Just Waiting Isn’t Patience

Just Waiting Isn’t Patience

All of us come into this life exceptionally near-sighted. According to WebMD,

Babies are born with a full visual capacity to see objects and colors. However, newborns cannot see very far — only objects that are 8-15 inches away.

Compared to our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are all spiritual infants. Like infants, our eyes can often only see what is right in front of us, blind to eternal perspective. Fortunately, just as an infant’s eyes mature we too can develop our spiritual eyes.

D&C 58:4 -3  expounds on how, in the midst of our struggles big and small, we can be so blind to God’s greater plans to bless us.

“3  Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

4  For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.”

From this scripture we learn that our natural eyes, or in our natural state we cannot see God’s plans.  We also learn that glory and blessings come following tribulation. But how does one get from experiencing tribulation to receiving blessings? Elder Neal A. Maxwell expounded on the connecting factor.

“One of the functions of the tribulation of the righteous is that “tribulation worketh patience” ( Rom. 5:3 ). What a vital attribute patience is, if tribulation is worth enduring to bring about its development!

Patience, in turn, allows us to have the needed experience, as noted in the stunning insight the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” ( D&C 122:7 ).” Patience

To put it another way, being patient in difficult circumstances, even and especially in the our greatest trials, allows us to grow from experience. Patience is the key factor.

But what is patience? Maybe it’s easier to begin by illustrating impatience.

When I was about 8-years-old, my best friend and I were at a Golf ‘n Stuff arcade. We were playing ski ball which was fun, but we weren’t very good at it, so winning highly coveted prize tickets was slow going. That’s when my friend had a brilliant idea, or at least it seemed so at the time. She said if she climbed up to the top of the ski ball cage, she could put all the balls directly into the 500 slots and win prize tickets much more quickly. I wish I could say I realized that this was cheating and protested, but it never occurred to me that gaming the system was dishonest. So, a few minutes later, as I passed the balls up to my friend and tickets poured out of the machine, ll I could think about was how many prizes I’d be able to get that day, That was until I felt someone tap my shoulder. I turned around, and to my horror one of the arcade employees stood there frowning down at me. We both received a word or two about cheating. What’s worse was that all of our tickets were taken away, not just the ones we had won through little scheme. But what was worst of all was that I could hardly sleep for a week I felt so horrible about what I had done. In my impatience, I not only lost my chance to win junk from an arcade, but I had lost peace of mind and self-respect.

How often do we impatiently sacrifice promised blessings, or even blessings we’ve already received, by taking perceived shortcuts? How often do we trust in only our own timing instead of Heavenly Father’s?

Apostle Joseph B Wirthlin stated:

“A word about patience with our Heavenly Father and his plan of eternal progression. How incredibly foolish to be impatient with him, the Father of our spirits, who knows everything and whose work and glory, through his Son, Jesus Christ, is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” ( Moses 1:39 ). Patience, a Key to Happiness, April 1987 General Conference

Maxwell taught:

“Patience is not indifference. Actually, it is caring very much, but being willing, nevertheless, to submit both to the Lord and to what the scriptures call the “process of time. […] Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than his. Either way we are questioning the reality of God’s omniscience,”

If impatience is a lack of faith in Heavenly Father’s divinity, then patience is an act of faith in Heavenly Father and His timing. Maxwell goes on to say:

“Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance ” Patience

When we trust in our own timing we are captive to our circumstances. We often let ourselves feel that life is unfair, like we are trapped, find ourselves frequently asking, ”why me?”, and wonder when it will be our turn to get life’s metaphorical prize tickets. We forget that our Father in Heaven has a great perspective and a greater plan for us than we could ever dream up for ourselves.

Isaiah reads:

“8  ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 -8 

We forget that the real prize comes in the form of personal development.

As Presiden Dieter F Uchtdorf put it:

“Patience is a process of perfection. The Savior Himself said that in your patience you possess your souls. Or, to use another translation of the Greek text, in your patience you win mastery of your souls. Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most. This was true in the time of the Savior. It is true in our time as well, for we are commanded in these latter days to “continue in patience until ye are perfected.” Continue in Patience  F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference

Fortunately we have a perfect example of patience as our model, in our Savior Jesus Christ. Hillary Olsen wrote:

“The Savior is our ultimate example of patience. To me, His words spoken in the Garden of Gethsemane embody His patience. In the midst of unimaginable suffering and sacrifice, He asked that, if possible, the cup of His suffering be taken from Him. “Nevertheless,” He said, “not as I will, but as thou wilt” ( Matthew 26:39 ). The word nevertheless carries a powerful message. In spite of what the Savior really wanted in that moment, He expressed His willingness to accept His Father’s will and to endure.

