Friday, October 2, 2015

How Elder Scott's Death Brought Me Happiness

Elder Scott's death has brought ma, and will continue to bring me, great joy. Weird, right?

The only deaths that ought to bring you joy are tyrants, villains, general bad guys, and maybe touching reunions.  Yet none of these fall under Elder Scott, except maybe the reunion with his wife and dear friends.

Maybe great joy is a little over the mark, but it has brought me happiness, with may are may not turn into great joy. The forecast predicts it will.

As anyone on this blog site knows, I have been sick. It began during the best time of my life while on my mission. The abridged version: I came back to the states with a mystery illness, eventually released, still sick, lots of doctors, finally diagnosed but still sick. No friends came to visit. Very rarely I got messages. I was dealing with a lot of pain that extended beyond my physical condition. I spent nearly two years in the same bed. This all has to do with Elder Scott's passing, or Elder Scott's passing has all to do with it.

I've received the yellow light to test out school. The semester has been going well so far, thank you for asking. I'm enrolled in an institute class (Women and the Scriptures, with Sis Terry), so of course we talked about Elder Scott. People shared their love and their favorite talk. If someone brought up a talk that Elder Scott gave that touched them she would always say, "Oh, is it Trust in the Lord?" This went on for a couple class periods.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that we decided to spend Monday class period watching his funeral. After, Sis Terry bore her testimony of him, and specifically of his talk Trust in the Lord. She explained that he delivered it just months after losing his wife. It has helped her through numerous challenges and trials, and she has had some serious obstacles in her life! It was a very powerful testimony!

I couldn't help but think on the things I had heard that day. Who knew Elder Scott was so funny?! He's a little stinker. I especially loved the story Elder D. Todd Christofferson told about visiting the vineyard. I felt encouraged by his funeral. Did you know he was not what you might consider spiritually inclined? He was not a Peter Priest. Growing up he only went to church and activities if someone coaxed him. We all can think of someone like that, and how often have you thought "Yes! Totally apostle material."? If you think that, then kudos to you. You must have some special gift. He went on a mission only because his future wife said she would only marry a return missionary. He needed help! How reassuring is that? He would not have become an apostle without the help given to him by others. We ought not be ashamed of needing help to be better people.

Related to me, I can make it through this illness alone, but I can't get better alone. I ran for the first time a month ago. I was on vacation! It wouldn't have happened without my brother and the threat of him dunking me into the ocean. We have it in us to be amazing, and requiring others to access that does not take away from our divine individuality. It magnifies and excels our personal power.

I decided I would finally look up that talk. I'm so glad I did. I've only read through it once and it's already a solid highlighted block. I plan on getting to know this talk intimately. (Elder Scott, Trust In The Lord October 1995)

I've often wonder to what end has getting sick served? What's the point? I honestly can't say I've grown. Any growing done alone in a bed would be outstripped by growth on a mission, no contest. I haven't learned anything I didn't know before. Some may say it's cruel to have been so high in life then drop to the other extreme: being fit with friends and purpose to being sick and alone.
"To get you from where you are to where he wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain." 
Funny enough, he discusses questions. He points out that some are actually useful and some are actually not. The simple change to "What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change?" has changed aspects of my life that I did not expect, even with something as simple as homework. I don't fully understand why I became ill the way I did, but I no longer feel I need to. Maybe it isn't about what happened during those two years, but what I will do with it. Will I allow it to make me more compassionate?

It can not be overstated how important it is to trust in the Lord. This is something I have learned and depend on daily. Trust in the Lord. I implore you! I exhort you! Kneel down (Do it right now! Before you forget!) and just talk to your Father in Heaven. Then listen. If you're already in that habit, awesome! Tell Him everything, and how you honestly feel about it. I know God hears every prayer. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but He's listening with love nonetheless. He even answers prayers, too. His hand is in our lives and He shows us that He loves us ever day.
"To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it."
It's safe to trust God. I know from personal experience.  If you ask Him for help, He will help you.
I have no doubt that in the not so distant future, I will not want to have traded these two years for anything.
Sometimes I look back and I'm absolutely clueless how I made it this far and at the same time I feel like I knew it all along because I knew in whom I had trusted.

