Crafting My Testimony

Crafting My Testimony


Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Illustrating your scripture notes can help you gain deeper insight into even the most familiar scripture.

Sometimes despite all we do, it can feel like our testmonies are hanging on by a unraveling thread.  It’s so easy for us as mere mortals, to get sucked into the humdrum of life.  We feel out of control.  We percieve ourselves as victims of either circumstances outside our control or at the mercy of other peole’s harmful decisions.  How easly we forget or even give up our agency, our ability to act for ourselves, to make our own decisions, and to reep either the rewards or consequesces of our actions because we forget who we are.  We forget we are children of a dvine being.  We forget that Heavenly Father’s greatest power is also His greatest gift to us.  We forget that just like our Father in Heaven, we too are creators.

As creators we aren’t just bystanders in the game of life.  We are the players.  But when it feels like we are just watching everything happen around us, we do better to remember that we have the same creative spark in us as Heavenly Father does.  Whether it is exercising our ability to create human llife or singing a hymn, creativity brings us closer to the the unvierse’s preeminent creator, God.

As I said, sometimes my testimony feels like it is just hanging on.  I”ve come to realize that this is a result of me ceasing to be a creator in my own life.  I get caught up in fear and worry and anger, and forget to use creativity in all asepcts of my life.

I’ve decided to counteract this tendency by using creativity to enhance my testimony.

I hadn’t been able to go to the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in a very long time due to one prologued hospitalization after another.  To bring my focus back to the Temple, a friend and I made custom Temple Recommend Holders  We used scrap paper and the We R Memory Keepesrs Photo Sleeve Fuse tool.  I added sequins and a mini key inside to shake areound.  I got to go to the Temple two weeks ago and it was fun to use my new holder.

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

Handmade Temple Reccomend Holder

I’ve had a hard time with Scripture Study lately.  With all the time in the hosptial, it’s hard to stay with a good habbit.  I decided I need to study and ponder the scriptures more than just read them to really have a desire to read every single day.

I decided to start an illustrated scripture journal.  I’ll make an entry for my favorite scriptures I encounter each day and week. Here’s what you need to know to make your own:

  1. Illustrating the Book of Mormon

    Affix the scripture onto the journal page

    Search The Scriptures

  2. Find a scripture you want to journal while doing your daily scripture study.  Look for somethign that jumps out to you and speaks to your heart.  Listen to the Holy Ghost. He will guide you to the right scripture.  I chose Moroni 10:2-5.

  3. Trim It
  4. Cut out the sripture you’d like to use  out of an inexpenive extra missionary copy of the Book of Mromon.  (Actually to do this properly you’ll need two Books of scripture – one for the front sides of the pages and one for the back side of the pages.)

  5. Affix Your Verses
  6. Glue the scripture to a page in an art journal.  I used a journal with watercolor paper so I could use water-colors and other mediums in it.

  7. Take Colorful Notes

    Take notes on the scripture in vivid colors of words and images.

    Mark It Up

  8. Mark the scriptures with the words and phrases you want to highlight or that are especially meaningful to you.  For this I use Staedtler Triplus Finelliner Pens because they have an exceptionally small felt tip point and don’t bleed easily.

  9. Illsutrate with Inspiration
  10. Using watercolor colored pencils, draw your thoughts on the scripture in words and images.  This really made me think about the deeper meanings contained within the versus I chose.

  11. Continue to Illustrate

    When using watercolor colored-pencils, started painting water over parts of the illustration.

    Make it Vivid

  12. If you are using water colored color-pencils, next go over all your drawings with a paintbursh and clear water.  This will make all the colors blend and appear more vivbrant.

  13. In The Details
  14. Finally, go back over the words and other key drawings with felt tip, metallic, and other kinds of pens.  Make sure you title the journal page with the scripture reference and date.  Add a page number in the lower left corner, so that Iyou can make a table of contents of all the scriptures in the front of the journal.

Not only am I pleased with what I created, but I learned a lot more from this intense and creative study session than I had during many attempts to sit down and read scriptures.

Illustrated Scripture Journal - Moroni 10:2-5

Add details with metallic or other pens.

Maintaining a testimony can be difficult when life doesn’t go the way we want, but I have a testimony that as we engage in our divine creative abilities we will realize our potential, purpose, and a relationship that’s closer to Heavenly Father and Christ than we ever realized.

