Sunday, September 17, 2017

God's Plan of Salvation and Happiness (according to Aud)

I believe we lived before we came to this earth. I was still Aud, just without a body. You were still you, but without your body. And we spent time with God and learned and loved and grew. And then one day, He came to us with a plan. And said there was something called Earth and that we would use all we had been learning about and apply it on this Earth He had prepared for us. But it was kind of like a test (ok very much a test), cause we wouldn't be able to remember what happened before this life. Kinda sounds like a really cool story right? Except it's not just a cool story. It's true.

He knew we would make mistakes- in fact, He knew these mistakes would help us if we learned from them (and from the mistakes of those around us). Here's the thing though. He can't tolerate even the least amount of sin ('cause He's GOD aka the MOST Perfect Holy Man) and so we were going to have to try to find a way back to Him, clean, even though we weren't clean because we had messed up but learned from it. So that's when our Savior stepped in. He said, with all the unfathomable love one being could offer, I'll help. I'll live a sinless life, and then as part God and part man, I will master my godly powers and perform an infinite Atonement of suffering so that man can be purified from sin, and live again. And to be honest, I'm sure that at first we were like WHAT for real??? And then we realized how amazingly grateful we were for this Incredible Being who would be so unselfish as to sacrifice His life for us, and then take it up again, so that we could live again too.

I also believe that God didn't just send us down here and leave us high and dry. He pre-ordained (pre-chose I guess) men to be prophets, mouthpieces for Him on the earth. Through these prophets we have received scripture, like the Bible and the Book of Mormon, that give us hints of who we are to God (His children), why we are here, how to make it through this life, how to repent, and what is to come.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that after this life comes a state of peace for those who have been baptized under God's authority and LIVED well. This could be called spirit paradise. And there is another state of unrest for those who haven't been baptized under God's authority and lived not so good lives. Because God knows what He is doing better than we can, there are ways that you can go from the state of unrest to the state of peace. I also believe and am sure that if you got baptized under the authority of God, but lived a shizzy life, God isn't going to be like, Oh my gosh you got baptized under my proper authority CONGRATS welcome to paradise!!! Rather He will say, didn't you have an even better idea of what a good life should look like with what you were taught and you still ignored my counsel??? And that doesn't sound like paradise or rest to me.

SIDE NOTE: I'm kind of cruising through this whole amazing Plan of God, so if you want to know more either email me at or go to and chat with the people there cause they probably know a heck a lot more than I do.

This state of rest or unrest is kind of like a waiting room until the Big Day. Judgment Day. When Christ comes again, and HE WILL, that will be the day when the Resurrection begins. And all of us, bond and free, black and white, woman and man, philanthropist and adulterer will be raised up with a perfected body to see Him. And to chat with Him. And to be judged by Him.

You know, sometimes I catch myself just thinking about that day. When we see Him, and I say, "Wow, it's really Him. He's a real guy (except celestial and a God, but he's real)." That's gonna be the best day ever.

I think it's important to note that Judgment Day won't really surprise us. He is a good and awesome God, so I believe that if you really do try your best to seek Him and to do what He asks and to emulate His example, He's not gonna be like, "Well Audrey, at sixteen years old you forgot to repent of that one time that you swore on the soccer field..." and I'll be like, "SHOOT! there goes my chances" and Jesus just shrugs like, too bad, Aud. Better luck... never?

No way José. That's the beauty of THIS LIFE. Here is where we prepare to meet God. So LITERALLY your everyday choices are determining where you are going to go after this life. Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am in no way, shape or form saying that we save ourselves. NO WAY. Without our Heavenly Father, and his Son Jesus, we wouldn't be able to have any of this. None of this would be possible. Without them we are nothing. But they are also watching us in this life to make sure that we are making good choices and being decent people because they want to bless us during and after this life and I believe, even give us some of their power. **Mic drop**

Just kidding about the mic drop thing, but wouldn't it make sense for God to give us, as His children, part of His inheritance? Doesn't it say in the Bible that we are co-heirs with Christ? And don't you think God would only entrust His greatest blessings and power to His most faithful children? I do. That's why our choices matter. And that's why we are judged.

