Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Captain Mormon to the Rescue!

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, also known as Sin City. Talk about temptation. Every corner you turn, lights are blazing in your face, people are walking aimlessly around the strip, greed and what if I win thoughts pushes everyone to try Lady Luck, alcohol is free flowing and sluttiness and "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" attitude are over-abundant. And in the midst of all of this, was lil ol' me who has already set a baptism date.

I planned the trip before I started investigating the Church. It was technically going to be a birthday weekend of debauchery and insanity. As the date approached, I hesitated to remind anyone of my birthday or invite more people on the grounds of it being a birthday celebration because I knew what that would entail.

So with that, the trip was only with three girlfriends. Off we went on our mini road-trip to the City of Sin!

"So..." they asked me, "since you're technically not baptised yet, why don't we treat this like your bachelorette party?!" "Yeah!" another chirped in. "Daisy's last time drinking and partying in Vegas before she turns Mormon."

"Umm... I don't think that's really how it works," I replied. "Oh who cares! Nobody will know! We won't tell your Mormon friends."

"God will know," I responded before even realizing the rebuttal that would come with that.

"Okay Captain Mormon, let's talk about this." Crap. I got a nickname and we've only been driving for an hour. Seriously?!

So with that and a series of other questions, came the journey of knowledge. They asked me all sorts of questions, beginning with the initial interest and investigation to the Words of Wisdom, what substances were considered addictive and why it wasn't just caffeine, the law of chastity and how that was even sane in today's world and what if I fell for a non-member who was perfect but not Mormon, why I wanted to be a baby making machine and if I really knew what I was getting myself into.

Like so many young, strong, independent and working women, the conversation turned to sex. We missed the next freeway change and the conversation turned to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. Upon missing the freeway and simultaneously changing conversations, I said maybe that's God's hand in advising us to stop talking about sex, start talking about religion and get on our way! They loved this one. "You just said God gives you agency so by that logic, how can God make us miss our freeway entrance?!" In a frenzy to clarify the difference between what God gave us - the power to do whatever we want and what God blesses us with - unconditional support and love and guidance through our prophets - I was then challenged with why the Church follows the teachings of a prophet. Again, I tried to explain, with no success, and eventually just invited everyone to Church.

We continued to talk abut religion, and then I had this epiphany while we were conversing.

"You guys all believe in karma right?" I asked. Nobody denied it, everyone believed it and anybody who did otherwise was asking for it.

"So this concept of karma... it's not proven." I said. "There's no scientific evidence that karma works nor is there a guarantee that if you do something good, you receive good in return or that if you do something bad, you receive something bad in return." I continued. "Yet you all follow it and live according to that theory, knowing anyday if you should do otherwise, you will get screwed. And whether or not that is the case, you do so and when something bad happens - whether or not it's karma, you say, oh crap, it's karma! And you do something good, in anticipation of good karma later, without knowing when. And when it comes, you say, yeah darn straight! There's my good karma!"

"Of course!" they all agreed, not knowing where I was taking this.

"So, that is how I feel about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the prophets!"

Without even giving me a chance to continue, I was told, "that's not the same Daisy!"

"Yes it is!" I screamed. "Listen! You have NO EVIDENCE that karma works, yet you live your life, maybe not entirely according to it, but you let it guide you and for someone who doesn't believe in karma, your ideology is flawed and not considered adequate. You know I'm right! I believe in what the Church teaches because I've felt this insane emotional confirmation of everything the Church teaches - and I do truly believe that is God telling me this is it! And so, because of that, I do what I do and have changed my lifestyle in ways I never thought possible."

"That's not the same Daisy. Karma is not religion," they told me.

"I didn't say it was! I'm simply providing you with an analogy for what you deem as crazy but I deem as reasonable, using an example of what you all believe and follow."

There was a bit of silence and instead of letting it sit and waiting for their acceptance, I quickly changed the subject to put everyone at ease. Captain Mormon to the rescue.

5 hours later.. we arrived in Vegas.