Paradox of Man

Paradox of Man

Sometimes being human can be painfully lonely.  It’s amazing to me how alone I can feel sometimes even knowing I have a loving family and a caring circle of friends who mean the world to me.  At times I think this very essential sense of loneliness originates from the feeling of being dwarfed by the universe.  Thoughts might come like, “If I’m just a speck in this great vastness, what do I mean to the bigger picture?  How do I fit in?  How do I even matter?  What difference can I even really make when there’s so many others out here.”

I came across this quote on my best friend’s mission blog.  Sister Eskander is currently on a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This quote was by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an Apostle in the LDS Church.  It read:

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
– DIETER F. UCHTDORF, You Matter To Him

This does more than answer my questions.  It brings peace and comfort to my soul.  Through the knowledge in this Gospel, I know who I really am. – a Spirit child of God.  I know the the bigger picture and my role in it.  I know how much I matter to my Heavenly Father.  And I know the difference I can make.

I loved this quote so much I decided to design an illustration to go with it.  I sent one to Sister Eskander, and now I’ll share it with you.  To help us all remember who we really our.  Our eternal heritage and exalted potential.

Paradox of Man Illustration1

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it. - DIETER F. UCHTDORF, <a href="">You Matter To Him</a>

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
– DIETER F. UCHTDORF, You Matter To Him

You Matter To Him – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The Lord uses a scale very different from the world’s to weigh the worth of a soul.


1If you repost this illustration please give me credit and link back to this post! Thanks!

Burning Bright: A Poem of Faith

Burning Bright: A Poem of Faith

Since I was five years old, barely sophisticated enough to write a few words into sentences, I have been captivated by poetry.  Poems just seemed to come to me as if I had plucked them right out of thin air and was merely the recorder of the words that would pour through me.  It hasn’t been that way lately though.  As my focus has moved on to my two novels, I haven’t tried to write a poem with any semblance of a rhyme scheme in quite some time.  I’ve been feeling rather out of practice.

However, today was my church’s Ward Conference, a day of spiritual nourishment. It was just wonderful listening to my local leaders speak to us young adults on the topics that were of the greatest importance to us.  Feeling more spiritually fed, and pondering some of the themes discussed today, I decided to try my hand at a poem.  The following is the result:


Burning Bright

The void left by burning desire;
At times nearly extinguished inside;
All but lost the inertia required;
To move and be moved to His side;

But then I close my eyes tight,
And pray with all my might;

I remember each moment of pain;
He healed all my wounds in His name;
Heart of FireI treasure trials that shook my core;
The refiners fire has polished me more;

All I am, was, and will be,
I am through Him, now I see;

And my covenant burns bright;
The unquenchable light inside;
My hope, my comfort, my insight;
To move and be moved to His side.


"Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable” - Brigham Young

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Be Mine: Valentine’s Day

Today was Valentine’s Day.  That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  So whether you thought today was  a day to eat lots of chocolate or a day to send lots of love notes or even a day made up by a card company, I think today was a good reminder to appreciate the love we have in our lives.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about how much I’m blessed with love in my life.  It’s  funny, even though I occasionally have feelings of loneliness or not being cared for, when I start really thinking about the blessing of love in my life, I realize my cup is overflowing.


Valentine's Day Love Card Front

Valentine’s Day Love Card Front

One main source of love in my life is my friends and family.  Their love and support through even the darkest of times strengthen me.  And I have some much love for them in return.  One of the main ways I show my love is through crafting.  So I made some Valentine’s to give to some of my closest loved one.

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Front

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Front

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Front

Valentine's Jar Flowers Card Inside

Valentine’s Jar Flowers Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine's Day Card Inside

Best Friends Love Heart Valentine’s Day Card Inside

Unfortunately Valentine’s Day only lasts one day, and now it’s already come to a close… until next year. But all the grand Valentine’s gestures don’t have to be a once a year thing. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t wait to shower each other with tons of extra signs of affection until there was a designated day? I for one want to strive to spread a little bit more Valentine’s Day love during the other 364 days of the year.

So what can you do to keep the Valentine’s Day spirit year round?