After judgement, in the LDS church we believe that we go to one of three kingdoms. The lowest one- which is for murderers and other rotten people, is called the Telestial Kingdom. You don't wanna go here. The second kingdom- middle kingdom- is called the Terrestrial Kingdom. It's where people go who lived correct and honest lives, who were good people, but who didn't want to accept Christ as their Savior, or who didn't really choose to believe. They weren't baptized with authority, because they didn't want to be (God's gonna give His kids a lot of chances, if you wanna know more hmu). They live happy and good lives here, but don't really truly reach their full potential.

The highest kingdom is the Celestial Kingdom. It's the place to be. It's for people that worked their butt off to be there. It's for people that lived good and honest lives, repented of their mistakes, served other people, kept the commandments, and chose Christ as their Savior. It's where they get to be with Him and our Father forever.

I recently taught this concept of the Plan of Salvation to a boy that attends BYU, but isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After finally grasping the concept of the veil (why couldn't we just remember everything before?? Dude, same question, but it is how it is and I can't WAIT 'til the day I remember), he asked me a lot of really good questions about the plan like, won't everyone just believe in Christ when He comes again (aka why the Terrestrial Kingdom), and why are there Muslims and Buddhists and Jews then if God wanted everyone to get back home to Him? Maybe you have had these same questions. Here's what I think (not doctrine, just my personal opinion).

This boy that I spoke with is on the football team at BYU. I told him to think about his teammates. Now, his teammates know that in order to play football for BYU, you have to attend class, you have to keep the Honor Code, you have to keep your grades up, etc. And yet, some of them still don't obey these rules. It's not cause they don't think they are "real" rules,  because they've watched their buddies be suspended for games for breaking them. I asked my student then why he believed his friends would choose to disobey their coach's wishes. He replied, "Probably 'cause they think it's too hard." And I agree.

See, I think that when He comes again, everyone is gonna look down at their resurrected body and be like, wow. Guess it was real, after all. And every knee is gonna bow before God and they will recognize Him as the source of their miraculous ability to live again. But some people won't want to accept the responsibility that comes with the Celestial Kingdom. They won't want to do all that would be required of them, and they don't want to fail so they aren't going to try. This doesn't mean they are bad people, it just means that they are comfortable somewhere else than the highest Kingdom of God.

And even though it seems unfathomable, I see some of that in myself as I make choices or mistakes. Sometimes it seems the easier path, the easier kingdom, would be the Terrestrial Kingdom. Straight up. We have to want to Savior, we have to choose Him, we have to love and appreciate Him, and trust in Him that through Him we can all things, hard things, every thing. Without that belief and knowledge, we won't feel comfortable in His Kingdom.

To answer the other question about why do all the other religions exist, I simply told my buddy (we were friends by this point), that God knows the end from the beginning. He is a just and fair God, He loves all His children. I personally believe that if we were all the same religion in this life, as the Mexicans say "no habrá chiste", or in English, "there would be no point". Love your neighbor, love those who are different than you, etc.? How could that happen if we were all the same? God is perfect. He loves us. He does. So he will judge people, whether they were Jews or Gentiles or Baptists or Mormons or Monks and everything will be how it should. He knows the end from the beginning. Our call is to bring as many into the fold as we can. We do that, and it's fine. We love all, and it's fine. He'll take care of the rest. He's awesome like that.

Now, this post is incredibly long, but before I peace out I have to tell you about an experience that changed my life.

Alex Avalos: we were acquaintances in middle/high school, had a couple classes together. He was nice. FB friends.
October 2013: an Apostle of Jesus Christ, Elder Ballard, told us in our world wide conference that we should pray and choose to share the gospel with at least one person by Christmas. I was pumped! I was also at BYU, where every one else and their Mom was Mormon. Chill.

