Proof that the “Big Man Upstairs” Has a Sense of Humor…

The Lord is funny… and here is why. I’ve spent most of my lift “dissing” BYU, and other such institutions (like BYU-I, but not BYU-Hawaii because I would love to go to college in Hawaii!! Holy cow, you people out there are so dang lucky…) but of course, because the Lord likes to make His point, He led me to the Pathways program… and now I am eating all my unkind words about BYU on a silver spoon.
It’s pretty humbling, I’m not going to deny it. If I had realized sooner what a great opportunity it was to gain an education from this school (BYU-I) I would have made some very different life choices.

Do I regret where my choices have led me? Eh….. maybe haha But would I change them in exchange for the lessons, and therefor appreciation I’ve gained? No way, Jose!

smiling-christ
“The Joy of the World” By Greg Olson
 
So… Basically what I’m trying to say here is: Sorry for all my hateful and rediculous, “I hate BYU!” comments and previous attitude. Am I a Cougars football fan all of a sudden? Not even a little bit. But still, what a waste of energy hating an educational program that incorporates God into it as much as it can, which may I point out would benefit EVERY school in the world, if they were allowed to do what the BYU and other religious (LDS or otherwise) institutions do?
If every school in the nation started opening the day with a prayer… Holy crap what a difference that would make! Or, if a public prayer is too much, give people a 5 minute period of silence to meditate, or stare at the ceiling, or take a power nap, or pray, whatever does it for them!
10491225_258491027669938_7490942482129883242_n
Think of what an impact that would have on young children. That would teach them to still themselves, gather their intentions for the day, focus on something relaxing/uplifting.  What a great habit to get into! Granted, depending on the age group, it would probably only last 30 seconds before they got distracted by life, but as they aged that could have some seriously beneficial consequences. 
 
I love learning, and I really am passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ, so I’m super excited to be apart of more than just an Institute, which is fantastic don’t get me wrong, but an entire educational program that works on my secular learning, as well as my spiritual learning. It’s just a beautiful thing, so kudos to you peeps who figured it out way before I did! And thanks for your good examples of good decision making skills! Can’t have enough of a good thing, ya know?
 

Anyway, God is good… He’s SO good! I’m grateful for His patience in letting all of us figure out our paths, and for all the adventures that brings.  We are some blessed people, that is for certain! 

Until my next random blurb!
-Jenny
P.S. To the wonderful people who follow my blog, thanks for doing that! I am going to try to post more frequently and consistently but I just appreciate the support and interest you show this work. You are fabulous… Stay blessed!

When Your Soul is Hungry…

 

Today was the first session of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This particular meeting occurs the first weekend of April, and the first weekend of October every year.

With this being the 186th Annual General Conference, it’s easy to think, “There can’t possibly be anything new that they’re going to say” or “This isn’t worth my time. I’ve got stuff to do.”

I’ve definitely experienced both feelings towards conference, and that attitude didn’t really start to change until I was about 17. While I served as a missionary, my love and appreciation for General Conference grew because it was something that connected the life I’d left behind for 18 months to where I was as a missionary, and that provided many opportunities for reflection and self evaluation.

Unsurprisingly, that same opportunity happens to me now as a returned missionary, and married woman.  I get to reflect back to the 17 year old girl, that full time missionary, and who I am now.

Before I returned home, all the returning missionaries and our mission president and his amazing wife sat around, and talked about “Life after the Mission”. We discussed the topics of dating and marriage, schooling, work, etc. and how to balance all of that, with the principles we’d learned and lived on our mission.

I’ve been home for a little over a year now.  I’m married, working a full time job, and life is as busy for me as it is for anyone else. Mission life versus life now… soooo different from what I envisioned in my head, and hoped it would be especially after that conversation with my mission president and fellow returning missionaries.  I’ve come to the realization that this difference is not as it ought to be for me. It’s not necessarily awful, or bad, but there are many things about mission life that should definitely transpose into “RM Life” and unfortunately for me, I’ve been let some of those things fall to far too the way side.

If you’re wanting to improve your own spiritual hunger, ask yourself:

  • How did those talks I just listened to make me feel?
    • Were you absorbing, just listening, or completely ignoring what was being said?
  • Am I doing the little things consistently?
    • Are scripture and prayer apart of your daily routine? Are you studying the words of living Prophets and Apostles regularly?
  • Am I progressing?
    • Do you feel like you’re moving forward? If no, why not?

Simple questions, with simple answers but require some complex action on our parts.

