Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

On this Easter Sabbath Day, I'd like to encourage you to learn more about your relationship with your Savior. Ask questions that you have, and find the answers. Discover what He did for you when He suffered in the Garden, on the cross, and was raised from the dead three days later.

I promise that as you seek Him, and seek to understand your relationship to Him, you will be blessed with light and power. You will be blessed with strength.

He loves you. Don't forget that.

Happy Easter!

Watch this video if you haven't yet :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Step 5 and Isolation

Key Principle: Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.

In this step, it says many who have suffered from addiction share the feeling of isolation. When I read that, I read it in application to me. Many who have suffered from a loved one with an addiction feel sense of isolation. Don't you think so?

I think we have all felt isolated at some point or another. There have been many times where I am in a situation where I don't fit it. For example, when I overhear people talking about pornography addictions, or when I see people post things on Facebook about the evils of pornography, I'm sensitive to it. Often, those people frame the pornography users in a very negative light. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that it's not a bad thing, but I think it's greatly misunderstood by many people. I bet if you knew my husband and learned he is addicted to pornography, you would be surprised. I was. I was shocked. Because I literally thought he was perfect (or as much as one could be). When we got married, one of my friends said, "Have fun being married to a general authority." My husband really is a great guy, and it pains me to know what he is going through, and then see/hear people talk about addicts like they are trashy creeps. They aren't trash or creeps, at least not all of them.

I also feel isolation in every relationship: with friends and family. I can't completely open up to my best friends. I can't completely open up to my sisters, or my brothers, or my mom or dad. I can't completely open up to my visiting teachers. I can't tell anyone who would be a good shoulder to cry on. Because of that, I have felt isolated many times in my life. I have also realized because of this trial that people have trials that they can't talk about, and then I feel isolated even more from family and friends and their trials that I wish I could help with.

 "Even in a crowd or while engaged in activities where others might feel a sense of connectedness, we felt like we didn't fit in. As we came to recovery meetings, we began to emerge from the emotional isolation. . . At first, many of us just sat and listened, but eventually we felt safe enough to speak and share" (emphasis added).

I have definitely felt that in my life. As I have gone through the program and recovery meetings, I have emerged from emotional isolation. It wasn't until Step 5 that I could "throw off the shackles from (my) isolating secrets and gain some perspective" on myself, my relationship with my husband, and my relationship with God.

My "confession" allowed me to look deep inside myself and become better. The inventory in step 4 was really what let me look at myself, but step 5 was the true action of coming unto Christ. The confession bring humility and closeness to the Spirit. It allowed me to turn myself over to the care of God, and through Him, I have been lighter. I no longer feel isolated because I know I always have Him. I feel clean. I feel worthy of my relationship with Him. I feel the desire to keep being better. And this feeling, this closeness with God is what I know to be a huge factor in my relationship with my husband.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Find Him

Recently, I have been going through some life changes that have made me have to rely on The Lord much more. Last week, I hit a low-point, which I wrote about. In the blessing I received, The Lord blessed me with a lot. What I want to talk about today is the peace, love, joy, and strength I have experienced through God and Christ.

With everything happening in my life, I have wondered a lot about whether or not I am following God's will and if He approves of what I am doing. Am I on the right path? Am I following my Savior? Am I doing what He wants me to do? Last week, yes, I was depressed. My blessing gave me direct comfort and guidance for my life. I had been starting to question some revelation I received about steps to take in my life, but God told me I am doing what He wants me to do. And He told me He knows and understands my pain and my trials. And He is blessing me with these things because He is helping shape me to the woman He wants me to become.

That has given me strength.

This week, as I have hit tough spots, I have been able to rely on direction, personal revelation that I can't deny. I have found myself expressing more gratitude to God, especially for the hard things because of the strength He has given me to get through it (when I know I could not do it on my own). I have felt more joy. I have recognized infinite amounts of tender mercies. I have yearned more to pray and to feel the Spirit. And so. much. more.

This week has been happy. I love God. I love what He has given me, and I love that He knows me so well. He knows exactly what to give me, even if I don't want it. I love the gospel. I love the good news. I love that Easter is coming up. I love the family history work I have been doing, and I am grateful for the spirit I have felt this week as I have prepared for my temple trip on Saturday.

I just wanted to share with you this joy I have felt all week. I know it has come from trying to do the Lord's will and dedicating myself to His purposes. And that has helped me love more, and feel more love. I am so unbelievably grateful for everything that God has given me, and I know He is doing the same for all of you. If you can't see it, find it. It's there. He loves you. He loves us all. If you think He doesn't or isn't there for you, find Him. He is there.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Extra goodies today

By the way, if you haven't read your patriarchal blessing in a while, do it :) It will help you see God's love for you, your potential, and receive revelation you need for your life right now. If you don't have one, do what you need to do to receive one.

Also, my sweet husband introduced me to this song today. It has a beautiful message. He said it was one he used to listen to all the time to help him in really low points. And, I'd have to agree. It is one that would help me too. As we listened to it today, it opened my heart and I felt healing taking place. It brought me peace and comfort, and I could literally feel my heart opening up to Him.

Another one is He'll Carry You by Hilary Weeks. That is my go-to song when I am really down. You could also look up Beautiful Heartbreak and Dancing in the Rain by her too. Those two also help me when I am down.

Step 5: Confession (Part 1)

We are finally starting step 5. I hope those of you who beat me to it started already because, like it says in step 4, if you let the inventory sit with you without moving on to step 5, it's like acknowledging a wound without taking care of it. Hopefully the break I put between 4 and 5 allowed some of you to catch up a little more though. I definitely didn't intend for that to become acknowledging a wound and not giving it proper care.

