothing has ever been explained this simple. And I want to share it with you.

"A young woman once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”

She said, “I just don’t get grace.”

I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”

She said, “I know I need to do my best, and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”

I said, “The truth is, Jesus paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to pay that debt. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence to be judged. What is left to be determined by our obedience is how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and what degree of glory we plan on receiving.”

DING! Right there. Did you hear that? The key to actions in this life and why we are asked to work and to change and to repent and to be the best we possibly can (or want to be), is all for that moment when we stand in front of Heavenly Father.

Why did I never see the simplicity and beauty of this before?

Please read the article.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fathers and Daughters

Today I am sick. Nasty, want to stay in bed and sleep all day, kind of sick. 

But my dad called to check on me.

And then my sister had this video pinned on her board.


Is it wrong to want to do this for THE Father Daughter Dance?...the one all daughters look forward to...because I really want to do it!!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Rise to the Divinity within you."
- Gordon B. Hinkley

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


There is a video I want you to watch. I tried to get it to upload here, but I couldn't quite figure it out. Its about individuals with Special Needs.

We watched this video in class today....and it was PERFECT. I am supposed to do this. I am. I know it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I may not have stopped mid stride to write this....but I stopped. (and I may have already been sitting....)

...but I sat...

and I wrote.

I have been different since coming home. I know that. I joy in that. I am thankful for it.

And every once and a while, I am reminded that I am very different.
Its a good thing.

I sat down in the Auditorium this morning. 
Devotional. Member of the Seventy. Good stuff. 
Enlightenment coming.
Waiting to start.
Reading a book....for class....
...on a woman who gives birth to an extreme preemie....
only 24 weeks.
And the reality of her life: Doctors, more doctors, needles, medicine, feeding tubes, oxygen, etc.

Her life is real. Her life is raw. Her life has true love, despite the opposition.
She is real. She is raw. She lives life, choosing to love the child who is different.

My heart pounds, it swells, it breaks, it rebuilds, it feels for this mother.


And then the girls sat next to me. 

I am not like them. They are young.
Very young.
They sound young. They act young. 
At first I think in a slightly condescending way, "Freshmen"
I let it go, and try to keep reading.

But I can't. Because they are loud. And they are young. And they are LOUD as they talk about all of the young things they are doing. Are those things important? No. But to the girls, it is their whole world.

An then I am irritated.
And you are talking about being young.

There is nothing wrong about being young. It is good to be there, care free and young.
But I am not young like them anymore.

And I am glad.
I am ready for real. 
For raw. For love. For forgiveness. For reality. For the Atonement.
I am raw. I strive for love. I seek to forgive and be forgiven. I try to live in reality. I see the Atonement.
I am not that young.

I don't want young anymore.
I am growing up.
It is a good thing.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I have moments, every single day, where I want to stop, mid stride, and throw my head back and yell at the sky:


and then I would proceed to sit cross legged on the ground (this is obviously a dream, because you all know my knees are far too messed up for me to sit cross legged comfortably), whip out a keyboard and start writing my amazing thoughts for this blog. 

I really do have good ideas. 
They usually come right as I am walking out of the McKay building...
but then I have class, or a long walk home, or a date with the library....

...and then the thought is gone.


a whisp of something that would have been interesting

a taste of my inner hidden emotions

a sparkling moment in time

But instead, you get this. Non-enlightening.
Sorry. You got the fuzzy side of the lolly pop.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How interesting.
Second Day of Class.
Today we talked about humility, pride, and meekness in relation to learning. The teacher asked for a definition of Meekness. 

I raised my hand and said:
"To be meek is to be willing to learn, but learning with Humility. When Pride accompanies learning, it is all about how much more can you attain (more than others). When Humility accompanies learning, you are willing to learn in any way the Lord sees fit."

And then I discovered this on Facebook.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Today I had a missionary tender mercy. I went to a friend's homecoming talk, and a man who seemed kinda rough on the edges came and sat by me. He had a white shirt and tie on, but he had tattoos up and down his arms. He had experienced a hard life, but I could tell that he really wanted to be at church. He sat down during the opening announcements and I didn't get to talk to him.

He was obviously relatively new to the process, but he knew when to sing and when to bow his head for the Sacrament. During the sacrament the prompting to speak to him was powerful enough that I could not mistake it. 


(tti: is an acronym from my mission. Teach Testify Invite)

But the opportunity arose, and I didn't miss it. I jumped on it and kept going. All throughout the meeting we had little whispered conversations. When it was over, he got my number and we decided to stay in contact. I told the friend who spoke (Chris) about it and he got all excited....because his dad is the Ward Mission Leader! Oh Happy Day! So I talked to his dad, and we came up with a small plan to work with this guy. His name is Alex and he was baptized as a kid, and he is trying to change his life around. I am going to come and visit every once and a while and I offered my help in teaching and befriending him.

WAHOO!! I love the feeling I get when I do missionary work. It was just a simple conversation, but it was a followed prompting, and that made all the difference.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


This was a Mormon Message video I discovered my first week in the MTC over 2 years ago. It inspired me deeply then, and it has inspired me ever since. I reflect on its images and message often. I may have previously shared this on the blog before, but I had the desire to share it again.