Also, he says, "No one wants adversity." How refreshing is that? We get so use to hearing why we ought to give thanks for our trails and be grateful for him. Nobody likes them. They're hard. They suck. BIG TIME. No one wants it. I could have sung when I read that. It's one of those beautiful moments steeped in humanity when you truly connect. This guy knows what it's like to be a living human. There is no pretentiousness in this talk. Just honest to goodness truth.

If Elder Scott hadn't died, I wouldn't know any of this.

I'm quite happy.

If you have questions, struggling, or just generally not as happy as you'd like, please take the time to read this talk. It's not too long and every line is precious. Sis Terry was so right. I know it's cliche to say it has changed my life, so I will simply tell you to read it and find out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ether 12:4 - Always and Being

 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

Led to glorify God.

Hello! I hope you were able to enjoy your holidays. Welcome to the last installment (I think) of dissecting this lovely verse.

You might be able to tell what will be discussed by the blog post title.

Last time, we babbled a bit on anchors making us sure and steadfast. What else does it (hope, belief in God, faith, anchors) do?

According to this verse, "always abounding in good works". ALWAYS. That's a lot. What could that accomplish? Even if it was just one person? If you're always abounding (abounding-that's a lot, too!) with good works, I think it's safe to say you're too busy to be getting into trouble, sinning, or causing difficulties for others. Good works is more than just service. Imagine your exponential increase!
What good works can you think off?
I think of scripture study, pondering, cleaning the house (service), showing charity and compassion, homework, and temple attendance.
Which ones come to you mind?

The second part is "being". Elder Bednar gave a great talk in General Conference a few years ago on "to do" and "to be" (which I'm still trying to find the link to).

Notice that this scripture uses "being" with "led to glorify God". Not "do." It's a state of being. It will be part of your character. How cool would that be?! People would know you as being, let's say, a brother, a college graduate, glorify God, father, and a nice guy.

I like the part about "being led" too. It means you are constantly being guided. To me, that's comforting. All you have to do is follow and you will be led. Like a child to the drinking fountain. A horse to water. A boat to a lighthouse.

I love this scripture deeply. I hope you have found at least one new thing to love about it.

S Ljubavlju,
Sestra Farnsworth

My fellow sisters from my MTC group have all come home. Which leads to the questions, should I continue writing in this blog? Has it been useful to you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas: What are you getting?

It is often said at this time of the year to focus on giving. It's the season of giving.

I want to ask you, what are you getting?

The gift of the Atonement has already been given. Will you be receiving service from those around you?

But what will you get?

A warm feeling when you look at lights.
A lighter heart from laughing with loved ones.

Will you be getting a stronger testimony? A better relationship with someone? With the Savior?

Are you getting what is being given?

What will you get from this season?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eternal Life: Eternal?

Recently I listened to a guy talk about how we are never truly gone.
We are eternal! We will not last!
But there is more to you than matter. When you die, you will not disappear until everyone who remembers you, and whose actions are affected – however slightly – by your memory, until all of those people die, and you are completely forgotten.
We are eternal! We will not last!
But even then, you are not gone. Not until all the people who remember and are affected by those people who remembered, and were affected by you, are gone.
We will not last!
But even then, you are not gone. Not until all the people who remember and are affected by those people who remembered, and were affected by those people who…and so on, and so on, and on.
We are eternal!
You will persist, ever so faintly, ever so slightly, on into perpetuity. Long after everything about you no longer matters. Your life is so small. But, in the setting sun of this universe, its shadow is cast down through generation after generation, until it gets blurry and hard to see…but still there. A breath of a wisp of a thread stretching out before you.
We are eternal! But we will not last!
That's what he said. (It's from a wonderfully quirky Ray Bradbury/Sci-Fi-esque broadcast called Welcome to Night Vale. You can listen to it here. Give it a couple episodes. It can be weird.)

