My Testimony, Part 3

Friday, January 1, 2016
I met Michael on the Tinder dating app - yes, we both swiped right. When we met, and I found out he was a Mormon, I remember having the thought that I could convert him and evangelize him to my Christianity. How silly I was and how Heavenly Father must've giggled at my plan. Anyway, the first theological discussion we had was on the topic of grace. We spoke about how it's more than just a free gift to take and use as freedom to do as we please, and then go to Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness. I was intrigued, but not quite convinced just yet. So, we kept talking. At this point, I had forgotten about my Joseph Smith prayer, but I kept moving forward, and I'm so thankful and glad that I did. Michael and I began having more and more of these types of conversations, many more. Doctrinal conversations that "normal" investigators of the church don't normally have, but Heavenly Father knew I had to have in order to slowly become even more interested. Remember that lacking feeling I mentioned before? The lacking feeling of the gift of the Holy Ghost? Well I began to feel things. I began to feel my spirit testifying to the deep truths of the things Michael and I were talking about. I began to feel a burning in my bosom, something I had always longed for but never understood; a warmth and excitement, a joy and an overwhelming happiness! I could barely contain it, and every time it happened, I had to cry tears of immense joy. So, time went on, and I learned more, my light grew, and my knowledge deepened.

The biggest part of my testimony, the biggest reason why I came to the church and am now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is because I can't doubt the Holy Ghost. I cannot doubt what I have felt deep in my soul. I cannot doubt what the Lord has put in my path and caused to come to pass. The fulness of the gospel is found in this church, I have no doubts. Joseph Smith is a true prophet called by God to bring the restoration of this true church in these latter days to fruition; he saw Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father in the flesh and was given the priesthood by Peter, James, and John, also in the flesh. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Amen.

As time has gone on, my testimony has grown. Last October of 2014, Heavenly Father caused me to run into a pair of Chinese-speaking missionaries at a Target in Irvine while I was with Michael one day. If I had been alone, I never would've walked up to them, but because I was with Michael, he urged me to go up to them and give them my number. I did, and they passed it along to the English-speaking missionaries, who called me shortly thereafter. We spoke a few times here and there every couple of weeks, but I wasn't ready to meet with them yet, not because I wasn't ready to be converted, but because I wasn't ready to share with my family and friends that I would be adding unto the faith that I had grown up with. (Not leaving it behind, just adding onto. Mormonism is the fulness of the Gospel, and I already had the majority of my cup filled up.) Anyway, by the time January came around, I knew it was time. 2015 was to be the Year of Healing for me, and what better way to begin healing than to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ? I also knew that I now knew too much, and I would be held responsible for all I knew, so I had to make a decision: so on January 5th, I called up the missionaries and asked them to meet, and then on January 8th, we did! We went through all of the amazing lessons, where I learned so much more, where I gained an even greater testimony of the Spirit and of the pre-mortal existence (a lesson for another time), and where I set a baptismal date for March 21st!

And March 21st was the very best day of my life. There were about 50-60 people at my baptism, there was cake, a candy table, snacks, great speakers, a ukelele hymn, so many amazing missionaries whom I love, and I received a basket from my ward full of all the books every member should own, including my very own scriptures inscribed with my name on them! The next day though, I received the best gift I've ever received, the gift I've waited for my entire life: the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ever since then, ever since that most special day, I have lived without anger, without insecurity, I have lived with a constant companion to walk with me every single day whom I am so very grateful for.

I am so grateful for my testimony. So grateful for all of the amazing elders and members who taught me, who prayed and fasted for me, who continue to, and who walk alongside me in this life, encouraging me and loving me. Thank you.

My Testimony, Part 2

Once I moved back to Pennsylvania, about nine months passed before I really took any action of any kind. That's when I began blogging and took up a part-time job as a sales associate at American Eagle Outfitters. Around March of 2010, I discovered a purpose I desired and that was to go back to school. I had been going to physical therapy for my fibromyalgia for a few months and thought it would be really awesome to go to school to be a physical therapist assistant; to help others in ways I'd been helped myself. So, I began looking into schooling, and discovered I wanted something other than PTA school but wasn't quite sure what yet, so I began taking gen ed classes in the summer of 2010 (best decision I had made in a long time). It got me back into the classroom, around people again, got my brain active, especially because doing nothing for those 9 months since being home from NTBI really took a toll on me mentally and caused some dark depression. School was a great decision, one that still makes me proud and excited to have done to this day. Once fall of 2010 came around, I signed up for more classes, this time declaring my major to be English - I am a huge grammar, spelling, editing, and literature nut - and couldn't have been happier. I finished fall semester, and then spring semester, then met a guy in February of 2011.

This guy happened to be friends with a really good friend of mine, Meg, whom I had gone to church with and somewhat grown up with, someone I had looked up to, but had fallen away from since she had moved to California for school. This guy was hard on my heart, didn't protect it, played with it as if it were a toy, so much so that I had a horrible panic attack... this led me to open back up to Meg once again, reach out to her, and she invited me to come visit her out in California that March of 2011. So, I went. While I was there, I fell in love with it. I had been out to visit one other time and loved it, but never thought twice about perhaps I could move out here. Well, this time around was different. This time I truly thought about it, because I felt something. So, I began praying while I was on this trip. Nobody knew what was going on inside my heart besides Heavenly Father and myself, and my last night in California, a gentleman whom I had never met prayed over me; he prophesied into my life, praying a Bible verse from the book of Revelation, where God is speaking and he spoke directly to me, saying "I have opened a door, and I am asking you to walk through it." That was the clearest sign I could've asked for, so I decided then and there that I would be moving to California, and that whatever hardships would come my way, God would turn those mountains into flat land. And He did!

