Sunday, January 15, 2017

Personal Ministry

Today was our 2017 Ward Conference and it started off with a bang. At about 6:30am I was awaken by little Shawn informing us that the power was out. After checking my local community Facebook Group, it was confirmed that not only was our power out, but so was most of the west San Fernando Valley- and the rumor was that it would not be restored for a couple days. What the heck..... so I got out of bed, showered (I wanted dibbs on the hot water LOL) and got back in bed to kill some time on Facebook.

I really had no idea what to do about church because if power was out all over, were we supposed to still show up to the building? I hoped that there would be some type of communication but nothing came.

Thankfully the power came back on about 20 minutes later so I jumped up, put Pandora on the Kirk Frankin channel and began making the cookies that I volunteered to bring for the Linger Longer. I was in a pure state of joy- and something inside told me that I needed to have a conversation with my Stake President because I had a few things on my mind.

After the normal running around like a crazy lady to get all the kids ready and out the door Sunday routine, we arrived to Sacrament just as our Stake President was speaking and he read James 1:27 and my heart exploded. His entire talk was about how we need to be more intentional with our "Personal Ministry" towards those in need. The exact thing that I wanted to talk to him about- I began to hear the Twilight Zone theme music in my head :)

So here is the backstory:

In March 2015, I was diagnosed with Severe Depression and Anxiety, which apparently I had been battling with since the beginning of the year. Now this was a surprise to me and my family because it wasn't as if I was balled up in a dark corner all the time. There can be two extremes to this mental illness, either you respond how I described above and totally disconnect from the world or you are what I call "high functioning" Check out this article on the "Superwoman Syndrome"), in which the perception to others is as if you have everything under control and in some areas are highly
successful. Well I seemed to have the latter down packed and spent the next year and a half battling mental illness. I will save my journey through mental illness for another blog post, but it wasn't until about two weeks ago that I actually made the decision to put my #faith in God and began to focus on my own healing.

It hit me like a ton of bricks this morning before church, that because I embraced this "Superwoman Syndrome" so strong, many others may not have felt the need to reach out to me on the ministry level. For the past year I had become more and more distant from the Gospel and specifically church. Although I had an important calling as Stake Young Women Secretary, I had enough leeway where I didn't need to be super active in church (this is what was going on in my mind.) As long as I fulfilled my responsibilities of the calling, that would be good enough- and because I loved the youth and being around the other youth leaders so much, that was just enough to keep me engaged.

Finally around the beginning of the summer- I was at my breaking point, mentally, physically and spiritually. I kept myself busy and essentially sane by pumping up my Superwoman-ness and throwing everything I had into my business- and when I was released from my calling it was as if my connection from the church was also released. In my mind it was no big deal, but my health continued to decline and I had to fight hard to keep "Superwoman" alive.

So fast forward back to today:

When President Grasteit quoted 2 Nephi 33:6,
"I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell."
I realized that I am able to beat this illness because of my Heavenly Father and the LOVE that I have for him. President Grasteit challenged me (and everyone else in the church meeting) to "make my association with church very personal." This challenge has reminded me to reconnect with church- the way I connected when I visited the families while serving as Primary President, the way I connected with the Relief Society while serving as Enrichment Night Activities Coordinator, the way I connected when I was first Baptized and became a member of the Tarzana Ward. I just have to say that their is no greater calling than that to Personal Ministry and I am thankful to have been reminded of that today.

Some of the ways that I will fulfill my Personal Ministry include:
  1. Embracing my Visiting Teaching assignment
  2. Developing closer relationships with sisters in the Ward
  3. Meeting regularly with the Ward Missionaries
  4. Planning for my first visit to the Temple

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Magnify Your Calling

Back in September and again before the end of 2103, my Bishop gave a talk in Sacrament that offered us ways to strengthen our Ward. One of the ways he suggested was to "magnify our calling." Now ever since I became a member of the church, I have been anxious about receiving a calling because I always need something to keep me busy. I am also one of the few people who love to give talks and teach lessons (come on now, I'm an educator.) So when I received my first calling in the new ward as the Relief Society Activities Coordinator, I was happy because planning parties is what I do and do well, but a tiny bit disappointed because I thought, well this is not a challenge for me and it will hardly keep me busy, but nonetheless I was ready to get to work.

My first event was a Pinterest Party and it was a ton of fun, then I was in charge of the Relief Society Christmas Party which really got me in the spirit and came out pretty well. So now that the new year came and went, I had the nagging voice in my mind of the Bishop (not nagging in a bad way LOL) of magnifying my calling. He talked about sharing the Gospel with others and one of the ways he wanted to do that was to have some event at the Ward every month. Ding ding ding, I thought man he is talking directly to me. Wow the pressure is on for me to come up with some exciting and engaging event every month that will allow members the opportunity to invite their friends and family to share in our Gospel. My creative juices began to flow, then I received an email from him asking if he could come over and chat with me. I thought oh no, he is coming to make it clear of the challenge he laid before the entire Ward of having an event every month. Or maybe he was going to give me a second calling because I just wasn't busy enough with the events.

