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Our Love Story: Part 3: Grand Adventures and Personal Growth

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

After our first year of college Garren was called to serve a 2 year mission for our church. He was called to the London, England South mission. I asked him to write something about his experience: Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was a turning point in my life. Not only was I able to go to a new country and have the blessing of serving so many different people, I grew up and had gained a greater understand of what was important to me. As a missionary I learned that family and relationships are the single greatest thing we have in this life, and the gospel of Jesus Christ enhances those relationships to make them more complete. This was an amazing time in my life.

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While Garren was on his mission I had quite a few adventures of my own. I spent the majority of 2009 in Westchester, New York. I was a nanny to three year old twins. I fell hard for these kids, the state of New York, and the amazing friends I was able to make. We traveled to places like Boston, and Washington DC and explored Manhattan. The kids taught me how to be patient and love freely despite learning and behavior disabilities. Then in May 2010 my two best friends and I traveled to Ghana to teach English, volunteer in a special education school, and live in an orphanage for a little over a month. That month was one of the longest but fastest (and hottest!) months of my life. I learned so much about the world outside my comfort zone and fell in love with these children and their culture. I day dream about going back all of the time.

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Garren came home from his mission in August of 2010. There was a brief moment right before he came home that I let myself wonder what it would be like to date him but I quickly pushed it out of my mind since I knew how much he liked my best friend. The moment I saw him our friendship continued where it had left off. (We did write each other 4 or 5 times while he was on his mission.)

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Faith

I have teamed up with some other bloggers to do a serious called, “Testimony Tuesdays”. The first Tuesday of each month we are given a topic to discuss and bear our testimony on. I thought this would be perfect for me to add a little variety to the blog and to gain confidence in discussing my faith, which is the most important thing in my life. Note: I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You can learn more about the church here

This months topic is: FAITH

Coincidentally we discussed this very topic in Relief Society last Sunday. Even more amazing is the fact that I even know that. Having a 4 month old baby can be a little distracting. She happened to sleep through the whole thing so I had a rare opportunity to pay attention and be edified by the Lord’s spirit and the testimonies of others. A very interesting discussion broke out about whether or not faith can waiver, or if we simply stop believing. While there were many opinions, I will only share my own. Throughout my life my faith has waivered. There have been times of trial, and more significantly fear, when I have felt my testimony start to suffer. I have asked those questions of Why? However each and every one of those experiences has strengthened my testimony and given new life to the the way I see faith.

My two favorite quotes concerning faith are “Faith is not simply believing, its acting” and “Faith is the opposite of fear”.

Quick background, I was baptized at the age of 8 but my family was never active for very long growing up. At the age of 15 we moved to Utah and through the amazing friendships I made, and one life changing experience at EFY I developed my own testimony and became active in the church. I attended Brigham Young University. I was called to be the Relief Society President in my very first ward and was at a complete loss of what this even meant.  I was unsure of my abilities to take on such a roll. I was talking to my great grandmother, a spiritual giant, and who has since passed away. She told me some things that have stuck with me. First she said “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those he calls,” and then asked me if I have faith in my Father in Heaven to mold me into the woman he needs me to be. I of course responded yes, and she said, “well then get to work! Faith isn’t simply believing, its acting.” (I am not sure who the original quote is by. I remember her saying something about that but I couldn’t find it online) That year was seriously a whirlwind. I was taking a full load of classes, working, and having a ton of fun. I grew to love the church in a whole new way. Serving my sisters and learning from them gave me a steadfast testimony in the work behind faith. We cant expect our faith be unwavering if we are unwilling to reach deep inside ourselves, serve others, and push to gain greater knowledge of our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ. I go back to these scriptures all of the time, mainly when I am needing that motivation to push forward: James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, and Alma 32:27 Awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith.