We’ll all be required to wait for things in our lives—even at times the most righteous desires of our hearts. But Jesus Christ, our “best, [our] heav’nly Friend,” 4 can comfort and reassure us of good things to come. And He is lovingly patient with us as we learn to be like Him, as we learn to face the expected and unexpected plot twists of mortality and say to our Father, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”” Patience: More Than Waiting

Nothing has taught me patience and its powerful ability to bless my life like having multiple chronic illnesses. I’ve learned to patiently endure as I’ve laid in the hospital for months at a time unable to move a muscle or even breathe on my own. I’ve learned to be patient as I’ve been taught that healing doesn’t always come in a miraculous instant. I’ve learned to be patient with friends and family who haven’t always understood what I go through.  I’ve learned to be patient with myself and to treat myself more kindly.  Most importantly, I’ve learned to be more patient with my Heavenly Father’s timing in all things. In developing that patience, though my illness hasn’t gone away, I’ve been greatly blessed.  I’ve been able to do missionary work from my hospital bed even once giving a Book of Mormon to my respiratory therapist. I discovered my love of crafting, painting, and writing novels. Most of all, I’ve come to a knowledge of the Gospel and of my Savior Jesus Christ. I’ve been able to go His  Temple, the House of the Lord, and walk its halls.

President Uchtdorf explained:

Brigham Young taught that when something came up which he could not comprehend fully, he would pray to the Lord, “Give me patience to wait until I can understand it for myself.” 5 And then Brigham would continue to pray until he could comprehend it.

We must learn that in the Lord’s plan, our understanding comes “line upon line, precept upon precept.” 6 In short, knowledge and understanding come at the price of patience.

Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”Continue in Patience  F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference

In closing, I’d like to leave you with my testimony on patience.  Through patiently enduring all things even and especially what seem like the worst things, we have the opportunity to be refined and perfected, even blessed beyond what ever thought possible. As we trust in the Lord’s perfect timing, we begin to see our lives more as He sees them, and it becomes more evident to us just how rich and numerous those blessings are in our lives. I think I can best sum it up in the form of a poem I wrote:

Patience

By Lauren Soffer

Patience is a game
For only one to play
With two it’s not the same
To watch the clocks wind down the day

Just waiting isn’t patience
With the tapping of the feet
While the words have the same fragrance
Patience without calm is incomplete

To wait with patience is to trust
And to not anticipate
That comprehension is now modest
That God is never late

So have a patient heart
With a serenity of mind
To wait is just a part
To wait with patience is divine!


This was a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago during Sacrament Meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

7 Year Baptism Anniversary

7 Year Baptism Anniversary

March 7th 2010
“Today I am walking at my baptism. I got a blessing a month ago and three weeks ago I started walking agan and I know that I couldn’t have done it without God’s help. Heavenly Father has bles shised me so much with so much healing.  I feel so happy. I know for the first time in my life htat all this gospel is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I know we have a living Prophet.  I know that Jesus and our Heavenly Father lives.

[My friend] Jacob just said, “Through small and simple things, greath things come to pass.” I know that this is also true.  Because today I am walking at my Bapitsm and that is a huge miracle in my life!

I know that Heavenly Father loves me and he has so blessed me.  Even the bad things have been blessings.  Being sick has […] brought me to this church.


I walked down into into the fonte with a little help from Melissa.  She had to leave the fonte for the actual baptism thogh. I sat sideways on a chair in the water and Elder George said the the prayer and then dunked me back. I FLOATED! Elder George had to push me down to get me all the way under. And then ath twas it. I came up Baptized! With the name of Christ taken upon me! I felt different than I thought I would. It wasn’t the same intensity as the blessing I got the first day. But I felt peaceful and so so happy! Everyone said I was just glowing afterwards. […] It was just the best day!”

