Dec 24, 2016

Dealing With Trials Around Christmas

The most wonderful day of the year. The day we celebrate our Savior's birth. The day we celebrate family and friends. The day we celebrate life.
Unfortunately, although Christmas is a wonderful holiday, it is not always wonderful for everyone. Holidays, especially Christmas, can be very hard for individuals who are dealing with grief, mental illness, and other afflictions. 

When I was younger and dealing with my depressive episodes, Christmas was particularly traumatic. I had an emotional breakdown in front of my family on Christmas, and I still remember it. I was moving from couch to couch in our basement, bawling and saying things that, according to my family, "didn't make sense." I was a wreck. Not long after, I went to residential treatment to learn to manage my depression, and get professional help with moving forward after my suicide attempts. It's almost ten years later, and November/December are still somewhat emotionally draining for me.

Christmas is beautiful, and life is hard. If you lean on the Truth, life around Christmas can be beautiful too. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

I know there are too many people who are dealing with unbearably painful trials this year: the loss of a family member before the holidays, relationship conflicts, mental illness, family problems, job losses, custody battles, etc.

And although nothing I say can make your trials go away, maybe this post can help give you some guidance for how to make it easier.

1.) Remember That Heavenly Father Loves You

Now, depending on the trial(s) that you're going through, this could be easier said than done. Especially if you're going through something that's life altering -- and "life altering" varies from person to person. Something that's extremely tragic and draining for one person, can be relatively easy for the next.
If you're struggling with your faith -- hold on. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep moving. Keep praying. Don't think Heavenly Father hears your prayers? He does. I promise. He just doesn't always answer them in the time or way that you want Him to. Faith is trusting that things will work out when you don't think they will. 

2.) Lean on Your Support System

I say "support system" because unfortunately, not everybody feels like they can lean on their family when life is difficult. A support system can be anybody: family, church members, friends, coworkers, health professionals; whoever you trust to help you keep going and keep moving. 

3.) Be Mindful of the Holiday

Be mindful. Try to remember what Christmas is about. It's about celebrating the birth of our Savior, our Redeemer, our Beloved. You may think that focusing on the true meaning of Christmas will make your trial harder to bear - STOP. That's Satan trying to bring you down...don't let him! Life is tough, but you are tougher, especially with the Savior on your side.

4.) Trust That Things Will Get Better

Heavenly Father loves you, and He has a plan for you if you trust Him. Things will get better, and you have to keep going in order to see for yourself. Giving up is not an option. Life is a beautiful gift, and the trials that come with it can bring blessings. Just be patient. It's HARD to wait for things to get better, especially when you feel like whatever you're going through is bringing never-ending darkness, but  happiness. will. come. 
If this is your first Christmas without a family member, or if this year is tough because you're dealing with mental/physical illness, or if you're struggling financially this Christmas...take a deep breath. Trust. Everything will be okay. It will all work out the way it's supposed to. Life is hard to understand. Sometimes things happen and we don't know why, but in order to move forward, we need to trust that in the next minute or in the next hour, the weight on our hearts will feel a little lighter. 

5.) Give Yourself Permission to Be Happy

On Christmas day, give yourself permission to let go and be happy. It's okay to hurt and it's okay to struggle, but it's also okay to forget your troubles for a day. It's okay to try to push the pain away and have a good time, as long as you effectively cope with the pain later. It's perfectly fine to say, "okay, I'm going to let myself be upset about this for 15 minutes, and then I am going to go open a present with my family." It's okay to give yourself permission.

Brothers and Sisters, the holidays can be a wonderful, but painful time. To those who are struggling: you're not alone. Whatever your trial is, please don't give up. Please stay. Hold on for five minutes, and then an hour, and then a day. Put one foot in front of the other. Remember that God has a plan for you, you just might not know what it is yet. God has a purpose for your trial, you just don't understand what the purpose is right now. 
Have a Merry Christmas, and remember that each moment, each hour, each day, is a time to try again.

