DIY, Eco-Friendly, Spirituality

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide gather twice yearly for what they call “general conference.” During this conference, which is available to anyone interested in attending or watching live via the internet, we have the opportunity to listen to Church leaders speak on a variety of spiritual topics.

These talks are addressed not only to Latter-day Saints, but also to government, faith and community representatives and other conference guests. Speakers include the worldwide leader of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors in the First Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other church leaders.

One of my favorite talks, which has had a lasting impact on me, was given in the October 2012 General Conference by Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. Her talk was titled I know it. I Live it. I Love it, and focused on the importance of possessing and developing confidence in our identity as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

One of the things I loved about her talk was how she reminded me that when we live faithful, obedient, Christ-like lives, the blessings we receive not only affect our own lives, but also the lives of countless others in profound and often unknown ways.

When I heard this talk, I was in the last stages of serving the Lord as a full-time missionary in the England London South Mission, and this was a lesson Heavenly Father was already helping me to learn and to develop a testimony of. Through the experiences and examples of the faithful members of the ward I was serving in, I was learning that our Heavenly Father has a purpose for placing us in the different life situations we are in.

Where we live, and where we work, and where we go to school and what places we frequent are not by chance. The people who are our neighbors, and those who are our coworkers and schoolmates-they don’t happen to be in our lives just because-we are in each other’s  lives for a reason. I believe that we have been placed where we are for purposes that are often unknown to us, and whether those purposes are ever fulfilled depends on us and on our courage to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Being reminded of this often helps me because it encourages me to find the reason and purpose for being wherever I am in life. By being aware of this truth, I find myself being more aware of situations where I am presented with opportunities to fulfill those purposes.

The motto Sister Dibb coined in her talk has stayed with me since then, and is something that I’ve often repeated to myself when I have been hesitant or timid about doing a good deed, choosing the right, sharing who I am, what I stand for or what I know to be true. It has been during these moments that I have repeated Sister Dibb’s words; I am a Mormon. I know it. I live it. And I LOVE it! On more than one occasion I have been inspired by this phrase.

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it.

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a career night hosted for the Young Women in our ward. As the day for the activity drew nearer I felt a desire to make something for the girls to take home. I wanted to make something  they would appreciate while still embodying what I do for a living.

I decided to make them a bracelet since this is something that would be a simple and time-efficient item to make for 15 girls. Also, I had some awesome scraps of natural tanned leather waiting to be transformed into something useful. As I thought about what design, logo or phrase I wanted to put on their bracelets, I thought of Sister Dibb’s conference talk, and right away, I KNEW what their bracelets would say.

I Know it. I Live it. I Love it. Leather bracelets

I intentionally left out the first part of Sister Dibb’s motto; I am a Mormon. I hope that as the girls wear their bracelet, someone will ask them what it means and they will be the ones to explain that the words refer to their sentiment regarding their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

General Conference is upon us once more. In two short weeks we will once again be blessed to hear the words of a living prophet of God. I testify that conference has something to offer to each and every one of us. I invite you to come and see and to listen and hear what messages God has for you.

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Eco-Friendly, Minimalism

Is minimalism for you?

Two weeks ago I came across an essay written by Joshua Millburn. His essay, Screw You, I Quit!, is an autobiographical account on how the principles of minimalism, simplicity and passion changed his life for the better.

Before reading his essay I had never heard or read anything on minimalism as a lifestyle. The only reference my mind could muster up when I stumbled across his essay was minimalistic design-the concept of stripping everything down to its essential quality to achieve simplicity.

Though Joshua wasn’t writing about furniture or architecture, the minimalistic concept he was referring to was indeed the same one as in my mental reference. Except the context wasn’t design, but one’s life.

The Less I Needed, The Better I Felt

Interestingly enough, even though mine and Joshua’s circumstances, career and background shared next to nothing in common, his journey into a minimalistic lifestyle was something I found myself being extremely interested in.

The original essay I read led me to his website, The Minimalists, and this led me to a compilation of essays titled 21 day journey into minimalism, written by him and Ryan Nicodemus. The more I read, the more I felt I could relate to many of the things he expressed regarding minimalism. I was especially intrigued by the concept of building your life around your passion and your mission.

