bellspalsy

The Day I Lost My Smile

October 28, 2016


Yesterday marked one month since I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, and it has been such a life changing experience. There have been some pretty dark days; days where I couldn't see any worth in myself, days when I dreaded looking in the mirror because I despised what I saw. There have been moments of absolute agony, but there have also been moments of self realization and triumph. It has been difficult for me to put this experience into words, but it's an experience I know I will look back on with gratitude for the chance Heavenly Father has given me to learn and grow.

 For those that don't know what Bell's Palsy is, it is paralysis of the facial nerve. So, one side of my face is completely paralyzed. It has caused problems with my vision, hearing, and taste and is pretty painful to be honest. So to wake up one day (my two year wedding anniversary of all days) with half of my face paralyzed, no sight in my left eye, and my hearing gone in the left ear...I was terrified. Thankfully, I was able to get to my doctor the same day and figure out what was going on. I was told that the stress of pregnancy was the cause of my Bell's Palsy (I was 38 weeks pregnant when this happened) and that it could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year to heal - which isn't exactly what a 38 week pregnant lady wants to hear when she's already not feeling too great. But I was thankful to know that the outlook was good regardless.

The first few days I was able to remain pretty positive and even joke about my paralyzed face, but when a week had passed by and there was still no visible progress, my attitude changed completely. I was so emotionally worn down and began to lose hope. My head was (and sometimes still is) filled with all the dark, ugly thoughts imaginable. I was so filled with fear and self hatred. I worried that my face would never heal. I worried that my husband would stop loving me. I was afraid that the first time my son saw me when he was born he would be scared of how I look. That he wouldn't see beauty or happiness but rather a stone cold face that could only move in disfigured ways..that his mom would be ugly to him. I feared I would never be able to smile again..that my son would never see me smile. I especially feared that I would never even feel like trying to smile again. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my face. I hid my face as much as possible and my quality of life continued to go down.

The day came when my son was born, and though things were slightly improving, my face still hadn't returned to normal. He was so beautiful and I wanted so desperately to see him clearly instead of through blurred vision. I refused to let anyone take pictures of me because I was so embarrassed of my face. I'm still not quite ready to share everything that happened the day Conrad was born, but when the nurse took him to the NICU and told me something was wrong with his heart, I felt I had no more strength within me at all. Anything that was holding me together at that point was shattered. This was the first time in my life that I really had the "Why Me" argument with my Heavenly Father. I was so angry that He hadn't healed my face. I was so angry that I didn't get to have the birth experience I wanted. I was so scared for my baby. I was bitter and broken. This wasn't what I had pictured for my life.

Those days and nights in the hospital were so raw and draining. I had nowhere to turn except back to God. I felt so sorrowful I knew the only way to survive was to start praying - to start desperately praying. I pleaded with the Lord to help me see things as they really are, to feel joy again, to feel whole again. I quit asking Him to fix my face or to fix my problems, and started asking for insight and peace instead. And soon enough, I started to feel a change within myself.

I remember at one point getting out of the hospital bed around 3 AM to go see my baby in the NICU and passing by a mirror, and for the first time in a long time I didn't hate what I saw. Because instead of seeing an ugly face that couldn't smile, I saw a mom who loved her son more than anything and was doing her best to care for him. It began to matter less to me what I looked like and mattered more what I felt like and who I was as a person. It mattered more that I was becoming closer to my Heavenly Father than the fact that I couldn't physically smile. Because even though I couldn't express my emotions through my face, I could still verbally convey my feelings and have joy.

Soon enough, we were able to bring our Conrad James home and life started to calm down a bit. Gradually, I cared less about how I looked and cared more about how I acted. Instead of feeling bitterness for not looking the way I wanted, I began to appreciate my body for its ability to start functioning again. Progress is so slow but little by little, I am starting to heal.

 I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I took my smile for granted until I physically could not smile anymore. I never appreciated my body or my smile until I got Bell's Palsy. I never appreciated the ability to express my emotions through my face alone. I never appreciated being able to eat and drink with ease. I never appreciated my hearing or my sight. It took losing the ability to do those things for me to truly appreciate my body and what it can do.