I LOVE steps 4 and 5. They are so cleansing. I know it can seem weird to be going through this when you might be thinking, "Why me? So-and-so is the one who needs repentance and forgiveness. That person is the one who needs to confess and forsake." I know. I had those thoughts myself. But, like I mentioned at the end of my last post, this program is helping us turn to Christ. We, as those who have been hurt by our loved one's addiction(s), need Christ so much. We need to experience the power of the Atonement. Although we may think we need to experience the part of the Atonement that allows us to forgive, we need to experience the Atonement in its entirety. We need to turn to Christ. We need to become more Christlike ourselves (which will help us forgive and heal), and to do that, we need to confess and forsake our sins too--whatever they may be. I don't know if I can emphasize that enough.

As I have come closer to Christ, I have realized that I have a lot more perfecting to be done than I thought. I used to blame everything on my husband and hold his addiction against him. I rationalized things in my head because I thought I was better than him. I've learned that I'm not better than him. I'm just different from him. And we have been able to use our differences to strengthen each other.

As I have drawn closer to Christ, I have drawn closer to my husband. A reader of this blog told me that my husband and I seem to have a great relationship despite all the problems we have had (and still have). I take that as a beautiful compliment :) It hasn't always been that way. In fact, as you probably gathered from my beginning posts, there were many times when I wondered why I was stuck with him (sorry, sweetheart...he reads this blog. but he already knew that anyway. I just hate saying it again). I even tossed around the thought that we don't have kids yet, so really, we aren't quite that tied down. A divorce would be messy, but without kids, it would be less messy. . .

Of course, that isn't the answer--at least, not for me. I made covenants. And I felt the Spirit testify to me that he is the man for me to marry (and to stick with), and God knew what I was in for. God knew of his addictions, and He still wanted me to marry him. So, once I started remembering my covenants and my revelations, and when I started searching for the purpose and seeking to understand the Lord's plan for me, then I was able to choose to draw closer to Christ.

In drawing closer to Christ, and to achieve one's full healing potential, we need steps 4 and 5, and that is why I love them.

Step 5 is confession. The key principle for this step is, "Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs."

That really could mean a lot of things. I had a lot to confess. Of course, not all of it was really serious (like an addiction), but I have come to realize the true meaning of no unclean thing being able to dwell in God's presence. A sin is a sin. It doesn't matter if my sin isn't "as bad" as my husband's. What matters is my divine nature, my divine potential, and my sins. If I sin, I need to repent. Simple as that. Really, you can be as extreme about that as you think you should be. I didn't go to my bishop confessing all the times I have been mad or said something rude to someone. But, in our meetings (we used to meet with our bishop weekly. he is a fantastic man of God) I was able to discuss with him the things I was learning and expand my knowledge of gospel learning. I did confess to him my pride, and he helped me understand some things about pride and humility. I "confessed" a lot of things to my husband, but mostly, my confession was between the Lord and myself. After I was finished with step 5, I felt similar to the way I would imagine feeling if I was baptized again. I felt like I had a clean slate and was ready to move on with my life. I felt ready to become a new and better person (which ties perfectly into step 6, which is change of heart. Don't you just love the way the steps work?).

I guess you have to ask yourself what you really want. If you really want healing, if you really want to turn to Christ, if you really want to be on the path to turning your will over to God and living as He would have you do, then you need to take the necessary steps to get there. No matter how intimidating they may seem. If you are scared to move onto this confession step, I'd encourage you to pray to God for strength. Pray to know of His love. Pray to know if this step is one that He wants you to take. And if it is, pray to have the courage to follow through with this.

Turning your life and will over to the care of your Father and Jesus Christ is wonderful. This weekend I have done a lot of soul searching, and I have come to find that they are truly there. I mean, I have known that: I have received many witnesses of that during my life. But, like I talked about in my recent posts, I have been going through a hard time. During this time, I have really turned to the Lord more, and I have found Him right there. Sometimes, Satan tries to block Him from us. But He is always there with arms outstretched, waiting for us to see Him. I am doing some things that are really hard, and I am facing challenging trials, but I know that Heavenly Father wants this for me. And, like I said in my last post, I know that I am on the right path, and my trials don't mean God loves me any less. In fact, my trials show me that He loves me all the more. I truly believe that the harder my trials, the more God trusts me (well, trials of the sort that I am facing right now. There are trials that come simply because of poor choices on my part, but right now, my trials are being given to me by God for the most part). God trusts me to make the most of my trials, and He trusts me to become the person He knows I can become through these trials. I am learning how to truly turn to Him for everything in my life and live according to His will. And I am excited for my journey with you through the rest of the steps :)

More on step 5 in the next post!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding Peace and Strength

I know I said I would start Step 5 today, but I had an experience that made me change my mind. Sorry. I'll start Step 5 tomorrow or Sunday. The reason I have taken a break between four and five anyway is because I bet that most of you, if you are working the steps, aren't even to four or past four yet. I've been writing about them faster than most people actually work through them.

I've had a lot of problems lately. Emotional problems. I can't go into too much detail on here, but I have been torn in many directions. I have a lot that I worry about: my job, my calling(s), family, and relationships (with God, Husband, family, friends, and self). I also stress out very easily. I worry a lot. I let things get to me. Even when I try to be at peace, I'm never fully at peace because I try to do too much. Too much? I think it's too much sometimes, but really, take it from me because I have experienced it and really tried hard to let go of some of this stuff, I can't let go of it. None of the stuff I worry about are things I can just let drop out of my life. I mean, I guess I could drop visiting teaching (just kidding. but seriously. . .), but I am so passionate about visiting teaching. I'm not even a great visiting teacher. I stress about it a lot, and half the time I don't do anything about it because I feel like I physically can't.

Long story short, I have had a lot of problems managing and balancing all the different parts of my life that seem to be falling apart around me. I have been depressed. I can't even describe it because I don't want to even think about the way I have been feeling lately.

I went to group last night. For the first time in five or six weeks. I had been looking forward to group all week, then when the time came to go, I didn't want to. I was so depressed and feeling so low that I didn't want to do anything. So, my loving husband told me we should go, and we went. It was exactly what I needed. Being there last night, feeling the Spirit, feeling God's love for me, was exactly what I needed. I needed to hear the testimony of others, too. I was reminded of how important the 12-step program is to me and why I used to go every single week and make everything else work around my group schedule just so I could attend. Since I started my new job, I haven't had time to go. I know that I won't be able to go every week, but going last night proved to be a gentle reminder that I should try to go more than I do right now.

