Sunday, July 26, 2020

Home Church and the Book of Mormon

Happy Sunday, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜ I hope you are all doing well on this lovely sabbath day! As with every Sunday, I have church on my mind! Boy oh boy, do I love all things related to church, spirituality, divinity, and religion! ๐Ÿ˜‡

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I have mainly been doing home church since March 15th. That said, on May 19th (The 23rd anniversary of when my darling Gregor proposed to me!! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’–), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced: "we now authorize some meetings and activities to be resumed on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach." Yay yay happy day! Hip hip hooray! #clapclap ๐Ÿ‘

Thus, on June 21st, we so very happily celebrated our return to worshiping with our ward members in our actual church building! It was such an exciting event! We've been on a rotating schedule of doing home church on the first, second, fourth, and fifth (if applicable) Sundays of every month; we have in-person sacrament meetings with our wonderful ward members on the third Sunday of every month. Our second in-person sacrament meeting was this past Sunday, July 19th—it was so great, I loved it so much!

While I dearly miss regular in-person church, my family and I have been having some absolutely amazing and profound home church experiences together!

I began having my family focus our home sacrament meetings on the brilliant Come, Follow Me program that was introduced to the Church's membership in July, 2018. It's absolutely not a coincidence that the Church implemented their "home-centered, Church-supported" study program in January, 2019—one year before COVID-19 became a global pandemic. It's fully amazing that we had had an entire year of studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home together with our families in greater depth than we ever had before.

Talk about inspiration! ๐Ÿ’› They didn't know it at the time, but the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were unknowingly preparing Church members for the worldwide pandemic that would paralyze our entire planet just one year later. It truly blows my mind when I think of their level of inspiration! ๐Ÿคฏ

After the first couple of weeks of our family home church—consisting of opening and closing prayers, studying Come, Follow Me, and partaking of the sacrament, I felt greatly inspired to have us start watching the Book of Mormon Videos on one of The Church's YouTube channels. I told Greg of my feelings, and he agreed with me. Yay! ๐Ÿ˜

Each week after that, my family has had opening/closing prayers and partaken of the sacrament as usual, but I've now included having us watch and discuss a couple of Book of Mormon videos, followed with our stake leadership's weekly YouTube video message—which we've sometimes discussed, but sometimes those talks stand on their own and they haven't needed further discussion. Oh, and to make our experience even better, I signed into my YouTube account through our Roku YouTube app so we can watch the Book of Mormon together on our big-screen TV—which is so cool cool cool! ๐Ÿคฉ *Bonus points if you know what "cool cool cool" is from! ๐Ÿ˜„

It's been utterly astounding to me how greatly the Book of Mormon Videos have enhanced our home church! They instantly and fully bring the Spirit into our home! They give fresh insight, important context, and beautiful, tender feelings to the stories we've read and studied for years—I've had little tears while watching them more times than I can remember! ๐Ÿฅบ They show great examples to my family that I will be forever grateful for! ๐Ÿ’— And they always lead to wonderful, faith-filled, hopeful discussions about this life and eternity. They succeed at what movie makers for generations have tried to accomplish: positively impact audiences in ways they'll never forget! The Book of Mormon Videos evoke such depth of emotions that totally complement the way one feels while reading the actual book. ๐Ÿ“˜

I still absolutely love reading, studying, and listening to the scriptures. Watching the Book of Mormon Videos will never take the place of traditional scripture study by book. I know beyond any doubt that the Holy Ghost gives us the gift of vital truths when we sincerely read and study the scriptures. The holy scriptures are there for our benefit and use—every single day of our lives! Yet the Book of Mormon videos are one more brilliant way to really come to understand and love the messages that the Book of Mormon prophets, writers, and contributors are trying to convey and help us implement into our lives.

When I knew that the Lord wanted me to show all of the Book of Mormon Videos to my family, I decided to create a private playlist on my YouTube account. You see, The Church's YouTube channel has a ton of Book of Mormon Videos: longer videos, and snippet videos of particular stories that are also part of the longer videos.

While it's helpful to have so many excellent videos—especially for when you're teaching a specific principal found in the Book of Mormon, it's also a little confusing to know if you're re-watching snippet videos that you've already seen in the longer videos. Trying to navigate which videos my family should watch for our home church was a little time consuming; I clicked on too many videos, wondering if we should watch that snippet video, too, or if we'd already seen it.

Thus, I created my first-ever playlist on YouTube! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ƒ You laugh, but that was quite the momentous occasion for me! It's taken me many years, but I am finally an active participant and huge fan of all the goodness that YouTube has to offer. And of course, I stay away from all the weirdo, strange, and trashy videos out there. #nothankyou! ๐Ÿ‘Ž

I'm sooo grateful to my beloved church and its participating members for creating such lovely, spiritual masterpieces that will positively affect countless souls and bless humanity forever! Or, at least for as long as technology survives! ๐Ÿ˜„

I can't wait until all of the Book of Mormon Videos are completed and released! 2021 can't come soon enough, and it's not just because we want the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic to finally end! Ha ha. I hope that The Church will one day release a full-length Book of Mormon Movie with all of their fabulous videos rolled into one big cinematic masterpiece for the world to enjoy in movie theaters! Wow, can you imagine how spectacular that would be?! ๐Ÿ˜

But back to the inspiration of The Church's leadership...again, I'm amazed at the perfect timing of the release of the Book of Mormon Videos. They were given to us exactly when we needed them: less than six months before COVID-19 upended our lives. Just wow. I'm super thrilled that even more of their wonderful videos are coming ๐Ÿ‘—they will continue to support and inspire us through these crazy changes we're experiencing on nearly a daily basis! #pandemicfatigue ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Today, I decided it was time to release my playlist publicly(!) so that others can enjoy it, too! Yay! I reviewed all of the videos in my playlist, and they are all up to date. ๐Ÿ‘ I'll update my playlist every time The Church releases a new video.

Without further ado, here is my beloved playlist of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ! I dearly hope you'll press play many times and let your soul go on a life-changing journey that will bring you joy! ๐Ÿ˜‡ 


*As with anything, having the right mindset before participating in an activity makes all the difference. If you can watch the Book of Mormon Videos with an open heart and mind, your experience will be that much better. I highly recommend praying before watching them for the first time: pray that your heart and mind will be open to the Spirit; pray that you'll understand and internalize the many great truths being offered; pray that your soul will be willing to make those changes that will bless your life and others; pray that you'll have a soft heart toward things you might not understand or agree with.