  1. Love Connection

    Text, Email, or Call your loved ones to let them know you care and are thinking of them.

  2. As You Wish

    Tell the people in your life, “I love you” often and sincerely.

  3. Sweet Gifts

    Little token gifts now and then make loved ones feel remembered.  Remember it’s not about how much you spend, but about how much thought you put into it.  It can even be something handmade like a card.

  4. Heart to Heart

    The most profound way to show your love is simply by being there for your loved one as they experience the ups and downs of life.  Be a listening and compassionate ear!

What other ideas do you have to create an atmosphere of Valentine’s Day love all year round? Please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Fancy Valentine - John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Sand Through My Fingers

Sand Through My Fingers

"And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.  And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." D&C 78:18-19

Riches of Eternity
created by Lauren Soffer

Life is hardly ever what we expect it to be.  The harder we try to plan out our lives, the more God shows us that He has bigger things in store for us.  Like when you try to hold sand in the palm of your hand.  Relax your grip completely on your life and the pieces of your life all fall through the cracks.  Plan your life too tightly and it all starts to slip through your fingers despite your best efforts.  But God’s hands are infinite.  He can hold all the sand of our lives and more.  He won’t let any sand slip away if we allow Him to help us hold it.  We simply have to turn to Him and ask for His help, love and guidance in ALL things.

Sand in it’s size is much like the minutia of our lives.  Tiny in the grand scheme of things.  When struggling to hang on to the little granules, we often forget to pull back and see the larger picture.  We are worried about loosing a few grains of sand when we are standing on the beaches of infinite blessings if we would only look around and realize it.  Not that each grain isn’t important, but we shouldn’t let it distract us from remembering who we are and where we are going as divine children of Heavenly Father on our journey back to Him.

But in the topsy turviness of life, all this is all to easy to forget.  And suddenly you aren’t just loosing sand, you’re up to you’re being consumed, even suffocated by it.

A few months and a lifetime ago… or back in November, I celebrated my 30th Birthday with a Mocktail Soiree.  I was surrounded by numerous friends and family and had a wonderful time.  I was in good health, and I was able to walk around the party.  That night was a high point for me, and I had no idea I was headed for a very low point just a week or so later.  I had plans for how I would spend the next several months.  Plans I intended to keep.

Lauren's 30th Birthday Mocktail Soiree

Lauren’s 30th Birthday Mocktail Soiree

Then a series of events led to a serious health decline that landed me in the hospital with my life at stake.  A series of serious infections caused the autoimmune disease I have, Myasthenia Gravis, to flare making me unable to breathe on my own so that I required a ventilator just a week after my party.

Life is strange.  Unpredictable and sometimes difficult to comprehend.

As I fought for my life in the hospital, some might wonder if I was left asking why God would allow me to withstand this hardship.  Why would God allow me to suffer so much?  And if that’s the case, what does it say about God?

In the World, Not of the World by Greg Olsen

In the World, Not of the World by Greg Olsen

To which I would answer, I asked nothing of the sort.  Though it might be tempting to blame God when things go “wrong” in our lives, that is an entirely counterproductive approach.  Heavenly Father provides us trials in our lives as a backdrop against which to bloom and grow.  Without it we would never progress and become more like our divine parents.  My health trials have given me a chance to learn things about myself that I may not have otherwise (or may have taken much longer to learn otherwise).  I have become more sensitive to the needs of others and to my own needs.  I have become more introspective and intuitive.  I have gained faith and perspective that even the seemingly worst things come with spiritual gifts.

He also gives us trials as a chance to practice choosing and agency – or being utilizers of His gift of freewill.  When we exercise our divine right of freewill and choose good, we can grow closer to Heaven Father.

It is hard to see this larger picture when in the moment.  Just like it is hard to see the beach for what it is when grappling with the granules of sand.  But when we put the sand of our lives in God’s capable and infinitely wise hands the landscapes of eternity will become more apparent to us.  And for that we will be blessed even more than we can fathom now.

“And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.


And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”


D&C 78:18-19

Sandy Hands

Sand slips through fingers.

A Perfect Brightness of Hope

A Perfect Brightness of Hope

 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

2 Nephi 31:20, Book of Mormon

Yesterday my friend gave a talk in church, quoting this scripture.  It’s one of my all time favorites, and it inspired me to make this poster to hang on my wall to remind me of the importance of having a “perfect brightness of hope.”

