Thursday, July 25, 2013

Proverbs 18:22

"Whoso findeth a wife, findeth a good thing. and obtainth favour of the Lord."
I've been really bothered and annoyed lately when I see commmercials, or hear comedians making fun of the joyfulness of marriage.  People mock marriage like it's horrible and it's something we do just because we're supposed to, but you're never really happy.  I have found the exact opposite, and I think that's why it stings every time these jokes are made.  Marriage is sacred and beautiful. When you have found it, you truly have found a "good thing."

I know the secret to marriage is who you marry.  I know a lot of people in my family and my friends, that have gotten married really young or without dating for very long, and are now very unhappy.  The apostles have said very clearly, "court each other for a LONG time, but have a SHORT engagement."  I know that to be true.  If you give your dating time, in my opinion at least a year; you will have the opportunity to see that person in every different stage of their personality.  You will also learn what you are going to have accept, and what you will work together to change.  You will truly know if this is a person you can spend your life with, and have real joy.  Men are that they may have joy.  Marriage brings joy, but you have to marry the right person.

I don't believe that there is only 1 person in this world meant for you.  I just don't believe that to be true.  People will probably argue with me about that because when I talk about Dave, I talk about him as the "love of my life".  Well, he truly is the love of my life.  That doesn't mean that I couldn't have found another person who I would've loved just as much, just in a slightly different way.  I very easily could've married someone else and been just as happy, it just would've been different.  We all have many people on this earth that we can marry and have an amazing life with, but we need to find them, and we need to give it TIME to make sure we have truly found one of them.

Commercials on TV, people on FB, and radio stations, constantly mock the sanctity of marriage.  They constantly say how miserable marriage is, and how easy single life was, yet for some reason they stay married.  Why is that?  There is a beauty, and peace, that comes with being married.  There is a trust that is above anything anyone has ever experienced.  You are sharing your life with someone. Your most embarrassing moments, your hardest trials, your darkest secrets, everything.  You are asking them to trust you, and allow you to trust them with the most sacred things in your life. No one can understand that until you have that in your life.  That trust and loyalty is above everything else in this world.  It is the closest relationship you will ever have next to your relationship with the Lord.  So let them make jokes, and mock marriage, but there is a reason that people get and stay married, and it's because it is sacred.

Marriage can bring so much joy.  When I was younger in my early 20's and not a member of the church, I truly believed that would never get married.  I dated men, and had relationships with them.  I played "house" if you will.  I wanted the relationship, without the demands of marriage.  I always pictured marriage to be this horrible thing because of the jokes I had heard my entire life.  Part of me knew it wasn't true because my parents had the most amazing marriage on the planet, but I thought they were an exception.  I didn't really believe that marriages like theirs happened anymore.  So I just chose to live the single life, but have the joys of having a boyfriend too.  It was a  fun, non-committed relationship.

I was dating this guy that I had dated on and off for about 4 years when I met Dave.  Even as Dave was walking through the parking lot and I watched him walk towards the gym, I knew something was different.  I knew I wanted to know this guy.  Then he walked in, and walked up to me and said "hello", well, the rest is history.  I stopped dating the other guy, got serious with Dave, dated for over a year, got engaged, and 2 months later got married.  It's been the greatest decision I've ever made, and I have the true "Joy" that Proverbs talks about.

Now please don't think I'm saying that people who date for 2 months and get married aren't as happy.  If you have found one of the loves of your life, and your marriage works, that's all that matters.  The point of this post is to let people know that marriage brings immense joy.  Those men and women that don't find one of their "true loves" in this lifetime; I know they will have that joy in the life to come.  

I have a dear friend in the her late 30's who is beautiful, intelligent, hardworking, funny, kind, loving, and wants nothing more than to share her life with someone else.  I don't personally know that pain that she feels from being single, but I know the pain that I feel for her.  My heart breaks for the pain she goes through, and the ache that is in her soul.  She longs for someone to share her life with.  She is faithful to her Father in Heaven, she lives his teachings and principles, and I know without any doubt that one day she will have the joy that comes from marriage.  It may not be in this life, but because of her faithfulness and diligence, I know she will have that eternal joy either in this life, or the hereafter.  She will be blessed, and her pain that only Christ feels, will be taken away and turned into joy.

