Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A New Chapter, A New Beginning.

The last couple weeks have brought on a new chapter. Saying things outwardly and believing them inwardly are two separate things and finally these two things are the same. Now, the last two or three weeks have been crazy to say the least. Not just things with work and school, but emotionally and internally. I think I've come a long ways in the last few weeks. It's not much to be shown, but inside...I finally feel better.

Healing is an interesting thing, isn't it? A wound heals on the outside quicker than inside. On the outside it can look like everything is normal, when inside the tissue may not be completely healed. That's kind of how I've felt the last six months. I felt like on the outside I was doing alright. I had even convinced myself that on the inside I was doing alright too. But deep inside I knew there was still a little ways to go. Well, I think I'm finally there. I think I've finally made it to a new chapter. I've done things that have helped me to signify the end, and a new beginning.

My irrational feelings have been worked through. Which is such a relief, it gave me such baggage that I am now rid of. Priesthood blessings and pep talks from my mom have helped bring me to a good place. I'm finally ok with where I'm at. I'm ok that maybe my times schedule for starting our family isn't the same as others who I see. I'm ok with waiting on God for our little blessings to come. I've finally accepted these things in my heart which have helped me move on and move past the miscarriage. On the outside I put on a strong face, but inside it was a little harder. I'm not saying I struggled every day and was constantly crying, because I wasn't. But there were those days when I'd feel depressed or down, or it would be hard for me to be in a room with others. Or, there were times when my hormones were high that emotions would get the best of me. As time went on these days became less and less.

I realized that the last two or three weeks I was carrying unnecessary stress which wasn't healthy. I also realized that I wasn't learning the lessons that God wanted me to learn. I was suppose to learn to align my will with His. After all, He knows whats very best for us. I had to learn to trust Him in my heart. I think it's always a work in progress, but I think I've finally gotten to that point. Now I can say, I'm honestly and truly happy for those who have children or are expecting. I can smile and be sincere and know in my heart that I mean it when I congratulate someone. I know God will bless us with a family when He thinks it's right. I'm ok with that. I'm ok to wait.

Like I said earlier, I've kind of closed one chapter and opened a new one. March 14th would have been my due date. My sister came down and spent the weekend with me. I had a blast with her. She brought her little boy with her. He's my favorite! It sure helped to keep me busy and do something fun last weekend. Last Saturday we went to the zoo, we made a pie, we relaxed. It was good sister time which helped kind of close things up for me.

Also last week, a few sisters were asked to leave me notes on my door (which I didn't realize until Thursday). I came home every day last week to find a letter of love and support on my door. It meant a lot to me. So this week, I gathered up all my things that reminded me of the pregnancy. A t-shirt, my ultrasound pictures, and all my letters and I put them in a box. I haven't quite put this box out of sight yet, but it's all contained. Just like in my head, I've put everything in a box. It's to compartmentalize with everything. To me, it helped signify the end of a journey. It helped signify the end of mourning and loss. Just like when a day dies, a new one rises and begins. I finally feel like in my heart I've closed that chapter and have moved on. It's no longer baggage and nagging in the back of my mind. I'm no longer comparing myself to other women. I feel stronger from this whole thing.

So, I've opened a new chapter. I've let go of the stress and pressure of "getting pregnant". It will happen when it happens. I'm still on a ton of medications and always have a doctors appointment on the calender, but it's a different frame of mind. I'm ok for it to happen when it does, whether it be this month, or in six months or whenever. I'm not going to let my stress of getting pregnant detract from life now. It's important to live in the moment, to let go and move on. All my stress and worry was keeping me from enjoying my life now. I also realized I had become less grateful for the blessings God has given me because I was so focused on what I didn't have. My mom helped me realize that. I took a big does of humble pie and kind of counted my blessings. I'm really blessed with everything I have. Just because it's taking a little longer than I was hoping for to get pregnant doesn't mean all my blessings are suddenly gone.

I can't say enough how much of a relief it is for me to have moved on in my heart from all this. Mentally and emotionally I've started a new beginning. We are starting this journey again with a clean start. It's good, it's bright. It wouldn't have happened without the Atonement and my Savior and all the support I've had from my husband, family and ward. I'm in a really good place now. I'm focusing on enjoying and living each day and getting done with school. I have a great job and we are coming to summer time. There is so much to look forward to.

