Putting Words to My Ministry

20 June 2015

The best gift you are ever going to give someone — the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough.   -Hannah Brencher

I published a lot of past posts recently.  This post draws them all together.  :)

Several weeks ago, I stepped back for the sake of decision and discovery (remember this post here?).  A dive to make some choices about myself, about my future.

Because Ryan and I have been getting closer and closer, talking a lot about our future.  And sometimes when something is so close to your face, it's hard to step back and see the big picture.  Does this addition to my life match the bigger picture?  Am I ready for this next step?  Am I aligned with God in a way that I need to be for this increased role of myself as one's companion?  Because to me, a covenant is a BIG deal.  a BIIIIG deal.  Because it's not just joining hands all lovey-dovey, and heart eyes overshade your life now, but it's an extremely great pledge to God.  A pledge that says your character is ready for this next step, saying that more of your body, mind, and soul is now His.  That you have learned how to offer yourself for His mission and His Gospel even more.  And have I?  Is there any other parts of me that need to be purged so that I can be more pure before Him?

So I needed to take a real honest journey.  Mostly my relationship with Heavenly Father is one of gentle love and constant encouragement.  But now, I needed Him to cut it to me straight - How am I doing Father?  And what more do I need to do or understand to be a greater disciple of Thee?

So I started by asking some people close to me to pray for me while I dove deep.  Drawing a picture in my notebook of myself, surrounded by a caravan of people.  A wall of protection and safety.  Because when asking God for His honest feedback of you, one can never know how straight to the bone it can cut.

Then I called my grandpa at 8 the next morning to just heed the wisdom of someone who I'm sure has taken an honest journey before God a few times in his life.  We discussed personal development for awhile, and he had a lot to share as he has counseled people about this before in the role of bishop.  Then I asked him, as my priesthood steward, and also as my patriarch, if he has ever had inclinations towards me or my life, beyond what he shared in my patriarchal blessing.  He said yes and expounded so deeply on feeelings he's had towards my life, things that took my patriarchal blessing just a bit deeper.  Specifically he said that he knew years ago that I was going to go through something incredibly hard, where Satan would use doubt and discouragement from every corner to keep me down, and I would have a long struggle, but in the end, I would be triumphant.

He offered me some more scriptures to help, and then for the next week or so, I put my head down into the scriptures, allowing Heavenly Father to shoot straight with me about any wedge inside of me, as deep or personal as it might be embedded, that I need to extract.  I LOVE this quote that Rachel shared with me by Elder Holland:

We must be willing to place all that we have, not just our possessions (they may be the easiest things of all to give up), but also our ambition and pride and stubbornness and vanity--we must place it all on the altar of God, kneel there in silent submission, and willing walk away.

I took some personal wedges to the altar of sacrifice, left them all on the table, and willingly walked away and never looked back.  (some of my notes from my personal studies here)

Then my mind immediately went back to this feeling I've had for many years that I have a mission on this earth.  I received a blessing from Sharla's husband that told me I indeed have a great mission to fulfill, and God was laying out the path for me.  He said I should specifically read 3rd Nephi and the New Testament to learn more of Christ's mission, and then I would learn more of my own.  So I plunged deep into those records, reading and writing down every part of the Gospel that affected me or seemed like a clue to understanding.

As I studied, I honed more and more on what I believe to be my mission - My Ministry, as I call it.  Seeking to define what my allegiance to God should look like in action.  Pulling in my strengths, asking the Spirit - "What am I to do?"  "How am I built with personality and talent to yield the best benefit for good on this Earth?"  Because "missionary work" is often conclusive on knocking on your neighbor's door, or your neighbor's head, and sharing grand messages of Doctrine.  But one's mission can take the role of something so much more specific for their gifts.

