Sunday, December 27, 2015

Receiving Our Trials With Thankfulness

Yesterday afternoon, after I finished exercising (I did one of Shaun T's Insanity videos!), I began listening to a few of the lessons in President Ezra Taft Benson's book, Teachings of Presidents of the Church on my smart phone. As I was listening to "Chapter 2: Pray Always" (I was in the shower at that point), my soul was instantly struck by the following paragraphs,
"For what should we pray? We should pray about our work, against the power of our enemies and the devil, for our welfare and the welfare of those around us. We should counsel with the Lord regarding all our decisions and activities. (See Alma 37:36–37.) We should be grateful enough to give thanks for all we have. (See D&C 59:21.) We should confess His hand in all things. Ingratitude is one of our great sins. 
"The Lord has declared in modern revelation: 'And he [she] who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him [her], even an hundred fold, yea, more.'"D&C 78:19.
When I heard the scripture in the second paragraph, I had chills run from the tip of my head, down through my toes. My soul was on fire as I thought, "That means we should receive everything with thankfulness—even our trials!" While I've read D&C 78:19 many times in my life, I've never before thought about including our trials in the category of thankfulness.

In hindsight, I'm completely and wholly grateful for my trials. In my perfect 20/20 retro-vision (ha ha), it's easy and astounding to bear witness of the miracles that have blessed my life. But when I've been in the midst of my trials—with no visible end in sight—I admit it's been hard to be thankful 100% of the time. Yes, I am human: mortal and imperfect. I've made mistakes. In my own way, I've sinned with the rest of humankind. Throughout my life, I've said and done things that aren't totally pleasing to our Heavenly Father—many times, unknowingly, but a few times, knowingly. Yet I know that our Savior's Atonement covers all of my mess-ups, blunders, sins and ungratefulness through sincere repentance—He covers yours, too! :)

After I got out of the shower, I was listening to "Chapter 3: Freedom of Choice, an Eternal Principle." (Yes, I took a nice, long, rejuvenating shower because Insanity wore me out!) It's a fabulous lesson, too! I plan to give it for our Family Home Evening tomorrow night! But I digress... Anyway, I went to my phone, paged back to President Benson's lesson on prayer and began researching the scriptures associated with D&C 78:19. I was amazed with the scriptures listed in the footnotes—emphasis added:

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
*Even though Mosiah 2:22 wasn't included in their footnotes, I must include it because I don't want us to end on a negative note! :)
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
27 ¶Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Why are those scriptures so amazing to me? Well, simply put, if we let go of everything that means so much to us in our earthly life, and follow Jesus Christ and his gospel in every possible way, we will be blessed one hundredfold—to the point of having everlasting life!

Going back to the idea of receiving our trials with thankfulness...I must say that I now view my trials in the same light as this scripture found in Ether 12:27:
"And if men [and women] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men [and women] that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

During the past few months, I've been on the edge of my seat with a trial that could potentially knock at our door. The crazy thing is, this potential trial could also fade into nonexistence! Thus, while trying to keep my non-worrying wits about me, many times I've reflected back on my family's experiences when we lived in Texas. Every time I've chosen to remember what we've been through, my soul has been instantly soothed. During most of our time living in Texas (until the last three months before we moved back to Utah), we simply couldn't see what was coming or why we had to suffer. To some, our situation wouldn't have been considered suffering, but to my sad soul, it was the most intense suffering I've encountered to this point in my life.

Yet my soul is reduced to tearful, joyful, happy smiles when I reminisce about the miracles that occurred in Texas, and how everything was restored to our family! Yes, my prior and significant weakness (those two-and-a-half-years we lived in Texas) has become one of my greatest strengths that I continually lean on during times of trial and stress! Thus, the words in Ether 12:27 are mighty applicable to me—their beauty is deeply personal!

My sincere plea to all of us is to receive everything in our lives—especially our trials—with thankfulness! Let each and every one of us praise our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for every blessing and trial they see fit to bestow upon us. And let us cheerfully choose to follow Them regardless how we view the situations we find ourselves in. If we follow the beautiful words found in the scriptures I've shared here, I testify we will truly be blessed one hundredfold! :)

P.S. I'm so glad I wrote this blog post today because I'm certain I'll need it as a reminder when I'm struggling through my next trial! :)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

21 Years of Love Songs

Lately, I've been happily reminiscing about all of the love songs I've associated with my husband, Greg. I'm amazed to realize that I've been collecting these love songs for the past 21 years! (As of today, Greg and I have been married for 18 years and three+ months! Yes, I'm still counting!)

The songs listed below might help you catch a glimpse of the way my heart bursts with love for the man I have for eternity! I've listed the name of the song, artist, and when I was most enamored with the song—even though I still love listening to them all! :) I've included tidbits about many of my songs, but for time's sake, I left some without a description—but that doesn't mean I don't like them as much as the other songs! :)

Several of "my" songs might not seem like love songs to some people, but I associate all of them with Greg so they mean love to me!

I don't have my love songs arranged in the best order, as I looked on two different iPods to find them all. I have the majority of my songs on CDs, but I've purchased several on iTunes. I haven't purchased three of the songs on my list, but I plan to shortly! :)

There is no way for me to estimate how many times I've listened to these lovely songs because they are literally the soundtrack of my life! :) Without further ado, let's dive into another realm in my happiness kingdom! ;)

"Can You Feel The Love Tonight"– Elton John; The Lion King soundtrack: Teenager
*This song captured my heart when Greg and I went on our very first date, and it's still tightly hanging on! We asked my mom to sing it at our wedding breakfast, and my grandma played the piano for her. It was a lovely performance!

"Head Over Feet"– Alanis Morissette; Teenager
*Oh, this song instantly takes me back to the time my aching heart was missing Greg on his mission (in Fukuoka, Japan). When I first heard it, I had one of those moments where you think, "She wrote that song just for me!" It perfectly described the way Greg swept me off my feet! I listened to it a ton after I bought the CD. It is still one of my absolute favorite "Greg Love Songs"!
"You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
And don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault"
"Song For You"– Alexi Murdoch; Colorado
*My sister introduced me to this song and it just really stuck with me. I especially loved listening to it when Greg was working and living in Utah while the kids and I were in Colorado waiting for our house to sell. It was a rough three months for all of us!