So I knelt down and prayed sincerely. I told God I wanted to help Him help His children. And I heard a voice in my head say, Alejandro Avalos. I hesitated. Funny, I thought, literally don't even know that guy that well. Who else??? ... Alejandro Avalos. The voice spoke to me again. I couldn't deny it this time. But because I am literally the world's most stubborn human, I told Heavenly Father that there was no way I could reach him cause I only had his FB account. Then, what happened next will probably be the only time I am prompted by God to use FB Messenger. He always has a solution to my stubborn excuses. In probably the most awkward message possible, I bore my testimony and love for the gospel in a message to Alex and invited him to know more. I was nervous, I was excited, I was antsy. I finally got a message back and with all the hope in the world, I read it. I was shocked. He said that he had previously been a member of the Church, but now didn't want anything to do with it, thanks for asking though.

WHAT? HF you literally told me to ask him to learn more??? was my prayer that night. I was disappointed. I had tried to be a missionary! I was frustrated. I bore my testimony to Alex one last time, told him this gospel made me happier than anything else in case he changed his mind, and tried to forget about the whole thing. Months passed.

One day, I was casually sitting on my bed when I received a message from Alex. Random... I thought. And opened it. There I saw the most beautiful message I have ever laid eyes on. Long story short, Alex had thought and thought about what I said. He decided God was trying to reach out to him, talked to God, and found happiness. He sought out the nearest LDS chapel, and started turning his life around. That message changed my life. After that, he started on his path back Home. He was ordained in the priesthood, attended the temple, and while I was on my mission about a year later, I received a letter from him that he was choosing to serve a mission as well. My joy at receiving that news was pretty indescribable. You see, God had a plan for Alex. He knew him, He loved him. All I had to do was extend a simple invitation, and God helped Alex change his life and draw closer to Him. It was a miracle. Alex just got home from his mission last week. It had been three years since we had seen each other, and was the sweetest reunion. I cried all the way home because I knew that Heavenly Father had a plan for each of us in our lives.

God HAS a plan for us. He has a GREAT plan of Salvation and a personal plan. And He desires for us to be happy and to come home to Him. He has made it possible through our Savior and His merciful plan to make it back. I know that's true.

I hope when you read this you felt it too. Maybe you don't agree with me on every point, and that's OK. But I hope that maybe something sparked within you today. A hope for a better world. A confidence that He cares. A greater faith in His plan.

May we all live in a way that He's proud of. And may we all make it back to Him.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Do you love you?

When I was 12 years old, I touched eternity. Now, if you read that and have no idea what it means, that's okay. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what it means either. It's more a feeling than anything, but let me try to put it into words for you.

My brother had been invited to sing with an all state-choir. That wasn't a surprise, seeing as my brother is one of the most musically talented individuals I have met in my life. We were all very excited to travel to a bigger town and support him in one of the things that he loved most, so one Saturday we all jumped into the car and headed off to Spokane.

The program contained many performances, and I was ecstatic to see that a symphony was assigned to play with the choir. I will never forget one particular performance. Although I am sad to say I have forgotten the very song they were playing, when the choir joined in a heavenly chorus with the magnificent symphony, I closed my eyes. For a moment, a very brief moment, I touched eternity.

It was right there. Waiting to envelop me in the immense peace and love that seemed so familiar to me. I felt my soul come alive, and for that moment I was neither here nor there, I just was. How do I explain it? Nothing has ever been so beautiful to me. Maybe it made me remember the life that I had before with God, maybe it made me experience a little bit of heaven, maybe it solidified my being here on the earth, but whatever happened: that moment was eternal.

I may sound crazy. I know that I can't explain myself more, and I am sorry for that, but I hope you all feel it one day. Whether it be while listening to classical music, reflecting on our Savior, or hiking among nature, maybe one day you will feel it too. Maybe you already have. It is an experience of a lifetime, of an eternity.

While no other event or moment has had the power and magnitude that the concert had on me, I have had glimpses of eternal moments since that occasion. I had one just recently, as I was talking to a friend.

