Category Archives: love

Soundtrack Of My Life

Music is one of the biggest influences on my life. I seem to always have some sort of music playing at all times. I really love it. I have a weird sense of music that seems to be all over the place. I feel that music is a way for me to emotionally connect and its been an outlet for many avenues in my life. I’ve noticed that I go through these phases and each phase comes with an album of its own. Those that know me best, know that I am an advocate for the album rather than a single. There is just something so special about an album to me. Its a true body of work that tells a story. I love the messages that can be found from a certain one. Whenever I transition into a phase of my life, there seems to be an album from an artist or band that just embodies my life. It becomes a large part of my life and I play that album on repeat for days, months, and even years (no joke!). Those around me have even gotten annoyed with me but don’t understand why I listen to it so much.

My whole life can be summed up by ten albums. Ten albums that show the progression of my life and have played major parts to the development of who I am. Those ten albums are some that I’m proud of and a little embarrassed at times. However, these albums hold a very special place in my heart, so no judgement.

Number 1: Millennium by the Backstreet Boys

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The start of the boy bands for me. This was the first cd that I ever owned and it is full of the greatest songs. Growing up, the Backstreet Boys were the greatest band of all time to me. My sister, Kendall was all about N’Sync and we would often fight about which one of the two bands were better. For my birthday, my mother bought this album for me with a new walkman! I would rewind the tape just so I could hear I Want it That Way multiple times. My mother would eventually barrow this tape from me and we would jam out in her car. It was true bliss. My mother has always taught me to listen to music loud with the windows down. Those are some of my favorite moments with my mother as a child. Sundays usually would entail a drive in the country, listening to everything and then some. This album always reminds me of those good times. I then would fall asleep, and wake up in my bed some how. Having a young mother made for a lot of fun adventures. My mother is the one that triggered my sense of adventure and it all started in a Honda Accord with the Backstreet Boys.

Number 2 – Enema of the State  by Blink 182

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My first Nast CD and the begging of a new era. Byron Hunt, my middle school best friend, introduced this CD to me by giving it a birthday gift. My mother was not happy one bit and wanted to take it away many times. However, she couldn’t due to all the songs being entrapped in my mind. This album made me feel rebellious and helped me escape the world of middle school. My favorite memory was air guitaring All the Small Things with Byron to Ali Suhadolnik at the Toppinsh Livestock Show. Byron’s camper was next to Ali’s tent and she came out to quiet the show that evening. However, the album would help me escape the frustrations of life. I’d put this CD into my boombox and play Mario Kart for what seemed like an eternity. It spoke to the pains of hating the world that I lived in and being bullied by others.

Number 3- Plans by Death Cab for Cutie

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I’m asked all the time what my favorite band is. Its no surprise that I love Death Cab! They just speak to me in a way that no else does. Death Cab came into my life my freshmen year of high school and has never left. This album expressed many of the things that I wanted to say but didn’t know how to. Growing up in a home where love wasn’t the first priority was hard. I began to trap the real feelings that I had inside and have begun to release them now. Death Cab was my first weird music that I listened to and became a gateway to many other weird things. Death Cab also began my obsession for depressing songs. This album is the one that scared my parents. I use to listen to this on repeat all high school. Eventually, my mother would sit me down and ask me if I was sucicidal. The answer was no. Looking back, I can see where she would think that. It became banned and wasn’t allowed to be played. However, when I moved to college, I bought another CD and it would help me get through the transition of adulating.

Number 4- Speak Now by Taylor Swift 

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Oh Taylor Swift! Taylor Swift was the love of my life. I could have married that girl. Taylor Swift is an incredible writer that seemed to write things about my life. This album came out at the end of my sophomore year of college and it was a time where I was frustrated with love. I was trying to hold on to a love that wasn’t in the cards. I was beginning to figure out the causes for all my problems. I just wanted to feel okay again. It was the start of a slippery slope. This album has a song called Never Grow Up. I was realizing that my life needed to take more direction and I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to make those decisions and I wanted to live in a life with no responsibilities. More important, the song Mean became a staple for two individuals that had wronged me in life. As I was beginning to touch the surface of what made me feel the way that I did, I had so much anger for these two people and this song became my source of comfort. I began to move forward in life with the mindset of proving them wrong and being better than them.

