Sunday, July 30, 2017

God provides for us!

This is a talk I gave in church on March 15th, 2016. The new school year is only a few weeks away, and I'm feeling really nervous going into it after experiencing how hard the last school year was. I decided to pull up this talk that I wrote to remind myself of God's love for me and plan for me! I thought I'd share it here in case it helps anyone else as well. ♥ 

Today I am speaking about recognizing God’s hand in our lives, and knowing that He provides for us. A couple of Sundays ago, after church, Brother Nielson asked me if I would be willing to speak today. After I agreed, he asked if there was a topic that had been on my mind that I felt like sharing. I immediately answered, “Yes.” I told him that I would love to speak about how the Lord provides for us. I actually almost bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting that Sunday because I was reflecting on recent events and feeling so grateful for the Lord’s providence in my life. However, I didn’t bear my testimony in Sacrament meeting, and instead bore my testimony in Relief Society, where I proceeded to sob uncontrollably about why life is hard and God gives us trials. Apparently a lot can happen in two hours. I’m grateful for the loving Relief Society sisters who didn’t judge me and who let me share my deepest concerns with them in that moment, and I’m even more grateful to have this chance to share with you the more uplifting and optimistic testimony that I almost bore in this meeting two weeks ago.

The reason I know without a doubt that the Lord provides for us is because of events that have occurred in my life, especially in the last seven years since I moved to Utah to attend BYU. Because these events shaped my testimony of this principal, I will spend a little bit of time talking about them in detail and how they strengthened my faith.

When I first came to BYU, I planned on studying photography. Photography was something I really enjoyed and I grew up always saying I wanted to be a photographer. During summer term, I signed up for two of the visual arts pre-requisite courses, and after the first day of classes, in which I had to draw a chair and a pile of tubing for six hours straight, I dropped those classes, and decided to change my major. Now, I’m well aware of the fact that I pretty much gave up without even trying, but I remember feeling very calm and hopeful about my decision to change my major (even though at the time I had no idea what my new one would be). It was as if Heavenly Father was giving me a quick answer, an easy out, so that I could start the process of finding what He knew I would truly love to study.

After another year or two of experimenting with different classes, I declared myself a family studies major. I was so drawn to those classes and loved every single thing I learned. I ate up both the research and the gospel principles we were able to study. I could feel that major changing my perspective and, in turn, my whole life. I very much felt led to it, and felt that it was a gift from a loving Heavenly Father who knew what I would enjoy most and what would be of most value to me.

When I graduated, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go. During the months leading up to graduation, it was very hard for me to answer the question, “So, what are you doing after you graduate?” Every time someone asked me that, I literally pictured a black hole. I started to worry that I hadn’t prepared enough, and that maybe I studied the wrong thing. But every now and then I would receive reassurances that the Lord was pleased with what I chose to study and that He would help me make it count.

After about a month of searching and applying for jobs in several different fields, I found a listing for a position as an Assistant Montessori Kindergarten Teacher at a school in Provo. To be honest, I was first drawn to the position because my best friend was the secretary at the school at the time. I told her about the listing, and naturally we both freaked out with excitement at the thought of working at the same place. However, I also was drawn to the job because I remembered receiving the impression that working in a classroom might be something I would want to do. I first received that impression my freshman year of college. It was strong, completely random, lasted for about three days, and didn’t come back again until after I graduated.

As some of you know, I applied for the job, received it, and have been working there for the past three years. It has completely changed my life. First, it has taught me that God knows us better than we know ourselves. I had no idea I loved children. I knew I liked them, and I didn’t mind babysitting them, but I had no idea that they were my people! Even the age range I teach was perfectly tailored to me. I can’t imagine teaching any age other than the 3-6 year olds. I feel such a deep connection to them.  Even when they drive me crazy, and I will get to that J, I can’t thank my Heavenly Father enough for letting me associate with them. They are the most special souls on the planet, and I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father knew that I would love them as much as I do.

Second, my job has taught me that God cares about me. This I know because of my relationship with my co-teacher, Melissa. I don’t really believe that every single thing in life is meant to be – some things, in my opinion, just happen – but I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father had a hand in allowing Melissa and I to work together. I could write a novel detailing all the things she’s done for me. She has been the greatest example I’ve ever seen of someone who exhibits unconditional love and patience and trust. She has carried me on multiple occasions when the weight of life’s problems has dragged me down, and she has kept my faith strong when I was doubting. I could talk forever about the things she has done for me. Her friendship is priceless to me, as it has given me just a tiny glimpse of the love that my Savior and Heavenly Father have for me and for all of us.