Modest dress. Modest dress. I brought a dress that was a bit shorter than knee-length but had sleaves and was not low cut. Manipulatively, I put on jeans and a cute plaid blouse first.

"You can't wear jeans in Vegas!" they told me.

"Wear a slutty dress!"

Luckily, another girl was wearing a turtle neck dress that also came slightly above her knee. Probably not Church appropriate, but certainly more appropriate than the other options. With that, I said, okay - I'll wear the dress I brought!

"Yay!" they responded.

I put on the slightly more conservative dress and no objections were heard. After all, I had already changed into a dress to fit in. Score!

The first night we went out, Kate wanted to go back early. "Let's go Captain Mormon, I know you don't want to stay late either." True statement. Maybe this Captain Mormon thing ain't so bad after all.

Throughout the entire weekend... the Mormon thing never ceased to disappear. Over and over again, we discussed religion and they all learned about the religion - probably more than they ever imagined and Kate (she's a Unitarian) even agreed to come to Church with me one day, some day, maybe not the summer (Unitarians have a vacation from Church during the summer), but sometime eventually.

On Sunday, I went to a nearby ward which started off horrifically. First, none of the cab drivers knew where it was and I had not performed my own due diligence in mapquesting the location from the hotel. Armed with nothing more than an address, I encountered the rudest, most obnoxious and impatient cab driver. As I struggled to obtain assistance from a friend on the phone with access to internet and mapquest, he constantly corrected me with spellings of street names and reminded me that he spoke English. I welcomed his intolerance and jokingly responded. It must have been the adversary angry that I was leaving such a fun City of Sin for Church and time with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Once I was in the Church, I felt the Holy Spirit with me repeatedly. It was spectacular! Daisy, the non-crier, got teary eyed during Sacrament and Relief Society and met so many amazing people that once again, her faith was reinforced and she went back to the Hotel, reinvigorated for rejecting the temptations that would approach her for the next two days. (Yes, I just spoke in third person)

That afternoon, we watched the Eastern Conference NBA game and during the commercial break, a Captain Morgan commercial came out. The laughter erupted and they turned to me, citing "Captain Momo!" (the phrase turns to Momo when they are inebriated when I told them a LDS friend used the term).

In spite of all the temptation and plethora of sin surrounding me this weekend, I was able to see clearly, for the first time, what Vegas was all about. Yes, it's fun. Yes, it's insane. Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's slutty. Yes, it's relaxing. Yes, it's opportunity. Yes, it's crazy! But no, it's not normal. Everyone knows that, even those who partake in all the insanity that it provides. It's an escape from reality, a retreat from simplicity and an excuse for anything goes. I counted the number of times I had been to Vegas since 2000. 13 times. Of the 13 times, I have never been sober the entire weekend. 14th time... completely sober... the entire weekend. I'm a bit shocked that I did it.. but I did! And He helped me! Trust me, I could not have done that alone.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Simplicity Brings Happiness

I remember when breakfast for lunch day at school was THE day I looked forward to because sausage and syrup for lunch is amazing! I remember when I'd stand in the restroom making bubbles with the soap between my hands until my mom came over to ask if I was constipated. I remember when eating Thrifty ice cream at the Laundromat on the weekends with mom and pops was the highlight of my weekend and why I still love doing laundry to this day. I remember when feeding the ducks bread at the park made me laugh with glee until my tummy hurt. I remember when I'd purposely leave a big wad of Elmer's glue on my hand in anticipation of it drying up so I could peel it and revel at the joy of doing so. I remember when I'd wake up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, run to my mom and pops room, jump on my pops to awaken him so he could go with my downstairs to turn on the VCR to record the Saturday morning cartoon line-up because the restriction to watch TV Monday through Friday was worth it if I got Saturday (plus I had every intention to have it recorded, and rewatch it later in the afternoon). I remember when life was simple. Worry-free. Trouble-free. Stress-free. Adult-free.