Hope is what keeps me going most days.  It keeps me positive.  It helps me endure to the end.  Without hope I couldn’t have faith, which is hope in action.  Taking action increases my faith and that gives me more hope.  It builds upon each other wonderfully.

I am so grateful to have hope both in this life and hope in the next through my Savior Jesus Christ.  Through Him all things are possible.  Through His atoning sacrifice I can return to live with Him and my Heavenly Father again.  And that gives me eternal hope!

Feel free to download my poster. Or download the poster in black & white for easy printing.  I only ask that you please provide attribution and link back to this page when reposting the image!  Thanks and enjoy!

Followthrough: SMART Goals & Miracles

Followthrough: SMART Goals & Miracles

Set and Reach Goal

Set and Reach Goal

It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal.
Helen Keller

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
Eleanor Roosevelt

You are never too old to set another goal

You are never too old to set another goal

I set goals for myself every morning with my friend over Skype.  We talk about the space we are in, clear the air, and set goals for what we want to accomplish for the day and the kind of people we want to be while we accomplish it.  For example, I might set a goal to write for two hours on my novel, and I create a context of doing that in a playful and creative mood.  But setting the goals is only one side of the coin.  The followthrough is just as crucial as the goal setting. Why do I set goals?  I set goals because it gives me direction.  More than that it creates the idea of the future I can then live into.  It’s a powerful thing.  The President of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, told this anecdote:

Several days ago, while driving to my home, I approached the entrance to Interstate 15. At the on-ramp I noticed three hitchhikers, each one of whom carried a homemade sign which announced his desired destination. One sign read “Los Angeles,” while a second carried the designation “Boise.” However, it was the third sign which not only caught my attention but caused me to reflect and ponder its message. The hitchhiker had lettered not Los Angeles, California, nor Boise, Idaho, on the cardboard sign which he held aloft. Rather, his sign consisted of but one word and read simply “ANYWHERE.” Here was one who was content to travel in any direction, according to the whim of the driver who stopped to give him a free ride. What an enormous price to pay for such a ride. No plan. No objective. No goal. The road to anywhere is the road to nowhere, and the road to nowhere leads to dreams sacrificed, opportunities squandered, and a life unfulfilled.
Thomas S. Monson, Which Road Will You Travel?

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) Goal Setting

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) Goal Setting

But how do I turn goals from dreams into reality?  I find that it’s all about accountability.  And accountability starts with a good plan.  I was recently introduced to the SMART Goal Method of goal setting.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific: What will I accomplish?
  • Measurable: How will I and others know I’ve reached my goal?
  • Attainable: Do I have the commitment and resources to realistically achieve this goal?
  • Relevant:  Why is this goal important to me?
  • Time-Bound: When do I expect to complete this goal?

I’ve also found it really helps to think of the most powerfully positive outcome I can have around this goal.  So I ask myself the following questions:

  • If I were to have a breakthrough miracle in this area, what would my life look like?
  • What are the benefits of achieving this goal?

It is great to make goals, but it’s vitally important to put a plan for that goal into action.  So I make a list of tasks or to-dos that will help me achieve the goal with target completion dates.

A Goal Without A Plan I Just A Wish

A Goal Without A Plan I Just A Wish

It’s important to have a contingency plan for possible challenges I might encounter while achieving my goal, so I make a list of possible obstacles and ways to overcome them.

Finally, I find it infinitely helpful to have someone who helps me stay accountable in my goal making.  That is why my morning goal making has been so life changing.  Out of that I’ve completed multiple drafts of both my novels, increased my productivity at work, and found more time left over to do the other things I love to do.  I also haven’t forgotten to be grateful for how precious this life is and enjoy the journey.

In order to facilitate my goal making, I’ve made a custom worksheet in PDF format.  If you download the worksheet you’ll be able to fill it out on the computer (you’ll even be able to check the to-do items off your list), save and print it.  It’s free to download.  I only ask that you don’t sell it.  Also please don’t republish it without attribution (a link back to this article).  Finally, please let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions on how to improve upon it!  Enjoy!