I found that many of the ideas he began exploring in early 2010 are things that I too have felt, thought about, considered and, in many instances, sought after. Without ever being aware of it, there have been many principles of minimalism that I have already begun implementing in my life, and many others which I hope to implement in the future.

So, to any of you out there who echo Joshua’s sentiment to any degree,

“I refuse to be a slave to cultural expectations,

ensnared by the trappings of money and power

and status and perceived success.”

Do yourself a favor and check out his essay. And if you are still game then don’t stop there, please visit his and Ryan Nicodemus’ website, and read all about their journey. It’s time well spent. I’m still doing a lot of reading, and have much to learn, but so far, I have really enjoyed what I have found. I’ll definitely be sharing more on the subject in the days to come.

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Uncategorized

Realignment

I recently found myself thinking a lot about this blog. I engaged in a self-dialogue that went a little like this;

Why did I start this blog?  I wanted to contribute in a meaningful way. That’s the short and to the point answer.

And the long, in-depth answer? I began this blog at a time in my life when I was being expose to many things that had never before been present in my life. I felt like I was learning and experiencing new things on a regular basis and I wanted to find a way to pass it on to others.

Why a blog? It seemed like the obvious answer. First of all, the Internet knows no boundaries and makes information über accessible to the masses. Furthermore, writing is something I have always enjoyed. Even though writing has never been something that’s come easy to me, I figured it would be a process that would be enjoyable while still being challenging.

What exactly were you planning on contributing? Inspiration.

And how were you planning on doing that? Well, I thought I would write about the everyday things I was coming across that were inspiring me to think, do and feel worthwhile things.

“Worthwhile things”? Yes, you know… those things in life that enrich your existence and add value to who you are as an individual.

Okay. Do you feel like you have accomplished that? Sadly, no, I don’t think I have. As I look back, I think there have been many times when I used this blog more as an escape for my muddled thoughts or as a means for venting my frustrations, uncertainties and doubts, than for what I really intended the blog to be for.

What do you envision for your blog now?  I still feel this can be a way for me to contribute in a meaningful way.  Ultimately, that is still what I want.

What will be different from now on? In the past I believe my writing lacked focus. I wrote about anything and everything under the sun. Moreover, I believe there were many times when I didn’t write about the things that really mattered to me. I plan to change that.

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DIY, Eco-Friendly, Reclaimed

Laser cut rubber stamps, hangtags and stickers

I’m constantly looking for new ways to use the resources that go unused in the industry I work in. And let me tell you, within the fashion and garment industry, there is PLENTY that goes unused. So the closer and closer I came to opening up the Reclaimed shop on Etsy, the more I worried over still not having my product packaging figured out.

I conducted several google searches for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional packing solutions and what I found left me in awe! My searches were very tangent filled (as they often are) and would often keep me glued to my laptop monitor late into the night as I poured over some pretty awesome ideas. What can I say? There was just so much to see! It seemed like one website always led to another and to another and to another… and you get the picture.

During those late, monitor-glued nights, I came across many blogs, posts, sites and resources that inspired and strengthened my resolution to stick to my “green” guns and find an eco-conscious alternative to packaging my goods. After narrowing my creative ideas to about a dozen, I began to try them out one by one. Many of them were great concepts, but that was all. They were not practical enough to see through. Other ideas were wonderful in my head, but when I tried them out, they looked like a 1st grade art project.

I’m happy to say that after a few failed attempts and disappointments, I did finally find something that I liked, could do and was practical enough to use.  And while i know this might not be a plausible DIY project for many people, it was for me thanks to the resources available to me at my place of work. Mainly one; the laser system.

Yes, I decided to make use of my favorite big-girl toy; my Universal X-660 Laser System. I use the word “my” quite loosely since it actually is not mine, though I certainly do like to pretend like it is ;) I absolutely LOVE working with this machine. And even though it’s nearly 10 years old, it still runs wonderfully! Something that is to be attributed to the magnificent care my father has given it over the years. So, while it may certainly be an oldie, it most definitely is still a goodie :)

I began my project by designing my own hang tags, stickers and stamps. This included designing the shape, dimensions, size, fonts and making sure the stamps fit the stickers and the hang tags, and that these were in good proportion to the packaging i would be using them for.