And then I recall when things started to change. When a growing anxiety that was not quite graspable started to become more omnipotent. Fears of where the next pimple would manifest itself on my face and how large it would get before the puss found its way in.... struggles with painful braces tightened once a month and head gear at night... and not feeling comfortable in your own skin because all the youth sized pants are too short (no, I am NOT waiting for a flood), but all the teen stuff is too big and leaves me swimming in a sea of clothes (I'm like Goldilocks and nothing is just right).

I call this the yuck teen period. This it time when most girls between 13-15 are either adorable and cute or ugly and awkward. I fell in the latter and as the opportunity provided me ample time to develop and grow an outgoing personality as one of the guys and one of the funny girls, the simplicity noted from being a child was gone.

But even I managed to surpass this time, focusing on school, extracurriculars and learning who I was as a daughter, a sister (unwilling for the first 16 years) and a friend, I was faced with the next period (and where I currently reside) in life that would present its own hardships.

Adulthood. High school and college went by with a flash and then there was this thing called adulthood that basically is the real world and the real world? ... The real world.... SUCKS.

Yes, income is great and no homework or tests and having all that free time is even better.. but realities such as health benefits, car payments, housing situation, IRA contributions, savings for the future (the family you don't even have yet), consideration of a new job when your current one stops providing you challenge and growth, juggling numerous friends in a large city, across the states and the country, attempting to date and find the one, and finding the perfect balance to bring you the happiness that simplicity once did.... is so extremely hard beyond belief. On the bright side, now the ignorance that accompanied the simplicity from childhood is gone and I can better appreciate the simplicity in my life today.

And that's one of the principles of the gospel, although not explicit, that I find so fascinating and reassuring. In Christ, I am not only forgiven of my sins... but by the Commandments of God and living according to His gospel... I am returning to simpler times.

Someone said to me the other day... it's 2009, seriously? Her comment came as a result of discussing modest dress and the slight reluctance I had towards abandoning my cute summer dresses. But in all honesty, I know my cute summer dresses draw unecessary attention to what's on the outside. As cliche as it sounds, the inside matters more. If you can't find a way to look cute in something modest... maybe there are bigger issues at hand.

Simplicity. Happiness. Synonmous.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Biggest Challenge...

To my surprise... was not giving up 10% of my annual income (albeit not that much to begin with). To my surprise... was not attending Church for 3 hours on Sunday (it's not only fun, it just feels so right and good!). To my surprise... was not giving up beer, saki, saki bombs, wine or peach vodka sodas along with dominating at beirut or flip-cup (I suppose I can still do the latter with H2O). To my surprise... was not staying clear of green teas or my favorite Coffee Bean tropical passion tea (which I still have 2 huge packs of courtesy of the BFF since Coffee Bean is rare in San Jose). To my surprise... was not knowing I'd have two visits each month from another Church member known as home and visiting teachers (seriously two?). To my surprise... was not committng to the law of chastity (ironically all the ex's seem to think otherwise and have taken on the challenge with no success). To my surprise... was not having to wear a skirt every Sunday (LOVE skirts and dresses). To my surprise... was not knowing my non LDS friends or family would be precluded from my wedding ceremony (there's still a reception.. plus ceremonies are boring except for those in 'em). To my surprise... was not knowing I'd need to buy more sweater cover ups and shirts with sleaves and say farewell to my super duper cute dresses and shorts (it's just a baby step in the grand sprint of living according to the gospel).

To my surprise... the biggest challenge was and still is.. keeping the Sabbath day holy.  

After struggling with the concept of not going anywhere where people had to work on Sunday (this by the way rules out everything), about partaking in spiritual things ... I was utterly confused and a lil shocked.  What about my kids?  What if they had tournaments on Sundays?  What if they were going to graduate on Sunday?  What if right?  Well, the missionaries gave me some good advice about how I could keep the Sabbath day holy and now.. I find myself there.  I will worry about the kids after I find a guy.  And how my Sundays have changed.  ...

I avoid the gym. Instead, I walk Fatty about 2 miles and listen to conference talks or continue with the Book of Mormon (I'm on Mosiah 15 .. woo-hoo!).

