The Maiden Voyage

Last week the stake president met with my parents and myself.  Knowing how badly I desired to be a proselytizing missionary, he has been working without rest to help me reach that dream while still avoiding doing anything that would give me pain with the EDS.

It’s been a miracle.  I thought I would have to stay at home and occasionally go with the missionaries to teach, but this is an almost complete fulfilment of the dream I’ve held for as long as I can remember.  We’ll be going transfer by transfer (which are six weeks), testing how well I do.  I’ll have a wheelchair, but mostly I’ll be doing what my companions do.  I get to teach, proselytize, and work with the sisters to bring others to Christ.  If it becomes too much, I get to go home for a transfer then go right back out again.  We’re shooting for six months, but I’ll try to go the full eighteen.

There have been so many angels in this process.  Angel #1 is President Williams, who hasn’t stopped fighting for me.  President Sweeney, Bishop Kai, my parents … it’s been amazing beyond words.  And as I went to be set apart as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I saw a couple I’ve known for a while sitting in the foyer.  They have been my “adopted parents” when my own weren’t able to come to Gospel Doctrine class, sandwiching me between them and smiling, laughing and learning with me.  Their appointment was before mine, then as the bishop came to fetch us, he gave my mom a big hug and whispered something in her ear, seeming very moved.  The couple were in the room and the bishop and the husband set me apart.  They were so excited and the lady kept hugging me.  My mom later told me that they offered to pay for the entirety of my mission.  I’m telling you: angels.  Those God has sent into my path to help me fulfil this dream and bring others unto Him.

Unfortunately my father wasn’t able to be there (we’re trying to sell the house so we can move down to the city and join him) so we Skyped with him — he was dubbed the “electronic father” and “digital dad.”  (My older sisters weren’t there, either — they don’t even live in my state and it’s really hard).  When President Williams presented the idea that would allow me to go like this, my father started crying, he was so touched and happy.  The Gospel means most to us.  The Lord is everything.  And everyone knows how much I want to go and serve Him.  Even my best friend, who isn’t a member of the Church and so hasn’t grown up with the understanding of LDS missions, is such a support.  It’s really hurting her, but she loves the Lord as much as I do and understands why I need to go.  For us, He comes first.

I need to talk a little more about President Williams.  Last Sunday when he called us in and told us what we could do and I immediately agreed, he then resolved to do everything he could to contact the mission president and have him come for another interview after church.  Together they’re sending me off, working so hard to help me do this.  I feel like Heavenly Father has just opened the floodgates to the blessings.  I know it’s all pretty sudden, but I was given the option of going during this transfer or waiting until the next.  I don’t wait, so it wasn’t even an option for me to hesitate.

I have the most amazing group of friends anyone could ever ask for.  I’m going to miss them like crazy, but they love the Lord as much as I do and their love and support means so much to me.  I’m excited to see how they grow as writers and as people while I’m gone, and I really hope Mirriam takes care of my baby Odd-Eyes.  And Ice.  If anything happens to him, Mirri, I might have to kill you.  And Apollo had better wait for me — I’ll be his missionary then I will come back and love him forever and make pretty half-Korean quarter-Bolivian babies that he can chase after.

My family is the greatest blessing in my life after God.  Despite our rather teasing, emotionless way of showing affection, I know they’re going to miss me and they’re the ones that, at night, I’ll be yearning for.  Every day is an adventure with them, and I can’t wait to come home and continue that.  And my baby sister is waiting for her call — so we’ll have two missionaries out!  Kerri, if you go to Africa, I will laugh so hard I’ll need to be hospitalized.

My ward family swarmed around me today, showering me with hope and love.  Guys, I’ll miss you and look forward to seeing you again.  Brother Stepp asked me to sing (okay, he told me a couple weeks ago exactly what I was singing so I didn’t have a choice) and the bishop allowed me to sing I Know That My Redeemer Lives today, even if nothing had been planned in advance.  Brother Vest, who is a WWII veteran and in his 90s told my mother that he had never heard the song so heartfelt before.  I have a very difficult time singing in church because I get so wrapped up in the physical — is my diaphragm in place, is my throat open, oh, no, I missed that note — and the attention that it’s been known to become a performance rather than a song of worship.  But my dear friend Shelby gave me a tip: pray that the congregation and yourself will feel the Spirit as God wants them to.  It worked.  I felt every word and I hope was able to bring something good to the meeting.  Something I felt inspired to do was change many of the ‘I’s and ‘me’s to ‘ours’ and ‘we’s.  I pray I helped someone through the music and my voice.  (Thank you, Mama, for the vocal genes).