To summarize: When you die, you live on in the lives of those whom you touched. When they die, you continue to live in the people they touched by having touched them. Does that make sense? If it doesn't read the transcript from above. I put it there because he says it better than I do. Or you can listen to it. (It was the "traffic report" from "The List ep 57")

For some odd reason, almost all the the funerals I have ever been have taken place the weekend of Thanksgiving. I've been to maybe one funeral that didn't take place between Oct 1 and Nov 30, the majority on the weekend I spoke about.

One of those funerals was my best friend. Another of a boy I mentored. The list just goes and goes. So it shouldn't be surprising that Thanksgiving is a bit different for me than it is for your average joe. I don't even have to actively recognize that it's that time of the year, my subconscious does it for me.

Some years are better than others, but I'm not going to go into detail. I would like to point out that that excerpt is from the most recent episode and therefore had incredible timing.

My best friend was also my art mentor. When she died, I stopped doing art. I tried it maybe once since then. That was about... 6 years ago. So it's been about 5 years since I tried putting brush to canvas.
This year, I couldn't get the idea out of my head that I should draw. There was a lot going on in my head, and I haven't seriously drawn in years. But the idea kept coming.

So late one night, a pulled out the colored pencils (oddly, the medium I spent the most time with) and some printer paper. It was amazing! The drawings are certainly no Monet, but they weren't awful either. I went from whatever it was I was feeling to feeling lighter and happier.
It was a spiritual experience!
It was a healing experience!
The two go hand in hand.

I'm convinced that God knows use better than we do and He knows EXACTLY what it is we need. Obviously, He doesn't want use to be sad. He truly wants us to be happy.

I share this to share a point. I don't know what you got from it (but I would like to), but what Cecil Palmer (Night Vale) and my art experience are meant to share is that eternal life doesn't always wait until after judgment day. My friend still lives in this life, in a way. By touching the lies of others, she will continue to "live" through me.
The Savior set an example of how to best do this. Through service, love, and all those things that come as a result of follow what we know to be right and good.

Now that the heavy stuff is out of the way, here's this.

I finally saw the new Christmas video. This one.

At the end it says the greatest gift is the gift of eternal life.
"But who wants to live forever?" I thought.
Life is hard. Aging is difficult. In many stories, immortality is looked at as a curse or punishment.

But what if that's not the life that is meant? Yes, yes. There's the eternal perspective. What about life? As in the spark within the world that makes us move? You know- the "get a life" or "living life" meaning. Everlasting... also known as abundant.

What if it isn't years, but life in those years? Eternal life?

Life of joy, excitement, happiness, creativity, love, and adventure.

That, to me, sounds like the ultimate gift.

What do you think? How would you describe the ultimate gift?

While finishing this up, it has occurred to me that He has already started giving that life. I gave the example of happiness through creating. Although I never left my bed, I felt as though I had really "lived".

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Of Puzzles: and Prayers

Part 2! ... again.

Remember way back when I posted about

Take Care of Spiritual Things First
I have found that before things can get better, before your life pulls it self together or "heals, there is a spiritual healing. Before this happens, things generally get pretty bad.

To start at the beginning, do you remember when I posted about starting to read However Long and Hard the Road by Elder Jeffery R Holland? Well, it turns out that whenever there was something I needed to hear, it was Elder Holland who said it. Even if it was a quote on Pinterest or in a class. There was just something about his words that was so spot on, it became a rather profound phenomenon.
I kept getting the idea to write to him. However, that's just weird. I had nothing special to say. And it's weird.
I put this off for a long time (months and months), and it kept coming. Another big way of holland helps came. It got to the point where I felt like he was a good friend of mine; telling me what I need to hear in a way that I will hear it. I decided to at least write the letter, expressing the sentiment. (Even though it's weird) I still wasn't sure if I was going to send the letter when I looked for the mailing address. I found it only because of some bitter angry person. It was at this point I knew I was going to send it come hell or high water. That's my friend! And if he's getting hate mail, he could use some kindness.
I sent it before General Conference and forgot about it.