I avoid going restaurants and the grocery store. Instead, I stock up on Saturday with anything I may want to eat and avoid any food shopping on Sundays but diving into the leftovers and bits and pieces left around the house (it manages to work thus far).

I avoid the urge to shop on Sunday. Instead, I think of how much money I'm saving and daydream of how I can rearrange old outfits to make new ones (but not for too long... cuz that's not really that holy).

I avoid teleivision shows. Instead, I blog about my spiritual journey. If I finish.. I do watch a bit of tv.. but no more than an hour (Hey.. I'm honest.. but I am sincerely trying)!

I avoid girly fashion and celebrity crap magazines. Instead, I spend my time catching up with friends and family (not just the BFF and the mom, but the ones I don't talk to everyday at 7:30 AM as well).

So all together, I have been trying to keep Sunday Holy by turning to spiritual things which I know will strengthen my faith. The funny thing is, this lifestyle change is much harder than anything else.  It's easy to make excuses, but I'm a big girl so I can admit to my own faults and acknowledge the areas of improvement and growth.  But... to comfort myself that I was not alone, I searched for some guidance and found reassurance of why I must do so... 

the following is from Elder Gillespie...(and no, I have no idea who that is)...

"the Sabbath was given that we might keep ourselves “unspotted from the world.” it is a day to partake of the sacrament, a day “to pay [our] devotions unto the Most High,” a day of “fasting and prayer,” a day to offer our time, talent, and means in service to our God and our fellowmen, a day to “[confess our] sins [to our] brethren, and before the Lord.” It is also a good day to pay our tithes and fast offerings, a day to be marked by sincere sacrifice of the pursuits and pleasures of the world. It is a day to keep the Sabbath covenant, a day of “rejoicing and prayer,” a day of “cheerful hearts and countenances.

The prophet Spencer W. Kimball counseled: “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, sleeping, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day to which he is expected. [Failure] to do these proper things is a transgression on the omission side.”

So with a *sigh and a flick of my feet as I pivot.. I take on the challnege to do such. Here I go.. wish me luck. I will be the biggest winner.. not loser.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Playground adventures

Last weekend I got to go to San Francisco with Quinn to visit my sister. The deal was that her and Jeff would buy Quinn and I tickets to the A's baseball game if we would babysit Sophie on Saturday night. For me, the trip to SF wouldn't have been complete without a night out with my niece. As for Quinn, he was going to be able to talk with Sister Dawson for mother's day, so regardless of the other things that were done on the trip, it was going to be a good trip for him.

Saturday night came along, and we decided to take Sophie to the park to play. Jeff gave us directions, we grabbed a kickball, a whiffle ball and the stroller and set out. We figured that the park would have a playground, but we apparently parked on the wrong side of the park, and all we saw was a field filled with high school kids dressed up for prom. We thought that would be a great place to play soccer with Sophie and so we set up shop. After seeing Sophie chase the ball around for awhile, I finally caught a glimpse of a slide, and so we starting making our way over to the playground.

After playing on the swing, the slide, and some silly game with a dime; Sophie ran over to those little springy toys. Realizing that description helps no one, I have attached a picture of what I consider to be a springy toy. Sophie somehow managed to get herself on the thing, whereupon she made her little grunting sound and pointed to the other one, located right in front of the one she was riding. Knowing that is her way of saying, "get on the springy toy Andy"; I quickly obliged.

Although the toy was somewhat uncomfortable to sit on, I found that being 165 pounds makes for a lot more exciting ride. If I threw my weight around I could literally bend the horse (I sadly did not have the opportunity to ride a locomotive) to the ground, both forwards and backwards. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, when I took a glance over at Sophie, who was holding on to the handle bars with her head thrown back, trying as hard as she could to mimic me. After throwing her head back, she would lean forward, and the little horse would give little ground to her weight. It was ridiculously cute, and I wish I somehow had better command of the English language to paint a better picture so you could get an idea of how adorable the scene was. But alas, I will rely more on your imagination than on my writing skills.

