Friday, September 18, 2015

ACT and ye shall receive

I’m sitting at the MVD waiting for B136 to be called so I can apply for an Arizona driver’s license. Apparently when you live in a town populated with more than 4,000 people there are lines and numbers? This is all foreign to me. I had been warned that the lines can be excruciatingly long, so I came prepared with my laptop and decided to make better on my goal to blog more often now that I’m home from my mission.

The general stress of adulthood has been weighing heavily on my heart this week. As I'm trying to remain optimistic about all the decisions I'm being faced with currently, I've been blessed to remember a powerful lesson I learned as a young woman fresh from primary. A lesson I didn't even realize I learned until quite a few years after it was taught.

When I was 12 the youth in my ward took a trip to Nauvoo, Illinois. It was the first time I was old enough to attend a youth temple trip and I was excited to be deemed spiritually mature enough to do something vital for others' salvation. I tend to remember the most inconsequential details of experiences and this trip is no exception. I remember we had taco salad the first night we were there, after it poured rain on the beautiful forested cabin site we were lodging at. I remember my dad saying as we watched the senior elders pound hot metal that when he served a senior mission he just wanted to be the blacksmith in the blacksmith shop and my mom could bake the bread down the road. I remember sleeping in the seat directly behind the driver in my parents’ Ford Expedition as we made the four-hour pilgrimage to do the work of our ancestors. I remember being awake in that same seat to listen to a cassette tape of a John Bytheway fireside that would stay with me until this day.

There are certain things we hear that resonate with us and we aren’t quite sure why at the time. I don’t remember much of the talk we listened to, but one key point has stuck with me for years. Every few months I hear Brother Bytheway’s voice pounding how he receives personal revelation into my mind. It wasn’t until the last year of my life that I started to understand why the Spirit has quietly brought that talk to the forefront of my mind for more than a decade. It has guided pivotal decisions in my young adulthood.

One of the points that was made in this recorded fireside is that when we are praying to make a decision we often wait for an answer, when we instead need to pray and then act to confirm our desire. He shared how this rule of thumb operated heavily when he was courting his wife. He thought she was a great young EFY counselor so he prayed and said, “Heavenly Father. I really like this girl. I want to ask her on a date. So I’m going to do it. Stop me if I’m wrong.” He proceeded to ask her out and wasn’t stopped so he moved forward. He continued with very similar prayers as he prayed to know if he should take her on another date, if he should stop dating other girls and only date her, and when he had decided he wanted to marry her. In every situation he never received an overpowering yes. Instead he told Heavenly Father what he wanted and then moved forward with confidence.

I prayed and prayed and prayed toward the end of my mission to know where I was supposed to live. Determined to receive an answer one morning, I knelt on the floor of our closet and prayed verbally. I figured if it worked for Joseph Smith, it could work for me! Out of frustration I started listing every possible place I would want to live: Minnesota, Iowa, Provo, Salt Lake City, Arizona, Boston, Washington D.C., New York City, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago . . . I started listing places I’d never want to live: Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas . . . Nothing was bringing a solid answer. As a few angry tears rolled down my cheeks I returned to Arizona and paused. John Bytheway’s words came to my mind and I decided that I needed to act. Nothing would bring a confirmation in this situation until I acted. A few days later I took this to the temple for my last zone temple trip as a missionary. I told Heavenly Father that unless he stopped me, I decided to move back to Arizona because things just seemed to work. I could live with my grandma, use her spare car, and there were more solid marriage prospects in the valley than in Minnesota. It all made sense and I just felt like it was the right decision. So I moved forward. But it wasn’t with confidence. Though I felt good about everything I was beyond terrified. This was the first adult decision I have ever made that could end up being permanent.

John Bytheway’s words are what lead me to the MVD today. I realized that I was putting off getting an Arizona driver’s license because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. My Minnesota license doesn’t expire until my next birthday so I had subconsciously told myself that I had until April to decide if I really liked it here and if I did I’d get a license. If I didn’t I’d figure out what my next move was. Do I have faith that the Lord has a plan? Do I have faith that his plan doesn’t always unfold within a few weeks of us making a life-altering decision? Do I have faith that I will never be lead astray? Then I needed to embrace my decision, move forward with confidence, and get a license in the state I very well might reside in until I die.