"When You Say Nothing At All"– Allison Krauss; Newlywed

"Take My Breath Away"– Berlin; Top Gun soundtrack; Newlywed
*Greg and I loved watching Top Gun as newlyweds! I think we secretly saw ourselves as the hot Maverick and Charlie! Ha ha.

"Tennessee Waltz"– Bresh/Jones; Colorado
*This simple and beautiful song makes me feel so peaceful, happy and I just want to dance with my Gregor in the kitchen! The link I shared above isn't the group I listed, but their version makes me blissfully happy!

"Hey Baby"– Bruce Channel; Dirty Dancing soundtrack; Newlywed
*This classic needs no explaining!

"Secret Garden"– Bruce Springsteen; Jerry Maguire soundtrack; Fiancee/Newlywed
*The first time I heard this song as an unattached woman, I became totally attached! Ha ha. In all seriousness, I couldn't think of anyone or anything else but Greg whenever I listened to Secret Garden!

"Lovefool"– The Cardigans; Romeo and Juliet soundtrack; Teenager/Fiancee
*I loved dancing to this song! I daydreamed about Greg every time I heard it! He was working in Las Vegas at the time, thus I missed him tremendously and this song felt very appropriate! :)

"The Power Of Love"– Celine Dion; Newlywed
*This mesmerizing love song perfectly described my feelings for my Gregor!

"When I Fall In Love"– Celine Dion; also the original Nat King Cole version; Teenager/Fiancee
*This song captured the way I view falling in love and eternal marriage!

"Because You Loved Me"– Celine Dion; Teenager
*This song makes me emotional to this day. The words are exactly what happened with Greg and me—well, except for losing my faith because I would never do that. Greg was and is everything to me!

"Seduces Me"– Celine Dion; Newlywed

"If That's What It Takes"– Celine Dion; Teenager
*This song describes my complete, utter and wholehearted dedication to my Gregor!

"My Heart Will Go On"– Celine Dion; Titanic soundtrack; Newlywed
*Yeah, I cried the first time I heard this song in the theater after watching Titanic for the first time with Greg. I couldn't help but think how brokenhearted I'd be if I ever lost Greg. The "I'll never let go!" moment was heart wrenching. I held Greg's hand throughout the entire movie! I don't cry when I hear the song now, but it definitely takes me back to our blessed newlywed years! This is yet another reason I'm so grateful for my eternal marriage—because Greg and I will never have to let go of each other!

"Clair De Lune"– Claude Debussy; Anytime! :)
*While it's not a love song, so-to-speak, I've played it (imperfectly) on the piano many times for my Gregor over the years. In my mind's eye, I see Greg laying on our couch with his eyes closed, listening to me play. And no, he's not sleeping! Ha ha. I have such happiness knowing Greg loves Clair De Lune as much as I do!

"Theme from Ice Castles"– David Glenn Hatch; Young Mother
*I adored this song when I was a little girl. Thus, I was thrilled when I found such a beautiful piano version of it on Mr. Hatch's album. While the words from the original version by Melissa Manchester aren't in this version, I memorized the words, so they automatically enter my mind whenever I hear it: they totally match the way I feel about Greg! :) "Knowing you're beside me, I'm all right."

"Theme From Somewhere In Time"– David Glenn Hatch; Anytime! :)
*I was given the Somewhere In Time video before I was married. Greg and I loved watching it together before we had children, so anytime I hear this song, I think of him!

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow"– Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; Utah, after Colorado
*This gorgeous version kept me going when Greg was looking for a new job after he knew he was going to be laid off. I don't know what it was about IZ's rendition, but it made me feel utterly happy, peaceful and sooo in love with my husband!

"Kissing You"– Des'ree; Romeo and Juliet soundtrack; Teenager
*I listened to this soulful and beautiful song when I was missing Greg while he was serving his mission in Japan. Of course it didn't help me in any way, it just made me miss him even more! Ha ha.

"I Love You Always Forever"– Donna Lewis; Teenager
*I still remember the first time I heard this song in my car when I lived in Michigan as a nanny. The afternoon sun was pouring through my window and I suddenly felt magical—like I was instantly connected to my Gregor, despite being 6,229 miles and an entire ocean away! This is where you'd hear me sigh... :)

"Danger High Voltage"– Electric Six; Colorado
*This song was played at my cousin's wedding (she's since divorced), I had such fun dancing to it with my extended family. My awesome sister put it on a mix CD for me! I love singing it with Greg—we still laugh saying that that song is about us because of our electric love! Ha ha.

"Wonderful Tonight"– Eric Clapton; Newlywed
*This song reminds me of Greg because he was always so kind every time I asked him what he thought of my outfit/hair/makeup. You laugh, but in the beginning of our marriage—and all of the uncertainty that goes with an entirely new life—Greg's unconditional love and complete adoration of me meant (and still means) everything!! I feel like a queen knowing Greg is unashamed to be attached to me for eternity! :)

"They Can't Take That Away From Me"– Frank Sinatra; Colorado
*I discovered Frank Sinatra in Colorado and quickly fell in love with his classic songs. This one describes how I feel about Greg and all of his fun habits/mannerisms. Of course, the way he's changed my life, no, nobody can take my happiness away from me! :)

"Baby's Got Sauce"– G. Love & Special Sauce; Teenager through today!
*I laughed out loud the first time I heard this song! You see, Greg has always loved how unpredictable, sassy, random, silly, outspoken, energetic and loving I am. Thus, "My baby's got sauce. Your baby ain't sweet like mine!" is the perfect description for Greg and me! :)

"A Wink And A Smile"– Harry Conick Jr.; Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack; Anytime! ;)
*There isn't much more to say other than Greg and I absolutely go together like a wink and a smile! Yes, these lyrics describe us perfectly!
"Now my heart is music, such a simple song
Sing it again, the notes never end
This is where I belong"

"London Rain"– Heather Nova; Newlywed
*I always felt attached to this song because Greg and I went through such amazing and big changes after we married. We were both so busy! I was working full-time; he was going to school full-time and working part-time. Heather's words are exactly how I felt about Greg!
"And when somebody knows you well
Well there's no comfort like that
And when somebody needs you
Well there's no drug Iike that
So keep me, keep me
In your bed all day, all day
Nothing heals me like you do"
"Isn't It Romantic"– Jack Jones; Newlywed
*I listened to this song a lot, as it was on a romantic CD I bought. It made me think endlessly about Greg! It's a really sweet, classic song. :)

"ABC"– The Jackson 5; Newlywed
*This happy song makes me dance, and I danced to it a lot when I first got the CD! Greg frequently laughed at me when I got my groove on to "ABC," but it was always done with complete kindness and adoration. :)

"Something In The Way She Moves"– James Taylor; Teenager
*I changed the pronouns in this song to be "Something in the way he moves..." because I literally felt so much better when Greg was around me! Whether Greg sent me a letter (while he was on his mission), or called me on the phone, or took me on a date, these words "I feel fine anytime [he's] around me now, [he's] around me now almost all the time. And if I'm well you can tell [he's] been with me now." were totally applicable. Yep, that's me!