There’s so much more I could go into — but I’ll leave it at that.  I may be home at intervals, but let’s hope I’m not back for a year and a half.  I want to serve for as long as I can and with my full capacity, even if that capacity is less than others with healthy bodies.  I have God on my side and whatever gets thrown at me, that’s why I’m out there.  I’m out there for Him and to bring joy to those around me.

Love you guys!

Cheers,

Sister Ana Pinto-Haynes

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The Last Day of May

As everyone has been continuously reminded, May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month.  And today is the 31st.

This is gonna make me cry.

Please share the word.  There are many of us that are suffering.  We need others to know about this — employers, parents, everyone.  There are so many different ways Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome affects us individually, but almost as many when it comes to families and communities.

Keep us in your prayers and thoughts, please.  Yes, this makes us stronger, but a cure would be really nice.  And tell all your doctor friends about it, please.  If someone comes to them, it would be wonderful if they had the capacity to correctly diagnose EDS.

And I am super tired, so I’m going to bed.  Sleep, here I come!

Cheers!

Ana

Liebster Award Tag

I love that name.  I have no idea what it means, but the German-ness of it is just so fun.

Anyway, I considered myself tagged by my dear friend Tracey.  She’s an awesome person, amazing writer, and hilarious friend.  Read her list: http://traceydyck.blogspot.com/2015/05/liebster-award.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TraceyDyck+%28Tracey+Dyck%29

(I have no idea how to make the fancy ‘click here’ signs, so please bear with me.  I looked it up and was even more confused than before).

Anyway, on to the questions!

1. What’s one of your favorite summer reads?

Oh, dear me.  I don’t really reread books, so this is a hard one.  There are very few things I actually revisit cover to cover, and it’s only when I feel a strong need to enter back into those worlds.  Those picks are a) the Squire’s Tales, b) an unfinished book by my friend, c) Harry Potter, and probably d) the Phantom of the Opera.  And right now I’m reading Najee: A Glimmer of Hope by Sarah Y. Westmoreland, and Shakespeare is good for any season.

The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady (The Squire's Tales) by Gerald Morris. $6.99

(Based on the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

2. What’s your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?

My sisters and I developed a game we would play in our rather suburban neighborhood: fill a huge bucket with water, arm everyone with a plastic cup, and chase each other with the full glasses.  Hit your victim with the water, they’re frozen until someone else frees them.  You get soaked, but it’s so much fun.  And apparently wet long hair is not a good alternative to the water glass — I’m told it hurts.

3. What’s a combination of three authors’ “special somethings” that you’d like to emulate in your own writing?

Ooh, rough one, Tracey.  Great question, though!  Hmm.  First of all, Gerald Morris’ (the Squire’s Tales) humor.  His books are laugh-out-loud hilarious and the man’s wit is rapier-sharp.  I love Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s perfect balance between showing and telling, making you feel as if you are in the book.  And probably my favorite detail included in the books I love most is the realism of the characters.  If they’re flesh-and-blood, I have to love them.  They become my friends.  One of the best at this is Mirriam Neal, but Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Gaston Leroux are also some of my favorites in this area.

4. What music are you currently listening to?

Right now?  Or just in this general time frame?  Right now I’m listening to my sisters putting together a puzzle, and they’re not music.  They’re strange creatures.  Generally, right now I listen to the GazettE, but I do that a lot.  I’m also doing a project involving musical theatre, so I’m listening to more Chess and Aida (Elton John’s, not Verdi’s, obviously).

5. Which superhero (from either Marvel or DC) are you most like?

Tracey, are you trying to kill me?  No idea.  I want to be Spider-Man (not Spider-Girl, I will be Spider-Man), but as to whom I’m already the most like?  (And I really hope that was the proper use of ‘whom’ — Mom’s helping with the puzzle, and I’m too lazy to utilize her English-teacher skills).  I’d like to say I’m most like Captain America, since he’s one of my top favorite people ever, but probably Bruce Banner/the Hulk with maybe a bit of Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow thrown in.  I try to be calm and kind, but my temper is something I struggle daily with.  And like Nat, I haven’t always been a perfect princess, but I still try to do my best.