This time it was the quotes in the beginning of the clip that touched me most.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cold Enough to Keep Moving Forward

If you read this often, then you know I am reading the Fire of the Covenant....which is my favorite book. It is about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies. The book is divided into sections relating the the challenges of the trip. Each starts with a quote that describes the general theme of that portion of the story. This is a Quote from Neal A. Maxwell, that describes the first winter storm that plagued the Handcart Saints.

"How could we expect to be joyous and to receive all that 'the Father hath' if we do not strive to become like Him? And, in fact, can we, on our scale, be like Him without sharing in the 'fellowship of his suffering'? He shares with us His work; does that not suggest the need for our sharing, too, some of the suffering?...

"If in all of this there is some understandable trembling, the adrenaline of affliction can help to ensure that our pace will be brisk rather than casual. His grace will cover us like a cloak-enough to provide for survival but too think to keep out all the cold. The seeming cold is there to keep us from drowsiness, and the gospel gladness warms us enough to keep going."

Do you feel a little cold? Don't worry. It keeps you moving forward. It helps you stay on your toes. Just rub your arms and start moving around: you will get busy and the cold will start to disappear.

Monday, August 5, 2013


This is an excerpt from a letter I sent to Sister Kelsey Isaacson....Some Names have been omitted...

Sometimes I have a really hard time waiting for you to come home.
Sometimes I want to just see you and start laughing so hard that we cry....and then we just cry it all out.
Sometimes I think waiting for you until February won't be so bad...because tomorrow will be my 6 months home mark.
Sometimes I hate that I have been home that long.
Sometimes I am really glad that I have experienced the things I did over the last 6 months.

Sometimes I like to think about you, Sis. Leafty, Elder Huff, and the gnome.
Sometimes I laugh so hard about it I want to wet myself.
Sometimes I am not very happy.
Sometimes I am moapy.
Sometimes (most of the time) I don't know why.

BUT....sometimes I read my favorite book (Fire of the Covenant by G. Lund) and I become happy.
Sometimes I realized why I love that book.
Sometimes that book makes me feel empowered.

If you have not read Fire of the Covenant, it is about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. There is the cutest love story in it. I have always loved the strength of the Pioneers, and the enduring love between Maggie and Eric. But then something clicked this week....

I have been moapy and sad and not able to snap out of it. I was asking all sorts of questions to heaven, but not sitting still or being quiet enough to hear any answers. And I was feeling lonely.....

CLICK! MELINDA! Knock it off! You are pioneer strong! you have always been tough. you are being sissy. snap out of it. buck up and move forward. does moaping make you feel better? no. does complaining make your knees feel better? no. does wanting **** here make him show up? no. so put on your big girl panties, pick up the shafts of your handcart, and start walking up that hill. get to the top and start again! go. MOVE! now!...

and then I realized that I loved the love story because it is what I want. and not just that I like it, but that I WANT it. A slow love. a trusting love. an enduring love. A love that allows the stubborn and feisty girl to fall for the quiet and strong boy. when she can't push any longer, he knows how to inspire her. he knows when to carry her. he knows when she needs to be slapped to save her life (seriously that happens. She is getting delirious in the snow, and he slaps her to wake her up and keep her going.) MY MAN NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO DO THAT. 

But I won't be able to have that love story if I don't start acting strong like the pioneer woman I want to be.

Pioneer Strong.

I will be pioneer strong.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

More of the Aligning....

So, here is the First Miracle of The Aligning:

Jay lives outside Shiprock in the tiny/miniscule community of Mitten Rock. I was sent to Shiprock to find him. He was baptized as a child, and then his family stopped coming to church, and he lost contact with the Elders who baptized him. He is a sweet man. A little rough on the edges, but a wonderfully devoted man. He is an artist, and I have found joy in his paintings and pottery for 2 years now. (YUP. 2 Years. Its been about 3 weeks shy of the day I met Jay)

We connected on a deep spiritual level, and when I got transferred out of Shiprock, I promised to keep in contact. I did the best I could as a missionary, but I wasn't the most speedy or consistent. To my everlasting shame, he lost faith in my friendship, and when I got home, he wrote a letter saying good bye forever.

I was devastated. I didn't know what to do.

Then I saw his art at the Shiprock Flea Market. And there he was. And there I was, standing there in blue jeans and sandals in front of his stand. It took him a long time to register it was me standing in front of him.

 I won't share all the details, because it was a very tender and private moment...but he had been hurt, and I probably didn't deserve his forgiveness....and somehow this man had his heart softened and we were able to reconnect.

He forgave me.

And we were able to actually give proper good byes (aka: I finally got to hug him)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aligning Stars

My stars aligned a week ago. Something miraculous happened....

I got a "generic" email from a past companion that she sends out to her weekly "fan club" and she briefly mentioned Leonard had passed his baptismal interview. I know a Leonard. Is it my Leonard? My eyes flashed across the screen to the time stamp. She sent it 3 minutes ago! She is probably still on!

My fingers flew as fast as they could type. "Sis. R, is this MY LEONARD?"

(she isn't very eloquent when she emails)


Why did I freak out? 

Leonard is the very first person I taught on my mission! Sis Tsosie had me drop off my stuff at our trailer in Shiprock, and then we rushed off to a lesson. My first lesson. I can remember it perfectly.