Please know that I love The Book of Mormon with my whole heart and soul! It has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. Yet I'm most definitely not simply just a "blind" follower of my religion. I have spent uncountable hours upon hours studying, researching, and praying about all things related to Heaven. I have spent my entire life desiring to be extremely close to God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ—the literal Savior of our world and all of God's children. I have done everything possible to cultivate a working, successful relationship with the Holy Ghost who allows me that closeness with Them and Their angels. I continually choose to allow Them into my life to influence me for good—even though the outcome of whatever comes my way might not be exactly what I wish for or desire at the time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are two of the most important aspects of my life and who I fundamentally am—I love them and refuse to ever be separated from them! As the saying goes: I am true blue, through and through! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ˜Š

Photo Credit: Gospel Media Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Finally, I must share this fascinating tidbit: as I was writing this blog post today, I received an email from my ward's clerk. In it, our ward was told about our new in-person sacrament meeting schedule. Much to my delight, my ward now gets to meet more often than we have in the month of June and July! Yay! We're not back to in-person sacrament meetings each and every Sunday, but I'm so grateful we get to at least meet together twice a month now! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜€

Some may be skeptical, but I truly believe my ward's news that was delivered today is a beautiful tender mercy just for me! Yes, this updated sacrament meeting schedule will benefit our entire ward, but today's announcement was an incredible reminder to me that my Heavenly Parents, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost dearly love me and are very aware of the desires of my heart! And yes, I am super cheesy today! Okay, let's be realistic: when am I not cheesy?! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I can't help but relish the overwhelming feelings of love from Heaven that are sent directly to me. And it feels really good. ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
*If you'd like to read, listen to, and study the Book of Mormon in its entirety, download the app! ๐Ÿ˜€
iOS

If you'd like to read the Book of Mormon online, please click here and have a happy day! ๐Ÿค—

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

What Are We to Learn From This?

Hello, it's me! Yes, I'm still here nearly 11 months after my previous blog post! I actually began writing this post in February 2020—before the unbelievable COVID-19 pandemic put our entire planet on hold. Then there was the little matter of the 5.7 earthquake and thousands of aftershocks we've experienced here in Utah. And now we're watching protests galore unfold across America and some parts of the world. ๐Ÿ˜ข

To some, this post might seem a little odd to share at this point in our history. Yet I'm publishing what I wrote anyway because I took the time to write it, and I enjoy remembering our lives pre-pandemic, pre-earthquake, and pre need for current protests—because, yes, I dearly wish there were no racism, no inequality, and no injustice anywhere in our world! I want everyone to feel safe, secure, protected, loved, cared for, etc. ๐Ÿ˜”

Before I continue, please rest assured that everything is great in my little world. ๐Ÿ˜ I am so happy, healthy, and loving my days at home with my husband and children! My life is truly beautiful! That said, let's take a little trip to where I've been for the past several years outside of my happy life with Greg and our adorable children...

There's no easy way to start this, so I'll just dive in: In September 2019, my one and only mother married a man that I've never met! And she specifically chose not to tell any of her children, extended family members, or friends that she was going to marry him! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ My mom never told a single soul about her wedding plans outside of the man she married and the Nauvoo Temple staff!

There were no cleverly worded invitations, no exciting wedding preparations for my mother's children, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, siblings, etc., to be involved with. There was no beautiful wedding experience, no reception, nor any kind of happy celebration to enjoy for the people who love and support her. There were no cheesy, adoring, or artistic photos snapped. There are no videos of the "blessed day" to be enjoyed or laughed at by my mother's posterity. There hasn't been any sort of anything that we could happily post to any of our social media accounts. That said, my mom's new husband's family threw them a marriage celebration in Hawaii a few months after their wedding—but none of my mom's family or extended family were invited...including not me. ๐Ÿ˜ข

I found out that my mom married said-man-that-I've-never-met eight days after her wedding and sealing was finalized in the Nauvoo Temple! Adding insult to injury, I found out about my mom's wedding/sealing from my sister—and my sister found out all of that information through a text that my mom sent to my sister and brother! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ In my mom's somewhat-defense, she emailed me about her wedding/sealing the very next day after she texted my brother and sister. My mom claims that technology issues were to blame as to why I didn't receive her life-altering text, but the situation hurt my heart more than I can ever express. Because—Hello!a phone call would have been nice!!! Even now as I read what I wrote, I still cannot believe that my mother did all of that!

Prior to her new marriage, my mom lived off-and-on in her now-husband's house (she had her own separate bedroom) in a different state from us, for about four+ years. So my siblings and I were dealing with all of those continuing challenges even before our mother's unsettling elopement.

While I won't go into great detail, just know that my mom and I were extremely close emotionally speaking before all of this happened. Unfortunately, things have absolutely not been the same between my mother and me since October 2013. It's been such a rough six+ years, you have no idea! I could go on and on and on with maddening details of my childhood family's situation. I could literally write for endless hours about the frustrations, turmoil, heartache, bad dreams, etc., that my mother's actions have caused. I'm sorry if this is too vague for some of you, but there are many things that are too private to share...just don't let your imagination get the better of you.

Suffice it to say, after praying, studying, and researching innumerable articles, podcast episodes, videos, devotionals, and books by wonderful licensed therapists, happy life coaches, amazing religious/spiritual leaders, incredible motivational speakers, uplifting TED Talks, inspiring holy scripture verses, etc., and talking things through with my childhood family and extended family members, friends, and especially my most precious husband, Greg ๐Ÿ’–, I am finally at a point where I'm able to somewhat deal with my mother's new life. *But I'll never support nor condone her actions of marrying without including anyone in her joyful occasion besides her new husband. #noiwillnot! ๐Ÿ˜’

All of that said (yes, there's more ๐Ÿ˜…) I will never be able to fully express how devastating my mother's actions have been to me, nor can I adequately convey how difficult it was for me to get through those first four+ months after my mom's elopement. And I thought the previous five+ years had been rough! Ha! Unfortunately, they were just the prelude to my childhood family's new reality that repeatedly smacked us in the face like a dying fish out of water! ๐ŸŽฃ

While I'm thankful I've mostly turned the corner in terms of coming to accept the shocking reality of my mom's new life—and trying to get used to the spoken-and-unspoken conditions that have been established by her (many of which I absolutely don't agree with)—getting to this point was only possible because of untold hours of researching, listening, talking, writing, praying, and many tears. Even after all of that work, it was only after I realized that I had a version of relationship PTSD—that those in the psychology world define as mother wounds—that I was finally able to pick myself up and start moving forward. I'm so thankful I was finally able to begin grieving my mother and find a way to "deal" with her choices!