I had never before laser cut rubber stamp, or even used the laser machine on any material resembling rubber, but as it turns out, there’s nothing you can’t do without a fine user manual :) Using CorelDRAW I designed the images I wanted on my stamps using only black and white. I then Inverted the colors and mirrored the image. By following the easy step-by-step instructions the manual provided, I was able to input the correct settings needed for the kind of rubber I was using. I loved how this took the guess-work out of everything. It was easy as pie! Which made me realize that I should probably make reference to the user manual more frequently instead of resorting to my usual trial and error

Laser Cut Rubber Stamps

For the hang tags, I used old manila folders a nearby business had thrown away while moving locations. PERFECTLY good, extra-large manila folders (Why would you do that?). I’d been holding on to them since like… March knowing that one day they would be useful for something. And now that day had arrived!

For my stickers, I collected scraps of kraft paper from our next door neighbor. They provide cutting services to clothing manufacturers and process thousands of garments each day. To make the cutting process more manageable, they place a layer of kraft paper in between every couple of layers of fabric (like a sandwich). After the patterns are cut, there are many scraps of textile and kraft paper left over. sometimes the scraps are itty bitty, but sometimes they can be quite big. And, since they have no use for these scraps, they simply end up in one of their three massive trash containers outside their building.

Laser Cutting

When I finished laser cutting them , I separated them into piles and arranged a sort of assembly line for myself. I inked my stamps and bam bam bam bam. Done. Just like that. It was so easy and fast! I have to admit this project went better than I anticipated. I love the imperfect look each stamp has. I think it gives it a lot of character and a bit of a vintage look :) I really couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. This is a project I would definitely do again.

Stamped Stickers and Hangtags

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Spirituality

Promises

I like to end my day by taking out my computer and going on the http://www.mormonchannel.org website. I’ll usually watch 2 or 3 Mormon Messages or videos from the ‘I’m a Mormon” campaign before closing my lap top, offering a prayer and going to sleep. I find that, regardless of the kind of day I’ve had, I immediately feel calmer, more peaceful, inspired and motivated to “try a little harder to be a little better”.

try a little harder to be a little better

Today as I was brushing my teeth and washing my face I kept thinking about how I’d missed my morning scripture study and hadn’t yet been spiritually nourished by the word of God today. My thoughts lingered over different passages in the Scriptures that I could possibly read before going to sleep, but for some reason, none of the passages that crossed my mind struck me as being what I needed to study.

When I finally got in bed, I decided to find a video to watch and I came across this one:

I watched it a few times and found my attention being drawn to the blessings being promised.

As I pondered the significance of these blessings, a quote was brought to my remembrance. It was something President Gordon B. Hinckley had said during a general conference address many years ago. I remember reading this talk in an Ensign magazine when I was a teenager and how, even after all these years, his words still resonate within my memory. This is what he said;

      “Brothers and sisters, without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord.  There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”

Wow. What amazing promises.

Regardless of where in life’s journey you are, or what your spiritual state may be, who among us can say that they wouldn’t benefit from or want an added measure of the spirit of the Lord?Who out there can say that they don’t need a greater resolution to walk obediently to the commandments of god? Or a greater testimony of Jesus Christ? Certainly not me. These are things that I need and deeply desire to have, especially now with the things I am struggling to overcome, the upcoming decisions I’ll soon have to make and the life changes that lie on the horizon.

I, for one, can’t afford NOT to have these promised blessings in my life. What about you?

In regards to studying the Book of Mormon, President Benson said the following:

“There is a power in the book [of mormon] which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of [it.] You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’, and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”

And that’s when it hit me! I realized that even though I had been diligent about reading the scriptures every day (for the most part), it had been a while since I’d undertaken a serious study of the Book of Mormon.

It was like one of those aha! moments and I immediately knew this is what had been missing from my life these past months. I can’t tell you how much I desire to be more spiritually in-tune with my Father in Heaven… so tonight I have decided to accept the same challenge that so many youth across the world have probably already accepted and carried out!