The sky turned murky as we drove. As I stepped out of the car, a man slowly walked around a small pull-behind trailer. The wind caught my door, and it flew open with extreme force....but I was more preocupied with the fact that my skirt was now up around my face. By the time I got my skirt under control, I had sand in my eyes, ears, nose, teeth, EVERYWHERE. 

And I distinctly remember thinking, "What have I done? Why am I here! I just want to go home! ... NO! I can't give up on the first day, before my first lesson!"

So we taught him. And I felt the Spirit. And I did it. I realized I could teach. I could be a missionary. This would be tough, but it would totally be worth it. I would not back down.

We taught Leonard for 4 months. He was amazing. Lessons twice a week. He participated in Ward service projects. Church every sunday. Life was great. He was determined to stay sober (5 years without a drop of alcohol).

And then he told us he was moving. He moved one town over. Two days after he left I got a call... 4am...
....and he was drunk....

I cried myself back to sleep.

I sent in the Elders to find him, but by the time they got there, they said he was a lost cause. 

I gave up hope. I felt that this beloved man was lost to me.

But then Sisters got put in his town, and they found him, and they taught him.

And by some miracle, he moved to Farmington....WHILE I WAS SERVING THERE! I taught Leonard again for a month before I went home. It was beautiful, but he was definitely not ready to get baptized.

But something changed after I left...and he was finally ready.

All of my stars aligned. I got work covered. Sis. Tsosie nearly exploded from excitement, and offered to drive us down. And we did. 

We stopped at the Shiprock Flea Market, and I had another miracle, but that is a story for another time. We got into Farmington, and I got to see those I loved for an hour. Then the baptism.

She gave the opening prayer. I gave the closing prayer. Leonard was different. He was changed. He was ready. And now, he was forgiven and clean. It was reaffirmed to me: IT WAS WORTH IT. thank heavens I didn't quit that first day. Look at how your life was changed.

New friends. A best friend. Finding the other half of me. Knowing the meaning of Love. Using the Atonement personally. Maturity. Testimony.

It was worth it.

I was in town for less than 24 hours, but it was the most blissful 24 hours of my life. I have never felt more love. EVER. I stayed with the Gish family. I mean, I stayed with my family in Farmington. They have adopted me. And I will be forever greatful to be a part of their family. They are incredible people. If there is any family in the world that I want to grow up to be like, its them. (thank heavens I am a part of theirs)

They accepted me with open arms. They let me use their car (THE NICEST THING I HAVE EVER DRIVEN!!) They enveloped me in their love. Papa drove Tosha and I around in his hot rod....LOVED IT! 

And I got to see Sis. Isaacson. She is my sunshine. She brought me back to life when we were companions a year ago. And she brought light back to my life just now. I didn't even know it was dark.I didn't know I was sad. I didn't know I was lost....but a half hour with her was enough to change me. To help me see the light. (this is a photo of 4 generations of Sister missionaries....from youngest to oldest. Mothers and daughters, trainers and trainees....too bad my trainer was an hour away and not in the photo.)

There is so much I still need to write about this trip. I want to share my insights with you...but my fingers are starting to get numb from all the typing....and its lunch time, and my tummy is rumbling. I will share with you. I will.

Stars aligned.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Morning

It is 8:05 am, and I have just sat down in the Harold B. Lee Library on campus. Its 8 AM!! On a SATURDAY!

But I had quite an interesting moment as I walked to the library doors just now.

I knew I needed all the time I could get in the library this morning, so I planned to get her just as the building opened. I timed my walk perfectly. For long stretches of time, I was the only person walking around campus this morning.

The sun has just barely risen above the mountains, and the light is about as magical as it comes. I was 15 steps from the front door, and the BYU bell tower started to chime. If you are not familiar with the bell tower, on the hour it plays the first few lines from Come, Come Ye Saints. I chuckled to myself as I opened the door and sang along in my head. It was as if the Library were calling to me:

"Come, come ye saints! No toil nor labor fear. But with joy, wend your way!"

Now isn't that fitting as I try to conquer the last of my assignments?

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Blessing of Lost Time

Last night I was reading a church related book before bed...and I realized I had been so busy for the last two months, I had really never given myself the time to ponder. I would push and work and trudge forward, doing the things Heavenly Father had told me to do.

I made time for the temple. I read my scriptures daily. I did my visiting teaching. I did the THINGS. But I did not give myself the time to ponder and think.

"Heavenly Father, I have tried to do all that you have asked. But I have starved myself in a way. I feel like I get little sips of the spirit every morning during scripture study, but I never feel that thirst quenched. I feel slightly hollow...even though I am doing all the right things. I promise, as soon as I get this last research paper and final done, I will take the time to slow down. I promise. I just need you to help me push through now. Help me to power through. Help me to get the sleep I need to stay focused and get my paper done today...."

I went to bed, ready to be proactive with my next day. I will get up at 6am...I will go to the library before work. I will not waste His time and resources He is providing me with. I will show Him I am thankful for His help.

I woke up at 8:30.

What have I done?!?! I wasted what he gave me!

Well....I can't do all of those wonderful things now. I will study some more today. Not only will I read my scriptures, but hey! I will read a conference talk too! I can't make up for the lost time, but I can do something good with it.

Lost Time....


He was giving me time.