I love replaying that scene in my head, because just thinking of it makes me smile. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about how amazing it is that Sophie was following my actions. I wasn't trying to get her to do it; I was actually lost in my little reality of being a rodeo star, and before I even realized it, she was copying what I was doing.

Examples can make a huge impact in our lives. I find it is easier to live up to my standards when I see other people living their own. I find it easier to study harder if those around me hit the books hard. If that's the case for me, then I am sure that if I can somehow learn to follow the admonition of Christ to be separate, and build my foundation upon Him, I will in some ways make living right easier for those around me. Then hopefully one day, as I am riding my springy horse, I will take a peek over at one of my friends and see them embracing the Gospel as I have tried to do.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sushi, Sake and So Many Questions

A year ago... one of my good friends got married. A year ago... I met all her amazing friends at the bachelorette party. A year ago... we partied like rockstars in Vegas for the bachelorette. A year ago... we then met again for the wedding a few weeks later. A year ago...

A year later... I met with this group for sushi and sake. Having given up alcohol, it was just sushi for me and many many questions.

"So are you really Mormon now?" "How did you pick that religion?" "Why is it such a strict religion?" "Can you just be a jack Mormon?" "Can you marry a non-Mormon?"

Despite the millions of questions thrown at me, the many discussions of how, why and would this really last?... it was exactly what I needed. Not only did I get challenged for my new faith, but throughout it all, I recognized how strong my faith really is.

We reminisced about the bachelorette party a year ago... our mimosas at breakfast, our uninhibited dancing in the pool and the apple bottom jeans JEANS... boots with the fur... WITH THE FUR dancing in the limo and our drunken escapades all weekend long in Vegas. I can't deny .. it was definitely fun, but part of that fun was just the open and welcoming personalities of these girls, with or without alcohol. I sat there, enjoying our conversations about surburbia versus the city, raising kids in today's world, handling finances with your husband, relationships and men, and the difficulties and joys that come along with marriage. As we sprinted through the chuckles and crazy girl moments with movies on in the background (Devil Wears Prada, Bend it Like Beckham and Bride Wars --yes, we went through three movies) , the question would often arise as the girls sipped on sake and beer and became increasingly more drunk of "Can you really give this up? But you're a drinker and it's ingrained in you!"

YUP! I know it's still early.. it's only been a couple of months, but the strength I have now is much more powerful and unique than wanting to detox from alcohol for health reasons.

Even better, the night, filled with its challenges of the opposition, reinforced the fact that I would stilll be the same despite having a new faith. As I bounced around the house, the girls reminded me that I was the same super ADD and eccentrically energetic girl they had met a year ago. True, my past helps define who I am, but my present and future do as well. True, I know the difference between an Irish car bomb and a flaming Dr. Pepper shot and have witnessed many man shots (snort the salt, take the Tequila shot and squirt the lime in your eye!), but that knowledge doesn't mean I am sad to not be partaking in such drinks anymore.

Our friendship was not based on alcohol. In fact, I remember precisely the moment I realized, I loved these girls who I barely knew and had just met. That moment was in the car on the way to Vegas as we scarfed down flaming hot cheetos and fruit and talked about life. In fact, as I was driving over to my friend's house last night, I actually thought .... I wonder if there will be flaming hot cheetos tonight!

Friendship should not be based on alcohol. Sure it helps to loosen many people and contributes to their friendliness, their ability to make others laugh and the propensity for crazy moments to happen... but if your personality is great... none of that matters. Chemistry is chemistry with or without alcohol.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When It Rains... it Pours...

I used to always joke about how when it rains... it pours... except applied to men. I'm not alone in that saying because how many times do all the guys start calling when your heart has begun to settle on one? How many times do all your ex's seem to be interested in reconnecting when you have just started seeing someone? How many times do random guys ask for your number when you're taken but nobody even looks your way when you're not?