6. What’s your favorite fantasy creature you’ve ever read about?

Chimera, hands-down.  Have you ever read the Treekeepers?  I’d always liked chimeras, but Ally completely solidified that.  I also love griffins, and dragons are cool, too.  Although my love of chimeras kind of got me into trouble — there was a girl when we just moved here that I was trying to be nice to whose name, while spelled differently, was Chimera.  I said, “Oh, that’s awesome!  They’re my favorite animal!”  My sisters told me later that my ‘compliment’ may not’ve been that welcome, seeing as we live in a deprived community where a chimera is a type of car.  I love where I live, but I can’t imagine a world without chimeras — it would seem so lonely, bleak, and sad.

Adorable baby chimera yawns its way into your heart

(It’s a baby chimera!)

7. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate.

my thoughts exactly.

8. What’s something you admire about yourself?

I don’t give up.  I come from conquering stock (William the Conqueror and Charlemagne on Mom’s side, Theodore Turley and the pioneers on Dad’s, just to name a few), and I shall make my ancestors proud.  There are times, of course, when I want to give up, but how could I live with myself if I did?  My life would come to a grinding halt, and I refuse to give in to those things that would like to stop me.

9. Which do you prefer: writing by hand or typing?

Because of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I struggle with writing by hand.  Besides, I swear it was a form of torture my mother devised for us as children.  Because of my loose joints, my handwriting is really bad, and if I write for too long my wrists tries to attack me.  Which is why I can’t study math right now….

10. If failing was impossible, what would you do?

Everything!  I would be a heart surgeon, a pharmacist, live in college and speak fifty languages, I would take a walk every single day, I would fly, I’d become a mermaid, I’d become Spider-Man, I would be good enough to sing at the ROH (Royal Opera House), and most importantly, I would rid myself of all the mistakes I make once and for all.  I’ve mentioned that I have a real fear of failure, and something that kills me is my past.  I feel like I make so many mistakes and have so many flaws and can never make my Heavenly Father proud, but if failure was eliminated, those thoughts wouldn’t trouble me.  But honestly, failure is part of the eternal plan.  If there was no fear of failure, there would be no triumph when we succeeded.

The Amazing Spider-Man | 24 Unofficial Movie Posters That Are Better Than The Real Posters

11. What’s something God has taught you recently, new or rediscovered?

Best question yet, Tracey.  He’s teaching me about the Atonement again.  That no matter how many mistakes I make, I can be forgiven.  And He’s teaching me that He’s always there.  I can always rely on Him, even if it’s a small matter.  He wants to help me.  My biological father always told me how disappointed God was with me, so it means so much that I’m learning from God Himself that it’s not true.  I can become better, and I do have worth in His eyes.

Tagging time!

All right, I still am very limited in who I know in the blogosphere, so please, consider yourself tagged and give me the link in the comments!

But I do have to tag those I actually know: Shelby, Lody, and my new EDS friend Mandiix.  And Rana, I’m not sure what the rules are concerning tags, so you’re included.

And the questions:

1. Which Disney character do you identify most with?

2. What’s your ethnic background?

3. If you had your pick of the best cosplay materials in the world but could only choose one character to play, who would it be?

4. What do you think the greatest blessing in your life is?

5. What is your favorite physical attribute in yourself, and what is your favorite spiritual attribute in yourself?

6. If you forgot everyone in your life and your relation to them except for one person, who would that person be?

7. What’s your dream? (It doesn’t have to be something achievable.  Just something you dream of doing, every impossibility thrown out the window).

8. What are your favorite qualities in a friend?

9. What do you like to study? (It could be anything from Impressionist painting to the cultural impact of fleas).

10. What is your favorite word?

11. List all the reasons you’re amazing.

Cheers!

Ana

“I will walk together.”

I’ve mentioned before my great love of the Japanese rock band the GazettE.  (And the reason the ‘e’ is capitalized is just because it looks cool).

the GazettE

(Left to right: Aoi, Reita, Kai, Uruha, and Ruki is sitting).

I first was ‘introduced’ to them by my friend Mirriam Neal’s blog.  She had pictures of Aoi and Kai (with the awesome hair pictured above) and I was curious.  When I first looked into their music, I was a little confused and weirded out.  I thought they were okay, but they weren’t anything I’d come in contact with before.  But I still went foraging through the internet to look for their clean music.  (While I don’t speak Japanese, the overall theme of a song is still very apparent in the music even if the words are foreign to the listener.)

