Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Hardest Thing to Give

So I think I've mentioned that I write articles for my local newspaper. Well here is a piece of one of my recent writings....I think some people may hate my article and a lot of people may not read it because they're usually fairly spiritual. But these are my thoughts. This is what I'm thinking about most of the time and when I try to come up with a new topic, one that I love, then I always, without fail, think of something that somehow relates back to my Savior and my God. So....sorry about it. Except for not really. This is the biggest part of who I am. This is the way my mind works. This is me.Anyway, read on for the article... 

         Fully submitting myself to the will of my Heavenly Father is a difficult thing for me, especially when it isn’t at all what I had in mind for myself. I continually am going through experiences that challenge my faith by being asked to give something good up, for something better. That seems like it would be easy, but it’s not. It’s not always easy to remember that, as C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” This is a principle that I don’t think I’ll ever have perfected, a lesson that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.
             Yet, it proves to be true. Every. Single. Time. I am always happier when I sacrifice my will, my pride, my plans, my time, my life to my Father in Heaven. I gain more faith in His plan for me and grow closer to my Savior when I do so.
            Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.”
            That’s something that I need to change: my mindset. The sacrifices I have made and am making, the sacrifices I have yet to make…well they’re not sacrifices at all. They are investments. Investments that will make me so much more than I currently am, so much happier than I ever have been.
            Some investments are smaller, easier and, as in stock investments, produce fewer results. Then there are those that seem huge, looming and dangerous. Yet, it is those that yield the richest rewards.
            He will ask us the hardest thing to give, but once we muster the courage to make that sacrifice, that investment, the results are beyond comparison. But they will be hard. And, many times, it will hurt. It is in these moments that I have come to see that there is one who truly understands, He who also called out to His father for strength.
Like my Savior before me also knew, I can do nothing but rely on my Father in Heaven. It is then that I truly come to know my Redeemer and it is only then that I come a little closer to becoming all that my God would have me be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prayers to End a Relationship

Once again, there have been a lot of changes in my life. Some of them have been positive changes and some have been negative, no. I suppose they've all been good. Let me rephrase that. Some of them have been easy changes and others have been...very difficult.
I've continued writing for our local newspaper. I've written articles that I loved, articles that were okay, and I've written articles that will probably never be published even though those are my favorite ones. Apparently I'm too opinionated sometimes.
My sister and I have moved (mostly) into our apartment and are taking all of our clothes (which we have yet to pack) and moving down for good later this week.
That crazy boy that I've been dating took some family pictures for us and my sister and edited them and I quite like them if I do say so myself. (You can see a couple of them at my sister's blog over here along with part of an article that I wrote a few weeks ago.) Goodness I love my family. Ok, family pictures aren't really a change in my life but they were great.
Perhaps the biggest, most difficult change of all, though, was sending my boyfriend back to Arizona. It all started when we went on our first date and then we went to Californiawe became best friends and we started to fall in love, we continued dating and finally became exclusive. He loved me more than I have ever been loved. Every moment I spent with him felt like the lyrics to a summer love song. Did we have our struggles? You bet we did. It was one of the hardest relationships I've ever been in, not because he was such a hard guy to date but simply because we all have pasts and make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are difficult to grasp, a struggle to get past. But we did. He loved me despite and for and with my past mistakes and I loved him despite his. And we grew closer. And we built a relationship based on complete honesty and a solid friendship. Some days he drove me crazy and sometimes we'd fight but we'd always come to some sort of agreement and finished knowing that we loved one another and that it was okay to disagree. We had a full relationship in which we felt every emotion on the spectrum. He came to Nebraska with me and, though we both loved having him here, we both prayed about it and decided that the best thing for each of us was for him to go back to Arizona at the end of the summer. So...on Saturday I woke up, realized that it was my last day with him, and began to cry. On Sunday I drove him to the airport and watched as his plane took off. I cried most of that day as well. I could literally feel my heartbreaking but, you see, sometimes doing what's right isn't easy at all. You all know that already, but I don't think it really hits home until you have to act on a decision that you've prayed about...and it's not what you wanted or had in mind at all. But you do it anyway.  I'm so grateful for previous experiences of acting on faith that have prepared me to make this decision which I'm sure is simply another stepping stone preparing me to make an even greater leap of faith. I'm grateful that Tanner prayed about it as well and felt the same. It really helped having someone else who had received the prompting so I knew that I was making the right decision.
During our relationship I kept a lot of things pretty private and didn't share many of the details because, well, that was our business. I still won't share most of those things but I suppose I can offer some pictures so you can at least see what he looks like.

Since he's been back in Arizona we have Skyped twice until we both fell asleep and it's amazing how much it helped to lift my spirits. I love this boy. Maybe it was the timing. Maybe after our missions things will work out. But maybe they won't. Maybe I have yet to meet my future husband and that's okay. The first two days Tanner was gone were awful but I prayed to be comforted and reassured that I was making the right decision and you know what? I'm feeling better already. I still miss him, but I know that this is how things should be, at least for the time being. After that? Who knows.
Here's a thought: Maybe I should stop falling in love with guys who have yet to serve their missions. That would save me a lot of heartache. If there were anything else I could at least fight to make the relationship work but, when this is the cause, I cannot be so selfish. Just something for me to keep in mind for the future...since apparently I have a problem with that.
Also, thank you all so much for your support over the last few days. Your messages have really helped me to feel better about everything and to remember that I've made the right choice. You guys are the best!

Friday, July 27, 2012

You Know Who I Miss?