He gave me time to be alone at home, to have silence. To have time to ponder. Time to pray. Time to reflect. Time to give my burdens over. Time to feel love.

Time to feel the thirst quenched.

He gave me time, by taking it away.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Future Hermana Sydney Lyman is my dearest friend in Blanding, Utah. She was Sister Maynez and my best friend. She is going to serve a mission in Washington, Spanish Speaking in October. She posted the most beautiful thing on her blog, and I just have to show you...

Good Bye Sister Maynez

Friday, May 31, 2013

Lifting Weights: Barbells and Trials

I have been reading "Believing Christ" for a while now. With my busy schedule, I get in a few pages here, and a few pages there. I had intended to fly through it, but with every moment of time budgeted, its incredible I have gotten this far.

Today I read something that totally clicked. It spoke directly to me, because 1) I have trained in a gym before, and 2) I am at the edge of my abilities. It all makes sense...

To quote Stephen E. Robinson:
"When I was in high school, I used to work out in the weight room....After doing all the repetitions with the barbell that I was able to, being on the brink of collapse, I would say to the spotter, "take it!" but the spotter would always say, "no, do one more!" Usually reaching way down deep I could in fact manage one more rep, after which I would say, "ok, take it!" again the spotter would rely, "no, do one more." No matter how many times I did just one more, the spotter would always reply,"just one more." This would continue until my muscles actually gave out, and then the spotter would grab the bar.

"...In a gym, both spotters and the lifters understand that the real power is gained on the last repetition, on the thin edge between what one can do and what one can't. By coaxing me into working at the limits of my abilities, the spotter helped me develop the power I was seeking.

"...One purpose of the Church is to perfect the Saints. Since we make the most progress by working at the limits of our abilities, then no matter how much we do or how well we do it, the Lord...will always ask for more, will always seek improvement, will always push us toward perfection."

Oooh. Its ok to struggle and say "help" but then realize the help is just an encouraging word while you try not to cry because what you are doing is so hard. Its actually the plan to push and push and push, even when you don't have anything left...because most of the time, you have at least something left. And when you hit that point where you can't lift the bar any higher, your muscles are shaking, your breath is almost gone, and nothing seems to do what your heart wants it to do - that's when your spotter steps in and takes the weight.

In that instant, you are thankful that the bar is out of your hands...but then the frustration comes: "HOW COME YOU DIDN'T TAKE IT SOONER?!?!?" And your spotter just smiles back, "But you did it."

Click. You did it. wow. I didn't realize I could do that much....And then the next day you are able to push yourself just a little bit more...and you are stronger then before.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Diddy #4: What Love IS

One of my family's favorite movies is Yours, Mine, and Ours (the 1968 version). It is an extremely entertaining movie about blending 2 VERY large families, and the lessons learned by having so many children under one slightly leaky roof.

I think of quotes from that movie often, and its quite sad that more people don't know what I am referencing when I use them. Yesterday and today I have been thinking about what proves you love someone. How do you show it? How do you know what's real and what's silly? How do you know what's worth fighting for?

This scene from Yours, Mine, and Ours popped into my head. The oldest daughter picks a particullary busy, but perfect time to ask her stepfather about what true love is. I LOVE his answer.

"It isn't going to bed with a man that proves you are in love with him...its getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful, everyday world with him that counts."

I want to face the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world side by side with my best friend... I may look slightly scary in the morning...I may forget to push the start button on the dishwasher...I may bake crusted edges and mushy center brownies...but I want to walk through that life together.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Diddy #3: pucker, pout, or priss

I just came across you need a smile? I did.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I love to wonder onto on Sundays. This is the message on Motherhood that was posted for this week. I spent the day with my mother...and her mother....I had intended to be a source of light and joy for them....but instead I was the one who had a load removed as tears were shed. Even though I try so hard to be an adult, and to be tough, and to handle things myself, those women were still being the Mothers I needed. It was their big day, and they spent it loving on me.

My greatest desire is to be mother. I don't just want to be a mom. I want to be a righteous Mother in Zion. I want to be there. I want to experience it all. The late nights, early mornings, cold food, soiled beds, smelly socks, and cheerios spilled in the car. I want to fulfill the Purpose Heavenly Father designed for me. I want to teach my children about Christ. I want them to hear that I know who He is. I want them to seek Him.

So for now, I seek Him.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Diddy 2: The Solution to Everything

I have a class this term that is all about teaching English as a second language, and all we do is discuss controversial topics about rights of individuals. It has the tendency to get quite heated. Everyone is looking for the perfect solution...but there isn't one to be found. It was getting kinda ugly, between class members (and the things we discuss about how society handles the topic, is SUPER ugly).

I got slightly distracted, because I couldn't handle all of the yuckiness. I wanted to figure out what the utopian solution would be...then it hit me upside the head. THERE ARE SO MANY ETHICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT A MYRIAD OF TOPICS ACROSS THE WORLD, AND THE SOLUTION OF HOW TO ACT AND WHAT TO SAY IS......


Enough said.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


This video was even more powerful for me then the previous one. I love it. This is the kind of man I am looking for. He who understands his role as leader in our home. He who knows the magic of fatherhood. He who knows the responsibility, and he welcomes it. 

We will face those sticky kisses, nap time, jammies, and tantrums together.