A couple weeks later, I started having questions. Ridiculous questions. My testimony was beginning to waiver for no apparent reason. I was studying and praying everyday. I wasn't doing anything bad. This only add to the frustration. The sight of the temple still brought this bright home-like feeling. I knew that was true. But I was questioning pretty much everything else. (This became evident when someone started questioning me on the truthfulness of temples. I was able to honestly I had doubts but I was firmly certain of temples.) things get worse before they get better. Probably because of opposition.

I wanted to know. I needed to know. I fasted. Nothing happened that entire day. That night, I asked again. While praying I got a song stuck in my head, so I listened to it while washing my face. I happened to turn the water off at the exact moment a line was said. It impacted me so deeply, it had to have been just the song saying those things.
My first thought the next day was "So... is God real?" I shuffled my music while getting ready. You know when you're not paying attention to a sung and you suddenly tune it? Well I was thinking about how if there is God, then I have no hope. Then what would be the point of everything? My brain suddenly, almost violently, went to the music.
"So when you're heart's on fire/ But you know your desire/ Don't hold a glass over the flame/ Don't let your heart grow cold/ I will call you by name/ I will share your road" (Mumford & Sons "Hopeless Wanderer")
I guess my name is music. Someone was obviously trying to reach me. (Funny enough, this isn't the first time music has played an instrumental part in my personal conversion.) I wish I could explain the feeling. It happens way down where you can't reach it and surrounds you as if you could breath it and wear it.
My faith wasn't perfected in that moment, but there was a spark, and I wasn't going to hold a glass over it. There was still confusion, frustration, and so much noise.
Slowly, ever so slowly, it continues to grow.
(Watch the movie only if you are daring. 4 comics spoofing on genre music videos)

A couple days later I got a letter. A letter form The Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-Day Saints: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Was I in trouble?
I had almost forgotten about having written to Elder Holland. He wrote back! I was not expecting that! It was short. It was simple. It was powerful.
Wow! It packed the spirit! I never get tired of reading it and I feel the spirit just as strong every time. In it he promises that things will get better. Oh, have they ever!

When an apostles makes you a promise, you can count on it.

I also want to share that I know God is generous in his love and forgiveness. If you know me or have read this blog, you know He and I are no strangers to each other.
Imagine it like this. You slave to make the perfect feast for someone. All their favorites with some new and utterly delicious dishes! Can you imagine it? Then when the table has been finished and you asked how it was they say "What dinner? I don't remember any food." I know some people would never invite that guest ever again. However, the Lord is not some people. If you do so much as realize there is a table in front of you, He will bring you desserts.
I am completely shocked, awed, and surprised by Him.

"Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive." (Joseph Smith Jr)
It was a week after this musical epiphany and letter that my grandmas suggested the doctor. They have told me they weren't so sure, but both had the same thought at the same time and went ahead with it.

Remember how the doctor asked me what I love and I said "Music?"

After just the first session, I got a text from a friend to have lunch with her. I have seen scarcely anyone outside my family for the past year. No friends, because I'm too sick for them, and they have busy lives. After just two sessions with the doctor, I was able to laugh with her harder than I have in a long long long long long long long time. I was able to laugh without repercussions.

Also after the first session, my mom walked into my room. She had an envelope in one hand and was obviously trying to suppress excitement. In the envelope were too tickets to my second favorite band!
(Okay, for me to have a favorite anything is a big deal. They are a very very close second. I hold to number one for loyalty reasons) She had briefly mentioned to her friend I loved them, but that I was probably too sick to go. Her friend surprised both of us with free tickets.
This for me was a big big deal. It took about 20 minutes for it to actually sink in. I kept thinking "But this is real life! This only happens in movies! My life isn't a movie!" I might have cried.

