Adventures of Annie

I did an exciting thing and started a new blog for my trip to Europe! I’m already planning traveling adventures for when I get back home (I have a free pass to all of the parks in Canada for this year. It’s the 150th anniversary of their national parks. You don’t even have to pay shipping!). I’m so excited to explore this beautiful globe we live on! Here’s the link to this blog of excitement!

I won’t be posting much about my traveling on this blog, just to keep things organized. I’m also being given a grade on my blog record keeping, so there’s that, too 😉

I guess that’s my big update for today. I’ll be sharing my process of preparing for the departure, what happens during, and how I’ve been changed after. I’ll also be recording my trip to Canada, as well as all of the craziness I do within the states. I can’t wait to share my love of the world with you!

Annie

The Truth About Scriptural Distortions

In an article that recently appeared on Facebook, titled The Thing About Getting Offended Mormons Don’t Often Understand (It was originally published on LDSLiving. You can read it here.) I made a comment that I felt was so important, I had to share it here as well. It was in response to many comments made about some members misusing the scriptures and conference talks that reprimanded those who “choose to be offended”. Their intent in this action was clearly to place the blame of their sin on the person who’s feelings that must’ve known they had hurt.

I find it absolutely necessary to make the truth known to everyone. Here is the comment I made:

Looking through a few of the comments, I wanted to make this clear. If anyone is using scripture, such as choosing to be offended, as justification for their actions, they are exercising unrighteous dominion as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. In that proclamation, they were explicitly warned that they would have to face serious consequences for any such infringement on others, whether they were originally given rights over a person (read parent, guardian etc.) in order to provide care for them, or they decided they had rights over a random person. Yes, it can be extremely frustrating at times to deal with people like that, and we certainly don’t need to let them walk all over us, but we still need to exercise a level of control over ourselves. I think when Christ tells us to “turn the other cheek”, He’s not saying to passively take the abuse- He’s telling us to not allow our control over ourselves to be taken from us. He’s telling us to not give them any control over us and to hand the matter of offense over to Him to solve. He only wants to give us peace of mind, not continued hurt. But certainly do NOT let others convince you that it is okay to be terrible and that Heavenly Father has justified them, because He will NEVER justify willful sinning ESPECIALLY (but not limited to) when someone is harming another of His children.

I 113% stand by my words. I wish I could teach all who have had any moments of confusion about this and calm all of their doubts and pain. Please know that the commandments of God were created to make us happy! As my professor here at BYU-Idaho says, “Does it taste like light?” If it does not, I urge you to pray about it. I promise that Heavenly Father is the source of all truth and light, and He will NOT do anything that won’t eventually lead to your ultimate happiness. If ANYONE is continually using the words of God to hurt and belittle you, please seek help from those who love you. This is manipulative and unrighteous dominion! Talk to your Bishop*, a friend, anyone who you know you can trust, and allow yourself to find what will truly make you happy in this life. Pray for guidance as you search, and read the scriptures for direction. You deserve to be surrounded by people who acknowledge and celebrate your divine nature and encourage you to seek (and have! See Utchdorf’s Forget Not to Be Happy Now) true happiness. Heavenly Father loves you and His two deepest wishes and ultimate joys are to see you happy and see you return home to Him.

*Your Bishop is inspired by Heavenly Father to be a righteous judge in Israel. He is there to help you heal, whether it be by your own choices or the choices of another. He should be working closely with the Savior to help you achieve peace. If he is reacts in a way that does not taste like light, such as making you question whether the abuse is indeed real, understand that that is his choice to not fulfill his calling righteously. Not all bishops are like that. In that case, talk to your stake president. Talk to as many leaders in your church as is needed to get help. Remember that when a leader does not fulfill their calling they way they should, it is NOT your fault. they still have your agency. Pray for guidance, and as you work with your righteous church leaders, I can promise that you can find peace. It may be a long road, but all righteous people will find happiness in the end, and even the most arduous journey can be filled with many moments of joy. God loves you. Of all things, never forget that.

~Annie

I Believe in a God of Miracles

I totally believe in miracles, guys. God is so real, and He is such a part of my life. This past year has been an absolute financial nightmare, just from trying to stretch loans and grants to cover school and barely having any food to eat all semester. It’s been a real miracle I’ve gotten where I have, but I am SO blessed, because I’ve made it this far, and I’ve had so many help me along the way.