God has created us all with love and care. Appreciate your body. Appreciate your abilities. Appreciate your unique smile and attributes. While I still miss the way my face used to be and what it was like to properly smile, I am at ease with how I am in this moment. Because there's more to me than just my smile. Because there's more to life than physical appearance. Because I refuse to let Bell's Palsy ruin my life.

Our first picture together as a family of 3

To My Darling Son

August 12, 2016

08/10/2016


To my darling son,


Though you are not here yet, I love you more than words can express. I have loved you for so long, and that love has only grown over these past months of carrying you. I have loved every second of carrying you inside of me. From the moment I knew your presence existed, to the first time I ever felt your precious feet kick me, and all the moments in between..I have loved you. And though I have been carrying you for all these months, in reality, you have been carrying me. Your presence has lifted my spirit and helped me through moments of despair and pain. Your spirit has enlightened me and made me better than I could ever be without you. I can hardly wait to have you in my arms and walk with you through this crazy thing called life.
I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, and the fact that our Heavenly Father has put His trust in me to be your mom is a blessing beyond compare. I know that we knew each other before this life and that we have both been anxiously waiting to reunite with one another. Isn’t it amazing that we finally get to see each other again so soon? I feel so blessed and humbled that I get to be your mom, Conrad. You are everything I could have ever hoped or dreamed for and I haven’t even seen you yet. I know that you will make mine and your dad’s lives so much better.
Being pregnant with you has been the most challenging yet rewarding thing I have done in my entire life. I love you beyond words. I love you beyond comprehension. Sometimes I worry that I won’t be a good enough mom for you, but I promise you I will always do my best. I promise you that I will give my very best to you and your dad, and to our Heavenly Father. I will always give you my time, my energy, and my love.  
I am so excited to hold you in my arms for the first time, to comfort you, to get to know you. I am so excited to laugh with you, and cry with you, and learn with you. I will always strive to be an example to you and to teach you the gospel in word and deed. Your dad and I love you with everything we have. We will always be your friends and your guardians. We will always love you. As your due date gets closer and closer, I can’t help but feel a little sad that I won’t have you with me every moment. I have so very much loved feeling your kicks and movements letting me know that you are there. I have loved keeping you safe and you helping me feel safe and assuring me that I am never alone. You have been my constant and have impacted my life so deeply already.
I love you, my sweet Conrad James. I am so excited for you to be here, and I want you to always look to your father as an example. Oh Conrad, you are going to love him so much! He is the kindest, most diligent, hardworking, loving, and amazing person I know. Your dad works so hard for you and me already. He works so hard to provide for us and has so much love for you. He loves to talk to you and tell you he loves you. He always makes sure that I am taking good care of my body for you and that you are doing well. He has not missed a single doctors appointment from the moment you came into existence. Your dad is going to be such a blessing in your life and will always protect you and guide you. You and I are both so incredibly lucky to have him and I can’t wait for you to meet him.
Though you are not here yet, I love you more than words can express. My darling son, I love you. I love you through and through and for all eternity. I will cherish every last moment of feeling your sweet kicks and movements inside of me and will continue looking forward to seeing you in just 8 short weeks. My love for you will only grow in time. Thank you for choosing me to be your momma, I promise you I will love you forever.
Love you always,

Mom.


"That's Not Your Trial"