Yet as much as I thought I've been making great progress these past additional four+ months, just three nights ago, I had a doozy of a dream that showed just how much my subconscious is still struggling big time with my mother's new life. I was stunned at how revealing and truth-filled my dream was! It makes me tear up when I think about it—but again, I must keep moving forward.

Even last week, my brother, sister, and I had a group text going where we shared our grief at missing our mom and wondering when we would ever get to see her in person again—and it has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as our mother and her new husband are vacationing in another state...that is not where her children live!

To illustrate just how much mothers mean to their children throughout their entire lives, please read this section from The Science of Happiness Podcast, Episode 66—it's a great listen:

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: My father’s mother died in childbirth with him. And in our first set of questions, there was a question about, like, if you could change one thing about your childhood... ...Anything about the way you were raised. What would it be?

Joe DeCola: My mom. Yeah. I really think she would have been really an interesting woman.

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: Yeah.

Joe DeCola: And a really good thing in my life.

.....

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: [His mom] was so central in his narrative. There was a moment, and I think in set three, I think where it’s like, "If your apartment is burning and you can get all the people you love out and pets out of it, but you had to, like, go back for one material item, one possession. Like, what would you run back for in a fire?" And he said "This, you know, photograph I have of my mom." And yeah, I mean, I just kept crying. I could not stop crying, listening to him talk. And I didn’t know that. I mean, and that’s very significant. So, yeah, that was a revelation. It was just really poignant. He’s you know, he’s 82 and he never met her. And she still occupies such an important part of his life and consciousness.

Oh, how that story tugs at my heart strings! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ It's amazing that an 82-year-old man can still miss his mother that much! It makes me feel better knowing that my siblings and I aren't the only ones who are so attached to their mom. Mothers and fathers really do make the world go 'round!

Obviously, there are many sides to every story. My mom has her version of her dating/marriage story, too. My entire childhood family and my mom's siblings each have their individual perspectives about what occurred with my mom's new relationship and marriage.

*So, to anyone reading this blog post, just know that I dealt with my mom's situation in the best ways I knew how—and I was always trying to improve myself while processing everything! I tried so very hard throughout the past six+ years to do and be the best that I could for my parents, siblings, and myself. Regardless of anyone else's life experiences, no one can ever fully understand what I've been through, so I hope you will proceed with compassion and empathy toward me. My broken heart thanks you. ๐Ÿ˜”

While working through my issues with my mom's elopement and her new marriage, I pondered various coping mechanisms I could utilize. One of the best ways for me to process life is by writing. Yes, journal writing is always a great idea, but blogging is my absolute favorite! ๐Ÿ’›

Thus, I felt a strong desire to share my thoughts and feelings about my "mother issues" through my blog. I even drafted a few blog posts about my mom and her situation over the past year+ (including before she eloped), but they remain unpublished. After being reprimanded by my sister because she felt a blog post about nearly everything in our situation was too hurtful, I decided to do more research.

Not publishing my previous blog drafts about my mother and her dating/marriage situation was probably a good idea. It's no surprise that I can be feisty and "cutting" with my words if I want to. Most of the time, my words are lovely, uplifting, and kind. But I was so emotionally hurt by my mother that I was more than ready to let my pain and suffering explode like words spewing from the Hoover Dam! #noshame! Oh, the stories I could tell would make your head spin! Even though it would have felt really great to unload my feelings like that, it's probably best that I didn't publish my explosive sentences! ๐Ÿ˜„

While researching, I was so happy to read in several online sources that many experts state that sharing our personal stories is super helpful for each of us. Sharing our stories really does make us better people and might even help others learn something new in the process! I immediately felt relief and decided to compose a blog post that served not only my emotional healing, but one that could possibly help prevent others from making some of the mistakes I've endured (due to others' choices) over the past several years. Yay for story sharing days! ๐Ÿ˜

By the way, it feels incredibly great to finally be blogging again! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป I've wanted to blog about endless topics over the past few years, but I was so torn up inside about the situation with my mom that I just couldn't go there. Plus, I spent quite a bit of my free time trying to process everything, so I truly didn't have it in me to blog about all of my issues until now. I'm so happy to be posting on Enthusiastic Fantastic again! ๐Ÿ˜

Here's what I've learned from my childhood family's issues—from my earliest memories, to literally today—in no particular order:
  • If you are a parent, you must be the parent for your child no matter how old you or your child are. Don't "reverse" the roles of parent and child! Every child needs and deserves their parents until the day they die. Even in the afterlife (I believe in the postmortal spirit world), parents should be watching over and helping their children to the extent possible. I truly believe the role of parent continues throughout eternity. *A sweet example of parents always being there for their children in the proper parenting roles was shown in episode 10, season 6 of Madam Secretary. Stevie (First Daughter) is sitting between her parents, Elizabeth (Madam President) and Henry (First Gentleman), in the presidential limousine on the way to her wedding:
Elizabeth: So sweet of you, by the way, to drive with Dad and me. That means a lot. It's very sweet. Thank you.
Stevie: Yeah, well, I, um...I thought that it would give us a chance to talk.
Henry: Absolutely, What's on your mind?
Elizabeth: Listen, sweetheart, no matter how old you get or how many kids of your own you have, you can always come to us with anything, about anything.
The scene continues in funny banter between spouses, parents, and child, but it fully illustrates the point that parents should remain a significant, devoted source of comfort, safety, and love throughout their child's life. *As a side note, I'm super bummed that Madam Secretary was canceled! ☹
  • Regardless of how your child is acting/behaving, you must always show up as your child's parent! Unless a parent has a significant impairment that prevents them from understanding that they are a parent, parents should always rise above and be the good parent their child deserves. *If you have questions as to how to be a good parent, take the necessary time to learn, be humble enough to make needed changes, and then continually put forth your best efforts to become the wonderful parent your child deserves. It's never too late! Start today! Change happens the instant you decide!
  • Realize how incredibly important you are to your child. There is nothing that can ever replace the importance of a parent in a child's life. Parents are absolutely paramount! Of course, nearly every child will one day create their own life, but they still need their parents no matter their age or the level of success they achieve!
  • Create good, healthy relationships and support systems within your family, friends, and community. Then, when you're struggling—because we all struggle at times throughout our lives—make sure you reach out to that support system you've created to help you work through your issues. Never put your child in the role of "therapist" unless they are a fully grown adult who is happily established in their own life. Even then, use caution with how much you rely on your child; keep your child as your first priority in your relationship with them. If you're really in a jam and can't seem to unscramble the mess, find a well-credentialed therapist who will help you figure everything out—it will benefit you, your entire family, and your posterity.
  • Give your loved ones a heads up if you are going to elope! There is never any excuse good enough to justify not sharing your upcoming wedding news with those closest to you. That doesn't mean you need to include people in your wedding day specifically, you can totally have a private wedding, but you should definitely clue them in as to what's about to happen! *I recently read this lovely story about an older couple that found true love during the COVID-19 pandemic. I ate up every word about the darling couple and daydreamed about how amazing it would have been if my mom had simply given me the opportunity to somehow be involved in her engagement and wedding. ๐Ÿ˜ข
  • Do your utmost best in choosing your spouse. Look at every characteristic possible to determine if you two are a match. Spend ample time fully communicating about everything relevant to your future marriage and family. Don't leave any topic to chance! You don't want to discover a deal-breaker after you've already made the serious, life-changing commitment to your spouse. Then, do everything within your power to help create and sustain a happy, loving, long-term marriage and family! Marriage depends on both spouses continually giving their very best to each other—including forgiveness! ๐Ÿ’›
  • Unless there is abuse happening, stay married to your chosen spouse! Love each other wholeheartedly, unselfishly, and unconditionally throughout this life and into the next! Your first spouse should be your only spouse! Divorce should be your very last option after every other resource has been exhausted. Only resort to divorce if your marriage is truly "dead" beyond recovery. For further thoughts on this, please read this wonderful talk, "Divorce," by Dallin H. Oaks. *I fully understand there are certain situations that warrant divorce. I'm not saying that divorce should never happen. I'm just saying that every couple should try their very best to make their marriage happy, healthy, and loving, and then stay married!
So, where am I emotionally today? Well, I'm feeling a lot better compared to the emotional "bomb" I experienced in September, 2019, that's for darn sure! Obviously, blogging isn't the perfect answer to work through issues, by any means, but writing out and sharing my story has definitely helped—so thank you for reading! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I still haven't met my new stepfather (not even virtually or via phone call!) and I don't know if or when that will happen. That feeling totally sucks, but I'm getting used to it. I know...that's complete and utter craziness, but it's the truth.