These past few months, I’ve been praying about going investing in a trip to Europe this summer to further my education as a music major. Not only that, but I would have the opportunity to go to the Paris temple, something that has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember (it’s actually going to be in operation and there is time for it on the trip!!!!). It’s an incredible opportunity that I felt crazy for shooting for. I attended the first few meetings, but I very quickly felt like there was no way I could ever afford such a luxury. However, after speaking with my professors (who all urged me to consider going), and much prayer, I felt inspired to prepare to go. I prayed to Heavenly Father to please help assist me in my efforts if it this trip is really the best thing for me. It’s been hard to feel like a “real” part of the group, and not just a charity case because of my finances, but my professors have been so good, and haven’t thought any less of my efforts.

This past week has been a bombardment of miracles after miracles. I’ve been striving to grow closer to Heavenly Father these past few weeks. As you’ll see later in this post, there were a lot of miracles I have hoped for at this time, some because of righteous desires, some because of need. I wanted to give Sign to my Heavenly Father that I trust Him, so in the thick of my trials, I bore my testimony of miracles. Bearing my testimony was all it took for me to feel a 1000x more confident in the trust I’ve placed in my Father. It was a beautiful start to my week.

I also tried my hand at fasting for the first time in years (I know better, but I really wanted an answer), which resulted in my being sick the entirety of Monday and missing all of my classes (My sweet bishop, when I met with him on Sunday, promised me that a half fast, or a different fast didn’t mean any less to the Lord. So no more fainting for me anymore haha). It made the rest of my week insane, which was mildly discouraging because of my goal to attend the temple this week. But, again, miracles! I was able to do the biggest load of homework ever after days of non-stop studying, and I was actually able to go to the temple and do the work of family names I had found early last semester. It was by far one of the sweetest temple experiences I’ve ever had. Taking your own names always changes the game, but this one was particularly meaningful, and I left with my heart touched and the cares of the world gone from my mind. Also!!! The temple workers are willing to help me complete 200+ male names this Friday! I’m so excited to have their work officially completed!

My temple experiences have been quite lovely, but one of the biggest miracles of my life also happened this week. At the beginning of last week, while pondering my temple worthiness for my temple recommend renewal this month, I realized that I had quite a chunk of tithing I had forgotten to pay from my last job. It wasn’t that I meant to avoid it before, but it hit me a little hard at this time.  It was almost like a punch in the gut. I felt like Heavenly Father was telling me that Europe wasn’t for me. Though it broke my heart, I knew that if it was God’s will, it should be mine as well. I was still concerned about my finances in general, but I never doubted because I know that my Heavenly Father always provides. So, after praying and putting my faith in Him, I paid my tithing.

A few days later, I went to go see my financial aid counselor. I can’t express what happened next. We reviewed my financial aid and my situation, and she told me I should be getting the maximum in financial aid assistance. I was not only to have an increase in support, I was to be compensated for the past year I had spent budgeting insanely. I was blown away. I gave Him what little I had, and He provided me with the hugest financial blessing I’ve ever experienced.

I couldn’t contain myself from crying. I was staggered. I always knew He would bless me, but I had never expected to be blessed like this. To me, He was saying that He approved of and supported my dreams. He provided me with more money that I had hoped to scrape together for my crazy endeavors. I know this blessing came because I gave what I could, and He definitely multiplied it beyond anything I could ever do on my own.

Faith is so important. If I hadn’t had faith in God’s will starting in January, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have even considered this crazy trip to Europe. I wouldn’t have paid that tithing that stretched my little budget. My testimony would be smaller than it is now.

Every sacrifice I have ever made, small or large, and resulted in a gigantic mound of blessings. I don’t even know when I hesitate on some things anymore. He always, always comes through. Whether through friends willing to feed you breakfast on Saturdays, friends who send you money because they’re crazy and they love you, professors who love and support you and don’t think you’re any less than anyone else, and just the people who listen and care on the daily. Blessings are all around us.

I need you to know that God loves you. He knows your challenges and struggles. He loves you so, so much. He knows your dreams and goals and deepest desires. I know He knows me personally, because He blessed me in a very personal way. He wants to bless you, and He’s waiting for you to ask for His help.  I am so grateful for the way my relationship with Him has impacted my life. I wouldn’t be where I am without His love and endless, unconditional generosity. God is truly good.

And, because of Him, I’m totally going to Europe this summer!!! (and possibly some other beautiful surprises…Heavenly Father is awe-inspiring ❤)

~Annie

Grateful for Trials

Wow, what a hectic week this has been! I’m really starting to feel the toll of college, and it was the semester break! I’ve officially overcome taxes and I was feeling pretty good about myself, until I got hit in the face with auditions and pre-program acceptance exams and random health issues. Yikes! However, I also feel a strange peace and excitement about this upcoming semester.