August 08, 2016

About a month after I found out I was pregnant, a friend of mine broke the news that she had miscarried. This girl has been one of the biggest examples in my life for years, and I was completely devastated for her. Why did she have to go through this and I got to stay pregnant? This isn't fair, I thought. I felt completely and utterly undeserving of the magnificent blessing that had been bestowed upon me. I felt it was unfair to those who were struggling with infertility and that I just didn't deserve to be pregnant. I felt guilty and extremely inconsiderate to those that struggled when I publicly announced my pregnancy. Even with the indescribable joy that I felt from being pregnant, I was completely swamped with those feelings of guilt. I couldn't seem to shake those feelings until a conversation with my husband changed my mindset completely. He sat me down one day and simply told me, "That's not your trial. We have other trials, this just isn't one of them." The words were so simple, but it really made me take a step back and think.
When the phrase "I don't deserve this" is used, it is generally in the context of feeling that one does not deserve to go through the trial they are facing.* However, there are times when "I don't deserve this" is used in the sense of feeling undeserving of a grand blessing. So, if we are blessed with something unexpected, we may think that we don't deserve it because someone else has it worse, or that we haven't 'earned' that blessing. But when we feel that way, we disallow ourselves from fully enjoying and appreciating what God has given us. It took me a few months to really grasp that I didn't need to feel guilty for being pregnant and that I really shouldn't have even felt that way in the first place. Just because infertility was not my trial, does not discredit the other trials I have gone through nor does it discredit the future trials that I will go through. Perhaps even some of you have felt as I did: undeserving of a blessing. The thing is though, you are deserving. You deserve happiness, joy, and light.

Do not suppose that your trials are any less real or of any less significance than the trials of those around you.

Our lives are tailored to us individually so that we may each grow in the way our Heavenly Father needs us to. May I reiterate the word individually. While we are here upon this earth to buoy one another up and to help each other reach our eternal destiny, it is ultimately our own test to complete. Everyone's experiences here are different and unique, and as children of God, we will continually be met with trials and blessings throughout the entirety of our lives. Enduring and experiencing is why we are here, and I have a pretty good feeling that our Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy each moment of our earthly test. So when He blesses you with something, big or small, embrace it. Be thankful for it. And when you face a trial, big or small, embrace it. Be thankful for it! Learn from it. Don't assume that your life experiences are lesser than those around you. Likewise, stay humble and grateful always.  If you see someone suffering as you are experiencing something wonderful, it's okay to still be happy and thankful for your blessings. It's okay to have happiness and joy WHILE you help someone or pray for someone or even mourn with someone. We are not placed upon this earth to be sad. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25). So be joyful, be happy! That is why we are here, after all. As you go about life, know that God is watching over you and wants to bless you. Welcome each blessing with open arms and find joy in the journey.

*To those who may currently be suffering or feeling that they do not deserve their trials, I echo the words of Elder Dale G. Renlund when he declares, "Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, ultimately, in the eternal scheme of things, there will be no unfairness. All that is unfair about life can be made right. Our present circumstances may not change, but through God's compassion, kindness, and love, we will all receive more than we deserve, more than we can ever earn, and more than we can ever hope for. We are promised that 'God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Full talk can be read here). 

The Day I Met My Son

July 12, 2016

This past month has been such a battle. There have been many days where I've gotten to the point of struggling to find purpose in life again, and I have spent several nights restless with feelings of sadness, despair, and overwhelming fear. But about a week ago, I had one of the most spiritual and powerful experiences in my life, and it completely changed me for the better. Since then, I've had several strong promptings to share this experience with others but have fought those feelings, particularly as I consider the sacred nature of what happened. However, I trust that when I am prompted to do something, I must faithfully follow. So, a few days ago at about 4:00 in the morning, all of my negative feelings seemed to amplify at once. Just as those emotions were becoming increasingly unbearable, I saw a figure walk toward my bedside. I could not distinguish his facial features but saw that he had light brown hair and seemed to be in his twenties. I felt no fear in seeing this figure, but was calm and reassured that all was well. As he got closer to me, I was overwhelmed with love and peace. He knelt down and hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, then slowly walked away. Though I had never seen him before, I knew exactly who the figure was.
He was my son. I was completely filled with love, peace, and hope for the future, and was soon able to fall asleep. Since then, I have felt nothing but absolute tranquility.

