Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Something to be thankful for...

The past few days have given me so much to ponder and be thankful for...

Six days ago, I was taken aside at Mutual and the bishop told me that I would be released from my calling as YW Secretary (a calling I've held for a little over a year) the following Sunday.  I didn't know what to think...so many things came and left my head all at the same time.  This meant I couldn't finish my Personal Progress--I'd have to wait to get my medallion until who knows when.  What about Wednesday nights?  The last time I was free on a Wednesday night was...February of last year! Standards Night--I was so looking forward to the temple-themed event.  How could I serve the Young Women and their Presidency if I wasn't even going to be going to Young Women's anymore?  These girls have become my younger sisters over the past year, and I love them dearly.  How can I just leave them?

I took a deep breath in the bishop's office and gripped the side of my chair.  I had to keep reminding myself that the Lord knows where I need to be, and if it is no longer with the YW, then it is no longer with the YW.  But where would I go next?  The bishop assured me that I might be getting another calling soon, maybe even before I leave for the summer.  I left the office and slipped back into the Seminary room where the girls were finishing up their time capsules and temple hangers.  This was to be my last Mutual with them, and I almost cried when I got out to the car after the activity ended.  

That night, I prayed (and cried) my heart out that the girls and leaders would be led by the Spirit and whoever took my place would come to love them as I have.  I prayed that if I get a new calling soon that I would be placed in a position that would require as much devotion (if not more) than my previous calling had.  Since I was being released on Sunday, I was still able to attend the YW General Broadcast on Saturday night and the YW class on Sunday afternoon so I could finish my duties and train the new secretary.  As I became used to the idea that I would no longer be part of the YW program, I became excited at the idea that the Lord felt as though I was needed elsewhere with more urgency and even though I have no idea what that is, I'm prepared to face it.  I'll be scared and nervous of course--I always am when I start a new calling--but I know I'll get used to it and be able to add something of my own that no one else can do but me.  I won't question what the Lord wants me to do, because I know that I will grow wherever He puts me.

When I was called into the previous bishop's office the first week of March last year, I hoped he had a calling for me.  I had been a member for over five months and I felt as though I was finally ready to take that step and be more active in the church.  He confirmed that he had asked me to come in so that he could issue a calling, but when he told me that I was requested to serve as the YW secretary in the ward, I thought there had to have been some mistake.  I was an adult convert and had never even been to Mutual before, let alone participated in any other youth activities.  I had never even heard of Personal Progress.  I told him that I would probably do better in something in Relief Society or with the YSA, but he was certain that this calling was for me.  I told him that the Lord must have chosen that calling for a special reason, and if the leaders thought that I was suited, then I guess I was...I didn't want to doubt the wisdom of those who are obviously more well-versed in these sorts of things.  

The bishop told me that often when we are presented with a new calling, we do not feel adequate.  This, he said, is the point, because why would the Lord put us into a situation where we are not learning to be more like Him?  If we do not progress forward, we progress backward--regression--there is no standstill in the gospel.  He also told me that sometimes, people know what they need to improve when they go into a calling, but most times you have no idea what you will learn.  Always, though, hindsight is 20/20.  He told me that when I eventually leave the calling, I will know more of why I was called.  Years after I leave it, I will know even more than when I initially left.  

I completely forgot about that exchange until I was called in again to be released.

So, in hindsight, I do know more of why I was called.  During that time period, I was having a rough time of feeling as though I fit into the YSA.  I needed a place in the church where I could be loved for what I had to teach, which made me appreciate what I had learned during my conversion even more.  I had supposed then that I needed to learn more about how other auxiliaries in the church worked. 

I actually learned a lot more than that:

I discovered Personal Progress and the things it teaches the Youth.  I learned to pray diligently in the morning AND night AND at meals AND anytime in between.  I realized that communicating with our Heavenly Father is important and that He wants that from our relationship.  Moreover, I want that from our relationship.  

I learned to read my scriptures with a purpose, and I've been better at reading every night...I now cannot go to bed without reading scriptures first.  I've learned to read in the morning as well, and even though I'm not as strong at that, it's still a muscle that I'm learning to flex.  I read to learn, I read to feel the Spirit, I read to grow.  I no longer just read to read.

I learned more about the roles of women in the family, home, church, and community.  I discovered exactly why a temple marriage is important instead of just relying on the testimonies of others about why it is so.  I learned that motherhood is something to be desired and hoped for, not put off until I feel ready.  Motherhood in itself is a calling (remember we never feel adequate enough to take on our callings?), so there will never be a "feel-ready" time.  I know I want a family, so why put it off?  I discovered the importance of being a stay-at-home mom who raises her children to adhere to gospel standards and love the Lord rather than being a mom who works all the time and never sees or appreciates her kids.  I've learned that women have a different process of growth and can contribute to the church family in ways that men cannot.  Women need to be active in the community.  We should all love others and not keep the gospel to ourselves.  It needs to be shared with others!  I'm glad I'm a woman in the church--I couldn't imagine being anything else.  This is where I'm supposed to be.