- SamiMae

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Reflection on the Last Six Months

It's been six months since my miscarriage. It's been a ride of emotions, doctor visits and prayers sent up to heaven. As I reflect on where I've been and where I'm going, it's humbling to see God's hand in it all. Right from the very beginning, I didn't doubt God was in control, I often wondered his reasoning for giving me this particular trial, but after a season I began to see his wisdom it it all. I'm sure there is much more for me to learn. I'm sure there are still things that have yet to be revealed to me about this whole ordeal. But I've learned enough to say that I'm proud of how I handled the experience.

It was the first time in my life where I was at a complete loss. I had lost someone (no matter now small) so dear to me, even though we only had a few short weeks. I felt the agony of losing a child. My heart was broken, I was broken. But as I plead for God's help,  I plead for the healing balm of the Atonement to be applied to my broken soul. I felt Him healing my heart over time. The big mend was the week after. But I still wasn't complete. Even now, it still saddens me what happened. But still slowly, God has healed the deeper part of the wounds that came with that experience. He taught me many things in the last six months. I truly believe that sometimes God has to send you to your knees before he can raise you up higher than you were before. That's what he did with me. I had to sink so low that all I could do was to lean on Him for peace and healing. On my knees that night, I guess you could say I "found" God. I'd always had a testimony. For years I've been able to see God's hand in my life. But that night I understood the Atonement a little bit more. I understood a little bit more of the plan of salvation. I came to understand the Atonement in a way that I never had before. I understood that night a little more of what happened over 2,000 years ago in Gethsemane. I came to feel the power of the atonement. It is very real. There is no secret to it. All we have to do is ask for it with humble heart. That night I gained a stronger testimony of God and his love. God gives us challenges and trials BECAUSE he loves us. Only from these experiences can we grow into the person He knows we can become. From that night, I received strength to carry on and handle that difficult week with dignity and humility.

As I reflect on the lessons God has taught me, these are my thoughts.

1. Most important, I came to know my Savior better. This had been the first time where I truly had to rely on the Atonement and on God. I came to acknowledge my dependence on Him.

2. God taught me humility. I don't know if I was overly "proud", but I certainly was humbled by it all. I feel the humility most when I approach my Heavenly Father in prayer. It's put into perspective just how great God is. How perfect and endless his wisdom and mercy and greatness - compared to my own nothingness. Yet, he loves me perfectly, I'm his daughter and He is always there for me. I guess I've gained a greater perspective of his matchless power and glory. It truly is quite humbling. I've also gained humility because something so dear to me was taken away - by the very one who gave it to begin with. How can one not be humbled by an experience like this?

3. I learned patience. God's timing is different than our own. We may not be able to see it at the time, but eventually we will understand. The righteous desires of my heart to be a mother in Zion were not being granted as I had originally wished. This was difficult. I saw other women who were soon announcing their "new" pregnancy. It was hard to turn a cheek when in my heart I was wondering why they got a baby and I had to lose mine. I had to wait a little longer for my righteous desire to be granted, we are still waiting.

4. Another very, very important lesson is I've learned to align my will with God's. This is always easier said than done. And, I'm sure it's something I'll learn multiple times in my life. I had to learn that even though what's happened has happened, it was God's will. I try very hard in my prayers to acknowledge that I will do my best to follow His will, even if it is contrary to what I would have desired.

6. I've had to come to trust that God knows better than me, and so His will and direction, even if hard to receive - will always be the best choice. Looking back at these last six months, I can see temporally, how everything worked out for our good.  I'm finishing my bachelors, so is Trevor. I have a job now. We are more stable financially and emotionally. Things like this, waiting has been better for us, even though it's not been easy.

7. I've become more relatable. I understand now. Miscarriage is a common thing, unfortunately.  Now I hope that, where I've gone through this experience, God can use me as an instrument in His hand to help another one of his daughters through this same experience. It stinks. It's no fun and I certainly wouldn't wish it upon anyone, but it's part of life. I also have more compassion. I've been through something hard, so I can understand a little bit more when someone else is going through something hard. We are commanded to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who need it. This experience will be able to help me do that.

8. I've become closer with my husband. We've had to learn to work through hard things together. We've learned to council together, to make decisions together. We've learned how to comfort one another. We've learned how to love each other more deeply.