Number 5- 21 by Adele 

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Pour Austin Stuchell would have to hear no end to Adele. I’m 90% sure that he can’t listen to this album to this day. As a junior in college, I became extremely depressed and I discovered that I had anxiety. I found myself extremely stressed from running track and cross country, working a full schedule, and taking more than 18 credits. As a perfectionist, I found myself slipping in all aspects of life. I didn’t want to be around others and I didn’t want to do anything. I was burnt out and angry at the world. Adele 21 helped me have hope for life again. It was angry white women music and it was depressing. It had so many things that I was feeling in regards to my life. I was really confused in life and didn’t know what I wanted. I had so many people telling me what they wanted me to do and I felt there was this pressure to please everyone. I just really wanted to have everyone be satisfied with the decisions that I was making. I found myself getting migraines daily and I just couldn’t be happy.  This album made me feel okay with life and was there when I needed it the most. It paved the way for the next phase.

 

Number 6- Up All Night by One Direction 

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Thats right, I bought 1D’s very first album. One Direction is my guilty pleasure in life. Its that band that I secretly love and don’t want anyone to know. However, senior year of college in Montana will always be remembered by this album. It was the era of parties and late night papers. I started senior year still depressed and looking to escape. I lost a lot of friends that year. However, second semester was a time of bouncing back. I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I finally was going to live my dream of living in Portland and it was time to let loose. My closest friends and I took a road trip after graduation and this CD was the only source of music for us. Lucky for us that I had brought it! Senior year also found me with an injury that ended my running career as a collegiate athlete. 1D became a source of taking my mind off the pain and helped me not go back into depression. My landlord, Virginia, would always tell me that she could me hear me singing to the album when I was in the shower. She told me that I could be part of this band and I would just laugh at her. It was a change of pace that was needed in my life.

Number 7- The Mormon Tabernacle Choir 

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Moving to Portland was a dream since I was child. I got accepted into school and was all ready to start my life there. Then, the Lord told me no. He told me to go to home and stay there. I couldn’t figure out why but after six months home, I found myself leaving to start a mission for my religion. I had been called to serve in the Florida Jacksonville Mission for a period of two years. For two years, I put my life on hold as I served the Lord and those that live in Georgia and Florida. I wan’t allowed to listen to music except church related. Before my mission, I hated the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. However, luck found me that everyone of my companions loved them. It was weird to me but in time, I found myself tolerating them. This was a time of much spiritual growth and for the first time, I felt that I knew who my Savior was. I had a front row show to the atonement of Jesus Christ and I loved it. My mission was not easy and taught me many things about who I was, life, and about what I wanted to do in life.

Number 8- Carrie & Lowell  by Sufjan Stevens

dbfa1978Coming home from my mission was probably the hardest thing that I have ever done. Life was really hard to adjust to, especially not being able to walk. I found myself missing and longing to be back in Florida. I was able to find help from five major people. However, life was talking many turns. Again, I found myself under lots of pressure and it was hard to handle. Carrie & Lowell is an album that Sufjan Stevens wrote for his dead mother. I felt dead inside and this album matched my pains. It made me think of life previous to my “death”. I didn’t know how to have fun anymore and I began slipping back into a depression.  I was trying so hard to make decisions that pleased others and not myself.  For the first time, I found myself wondering if life was worth living and the last few songs on this album taught me that I could. They give a new respect to the life that we do live and caring on the legacy of those before us. It gave me a bounce back and sense of being. It literally saved my life.

Number 9 – Strange Trails by Lord Huron 

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Alright, I will admit that this is a weird album. I love it so much though. They truly are songs from the unknown as the cover art tells. However, they spoke to my soul when moving to Utah. Utah is a strange place and I was broken hearted. I had lost the girl and I was in an unknown place full of weird people. Provo, Utah is quiet the experience and is a bit of cultural shook at first. This album couldn’t describe Provo any better! Lord Huron sings about how love is like ghosts and wanting to go back to in time and stopping himself from loving the girl. Well, thats how love was for me at first here. My heart was empty and I didn’t know what to do. Going on dates was hard and I wasn’t invested in them. Fool for Love reminds of me just wanting to be in a relationship so I would ask many girls out. There for awhile, I averaged three to four dates a week. Not the most healthy thing that I have done. I was hallow inside and unsure of what to expect.  It truly paved the way for the next album.

