May 27, 2011


There's a phrase we hear a lot in gospel context: endure to the end. Before my mission I spent a significant amount of time running.  I did not always like to run, but the more I did it the more I liked it.   As my sisters and I were training for the state capital half marathon last May, I learned a lot about enduring to the end.  My sister Emily is a very dedicated runner.  She understands the importance of daily conditioning and strengthening better than I do, and because of her dedication she passes me up every time. Even when she has shin splints and back aches she can't be slowed down.   When we ran the race, she was miles ahead.  My sister Annie and I stuck together most of the time.  I was thankful to have her at my side as we trained and as we ran the first 12 miles of that race.  When we got nearer to the 13 mile marker, however, Annie started to speed up.  My legs were aching like crazy and my ankles felt like they might break, so I panicked when Annie quickened her pace.  She made me realize that I could not give up during that last stretch after we had worked so hard to get where we were.  Annie sprinted that last mile to the finish line, and I did my very best to keep up with her.  Even though every part of me ached, I still remember that incredible feeling as I crossed the finish line and joined my awesome sisters. Every bit of conditioning and training, every ache and pain was worth it.

As a latter day saint, I do not believe the "once saved, always saved" philosophy that many people believe in today.  I believe that being a Christian is a lifestyle.  It is not a single event, or one spiritual experience that  makes us who we are.  It is not just going to church once a week that makes us who we are.  Rather, it is the things we do every single day that strengthen our faith and shape the people we are becoming.  Studying scriptures, praying constantly, trusting God and serving others are all aspects of enduring to the end. Sometimes this process can seem a little intimidating, overwhelming, or maybe even excruciating, but in the end I know it will be worth it.

"I would hat ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption.  Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end, and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved." -Omni 1:26

May 19, 2011

my friend

I'd like to tell you about my friend.
My friend didn't know she wanted to be my friend at first.
I had to bribe my friend to be my friend by offering to do her dishes.
We did her dishes.
My friend didn't want to listen to us, but we found out her weakness was books.
We gave her a Book of Mormon.
We accidently took the Book of Mormon back, but brought her a new one the next day.
My friend started reading and thought it was bogus.
But then she kept reading and realized it wasn't.
She asked if it was true and God told her "yes".
She quit smoking cold turkey without a complaint.
My friend had God on her side.
My friend was baptized three months ago for the remission of sins.
Since her baptism she has practically read the entire standard the history of the church.
My friend has been through more in the past few years than most of us go through in an entire lifetime.
Yet my friend keeps smiling, and finds something to laugh about every day.
My friend has become one of my best friends.
She started a blog of her own a few weeks ago; you can find it here.

Thanks for being my friend, friend.

May 18, 2011

the oak tree

On Sunday Elder Ballard shared this poem as he was talking about keeping ourselves strong during hard times.   I really liked it (and not just because it's about a tree) and I would like to share it as well. It reminded me of this 1400 year old oak tree my family and I found in South Carolina a few years ago..the Angel Tree.

The Oak Tree
by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew

May 13, 2011

a pillar of light

Yesterday Sister Koford and I had the opportunity to teach a woman about the restoration.  We talked to her about the 14 year old boy Joseph Smith who went into a grove of trees to pray.  Joseph had a simple question to ask God, "Which church should I join?" yet he received a marvelous answer.  In his own words he said, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it rested upon me.  When the light rested upon me I saw two personages whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other, Joseph: this is my beloved Son, hear him!"  God the father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph and called him to be a prophet, to restore the truths that had been lost after the death of Christ and His apostles. 

After we explained the first vision, I told Angelyn that I know this really happened.  I did not see a pillar of light, or have God appear to me, but I prayed just as Joseph did to know the truth.  My answer came more gradually and less obviously than Joseph's did, but to me it was every bit as powerful; because I now know with all my heart that Joseph was a prophet, and that he was called of God to restore Christ's church to the earth.  Angelyn's eyes filled with tears as we continued to talk about the different ways that God answers prayers.  We asked her to pray to know if what we were teaching was true, and as she agreed the spirit grew stronger and stronger.  We each felt God testifying to us in our minds and in our hearts that the things we were discussing were true.

Sometimes God answers our prayers with marvelous visions and manifestations such as Joseph's, but more often they come by the quiet whisperings and promptings of the spirit.  Elder David A. Bednar, one of the current twelve apostles, compares these different types of revelation to a light switch and a sunrise.  Joseph Smith, and Saul in the New Testament, had light switch experiences.  Angelyn and I had sunrise experiences-gradual and subtle but powerful nonetheless.  I know that even though God speaks to each of us in different ways, he truly does answer our prayers if we have enough faith to ask Him.  He loves us so much and wants us to have the truth.  Are you willing to find it?

May 9, 2011

best mother's day

In honor of this special holiday, I got to see and talk to my cute family over Skype yesterday! Words cannot express how great it was to see their faces and hear their voices after months of letters and emails. It felt like I was at home for just a short period of time. The words of this little primary song may be cheesy but they express exactly how I feel right now...
I have a family here on earth, they are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them through all eternity
Families can be together forever through Heavenly Father's plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can!

May 5, 2011

what am I doing?

I live a very different life right now. I live out of a suitcase with no permanent home, no job, and no friends or family closeby. I just moved to a new city where I know no one. Yet I feel quite content despite this uncertainty. I don't know exactly what I'm doing or where I'm going or who I'm talking to, but this much I do know: I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." -3 Nephi 5:13 This is what I'm doing.

May 1, 2011

I'll go

"If by a still, small voice he calls to paths that I do not know, I'll answer dear Lord with my hand in thine: I'll go where you want me to go." Sister Jasper keeps making me listen to these lyrics, reminding me of the attitude every missionary must have! If I did not have this attitude, I would have never experienced this wonderful place, and I would never choose to leave it now. Cookeville is a place I will never forget. Not because of the historic train station or the cute town square or the college campus (even though they are all great) but because of the people I've met here and the miracles I've seen:

-People who treated me like a best friend when I was first a stranger.
-People who give all the money and time they can afford to serve God's children.
-People who open their doors to provide food and shelter to those less fortunate at any moment of any day.
-People who have enough faith to do what God asks even when the path is not easy.
-People who found the strength from God to overcome powerful addictions.
-People who prayed for the first time in years to know if God was really there, and then had us find them just moments later.
-People who were confused and frustrated by all religions until God sent us to explain the truth.
-People who truly understand the meaning of faith, hope, and charity.
-People who have become my family away from family.

I have come to love the people here so much. God's ways have been made a little clearer to me through these people I've met and the experiences I've had. I have faced some of my greatest challenges and disappointments, but also felt the greatest excitement, joy, and peace through it all. I have learned so much. Thank you, Cookeville (and Burgess Falls Ward). Now, the Lord needs me in Gallatin; so Gallatin is where I shall go!
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