Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Amazing Experience - Still Pinching Myself!

I spent a memorable weekend in Safford Arizona speaking at an LDS women’s conference and was so blessed to be able to share the stage with some amazing LDS artists, songwriters (for Grammy award winning artists), and bands. The Inspire My Life conference was meant for me to contribute my talents to inspire the crowd but in reality the conference inspired me!

Ron Saltmarsh and Katherine Nelson warming up
I experienced in a way I never have before the power of music. Everyone can connect through music and come together. Music breaks barriers, moves souls and invites the spirit. I was so touched by the wonderful performances, words spoken and amazing people I got to spend hours with in the green room. It was an experience I will never forget!

Gilla Valley, Arizona temple
Safford is a small town in Arizona that completely stands out from the rest of the county. I drove for three hours through hot desert on an old highway and for miles all I saw was cactus, trailer homes, garbage on the side of the highway, and several memorial sites along the side of the road where people had been killed. It was a little depressing. Then after 3 hours the highway curved and there were beautiful mountains that appeared out of nowhere. Green fields and churches lined the road. Then suddenly out of the blue I see a temple! I had no idea there was a temple in that neck of the woods. It was a wonderful surprise! The Gilla Valley temple was so beautiful. It felt like home away from home. 

Safford Center for the Arts

The streets were clean and the people outside seemed very happy. After checking in to my hotel, I went to get a bite to eat. I picked a small Mexican restaurant surrounded by palm trees decked with Christmas lights. It was Luau month and there was Hawaiian d├ęcor all throughout the Mexican restaurant. When I opened the door I heard “Hi Sister Jones!” The restaurant was owned by a well loved LDS family. They sparkled with radiance of the Savior and bright smiles. Everyone knew everyone and they were so loving towards one another. It felt so comforting especially being alone on a trip, in an unfamiliar town at night.  I felt safe.

The food was so delicious and the place was packed. I had never experienced such great customer service and hospitality as I had that night. I looked up and saw a poster on the wall with my book on it. It was an advertisement for the event I would be speaking at. These people didn’t make the connection regardless of who I was or why  was there, they treated me like family. 

The next day after the conference, I went out into the lobby to sign books and to my surprise was met with open arms and tear filled eyes of several women I had never before met.  They shared with me their different stories about how my message had inspired them and again it felt like family. It was so inspiring to connect with these humble and faithful women. To hear about their struggles and to give them hope. There was nothing quite like it and I didn’t want the day to end.

Dinner backstage
Later that night after spending all day backstage I decided to blend in with the crowd and enjoy the concert put on by the Nashville Tribute Band. The entire town must have been there and we were clapping our hands and stomping our feet. The music brought us all together and we shared our love for pioneers, missionary work, the prophet and the gospel entirely. The members of the band were from Nashville and Utah - some converts and some members all their lives. No matter our backgrounds, status or length of membership in the church – the artists, band, myself and the people of Safford were all united in the gospel that night through the music. It was so touching and inspiring.

The band members whom I had never met until that day treated me like family. We laughed, some cried, and we shared special memories about our lives and families. There was prayer, there was lots of humor and jokes – it was as real as real can get.

Me and Katherine Nelson AKA actress playing Emma Smith
As we said our goodbyes and parted after the show, I was inspired in a way I have never been inspired before. I’m going to start a new project that I am so happy about and it never would have crossed my mind had I not been a part of all this. I came home to my family a better mom and a better wife and we have all been blessed.

Michael McLean, me and William Joseph

I’ll update you later as my project unfolds but in the meantime know this - God is wonderful and the gospel it true and sweet! People that we meet in our everyday lives are sometimes no different than the angels in heaven. God uses them to protect us, comfort us and bless us in ways we could never imagine. If you want to feel God’s love – look around it’s not hard to find.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ – amen.

Here is a link where you can learn more about the conference and the bands/artists. You'll be blown away at their portfolios and talent!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Get My Book for FREE!