Through this whole experience, Trevor and I drew closer together as we drew closer to God. While it was a trying experience, it was one that bettered me in a way that only God could do. I'm forever grateful for this experience. God has lifted me higher than I was before. I've learned so much.

So now, we look forward, we look up. God is hears and answers prayers. He is guiding our lives. We are doing our best to live up to the blessings he has in store for us. We hope that someday soon that will include a little miracle of our own.

- SamiMae

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Testimony of Tithing

I've always paid tithing. I'm grateful that my testimony on this law has always been solid. Even this past year, I haven't been working, and Trevor has only worked part time. We haven't brought in enough to completely pay rent without dipping into savings - but we still paid tithing. Somehow, our savings, though used all year, isn't completely gone. I don't know how we have as much as we do with as much as we've had to spend.

Also, this year, while I haven't been working, I had a miscarriage. This involved a day at the ER and a surgery. We feared about the bills. Visits to the ER are never cheap. Luckily, I'm still on my parent's insurance which is great. I consider even this a blessing of tithing. 

Well, about 2-3 weeks after, the bills started coming in. To my surprise, insurance paid most of it!  The trip the the ER was about $2,000 and the surgery was about $1,000. Yikes. that added up in a hurry. But, what a huge blessing we received. Insurance paid all but about $400! What a relief we felt. But that still left us with a bill we couldn't pay. We were pulling out of savings to pay rent each month. I felt guilty, because these doctors helped me and I wanted to pay my portion. I called the hospital whose ER I visited. They suggested I use their financial services. From the $200 for my ER visit, I ended up only having to pay $50!!! That was a God wink and a blessing of paying tithing! The surgery came out to about $150 that I have to pay for. But now, I have a job and in a few short weeks we'll be able to pay that off too. 

It's interesting to look at the big picture a little bit. The miscarriage was a trial and a spiritual experience for me. I know it happened for many reasons. But I also know that it was suppose to happen. I also know that God knows, and helped provide a way for us to rebound from the trial He gave us. In the end I'll end up paying about $200 for many important lessons learned. Even though it was an unpleasant experience, a lot of good has come from it. A lot of good is still coming from it 3 months later. I'm grateful for the experience and I'm grateful that God has been with us through it all and that he has provided a means and a way for us to overcome this trial, be better, and in due time, have children. 

God is great.

 - SamiMae

Missed Blessings of the Law of the Fast

A few Sunday's ago we had a lesson on the law of the fast. It really opened my eyes. I needed the lesson. I have never been good at fasting. Nor has it been on the forefront of my mind. Out of all the gospel principles and commandments, of all the little things that we are told to do - fasting is my weakest one. I had a miscarriage in September, and while I was pregnant, I didn't fast. And I hadn't fasted in the 2 or three months since.

In Relief Society, we talked all about the blessings of the law of the fast. We also talked about fast offerings. The more we talked, the more I realized that I was missing possible blessings because I wasn't keeping the law of the fast. Fasting is a choice. And I had been choosing to skip out on the blessings that come from fasting! What a shock it was to me to realize that. God wants to bless us, and I've seen many blessings come from other commandments which I've kept. But when I realized that because of my choices, I hadn't realized that I was chooseing to skip out on some of the blessings the Lord had to give me. They had to pass me by.

Doctrine and Covenents 130:20-21
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Yup. That pretty well sums it up. Any blessing we receive, is because of obedience to that law which we've kept. So that Relief Society lesson was a wake up call for me. I knew that I could put forth more diligent effort to obey the law of the fast. This also includes fast offerings. It was just never anything I had thought about. Trevor and I are full tithe payers, but we had just never thought about fast offerings. You might ask "How could you not think of it? It's on the tithing slip!" I know, I know. Guilty as charged.

I now have a good testimony of the law of the fast. The week after this lesson was Fast Sunday! This also happened to be the week that Trevor and I found ourselves with no internship and the thought of me getting a job. (Dec 5th weekend). That Sunday, Trevor and I decided to give a proper fast, and pay fast offerings. I was hungry, but we made it for the full fast. 