Download SMART-Goal-Miracle-Worksheet-Final.pdf (PDF, 128KB)

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Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

Crafting Handmade Greeting Cards

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

All Wrapped Up With A Bow Birthday Card

Most people feel that snail mail is dead.  When they want to communicate favor email, cell phones, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter over sending a letter through the United States Postal Service.  But most people I know still love receiving heartfelt cards and other physical mail.  I know that I always feel warm and fuzzy when I get a card from someone I love in the mail.  In fact, a well timed letter in my mailbox most likely saved my life as a teen.  That’s why I make it a point to devote a large portion of my crafting time to card making.  I enjoy making them and I know that people get a kick out of receiving them.  At the very least, it’s certainly better to get one of my cards in the mail than a bill. Over the years of card making I’ve picked up a few useful tips for making beautiful handmade greeting cards more effectively.

  1. Save Your Scraps:

    I keep a large file organizer or all of my scrap papers, organized by color.  This is so useful for making cards which don’t require large pieces of paper for purposes of decorating.

  2. Plan Before You Plant:

    I always cut and lay everything out (including stickers which I explain next) before I glue down anything.  Following a measure twice, cut once philosophy results in much more efficient card making and more professional looking cards.

  3. Pre-Sample Stickers:

    Sometimes it’s hard to plan out where to put stickers without actually placing them, so I cut out the stickers still on their backing so I can place them on my layout without sticking them down.

Here are some examples of cards I’ve made:

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Gem Birthday Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Moving To A New Home Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Floral Bird Collage Handmade Greeting Card

Mother's Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Mother’s Day Flower Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Dear Friend Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Beautiful Daisy Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Vintage Butterfly Handmade Greeting Card

Arms of His Love

Arms of His Love

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how loved each of us are by our Father in Heaven.  But we are each loved so profoundly that it is truly impossible for us to comprehend.  The more we open our hearts to feeling this love, the closer to Him we become.

This morning I woke up with a nasty eye and very contagious eye infection.  I opted to stay home from church rather than risk infecting everyone in my Ward.

So I spent the day reading through scripture while listening to awesome and free Especially For Youth music downloaded from  While reading through the Book of Mormon this afternoon, I came across this scripture:

But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

2 Nephi 1:15

We are each literally “encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.”  I felt the Spirit of Christ burning inside me when I read this scripture.  I knew how loved I am.  I wanted to create some art with those words, so I created the following image in Illustrator to remind me of how I felt when I read it.  Enjoy!

Encircled About Eternally in the Arms of His Love

But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.
2 Nephi 1:15

(Feel free to use the image as long as you attribute it to me with a link back to this post. Thanks!)

Snail Mail Love

Snail Mail Love

I love getting snail mail.  (I think everyone does really.)  But there’s only one thing I love more getting snail mail, and that’s sending it.  I enjoy letting my friends and family know how much I love them and how awesome they are.  What better way to do that than to write it out and stick a stamp on it?  I like to take it one level further by making the cards I send out by hand.

Using blank note cards, scraps of pretty papers left over from larger scrapbook pages, stickers, gems, and other embellishments, I try to make each and every card a little work of art.  I see it as a challenge to make each one as unique as possible – otherwise I just get bored with the whole process.  I usually spend longer planning the card than I do actually assembling it because to me the layout is the most important part, followed by the materials.

Here are some examples from Christmas:

And here are some examples from Valentine’s day this year:

Finally, here are some miscellaneous examples from some other occasions:

Why do I go to such great lengths to make greeting cards?  Well not only is it a fun creative outlet for me, but I never know what kind a difference a small gesture like a handmade card or a hand written letter might have in someone’s life.

When I was 16 years old, I was going through a very rough time emotionally.  I was struggling with under-treated OCD and suicidal depression at the time, and on this one particular day, I was feeling like harming myself, but something made me decide to get the mail.  I almost never got snail mail at that age, but when I peered into our mailbox there as a hand addressed envelope waiting for me.  Inside was a letter that literally saved my life that day.

That day I became so obsessed with figuring out who had sent the timely and exceptionally kind letter, that I was totally distracted from my dark thoughts.  (I did figure out who had sent it by the way.)  Someone else’s heartfelt consideration for me a few days prior, came in my hour of need.