Oct 2, 2016

The Gospel Changes People (2 Year Baptism Anniversary!)

My TWO YEAR baptism anniversary was last week!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS ALREADY! Choosing to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the best decision I've ever made, and I owe it all to my Father in Heaven. This church has saved my life, and I don't even want to know where I'd be if I hadn't discovered it.

Brothers and Sisters, the gospel changes people. I'm sure hundreds of missionaries can testify to this. When an investigator, or anybody for that matter, discovers that the gospel is true, it changes them. It changes everything. Forever. And it's so beautiful. I love it!

Baptism anniversary - 9/27/16
The gospel can change anyone at anytime, no matter what their behaviors are. Before I joined the church, my life, my mind, was a very dark place to be. I was living with the burdens of depression, eating disorders, and abuse. My life was centered on habits that I thought I'd never live without. I was destroying my body and mind simply because it's what I'd been doing for years, and it's all I knew how to do "right." I was hurting myself because of past experiences that made me feel like I deserved it, and I didn't know how to feel anything else but pain. I didn't think a life out of the darkness was possible, but life doesn't always go the way you think it's going to

We can do all of the spiritual or educational preparation necessary, but life usually never works out the way we wish it would. Although frustrating at times, if we trust in God, "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28). If my life had gone according to my plan, I wouldn't be here. Three years ago I was in treatment for my eating disorder, losing hope in recovery, and feeling as if things would never get better. I didn't think God had a plan for me, and if He did, it wasn't a good one. But I didn't know at the time that's God's plan for me would always be greater than the one I had for myself. 

If you know a bit about my conversion story, you might know that literally days before I met with the missionaries I was in the hospital on a medical hold for a stroke caused by my eating disorder symptoms That hospital stay was my "rock bottom," and I haven't been back since. And that is because I gained the knowledge of the Restored Gospel. I was in therapy and receiving treatment for years before that. Don't get me wrong, my treatment team was great, but I truly believe that Heavenly Father was, and still is, my ultimate Healer.  

After the missionaries gave me the Book of Mormon to read, over time I finally realized that I wasn't given the gift of life - the gift of a physical body - just so I could destroy it. Unfortunately, the burdens of addiction, mental illness, abuse, and any other mortal trial - they are all very real. But recovery? Happiness? Joy? Those things are very real too. You are not going through your battles alone, Jesus has already fought them. The Savior knows how you feel because He has already been there. You can make it through any trial with the atonement in your heart. As Elder Yamashita testified yesterday during general conference, "you can feel joy if you're ambitious for Christ in the mist of trials."

Life isn't easy, but it is a precious gift. The same goes with following Christ. Following Christ is anything but easy, but boy is it worth it. Life is so much better with the gospel as the focal-point. I lived 19 years in self destructive habits and devilish thoughts, but when I accepted Christ into my heart, that all changed. Let me be clear: it didn't change over night. Change requires repentance, patience, and work. Despite our efforts, change sometimes involves multiple setbacks. We are not perfect, but we do have a perfect GodWe all have mountains to climb, and I think God sometimes gives us those mountains so we are able to help others climb their own

Brothers and Sisters, God needs you. God needs you and your influence to help others find Him. The gospel changed me, and it can change you, too. 

"Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance." - Dale G. Renlund

Baptism day - 9/27/14

Jul 23, 2016

Tips For Return Missionaries (From a Convert)

As it says in the title, and as I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, I am a Mormon Convert. Before I knew the gospel, I was stuck in habits I never thought I'd live without. I was living a self-destructive pattern that only the gospel could fix. After I was baptized, my challenges did not go away, but they DID become easier to tackle. The gospel brought light into the darkest areas of my mind, and helped mend the broken pieces of my heart; for that I am forever grateful. I changed because I finally had the form of help I needed: the restored gospel. *Read more about that change here, and here.* Of course, I wouldn't have made this transition if it hadn't been for the help and guidance of the missionaries.