I am hungry for more of the Sprit of God in my personal life, and I’m so thankful for General Conference, and the spiritual wake up call it is to me every six months.  I know i’d be lost without it because I need these reminders.  Yes, these same “wake ups” and reminders can happen each week at church, but it’s also (at least for me) easier to ignore those and not take them as seriously as when they don’t come from General Authorities. Because of General Conference, and the amazing Christ centered messages I feel motivated and uplifted, inspired and strengthened to make the changes I need to make so I can answer “Yes!” to those questions.

fulfilledLong story short, if your soul is hungering and thirsting, and feeling more shallow than usual, allow this weekend of inspired messages from the Lords appointed to help you fill you cup, find balance, and move forward faithfully. I know these men and women are inspired of God. I know their soul purpose in speaking is not to offend, or degrade, or guilt anyone.  They simply are acting as the Lords mouthpiece to help each of us grow closer to Him, and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

 

 

 

Today was wonderful…

Today was the most inspiring and wonderful sacrament experience I’ve had in probably close to 6 months. It’s quite possible that God was trying to teach me/remind me that there are rewards and blessings for doing things you don’t want to do. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning to attend church, but I’m sure glad I did. Here is why:

The first speaker spoke about the significance of the insitution and ordinance of the sacrament. Something that had never occurred to me before was that Christ and His apostles went and instituted the sacrament in an “upper room” which reminded me of the weekly meeting our modern day Prophet and apostles hold in the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake City Temple. The symbolism there, and the “coincidence” (I use quotations because there is no such thing as coincidence) touched me because it reminded me just how closely The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is patterned after the teachings and sacred customs and ordinances that Christ instituted and participated in while He was here on the earth, physically leading and guiding the church.

The second speaker spoke about “Living a Christ Centered Life” which was a talk given in the most recent general conference.She brought up many good points, but one thing she shared was especially intriguing to me.

She shared a story about a friend who has this glass, crystal wand thing that you ate supposed to “swirl around in a glass of water and it rejuvenates your water” and make it into some spectacular healing potion… Anyway, this friend told her, “Water is life and it is the most beneficial thing to our whole being.”

Water is definitely necessary and helpful, but the real water of life, Jesus
Christ, is clearly the most beneficial and influential thing we will ever encounter.

The speaker went on to say that her friend uses this water wand for 7 minutes everyday, and like this woman believes it’s “the most beneficial thing” the speaker suggested that we all make a 7 minute regimine, or routine everyday but dedicate it to Christ. Maybe this means you read your scriptures for 7 extra minutes, or say a special 7 minute prayer, or read a book about Christ for 7 minutes (i.e. Jesus The Christ or, an ensign article, etc.) And spend at least 7 minutes a day “rejuvenating” your relationship with Christ.

I really appreciated this simple, yet profound idea. In my mission there is a mind set of teaching with simplicity, and intensity. Small and simple act, or lessons, or regimines can have an intense impact on your wellbeing and relationships.

I’m grateful for inspired speakers, and for having served in a mission where the motto was “I LOVE TOUGH THINGS! I AM THE FIRST TO DO TOUGH THINGS! I DO TOUGH THINGS FIRST! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!” Because with out that popping into my head this morning, I would have done the easy thing and missed this wonderfully uplifting experience.

I know the church is true. I know I matter to God. I know my Savior lives and loves me, and He loves you too.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love Nephi… 

I know I haven’t posted in ages…. But I figured a good way to get back into that would be by sharing a small “Aha Moment” from my scripture study. 

Can I just say…. I love Nephi, the very first one. All the Nephi’s in the Book of Mormon are wonderful but to me, Lehi’s son is just a little bit more special in my opinion. 

I think what I appreciate most is his straight forwarness, integrity, and perseverance no matter how much was against him. 

I love how “real” he is. He doesn’t fake anything. He’s very transparent. That’s what prompted my “I love Nephi” kick today.  

 
This verse isn’t super fancy. It’s probably not on too many people’s favorite scriptures lists….and that’s okay! It struck a cord with me though. I love how he says, “I have written these things that perhaps (suggesting a fair amount of hope) I might persuade (not force) them to remember their Lord and Redemmer.”

I find that lovely…. You can’t force anyone to remember Jesus. Jesus himself can’t even force you to do so…. What I’m getting at is I surely appreciate Nephi’s efforts to help people like me remember the goodness of God and the love Christ has for us, and that by choosing light over dark we will have eternal happiness. Simple. Intense. Nephi. 

Experimenting on God….