Well, the saying hasn't diminished much and the same holds true but instead.. I can now apply it to the adversary. In laymen's terms, the adversary is everything going against me, also known as oppossition. And first opposition starts out as a trickle--that bit of rainfall that you can wipe off your forehead without so much as a bit of a smudge. But almost within seconds, picture that precise moment when you tilt your head upwards to look into the sky and all of a sudden, the tiny cute raindrops have manifested themselves into humongous raindrops attacking your face with each splatter that engulfs your face, soaking it until you are struggling for air.

Temptation overwhelms me daily. I'm too scared to admit it's the adversary or Satan... I prefer to think it's just the temptation of the world trying to coax me back towards where I was. And where I was.. was not bad. I just choose to avoid those same temptations in order to be happier because this makes me happier and I have no judgment towards those who don't consider what are temptations to me, temptation.

The biggest misconception with religion are the things that religion makes someone do. Religion does not MAKE me do anything. I CHOOSE to live my life according to His commandments. I CHOOSE. Nobody MAKES me. Living by these commandments is a process, not an event. So yes, maybe I falter. Please don't point your finger and call me a hypocrite right away. It's the process of continual repentance which is not just knowing I did someting wrong and asking for forgiveness, but sincerely committing to avoid making those same mistakes again.

I'm sure my non-LDS friends are wondering... so I will take this time to answer. Yes, I do miss alcohol at times. And yes, I do think about cracking open a bottle of wine and drinking it by myself. But then I think...and then what? Start blogging about everything that is sad in my life by spinning humor on it and make someone else laugh while I have a pity party for one? No thank you. Misery loves company.. but I prefer to be the company for happiness because that's pretty awesome as well. I do also think about the times when I'm with friends saki bombing or just having a sip of wine over dinner and those times are so great, I am confident it is the same with or without the wine. I can be buzzed over the greatness of being with great people instead of losing my judgment and drunk dialing or texting random people.

And yes, there is a little bit of every Sex and the City character in me who will slowly wither away and as prudish or unfun as you may think that is... I think it's pretty amazing. The inappropriate Samantha, the confused Carrie, the by-the-rules to get married Charlotte and the professionally focused Miranda are and will always be a part of me... but my city is now sexless and promises to be committed, worthwhile and emotionally fulfilling.

Some might call it a coping mechanism. When it pours, floods come about and coping is not enough. I can't just tread water for a couple of minutes and hope the water dries out. I don't want to swim around aimlessly until I'm too tired to move. And I definitely don't want to drown. I want to float. I want to live... and live happily. So I call it the living mechanism. My living mechanism is through Him and I do not choose to call upon Him only in my time of need. I call upon Him everyday and ask for His blessing and strength and continue to strengthen my faith in Him.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

You Can't Make a Leap of Faith By Sitting On Your Bum!

Belief is a funny thing. When I was younger, my mom swore to me that the Tooth Fairy was real and even though Santa Clause was a far fetched stretch of the imagination (and something I learned early on was not real), the Tooth Fairy ... the Tooth Fairy was definitely a different ballgame. Because the Tooth Fairy... she was real. Confident in my loving mother's honest ways, I brought the dollar bill I found under my pillow from a lost tooth exchanged from the Tooth Fairy, to school the next morning, to show off to all my friends. I was about seven years old. This was in second grade. Think back to second grade. What do you remember from it? Here's what I remember. Kids are darn cruel. Yes, even in second grade. Super duper cruel. I was devastated with what happened next.

First they laughed. Then they pointed and laughed. And then they ridiculed my stupidity, continued to point and obnoxiously laughed outloud. "You're soooo stupid!" "You're such a big baby!" Though the words were succint and to the point, they translated to a grown up's vocabulary of Wow, you really are gullible AND naive.

I went home that day dejected and disappointed in myself and my mother. How could I ever trust her again? I was scared to confront her but I was mad at how stupid I was for believing her. When I got home, despite my fear...I asked her why she lied to me. She said she didn't. I was furious!

"You told me there was a Tooth Fairy!" I screamed.

"There is" she told me.

"No there isn't!" I retorted. "The Tooth Fairy is fake just like Santa Clause!" I was so angry. I already knew the truth.. so why was she still trying to lie to me?