We were conversing about something that I believe is one of the most important concepts of our existence: self-love. We began to talk about why we should love ourselves and how to do so when all the sudden, I felt it. I expressed to this friend that I truly believed one of the reasons that we were here on the earth is to learn to love ourselves. As soon as I said that, I felt it again. Eternity was with us in that moment, and I knew it. I felt the peace and the love envelop me, and I knew what I was saying was true.

Since that sacred moment, I have been wanting to write a blog post about self-love. I do it today, cautiously, knowing that it can be a sensitive subject.

I ask you this question: Do you love yourself? Do you truly, deeply, love yourself? Has that love changed you?

I can answer and tell you that I do not yet love myself completely. There are too many faults, too many weaknesses. Too many "should of's", too many flaws. We live in a world of negativity, and most of the time, even when we love others around us in a very real way, we are denying ourselves the very love that we give to others.

Do you love yourself? I'm not talking about if you have good hair days, if you love the people in your life, or if you love God. While those things are important, I'm talking about real self-love.

Do you love yourself? When you make a mistake, are you patient with yourself? Do you understand why others love you? Do you feed yourself positive thoughts and encouragement? What about when others compliment you? Do you accept it, agreeing with them? Or do you brush it aside?

How many times a day do you think of all the things you do wrong? How hard on you on yourself?

All of us do it. Maybe someone in your past has influenced you to be this way. They were hard on you, and thus you feel like you have to continue to do so yourself.

With all due respect to all the people you love in your life, let me say that YOU be the one to break the chain: to find happiness and love yourself is to truly live.

So how do we do it? How do we go from where we are now to truly loving ourselves?
Easier said than done, but we STOP the negativity.

When that bad thought about yourself comes into your mind, stop it. It has no place there. Tell it to go away. Tell it to leave. We must recognize the source from which all bad thoughts come. Satan desires that we be miserable like himself, and if you look around, he seems to be succeeding. We musn't let him.

Change the thought to be something positive.
For example:
"I will be a horrible mother" can turn into, "I will be a great mother, and I'm grateful for learning experiences on the way"
"I am not good enough" can turn into, "I am so thankful for the chance I have every day to better myself"
"I can't do this" can turn into, "I can't do this, alone."
"I am ugly", can turn into, "Last week, someone complimented my smile"
and "I am fat" can turn into a motivator, "What can I do to feel better about myself?"

I am not suggesting we live fake lives of happiness, either. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with negative thoughts, I let them all out. I take a drive and say all the negative things that I am thinking. It feels awful! But when I am done, I tell myself that I love me no matter what, and I make a promise to try to do things better. Then I tell Heavenly Father that I'm on His side, as always.

BE PATIENT with yourself. Learn to love yourself. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Pay attention to the positive in your life. Keep track of the compliments, not the mistakes. Learn from your experiences.

Weaknesses are also different than sins. Find ways to laugh at yourself, don't take yourself too seriously.
Remember that God knows everything about you, and loves you completely. He desires you love yourself as well.

It will take time, it will take courage, it will take training; it is one of the reasons for our very existence.
Find yourself, find Him, love Him, and love YOU.

If you don't love yourself, Remember this. HE LOVES YOU. Completely. Perfectly. Purely.
He gave everything for you. He continues to love you. He is there for you.

I pray we all have the courage to do so, and I'm here for you as you start your journey of self-love.
Let's try a little harder to be a little better, and search for more moments of eternity.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Who is Jesus Christ?

The last time I wrote was right before the semester started. Now that it's almost over, (we are in the midst of finals week), I am happy to report that it was one of the best semesters yet. I became a better me because of who I chose to surround myself with. The bishopbric (our local church leaders) were a special Godsend to me, literally being the family away from home that I needed to support me and to keep me going. I started working out regularly, which helped me not only physically but also emotionally. My health has improved because the doctors were guided to find out what was wrong with me: I have a lot of food allergies, it turns out! Taking those foods out of my diet has helped me feel a million times better. I go to bed almost every weeknight at 10:30 so that I am well rested, (a big key to my happiness). My classes were engaging and hard, I met some amazing people and had some stellar professors. I have a great job as a kindergarten teacher that is teaching me so much: I am humbled every day by the sweet love that the kids show me. I continue to visit the retirement home every Sunday, where Rosemary is always faithfully waiting to have a good chat together. My life is so good, and I try not to complain (try being the keyword there). My family is doing great, I'm striving to live my life the way it should, and though every thing is not perfect: every day I experience joy.