I accept the invitation to read the Book of Mormon every day for at least 20 minutes and to write my thoughts in a journal. I can’t wait to see these promised blessings being fulfilled in my life, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with you (whoever you are). I will share some of my thoughts and insights on this blog every night and I hope my experiences will be for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, that perhaps I too may inspire hungry souls like mine to accept this invitation and reap the blessings God wants to give us.

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Birthday, Emotions, growing pains, Rantings

Happy 26th Birthday to me

I’ve been meaning to write this particular blog for many days now. Dot. Dot. Dot. But it’s really no wonder that little, old, procrastinating me has gotten around to it just now. Sigh. Nevertheless, all that truly matters is that I’m finally here. Never mind the fact that I spent over 35 minutes trying to remember what my login and password were for my blog! Hardy har har :p It’s funny how many things you forget when you’re gone for 18 months.

Anyway, back to what I actually want to write about.

I wrote out a mental rough draft of this entry on the 17th of April, the day before my 26th Birthday. I was SMS-ing with my oldest friend, Rosie Posie, and as I thought about her, I wondered, when was the last time Rosie and I celebrated my birthday together? As I quickly flipped through past Birthdays, I realized that the last time Rosie was physically present on my birthday was April 18, 2005. Eight years ago. Eight whole years. Wow.

Let me tell you a little about my 18th Birthday.

Normally, 18th birthdays tend to be a sort of milestone for people, right? They are anxiously anticipated and happily welcomed with a big Hoorah! Not the case for me. I distinctly remember my 18th birthday as something I had been dreading for months. I certainly didn’t view it as a milestone, I saw it as a big, fat reminder that time was ticking, I was growing up and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

Turning 18 meant being an adult, being responsible for your decisions and most importantly, deciding where you wanted to take your life. Turning 18, to me, was the equivalent of being handed me the helm of my ship when all I could think was, I am SO not ready for this! I have no idea where to navigate this to!

From where I stood, all I could see was that everyone around me seemed to be heading down a sure path. My friends all seemed to know what their next step would be. They all had plans they were executing. Their futures seemed concrete. And deep down inside I think I envied them. I wanted the security that came from knowing what was around the next bend because I felt like I was walking blind. I had recently watched my best laid out plans slowly fall apart and as I stared out into my future all I could see was a void of structure and an overstock of uncertainty.

I remember coming home from school and crying myself to sleep. When I woke up Rosie was in my living room, there was a big cake on the dining table and she was signing something about a happy birthday… in spanish or english, I can’t remember.

I often hear that life is just one big circle. We have up’s, we have down’s and history has a way of repeating itself. I feel there must be some truth to that because as I talked with Rosie I though about how many similarities there were between this birthday and the one I’d had eight years ago.

The rest of the world still seems to have life figured out.

I’m still trying to figure out where my life is heading.

The future is still uncertain.

Times are still hard.

My circumstances are still trying my faith.

My best laid out plans are still falling apart.

and there are still nights when I cry myself to sleep.

But that’s not all. What I didn’t know the day I turned 18 is that in reality, everything I feared would turn out okay! Actually, better than Okay! The future I was staring into was, in reality, not void of anything. The future that awaited me was awe-inspiring. I just didn’t know it at that point.

I would go on to experience a wonderful gap year in Mexico. I would meet people that would forever change my life. I would love more than I’d ever loved before. I would be loved. I would fall in love for the first time. I would travel the world. I would end up studying in a little university town half a world away. I would learn another language. I would fall in love with another culture, people and country. I would meet soul mates in disguise as best friends. I would experience heartache and trials and difficulties but I would get over them! I would learn to love children and family and home. I would hear God’s voice calling me to serve him. I would embark on a 18 month long mission in England. I would learn to love imperfections. I would breathe deeply. I would be joyous. And I would begin to find out who I really am, and who I want to be.

