Friday, September 26, 2014

I swung my head under the bar and positioned myself on the bench, as our weight training coach stacked disks on either ends of the bar.

"80 pounds....warm it up"

I lifted, lowered, and then raised the bar with a clang back onto the rack. Once again, coach reached for more disks. Again and again, I'd lift. And again and again, he'd keep stacking the weight on. As it became more and more difficult, he'd coach me on my breathing pattern and how to use the rest of my body to support the weight. It helped, but I was getting tired.

Yet, coach was still determined to push me.

I dropped the bar onto the rack at 110 lbs, and told coach I was spent. "One more," he pressed. "One more....make it to 130."

"Coach, I can't. I'm done!"

As if he didn't hear me, he began adding ten pounds to each end, clearly messaging to me that I wasn't finished. "I'll help you..." he promised. I'd barely made it to 110 lbs ....trying to lift 130 sounded impossible. But with no other option, I laid back down in the bench. Coach stood behind me and put his hands outside of mine as I gripped the bar, "I'll lift with you..."

Trusting in his help, I lifted the bar and immediately felt the weight sink through my wrists and down into my shoulders. Breathing in, I let the bar lower, and then exhaling (and feeling coach lifting the weight with me) I pressed up and landed the bar back in the rack.

"See!! You did it!!" Coach said as he extended his fist.

"Yea, but you lifted it wasn't really all that."

"Nope, I didn't touch the bar. I told's all in your head."

I turned to my teammates who we're watching. They just nodded, confirming and clearly as surprised as I was. “You’re stronger than you think,” coach said with a smile, “told you.”

I continue to be stumped by that experience. Somehow, when my head thought I could do it, I could. Even if it was when I thought it was impossible to do on my own. Thinking that I was being helped, somehow convinced my body that I could push further and harder.

How many times do I sell myself short in life, because I reason, “I can’t.” How often to I tell God, that I’m not good enough, not capable enough, not strong enough, or not talented enough to live up to my potential.

God knows when we have more to give. Sometimes it just takes him standing beside us and saying, “You can do it. Give me just a little more. Trust me. You CAN do it. And I’ll help you.”

And He does. And with His help, we become stronger.

“My dear friends and brethren, no matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now! (President Uchtdorf)

You're stronger than you know.......


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"ANNA!!! Get in here QUICK!!!!"

Hearing that was enough to make my heart drop. I stumbled around the kitchen table and turned the corner into the guest quarters just in time to see my little brother smeared and splattered with oil paint standing convicted next to my Mom. She had her hand over her mouth and was staring at my easel across the room.

I pushed past them to see my oil painting--a large canvas with the brilliant white Nauvoo Temple portrayed amongst spring flowers and greenery--now covered in a milky greenish brown paste of oil, turpentine, and paint. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

4 months of tedious work....hours bent over that canvas, stroke after stroke, and now all seemingly ruined in a short moment.

I couldn't speak as I subconsciously grabbed the bottle of turpentine on the counter and a wad of paper towels and started gently wiping the canvas; it was all I could think to do to try and save it. Blinking through my tears, I kept dabbing the painting, hoping and praying that it would remove the ugly smears.

Slowly.......very slowly......the white temple and bright colored flowers started to emerge. Eventually, the entire painting was nearly perfect, though perhaps slightly tinted. The turpentine had worked miraculously.

After almost all of the mirky paint had been removed, my mom and I breathed a sigh of relief. It eventually took more painting (and patience) to restore the temple to its original brilliant and imperfect white......but I was able to finish the painting and it now hangs above our piano in the music room.

I've thought since about that experience and how I'm like that painting. At times I get smeared with sin, fears, shortcomings, or doubts. Only the hand and patience of the Creator can restore me to what I once was, and remove the stain of those weaknesses. His patience and love is what reclaims me. He knows what I can become and sees past the immediate flaws. He knows that deep down, I have worth and can achieve that potential through trust in Him.

Trust that He can reclaim you. No one need be defined by their past, only their potential. There is hope and forgiveness available to each of us as we put our lives into the hands of our perfect Creator and rely on His mercy.

 "The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infiniteIt applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means--total, complete, all, forever. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: 'There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ' (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 20)."

And videos always say it better than I here ya go:) Enjoy!!!

My finished painting of the Nauvoo Temple

What He Gave Me

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blinking through tears, I looked down at the yellow card in my hands. Only fifteen minutes before, I'd stood on the sidewalk of the Missionary Training Center, saying final goodbyes to people I could hardly bear to leave, feeling like my heart was breaking 

Deciding to serve as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was the hardest thing I've ever done. It took everything in me not to drop by bags and go running back into the arms of those who I wouldn't see for 18 months.

Instead, I swallowed hard and forced my feet one after the other. I was handed a yellow card, which told me my classroom location, apartment number.......and the name of my companion. As I looked down at the card, my heart jumped at the sight of the name printed in bold. Surrounded by people, places, instructions, manuals, and directors that were completely unfamiliar to me.......I knew that name!!

Mattie Butler!!! 

licking the cream soda tree:)
I knew I loved her already:) Turns out, we'd friended each other on FB weeks before, when we both found out we'd be serving in Chicago at the same time. And in a truly miraculous way.....we ended up as companions!!! Sure enough, we met our first day.....both shell shocked and looking like deer in headlights.....but we managed to make it through our first 24 hours in the Missionary Training Center, and from the start, I knew we'd be best friends.

In the days and difficulties of class room instruction, teaching, homesickness, doubt, happiness, and learning that was clear that we needed each other. We became so close.....SO close! We had girl talks under the stars at night, cried over missing our familieshugged after spiritually-incredible lessonsshared Altoid mints to stay awake in class, splurged on BYU creamery ice cream, and did round-offs down the hallways to kill energy:)!


I love that girl!!!  And since her leaving to go home, I miss her like C.R.A.Z.Y.!!!

Looking back on my decision to serve--the struggle, heartache, goodbyes, and sacrifice it required-- yea, it was hard....but God is grateful for every effort we take to follow and serve Him so he rewards us in return.

 It's been a year since Mattie and I became friends, and I'm still in awe of God's goodness to me in returning me with blessings for serving a mission......

He gave me a best friend:)

<3 you Mattie!!!!

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