We are taught in Alma chapter 32, that we must experiment on the Word of God in order to know that it’s true.  Sometimes, the word of God isn’t quite enough.  Sometimes we need more of a manifestation or “sign” that His word is indeed true when it says He’s there and that He cares.  Sometimes we need more than just a “tender” feeling after reading from a sacred book, or saying a prayer.  Sometimes, we need Him to work a real  modern day miracle for us, so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He lives.  Granted, you still have the choice to deny His existence even after He makes it pretty clear He’s there, but that’s not how this story goes….

There was a time, before my mission, when I was challenging God on a pretty regular basis.  I wasn’t rebelling, or going off the deep end.  I was just constantly trying to prove to myself that He either was, or wasn’t there. I was still going to church, I was still reading my scriptures and trying to live a chaste and virtuous life, but I was just… out of touch with God, and I demanded He make himself known to me “Now!!!” or else…. Yeah, I threatened God…. and I didn’t even get struck with “lightning” the way most of us expect to, but I did get “struck” with something.

One day, while driving home from visiting a close family member who was having some serious struggles, my mind started to wander. I was thinking about how I was feeling, and what to do about it, and I was led back to a conversation from many years ago with a friend who had struggled with depression at the time. He was really into the “Emo” thing.  He was a cutter, and I asked him once why he did that, and he told me it was a way to escape the emotional pain he was feeling.  At that time…. I was feeling pretty desperate, and I formulated a little plan to take this words of… “healing” into account, to see if it worked. I knew it was wrong… The minute the idea popped in my head the Spirit was like, “Nope. Not a good idea!” But I didn’t care.  I was determined to escape how I felt, and do so as quickly as possible. I knew what the consequences would be, and that one day I’d have to explain any physical residual evidence to someone someday… but I didn’t care.  I was totally past feeling… Or so I thought.

When I’m alone, I tend to just “talk to God” in a pretty open, candid sort of way.  On this particular day, on this drive home, I told the Lord what my plan was, and that if He was really there, and if He didn’t want me to do it, I wanted Him to send 2 particular people to my apartment, or else I was going to follow my plan to see if it worked… because I was pretty desperate (but I refused to get professional help… classic, I know….).

I’ve come to realize, especially after this “moment” just how much God loves each of us.  I’ve said it so many times before in these posts, but I can say for sure that I know that God loves me…. because He sent those two people I asked for to be there when I got back.  I don’t know how they knew they needed to be there, but at this point, all that matters to me, or that “strikes me” is that they were… that was the miracle.  It’s exactly what I asked God to do to show He truly loved me, that He was truly aware of my situation, and of my desperation.

I can happily, and proudly, tell you I didn’t do anything to myself.  I was really determined though, and that’s how I know, for myself, how much I mean to God.  He could have sent just two other friends, or tried to send some other type of diversion, but He didn’t.  He gave me exaclty what I asked for….

Here’s the take away: My situation, as hard as it was for me personally, isn’t anywhere near the worst situation in the world.  Therefore, if God was willing to listen to a stubborn, desperate brat like me…. make such a “silly” request and demand Him, the Alpha and Omega,to work a miracle…. Why wouldn’t He work one for you? Sure, I guess I was “worthy” of that blessing, but when it comes to God’s love… worthiness is never a factor.  He loves each of us perfectly and completely, 24/7, 365.  My point is, don’t be afraid to ask Him for what you need when you need it, and how you need it.

I testify of the power of prayer.  I testify of faith.  It’s the essential first principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for a reason.  If you have nothing else… at least have some faith, no matter how small.  Mustard seeds aren’t that big, people.  Even that small amount can move a mountain… The next time you find yourself facing one of your demons, or find yourself in an impossible situation, or feel like you’re at the end of your rope…. Remember there is a Mighty, All Powerful, All Loving God who’s just waiting for you to ask for His help.  I know God loves me enough that He would have intervened sooner or later, with or without my personal request, but that’s a story for another day.  But what I do love about this “miracle mile” moment, is that He loved me enough to give me exactly what I asked for, exactly when I needed it… And I testify He will do the same for you. Keep that in mind….

Love always,

A Very Grateful and Loved Daughter of God🙂

Home, Home On The Range……

home

Well…. I’m a “citizen” again.  I can back the car by myself, I can text whoever I want whenever I want… I can RIDE HORSES!!!!!!!!! I can jam out to any song… I can even date boys (but that’s just way too much so… not just yet!)… But what I’m most grateful for, having returned from my mission is the opportunity I have to continue to apply all the wonderful lessons and eternal principles I learned on my mission.