My husband has been having a lot of relapses lately. I haven't really thought about it or written about it much because honestly it doesn't bother me a lot. And when it does get to me, I sometimes feel like I shouldn't be letting it bother me because I know that he will overcome it, and I know this is a process and a journey, and I know that we can both be healed through Christ. But you know what? It's okay to be sad. It's okay to feel like you have been let down. That doesn't make you a bad person. It's also okay to question God. He hears you. He knows you are hurting, and if you do question Him, look for His answer. Because He is showing you that He is there, that He cares, and that He does have his hand in this.

So the relapses have been getting to me, and I feel bad that I haven't been more there for my husband. He has been there for me so much the past few weeks helping me in so many ways to maintain my focus, resolve, and what little balance I have with everything. And then when he tells me about his lapses (well, he doesn't always have the best timing, but he is a guy), I don't know what to say. I tell him I love him, and that I support him. We pray together sometimes. I let him tell me everything he feels like he needs to say. I let him cry (yes, men, it's okay to cry), but then sometimes in my head, I'm like "f;aeilc;l kmaw;leickl I CAN'T DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW!!"

Last night, my husband told me he realized that he doesn't fully want to be rid of his addiction. That's something I have been wondering lately, actually, so I was really glad he told me. I mean, it has to be so hard to say goodbye to the thing you have turned to in times of emotional need for the past 13ish years. It's become kind of like a best friend (minus the regret and pain that comes from the addiction). I'm actually proud of him for realizing that because now he knows what to pray for a little better. Now he has more direction on what he needs help with, and I think he can lean on Christ a little better.

So, amidst all this chaos that has been running my life, I have been studying my scriptures, talks, and the like. I have been trying to feel peace, but sometimes no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to find it. I pray. I do the things I'm supposed to do to feel peace, but can't find it. Then I get frustrated and cry. But peace is truly all around me. Sometimes I just have blinders on.

Today, I hit a pretty hard rock. Overall it was a good day until about 5 this afternoon, and then something happened that triggered some severe depression. I then was caught in my thoughts of despair and feeling so low that no one should love me when I just screamed in my head, "I can't do this! I can't do this! I need it taken away!" and just like that, I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying ask for a priesthood blessing. So I fell on the floor, crying, and asked my husband to give me a blessing. Immediately, I felt lighter--just in the simple act of turning to God and saying I can't do this and asking for His power to be bestowed upon me. While I waited for him to change his clothes to give me a blessing, I was reminded of Step 1 (Honesty). "Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable." That's exactly how I have felt.

I received the most amazing priesthood blessing, and it brought me so much peace and comfort. I no longer feel any trace of the despair and hopelessness I have been feeling. I was gently reminded of many things, some of which I feel like I should share because I believe everyone needs these reminders:

- remember your divine nature
- remember you have a loving Father in Heaven who loves you unconditionally (and also for me, my husband)
- I (you) will continue to face trials because I (you) am a choice child of God, and these trials will help me become stronger and grow to reach my (your) divine potential
- He blessed me to have gratitude and turn to gratitude and the Lord in times of need instead of stress
- He has felt my (your) pain. He completely understands my (your) pain. And I (you) am not alone.

Like I said above, it's okay to be sad, and it's okay to question God. You know how I know that He has heard me? Because through this blessing, He addressed many of my needs and questions, even things I hadn't voiced to my husband. But He still answered them. And He reminded me, firmly, that He is there and that there is a purpose in all of this. It truly was a beautiful blessing, and it gave me much needed strength and peace. 

Also, last night at group, we were talking about the new guidebook that is supposed to be coming out soon for family members or those who have loved ones who suffer from addiction (did that make sense? basically for you and me instead of the "addict"). I have never had a problem with this guidebook that we use now. In fact, I have had amazing experiences with it. But I guess some people struggle with the wording because it says addict and addiction, when those words don't really apply to you. This is what I felt prompted to say: this program, this guidebook, is to help us come closer to Christ, no matter who we are. The words addict and addiction may not apply specifically to you, but they represent other things that you may struggle with. For me, the point is that this helps us draw closer to Christ. And for me, as I draw closer to Christ, I am healed. It is through Christ that I am able to forgive, love, and be healed (and all the other stuff I am trying to be). I'm not perfect. I still struggle with things. Even though I have a lot stronger foundation and healing than I did two years about when I learned of my husband's addiction, I still have growing to do. And Satan still attacks me. But as I come closer to Christ, I am able to cope with my experiences better, be a better companion and "help-meet" to my husband, and ultimately, draw closer to and become like God and Christ.

So, I don't really have a great way to tie all of this together, other than saying this: I know that God lives. I know that Christ is my Savior. I know that life is hard, but it was meant to be hard. And, the harder it is, I think that means the more God trusts you  (maybe not, but that's what I think). I know that I can get through this. I know my husband can get through this. I still know he is the one for me! I know the Spirit is real and speaks to us today, and I know that we are loved by Heavenly Father. And I know that we can do all things through Jesus Christ. I am beyond grateful for this knowledge. And I am beyond grateful for the experiences I have had on this earth that have helped shape me and give me strength. I am so grateful for the peace I feel tonight. And I feel like I need to close this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Learning Through Study and Prayer

It's been a few days...

My husband and I took a little trip (to escape some of the pressures of real life...), and I wasn't able to write! But, alas, we are back to the real world. The good news is, it's blog time!

I have been thinking about a lot of things I wanted to write this week, but I'll just share some simple things I learned through study and prayer this week.

Some of you already know that I have a lot on my plate right now. What you may not know is that I have been struggling with depression lately. It comes and goes. Sometimes, I feel like my life is this big black hole and I don't know how to carry on to the next day. So we took this little vacation from life, only to come back to my life full of stress and me to feel like I don't really know what to do. About anything. I'm really grateful that I went out with the sister missionaries last weekend because in many prayers we said together, they asked special blessings on me in their gratitude for me to serve them. So... just waiting on those special blessings :) It really gives me hope because I know that God won't not answer the prayers of those sisters (double negative, I know. My husband would not be thrilled with my use of a double negative, but it was the only way I could think to express that).