Don't take your marriage for granted.  If things are hard, or communication is difficult, take the steps you need to take to find that joy that God wants for each of us.  Marriage is hard work, but it's work that's worth it.  If you will put everything you have and more into making your marriage happy, successful, and joyful, you will have it.  It takes 2 whole people and God to make a marriage work.  You must learn to trust, you must learn to be loyal, and you must learn to be selfless, and through these things you will have the most immense joy you have ever felt.  You will have the most amazing marriage you have ever dreamed about.  Life is truly joyful and happy when you have a loving committed relationship, in the bounds of marriage.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Bishop's Eyes

I had a very tender moment yesterday.  I have done a lot of bad things in my life.  I have made a lot of wrong decisions.  I have hurt a lot of people, and led a lot of people away from the truth.  I have used a lot of bad language, went to a lot of parties I shouldn't have been at, and hung out with people I should have never gone with, but I came back.  No matter what I've done in my life, what I'm doing right now is the most important.

Yesterday as I sat in my Bishop's office we were chatting and in the middle of a conversation as we were talking about the 12 years I was inactive, he looked in my eyes and the spirit filled my soul. He said, "Jill, you can't imagine the joy that your parents have now that you are back in the church. You have blessed their lives more than you will ever understand because of who you are now." 

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I held it together.  What was the most amazing to me, was the spirit I felt within my soul.  It confirmed to me that what he was saying was true.  It made me happy and meant the world to me, especially because my parents have gone through a difficult time the last few years.  So to know that they way I live my life now brings them "Joy" means the world to me.  For me to know that they love me and respect the way I live is so important to me.

Every child wants to please their parents.  Every child wants the approval of their parents.  For a long time I tried to say that I "didn't care" or that it "didn't matter" to me, but I was lying.  Now it probably shouldn't matter what your parents think of you, because all that really matters is what God thinks of you, but everyone cares what their parents think.  So to know that my parents found peace and joy with the woman I have become brought me such happiness and joy.  In their times of trial, and hardships, at least I know I brought them a little happiness because of the life I am living.

I'm thankful for the way my Bishop follows promptings to say things to me.  He probably didn't think anything of what he said to me, but he has no idea what it meant to me.  I'm so thankful that he lives his life by the spirit because I was blessed because of it.  I hope I can live my life by the spirit always, so I can bless someone in this life, just as I have been blessed.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Looking Back

As I sat in the Bishop's office today with my husband, I was touched by the spirit.  We were just chatting about this and that (Our Bishop is kind of like my Dad.) when something got brought up (no I don't remember exactly what) about when I wasn't living as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  The reason it touched me, is because it brought me such happiness to look back and see where I came from and what I have become.

Living life back in the day was hard.  I didn't think it was while I was living it, I just thought it was normal to have so much drama in my life.  I can't believe the difference from then to now.  Back then something was always happening, life was always falling apart, something was always the matter, and when you dealt with it the best you knew how, something else would take it's place.  It was exhausting.  Living life without the guidance of the spirit is draining mentally, and emotionally.  Like I said though, I didn't realize it then.

As I wake up everyday next to my sweet husband, I wake up with peace and so much love in my heart.  I have so much comfort in my life, even when things are hard.  Even when there is a struggle, it's not as big because I have the spirit to come to me and calm my thoughts, and bring clarity to my mind.  

I don't have drama in my life anymore.  Dave and I have the most amazing relationship, and the reason why is because both of us have chosen to live our life by the spirit.  We decided the day we got married that our choices would be based on what Heavenly Father wanted, and not what we wanted.  Because we made those decisions, we have had a beautiful, drama free, life.  