Number 10- Cleopatra by the Lumineers

cd663f4fcf6f0ce290a085d8b337a055aac7ac72This phase has been lived for about a year and half now. It was a fun phase as I begun to live a life similar to these songs. I was grieving life like Cleopatra as I was beginning to say goodbye people. I was growing up in ways that can’t have been guessed. I’ve been focusing on school and my career, instead of not focusing on love. I wasn’t being a fool falling in love and I’ve been focusing on the things that matter most. I’ve felt like Gale’s song not wining the love of a best friend. I’ve learned patience, more so in myself than in others, just like the song depicts. I’ve seen the light and have had hope to carry on with my life. I find hope in all aspects of my life.

I’ve entered the 11th album of my life- Harry Styles by Harry Styles. 

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An album that I never dreamed that would fit me so good. I kinda felt that Cleopatra would be around much longer. However, a new phase of life begun at the beginning of May. A new phase that I am excited to see where it takes me in life. So, with every new phase, a new album begins. I look forward to taking this journey and seeing what good will come out of it. For now, I continue to listen and see what happens now. After all, its the sign of the times.

 

 

 

 

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This Is Me

I always seem to get asked why are you not married? My favorite: Whats is wrong with you that others seem to see? Why can’t you keep a girl longer than a month?

I usually shrug and go on with my life like there is not a issue. I just go about my life and don’t give those questions much thought after. The truth is though, I do know the answers to all of those questions. In fact there has always been a reason for my madness.

I am a very simple person. So simple that I am very predictable. I find it funny because lots of people think I’m very complex. They think there is a lot to me but really, I am a very simple man. I do things because I want to and I do the same things in patterns. A, then B, then C. That is who I am. I never let people in and keep my life private. I let people have the illusion that I am open person because I talk and relate with others but I only give people a surface level.

Relationships end for me when girls want a deep level with me. I understand that opening up and discussing things is vital for trust and love to grow. Being honest is very important but there are aspects that I can’t and won’t talk about. So when girls start asking and wondering, I get distant and then eventually end things. All of my relationships, with the exception of two, have a very similar pattern:

  1. Start dating
  2. Things are good and fun
  3. Girl shares personal things about life
  4. I listen
  5. Girl asks questions and wants to really know me
  6. I get distant and standoffish
  7. End of Relationship

Its been my safety net and I am ok with it. My thoughts are, someone else will come along. There will always be another girl. However, thats very unhealthy and I’ve been wanting to change that about myself.

I watched a show that completely changed my life (so weird to admit) and that has opened up many things for me. This show brought up all my insecurities, fears, and doubts in regards to marriage and being a father. This show made me think and cry. It made me angry and happy. It made ponder on many things. The last episode had a line that really taught me and changed my outlook of my relationships. As Jack is speaking to his wife about his children, he says:

“Sometimes they’ll make good decisions. Sometimes bad decisions. And every once in a while, they’re gonna do something that’s gonna knock us off our feet. Something that exceeds even our wildest dreams. Our kids are gonna be fine.”

It hit me, instantly, that I can do things completely different than the example that I was showed. I can exceed the expectations that is bound in me.  I can be the father that I never had. I can completely do something that will exceed my upbringing. I know for a fact that I will never beat my children or wife. I will never leave my children and not take care of their wellbeing. I will never, ever, make my children scared of me. I can choose the outcome of my relationships and I’m not be bound by the ways of the past. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I realized all of this.

I move forward, ready to being a different person in regards to dating. I’m excited to change the pattern to being a person that is willing to take risks. I am ready to begin letting my guard down and to actually purse a relationship thanks to my Heavenly Father. I’m ready to trust myself because I realize that I won’t be alone. I know that I can do this! I am Riley James, a very simple man.