"You've Got A Friend"– James Taylor; Teenager/Fiancee/Newlywed
*This song brings such happy little tears to my eyes because Greg is exactly this song to me. He was there for me when we were dating before he left on his mission; he was there for me when he was on his mission; he was there for me after he came home from Las Vegas. Yes, Vegas was a rough time for me because he was so busy working. And Greg has always been there for me since we've been married. We're not perfect, but our love for each other makes up for our imperfections!

"Gotta Find You"– Joe Jonas; Camp Rock soundtrack; Utah, after Colorado
*Even though this song is from a Disney movie, I instantly associated it with my Gregor, for we are each other's "missing pieces." We must be together in order to be complete! #cheesefest! ;)

"Hello Beautiful"– Jonas Brothers; Utah, after Colorado
*Change the location of the song and it fits Greg and I perfectly! I didn't discover "Hello Beautiful" until after we moved from Colorado to Utah, but oh, I could've really used this song while I was apart from my Gregor!

"Stay"– Lisa Loeb; Teenager
*This might seem like a strange love song, but I listened to it a lot when Greg was on his mission and I missed him so dearly! "Stay" simply reminds me of my love. :)

"A Kiss To Build A Dream On"– Louis Armstrong; Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack; Teenager
*Oh, I had many daydreams of Greg when I listened to this song! "Weavin' romances...makin' believe they're true..." Yes, that was me playin' make-believe while Greg was on his mission! Ha ha.

"I'll Remember"– Madonna; Teenager
*This is another one of those "I miss Greg so much!" songs. It portrayed how I felt about remembering Greg and his love for me. "I'll remember the way that you changed me." If I really stop and think about it, it's utterly amazing to think about how Greg has changed me for the better!

"Always Be My Baby"– Mariah Carey; Teenager
*I identified with this song when it was released because Greg was on his mission and I had great hope that we would end up together when he came home! Gee, I love it when I'm right! ;) "Our love will never die...oooh, darlin' 'cause you'll always be my baby." E.x.a.c.t.l.y. :)

"You Are Not Alone"– Michael Jackson; Teenager
*Of course, I immediately thought of Greg whenever I heard this song because he was in Japan when it was released. I probably sound silly, but I imagined my Gregor singing it to me! :)

"For You I Will"– Monica; Space Jam soundtrack; Fiancee
*This song was released before Greg came home from Las Vegas and before he proposed to me. I closely identified with its lyrics because I had (and have!) complete commitment and adoration for my Gregor—exactly like the song describes! :) I even mailed a care package to Greg in Las Vegas that included the Space Jam soundtrack CD. I wrote a card to go with it because I wanted Greg to know that I felt exactly about him as Monica sings in the song!

"Stardust"– Nat King Cole; Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack; Teenager
*Even though I saw Sleepless in Seattle before I met Greg, I bought the soundtrack, loved it, and listened to it all the time. Thus, when Greg left on his mission, I immediately attached "Stardust" to my missing him. :)

"Buon Giorno Princeipessa"– Nicola Piovani; Life is Beautiful soundtrack; Newlywed
*Greg and I saw this movie together and I cried my eyes out! Greg, on the other hand, didn't really like the movie! Ha ha. That said, I absolutely loved the music and just had to have the soundtrack. What I loved most about this song is the fact that they played it in the movie (or a version of the melody) every time the main character was showing love to his wife. And I felt so very loved by my Gregor—still do! :)

"Come What May"– Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor; Moulin Rouge! soundtrack; Young Mother
*One thing I enjoy about my Gregor is that he has always thought I resemble Nicole Kidman—wow, I love his compliment! Thus, we had to see Moulin Rouge! together! While I didn't necessarily connect to the movie's story (I was deeply disturbed by the fact that Nicole's character died from tuberculosis—love stories that end with someone dying suck! Ha ha.), I love "Come What May" because Greg and I feel exactly that way about each other!
"Never knew I could feel like this
Like I've never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I love you more and more
Listen to my heart, can you hear it sings
Telling me to give you everything"
Yes, even though I'm writing about the love songs I associate with Greg, I know he feels 100% the same way about me! :) The only words I would change in this song are: "I will love you throughout eternity!"

"Wonderwall"– Oasis; the Ryan Adams cover, too; Fiancee through today!
*This is one of Greg's favorite songs, thus, every time I hear it, I think of Greg. :)

"Canon In D"– Pachelbel; Newlywed
*Per my request, my brother played this at Greg's and my wedding breakfast! I can't help but think of our amazing and lovely wedding day whenever I hear this song!

"The Rain Tree"– Peter Breinholt: Colorado; Utah, Texas
*This hauntingly beautiful song might not seem like an obvious love song, but I associated it to Greg's and my love. We were "hanging on for dear life" when we lived in Texas—doing our very best to live our lives well, but wondering what was going on and how our lives would resolve? (I was definitely worse off than Greg in this area, he took all of our struggles in great stride.) Thus, to me, "The Rain Tree" represented the possibility that our lives would somehow be fixed and put in their proper place again: much like, "...that old rain tree is waiting so still." My explanation probably doesn't make sense to anyone else but me! Ha ha. Here is "The Rain Tree" so you can experience its loveliness!

"Let My Love Open The Door"– Pete Townsend; Newlywed

"Come Rain Or Come Shine"– Ray Charles; Young Mother
*This song meant so much to me when Greg and I were new parents. Life was so busy and chaotic when we were raising our little darlings—we had three children by the time our oldest son was four years and two months old! Yes, birthing and caring for three babies in four years was quite tiring and challenging! Thus, this song spoke to my soul because of course Greg and I continually and unconditionally loved each other without question! This was my favorite line to describe our love:
I'm with you always...I'm with you rain, or shine!

