Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So much greatness is waiting for ALL OF US!

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except 
by those who dared believe that something inside them 
was superior to circumstances."
 -B Barton

This quote just came across my Twitter Timeline and it is seriously amazing.  It really encapsulates all I've felt my whole life: that I was different.  No matter what anyone has said, I knew that I was special and capable of more than any negative person or my own negative thoughts could make me believe.  Not because I'm some uber-spectacular person (although I am ;) but because I, like you, am of divine origin, as we all are.  The problem with this is that I am also flesh, blood and bone, prone to mistakes and failures.  Success will come, not in the meshing of the two, but letting our Spirits take over.  This comes by way of aligning our thoughts and actions with something greater than ourselves: Our Heavenly Father and Creator.  

I don't mean to get "preachy," but I can only think of the many instances in my life that could have been "poor-choice-free" if I had only known what Heavenly Father wanted me to do.  If I had been paying attention and listening to what He was trying to tell me, I might not have had to endure certain hardships in my life.  

"If I had known..." is a mind-game we often play with ourselves, but I don't believe it really does any good.  More than anything, it builds regret.  When we make poor choices, the idea isn't about feeling regret, because we have, after all, gained experience, even if that experience came at a cost. I am not saying that experience should be gained at any cost, because some prices are too high and too risky to pay, but our mortal life is a probationary period intended to be used by us to gain experience, not regret.  

It's one thing to feel repentant and another thing entirely to feel regret.  We may feel remorse for certain actions, but you have to act on it for it to become true repentance.  So, where does the quote at the top of this post come in?  Circumstances don't dictate our ability to achieve great things.  No matter what has happened in your life, you're not a victim.  At least, you don't have to be a victim.  If anything circumstances would help us to be successful, because, by circumstance, we all have a rich, divine heritage and Heavenly origination: we are created in the image of our Heavenly Father and we CHOSE to be here on this Earth. 

We came here to experience mortality and achieve splendid things!  It may not be creating an amazingly-successful company ala Steve Jobs, but we are ALL important to the big picture.  WE. ALL. HAVE. OUR. PART. We must play it well, to the best of our ability, regardless of whether our part is as an educator, the trash man, a window cleaner, a receptionist or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  Are we playing our parts the way we should?  Are we listening to the counsel and to that still, small, voice that we have been given, to guide us and protect us?  Are we allowing what we view as our "circumstances" to dictate our "station" in our mortality?  The only thing stopping us, is us.  Heavenly Father gives us the tools and is qualifying us daily, are we rising to meet the challenges we face, or are we letting them trample us?

Go out there and dream! Live life and love every minute of it!  You are gaining so much from every experience.  If you are allowing mistakes to hold you back, apologize, fix it if you can and allow yourself to move on!  Forgiving ourselves is one of the most liberating feelings we can experience.  Whoever has wronged you, forgive them too, even if it's hard. Pride will never bring happiness, but letting go of it allows us to release guilt we've been carrying. Allow yourself to experience greatness and success!    






I hope you know how awesome you are!!!


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Postmortal Spirit World

Yesterday during Relief Society I heard the most amazing story ever.  The sister teaching it started the lesson with the story of her great uncle.  Her uncle, we'll call him Bob (because I can't remember his name;), had a vision that war was going to be declared in the US & in the vision he found himself wearing a blue military uniform.   3 days later, WWI was officially declared & he went to his mother to tell her of this vision that he'd had.  As Bob was only 17, he had to convince his mother to let him enlist in the military, but his vision was a persuasive tool.  With his mother's permission, Bob went down to the recruitment station & searched among the branches to discover which had the blue uniforms of his vision.  He ended up enlisted as a Marine.

During the course of the war he found himself in the trenches in Europe when on July 19, a bomb went off.  When Bob woke up, he found himself in a white room, where everything inside was also white.  He was greeted by a guide to whom he said, " I presume I am in the Spirit World?" His guide replied, "Your presumption would be correct."

Bob knew that he couldn't stay here.  He had promised his mother that he would come home to her & then he proceeded to explain the vision that had led him to enlist in the first place.  The guide said, "I cannot let you return, I do not have that authority, but I can take you to those who can grant your desire."  Then they left that white room & white building and were out on a street where there was a beautiful, pristine park.  Bob later wrote that everyone was wearing white and were going about their business with focus and deliberate action.  No one was rushing or in a hurry, but they were busy with purpose.  He also noted that there were no benches or places to rest.  Everyone was working!

