Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Camera shy

Who would have known?! They are remodeling the Los Angeles Vistor Center at the temple and are going to put kiosks around the interior with people bearing their testimonies about the Savior. So I think I mentioned before that I auditioned... I guess you can call it that- My bishop recommended my name- the church took auditions of people's testimonies and then chose a few to come back for the real deal. The real deal was today.

I go down to Balboa to shoot and my oh so cute outfit was not oh so weather friendly... therefore I had to put on a jacket, which didn't necessarily match... but oh well. Two cameras, one sound guy, backdrops, fuzzy sound things that look like a dust mop... yes, the real deal. Then they lean over and say, "Don't be nervous... just be yourself, pretend we aren't here." Ya... ok.

At any rate after 45094059 takes I was able to bear my testimony on the Savior, the atonement, his role as the good shepherd and how families can be together forever. Wow... I hope I didn't butcher it too bad and perhaps my testimony will be able to impact some person who sees it.

On to other things... I finished my personal statement... for those who care to read here you have it:

Three years ago, at the age of twenty-four, I had been married and divorced, had run two marathons, and had one unaccomplished goal, to graduate from college. At a time in life when peers my age were finishing college, thinking of getting married and pondering life in the real world, I had surpassed them, not in numerical years but in life experience. The path I had taken was nothing I would have imagined had you asked me as an ambitious seventeen-year-old entering college. Instead of giving up when things did not go as planned, I worked hard to overcome difficult circumstances.

I learned by example that hard work and motivation yield successful results. I watched my mother work three jobs to support our family after my parents divorced. My father moved to Indiana, and despite the distance, I tried to form a relationship with him. At the age of twelve, however, my desire to build a relationship came to a halt as I found myself staring blankly into the barrel of a gun with my father’s finger on the trigger. There is nothing more frightening than watching a person you love allow alcohol to destroy his ability to function as a parent or even as a rational person. Forming a relationship with him after this traumatizing experience took courage. I found myself looking past the fear and searching deeper for the underlying reasons. This incident helped me later understand the role of a lawyer, for whom it is crucial to see past easy impressions, to put aside emotion, and to represent a client to the best of one’s ability.

Although no one in my family ever progressed beyond a high school education, going to college was always something I knew I would do. Because I did not come from a family with means, I had to work a full-time job while in college. In spite of the challenge, I learned the importance of time management and responsibility. I appreciated my education and found the motivation and drive to continue mainly because I was paying for my own tuition. After seven hard years, I finally achieved my greatest accomplishment as I graduated in the May 2007 commencement ceremony from the University of South Florida. When I graduated from college I began working for a senior partner at a high profile law firm. During this time, I was able to attend family law proceedings, prepare pleadings, and be present during mediations. I knew at this time that family law was not the area of practice I would like to go in to, but the law profession definitely attracted me. For the past year, I have worked for an environmental consulting firm. Practitioners at our firm are hired frequently as expert witnesses. My job has given me the opportunity to assist in litigation preparation as well as extensive document research. This experience has allowed me to develop skills which are needed to support an expert witness at trial. Based on my experience, environmental law is an area of practice that I want to pursue.

In September of 2008 I converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This conversion was not accepted by my family as I was kicked out of the house and highly ridiculed. I continue to stand firm in my faith as I know the decision to become a member is correct. Through my membership in the church and calling as the activities co-chair, I had the opportunity to plan, coordinate and bring forth a state-wide conference of more than ten thousand people, which was held in August of 2009. I know that my positive influence and distinct background will bring diversity to the field.

My best performance has never been predicted in standardized tests. My most successful courses in college were those calling for insightful research, creativity, and analytical reasoning. I want to be a lawyer because I know that I offer the life experiences, aptitude, and respect for the legal profession that can make a positive contribution. I have proven that I have the drive, dedication, and motivation despite difficult circumstances, to achieve success in law school and in my law career.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Because of things over which we have no control, we cannot plan and bring to pass everything we desire in our lives. Many important things will occur in our lives that we have not planned, and not all of them will be welcome. Even our most righteous desires may elude us or come in different ways or at different times than we have sought to plan.