The second quote has helped me rise out of the most trying experience of my life. In December of 2012 we lost our first pregnancy to miscarriage at 10 weeks. Prior to this loss we had prayed fervently on whether or not it was the right time to bring children into our eternal family. With a resounding answer of peace we found out we were pregnant that first month. In my heart it felt so right. We had waited for the right time and once that came things happened quickly. I was already so in love with this tiny life and my future as a mother. The moment they told us there wasn’t a heart beat my world came crashing down. I tried so desperately to not let those questions and fears enter my heart, but they did. I became fearful that my righteous desire and dream to be a mother would never happen here. That I may never carry a baby to full term. So many women go through infertility (something I feel so blessed to not have had to experience), and one out of every four women will experience a miscarriage in their life time. Regardless I felt alone. Garren was a wonderful support, but it didn’t effect him the way it effected me. One night, while Garren was back east at a PT School interview I broke down and let my heart out to the Lord. I told him how mad I was, how sad I felt, and how truly fearful I was of the future. I knew I had two choices. I could let this experience ruin my testimony or I could find the light of Christ in this moment, allow myself to learn from this small tragedy and push forward in faith. I told my Father in Heaven that I refused to give into the fear the advesary would have me fall into and that I knew the Lord’s plan for me truly was perfect. That night I felt more peace than I had ever felt. My Father in Heaven comforted me and gave me the answers my heart yearned for. I knew from that moment on we would conceive again, I would hold this next baby in my arms, and I even told Garren I knew with a surety we would get pregnant that following May. The next 5 months, any time I felt the fear creep in, I did something about it. I knelt down to prayer, asked for a priesthood blessing or read the words of God through our prophets in the scriptures. I will tell you I failed many times, but I didn’t let the failure consume me and pressed forward.

Faith is the most important attribute we can hold while here on earth. I testify that we do have the choice to serve our fellow man and to believe the words of our Father in Heaven. We are so very loved by Him and because of our Savior Jesus Christ we will return to him. The life we lead is up to us. A life in faith will bring about so much happiness, a happiness that has no place for fear.

Read More Testimony Tuesday Entries here:

 

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New Callings

Last Sunday the Bishop pulled us into his office to talk to us about giving us callings. He is honestly one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He always asks how I am feeling and how baby red is doing. He started off by telling us he completely understands that Garren is currently in grad school and we are expecting our first baby here shortly. He told us he doesn’t want us to get overwhelmed but that he feels we would be wonderful in these new callings. He first called Garren as the assistant Ward Missionary. Let’s be honest he has basically taken on that calling the last two months by himself. Once a missionary, ALWAYS a missionary. I am excited for him. Our ward currently has 4 sets of elder missionaries, 1 set of sisters and a couple serving their mission! That’s SIX sets of missionaries JUST in our ward. This is such a beautiful blessing for our ward and the city of Manchester.

Then the Bishop told me to feel free to say no, and that he understand becoming a new mom is hard work… I basically stopped him right there and told him I was so bored and desperately needed something to do. So I was extended the call of Activities Day Leader (Once known as Achievement Days). I am so excited! I will be working with the 8-11 year old girls in our ward and doing activities with them to prepare them for Young Women’s twice a month. It gives me something to look forward too each month with out completely overwhelming me. Plus it’s something I can bring Baby Red to once she makes her entrance into the world. I have my very first activity with them tomorrow so wish me luck! (The former leader has planned the activity so I am just getting a feel for it.)

If any one has ideas for upcoming activities for me to plan please don’t be shy! All help would be greatly appreciated!

I love our new ward so much. They are so warm and inviting. Since day one they have made this place feel like home for us. We have made some wonderful new friends and never felt out of place here. I am so grateful to have the gospel in our lives. Without it life would be so different and so very hard. I get giddy imagining taking our baby girl to church with us, having Garren bless her and give her a name. I am getting all sappy and emotional but really I just love my life. I am so blessed.

Ready for Church!

Ready for Church!

 

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A Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit

Yesterday in church we listened to a beautiful talk on the importance of having a Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit. This is not a new concept for me, as it’s sprinkled throughout the scriptures, however, the speaker’s perspective got my wheels turning.

My heart has been broken many times. I am a “wear your heart on your sleeve” kind of girl and it’s been crushed through my short life so far. Break-ups, the passing of loved ones, and most recently with my parents divorce.  While this heartache does strengthen my desire to grip closer to my Father in Heaven’s love, I have realized this is not the “broken heart” the scriptures are referring too.