My little girls. And by miss I mean I that just thinking about them makes my heart ache, yet smile at the same time because I love them so much.
Yesterday I was able to Skype them and it was amazing! I loved being able to see those crazy kids bouncing off of the wall and listen to them laughing like maniacs. Crazy kids...I love them with all my heart. It's amazing how happy I was just to see their blurry images and hear their broken audio.
When it was time to go Isalyn, the three year old, started crying. I told her that I'd see her again soon but that didn't seem to make her feel much better and the tears continued to flow. So, in an attempt to cheer her up, I gave her a secret mission. (We always went on adventures and treasure hunts and such when I was nannying them.) I told her that, in order to complete her mission, she would have to draw me a beautiful picture of a flower with pink and purple petals. She immediately jumped off the couch and began on her picture for me. After assuring them that I would see them again and telling them I loved them, I ended the call. And then I cried.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Wish...

That I could go on a mission...and get married at the same time.
I don't necessarily want to get married right this second, but I don't know that I want to wait two, three years to even start to work towards it either. I mean, I guess I do. I am still choosing to serve a mission. But still. I want to fall in love. Head over heels, let's make this last for eternity love. I want to have adventures and make memories that last and that I will always be able to look back on with my husband. I want to have a family. Or at least I want the possibility that it could happen. That today I could meet the man I'm going to marry. That he may love me.
And then there are other days when I wonder, will I ever marry? Am I too ridiculously picky or will I, someday, find someone who I really want to spend an eternity with? Will I ever be a part of a relationship where I couldn't see myself with anyone else? A relationship where I don't occasionally wonder: Is this all there is? It's not that I've never been in love. I have. I have had quite a few wonderful relationships as well as way too many not-so-good ones. I have thought about marriage, talked about marriage, even looked at rings with a couple of really special guys. In the end though, I always get the feeling that this isn't "the one" for me. That something else is coming.
Maybe that's because I know I have yet to serve a mission?
Or maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic waiting to be swept off of my feet.
And I wonder if I'm asking for too much. If I'm even good enough to attract the type of person that I have in mind. I wonder if I'll ever love someone as much as they love me. I want to. Yet, I can't seem to make that happen. And I think that's because I already know that I'm leaving soon and that I won't be back for 18 months and that my focus will be somewhere much more important than planning a wedding. But I still wonder...I can't help it.
Is it bad to be so picky?
Is it bad that I'm even thinking about all of this as I prepare for my mission?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Family Vacation&A Strengthened Testimony

Last week was amazing. My family went on a vacation across the country to: 1)Kirtland, Ohio, 2) Niagra Falls, 3) Palmyra, New York, and 4) Nauvoo, Illinois. We spent a lot of time at church history sites and I loved the spirit that I was able to feel on the trip. 
As we were all going into the sacred grove I hung back behind everyone so that I would be able to be alone and feel the spirit a little more. As soon as I stepped into the grove I felt overwhelmed with the spirit. It was such a special place. I went off into a little section by myself and, though there were many people walking along the paths around me, as soon as I began praying to my Heavenly Father the paths became vacant and I seemed to be all alone in the peaceful grove just talking to God. I sat there and just prayed for about thirty minutes and I know that my Heavenly Father was there with me as I expressed my concerns about serving a mission, wondering whether I was worthy enough, whether I was capable and talented and strong enough to serve and to teach others. It was very clear to me that He would make it more. As I sat in that grove with tears streaming down my face I thought of Joseph Smith, of the humble prayer that he said in between those trees. I though of the time he spent in Liberty Jail and I thought of his question, "Oh God, Where art thou and how long wilt thou hand be stayed?" I immediately felt a very strong feeling that I knew where God was. He was right there and I needn't ever question that or wonder if I was alone.
In the Palmyra temple later that day I picked up the scriptures and let them fall open and I had a very similar experience to one which I previously had in the Mesa temple. The pages turned to D&C 39 (last time it was section 112) and, once again, I felt impressed that the words were just for me. Just like the last time I attended the temple with a question about my mission in mind, I read of how God told His servants, told me, that, though they had made mistakes and had seen sorrow because of those mistakes, He knew their hearts and loved them. He knew that they were ready and desired for them to go on missions and spread the gospel to others. It seems pretty clear to me what He would have me do. 
On our way home my family stopped at the Nauvoo Pageant. It was amazing. The actor for Joseph Smith was incredible and was everything I had imagined the prophet to be. As we were driving to our hotel that night I felt a feeling, stronger than ever, that I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I always believed it and I knew the Book of Mormon to be true so it only made sense that Joseph Smith was a true prophet yet my heart went out to him for the trials he went through, I was grateful for his part in restoring the gospel, and I knew that he was a prophet. 
On that same drive mom told us of how a President Johnson had called our home a couple of weeks ago. She told us of how, when he was an Elder Johnson and served his mission here in Nebraska he had baptized my grandparents and my dad and, after doing so, he had said, "Someday there will be a President Norman Sillivan in this area." I'm sure he thought that he was speaking of my grandpa but, little did he know my dad would soon be called as the first branch president here and open up a new branch in which I grew up. President Johnson was just recently called as a branch president up in Washington somewhere and, receiving a book full of other branch presidents, he curiously flipped back to the old area where he'd served. What a surprise it must have been to see a Broken Bow Branch and to see, as the branch president, Norman Sillivan. He had prophesied of that coming to pass and he had been an instrument in the creating of this branch, in the creating of my family and the gospel being in our lives. Little did he know what a huge impact he would have. My heart was full of gratitude then and it is again now as I think of that elder so long ago. I cannot wait to someday meet him, shake his hand, and tell him, "Thank you. Thank you so much for all you have done for my family, for me." He will never know how much he affected my life but he did, he blessed it in a very big way. I am more determined than ever to do the same for others, even if it's only one family. I want to be able to do for others what that elder did for me. God has given me so much. I am so excited to give a sliver of that back.