That night, we received answers to our prayers. We felt closer to God and we received a little more knowledge of His will for us. I applied for jobs, and the QuickBooks class. We felt peace. That night, our path changed for the better. I know it was because of our obedience to the law of the fast that blessings were showered down upon us that week. We gained so much from that week. We gained direction, peace, comfort, knowledge, perspective, understanding and a strengthening of faith. 

I've heard it said that our obedience is like an umbrella. When we don't obey God's laws, it's like we are opening an umbrella and His blessings do not fall on us. But when we are obedient, that umbrella closes, and God showers down his blessings upon us. 

It was amazing how much happened and how much we gained from obeying that great law. I also know it's important to fast with a purpose. Without a purpose, you are just starving yourself. But fasting with a purpose, and you are drawing closer to God. 

What are some of the blessings of fasting? You can click here to read more. 
  • You can feel God's love, 
  • Your relationship with God will strengthen,
  • You can receive personal revelation (like we did!)
  • You can receive power to overcome temptations,
  • You can receive a remission of sins, 
  • You can receive/witness healing and miracles. 
  • You can receive spiritual strength
  • You can receive health.

Side note: It was been proven that to fast once a month is a good thing for your body. It helps the body to reset and kind of cleanse the insides. It allows the body to empty and start fresh. 

I know that I've been blessed and have seen blessings come from keeping the law of the fast. It's something that I plan to do from now on. I don't want to pass up any blessings, because I know that I need all the blessings I can get. ;) We are all imperfect and need God's blessings. I also know that He is very eager to shower blessings down upon us, to rush to our aid, to help us in any and every way He can. 

- SamiMae

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lessons Learned from my Miscarriage

Well, we're finally at the end of a very long week. Life handed us some lemons this week, and we made some lemonade. This has been a week of pain and grief, but also a week of growth and strength. This week we were tested, and though no final scores will be posted, I think we did alright.

I woke up Sunday morning to a scary realization, only to be confirmed by a visit to the E.R. My body had terminated my pregnancy in what doctors call a "spontaneous abortion", also known as a miscarriage. I've not lived a day so dark as what I experienced on Sunday. My own stability was rocked. Monday, brought a doctors visit, to only reconfirm what the truth. Tuesday brought an operation to finish what my body started.

While it's been an unpleasant week to say the least, this experience has been invaluable. I hope and pray that I'll never have to experience it again, but I've gained perspective, strength and faith, that I would not have otherwise gained. I have felt the prayers offered in our behalf. My testimony and faith has increased so much this week. I firmly believe that sometimes God has to bring you to your knees, before he can take your hand and lift you higher than you were before. That was my experience this week. I've felt God's hand every day, guiding our path, giving us comfort, healing our hearts and strengthening us individually and as husband and wife.

These are just a few of the lessons I've learned: 

Number 1: It's OK to cry. I dislike crying. I avoid it at all costs. Though this week, brought more tears then one could count. And that's OK. Crying is part of the healing process. I have had to become ok with crying, because sometimes the emotions are stronger than our will and strength to hide it. We have to allow ourselves to feel the pain, so we can find healing. Feeling the pain, will later allow us to greater appreciate the joy and love in life. We will cherish the sweetness and beauty in life because we know it's opposite. I know that I will have greater and stronger love for those whom I care about, because I know the pain of losing one. 

Number 2: Everything happens for a reason. This I always knew, but I've had to rely on my knowledge of God and his ways. I had to decide that I really believe that God's in charge of all. I've had to accept that this is God's will, and for some reason, He thinks this is best for us. I may not know all the reasons why this experience happened or why it happened now (I was supposed to be 15 weeks pregnant). But I trust God. I'd rather a baby come to a healthy body then be sickly or not survive long after birth, just like any mother would. I'm positive there are more reasons than just one, that this experience happened. Maybe some day, I'll learn more reasons.

Number 3: God is mindful and watchful. God is great, He is more than we can comprehend. He also loves us more than what we understand or think we deserve. I had received many priesthood blessings throughout my short pregnancy. But in each one, I was reminded and told that God is mindful of me and my body is in His hands. After my D&C (the operation), I came out of anesthesia really quick and well. I had no side effects, I walked myself right out of the hospital. I've healed very fast and have had no infections. I know that He was with me and has helped my body heal. He's also mindful of the people that we need in our lives. We've had many wonderful and helpful people step into our lives this week to lend support, prayers and love. God loves us, He's aware of us and what we need. I know that, and this week has been a testament to that fact.