Now, on to a few happier things:

The fantastic news is, I've paid to have my domain name remain active for Enthusiastic Fantastic through 2029! Woohoo and yippee skippee! I find great satisfaction in knowing that my blog will live on for at least another nine+ years—it gives me true joy! ๐Ÿคฉ

And I must share these happy photos that my children took of Greg and me on Mother's Day, 2020! My children know that one of the very best gifts they can give me are photos! ๐Ÿ“ธ Greg, our three darlings, and I spent quite a bit of time posing and taking photos as my main Mother's Day gift. We had the best time together! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ

I'm so very thankful for my amazing family—that literally exists because Greg and I fell eternally in love! ๐Ÿ˜ Greg and I are 100% committed and faithful to each other, and I'm beyond grateful that our family reaps the benefits of our happy, healthy marriage every single day!

Greg & Adrie Peterson ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’› 05/10/2020 ๐Ÿฅฐ

Greg and I were acting like robots for this one! #robotdancers! Ha ha ๐Ÿ˜‚

Monday, July 8, 2019

My Jerry Maguire Moment

At 10:37 p.m. this past Friday, I published a blog post that took me a couple of days to write. It was a deep, heartfelt, very raw piece of work. I worried about sharing it here on Enthusiastic Fantastic because it contained a lot of truths that would probably hurt the feelings of my childhood family (i.e., my "first" family; the family of my birth), and possibly further damage our relationships, but I posted it anyway. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, I awoke with my heart pounding and the thoughts rushed into my mind, "What have I done?! I need to go revert my blog post back to a draft RIGHT NOW!" Yes, it was a true Jerry Maguire moment—I laugh that I now feel such a kinship to a fictional character! ๐Ÿ˜‚


Like Jerry at the beginning of his journey, I typed and typed and typed to create my truth-filled blog post! I endlessly wrote my feelings about, observations of, and solutions to my issues with members of my childhood family—things I've thought throughout the years but haven't said publicly. It was such a therapeutic opportunity for me and I loved every minute of it! ๐Ÿ’› But then the panic set in, just like Jerry Maguire's realization moment!


Sadly, this YouTube clip doesn't show Jerry's pit-in-the-stomach scene when he finally internalizes what he's done by creating his 25-page memo and sharing it with everyone in his company (they edited it out ๐Ÿ‘Ž). Spoiler alert! Jerry's bold, truthful actions got him fired!


Side note: you can watch Jerry Maguire (the creator of this video clip spelled Maguire wrong!) for free on Amazon if you're willing to watch it with commercials! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ *Also, I don't normally endorse rated R movies, but I saw Jerry Maguire when I was a very young adult and I hadn't made the commitment to not watch rated R movies. I personally own the content-edited-for-TV version and I absolutely love it! #noswearing ๐Ÿ˜€ Despite its conflicts in many areas with my personal beliefs and commitments, Jerry Maguire has some great universal truths that everyone can learn from.


I had the same type of freak-out thoughts when I awoke so early Saturday morning: If members of my childhood family read my brutally honest blog post, they just might not recover! I could be fired from my childhood family! ๐Ÿ˜‚ And, when I really thought about it, no, I didn't and don't want to be fired from my childhood family. Because, for good and bad, family is family, after all. ๐Ÿ’”


I quickly got out of bed and sleepily hurried down the stairs as speedily as I could without falling over—I always get headrush when I get out of bed too fast! When I pulled up my blog's stats on "Hmm, What to Say," I was relieved to see that only three people had viewed my blog post—whew!—and I was one, if not two of them! Ha ha. ๐Ÿ˜… After I clicked "Revert to draft," I felt immediate relief! My heart quit pounding, and I happily and very slowly went back upstairs to bed. I instantly fell back asleep and slept well the rest of the night.

When I awoke a few hours later, I wondered if I had overreacted by reverting "Hmm, What to Say" back to a draft. I pulled up my blog post on my phone—thankfully, it was still there from the night before! I felt so sneaky reading my blog post that technically wasn't there anymore—it was such my fun little secret! ๐Ÿ˜„ That sounds so silly, but I loved it!


I read through "Hmm, What to Say" again and was very happy ๐Ÿ˜‡ with my blogging efforts—it was a great post that I loved writing and reading! Yet after analyzing my words in the very bright morning light of my corner bedroom, I knew I had made the right decision to revert it back to a draft and not keep it posted here.