 Missionary (noun): someone who leaves their families for a short time, so that others may be with their families for eternity.

Even though I have only been a member for a few years, I have gotten to know a number of missionaries. I express my deepest appreciation for those who have gone and served a mission, whether they served their entire mission or not. It amazes me to think about how much my life, with effort, completely changed because I made the decision to talk to two Sisters. Both of them have returned home from their mission, and are doing well. I am grateful for their testimonies and their example.

I haven't dealt with coming home from a mission, but I have experienced other transitions. Let's face it: life is hard. Satan is tricky. One day, we may think, "I'm too tired. I will just read my scriptures tomorrow." Let me ask you this. If you put off your scripture reading for ONE day, how easy would it be to neglect to read your scriptures the following day? Brothers and Sisters, faith cannot wait for tomorrow. Start today. Don't quit. It won't be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

"Write down your goals and what you plan to do to achieve them. Aim high, for you are capable of eternal blessings." - President Thomas S. Monson

There is nothing that saddens me more than to see returned missionaries come home, and lose their faith. I think seeing return missionaries who grow to be less motivated in the gospel once they get home hurts my heart particularly because I know what it's like to live without the gospel for so long. I've heard stories of return missionaries who chose to neglect their covenants and unfortunately were excommunicated. I have also met return missionaries who flourish at reading their scriptures every day, while others slowly let it go. Brothers and Sisters, I am not saying you should wake up at 6:30am and go tracting every day once you return home, but don't take the habits you formed on your mission for granted. I know life is hard and Satan is tricky, but keeping your faith stronger than your struggles is what will keep you going. Your testimony is like a candle. Are you going to keep it lit, or let it burn out? You have to exercise your faith in order to prevent from slowly losing it.

Here are some tips to help you keep your testimony "lit."


As President Thomas S. Monson counseled, "Spending time each day in scripture study will, without doubt, strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth." Whether you've served a mission or not, reading your scriptures is not a habit that should be put on the back burner, EVER. I highly recommend studying your scriptures If you're married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to not only read scriptures together everyday, but independently everyday as well. Believe me when I say that Satan can make daily scripture reading challenging to do sometimes, but don't give in! Be consistent with your scripture studying. Struggles are inevitable no matter who you are, but if you commit to daily scripture reading, the trying times will feel a little bit easier.


I think keeping in contact with the people you baptized on your mission is essential not only for them, but for you. Keeping in touch with investigators might be easier said then done, but I think it's very important, even if you are only able to touch base every once in awhile. Social media, like Facebook, makes this simple and easy. Even an occasional text message can go a long way.


The world makes this one very hard to do sometimes, but our Prophet and Apostles have counseled it time and time again: be careful what you invite into your minds. As President Monson said, "Our minds should be filled with uplifting and ennobling thoughts and kept free from those things which will pollute." I don't necessarily think you have to limit your entertainment strictly to Mormon Tabernacle Choir or LDS videos, but when it comes to things like television/movies and music, be wise and pay attention to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. "Stand ye in holy places and be not moved" (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8). Desire to have your physical environment and your mind be a holy place where the Spirit can be present.


Church authorities have counseled us to always keep the temple in our sights. Remember the temple and the covenants you've made there in every moment. Missionaries attend the temple when they can, and that should continue both on and off the mission field. Don't push the temple to the bottom of your list once you get home. Do the best you can to make it a priority. You don't want the Lord to think you have a spotty temple attendance, especially if you have a temple close to where you live. If you don't have a temple near you or are unable to attend for some other reason, you can still participate in the work by doing family history. *If you would like to go to the temple but are unable to do so at this time, read here.*

"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." 
- Joseph Smith


 The phrase "I served a mission..." is often used in our church conversation. Some of us may have served missions for 18 months or two years, but is your mission really over when you step off that plane? No. You are currently serving a mission simply by being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although it's not the same as when you wore the name tag, your mission is not over once you're released, it's just beginning. Don't keep the Gospel to yourself. Never assume that people don't want to hear about Christ. The Gospel is meant to be shared - so share it always!