My personal favorites are quite simple, but so powerful!

#1- The Principle of Accountability:

No one wins in the blame game, so just be responsible, reliable, and do your best.  If you’ve put your very best effort into whatever the task at hand is, you don’t need to be upset, or mad or blame others for the outcome.

#2- The Principle of Communication:

This one has been addressed previously in my posts, but really and truly… This is so vital.  Communication is the root of the tree of success.  Enough said…. haha

#3- The Principle of OBEDIENCE:

I have learned that obedience is the key to happiness.  If you’re obeying mom and dad, you’re happy.  If you’re obeying the boss, you’re happy. If you’re obeying God, you’re really happy.  It’s just so simple, it’s easy to forget it, but I testify… it’s the hub of the wheel of life, and if you feel like you’re stuck in some aspect on your “mile” you might want to evaluate the three above mentioned principles, but especially consider your obedience.

My mission taught me much more than just these three things, but it’s nearly impossible to put it all into words but I am so grateful I was privileged to go and serve, for all my wonderful companions, my amazing mission president and his wife! Missions are the best…. I still keep waiting to wake up from this “dream” and be back in Florida, but alas…. It hasn’t happened, and that’s ok.  “Real life” is a good place to be.  I’m so grateful to be home again, but a huge part of my heart and life will always be in the Florida Jacksonville Mission.

Oh Florida, Oh Florida…..

1272760_612302792148211_1384780411_o
Day One- MTC Group
1234829_1394022890840213_938400177_n
My mission “daughter”🙂

18 months, 80 weeks, 547-ish days…  a pretty substantial amount of time I’d say, but the time is’t the important part. This mission has been the most awesome adventure of my life thus far!  Am I sad it’s over? Yes… But did I know that was part of the plan the whole time? Yes. Do I know there is a great life ahead of me after the mission? Oh, yes!!!  But I know my future would never be the same without having had this amazing preparatory, growing, and life changing experience. I will forever be grateful for this time, the ups, the downs, the craziness, the slowness, the good and bad days… and everything in between.  I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

1510015_1403974723178363_959930026_n
MTC Sisters

I want to bear my testimony of this glorious gospel… It is so true.  Joseph Smith is, and always will be, a prophet of God.  Jesus is the Christ.  His Atonement is real, and so extremely powerful. I am so grateful for it! God is lour loving Heavenly Father, and He knows each and everyone of us so perfectly, it’s astounding.  I know that the Priesthood has been restored, and that through this sacred power families can be united for eternity. I know that the same leadership and organization Christ established during His mortal ministry is once again on the earth.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s true and living prophet on the earth today.  I know the Lord loves us, and desires to bless us.

IMG_2045
My “mission foster daughter”, and the miracle of a lifetime🙂

I testify that obedience is the key to happiness and satisfaction in this, or any work.  I testify that Preach My Gospel ch. 6 has the best teachings and encouragement in regards to becoming your best self, as well as the Book of Mormon, and the Holy Bible.  I testify that God knows who you need in your life, and when.  I know everyone I have met, no matter how the story has ended, or where the story is currently at has shown up in my life and taught me something I needed to know, and I am so grateful for their help in making my “miracle mile” (especially this small, yet significant portion of it) so spectacular.  1487369_1415857481990087_1308166140_n

Missions are the best… If you’ve ever had that little voice in your head say, “You should go…” Listen to it! The Holy Ghost knows what’s up! This is the hardest thing to do, but it is the best thing to do.  It’ shard in all the right ways, and you will never regret it.

May God continue to bless and keep you all, now and forever!

Love always, Sister Yates

Florida Jacksonville Mission 2013-2015 “WE DO NOT DOUBT”

Alma 18:34- “…I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;”

“I Am Not Dead Yet!”

Another New Year…. Where did the old one go? Where have the last 16 months gone? How did I get old enough to say, “14 years ago…” and actually remember what I’m talking about? Time…. what a doozey!!  In thinking about time and the upcoming year, and reflecting on the experiences I have had this past year, it brought to mind 2 of my favorite songs, and a blurb of testimony.  Here it goes:

As hilarious as the classic movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is, it was taken a step further with the creation of a musical called, “Spamalot”. One of my favorite songs from that play is “I’m Not Dead Yet”. Today during my personal studies I was thinking about the funny “Missionary-Isms” we come up with.  When you come on your mission, your first area is where you are “Born”, when you train you become a “Mom” or “Dad”, your trainers lineage are your grandparents, your last area is where you “die”, etc.. Slow at first, but eventually faster than you can realize, the time of your mission passes away, and although I may be “terminal” (because I “die” in a few weeks) I am proud to say: “I AM NOT DEAD YET!”