As I’m finishing this post in my grandma’s basement I feel like Satan has one less thing to taunt me with. I’ve committed to life here and have a beyond horrible picture on a state issued ID to prove it. True, it hurt a little when the lady punched a hole in the right corner of my Minnesota license, making it invalid, but it also felt like growing up. They're called growing pains for a reason. I am living in full confidence that the Lord just wanted me to show my faith instead of declare it. Now He will show me what He has in store. He’ll show you what He has in store too if you leave behind your apprehension and start acting on your righteous desires after you’ve prayed, instead of only praying for a yes or no.

***Elder Bednar talks on a similar principle in some great Mormon Messages.  They've been put together in one video below:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

6 Things I Learned in the AZMM


To be perfectly honest, I'm sure I haven't even realized yet that I've learned some of my biggest lessons. I'm leaving this spot open to signify all the things my mission has taught me that haven't hit me yet. A month from now, a year from now, when I have to discipline my first child, and when I'm 93. Those will be times that I'm probably still gleaning truths from my 18 months as a set apart servant of God.

5: How to communicate.

I'm a people-pleaser, so the fear of making others unhappy makes it hard to communicate sometimes. I'm also terribly fearful or rejection in any form (it's been a long 18 months in that regard). My solution has always been to not talk about my feelings. If they aren't voiced I can't be rejected and I can't make others unhappy. My mission has taught me that silence often makes others unhappy and rejection isn't as bad as always wondering what if. People are meant to talk about things and they're also meant to not agree 100% of the time. I still get nervous before every companionship inventory or when I have to correct others, but all in all I have learned to effectively and respectfully communicate with people. This lesson also taught me that not all of Heavenly Father's blessings for us are 100% spiritual in nature. He loves us enough to fix all of us, not just our sins. Communicating definitely helped me in my missionary efforts, but largely it is a life skill I was not great at. He took the time to mend a part of me that didn't have to be fixed on my mission. He loves me that much.

If the Pilgrims and Indians, as well as the enemy animals used to reenact this historic moment, could talk about their feelings, then we can too.

4: The Lord doesn't require immediate perfection, just immediate progression.

He is definitely more patient with us than we are with ourselves. I won't belabor this point, it's pretty self explanatory.

3: The Lord loves us equally, but he doesn't love us evenly.

One of my first meetings as a missionary was the most influential of my mission. I don't remember which meeting it was exactly, but I know it happened in my first three months. As President Jenkins was speaking, his words, "the Lord loves us equally, but he doesn't love us evenly" snapped me out of my daydream. He went on to promise us that if we served an obedient and faithful mission that we would be blessed above and beyond those who forego the opportunity. Those words hit me and I immediately knew they were true. Blessings are always predicated on obedience; we don't get things we don't deserve. Heavenly Father will always love us despite our flaws, but he might only give you a gumball and your neighbor a Land Rover in accordance with your level of love, dedication, and obedience to His principles and commandments.

Elder Holland touched on this in an address he gave at the Missionary Training Center a number of years ago:

"I’ve been your age and you haven’t been mine, but I do remember what it was like to sit here and have dreams and fears and hopes and wonder, wonder if you were about to do it, wonder if you’d be happy, wonder if you would work hard, wonder if you could succeed. Now, 38 years and one month later I tell you that it was the most important thing that ever happened to me in my life, that it’s brought so many blessings that have now become important and now take their place in my life, but which would not have happened, I’m absolutely confident they would not have happened, if it had not been for the privilege of a mission." (The Miracle of a Mission. Elder Holland)

Replace the words mission with continual temple attendance, freely given tithe and fast offerings, faithfully magnifying a calling, etc. We will ALWAYS be blessed if we do what we are simply asked to do.