In a priesthood blessing my husband gave me a while back, I was told that having my son would only make my life easier, as he would help give me purpose and the motivation to keep going. Feeling the love of my son changed my outlook on life immediately, and to think that he has impacted me this much already makes me that much more excited for him to be here in my arms. 
I've been blessed enough to have had many experiences in my life where the veil has been thin and I have seen and felt the spirits of those that have passed on, and I am so thankful that Heavenly Father has allowed me to gradually understand that part of life through these beautiful experiences. I have always felt familiar with the presence of those that have passed away, but this was my first time experiencing the presence of a spirit yet to come to earth. What a blessing that was! I wish I could adequately put into words the glory and power in what I felt in that moment. 
I bear witness that our loved ones are near us more often than we realize. I have felt many of them around me and have had experiences that have let me know that my brother who has passed away has even taught missionary lessons in my home to several spirits that desire to learn truth. There IS life after death, of that I am sure. After feeling my son's strong spirit, I am even more excited for him to be born. He has such a tender and loving way about him that I can hardly wait to feel every day. I'm so thankful that I have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of what forever is really like, because it sure is beautiful. 

"If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates"
-Joseph Smith


The Part of the Story You Don't Know

May 02, 2016


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom.
This past November, my doctor suggested going off of birth control for 3 months because of the many adverse effects on my health that I had experienced using the medication. I felt this was the best decision for the time being as well. Jake and I had discussed the possibility of 'just seeing what happened', but quickly decided against it and continued on with the plan that we would try to start a family once I graduated. That plan obviously didn't work out, and honestly, we couldn't be more excited! We know that this was not a mistake and that this is the exact time our son is meant to come to earth. While you know that I am beyond excited for this little boy, here's the part of the story you don't know.
On the morning of January 13th, I went to take my prescriptions as I had done nearly every morning for the past 6 years. However, as I began to lift up the bottles, I felt a force, as if it were a palpable hand, pushing my hand back down. I physically could not pick up my medicine. It was so bizarre to me that I attempted to pick up my medications three more times before realizing that whatever this force was, was very real and that I really was not going to be able to take my medicine that day.
 So, I didn't take my medicine and questioned why in the world that would happen or how it could happen at all. It only took about 7 hours from that time for my body to suffer. Intense withdrawals began; my body shook and I was more nauseated than I had been in my whole life. The next day came, same thing. I could not take my medicine. I found it odd and frustrating but continued on with my day. The withdrawals got worse as the days went on, and the next two weeks after I stopped taking my medicine were arguably the hardest of my life. It felt like my body was shutting down. Why was this happening? I didn't want to discuss it with a doctor - I knew it wouldn't make sense why I was doing this (it hardly made sense to me). However, two weeks and one day later, it all became extremely clear.
Throughout those two weeks, I was constantly questioning why I had to go through this. Why in the world could I not take my medication? I would have little thoughts pop in my head that maybe I was pregnant, but I quickly brushed those thoughts away. There was no way I could be pregnant this quick without trying!
But, two weeks and one day after I had stopped taking my medicine, I took a test. I took a pregnancy test that morning because I had a box of them 'just in case'. So, I took the test as more of a "well, it's the last one in the box, might as well get rid of it" sort of notion. Within seconds, the test showed I was pregnant. I was in shock, but at the same time it all made sense. I told Jacob immediately and he was thrilled. We couldn't have been more excited! We were both so surprised, but so overjoyed. We knew immediately that this was the will of God and that this happened for a definite reason. We had both wanted to be parents for so long, and though we had intended on trying to become parents much later on in life, those hesitant thoughts soon melted away.
I'm so beyond thankful for whatever divine intervention caused me to stop taking my medicine. The crazy thing is, after calculating my due date and all parts of the equation, it added up to my conception date being the very day before I stopped taking my medicine. I know without a doubt that the Lord is deeply involved in the very details of our lives. He knew that all three of my prescriptions were deemed unsafe for me to take while pregnant, and intervened so I could have the healthiest possible pregnancy to bring our sweet son to this earth.
My testimony of the healing power of the atonement has grown exponentially since this experience. I always knew that the atonement heals us emotionally, but I always seemed to forget the physical healing powers of the atonement. I still struggle with my depression and anxiety, but so much of it has been lifted. I no longer need any medications to manage my health problems, and I feel that I will never need to take those medications again. My heart feels strong, physically and emotionally. My thoughts of suicide have nearly diminished. My body is healing, because of Him. Because of Him, I can carry this child with confidence.
I never thought I would be free of taking prescriptions - and I definitely don't intend for those that read this to believe that all physical ailments are resolved through the atonement in this life; I do believe that pharmaceuticals can be a necessity and absolute blessing. But for whatever reason, I believe that Heavenly Father saw fit for these ailments to be lifted from me through the atonement, and I am beyond thankful and blessed.
 So, there's the part of the story you didn't know - the part that I never thought I'd share. The thing is though, the atonement is so much more than we can possibly comprehend. Miracles surround us daily. The atonement has the power to heal us in all aspects of life: emotional, mental, physical. The healing of bodies is not just found in scripture. It is here, now. I know this more now than ever before. I am continually amazed by the power this gospel truly holds. It is true! It really is. 

