Sunday, 18 January 2015

WE'RE ENGAGED | A Haribo Ring Proposal

Finding true love requires us to take leaps of faith and be vulnerable. "No serious courtship or engagement or marriage is worth the name if we do not fully invest all that we have in it and in so doing trust ourselves totally to the one we love. You cannot succeed in love if you keep one foot out on the bank for safety’s sake." Jeffrey R Holland, How do I love thee?

This is a follow on post from My Mission Call Arrived & I'm Not Going, that 'other option' I spoke about, that fills my heart and soul with insane joy is this. Being with my best friend forever. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the value of families has been instilled in me my whole life. Marriage and families are quite a normal topic of conversation and something that we have been surrounded by for a very long time. 

Our relationship is the best, happiest and most perfect I have ever experienced. Sometimes I wonder if 'normal' couples are as happy as we are, I hope so. This May marks two years since our first official date. A seemingly long dating period for many mormon couples. But it has been perfect for us. Everyone and every relationship is different. 

Marriage was something we always thought we'd address after I came back from my mission, but recent events caused a massive change in that. This past month has been horrendous and one of the most difficult times of my life thus far. Finishing university caused me to lose confidence in my decision making skills and I was overcome by what seemed a massive weight of sorting out everything right now. Which is frankly ridiculous. No one truly tells you or prepares you for what it's like to finish university at the age of 21 after going straight though the education system. 

A mission had been my plan since before we starting dating. Finish university, go volunteer for the church for eighteen months. Yet I no longer felt joy or excitement at that prospect. I was incredibly torn. Crying excessively. Praying, fasting, seeking counsel an extensive amount and trying to figure out the happiest and best choice for my life right now. The rest we can sort out when it comes to it. There is no need for this idealised notion that life has to be completely sorted and planned out. To get married you don't need a house of your own, a mortgage, both have grad jobs or tons of money. While those are ideal, lovely, desired and incredibly helpful things, they shouldn't stop us from being with who we love. 

The very idea of leaving Bernard for a year and a half, not being able to visit, talk on the phone or even Skype ripped my heart out. It was physically painful. But I still wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to serve the Lord, to have a grand adventure, to get married at a more 'logical' time. But it was silly. I was utterly miserable. How could I be the best missionary I have the capacity to be if I'm crying my heart out constantly?! If I have this insane pain and longing?! 

I kept trying to make this choice, this decision on my own. We are told to be selfish after all in choosing who we marry and being in my early twenties the world tells me to be selfish, to travel, to party, to not be romantically committed. In the end there were simply too many opinions. I needed to make the choice by myself and for myself, but that didn't mean we couldn't pray about it together. We are a team. No matter what was to happen it would affect both of us. We watched General Conference (a worldwide address from the Lord's modern day Prophet and Apostles) and prayed together. Praying together was honestly the best choice we could've made. Talking about 'The Situation' kept going in circles, causing upset and became almost trivial. 

We both felt I should go on a mission. Which meant in 19 days. 

The days that followed were some of the worse. I was miserable. Conflicted. Angry. Confused. Surely this isn't how someone should feel. I almost postponed my mission in order to feel 'emotionally ready'. The whole thing was getting beyond ridiculous. I decided to fast one more time. In my prayers, I became blunt and demanding. After all "Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God." Neil L Anderson. I needed the Lord so much. In my 'forwardness', my honest, deep expectations. I found my answer. The decision was always mine to make. I only had to figure out what I truly wanted and needed. Right now, a mission wasn't it. I wanted, needed my sweetheart. 

Once I made this choice I immediately prayed and opened by scriptures. It is a technique I have see many times where people will open up the book and happen across a verse of sentence that speaks strongly to them and their situation. A technique I never usually do. However on this instance, I had put in so much effort, heartache and passion into this choice, that I felt I might find a confirmation of the Lord's will in this manner. I actually laughed in amazement at how much what I read meant to me and brought tears to my eyes. Mosiah 29:40 "And they did wax strong in love.."

