Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Keystones and Capstones of our Lives

“The Keystones and Capstones of our Lives”

I’ve heard this one before. I’ve always been a member; so obviously, this lesson reaches far back into my LDS Primary, Sunday School, Relief Society, Young Women’s, General Conference, Preach My Gospel lesson filled life. However, I was sitting in Relief Society on Sunday morning with my mom and grandmother on a beautiful Mother’s Day and this lesson hit me like that one time the next door neighbor boy hit me with a baseball bat. It hit hard. It hit home.

What is a keystone? The Prophet Joseph Smith taught us that the Book of Mormon is the keystone to our religion. Why exactly does it play such a significant role? Remember how he also said, “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.” …Yikes. Now, I am not going to talk about the miracle of the Book of Mormon much here, as I will save that for another richer filled post. Suffice it to say, I have a strong testimony of its truthfulness and in its ability to change people’s lives. I would like for now to focus on why it is referred to as the keystone.

A keystone is found in an architectural arch structure made from wedge-shape pieces that lean against each other. The middle piece, or keystone, is usually larger than the other wedges and locks the other stones in place. The Book of Mormon literally holds our religion together. [Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, Ch. 5, (2004)] Without it, the rest of the laws and principles of the gospel would find difficulty standing on their own. Who would they lean on then?
I began to think sitting next to those two beautiful women I come from, “What is my keystone? …What has played such a significant role in my life that it literally holds me together as an individual?” Then I entertained the thought that perhaps, there was more than just one keystone. How many arches had I built throughout the course of my young life? Many.
I am currently working at Brigham Young University-Idaho as a peer advisor. I have done this for several years and as I sit down with students and help them class plan there are always pre-requisites to take into consideration. If the student does not plan for those pre-reqs first, the graduation planner tool will highlight the later class as red, reminding the student that they will not be able to add the course until the pre-requisite course has first been completed. They are rather annoying. I have had several pre-reqs to my education that have frustrated me. But, but, but, I understand the principle as to why. Without those preparatory classes, I would not do so well later down my educational road. Recently I had a pre-req waived for me. I was ecstatic! It was grrreeeaat. However I will be quite honest that I struggled through the upper-level division class a bit. I came out alright but it would have been beneficial to have taken the time to understand the material through its previous course first.

Keystones are the pre-requisites in our lives.

There is such a thing as a Capstone class as well. Ever heard of that? That’s right; it’s the course you take at the end of your Senior year that sums up all the information for that particular subject. It’s a review. It’s the finishing layer on the cake. It tests you to see if you really know your stuff before graduating. So…let me ask you this question. What are the Capstones in your life? What are the finishing and protective stones across your life arch?
And why does this even matter?

Well it struck me to my core that Sunday morning that as painful as some of those keystones had been, I had learned extraordinary things from them. I had actually evolved as a Spirit and I felt closer to God. I was spiritually growing up. I felt closer to God because I had actually become more like Him. Pain does wonders for the average person. It wakes you up. It builds you. And then someday, someday…you finally get to lay the Capstone down. You get to stand back and say, “Look at what I have learned. And look how beautiful it all is.”

My advice? Do not fear the central keystones. They are the fundamental pieces to the puzzle(s).

...They will build you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When it comes to trainers and trainees.

Recently, I had a sweet new sister missionary email me with trainer problems. Her email stated, 

"My trainer and I just aren't getting along at all...like I'm pretty sure she hates me and isn't talking to me for the past three days. I don't think I did anything but I'm just so confused and I'm just having a really hard time. Can you just pray for me? And any advice? How did you not get along with your trainer? Is it just a trainer thing and once you get past the first few months things are better. Honestly I wish the transfer was now but it's in a whole other month! Ahhh! I'm going to go crazy. I've just prayed to Heavenly Father for help and I know he will deliver and I can get through this."

