Friday, October 11, 2013

GUESS WHAT! I'm going on a mission.

When I was growing up my family never took "cool" family vacations.  While my friends were off at Disneyland, Wisconsin  Dells, and our nation's capitol, I was boarding yet another plane destined for the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.  My mom was born and raised in Mesa and was the only one of her siblings to flee the valley, so we took trips to the Mesa area to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins when it was time for vacation.  As the years passed I grew to resent the trips to Arizona because I just wanted to go to Disneyland (finally, just a few months ago, I made the trip to the LA area and spent a wonderful day at Disneyland and California Adventure.  A childhood dream come true).  Adding to my resentment was the hot climate that killed me as a child (and still does).  In moments of exasperation I would declare, "I AM NEVER EVER LIVING IN ARIZONA IN MY WHOLE LIFE.  NO MATTER WHAT!"  When I decided to go to school at BYU, where a decent amount of the student population hails from Arizona, I amended my childhood declaration to include the ending, "UNLESS I FALL IN LOVE AND MY HUSBAND MAKES ME MOVE THERE." Still, I never truly intended to settle in Arizona.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my mission call to the Arizona Mesa Mission.  I'm not going to lie, I'm not too jazzed to spend 18 months in a never ending dry heat, but overall I am extremely excited!  I'm not even just saying that so I don't sound like a brat, I am over the moon about my mission call.  It's hard to not be overjoyed about where you'll be spending a year and a half when you know without a doubt it is where you're meant to be.  I don't know what is in store for me or why I am being sent to labor in Mesa, Arizona, but I do know there are reasons that may or may not be realized by me while I am there.  And if my mission is like everyone else's, I will grow to absolutely love the deserts of Arizona that I have spent so much of my life loathing.  I don't doubt that from this day forward Arizona will hold a special place in my heart.

Right before I opened my call.

Snapchat even got in on this.

My mission boundaries.

My call and information packet.

Now.  Let me give you a top ten list.  Because I know you all love them! And by you, I mean I love them.


10)  Given the extreme heat (okay, I need to make one thing clear, I AM FROM MINNESOTA.  I do cold.  While some may think it isn't that hot in Arizona, I do.  I sincerely do.) I will most likely wear my hair up every day.  This will give me an excuse to get really good at up-dos.

9)  Rumor has it baptisms are super high in my mission and so are meal appointments.  A kid in one of my classes jealously told me that I'll more than likely get a lunch and dinner given to me most days. FOOD.

8)  I am speaking English.  At first I was really bummed that I'm staying in America AND speaking English.  There's kind of a stigma that English speaking, American missions are easier than foreign missions.  My initial thoughts on opening my call were, "Wow.  Heavenly Father must really not trust me, not only am I staying in America, I'm speaking my native tongue," and, "People won't even like me in Arizona.  I'm not holy enough. And Arizona is like Utah Jr., which means it is holy and stuff." The more I think about it the more I am glad I am speaking English.  I am typically a decent writer and speaker in English and I think I will be able to use those talents more fully in English than any other language.  I already have a hard time talking about emotions and serious religious topics with people who aren't religious, now imagine if I had to do that in Korean.  I would be such a hot mess.  Hopefully people will have less of a reason to hate me if I'm not butchering their language.

7)  If I'm lucky I'll get to serve near the temple during the Easter pageant.  I LOVE PAGEANTS.

6)  There are a lot of members of the church in Arizona, so I will have a lot of member support.

5)  I first began thinking of serving a mission two years ago.  I really didn't want to, but felt inspired to do so.  My main reason for not wanting to serve is my extreme fear of tracting.  The idea of knocking on random strangers' doors and asking if they want to talk about religion terrifies me.  Because Mormonism is so prevalent in Arizona people may not like me knocking on their door, but at least they will kind of be expecting it.

4)  Okay. This sounds really awful, but I'm really excited to be serving in America because I don't have to worry about my hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, toothbrush charger, and Clarisonic charger bursting into flames because of power incompatibility.

3)  Mesa is a diverse area, I will get to meet and work with a lot of people from varying ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.  And maybe some snowbirds.  So in addition to learning to love the desert, I'm going to have to learn how to love old people.