Number 4: Trials refine us.  This has been the first large challenge Trevor and I have experienced as a couple. I must say, our marriage is quite easy, we work on it every day. This experience, however, has given us the opportunity to strengthen our relationship and make us stronger as a couple. This trial has also strengthened us individually. I know I've spent more time on my knees talking to my Heavenly Father than ever before. I've become stronger, and have gained more perspective about life. God loves us, that's why he gives us trials. We become more like Christ through our trials, then we can go forward and help others. Trials shape us into the people God knows we can be. That is my goal in life. I want to be everything that my Father in Heaven knows I can be and I want to be an instrument in his hands. From this experience, I'm going to have a greater ability to help others because I have a bit more understanding and experience. From having trials in my own life, I hope I can go out into the world and help others heal from theirs.

Number 5: Ask for whatever you may need. Only in the last few months have I really started to gain a better appreciation for the gift of prayer. I've learned that God is very giving, a lot of times, all we have to do is ask. A few weeks ago, I was tired of being lonely in Provo. Finally, one night, I set my pride aside and asked God to send me some friends. Later that week, I recognized the answer to my prayers. Now, she's become one of my best friends. :)  This week, I asked for healing. I know that the Atonement not only washes away sins and makes us clean, but it can also heal the broken heart. That brings me to lesson number 6.

Number 6: Rely on the Atonement. My heart was shattered this week, but Christ has been mending it. I know that only because of Him, has that been possible. Christ has suffered all, that's how He knows what I've felt this week, and what each of us feel in our own lives and in our own times of need. Through His love, and those that He's sent to my aid this week, my heart has found healing.  I don't understand how the Atonement works, but it does. When I first knelt to pray, I didn't know what to expect, or even how to apply the Atonement to this situation. All I knew, was I needed God's help and I knew I needed the Atonement. Help comes if we humble ourselves to just ask. God is standing by, wanting to help us, but a lot of times, we need just ask for His help.

Number 7: We are receiving more help than we know. This I have known for a while. I know the veil is thin. There are so many people at our aid whom we cannot see. I feel them frequently. I've felt specific ancestors help me in this life. At times I'm able to recognize who is with me, other times, I can only tell they are there. I've had them protect me while in prayer, wake me up while watching my newborn nephew, or simply protecting me as I travel.  It's comforting to know that God has and will send angels to help us. They are very much alive, and are very close to us. I had an experience Sunday night. I was alone, praying and crying. I was quite overcome with emotion and pleading for help. I was not the only one in that room crying. While I could not see them with my physical eyes, my spirit saw them. There were many there. I could feel them protecting me, and also they were sharing my grief. Life is precious. I think we understand that more on the other side.

Number 8: Be humble enough to accept help and service. It makes life easier. We are taught to give service from the time we are young. But rarely do we talk about accepting service. This week we've been the recipients of great service. Our ward has been wonderful and supportive. Since I returned home, I have been kept busy by ward members, visiting teachers and friends. Being alone can easily bring on the emotions and so it helps to stay busy. The service given to us this week has made life easier and has helped ease the bitterness of the lemonade that we made this week. I have wonderful visiting teachers who brought over dinner to us last night and tonight. With our appetites gone, we would have just gone to bed hungry, too emotionally exhausted to care about food. I can say that we've eaten the last two nights because of caring sisters. How grateful I am for them! How grateful for the service given to Trevor and I this week, it's made life easier. Blessings, conversations, meals and movies have helped us make it to the end of the week! Thank you to all who has helped us! We sincerely appreciate it. :)

Number 9. Modern medicine and the priesthood. I love modern medicine and am so grateful for it. We are much safer because of it. I'm so grateful for caring doctors who have taken the time to learn and become masters in their field. They give great service to mankind. Modern medicine and the priesthood played a big role in my life this week. I think that in order to take proper care of our bodies, we should seek help from both our Heavenly Father and proper doctors. I saw Heavenly Father and the doctors work together this week. I believe modern medicine is a gift from our Father in Heaven, which should be utilized along with Heaven's help. 