I typed up my 'acceptance letter' (in this case a pleasant decline) to send back to the church headquarters. A great peace and joy overcame me. Before I had been so scared to allow myself to truly exercise the very notion of my decision. Once I did. Oh my goodness. I have never felt such joy, such a filling of love and sense of right. Only by following such a horrendous month/experience do I believe it has caused me to know, understand and appreciate this fully.

"Yea, I say unto you..that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains..that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." Alma 36:21 (paraphrased slightly)

That night I made by decision. I finally took confidence in my own choices once more. The following day I was actually seeing Bernard in Manchester and so planned to take a copy of the 'acceptance letter' with me as a mark of my commitment and a way to express what I had done. Enough of this flitting between two choices. I also toyed with the idea of buying him a Harbio ring as a funny "I'm basically proposing to you!" thing, however I of course would still expect a proper proposal in return ;). Little did I know, he too came to a decision that night. 

We meet and he suggested we go outside, he'd bought a new coat that was far warmer than expected (at least this is what he said, it may of simply been a rouse to get me outside..). As we went outside he mentioned that the Christmas Markets would be back soon. I blooming love Christmas Markets and so responded pretty enthusiastically. (Silently telling myself off in my head. He didn't yet know I wanted to stay, so talking about something I was going to miss might not really help.) We sat down and he asked why I had fasted the day before to which I didn't really reply. He went on to ask if I knew where we were. A really weird question. One of those 'this is so simple, is it a trick..'. "In Manchester.... by Selfridges..." He went on to remind me that at six months since we'd started dating we decided to celebrate and thus went to the Christmas Markets. We had actively chosen not to put our relationship on facebook for quite a while and so things relating to that were a big deal. On that day we took a really happy photo that went on to become our first ever profile picture together. (you can read that post here)

He expressed his love for me, that he didn't want me to go, that he wanted to do something about it. (Now Bernard loves pretending to propose on a regular basis. He knows it cringes me out and loves winding me up. Almost going down on one knee in places such as KFC.. mega classy. I always asked if I would know when he was doing it is for real.) HE WAS DOING IT FOR REAL! I was looking at him so intently, shocked, happy, on tenterhooks. Almost verbally asking if this was real, is this really happening?!! He opened a side pocket on his new coat (a pocket I'd been staring at a few minutes before pondering how it was an odd place to have a pocket. It was on the left hand side next to this chest. Wondering if it was for an MP3 player or phone. Luckily I hadn't reached out and touched it as I sometimes do when I'm thinking about something.) And pulled out a small box, going down on one knee. "This is a temporary one." he explains. Opening the box to reveal a Haribo ring and asks if I will marry him! Tears running down my face (as per) I couldn't help but kiss him over and over again, repeating the word 'YES'! 

I then pull out the 'acceptance' letter. I know the Lord loves us so much. That it is no coincidence that we both a billion percent knew at the same time. That our lives have come together like this. I feel joy that is more brilliant than I have ever experienced. I cannot even comprehend how I will feel on our wedding day. I love Bernard so much. I cannot wait to start our lives together.  

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Celebrating Our First Anniversary | The Lake District

*This post was written on Friday 31st October 2014

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

My Response to The Response | My Mission Call Arrived and I'm Not Going

Thank you so much everyone who read, commented and messaged me about my blog post 'I Received My Mission Call and I'm Not Going'. Hearing all your stories and the huge response it received was so humbling!

Blown away. Overwhelmed. Humbled. Not deserving almost... 

All I expected was maybe twenty likes on my personal facebook account. 

I absolutely cannot believe the response my last post has caused!!! I decided to publicly share the post as a way to keep a record of a milestone in my life, one that granted didn't come to fruition in the way I expected, but one that I know will affect me for eternity. To share my experience on the off chance that it might help others, that maybe someone could relate or might even be going through something similar.