2)  I have a lot of family and other connections in the Mesa Mission.  Yeah, it will be great that people in the area care about me, but I'm mainly excited that this may be a way that the Lord intends to bring people to the gospel.  Member/Missionary teamwork, ya'll.

1)  The Arizona Mesa Mission will be the best mission evaaaaaa because it is where I'm supposed to serve.  I know it isn't a coincidence that I am being sent to Mesa.  The Lord is going to use me to touch hearts, build bridges, and share my beliefs with people who need to hear His message from my lips and nobody else's.  I can be proud sometimes, but I am humble enough to know that I am awkward and thoroughly mediocre, but there is a plan for me.  Heavenly Father will open the hearts of others and prove my inadequacies to be enough.

So come January 29, 2014 I will be packing my bags for the nation's 48th state.

Come July 2015 I will be coming home with a potted cactus and a whole host of stories to tell.  And hopefully a picture like this;

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Because my mission won't be complete without a posed picture of my cactus and me.

Oh.  And bonus point.  I am making it my goal to single-handedly make as many people as possible say pop instead of soda in that state.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013


As far as weeks go, this one has been pretty awful.  The lease on my apartment ended before the lease on my new place begins so I've been a homeless couch surfing bum for a week.  On top of that I got sick on Wednesday so I haven't even been a fun homeless house guest to those who have kindly taken me in.  My ears are plugged, my teeth are throbbing, my cheekbones feel as if they may crack from the amount of pressure behind them, my eyes water more now than they do during a normal viewing of Becoming Jane, sneezes riddle the silence, and my nose is dripping incessantly.  Not to brag, but my head colds put most people's to shame.  On a good day the doctor has been known to point out the poor quality of my sinuses.  Needless to say I'm miserable.  Couple my illness and homelessness with the never ending thoughts and worry that have been plaguing my mind this week and it's safe to say that I have had better weeks.  Oh, and naturally I developed a nasty zit on my right cheek.  Amidst all of my troubles I still had to work and meet my other obligations.  In doing this I re-learned a powerful lesson.

I am currently the volunteer coach for a 5th and 6th grade girls soccer team.  We practice on Wednesdays and have games on Thursdays and/or Saturdays depending on the week.  On Wednesday morning I contemplated canceling practice because I wasn't feeling well but decided against it because we had lost our previous game.  I drove begrudgingly to the elementary school where practice was being held and steeled myself for an hour of passing drills, defensive blocks, and scrimmaging.  We weren't three minutes into our practice before I forgot how awful my week was.  The hour flew by and I excitedly reminded the girls to show up at 4:15 for our game the following day as they left with their parents one by one.  The next day I was feeling worse still, but met my girls at the soccer field for their game.  Again, the hour quickly passed and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.  They're always full of quirky comments, funny one liners, and enough energy to make anyone in their presence happy to be alive.  I absolutely love them.  Plus, we won our game Thursday night after my girls implemented some of the more aggressive strategies I taught them the night before.  I was probably beaming with more pride at our 4-2 win than their parents were.

Here is what I learned:
Service really is an easy remedy for melancholy.  I lost myself in those girls for a few hours this week and they were by far the happiest hours I had.  Further, the peace I felt while serving them gave me the perspective I needed to trust in the Lord.  Even if I hadn't been sick and homeless, this week would have been hard because I have more on my mind than ever.  I spent the first half of the week doubting recent decisions I've made and wallowing in self pity.  By Wednesday it was all I could do to put on a happy face and not spontaneously cry.  Soccer practice on Wednesday night shifted my focus outward to others and helped me realize how ridiculous I was being.  Life is hard and sometimes we will have to endure things we don't want to.  Sometimes we won't understand why things are happening the way they are.  Sometimes we'll be thrown challenges we don't think we deserve.  But that doesn't mean we get to be selfish.  That's what I learned this week.  Being selfish doesn't benefit anyone, especially yourself.  Service is the gateway drug to better things.

"An attitude of love characterized the mission of the Master...He gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the dead.  Perhaps when we [face] our Maker, we will not be asked, 'How many positions did you hold?' but rather 'How many people did you help?'  In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people."
                                 --Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Running Out the Door

When I was in high school I was a rather social being.  It wasn't uncommon for me to get home from school, work, or an extra-curricular activity and grab something to eat quick before I ran out the door again to do something with my friends.  Often I would mention to one of my parents my plans as I was exiting the house.  Most of the time they told me to have fun and reminded me to wake them up if I got home after they went to bed.  Sometimes though my brisk beeline to the door was halted with phrases such as, "You can't leave until you empty the dishwasher," or, "Put your laundry away before you go to the basketball game."