It’s amazing to me that it’s been seven years to the day since I wrote that.  Seven years since I became baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s been the best the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

The most amazing thing though isn’t that I got baptized seven years ago, though that was truly a miraculous day I never would have predicted growing up a Jewish girl in an all Jewish family. My baptism was the spark of faith that would grow, over the next seven years, into an unquenchable flame in spite of and even because of the most challenging of circumstances. Despite all the harrowing health and other challenges my faith has grown, even flourished.  That is the miracle of the gospel in my life.  That challenges and even the most crushing of life’s hardships haven’t blown out that flame; they’ve been the life-giving oxygen by which my faith and testimony have turned from a flickering candle to a glowing lantern.

Over the last seven years, I’ve received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, received my Patriarchal Blessing, served in many callings, received my Endowment in the Lord’s Holy Temple, became a Volunteer Temple Worker, and most recently I put on the physical name badge of the Lord as I was set apart as a Service Missionary as a Family Search Specialist. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to serve my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ, and all my brothers and sisters. It is my hope and prayer that I will be able to serve well for at least the next 12 months from keys of my computer as I help build websites for the familysearch.org.

I am so grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a lot of ways, the past seven years have been the hardest of my life, but they’ve also been the most beautiful, fulfilling, and enriching years of my life. If these seven years have taught me anything it is this:

“And if thou shouldst be cast into the apit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the bdeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to chedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of dhell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee eexperience, and shall be for thy good.”  Doctine & Covenents 122:7

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With the elders before my baptism

With the elders before my baptism

6 Year Baptisversary

6 Year Baptisversary

Six years ago today I did the single best thing I’ll ever do for myself.  Going in I was really nervous, but at the same time very sure of what I needed to do and what Heavenly Father needed me to do.

My caregiver and I change into all white for my baptism.

My caregiver and I change into all white for my baptism.

Only six weeks prior I was bound to a wheelchair due to debilitating joint pain, but that day I walked on my own to feet toy all sogrens kydrome.   all white.  My friend was in white as well so she could help me downt he steps into deeper water only to wait shivering back at the waters edge while she watched and waited help me out again.

With a smile and a nod bewteen me and the young missionary performing the ordinance, I sat down in a chair.  With a tip of the chair I  was completely submerged backwards.  Under the water for that split second was so serene, and as I came up out of the water I felt a inner calm, and sweet delicate peace that would never leave me.

The day was March 7th 2010.  It was the day I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The following Sunday I was confirmed a member of the church and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

With the elders before my baptism

With the elders before my baptism

The decision to get baptized has infintely blesssed my life.  From the sweet calm in my soul that the Spirit brings to the love I feel for and from my Heavenly Father and my savior Jesus Christ to the life long friends I’ve made and to the knowledge have about Heavenly Father’s plan and purpsoe for me, I am so grateful to have these tender mercies in my life.  And to commemorate my baptism, I painted this page in my illustrated scripture study journal.

6 Year Baptiversary Painting

Alma 7:14-16

14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

Read About My 4 Year Baptism Anniversary

Read About My 3 Year Baptism Anniversary

Read About My First Baptism Anniversary

From the Depths of Pain I Found the Greatest Peace

From the Depths of Pain I Found the Greatest Peace

SobbingSitting in my bed Sunday night, I could no longer hold back my sobs.  Tears flowed from my eyes, more like a raging river than a stream.  My whole body shook.  The emotional pain was a ocean so deep, I thought I might drown.

Sometimes it can seem easier to numb ourselves than allow ourselves to feel the depth of our own sorrows.  We live in a world that offers us an endless array of ways to detach from our own human experience much of which is negative.  Easy fixes.

For example, why would you ever want to feel the anguish of a bitter divorce when they can distract from those difficult emotions with the instant gratification of endless hours of Farmville instead.  Why feel lonely when you can zone out in front of the television all evening.  When you can mpathize with the sorrows of fictional characters instead of paying attention to your own.  What else do the advertisements for alcohol and other substances teach us than to forget our problems?  Hard day?  Forget it with a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or a cigarette.  If we can’t feel happy all the time well then at least we can feel a little more numb, right?

NumbFor much of the last two years and in a way for most of my life, I’ve been operating under this assumption that emotional pain is to be avoided at all cost. For years I’ve been avoiding it subconsciously, not realizing what I was doing .  So I’d stay up half the night talking online to perfectly nice people from across the globe I barely knew rather than facing a dark bedroom where the pain of a traumatic event might slip in through the shadows.  Better to sit in the false light of energy saving bulbs than think about things that were just too painful to consider.  And yet at the same time I’ve been on a journey to find a better way.  Sunday night I found it.