Number 10. Have gratitude. That's probably the number one thing I've learned is to have gratitude. We have so much to be grateful for - I have so much to be grateful for. This situation could have ended up a whole lot worse. But how grateful I am that Heavenly Father loves me enough to send me trials to allow me to grow. I'm grateful for the gospel and the plan of salvation. Trevor and I were married in the temple - we know that our baby girl is ours. Whether we get her in this life or the next, she is promised to us. I'm grateful for the healing power of the Atonement and the power of the Priesthood. I'm grateful for my friends here in Provo and for those who have helped us through this week. God has given me so much. I'm grateful that He was willing to bring me a little lower, so that then he could lift me higher than before. I'm grateful for the trials that I'm given, I know they are perfectly tailored to me. God knows what I need to grow and become a better person. He knows all and sees all. He knows how this experience will benefit me and will give me the experience I need to help another one of his children. I'm grateful for the perspective this experience has give me. Most of all, I'm grateful to be a mother. I'm a mother, and though time was short, I love our little girl. I know she is mine. I know I'll get to hold her someday, and not just in a dream. I know that I'll have other children to hold and love too, which will hopefully come soon. But, we will have faith and keep moving forward to that day.

I know this post has emphasized the difficulties of our week. But we do not seek for your pity. I only desire to share the lessons I've learned. Lessons come through difficult things. I've tried to handle this week with courage, dignity, and faith. I only wish to become stronger through this experience and to become more like my Savior. I have shared personal experiences only to better explain the things I've learned. Now I close my week, with hopes that this coming week will be brighter.

Keep Moving Forward.

- Samantha

Monday, June 2, 2014

9 of my Favorite Blessings

Having gotten my wisdom teeth out recently, and not feeling like doing much of anything - I've had a lot of time to think and reflect on many things. Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting in church. Members are welcome to go up to the podium and share their testimony with the congregation. While listening, I reflected on how much God has blessed me. He's continually watched out for me, protected me, and provided a way for Trevor and I to accomplish many things. It's been interesting to look at all the many instances where God's influence and power is so clearly evident in my life. Yet, when I take a closer look, His hand guides my life every day. I'm not perfect, far from it, But God has never deserted me or left me helpless. He asks so little of us, and grants us such great blessings based on our faith and obedience. As I've reflected, I've counted my blessings, as the song says, though this isn't all inclusive. Granted, not all could fit on this list, but here are the blessings I enjoy and am most grateful for. These blessings have truly impacted my life and changed it for the best

9. The Law of Tithing - If there was one God's laws that I've gained the biggest testimony on - it's the law of tithing. Each time we receive a financial gain - like a pay check or grant - we pay 10% to the Lord. A lot of times, it's not very much., but that's not what matters. This is an instance where we give so little, and the Lord gives us so much back. There are times when we look at our financial situation and wonder how things will work out, with faith and the law of tithing, it always works out. God provides a way. He's proved to us so many times that He will watch out for us, if we but do our part.

8.The scriptures and living prophets. I think this is a blessing we some times take for granted, for those of us who have been members of the church our whole lives. Being in Wymount, I've meet some people who are converts and usually around the age of 18 or so. So, they grew up without the gospel in their lives. The Book of Mormon was new to them, along with living prophets to lead and guide us. I gained my testimony of the gospel and of Christ by reading the Book of Mormon. I took Moroni's challenge and prayed to know if it was true. I'm happy to say, that I do know the Book of Mormon is true. The Book of Mormon is the keystone to our religion. So, if the Book of Mormon is true, it makes sense that the rest of the laws and principles of the gospel are true. And, I have a testimony of that.

7. My health and protection. This is a really big one for me. I've had challenges in my life, I've seen other's challenges. It makes me so ever grateful for my health, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I try to take the Word of Wisdom seriously, because there are some amazing blessings that come with it. If it was one challenge that I think would really kill me, be one of the hardest challenges, it'd be poor health. All the way around, I've done what I can to be healthy in all aspects. Not only healthy, but God's protected me on more than one occasion as well. I know that there have been times where he allowed guardian angles to  come down and watch over me, protect me, and keep me out of harms way.

