We Lived in Heaven!

Have you ever wondered where you came from?

I’m not talking about where you were this morning, where your ancestors are from, not even how you were conceived.  But you–where did your spirit, your own personal soul come from?

The beautiful answer is found in one of our fundamental beliefs as members of Christ’s church, which is that we lived with our Father in Heaven before we came to this earth.  Our spirits are eternal, and our stay here on earth is but a period of time in a vast eternal round.

….WHAT?  We were where? What was that life like?  Who did we know there?  Why are we here on earth now?  Are we going back to live with Him again?  Here’s some of my favorite little insight from an apostle of the Lord today about our experience before earth:

“You knew Jesus Christ, who would become the Lamb of God. You had faith in Him. And you knew that your destiny was not to stay in the security of your premortal home. As much as you loved that eternal sphere, you knew you wanted and needed to embark on a journey. You would depart from the arms of your Father, pass through a veil of forgetfulness, receive a mortal body, and learn and experience things that hopefully would help you grow to become more like Father in Heaven and return to His presence.

In that sacred place, surrounded by those you knew and loved, the great question on your lips and in your heart must have been “Will I return safely to my heavenly home?”

There were so many things that would be out of your control. Mortal life would be hard at times, filled with unexpected bends in the road: sickness, heartbreak, accidents, conflict.

Without a memory of your previous existence—without remembering that you once walked with your Father in Heaven—would you still recognize His voice amid all the noise and distractions of mortal life?

The journey ahead seemed so long and uncertain—so filled with risk.

It wouldn’t be easy, but you knew it was worth every effort.

So, there you stood on the edge of eternity, looking forward with unspeakable excitement and hope—and, I imagine, also with a degree of worry and fear.

In the end, you knew God would be just—that His goodness would triumph. You had participated in the great heavenly councils and knew that your Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would provide a way for you to be cleansed from sin and rescued from physical death. You had faith that, in the end, you would rejoice and join your voice with a heavenly chorus singing praises to His holy name.

And so, you took a deep breath …

And a great step forward …

And here you are!”

(To read/watch the rest and learn about the map God has provided for us here,
click here: Your Wonderful Journey Home, Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

HERE YOU ARE.  Can you believe it?  We are smack in the middle of our earthly adventures, and now it is up to us to live the way that will bring us that eternal joy we are promised through Jesus Christ.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same loving Heavenly Father, and He sent us here because He LOVES us and wants us to SUCCEED GLORIOUSLY.

So get out there!  Don’t be afraid!  You made the right choice once, and you can make it again!  Remember where you came from, and that you are not forgotten. ♥

Take the next great step forward and succeed gloriously, my friends!

Lesson Learned And The Wheel Keeps Turning ♫

Sometimes I feel like life is like a huge Ferris wheel.
This Ferris wheel is always turning; we are in a continual cycle of ups and downs. The interesting thing about this ride is that the pace is never the same– sometimes we seem to slow down at the top and we have times in our life that are wonderful and seem to last forever, but then we are inevitably faced with downs, hard times or trials, which may be short or may take longer than we’d like for the wheel to start slowly moving up again.
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Have you ever felt this before? And if you have, have you ever stepped back and wondered….what is the point?  I mean really, who wants to ride around on an endless Ferris wheel?  If we are in this continual cycle going nowhere, then why even get on?
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Two things.  
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The first: JOY!  Joy in the journey!  I don’t know about you,  but some of the most magnificent scenes I have ever beheld have been the grandeur of looking down on God’s remarkable creations–whether that’s
  • at the top of a Ferris wheel
  • the breathtaking view at the summit of a mountain peak
  • out the window of an airplane
  • from the top of the Eiffel Tower (or any other skyscraper!)
  • etc.
Pretty darn beautiful.  So the next time you are at the lowest of low, just remember that you will once again be at the magnificent top somewhere in the future!  And in the meanwhile–enjoy the ride.  Every single spot you are at on this wheel brings you a different perspective on what is around you, and it can be just as beautiful.
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The second: Here’s where the the difference comes in.  Unlike a Ferris wheel, our ups and downs DO have a point, and they DO get us somewhere.  They shape our hearts, they build our character, they give us experience, they bring us joy, and they fit us for the celestial life to come.  We need to experience the lows in life, otherwise we would never fully appreciate and understand the highs.  We need to face challenges, otherwise we would never truly be shaped into the divine beings that we were designed to become.
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I am personally so grateful for both of these experiences–through the darker times, I have come to learn so much about my Savior and so much about myself.  I can honestly say that I am building an unshakable foundation in Jesus Christ and His Gospel that cannot be rooted up by anything. I still struggle, I am still weak, but truly through Christ I am divinely capable and SO ARE YOU and so is EVERYONE ELSE!  If we have faith, even as a grain of mustard seed, then we can overcome all things, because God can work through us. And does He not have all power? “Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:31)
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So, enjoy EVERY MOMENT life has to offer you.  Embrace the ups and downs.  Keep having faith and trust in God’s promises! They are REAL and I know He will fulfill His promises to each and every one of us. Look forward with light in your eyes and love in your hearts and know He will bless you with the joy and strength to rise to whatever challenges you are facing!
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And remember, “Count it all joy.” (James 1:2)
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(p.s. ^^ “If there were no ups and downs in life, we would be dead.” 😉 )

How Great Shall Be Your Joy

This past weekend I was blessed to witness one of the biggest miracles I’ve ever seen!