As I completed a call with my best friend who has recently moved to Texas, I found myself getting more and more lonely and distraught. That normally would have cued me to immediately get on my computer to do something to distract me.  That night was different.  I decided to do an experiment.  I would let myself just feel what I was feeling and see what would happen.  Instead of shutting my emotions down or off, I welcomed those troubling feelings, letting them flow thorugh me on every level. I started to journal my emotions to help me both delve in and get it out of my head.  But even still I felt so alone in my suffereing, it was nearly unbearable.

HopeThen, after 10 or so minutes, the most amazing thing happened: I started to feel better not worse, and I started to feel God’s love wrapping its arms around me.  I began to feel grateful for those painful feelings, because I finally started to see what was on the other side of experiencing them completely.  On the otherside was peace and relief, even hope.  In my journal I wrote:

Sometimes I guess I just need to let myself feel how deep my sadness goes. I wish I had someone to hold me right now. I’ve gone through so much. Over and over again. And the trauma doesn’t seem to go away. I change. My mood changes, but something in me stays with the trauma and mostly I deny myself the ability to feel what I’m gong through. But through it all there’s the sweetness of the Spirit of God. It it warm and comforting and I feel wrapped in it, it gives me permission it feel these things. To put my toe in the deep abyss of my heartache.

Healing HelpEven more than that, allowing myself to feel these heavy and very human emotions, gave me the chance to give it over and give if up to something larger than myself.  I wrote:

I know He [Christ] can heal me in ways I cannot heal myself. It takes time. It takes patience and faith and more faith. I sometimes don’t know the answer of who to be. But Christ has the answer, even if I’m not ready to receive it. […]  Life is so hard sometimes. Emotions are so overwhelming sometimes. I am reaching for the light that only Christ can offer. He, and only He, is the Prince of Peace, the one who can bring me calm waters to my soul. It amazes me how deep His love for me is. How He is willing to hold all my suffering even now and again and again. Even though he bore it all already. He is always there to bear by burdens.

At the end of the day, on some level it is still easier to just numb myself, but I’m learning how that isn’t the way to feel true relief.  There is so much better on the other side of our sorrows if we just let ourselves feel and endure them for a little while.  Sometimes you have to go through a dark and treacherous swamp to reach the castle, and sometimes you have to sob to feel peace.

Hope on the Horizon

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.

How a Question About the Relationship Between Boy Scouts of America the LDS Church Prompted Me to Ponder My Beliefs

How a Question About the Relationship Between Boy Scouts of America the LDS Church Prompted Me to Ponder My Beliefs

What are your thoughts regarding the Mormon Church’s response to the Boy Scouts of America’s policy change?

That was the question I received from a friend on Facebook a few weeks ago accompanied by a link to an article in the NY Times.  It took me completely by surpise that this particular friend who had hadn’t so much as interacted with since college, which was about ten years ago, asked me such a bold question.  Even more than suprised I was apprecaitive that he took the time to even ask instead of assuming how I would respond.  At first I didn’t know how to even respond, but then a few paragraphs turned into a few more, and by two in the morning, I had written a fourteen paragraph essay in response:

Boy Scout Waves Gay Rights FlagAnswering this feels rather like I’m walking into a minefield, but I really appreciate you asking rather than assuming what my thoughts might be, so I’ll attempt to answer this as best I can from my own perspective. Just note I speak only for myself. And since I don’t want to start an argument, I just ask that if you want to respond to this, that you do so out of place of respect and even love for the people involved on all sides.

That being said when I read the LDS Church’s official statement on this today I was a little confused. What I don’t understand as of this writing is why gay men and women in my church who keep their covenants, upholding the standards and expectations of the church can hold a recommend to enter our holy Temples just like anyone else who does the same, why is it that these same men (in this case) cannot lead a boy scout troop. I am confused why gay LDS men can do one and not the other.