Writing the post actually helped me make my decision. To finally be bold in my choices and just choose!!! I wrote one for going on my mission and one for not. The contrast between the two was insane! 'Going' felt so void of emotion, so insincere and forced. Whereas 'Not Going' (as you have now seen) was massively long(!), my most emotive blog post ever and driven. Four months later and I finally decided to share it with the world. 

Missions are often talked about in such a positive manner (and rightly so) but often leave out the struggle people go through to get there. Or not in my case, and sometimes that's the best thing for the person! I love the idea of people being more open and understanding the burdens, trials and experiences of others! An early returned missionary or someone who turns down their call (even for reasons you don't know.. especially for reasons you don't know) should be given your full love and support! Not awkward conversation and confused looks. Difficult I know!! Even for me at times. :D

Often the person in question may not feel comfortable enough to share the reasons with you, maybe you don't actually know them that well, maybe it's such a long story, something they don't know how to express or even fully understand themselves!! Especially for females who are not required to serve as full time missionaries. And quite often you do not need to know

And so.. as my little blogs stats grew higher and higher I tried to not be surprised, to be pleased that the Lord was helping me to comfort others. But as it continued to climb second after second, I was in awe! What did all these people think? Are they even interested? It's a pretty heavily religious post...

Within 24 hours of the post going live my blog gained over 1,200 views, 900 of which on the post's specific page. Making it the second most popular post in my two and a half years of blogging!!! IN TWENTY FOUR HOURS!!! 

I started receiving comments and messages in abundance. So many compliments, similar experiences, expressions of gratitude. I almost cried!! I feel so humbled and blessed to have so much support and to be given this opportunity to talk to others about their own lives. I was so nervous about publishing the post, feeling that it was almost controversial. A voluntary mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is such a wonderful, noble and selfless thing. I am so grateful for all those who have served and wish to serve. Yet is it reassuring to know that whether or not we serve, if we counsel with the Lord and move forward in faith, he will not forsake us. 

Thank you so much to everyone! I love you.

(On the off chance anyone else wants to talk about this further, you can reach me at

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

My Mission Call Arrived and I'm Not Going

Over a year ago I felt very strong desire and spiritual guidance to volunteer for eighteen months as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I felt beyond doubt the Holy Spirit confirm to me that it was something I should do in my life. I know this through the feelings in my heart, the peace I felt, much prayer and pondering. I also knew that I should wait until I finished university.

So many experiences in my life accumulated to that moment. So many people, so much religious study and my personal relationship with God. It was a huge choice but it felt so easy to make and so perfectly clear. In the church young men are often expected to volunteer as missionaries if their health and circumstances allow, but for young women it is ever so different. Their sacrifice is a welcome service, but not expected. 

Much has changed since I made that decision. But my relationship with the Lord has always been a priority in my life. Something I will always cherish beyond all worldly endeavours. We as individuals change. That has always been the plan. We are here on Earth to grow and love and change. To move forward. 

This past year I finished university with a bachelor of arts degree, my romantic relationship developed ever deeper and more wonderful, I became more of an 'adult' (dare I say it) and I still cling to my romanticised ideology of life being full of rainbows and unicorns. Life has always aspired towards love, truth and being with those special to us. That is very much the essence of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

My family have moved to the English Peak District in pursuit of further education and adventure. Something I have grown up with was constant moving and change. New people and new environments. My mother discussed with me very recently the importance of 'risk taking', allowing yourself to take chances in life. Not to settle with a boring, stagnant existence. When we follow the commandments of God, no matter the risk we take, even if it wasn't the best choice, He will always help us and it'll work out somehow.  

Lately I have found much solace in the words of men called of God, namely his apostles and prophets. In 1975 a talk was published in the church magazine the New Era entitled Agency or Inspiration? by Bruce R McConkie. It is the absolute best! We are always taught to follow the Lord and make the 'right' decision. But what about when there is more than one 'right' choice given to us. What then?! What is truly 'right'? I have struggled with this paradox of choice, and this talk has helped me tremendously. 

