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Friday, December 14, 2012

Charity, The Last Time I Heard Her Voice

I have found that Charity is not just giving something tangible.

Charity is the light in our eyes, and the smile on our face. 
It's the feeling in our heart.

Charity is defined by the kind words that we speak, and the actions that follow.
It is when we kneel in prayer on behalf of another.

It is when tears of sympathy run down our faces for our friends that we feel this "Charity".

Charity is found when we follow the promptings that come from deep down in our souls. When we know we should do something, because we are loving. And then we do it.

The past couple of weeks I've really been working on Charity.
And I really do think there's something to it.

About three months ago I got a phone call from my mother. She was at the hospital visiting her mother and she told me that Grandma had some time to talk to me.

I sighed within myself, if I talked to my Grandma I would be late for class, I would miss the quiz, I might not do well on my test, blah blah blah.

And then within my soul I was reaffirmed that the most important thing in this world is my family. 
So we talked. We talked about haircuts and cold feet.
Nothing that seemed that important.
But, I did tell her I loved her, and she told me that she loved me back.

And that was the last time I ever heard my sweet grandmothers voice. 

The funny thing about Charity is that we often trick ourselves into thinking it's all about the other person. That we give give give, and don't receive. But never in my experience has that been the case. I always receive blessings.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Kims, My Predisposition

Over the years I have found that I just really love people named Kim.
I think Heavenly Father thought it might be hard for me to make friends so he planted a little pattern called, "I'll name all your best friends Kim," and then he hoped that I would catch on.

Well, looks like I've finally caught on!
And I've decided to give a special shout out to two very special Kims in my life.

I'll go in order of when I met them, not order of importance (cause they're both so great)

First....Kimberly Ahlstrom (Friden):

When I became friends with this girl I was only in 7th or 8th grade, and she was in High School.
She is one of the best friends I have ever had. 
Kim is really amazing, she has always cared about me and given me advice (especially about boys ).
One time we had a water drinking contests when we got really bored, dumb...dumb idea.

Another time we cooked rotten bacon and it made the whole house smell really gross.
Most of all though, Kim was always just a friend, the friend I could have sleep overs with , go shopping with, and have lunch with.

I remember when she got engaged to her best friend Shane, I was so happy I thought I would die.

 But it got better, after they got married they were blessed with a stinkin' cute little boy, Jeremy. 

I'm so happy for Kim and the wonderful example of a righteous woman that she is. Kimmie, you have taught me so much, and have somehow managed to help keep me on this path that I'm on. I love you So much.

Alright my other Kim is Kimberly Bennett. 

She is so incredibly fabulous.
Each day when I count my blessings, I count her twice.
I don't know if it's possible to thank her, or explain to her how much she means to me, but let me just give it a shot.

This Kim taught me:
To pray every morning and night
To JuMp at the thought of service
To volunteer to Pray and read at church
To Love everyone as much as I can
To smile when it's hard
To cry in the closet
To work hard
To play hard
To trust
To love

Kim just has a way about her. When she's around everyone feels happy. When Kim is around there are always smiles.

I remember one time I didn't have any hairspray because I accidentally put my new hairspray in my carry-on at the airport. Kim bought me new hairspray.

When she first found out about my love for Cranberry sauce, guess what was waiting at my house?

A head massager for my daily headaches.
Head Neck Scalp Massager Massage Stress Release Gold
Medicine when I'm sick.

Food when I'm hungry.

But can I say that most of all she just loves me. She just loves. More than loving though, I guess is that my Kimmie shows me that she loves me, through her words, her actions, her quality time spent with me, the gifts that she gives, both tangible and not. She gives gives gives and she will forever be my sister because of it.

I love you Kimmies! I love you because you both have shaped my life in ways that I cannot even begin to write down with my meager words. I cannot express my love or appreciation for all you have done. Your sweet influence will FOREVER be close to my heart.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Stress Get Thee Hence

Part of being healthy, happy, and eager so serve the Lord is taking care of myself. Getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising and all that jazz.....

But it's so hard! Sometimes I just get overwhelmed and need to take some time for myself. But what happens when you can't take time for yourself? on eager beaver.

Approximately 5% of the general public suffer from general anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and as women, we're even more likely to suffer from this often debilitating disorder.

I recently fell victim to stress and was experiencing some pretty great stress headaches.