My reply-

Dear sweet Sister (              ),

I am so glad you emailed me about this. Don't try and push through the tough times by yourself. First, rely on your Father in Heaven and the Atonement. Those two things are going to get you through the next month and for the rest of your life whenever times get tough. I had a strong relationship with my Heavenly Father before my mission...or so I thought. But you will never grow closer to Him then when He is the only one you can rely on and the only one to turn to. My trainer and I didn't get along from Day 1. I was SO surprised! We were very different. She didn't think the way I did. I thought that going on a mission would be the greatest adventure of my life and I had imagined myself walking alongside my companion, Book of Mormons in hand with "Called to Serve" playing in the background and dust flying behind us...Epic. But it's a bit of a wake-up call when you are first adjusting to a missionary lifestyle. I remember feeling so guilty and un-Christlike because I didn't like my companion. I was supposed to be this perfect missionary! Let me tell you right now, there is no such thing. That was one of my greatest personal struggles on the mission...not. being. perfect. I tried to be consecrated but I fell short every single time. And that is where the Savior along with His Atonement became my best friend. He made up for it all and told me again and again to stop beating myself up about it. 

So, here's what I learned from my first two transfers with my trainer:

1. We are still girls. Yes, we are set apart as full-time missionaries but we are going to have bad days...and even worse days once every month.
2. Her decisions are not my fault. Yes, we are responsible as a companionship to look out for one another but if she decides not to like me...that is her choice. 
3. Service. Try killing her with kindness. It's a great way to work on self-pride. (*Warning- this one can be the hardest to do) 
4. Focus on the work. Do everything you can to just plunge in and think of others.
5. There ARE angels around you. The unseen ARE THERE. You are never alone. 
6. Focus on the tender mercies that God WILL send to help you get through the right now. 

Remember, to those who are keeping the commandments of God and doing everything they can to do His will, He has promised that "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper". I would like to say though, that later towards the end of my mission, I was able to look back and realize that I appreciated my trainer so much. When I was the one training, I discovered that she had actually done quite a lot for me. My respect for trainers began to grow. I have never liked being told what to do and being submissive and gentle was SO HARD FOR ME when I was first being trained as a missionary. But I learned to check my temper and to pick my battles wisely. And now, I am realizing that those first few months with my trainer have prepared me for marriage and for life in general. Your mission will shape you into what God can already see and what you cannot. Be patient and live the next few weeks by WWJD. You may ask, what would Jesus do? Well, He would love your trainer and have patience with all her imperfections. Do your best to do the same. ...It will not be easy
Ask your family to put your name in the temple. Missionaries already are being prayed for in every temple that dots the earth. You are getting many prayers!  I remember well how hard it can be out there and prayers will make such a difference. I promise you that. 

Remember you are loved! 


Friday, May 30, 2014

Grateful for my hurricane.

How can I ever thank everyone for the prayers and fasting on my behalf?? 
...Can someone please tell me how? I'd really like to know.
 President Miller called me before I went in and told me that the mission would be fasting for me on Friday as I went in for my knee surgery.

This has been one darn interesting storm in the hurricane life I feel I've been living. 

What "pre-surgery fake happiness" looks like:)

What "post-surgery no chance of faking it this time" looks like:/
Now I remember why I used to joke about waiting for the Second Coming before going through another knee surgery. 

Not my cup of tea. 

Apparently, the surgery went well. My ACL was successfully reconstructed (this time using my own not so wimpy tendons, thank you very much), the shredded meniscus removed, and  I came out of anesthesia just fine...that is until I started swelling up and hives broke out over my face. ..Still haven't figured that one out. Then after coming home for a time we took a fun little midnight run to the ER 24 hours later because I couldn't seem to uh, breathe. They don't classify wheezing and straw sucking as getting in your oxygen supply these days.

Again, Not my cup of tea. 

The doctor thought there was a possibility of a blood clot in my lungs, my mom almost lost it about then. We did a cat scan and he determined instead to start me on antibiotics for bronchitis as he didn't see any clots in the scans. Bronchitis. Of course. My old friend! After loading up on more IV meds and a breathing treatment from the respiratory department, I went home. The next day the nausea patch came off...BIG mistake. I threw up for two days and could not get food or liquids down for so long we almost made a second trip to the ER. I decided pain was better than the pain pills. When it rains it sure does pour. But as President Uchtdorf reminds us all, "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?" True that my friends. Rain is needed but can be hard to be grateful for when we don't really feel like getting wet. However, without it we wouldn't see the end results so beautifully work themselves out. 