Now when the Church’s response is applied to gay men of other faiths or no faith who are would be leaders of boy scout troops, I’m kind of at loss as to how to address this situation because on one hand I feel we should not impose our views about marriage and family on people and an organization that doesn’t hold the same views as us. That seems in conflict with some of our other beliefs and especially 11th and 12th LDS Articles of Faith which read:

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

As an LDS woman and a convert to the church, my feelings around marriage and how to define it are extremely deep, personal and nearly always conflicted. As a convert this is the one single issue i have, do and will, struggle with the most, and it’s a struggle that both breaks my heart and gives me hope.

Forever and AlwaysThat being said one of my core beliefs is that a family unit that is ordained of God is one that consists of one man and one woman joined by God, and their children, and that their primary function is to be an environment in which spirits can come down to earth and have bodies to enter allowing to experience mortal life for the first and only time.

Why do I believe it? There are a lot of complex reasons that are psychological, intellectual, and spiritual, but for me it boils down to just one thing.

1) When I ask God, in faith, if it is true, I keep getting the answer through pray and desire to understand God’s will, that it is true. And though I really don’t understand it and may never in this life, and though I really don’t like it, and though my heart breaks over it, believing it is a sheer act of faith on my part. (Some may see this as blind faith, but to me it is anything but. For me it is completely intentioned faith in which I choose to follow what I believe God wants even when I struggle with all my being to understand it).

And given all of this I have nothing but complete love and respect for my gay friends, family, and etc. Nothing can ever change that. And if anything, following Christ’s example has made me more loving towards everyone. It has really made me understand the power in not judging others.

So bringing me back to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and The Boy Scouts of America policy change. I’m inclined to think that maybe the greatest act of respect, love, and civility isn’t to try to force one party of adopt the view of the other when those views are so diametrically opposed, is to simply bow out and go our separate ways.

To many people this may seem like the LDS Church is being a jerk, taking their ball and going home. But I see it as acknowledging inherent differences and respectfully deciding not to fight it out. As sad as it is for these two great organizations to have to part, it’s much better than judging each other, disrespecting each other, and hating each other in an attempt to get their way.

My prayer is that I answered you question. Thanks again for asking. Sorry I gave you such a long answer!

I also pray that all my friends on all sides of this issue how much I love and respect them and how much I would hate for anything, especially this way too long post to come between us. I also hope that we can seek first to understand each other and above all have charity for one another. <3

5 Ways To Gain More Knowledge & Blessings From The Hardest Trials

5 Ways To Gain More Knowledge & Blessings From The Hardest Trials

TrialsThe ever present hiss of oxygen and the occasional beeping of a monitor are sometimes the only sound I hear for hours, as I lay alone in my hosptial room.  I stare at the white sterile walls that surround me.  The walls are totally blank with few unnoteworthy exceptions.  Sometimes I wish my life were as clean and as sterile as those walls, devoid of any adversitity.  It’s an easy thing to wish for when I’ve spend more than half of the last year in the hosptial.  If I could whitewash all the years spent facing the pain, lonliness, isolation, boredom, fear, anger,  grief, and saddness that comes with a chronic illness that requires very frequent and prolonged hosptializations, wouldn’t I want to?

Growing From TrialsBut then I remember what I am here on earth to do.  I remember that my adversity and trials aren’t punishments; they’re gifts that allow me to improve myself, transform my weaknesses, and grow into the person I was always meant to become.  I remember that adveristy is a blessed opportunity – even an invitation – from my loving Father in Heaven, to become more like my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  I remember that if I were able to whitewash my life and forget all my trials, I’d also forget all the knowledge and blessings that come from them.

It’s been easy for me to get bogged down in the weight of a trial, and completely miss what I am learning and how I am growing from it. Perhaps if I were more methodical, more intetional about learning from adversity, I’d be able to develop more from it.  There are five things we all can do to gain more knowledge, growth, and blessings from the hardest things in life.

  1. Seek Guidance
  2. Ask Heavely Father QuestionsIt’s a lot easier to learn something when you figure out what you are learning.  Recieve guidance as to what’s there to learn from life’s hardest moments.  Sources of guidance can be close friends, family, religious leaders, professional counselors, scriptures and other books, and divine inspiration.  I personally realize the lesson in every trial most easily when I read my scriptures frequently and pray unceasingly to my Father in Heaven to reveal to me what He wants me to learn.  It reminds me that I am not in control, but that’s completely okay, because the one that is in control, my Heavenly Father, knows exactly what I need to learn, andhow I need to be blessed.