Has our life been easy?  Of course NOT! I mean, a month after we were married I almost died.  Then the entire first year of our marriage I lived in a Hospital bed.  Even with all of these trials, figuring out how to pay the medical bills, along with all of our other bills.  Dave still having to go to school for 8 hours a day and then spend the night on the couch at the hospital.  We still had stress, but we were comforted and knew it would be okay because we listened to the spirit. We allowed the spirit to enter our lives and show us the way.  

Life was anything but easy, but it was beautiful.  There was and still is so much love and happiness in our lives.  Dave and I both say that the 1st year of our marriage was the best.  We grew to love each other more than we ever thought possible because I was almost taken from him.  You find out quick out important someone is when they almost die.  You realize what's important and what's not, and you have a love develop that is unlike any other. It's unbreakable.

Because Dave and I have chosen (and yes it's a choice) to allow the spirit to guide basically every part of our lives, we have been so blessed, and have so much joy.  I can't believe I used to live any other way than this.  I made life so much more difficult than it ever needed to be.

Before the spirit, life was hard.  Life was tough.  It was so hard, and I didn't even have any major traumatic events happening.  It was hard just because I was making choices that didn't coincide with what my Heavenly Father wanted.  Yet all I needed to do was ask for him to come to me.  All I needed to do was put down my pride, say I was wrong, and beg him to save me.  I just wish I would have done it sooner.

Life is beautiful with the spirit.  Life is fun, and enjoyable, and easy.  I know what my Heavenly Father wants of me, and when I do it, he blesses me more than I could ever imagine.  He loves me so unconditionally, and wants so badly to bless me.  All I have to do is listen.  The same goes for each of you.

I promise you that if you will get on your knees and ask your Father to start guiding your life, your life will change.  It will become easier, clearer, and joyful.  All you have to do is ask.  He stands and knocks at the door.  All we have to do is let him in.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Daily Battles and the Savior

Some of you know the health struggles that I have because you either know me, or you follow my other blogs. You don't need to know the details of what my health problems are for this post though. It just gives a bit of a background for what I'm about to share.

I live with physical pain on a daily basis due to some complications to surgeries from my past.  I also deal with a mental illness which causes mental and emotional pain.  Each of us deal with pain on a daily basis.  For some it is physical, for others it's emotional, and for some it's even spiritual. Pain is a subject I'm very familiar with. I have experienced all sorts of pain in my life from many different ailments or events in my life. You could say I've "gotten used to" living with pain (as much as you can really get used to it).

Living with pain daily from the time I was a little girl until now, has given me a unique perspective. I remember as a child feeling different, and "weird" because of the pain I felt. I remember being made fun of because of it.  I remember acting out while learning to deal with it.  The differences of being a child and an adult are huge, and I'm grateful for the lessons I have learned in my very young wisdom.

This pain I live with every day has given me a keen understanding, and love, for my Savior.  The pain I have daily hasn't made me bitter or angry, it has made me grateful and appreciative.  It has made me so thankful for the days when I'm not sick, or weak.  It has made me appreciate the fullness of life when I am able to live it.  It makes me grateful for having the energy to go to the grocery store on days when I can.  It has made me realize that it's okay to cancel appointments, to say "No" to someone, and be patient with myself.  It has made me "slow down" in this rat race of life, and enjoy the little moments. But most importantly it has made me thankful for my Savior.  

My Savior knows and understands, in detail; every single "pain" I suffer from on a daily basis.  He is the one I can turn to for comfort from every physical, mental, and emotional, pain I feel.  He never judges, never gets annoyed, never gets irritated or sick of hearing from me, and he is always empathetic.  He is my shoulder to lean on, my hand to help me up, and he's there to wipe away my tears.  When I get on my knees to ask for his help, I know he will answer.  

I have learned to stop asking for my pain to be taken away.  I know that it is one of my trials here on earth to live with and suffer from these mental, physical, and emotional, pains, because it helps me better understand and love other people.  It makes me more empathetic and open to understand the needs of others, and be their support; like the Savior has been mine.  It gives me an opportunity to share with them the message that even though my pain isn't taken away, I have found comfort in Jesus Christ, and so can they.