It all begins with Anne, and oh does she come with a back story.

Anne is a 60 year old Italian lady who is 4’11” and has more spunk than anyone I know!  She was born and raised in Philly and has lived a life of tragedy and horror, experiencing every kind of abuse you could imagine and seeing more death than I can keep track of.  Through near death experiences, a violent mobster husband, a broken family situation, addictions, suicide attempts, betrayals, trauma, and the sudden death of her second husband (the first person whom she had ever felt unconditionally loved by) her life spun her into a long search for the love of the Lord.  After years of hating God due to the bitterness and tragedy life had given her, her journey toward Him began at last.

This journey led her to a variety of different churches, each slowly building her faith but not fully satisfying her spiritual hunger.

Through a miraculous turn of events, one day she was driving home from her bible study with tears streaming down her face, hurt and confused by the words someone had said in her study group.  Desperate for someone to turn to, she drove past the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center and saw the Christus statue through the windows and the words “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” along the building.  Making an unplanned U-turn into the parking lot, she walked in and was greeted by missionaries with open arms.  Little did she know that this was exactly where God had been leading her all along.

Fast forward to a week later, when my missionary companion and I show up on her doorstep to begin teaching her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–“the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).  A few months of teaching led us to last weekend, where with tears filling her eyes and the joyous light of Christ shining in her countenance, she entered the waters of baptism performed by the proper Priesthood authority of God!

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For someone who was led through a life of tragedy, abuse, and horror, she has come out refined, fortified, loved, and redeemed.  She has given me a whole new understanding of amazing grace— “I once was lost but now am found; I was blind, but now I see.”  She has found God, and He has truly found her.

One of my favorite things that she often says is that “God has been wanting me for a LONG time!”  She looks back in her life and sees how much He was fighting for her all along, trying to bring her into His loving arms.  “Well, He’s finally got me!” she exclaims.

We are ALL God’s children, and He wants ALL of us.  Every single one of us.

So…does He have you?  Are you willing to let Him into your life?

Think about that.

And never forget these two things: Miracles happen and THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!

Ann

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15)

Our Purpose. Our Adventure.

Everyone has a plan for their life.  Everyone has a dream.  Everyone wants a happy ending.  Yes, it sounds cliché, but it is true!  I believe that deep down, each one of us wants an adventure.  We want a life worth living, a goal worth achieving—a grand destiny that makes everything we go through in life worth enduring.  Some of us may be avidly working toward that dream.  Some of us may still be searching for what that dream is.  Some of us may have given up—may have buried those hopes deep within us because we have resigned ourselves to the daily grind of mundane life.

Well, I am here to tell you that all of us, every single human being on the face of this earth, have a divine destiny.  We are all part of a marvelous plan—a grand, eternal journey with incomprehensible joy as our reward.  However, like any worthwhile journey, we will face opposition.  After all, can we fully appreciate joy and peace unless we experience, at least for a while, despair and turmoil?  Every good adventure includes darkness and light, failure and triumph, good and evil, strength and weakness.  A hero is not made through enjoying a life of ease, but through learning to overcome obstacles and come off conqueror.

We are children of God.  He created us, and we lived with Him before we came to Earth.  He is our loving Heavenly Father, and He has sent us here for a reason.  He wants us to enjoy all His blessings.  In order to do that, we needed to progress and become more like Him.  And so, here we are!  We are in the middle of our mortal adventures, herein to learn, grow, progress, and gain experiences that will enable us to reach our divine potential.

My fellow seekers of light, let us not be weary in our journey.  Although at some times it may not feel like it, this life is full of wonder and purpose.  In a world that is increasingly full of darkness, let us keep the light of hope.  In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a living Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ,

What kind of existence can we hope for? Those who come unto Christ, repent of their sins, and live in faith will reside forever in peace. Think of the worth of this eternal gift. Surrounded by those we love, we will know the meaning of ultimate joy as we progress in knowledge and in happiness. No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

What will true followers of Christ do if we love Him?  We will keep His commandments.  We will enter in by the gate which He has laid before us—namely: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the only path that leads to eternal happiness.  This is our divine destiny.

I HAVE SET MY PATH.  Have you?