I realized that I must cultivate the huge talents I have of empathy and compassion and relator, and breed those to spread light directly to the hearts of people.  Every day.  That My Ministry is to expand, continually expand, everything around me with goodness.  (in which I applied direct application at work with this post here).  I am to help people feel expanded every time I am with them.  Even nature and things, everything has a spirit, and I am to expand that Spirit.  Help the energy around me even in an empty room to be more full of joy.  I must expand and brighten everywhere I go.  And while verbally teaching and spreading truth is also a mission God teaches us.  I believe that love is always the message to share first, before we even share standard or concept.  Expand people's energies, make their hearts swell, help them to feel something deeper, some greater joy.  And then a hole is opened for truth.  And my mission... is to do that initial expansion.  

Then I approached Ryan about my mission, specifically within the walls of my home, as a wife and mom.  We talked of how My Ministry will take on many roles - friend, sister, co-worker, but the most important of these roles will be a wife and a mother, and more than anything, I want to have an extremely sacred Spirit in my home with my family, taught between my children.  I want to give full energy to my children and my family, and if I must sacrifice my career to do that, then I will, but I will need his full support.  He was SO excited, as he has always desired a woman to have this full focus on the family, and he's also always wanted such a unified, protected family.  And as we spoke of my mission in a broader sense, like how I want an "open-door policy" (like this post way back when) where everyone is included in our home, and everyone feels they can come to us at anytime.  He completely agreed in his desire for the same.

But then I shared with him the inspiration I received from Heavenly Father that this wasn't going to be an easy pursuit.  This quote came to mind from L. Tom Perry, which has stuck with me:

The word disciple comes from the Latin, meaning a learner.  A disciple of Christ is one who is learning to be like Christ--learning to think, to feel, and to act as He does.  To be a true disciple, to fulfill that learning task, is the most demanding regimen known to man.  No other discipline compares.... in requirements or rewards.  It involves the total transformation of a person from the state of the natural man to that of a saint.  One who loves the Lord and serves with all his heart, might, mind, and strength.

That part about being "the most demanding regimen known to man" rings in my ears often.  This sort of a life - one that is so full of the Spirit that it expands everything around me - requires my FULL effort heart, might, mind, and strength, especially against the demands of life and increasing devisiveness of the world.  I must be physically rested and healthy, so that my body can support my mind.  I must have a focused and clean mind, so that my mind can support my soul.  And my soul must only be surrounded by positive inputs so that it can constantly be at One with the Spirit.  All of this requires daily and deliberate effort, and a whole lot of awareness and sacrifice to constantly be aligned with my Best Self.   Because in order to cultivate such a pure spirit every.day., one must be purified every.day.  I must be able to always consecrate my time, my energy, my focus, my advice, my thoughts, my efforts.  Everything for the sake of expanding the people and the energy around me.  Because a force for good doesn't have to be grand, but it needs to be constant.

So I ran all of this by Ryan, and finally asked him - if I am going to commit myself to such a mission, I would need a companion right by my side who is committed and striving for the exact same.  No impurity could exist between us because we would need our full energy to go towards such a simple, but daily calling.  We would need each other's support and love.  We would need to be unified as One.  So, the way I understand it - a covenant between us in the temple would only be about us marginally.  But mostly that would be us making a pledge that we will be more devoted to God than we've ever been, now as a duo.  "What do you think?" I asked.

Needless to say, he was overjoyed.  As this type of a relationship and a life has always been his desire as well.  Since having this discussion, our relationship has been on a whole new level.  (see this post here).  One of such intimacy I have never before known.  We're bound with a really intense love, but we're also sustained with a strong spiritual unity.  We put words to our Ministry.  We are One. 

 "Much of my learning to follow Jesus is unlearning to follow myself."  -Burk Parsons

Upward and onward,

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Happy Moments Lately - Ryan & The Spirit

15 June 2015

Happy Moments Lately

- waking up early every day and working out.  Gets my body alive and vibrant, blood flowing and oxytocin pumping.  I love that feeling even more on mornings that I feel too tired to work-out, but I do it anyway, and it's like a magic energy solution.  Then I sit down to pray and read my scriptures.  And because my body is already wide awake, the focus and attention of my mind is so clear and precise, and because my mood is already so strong, my connection to the Spirit is so open and full.  I connect really deeply and wholly with what I'm reading, finding new pieces that connect to me and new understanding, and I feel exceptionally peaceful and happy.  I look forward to this span of time every morning.  I love the knowledge of God and a greater existence.  I love the Spirit that transcends this awareness to our innermost selves.