2: A soul is a soul, and all need help returning to Heavenly Father

I jokingly asked my dad before my mission if he would pay me a dollar for every concert baptism I was a part of. Everyone places an undue amount of emphasis on teaching nonmembers in missionary work. Everything is about the big dunk. Even I had that mentality before I became a real Arizona Mesa missionary. Either the Lord saw fit to humble me because of my request for commission on each baptism that occurred, or He truly thinks each soul is as important as the next, because I only baptized one person in the first 14 months of my mission. I think he probably sees each person equally and doesn't see a difference between helping lost sheep come back to the fold and helping sheep join the fold. I have done a lot of meaningful less active work on my mission and it has always been as rewarding as teaching nonmembers. Missionary work is about bringing people closer to Christ and helping them return to their Heavenly Father. Everyone needs help in that regard.


1: The Gospel of Jesus Christ really blesses individuals and families.

There are certain things in life that seem permanent and unchanging (like Lindsey Lohan being crazy now...I don't think she'll ever come back from that, but that's a blog post for a different tomorrow...when I won't be a missionary anymore....WHAAAAT. Wow. Let's change the subject...back to Jesus). Because of that we can often take them for granted. Running water, clean clothing, food, electricity, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have always lived in a home where church was a priority and at times I didn't really know if it was the gospel that was blessing my life or the parents who were providing the lifestyle. My mission has been an 18 month case study of the gospel influencing people and I can definitively say that the the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ will bless anyone and every one. 

In my final hours as a called and chosen representative of our Savior, Jesus Christ, I want to invite you with all the feelings of someone who loves you deeply to explore what your Heavenly Father has to offer you. There is more that you can be experiencing. Reach out to some missionaries and give them a chance to change your life. Yes, we are young and some of us wear brown socks with black shoes, but we come with a sacred message.


In other news, I just remembered that I have to update my resume and that makes me want to die.

Read Elder Holland's Full Talk that was quoted above. It is great.

With love, one last time,

Sister Poppe

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

As promised in October of 2013, in this post, a picture of me recreating Bella's last day in AZ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Satan's Wardrobe

When I was young, either a small tornado or some hefty straight-line winds did a number on our small Iowan home. Being as we had to replace our entire garage and the roof of our home, my mom figured we should just remodel other parts of 309 9th St. while we were at it. My dad went on to spend what felt like the rest of my childhood staining, sanding, and varnishing trim and doors as he rid our home of the awful 1970's woodwork. During this process our kitchen was completely redone. My mom decided that she only wanted off white appliances and wouldn't compromise on anything. In the early 2000's off white appliances were more difficult to come by than they are now. As a result, my brothers and I were subject to more trips to Lowe's, Sears, and other home improvement stores than any child under the age of accountability should have to endure. From this experience I learned a few good lessons--most of which revolve around proper wood staining techniques--one in particular though is that off white is definitely different than white.

These memories resurfaced last week as I was pondering Satan's position as the opposite to our right side shoulder angel. At first I was just inwardly laughing as I could hear my father saying, "no rest for the wicked," as he spent his Saturday renovating our home. This then lead to a thought I'd never had before. In sketches that play on the shoulder angel bit Satan is always dressed in red with accentual horns. For many people that are striving to live moral lives, Satan isn't actually dressed in red. He rarely has success persuading upstanding individuals to be blatantly disobedient. His specialty, at least in my life, is in clothing himself in off white robes that nearly mimic the lily white ones of our Savior. Just as I couldn't tell the difference between a white KitchenAid Mixer and an almond colored one without intense examination when I was eight, many people aren't quick to realize that Satan is persuading them to make decisions that are only slightly off color.

I have heard the phrase, "Satan will tell nine truths just to slip in one lie," multiple times. It is one of the truest statements of the adversary I've ever heard. A modern example can be found in the debate over the Word of Wisdom. People on my mission always point out that studies show that a glass of red wine a day helps with heart health. They'll bring up the calming effect it has on them after a busy day. Next they point out the fact that wine is mentioned in the Bible. Some will occasionally mention that in moderation alcohol doesn't have a negative affect on your mental faculties. On and on true statements are mentioned. I won't dispute scientific findings, personal preferences, or even the Bible. But those truths don't make up for the fact that God himself declared alcohol impermissible through a modern day prophet. Every mother has said, "two wrongs don't make a right." Two scientific facts don't make a right either. Satan is crafty. He will hide red wine in a cloudy white glass to cover the wrong that it ultimately is.