  3. Conduct Research
  4. It can be hard to know what you’re learning if you aren’t tracking your course throught the trial.  Record your journey in a journal. Look for patterns.  Ask yourself and Heavenly Father questions.  Pose hypothesis, and then experiment on the results.  I recently suggested this to a friend struggling with social situations and feelings of not being included.  Instead of thinking negatively about social situations, she tried thinking that people would perceive her in a positive way right before starting an converstation.  So far the results have been an off the charts improvement.

  5. Count Your Blessings
  6. When you remember to have an a attitude of graditude you get access to appreciating the good times and the bad.  Being grateful even for your trials opens up your ability to grow and change for the better and help you learn so much more from adversity.  When I take time to enummerate the ways being chronically ill has bettered my life, I am always astounded by all the good things that have come from it.

  7. Serve Others
  8. Getting out of your own head and focusing on helping others in need, gives you clarity and perspective that can shing light on what there is to learn from your trials.  When I take the time to be a good listener for a friend going through something really tough, the weight of my own trials diminishes.  As I lift their weight, Heavently Father lifts mine.

  9. Do It Together
  10. TogetherWhen you are in the depths of your trials, it’s easy to forget that you aren’t alone.  Whether it other people going through similar things or knowledge of the divine on your side, walking foward hand in hand allows you to both receive and share knowledge and blessings.  My default mentality is that I have to do everything hard alone (also that I’m alone in my trials).  The good news is neither are at all true. And not only do i not have to do everything alone, but it’s completely impossible to do so. In fact, this life was *designed* to teach me (and all of us) not to do it alone.  Instead I should rely on Christ, his teachings, and his disciples to get me through everything, from the smallest of small to the most miraculous triumphs that aren’t even imaginable to my feeble mortal minds. And we are the opposite of alone in our trials, we have a brother in Heaven that has a *perfect understanding* of what we are going through. I don’t even have a perfect understanding of what I’m going through, but through Christ I can start to come to an understanding.

In what ways do you gain knowledge and blessings from your trials? Please share in the comments!

Finding Wellness When You Can’t “Get Well Soon”

Finding Wellness When You Can’t “Get Well Soon”

A balloon slowly twirls in the corner of my room in the ICU.  “Get Well Soon!” it proclaims, in its bubbly font pastered on a backdrop of a smiling kite floating above smiling flowers.

Get Well Soon Balloon

I am grateful to have it cheering up the overwise sterile and dull place I’ve called my home-away-from-home five times in the last year alone.  I am grateful to my thoughtful friend who brought it when she visited several days ago.  But the truth is life doesn’t fit neatly into phrases we so often use to comfort our loved ones when a major life trial afflicts them.  For me, “Get Well Soon” is a lie.  I won’t be well soon.  Yes, I’ll recover from this hospitalization, but I live with several serious chronic illnesses that will most likely sent me back to the hospital again.  When “getting well soon” isn’t possible, the challenge is to find insight, peace, and even gratitude in my situation.

I firmly believe that we are faced with trials on this earth, so that we can learn lessons we couldn’t learn any other way.  Through my illness I’ve learned patience, compassion for other’s trials, and trust that my suffering is all for a purpose and even brings blessings.  Nothing would have taught me patience, for example, quite like waiting through seemingly endless and prolonged hospitalizations.  I couldn’t have learned to have as much compassion, had I not suffered myself and felt the pain and loneliess of chronic illness.

I have even found blessings in my trials with chronic illness.  As I was forced to adapt and find new interests, I discovered my passion for writing novels, my love of web and graphic design, and, most importantly, my faith in Christ when I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  All these things came to be in my life directly as a result of my chronic illnesses.  They have blessed me in more ways than I can number, and especially blessed me with a sense of a life calling, purpose, and knowledge that I am not alone.  Realizing these blessings give me insight into the person my trials are helping me to become, a person I couldn’t have learned to be without these trials.

Knowing that trials have brought me great blessings fills my life with peace, purpose, and meaning.  And I am grateful for the role of trials in my life to make me a better person.  I am grateful for the ability to bless the lives of others that I learned from these trials.  I am grateful for my testimony of a loving Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, that I’ve learned from experiences I’ve had being sick.