In the church I have always been taught to set goals in life. To better myself. My two main consistent goals may seem quite vague and lacking direction however. They are:

To be happy.
To feel fulfilled.

On the surface, seemingly naive desires. But what they mean to me is so much more. Following the gospel is the route to true and everlasting joy e.g. 'to be happy'. 'Fulfilment' comes in many forms. For me, this has always pertained to family relationships. To love. Love of others and love of self. To serve others and to allow myself room to grow. To always do activities and pursuits that make me feel content with life. Whether that be something as simple as running this little blog, enjoying my favourite chocolate, watching the English countryside out of the train window or pursuing an education, exploring the world and sharing my adventures with others.  

As receiving my mission call came ever closer a strange thing happened. I was terribly unhappy. Not an 'opposition' kind of sadness but a heart wrenching sorrow. Mission calls or the big ominous letter on average take two weeks to arrive after your final interview. Mine took ten weeks. The interview taking place on my twenty first birthday, after which I felt utter joy. Practically bouncing off the walls I knew the Lord was once again confirming the 'Mission Decision' too me. Then why, before my call had even arrived did I feel so different?! 

Different options began opening up to me which I fasted, prayed, pleaded, cried and deeply pondered on. My answers from the Lord were changing. And man was it terrifying. I became so afraid of making the 'wrong' choice or the less 'right' choice if you will. Constantly seeking advice from my family, friends, my boyfriend and many church Priesthood leaders. Reading so many talks from apostles and prophets, reading my scriptures, my Patriarchal blessing. Fasted numerous times. Thinking, thinking and thinking some more. Countless tears. I was constantly going back and forth on my decision. 

I started to dread my mission call arriving in the post. Not how someone should or normally feels. I expected to be excited, thrilled, stalking the postman. Nope. I was terrified. I work in the mornings and so tend to be the first person to check the post on arrival home. However, Mister Postman keeps arriving later and later. It's flipping afternoon sometimes! My mum found the letter. I didn't know how to feel upon seeing it. I had to get her to take it away from me. I prayed and prayed. Panicked. Prayed. Stressed. Prayed. Got excited. Prayed. 

Opened it around 8pm that night. Reading the letter I was so overcome with emotion. It was an intensely spiritual experience. One of my sisters was confused as to why I was crying, I explained simply "This is a letter from God that will help me with my decision. It is special." I felt to consider my mission again. And thus the cycle continued. 

This has been the most stressful, painful and desperate month of my life. An insane notion, but true none the less. Who would of thought trying to figure out the right thing would be so difficult?! I have come to learn that life isn't as simple as we first think. That God has endowed us with agency or the ability to choose and expects us to be cheeky with our choices. Not in the way of being inappropriate or breaking the commandments, but in being bold. The gospel is a way of happiness and choice, not a black and white knowledge of what to always do in life. Sometimes we are deluded into thinking that following the commandments grants instantaneous clarity. It doesn't. But clarity does come. Even if that leap of faith must come first. 

We must be confident in ourselves. In our choices.

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after, ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Hebrews 10:35-36

And so. I have decided. Not to go on a mission. I have decided to trust in myself and make a different choice. One that whenever I think of it it brings a massive smile to my face and fills my heart and soul with exceptional joy. 

The adventure of life continues and I love God more than ever. 

Talks That Helped Me
Agency or Inspiration? by Bruce R. McConkie 
The Lord Has a Plan for Us! by Carlos Godoy 
Continuing Revelation by Henry B Eyring 

*This post was written on Tuesday 28th October 2014

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Every Christmas Is Last Christmas

You may recognise the title as a quote from this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, but oh how true those words ring! While I had such a lovely holiday season, it is really is a 'Last Christmas'... the last one when I'm not married!! How time has run away with us. I currently live at home again having just finished uni, but in many ways this seems to make it even stranger that soon I will be permanently moving away. Constant change seems to be forever the way of my life. It is so easy to worry and be afraid of change, especially when so much is out of our control. But when we know with a surety that our choices are the best and happiest for us at this time in our life then really it should help make it easier. Today I was walking home worrying incredibly about something, unsure how to help the situation. Once I arrived home and I happened to check my emails and sure enough there was one that gave me hope and helped!!! The Lord does not leave us empty handed! 