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The Good Life

After heartbreak, regret, disappointment, grief, and or anger welcomes themselves into my life, its natural for me to shut the world out. I personally find myself shutting the world out and not letting anyone find me. People ask me what I do and where I go when I shut the world out. The truth is, I find myself devoting myself more to my studies, running, work, and my relationship with God (not in that particular order either). I usually spend more hours than usual in the Temple, at least forty hours in the library for the week, harder focus at work, and bust it in the gym for large period of times. I find that shutting the outside world out helps me to focus on what matters the most and lets me hide a bit from my problems. It also gives me the chance to think. Being alone is something that I actually enjoy, which people find hard to believe. Being alone is a very comforting thing for me. Being alone lets me regroup my thoughts and then decide what I want to do to move forward. I like things to be quiet and peaceful. I find that the outside world is rather loud and I can’t always be the person that I want to be. So I retreat to the places where I don’t have to be around people. I justify in my mind that if I’m in places where people can’t be with me, then I don’t have talk to people. Many people don’t believe when I tell them that I am extremely introverted person but I am. I like to exclude the world and be alone.

Around the end of August/ beginning of September, I began shutting the outside world out again. I purposely didn’t answer phone calls or didn’t turn my phone on for long periods of time. I’ve hid in the Provo City Center Temple and the library. I’ve hid in the mountains near my house as I’ve gone for long runs or adventures with my roommates. I’ve only allowed my roommates and select few individuals to see me and know about my whereabouts. I’ve kept myself grounded and in my house. Its been really peaceful to not to see people. I’ve turned to my Father in Heaven for much guidance and light. In these moments, I’ve come to really feel the love that God has for me. I’ve felt his peace and healing power to help me in a time of much struggle.

Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to branch out and set social goals (yes, I have to set goals to interact with other individuals). I’ve begun to meet people in my ward, see people from my mission, and grow closer with my roommates. I’ve set goals to buckle down and get things done during the week so I could have the chance to interact with others on my weekends. Moving forward isn’t always the easiest thing for me but its something that must be done.

The past two weekends have been ones where I’ve had moments where I’ve had chances to reflect on things in the most random times. First, I went to Moab with my roommates and while sitting in-between two arches, I realized that that the Lord has really guided me to live with amazing men of God who help me in so many ways. They are so patient with me and understand when to back off and when to ask inspired questions for my progression. They don’t push me but rather are there for guidance and support. They bring much needed laughter and love at critical times. They see me for who I can be and help lift me to that person.

 

Then this weekend, I ran a half marathon with two amazing people from my mission. One of which I was able to run 12 of the 13.1 miles together talking. This was the first time I was social in a race and it was so needed. Being able to just talk about anything and everything was nice. However, it was after the race when I was invited to attend a OneRepublic concert with my best friend and his family that I realized much more. There was a moment halfway through this concert that I realized that God has really given me exactly what I need in life. He is so aware of who I am and who I need to get through the hardest of things. He has placed amazing people in my life that know exactly how to deal with my situations. He has given so much in times of need that I can’t help but be grateful.

I really do have a good life. A life that I couldn’t even dream of. I have much to be happy for. Moving forward into the future is something I’m excited for. I truly love all that has been given to me and the chance to regroup and figure my next steps in life. I look forward to being social again. To letting the world see me again. Though life is hard its not bad but rather good.

 

 

 

 


Worthy Not Perfect

The need to be perfect in all aspects of my life is a major problem that I have. My competitive nature doesn’t help either but instead adds to having to be perfect and better than those around me. On my mission, I came to realize that this was a bad thing, especially when comparing to myself. My mission president, President Paul Craig, use to always tell me to stop beating myself up for falling short from being perfect. We spent a large amount of time over coming my perfection and realizing that I am going to fall short from the grace of God. He taught me that the Savior Jesus Christ would be the one to help make up the difference of my imperfection. Though it makes sense and something I always want to do, it is the hardest thing for me to do. It’s hard for me not to beat myself daily or weekly for not being perfect. There is always something that I should have done better and something that keeps me from being perfect.

Lately, I’ve been taking an institute class at UVU in which Brother Longmoore teaches us daily to give it all to Christ. Last week he taught us ways to allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to help us and to trust in the Lord’s grace. Brother Longmoore has been truly inspired as a teacher because I’ve realized that it’s a terrible thing to beat ourselves up for living the gospel. He tells us that the good news should be enjoyable and we should get credit for the great things we do. Last week, he taught us that sin is not sin. Sin is just a mistake and a chance to learn, grow, and become a better person. It’s an opportunity to come closer to our Savior and Father in Heaven.

