Saturday, April 14, 2012

Journal Entry 24: Emma

THE EVOLUTION OF A TESTIMONY: Day 24

Okay so I skipped a couple stories in that last entry because they just don't have enough meat in them, but here's the next relevant one...
Picture from a hike I did with Emma and some other friends when I lived in WA
"Well onto Emma. So I hadn't talked to Emma for a long time, but I did the other day and I asked her how she was and she wasn't doing too great because her dad lost his job (again). And I don't really know how to explain it, but the conversation I had with her was actually really nice. I was able to help her too, because we had both felt the same way about some things and so it was easy to empathize. Also, I told her to listen to the song by Josh Groban ("you are loved/don't give up") that had helped me and I really do think it helped her. I was glad I could help. I can't really even explain it, but I was just able to say things to help her. I think she just really needed someone to talk to and God knew it, so he helped me...I don't really know how else to say it. I hope I can be open-minded and helpful all the time. I really care about many people and I hope they can come to me if they need someone to listen."...
I've already posted a link to that song in a different post, so I won't re-post it. It's a good one though. I actually had forgotten about this interaction until I read it. I really do believe that if you're willing, God can use you to be an instrument in His hands for good. 
Love Always.
Michelle

Friday, April 13, 2012

Journal Entry 23: The Photography Project

So the next Journal entry is several pages long and in all kinds of different directions. I think it's probably a day where I figured I really needed to catch up on everything and was really bored. But since the stories are all so different, I think I'm actually going to break the norm and split this entry into more than one post. So here is part 1:
"Hey Journal,
...it's now Oct. 14 and I don't know how much time I'll have to write, but I will try... okay so next is Mr. Kennedy's project. Mr. Kennedy was my animation and video teacher @ Cedarcrest in WA, but he still likes to give me projects. The project he gave me was to take pictures that tell a story of what it is really like to be LDS. He isn't a member, so he researched and found out that we had our 177th genearl conference (semi-annual) & decided to make this my project. I didn't realize how hard it was actually going to be. So far I've taken a few pictures of a little girl named Aubrey (she's 5) from my ward. She comes over every tuesday for art lessons... she's so cute and she agreed to 'model' for me- so I took pictures of her reading the scriptures and praying and looking up & they actually truned out really cute, but it's rally hard to find something to take a poctue of that actually portrays what being LDS is all about... I really want to get some really good pictures for it so I hope I can..."...
And then it pretty much goes onto the next story that I will save until tomorrow. The journal entry doesn't really make it sound like this was a testimony-building moment in my life, but it was. I was glad that I had someone challenge me to figure out what being LDS was all about. I'm grateful for when people challenge me to make sure that I know for myself and give me an opportunity to attempt to express that to others. Looking back, the pictures don't really express what being LDS is all about, but they were meant to represent some of the simple principles in this gospel...

I took some during Young Womens one day too- "I Love To See The Temple"

"Prayer Conquers Satan"

"Feast Upon My Words"

"Faith is Like A Little Seed: If Planted, It Will Grow"

I love the simplicity of the gospel.
Until tomorrow-
Love Always,
Michelle

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Journal Entry 22: Sweet Sixteen

Sweet-sixteen... at 16 you can drive, date, get a job and feel like an adult. It's a huge deal! (right?)That's why it was so hard for me to move from Washington (where I had tons of friends) to Maryland right before my 16th birthday. I don't remember being overly-dramatic about it, but I'm sure I probably was. It was hard. What girl wants to turn 16 when she has no friends?
Well it wasn't so bad after all. My next journal entry talks a lot about how random people as well as friends and family, really took the time to remind me that I am loved and I didn't need to be lonely on my 16th birthday after all. (There's a long list of people who did things for me, so I'll cut out a lot and leave only a few examples).
My Dad and I on my 16th Birthday
The most important part about this entry though, it about the best birthday gift I have ever gotten. It was a huge blessing and testimony to me and something that continues to shape and strengthen my testimony each day. There isn't a lot of detail on here and there's not a lot of detail in my journal entry either because it's a very sacred, personal thing- but I hope it conveys some shimmer of how important that was.
"Hey Journal!!
Guess what today is...Yup, SEPTEMBER 30, 2007! I am 16! Wahoo. It didn't feel as exciting as I expected, but it was still fun. Yesterday Wendy C (a girl from my ward that I've started to become friends with) and I went to the Hunt Valley Mall. We mostly just walked around in circles and talked... Then my dad picked us up, we went home and watched the movie Charly. It was fun....Well today was my actual birthday (& a fast sunday) I went to church and everyone was nice and told me happy birthday...
And in Sunday school there is a little 12 year old (I think)...boy named Dulante (sp?) who told me happy birthday & that he gave all his friends a hug on their birthday, so he gave me a hug. It was cute.
 