I have been really searching for ways to come unto Christ and feel the Spirit in my life this week. And I have been searching for answers to many questions about my life. The bulk of my gospel study has been from last General Conference: "Of Regrets and Resolutions," "Where is the Pavilion," and "One Step Closer to the Savior." I was reminded of many very crucial things, and I asked myself some very good questions to help me be on the right path. Here is a list of stuff I thought about and learned this week. Hopefully it will help some of you who are trying to figure out your life, gain some perspective, or figure out what is going on or something.

      -What would Christ do in my situation? How would He handle what I am facing?
      -I need to live up to my potential. I can become the person God intended for me to be by doing certain things. If I can become that person, that is where I will have the most potential for happiness
      -Heavenly Father knows things about me that I don't know about myself. I NEED TO FOLLOW HIS PROMPTINGS!! (yes, that is how I wrote it in my journal)
      -I need to let myself be happier. How? I'm not really sure. That's what I'm trying to figure out. I can definitely try harder not to get caught up in illusions of things that are just beyond my reach. I determine my happiness right now.
      *I can pray to enjoy the moment.
      -I can make trials sweet experiences.
      -Life isn't easy.
      -Where is my focus? Is it on God, or am I focusing too much on my desires? Am I really doing what He wants me to do, or am I fooling myself into thinking I am following His plan to rationalize my plan?
      -Am I saying, "Thy will be done"? or am I saying, "Fine, thy will be done, but this better be easy"?
      -Am I willing to listen and submit to His name?
      -Life isn't supposed to be easy. Think of all the early Saints who did God's will and literally lost family members. Some families disowned those who joined the church. That even still happens. Some people lost loved ones who died while crossing the plains. They suffered even more than just that. God asked so much of them, and they did it faithfully. Why would He not ask a lot of me too?
      -Conversion is a lifelong quest to become like the Savior.

Okay, now for what I have learned through prayer. I feel very strongly that I should share these experiences, which are very sacred to me. I have had some really heartfelt communication with God this week, which is a testimony to me that He really is there watching me. And He is waiting for me to come unto Him.

Today, as I prayed and told God all about the mess that my life is right now, I felt a very serene, peaceful feeling. I felt God wrap His arms around me and hug me. It was the most beautiful feeling I have experienced in a while. I have been trying to tell my husband and my mom the things going on in my life (minus the addiction stuff to my mom because she doesn't know), and whenever I talk to anyone about how hard I feel like things are, I just feel like no one understands. And it's okay that no one understands because it's my trial. They haven't experienced what I am experiencing, and they just don't get why my head is always clouded and dark right now. But today, as I prayed, I felt light. I felt God surround me. And I felt the reminder that He understands. And His son understands. Christ knows exactly what I am going through because He felt it. And yes, I am on the right path right now, and yes, they are giving me strength. I received answers to many of my questions and even answers to questions that I wasn't really sure how to ask. I just felt so much validation. I felt like it is okay to feel the way I feel, and the understanding that God has for me and what I am going through was so beautiful. I'm so glad we have the power of prayer, and I am so grateful for the times when I really open up to God and experience His understanding. I always say I need to pray more heartfelt prayers like that, and this is why. I probably would have more patience with my trials knowing that there is someone out there who always understands me and can give me strength to keep on going.

I bear testimony to you, wherever you are, that God sees you. He is always near. He hears and answers prayers. He loves you. He loves each of us with a love that we can't even comprehend. Sometimes we may not receive the answers to our prayers in the time we want to receive them. It's not because He is ignoring us; it's because He wants us to learn something or we are on the verge of figuring it out. But He always sends us little things to make us aware of His presence. Sometimes, we just don't have our eyes open enough to see those things. I pray for each of you that you will be able to find God, especially if you are having a cloudy week like I am. No matter what you are going through, He hears and sees you. He is there. I promise. If you haven't gotten on your knees in a while, I'd encourage you to do so and open up your heart to Him, and listen for what He has to say to you. He loves you. And I love you :)

Step 5 tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Serving and Being Served

Yesterday I had an amazing experience!

We have sister missionaries serving in our ward. They called us yesterday morning. We missed the call at first, and when my husband said it was them that called, I started thinking oh man, what if I signed up for dinner tonight and forgot? I was kind of having a panic attack because I didn't want to have to go to the store to get something to cook, and that would also mess up our date plans. I didn't want to call them back. I figured if it was important they would leave a message. But my husband really felt like we should call them back. So he did, and when they wanted to talk to me about going to do some visits with them, I was like oh. great.

When I was in high school, I went out with the sisters in my ward a lot because they were frequently low on miles and needed some help. So I became their chauffeur, and it was really fun (joyful). I learned a lot from them, and I developed a love for serving and sharing the gospel. I LOVED going out with the sisters my senior year of high school.

Yesterday, was supposed to be my free day. I told myself no work over this weekend. Spend day with husband. Have fun. Relax. And then I get this phone call from the sisters asking me to spend three hours (which turned into four) driving around town with them to their appointments and drop-bys. They wanted me to pick them up in half an hour, which gave me ten minutes to shower, get dressed, and get out the door. Of course, I couldn't turn the missionaries down. I really did want to go--it just stressed me out a little. But saying yes turned out to be the best decision I have made in a long time.

We visited four sisters, each one with something special about them that taught me great things.