I realized today that I do the same thing with my prayers.  I often hastily tell Heavenly Father what my plan is as I'm about to do it and most of the time He agrees with me and tells me to wake him up when I get home.  Sometimes though he stops me on my way out the door and a course correction is required.  This has only happened to me a few times in life and it has resulted in very minor changes to my plan.  Well a little over a week ago I was stopped and asked to make a large course correction.  I have had an emotionally taxing summer as I've tried to figure a lot of things out.  I decided to avoid making decisions by drowning out my thoughts with 60 hour work weeks.  I didn't have time to think until I went to California on vacation and life slowed down considerably.  I found myself contemplating life in odd places, such as on a ride at Disneyland and in the backseat of my friend's car as we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was terribly inconvenient.  Finally toward the end of my trip I was clearly instructed to metaphorically "unload the dishwasher" before I continued on with life as I had planned.

At first I was really upset.  Sobs accompanied my explanations as I hid out in the hotel hallway and called my mom to update her on my life plan.  I was looking forward to taking one year to finish up my college education instead of one semester so that I would have time for an extremely high amount of fun.  After graduation I had even contemplated staying in Provo.  My friends are all here, I enjoy the independence that results from living 1,300 miles from my parents, and I've come to enjoy being here.  I was running full speed toward the door, ready to exit and have a fun time and was halted in my tracks.  I spent the next 4-5 days in an odd emotional/moody/generally selfish state in which I had to actively put on a happy face when I was around people so they would think I was normal.  The last few days of my pity party occurred when I was back in Provo.  After a friend gave me a blessing I realized it was time to embrace Heavenly Father's plan even though it will require a lot of sacrifice.  I'm terrified.

Today though, while I was sitting in church I had an epiphany.  When my parents asked me to complete a chore before I left the house in high school they weren't trying to keep me from what I had planned.  They just expected something from me before I set out to do what would bring me joy.  Never did I ever believe that my parents didn't want me to experience joy in high school.  Often I would do what I had been asked to do and then continue to do what I wanted.  I satisfied my parent's desires and my own even though I had originally only made time for myself.  My experiences weren't diminished in the slightest.  The same is true in this situation.  I foolishly believed that Heavenly Father had completely disregarded my wishes by instructing me to drastically change my plan.  I believed that I was being asked to sacrifice many opportunities that would never be provided to me again.  I've been asked by Heavenly Father to do something I never imagined I would do.  It throws a wrench in the next 2 years of my life, but in the eternal scheme of things it's only a small chore he requires of me before I can continue my flee out the door to the bright future I have planned.  My life isn't necessarily going off the plan I created, instead an extra loop has been added to my track that still leads to the same goals, dreams, and aspirations I had originally set out to accomplish.  Like in high school, I will enjoy my plans more knowing that I unloaded Heavenly Father's dishwasher before I left the house to see a movie with my friends.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ground Between the Millstones

I debated for a long time before I actually decided to write this post. It isn't incredibly insightful, uplifting, or thoughtful and I wanted people to be inspired, uplifted, or leave my blog with a thoughtful message when they visited. I think it's important to be honest and real with myself and others though. Life isn't always perfect and happy, and nothing drives me crazier than when people act like it is. There are always things I am grateful for, but that doesn't mean struggles and trials don't abound. I decided to pen this post because I wanted to come across as human. A lot of what I'll be writing will be inspired moments I experienced, but that doesn't mean I live a carefree life. I experience heartache, sorrow, sadness, and confusion intermixed with gratitude, happiness, excitement, peace, and confidence. Life is like trail mix--a lot of deliciousness with a few stupid raisins.

Sometimes I feel forgotten. Sometimes I feel alone. And sometimes I feel like my mediocrity lowers my value. Truly, how much can one average 22 year old girl do? I may influence a few people's lives for the better, but it's unlikely that I'll ever be an Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Susan B. Anthony. I find myself getting frustrated because so many girls my age in my culture are married and starting families. They're making a valuable contribution to society while I'm just hanging out, doing nothing meaningful with my life--if I'm not meant to be married right now I should at least be saving the world or something. Sometimes I think I could go on a mission, but then I remember I wouldn't be a great missionary and ultimately I probably wouldn't contribute a net gain of goodness to the world compared to if I just continued doing what I'm already doing.