So it was of little surprise when he extended a new calling  to me, but a huge surprise when he announced that it would be PRIMARY PRESIDENT! Holy cow (can I say that) like I never saw that one coming in a million years. Of course I accepted excitedly and was totally up for the challenge. For a while now I have been saying how I needed elementary education experience- but I was thinking more along the lines of in a school- but this is even better! I could hardly contain myself as I had to wait to share the news until I was sustained by the church congregation. I know that they were all just as surprised as I was. So now begins my journey in this new role- any by the way he did not release me from my first calling so maybe I will be doing double duty for a while. Its cool because I have this really great idea for the Relief Society Birthday Party :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sharing the Gospel

Family picture under to Oak
Tree at Woodland Hills
Ward bldg.
It's always encouraging to me to attend church and listen to spiritual messages that truly resonate with me. Because it was the 5th Sunday of the month, we had a joint Relief Society and Priesthood session in which our Bishop talked to us about sharing the gospel with others. One thing that really stood out to me was when he said something along the lines of "don't be afraid to let everyone know that you are a Mormon. Its interesting because I have a pretty big following as an educator of students, former students and fellow educators and I have always been pretty conscious of the topics that I discuss publicly because of this. I try to stay away from controversial topics such as politics, religion and other personal choices- as not to offend anyone or worse, stir up heated discussions that lead down the wrong path, but hearing my Bishop speak these words from the pulpit was like a neon sign flashing before my eyes. The truth is, my life is amazing and I attribute the amazingness to my faith and choice to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Since most people ask me how I came to know the church, I found it only fitting to begin my blogging journey with my conversion story.

So most of you know that I have had numerous business ventures in my lifetime, and one of my most fulfilling was when I was an independent associate with a financial services firm otherwise known as WFG. I had the opportunity to work directly for the company's power couple who had managed to build a successful empire in the matter of 10 years. I served as their personal assistant for about 6 months and learned so much from them, but not about finances or business management, but being good people who put their faith first, family second and business third. The morals and values that they shared even under dire circumstances and the genuine love, care and concern that they had for other intrigued me to learn more. They invited us to church with them one Sunday and from the moment I entered the building, the spirit was so strong around us. I loved everything about the church but most of all, the love for family and community.

We began taking gospel lessons from our local area missionaries and attended the church building in our local area- my Tarzana Ward Family. Never had I been in a place that genuinely opened their arms up to me and my family and were happy to have us there. It was a match made in heaven. I was baptized along with Chloe and once Shanel turned 8 a year later, she too was baptized. That left Daddy, who despite loving the people in the Ward, supporting church events and having the Gospel in his heart, was not quite ready to take the next step.

It was tough being the head honcho in keeping our family grounded in spirituality. I was constantly faced with questions from the kids about why daddy  was not coming to church with us. There was also a small battle about other gospel principles such as not planning events on the Sabbath and weekly Family Home Evening that I had to face- it got to the point where I was ready to give up but I didn't. We continued to feed the missionaries over the years and have spiritual messages and even gospel lessons. We moved into a new Ward and Daddy had the nerve to ask me, why do "we have to change, can't we just keep going to Tarzana" LOL. I continued to pray for him and for our family and one afternoon, the Bishop, friends from church and the missionaries come by to teach us a Gospel Lesson and concluded by asking him if he would be baptized and he said YES. It shocked the heck out of all of us- I didn't even want to make eye contact in case he decided to change his mind. In fact, I did not mention it during the whole next week, but he was in. It was one of the most amazing baptisms that I had ever attended (next to my own). The chapel was filled from the front to the back and all of our friends from Tarzana and Woodland Hills, joined us for a celebratory dinner afterwards.

I can say my life is close to complete. We have plans to be sealed in the Temple in October 2014 but until then we are now working together as a family to live the Gospel.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kicking off TMC?

Happy 2014! I can't believe that the new year is already upon us. Time seems to fly by faster each year. I have been wanting to really start a blog for a couple of years. Just like with keeping a diary, I will start off strong but then gradually find some other thing to occupy my time :), but there is so much craziness that runs through my head on a daily basis, I have decided to commit myself to maintaining this blog at least for 365 days in 2014. Now after that, who knows, hopefully I would have developed a habit that will continue on throughout the rest of my days. Ok so realistically I know that I will not post every single day, plus I can't imagine maintaining that many blog entries on my blogger account, but I am committing to making this happen on a weekly basis. So much so that I will be setting calendar reminders and setting aside weekly quiet time to reflect on me!

With that being said, let the blogging begin! I know that this year will be a very eventful one as they always are, but I have some big changes in store for me that I would love to share with the world, solicit encouragement and sometimes just rely on my friends for a tasteful venting session. So the blogging will officially begin on January 1st. Merry Christmas!