I've come to understand the value of family--not just creating one, but loving the family I have.  I'm the only member in my family, but I've come to love them more when I understand how different we are.  I've begun my family history and am learning more about my ancestors.  I will strive to go to the temple and complete ordinances for them so that we can all be sealed together forever in the Celestial Kingdom.  I love the family that has come before me, and I love the family that is to come after me.  

I know that "a return to virtue" is not just important, but necessary.  It is important to be both chaste and modest so that I can be worthy of a temple marriage and other blessings from Heavenly Father.  Societal views on what it means to be chaste and modest may change, but the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  His views do not change, so mine cannot change either.  I will be both chaste and modest because the Lord values these things.  I will be virtuous in word and deed as best as I can.

I've learned more about being faithful, diligent, and obedient.  I respect and have a testimony of modern-day revelation and prophets and I adhere to them like I would Adam, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Malachi, or any of Christ's twelve apostles.  I've developed a trust in the Lord in all things, and I know he will take care of me.  

I've learned that tithing and fasting works!  I'm going to always strive to be a full tithe-payer and know now that I can fast for anything and the Lord will help me. 

I know that I'm a daughter of God and was made in the image of Him and our Heavenly Mother.  My spirit is special and is important in God's sight--He will miss me if I go astray.  I chose to come to this earth and face challenges in order to prove my faith in my Heavenly Father and return to Him.  My body is a precious gift given to me and is not something to be despised or thought of as something that is holding me back from progressing, and it will be with me in the eternities.

I have great individual worth and can do many things.  I have special talents given to me by Heavenly Father, and I will not waste them.  I must do all I can to recognize them and use them to help others.  I've been able to do this best by serving others and magnifying my calling.

I value the importance of education in my life.  Make every moment a learning moment.  Make every moment teachable.  I will do my best in school, because the Lord expects my best from me!

I have my agency and am accountable for my own actions.  Because I recognize this, all of my decisions are important, no matter how big or small.  All of my decisions are seen by the Lord and are part of me.  Others may be watching me as I make decisions.  I should strive to be an example of the believers so that others will learn the Lord's love for them.  1 Timothy 4:12!

I should work hard to do good for others...it helps me to forget the problems that I think I have.  My problems might be big to me, but sometimes seeing the need of others helps to put more perspective on my own life.  Youth Conference last year was so amazing...so much service from so many people going to people we've never even met!  It was such a testimony builder.  Mosiah 5:15!

I know that integrity and standing by my decisions will help me to be faithful and diligent.  I will refrain from partaking in anything that I know is wrong, and I am working on not even being around those things anymore.  The Bible says that even the very appearance of evil is wrong.  If the Bible says it, then it's true.   

Most importantly....

The temple is my ultimate goal.  I must be worthy to enter there, so as long as I strive to be worthy to go to the temple, I am doing my best in all other aspects of my life.  The temple is the place that I can be sealed to my family and to my spouse and any children I may have.  The family unit is fundamental to the plan of salvation presented to us by the Lord, so the family unit is fundamental in my priorities.  The temple is an illustration of all I hold dear...the ultimate destination on this earth.  The temple is the Lord's house and is the closest to Heaven as we can get while in this mortal existence.

I've learned so much from being in the Young Women...I didn't even realize until I began to write them all down!  The bishop was right...hindsight IS 20/20.  I expect to realize as time goes by even more things that I have taken from my experiences there...but until then, I'm ready to face anything the Lord puts on my plate.  He will not give me something I cannot handle. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spare time?!

So it's the beginning of another week, and so far, I'm ahead on assignments (what a good feeling).  I've decided to try to keep this lead, so we'll see how I do by Friday.  There are no major projects due this week--thank goodness--so maybe I can also do some other things this week other than homework.  My list includes:

1) taking more walks with Kyle
2) not skipping any nights of working out (unless replaced by 1)
3) reading more of my scriptures
4) reading for leisure
5) working on Personal Progress projects
6) watching Grey's Anatomy
7) getting to bed earlier
8) getting up earlier (so I'm actually not late to anything)
9) organizing more (I love to organize)
10) writing in my blog more (yay blog!)
11) preparing spiritually for my patriarchal blessing
12) work on getting more done ahead of time so I can have this list more often!