I needed some help! As a psychology student it was pretty easy because two of my classes were all about stress management. So, along with some prescription pain killer I  jumped into what I thought would be most helpful: Relaxation Techniques and Positive Psychology.

Positive psychology is this field of psychology that is all about positive thoughts and all that great stuff. A small part of positive psychology is what is called a Positive Affirmation. A positive affirmation is when you tell yourself a statement that foreshadows what you want to be. Maybe it's an attribute that you do not yet possess but that you would like to possess, you must say it as though you already possess it. Here's my best shot. Oh yeah, you have to read them EVERY DAY!

My list of Positive Affirmations

1. I am a kind person who is sensitive to the needs of others.
2. I have a positive attitude, and I have joy in others success.
3. I am understanding and treat people as people.
4. I am patient with the shortcomings of others because God is patient with me.
5. I am humble and accept the will of God.
6. I do not worry about things that I cannot change.
7. I show my love for Heavenly Father by actively serving others.
8. I show my love for my Heavenly Father by keeping his commandments.
9. I smile and laugh everyday because I know that I have so much to be grateful for.
10. I use my time wisely and effectively.

Next, relaxation techniques. This one is super great. You go through a set of tensing and relaxing your muscles so your body remembers what they should feel like (relaxed). Through out the day you do a personal check and make sure you're not carrying stress in your muscles. It's pretty fabulous.

As I become less tense and focus on things that really matter I'm better able to help serve the other people around me. I guess the overall moral of this story to yourself like you talk to your best friend. Be nice, be patient. I love learning and growing, it's really what this life is all about.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Challenge Accepted President Monson: Consider the Blessings

Challenge Accepted President Monson!

I've always been pretty good at reading conference talks after they come out in the Ensign. 

BUT, I haven't been that great at really following the council long term. 

This is my normal progressions when it comes to conference:
1. Get all excited to hear modern-day revelation
2. Sleep through 75% of the talks
3. Love the 25% I hear
4. Re-listen/Re-read all the talks
5. Momentary/short term motivation
6. The End. 

This year will be different, or so help me!

President Monson said," I would recommend...that you take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received"

So, I will do this because the Prophet has advised me to.


I have incredibly loving parents, they have always been willing to listen and to love.

Heavenly Father has blessed me with amazing, fabulous, wonderful friends...they remind me to love life.

Next: Great examples of leaders. People who always love me, even though I'm nuts!
Carolyn, she's really just the best!

My Aunt Sharon, isn't she neat?
Sister Rose

Golly I love this woman. There's always just been something about her that makes me want to sing. She is kind, she is thoughtful, she is beautiful. I love you I love you!

small (yet significant) blessings:

 I am so grateful that I don't have to live this life in Black and White. Instead Heavenly Father blessed this world with the beautiful colors of sunsets, fall leaves changing colors, and flowers, oh how I love flowers.

Wow, so this post got really long really fast. I guess I'll have to stop for right now.
I love my life, I love my Heavenly Father. My family and friends are fantastic, I am so, so, blessed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Living My Religion, Am I Christian?

I have this teacher.

His name is Brent Slife, and he's one of the few teachers that I have that is not LDS here at BYU.

He's a really fabulous example of living his religion, he's Christian, and he knows it.
But even better, I can tell that he believes is Jesus Christ as his Savior because of the way that he lives his life and teaches my class.

On our first day of class I wrote this down, "How do I make my life more Christian? (Daily?)"
I feel like a lot of the time I think that I'm Christian, but I neglect to thank and acknowledge my Heavenly Father in all that I do.

I went on to write in my notes, "Professor Slife mentioned a man today that goes to church  primarily to receive more business. Everyone in the class chuckled. And I did too, but then I thought of all the reasons I go to church that aren't solely based on worshiping Christ."

I go to church to see the guy I like, to talk with my friends, to hear great stories and to be uplifted. I go to church to show off a new outfit, or how I did my hair. I go to church so others will think that I am spiritual.

But are any of those reasons the right reasons?
I believe that worshiping on Sunday is very important, but I wonder what Heavenly Father would have me do? Live my religion daily? Through my thoughts, words, and actions? 
Or to merely go to church?

I guess what I'm getting at is this.

I think it's important to do the right things, but more important to do the right things for the right reasons. It's good to call myself a Christian, but it's better to live a Christ-Centered life. It's important to keep the commandments, but it's the best to follow the guidance of the Spirit. 