- I have so much gratitude in my heart for Ryan.  I love him SO incredibly much.  I love his male embodiment and his pure and strong character.  I love his respect and gentleness to female sensitivities.  I love his companionship - our endless talking and laughing.  And I love his counsel - his intelligence, patience, steadiness, respectfulness, spirituality, non-judmentalness.  Who know such a combination of a person existed?  His inordinant willpower and ambition.  His humor and quick-wit.  His confidence - oh man I LOOOVE that.  His attractiveness.  His passion for so many things and his focus to become so good at an array of hobbies.  His gentle love and respect for me.  His prayers, so thorough and thoughtful.  I really never thought that I would find someone with ALL of theses qualities I desire in someone, plus some extra I never considered before.  Like his steadiness and even-killed temperment.  He never gets upset or impatient or moody.  He's such a steady rock - I love that!  And I love our relationship.  I love how we naturally connect so well.  I also love how we've been so open and vulnerable, and I love the growth and union that has caused.  I love our plans and goals and dreams for the future.  I'm SO excited for all to come!!

-  I loved going to the stake presidency's office yesterday to get my temple recommend renewed.  I LOVED answering the temple questions, and the Spirit was so strong in that little, geometric side closest.  I loved answering the first two questions.  YES I have a testimony in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  And YES I have a testimony of the Atonement.  The energy in my body was rushing so strong as I answered all the questions.  On the drive home, I also thought it was cool that this blog is branded for JUNE, and every two years in June, I get to renew my temple recommend.  It's a very small, but very meaningful time for me.

-  I'm so excited for the new FHE program Ryan and I decided to begin tonight.  Tonight we will be reviewing the lesson Ryan taught in Elders Quorum yesterday by President Benson.  But for the next year, Ryan and I decided to read a series of economic and political books by Richard J. Maybury, because, you guys, the economy is going to get CRAZY - and we're going to decide how to best secure and invest our money.  The Last Days!!!! :)  We should have group discussions if you friends want to come over for a BBQ.

Upward and onward,

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This. quote. Awakening.

13 June 2015

This quote is BEAUTIFUL to me.  It is so awakening and rejuvenating to my soul.  Like Nephi says, "Awake my soul, no longer droop in sin [or sorrow]."  Stand tall and go forward:

"If a person believes that he can be helped, PERSONALLY, by the atonement of Jesus Christ, then his faith is energized and his charity is quickened. However, if through repeated transgression a person concludes that he has forfeited the right to be rescued from sin, the resulting despair undermines his faith and dilutes his charity. ...In this manner, Satan drives a wedge between the shame-filled sinner and a merciful God—because shame cannot comprehend mercy." - David A. Whetten

Upward and onward,

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A Queen's Credence

03 June 2015

Sharla and I spent last Saturday evening at her in-law's cabin, deep in the mountains of Midway.  We had been looking forward to it all week!  We made coconut crusted tiliapia and ate coconut ice cream and sat on the porch swing and swung back and forth, long into the night, talking about everything and beyond.  Of all the things we talked about, my favorite was the concept of "you teach people how to treat you."

Initially we talked about the occasional necessity of setting up boundaries, in an effort to encourage people's respect towards you.  But then Sharla taught me how after awhile, your self-grounding in your own worth and values will be so strong that it will emanate a very particular energy.  And people will react to that energy without even conscious awareness, being naturally inclined to match their treatment of you to the respect that your energy extends a claim for.  Sharla compared it to being around a group of people who swear, and you establishing a boundary line saying - "Please do not use that language around me."  But for the prophet, people just don't swear around him.  Not because he's said anything to them, or because he's switched who he hangs around to exclude all the colorful verbage, but because he is a man of such refinement.  His energy, his light, his qi, is SO strong that people's own caliber will match, subconsciously pulling out their best selves and putting away bad habits.