"Unchained Melody"
– The Righteous Brothers; Newlywed

"Ice Cream"– Sarah McLachlan; Teenager/Fiancee

"I Love You"– Sarah McLachlan; Fiancee
*There was a time when Greg and I were engaged when I went through a bit of a hard time. I felt like I was "losing" myself because I was trying so hard to do everything within my power to make Greg happy—even at the expense of my own feelings or opinions. After feeling frustrated at the path I had chosen, I realized that I had to take a step back and remember who I was and what I wanted out of life. I was terrified to tell Greg of my issues because of what I thought that might mean for the future of our relationship. Yet I knew that Greg adored me, I knew he wanted to know every bit of my heart! While I was debating what to do, this song played in my mind quite a bit. The good news is, I finally became brave enough to tell Greg everything I was feeling. I said something to the effect of, "I don't know what this means for us...I just know I need to express my feelings more. I need to do what I want to do, instead of always deferring to you, or asking what you want to do." Greg took it all so well, and frankly, I think he was totally surprised that I was feeling "lost." He lovingly said something like, "I love you, Adrie! I totally support you! Do whatever it is that you need to do! You have nothing to worry about." And that was the end of it. Greg never questioned me, never made me feel less-than, or insecure. This experience made me realize that I could trust Greg with literally everything in my life—and with my very life! :)

"I'm Yours"– The Script; Utah, after Colorado

"Kiss From A Rose"– Seal; Teenager

"Strong Enough"– Sheryl Crow; Teenager
*Anytime I hear this song, I get emotional! The first time I heard it as a teenager I unquestioningly loved it! And of course, I couldn't help but relate it to Greg and our new love. I was so emotional back in the day (Okay, not much has changed! Ha ha.) that I worried Greg would tire of me and my enthusiastic, dramatic, passionate personality. Yet, time and again, Greg showed he was most definitely strong enough to be my man! The best part is this: Greg has been my rock through the past 18+ years of marriage, and I know he'll be strong enough to be my man throughout eternity!

"I Shall Believe"– Sheryl Crow; Teenager
*Again, whenever I hear this amazingly beautiful song, I get emotional! :) "I Shall Believe" totally applied to how I felt about Greg when I was a teenager—especially when I was missing him when he was a missionary in Japan. The line, "I know it's true, no one heals me like you, and you hold the key." was 100% how I felt about Greg's wonderful love for me. The line, "Please say honestly, you won't give up on me...and I shall believe." was also exactly how I felt: dearly hoping Greg would still choose me when he came home from Japan! I love knowing Greg is dedicated to me forever!

"As I Lay Me Down"– Sophie B. Hawkins; Teenager
*I first heard this song when I was a nanny in Michigan. I was shocked at how much it reminded me of Greg and the beautiful dreams I had of our future together. I couldn't play it enough, and I never tired of it...especially this line, "Though it's not clear to me, every season has its change, and I will see you when the sun comes out again!"

"When We Dance"– Sting; Young Mother

"Fields Of Gold"– Sting; Teenager

"The Way You Look Tonight"– Tony Bennett; Newlywed
*I played this song a lot after Greg and I were married. I loved how it applied to the way Greg made me feel. Like I said before, he made me feel loved and beautiful every single day—and that hasn't changed! :)

"You And Me Song"– The Wannadies; Romeo and Juliet soundtrack; Teenager
*This song is a little on the slow side to begin with, but then it's full-on hyper love!—just like Greg and I began our love story! Plus, I can't help but love their chorus, "And it's always you and me always, and forever!" because that's exactly the situation Greg and I have purposely put ourselves in! :)

"You and Me"You+Me; Utah, after Texas
*I was searching for the previous song on YouTube, and I stumbled across this gem of a jewel! I was "dying" at its awesome lyrics, harmonies and vocal qualities. Not to mention, "You and Me" just so happened to be released/published right around the date of Greg's and my 17th anniversary! Coincidence? I think not! It could have been written about Greg and me! Ha ha. It's such an amazing song, I must include it here. If you haven't heard of it, you must listen to it post haste! This will most definitely be my next iTunes download! :)

"Gettin' In Tune"– The Who; Jerry Maguire soundtrack; Newlywed
*I bought the Jerry Maguire soundtrack after Greg and I saw the movie together. (That was before we came to our senses and stopped watching rated R movies. Hey, we were young and still learning about what was good for our souls!) I felt attached to this song not only because of my blissful memories of seeing the movie with Greg, but also because of the lyrics, "I'm in tune, right in tune. I'm in tune. And I'm gonna tune right in on you!" You see, Greg was (and is) always so in tune with me! It didn't matter what I was feeling, he immediately understood me—which is the loveliest feeling!

"As Long As You Love Me"– Justin Bieber; Texas
*Oh, this song makes me smile! During our last year of living in Texas, Greg and I always referred to this song because we were so tight on money. Mr. Bieber's words were and are applicable to Greg's and my love for each other! We are most definitely more valuable to each other than platinum, silver and gold!
"As long as you love me
We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke
As long as you love me
I'll be your platinum, I'll be your silver, I'll be your gold"!
"Black Stallion"– George Winston; Texas
*The Black Stallion is one of Greg's favorite movies we own. Thus, I was thrilled to find the theme song on George Winston's album that I bought while living in Texas! It is such a gorgeous song, I can't get enough of it. Of course, it reminds me of my Gregor every time I hear it!

"Burning Love"– Wynona Judd; Lilo and Stitch soundtrack; Young Mother

"God Only Made One Of You"Justin Cash; Texas
*This song must be shared with the world! I was introduced to it by my friend who did the harmony/backup vocals for Mr. Cash's album! Her voice is truly beautiful, I think she should record her own album one day! Anyway, back to Greg...yes, this song instantly made me think of my sweetest husband! "The very same day that I lose you, will be the same day I lose myself." I try not to think about that possibility...