I watched this a few weeks ago, and was filled with love and faith. I truly look forward to the future. Today my roommates and I were discussing motherhood and the collegiate world. We were trying to find the balance. 

Was school our first plan?
Was it the back up plan? 
Could we personally handle both at the same time?

Then I remembered this video....and I knew I needed to share it.


I need to be blogging more. Not because I want fame and fortune. Not because I want a huge following...but because I need to share my thoughts...and someone needs to hear them...and the Lord said "DO IT" and I respond "Yes SIR!"

I  have a couple random thoughts I will share. I may not be doing HUGE lengthy posts like I have in the past, but I am going to put little ideas, diddies, and videos. (Is Diddy a word? I want it to be a word) I wanted to call my new little posts : Dinda's Diddies...(Della used to call me Dinda) but then I realized that my innocent brain would think nothing of that title, and somebody else might just have a I will do a variation...because I REALLY like the word Diddy.....

I will call it Diddies by Dinda...
There. It is decided.

Diddy #1
Thursday I was volunteering at an After School Homework thing...I asked to help a child with an IEP (Individualized Education Program). These student can have mild behavior problems or something morel like a major learning disability.

I will call the little boy, Sir A.

Sir A and I were working on math homework. I leaned in to look at one of the questions, and his scent awakened my senses. My nose remembered something.

I smelled poverty.

I knew that scent: it is the one of unwashed hair. The lack of soap/perfume smell on clothing. It was the smell of "not enough". It was the smell of many of my beloved Navajo children.

It was a smell that made me LONG to give Sir A more. It was a smell that made me love him.

I love Sir A.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Treasure Found

I was clearing out all of my files from the family computer, and came upon a writing assignment from High School, and I wanted to share it with you before I delete it forever.Can you guess what event I was writing about?

The ugly old yellow room seems to shrink as time drudges by. The air is suffocatingly hot, stale, and sticky. I hold my breath, timing each round, slowly watching moments go by.
A tug at my throat, and my eyes start to water. Hold it for five more seconds…two more…almost done…. I take a giant, and yet quiet gulp of sour air. Three more lousy never ending minutes.
Papers begin to rustle. Binders are shoved into already full bags. Desks shift and creak as lethargic teens begin to shuffle towards the looming door. I join the mass, and drift close to the afternoon gate.
The exhausting buzzer of freedom sounds, and bodies slowly start pouring out, like sand through a funnel. A wave of cool air brushes across my face, willing me to escape into the abyss.
I can see the bright blue sky, the twinkling ocean, and the pleasant red papery flowers cascading over the fence. The path is long, and my feet seem to drag as I make my way to the front of school. Each slow step is one towards to comforting arms of my mother and the new calmness of home.
I can see the shimmering head of red bounce in my direction.
“Hi. Do you see Mom? I just want to go home.”
* * *
The familiar squeaking van pulled into the drive, but the silhouette within was unexpected. I wonder where Mom is? Oh well, I’ll tell Dad about what Natalie said.
“So today I told Natalie how we are all getting super excited. We are in the two weeks range, so its fair game anytime. She said that whenever we left, I should call her right away.”
“That’s funny you said that. Today it hit me that I should call my mom and dad. You know if we need to leave, somebody will need ta be here for ya. I just got off the phone with them before I came to get you, and I hope it all works out. They have to work in the mornings a couple days a week, and I’m nervous that we won’t be able to get a’hold of em.”
* * *
The strange creek of a garage door floated in the open wind. A familiar, slightly beat-up door, rose into view. The low squeaking rumble of the car dissipated. I stepped into the comfortable house and sighed a breath of relief. Light streamed through pail blinds, illuminating the new carpet. I walked directly into the room. My body and bags hit the floor within moments of each other. I’ll lay on fresh ground, smelling the newness of it, and drinking in the new memories.
“I love the new carpet. I can’t even remember what the old stuff looked like. Maybe we’re lucky we had a flood. This must be way better then what we had before,” I said to inattentive ears.
I gradually picked myself up, and walked towards the friendly kitchen. As I rounded the corner, I nearly ran into my mother. The two of us laughed, and soon my arms flew around her smiling body. I hugged her long and hard, pressing myself against her protruding belly.
“I love you Mom.”
My nose crinkles, as her auburn hair tickles my face. I enjoy the peaceful moment, sensing the softness of her skin, and sweet smell of her perfume. A sudden rush of chaotic noise flies into the hall, and overcomes the two of us. Bug off. Find your own person to hug.
I reluctantly turn away as my mother embraces another speed-talking daughter.
* * *
            Snack in hand and thoughts in tow, I head to the city hall of Parentingville, USA. On the outskirts of town, between the corner and the door, I get a funny sense flowing through me. For some reason, I pull over and listen quietly in the darkened bathroom. A silent commotion seems to be erupting among the folded laundry, and cell phone ridden room. Who’s he talking to? Grandma? Didn’t they just talk? Wait, what was she feeling all weekend long? How come no one told me? Stop playing the piano Lauren, I can’t hear him!
            Curiosity, excitement, and giddiness overcome me, and I find myself wandering into the room. I plop myself down in the middle of the room, eating my snack, looking innocent.
* * *
            The rickety door slams behind me, echoing past my ears. The silver car pulls down the drive, seemingly in slow motion, and yet with direct force. I wave excited and scared, but they don’t see me. I watch as they drive into the sun, hoping the next time I see my mother will bring unexplainable joy. My stomach aches as they disappear, fighting the worry of loss and fear. What did Dad want? What am I gathering? Where’s Emma? How long will it take? Should they have taken a towel? It would cost a lot of money to redo the seat.
* * *
            The house is surreally quiet. A pile of things wait patiently by the door. Our ears perk at the sound of any car. Breaks squeaking. Doors closing. I lose focus, and drift into thought of the building yet to be seen, the emotions still to be felt. Suddenly the large door brushes open, and the round, loving figure of my grandmother enters the room?
            “Where is everybody? We have things to do! Dad and I need to use the bathroom, and then we’ll be off.”
            I load my shoulders with bags of seemingly meaningless things. I drag my weighted body to the car, and pretend not to be excited. We quickly seat ourselves, trying not to show our excitement.
* * *
            My seatbelt tugs at my bladder, as the stop-go of traffic tortures us with want. Can’t they see we have somewhere to be? When did Grandpa start driving like an old man? Come on, you can go faster.
            We pass exit after exit, but never drawing nearer to our destination. Without noticing, we slowly turn off the road, and are immersed in a jungle of roads and lights.
* * *
The large building looms ahead, half greeting, half urging me to turn away. I fight the urge to drop the bags and run inside. I train my feet to walk slowly, pain in every step. We wander the cold, tart smelling halls, and enter a chalk smelling lobby. A couple worn couches dare me to sit. An oddly young woman, whimpers and complains right before us. I wrestle the thought to scold, but something stops me, pulling at my heart, knowing there is more than I can see. Before I can move, a familiar voice calls out, echoing in its hushness. We follow the beaming man down the wide hall, silent and anxious. I gingerly step into a dark room, filled with the eerie colors of fall. The large room seems empty except for a bulky bed. An orange glow surrounds my mother, the murky sunset illuminating her face.
I start to shrink from intimidation, but an unknown force draws my eyes upward. I breath deep and stare into the face of my worried, but determined mother. She trembles, but is firm in her conviction; I draw strength from the sight of her pained body. Just sit. Wait.
* * *
            The black sky twinkles with ideas. My eyes are heavy, but my heart is still pounding. I miss my mother. The soft snores of the next room lull me to sleep, as my brain wills me to stay awake. I listen intently for the sound of my dad, but it never comes. I drift softly to sleep, remembering her curly caramel hair, sharp blue eyes, and perfect fingers. I will see her soon, and we will make memories on the new carpet, staring at the sky.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Source: via Suzy on Pinterest