Lastly, my job has taught me that this life is a time of testing. Teaching 3-6 year olds is easily the hardest thing I have ever done. I can’t adequately describe the level of stress one can reach when being placed in a room with twenty tiny humans who either need you or aren’t listening or are throwing a tantrum or just had an accident or are just being silly kids. I have been pushed to my absolute limit on multiple occasions, and have cried to relieve the stress more times than I can count. Simply put, it has been hard.

This last year especially was very difficult for me. I felt that the joys of the job were no longer outweighing the stresses. I was constantly tired and emotionally drained at work. In addition to work stress, I was struggling financially, I was losing many of my close friends to moves and marriage, and I was going through a time of being very aware of and sad about my single status. I just kept feeling like life shouldn’t feel this way. It shouldn’t be so hard, so sad, so difficult. I started to question what I was doing with my life, and if God was really there and really cared. Something inside of me kept saying to hold on to hope, since I knew I had been led at least this far, but it was so hard to see a hopeful future at all when everything seemed to be so discouraging and unhappy.

It was over Christmas break that I very first had the thought that maybe I should quit my job. I knew that it was only wise to stay at my job if I saw myself eventually becoming a full-time teacher, and at the time I felt like that was definitely not what I wanted to do. I held on to this thought for a couple of weeks, and finally voiced it to Melissa one day during our lunch break. I told her my concerns about the job and admitted that I was thinking of maybe not coming back next year because I was pretty positive that I didn’t see myself being a head teacher. I probably went on for about five minutes while Melissa listened so well as she always does. Finally, when I was done, she responded with something to the effect of, “Well… I was actually just in Miss Lois’s office… and she asked me what I thought about you being a head teacher next year.” Talk about irony. Melissa and I teach the two half-day kindergarten classes together, but the full-day kindergarten class is losing its teacher next year because she is having her first baby in the summer. I surprisingly felt very little emotion when Melissa told me this, probably because I was just so emotionally drained, and I was pretty sure I had made up my mind already that I wasn’t coming back. But it didn’t take long for me to have a change of heart.

Within just a few hours, I was already feeling very hopeful and optimistic about the job. I remember feeling significantly happier the next day at work just because I had been thinking about it. I didn’t have a ton of reasons to feel this way – I think at the time all I knew was that this job offer meant doing something different and getting paid more. For a couple of days my emotions went back and forth as I considered the pros and cons. I knew that I felt hopeful about it, but I was still terrified of accepting it and making the wrong choice. It was that weekend, during the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, that my heart began to change and I felt like I had received an answer from heaven.

That evening in January, President and Sister Nelson were speaking at BYU-Hawaii. Sister Nelson spoke first, and although her talk was only about ten minutes long, it hit me with such great force that I’ll never forget it. I experienced that sensation where you feel like the speaker is talking directly to you. In short, she spoke about being desperate. She said,

Think of the woman who, for 12 years, endured an incurable disease. She stretched out her hand to touch the Savior’s robe. This was her only chance to be healed.
Think of the man at the pool of Bethesda who, for 38 years, suffered with an illness and had never been the first one into those healing waters.
Think of the Savior’s disciples who, with life-threatening waves crashing around their small fishing boat, cried out to the Savior, “Carest thou not that we perish?”
What did these people have in common?
They were desperate! Desperate for the Savior to heal them, help them, cleanse them, guide them, protect them, and save them! They were desperate for Jesus Christ to help them do things they could never do on their own. They were desperate to have the Savior’s strength and power in their lives.

Sister Nelson’s words resonated so strongly with me. I could not think of a more accurate word to describe my situation than “desperate.” I was so desperate to change something in my life so that I felt happier. She continued her talk and explained how desperation can be a great motivator. She said,

Clearly the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced intense desperation in Liberty Jail. He pled with the Lord, “O God, where art thou?” Because of such intense spiritual desperation, the Prophet received some of the most sublime revelations of this dispensation.
When we’re desperate to be guided by heaven, we work harder than ever to tune in to heaven. When we’re desperate to be physically healthy, we eat and exercise accordingly. No excuses! When we’re desperate to have more money, we eagerly follow the Lord’s law of finances—which is, of course, tithing!

She continued to share other situations in which we find ourselves desperate and do what it takes to free ourselves from that bondage. She concluded by saying,

I pray that this year you will have some moments of anguishing desperation that will propel you further along the path to becoming the man or woman you were born to be. Your true self is spectacular! Never settle for less.