I have learned to ask for understanding.  I have learned to ask for patience.  I have learned to ask for the will to live everyday with these issues.  And because he grants these blessings to me, I'm able to get on my knees and thank him when he makes a day a little easier for me.  I know that when I have a day where I actually feel "good" that it's not just by chance.  It's the love of my Father in Heaven, and Savior, Jesus Christ, who are making me feel "good" that day.   

They love me enough to trust me to carry these burdens to help others, and they love me enough to send me good days, and comfort when I feel like I am going to drop.  The days when I feel like I just can't go on are the hardest, and those are the days that they are with me the most.  Those are the days when they are standing in my room watching over me as I lay in my bed with tears streaming down my face.  In my darkest hours are the times when I feel them the closest.  They will not leave me comfortless, they will ALWAYS come to me.

I'm grateful for my suffering, just as the Savior was grateful.  It doesn't mean I have to like it, because I know Christ didn't like it. (And in no way am I comparing myself to Christ) He even asked God to take it away from him, but God didn't.  Just like I know this won't be taken from me.  This is something I will live with my entire life, and that's okay.  It's okay that I hurt everyday, because it means on the days that are good, I will have opportunities to touch others, and that's the most important.

He'll Carry You by Hilary Weeks 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not Surprised

Surprise, Surprise, I'm not pregnant.  Nor for that matter will I ever be.  I'm some running cosmic joke upstairs, I believe.  I think they all get a good laugh when they see me flinch at the site of a homeless mother holding her 3 year old daughter's hand in one hand, and a cardboard sign and cigarette in the other.  I think they're throwing out bets as to if I will grab her and run away with her, raise her as my own, as if it was always meant to be.  I'm not really sure about any of this, but this is how I feel.

No, to be perfectly frank about how I feel, I'd rather have a medical student in his 1st year of medical school, lay me down on a cold, hard, bed, while I'm wide awake, strap me to it, and grab a cold scalpel.  Then slowly cut my heart out of my chest.  Then just for kicks he holds it in his hands until it stops beating so it's not even good for a donor, and I lay there dead.  Dying in such agony and pain that no one can even comprehend.  That's how I feel right now.

I'm sick to death of pregnancy announcements.  I'm sick of Birthday parties, baby showers, and stupid pregnant bellies everywhere I seem to go.  They taunt me like a piece of candy to a child.  I never want to leave my room again.  Yet somehow my sweetheart always walks in at that perfect moment.  He pulls my hair away from my face to reveal the tears streaming down my face as I silently sob.  He doesn't even have to ask.  He already knows my pain.  He pulls me into his arms, kisses my head, and whispers that it will all be okay.

I want to believe my husband.  I want to hold onto that hope.  I want to have faith in the blessings he has given me where he has seen my children.  I want to have faith in the power of not just the priesthood, but in my father in heaven.  But right now, right this second, as tears fall from my eyes and roll down my cheeks; right now my faith is dwindling.  My heart is breaking and I feel utterly alone.  I feel as though no one in this world understands my pain.

How can God do this to me??!  I'm doing everything he asks of me!  I follow his teachings.  I love my neighbors, and I serve them.  I'm a good and righteous daughter of God.  He's supposed to love me!!  So I ask the dreaded question that never gets answered and just hangs in the air, "Why me God?"  "Why me?!"  Why won't you give me the only thing in this world that I want?!  What have I done that is so bad that I don't deserve to be a mother?! 

And then it comes just like it always does.  Through my tears and pain come the overwhelming feeling of love.  And then the thought appears so clearly that I know it's him speaking directly to me, "I've got this under control my sweet Jill.  Leave this one to me my sweet daughter.  Allow this one, just this once to be on my time.  Have faith that I'll come through."

As my tears subside, I look into my husbands eyes, and he kisses me.  I feel the purest, deepest, and truest love that I have always felt from him, and I know one day it will all be okay.  Someday, somehow, I will be a mother one day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Alma 12:7

As I sat in church today, I was on my tablet reading the scriptures. (How insane is that? Can you imagine having a tablet in 1999?! Anyway..) I came across Alma 12:7. It talks about how God knows our hearts and our intent.  He is all powerful, and he is the only one that can judge us.