Attributes

March 24, 2016

For the past few months, my main focus of study in the gospel has been Christlike attributes, and when I finished studying each individual attribute I found myself pondering attributes from a whole different perspective. If there is a list of specific attributes of Christ, is there a list of specific attributes of Satan? If there are Christlike attributes, what are some Satanlike attributes? From careful study and prayer, this is the list that I have felt inspired to compile:

1. Fear
Throughout my life, I have found that Satan is extremely fearful. In the premortal life, he suggested a plan in which we would all make it back to Heavenly Father. Each of us would make it back, not a one of us lost - a guaranteed way back to safety. Sounds pretty great, right? Wrong. With this plan, there would be no choices. No agency. No joy.  And why do I think so many followed this plan? They were afraid. They were afraid that if they came to this earth and had to make all the right decisions on their own, they might not make it back. And yes, that is a scary thought - sometimes for me too. So I get why some of our siblings followed that plan. The thought of not making it back to God is a scary one. However, the difference between Satan and Christ in this regard can be summed up in one word: faith. Faith and fear cannot dwell together. Satan is a man of fear, and Christ is a man of faith. It is vital for us to choose faith over fear, for living in fear is exactly what Satan wants us to do (because it's exactly what he's doing).
2. Vice
Vice is immoral or wicked behavior, so it is pretty obvious why this would fall under the list of Satanlike attributes. We live in a world full of compromise. Wicked is seen as good and is often even sought after. Righteous behavior is increasingly becoming frowned upon and seen as wrong or naive to the public eye. The idea that following the commandments of God is silly or naive is not in this world by accident. Satan wants us to feel embarrassed for choosing the right. He wants us to feel silly and like outcasts for not drinking that coffee or for waiting until marriage to move in with each other. Vice is a dangerous attribute that must be avoided, and can be avoided through the opposite attribute - the Christlike attribute - virtue. 
3. Ignorance
Ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge or information. While we obviously cannot learn everything while on this earth, it is imperative for us to increase our knowledge on a daily basis. Russell M. Nelson has stated, "Education is yours to obtain. No one else can gain it for you. Wherever you are, develop a deep desire to learn". How important it is to be educated! Seek to be educated. Seek to gain knowledge. If you do not understand something, study it out and pray about it. God is all-knowing. Knowledge itself is a Christlike attribute, so when we pray to obtain knowledge we are blessed with a greater desire to learn and greater comprehension of what we learn. Our mind can be opened and ready for inspiration when we seek to learn. Avoid ignorance at all costs. D&C 131:6 reads, "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance". And if it is impossible for us to be saved in ignorance, then it is clear to see why Satan wants us to be ignorant and have no desire to learn.
4. Self-willed
We are to align ourselves with God's will in every aspect of our lives. Satan is headstrong, wayward, and unrestrained. He also desires for us to obstinately do what we want in spite of the wishes or orders of God. This attribute of being self-willed may seem like an easy one to avoid at first thought, but being self-willed is a lot more common in our lives than we may realize. I have had several occurrences in my life that have brought me to frustration, specifically in questioning the timing of certain events. I would think, this wasn't part of my plan! And how silly it was for me to think that way. Of course this wasn't part of my plan - but it was part of His plan. It is so crucial for us to accept and do our best to understand and follow God's will for us. The occurrences in our lives do not happen by chance. God has a greater plan for us. It is greater than we can comprehend and we need to let go of our own self-willed behaviors to follow His will with exact obedience.
5. Intolerance
In the church, we are specifically taught to be tolerant. This is not a teaching to be taken lightly, for it applies to every single one of us.  We should always stand for our beliefs, however, we should never be intolerant to someone elses beliefs. There is, of course, a difference between tolerance and acceptance (i.e. we can accept a person and love them without accepting their actions). If you find it is difficult to tolerate someone's wrong behavior, consider the freedom of choice. That is why we are here on earth, after all. We fought for agency in the pre-existence. Saying that someone is wrong for what they believe, being agitated when someone shares their differing beliefs, or being unwilling to listen and try to understand someones beliefs is being intolerant. And that is a Satanlike attribute. Remember, Jesus Christ loves every single person equally. Elder D. Todd Christofferson has said, "Even if we disagree with the opinions of others, we must speak in love and kindness".  We must be willing to alter our opinions (when needed) and soften our hearts. Be patient! Be loving. Be tolerant. We are all brothers and sisters. It is okay to politely disagree with someone but I think this world could use a lot more love and a lot less intolerance. 