As I think about all my many blessings, I can accredit them to one thing: Christ. I have chosen to center my life around Him, and it is something that I will never regret. I'm not perfect, but I strive to put Him at the center of my life by waking up early every morning to study the scriptures, by being more sincere and honest with Him in my prayers, by looking for ways to serve and by counting my blessings. Sometimes when I have nothing to think about, I think about Him. I ask myself questions like, "Do I really believe?" and "How can I be more like Him today?" and that encourages me to do my very best.

The question that I have been asking myself lately over and over again is, "Who is Jesus Christ to me?". As I sat in our church Christmas Program today, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my Savior. I have since been thinking about Him all day today, so I decided to write this.

Who is Jesus Christ to me? It's the question that echoes in my head time and time again. I ponder it and reflect over it: what does He mean to me? What does what He did mean in my own life?

Jesus Christ is someone who has been there for me every step of the way. Jesus Christ is someone who has NEVER given up on me. He is someone who completely understands me, who listens to me, who fights for me.

What would I do without Him? I would be completely lost. I wouldn't have a motivational purpose. I wouldn't have hope for a happy marriage and an eternal family. I would not know what the sweet taste of forgiveness is like. I wouldn't have a hope of victory over the grave. I wouldn't have the courage to try again, the ideal of becoming someone better. Without Jesus Christ, I would have given up a long time ago.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is my example. He is my friend. I want to do what He did, I want to love fearlessly and completely as He does, I want to please to Father as He did with the way that I conduct myself here on the earth.

Without Him, I wouldn't know who I want to be. I need to stop comparing and complaining, for that is not what He would do.

Christ is someone that expects the best out of me, someone who desires my eternal happiness and who has done everything in His power to get me there. He is the hand that I hold, the smile I give, the joy in my life.

He is my light, my life, and my salvation. I never understood those scriptures so clearly until now because now I understand Him and His purpose a little more. He is a living part of me. I think about Him, and He becomes more real to me. I am more convinced every day that this message is true and this gospel is His.

He will return one day, and when He does, I want to know Him. I want Him to say, "hello there, friend" and embrace me in a way that no one else could.

I love Him, and what a perfect month to celebrate Him and contemplate all that He has done for me. I know He lives today, and I am so grateful for that.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is my life. He is my Savior. He is mine.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Beginnings

Fall semester at BYU will begin tomorrow and I can hardly believe it. Before starting something new, (whether it be a college semester, a mission, or a new job) I always get a little nervous inside. I think about all the different stresses that are before me and I get a little overwhelmed. But then I think of all the new and beautiful opportunities that are before me and I become excited for what lies ahead.

Even with all the new opportunities and starts that I am given, I think sometimes I tend to live life too much in the past. I think too much about what has gone wrong, and all the mistakes that I have made. And although sometimes a self-assessment of one's self and careful observations of the past can be a good thing, especially when one needs to repent, sometimes, at least for me, it can actually be a harmful thing. I take heart in the famous quote that tells us that the past is not meant to be lived in, but rather learned from. I love that because it accurately describes our role in the beautiful Atonement of Jesus Christ.

What is the Atonement? It is the suffering of our Savior for each and every one of us. It is the suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Cross of Calvary, and the triumphant resurrection from the tomb. It is the reason why each of us can make wrong things right. It is the perfection representation of true love. It is the reason for our new beginnings.