If we have faith in God and if we are committed to the fundamentals of keeping His commandments and putting Him first in our lives, we do not need to plan every single event—even every important event—and we should not feel rejected or depressed if some things—even some very important things—do not happen at the time we had planned or hoped or prayed.
Commit yourself to put the Lord first in your life, keep His commandments, and do what the Lord’s servants ask you to do. Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life. Then it does not matter whether you are called to be a bishop or a Relief Society president, whether you are married or single, or whether you die tomorrow. You do not know what will happen. Do your best on what is fundamental and personal and then trust in the Lord and His timing.

Life has some strange turns. I will share some personal experiences that illustrate this.

When I was a young man I thought I would serve a mission. I graduated from high school in June 1950. Thousands of miles away, one week after that high school graduation, a North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel, and our country was at war. I was 17 years old, but as a member of the Utah National Guard, I was soon under orders to prepare for mobilization and active service. Suddenly, for me and for many other young men of my generation, the full-time mission we had planned or hoped for was not to be.

Another example: After I served as president of Brigham Young University for nine years, I was released. A few months later the governor of the state of Utah appointed me to a 10-year term on the supreme court of the state. I was then 48 years old. My wife June and I tried to plan the rest of our lives. We wanted to serve the full-time mission neither of us had been privileged to serve. We planned that I would serve 20 years on the state supreme court. Then, at the end of two 10-year terms, when I would be nearly 69 years old, I would retire from the supreme court and we would submit our missionary papers and serve a mission as a couple.

I had my 69th birthday two years ago and was vividly reminded of that important plan. If things had gone as we planned, I would have submitted papers to serve a mission with my wife June.

Four years after we made that plan I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—something we never dreamed would happen. Realizing then that the Lord had different plans and different timing than we had assumed, I resigned as a justice of the supreme court. But this was not the end of the important differences. When I was 66, my wife June died of cancer. Two years later I married Kristen McMain, the eternal companion who now stands at my side.

How fundamentally different my life is than I had sought to plan! My professional life has changed. My personal life has changed. But the commitment I made to the Lord—to put Him first in my life and to be ready for whatever He would have me do—has carried me through these changes of eternal importance.
Faith and trust in the Lord give us the strength to accept and persist, whatever happens in our lives. I did not know why I received a “no” answer to my prayers for the recovery of my wife of many years, but the Lord gave me a witness that this was His will, and He gave me the strength to accept it. Two years after her death, I met the wonderful woman who is now my wife for eternity. And I know that this also was the will of the Lord.

I return to the subject with which I began. Do not rely on planning every event of your life—even every important event. Stand ready to accept the Lord’s planning and the agency of others in matters that inevitably affect you. Plan, of course, but fix your planning on personal commitments that will carry you through no matter what happens. Anchor your life to eternal principles, and act upon those principles whatever the circumstances and whatever the actions of others. Then you can await the Lord’s timing and be sure of the outcome in eternity.

The most important principle of timing is to take the long view. Mortality is just a small slice of eternity, but how we conduct ourselves here—what we become by our actions and desires, confirmed by our covenants and the ordinances administered to us by proper authority—will shape our destiny for all eternity. As the prophet Amulek taught, “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). That reality should help us take the long view—the timing of eternity.
I love this talk by Dallin H. Oaks. I think so often we try to plan everything for our lives down to the last detail. This however is what sets us up for failure. If we place the Lord first in everything we do then we will not need to worry if things don't go as we have planned, that just means the Lord has an even better plan for us... how can we possibly say our plan is better than our Heavenly Father's plan when he knows us more than we will ever know ourselves?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Testimony and Path to My Conversion

(I wrote this right before I was baptized on 9/13/08)

So this is my testimony, the road that led me to the plan of happiness. I am never sure where to start with a testimony. I really feel that every bit of it is pertinent to the final outcome, so I suppose I will just write. My parents divorced when I was 2-years-old. Dad moved to Indiana and mom stayed in California. We were never raised going to church on Sundays, yet rather going to church on holidays. My dad was never around, he was never involved and had problems with drinking. Mom worked two jobs trying to support us which left my brother and I home alone a lot. Not to discredit my mother by any means as she was an amazing mother and did everything she could for us. I suppose since home life wasn’t the best example I wanted to find out what I could do to change things. I don’t think I opened up a bible and read it until I was in high school. When I was 15 I decided to start going to bible studies and find out who God was. I made the decision to get baptized at the age of 16. I guess I thought this would make a change and I would now embark upon something new, but nothing really changed in my life and I blame myself for that, because I did not change anything.