I acquired a bit of a collection, but I branched out into other types of j-rock.  A lot of them are good, but I quickly realized that the GazettE is one of the cleaner bands.  It’s so hard to find songs even in my native language that are clean and it frustrates and angers me to no end.  So I was certainly impressed and proud that the Gazette didn’t block me out of their artistry.  That’s not to say that all of their stuff is perfectly clean — it’s not.  But something that I love about them is that if they choose to make something inappropriate for someone with my standards to listen to, the content usually includes only swearing or themes of violence.  In today’s world sexuality is glorified.  It’s pathetically hard to find a song that doesn’t highlight this in some way.  That’s one reason why I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop music (plus it’s not really my thing).  One has to search diligently on the internet and be prepared to wade through things no one should have to come in contact with just to find a good song.  It’s pathetic and disgusting.  But for the most part, the GazettE stay away from involving that particular theme in their music.

Aoi.Reita(The GazettE)

(Aoi and Reita).

The GazettE get life.  None of them have had it easy, perhaps Ruki, the vocalist, in particular.  He was treated very poorly by his family to the extent that he had nothing to do with his father until the band began to get popular.  These guys have seen sadness and pain but not only has it made them fuller, better people, they’ve been able to help others through their experiences.  That’s how hardships should be used.  So many of their songs are uplifting, and many of them deal with harsh topics such as abuse and death.  One of my favorite songs is Miseinen, and to paraphrase the song, it’s basically a story of growing up.  In youth, you rebel and your pride lifts you up, but that’s not really how it’s supposed to go.  It’s okay to rely on friends and family, to be broken, because it makes you stronger.  I think it not only sums up the amazing mentality of the band, but the hope we can have for our own lives.

The GazettE have helped me very much in my life.  I have a very hot temper and their music is one of the few things that calm me down sufficiently.  As anyone who knows me understands, I struggle so much with math.  (And my dad’s an accountant.  Sad, right?)  I would get so wound up that my emotional state would be on the range between ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’.  I don’t like being mad.  It leaves a bitter feeling that’s hard to shake.  So as I studied up in my room, I’d turn on Baretta and Best Friends.  It really helped.  One fan has said, “They understand what my family doesn’t.”  And while I don’t share those feelings about my family not understanding, I love that I can listen to a couple of songs by the GazettE and then be calm enough to express myself to those close to me.  ‘Cause it really stinks to be so frustrated that when I try to speak, all of it boils up and I wind up doing something I regret.  Or even if I’m feeling down, listening to Cassis calms me and gives me hope.  To me, that’s really the GazettE’s message: hope.  Both in their music and how they live their lives.

The GazettE

They’re actually really shy, private people.  My dad avoids the topic of them because I think they make him wary, which, in my opinion, is kind of funny.  Mirriam and I talked quite a bit about them the other day, and the way she described them when her mother looked askance at them was that they’re sweet babies.  And she’s right.  They have such sweet spirits.  Their music is downright awesome — they’re a highly talented bunch.  But their spirits have the opportunity to speak through it.  They try so hard to be tough, but they’re polite and funny and just genuinely people who make me smile.  When I’m upset in any way, they’re one of the things with the highest percentage of cheering me up and giving me hope.

the GazettE. I love their smiles. :D <3

I could go on about them forever, but I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  The GazettE have reached into my heart and give me confidence and help me strive toward who I want to be.  I have a very strong fear of failure and they help calm me down and let me see more of my potential.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but the hope and strength they give me will forever be something I treasure.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. New album in August!  Someone tell me how it is, as I’ll be on a mission.

Stereotypes and Modesty

Modest is sexy.

It’s a fact of life.

Unfortunately, people so often are of the opinion that being ‘modest’ means wearing frumpy old-lady clothes.  Clothes that are so bad they have never been anywhere near the spectum of ‘fashionable,’ t-shirts that could double as tents, jeans that come up to your ribcage.

That opinion is rather sad, actually, because so often the cutest clothes are the ones that are modest.  The ones that speak for themselves and flatter you while still leaving things to the imagination.