To start school again certainly is a new beginning, but to pick ourselves up from perhaps a dirty past or a difficult trial, dust ourselves off and face life head on one again is what truly comes to mind when I think of a new beginning. It literally creates so much joy in my soul when I think of Christ and that infinite love that He showed by choosing to sacrifice himself as an offering so that we can choose to follow Him and come back to our Heavenly Father.

I love this quote by Elder Dale G. Renlund, a modern day Apostle of Jesus Christ. He says, "...because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, ultimately, in the eternal scheme of things, there will be no unfairness. All that is unfair about life can be made right. Our present circumstances may not change, but through God's compassion, kindness, and love, we will all receive more than we deserve, more that we can ever earn, and more than we can ever hope for. We are promised that 'God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away' [Revelation 21:4]."

What a beautiful promise. What a sweet message of hope, and pure love.

I want to be more like Christ. I want to be a better person, and luckily, thanks to Him, I can be. I have the opportunity to start again, to rekindle my faith and hope, and to try harder today to be better than I was yesterday. Oh hallelujah, I love my Savior.

Monday, July 18, 2016

What people say to me

I've had people say to me: how do you do it? Your life is so hard. You've been through so much. How do you keep going? How do you keep your head up even though your life's a big mess?

It's a good question I'm sure, and to others it probably seems like I'm super smiley all the time and have my life pulled together and my head on straight, but they don't see the sleepless nights and the tears and the hard tough decisions I make in deciding that every thing will be okay.

What they really don't seem to understand, is that to me, there honestly isn't another option.

I don't know about you, but I sure wasn't made to waste my life away. I'm not destined to fail. There is no way that I can just look at all my trials and say "that's it. I'm giving up." I just wasn't raised that way.

Is life tough as heck? YES. But one thing that life's trials have taught me is that I'm tougher. Lots of bad things are going to happen, and that doesn't mean I'm a bad person. Sometimes, I'm an idiot. Sometimes I make really poor goober choices and that causes some of my trials. Throughout my life I've also happened to get hit by trial trains of sickness, emotional instability, depression, anxiety, work pressures, economic worries, backstabbing friends and horrible "break-ups" and family drama but you know what?

The key to life is to keep on keeping on. Because a prophet in the Book of Mormon something very, very wise.

"this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold, the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors"

You know what that means to me? It means amidst trials and pains and temptations and sickness and affliction, I find joy. I find so much joy in knowing that this life is the time to prepare to meet God: thus it is a time to make mistakes, to repent of sins, to learn from experiences.

As long as we are trying our best in this mortal world and picking ourselves up as we fall, Christ is there.

I know that.

I feel that.

I love that.

So yes, life is hard, it stinks, it's not fair. But I take comfort in knowing that it isn't supposed to be.
The trick to life is learning to be happy in spite of all that goes wrong. The trick to life is to count our blessings *which sidenote are like beyond numerous* instead of drowning in our sorrows and problems *which sidenote also happen to be many so it gets a little tricky*

Whoever you are out there, be happy. Keep your head up. Keep on keeping on. It's worth it. Trust me.

Now, don't get me wrong on this. I'm not saying forget about your trials, sing a little song and get over it. No way Jose. If you are sad, BE SAD. Embrace it. If you are upset, THAT'S OKAY. But don't stay sad, don't stay angry. Let the emotion ebb and flow through you, and when it takes its natural course and it's done, you be done too. Don't hold on to grudges, don't carry any burden too long. Learn to be happy even when you're sad, disappointed, confused. Happiness truly is an underlying state of being, not so much of an emotion.

Life is tough, but you are tougher. You'll be a better person because of whatever hard thing you're going through, even if you can't see that in the here and now. Be strong.

I love the Lord and am grateful for His sacrifice, His eternal Sacrifice for me.
Whenever I tell the world that life isn't fair, He reminds me, "Aud, you're not the first one to think that"
Life sure wasn't easy for or fair to Him. But He did it anyway, with a happy and loving heart.

That is why I do what I do. That is why I keep my head up. That is why I am who I am.