Another song that has been “speaking to me” a lot lately is written by the Nashville Tribute Band called, “Today is the Day” which is a song about not wasting any time and making the most of your day by sharing your testimony and declaring the glad truths that you know with everyone. Sometimes, I’m not going to lie: I don’t always feel brave enough to talk to everyone I see, but each time I hear this song, I get a strong reminder from the Spirit that “I am not dead yet…” but I’m almost there, and therefore need to be making the most of each day I have left and that includes getting over my pride and fear, and talking to everyone I can, to give them the opportunity to hear this great message! It is so great to be a missionary! Everyone should serve… Just sayin’!

This coming year, I’ll spend most of it as a “Member Missionary”, not so much as a “Full Time Missionary” which has brought about some of my New Years resolutions, and a question or two for y’all to ponder:

10628408_277794565739584_5426939723011606092_n

What are your goals in regard to spreading the gospel this year? 

What are somethings you and your family can do together to help the Lord hasten the work of salvation?

What have you learned this past year that really strengthened your testimony and desire to share the gospel?

I’m not going to bore you with my goals, or drown you in another long analogy of what motivates or helps me understand the gospel. But I will say I am indeed grateful that I am “not yet dead” and that each day, whether I’m in the field our out of the field I can make the most of everyday by sharing my testimony and “shout from the roof tops” that I do in fact know, and believe in Jesus Christ.  He is the ultimate, most precious and wonderful Gift any of us have ever or will ever receive, and I am so thankful He and God appeared to Joseph Smith to restore the precious ordinances and truths of His gospel to the earth, so we could all know the way to return to Them one day.  I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and that the other leaders of the church throughout the world are called and inspired of God.  I know God is in the details of the details of the details! of our lives, and that He loves us all so very much.  Never forget that… May the New Year treat you well, and may 2015 be the best year ever as you strive to make each day the the best day ever!

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

“Good Timber”

The tree that never had to fight

For sun and sky and air and light,

But stood out in the open plain

And always got its share of rain,

Never became a forest king

But lived and died a scrubby thing.

 

The man who never had to toil

To gain and farm his patch of soil,

Who never had to win his share

Of sun and sky and light and air,

Never became a manly man

But lived and died as he began.

 

Good timber does not grow with ease:

The stronger wind, the stronger trees;

The further sky, the greater length;

The more the storm, the more the strength,

By sun and cold, by rain and snow,

In trees and men good timbers grow.

 

Where thickest lies the forest growth,

We find the patriarchs of both.

And they hold counsel with the stars

Whose broken branches show the scars

Of many winds and much of strife.

This is the common law of life.

 

-Douglas Malloch

 

The “In-Between’s” of Life

I recently received a cute little poem that explained that throughout life there are a few stages we all go through as we cycle through this journey of life, and the author made a great point when she identified one of these stages as an, “In-Between” stage.  I like that because A- I totally feel that’s where I’m at in the moment, and B- because it’s more positive than saying “The Stagnant Stage” or “The Hopeless Stage”.

So what’s the In-Between stage good for?  I’m still trying to figure that out for myself, but so far I have concluded that God blesses us with these moments of “calm before the storm” so we can take a step back, evaluate ourselves, set some specific goals and plans and move on from there.

My only less than grateful feeling I have with this stage is this: They can last a really long time… Why? Again, I have concluded that it is also a blessing from God so we can practice the attributes found in Preach My Gospel Chapter 6 of Patience and Charity (among others because they are all quite important).

In conclusion, I feel “In-Between’s” are indeed inspired and timely gifts from the Almighty so we can figure how to make the most of our next “In the Flow” stage that is truly right around the corner.  I think if we were in the flow all the time, we would miss so much, and overlook some really great learning and growing opportunities.  “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” and if we will take advantage of each moment given, whether it be an in-between, in the flow, in a rut, up a creek, etc. stage I know He will help us get where He needs us to go.  God is so good, and I know He loves and cares for each of us so much, otherwise He would not give us such moments to improve our time in this wild miracle of a mile.

Anyway… a rather random thought for y’all, but in case anyone else out there also feels stuck or in an in-betweener… Just remember, it is all for you hand delivered from the “Author and Finisher of your faith“.

Stay blessed! Love, Sister Yates