I thought of my own journey coming to this Self Radiance, of this very grounded and refined place that draws people's best selves out when they are around me.  For awhile, I sought to wrangle my self-worth down and clamp it in place.  Healing from debilitating pains.  Cutting puppeted strings that tagged me to definitions from people or society that were fleeting and limited.  Attaching my self-perception to Heavenly Father and places of Eternal understanding (like in the book You are Special - LOVE it!)  As I've settled into a sense of Self-Belonging, I've then jostled around the in-between of setting boundaries, but other times letting my confidence emanate and naturally foster greater respect.  Usually after I do some serious power posing in the bathroom.

However, recently, I have found myself resting more in the latter, my assertiveness speaking up when it needs to, but overall being more deeply and intricately aware of my deep Divine Worth.  Meditating has really helped opened up this open space inside of me where I am aware of my endless Light of Worth, and I can sustainably exist within that.  And I let that energy exude, believing people want to act upon a better part of themselves around me.


A queen is a proverbial figure of this Regal Value, capitalized because we are of Godly descent, who draws out the utmost respect from people.   I am profoundly more aware of the Queen within myself.  And thus, my Self Radiating Aura is stronger.

The next day at Church, after returning from my getaway trip with Sharla, an elderly couple spoke who are long-time temple patrons in our area.  The elderly woman had glistening white hair and spoke with such poise and grace - so much beauty.  Ryan, my roommates, and I were sitting in the second row, dead center, so I was right beneath her, and was I LOVING her presence.  She is a Queen, I kept repeating to myself, this is the Self-Radiating Aura of a Queen that I am feeling.  

For the next week at work, I was led by these thoughts of being a Queen.  In every instance, I asked myself, how would a Queen handle this situation?  I was powerful and meek, I was beautiful and natural, I was energetic and at rest.  I was grounded and I was very in tune with God in the clouds.  I was the best of all ends of myself.

So I formed a credo for myself and the behaviors that come from being a Queen.  (Remember last year when I made a credo? Here.  Creating evolving standard guides are important to me.  More and more, I realize I am a person chained to high value systems.)

So, what do I belief a Queen to be?  Who am I, and what is my standard? 

A Queen sees herself as an agent for God and creates a space for that choice and behavior daily. 

(this idea came from an article I read about Rosa Parks and her civil rights actions).

A Queen asks herself, "What do I need in this moment to be my best self?"  A Queen takes care of herself so that she can constantly be offering her best energy to everything around her. 

(this idea came from the book Sharla and I read).

A Queen's actions are dictated by her commitments, not by her emotions. 

(this idea came from my favorite podcaster -Hal Elrod).

Upward and onward,

email from Nora a week after this post:  :)

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Praying for a little one

01 June 2015

This morning was beautiful.

I ran around the mountains with the bright sun, greeting the new week.  And I came home, quickly got ready, and burst out the door with all that oxytocin flooding through me.  I love that feeling. Then I called my mom, and she informed me that my sister is beginning her process of IVF this week.  (As I told my best friend Steff, who was unsure what that was - it's a process of needles, hormones, and forcing your body to conceive when it's otherwise impossible).  This has been something my family has been hoping for for years and years.  But the emotional distress and the cost.  Oh, and the cost.  And the cost again.  Infertility is such a merciless thing for any woman to go through.  So we all pooled our finest pennies, and we knew this summer was going to be The Summer.  And boom, Monday morning, it's here.  And we have three weeks - THREE WEEKS - until this process is complete and we greet or say goodbye to little Angie & Matt Earth babies forever. 

Jolts my system.