Sometimes I just feel stuck. Like I'm in a basketball game and I just keep pivoting, hoping to find someone to pass the ball to. But there isn't anyone on my team around to help me. Everyone is in the locker room and the other team has crowded me and I can't shoot and have no one to pass to and am just stuck. Moving in a circle with one foot planted in the same spot. Not helping myself or anybody else. Futilely wasting energy trying to solve the problem and score a few points while I wait for the clock to run out of time. It's maddening! Who wants to just waste time waiting for the clock to run out? That's why I'm frustrated. I'm not someone who is content just waiting for the game to end. I want to contribute to the game. I want to contribute to the win. I want to win. I want to be Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Susan B. Anthony, but I don't know how.

I don't have any answers or insights. Tonight I just have frustrations. I just think it's important to know that you can have faith and still have days when you're not happy. Being faithful and striving to be a better disciple of Christ doesn't mean you'll pass each day in complete bliss. A quote from David A. Bednar comes to mind though,

"I do not know why some people learn the lessons of eternity through trial and suffering—while others learn similar lessons through rescue and healing."

He doesn't know, and I don't know. But I am learning something. Hopefully someday I can understand why I learn the lessons of eternity through trial and suffering instead of through rescue and healing. Elder Bednar quoted Elder Orson F. Whitney in the same talk that the previous quote came from,

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire” (quoted in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 98).

At least I know that crying on my bedroom floor (because crying on your bedroom floor is more fulfilling than crying on your bed) is contributing to my education. Life is hard and far too often I think people try and tell you that as long as you pray, go to church, read your scriptures, etc. that it won't be hard and that you'll always be happy. I'm here to tell you that I do all of those things (heck, I did all of them TODAY) and I'm not happy at the moment. I think what people mean to say is that if you pray, go to church, read your scriptures, etc. then you'll at least know your trials and suffering are happening for a reason. That you're being ground between the millstones for a purpose; to become stronger. To be educated. Earth is just a school. We're all learning how to be eternal beings and that requires more than we imagine.

Monday, May 20, 2013

7 Years

Sometimes I forget that Joseph Smith knew about the plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah for 7 years before he was instructed to obtain and translate them.

Sometimes I forget that Joseph was sold into slavery at the age of 17 and didn't translate Pharaoh's dream until he was 30.

Sometimes I forget that the Israelites were held in bondage at the hands of the Egyptians for hundreds of years before the Lord liberated them through Moses.

Sometimes I forget that I am not in charge of my life's timetable, but that doesn't mean there isn't a timetable.

Let's rewind to my high school graduation: circa 2009.  I had just finished a school year in which I served as the co-editor of our high school year book, drum major for marching and pep band, choir president, National Honor Society president, one of six senior class student council representatives, and senior class president.  On top of my leadership roles I had performed in a musical, play, and on a one act competition team, was a member of our school's jazz choir and flute choir, was working a part time job at the pharmacy in town, worked hard to get top ratings on both my vocal and clarinet solos at our annual competition, was taking two AP classes, sat first chair at the all-conference honor band concert that year, and was on the first ever CFHS Minnesota state champion We the People team.  I was graduating a four year letter winner in academics, band, and choir among other letters that I had accomplished only two or three of my high school years, and had been voted most musical and best female singer by my classmates.  2008-2009 was a great school year for me and I believed my last year as a child was going to propel me into an adulthood of prosperous circumstances.  Now before you're overly impressed with me, I should mention that I was in a class of 106 graduates--it's not like I held all these titles and had beat out 1200 other students for them.  Nevertheless I was full of confidence and ready to enter Brigham Young University and make a name for myself.