At the beginning of the chapter it talks about how God knows the pure and true intent of our heart, which is why he is the only one that can judge us.  We can claim so many things to so many people.  We can pretend to be someone we're not, but that doesn't matter to God.  He knows who we really are.

The reason he is the only one that can judge us is because he doesn't judge us by our words or things we say.  He knows what is in our soul.  He looks into our hearts and determines what the truth is.  What we as individuals truly are.  He looks into our desires, our hopes, to the things that we hold most dear and determines our future on that.  He judges us more purely than any other living being on this earth.  He is the only one that has the right to truly judge us.

I find such peace knowing that this is the true order and that I don't need to judge anyone because God has it covered.  Some one's future is not up to you or me.  It is not up to us to decide if someone is good or bad.  God will handle that.  All he asks of us is to love one another as we love him.  To put the golden rule into action in our lives.  That is all we are required to do.  

It's nice to know that all I have to do in this world is treat others the way I would want to be treated.  I don't have to sweat the small stuff.  God has made our role here on earth pretty easy.  We are to love as he did.  Love God, and love each other.  That's it.

Can you imagine how amazing this world would be if we each lived the way God asked?  No one would feel judged, or criticized.  No one would be so offended that they stop going to church.  We would look at each person with the love and respect they deserve.  What a beautiful world that would be.

Allow God to do the judging.  Let God determine what is in people's hearts and minds.  Love one another, worry about yourself, and that's all we need to do.  God will make up for the rest.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Strasburg Mission Statement

The last couple of days I've heard a lot about mission statements. I'm not sure why, because I would think they would be big at the beginning of the year. Either way, I've taken it as a hint that Dave and I should have one for our family. 

As I've read tons of mission statements on pinterest, different blogs, companies, etc. I've started to understand a little about what the point of a mission statement is. I'm learning that some people make a new one every year, and some make one and stick with it for the duration. I'm not sure which one I will be, but for right now in my life I like the one that Dave and I have come up with. (Is the suspense killing you yet?)

I've always been fascinated how people talk about Christ and God, in association with their life. Some people do it to convince others that they are God fearing people who believe in Christ, and I believe some people do it to convince themselves. It doesn't bother me either way its just always been something I've noticed, and for myself I've tried not to do it. That being said, if someone asks me if I'm a Christian, I of course will use the opportunity to share a bit of my beliefs with them. For me though, I hope people would know by my example that I believe in Christ and try to live by his example. 

Whenever I have come in contact with another Christian I try to pay attention to the feeling they give me. By their spirit that they have within themselves, and by the little bit that they share with me, I try to feel their soul. When people don't bring up God in a conversation, I always find myself paying more attention to who they are and the person they are trying to show me. For the most part I can tell if someone follows Christ whether a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, or a catholic, etc. People who live Christ centered lives tend to have a light about them that is very visible to me. I don't know if that goes for everyone, but I can feel if someone lives the way Christ has taught.

All of this brings me to Dave and my mission statement...... Are you ready?! ;)
 "Live your life in such a way that when people meet you they know Christ lives without ever needing to say his name."

I hope with all my heart that people who meet me for the first time can feel the love I have for my Savior, and know what a big part of my life he is. I hope that they can see a light about me and a brightness in my eyes because of the way I try to live according to his teachings. I hope they can feel my love for not only my Savior, but for them; as my brother or sister in heaven. I love people, and I hope that they can feel that genuine love I have for them. That they know that I genuinely care about them, and really do want to know about their lives.

I'm so thankful for those of you who never gave up on me when I wasn't living a Christ centered life, but continued to share your beautiful spirits with me. Thank you to those of you who never judged me, but continually loved me and wanted what was best for me without preaching to me, because you knew that wasn't what I needed. Your example of unfailing, unconditional, Christlike love for me was enough. It's because of you that I came back to the church, stay in the church, and love my Savior like I do. It's because of you that I knew the atonement was real, and would work for me. I hope and pray that I can be the example to other's that all of you were to me.