Sunday, after church, while Greg and I were having a deep conversation about both of our childhood families, I read "Hmm, What to Say" to him. It was such fun reading aloud my words that I had so painstakingly composed. Greg thought it was a great post, too! Yay! Disclaimer: I gushed quite a bit about Greg in my post, so of course he enjoyed it! Ha ha.


Greg eventually agreed with me that I shouldn't post "Hmm, What to Say" on my blog. He only admitted that after I pestered him to really tell me what he thought. Greg is and has always been 100% supportive of my blogging efforts here on Enthusiastic Fantastic. He continually says, "Write whatever you want! It's your blog!" and has never wanted to get in the way of any of my blog posts. So it took a lot for him to tell me not to post it—and I definitely listened to him because of that fact.


In the end, I'm so thankful I took the time to blog about something so serious, even though I didn't keep it published here. Writing is so therapeutic to my soul, it always makes me a better version of myself! I especially love blogging and always will! I'm so truly grateful to Blogger for hosting such a great space where I can share myself on the World Wide Web! Thank you, Blogger, from the bottom of my heart! ๐Ÿ˜˜


Here is a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell's brilliant talk, "Enduring Well," that we can all learn from. His words apply to every experience we have in this life—especially when it comes to our families. ๐Ÿ˜Š

"Part of enduring well consists of being meek enough, amid our suffering, to learn from our relevant experiences. Rather than simply passing through these things, they must pass through us and do so in ways which sanctify these experiences for our good (see D&C 122:7). Thereby, our empathy, too, is enriched and everlasting."
I am grateful for Elder Maxwell's wise words and will try my best to remember them when dealing with my childhood family and our ongoing issues.

Finally, I found this fabulous dress (photos below ) at Lulus for a fantastic price of only $14! Yes, I really did! Believe it! ๐Ÿ˜„ This dress is no longer available, as Lulus' inventory moves very quickly—especially when it's on sale. But Lulus always has amazing dresses and if you watch their website closely, you can frequently get outstanding deals like this one. That said, if you find a dress that you absolutely can't live without, I don't recommend waiting for it to go on sale because you might miss out on your size! And I don't want anyone living with dress regrets! ๐Ÿ˜‚

*By the by, I'm not being paid or sponsored in any way to share my thoughts about Lulus—they are mine and mine alone without any sort of outside influence whatsoever.

Oh, how I love dresses and dressing up! ๐Ÿ˜ I'm so grateful that my sweet little family puts up with my dress obsession and takes photos of me wearing said obsessions whenever I ask them! Ha ha. ๐Ÿ˜† My darling Gregor took these photos for me after I got home from church yesterday. I love how he snapped a bunch of pics while I was trying to keep my hair from blowing all over the place—it's fun to see behind the scenes! Thank you, Greg! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ˜˜

Click on each photo for a crisper/clearer view.

Bye now! I hope you have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿ˜€

Friday, May 10, 2019

Just Say "NO!" to Mark Zuckerberg

Guess what?! I finally and thoroughly said "NO!" to Mark Zuckerberg! And just how did I say no to the all-powerful Zuck, you ask? Simply by deleting my Facebook account! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ƒ I'm also leaving Instagram, but that process is taking longer to complete than it took for me to delete my Facebook account—more on that to come.

You might wonder why I suddenly decided to delete Facebook after all of these years, and leave my beloved Instagram. Well, it's because I read a lot of articles that share just how much Facebook and now Instagram have messed with our society. It's not good news! If you're interested, here are the articles I read that solidified my decision:









Also, in late 2018, I watched Frontline's documentary"The Facebook Dilemma," and it definitely had an influence on my #deleteFacebook! decision. I highly recommend watching Frontline's entire presentation! ⭐



What's crazy is that those articles are just a sampling of the negative press about Facebook! Instagram didn't used to have much bad press, but since it was bought by Facebook, I've seen IG in the press more and more and it's not good news. Oh, how I wish Instagram had never sold-out to Facebook! ๐Ÿ‘Ž That said, let's continue with my story. ๐Ÿ˜Š

On March 23rd, 2019, I logged back into Facebook for the first time in four years so I could finally delete my account once and for all! (I deactivated my account on March 9th, 2015.)

Let me tell you, logging back in to Fakebook was the strangest moment I've had in the past four years! It was so odd seeing very familiar parts of FB, but there were also new things I wasn't familiar with. I read the instructions as to how to download all of my data and permanently delete my Facebook account; it took me a while to figure everything out.

While I waited to get my Facebook account's data download, I looked at several people's pages that I hadn't had contact with since I left that blue and white world. I was surprised to see that a couple of my friends had new babies, and several friends had moved to new homes, but everything else in everyone else's lives pretty much fell in line with their posts from four+ years ago.

It was so interesting to note that all of my Facebook friends and family (that I don't have continuous/regular contact with) basically stayed the same—meaning, we are who we are! Good, bad, or indifferent, we fundamentally don't significantly change over the years! It really was such a fascinating "experiment" on my end! I'm actually really glad I was able to experience my own version of a "social scientist study" by being active on Facebook, then deactivating my account, and later going back on it for a couple of hours!

What surprised me the most about my adventure of logging back in to Facebook is how much time I spent there! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ I pulled up many pages of people I wanted to check up on, so that took time in and of itself. Yet I never could have predicted my many random clicks—i.e., my wonderings about other people who showed up on my friends/family members pages—and how long my "inquiries" took to resolve! ๐Ÿ˜†

I really "fell down" the Facebook Rabbit Hole and it was nothing close to a happy Wonderland! Ha ha. It was a stark reminder of how Facebook is/was not good for me—it's a HUGE time waster!

*Please let me clarify that the people I care about aren't a waste of time. It's just that the way Facebook is set up is meant to make us waste as much time on there as possible, which is not good for us. If you'd like concrete evidence of that fact, read this statement from New York Media's Intelligencer article, "Sean Parker: We Built Facebook to Exploit You": 

"Parker explained just how he and the other early Facebookers built the platform to 'consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.'"
Sean's statement makes me cringe and get a pit in my stomach! It's terrible what the Facebook machine has purposely and very knowingly done—and continues to do—to our society!

If you'd like to hear more from Sean Parker's interview, watch this video that also includes an interview with Chamath Palihapitiya, an early senior executive at Facebook


*As a warning, be aware that Chamath uses strong language—i.e., swear/cuss words which I can't stand!