It's about living the religion that I believe, not just calling myself a Latter Day Saint.
I'm trying to change the way I think about being Christian so that I will be better able to use the atonement in my daily life.

A line of one of my favorite songs goes like this, "Because I am his daughter, I want my devotion to him to be what they see."

I want the way that I act to help others come to know Christ, and hopefully by continually working on characteristics that will happen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My First Kiss Went A Little Like This

Every little girl dreams of her first kiss.

(This video is pretty much the cutest)

 I always imagined my first kiss to be pretty neat.  Potentially riding along the beach on a white stallion. Maybe some wind blowing through my hair, that kind of stuff.

(A scene from Romancing the Stone, one of my favorites)

But my first kiss was nothing like that. My first kiss happened in the movie theater and I was trying to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.

Looking back now the most commical part of that experience was that I was really upset. I was trying to watch the movie, and this guy was trying to get in a little smooch.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what in the world this has to do with a virtue that I've been working on. Well...let me tell you:

I was mad, so much in fact that I held a grudge for a while. I didn't want to forgive him for #1 ruining the movie, and #2 for making my first kiss anything but romantic.

I finally forgave him, but I decided that holding a grudge, especially over something so silly, was absolutely outrageous.

All silliness aside.

I've really been working on forgiving people. I had to ask myself, "Why is it so hard to forgive others, and also to forgive myself?"

This is what I decided:

As human beings we seek for the approval of others. When something goes wrong, when someone hurts us, when they lie, or yell or say a snide remark, we paint ourselves as the victim of their ferociousness. We want to be able to blame our hurt feelings, or insensitivity, and
our tears, on their actions. When the others around us stand on our side and back us up we find that justification of being angry, in being the victim, and in being right.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've really tried to transform the negative emotions of non-forgiveness and build on a stronger foundation. I decided to write a letter to everyone that I have blamed, that I have felt has hurt me, and to those who, whether or not it's justified, I just don't like. At the end of the letter, I wrote down all of their names, and promised that I would never say another mean thing about them, not foster any harmful thoughts in my mind. Instead, I said that I would love them with my heart, like Christ loves me.

I also made a list of things that I would remind myself of:
1) Could this be my fault?
2) Do not play the victim.
3) Forget about holding grudges.
4) Think of others as REAL people.

That last point, number 4, that one has really been making me think lately. When we see each other as people, all of those bad feelings, the unnecessary judging and hating, they go away. We not only forgive, but we have nothing to forgive, because we don't take offense. Some of you might be familiar with this idea, because it's found in my very-favorite-of-all-time book, Bonds that make us free. If you haven't read it. Do! It is fabulous, it will change your world and the way you think of others.

Finally, what are my thoughts without a quote from Elder Holland?

"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don't have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines.

Whether you are not yet of our faith or were with us once and have not remained, there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. "Come boldly [to] the throne of grace," and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast "without money and without price" at the table of the Lord."

Jeffrey R. Holland, The Laborers in the Vineyard

Don't you just feel the Love of God? One of my all time favorite quotes, "It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." Whoa! Right? So great.

There is nothing that anyone can do that you cannot forgive, because He has already paid the price for it. There is NOTHING that you cannot forgive yourself of, because the light of Christ shines far beyond how low we can ever sink. I love forgiveness. I love to forgive and I love to be forgiven, it's one of the most wonderful feelings in this life.

Happy forgiving!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Love is Patient, Love is Kind"

Proverbs 31: 10&26
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."

Being kind turned out to be a whole-heck-of-a-lot harder than I intended it to be.
I guess it's a good thing that I had such a hard time being kind, because I really got to work on Becoming Better.

It seemed like such a simple concept, be nice to people. But then life stepped in and threw me new people and new situations that just frustrated me. Although these past couple of weeks have been hard for me, I decided to remember some acts of kindness that others provided. It helped me to be kind.

First story. I was previously employed at a place that really frustrated me, the people seemed consistently rude, and I seemed to cry at work everyday. (I know, I'm sure you're very surprised) 
But one day, something magical happened.

(Magic Johnson)
After a very long day at work, after hundreds of people had hung up on me, and cursed at me, a very kind woman said, "No, Thank You dear, and God bless you."

I started crying again, but this time it was a different kind of tear, it was the kind of tear that came straight from my grateful heart. Because. Indeed God has blessed me, with so so much.