In 1999, while my dad was probably putting on his second of three coats of varnish to wood trimming, Richard C. Edgley shared the following in a General Conference address, "Satan is known as the great deceiver. His religion, his philosophy, and his work is based on deception and lies. His objective is to thwart the work of the Lord by misleading us and eventually making us 'miserable like unto himself' (2 Nephi 2:27)." Satan is a master at misleading us into seemingly safe and deceptively desirable paths. He won't always show up in a party bus ready to jettison you into sin; he will often creep in and slowly persuade you to draw closer to him step by step. Don't let him deceive you into believing off white is just white that hasn't seen bleach in awhile. But if he has, it isn't too late to let the atonement of Jesus Christ turn your scarlet (or even off white) robes white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18).

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

6 Things Sister Smith Has Taught Me About Marriage

Two events have coincided recently to inspire this blog post. The first of which was the United States Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The second is taking place tomorrow when my current companion, Sister Smith, and I are being separated after 12 weeks with one another. I'm not going to tackle the religious issues surrounding same-sex attraction and marriage (you can find the official church stance here), but I do want to talk about marriage in general because it is the single most important covenant we can make with our Heavenly Father while we are here on Earth. As is obvious to those who know me, I am not, nor have I ever been married. I am definitely not an expert on relationships, but living with someone for 24 hours a day for the past 17 months has definitely opened my eyes to the realities of what married life very well might be like. Daily I have learned things as a missionary that I will apply in married life that will hopefully lead to a successful and happy relationship. As a tribute to Sister Smith and our impending breakup, I want to discuss the six most important things I've learned from our companionship about successful relationships.

6: Laughter is vital
Missionary work is really hard. People stand you up all the time, others are rude at times, and a large percentage of individuals think you're young, innocent, and uneducated. If you add in the fact that you're always tired and and your hair never looks as good as it did pre-mission you can see how real the struggle is. As hard as missionary work is, I've been told more times than I can count that marriage and family life is harder. No matter what point you are at in life, there will be hardships and trials. Things outside of your control will always drive you crazy and often your plan will be kicked to the curb. It would be really easy to have a bad attitude about mortal life (and some people do), but it is unnecessary. I've thoroughly enjoyed every day of my mission because I've decided to. What has made it even easier though is having someone to laugh with. Sister Smith and I laugh ALL THE TIME. If we are in the car between appointments we are laughing. If we were just rejected at a door we wait until we are out of ear shot and then we are laughing. If we have the flu the day before my 24th birthday and are miserable, we are laughing. I've learned that I have to be with someone for eternity that can laugh off the bad with me because the bad will become more prevalent if we embrace it and don't fight against it.

This was us for approximately 24 hours on the eve of my 24th birthday. Through the misery, we had many a tender memory made.
5: Know what matters and what doesn't
As a child we are always told that we're like snowflakes and no two of us are alike. Blah blah blah. Well, it's true. Even though Sister Smith and I are largely the same person (as manifest by our identical interests, Spotify playlists, and love of hipster-esque items) we have differences. I'll never forget the first time we taught the Restoration lesson together and she explained the Great Apostasy differently than I do. It really caught me off guard. I had had so many young companions until that point that every one I had been with just emulated me in their teaching style. For the first time in a very long time I was with someone that taught completely differently than I did. It didn't matter though because the message was still delivered and the person heard what they needed to hear. It would be so easy to nitpick each other and point out flaws all day long. But if it doesn't affect her salvation or missionary work, then it doesn't need to be addressed. A spouse or children will never be perfect. Change yourself before you seek to change others. You can always develop more charity, patience, and love.

4: Always communicate your feelings
People can't read minds. It just isn't a thing. Yet. Science. Talk about what makes you happy, sad, frustrated, angry, confused, etc. People need to know where you're at if you want to work together to achieve happiness. People also like to hear when they're doing well. Let them know when you love them. I really struggled with this before my mission. I considered it a talent for a long time that I could hide anything. I hate emotions and feelings. They make me so uncomfortable. But if a relationship is going to be effective, you have to be an open book. I've never communicated so many emotions in my life until I became a missionary. It's always been helpful though. Never do it in a negative or a demanding way. Just let people know what you're thinking or feeling.