3 Nephi 9:20 says, “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the HOly Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, where baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.”

When I read, “and ye shall offer,” I realized a broken heart is very much an action we preform, not a trial that happens to us. When we think of “house breaking” a family pet, we are literally breaking them of a habit so that they can comfortably reside within our home. Having a broken heart is simply breaking down the barrier of our heart and letting God in. It’s admitting we have human flaws, we make mistakes and we need  His mercy and love.

A contrite spirit is a little more straight forward. It’s having a spirit that is remorseful for the mistakes we make, the people we hurt, and the selfishness that finds it’s way into our lives. When it comes down to it, having a broken heart and contrite spirit is about obtaining a humble and giving way of life. Aligning our desires with the will of God. Christ is literally the epitome of these attributes. He gave his life to us, both while alive and in his death. His will was only that of his Father’s. I will forever be in awe of my Elder Brother for his sacrifice and strength, but most importantly of his life. His spirit of charity is something I pray to emulate, even in the small percentage I may be able to obtain while here on earth.

 

In other news, I am officially a Graduate School Widow. Garren started his first day of Physical Therapy School this morning. I am so lucky to be married to a man who works so hard and is determined to take care of me and our family. I won’t lie, after the past two weeks of being completely spoiled with his presence, I was more than a little sad to see him go. I am so excited for this new adventure and will do my best to enjoy every minute of it. This is a very big year for us! I even woke up at six this morning to make him breakfast, and maybe forced him to hold up this sign. He is a very good sport.

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Seriously can’t get enough of his cute face.

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Better shot of the sign

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Free from my Gallbladder!

So Tuesday was the day I went down to St. George to get my gallbladder out. I was freaking out (A LOT) about basically everything. The anesthesia scared me the most, but the Anesthesiologist came into my room and calmed my nerves. He said they put a monitor on your brain to make sure you really are unconscious. (I was afraid I would be like trapped in my head, feeling everything but unable to communicate to them. Technology is amazing these days!)

My Doctor (Dr. Myers) is seriously amazing. The second he walked into the room complete calm washed over me. He has a great spirit about him. (That probably sounds weird but it makes sense to me)

I don’t remember when they put me to sleep. I remember them giving me something for my anxiety… it was amazing. ha ha But next thing I know I wake up to this weird alarm going off and the Nurse saying, “Larissa you need to breathe” I couldn’t talk well because they had to intubate me, but I kept thinking in my head, “Um I am breathing!” It was all pretty trippy. The nurse said that I kept saying things like, “I feel like I just got stabbed or shot,” and when she asked me my pain level I said 9. I can’t imagine myself saying 9 (10 being the worst).I don’t remember getting from the recovery room to where Garren and Deniece were. I did feel really nauseous so they gave me a miracle drug in my iv. With in literally 45 second my nausea was gone. They gave me a nausea patch too that lasts 3 days so that’s been helping a lot too.

Garren is a rock star of a husband. I have never felt so loved and cared for in my life. Most of the time I don’t even have to tell him what I need, he just automatically knows how to help me.

 

I slept most of the day on Tuesday and yesterday I took my pain medicine. (SERIOUSLY NECESSARY! ) I can’t believe how bad this pain is. Did you know you use your ab muscles for basically everything? Yeah I feel like my stomach is being ripped open every time I get up. Any way they gave me lortab. Then it got a little scary because I broke out in hives, my face was all puffy, and beet red. I tried calling the nurse but she was super busy and didn’t think it was from the lortab… It definitely was though. So when Garren got home (My cute grandmas stayed with me most of the day while he was gone.) he took one look at me and called the Dr. They finally got me a new pain med (non narcotic) and I took some benadryl. Miracle workers. This pain med is SO much better. It doesn’t me feel as out of it.

Today the pain is much more manageable, and I am not as afraid to be alone. Yesterday was by far one of the worst days ever, but Garren was there for me and I couldn’t be more blessed.

I have absolutely no appetite, but luckily I have to take pain pills, so I have to eat.

I feel like maybe I am still a little out of it because I just read through this post and don’t remember typing like half of it…. so Uh don’t judge.