Then, after church, we waited until 1:30, because I was getting my Patriartical Blessing. It was cool because the Patriarch only will do 2 blessings a month, so he happened to chose my birthday (even though he didn't know it was my birthday). It was a very sweet blessing... The Patriarch didn't know me, but he said things in that blessing that where definitely personal to me. At the end when I shook his hand, he held it with both of his and thanked me for preparing (though I never told him I actually did fast, pray and read my scriptures). And he said things like how righteous and special I am. It was very touching. He was definitely a great Patriarch... Anyway, that was an amazing birthday present. 
... I gotta say I feel pretty loved. I am VERY blessed! Wow! Well I better get sleep- school & seminary tomorrow! <3 ya!
<3/ Michelle D Curtin (Age 16!)" 
I am very blessed, and I continue to be blessed because of what happened that day. Who needs a huge sweet-sixteen party with presents and fun galore when you can receive things that last much, much longer?

Love Always,
Michelle

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Journal Entry 21: I Do Love Thee


Okay... so this is going to seem like an overwhelming amount of EFY posts, but I've left out a lot of entries because they are either 1. Too personal  or 2. irrelevant. So.. with all of that editing taken out- we're now to page 11 of my 2nd journal (plus about an extra 15 pages that were stapled in) and we are on to my 4th EFY experience. This time I went by myself to the New York Special Edition EFY where we got to tour Church history sites in Palmyra, New York. This time I also brought my journal to EFY, so I have an entry for every day that I was there. So.. I'm going to attempt to shorten and limit it. It'll result in leaving full days out again, but I want to focus on the most pivotal moments...

"Hey Journal,
Today is Wednesday Aug 8, 2007. Today we went to the Sacred Grove & Hill Cummorah. First was the Sacred Grove. It was Amzing. So Beautiful! We went with our counselors and found a spot then spred out and did as we wanted. I first sat against a big tree (inbetween the roots) and read my scriptures. I read Joseph's accounting of the vision in JSH and some other random ones like one in D&C about angels and how someday the Earth will be Christ's and we will meet them and see them as personages like Joseph saw. I also knelt down and prayed. Prayed to know, prayed to feel the spirit and prayed to know that everything would be okay in my new area. The Sacred Grove felt just like a temple. President HInckley has said that it is like the 1st temple. It definately felt like one. While I was there the one thing that hit me was 'Michelle- I do love thee'. I know my Father in heaven loves me. It was a beautiful place. It was cool to imagine 14 year old Joseph in that grove with God and his Son Jesus Christ. The day was beautiful and the sun shinned through the trees and made light on the leaves and parts on the ground. It was cool to see Joseph & his family's house too. To imagine how it was and when things took place- like angel Moroni visiting Joseph. 
Me in the Sacred Grove
We went to Hill Cummorah after that. We ate lunch first and had our 'morning-side'. Brother Wilcox talked about how Joseph could not have been a liar and about missionary experiences... Then we went up the steep hill to the estimated place of the Golden Plates burrial. The view from that hill is amazing. It was cool to imagine both moroni and joseph climbing that same hill. We sat on the grass on the hill, took pictures, and talked...
A picture I took of the statue at the top of Hill Cummorah
and now it's free time, but it's almost dinner time so I'm going to go get ready. Love ya & I'll write later. 
<3/ Michelle Delta Curtin"
That moment in the Sacred Grove is the thing I remember most from this EFY. I remember being so frustrated that I wasn't having some major, divine, spiritual experience. I prayed really fervently for something  and what I got back was so simple, but so moving: "Michelle, I do Love thee!". My Father knows me, Michelle, and he loves me.