Look how happy we are. After this event we communicated that to one another!

3: Embrace the oddities
Everyone has quirks. Even people who you think are normal have them. Apparently I scrunch my nose a lot. Sister Smith shrieks and talks in a weird low voice a lot. Just love people for who they are.

Another quirk of mine: I love taking pictures in the most random settings. She embraced it and humored me more times than I can count.

2. Marry a best friend, not just a person you love
Love is a powerful thing, but it can't compensate for a lack of friendship. Nothing is sadder to me than married people who spend a majority of their free time without their spouse. The last three months have flown by because the Lord blessed me with a best friend companion. It is true that you can be happy with anyone if you choose to be, but why not be happy with your favorite person?

1: Anything is surmountable through Christ
At the end of the day everything is possible through Jesus Christ. Sister Smith's unwavering faith has reminded me that even through the toughest of trials He is the one that will lift you up. Center your life in Christ and find someone who will do the same and you'll always be taken care of.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Catwashed: Tales of a Brainwashed Mormon

Cats only have a few purposes in life as far as I am concerned. They were created for Youtube videos, internet memes, and to add humor to paper goods, such as: wrapping paper, gift cards, and disposable plates. My mom has a strong distaste for felines that was pounded into my head from infancy. Comments like, "there's opposition in all things. Dogs are good; cats are bad," and, "cats are not allowed in my home because they are gross," were common brainwashing statements strewn throughout my youth. Her hisses against cats worked though--all three of us Poppe children hate cats and I don't think any of us have a single credible reason to. Brainwashing your children is a real thing, and I am the product of it.

Here are some cats, fulfilling their real purpose in life.
My father did the same thing with Ford vehicles. We all knew from the youngest age that dad would only purchase a Ford, and if we wanted something different at the age of 16 his compromise would be a Huffy 10 speed. To this day I cringe when I have to drive something that isn't a descendant of Henry's original assembly line. Again, I have no reason to dislike any vehicle without a blue oval on the grill; I just have been conditioned to hold Ford automobiles above the rest.

As has been made clear, I am the victim of parental brainwashing. I am all too familiar with the confusion of having an opinion and no evidence to back it up. I hate cats. I love Fords. And I'm a Mormon. One of those statements is not like the others though, and it is the last one. I'm a Mormon, and I wasn't tricked into this religion by my scheming parents. Let's examine a few differences between my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my opinions about cats and Fords.

Reasons I Hate Cats:
1. My mom told me to and after years of that mantra I gave up and got on board.
3. They leave hair on my legs when they touch me and I do not like that.

Reasons I Love Fords:
1. My dad told me to, and after years of that mantra I turned 16 and wanted independence in the form of four wheels so I complied with his guidelines.
2. They look nice...

Reasons I am a Mormon:
1. First and foremost, I do have to acknowledge that I was raised in this religion, so that does play a role in my beliefs.

2. Matthew 7:16 states, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" What are the fruits of the LDS church and the commandments and beliefs we follow? Do good things come of our faith or bad?  A turning point in my reasons for attending church happened when I was a teenager. I never had friends who were members of the church when I was growing up because Latter-day Saints are a rare breed in the Midwest. I loved my friends, but I had different standards. I found myself in an uncomfortable situation at the age of 16 that painfully showed the gap between our values. I was in a hotel room with some friends who were all underage drinking and I couldn't walk away for the first time in my life. I was in another state and couldn't go home without leaving three other people stranded in Nebraska. I was frustrated, and for the first time I recognized the blessings of being obedient even when it was hard. I spent the whole night alone in my own corner of the hotel room, abstaining from the alcohol I was being pressured into drinking. I recognized in that moment that I was grateful for the way that I was raised and for the expectations and standards my parents held me to. The trial of my faith proved to me that standing up to my friends and not compromising on my beliefs made me happier. The fruits of obedience were evident and continued to be throughout my high school career. The fruits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as restored through Joseph Smith, are everywhere. People frequently tell me that Mormons are happy. Mormons serve their community. Mormons seem put together. It isn't a coincidence. Those strawberries and bananas were enough to convince me that the church taught correct doctrine and was worth living true to. For me, the fruits of the gospel were the biggest indicators of the truthfulness of the church as I was developing a testimony that stood apart from my parents'.