"Home"– Phillip Phillips; Texas
*This song's lyrics were so applicable to the way I felt about Greg while our little family lived in Texas, for example,
"Hold on to me as we go...
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home...
Settle down, it'll all be clear..."
Yes, despite my worries—for two years and two+ months—about where we'd end up living, Greg was my rock. He was always there for me and eased my fears every step of the way. I'm eternally grateful for my husband's awesomeness! :)

"I Will"– The Beatles; Utah, after Texas
*Again, this song might not seem like a traditional love song for Greg and me, but let me explain. You see, right after we moved back from Texas, I attended my mom's choir concert. As I heard this song, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed because of these lovely words,
"Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart"
This year, 2015, those lyrics were particularly applicable because Greg has had to travel quite a lot for his company. When I really think about our years together, I could write a novella about how much I've been apart from Greg, simply missing him! :'(

"Island In The Sun"– Weezer; Texas
*When I hear this happy song, I think of my Gregor and the fabulous family vacation we had in Florida. It was so wonderful escaping with my Gregor for those eight days! Our Florida excursion made me forget my Texas woes. :) The lyrics, "We'll never feel bad anymore," were totally applicable!

"Love Somebody"– Maroon 5; Texas
*I don't know if I've shared on this blog that Adam Levine's looks reminds me of my Gregor? Well, they do. :) I remember the first time I saw Maroon 5 perform on the Today Show. Mr. Levine had short hair like Greg's and was wearing a white, button-down, short-sleeved shirt with a skinny black tie and black pants. He looked so much like my Gregor does on Sundays that I instantly did a double take! I was like, "WHAT IS MY HUSBAND DOING ON THE TODAY SHOW??!!" Ha ha. Anyway, ever since then, I seem to equate Adam Levine to my husband—even though their morals are completely opposite! And thank goodness my husband has impeccable morals, for I would go crazy if he made bad choices. :) That said, this song just does it for me! I envision my Gregor singing it to me and I'm utterly smitten! Ha ha. Yes, Greg and I both fell for each other, and we've never been the same! "...If I fall for you, I'll never be the same..."

"Lullaby"– George Winston; Texas

"Make You Feel My Love"– Adele (original song by Bob Dylan); Utah, after Texas
*Surprise, surprise! I get emotional when I hear this song! Not to be repetitive, but those beautiful lyrics are exactly how Greg and I feel about each other! There is nothing better than identical love!
"...I will hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love...
...I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love"

"Shelter From The Storm"– Bob Dylan; Newlywed

"Somebody To Love"– Queen; Colorado

"Someone To Watch Over Me"– Frank Sinatra; Colorado

"A Thousand Years"– Christina Perri; Texas
*Oh, wow, I don't have enough time to gush about this song and how it relates to my Gregor! Suffice it to say, just know that I wrote an entire post on my Adrie World blog about how Greg's and my love story rivals Bella and Edward's in "Twilight"! Ha ha. I'm still debating whether or not to publish it here on Enthusiastic's pretty cheesy! Anyway, yes, I will love Greg longer than two thousand years. I will love Greg for eternity!

"The Way You Make Me Feel"– Michael Jackson; Young Mother

"Budapest"– George Ezra; Utah, after Texas
*I recently discovered this song and immediately fell in love with it! Greg really likes it, too! :) Greg found the lyrics for me because I was singing it in the shower and didn't know exactly what George was singing! We couldn't help but laugh, for we are precisely Mr. Ezra's lyrics:
"But, for you
I'd lose it all."
As Greg so aptly put it, "We've already lost it all for each other!" Yes, Greg and I have given everything for our love story!

"Wildest Dreams"– Taylor Swift; Utah, after Texas
*It didn't take me long to put this in the top tier of my "Greg Love Songs"—which is a total surprise to me since I've never been a fan of Taylor Swift before! True story. Granted, she's being totally immoral in her song, and I would never, ever be that way, but whenever I hear Wildest Dreams, I daydream somethin' fierce about my husband and me! I envision us staring at the sunset together, me in a nice dress, and Greg looking handsome as all-get-out! ;) One of the reasons I love Wildest Dreams is because I've had the love of my life in my world for 21 years, and it's a little scary to see how quickly time has passed. While I don't feel old yet, time is ticking away. Thus, I can absolutely relate to when Taylor sings,
"Say you'll remember me standing in a nice dress,
Staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you'll see me again
Even if it's just in your wildest dreams, ah-ha, wildest dreams, ah-ha."
Even though Ms. Swift is talking about a man she can never have—and I will have my husband forever—I feel precisely that way about Greg and me! For I know, one day, our lives together will become shorter. Sadly, there will come a time on this earth when one of us will be without the other. I hope and pray a bazillion times over that that tragic day doesn't come for another 50+ years, but the sad fact is, we were never given a warranty on our lives. There are no guarantees on how long our bodies will last. :'( Thus, whether I go first, or Greg goes first, I absolutely want Greg to say he'll remember me in the glorious prime of our lives!! I dearly want Greg to remember the greatest love story he's ever known because we're the stars of it! :)

Well, I've finally made it to the end of my love songs—it's been a delicious walk down memory lane! I'm certain there will be more songs to add to my list in the future, and I'm excited for that! Thank you, talented musicians of our world—I appreciate your amazing gifts so much!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Mother's A

Tonight's quick post was spurred by an article I feel the need to share, "The Price We Pay for an A," by Katie Stirling. I recommend reading it if you have the time so you'll better understand where my opinions are coming from. :)

Before you continue reading , please know that I mean no offense to anyone who has made different life choices than me. I'm simply sharing my thoughts because I think every mother can learn from Mrs. Sterling's choices. It's a good read, but also hard to read because all I could think about were her crying children! #bustmyheart! :(

I find it fascinating that even though the author ultimately made the right decision to sell her business (Good for her! Seriously!), she admitted she's not yet cured of her A-seeking "illness." I also find it sad that she considers herself to be "just a mom." :( Yet I wonder, did she mean that phrase in a sarcastic way? I admit I'm not a great in the ways of interpreting or delivering sarcasm, so I'm not sure.

Her article definitely makes me wonder what her children will say when they're grown...

I wish Mrs. Sterling could have the attitude of desiring nothing more than to be a top-tiered mother (until her children are grown), for there are many ways to gain a "Mother's A"—trust me, they are enough!! :) I'm constantly evaluating myself as a mother, and many days, I totally give myself a big, chunky-font A with a happy gold star! Ha ha. And when I don't deserve a Mother's A, I take a step back, review the objectives/expectations of my job description and mentally rewrite my goals for the next day/week/month/year(s). While we're at it, let's remember that every person's definition of success is different!