This post has no pictures because I'm writing before heading to the concert. Who knows what will happen there!

Healing, true healing, comes from the inside out. I promise you, everyone who is struggling, or even if life is good, it will get better.
You can bank on it.

Shocked, grateful, and awed,

I encourage you to listen and enjoy all of the Bastille acoustic songs. You have my permission to cry.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ether 12:4- Anchors Part 2

Sorry! Sorry! I know, it's another two parter. (Especially since it's another to do with the last part one. You'll just have to wait.) I just really feel like this needs to be revisited.

Anchors of Testimony
By James C Christensen

After the last post about anchors, I gained a new addition to my personal library. I highly recommend "Passage By Faith" By James C Christensen for everyone. It's been a game changer for me. It's an art-book that changes every time you go through it. Well, it doesn't change, but your perspective does.
Why I love this book is how it articulates thoughts, feeling, concepts, and experiences so well. Its all communicated through art and words. There have been few times I've read through one of his experiences and thought "You too! That perfectly describes what happens to me!" I understand myself a little better for the time spent with Bro. Christensen.

I bring this book up because of a thought he shares in relation to the art piece, "Epiphany".If you happen to see this book at a friends house, pick it up and find the story (page 9). He explains an experience in which he felt a revelation while taking out the trash. It was a Wednesday night and he was suddenly filled with love and light and warmth. (You've felt this too, no? I can remember when I've felt this very clearly.)

I heard these moments referred to once as anchors (perhaps general conference or elsewhere in Passage of Faith). They are anchors we experience every now and then, perhaps for no reason at all, that serve as spiritually, emotionally, and quite literally. They are reminders of God's love and personal awareness. I have felt them with revelation, as well as for no reason at all. I really wish I could find where I found it!

What I find most fascinating about this anecdote is that the paint has multiple layers of gold leaf and gold paint that cannot be captured by camera. They must be experienced in person. The moments are the same. We can listen and share and watch and read, but the true aesthetic comes when living in it.

You may take a pause here. Stretch your legs. Get some water. Take a bathroom break. Or perhaps just sit for a while and ponder anchors you have felt.

Because her comes two more examples of how hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ are anchors, respectively.
"Sometimes The Spirit Touches Us Through
Our Weaknesses"
James C Christensen

"It's the storm that will pass, not you." (A musical I can't remember)
Once upon a time, I went on a mission. Surprise! On the way to the MTC, my brother asked me if I had any questions. I didn't know where to begin! The only problem was that I didn't know what it was that I did not know. (Mull it over a bit, you'll understand.) So I shrugged, and he laughed. Just before the door opened he told me that teachers wouldn't speak English for the first three days. That was the last word of advice I got before embarking on my mission.
He was right! The teachers spoke only Croatian. Some missionaries really struggled with this to the point of almost giving up. I was lucky and was totally unhindered. I knew it would happen and not to worry about it.

Dr Ashleigh (my new doctor) told me that as I was recovering I would have good days and bad days. The good days meant my body was healing and the bad days are when my body can't quite pull it together. I didn't have a bad day until this week, and it was bad. However frustrating and awful it was, I was somehow okay.

With both of these examples, there isn't really a way to prepare. I knew it was going to happen but not how. Similarly, life with the gospel is the same way. We are told trails and challenges will come. We don't know when, how, or what they will be, but we know they will come. Just as my brother promised, as the doctor promised, and as Christ promises, these trails end.
"After Clouds, Sun"
James C Christensen

Knowing this does not make the storm any less wet, but when we think the storm will never end or that we will be washed away we have our anchors. Faith is believing the sun shines behind the clouds. Hope is believing we will see it again and feel it's warmth. Faith includes hoping in the flora that will come from the rain.

When we begin to think there is no end to life's storms, we can trust and believe in Christ. He will anchor us against the winds and bring to pass our eternal springs and summers.