Instead, I spent my first year of college struggling with self worth and believing I wasn't destined for anything above mediocrity; how can you excel when 35,000 other BYU students graduated from high school with all the accomplishments I listed above and then some?  I drowned my sorrows and fear in far more Nutella than any person should eat in 9 months and stupidly chopped off my hair.  It took a study abroad to London in 2010 for me to re-find myself and re-dedicate myself to finding my path in life.  With a more humble outlook on my future I finished my second year of college and began to tell myself again that there was a plan for me--it just may involve less grandiose accomplishments than I previously anticipated.  Two years later I've just finished my senior year of college and have another year left before BYU will give me a diploma.  I'm as lost as I was my freshman year of college and still wonder what magnificent things await for me.  When I try and imagine my future I just get lost and don't know what to do.  Unfortunately, the dewey-eyed 18 year old who strode across the graduation stage four years ago with confidence in her own plan was wrong about many of the expectations she set for herself.  I didn't end up majoring in music, I didn't finish college in four years, I didn't have a crazy awesome dating life, and I am no closer to knowing what I want to do for a career than I was the day I was born.

I lost confidence in my plan a few years ago, but eventually gained confidence in the Lord's plan.  I feel like I talk and write about my uncertainty in life a lot.  I think it's because it's something that I've finally learned to embrace in the last 6 months or so and I hope others don't take as long as I did to revel in life's uncertainty.  I didn't come into college with an open heart. I set goals, I made plans, and I didn't confer with the Lord at all.  SURPRISE!  I'm not really the one in charge, but it's better that way.  If I was in charge I would have missed out on so much.  I've been thinking about the Lord's plan for me a lot lately.  Almost incessantly.  Today while I was studying though I was reminded that:

Joseph Smith knew about the plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah for 7 years before he was instructed to obtain and translate them.

Joseph was sold into slavery at the age of 17 and didn't translate Pharaoh's dream until he was 30.

The Israelites were held in bondage at the hands of the Egyptians for hundreds of years before the Lord liberated them through Moses.

I am not in charge of my life's timetable, but that doesn't mean there isn't a timetable.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Faith: It's a Process

" 41 And what is it that ye shall ahope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have bhope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life ceternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

42 Wherefore, if a man have afaith he bmust needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be ameek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his afaith and hope is vain, for none is bacceptable before God, save the cmeek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and dconfesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

47 But acharity is the pure blove of Christ, and it endurethcforever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be dpurified even as he is pure. Amen."

I recognize that that passage of scripture was a little bit lengthy. It was taken from Moroni Ch. 7. I was reading the section of Preach My Gospel that teaches how to effectively study (which was good for me, because I am potentially the least effective studier on the planet). One of the exercises involved reading this passage and then finding a few points that I can work on or apply to my life. I found that everything in this segment is something I need to work on. Faith is such a nebulous idea. It's something that I've been raised to believe I have grasped, when in actuality I exercise a surface level strength of faith. I've read the Book of Mormon multiple times, but these verses have never stuck out to me before. I realized faith is a lot like a modified "If you give a mouse a cookie" scenario. Instead of if you give a mouse a cookie he will then want a, b, and c it is if you don't have a, b, c...x, y, and z, faith won't be the same. This is what I gathered: the love of Christ is charity and without charity you're nothing; you need charity to be meek and lowly of heart which are both prerequisites to acquiring hope; and without hope, you can't have faith. Essentially I need to start at the bottom and work my way up. You don't take calculus without taking algebra, and you can't have real faith if you're not living a Christlike life. I was also impressed to remember that faith doesn't automatically mean you have a perfect knowledge of something. Today was a meaningful day of study for me. I've been a little off the last few weeks and have been desperately wanting to return to my normal demeanor. I've been quiet lately, to the point that people have noticed and asked if I'm alright. I set out today's study session with the hope of learning something that would help me to put life back into perspective and as a result make me a little more carefree again. This was definitely what I needed to hear. I needed to remember that even though I have no clue where my life is headed I can still have faith in the Lord's plan. Faith doesn't mean the clouds have lifted, it just means I know that I can journey through the clouds and make it to the other side. I can start at the grassroots now and work to build my faith by being Christlike, charitable, meek, lowly of heart, and hopeful.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


"You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement wil weaken your faith."(Preach My Gospel, 10).