In honor of our recent trip to Disneyland....This is the best video from Disneyland...EVER. Lauren showed this to me...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Muay Thai Fights

Last night I went to an event that I have been planning since Blanding. One of the members there owns a little fighting gym, Prevail Gym. His name is Anthony Ford, and he is a professional fighter...and a convert...and he invited the Elders to train with him in the mornings for exercise. When the sisters came to town, we were invited too. Many of you will remember some of my mission letters talking about how intense of a training program we were on.

The first week we were training with Bro. Ford, he mentioned how excited he was, because he signed a contract for a HUGE world title fight coming up soon. I asked when it was.

"March 2."

"MARCH 2?!?!?!? I will be home then! I could watch it if they broadcast it!"

"It is going to be in Salt Lake-"


...and a dream was born.

Last night I took my mom and dad to the Muay Thai Institute in Salt Lake City to a night of fights. The whole thing got even cooler about 2 weeks before I came home from Blanding, because I found out that one of the Less Active men we were working with, would also be competing in the fight night. WAHOO!

Jermaine Tisi was the second to last fight, with Bro. Ford as the final fight of the night. It started at 6pm, and Jermaine didn't fight until 9:40pm. Oye. Jermaine's fight was close. It was a good match and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. In the end, Jermaine won by ONE point! WHHAAAA!!!!! and the crowd goes wild. What blows my mind is that one year ago, Jermaine was in the hospital battling liver failure...and now he has a state title! cool

When Bro. Ford comes out, he has the HUGE entourage. There is a guy playing the bag pipes and Bro Ford is kinda strutting/prancing in with pink shorts and pink ankle guards (mostly they look like an athletic version of compression socks from the hospital). He had TONS of Thai ceremonial stuff all over his body.

He gets up there and starts this Huge, dramatic, flowery routine. He's praying in all four directions, and dancing and prancing around. To be honest, he looked STUPID! Really dumb. My dad just raised his eyebrows and asked, scoffing, "Are you serious?" And even I was questioning why I was there if it was just going to be a silly show.

The kid he fought did not look experienced or even athletic. The kid was squishy! Roundness....NO edges. They start and I can tell Bro. Ford is feeling the kid out. Instead of three, 2 min rounds, this fight was five, 3 min rounds.

The kid comes out swinging. Not too speedy, but solid. He got Bro Ford a couple times...but Bro Ford just make faces at him like, "Seriously? Is that it?" Then during Bro Ford's prance/jump, the kid hits him square in the face and Bro Ford went down right on his bum.

WHAT? THE GROUND BRO FORD? SERIOUSLY? Are you doing this for show or did YOU get too cocky?