Earlier this week while reading the blog written by Al Fox's husband, Ben Carraway I came across the following story and it was exactly what I needed! 

"My wife Al has an assistant at work who is President Eyring's granddaughter. So, with that President Eyring told her that He wanted to meet Al and I. Could we deny? No.Way. We were excited and I was pretty nervous, I thought he would look into my soul and shake his head at me. But, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet a Apostle of the Lord. We met with him for two hours.

When we first walked in he sat us down and looked at us and said: "Ben, tell me your life story." I thought my fears of him piercing my soul would be correct. But, upon telling him, he told me something that ever since has changed my perspective on the future. He was asking me about my schooling and what I'm going to school for. I told him I was going to school and taken some business classes, to get a feel for what I really want to do with my life. He looked at me and smiled: "You don't know what your going do. You don't know." I was like huh? a little confused here. He touched on that and said: "No one knows what their going to do with their life. You just don't know what will come and where Heavenly Father will take you and how he will use you." I was blown away. He mentioned how important it is to stay patient and stay close to the Lord throughout your life and pay close attention to opportunities that arise.

How much I needed to hear that! I get so lost in the thought of the future and worrying what is going to happen and worrying about what I'm going to do. It just gets flat out exhausting. It really starts to affect your daily life. I have come to find out through President Eyring that its not for us to worry about what is going to happen. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" It's not for us to worry about it. Everything has its own time and season. It's important to live in the now and to plan for the now, it's good to have future plans but, we shouldn't let those future plans come in the way of what we are to do now. Right now, I'm in the school season with studying and I'm in the married season. The season where I will have my career will come and I have my trust in that."

Read his full blog post here

It can be pretty hard to trust in the Lord and take one step at the time. But each time I do, I see more and more steps appear! It may seem crazy but I know that the Lord truly does love each of us and is emotionally and spiritually invested in each day of our lives!

"It's not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves." Sir Edmund Hillary

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Twenty Fourteen. A Magical Year

With each passing year more and more changes. It's exciting, challenging, scary and a pretty big deal! Our generation is incredibly blessed with the learning available to us and in 2014 I left behind the comforts and security of education. I have learned what it means to be a graduate, and it isn't always what we were lead to believe. It is a huge transition. Yet university was one of the greatest and most rewarding choices of my life. I would never change the way everything transpired, from the timing, the subject, the school and the development. Not only did I find wonderful friends, but the love of my life, my dear fiancĂ©. 

Oh, I haven't mentioned ;) .... I'M ENGAGED!!!!! 

For such a long time I was planning to go volunteer after university for a year and a half as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I even received my assignment or 'call'. It was one of the hardest times I have ever experienced. I was faced with a huge decision. Going no longer felt like the happier choice for me in my life, yet I was terrified of making the 'wrong' decision. 

And so, after everything... I decided not go. 

With the very possibility of staying came many questions, the most important of which was what that meant for Bernard and I. Much prayer, pleading of soul, love, debates, questioning and so much more went into our choice. We decided to get married!!! And will be doing so in Spring this year!!

We are so abundantly happy and exciting. 

Yet comes another other big question. How does the decision of staying affect my everyday life now the structure of education is gone? It has given me much time to ponder what I would have chosen to pursue had I gone on a mission and come home without any romantic commitments and how I can implement them now with this new future ahead. 

What I'm truly interested in and how I can expand my mind and experiences further. 

So much will change in 2015, in some ways it is terrifying and yet I know it is all so right and happy. 
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