3. At the end of the day my parents' nurturing and the good things I feel at church aren't enough to keep me here. I feel a lot of good things when I'm perusing the shoe aisles of Nordstrom Rack, but I would never worship there. Our Father in Heaven has promised us many things. One of those things is that if we read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truthfulness, we will get an answer. I don't go to church because I love the culture or because I don't want to disappoint my parents by being absent. I follow the commandments and live true to the covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father because something older than any of us stirs within me when I am living the gospel. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. He died for all of us and lives again for us too. I know these things because I studied and prayed and worked and expected an answer. I did something that anyone else is entitled to do. I continue to do these things because faith needs nurturing. I talk to the father of my spirit daily and the impossible to replicate peace I feel tells me it is true.  I invite you to pray. Pray about anything and see what happens as you develop that relationship with God. As you get more comfortable praying, start to ask questions and examine how you feel. Answer come to those who are humble enough to receive them.

I don't know why I hate cats. I don't know why I love Fords. But I do know why I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And it definitely isn't because I was brainwashed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Harry Potter. Faith to Move Mountains. C4. Dynamite. Jesus Christ. Salem Witch Trials.

When I was in my senior year of high school I realized I had been raised to believe many things that I actually wasn't sure I believed. As I studied political socialization in my AP Government class I began to realize that I had been heavily socialized to think a certain way. Did I really believe I was a child of God, or had I sung the lyrics so many times that I thought they rang true? Was my family actually going to be together forever, or was I swayed to believe the irresistible notion because it was a catchy sentence repeated again and again in LDS culture? There was a list of questions that I slowly pondered and prayed about over the next year or so that I gained my own testimony of. Even after I built a testimony out of the timbers of basic principles, I found myself going back often and adding a reinforcing log here or an extra nail there.  As I progressed through my college career my testimony solidified and began to be as strong as I had always wished it was. The most well tended to plank of my testimony over the years has been faith in Jesus Christ.

I have long hated the phrase, "the faith to move mountains" and it took me quite awhile to figure out why. A few years ago as I overheard a conversation between a group of naive girls discussing the probability of them getting married I realized that too often people use the phrase flippantly and incorrectly. Faith has always been fused with the Lord's will and action in my mind. Those gospel triplets all have to be present if anything miraculous is going to occur through the hands of man. When I heard people say things such as, "If you have the faith to move mountains, anything is possible. You will definitely be accepted into grad school. Just fast and pray!" I always wanted to interject, "You know, and maybe you could like actually try in class and study for the GRE and ask Heavenly Father if he even wants you to go to grad school. I don't know. Maybe? It could help? Maybe find a job that will contribute to your application and future career desires too or something. Hmm? Yeah?" I politely vocalized something similar to this once and a few of the conversation participants looked at me as if my happy meal sized portion of faith would clearly be my downfall. Oh the joys of a freshman ward at BYU. I envision that the Salem Witch Trials actually started in a manner similar to this. Some poor girl probably tried to give practical advice that harmoniously synthesized gospel principles with real life application and then she was accused of being a witch because people who think that faith is a noun instead of a verb didn't like the idea that faith would never give them a magic wand. So in a twist of unrealized irony, they accused her of being the wand holder. Faith, unfortunately, will never make us Harry Potter. If anyone would know that, it would be me. I've tried.

Hagrid will never greet me with the phrase, "You're a witch, Amanda!" Though it is heartbreaking, faith doesn't work that way.

We can only move mountains if two other things happen; first and foremost, it has to be the Lord's will for us to displace the geologic monument. Moroni touches on this when he says, "And Christ had said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." (Moroni 7:33). If this scripture was a scientific formula, there would be no result without expedience. Faith wouldn't be enough for a reaction to occur. Faith+expedience=power.