As I look to the bigger picture, I see the role these trials play in becoming the best person I ultimately can be.  I may not “Get Well Soon”, but as I look beneath the harsh surface of life with multiple serious chronic illnesses, I’ve come to recognize that, on many levels, things are already “well” with my life.  And as I strive to find insight, peace, and gratitude in the face of my trials, all will be well.

He Knows Us All By Name

He Knows Us All By Name

It’s easy to feel alone in this temporal life I live in.  It’s easy to forget that my God, my Heavenly Father knows me by name.  And  not just me but all of us.  How can we really know God knows each of our names?  How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?

I had the joyous opportuntiy to visit Utah for the first time this past October of 2014. I went because I’d never been, to visit friends, to sightsee, and most importantly to gain a stronger testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ by attending General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

General Conference was an amazing Spirit filled even in which the Prophet of the Lord, President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors, Apostles, and Auxillery Leaders spoke to us over four two-hour session.  I was able to attend two of those sessions and be in the same room with these holy men and women.

One of the talks given that hit me the most was by Elder David A. Bednar entitled “Come and See”.  If you’ve never watched General Conference before, if you aren’t sure why you are reading this Mormon-centric post, then this is the perfect video for you because Elder Bendar speaks directly to the questions of people who do not belong the the LDS Church.

Come and See by Elder David A. Bendar

Read the transcript!

But the true highlight of my trip occurred the very first evening I arrived in Salt Lake.  By happenstance, the couple I was visiting with that evening had been invited to a Mission Reunion.  And this was no ordinary reunion for return missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  This was something extraordinary.  It was the mission reunion for the missionaries who had served under our Current Prophet over 50 years ago when he was a young man and the Mission President of a large Mission in Canada.

I was so excited to go.  Hardly daring to hope that I’d get to see the Prophet up close, I was still buzzing with the mere idea.  And I wasn’t disapinted.  President Monson came to greet his missionaries!

We were in a small chapel way far out of Salt Lake.  Where I sat a mere 4 rows back from the modern day Prophet of God, I was overcome with the Spirit of the Lord.  Though the thing that impressed me the most, that strengthened my testimony the most was something that harkened back to my questions:How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?How can we really know God knows each of our names?

  1. How can we really know God knows each of our names?
  2. How can we be sure that God knows and loves us all personally?

As President Monson stood on the stand, something incredible happened.  He began pointing to various missionaries aged by 50 years since he last saw them and calling on them by name.  He said that he still could recognize and name all his missionaries from his Mission President days.  And I could see the love he had for each of them.

What a gift!  A divinely bestowed gift.  It truly testified to me that if a mortal Prophet could know all his missionaries by name, than our Father in Heaven must have an infinite capacity to do the same.  And God’s love for each of us, His children much be infinitely greater than even the Prophets.

Throughout the trip, and even now, that testimony really stuck with me and left me feeling so loved and understood that I felt surrounded by the divine embrace of Heavenly Father’s love for me.

Preying on Writers’ Dreams: “This Letter is an Advertisement”

Preying on Writers’ Dreams: “This Letter is an Advertisement”

Caution - Self Publishing Scam AheadSelf-publishing is a big industry right now.   Which means big money.  Not necessarily for authors but for companies who sell self-publishing services to authors wanting to self-publish.  One contender, Balboa Press has been calling my cell phone every month or so. Writers Beware!

A class action complaint has been filed against Balboa Press’s parent company, Author Solutions, for its sketchy dealings that are bringing in the big bucks.  The class action complaint breaks it down:

4. Author Solutions’ revenues are estimated at $100 million per year. Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or $33 million annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services (“Services”).

5. Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

6. Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors — errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.

7. Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing Services. These Services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

8. Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as “[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,” authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions is not an “indie publisher” at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.

