My Conversion Story Part 3

Behind? You can still read Part 1 and Part 2

PART 3

I mentioned in my last post the need to exercise faith. Well, in my youth I tried to do that, but there was one specific instance where I completely ignored a prompting and had to pay for it. It was stupid really, I will always feel ashamed for it.

I was prompted to not accept a role in a play, and I did it anyway. I don’t know why I was told not to. Perhaps I would have been less stressed out with all of my AP classes, perhaps a better opportunity would have come my way, I don’t know. All I know is that I ignored this prompting and it rocked me to my core.

You see, once you have the gift of the spirit you have to work to keep it. And when I ignored it, I lost it for a while. I even lost a measure of the knowledge and faith I used to have. I began to doubt myself and I began to doubt my faith. I was miserable. I felt empty inside. It was during this period that I let some of my old demons come back and haunt me. I began to feel bad that I wasn’t perfectly accepted at school. I noticed more when people in my classes were rude to me. There was one girl in particular who made fun of  me in her AP English class and when word got back to me about what she was saying I was devastated.

A few things helped me push through this hard time. One was my parents. I told them what I had done and how I was feeling and they were supportive and loved me unconditionally. My dad explained to me a little bit about the repentance process and how I would have to go through it before I could feel the Spirit the same way I used to.

So I prayed and fasted and asked my Heavenly Father for forgiveness. Then one day things got better.I was sitting in sacrament meeting feeling really terrible, I had been fighting with family members, I had tons of homework, and as I said before I was in a bad state generally. I had a severe stomach ache brought on by stress, and I escaped to the bathroom where I sat down and prayed to the Lord. I told Him that I knew He was there and that I knew He could help me. I asked Him to remove my pain from me. Instantly my stomach ache was gone, and so was the burden I’d been carrying around. I had exercised my faith in Him and He had helped me feel His forgiveness. Again I was given a reassurance of His existence and even more of His love for me. It was almost as if I could see his light from the Heavens. His eyes were on me, and I knew it perfectly.

After that instance things began to get better. I continue to have my ups and downs as I strive to be faithful. I want to be wholly converted. I want to give up my sins to know Him. And though I have a long way to go, I know that He’s there to help me and to guide me on the way.

As a sidenote a good friend of mine commented on my last post that it’s OK to have doubts sometimes, it’s how we handle those doubts that really defines us. He said it perfectly, so I’ll just use an excerpt from his quote.

Jayrod said, “I think it is the doubts that make faith really what it is.  Because when we have doubts and continue in the path we have chosen that is when our faith really blooms. Your faith is so beautiful now, because of the very fact that you have chosen to stay true to what you believe even when there has been every reason to doubt it and walk away.”

Thanks Jayrod. Thanks for reminding us that our imperfections help make us beautiful.

My Conversion Story Part 2

Behind? Check out Part 1

PART 2

In my last post I explained my childhood bullying and how it led me to depend on the Lord. As I got older things got better. I found a good group of friends – people I’m still close to – and began learning that I didn’t need to be liked by everyone to be happy.

I had gained a testimony of the comfort I could receive when I was obeying the Lord’s commandments, and I had experienced a few miracles, but my conversion wasn’t over yet.

The next step in my conversion came by the hand of that same caring young women’s leader. She bore her testimony to us every week about the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I always felt an intense stirring when she bore her testimony, and I wanted that same thing. In my eyes she glowed, and I wanted to glow too. When she challenged us to pray about whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was God’s only church I accepted the challenge.

I went to my room, knelt by my bed, and I poured my heart out to the Lord. I told him that I needed to know if these things were true. Different people receive answers in different ways, but for me it was an immediate assurance. I felt so strongly that God was real and that I was attending his church. I felt peace and warmth and overwhelming love. And I just knew. Soon after I read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know if it was true. I received the same immediate assurance.

It’s important to note here that while I wanted all of this to be true, while I had a hope that it was true, I didn’t automatically assume it was. There were some very serious doubts and fears within me that wondered. It’s also interesting to note that just because I received my witness doesn’t mean I never doubted again. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s true. As I said in my first post – faith is something that requires constant work. It’s not like riding a bike. It’s more like a muscle, you have to keep exercising it to keep it going.