When it came down to actually deleting my Facebook account, I double checked everything very carefully. I made sure I had all of my data because those posts/messages/comments were important memories from my family's history! ๐Ÿ’– Once I was certain that my data download was complete, I clicked the blue box that said " Delete Account"! It was such an amazing feeling to click that button, you have no idea! Wow, talk about an adrenaline rush! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Okay, that might seem like a strange reaction to have, but knowing I still had a Facebook account—even though it was deactivated—was always in the back of my mind, and it bothered me! I felt like a hypocrite because I so did not support Facebook and all of the problems it's introduced into our society, yet I still owned my deactivated account! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ By continuing to have a deactivated Facebook account, I wasn't living congruently to my soul. Thus I was so very happy to rectify my incongruous situation by finally deleting my Facebook account! Yay yay happy day! ๐Ÿ˜

*In my estimation, my previous Facebook account has now been deleted from our universe for two-and-a-half weeks! Woohoo! ๐Ÿ‘Š

Deciding to also delete my private Instagram account was a bit more difficult for me. I absolutely loved my time on Instagram over the past five years—I joined on February 26th, 2014—and I knew I'd deeply miss it. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ Yet after reading all of the articles I listed above, and knowing how Instagram has fundamentally changed for the worse since Facebook gained control, I knew what I had to do.

When I downloaded my private Instagram account's data, I was extremely disappointed to find that Instagram doesn't put your photos and captions in the same files! In fact, I couldn't even find all of my photo captions! They seemed to be hidden away deep within my data download, and the only way I could access them was to download my captions' file folder contents to a sketchy online program that converted them into an Excel spreadsheet which I then had to re-download.

I later discovered that that online conversion program downloaded a tracking virus to my computer, too. Boo! ๐Ÿ˜  Thankfully, I eradicated the virus from my computer. But even when the sketchy online conversion program separated out my captions into the Excel spreadsheet, some of my captions were still missing—which ticked me off!


After all of the time and effort I spent downloading my Instagram world, I realized that this manipulation of our data is yet another devious Facebook tactic meant to keep its users hooked and brainwashed every day! But I will not fall for it! No, I will not! #feistyAdrie ๐Ÿ˜‡


Thus, as much as I was so giddy to also delete my private Instagram account right away, it will have to wait for a future day hopefully not too far away. For now, I need to work on copying/pasting all of my photo captions into a Word document. Unfortunately, my captions won't match up exactly with my photo files as Instagram's data download just groups them by month ๐Ÿ˜ž, but at least I'll have them!


Greg suggested that I create a private blog to post our photos and captions there, but that would take up entirely too much of my time as I have 950 private Instagram posts and multiple photos on many of them! So yeah, at this point, I'd rather have a journal-type document and keep it in the same computer file as my Instagram photos. It's not a perfect system, but it's better than not having my captions at all!


You see, I absolutely loved writing photo captions on my Instagram posts! It really helped me remember all of the wonderfulness or frustration of each day or experience that I posted about. Plus, I just love love love words!!! #EnthusiasticFantastic! ๐Ÿ˜ So yes, a big part of the reason I loved contributing on Instagram was because of the wordy details I shared there. I love composing captions! ๐Ÿ’›


And yes, I fully know that blogging is the best way to share large amounts of words, which is why I'm currently in the process of retraining my brain to come blog at my computer rather than composing and posting via my smart phone. It's been a long process to eradicate the "addictiveness" of Instagram from my daily life, but I'm totally getting there! I am making progress in my Instagram-free efforts! Yay! A fabulous quote I heard last night (while listening to a wonderful BYU Devotional, "Wrestling with Comparisons" by J.B. Haws—go listen to it right now! ๐Ÿ˜€) really helps me solidify that writing on my blog is one of the best things I can do:

"Writing makes an exact man."
– Francis Bacon
I absolutely love that quote and couldn't agree more! Yes, writing makes me an exact woman! #choosetowrite! ๐Ÿ˜

Here are some of my Instagram side notes: my final post was on April 3rd, 2019; I completely deleted the app from my phone; I no longer scroll my feed; and copying/pasting my many photo captions into a Word doc will be one of my summertime projects of 2019!

Guess what else?! I have even more information to share about why we should just say "NO!" to Mark Zuckerberg and get off all of the social media platforms Facebook controls. Are you ready for this?! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ


A little while after I started my Facebook account deletion process, I saw this incredible new TED Talk given by Carole Cadwalladr at TED's April, 2019 conference—it's an absolute must-watch!




Around that same time, I stumbled upon this article that deeply disturbed me ๐Ÿ˜ง:


Here is the gist about what one former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did to his family members and friends, and the other people whose family/friends signed up for his "services" online via personalized Facebook ads—it's utterly appalling to me! I just can't believe that Facebook allows such blatant targeting of its users!

"...The project was called MormonAds, and it was a brief but perhaps unprecedented experiment in targeted religious dissuasion. In four months at the end of 2017, the project targeted more than 5,000 practicing Mormons with messages painstakingly crafted to serve as gentle introductions to the messier elements of LDS history that were glossed over within the church. All the names and email addresses for the campaign came from disillusioned ex-Mormons.
"...Jones had a working knowledge of Facebook's ads tool through his business, and he knew that he could precision target an ad to a custom audience as small as 20 people. All he needed were their email addresses. 'If I target my family with ads, then I’m not the apostate messenger,' he said. 'Maybe they’ll look at it or read it. If they knew what I knew about Mormon history, they’d understand why I left the church.'"
Based on that article alone, it's clear that Facebook is not safe for any of us! Facebook is not our friend in any way, shape, or form! We should run as far and as fast as we can away from Facebook's creepy alternate universe!

All of the information I've shared in this post would have easily been enough, but yesterday morning, I was introduced to two additional, shocking articles that further support my stance that we should all delete our Facebook and Instagram accounts immediately! I highly recommend reading both of them as they will blow your mind! ๐Ÿ’ฃ๐Ÿ’ฅ I hope they will convince you to strongly say "NO!" to Mark Zuckerberg, too! #justdoit! #justsayNO!

Opinion


If we want anything to change within our social media atmosphere, we must band together and stand up for what is right and true! You might think I'm overreacting, but I know I'm not. The future of our society for generations to come depends on what we all do right now! We cannot wait for some government to change our social media climate! Only we can make that positive change that needs to be made!


With every bit of seriousness I can muster, please understand that (from everything I've read, watched, and listened to) Mark Zuckerberg certainly will NOT be the positive and righteous change agent for our world. No, Zuck is fully looking to keep his world domination and has zero intentions of ever stepping down from his data-driven, citizen-powered throne! Furthermore, the many Facebook executives and employees won't step up and make the necessary changes either because they're all enjoying their vast amounts of money entirely too much—money that they've all made from us wasting our precious time on their addictive and destructive apps!