6. Apathy
Years ago, a friend of mine bore her testimony about the dangers of apathy towards the gospel. I remember listening to her speak and being overwhelmed by the spirit confirming the deep truth of what she was saying. We must have a passion for the gospel. When we lose that passion and become apathetic to the promptings of the spirit, our testimonies will ultimately diminish. Apathy is a dangerously easy trap to fall into. How often do we respond with "I don't care" to a meaningful question? Not having an opinion can lead to a lack of solid standards. If we have an 'I don't care' attitude towards life, it is so much easier to sin because we simply do not care about the consequences. 
7. Worldliness
From the beginning, Satan reveled in fine clothing and money. He was well aware that worldliness would be a great trap for people to fall into. It is easy to get distracted and misled by the things and ideas of the world. We live in a very worldly time, and it can be hard to avoid this attribute.  It is vital for us to keep an eternal perspective in mind. Ask yourself, 'Do I really need a new (fill in the blank) when what I have works perfectly well?' or 'Will this matter in eternity?' Dallin H. Oaks has told us that "As we draw farther from worldliness, we feel closer to our Father in Heaven". I also testify that the things of this world do not and never will compare to the beauty and glory of the gospel. By drawing farther from worldliness, our lives will enhance and we will indeed feel closer to our Heavenly Father. 
8. Inattention
When I received the inspiration for this attribute, I was actually a bit surprised. Yet the more I studied and prayed, the more it made sense. The day I received this inspiration, I was driving home from school. I got cut off 4 times within 10 minutes. I almost got hit by another car twice. And every time this happened, I didn't feel anger towards that person, but felt sorrow for them. I felt sorrow for their inattention. I worried for their safety and began to ponder. Why are there so many people that just aren't paying attention? Why don't they care? And I realized that this was an attribute. When we let ourselves become distracted from what is around us, we are more susceptible to danger. This is not just on the road. When we look at our phone instead of our spouse, for example, we are putting our relationship in danger. We distract ourselves so easily that we forget what is right in front of us. Maybe we go to our church meetings but our minds are elsewhere. That inattention is detrimental to our spiritual growth and thus makes it easier to be tempted.
9. Pride
I feel as though we easily recognize one aspect of pride (being puffed up), but often times forget that pride is also punishing ourselves for who we are. Thinking you don't deserve what you have, or thinking you deserve more than you already have is also prideful. I spent a lot of my life believing that I didn't deserve what I had and that I was worthless to God and to those around me. I was constantly comparing myself to others, telling myself how much better they all were than me. It took me a long time to realize that hating myself and not accepting God's love was actually being prideful. It is prideful to think less of ourselves, and so that is one of Satan's greatest tactics to try and defeat us. Every single thought of self doubt - that is something that Satan thrives off of. It is up to us to be humble enough to allow the atonement to work through us and allow Christ's love into our hearts and minds. We must be humble enough to accept that we have great worth! Do not allow Satan's lies of not being good enough or being inadequate stay in your mind - it will lead to a path of pride, which is indeed a Satanlike attribute.
10. Laziness
In today's world, many minute tasks are done for us automatically to free up time for us to focus on greater undertakings; however, we are often careless or lazy with this extra time. It is SO easy to be lazy. And I don't want to confuse laziness with relaxation - because some days we all just need to spend an hour or two winding down. However, when these actions (or lack of actions) become a habit, that is when the danger creeps in. It is easy to skip church because we are tired or don't feel like dressing up. It is easy to skip scripture study because we'd rather watch a little Netflix. It's easy to skip daily exercise because we want to sleep in. The thing is though, this life isn't supposed to be easy. It's a test. Life is supposed to be challenging and difficult and exciting and wonderful! If you feel that your life is mundane, do a self analysis. You probably have a lot more time and energy than you think you do. Set that alarm an hour earlier. Get up without hitting snooze. Put your phone away! Get outside. Be diligent. I promise, being lazy is easy but it will not make you happy. You will always feel better after a productive day - and there's a reason for that. When you are productive and diligent, the spirit can more easily dwell with you and you can be more open to revelation. However, when you are lazy, why would the spirit want to stay at all? 