Others also think that modesty is restricting, that it’s oppressive and keeps you from fully expressing yourself.  I think this opinion is twisted.  Our bodies are a gift.  Say you had a precious Ming vase, ‘kay?  Would you put it in your front yard to bleach in the sun and for every neighborhood child to trap dragonflies in?  No — you’d keep it on display in your house, probably in a special case to protect it.  Your guests would be honored to view it, to have the opportunity to marvel at its unique beauty.

Teen girls! You are valuable! Please read this article from a great website, full of resources for young and old!

We are each important.  You wouldn’t pawn off your gold watch for a bag of plastic bugs, would you?  We are of too much worth to sell ourselves like that.  We aren’t cheap — we are priceless.  It’s time society recognized that.  Instead, we are expected to show off our assets, let everyone know how ‘sexy’ we are, but really, that’s just degrading.  Society preaches respect and equality, yet both men and women are looked down on if we show an ounce of it for ourselves and our sacred gifts.

Something about many of the modesty lessons is the reaction of the opposite sex.  I hate it.  “You’ll help the boys by dressing modestly.”  “Don’t tempt the girls by sagging your jeans.”  Yeah, it’s important to help and respect those around you, but I think the true reason to dress modestly is for ourselves.  We need to show the world that we are confident without showing off, that we respect ourselves enough to keep those sacred parts of us away from the cheap, low-minded bidders prowling around with glittering eyes.

On redefining sexy: | 12 Stevie Nicks Quotes To Live By

(Quote by Stevie Nicks that I found on Pinterest).

Another subject I’d like to touch on is stereotypes.  For instance, my style is basically that of a Japanese rocker.  I wear spiked boots, skull-embellished shirts, hip belts and skeleton-cameo necklaces.  As weird as it sounds, I almost feel most complete when my nails are painted black.  I’m usually in black and have a growing collection of spikes and leather.  But I’m always modest.  I live in a small town that wasn’t sure what to do with me when I first came, and that really confused me and made me sad.  I don’t try to be tempting and I strive to be kind and polite with clean language, but I was still rather labeled as a sort of rebel, an unwanted divergent.

I would even wear the nose-thing. XD

(Reita from the GazettE).

That’s one kind of stereotype.  When you see a girl with frills and pink lipstick, don’t label her as shallow and brainless.  When you see a girl with false eyelashes even longer than mine, don’t immediately conclude that she’s a tramp.  This is something I really struggle with, don’t get me wrong.  I’m one of those people that just naturally labels and judges.  But as I’ve gone throughout my life, made friends, worked at Subway, I’ve learned to see past the skin.  True, you don’t agree with the girl who comes in with her neckline down to her bellybutton.  But maybe she’s nice.  The young man with the scowl over there might be bullied and doesn’t know how to show that he’s not mean and rude, or maybe his attitude is a protection against those who wish to hurt him further.  Maybe the girl dressed as a hippie is beaten at home and the way she copes is by clinging to the ideals of peace.

Mormon chick, baby! ;D  This is the sweetest picture, too!

(Isn’t this picture perfectly adorable?)

This post is as much for me as it is for everyone else.  True, there are some folks out there that you instinctively know to stay away from.  You aren’t always going to want to be friends with everybody.  But we mustn’t forget that beneath the outer layer, there is a child of God, one that is precious in His sight and should also be in ours.

We should also notice our own worth.  Don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes — that’s what Christ’s Atonement is for.  We live, we fall, we get back up.  And we never do it alone.  We have the potential to rise above it all — yeah, it’s gonna take a long time to get to that point.  But who says we shouldn’t try?

Cheers!

Ana

(Sorry, I had to).

An Open Letter to Everyone

I’m proud to be part of a writing group whose members simply call it ‘the Pack.’  We follow the writer Mirriam Neal (our pack leader), and encourage each other in every endeavor we — either wisely or ridiculously — choose to pursue.  It’s through this wonderful group of girls that I met my best friend.  These awe-inspiring people have taught me the true meaning of friendship and unconditional love, even for those of us that are the most flawed.

We’re an odd bunch.  Any one of us will admit that.  And I think that unorthodox-ness sometimes makes us feel inferior, other, or unwanted.