Great news! I released my new ebook this week on Amazon and to celebrate, you can download it for free between today and Saturday. It's an inspirational book about success, failure and God - and of course about my life! This is a great message and I'd love people to be able to read it for free, so spread the word!

Here is the link

I'd love to hear feedback! You can visit my facebook page

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Boundaries and the Gospel - Coping with Toxic People

We all have people in our lives who rub us the wrong way, press our buttons, or see the glass half empty about everything in life. This can be mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining for everyone. 

During the last 7 months I had a few people in my life who fell into the above description. It was as if a black cloud followed them everywhere they went. Everything in their lives (according to them) was going wrong. They were swimming in trials, challenges and struggles and their way of coping with it was to complain. It was everyone else's fault - they were the victims. 

Now being a positive person, I am like a magnet. I attract these people into my lives unexpectedly. They come to me wanting to vent, feel listened to, validated,  justified, and uplifted. I have always done my best to listen and be a shoulder to cry on. 

Over time, it was starting to wear on me. A negative energy seems to follow these people around and if around them to long, that negative energy sucks the life right out of you. Because there were a handful of these people I was spending time with, it was triple the amount of negative energy and I began to feel stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

Now, I don't mind lending a helping hand, listening ear or my time in general to those who are just going through a tough moment. That's understandable and the Christ-like thing to do. Being there for others often helps them through the tough moment and then they are able to move onward and upward. However, the handful of people in my life were not moving onward and upward they were stuck in a state of negativity and had been for months, even since the day we had met.

Before I tell you my solution - I want to describe the unhealthy aspects that these people had in common. Maybe you can relate to someone in your life.

  • If you say 'what they want to hear' then you "love them and you understand"
  • If you say something they don’t want to hear but it’s being truthful (even if in a loving manner) then you are not listening and you do not understand which means you do not care.
  • They frequently say, "I'm glad God is the final judge and not me..." but they do judge by pointing out others' wrongdoings or having offended them and then saying that those people are going to have to face God's judgements. Is that not judging?
  • They are passive aggressive. Saying and doing things to get what they want or to get you to react the way they want.
  • They are offended easily and worried that they are being judged constantly.
  • They analyze everything a person says even down to their body language. To them, everyone has an alternate motive.
  • They cannot seem to forgive and hold grudges. They either say they have forgiven someone but clearly they have not, or they say what that person has done does not warrant forgiveness and the Lord will understand. 
  • When someone else repents of a wrongdoing - these people cannot let that former action go. They constantly bring up what that person did even if it was 20 years ago and that person has changed their lives for the better.
  • They are envious of others who have good lives and are happy. They say it's not fair. "Why can't I have that? I'm a good person. Why me?"
  • They are selfish inwardly. On the outside they make efforts to serve others in a self gratifying way as to point out to others that they do in fact, serve. Yet they keep tally points. Keeping track of who serves them and who doesn’t. Rather than focusing on others the focus is on themselves. Always focusing on what people are or aren’t doing for them to make their lives easier or better. 
  • They'd rather have someone do something for them than show them how so they can do for themselves. 
  • When someone does something kind, they point out that it could have been kinder. They emphasize what that person lacked in their service.
  • They don’t have any friends. Everyone is "out to get them", has abandoned them or turned on them. They are lonely. 
  • They want to always have a sense of control, in every situation and in every relationship.
  •  They take on "stalker -like" qualities. Wanting your attention several times throughout the day or week. If you don't answer the phone, they continue calling and leaving messages asking why you are not responding. Demanding that you call them right away. They want to know where you have been and what you have been doing, to see if your behaviors are justified. 
  • You feel the need to make excuses even when you shouldn't have to. It's as though making an excuse somehow alleviates the pressure  and prevents them from becoming offended or angry. Yet, it makes you become angry. 
  • Though you really were not avoiding these people when you didn't answer the phone when they called (you just have a family to take care of and other responsibilities in your life that take priority) you now feel the desire to avoid them. You get a sick feeling in your stomach when you see their name on your phone. You lose sleep and your eating habits change. It becomes a hazard to your health.