Going into General Conference this past weekend, I wanted to know how to not beat myself up daily anymore. I wanted to know how I could trust in the Lord more and use the Atonement of Jesus Christ more in my life. (Side note, this conference was a special one for me as I got to attend it in the flesh for the first time!) However, conference taught me that it is ok not to be perfect. God still loves us for not being perfect. He is proud of the progress we make daily and he is there at all times. He is grateful that we want to be better and have him in our lives.

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Elder Gong of the seventy taught that being worthy is not perfect. Rather being worthy is striving daily to keep the covenants we made with the Lord. Being worthy is willing to change and allow the Savior to be apart of our change. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up for the mistakes we make like I do. So the past few week have been eye-opening to me. Its going to be hard but rather than tearing myself apart each night and Sunday, I’m going to work on forgiving myself and letting the Savior take over my insecurities. I’m going to work on my problems and let others help me more. I have a strong desire to be better person to myself and those around me. I might not be perfect but thats ok. I have a God who knows and loves me. I have a Savior who died for my sins and is there to hold me up and wrap his arms around me. I have an amazing family who loves me and looks past my faults. I have so many amazing leaders that teach me ways to be better. I have the best roommates who help me laugh at life’s ups and downs. I have so many great friends who teach me through their examples of what it is like to be disciples of Christ. Moving forward, life is going to be good and in time, I will overcome my shortcommings. Yoked with the Savior, I will be perfect one day.

For Elder Gerrit W. Gong’s full talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/media/session_5_talk_4/4829550348001?lang=eng

 

 

 


A Year Of Progress: I love tough things

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A year ago today, March 6, 2015, I left the land of Chomping Gators, Screaming Indians, sweet potato eating, southern people of Jacksonville Florida and Southern Georgia. A year ago, I took of my name badge and became a “return missionary”. Going on my mission, I was told that it would be the hardest thing of my whole life however, this past year has taught me that going home has been the hardest thing I have ever done. This weekend, I have taken the time to reflect on all things that has happened to me in just 365 and the person that I have become. The past year has taught and brought me closer to my savior then ever before and I’d like to write about a few ways how.

Coming home with a torn achilles tendon was one of the hardest things ever as I have had to learn how to re-walk and eventually learn how to run again. In a slow progression, I learned how to become whole again. Physically, I got to be healed and restored new. I’ll never forget the look of my mother’s face when I walked out of the doctor’s office in a giant boot. She was so shocked. Months of physical therapy where at times I was discouraged and left thinking I would never get to run again. The atonement of Jesus Christ was there in every aspect and helped me get rid of the fears that lingered in the back of my mind.

Coming home was a mental challenge. All return missionaries experience heart break as they leave the one place that their true love is. Words can’t express how challenging it is to mentally pick up life in a new world after your heart has been shattered. My mission motto was “I love tough things, I am the first to do tough things, I do tough things first.” I can remembering the plane taking off and my heart felt like it was being ripped out and then a familiar voice telling me that I love tough things. Coming home, that has been my motivator to do things that I don’t mental think I can do. Mentally, the Savior has helped me over come the struggles in my mind of insecurities, regret, and fears. The Savior is there to remind me that I can do the tough things that I don’t feel that I can do.

Moving to Provo, UT has been greatest blessing and I never thought I would say that. I live with three amazing men of God that teach me daily what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I can see through their examples how to Love God and Jesus Christ so much more. They have looked past my faults and challenge me to be a better person. They have helped me over come my addiction to the word hell and all the bad days that have come from heart break, bad break ups, terrible test days, and to not getting an internship of a life time. They continue to pick me up and help me be a better man.

Provo has given the Provo City Center Temple. This temple, though not dedicated, has been the biggest blessing me. I live five blocks away and makes me so happy every day. It has given me a deeper prospective of an eternal life and its where my soul feels the happiest. Its where I escape the world and remember the importance of all things in life. This temple has helped me to think of Jesus on such a different level that I can’t help but thank him for all that he has done.