After her talk, my heart was full. I felt at peace, and knew by a spiritual confirmation that Heavenly Father was aware of me and my situation. He comforted me during Sister Nelson’s talk, and, because He knows me perfectly well, he proceeded to address my biggest fears in President Nelson’s talk.

President Nelson spoke about being true millennials. He talked about how the world thinks of millennials in a much different way than the Lord does. To the world, we are lazy, needy, and incompetent. To the Lord, we are strong and special spirits reserved to come to the earth at this exact time to prepare the world for the second coming. President Nelson gave four recommendations for how we can stand and live as true millennials. It was his second recommendation that spoke to my heart: Expect and prepare to accomplish the impossible. Although I had felt good and peaceful about accepting the job offer, the logical side of me was shouting, “Hello?! This assisting job is the most stressful thing you’ve ever done, and you somehow think that doing it full-time is going to be better? What would be better is to quit this field and go work at a spa.” But President Nelson’s words comforted me. He said, “I know how unnerving it can be to be asked to do something that seems far beyond your capacity,” and he proceeded to talk about his daunting assignment in 1985, during the Cold War, and after only being an apostle for 19 months, to open the countries of Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel. He felt that it was utterly impossible. He faced obstacle after obstacle, but said, I was privileged to watch the unfolding of one miracle after another—always, and only, after I had brought my best thinking, my most courageous efforts, and my most fervent prayers to the task.” By 1992 he was able to report to President Benson that the Church was now established in every country in Eastern Europe.

I went to bed that night feeling so grateful for the Lord’s care and concern for me. I know that those talks were not written for me alone, but I also know that they were both such direct answers to my fervent prayers. Even Melissa texted me after the devotional and said, “You were watching that, right?!” We both knew that the Lord was aware.

To make a long story short, I officially accepted the job offer, and have found it hard NOT to see the hand of the Lord very clearly in my life since. It would take too long to explain, but I have become aware of many aspects of the new position that are different from my current one and that are much more suited to my temperament and personality. In short, the Lord addressed my deepest concerns and has provided a way to alleviate the problems that were most challenging to me. I know that there are plenty of new challenges ahead, and I try not to get overwhelmed thinking about them, but I also know that for the first time in a long time I feel hopeful about the future. Because I’m going to be a head teacher, I have to do my 8-week Montessori training this summer and start the process of getting my teaching license. Not only has the Lord provided me with friends from my own school to do the training with, He has also provided exactly enough funds for me to get my license and start to build my own classroom. (I do photography on the side, and even with the very little marketing I’ve done this year, I’ve been able to schedule enough photo shoots to take care of those extra expenses. I’ve also learned over the past seven years that I don’t really have the drive to do photography full-time, and therefore it’s a really good thing that I didn’t major in it. This is another testament to me that Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves!)

I have spent most of this talk detailing how the Lord has provided for me in my career, but I know He has provided for me in every other area of my life as well. Just this weekend, my amazing friend Chelsea, who I have lived with longer than anyone else, and have experienced sooo many ups and downs of life with, moved out of our house and into her newlywed apartment that she will share with her husband in June. This has been hard for me, but would have been so much harder had not M.E. moved in the very next day. Heavenly Father knows I am the type of person that needs my girls, and He knew that this last year I had been feeling a bit lonely as many of my close friends moved away and/or got married. Just when I was thinking I wouldn’t have a close friend to move into Chelsea’s room and help heal the wound when she left, I started to develop a stronger relationship with M.E., and it quickly became obvious to both of us that we would love to live together. I know that the Lord cares about the details of our lives and that His timing is perfect.

To conclude, we have a parakeet in our classroom named Sparrow. He is a daily reminder to Melissa and I that God cares about us. “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.” Luke 11:6-7. I know that the Lord provides for us. I know that He directs our paths. I also know that we have agency, and that He respects it. But if we turn to Him and fervently pray for guidance, He will help us exercise that agency righteously and in the way that will ultimately bring us the greatest happiness. I also know that, even after we’ve received an answer, we still need to exercise faith. I am terrified on a daily basis about having my own classroom next year, even though I have felt prompted that this is the right thing for me to do right now. But the Lord expects us to exercise faith in His plan and follow the whisperings of the spirit. That is what we are on Earth to do. You are not alone, you are not forgotten, and as long as you are doing the Lord’s will, you are not aimlessly wandering. He loves you and wants the best for you, and knows how to bring you the greatest amount of happiness. I have a testimony of these things, and I share them in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

In our church, we often close our remarks "in the name of Jesus Christ," and then everyone says amen. :) I'm so thankful for the simple reminders we get when we write things down! Reading this talk again has really made me want to be better at recording spiritual impressions I receive, so that I can be helped in future hard times as well. ♥

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Because funny.