If you ever need to feel that anchor, I encourage you to get on your knees and ask. I know now that the Lord is generous in showering His love and answers. I promise you He will answer.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Stay tune for...
Part 2 Of Puzzles and Prayers
What I believe is the last installment of this Ether 12:4 series (I still want to hear your insights on this verse)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Of Puzzles: a Health Update

This will be in two parts. Even though the first part came chronologically second, I'm still debating on if I want share the second part. Sorry!
Credit: National Geographics
After trying to put puzzle pieces together for a long time with nothing coming together, you flip the table over in frustration only to find the pieces fall perfectly in place.

If you're like me, you stand there staring at the puzzle while the occurrence sinks in. "But this is real life. That doesn't happen in real life." My life isn't a movie. My life is real, and movies are not. This is why it's important to have your own experiences.

By the by, we're 80% sure what's wrong with me.

My grandmas (close family friends, but we claim them and they claim us) suggested a doctor to me. After ending it with the last doctor, we've been getting a few suggestions. If you ever find yourself in the land of medical-ness, I wish you the best of luck. We tried getting into these doctors but couldn't get an appointment. (There's either a flaw in phones or receptionists. Let's blame phones.) Which my regular medical doctors, it could be 3 months before there's an opening. We had an appointment with the doctor my grandmas suggested in less than a week. (Props to her phone!) I was super skeptical though.

A chiropractor? Really? The last thing I wanted was someone sitting on my back. What on earth could she do for me? The only comment that came with the suggestion is "She's gentle". Still didn't mean anything to me.
One of my major concerns is that I wanted to treat the cause, not the symptoms. I want to get to the bottom of this! I can't live like this- a life like this is not living.

I went to the appointment SUPER skeptical. I have respect for my grandmas though, so I went to humor them and my mom. The first thing I'm told is to take everything I know about chiropractics and put it in a box. This doctor was only interested in treated the cause. Cool! Me too!

We talk about my novel of a health record, what we've found out so far, and all that jazz. I've never been in an accident or broken a bone. We decide to find a cause starting from birth. I guess it wasn't anything too eventful or exciting since I can't remember it. She asked my mom and got pretty much the same answer. No problems. "Where there forceps?" "Yeah, there would have been forceps." (That's something I didn't know.) "That's the problem!"
She explained all her young patients who come in had a c-section or forceps at birth. This causes strain on the neck as it's pulled and shreds up fragile fibers within the body. From the get-go, your body is already trying to compensate.
She did a simple exam. Turns out there is a whole inch of difference between my legs! Most people at that point are given inserts. My case, of course, would be different. My weight is mostly on my left size.
Credit: Sebastian Eriksson Self Portrait

Next up, x-rays. This revealed how truly contorted my body is. Terribly! It also reveals an extremely important factor. The atlas, the very first vertebra within the skull, is so far off in the wrong spot that it's crushing my brain stem. My neck curves the wrong way. My spine is a mess!
Why is that important? It's cutting of my nerves, one of the major ones being the vegas nerve. The vegas nerve is in charge of the heart, lungs, and stomach. It would be why I respiratory issues, and why my heart freaks out.

I read some papers she sent home with me, one of which is a chart with symptoms and the related section of the spine. So many things are explained, dating back to preschool and elementary school! She wasn't kidding when she said it was something from birth.

It was such a simple thing, yet it took us so long to find it. The treatment is adjustment of the atlas, which means a gentle message behind my ears. I've had 3 session and feel SO much better!

Why now? Why did it not become so severe until Serbia? It's something that builds up until your body says "Dosta mi je!" and gives in on itself. It could have been my extremely heavy and unbalanced bag, the stresses of missionary life, or it was just time.

As exciting as all of this is, it's only the picture of the puzzle. The circumstances surrounding it, the tipping of the table and the falling together, is what makes me sit down and really look and rejoice in it.
But that is part 2.

Part 2 is possibly still in process.