One sister suffers from many health problems that have left her physically scarred and worn down. She is a member of the church but doesn't come because she can't get out the door very often with her illnesses. In the past few years, her husband died, a beloved dog mysteriously passed away on Thanksgiving day last year, and her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she has watched his health rapidly decline. When I was with her, my heart ached for how much she was going through. It wouldn't have surprised me one bit if the reason we were visiting her was to help her see how much God loves her and encourage her to stay strong in the faith. However, that wasn't the reason. I mean, she probably did need some encouragement, but we were visiting her out of love. To check up on her. And to see her example of strength and faith. And we were there to serve: to clean her house and do anything that needed to be done that she didn't have the strength herself to do. I visited with her for an hour, and I grew to love her. I could feel the Spirit testifying to us while we were there. I could feel God's love for her. And I could feel my heart growing. This woman is strong. She doesn't think she is, but she is. I was reminded that through God, we can do all things, and through God, we can have the strength to get through every trial (even when we don't feel strong at all).

At every woman's house, I was reminded of God's love for each of us. Each woman we visited yesterday is going through really hard trials. Some of them are learning of the gospel right now and are just now discovering the power of the Atonement to help them, and it was amazing to meet them and hear them talk about their growth. One woman called us while we were driving between stops and asked if we could come over because she was going to give up smoking. So we went to the store and got a few items to get her started on the road to recovery (the missionaries have some program that help people stop smoking), and we visited her after our other appointments. She was smoking her last cigarette when we got there, but she threw it away and said starting now I am a non-smoker. We helped her get rid of her cigarettes and ash-trays. We also talked to her about the power of prayer and asking the Lord for help overcoming temptation.

This woman said something that really struck me when we were talking about prayer: "I pray all the time since I found out I can actually talk to God." It made me think--how often as members of the church do we forget or take advantage of what we have? I actually had been thinking of that all day because with the missionaries, we prayed every time we started doing something. We prayed every time we got in the car, every time we arrived at someone's house, every time we talked to someone, and every time we left that person's house. I said a lot of prayers in the four hours I was with the missionaries. So thinking about that, and this woman's comment, made me think about how I pray so much less than I should. Also, during the day as I was reflecting on prayer, I realized that I had the Spirit so much more because I was constantly praying. It helped me to care more about the people around me, and it helped me be more humble and submissive to God.

This woman was a great example of faith. She was really addicted to smoking. She was really scared to give it up. But she was relying on the Lord to help her, and she was taking a great leap of faith. I can't even describe how scared she was to take these steps to give up smoking. It was intense. But she did it, and I hope that she can make it through this week without smoking. I know the first week will be the hardest. 

I had a really great experience spending time with the missionaries yesterday. I got to be there for a first discussion and share a little bit about the church, I got to serve, and I got to love. I learned so much. I'm so grateful that I took the opportunity to serve, even though at first I kind of didn't want to. When I got home, I felt much more light and humbled than I had before I left. Words can't even describe how lifted by the Spirit I felt. Because of my new, demanding job, I don't get the opportunity to serve or study the scriptures like I used to. I actually have been praying for ways to help build the kingdom and serve in my ward because I have felt so useless lately. This was definitely and answer to a prayer, and I also felt like it was a test from God to see how dedicated I actually was to serving. Would I serve if give the opportunity? I had already sworn the day off work, so I couldn't use that as an excuse not to serve. I'm glad I said yes. I'm also glad that when the woman called who wanted us to come after our other appointments, I said I could also drive them to her house and then take them back to their house after. She was my favorite appointment anyway :)

I love how when we serve, we are always served. I have never given service and actually felt like it was a burden somehow or that I was serving. I'm always given so much more when I take the opportunity to serve. Yesterday was another testimony of that for me. I hope that any of you who are struggling can find opportunities to serve and grow in love. It was cleansing and uplifting, and for me, it was very much needed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


There is an article in the Ensign this month called "Raising Resilient Children." At first, when I was flipping through the magazine a couple weeks ago, I skipped over it. Because I don't have kids. But tonight, I had this feeling that whatever it teaches about teaching children is probably something I could use. After all, I am a child of God (ha.ha.). Seriously though, I could use a lesson on resilience. The past couple weeks have been so hard on me, and sometimes I just don't want to go on anymore. So, tonight, my thoughts were bring on the resilience!

I have been thinking about trials a lot lately. I have read some articles about the pioneers recently (I can't remember what they were... oops), and they really made me think. Sometimes, I get so caught up in my "hard" life that I forget it's not some punishment. Okay, I don't ever truly, deep down, think my trials are some kind of punishment or that I'm not worth a good life (anymore), but sometimes it really is hard to see the light in the midst of all the blackness and confusion that can haunt me. Anyway, the pioneers gave up so much. They gave up way more than I do, and they kept the faith. They suffered in ways that I can't even come close to imagining. God asked a lot of them. And they were faithful. Granted, society is different, our culture is different, and we face different trials. And there is a reason they were born then and that I was born now. But I definitely learn a lot from their example. If that was required of them, what is required of me? At the very least, I need to deal with my trials appropriately, keep carrying on, and see what it is that the Lord wants me to learn and do with the experience He is blessing me with.

So, this article is great. Here are some great take-aways:

- I need to remember that things of great worth come at great sacrifice. This pertains to so many things in my life: spiritual development, relationship with my husband, and goals at my job. The things I want most in life will not come easily: they will come with hard work and sacrifice.

- Mistakes and weaknesses are opportunities to learn and better myself.

- Focus on what I can do, rather than what is outside of my control.

- I need to see purpose and meaning in my life and people around me. I do, but only to a point. Sometimes I lose sight of the purpose of things I do such as my job, visiting teaching, and other stuff. I really need to see the purpose and meaning of the people around me too. I have been getting better at seeing people as children of God, though, and seeing what He sees.

- "Perfection undermines resilience." The misunderstanding that we need to be perfect in everything because we love Heavenly Father and don't want to disappoint Him makes it so we can't build resilience. We forget that the Lord works through the weak, simple servants and that striving to be perfect doesn't mean we don't make mistakes, but that we use the Atonement and try to become perfected or complete as we follow Christ. I am such a perfectionist, and it really does make it hard to be resilient when I struggle with things. But, as I have grown closer to Christ, I have found that I am much more resilient in many aspects of my life. I'm not such a perfectionist. I don't get as down on myself or beat myself up when things go wrong. And I accept change better. The more I realize that this life is the time to grow towards perfection, the better off I am. When I lose sight of that and try to be perfect now, a lot of the joy in life is lost. And I feel lost.