And Sadie.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Not sure if it's good or bad...

...that I look so dang cute pregnant!

You see, I've noticed a trend. I look pregnant in more pictures of myself than I am okay with. Thankfully it doesn't hurt my ego at all, because I know it's the angles and the clothes I'm wearing, plus... let's be honest. I look adorable. But I'm just a little concerned that this has happened more than once..

Here's some proof. Let's take a moment to appreciate the fact that I even look married in the last two. *face palm* 

But really this one is a bit ridiculous. I swear it's the coat!!
Soooo......... yep. Happy Holidays!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Polar Opposites

It's incredible to me how so many different things can be going on in the world at the same time.

I was having a nice day, and spent a good hour or so looking at old pictures from high school and reminiscing over happy memories.

And then I saw this link my friend posted on Facebook with blurred out pictures of people beheading each other in Syria.

I have not felt my stomach turn like that in a long time. I just felt sick. Tears came faster than I knew they could.

And then I looked at other posts on Facebook and saw happy things again and my mind was just blown.

It's not like I don't already know that there's good and evil in the world at all times, but when you get that vivid of a reminder... you just can't shake it. All I could do was say a silent prayer of comfort for all those who are suffering.

But something I've learned is that it's still okay to move on with your life and be happy. Do what you can, absolutely. Pray. Donate. Spread the word. Pray some more. But I think we have to go on living, even though we feel so, so guilty. I think Heavenly Father would want as many of his children to be happy as possible.

Anyway. Those are just some thoughts I had. Please, please pray for Syria and everyone suffering everywhere. I promise your prayers are being used to comfort someone somewhere.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Live More Weigh Less

My cousins, aunts, and I are going to participate in Sarah Jenks'

It should be really fun! You should think about signing up for it too!
I'll be posting my pics to Instagram, but may post them on here as well.. not sure yet.

Anyway... LET'S DO IT! Cuz who doesn't want a fun excuse to run in a field or buy fresh flowers? 
I mean really.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

A week ago today, I graduated. FROM COLLEGE.

Don't I look smart?
It's so weird. It's such a different feeling than graduating from high school. MUCH more anti-climactic. College is different because you're never really sure when it's going to end (unless you're one of those super planner students), so when you finally know it's the semester you're going to graduate, you're just like... cool! I did it! And then you go to a mass graduation where you don't know anyone because your school is ginormous, and then you take a few pictures with your family if they're able to make the trip out, and then you're done. (Although, I must say, I was the luckiest girl in the UNIVERSE and got to graduate alongside my soul mate Sadie. Seriously, I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for the small fact that we graduated on the same day with the same degree and therefore got to sit by someone we knew and walk on stage right next to each other have it all feel so so so much more real and special. Not to mention the fact that Sadie WAS my BYU experience. Enough said. It was perfect.)

Aww look we're best friends!

And now... I am on the official hunt for a job. Let's just say I've been glued to my computer all week long. I wish that was an exaggeration. I seriously wake up, get online, and search. All day. And think. And ponder. And search. And search. And search. And tweak my resume. And search.


It's kind of horrible, but kind of fun, but kind of exhausting, but kind of like a treasure hunt. I have put together a range of photos to help describe the range of emotions I go through on a daily basis:


Hey! This is fun! I get to pick a job! Whatever I want! It's like a buffet! The world is at my fingertips! I love life!!


And then we pass the point of no return.
Joking aside, it's been hard, but fun (kind of), and hopefully the hunt will end soon. :)

I want to get back to the title of this post and why I wanted to write this in the first place. I've said (and hoped) for a while (since the last two years of college when it got dang stressful) that I would be a lot happier once I graduated and didn't have to do homework all the time and write research papers and live in the library and decode research articles and memorize millions of terms and lose sleep and with it, some of the magic in life.

I'm happy to say that things are looking up.