Each Satanlike attribute is directly opposed to a Christlike attribute. As the scriptures teach us, we cannot serve two masters. Likewise, we cannot become fully like Christ until we have rid ourselves of all Satanlike attributes. Preach My Gospel has a list of Christlike Attributes that we are to strive to obtain. And you know something pretty great? You can pray to receive each of these Christlike attributes for yourself! By mapping out a list of Satanlike attributes, I have found that I am more careful in my day to day life. Diligently praying for those Christlike attributes really changed me. Once I received some of those beautiful gifts I knew I never wanted to risk losing them. I believe that by knowing and understanding the adversary, we are more likely to overcome and be triumphant. By recognizing and turning away from these Satanlike attributes, I wholeheartedly believe that we will have greater strength to overcome. So next time you are fearful or want to have a daylong Netflix binge, remember where those thoughts come from (trust me, they're not from God).  

(visual: ashlin gubler)




Sorry for the Low-Quality Picture...

January 31, 2016


sorry for sharing this happy memory that happened to be captured through a grainy picture.

Okay, why are we apologizing for sharing moments?

I mean, I get it. Good quality pictures are awesome and I try to take them myself, but that's not always how life works. Most of the time, we just have our cellphones on hand and do our best to capture all the sweet moments that life has to offer.
So we make a great memory and we want to capture it - and that's great! But then we go home, take a look at those pictures, and put a bunch of filters on them to try and make them salvageable to post but if they just aren't 'up to standard' we either apologize or delete the pictures altogether...Why does a picture need to look perfect to share with others?
When did sharing pictures on social media become a competition...a place to prove we can take clear pictures with perfect backdrops? Isn't the point of social media to share our memories and moments with those we care about? 

Some of my favorite memories are the grainy ones. 

sorry for hurting your eyes with this sub-par photograph of my husband and me. 

So take pictures...take lots of pictures! And if you want to share a memory with the world, DO IT. Quit tucking away your grainy pictures just because you're afraid people will judge you for posting them. I promise you I won't, and I'm pretty sure no one else will either.



God Didn't Answer My Prayers

January 16, 2016



Heavenly Father heard “their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage” (Mosiah 21:15; emphasis added).
In recent moments of desperate prayer to be relieved of my burdens and feel light again, I came across a tough realization. The Lord did not see fit to deliver ME out of bondage.
I was frustrated because I was pouring my heart out to the Lord and praying with all that I had, just begging my Father above to take away my pain. And guess what? He didn't.

The Lord didn't take away my trial. In fact, I got hit with more trials and more intense pain every single day following that initial prayer for help. 