And there was this guy I met during my visit, Dan, whom I thought to be very handsome, but I didn't know yet that I was to move out to California when I met him, so I thought nothing of it. Well, when I went back to PA and now knew I would be moving to CA, I went onto Facebook and added Dan as a friend and we began talking - so much so that we began long-distance dating. I then moved to California 2 months later on May 31st, 2011 and about a month and a half later on July 6th, Dan proposed and we were engaged. 6 months later on December 31st, we were married. As you can tell, things moved rather quickly, but I believe that amongst a thousand other lessons and reasons during my marriage, a huge one was to get me out to California to soften my heart toward the LDS church. Fast forward two and a half years and a heck of a lot of pain on both ends, Dan and I began discussing divorce. Because of this divorce talk, I prayed what I now call my Joseph Smith prayer, or my Nephi prayer. I prayed because I knew I was missing out on something: the gift of the Holy Ghost talked about in the New Testament was something I had never experienced, and something I was confused about why I had never experienced it before, and it left me asking questions, many many questions, hard questions. The main question I asked Heavenly Father was, what was my religion missing? I wanted the full truth, the entire truth, all of it, and nothing besides the truth, and I would do whatever it took to get there, no matter what, even if it had been a religion I had made fun of in the past, or mocked, I would have the truth. That was my prayer.

A couple months later, I met Michael, and everything changed.

Part 3 coming soon!

2016 Bucket List

As it's January 1st, 2016, I decided to do one of my favorite things and make a bucket list for the year! I usually do something like, 26 before 27 since I just turned 26 last week, but 10 things seems less daunting and I never seem to finish that many things anyway. So, here we are! What goals have you set for yourself this year? I also want to clean up my diet, as well as have the best February 14th ever (as it's the day after my divorce is officially final), but these are the top ten that made the cut!

1. Renew my passport.
2. Go to Canada to visit my dear boyfriend, Dustin.
3. Take out my endowments.
4. Blog at least once a week.
5. Lose ten pounds.
6. Read at least 5 books.
7. Go to the temple once a month.
8. Get a gym membership and go at least once a week.
9. Read my scriptures daily; finish the Book of Mormon.
10. Move from where I'm currently living now.


My Testimony, Part 1

Happy New Year!
What better time to restart my blog than in the new year! I decided I would share my testimony to the LDS church as my first few posts to ring in 2016, so here we go! I'll break them up into parts 1, 2, and 3 all shared throughout the next few days. Enjoy!

Part 1

My path to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began years before I even realized it had. Isn't that so absolutely incredible - being able to look back and see Heavenly Father guiding you along the road He wants you to be on to get to a certain specific stop on the eternal journey we're on?

I guess I'll begin by saying that my foundation was lain by growing up in the evangelical born-again church my whole life, raised by two great parents who loved God and Jesus Christ and who taught it in the home; my faith was my identity - it was all I knew and everything that made me who I was. Because of this, during my junior year of high school, I went to Michigan to visit a small Bible college called New Tribes Bible Institute to see if it was for me. Their goal was to ultimately send students to their MTC (ironic to LDS missionaries, right? It even stands for the same thing!), to prepare and then send those students off to "the tribe" (hence New Tribes Bible Institute) to translate the Bible into the language of those people so they could then share the gospel with them. This was my goal. This was what I believed the Lord was calling me to do. (Aren't we crazy how we think things are forever, when we really should take things as they come: one day at a time, and for a season? Anyway...) I believed I would be a tribal missionary, and immaturely believed everyone else should be too (which is another story for another time), so

I went to Bible school for my first year and learned so much about the Bible, so much about the truths of the Old and New Testaments, and started having some health issues come about that couldn't be explained. Joint and muscle pain were the worst, as they were deep in my bones and distracted me from class, took me from prayer, stopped me from sleeping: it was horrible and I could barely live my life because of the pain, so I began going to doctors in Michigan, away from my family back in Pennsylvania, which was really hard as this was the first time I was away from home. When I went home that December over Christmas break, I met with a reumotologist and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and was told that 19 year olds barely ever get it, that mostly women in their 40's get it, so that was rough to hear. It was also rough to hear that there's no cure for the disease; I wanted a quick fix so I could go back to living a normal life again - but Heavenly Father had (and continues to have) other plans. So, I didn't change any meds or diet or anything yet, but I did go back to school in the spring, then started school early that following summer, as well as the third semester, but things started getting worse health-wise.

I couldn't ignore it anymore. Having a diagnosis didn't change the pain. The sleep was still lacking, I could barely exercise or move, couldn't sit through class, so by October I began to feel faced with a decision. That decision was: do I leave and take care of myself or do I stay and suffer through this? So I sought counsel from many people that I looked up to and trusted, I prayed a lot, and I kept getting the same answer: it's up to me. Which was very very difficult for me, as this was the biggest decision I had ever had to make in my life thus far on my own, and I was scared to make the wrong one, but I just kept getting the strongest impression that the decision was mine to make. During that time, I was taking a Romans class, and we had just made it to Romans 12:1 where Heavenly Father tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, and I read that in a new light as I never had before. God was asking me to present my sick body as a sacrifice to Him, in the condition that it was, and by going home to take care of myself, I would be doing that. So on October 20, 2009, I left, and moved back home to Pennsylvania.

This was the first big way that I look back and see how God protected me and kept me on the path of finding the LDS Church. If I had not gotten sick, and followed through going to school all the way to the end, I might be in the tribe and wouldn't have found the fulness of the Gospel. I am so grateful for being saved, for being found. I am so thankful for the restoration in these latter days.