I think oftentimes we think of trials as a negative, bad, terrible awful punishment. However, as I look forward into the looming doom of the next three months of my life, I don’t really feel punished at, but rather pushed. I can feel Heavenly Father’s influence, and I know that my trials right now are 100% His doing. And I certainly didn’t do anything so wrong that all of this would be placed on me. Rather, I kind of brought this on myself.

Let me explain. Last semester was challenging in all sorts of different ways. I had to overcome many things I never thought I could, and even though it was painful and gross and I never want to do it again, it changed my life. I think this past semester really taught me something amazing and beautiful: sometimes Heavenly Father shows His love for us in unexpected ways, like trials. I know, I know you might be thinking what are you even saying right now???

My closest friends know I absolutely love to share my relationship with Heavenly Father with them. There are few things I cherish like this relationship. They know how it works, with 90% me whining and the other 10% Heavenly Father calmly and lovingly rolling His eyes while quietly laughing at my drama. I love that He can laugh with me at my human urges. I love that He does laugh, and doesn’t comfort me every second something uncomfortable happens. Instead, once I have finished an episode, He very calmly and resolutely reassures me that I am His daughter and I can do anything I put my mind to. And instead of letting me curl up in a ball like I really want to, I am given the push I needed to accomplish the task at hand. He knows my potential. He knows those desires that I tell no one and won’t even admit to myself. He pushes me until every ounce of my being is known in the universe. I love my Heavenly Father because He refuses to let me bury my talents. Constantly He pushes me until I have earned the capacity for more, and then He pushes me again.

Even though I know this semester certainly won’t be easy, even though I know that I will get depressed and frustrated along the way, even though I have a vision of what I want and I know I probably won’t get it, I know that I can trust my Father’s plan for me. He has yet to let me down with His infinite wisdom and knowledge. He has yet to fail me with how He reads my heart and my mind and every other part of my being. I know He knows me, I know He loves me, and I know that He is doing something with my life. I may not know what I am being prepared for, but I know that I can eventually get there.

I’m not going to lie and say that most days are happy-go-lucky and effortless. I’m beginning to realize more and more how similar everyone else’s days are to mine, that I’m not the only one drowning in life’s responsibilities and expectations. I wish more often we shared these vulnerable points in our lives. I wish that I had recorded my thoughts at the harder points, because in retrospect I’m a little skeptical at my reasoning for being so stressed out. I really want to learn to respect myself even in those moments of near insanity, and not just wave my arms and say ‘hey, I survived!’. I think as a society we need to really learn to see the beauty in the struggle, the joy in the journey, and truly respect what we consider our “worst”. If we can lovingly acknowledge our flaws and strengths and praise our efforts rather than looking down upon them, I know we will begin to learn more from the trials in our lives.

Even though I am certainly scared about how I’m going to get through this semester at all, let alone with a smile, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am in Heavenly Father didn’t think that I would benefit. I know that I am where I am because it’s where I need to be and I have a lot to learn. I’m so grateful for these stretching periods that I have the opportunity to go through. I know it’s easy to say things like that between the storms, but I honestly have a testimony of His hand and love in my life. Not only have I noticed this, but I am also extremely grateful for His influence in my life. It’s a blessing to have His power in my life every step of the way.

I feel that we are very unkind to our God. We see Him as a dictator, torturer, executioner, and fault finder. I know from my own life experience that He is not anything of those things, but a kind and generous Being, who only wants the very best for each of us. He only sees our potential and pushes us to strive for the victor in each of us. I believe in a God of miracles, a God who performs miracles because He loves us. I will forever be grateful for His miracles in my own life, and I pray that we can all feel His presence and see Him in a new light, one that is positive and even reciprocating in love. That is, after all, something most fathers treasure above all else, and I don’t think Heavenly Father is an exception.

Annie

 

Conquering College

This week has been a wild ride. On a sudden whim, I decided to become very organized and get my homework completed in the most timely manner possible. I charged through my assignments at an astounding rate and by the end of the week, I feel amazing and almost like I can do anything. I’m beginning to see how much time I actually have in a week and it’s incredible to me. It’s lead me to pondering how I spend my time, and I’ve been noticing that the majority of has been going toward dreading my homework, worrying, stressing, avoiding, and all around not doing much of anything. I’ve noticed how much of my time and resources have been poured into absolutely nothing. I could kick myself for how little I’ve managed to get out of everything I’ve been given.