He jumps up and bounces some more. He throws a couple good hits and gets some in return. Then before anyone realizes, Bro Ford kicks the kid in the head. It looked and sounded like just a tap on the cheek, but the guy staggered back and looked kinda dazed. The crowd erupted and got on their feet.

WOOT! This fight is finally going somewhere. Now we don't have to watch an act. They can just fight like everyone else!

The kid throws a couple wild and big hits. They don't really make contact...

And then if you weren't watching, you missed it. Bro Ford kick him in the head again...but this time you heard the WHACK! ...AND THE KID HIT THE MAT!!!! WHAM! OUT!!! COLD!!! it took them 5 minutes to wake him up! and that was it! Match over. knock out with a foot, 2 minutes into the FIRST round! No action. Nothing. BAM! over.

So, that was my night. cool.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The RM who can't figure out how to wear jeans yet...

This is Ronda Castellli. I lived in her home in Farmington, NM for 7 1/2 Months. I adore her! She was my mom. As in I would do ANYTHING for this amazing woman. 

This is Sister Orr, Sister Isaacson, and Myself... Sister Orr is one of the younger sister missionaries...and she is being trained by my beloved "Sis. Kelsey"...who I trained in Farmington. SOOOO exciting. I got to be a Grandmother on my last day in the field. 

These are my Blanding Buddies. Sister Maynez, my last companion, and dear friend. Then Elder Lewis, and Elder Theime.

Me and Sister Kost in the Durango Airport, trying not to freak out...but not really succedding at it.

After being release, and crying my eyes out, and walking home hand in hand with my dad...I really just wanted to be back in my bed in Blanding at this point.
Hello Everyone! I am soooo sorry that it has taken me 2 weeks to write on my blog. I have heard form many of you that you already miss my weekly I hope I can at least give you something to read.

If you were not able to make it to my talk last Sunday, here is the gist of it....with minor alterations in the actual presentation, depending on the Spirit.