So, you might be wondering where I will go in our social media universe, as there aren't too many options outside of Facebook's empire. It's true, I'm definitely not going to give up social media all together just because of a few really bad apples in the basket. Thus, after doing a lot of research, I decided to join Flickr! Yay Flickr! ๐Ÿ˜€


I really like that Flickr was sold by Yahoo in 2018 to a conscientious, family-owned company named SmugMug. Based on what I've researched, Flickr is now all about its users': photographs; experience on Flickr; connection with people they want to be connected to; and privacy!


I also love the fact that I can pay for Flickr Pro(!) and get the following, "Unlimited storage, ad-free browsing, advanced stats, and more." I am so interested in unlimited storage, and especially in an advertisement-free(!) Flickr experience! Yes, I am totally willing to pay a small fee for social media freedom from constant advertisements and insane invasions of my privacy!


If you're interested, here's more information about the Flickr/SmugMug partnership:





*In case you're wondering, no, I have not been asked to promote Flickr in any way. I've not been contacted by Flickr to sign up, share my thoughts, nor anything close to that. I'm simply sharing my opinion on what I think is currently the best replacement for Instagram and Facebook.


The only problem is, I can't get any of my friends to sign up on Flickr with me because they're all so in love with Instagram and Facebook! (They're probably also "addicted" to IG and FB to some extent.) #sosadface! ๐Ÿ˜ข My dearest mom and sweet auntie have both signed up on Flickr (Thank you, darling ladies!) and we're now following each other, but we're it! Oh, how I would love it if my other family members and friends joined me on Flickr!


Here are my stats for my other social media accounts:


I don't plan to ever quit Twitter unless something really crazy happens in the future. I haven't used Twitter a lot yet, as I've been super busy lately, but that awesome time will come in the future where I'll be sharing my blog post links to Twitter on a regular basis! Yay yay happy Twitter days! ๐Ÿ˜„ I've researched Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, and while he seems a little extreme in some of his personal views and habits, I feel much better about him and his leadership capabilities than I ever did about Mark Zuckerberg. Maybe I'll just refer to Jack as being a little eccentric...as we all are in our own ways! ๐Ÿ˜‰


I will totally keep my Pinterest and LinkedIn accounts, too. I share my blog post links on Pinterest, but I also love posting the many additional articles, videos, and podcasts I feel are worth sharing and referring back to. I'm not super active on LinkedIn, but I absolutely understand the tremendous value of being a member on LinkedIn! It is a great networking tool!


And of course, I will continue sharing here on Enthusiastic Fantastic! It is and will remain my main internet and social media love forever! ๐Ÿ˜„ Unless something catastrophic happens to me or the world wide web, I will always keep posting here!


Finally, I understand that many of you will choose to stay connected via Facebook and Instagram indefinitely, which is totally your right and privilege. I won't hold your choices against you—I promise! ๐Ÿ˜˜ We are all so blessed to have the God-given gift of free agency! Each of us gets to choose how we live our marvelous miraculous lives and spend our precious beautiful days. ๐Ÿ’— But we are also subject to the consequences of our many actions—be they good, bad, or boring. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thus, we must be satisfied with the choices we make, for it is terrible to be filled with regret! Yes, I'm so happy that I choose to live my life free of regrets every day!


My sincere hope is that each of us as individuals, and our society as a whole, will wake up to this mess Mark Zuckerberg has created and be the positive change that makes our world a better place for everyone!


Have a great day making your best choices! ๐Ÿ˜˜

Monday, March 18, 2019

Be One: Being One with the Saints

Hi! ๐Ÿ˜€ Yesterday morning, I was a speaker in my ward's sacrament meeting! I had several friends ask if they could have a copy of my talk, so I decided to publish it here on my blog! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ While I had such a great time researching and writing my talk (I would have enjoyed the process even if it was only for me!), I'm so very happy others found my words to be helpful! ๐Ÿ’› I hope you enjoy them, too! ๐Ÿ˜˜ Have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ˜

✯✯✯✯✯

Be One: Being One with the Saints 
Adrie Peterson
03/17/2019 

Good morning! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m super excited with the topic I’ve been asked to speak about, which is: Be One: Being One with the Saints. 

To begin, let’s discuss what it really means to be considered a saint. We’re not talking about the worldly view of sainthood—you know, the one that engenders the image of perfection with a halo on top—rather, the true, foundational definition of saints contained in the scriptures.

While summarizing the Book of Acts with my daughter for her World Religions class, I enjoyed knowing that the first disciples of Christ—the believers—were always called saints—even though they fumbled their way through everything and frequently made mistakes. In the Bible Dictionary, it clarifies that in the New Testament, saints are all those who entered into the Christian covenant through baptism. In Guide to the Scriptures, a saint is defined as a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ. Mosiah 3:19 explains that we becometh saints through the atonement of Christ the Lord. Romans 1:7 tells us that those who are “beloved of God” are “called to be saints.”

From these examples, it’s evident that if we’ve been given the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we’ve been baptized in His name, and we’re striving our best to be His disciples, and we’re faithfully utilizing His Atonement, and we are obviously “beloved of God,” then we, too, are called to be saints—the latter-day version! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Okay, so now that we know all current members of the Church of Jesus Christ are called to be Latter-day Saints, why is it important that we continually be one with the saints?

As you well know, we are currently living in a fallen world where things are definitely less than celestial.

Journalist and author, Sebastian Junger, has written a book that talks about how our modern society—while great for ease, convenience, physical health, safety, affluence, and other positives—is actually causing us significant psychological problems, which include increasing rates of depression, PTSD, and suicide.

He points out our great need for belonging in tight-knit communities that highlight loyalty, meaning, and opportunities to help others. He explains that when humans don’t have those close, interpersonal relationships with opportunities to participate, collaborate, and be involved in others’ lives, we will absolutely not do well. He further states that, “Humans do not survive alone in nature—they don’t survive psychologically, and they don’t survive physically—they die in every sense.”

He also writes about how contempt is especially corrosive to the unity we humans are seeking and yearning for because it implies that one group doesn’t deserve society’s benefits.

All of that said, Mr. Junger shares this good news: that being embedded in a close community buffers people from their psychological problems. He absolutely believes that the way to save humanity begins at the community level.