Check out PART 3 for the conclusion

Want to Hear My Original Music?

Want to hear my original music? For a long time it didn’t matter whether you did or not because I wasn’t sharing. I would write songs, be too afraid to even share them with my family and close friends, and then I would eventually forget them. I have forgotten countless songs. But then something changed. I can’t pin point it, but I started to share my music with my husband – only my husband. He encouraged me and helped me along, not by always telling me that a song was good, but by always telling me that I was good for trying. About a year after I first began sharing my music with my husband I began to feel this urging to share it with more people.

I started with my Dad. I was scared to death, but he encouraged me and told me I should keep going with it. Then I shared it with my Mom. Eventually I got up enough guts to sing one of my original songs at an extended family party. I nearly died. I was so scared I broke down and started crying in the middle of the song. Those who know me would probably be shocked to hear that I have stage fright. I’ve been in numerous plays and countless concerts over the years, but this is different. This is me baring my soul to the world. When criticism comes, as it always does, what will I do? It’s opening myself up to a whole new level of failure.

So why am I doing it? I don’t exactly know. Mostly because there’s this feeling that not only should I, but I am supposed to. This feeling that my music could uplift someone and make a small difference in a life. So, despite the fear and trepidation I’m sharing my music.

This first song will be one of the few with accompaniment. Despite my best attempts I was not blessed with instrumental gifts. This song was accompanied by a family friend with extraordinary abilities. I couldn’t impose on her to accompany more of my songs. The audio was done with a cell phone and is far from perfect, in fact my voice sounds better    A cappella, but I think the piano accompaniment adds to the song. Perhaps I’ll upload an A cappella version later.

Struck by my blessings

I was walking through my home the other day and I was suddenly struck with how blessed I am. With Thanksgiving just over I guess it’s a natural thing to be struck with, but it was a different kind of struck. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. Think of a clear bell, like the one that signifies an Angel got his/her wings in “It’s A Wonderful Life” – that’s the normal kind of struck, a pleasant sort of ah – ha moment. K, now think of the big bells in Quasimodo’s tower, those huge bells that require a grown man to sound them and have rendered poor Quasimodo deaf over the years. The ones that can knock you over with their power. It’s a struck that isn’t as pleasant but hopefully has more lasting effects.

You see, my struck came with a measure of shame and embarrassment. I felt like I was one of the nine lepers who didn’t come back to Christ to thank him. Instead I was dwelling on the negative and just skating through without appreciating my amazing life. I was focusing on all the wrong things, mainly all of the THINGS we needed to get done.

As I looked at my living room I noticed that I have a REALLY nice place to live – a place that I often describe as small, but is far more than we need. When so many families are living in squalor, or squished into one bedroom homes I live in a beautiful two bedroom rental. I noticed that my fridge is full of food when so many are hungry. I noticed the Christmas tree my husband and I lovingly put up – something we don’t really need but are blessed to have. I noticed the pictures on the walls: a large painting done by my husband’s late great grandmother, a photo of our baby when she was only a few weeks old, a wedding photo of myself and my husband. I felt the blessing of a caring and hard working husband, of a beautiful and healthy baby girl, and of an eternal family.

I was struck with my blessings, and after I took a moment to thank the Lord the Quasimodo bells changed from warning bells to clear strong and resonant bells – still the kind that knock you over, but with Heavenly Father’s love rather than my own shame. And I resolved to do better to remember what’s really important.

The plan of salvation

One of my earliest memories is of laying in my crib and watching my hand move. I remember wondering how it knew what I wanted it to do. I was still getting used to my body. I can see my baby doing that. Her movements are becoming less jerky and more purposeful as she learns how to make her limbs do what she wants them to do.

I imagine her in heaven not long ago being so excited to finally come to earth and get a body so she could be like her Heavenly Father and older brother. She has taken a big step, following the plan of salvation.

Because she is here we know that she chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan when he presented it in heaven, she abhorred Satan’s plan knowing that heaven means nothing without agency to get there.

Now that she has a body she will experience trials and pain, right now she has a bad case of baby acne and her poor tongue is covered in thrush, but that too is part of Heavenly Father’s plan, and we will teach her that she can turn to him and us for love and comfort.

To learn more about God’s plan for his children visit http://mormon.org/plan-of-happiness.