I went to college when I was 17, I couldn’t find any church which I liked going to and slowly I saw myself shoving God on the shelf and completely forgetting about Him as I went about things on my own. That wasn’t very successful. I got married at 20 to King David Smith. His father had been a pastor and they were very involved in the church. We did premarital counseling and I really thought that he was my soul mate. After the wedding we moved to Georgia where he was from and things took a turn for the worse. He began gambling and drinking and never coming home. He came home one day and said that things weren’t perfect the way he had planned and he wanted a divorce. I wanted to talk, to do counseling, anything but divorce. I was taught that divorce was not an option, when you get married there are no doors or windows and God must be the center or it will never work. God was definitely not the center and King had emotionally checked out long ago from the marriage. His parents evicted me from the house I was living in, took me to court to fight the divorce and all of a sudden hated me. Come to find out King had met a girl on Myspace and they were in love. After 9 ½ months of an ugly divorce, it was over. I remember calling my pastor who had married us crying and he said, “Nicole, you’ve lost him, but God knew this was going to happen from the beginning. Use this situation to grow from, to focus on what went wrong and how you can improve things.” That is exactly what I did. The divorce was final on May 25, 2005, 6 days before our 2 year anniversary.

I didn’t want to be in Georgia so I packed my bags and moved to Florida to finish school. During the next 3 years God did work within me that I am so grateful for. I found a church that I loved and friends that were amazing. I was living the “lukewarm” Christian lifestyle however and I didn’t seem to find a problem with that. It didn’t hit me until I stopped going out to discipline myself as I studied for the Law School Admission Test. After the test was over I found it pointless to drink, after all I hadn’t done it in so long, why start up again, especially knowing that my whole family has addiction problems. I had also lost a lot of my so called friends during the time that I chose not to go out while I studied. Apparently I was only a friend when I wanted to hang out and party. I decided I would start hanging out with my church friends and if I had to sit inside every weekend playing scrabble, I was perfectly fine with that. Much to my dismay, the people within the church were no different than my friends outside the church. They were drinking and going out as well. The further and further I grew in my relationship with God I noticed the subtle changes and started to get annoyed with the lifestyle people lived.

I had been dating this guy David for about 10 months when his son who was 5 went into a coma. Things became pretty ugly and we had made a joint decision that I would quit my job and leave Florida to come and help support him through this time. However, as I quit my job and packed my bags, I received the devastating news that his son had passed away, 3 days before his 6th birthday. I tried to get my old job back but they had replaced my position. So here I was out on the job hunt again and not in a good time economically. As I sat in my condo with $200.00 to my name, 7 days to be out of my condo and no job I knew that only faith was going to pull me through my situation. I was on my knees every day praying. I knew that God was going to use this situation for something good in my life and I was willing and ready to go through the storm. Although the storm was long and hard, I had such an amazing peace, a peace that can only be provided by God. The girl who wanted my condo in July fell through so I still had a place to live and I started working for a girl under the table while I searched for a permanent job. Interview after interview I was unsuccessful and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I knew I was qualified, but was there something bigger I was supposed to be looking at. I knew from experience that when I had a question I needed answered, fasting and prayer was the way to get it done.

I fasted and prayed and prayed to figure out where God wanted me to be and how He wanted to use me. If someone would have asked me at that point in my life if God had control of my life I honestly would have responded yes, however I know now that I was still holding on to self. I had a conditional mindset, I would say that I wanted to be used by God but then if He would have asked me to move to Africa and do a mission; I knew I would say no. At any rate, the fast led me to believe that God wanted me to go home to California, that California was going to end up like Sodom and Gomorrah and I needed to go spread His word and I needed to start with my family. Although I wanted to, I thought to myself, how the heck will I get rid of EVERYTHING I own, that I have built up for 9 years. I mean I was really into my material stuff. Well, God sure got me over my material things. I was ok with this plan but in my mind I had a 6 month time frame to do this in, so I could save up money to move all my stuff home. God however had a different plan. He wanted me to get rid of everything I owned, all of my material possessions. I hesitated at first but I listed everything on Craigslist and within 6 hours I had a woman calling me. She was subletting a condo 5 units over from mine had just bought a house and needed to furnish it. She walked in to my condo and said, “What is for sale?” I replied, “Everything.” She said, “Name a price, I will take everything.” From my silverware to my wall art and all furniture, she took it all.