Gotta love this list.  I'm so excited to see what I can do this week in my spare time!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Catching Up

So it's been about a week and a half since I've last written, and I've been getting made fun of for not being able to keep up with this (*cough, cough* Kyle).  It's not that I don't think about the blog...I've thought about it almost every day since I've begun it.  I even wanted to put up an entry, but I always had something that was just a little bit more important to do, so it always got pushed back.

One of the things that was so much more important was my family history project that I had to do.  It was really a rough project for me, even though I loved the process and am now addicted to genealogy:  I had to be able to trace my ancestry through to immigration to the United States on all sides of my family and construct a paper about our family history to include a paragraph (at least) on each direct ancestor/descendent.  After that, we had to complete a family pedigree.  Projects were also supposed to include pictures and copies of important documents if possible, but this was optional and would just ensure that we got a better grade.  This is something I definitely would have done--if I'd had more time.  

This project has pretty much been my whole existence for the past few weeks, and I've been working on the project all semester.  I turned it in today (all 62 pages of paper and 29 pages of pedigree), and I'm sooooo relieved that it's finished--definitely a weight off my shoulders.  In a way I'm sick of the project, but I don't hate the idea behind it.  I truly enjoyed researching my family history and I plan to continue to do so.  The LDS church really focuses on family history and I'm so excited to take my names to the temple to have ordinances completed for my deceased family members.  I'm really hoping to complete most of them myself, but some of them have already been finished by others in various parts of the country.  When I found my first relative on the new Family Search website and she'd already had all of her ordinances completed, I almost cried.  It's so great to know that part of my family has already been sealed in the temple, even if I haven't been sealed to anyone yet (anticipating, though!).

Anyway, I completed the pedigree and got the finished product into a binder just last night at around 1 AM, but you'd better believe I wasn't finished...I still had a paper to write for today.  It only turned out being about four pages, so it barely fit the requirements, but I stayed up until 4 AM to finish it and got up (late) at 8 AM to go to class, which seems to be the usual over the past few weeks here.  

I guess the point of this entire entry is that I'm so tired I could scream.  And I still have more to do this weekend...ugh.  *dreaming of summer vacation*  Other thoughts:  the new Family Search site is great (if you're a member).  Do your family history...it'll change your views on your family.  God is good and he gives us families for a reason, so love yours.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shopping Day

So today was the first weekday of Spring Break, and my mom decided to take my sister and me shopping.  It was a really great time and I got a lot of fun stuff.  We meant to go to Muncie shopping for dresses for my cousin's wedding in June, but even though we tried on tons of dresses, none of them worked out for any of us.  I've decided that given my luck on dresses, I'm going to stick to my initial idea of wearing a skirt and blouse to the wedding instead.

On the other hand, my mom spent a lot of the day on the phone with the realtors who are handling the repossessed house that my parents are trying to get for my sister and me to live in next year.  It turns out that we have competition, and the bank refused our first offer.  We put in another one, but that one got refused, too.  Finally, we put in our top-dollar offer around 4 PM, and the bank should be back with us sometime tomorrow (they have to allow the other party to have the opportunity to raise their bids, too).  I'm trying really hard to neither feel disappointed nor hopeful, but it's really hard because I want to get this house so bad.  I fell in love with it when we walked through it the first time, even if it does need some repairs and a lot of TLC.  I can definitely envision myself living there for the next few years, and I know my sister feels the same way.  

Tomorrow can't come soon enough!  All I can do now, though, is pray and wait...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

First Entry!

So this is my first attempt at a blog!  I've know of a few other people hard at work keeping blogs, and I think they're so neat and immediately wanted to make my own.  It'll probably be pretty rough at first, but I figure if I begin it over Spring Break, maybe I'll have some time to get used to it and make it one of those things I want to do instead of one of those things I feel I have to do.  I've been trying to keep some sort of journal since I've joined the church, but my work's been pretty patchy.  I'm hoping the blogging will keep me interested because I'll be sharing my life with others and not just myself.

Spring Break's been going really well so far.  I had an amazing day at church in Dunkirk today.  I got to see a lot of people that I hadn't talked to in a long time and was invited to branch council, which was a very interesting experience.  There was also a carry-in today, so, including the fifty minute round-trip, I was gone for six hours!  It might seem like overkill, but today was one of the best days that I've had in a long time.  I was also able to start a new book called Stand As a Witness, a biography of Ardeth Greene Kapp (who helped create the Personal Progress Program in the '80s).  The book has discussed keeping journals, and again I was prompted to keep one.  Given my history with journaling, I assumed this would be a safer alternative.  I'm working on it!

I love life and I know why I'm here.  My purpose is to grow to be more like my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I live for him because he lived for me.