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.