I recently read a blog post by a very, very dear friend of mine.  The overall feeling I got was that she doesn’t see her full worth.  I look at her and see someone funny, beautiful, and wise beyond her years.  Her soul is inspiring, whether it’s making me giggle or see the world through the beautiful stained-glass window she has created.  She thinks she’s awkward and hard to love, but all the qualities that she thinks make her lesser are what I love most about her.  They make her who she is.  And if someone doesn’t love you for who you are … get rid of them.

I am here to tell you of your importance.  As I’ve come closer to Christ, I’ve truly began to understand the power of love for others.  I may not know you personally, but I testify to you that the qualities you have are not what make you inferior, but what make you special.  Perhaps you have a strange sense of humor.  Perhaps you like to read about neuroscience.  Perhaps you don’t get metaphors.  Perhaps you have difficulty around people.  I don’t care — you are special.  You, just by existing, make the world a better place.

Think about it: where would the world be without you?  I can tell you most assuredly that it would be empty.  Maybe the world would continue to spin, but it would feel the absence.  Have you ever seen the Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life?  It’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, and I finally watched it last December.  It’s about how a man who feels everyone would be better without him is shown how the world would have been different had he never been born.  In the end, he realizes how many blessings he has, and what a blessing he has been.

You are a blessing.  Maybe you’re a social butterfly, maybe you’re Muslim, maybe you’re a survivor of abuse.  You are unique, wonderful, irreplaceable, inspiring.  I want you to look in the mirror and see what I could see: an amazing individual who deserves every chance.  Someone who is loved.  Someone who deserves to be loved by themselves.

Learn to love yourself.  I love you.  But most importantly, God loves you.  He’s given everything for you, and I want you to know that no matter what you feel, you can always turn to Him.  Maybe you won’t get your answer immediately, but He is there, His hand outstretched, just waiting for you to take it.

Don’t cut.  Don’t cry.  Know that there’s someone out there, even if she doesn’t know you, who prays for you and cares about you.  If a perfect stranger can do that, please do it for yourself, too.

With all the love in my heart,

Ana

(Read this adorable thing I found).

This is exactly how I feel about you. (yes, you!!!) :: if you know the artist who drew this, please let me know as I'd love to give them credit. the site this links to searched but could not find the source and neither could I. xoxo

“With a grateful prayer and a thankful heart!”

Golden Gifts    Gifts of all sizes wrapped in penny-saving kraft paper and embellished with ribbon, raffia and rickrack become part of the holiday decor. Vary the red-and-white presentation by including a gala mix of stripes, checks and solid-colored ribbons. Attach dried flowers, felt snowflakes, buttons or berries for extra pizzazz. Perhaps our favorite Christmas tradition is watching the Muppet Christmas Carol.  We’ll all curl up on the couch and turn on the movie, giggling and singing along.

Photo Gallery: Our Favorite Christmas and Holiday Movies/The Muppet Christmas Carol

Everyone knows the story of Scrooge and the three spirits that visit him the night before Christmas.  But my personal belief is that the Muppets and Michael Caine are the only ones who do it justice.  One of the most iconic moments is Christmas morning when Scrooge goes out into the city and becomes, really, the embodiment of Christmas joy — and how that joy should last throughout the year.  There’s the most charming song about having a thankful heart, and my siblings and I have gone around singing it for almost three days now!

Gratitude is happiness.  There was a study done a while ago, and one group of students recorded all the negative things they found in a certain length of time.  Another group recorded all the positive things.  At the end of that period, those that recorded the positive things were shown to be much happier and more content with life.

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful.  Sometimes you receive something — a gift at Christmas, say — and gripe and complain about it.  How is that fair?  You’re just filling your heart with bitterness, but you’re also hurting the giver.  I encourage you to always look on the bright side and see beyond the here and now.  This moment is the merest speck in the complete range of things, so what cause is there to not be grateful?

President Uchtdorf gave a great talk on gratitude about a year ago.  Here’s a great quote from it:

“We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.

This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.

When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.

This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.”

(President Uchtdorf is awesome).

Love Uctdorf

(It’s not this weekend, just so you know.  I just thought the pic was cute).

I’ve been through things that have been tough — we all have.  But I have to say that those challenges have built me in ways nothing else could have.  I’m so grateful for the life I have been given, hypermobility and all.  God is my joy, my family — including my dear friends — are my happiness.  I pray that this Christmas season, and even forever, you will find peace and happiness even when trials hunt you down and try to hurt you.  You can win.

Love you, and merry Christmas!

Ana