On a scale of 1-10, 1 being you're Ryan Gosling and have nothing to discourage you in life ever and 10 being you're Lindsey Lohan and literally have nothing in your life to not be discouraged about ever (unless you're reminiscing about the Parent Trap glory days), I would say that I have a constant level of discouragement that varies from 3-7 on any given day.  I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop and have a hard time believing that things can really go well for me all the time.  If I do well on a test then I'm bound to not do well on a paper or if I have a fun time on a date the guy I'm with definitely thinks I'm an ogre.  I had a conversation with a friend about this a month ago and she pointed out that I need to be better at positively affirming myself--especially because I'm pretty good at positively affirming others and believing that other people aren't nearly as flawed as I am.  I kind of brushed her off and didn't think much about the way I was living life until I read this passage.  Discouragement will weaken my faith.  No wonder I have a constant stream of doubts about my future running through my mind!  Discouragement is a vicious cycle that leads to less faith and even more discouragement.  After 22 years of putting myself down and focusing on my faults instead of my talents I realize this is more than damaging me emotionally--it's damaging me spiritually.  It all makes sense.  While I tell myself I will never be good enough to get married, I'm simultaneously saying I don't have faith that God will bless me with a spouse someday.   Further my doubt doesn't allow for the Lord's plan for me.  My discouragement makes everything about me and not about me submitting to the Lord's will.  My first goal inside of my study Preach My Gospel goal is to replace thoughts of discouragement with thoughts of affirmation and submission to the Lord's will and plan for me.  Clearly I'm not going to be delusional and switch "I will never get married" with "Ryan Gosling will take me out tomorrow and we'll be married and have a baby in 11 months."  Instead I will evaluate my talents and positive attributes and realize I have a lot to offer, even though I have faults.  I can still work on my less than appealing characteristics, but I also need to recognize that my negatives don't overshadow my positives and that Heavenly Father has a plan that factors in all of my great and horrible talents and personality traits.  This won't be easy, but it will provide me with an opportunity to pray for help and to rely on Christ to assist and guide me.  I will also need to remember that I am a daughter of God, and as such I am loved by God and Jesus Christ despite everything.

A Worthy Goal

I had a moment last week when I realized I am not the woman that my Heavenly Father believes I can be.  I have talents and blessings that I am not utilizing.  I have been progressing academically since I began college, as well as professionally.  I do not doubt that I have paved a path that will lead to a successful career and future if I wish it to.  By the standards of the world I am doing life the right way.  That being said, I have spent the last school year being spiritually stagnant.  I haven’t pushed myself to grow further in the light of Christ and I became content with my humble testimony.  It’s time that changes.  While reading my patriarchal blessing last week I realized I need to start actively working toward becoming the valiant woman of Christ I am ordained to be.  I have been blessed with the ability to be a light to those who wander in darkness—something I don’t do often enough.  Boats are crashing on the shore because my lighthouse bulb hasn’t been shinning very brightly lately.  I set a goal to spend half an hour a day studying Preach My Gospel because I want to be prepared to be a missionary, whether that be for 18 months out in the field, or just in every day settings where people may ask me questions about my faith.  I also think there are things I can learn from this text that will help me grow as a person.  As I study Preach My Gospel and my scriptures I will be posting insights on this blog for surfers of the World Wide Web (or, let's be real...just my mom) to read.  I’m doing this for multiple reasons.  First, I’m trying to get more comfortable with the idea of sharing my faith.  I group faith in the broader category of emotions, and I am awful at sharing my emotions—I would rather pull my arm hairs out individually with tweezers than tell someone I love them, cry in front of another human, or admit openly that I care about someone and miss them.  It’s not that I don’t have faith or that I don’t love people (trust me, I love a lot of people—some who don’t even know that I do), I have just always struggled with communicating deeper emotions (and not because I was abused as a child—I come from a loving family, it really just stems from my larger fear of rejection and my fear of depending upon other, talk about a therapeutic tangent).  Second, I’m trying to keep myself accountable to my goal.  If I say I’ll blog about something then I’m more likely to actually do it.  Third, I hope that people who are struggling with their faith (of any religion, whether they be Mormon or not) stumble upon this and recognize that no one is perfect and we all have to take a step back sometimes and evaluate where we are spiritually.  I really enjoy blogging, but have been struggling with finding a meaningful topic to write about lately.  I will continue to rant when I want to about every topic under the sun on my personal blog and updating individuals on my life, but this blog will be dedicated to my deeper thoughts and spiritual insights and progression.