This article was just what I needed to get me through the hump of the week. I hope you can get to read it too!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Can Handle It

***Note: I wrote this on Sunday. I thought I posted it. Well, I did on my phone but apparently it failed. Sorry.

When I started this blog, I had no idea what was in store for me. I have been blessed in so many ways, and I am so grateful for the people who have emailed me and shared with me some of the things going on in their lives.

One person who emailed me back in the beginning turned out to be one of my best friend's best friends. If you followed that. Anyway, through this blog, we were able to share experiences with each other and draw closer together in friendship too, which has been cool.

I was talking to this friend, whom I will call Janet, today about life. As many of you have read, I recently had a change in my life that has made my life very stressful. So, on top of my health trials and this trial with my husband, I have this big thing that is impacting my life too. I was sharing with Janet some of my feelings, and she was sharing with me things about her life, when she asked me a couple questions. Are you grateful for your trial? Of course, I said yes. Then she followed up with, would you rather have your trial than mine?

Now, I can relate to this woman a lot in the sense that we both had very spiritual confirmations to marry our husband, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Just like six months after my sealing, my husband dropped the bomb about his addictions, two months after her sealing, her husband told her he didn't believe in the church anymore. I seriously don't know what I would do if that were me. I'm sure I would figure it out, just like I have been figuring out how to deal with what is going on in my life, but I don't envy Janet at all. And she doesn't envy me.

Our conversation confirmed to me a couple of things. First of all, we are given trials that we can handle. I talked to Husband about this too, and he said, "Yeah, you wouldn't be able to handle that." Not to sound conceited, but I feel like right now, I am doing pretty amazingly with my trial. It's taken a lot of work, and it still requires work, and I know that I am immensely blessed by God. I know that I am where I am because God has made me able to be so. And I know that God is blessing Janet to be able to handle what she is going through. And she probably wouldn't be able to handle her husband having a sexual addiction in the same way that I can. God knows what He is doing. He gives us what we can handle, and He is helping us grow. I know that whatever you are going through, God is helping you handle it. And you can handle it.

Another part of our conversation was about the purpose of these trials. I have thought a lot about that over the past couple of years, and I honestly think that my husband needs me. I don't know if many people would be able to do what I do for him. I have developed a lot of patience and understanding, and I am able to give him a lot of love. I'm grateful for God blessing me with such talents, and blessing me with the ability to strengthen those talents too. And, in my selfishness, I honestly think that I am the best person for him :) And he is definitely the best person for me. We complete each other in ways that I can't even describe. And, this trial has helped me grow in so many ways. Like, I have developed certain good communication skills that were not modeled to me by my parents. And I have been given the assignment by my bishop to help a certain person in our ward deal with emotions and communication better. So, that is good. Anyway, I told Janet that I think part of the reason she is going through this with her husband is because she might be the only person who can help him. She has worked through her own period of not believing in the church, so she can understand where he is coming from. And I'm sure the chemistry and personality in their marriage is a strength to him.

So, to all you out there, I hope you can find or start looking for the purpose of this. What are you learning in your trials? In what ways can you grow? What do you think the Lord wants you to learn? Also, I would encourage you to reach out to other people, if you aren't already. You never know what people are going through. Everyone has their own fiery trial happening, and everyone can use some love: a smile, friendly conversation, holding the door open, something that shows you care in some kind of way. I read that when we are experiencing fiery trials, we are blessed with godly compassion and also the ability to recognize and sense when others need to experience love. So, reach out in love. See others the way Christ sees them. See your loved one, whatever your trial is that is happening, with Christlike love.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Faith to Move Mountains

I just read this talk, "Faith to Move Mountains." I felt the impression to share it.*+%28collection%3a%22general-conference%22%29

I loved this talk. It really inspired me to continue to have faith even though everything seems so hard sometimes. Right now, I am just struggling with balancing my time with various things, and that makes my life feel very hard.Sometimes, I lose sight of the ability to relax and have faith. Or I lose sight of who I am and what my purpose is here.

I hope this helps any of you who need a little faith pick-me-up :)

Writing an Inventory

I wrote my first inventory by making categories: anger (because anger is my trademark haha), high school memories, college, marriage, other, and good things (even though there was some good mixed in those other categories too). Then, I just wrote down everything I could think of for each category. I didn't worry about making it perfect or analyzing each memory, I simply wrote the memories.

After writing everything I could think of, then I filled in the blanks. Under each circumstance, I made subcategories:
       Why: Why did I do that? What was I feeling?
       Self-examination: In the book, it says for this section to analyze how your character weaknesses or strengths affected the situation. Then it asks if you see any evidence of pride, self-pity, self-deception, or self-will. In this self-examination section, I did write about how my pride, self-pity, self-deception, or self-will showed itself. I also wrote things like "I feared man more than God." And if there were some type of good effects or a part-good thing in a bad happening, I wrote about that. There is a sample list of questions you could ask yourself for the self-examination part in this chapter of the book.

Something that is crucial is prayer. Before every time that I wrote, I prayed that God would help me see the things He wanted me to see. I know there is more that I could have written, but at the time I was writing God showed me the most important things that I needed to be aware of. He even helped re-surface memories that I had forgotten about or pushed to the back of my mind. God also helped comfort me as I went through this process.

I went about my second inventory a different way. When I prayed to first start it, this is just what I felt strongly that I needed to do. Because emotion has been such a huge part of my life, my starting categories to write memories from were emotions or character traits from emotion: sadness, anger, regret, fear, bitterness, resentment, pride, self-will, self-pity, impatience, and misc. I had happy on there, but as I was writing, it didn't seem to work out somehow, so all or most of my "good" things about myself are in the misc category. Then, after writing memories, I went through a similar process of analysis. Some of them, I analyzed as I went because I've just been in an analyzing mode I guess.