Bob met with those who could grant his request to return to Earth to finish his work & they said, "are you sure you want to go back?" He again told the story of his vision & the promise he made to his mother.  They told the guide to take him around for a while and then to come back & they could grant his request.  So Bob & his guide walked around and showed Bob more of the Spirit World (the details of which, Bob had been forbidden to disclose) until Bob grew anxious to return & asked if they could do so.  So his guide took him back to those with authority & they said, "We gather you no longer have the desire to return to Earth after being here, correct?" But Bob was still determined to fulfill the mission he was sure had been cut short & to return to his mother, and he communicated this to them.  They let him return.

On July 22, THREE DAYS after the bomb explosion, Bob & the others who had also been killed in the blast were confirmed dead and were placed in body bags.  Their remains were not being sent back to the US (that wasn't practiced as it is today), but were going to be deposited in a mass grave with the other fallen troops.  The body bags were placed into the burial trench & the men burying them began to return the removed dirt to it's hole in the ground.  Then Bob's body bag started to move & the gravediggers were terrified!

Bob had been dead for THREE DAYS and had been allowed to return. This is a true story I heard from his great-niece.  Isn't this an amazing account!? She took this history from her ancestor & compared it to what we know about the Postmortal Spirit World:

There will be 2 states:

The State of the Righteous, with the following attributes:

  • Happiness
  • Paradise
  • Rest
  • Peace
  • No troubles, sorrow or cares
 & The State of the Wicked, with the following attributes:

  • Darkness
  • Fear
  • Anxiety of receiving God's wrath
  • Sorrow
  • Unrest
Each shall remain in their earned states until the time of own resurrection.  The hope in this is that if a soul is in the state of wickedness they can accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repent of their sins & move into the state of righteousness.  This must come with a great change of heart, as we enter into the Postmortal Spirit World with the same attitudes of devotion or antagonism towards things of righteousness that we held while on Earth.  We will also have the same appetites & desires that we had here & be in adult form.  We were adults before our mortal existence & will be in adult form after death, even if the person died as an infant or child.

Isn't this the Gospel of HOPE!? How beautiful that the plan encompasses such forgiveness and mercy for all.  That is the legacy of a loving Heavenly Father & a compassionate Savior, Jesus Christ.  They are so wonderful and gracious to give us so many chances to repent & come into their love.

I'm SO grateful to know of the Gospel of Jesus Christ & to know that their is a marvelous plan for all of us!


So, it's been a while!

Since I posted last many things have happened in the world:  Jimmer went to the Sacramento Kings ;) bin Laden was caught & killed, Nasa shut down the space program & we finally got to welcome our little girl into the world!  Adelaide Isode Swainston was born 7/5/11 at 7:27, 7 lbs, 3oz., 18 & 3/4 inches long.  She is amazing & is the coolest thing ever.

Since she's been here, of course our lives have changed dramatically, but not unmanageably.  I went back to work after 7 weeks, and the 3 days I'm at work she's home with her daddy.  She nearly sleeps through the night at 9 weeks old, but I'm praying that day will come soon! :)  Our ward meets at 9 AM, so a lot of times we go to the 1PM ward my husband grew up in instead.  I hope to get back to our routine in our ward soon (I actually like having a 9AM meeting time) but right now, I'm just too tired.  I want to be able to stay awake for all my meetings, and to me, going to church, taking the sacrament & being coherent for all three hours is more important to me than which ward I'm going to.

That's the update for now, but I've got a great story for everyone ready for my next post!

I'll share it in a bit :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

BYU, Brandon Davies & Harvey Unga

Right now the big talk is still BYU, the Honor Code and the dismissal of Brandon Davies.  When I heard of Brandon Davies suspension fro the team, I automatically thought if he were on the football team, it would have been different.  This, of course, drew immediate criticism and the comment, "What about Harvey Unga?"  What about Harvey?  Unga VOLUNTARILY withdrew from BYU after violating the Honor Code last April (2010).  He probably would have received suspension  similar to the one that Davies did, but he didn't wait around long enough to see how that would go.

Unga was in my Biology class that semester at BYU and I can't tell you how many times my class was interrupted for  him.  I'm not saying it was his fault, and yes, he was our lead rusher and set records  for our school, but seriously?  There are 99 other students in this class, I'm pretty sure the rest of us don't want to watch Harvey use your cell phone to call one of your friends, Professor.  I don't have anything against Harvey, and everything seems to have worked out in his favor, he entered the supplemental draft and was a 7th round pick for the Chicago Bears (well, all is well except he was placed on the injured-reserve list).