I can't speak to the level of how much I want this IVF to be successful for my sister.  I have wanted things in my life before - pleadings from the deepest parts of myself up to Heavenly Father.  And this is one of those times, with an extra special emphasis and connection with my body, because it's no longer wanting something that only rearranges and heals mental and emotional grievances.  But it's something that is asked to rearrange and cause miracles among physical units that are inoperable when left to their natural state.  And doctors can do their best to step in and force our mortal pieces to awaken and connect as they should, but humans, even those with PhD's, are so so so limited.  And this is my family's - my sister's - ONE CHANCE to bring angel babies into this world.  And if my soul yearns for this SO badly for her, I know the depth of desire in Angie's own heart is millennial times greater.  Because I know how that space inside of her has soaked up oceans of grief over the years and held it with such grace, as friends and family around her conceived children with no problem and continued the natural stages of their lives, while my sister just kept swallowing and swallowing in their presence to keep that ocean of absence calmed inside of her.  But I've sat with her and stayed on the phone with her in times when the ocean could no longer be calmed.  When it raged and thrashed against her, until she couldn't resist it any longer and had to submerge inside of it for a time and allow herself to drown in the horrible thought - "what if I will never birth children in this life?"  "Will I be able to have a family through other means, or nothing... ever?"

The brokenness of human spirit is a place I know so SO intimately.  And truly, I am grateful that I do.  SO grateful, actually.  Because when another's human spirit breaks, and the ocean is ferocious within them, I no longer stand in a cruise ship and yell off the side "hope things work out for ya! Be happy through your trials!" .... but I can immediately dive right into the dark and enormous tumultuous waves of emotion and grip them tightly, planting myself firmly as their anchor.  And the next 3 weeks is our time to anchor with her.  Doing everything we can to send consistent pleading pulses upward to our Heavenly Father, to supplicate for His miracles in helping her body receive her child's spirit.  Please please please, Father.

And after I got off the phone with my mom, I decided it was time to circle the wagons.  To reach out to the closest people in my life and ask them to activate their faith for my sister the next 3 weeks in fasting and prayer.  And my best friends who are not members of the Church have always agreed to participate in my spiritual practices when I've invited them to, and it's SO beautiful to me.  And after asking many of my friends, former co-workers, roommates, and even my RS President, I was so overcome with the responses that I had to leave my desk and go to the bathroom and say a gratitude prayer to Heavenly Father.  People fully willing to jump in and help, some of my friends relating to their own experiences of infertility, and people's joy over the invitation to assist. 

It reminded me of my time in the Philippines, when I was deliberating whether I should climb on the boat and go serve in the wreckage of Typhoon Yolanda or take my flight home and be present for Leslie's wedding as her maid of honor.  And I abandoned my flight and climbed aboard the ship.  Then my system jolted just like this morning, and all my focus immediately went to the service ahead of me.  And similarly again, I began circling the wagons of my closest friends, requesting their prayers and any monetary funds they would like to contribute to the Filipino people.  And then I lost service as the boat rocked towards the destroyed island, and I heard nothing else.  But days later, when we returned to the main island to reload on medical and food supplies, our donated funds were nearly gone, and then I remembered my circle of friends that I asked for help.  I opened my PayPal account and there was $1000 from all of them.  Wow!  The hearts of people wanting to circle their wagons and sacrifice their money was so incredible to me!

And though this situation with my sister is only the request for prayers, I REALLY believe that a prayer is the passing of positive energy.  And there is SO much power in passing such energy between each other, for each other, and ultimately upward to the heavens.  We receive it to our souls when others pray for us, even when our mental conscious isn't aware, but I know that energy shifts things in our subconscious.  And inviting people to concentrate their faithful forces up to God for a specific purpose is so unifying.  It forms tribes.  People circling their band wagons around you.  And I believe God is happy when we build our petitions and reach for Him with deep desire.  I know that offers power for miracles. 

So I close my eyes and picture all of these specific people circling around Angie and Matt.  I feel safe in all that faith, whatever happens.

So, here we go.  :)

Upward and onward,

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