Self-Publishing

The apple doesn’t land far from the tree.  I’ve had a pretty shady experience with Balboa Press so far.  I’ve checked them out and everything I’ve read indicates they are ripping off their own customers.  If you want a prime and horrific example look no further than this author’s experience:

The illustrative sketches and colorization were a disaster. It was apparent that there was a problem with adherence to the RAD/character description form. Pictures that were provided, or the coinciding text (page number and line number) from the manuscript provided to aid the illustrator were obviously ignored or subjectively reviewed. It was so evident, to the point where I was wondering if anyone bothered to read, or if they even couldread the RAD form. There was clearly no oversight of the illustrator’s work before remittance to me. I had continued to write, please call if you have any questions…

After months of inexcusable errors, it was apparent the Art Director, or whomever, did not adhere to “set up an artist that best suits your project.” The project was/is light, airy, and whimsical. I received “dark.” In most cases, the illustrations were sparse (not intricate detail) with no color consistency, no innovation, wrong genders, wrong race, missing or incorrect features, etc. An ancient woman was drawn as a bald-headed, old man numerous times, despite repeated pleas and request for adherence to the RAD and characterization forms. The little girl’s bed looked like a cot out of an army barracks or prison. Angel wings on a helicopter were inverted, objected to, and objections to the CIAC remained ignored – a lame excuse was offered.

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?My own experience with them so far has been subpar at best.  They called me up and tried to rope me in by getting me excited about my novel’s potential.  They told me how great my ideas were and how much I deserved to get my book out there.  They wanted to help me achieve my publishing goals.  All they needed was to relieve me of $999 to $7,999 of my money, and we could get started.  Even if I had that kind of money lying around I wasn’t totally sold that first call.  No deal.

typing once upon a timeA few months later someone else called again.  But this person had no clue about me or my novel.  What was my book about? No idea? Back to square one.  Apparently no one at Balboa ever cares enough about what potential clients say to make any file notes.  No points gained there. * Click.*

And on it went.  For a few years now.  (Yes really.)

Which brings me to another call today.  Same thing.  Starting from scratch with another clueless representative from Balboa.  I wasn’t buying.  *Click.*

Then I get the following email.  Then it hits me.  Not only did they pack this letter so full of stupid writing cliches that it reads hilariously, but they are preying on the dreams of writers’ with this letter and others like it.

Subject:  Believe in Yourself

Hi Lauren,

Be proud of who you are as a writer. An author’s voice is unique and no one will tell your story like you do. Don’t lose your voice. Stand out by having your own style. And your book doesn’t have to have an outrageous plot to be important. Simple can be good. Stick to who you are as a writer and your message will always hold significance.

Financial stability is a challenge nowadays. Money is something achievable but it will depend on you. It will depend on how committed you are in publishing and sharing your message to the world. Money comes and goes in life. If it is meant to be, it will happen. We can’t just wait for it to happen though. We need to do something about it. Dreaming for success is for everyone but putting it to reality is for those who are brave enough to take the next step even if there is fear of the unknown. Let us take this one step at a time.

Why make excuses when you can start your dreams? Why do nothing when you can begin something? Look, you have a lot more power within you that you’re revealing to the world. We all do. But because of distractions and interruptions and responsibility and excuses we sell to ourselves, we coast along at the same level for the best of our lives.

Only few have the guts to make A LEAP – a leap to new habits, new routines and a whole new story about their new place in the world and their service to it.

The Gandhi’s and the Mandela’s and the Zuckerberg’s and the Mozart’s were just ordinary people who had an idea, protected it from the voice of dissent, advanced it via tiny wins and got up every time they got knocked down.

You have this power too, but power unused deteriorates and potential not expressed turns to PAIN.

Now is your time to fly and to shine and to rise up. This is the day to show the world who you truly are.

I would like to assist you with your dreams. Yes, publishing will ask you to shell out money from your own pocket, but what I can assure you is that Balboa Press can expose you and your book to the rest of the world. This way you truly get to say to yourself, “I’ve done my part, let the book speak for itself now!” It is not easy to invest in something that you’re not sure of its future, but nothing is ever certain. What you can do as a writer is to invest in your dreams and believe that you can be someone that you never expected to be. Your sacrifices can result to a life changing journey if you give your book a chance.

All the best,
[Name Redacted]
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT
Balboa Press
A DIVISION OF HAY HOUSE

[Contact Information Redacted]

This email is an advertisement.

Gambling Piggy BankSo I’ll be staying away from Vanity Presses.  There are ways to legitimately Self-Publish but using Balboa Press isn’t one of them.  If they contact you, remember it is called a vanity press for a reason.  They play to your vanity and emotions.  I know they tried to get me that way.  It’s enticing to think that the only thing standing between you and your dream is your savings.  But it’s a gamble.  And Balboa Press is the house that  always wins.  The only way to beat them at their own game is to not play.