I'd encourage you to pray as you go through your inventory process. God will help you see what you need to see, and He will comfort you when you need comfort.

Also, after you finish your inventory, move on to step 5 right away. Don't let this sit with you.

Step 5 is confession. Yes, you confess your inventory to someone. But it's someone who you trust very much. I ended up confessing mine to my husband. For me, I couldn't think of anyone better, especially because he did his confession of his inventory to me. For us, that's what works and is important in our marriage (having that open communication), and it brought us closer together.

As you are writing your inventory, don't worry about the fact that you will confess it later. Just write. It doesn't need to be perfect or impressive. Just do it. Let God guide you and help you, and you will be fine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Step 4: Truth (Part 2)

KEY PRINCIPLE: Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.

"Through this inventory, we identified negative thoughts, emotions, and actions that ruled our lives. By discovering those destructive elements in our lives, we took the first step toward correcting them. Doing an inventory was difficult, but this step opened the door to the additional faith and hope we needed to continue our recoveries and overcome addiction."

I don't know about you, but I have many negative thoughts, emotions, and actions that rule my life. Well, I had way more a year or two ago. But still, negative thoughts, emotions, and actions creep in and rule my life. Today is living proof that. My day was one big blur of negative thoughts, emotions, and actions, and it ruled my day. No matter how much I tried to get over it. I'm still fighting it after reading my scriptures. But, as I think of peace and healing, I'm already feeling it finally dissipate.

The reason step 4 is intimidating is because you are making yourself vulnerable. The beauty of it is you are making yourself vulnerable to God. God is the one being who won't judge you. He loves you because you are His son or daughter, and He wants you to come back to Him. When you make yourself vulnerable to God, He helps you overcome your weaknesses and make them strengths.

I did this inventory. I have done it twice. It is the most cleansing experience I have had. I discovered destructive elements in my life, and I can testify that it truly is the first step toward correcting those things. As you turn your inventory over to God, He helps you see what you can do to make yourself better. As I realized changes I could make in my life, I realized my potential. As I realized my potential, I was filled with hope and faith. As I was filled with hope and faith, I found light.

Becoming more accountable for my actions was a beautiful thing. During the time that I was completing my first inventory, something happened in my life that wasn't crucial, but it really made me think about myself--who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. Let's just say it was an experience where I really did not treat someone well, and she should have been treated way better. After the incident, I felt horrible. I wrote about it in my inventory. I felt a lot of pain for being so awful while in the midst of my moral inventory. But, then I realized that the pain I felt for treating this woman that way was a good sign. It meant that I was more fully aware and holding myself accountable for my actions.

Eventually you will reach step 10, which is "Daily Accountability." In this step, you "continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong, promptly admit it."The way the steps work together is beautiful. Here in step 4, we start to take inventory of our lives. But as we grow closer to God and feel His sanctifying power in our lives, we can hold ourselves accountable every day. And we can be more in tune with the Spirit and recognize what He wants us to do.

Just remember, though, that this is a moral inventory. Moral is good. Don't just write about the bad. Don't make yourself feel awful because you aren't recognizing the good things about yourself. Write good things about yourself too. There is a lot of good in each of us. And, eventually, your negatives will become positive over time too. But yeah, don't write only negative or you will probably cry. Just sayin. I cried because I was way too harsh on myself. But it's also okay to cry. I probably would have cried anyway.

I'll write about how to do the inventory next time. Or you can read ahead because it talks about how to do it in the guidebook.

Love you all :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Step 4: Truth

I am excited to start Step 4: Truth.

"When you took step 3, you decided to trust the Lord. You turned your will and your life over to His care. In step 4, you show your willingness to trust God. You make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of your life, surveying or summarizing the thoughts, events, emotions, and actions of your life, making your inventory as complete as possible."

This is the step that many people get hung up on. You might be tempted to skip it and try to continue your recovery without doing the inventory, but you can't. You won't be able to heal or recover in the way that you could without this step.

Why is this step so crucial? Because it's the action part of step 3. Like it says in that opening paragraph to this step, in step 4, you show your willingness to trust God. You are acting on what you learned about trust and what you developed inside your heart.

Step 4 is scary to many people, and that is normal. Don't think you are a failure because you can't do this inventory fearlessly. "Fearless" in this sense means that you don't let your fears hold you back. You are scared, but you jump right in anyway. It's having courage.

The first time I worked the steps, when I approached step 4, I hesitated. I was scared, like many others before me. I was scared of opening myself up. As you have probably realized, I have put lots of blame on my husband. I shy away from owning the negatives. I like to place the blame on others because I want to be perfect. I did not want to do an inventory for a couple of reasons. One was that I didn't want to even try to find what was wrong with me. I also didn't want to relive things in my past that I had repented of (or had been trying to forget about).

Here's part of the problem. I had a really negative perception of this step because I had heard scary things about it. Granted, I had heard many testimonies of the blessings of pushing through this step, but holy cow there are so many scary things about it. Don't forget, this is a moral inventory. DO NOT just write about the bad things in your life. That's not who you are. Write about the good and the bad (I wrote about the bad first and the good second so I could pick myself back up and remember how awesome I am ;) haha).

Choosing to do step 4 was one of the best decisions I could make in the recovery process. Step 4 opened so many doors for me. The biggest things were that it allowed me to see how much I needed the Atonement and that it's not just my husband who needs to repent. And it really was the only way that I could truly open myself up to God and say, yeah, I trust you. Searching within yourself is a scary concept. But doing it showed me just how truly dependent I am on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It also truly freed me from my past, for both the things I have repented of and things I have not repented of.

Step 4 allowed me to see who I have been, who I am, and who I have the potential to become with the Lord's help.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Come Unto Me, All Ye That Are Heavy Laden


I've been absent this week. But I've had to put in about 10-12 hours per day at work, then fulfill my home responsibilities too. So, I have a lot I want to write.