The amazing gift of motherhood is the ability to know immediately how we're doing. Our children give us instant feedback, so there's no need for a quarterly review. We'll never have to wonder where we land in our children's end-of-the-year performance ranking! Ha ha.

Reading things like "The Price We Pay for an A" instantly reminds me how happy I am that Greg and I have absolutely done what was needed (every time!) to keep me home with our children—despite the fact that we've been endlessly tight on money. The choices we've made as a happily married couple are worth every missing penny because we know our kids were played with, cared for and raised by their own engaged and available mother! :) Meaning I'm engaged with my children, and I'm available anytime they need me! Well, as close to 100% of the time as a person can get.

I sincerely hope every mother decides that earning a Mother's A is enough! For the good "grades" we receive from raising our children well are worth much more than any reward a college, university, boss or bank could bestow upon us. :)

P.S. I'm thinking I could categorize this post as a sort of follow-up to "Hiring Out Our Future." :)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Our Brains

Hello everyone! I know it's been a while since I've posted... I'm working on another lengthy post, but it's not quite ready yet. :)

Today, I'm sharing the link to my Pinterest board, Our Brains. This is a departure from my normal blog posts of presenting the important links right here on Enthusiastic Fantastic, but I just don't have time to repeat everything I created on Pinterest! Ha ha. Maybe one day I'll transfer everything over, but today is not that day.

A couple of my Pinterest links are to PBS productions that are no longer available on their website. I'm guessing I could probably find them somewhere on YouTube, but again, I just don't have time today to search for them. Hey, at least you have the names of the productions! :)

I absolutely love learning about our brains! I'm always looking for new information or insight as to why we humans do what we do. I also really want to know what we should be doing to improve our brains' health and function. I believe gaining an understanding of the human brain is one of the best ways to navigate our crazy world successfully!

I hope you'll enjoy my finds, learn more about our wonderful brains, and incorporate that information into living your lives better!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Right to Believe What We Believe

*Update: Before you read this lengthy post, please know that on 04/04/2019, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changed its policy that I wrote about below. If you can find the time, please read the entire news release "Policy Changes Announced for Members in Gay Marriages, Children of LGBT Parents."

Even though the Church's policy has changed, I'm leaving this blog post as-is for the sake of history. You have to admit that this policy saga is super fascinating, right?!

I still totally love and fully support my church and its leaders. I am and will remain an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints forever! I wholeheartedly believe in inspiration and continuing revelation—both personally, and for The Church as a whole.

With that said, read on, and I hope you have a beautiful day!

The past two+ weeks have been interesting—to say the least—for my church and its members. (In case this is your first visit to Enthusiastic Fantastic, you might like to know that I'm a very happy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!) I was surprised that some of my church's policy information was sneakily released to the media on November 6th, 2015. That said, I wasn't surprised about the content of the news, just the way in which the news was released—for it wasn't released by the Church's typical channels.

Because I'm not on Fakebook anymore, I don't know for sure where the news story first broke. All I know is that one of the blogs I follow, Fair Mormon, released the first blog post I saw about it: "A Look at the Church’s New Policy on Children of Gay Couples." It's a great read, I highly recommend it. Here is the information verbatim from Fair Mormon that first introduced me to what was going on in my church:
  • Those who enter into a same-sex marriage are considered apostate, and will need to undergo Church discipline possibly resulting in disfellowshipment or excommunication;
  • Local leaders should seriously consider Church discipline against members cohabitating in same-sex relationships but not married;
  • Minor children in same-sex households are not to be baptized into the Church until they reach adulthood. At that point they must understand and accept the Church’s doctrine regarding the sinfulness of same-sex acts and marriages in order to be baptized
Later that night, I watched Elder Christofferson's explanation of the Church's policy move (that previously linked update came a few days later): Elder Christofferson Provides Context on Handbook Changes Affecting Same-Sex Marriages (click the link to watch the video).

I thought those two sources were very clear and self-explanatory. I was not confused as to where the Church stood on the issue of same-sex marriage within its membership. Thus, I was surprised at the uproar seemingly everywhere on the internet, local/national media, and social media—and even within my own extended family. I mean, it's not a huge surprise where the Church stands in regard to SSM, so I couldn't understand why everyone was so shocked with the policy change—especially after the Church further explained and kindly clarified their position.

My church has been talking about the importance of families forever—and especially in the past 20 years! For reference, please read "THE FAMILYA PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD," that was released in 1995. Not to mention, please notice how many videos The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has produced about families and religious freedom—and I didn't even include them all. (You don't need to watch all of them, I just included the links in case anyone is interested.)

Home and Family – Through Small Things

Happy Families—a playlist of videos about families

Building Families

Protect Our Nestlings – Keeping our Families Safe

Motherhood: an Eternal Partnership with God

Our Fun Family Vacation – The Importance of Spending Time With Family

Families Can Be Together Forever

The Mormon Practice of Family Home Evening

Also, the major motion picture, Meet The Mormons, does a great job of introducing what the Church is all about. I wish everyone on the planet would watch it! :)

Yes, with all of those previously listed sources, there should be zero surprises about where the Church stands in regard to same-sex marriage.

As the past 17 days have unfolded, I've read and listened to many sources about the topic shared above. Here some of the links to what I've been researching (There are other sources I've read/watched/listened to that I won't be linking.):

"A North and South Heart," a blog post on Rational Faiths, by Tom Christofferson—the gay brother of Elder D. Todd Christofferson, an LDS apostle

Articles by Jean Lloyd from The Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse:
Podcasts by Radio West:
"Taught By Her Mothers," a podcast on the blog, Mormon Women Project

"Why We Fear Mormons," an opinion post by J. Spencer Fluhman on The New York Times

"Petition asks Mormon Tabernacle Choir guests to cancel appearances over policy change," a Salt Lake Tribune article

Two important articles released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—these are the most recent updates:
"Pride and Faith," the recently-released video by Scott Raia. His video's tagline reads, "A BYU film student documents his growing awareness of the LGBT community, especially within the Mormon church. He sees his nervousness for graduation from college as a something of a parallel for the uncertainty faced by some of his friends as they transition to adulthood as gay Mormons."

"WITH GAY MORMONS," a blog post by Jeff Benedict

"Religion is changing, fellowship too," an article in the Harvard Gazette. This one isn't about the Church, but it's an interesting read in terms of religion as a whole.