Jun 21, 2016

To The One Who Can't Attend The Temple

Picture: LDS Church

Before I became a member, I was not living a temple worthy life. As I revealed in a previous blog post here, I was an addict. Now, when people hear the word "addict", they automatically think of cocaine or meth, but for me, my drug of choice was food; or the lack of it. 

I remember spending my senior year of high school at the gas station when I was supposed to be in class.  I would spend my time obsessively wondering the aisles of the grocery store, my mind counting the calories of food and memorizing their labels. After finally buying an item, I would eat it in my car and then go to the gas station to purge it, along with taking laxatives and diuretics to "get rid of the rest." If I wasn't doing that, I was counting how long I could go without eating at all, or burning off empty calories at the gym. Fun way to spend your senior year of high school, right? 

I know they mention nothing about eating disorders in the temple recommend interviews, but they do mention the Word of Wisdom, which I obviously wasn't following. Even after I joined the church, I still struggled with my eating disorder behaviors. I truly believe that if I didn't have the Church, especially the temple, I WOULD NOT have stayed as strong in my recovery as I have.

There have been too many days where I contemplate using eating disorder behaviors, and immediately think of the temple. I understand that everyone has their agency, and some people choose to neglect the Word of Wisdom and attend the temple because they have their temple recommend. However, for me personally, if I were to give into my eating disorder, I would NOT feel worthy enough to enter those doors anymore. I just couldn't do it. And I need the temple more than anything else (Elder Kent F. Richards, "The Power of Godliness," April 2016).

I recognize that there are many church members who struggle to be worthy of a temple recommend. Some church members have had a temple recommend, and ended up getting the it revoked for some reason. I understand that getting a temple recommend, or earning one back, might be an easy task for some, and a seemingly never-ending struggle to others. Satan is strong, and he attacks us in various ways: addiction, family struggles, financial difficulties, etc. These struggles are a normal part of mortality, but when they affect our relationship with our Father in Heaven, that's when they become a concern.

So what do you do when you want to attend the temple, but aren't able to?

Provo Temple

1. Keep Meeting With Your Bishop

Meeting with your Bishop may be super easy for you to do, or it could be something you procrastinate on. Either way - don't stop doing it. Develop a trusting relationship with your Bishop. If you feel like you simply don't click with your current Bishop - and that happens sometimes - don't get discouraged. Befriend a Bishop in a different ward in your stake. If that doesn't work, talk to a member who was a Bishop previously, or somebody else on the high counsel. Being able to openly talk with a priesthood holder who has that sacred calling can be really helpful when you least expect it. 

2. Keep a Picture of the Temple 

I am sure a lot of people have been recommended to do this before, but, whether you're temple worthy or not, I highly encourage every member of the church to keep a picture of the temple somewhere where you will see it frequently. In my opinion, the more places the better: whether in your living room, wallet, bedroom, or car. It is always good to have the temple in your mind, in your heart, and in your sights.

3. Pay Attention to the Promptings of the Holy Ghost

As members of the church, we are blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Key word: GIFT. Unfortunately, I think a lot of members put this precious gift on the back burner. But that can change. The Holy Ghost is your friend, your companion, your guide: use it! Like it says in Moroni: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things." 

4. Try Your Best to Improve Your Habits

 Whether you struggle to keep the Word of Wisdom, or struggle to read scriptures every day, try your best to improve your habits in order to draw closer to your Father in Heaven. Don't be afraid to use professional support if you need the additional help. Whatever habits you feel are preventing you from reaching your full potential, you can be free of them if you keep trying and keep going.

5. Don't give up.

God has a plan for you, even if you don't see it yet. All you can do is the best that you can, so keep striving to do better and be better. Don't neglect to pour out your heart to God in prayer and during sacrament meeting. Put in the effort and God will open the door in His due time. Believe that you will some day be able to enter His Holy House, and you will. :)

Mount Timpanogos


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