Unga had a baby as a  result of his Honor Code Violation, and it appears that's what's going to happen for Davies as well.  While Unga eventually married his girlfriend and mother of his child, Davies didn't even get his actual girlfriend pregnant.  The girl who is pregnant (supposedly) is someone completely different.  I used to work at a sports store in Orem where Davies, his girlfriend (Danica Mendivil-who I imagine will probably be his ex-girlfriend now) and her family used to come in quite frequently during the summer.  Brandon was always there with at least one of her parents and her little brother, sometimes Danica wasn't with them.  Brandon was always nice, but always flirtatious with two girls in particular in my store.  Luckily they were smart enough to know better and stay away when he attempted to get their phone numbers.  One of the girls phone numbers he actually did acquire (through a mutual friend) she called him out on having a girlfriend and he dropped it.  Danica's parents used to buy Brandon gifts constantly (particularly Jordan products, which makes sense, as he is a basketball player).  What a great way to show his gratitude.  At least her parents probably won't have to worry about Davies getting their little girl pregnant.

I feel really bad for Danica, who is away at school at ASU and getting all this media attention.  Everyone probably assumed from the beginning that she was pregnant, and she's had to deal with this as the repercussions of Davis' actions.  She's better off without him obviously.

Harvey and Brandon violated the Honor Code with the same offense, premarital sex.  The Honor Code, BYU students and LDS church members have been criticized for this.  Of course, to many at many other colleges these standards seem laughable, but to the LDS students who attend BYU, this is a virtue we treasure.  It's not just LDS students at BYU either.  Most (not all) LDS college students live this way and have grown up with these standards in their home, so it's nothing new.

WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE SIGNING UP FOR WHEN WE DO IT.  IT'S NOT A SURPRISE.  We choose this because we believe it's the right thing to do.  So, we appreciate being put down for trying to live an honest life, free from addictive substances, saving sex for marriage because we believe that marriage is a sacred union and that the family is a sacred unit.  Please, if you don't understand why we believe what we believe, educate yourself.  If you don't care to understand why, then keep your comments to yourself, please.  There is no need to be hateful or malicious because we differ in opinion.      

I know, this blog jumps around a lot, it's a culmination of random thoughts that have passed through my head all week and continuous interruptions from my husband.

Main Points:            

  • Harvey & Brandon both violated the Honor Code for pre-marital sex 
  • Danica Medivil (Brandon's actual girlfriend) is NOT pregnant
  • I still think the football team is favored, Harvey withdrew from BYU voluntarily after his GF/now-wife had been already been pregnant for 6 months
Thanks for reading, even if you don't agree :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I loved a stranger today because He loved her first...

I had an amazing experiencing today at work.  To say it was amazing is... different, because it wasn't necessarily under happy circumstances, but maybe if I explain it, you'll understand better.

I work for a gyn/oncologist.  A lot of the patients we see are older or have had recurring cancers, making their treatment difficult or tiresome, but most truck through it will positive attitudes and a lot of gratitude towards the Dr. I work for because of the time and care he provides for them.  It isn't a rare site to see a "thank you" letter from a husband whose wife has now been cancer free for five years because of the quick action and attention to detail that the Dr. was mindful of.  The Dr. served a Spanish-speaking LDS mission, so his language skills have often been a blessing to his practice as well.

Anyway, a Hispanic woman came in today that I had scheduled an appointment for two days ago for her daughter.  Her daughter, 21, has slight mental retardation and was recently admitted to the hospital for what her family thought was an episode of of kidney stones and gall bladder stones, since she has a history of both.  Her gallbladder was removed, so when she began having the pain again, accompanied by bleeding, the doctors were confused.  This prompted some more diagnostic tests and bladder cancer was discovered.  She was referred to the office I work at so that we could be sure the cancer hasn't spread to other areas prior to surgery, to prevent multiple trips to the OR.

I was checking them out today and having spoken with the mother two days prior, was so surprised by her sweet demeanor.  Despite the fear and anxiety she feels for her daughter, she was still humble enough to be kind to me and all who worked with her in our office.  She said to me upon leaving, in her heavily-accented English, "We had no clue any of this would happen.  We thought it was the stones again.  I asked God, why not me? Why my daughter? But I know He is teaching us something."

I almost started crying, but fought  it back so hard because she was already being so strong, I didn't want to add to her anxiety.  At that moment, a feeling came over me that I cannot accurately put into words.  In that very instance, I loved this stranger because I understood and I felt how much our Heavenly Father loved her.  I understood that her struggles right now for her family might be great, but that she was loved so greatly by Him and that somehow He would bring peace into, not only her life, but the lives of the members of her family, through this situation.