Hopefully, anyone reading my blog can see that I check a wide variety of sources for information. I most definitely do not live inside a vacuum! ;) I truly try my best to see all sides of every life issue before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. Thus, please believe me when I say that after all of my researching, I don't have a problem with my church's same-sex marriage policy. The information my church has presented makes sense to me. No, my support of the Church and its leaders does not make me heartless nor a bigot. Oh no, it most certainly does not! (By the way, I strongly dislike that previously mentioned b-word.)

While I hope this blog post doesn't attract haters, there's no guarantee of that not happening (Did I say that right? Or, is it a double negative? I'm overcome with wordiness! Ha ha.), which makes me a little nervous. That said, I still want to share my opinion on the subject.

First off, despite what others may think or say, I truly believe the Church has no ill will directed at the LGBT community—none whatsoever—and for the record, I don't, either. (For more on my views of my country's actions toward legalizing SSM, please read my post "The Supreme Court's Decision"—I wrote it before the historic and final announcement.) The Church's leaders have simply stated what they believe is right and true. I support my church leaders 100% because I believe they receive direct inspiration and revelation from the Lord, which means this policy change has been given to them directly from the Lord.

Speaking of the inspiration/revelation of the Church's leaders, I love this marvelous quote by Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He said in his October, 2015, General Conference talk, "Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name,"
"Serving with these representatives of the Lord [in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles], I have come to know their greatest desire is to discern and do the will of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. As we counsel together, inspiration has been received and decisions have been made that reflect a degree of light and truth far beyond human intelligence, reasoning, and experience. As we work together in unity on perplexing problems, our collective understanding of an issue has been enlarged in marvelous ways by the power of the Holy Ghost."
Second, I get frustrated when people who aren't members—or are less-active members—of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints get so opinionated about something they don't even want to be a part of themselves! Seriously, what?! I wish I could say to them: Why are you being mean toward the Church and its members when you're not following its teachings, and you want nothing to do with it anyway?!

It's ridiculous to me that the only time haters care about the Church or its policies is when the Church has made a stand that the haters don't agree with. That's like me having an opinion about any number of other churches' policies. Am I an active/participating member of said church that I'm having issues with? No? Well, then I don't get to have a say about how they run their church. If, however, I was an actively participating member of said church whose policies I disagreed with, then I'd have something to talk about.

*Side note: I saw a news clip about the "mass" membership resignation of Church members that happened Saturday, November 14th. What I think needs to be pointed out is this quote from KUTV 2News:
"When asked if those in the LGBT community are actively wanting their children to be raised in the LDS faith, Matson replied, 'Honestly, no. They don't...'

"A recent poll conducted by event organizers and posted on the LDS Mass Resignation Facebook page shows only 5 percent of those who resigned this weekend attend an LDS church on a weekly or monthly basis."
So not only do most of those in the LGBT community not even want to be a part of the Church, only 125 of the approximately 2,500 people giving up their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are actively participating members! Yeah, I'm pretty sure 2,500 members out of the Church's total population of 15+ million doesn't constitute the definition of a "mass resignation." (At least that's the number I've researched in the media up to this point.)

Third, I've been puzzled by some active Latter-Day Saints' negative reactions to the Church's new policy. To them I say: Pray for guidance and peace. Please read or watch all of the statements put forth by the Church. (I linked them above.) Realize that either you do or you don't support the Church and its leaders. (I support the Church and its leaders.) Either the brethren are spiritually in tune, or they're not. (I believe they are in tune.) Either they've made the correct policy update, or they haven't. (I believe they are acting according to the revelation/inspiration they've received from the Lord. Refer to the comment I previously shared by Elder Bednar.) If you believe the brethren/leaders are in tune to inspiration and revelation from the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, then accept what they've done. (I've accepted their actions, and apparently so have the vast majority of the Church's members.)

*Side note: I've been writing this blog post for a little over one week. Late last night, as I was shutting down my computer, I read a beautiful blog post, "Sustaining, Suffering and Enduring Each Other," by Bruce E. Dale, Interpreter, A Journal of Mormon Scripture. Brother Dale does a wonderful job of defining and describing what it means to sustain the Church's leaders and members. It is so worth five minutes of your time! :)

Fourth, for years, the Church has stood up for what it genuinely believes is right and true: that same-sex marriage should not be legalized. I think it's fair to say that the Church did literally everything within its power to prevent that legal social change. But once the Supreme Court legalized SSM, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints supported the law, while simultaneously requesting that rights for religious freedom be protected. For reference, please see Elder Dallin H. Oaks' General Conference talk, "Loving Others and Living with Differences," given in October, 2014. His marvelous words were presented just two days before SSM was legalized in Utah—which catapulted the Supreme Court's country-wide decision. I know I've already shared portions of this talk previously, but I feel it's good enough to share again:

We all have the right to live according to our religious/spiritual beliefs and consciences, as is presented in an awesome PBS video I watched a few days ago (linked below). Religious liberty/freedom should not be squashed by anyone—including those who request tolerance and acceptance of their personal views and choices, but aren't willing to extend the same generosity to those with deeply held religious beliefs!

Russell Moore said,
"No one wants to see our gay and lesbian neighbors mistreated, bullied, harmed. At the same time, we need to protect the pluralism of the public square that allows people to dissent from whatever the dogma of "the church of the sexual revolution" is. And that's the dangerous place that we're in right now, is there are many people who are suggesting that this wave of sexual revolution ought to trump religious liberty and conscience rights in a way that simply paves over the consciences of people. That's not the sort of society we ought to live in."
To see more of Mr. Moore's fabulous interview, please watch the video "Russell Moore on LGBT Acceptance," produced by PBS' Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.

Of course, I could have easily shared many of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' leader's speeches on religious freedom, but I chose to share the perspective of Russell Moore—President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission—simply to illustrate that the Church is not the only church that feels this way.

So where are we now? Obviously, same-sex marriage is legal in the United States of America and in other countries across the world. While there are many places that same-sex couples can get married, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints isn't one of them. The Church has the right to unequivocally state that they won't support or allow SSM within their membership, church buildings or temples. They aren't holding anyone back from being allowed the standard/legal definition of marriage in the worldly sense, but when it comes to the Lord's way of eternal marriage, yes, the Church has put their foot down—and they have every right to do so. The Lord has drawn the line in the sand so there is zero confusion about same-sex marriage—it's not up for debate in the Church.