There isn't much of another choice.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


have you ever loved someone so much that they become a part of you? That when they hurt, you hurt; when they rejoice, you rejoice; when they are tired and old and aching, you want to be tired and old and aching too. I imagine this love might be the kind that a husband and wife share, or more appropriately, the kind of love a mother or father feel for their child. All you desire is for this person to be happy. To be well. To be content.

That is how I feel about Lois. To some, Lois is known as Gram, Lo, Mom, Aunt, Sister Passey, friend, and sister... to me, she is Nan.

From the start of my life, she has been there. Literally. Right out of the womb and there was Lois, ready to hold me, to love me, to take care of me. I remember our weekly gatherings at Poppa-Nan's, I remember the Disney channel movie night/sleepovers we had, coupled with lots of laughs and Ben and Jerry ice cream. I remember the family meals and Christmas traditions, the way Lois made sure that everyone got thirty kisses on the cheek (and all over the rest of the face) before they passed through the doorway, the way she would count her blessings before Thanksgiving, setting the three kernels of corn to one side. I remember.

I remember how things changed when Pop died. Drastically. The glue that seemed to hold our family together suddenly burst apart, sending our loving Lois and others into a spiral of cold depression and an aching heart. Our world was turned upside down, and it would be a while, or perhaps, never, that we would see the real Lois emerge again.

Slowly but surely, over the years she regained some of the old spunk and style that once lived within that young heart and spirit. She adopted a dog (who I never liked), and he become a true emotional asset to her as she clung to the memories of the past when faced with the grips of reality. She bought and sold a couple cars (gangster blue, ford Red). Though I was young, I still remember that Nana would walk with confidence, leading us through the shopping malls (which I loved) and giving us great big hugs (sometimes too touchy for my siblings' taste). During one stay in our home, she mentioned to us that she was selling her Bountiful house and moving permanently to St. George. Since St. George was a beautiful refuge to us, we didn't mind. She gave us a business card and a picture of her and Chester (the dog) and told us to stay in touch. Oh, Lo. As if we wouldn't.

Time went on and Lois was fine. Shining her light in everyone's life, she never knew a stranger. Her wit and spunk was slowly returning as she made what had once been a favorite vacation spot her permanent home. Things didn't continue easy forever, however.

My junior year of high school, Nana's heart stopped. Just plain stopped. With a broken head and soon to be broken ribs, my angel cousin miraculously brought her back from the dead and they flew my grandma to the ICU where wonderful doctors and nurses fought for her life. It became a cruel reality that she wouldn't be with us our whole lives. It didn't sit well with me. I thought we were going to lose her, but thanks to the saving hand of God, she survived. That woman sure is tough.

In the years to come, she would survive multiple falls, a scarring surgery that left one leg significantly shorter than the other, hellish holes of what should be nursing homes (from which she fearlessly escaped), and a never ending batch of family problems that continued to affect her failing heart.

before my mission, I decided we needed to have a serious talk.
"Nana?" I began. We were at a restaurant, I was eating a corn dog, she was eating a shake. The opportune moment.

"Yes, dear?" (Conversations with Nan go like this, always a 'sweetie' or 'dear' or 'prize of my heart', no matter who you are. She even says those things to the grocery cashier)

"I need to talk to you about something." Silence. either she was really enjoying her shake or waiting for me to go on, so I took a shot.

"I need you to promise me something."

She blinked at me with her large blue eyes.

"I need you to not... kick the bucket while I'm gone." I couldn't say the word 'die'. I couldn't. I panicked at the thought.

She briefly paused. "I can't promise anything sweetheart. I'm not feeling too good." Still munching.

"Then promise me you'll try. I want you to be there when I come home."

"I will try."

Good enough.

Later on I would casually convince her to say the words, "I promise not to die while you are gone" and "I will be there waiting when you get home". It was all I took not to print out a legal document and sign it. Call me selfish, but I couldn't imagine my world without her. Not yet.