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The past year has been a rollercoaster but as I continue to move forward I know that my Savior will be there for all aspects. I am so grateful for the amazing people that I have met this year to help me on this path of coming to the world and moving forward. At first, I was very hesitant on adapting but as I sit here in my Gator hat, I am very glad that I have. I am glad that I have had the experiences that I have had this past year from the heart aches, to the new loves, to new adventures, to the many new mountains that I climb daily. Though I miss Florida and Georgia deeply, I am glad for this new phase in my life and the person that I continue to grow to be. I love the Tough Things that I have overcame and face head one with my Savior there to help me.

 


Hipster Mormon

Being one to proclaim my religion was never a thing I would choose to do my whole life till I went on my mission. In fact, going on my mission was the first time that I publicly declared to all my friends that I was Mormon. After serving two years in the south, I learned how religion really does make the person and to be proud of things that make you you. I use to be embarrassed to tell people that I was a Mormon. Being Mormon is like telling your friends your pregnant or homosexual. Its something that in society that is always very unacceptable, unless you live Utah. Being Mormon comes with all the crazy stereotypes: multiple wives, homemade clothing, and a family of at least seven to name few. However, I don’t fit the mold of your typical Mormon at all, which was another reason I never allowed people to know that I was Mormon. In fact, most Mormons don’t fit the “Mormon Mold” expect those that are the mold. I watched people in high school and college get made fun of for being a Mormon. It was something that I never wanted to happen to me, so I kept it quiet. However, I am very proud to be a Mormon. Being a Mormon is the greatest thing in my life. It allows for me to be who I am. It was helped me come closer to God and Jesus Christ. As a Mormon, I am Christian. I fully love Christ and try hard to be like him. I study from the scriptures each day for the purpose of studying who Christ is. I love Christ more than anything. Being a Mormon gives me so much purpose and direction to my life. It is what makes my life so meaningful. It what motivates me to be the crazy, outgoing, wheat thin lover, die hard runner, hipster person that I am. I might not be the traditional person but I am so proud to be a Mormon. I am not scared to say that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but rather I am beyond glad to declare that I am a Mormon! Embracing my Mormon life has been one of greatest blessings for me.


Lessons Learned

Change has once again found its way into my life. I’ve come to learn that change isn’t a bad thing but rather a chance to grow and progress. A few days ago, I asked to take my name tag off as my mission came to an end. Serving in the great land of Georgia and Florida was but a blessing from the Lord. I would like to take a moment to share some of the greatest lessons that I learned while serving the Lord for two years.

I learned how to love. I never thought that I could just love people the way the Lord does. Being on a mission, I learned how to instanitly love one for who they are. My heart grew so big as I met so many amazing people. Each person has a beautiful story to tell the world. I learned that God truly loves each person for who they are and not for how the world sees them.

I learned how to cherish the Book of Mormon. Before my mission, I knew that it was the word of God but never did anything about it. My mission taught me how to treasure it. I love the Book of Mormon so much. Its the greatest gift that has ever been given to me. The Book of Mormon is the key to my life. It teaches me more than anything else. I can find the answers to the many questions I have about life. I like to think that the Book of Mormon was written just for me at times. Its my life line. Its what helps we get through the hardest of times. I am so grateful for this book. It has changed me. It has showed me the light of the God. It has given me hope, love, courage, strength, wisdom, and so much more. I love having it in my life each day. I came to love it so much.

I learned how to have a personal relationship with Christ. He is the greatest gift that our father has ever given us. He truly lives and I know that. Each day we can have his atonement in our lives and I am grateful for that. I have come to know how to have him in my life. I have learned how to come unto christ. I will now grab hold of his hand each and every day. I love my savior so much. I truly love Jesus. He is my rock and salvation. He is my best friend. I am grateful for his loving kindness. He is the most important person in my life next to the father.

I have learned to truly love this gospel. Its the best blessing ever. I have watched the gospel of Jesus Christ truly change people’s lives. I have watched it bring the greatest blessings and miracles to others. I have seen it solved the worst things in life. The gospel of Jesus Christ truly is something that we need each day in our lives. I am beyond grateful that I was blessed to share this glad message with the world.

There are many more lessons that I have learned while serving the lord. My mission changed my life and woke me up. It has been the greatest blessing in my life. I am so grateful that the Lord called me to be his representative. I honor the two years that I was given. It truly is a scared experience that I hold dear in my heart. The people in Florida and Georgia have a special place in my heart for ever. I learned so much that would take days to read.