Second, we have to be willing to move each and every single rock fragment from its current location to its new one with our own efforts. Something amazing happens when we start to act out of faith instead of wish out of faith. There's a pretty low success rate for hoping a mountain into moving. If we start to chip away at it instantly and have faith that Christ will help us though, then we will start to see miraculous things. We may be blessed with a few sticks of dynamite, a wheel barrow, and work gloves at first. As we continue to show faith, we could be handed truck loads of C4, a semi for loading and hauling away rock, and a skid loader to pick up and transport buckets of marble and shale from the mountain to the semi. We will probably be blessed with health to complete our task, extra stamina and strength to endure, and good weather too. When we've reached a point where we can't go any further, then we may be blessed with an earthquake that will completely level the portion of the mountain we have yet moved.

Faith in Jesus Christ can move a mountain, but only if the Lord and creator of this Earth wants it moved, and if we're willing to be the movers.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Unloading Heavenly Father's Dishwasher

**This post was copied from my pre-mission blog. The original publish date was July 7, 2013

When I was in high school I was a rather social being.  It wasn't uncommon for me to get home from school, work, or an extra-curricular activity and grab something to eat quick before I ran out the door again to do something with my friends.  Often I would mention to one of my parents my plans as I was exiting the house.  Most of the time they told me to have fun and reminded me to wake them up if I got home after they went to bed.  Sometimes though, my brisk bee line to the door was halted with phrases such as, "You can't leave until you empty the dishwasher," or, "Put your laundry away before you go to the basketball game."

I realized today that I do the same thing with my prayers.  I often hastily tell Heavenly Father what my plan is as I'm about to do it and most of the time He agrees with me and tells me to wake him up when I get home. Sometimes though he stops me on my way out the door and a course correction is required.  This has only happened to me a few times in life and it has resulted in very minor changes to my plan.  Well a little over a week ago I was stopped and asked to make a large course correction.  I have had an emotionally taxing summer as I've tried to figure a lot of things out.  I decided to avoid making decisions by drowning out my thoughts with 60 hour work weeks.  I didn't have time to think until I went to California on vacation and life slowed down considerably.  I found myself contemplating life in odd places, such as on a ride at Disneyland and in the backseat of my friend's car as we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was terribly inconvenient.  Finally toward the end of my trip I was clearly instructed to metaphorically "unload the dishwasher" before I continued on with life as I had planned.

If you're forced to contemplate life, I guess this stretch of American highway is the best place to do it.

At first I was really upset.  Sobs accompanied my explanations as I hid out in the hotel hallway and called my mom to update her on my life plan.  I was looking forward to taking one year to finish up my college education instead of one semester so that I would have time for an extremely high amount of fun.  After graduation I had even contemplated staying in Provo.  My friends are all here, I enjoy the independence that results from living 1,300 miles from my parents, and I've come to enjoy being here.  I was running full speed toward the door, ready to exit and have a fun time and was halted in my tracks.  I spent the next 4-5 days in an odd emotional/moody/generally selfish state in which I had to actively put on a happy face when I was around people so they would think I was normal.  The last few days of my pity party occurred when I was back in Provo.  After a friend gave me a blessing I realized it was time to embrace Heavenly Father's plan even though it will require a lot of sacrifice.  I'm terrified.

Today though, while I was sitting in church I had an epiphany.  When my parents asked me to complete a chore before I left the house in high school they weren't trying to keep me from what I had planned.  They just expected something from me before I set out to do what would bring me joy.  Never did I ever believe that my parents didn't want me to experience joy in high school.  Often I would do what I had been asked to do and then continue to do what I wanted.  I satisfied my parent's desires and my own even though I had originally only made time for myself.  My experiences weren't diminished in the slightest.  The same is true in this situation.  I foolishly believed that Heavenly Father had completely disregarded my wishes by instructing me to drastically change my plan.  I believed that I was being asked to sacrifice many opportunities that would never be provided to me again.  I've been asked by Heavenly Father to do something I never imagined I would do.  It throws a wrench in the next 2 years of my life, but in the eternal scheme of things it's only a small chore he requires of me before I can continue my flee out the door to the bright future I have planned.  My life isn't necessarily going off the plan I created, instead an extra loop has been added to my track that still leads to the same goals, dreams, and aspirations I had originally set out to accomplish.  Like in high school, I will enjoy my plans more knowing that I unloaded Heavenly Father's dishwasher before I left the house to see a movie with my friends.