Some of you might have found it kind of random for my husband to post what he did on Friday. Well, he had a relapse and was experiencing a lot of emotion, thoughts, and pain. I'm grateful for what he wrote because it's always nice to have an eye-opener and see some of what our loved ones are experiencing with their addictions. I love his attitude and his faith. He is such a strong man, and I'm grateful for his example in our home.

As I was driving home from work on Friday, I was thinking about the conversation I had with my husband during my lunch break. The full effects of his relapse hadn't quite hit me yet, and I had pushed aside all thoughts of it at work because I didn't want to have it affect my work. So, driving home, I kept my music off and just thought and prayed.

I am so grateful for this program and the healing I have experienced. A year ago, my thoughts would have been different. I was so excited when he got his temple recommend on Tuesday that I just had to write a post and share that excitement. So, when he told me about his rough morning, I was sad. But as I thought about why I was sad, I was able to more fully realize the healing that has taken place in my heart.

I don't consider this as something he did to me. I just don't. His actions affect me, but they don't have to make me miserable like they once did. I used to cry and cry and cry when this would happen. I would think about promised blessings that weren't being fulfilled, and I would think about the possibility of not living with him for eternity. But this time, I cried for him. I cried for all the hard work that seemed to have gone down the drain. He worked so hard to get his temple recommend and before we could get to the temple, Satan really worked him down. If it were me, I would feel like crap. Really. I might feel worthless and lose hope. So I cried for those feelings taking place in this man I love so much.

I'm not mad that I can't go to the temple with him. I'm so sad that he can't experience the blessings of the temple. We experience blessings from me going, but he needs the temple. He needs to commune with God. He needs to experience what only the temple can give you. And my heart hurts because that is prolonged for him now.

Despite what could make me feel horrible, I feel so blessed. I feel blessed that he told me. I feel blessed to feel compassion for him rather than anger. I feel blessed to have him by my side every week at church. I feel blessed to be married to such a faithful, stalwart man who is doing everything he can to overcome this trial in his life so he can live in eternity with God (with me by his side!).

And so, I'd just like to say to you all, no matter what the trial is, there is always hope. If you turn to Christ, there is hope.

To each of us our Savior gives this loving invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

I'm so grateful for the growth I have experienced in this program. This 12-step program is a program to help us come unto Christ. It is a program that requires work, faith, and action, but everything is so worth it. I am grateful for the privilege to be a member of this church. I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers my prayers. He does--every day. I am grateful for a loving Father who gives me hard trials so I can grow. He always helps me get through them, and afterwords, I can see that it was for the best. I am grateful for Christ who lifts me up. I am grateful that He carries me when times are tough. I am grateful for His Atoning sacrifice that allows us to repent. His sacrifice is what will help me live with my husband forever. As we both repent of our wrongs and draw closer to God together, we will be able to live with Them in Heaven. I am so grateful for that. I am grateful for the blessings of the temple and for the promises of our covenants.

I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful for this mortal experience.

And I'm grateful to you, my readers, who inspire me. 

Friday, March 1, 2013


Husband here.

Today I would like to write about the horrible nightmare of realizing exactly what your addiction is doing: to your spouse, your family, your God and yourself. Like my wife has written in previous posts, the trust cycle has been a vicious one for us, something that is most likely the same for every couple going through this.

Being the one who suffers from the addiction, I don't get to feel how my wife feels. I can't even begin to understand her pain. But I have pain of my own, and it's equally as difficult to help anyone understand it.

When I give in to my addiction, especially after a long string of "good" days, it's as if I have chosen my own nightmare, one that I can't escape or wake up from. You see, Satan is very good at disguising the addiction, especially in the moment of temptation. He's good at hiding what is behind that door once you open it. And even though you know exactly what is behind the door, he is so good at distracting you that your knowledge either becomes unimportant or is easily rationalized.

But once you open that door, it's a tidal wave of negative emotions that most of us can't handle simultaneously: Shame. Disappointment. Shock. Disgust. Self-loathing. Anger. Sorrow. Stupidity. Fear. Depression. Anguish. And what makes it even worse is that you chose this door. You're not a victim of someone else's agency. You're creating victims of your own.

Can you see why addictions are so hard to break? You're using your addiction to try to cope with or escape from the very feelings your addiction has caused. It's like a never-ending nightmare, and unfortunately it's very difficult to share that with others. You feel like you've hurt them enough, so you want to shield them from more pain. You can tell that the nightmare is starting to present itself again, that your "lust balloon" is filling up again, looking to pop. But you keep it to yourself, not just because all of the above-listed feelings start creeping back in, but because you are trying to spare the feelings of those you love. The problem is, that's a paradox. By doing so, you only hurt them all the more.

It's horrible. Thoughts of suicide aren't abnormal among people who suffer from addictions. They think they are being selfless. They think of it not necessarily as a way out, but as a way to stop making others suffer. But, like I said before, something like that only hurts the people you love all the more. So there you are. Stuck in a nightmare that you have little hope to escape.

But even if you don't identify it as hope, there is a whole lot of it. Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior and Redeemer, came to earth to give us that hope. He suffered unimaginable pain, anguish, fear, depression, disappointment, shock, etc. All of that so He might give us hope.

Isn't it wonderful?

But sometimes it's so hard to forget when you're deep in the mire of your addiction. Sometimes you feel like Abraham, who was promised countless posterity, but whose wife was unable to bear children. Romans 4:16-21 talks about this:

 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:

 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

The saying I love is that he "against hope believed in hope." Can you imagine? God makes this amazing promise and then turns around and gives them that? Sometimes it seems that way with an addiction. No matter how hard you try, you can't seem to figure out how the miracle could even take place. But no matter how long you've suffered, no matter how deep in the mire you are, there is always hope. And just like the only way Abraham could receive the promised blessings was through a miracle of God, that is how recovery is done. 

So please help your loved one see that. Live that hope in your own life. Let him or her see it. My wife has had an amazing influence on my recovery simply because of the changes that have happened in her life. She's living that hope, and because she is, I have strength to. If you need to hope against hope, do it. Abraham had to do it to receive his blessing, so we can too.