"Then how did that dollar bill get underneath your pillow and who took your tooth last night?" she asked me.

"You did!" I explained.

"Why can't I be your Tooth Fairy?" she asked.

I was silent. Technically, I never confirmed with her that a fairy with a cute little dress would fly into my window and use her wand to get my tooth out from under my pillow and give me money in exchange. Technically, the only thing I had discussed was the transactional side of the exchange and not the technicalities. Technically, she was right. Technically, I was still angry. Technically, I got over it.

I look back on that tooth fairy incident and laugh now. To me, the greater lesson learned is to think for yourself about what people tell you and consciously speculate whether it makes sense before believing too soon. Even at seven years of age, I knew people did not have wings. I knew fairies did not exist. But I wanted to believe that they did. I wanted to believe it was real even if it wasn't. Did I know if it was real? No, not really. But did I know if it was fake? No, not really. My beliefs were formulated around what I thought i knew.

As I continue investigating the Church, I earnestly seek reason behind every doctrine and the logic behind every principle taught. Despite seeking the aforementioned, I know in the deepest of my heart that this is the true Church. I know this weird feeling is not something I've concocted to reassure myself. I know this is God, knowing me and what I need and finding me when He knew I was ready. I know these weird events that have been happening in my life, what I like to call a series of coincidences too coincidental to be coincidental, is just part of his Plan to bring me back to Him. And I know I have never been happier. And regardless of what that means to anyone else, I know what it means to me and I know how I feel ... so sorry folks, this is it.

I'm not brainwashed. I choose to be faithful because I believe. I'm not a loner who is going to Church for the sense of community and support. My current friends are pretty amazing at that. I'm not joining the Church so I can find a guy, get married and make babies. I was already working on that before the Church (I have never hidden the fact that I want 5 kids and yes, I do know I'm already behind). I'm not jumping into this too quickly. It's been 2 months and I'm still not baptized (and it took a lot of self restraint to not jump into the water in San Jose the moment I felt the Spirit). If you're still confused, I invite you to come to Church with me, read the Book of Mormon and pray about it because no leaps of faith were ever made sitting on your bums!

Yes, I said it... a leap of faith. You knew it was coming because a) it was in the title and b) you're my friend so you must be smart (I know that's debatable at times for some of you)...

What is faith? Believing in something? Hoping that it will be like you believed? I turned to my hand dandy dictionary.com website for the official definition and the first two definitions stood out to me:

Faith [feyth] - noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or a thing;
2. belief that is not based on proof

To me, faith cannot coexist without this extensive exertion of leaping. Without this leap, your faith is lazy and faltering and most likely won't uphold much of a wind, a tiny push or any sort of opposition. Because if it's not strong enough for you to take a leap in which you may fall iinto who knows where.. it's not worth it. Everyone takes leaps of faith but not every leap is one associated with religion. Love is a leap of faith. One never knows when they'll wake up one day and be out of love. Yet we continue falling into it, putting our heart on the line making sacrifices for our significant other without any sort of guarantee that it will be recipocrated except for our faith in the fact that it will. Or our faith in the one we love. Well that my friends, is similar to the faith I experience with God.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11)

"...faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true..." (Alma 32:21)

Those words were so powerful to me because they are spot on. I'm not sure how faith works... nor do I know why it works. What I do know is the impact it has had on my life lately and how receptive I am to those changes. I know it freaks some people out but if my faith isn't hurting anyone so I'm confused about why anybody would be concerned about my faith. My faith makes me happy. My faith encourages me to live my life in accordance with His commandments. I don't think my faith has made me a better person. Or a nicer person (I'd like to think I was already kind, generous, thoughtful and considerate before) but I do sincerely think it makes me who I am and pushes me to be even better and nicer than I was (that does not mean I will stop being sarcastic or sassy). My faith truly completes me. And that ... is pretty awesome. Plus, at the end of the day, I'd hate to be selfish but .. it's my leap.... I am not falling into any abyss so just let me make my leap and watch how great it is. If you want to make a similar leap, let's talk. We can leap together.