It made me realize that small kindnesses like these can change someone’s whole life just as it had changed mine.  Someone else acted as God’s instrument and was an answer to my unarticulated prayer, so now years later I try to send out home made greeting cards as often as possible never knowing what effect I may have on someone I don’t even realize is in need.  I figure at the very least I’ll brighten someone’s day.  Just like someone did for me, I hope to pay it forward and forward and forward.

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Living Up to Teenage Expectations (Ten Years Later)

Living Up to Teenage Expectations (Ten Years Later)

My High School Graduation (2001)

My High School Graduation (2001)

Last night I went to my ten year high school reunion, and it has put me in a reflective mood.  It was fun (though somewhat strange) to see everyone after ten years apart.  I was impressed by how friendly everyone was and how genuinely happy everyone seemed to reconnect with everyone.  It has me thinking though about my seventeen year old self and who I thought I’d become verus who I’ve actually become.

When I was seventeen I had a lot of expectations for myself and everyone.  The other day on Twitter I mentioned that I was “Trying not to compare myself to the me my 17 year old self thought I’d be by now.”  My friend (@nerdgoddess) replied, “Don’t worry. I don’t think any of us live up to our teenage expectations.”  I think this must be true.  But I sure had a lot of them at that age.  At seventeen, I thought that by ten years later I’d have made my first film, have a husband or at least a serious boyfriend, and be living on my own.  None of these predictions were accurate.

At first I was feeling kind of bummed about what my seventeen year old self would have thought of me now, but on further reflection I’m really rather happy with where my life is at as unpredictable as the last ten years have been.  It hasn’t all been great; don’t get me wrong.  No one predicts or wants to think they are going to end up with a chronic illness.  But there have also been so many wonderful things that have come of the last ten years of my life.

When I was seventeen, I was headed to the University of Southern California to study film.  I wanted to be a director.  Or at least I thought I did.  And although I’m sure I could have found happiness pursuing that line of work, my real love is for the written word – specifically the novel.  At seventeen, I never would have considered that I’d have it in me to write a whole rough draft of a novel by the age of twenty-seven or that I would be doing freelance graphic and web design.  Or that I’d be designing Alternate Reality Games.

When I was seventeen, I was in the middle of a serious depression.  My perfectionism consumed my life and made me miserable.  Thanks to meds and therapy and a lot of hard work, I have found so much happiness in the last several years.  And that is something I certainly didn’t expect at the time.  In fact, at the time I didn’t even know what it was to be happy.

When I was seventeen, I was essentially an agnostic Jew searching for some meaning and connection to something larger.  I NEVER would have dreamed in a million years that I would have found it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  But a little over a year ago I did.  And becoming Mormon has brought me a level of joy, comfort, and perspective on life I never anticipated was possible.

The last ten years have been a roller-coaster ride that my seventeen year old self never would have imagined.  Sometimes the sudden drops and loops make me want to throw up, but all in all I wouldn’t get off the ride for anything.

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Faith Illustrated

Faith Illustrated

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, keeping the Sabbath day holy is extremely important to me.  But it can sometimes be a challenge to find activities to do on Sundays in keeping with the spirit of the day.  Normally I attend church for three hours and then come home to read scripture, church publications, listen to spiritual music or General Conference talks, or work on my calling in the church.  But I still usually find myself looking for something to do by the evening (it doesn’t help that I’m a night owl).

So this past Sunday night, I decided to put my skills with the graphic design program, Illustrator, to work to create some spiritual art.  I assembled it from various free vectors I found online combined with one of my favorite scriptures from The Book of Mormon.  The scripture reads:

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust; and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation.

2 Nephi 22:2

Salvation - 2 Nephi 22:2

2 Nephi 22:2

This is one of my favorite scriptures because it reminds me to find joy in my Heavenly Father.  It reminds me to rejoice in his way as I follow in his footsteps and sing his praises.  I also reminds me that He is the strength in my life, and, whether I realize it or not, He is there to lean on.  There are so many times in my life that he carried me and sustained me that I didn’t even realize in the moment.  And I am so very grateful for His presence in my life!

Despite the challenges they sometimes present, I simply love Sundays.  I love taking a day to bask in the Spirit of the Lord.  So I will continue to find ways to keep the Sabbath day holy week after week.

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