In July 2014 I embarked, or should I say we, because my Nana served her own mission for a year and a half. Both were missions of survival. Mine was spiritual, hers was physical. It was long, hard, and tough. Many long nights for her and hard days for me, and on many occasions after a exhausting day I would fall upon my knees and start to say a routine prayer of gratitude and petitions when I would then receive an overwhelming prompting to pray for my Nan. So I would pray and cry and pray and cry and wrestle with God and beg him not to take her. I received word from her friends that those were the very times that she was struggling the most. While her friends and ward members were gathered around her bed, waiting for her to pass on from this life, I was kneeling at the edge of mine, pleading and praying and begging for one more moment with her. I promised full dedication to Him for the rest of my mission if He would just hear me out. He answers prayers. She was waiting when I came home. We had kept our promises.

And so it happens that when Nan became in sudden need of a care-taker just one month after my return home from Mexico, it was a relatively easy decision to make. I felt it was what I had been destined for, after all. Our relationship is unique, one of a kind. It is priceless to me. I moved immediately to St. George.

Living here hasn't always been easy. But it's taught me so much. I've had to grow up in many ways. I now know what to do if:

1. A dog escapes
2. You lose your credit card
3. You lose the car keys
4. You need a tow truck
5. Your car lights go out in the middle of a canyon
6. how to balance a checkbook and multiple bank accounts

as well as many other things.

But I've also learned where I got my

1. love for trashy tv shows and Sandra Bullock
2. spunky, sometimes too honest for regular taste personality
3. extreme love for ice cream
4. tendency to lose and forget things (as so indicated by the aforementioned list)
5. ability to love another human being more than one's self

So, it's true. My Nana might not be the same Lois she was 21 years ago in that Lakeview Hospital...

Yet she has remained strong. Courageous. Lively. Spunky. She laughs with ease at the tiniest things and let's life become joyous to her in an instant. She cries over clean carpets and random acts of kindness, she smiles at strangers and gives more love to her dog that I thought was humanly possible. All who know her love her. She is a true example of Christ-like love.

Thank you, dear nana, for everything.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

There's No Place Like Home

Home sweet home. Here I am once again, after the fastest year and a half of my life. It feels so good to be home, and yet so hard. My last week in the mission was truly a blur. I am so grateful for all the support that I received from the members in Reforma, where I was given a beautiful despedida. They tell you coming home is hard, and I knew it would be. It is. It is almost unexplainable... your life completely changes, literally overnight. I guess I should just be grateful I already speak the language. I spend my time babysitting my new nephew, or helping around the community. I'm really only me when I am in the service of other people, otherwise I just feel pretty useless. There is a loss of purpose coming home, which I imagine will get better. The temple really helps. The same Spirit of the mission still lives within my heart. I pretty much contact everyone I meet and tell them about the gospel. I'm going with the missionaries here to visit people and I try my hardest to be a good example. It is so much easier to talk about the gospel now. it's amazing. I guess it's because I understand the gospel so much more. All of my fear that I had before was gone, and I think it's because I understand the importance of our message and the joy and blessings that it brings to the people. I wish everyone could feel that, I wish we could be better missionaries to those around us. I know I am a better member missionary, and a better person for everything that I experienced while I was on the mission. What a great blessing to my life, right now and forever! Being with the family again is great, it's a big blessing. Family is central to God's plan, that is something that I know for sure. It brings me so much joy in my life, and I want all to have that same kind of joy. I guess I don't really have much to say, just wanting all my people out there to know that I am home safe and home happy, and that I am grateful for all the support, all the prayers, and everything that you all did for me during our past year and a half. I know God lives and that He has restored His true church on the earth today through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know Joseph was a man and made mistakes, just as we do, but that he really was ordained to be a prophet of God and did it incredibly well, facing adversity and eventually giving his life, sealing his testimony with his blood. I know we have a living prophet, a man who communicates with God, that leads and guides the world today. We are such a blessed people to be living on the earth today. I will keep updating the blog as time goes by, but just remember, let your light shine so they can see HIM.

Con amor,

Hermana Burton *that's the joy of being a sister missionary, you stay with the same title forever!*