What some people are forgetting (or conveniently ignoring?) is that not only does the Church not allow SSM, but it also has the following list of dos and don'ts that apply to all current and potential church members (I included as many as I could find/remember):
  • no gambling
  • faithfully and consistently wear temple garments—for adults who have made covenants in the temple 
  • no pornography
  • no polygamy/plural marriage
  • worship God, our Heavenly Father
  • pray and read our scriptures daily—these aren't commandments, so-to-speak, but they're highly encouraged habits
  • attend our church meetings on a regular basis
  • attend the temple as often as time permits—we are encouraged to make it a priority
  • honorably hold and exercise the priesthood—for men only
  • no profanity/swearing
  • dress modestly
  • repent as often as needed
  • have reverence for sacred things including: God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Church, temples, etc.
  • make sacrifices to follow Jesus Christ and His gospel
  • no same-sex marriage
  • serve in the Church and our communities—to the extent possible by each individual
  • no tattoos—that said, having tattoos won't cause a person to be disciplined by the Church
  • pay a full/honest tithe
  • avoid unwed pregnancy—this sounds harsh, but the Church does everything within its power to help unwed mothers (click on the link above)
  • be virtuous, i.e., have high moral standards
  • do our best to "build up" Zion, i.e., the pure in heart
To further illustrate my point, Doctrine and Covenants 38:16 tells us (emphasis added), "And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons."—meaning the Lord's commandments apply to everyone.

To go along with that scripture, I found this awesome quote by President Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th president of the Church,
"It should be conceded by all people that since the Almighty governs the entire universe by immutable law, man, who is the greatest of all his creations, must himself be subject to such law." – "Chapter 18: Living by Every Word that Proceeds from the Mouth of God," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.
It's no secret that the Lord expects the same devoted discipleship from every member of the Church! And when we make mistakes, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is there to help us out—pending we utilize it through our full repentance! :)

I hope I've illustrated that the same-sex-marriage-is-not-allowed-in-the-Church issue is a much smaller fraction of what it means to be an active and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints than what the media is portraying. There will always be fluidity in the membership of the Church due to people becoming (and hopefully staying) converted, while simultaneously others neglect their personal testimonies (and all that encompasses) and become inactive members, or resign from the Church altogether. If people want to leave the Church, surely SSM won't be the only reason they choose to focus on.

What it all comes down to is this: we each have the right to believe what we believe! Those negatively affected by the Church's SSM policy change always have the option to make different choices in order to access those beautiful and sacred ordinances, and receive the promised blessings.

Just like any actively participating Latter-Day Saint, everyone who has heard of the Church can choose to obey its teachings...we can all be blessed for our faithfulness. If people decide to follow our Savior, and do what is required to become and stay an active member of the Church, there are no restrictions holding anyone back—the "Blessings of the Gospel [are] Available to All"! That previous link is a talk by Elder Joseph W. Sitati.

As I've been happily thinking about what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints means to me, I get emotional if I try to envision my life without it. Because of the Church's teachings, I have been brought closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ than I ever could have imagined! My relationship with Them is, of course, made possible due to the Holy Ghost daily speaking to my spirit—and I wouldn't have received the gift of the Holy Ghost without my baptism in the Church! And don't even get me started about the amazing people I've met through my membership in the Church, for my life would be completely different without their positive influence!

Also, I can't help but reflect back on these lovely scriptures and their meanings—as I understand them (emphasis added):

Luke 12:6–7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." *We are all important to our Heavenly Father and Savior.

Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces..." *We are all saved; the Lord will always be there to comfort us.

Colossians 3:2, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." *Don't get sidetracked by worldly issues, we need to keep our focus on eternity.

Colossians 1:23, "...continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel..." *We must stay strong and true to Jesus Christ and His gospel!

Romans 8:35; 37–39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." *Heavenly Father will always love us and wants us to come back to Him; our Savior's Atonement makes up for every trial/problem we're given in this life (but that doesn't mean we should give up following the Savior's example—none of us get a free ride!); Jesus Christ is our connection to God, our Heavenly Father.

John 6:68–69, "Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." *Those verses say it all: who or what else can give us all that Jesus Christ and His gospel offers? I'd also like to point out that with this scripture (there are many others to reference), God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are established: the trinity is incorrect.

John 14:15, 21, "If ye love me, keep my commandments... ...He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." *We can show our love and devotion to our Savior by keeping His commandments. Our Heavenly Father will love us even more for following Jesus Christ.

Alma 34:32, "For behold, this life is the time for men [and women] to prepare to meet God..." *This scripture is one of my favorites! I always shorten the verse simply because I feel there is nothing else to say! :) We must do everything within our power to be prepared to meet our Heavenly Father!

Finally, I love this statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, for his words say it all (emphasis added)!
"If we are living the religion which the Lord has revealed and which we have received, we do not belong to the world. We should have no part in all its foolishness. We should not partake of its sins and its errors—errors of philosophy and errors of doctrine, errors in regard to government, or whatever those errors may be—we have no part in it. 
"The only part we have is the keeping of the commandments of God. That is all, being true to every covenant and every obligation that we have entered into and taken upon ourselves. 
"Do not get the impression from what I have said that I feel that we should keep aloof from everybody outside of the Church and not associate with them. I have not said that, but I do want us to be consistent Latter-day Saints, and if the people of the world walk in darkness and sin and contrary to the will of the Lord, there is the place for us to draw the line." – "Chapter 19: In the World but Not of the World," Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.
What I find interesting about the quotes I shared from President Joseph Fielding Smith, is the fact that, yesterday morning, I mistakenly thought the Church's 2015 curriculum has us studying President Smith—even though I subconsciously knew full well that we are studying President Benson! (Because I'm the first counselor in my ward's Young Women organization, I don't get to study the Teachings of Presidents of the Church lessons in Relief Society. Thus, every so often, I listen to the lessons on my phone while I'm getting ready for the day.) I strongly believe the Spirit (Holy Ghost) wanted me to think we were studying President Smith so I would find his steadfast words for precisely this post! :)

When all is said and done, I simply don't want to have squandered my days here on Earth. As imperfect as I am, I'm trying my best to be prepared to one day meet God and Jesus Christ—and I want to bring as many prepared people with me as I can (so to speak). I truly believe the Church is the vehicle of choice to safely deliver each and every one of us back to Them! :)