A week or so after getting back from EFY, my mom was listening to a Josh Groban CD in the car and that experience came back to mind very strongly. Ever since then, the song "You Are Loved" by Josh Groban, is one of my favorites. It puts into words, the experience I had in the Sacred Grove.


You are Loved.
Love Always,
Michelle

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Journal Entry 20: Personal Progress


So in church we have Young Womens for girls ages 12-17. In Young Womens we have 'Personal Progress'. It's a  program similar to the boys' Eagle Scout. Part of the Personal Progress requirements often included writing in your journal. I've skipped a lot of those, but this next one was longer and a little deeper- so here goes...
The best picture I could find of me from that month (Deep... I know...)
"Dear Journal,
Today is July 29th?, 2007. (Just in case you were wondering, I am 15- almost 16 years old. I will be a Sophmore when school starts. And I will be going to Dulaney Highschool). Today is a Sunday and I am way behind on my personal progress so I think I'm going to work on that. When I frist came into Young Women's I finished a whole bunch, but I haven't done any in a while so here we go:
Faith #4:
I was supposed to read a bunch of scripture and then 'establish a pattern of pondering during the sacrament'. I was to do this for 3 weeks then record some things in my journal (here). I've been slowly working on this one for a long time. I began to listen to the sacrament prayers and hymns more carefully. Though it was hard because my thoughts would wander to other things such as a stake dance the night before or homework I had to do- I still slowly began to realize the importance of the sacrament. It is the renuining of our baptismal covenences and we make many promises each time we take the sacrament on sundays. We promise to keep those covanences and also to 'always remember him' and all Christ has done for us. The sacrament seems routine to me who has been a member of the church my whole life, yet it is very important. The prayer must be done perfectly because it is so important. The hymns sung before are very powerful, particular and meaningul. By paying more attention I was able to remember a little better what christ had done and the promises I have made and covenented. 
Faith #5
For this one, I read many scriptures about the Savior, his sacrafices and how we need to repent. Now I am supposed to write in here my feelings about the Savior and all he has done for us. This is somewhat hard, because I can barely even take in the great sacrafice he made. Christ felt ALL of our pain and suffering. Both physical and emotional. Which means he has felt every bruise I've recieved from Fastpitch softball, every lonely moment such as lately- being all the way across the country from many close friends, every cut on my hands, every struggle to understand, he knows every pain, every struggle, every burden and every affliction. It's so amazing to even think about all he has done. Every time someone thinks or says 'No one even knows how I feel' they are wrong, because He does. Christ knows how everyone feels and he understands it, plus so much more than we can understand. There are many hymns that express this feeling of astonishment, but one comes to mind right now 'Then sings my soul- my Savior God to thee- how great thou art- how great thou art' He is very great. All he has done for me and every other single person is amazing. 'I scarce can take it in'. I struggle and don't always show my appreciation of all He did by what I do and say, but how grateful I really am, for how great he is. I am truely amazed!

In the personal progess book it also says 'you may want to share your feelings in a testimony meeting'. I have a hard time baring my testimony in front of people. I'm much better at doing it more subtly and in littiler ways. But I have born my testimony every year at EFY, because it is almost impossible not to (I feel I'm alsmost shoved up there by the spirit) and I am going to EFY next week so hopefully I will get another chance, and will be able to get myself to go up. But for now I better go, so I will write again later.

With Love,
Michelle"
It seemed tedious at the time, but the Personal Progress program is a wonderful thing. It really helped me do the things I needed to to keep my testimony progressing.
Love Always,
Michelle

Monday, April 9, 2012

Journal Entry 19: I Never Stand Alone


Journal Two. It's blue with my name inscribed in gold letters- first, middle and last- on the front side. No scribbles on the front, no warning to keep out. The inside has significantly less doodles, but still enough to keep it interesting. The first few pages have some really random old entries from when I couldn't find my red journal when I was little. The next few pages after that have some songs I wrote when I was learning to play the guitar. And then stapled on page 7 is a three-page entry from a notebook I used during the process of moving from Washington to Maryland.