So this year, as I stared out into the vast unknown that continues to be my life, I did not fear because I now know He has plans for me better than I have for myself. I know all will be well. I have learned to not fear the helm because there is no need to! In reality, I’m not called to steer on my own and better yet,  I’m not the captain of my soul, He is. Through trial and error… lots of error, I’ve realized that so long as I have ears to hear, He will lead me where I need to go. And last, but certainly not least, I think (I sometimes still forget!) I finally get that I don’t need to know what’s around every bend because this knowledge does not, in fact, give real security. Rather, knowing that wherever you go, He will be by your side, is what does.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

– M. Louise Haskins

The Big Picture

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LDS Mission, Mormon, Prayer, Spiritual

My first BOM

Date of this event: July 16, 2011

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

 

Serving as a missionary at a visitor center, in many ways, is very different than serving in the field. For example… we don’t teach lessons the same way a missionary in the field would. The visitor center in Mexico City only has 12 sister missionaries, and most days we get anywhere from 400 to 1,000 visitors. Because of this, our “tours” can only be 15 minutes long. That’s all we get, 15 minutes. Most of the time, we are the first contact investigators have with the church.

 

I guess you can say our main purpose is to introduce investigators to the message we share with the world; the restoration, and interest them in learning more about it. Our goal is to get their contact information and have them accept the missionary lessons in their home.

 

Because of this, we rarely hand out Books of Mormon. It’s just not something that happens often in the Visitor Center. We’re not encouraged to do it. Quite the opposite, when they ask for one, we tell them that two representatives of the church can deliver a free copy to their homes and ask if they would be interested in that.

 

But there are always exceptions to this rule. We recognize those exceptions when we come across them, and I finally came across one this Saturday J

 

Today I gave my first Book of Mormon. The recipient was a beloved daughter of God, Elizabeth.


Elizabeth entered the Visitor Center, not knowing where she was. She walked in with a very heavy heart and much sadness in her eyes.
As I approached her, I immediately felt she needed something special. And without even speaking with her, I felt in my heart she was a “chosen” one.

 

As we began talking, I could see how much she was struggling to hold back the tears that wanted to spill from her eyes and I wondered what this young woman could be experiencing that could have her so defeated.

 

I invited her to take a tour and see a video, but she declined both, explaining all she wanted was to just sit and contemplate upon the Christus statue.


I asked her what she was searching for and like so many others whom I’ve had the opportunity to talk with, she answered; I’m looking for peace and comfort. She asked if there was someone here who could give her a counseling session and I replied that I or any of the missionaries here could say things that would make her feel better for a while, but that would be like the parable of the fish;

 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

 

I told her that here she could find everything she needed to learn to feed herself and get that peace and comfort she so desperately wanted to find … and not just for one day, but for the rest of the days of her life.

I asked her what she was feeling and she said she felt as though she wanted to scream. She said to me, I want to scream and tell my Heavenly Father I just can’t take it anymore… the load is just too heavy… I just want to put all my sorrows at his feet… I want to change.

At that moment a group came in to listen to the message that is shared in front of the Christus statue… As we joined the group all I could do was pray to my Heavenly Father to allow Elizabeth to feel his love for her and to feel the Holy Spirit testify to her that she truly was in a place of God … and above all, I prayed FERVENTLY for Him to help me know what to say, what to do and how to help His daughter Elizabeth.

After the recording I somehow managed to convince Elizabeth to watch a movie. So we did. We saw the movie Finding Faith in Christ. After the movie we had a beautiful conversation. We talked about how she too could develop her own faith in Christ and how I knew that Jesus and God really did know who she was and what was she was feeling and enduring. I testified that the Atonement had been done for her as well.


Then I remembered that as a missionary I had been called to not only preach repentance and to testify of Jesus Christ, but also to testify of the restored Gospel.
So that’s what I did. We read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and I asked Elizabeth, what do you want? And she answered; I want to meet my Savior.

I asked her if she would like a Book of Mormon. She answered yes. I asked her; Elizabeth, if I give you a Book of Mormon will you read it? Again she said yes. Finally I ask her; Elizabeth, Will you read, meditate and pray to know if these things are true? At that moment, she raised her eyes, looked straight at me and said, Sister, I’ll read it. I’ll medítate about it, and I’ll pray about. I promise.

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