However irritating the past may be, I’m optimistic for my future. I’ve realized that not only am I very capable of completing the things that I need to, I’m very quick and when I apply myself I learn a lot. Thinking about where all my time has been going, I’ve realized what activities I could squeeze into my life, even as I become a whole lot busier next semester (hopefully I’ll be getting a job, and I’ll soon be starting some pretty challenging classes).

It’s changed a lot of my perspective. While talking to a friend this week, he said something rather insightful. I explained how I have a difficult time applying myself to things I think of as “easy” or a “waste of time”. I’m not sure if he quite knew who to accredit the quote to (nor do I, really) but I think he quoted Michelangelo when he said in not so many words, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

I felt like spiritually someone poured cold water over my head. Of course! I know in my heart that I can do way better than I am, but my head always says otherwise. As I face fear after fear, I’m learning that the heart can be a lot smarter than the brain at times.

I’m certainly not where I want to be in life, and I’m starting to get the idea that therapy has a long future with me, but things are changing in such rapid succession that I also get the feeling that huge opportunities and blessings are unfolding for me. Every moment I blink, something new happens; either it’s a new idea or a new event, but in any case it flips me upside down and leaves me to ponder over all of my beliefs once more. I can definitely feel my fears subsiding, my strength returning, and my testimony blossoming.

I know this may be viewed as extremely cliché, but I truly believe these changes could only happen at such a place as BYU-I. I’m increasingly gathering my courage and fall more and more in love with the atmosphere. Sure, it’s not perfect in any way, but it’s the home I’ve always dreamed of with a peace that very few places can replicate. I’m so grateful that I get to attend a school with such loving teachers and faculty and that fosters a love for the Savior in every single program therein. I can’t say enough about my school! I only hope that I can make use of these blessings to better the world around me.

Annie

Hilarious Blood Drive Incident

Drugs can sure make you act and think differently. This week I’ve started a few new prescriptions. The results have been hilarious if not frustrating. Certainly I’ve been out of the loop in life, but I think I’ve managed to crawl my way through it. I figure I share enough deep and personal things that it’s time we shared a laugh.

This week I went to a blood drive with one of my roommates. I can’t give blood, so I guess I just went for support. She ended up getting a burst vein from the nurse, though, so she didn’t actually get to donate anything. Disappointing, but oh well.

As soon as she came back to talk to me, I felt a bit dizzy, but I didn’t think anything of it. In between the two doors of the exit, I passed out. There was a girl who popped in a few minutes later and started laughing so hard. It was hilarious! Of course, I couldn’t really say what I thought, because I was only have conscious. The funniest part was a little bit after  when she realized I wasn’t kidding. She kept apologizing and asking me if I needed help. Way to ruin the joke! I wish I had been aware enough to let her know I thought it was just as funny. It’s one of my favorite pranks, because I faint quite a bit anyway. I like when people can laugh with me. No blood = perfectly funny

I ended up laying on the benches while my roommate fed me trail mix as I laid on my side (not at all easy, by the way).Honestly, I’m a little scared to leave my room  now. I was so close to being on concrete and the joke would’ve fallen quite flat (pun intended) if that’d happened.

So even though new medications are the worst, they make it terribly funny when you walk out of a blood drive you didn’t even give blood in and faint dramatically as a warning omen to all future donors. I rate this experience 10/10 would do again.

Annie

Our Trials Do Not Define Us

I have no idea why trials keep bombarding me, but they honestly do. The other day, I was talking to a dear friend about what is going on in my life. I was overwhelmed, scared, and I’m still a little unsure of what I’m supposed to do. I feel like my world has been tipped upside down.

It’s easy to let your problems drown you until you don’t really exist anymore. It’s easy to hide behind them, to make excuses, to play the victim and run away from the world. Trials are some pretty tough cookies. But God is insurmountably tougher. 

I’m exhausted from running from my problems. My sweet friend related her own experience of taking on her trials without letting Heavenly Father help her, and her gentle warnings reminded me that that would only make my trials worse.

One of Satan’s favorite ways to hurt me is by telling me that my trials and problems are a part of who I am, and by extension, I myself cannot progress. I will never be worthy enough to receive God’s love because of how dirty and sinful I am. But what I’m learning more and more is that our trials do not define us. No matter what we go through, we will always be children of God, infinitely loved and forever in his thoughts. He gave up His son so that we could repent. We must not let Satan frustrate that! But it is still so hard in practice.

I’m grateful for the reminders from my Father in Heaven this week. I don’t know where I would be without His love. So many great things are happening in my life, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel his those blessings working. I’m so thankful for the peace that His love brings me every day, even if it doesn’t make things any easier.