I contemplated those feelings since she left our office, even as busy as I was trying to check out other patients and close down for the day.  Obviously, I'm still thinking about it.  I hope that when she comes back to the office in a few weeks that I will be able to express these feelings to her in a way that coincides with whatever her beliefs are and in a way that isn't offensive or overwhelming.  I'm thinking of writing a little card up for her and slipping it to her before she leaves.  It's hard because I have to be professional, but our Dr. does great missionary work even from his professional position.  To be honest, I don't intend it to be a missionary opportunity really, I only want her to know how much she is loved.  I want to share the strong impressions I felt about her so that she might have a little bit of happiness during this trial of her and her daughter's life.  If it works out as a missionary opp., wonderful, if not, then she will at least know that she is loved by her Heavenly Father and me.

Now I truly understand these scriptures  a little better:

John 4:7-12:

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

9 In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Romans 13:8

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

D&C 88:123

123 See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.

Ephesians 4:2

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love

Thank you for visiting with me.  I hope this makes you feel even half as loved as it did me today.  What a bittersweet situation, but God is wonderful and there is a plan.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sin & Illness

This week in Sunday school we talked about Mark 1&2, the miracles that Christ performed.  We also talked about which miracles we would have liked to have been alive to see and why.  We covered some really awesome stuff, including something that I had never thought of before.  It seemed like SUCH a critical point to be made, and yet I'd overlooked it many times.  

What I learned is in the New Testament, in Mark 1:23-25:

23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

24Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
There are two things that strike me from these short verses.  One, that the unclean spirit is testifying that the man in front of him, who teaches in the synagogues as "one with authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22), is in fact, Jesus of Nazareth.  How odd that an unclean spirit would acknowledge the Savior in such a manor; that he would testify that this teacher is in fact, the Holy One of God.   

The second thing that blew me away was how Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit's testimony. Long have I remitted this simple, but profound truth.  The reason the Savior rejecting the unclean spirit's declaration of His divinity is because converting testimonies DO NOT come from Lucifer.  They DO NOT come from unclean spirits.  An evil entity CANNOT declare the good of something, yet cannot disregard the authority of the priesthood that Jesus Christ holds.  

Bam!  I love that!  It is so enlightening! 

Another thing I learned about miracles comes direction from the Bible Dictionary under the topic, Miracles.  “Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher."  

This is also a piece of great knowledge that I have overlooked.  It's amazing & I love it.  A miracle doesn't mean that something unattainable happened in my life, it simply means that Heavenly Father, because I first acted in faith, somehow, is exercising His Power in my life.  That is heartwarming really.  Just think of all the miracles he is willing to enact in our lives if 
we only show a little more faith. 

The final thing I've been thinking about recently is also found throughout Mark chapters 1 & 2.  It's something that we didn't even get to discuss in Sunday school, but something that I can't put from my mind. In Mark 1 & 2, the Savior is continuously healing sickness & illnesses.  In Mark 2:5 Jesus heals the man with palsy:

5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 
When He healed the man with palsy, He was deliberate in saying, "thy sins be forgiven thee."

Sin can be equated with illness.  This DOES NOT mean that I am saying all those who are sick have caused it by their own sins.  That IS NOT the case.  But, there are some illnesses that are cause by sin.  The real message of me equating sin with sickness has to do with repentance.  If we do not repent, must always have illness.  If Christ would not forgive us, our very existent is for naught.
I hope everyone is having a really awesome week.  Take some time out to help someone else, to call that old friend you've been meaning to.  Get on your knees and talk to your Heavenly Father, apologize & ask forgiveness for the things that you should.  He loves you, I promise. He has blessings He is waiting to give you, you only need ask.  


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Women's Conference 2011

Today at Wo's Con I learned such a profound, yet simple thing. In Matt 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," We are commanded to be perfect. That's not overwhelming. But, when you look at the definition of perfect: "satisfying all requirements; whole, entire, intact; completeness that can be sought, gained, or regained; retention of perfection of a thing in its original state..." it becomes so much clearer. We are commanded to strive DAILY to perfection. To be in a forward path to becoming whole once again, in the state of divinity and righteousness created for us and endowed upon us by our Heavenly Father. THAT is what we're striving for, to once again be complete. Only then can we come to exemplify our Savior, who is whole.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My thought for the day...

When I consider the phrase, "..become more like Him," I think: become more knowledgeable, more meek, more humble, more charitable, more kind, more compassionate, & more forgiving. Too often I generalize "...become more like Him" into a "trait" that seems unobtainable; If I break it down into specifics, then I know the exact qualities I am seeking to gain & know more closely the Savior I am trying to emulate.