Feb 24, 2004

Well, there isn't much happening in my life right now. I did meet with Penny from CCI last night, and now I know what I can do to start finding families who would like to host exchange students. I have a great connection in my church, and we have 5 wards here (well 4 family wards) so that alone will probably provide prospects, but my connection to the university will probably prove valuable as well. I'm excited to do this, because it will give me great experience and basically allow me to get my foot in the door and learn about how this kind of non-profit functions, so that later in life, when my family has the money, we can begin something like this. That is really one of my biggest dreams.

As for my future, other than a few answers, I do not know what God would have me to do. I would still love to serve a mission, but do not know how I could possibly accomplish that. I'd also like to go back to school, but is that what I should be doing? I honestly don't know. The only thing I do know is that the learning process that I'm going through right now is absolutely essential. I know why it is too, but as for everything else in my life, I am pretty much unsure.

I love the Atonement. Ok, I'm getting into spirituality again, and I used to not mention it too much on my blog until last November. I know there are people out there who read this who must think I'm just some crazy idealist, but I don't care what they think. I just find that writing my feelings down, especially concerning spirituality, is very cathartic and it helps me to better understand things and give things a more eternal perspective.

Anyway, back to the Atonement. You know, I think I have a better understanding of it as each day passes. That better understanding is also helping me to overcome problems I've had my entire life. I know I'm guilty of not truly allowing the Atonement to work for me in many cases. When my guilt would get the better of me and I would feel like I was about to enter a despairing state, then after the suffering, when the Spirit finally would whisper that it was okay to come back, to let go and to know that I've been forgiven, I actually would hang on to the guilt and the pain longer than I had to! I refused to believe that Heavenly Father had already forgiven me for something that I had trouble forgiving myself for. Then, when he would bless me abundantly, I would actually think I didn't deserve those blessings, and I know many a time has come to pass where I would actually turn them down. Now how ungrateful is that! Jeez, what was the matter with me?

So this time I decided I wasn't going to do that. Being grateful before, during, and after sin, adversity, blessings, joy...that is the only way to go. Taking special heed to that still small voice and letting go when he tells me to is the only way I will be able to truly accept the Atonement, and it helps me to forgive myself. This is why I've decided that it's so vital to not live a life of regret. And I don't. I think back over my life, and sometimes wonder, would I change anything if I had a chance to live it over again? You know what? I really wouldn't. "Thanksgiving for all the wrong moves." Yes, I believe that. I believe that when we sin or make a wrong move, God works with us to enable us to still learn and grow from the experience. Why would I regret that growth process? All of it has made me who I am today and is helping me to become who I will be someday. I used to think that strength=less sin and weakness=more sin. I seriously believed that those who sinned less were stronger, and those who sinned more were weaker. What an absurdity I realize this to be now. Strength comes from resisting temptation -- yes I know this is true, but it ALSO comes from overcoming our sins and transgressions. Just because we succomb to temptation or our weaknesses doesn't mean that we are weak individuals. As long as we are willing to keep working on overcoming them and despite how often we do them, we continually strive to "kick the addiction" and we humble ourselves before the Lord, we will find an amazing power and strength that we didn't know we had. There must be opposition in all things; indeed, without being weak, we could never become strong.

So I find being grateful for everything in my life, especially adversity and "the wrong moves" is such a healing balm. Gratitude helps us to better forgive ourselves and others. Gratitude really is the balm of Gilead. I have a testimony of this.

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