I served in the New Mexico Farmington Mission, which was a mission recently created to focus on the Children of Lehi who live here in the southwest. Our mission covered the Navajo, Ute, Zuni, Apache, and Hopi Reservations. Every missionary gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but there is something special about loving and teaching the very people the Book of Mormon was written to.
I have taught in cities and towns, apartments, mansions, and one room hogans with dirt floors, and no electricity or running water. But it didn’t matter where I was, or who I was speaking to, because the message I shared was universal. God loves YOU. He loves each and every one of His children. He always has and always will. He showed his love by sending prophets who show you how to live to be truly happy. His ultimate goal is YOUR happiness.
My favorite lesson to teach was the Plan of Salvation, because it was all about love and happiness. The plan is often called the Plan of Happiness; but I decided long ago I would always think of it as a Plan of Love. God’s love is the center of it all.
Heavenly Father had a family, a rather large one; and He desired the success and happiness of each of His children. He wanted them to grow and mature to become all that they could, to reach the potential He saw in them. Preach My Gospel says, “God’s whole purpose – his work and his glory – is to enable each of us to enjoy ALL His blessings.” He wants us to FIND those blessings, as in seek and attain peace and joy.
Your Heavenly Father took the time to personally teach you. I can imagine Him sitting you down, like a young child, and saying, “I want you to grow sweetheart. I want you to have everything. You are going to have to leave me to figure this out. But I am going to give you a great blessing: you get to choose how you want to act. You will choice your path. I will give you guidance, but you decide how to follow it.” He prepared you and then sent you to earth, innocent and ready to learn. You said goodbye to your dear friends, and entered a world created just for you. Your understanding grew little by little.
I realized early on in my missionary service, that everything I needed to know to teach and be a missionary, I learned in Primary. I was so concerned about teaching everything  just right, that I complicated the most basic of ideas. Eventually my trainer helped me realize that I should initially teach as though it were to a primary class, because that is the level of the person’s spiritual development. I learned that the simple and yet profound truths of the Gospel can be found in the primary hymns. For example, children learn exactly where they came from:
I lived in heaven a long time ago it is true.
Lived there and loved there by people I know. So did you.
Then Heavenly Father Presented a beautiful plan.
All about earth and eternal salvation for man.
You chose to be here, to experience the confusion and peace, the joy and despair, the giggles and tears. Your outcome depends on how you handle the situations at hand. Father in Heaven told you in the beginning that it all has to do with your choices. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ counseled together and said in Abraham 3:25: “We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”
So now you are here. You start as a child. You learn: how to tie your shoes, to read, to ride a bike, drive a car, hold a job, be a parent…But you also use your agency to learn spiritual things: how to study the scriptures, pray sincerely, listen and act according to the spirit, make covenants, keep covenants, and ultimately become Christ like.
Another Primary song illustrates this:
I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers…
As you learn to be like Christ, you start to find joy along your way. Keeping the commandments allows you to experience real happiness, the kind that seems to bubble up gleefully from your toes, and spill over all around you. You start to smile at the children jumping in puddles. You love to sit and talk and embrace the company of others. You laugh out loud and let it fill the room. Your soul is filled with a peace that feels more like an eternal hug than a feeling of stillness. The simple pleasures in life become treasures.
For example, I have found much joy in the last year and a half, doing things that would never have stood out or happened before: Chopping wood in a skirt, making fry bread until I was coated in four, getting stuck in summer rain storms, squishing through red sticky mud, embracing and loving all things made with green chili, meeting new friends (who must have been old friends from the premortal realm), and drooling over the beauty of different colors of dirt in the cliff sides.
But the joy I gained from choosing righteously was nothing compared to some of the joy felt by those who acted to change their lives. My calling was to help others see their potential for peace as they applied the teachings of Jesus Christ. The best example of this mighty change was Jennifer. When we began teaching, she was slightly hesitant and wasn’t sure this was what she was looking for. She had a lifestyle very different from the one you and I live, and she felt comfortable there. As we taught, she was very nervous to pray, and didn’t like that we asked her to give the closing prayer at most lessons. Slowly her heart began to change and she embraced the gospel, and found herself gaining courage to pray harder and more often. She excitedly agreed to be baptized, and we decided to have a special lesson the week before her baptism to celebrate.
We drove to Four Corners National Monument, and had the lesson there. We started with an opening prayer in New Mexico and introduced the lesson. Five minutes in, we moved to Arizona, after 10 minutes we found ourselves in Utah, and finished powerfully with testimonies in Colorado. As the lesson concluded, I had a selfish thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be SOOO cool to have the closing prayer on the center point? How many missionaries get to do that? One prayer in 4 states at the same time!!” I tried to put off the thought, but it wouldn’t go away. I finally decided to ask if she wanted to. Her eyes got big. “Oh, can we? Let’s do it!” There were people walking all around, so as we got up close, I wondered what her reaction would be. I was prepared to pray, but as we each situated our toes on the center plate, and stood there with our arms folded, I opened my mouth to speak, and I heard Jennifer’s voice instead. She prayed fervently and confidently and thanked the Lord for the blessing of the Gospel in her life.
We got back into the car, and she exploded in a moment of happiness. “Sisters, I am SO GLAD that we prayed there. I felt so good! I wanted to stand tall and yell and tell everyone there that I was going to be baptized! This is what I am going to do! I am going to be a Mormon, and I am PROUD of it. I love this! I want everyone to know how happy I am.”
Jennifer understood what true happiness could be. She chose to follow Christ, and be a disciple. Jennifer’s trials did not end there, but she learned that Heavenly Father would be by her side along the journey. Each of you have and will experience hardships, but the beauty is that we have the Atonement to raise us from the depths of pain, forgive us for our mistakes and sins, and lift us to a new empowered level. The Atonement is the greatest example of Love Heavenly Father can show us. His “Plan of Hapiness and Love” would not work without Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
I finally understand a portion of the Atonement. I was praying and praying to understand it for months, and I couldn’t figure out why my prayers were not being answered. I felt stuck in a trial that I could not bring myself out of. Why couldn’t I make my companion happy? How could I overcome her oppressive comments? When will I get out of this? How come my level of understanding of the Atonement was not deepening? Why in the moment of this deep and painful trial was I not being empowered? How come? Why? When?
I was so blind. I was focused on me, and what I could do. He was answering my pleas, by sending me a companion who gave me the opportunity to apply the Atonement. He stood there the whole time, sayings, “Let me take your burden. You don’t have to carry it. Let me in, and you will find yourself. You will have peace, if you stop trying to be so independent. Let me heal you.”
I finally embraced him, and noticed the hand reaching down to lift me up. He forgave me of my shortcomings and faults. He healed my broken and depressed heart, and He made me stronger than I have ever been. The Atonement can and will do that for EACH of you…IF you CHOOSE to let it. You can choose happiness. You can choose to feel and embrace His Love.
Another Primary song, helps the children to recognize why they are here, what they have to do, and where they are going.
My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
My life has a purpose; in heaven it began.
My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth,
And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.
I will follow God’s plan for me,
Holding fast to his word and his love.
I will work, and I will pray; I will always walk in his way.
Then I will be happy on earth and in my home above.
You are seeking for that home above. Someday, the time to choose in this life, will end. Your spirit will separated from your body as your body will stays on earth, and your spirit moves to the Spirit World. If you have made righteous choices, you will find yourself  in a realm of peace and happiness. You will know that you have lived your life in a way that makes Heavenly Father proud. You will have the opportunity to share the gospel with those who did not know about its blessings, and you will help them find the joy that you have already experienced. They are able to choose how to act and what to do, because God’s gift of agency still continues on. You will have the blessed experience of feeling God’s love for his children, and having that love and joy swell as you watch them make changes in their life. If you teach Heavenly Father’s children here or in the Spirit World, the goal is still the same.
The ultimate goal is to see these individuals again in the Celestial Kingdom. What joy that experience will bring. The most tender moment of my mission, was when a dear soul testified to me, that they would do all in their power to reach the Celestial Kingdom, because they wanted to live in peaceful bliss. Heavenly Father wants you to return to him. He wants you to be happy there, and he wants you to have your family by your side.
This is His Plan of Love: what greater love exists, than that within a family? What greater happiness is there, than a family joined together in smiles and memories? Do you desire to be with your parents? Do you want to embrace your children in the Celestial Kingdom? Then make the choices necessary to do so. Remember the simple words of the Primary hymns,
I have a family her on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity.
Families can be together forever,
Through Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.