(Blessings just to name a few, Ryan, Devin, and Nathaniel, and of course the beautiful mountains)

Next story.

Once upon a time I got the worst flu of my life.
No really though. It was bad. 24 hours of complete dreadful awfulness.

A midst all the horribleness I had this friend. She's really not like any other friend that I've ever been blessed to share a friendship with.
Beautiful Kimmie

She gave me ice cubes and zinc. She read me children's books and got me crackers and sprite and all the stuff that your mommy gives to you.

(SkippyJon Jones, one of my favorite children's books)
She exhibited the most Christ-Like love that anyone has ever shown to me.

Alright. Finally I couldn't tell about the kindness shown to me in my life if I didn't give a little shout out to Sherri Hanna (and of course, the rest of the Hanna Clan)

Little Rachel had just passed away and I found my little seven year old self at the Hanna's. I remember the look on Greg's face as he reminded me that I didn't need to cry. I remember him reaching up and wiping the tears off my face, placing that little tear in my pocket, and telling me, "Save this for another day."
The most distinct memory I have of that day though is what Sherri did for me.

Although her precious daughter had been taken from her, she looked at me, and held me in her arms. Then she did something that has forever made an impression on me.
She thumbed through dozens of pictures of her little girl, found just the right one, and then cut it out. She found a frame that fit just right, and then she gave it to me.

In hind sight I'm sure that she wanted to savor every picture that she had of Rachel, but instead she spread the joy of her daughter to so many of Rachel's girl friends.

That picture has been on my mantle for 13 years now. I've carried it in my pocket. I've kissed it goodnight. I'm so grateful for that little reminder.

I think the reason why all of these stories are particularly powerful to me is because they show real Christ-Like Love. The Kind people in my life have been there to remind me to stop thinking of myself. Being kind is about knowing the needs of others, and then faithfully putting them before your own...

It's hard to be nice. It's hard to take the blame. To brush off a rude comment. To smile through the tears. But it's all so incredibly worth it.

Joseph B. Wirthlin said,

"Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes."

So team. Let's do this. Let's be more kind.

Finally, one last quote.
"Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance." - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fill It With Love

It's difficult, becoming better. 
With all my flaws, sometimes it seems almost impossible. 
But with the shining example of a Loving Savior, I was able to learn a little about Love this week.

The following little story started my week off: 

"Upon returning home from his day's work, this father greeted his boy with a pat on the head and said, 'Son, I want you to know I love you.' The son responded with, 'Oh Dad, I don't want you to love me, I want you to play football with me.' Here was a boy conveying a much-needed message."

Boy (3-4), father and grandfather playing football in field on sunny afternoon

Everyone feels loved in a different way, or in other words we all have a Love Language. (If you don't know what yours is here's the link

I may feel loved when others express words of affirmation, or hug me without a question, where as my best friend might feel loved when he spends time with people that love him. We're all so very different, and it's important to Love people in a way that they need. 

Christ said, "What manner of men ought ye to be? ...even as I am."
When I think of Love, I think of Christ. The service he gave, and the lives he touched. He knew just how to Love everyone.

I think of the Continuous Atonement, the purest act of true Love ever given. Christ gave the greatest gift, himself.

I've found that it feels wonderful to serve. To truly, selflessly love is what makes life worth it. 

This week I did more random acts of kindness than I can ever remember doing. I'm so glad I did. I was able to really feel the Love of the Savior for the people around me. 

(President Hinckley retold this story that his father told him)

Finally I want to touch on a subject that has been on my mind, and that was brought to my attention about two years ago by my wonderful former Bishop. 

I was taught by a man that said it much more eloquently that I ever can, but despite my tied tongue, I hope to portray one of the most important principles I ever learned, and this is it:

Fill Your Void With Love.

Fill it with family, and friends, and smiles.

Jesus said, "that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled"

We all have those places in our hearts that seem to be empty at times. Some strive to fill this empty space with expensive jewels, fancy cars, or big screen TV's.

Some fill their void with alcohol, drugs, or pornography..

But Christ said that if we repent,and are baptized, he'll fill that void for us. 


If you want to truly find happiness in this life. Fill that void with Love. At first, it will not be easy. But, I promise the first time you see a smile on someone's face, because of a random act of kindness that you partook in, you will feel it happen.

The happiness of childhood will return. Your heart will smile.