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!*

Monday, January 11, 2016

What a Perfect, Divine Choice

What can I say.

Wasn't it just yesterday that we started? That I grabbed you so tight in the airport and hugged you, realizing that 18 months was a short time compared with the blessings that laid ahead? Hasn't this past year and a half flown by? I almost feel like they are sending me home early, because it feels like yesterday that I was in the restaurant eating breakfast with Dad, super nervous with my stomach churning, it`s seems like yesterday that I got here to Mexico and learned how to work with pesos and it seems like yesterday when I cried and cried, not understanding a word of what they were saying, just yesterday that I started hoping and praying that nothing would happen to my family those 18 months that I was going to give to the Lord.

And oh, how I am given them to Him. I am given Him my heart. My health. My body. My mind. My strength. I have walked thousands of miles, braved hot summers, learned patience as the doors slammed in my face and the people spit at my feet. I have given him my soul as every morning I sought Him in my studies, I grew to love Him more as I read Jesus the Christ, I became a better me as I realized that weaknesses were not the same as sins, and that the mission was an opportunity not just to change my weaknesses, but rather, to change ME. And how He has changed me.

I am more convinced every day that we are part of HIS true and living Church. I am more converted every day to my Savior and Redeemer. It is through Him that we can be saved, and only Him. I understand more how the church works, and why. I have grown to love people more that I have ever loved before, I have gained another family here in Mexico.

How I will miss you, my dear Mexico. How my heart breaks to leave you. The humble people, the venders in the streets, the traditions and abrazos and besos that come with every greeting. The food and smells of the streets, the language and the animo that comes from a culture such as this. I will miss the bus rides and the little stores, the gates that protect all the houses, the natural friendliness and acceptance that all have for us.

Most of all I will miss putting on that plaque everyday. I will miss being a emissary of my Lord and Savior. I will miss serving His children. I will miss it so much. I will miss meeting new people everyday and testifying to them of the love of God and the Restoration and how it can bless their lives and their families.

I will miss it so much.

How did it pass by so quickly?

Monday, January 4, 2016

We Know The Plan of God

Wow. The end is close. This is so exciting. And so heartbreaking. Who knew these feelings could all exist at the same time? 

Celebrated the new year with a huge party and fireworks outside our house. Didn't hardly sleep (other HB was sawing logs, lucky!) and that affected me all week. But I look for the good because I am healthy and happy and I am giving it my all and I am a representative of Jesus Christ! For 2 more weeks I will have that privilege. 

I see the people here and I feel so much love for them. I told HB that it is so hard, because I am leaving people I love here to go home to people I love. Its a lose lose, win win situation. Never been in this situation before. We actually have been talking a lot lately about my feelings and I told her yesterday, If the prophet or one of the apostles asked me to serve for the rest of my life, I would say yes. It would be so, almost impossibly, hard, but I would do it, because it would also be something beautiful. Then I paused, thought about it, and I told her, but then again, a prophet has told me that my mission is only 18 months. And that then I go home, and put in practice all that I learned and help others to do the same. They have commanded me to go home and someday get married. So I guess, even though it is so, almost impossibly, hard I will do it. I will go home. For it is what the Lord has asked me to do. I truly have learned that when we put His will first, everything will work out just fine.