6. My family, their love, support and memories. This is a HUGE blessing that really doesn't get the justice it deserves. My family has been amazing and a HUGE blessing. We are so close and are each other's best friends. Growing up isn't always easy, especially in the teen years, but they always loved me! They were my biggest champion growing up, their support was and still is overwhelming. I look back of my childhood at home fondly. I learned so much and became who I am today while there. Now that I'm all grown up, married and on my own, I look back on the memories I had as a kid and I cherish those. I learned so many lessons that impacted me in such a huge way. It's helped pave the way for my future

5. My own trials and challenges. Everybody has trials and challenges, I get that. But, I also believe that God tailors our refiners fire to our individual needs. He knows what we need and He also knows how to get us from point A to point B. Meaning, He can get us to where we need to be in life. I've seen that is such a huge way. I'm so grateful for my own challenges that I've been through, because of the personal growth that comes with it. The lessons learned stays with us forever and helps us in future circumstances.

4.Prayer. It's simple. It's a primary answer. Yet this is probably the biggest tool we have in our spiritual toolbox. It's like a telephone straight to God. All prayers are answered, sometimes not in the way we expect, but prayers are always answered in the way that is best for us, even if we don't believe it at the time. We can receive personal revelation through prayer. I have. We can pour our our soul unto God, express our worries, fears and hopes and dreams. I have. He sends His spirit to comfort us, give us peace and helps us to move forward with life.

3. The Priesthood - and Trevor being a worthy priesthood holder. The older I've gotten, the more I've come to understand the significance and importance of the priesthood. One memory I cherish, where everything started to click in my head, was when I saw Trevor bless the sacrament for the first time, I swelled up with tears. I was going to marry a man who had the priesthood, which is a large protection and comfort beyond the realms of this world. I've been able to receive priesthood blessings, not only from him, but from my own father as well. I was able to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, take the sacrament every week, receive my patriarchal blessing, and go to the temple an receive the ordinances there. When a blessing is given, it's as if it came directly from God - because it does and the priesthood holder is God's mouthpiece for that moment. Because of the Priesthood, family's can be together forever and we can return back to live in the presence of God.

2. Trevor and our temple marriage. The more time goes by, the more I realize the significance of my temple marriage. I always wanted to be married in the temple. And I did it. It was probably the best decision of my life. I get to be with my best friend for all eternity. The blessings of the temple are binding and eternal. In sealing rooms in the temple, there are two mirrors, one on either side of the wall. What you see is never ending mirrors and the members in the room. It's a glimpse of what eternity can be for us. Never ending.

1. The Atonement of Jesus Christ - and my faith and testimony. I have a small, human mind. I cannot totally comprehend the Atonement. I understand that Christ suffered and died for me, so that if I'm faithful, I can return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven. It's only been the last few years that I've started to gain a better understanding of what the Atonement is and how it can be applied in my life. Not only did the Atonement provide a way to remove our sins, but because of it, Christ understands everything that we've been through or will go through. I can't comprehend how it all works, but that's not what matters, what matters is that He does understand everything. So, he knows best how to succor us. He understands completely and wholly. I have a testimony of this. I've felt the cleansing power of the Atonement in my life, and the healing that comes with it. There is nothing on earth more purifying than the Atonement. It's a gift given to every member of the family of Adam. It has been so freely given, God has such perfect love, that again, it's hard to understand or comprehend. But I have a testimony of it. At a time when my faith was little and breaking, in the dark I found God's light, forgiveness and healing. From then on, I haven't looked back. It was such an earth shattering, life changing moment, it changed my path forever. I was redirected towards God and his light. I have a testimony that He lives, that He loves us and that He is there. I'm grateful for what I know. I consider myself lucky. I was able to be humbled and brought to a realization of these things. I cannot deny it. I cannot deny my faith in God or what I know to be true. God's love is there for each of us, He's knocking on the door, we just have to open. He wants to be involved in each of our lives, we just have to allow Him to enter, and our life can change forever.

- SamiMae

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Illustrious Mormons: Edwin Catmull, the Heart and Soul of Pixar


It's been a while, huh? *Clears out cobwebs.* 

Since last we spoke, I've visited my mom in the hospital nearly weekly, studied for and taken my finals as a junior in civil engineering at a reputable national university, captained a design team at a regional student civil engineering conference (we took third place), presented an ethical paper at the same regional conference (I took first place), and then found out that the same paper, which I submitted concurrently to a national competition, won first place nationally as well, so I was dealing with the logistics of that. Also, I attended two weddings in the family (including my father's), been in the car for maybe 800 miles mostly to visit family, started my summer classes, which are going twice as quickly as last term (though I only have half as many of them).