Why would He let me suffer? Isn't He supposed to lighten my load? Isn't He supposed to comfort me and get me through the hard moments? I asked and cried and yelled..Why would you let me go through this Father? Why can't you just help me? Why can't you just ease my pain for a second so I can breathe? I felt like I was drowning and nothing I was doing was helping. And guess what? I still feel that way.
However, I have never felt as hopeful as I do now. You see, you can feel the crushing weight of the world while still remaining hopeful. It's an interesting feeling really, to feel so entirely ensnared in sadness while feeling so incredibly filled with hope. But it is possible to remain hopeful even in the darkest moments of despair, and just because your burdens are not being lifted now, does not mean they will last forever. It is so vital to know that prayers are always answered. However, the answer to our prayers is not always a big resounding 'yes'.
God didn't answer my prayers..at least not in the way that I wanted Him to. President John Taylor (1808–87) has said that afflictions shouldn’t overwhelm us, but that we should rejoice in our challenges, for we need these experiences for our eternal well-being with God. THIS is why I am hopeful even through moments of despair. Through diligent prayer I know that the trials I currently face will not actually be lifted from me. However, it is up to ME to rejoice in my challenges. Why?? Because I NEED these experiences and I need them more than I can probably even comprehend right now.
God didn't answer my prayers by making my trials disappear. He answered my prayers by giving me a greater understanding of my trials, thus giving me the strength and patience needed to overcome them.
God doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we desire, but God will always answer our prayers in the way that is most needed for our growth. God knows me, Christ strengthens me, and the Holy Spirit enlightens me. And because of them, I know that I am strong enough to overcome all things no matter the magnitude.
God didn't answer my prayers to rid me of pain, He answers my prayers to guide me through pain.
The plan of happiness is an eternal plan that requires an eternal perspective. So next time God doesn't answer your prayers, remember: He has something greater in store for you.
"Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." (Doctrine & Covenants 121:7-8)

Finding Light in Dark Moments

January 04, 2016

At the start of every year, I like to take a moment to reflect upon my growth throughout the year before. And as hard as it is to admit, 2015 was a year of spiritual regression for me. I began the year with an unshakable testimony and a steady devotion to scripture study and temple attendance. However, as life became hectic, my priorities shifted and I felt that I was stuck in 'survival mode' - and still struggle with feeling that way now. It has been a tough realization, and that realization has brought on trials of its own. Now that I realize how apathetic I have become to church activity, I recognize the need for change. And because of that, life. has. been. tough.
My first thoughts were to stick it out and that I would just begin to dive back into the gospel after my sadness faded. But I soon realized that that's not what the gospel is about at all. I realized that the gospel is there for us NOW. In those moments of sadness and sorrow, Christ IS there to help us through. Christ is waiting for us to talk to Him about our pains and our trials, for as He helps to lift our burden, His burden is in turn lifted as well.
Jesus the Christ died for you and for me, and he has felt exactly what we have gone through, are going through now, and what we will go through in the future. Our Savior -- MY Savior -- has felt precisely what I am feeling in this exact moment. And as I have lived through my darkest moments, He has been there to hold my hand and feel that pain with me as I am feeling it. So when I beckon to Him for help, He is then enabled to lift my burden as well as His own, and how incredible is that?! The Savior Himself is aware of our very emotions and understands them at an even deeper level than we ourselves can comprehend. He lives! He lives to comfort me, always. And with that constant comfort, how can I possibly remain sorrowful?
Through Christ, I can and will conquer every trial that besets me - and you will too. Life is hard, but of one thing I am sure: Light shall always conquer. I finally see that now. I see that joy always comes after sorrow. Light is never out of reach. And there is a loving Father in Heaven as well as a loving Savior who are waiting and willing to help each of us through everything. Everything! So fear not, be steadfast, and be believing. Christ IS there, and I am determined to make this year a year of progression. And when I have those inevitable moments of regression, I know that my Savior will help me and lift me higher than before.
The gospel is here for us now. So again, fear not! Light can always be found in dark moments with the help of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and of these things I know.

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