I couldn’t help but associate all of that information with the significant benefits of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s amazing to see how our Church—and all it encompasses—meets every one of his criteria for psychological health and well-being. We just have to be willing to fully participate in the Church—to the best of our abilities! ๐Ÿ˜Š

To further back up my feelings, I’d like to share a little of what I’ve been learning through my study of positive psychology—which is defined as: the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

Positive psychologists have found that the ancient Greeks were right in their definition of happiness, which is: the joy that we feel in striving for our potential. Researchers have also found that joy is inextricably linked to meaning, and happiness is linked to the way we live our lives. They’ve concluded that real social connection is as predictive of how long we’ll end up living as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking. Their findings prove just how much we genuinely need each other!

After all I’ve experienced and researched in my life, I can’t think of a better place where people can go to strive toward their potential, find meaning, and experience happiness, than our Church. Truly, living the gospel of Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness! ๐Ÿ˜Š

For years, scientific studies have found that when people practice and experience more gratitude, they report feeling happier, healthier, and more connected to others. Grateful people also feel humble and have a larger response in the brain toward charitable giving.

Positive psychology research also shows that when meditation is combined with gratitude, the body relaxes, breathing is regulated, and the brain experiences feelings of safety and love. And those benefits last longer the more a person practices it. In fact, if a person meditates on gratitude for less than two minutes every morning for 21 days, they will become happier and more optimistic!

While that happy information is fantastic all on its own, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg has found through his research that prayer is much better and more powerful than basic meditation or mindfulness training. He has proof that when athletes—who believe in God—pray, something happens in their brains that actually improves their athletic performance!

But let’s take all of that information a spiritual step further. I find it fascinating that in our Church, we know through revelation that the second step of prayer—after lovingly addressing our Father in Heaven—is to express gratitude and thanksgiving. It’s wonderful that, from day one, we are taught the four principles of prayer. Yes, Heavenly Father created His plan so that every one of us will succeed in happiness throughout our entire lives if we will simply pray with gratitude every day! ๐Ÿ˜Š

“Happiness researchers” have also discovered that when people write in their journals about gratitude—including reflecting on all the people and even their ancestors who helped them get where they are in their lives—their brains show a greater neural response to giving, their gratitude increases, and their overall happiness increases, which helps them rise to their challenges of daily living.

They also found that when people write in their journals about one meaningful experience they’ve had over the past 24 hours, their brain doubles the value of that experience. If they do that journaling exercise for 21 days, they’ll find an upward trajectory of meaning in their lives which results in greater happiness!

That reminds me of our Church leaders’ continual counsel to keep a journal, and the power that accompanies our writing efforts. It’s not a coincidence that the scriptures contain verses that urge record keeping. And just think about the amazing opportunity we’re given to do temple and family history work because of our Church. The blessings of turning our hearts to our fathers and mothers are legitimate!

I could go on for days about the scientifically-proven physical and emotional benefits of exercising! Every day, our bodies are meant to move at whatever level of ability we’ve been given. When we follow the crucial health principle of physical exercise, our brains understand that our behavior matters—which is optimism—which causes us to create an entire constellation of positive habits around us. And this falls right in line with the scriptural teaching that each of our precious bodies are temples of God, and we must care for them as such.

Positive psychologists have also found that random acts of kindness are happiness multipliers. Not only do random acts of kindness make the receiver happy, but as soon as the giver starts talking about those acts, or thinking back on them, they immediately start to smile. Random acts of kindness also show us how powerful we are—that we have the power to change the reality we see around us; that we can improve the lives of others!

Obviously, we can choose to do random acts of kindness for others every day of our lives—it’s exactly what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to do! But again, we have so many additional opportunities to bless the lives of others because of our membership and dedicated service in the Church.

I enjoy knowing that the science of positive psychology is now validating what many souls have found in religion for thousands of years. Science keeps showing that the things religious traditions have been teaching are actually valid. Oh how I would love to introduce those researchers, psychologists, and scientists to the benefits of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

But wait! There’s more! ๐Ÿ˜€

While researching stem cells, I came across a study that floored me. Dr. Omar Yilmaz, a gastrointestinal pathologist and professor, has discovered that a single 24-hour fast dramatically improves the function of stem cells and their ability to regenerate—regardless of the age of the patient.

I’ve personally experienced and witnessed the awesome and humbling miracles of following the Lord’s commandment of fasting, but this new information about stem cells was positively thrilling! And just as a side-note reminder from President Joseph F. Smith, “There is such a thing as overdoing. A man may fast and pray till he kills himself; and there isn’t any necessity for it; nor wisdom in it.”

Last year, I was excited to learn of the scientifically-proven physical and emotional benefits of singing in a choir which include: strengthened feelings of togetherness; regulated heart rates; reductions in stress levels and depression; improved symptoms of Parkinson’s and lung disease; improved feelings of social well-being; and increased life expectancies.

I’ve always loved singing in ward choirs because each musical experience fills my soul—so I would have kept participating regardless of what the research shows. But you must admit how fun it is that science is now backing up what D&C 25:15 has taught us for years: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”

Yet, when we really think about it, should any of this wonderful news I’ve shared today surprise us? Because as we know from Moses 3:5, “...the Lord God created all things…spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” Of course, our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us! He has clearly told us that His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men and women—He has fully provided our way to happiness! All we have to do is follow His plan!

Three days ago, I was introduced to the amazing conversion story of Dusty Smith on one of my favorite podcasts, “This is the Gospel.” As I listened to his testimony of how he became a member of our beloved Church, was subsequently excommunicated, and ultimately and humbly came back into the fold 26 years later, I was overcome with emotion! His utterly miraculous story shows just how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each and every one of us, and how intimately involved They are in our lives! Brother Smith’s incredible experiences remind us how vitally important it is for each of us to be one with the saints.

Finally, we are taught in 1st Corinthians 1:10 and Ephesians 2:19–20 that we should strive to have no divisions among us, be perfectly joined together as fellowcitizens with the saints, and be of the household of God who are built upon the cornerstone of Jesus Christ.

What it all comes down to is that our Heavenly Father dearly loves each of us and wants us to be like Him! He wants us to experience true joy through continual learning and personal growth. He wants us to follow the supreme example of Jesus Christ and return home to His eternal family. ๐Ÿ’›

I encourage each of us to follow Elder Quentin L. Cook’s wise words. He said, “As individuals, we would do well to evaluate our effort[s] in pursuing missionary work, temple and family history work, and preparations to meet God.” Yes, truly, this life is our time to prepare to meet God! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I have a great love for our Heavenly Parents, our Savior, and His Church. I am a true believer in every sense of the word. I am enthusiastically and gratefully all in the gospel of Jesus Christ. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ๐Ÿ’›