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I really didn't mean for my hiatus to extend as long as it did, but it's probably good that it did.

Today, I'm going to start on a blog mini-series that I think I'll call Illustrious Mormons – blog posts detailing the lives and work of Mormons who have made or are making a difference in modern society. But first, a word on why I write these blog posts:

For faithful Mormons, I hope it inspires us and motivates us to know that we can make a difference, and still live ever-closer to God; for non-Mormons, I hope it piques your curiosity about what we have that makes us unique (because there is plenty); for those who are wavering in your belief in Mormonism, I hope it gives you reason to stay with it a little longer; and for those who have left Mormonism for the fear of the world, I hope it helps you reconsider your decision to leave, by showing that Mormonism is a high-quality religion that anyone can be a part of.

Illustrious Mormons: Edwin Catmull, the Heart and Soul of Pixar

Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, and John Lasseter,
the early creative team at Pixar.

Edwin Catmull is a Mormon that a lot of people don't know about – I myself didn't even know about him until I started surfing famousmormons.net in earnest. Regardless, though, he makes a tremendous impact – so I thought he'd be perfect for my first Illustrious Mormon Lives blog post. Catmull is the co-founder and president of Pixar Animation Studios, and, as of 2006 (when Disney bought Pixar outright), the president of Disney Animation Studios. In addition to being the creative genius behind Pixar, Catmull has also pioneered computer animation throughout his life, and thus has made significant contributions to the way that moviegoers nationwide get their fix every weekend.

Born to a Mormon family of five children in West Virginia, and raised in Salt Lake City, Catmull enjoyed animation from a young age: he made crude animations through flip-books, and dreamed of working for Disney. Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good artist, but fortunately for him (and for us all), he was very good at math, and so he ended up at the University of Utah, studying physics and computer animation, and eventually getting a doctorate degree in computer animation.
Toy Story 3 grossed over $1 trillion
worldwide, second only to "Frozen."

This was at a time when computer animation hadn't exactly come into its own yet, but Edwin Catmull brought it into its own throughout the course of his career. He worked at Lucasfilm in the 70s, and believed that the technology to create a full-length computer animated movie was about ten years off. (It was actually twenty years before Catmull's team would create the world's first full-length animated motion picture: perhaps you've heard of Toy Story?) As such, he pioneered many of the technologies involved in creating an animated movie, both during his time at LucasFilm and afterwards.

As with many pioneers in their field, Catmull felt that the guys at Lucasfilm didn't really understand his vision, since it had never been done before. When George Lucas had to let him and his team go for cost reasons, he was contacted by Steve Jobs, who teamed up with Catmull to found Pixar.
Yep, he won an Oscar, too.

Some would say that “the rest is history” at this point, since everyone knows about Pixar's teaming up with Disney, and their long string of incredible successes (“Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” to name just a few). However, incredible successes like that don't just happen; in this case, Pixar has enjoyed such a long string of successes because of Catmull. As president of Pixar from day one (that's 26 years now that he's been at the helm), his passion, enthusiasm, creativity and hard work have been the engine that makes Pixar run. Writing in 2004, Fortune magazine had this to say about Catmull and the Pixar creative team:
Steve Jobs, Pixar's CEO, calls Catmull "our quiet Beatle" (that would be George, the deep one), and John Lasseter, the pioneering animator who directed the company's first three films, refers to him as "Pixar's heart and soul." But the best description comes from Brad Bird, a newcomer who directed The Incredibles: "I refer to those guys as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Ed, who invented this cool medium and is the designer of the human machine that is Pixar, is the Father. John, its driving creating force, is the Son. And you-know-who is the Holy Ghost." from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/11/15/8191082/

According to the late Jobs (taken from the same article), "Pixar is on really solid ground and Ed is a big reason why."

Just how good is Pixar, with Catmull at its helm? Good enough that Toy Story 3, Pixar's highest grossing film, took in over $1 billion dollars worldwide, currently behind only Disney's Frozen for the highest grossing all-time animated movie ever. 

Just how innovative is Edwin Catmull? Innovative enough to win an Oscar for his innovations in the field, two Scientific and Technical Awards the Academy, and be inducted as a museum fellow at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

And he's a Mormon.