I know life is still going to be hard. I know I'm still going to have random sad days. I know challenges will always, always be there (oh these last four years, you taught me so much), but I am really happy to say that something feels different now. I do feel lighter. I'm so much quicker to giggle now. So much quicker to joke, and play. So much quicker to take the time to serve. So much quicker to actually think about having hobbies (the small talk question I hated the most - what do you like to do for fun? I always felt like such an idiot! "Uh... nap... wait no, sit on the couch.. I mean.. crap.. facebook?"). I just wasn't interested in/couldn't see the point in doing a lot of hobby-like things for fun. Because they weren't fun. They were more work and less time and just uninteresting. But they're starting to become fun again. I'm excited again about decorating my room, and doing crafts, and putting special thought into homemade projects or gifts. I'm excited about having the time and means to cook and make a nice meal for myself (and my roommates!) every now and then. I'm seriously just so excited to do work at work, and then do my thing at home, whatever that thing may be. Last night my aunt Amy and I watched the end of North and South while eating Panda Express and I was like, "... THIS IS SO AMAZING AND RELAXING WHAT IS THIS. CAN I DO THIS KIND OF THING NOW? MOVIES? WHAT ARE MOVIES?" hahaha. It was nice.

But the thing I love the most is that I just feel lighter overall. I love getting back to my Jennie self. I love feeling a little more goofy, care free, hyper, fun, loving, and hopeful again. I'm becoming a dreamer again, in a good way. It feels good. It kind of feels like the best part of life is just beginning. The sun is rising, and I'm ready to soak in its waaarrrmm delicious rays. :)

Man. I'm done with college. How??? It just so doesn't feel like it. So different from high school. Can't get over what a different feeling this is.

Anyway. Life is good. It's a little creepily unknown right now, but I know things will work out. And I'm so, so, so thankful for my four years at BYU. It's hard, because I know I have regrets. I'm definitely an overachiever at heart and like to be the best at everything, so it's hard for me to say that I graduated college with so little on my resume and with no solid plans for my future. By my junior year, my goal in college was definitely just to make it through. Seriously, KUDOS to those who had time for all the good extra stuff (internships, research, mentored learning, etc.). It just didn't happen for me. It's also hard because my major (family studies) doesn't exactly lead to any specific jobs. At one point this week I looked in the mirror and said, "Why didn't you just major in accounting???" Hahaha. But... I KNOW family studies was the right major for me. I'm a huge follower of feelings, and I just felt so strongly guided toward that major. I hadn't planned on that major AT ALL. Photography was it for me. But photography felt soooo, sooo wrong once I started. It's so funny to me.

Anyway, my major changed my life. Honestly. It changed everything. It has affected every single part of me. I think so differently about so many things now and I just loved it so, so much. It is just a part of me now. And now it's my job to figure out what the dang heck to do with it. ;) Haha. But I know it was right for me. I have confidence in that. And I'm so thankful for everything I learned. In some ways it was a sacrifice to study what I studied, but the gains in other ways... completely, completely outweigh any monetary sacrifice. Because I know that no matter what I end up doing, I will use what I learned every hour of every day for the rest of my life, in every interaction with every person I come in contact with. And that's a good feeling.

Alright folks. It's been real. Here's some creepy smiling bacon to let you know that everything's going to be okay.

Everything's going to be okay. Wanna hang out sometime?
And here's another happy picture of me graduating so you can get the creepy smiling bacon picture out of your mind.

:) Happy Friday! And Happy Life!

Friday, August 9, 2013

One. Week.

Until I graduate from college.



(hahaha. separating that word was really awkward. roll with it.)

I was talking last night with Sadie and my Amazing Aunt Amy about job searching and how potential employers can search for you on the internet and we talked about how they could come across our blogs. Then Amy kindly reminded me that my most recent post is a picture of a handsy octopus. Woops. :) Thus this morning's thought dump. Hehe. (That octopus is still my favorite thing in the world.)

Okay. So maybe I won't dump too much right now. But I have been formulating thoughts in my mind over the past few weeks about... LIFE. Graduation. BYU. How much I've changed. What remains the same. The positives and negatives of my college experience. How much I learned and how much I have yet to learn. Oh my goodness. So. Many. Thoughts. But life is cool, and I love how much it teaches me. It is so. dang. humbling. I've heard people say that all my life, but man, you don't know until you've experienced it... and then you know. Life teaches you so much.

One of the best things lately is just how much I'm learning about myself, and how much I've been able to reconnect with myself. It's kind of exhilarating when you don't have anything to define what or who you are anymore (aka I'm no longer going to be a STUDENT WHICH IS ALL I'VE EVER BEEN), and so you're kind of forced to discover exactly what or who you really are just by.... living. Oh man. That is another post for another day. But I promise it's one of the most insightful things I've realized lately. And it's actually been really nice. I'll try to make it make sense soon.

Well.. that is my short little itsy bitsy life update that also just happens to conveniently push handsy octopus girl a little out of site... hehe.

Good things to come. Love your faces. ♥
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