I know I have Dr. Millar, those sweet nurses, my momma, the King of re-filling the ice machine..also known as 'Dad', BF Alli and the NMAM missionaries for helping me through this week as well as countless others who've stepped up to help make me as comfortable as possible..


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

And it's time.

What an adventure this has all been. I am so grateful to God for giving me the time I had on my mission. Those 10+ months I had, are and always will be some of the most influential of my life. I came home a different person with more eternal friends, a bigger heart and my faith has grown substantially. It has continued to grow from this experience of coming home. The past 4 months have been some of the hardest I have endured in my life but every step of the way I have had incredible support from both seen and unseen angels. The people I am surrounded with and the love that has been shown was more than I could ever have hoped for. I received the news yesterday from the missionary department that I have officially been released. I put my papers in again wanting to give it my all, and I have. My Heavenly Father let me know a long time ago I think that it was over as a full-time missionary but that there was still much missionary work ahead of me. I have seen on so many occasions how the Lord has used me here in the Burley, Idaho mission as a member missionary. My testimony has only grown stronger. I also recognize the many tender mercies that have come from being released. I would have missed seeing my little brother by only a few days if I had never come home, as he is leaving to the Kumasi, Ghana mission on July 24th. I have been able to grow closer to him and help him get ready for his own missionary service. Since coming home I have had the revelation that it was for the best in coming home. Since stepping off the plane that terrible, not so happy day I have learned to understand my body on a greater scale. It has been a long and difficult journey. I have been sick almost every day for the last four months. I have learned patience, more about the precious gift of grace and the great power in priesthood blessings from the bulging disc in my L5 to going gluten and lactose free to steroid shots in my SI joints and to the knee surgery I now face. It has been one thing after another..quite literally. I have done my best to remain positive and happy but I truly have struggled from all this chronic pain that continues to plague my once-healthy body and many nights I have layed awake asking my Heavenly Father...why? 
He answered every time..."wait." 

by Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait." 

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign. 

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply." 

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?" 

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

"You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."

I love this poem. I am always convinced by it. I am such an impatient person. What a downfall! What an area of my life in which I must grow! I want answers from God, and I want them on my terms and my time. I have found that I often learn more from the journey of waiting for the answer than I do from the answer itself. God is speaking to me. If I received the answers that I demand right now, I would never learn from the journey. One of my favorites lines in the poem is this: "But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart." I want to know the depth of the beat of His heart. That desire alone stirs something in me that says, "Emily, the wait will be worth it." I trust that God will carry me though the journey, while I wait ever longingly for His answers.

AND to top it all off...I got some awesome pictures from the mission this week. Two of my favorite missionaries, Elder Godinez and Hermana Adams doing the famous "Hermana Silva peace sign"...sigh, how I miss them...and doing my peace sign all the time.
*tender mercies in pictures


Friday, April 25, 2014

Here it is!!

...I am so proud of my little brother. He is going to be such a hard-working and diligent missionary. I know this already because I know how my big my brother's heart is. Austin has been my best-friend since age 3 and always has been such a hard working 'good-ole Idaho' boy with a good, solid testimony. I am going to miss him so much for these next two years..but if I have learned anything from my own service, it is that every hardship and every trial is worth much, much more than you will understand in this life...so surge forward and all of your losses will be made up.

Love you Tito! ...Em 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Morning traffic, motab, bagels, little brothers and zone conferences.

Good morning :) 
1 year ago today...this is what we were up to!

...Side note: For those of you who have been wondering, yes my papers have been resubmitted! But I am still waiting for an answer from the missionary department of whether they will let me back or not. I've been checking the mail every morning and still nothing but uh, this morning...somebody (aka, little brother) decided to beat me to it. 

Congratulations Elder Austin Joshua Silva! Can't wait to open it tonight!!