From the time I decided to move to the day I moved it was 2 weeks. When God wants to work, He works fast. Selling my possessions was just the start. Each day He worked on something else in me. I decided I never wanted to have a drink ever again, not even for a celebration, I never wanted to have sex or do anything outside of kissing with someone until I was married and most importantly that I wanted to be modest. I gave away all my immodest clothing and got rid of anything that reminded me of how I used to live. I figured that this was God’s way of preparing me for coming back home to California so that I could set a good example to others. I had left when I was 17 and therefore I had no image to live up to when I came back. I was living the Word of Wisdom and didn’t even know it.

So I moved- hit the road, man Satan didn't want me out here, I got stuck in the middle of nowhere in TX, Fort Stockton, 280 miles outside of El Paso and basically nothing near but a small town. My car overheated, I had no cell service and I was freaked. I prayed. A tow truck driver came along, by the grace of God. He had actually passed me but had felt he should turn back to help me since he was the only tow truck driver in 100 miles and was going to drive another person gas. He drove me into town- this man worked on my car for 2 days, basically he kept thinking he fixed it, I would get on the road go 20 miles and it was do it again- this happened 5 times in the course of 2 days. These super nice people who owned the fuel pump store next to the auto mechanic, let me keep my cats in their shop, Lowry Irwin and Lowry Irwin Jr., father and son. At any rate, when the man couldn't fix my car I was at a loss. A big wig for the fuel supply store was in town- he offered to take me the 80 miles to the next city where I could get a Uhaul- I got a Uhaul and brought it back to hook up my car and then finally got to CA.

When I got here I hung out with Trevor and we watched a movie. The next day he invited me to come to his church on Sunday, well more like told me that I was going to be there. I went- honestly had no idea I would become Mormon- I mean I was open to the thought, because I was already living the word of wisdom and I wanted to be with someone who felt the same way, which if you aren't Mormon, is hard to find. Of course the missionaries stopped me and we agreed to meet. I met them on Wed. August 28. Elder Beynon and Elder Henry were amazing men of God. It didn’t click until a later time and I am not even sure if this is a thought of my own, but Elder Beynon’s name is Matthew Lowry Beynon. Lowry is not a common name and when I heard his name I immediately thought of those men in Texas who had helped me. That night and for 3 consecutive nights, I had Mormon dreams. I had no clue what they meant, but I knew they were happy thoughts. I didn't find out what they were until I was reading Nephi and he talked about how he received visions in the night and all the sudden it clicked, I remembered my dream, it was me laughing and being at peace in the presence of Mormons. I still tried to read the Book of Mormon with reservation and somewhat trying to prove it wrong, but suddenly my view changed and I was reading it through the spirit. I found that the Book of Mormon was challenging me to know more about the Bible and it was not hindering but massively growing my relationship with God.

Anyway- I was pretty sure that was the direction I was supposed to go in I was reading hardcore and at this point had read Mosiah, Moroni, 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Alma, Ether, I mean I was on a role and I didn't want to stop. I was growing so much in God and I knew that there was only one explanation and that it had to be true. I prayed and fasted at any rate and it was confirmed. That next Sunday, my mom wanted me to go to church with her before I went to the Ward. I didn't want to but I did. For the first time ever when I was in church I had this gut feeling, I didn't feel right- things were off. I was bothered about the way people dressed in flip flops and cut off shorts. Things that had never impacted me before were making me question why I wasn’t LDS. He started talking about baptism and I suddenly flipped to Hebrew 7:11 on my own, which is about the Aaronic priesthood. I then found myself thinking, it isn't LDS that is something new, it is that modern Christianity has taken away the things they wanted and forgot soooo much of how we should be.
I made up my mind at that point, and I was excited. I met with the missionaries and they said, we would like to challenge you to be baptized on September 13. I looked at him and I was like, that's my birthday, I mean when he said that it was sooo awesome! I had joked 3 days prior with Lindsey Prows when she asked me what I was doing for my birthday and I said, "I should become Mormon" I mean heck, now I actually was. I told the missionaries that the only way I would do it was if I felt no reservations.

I knew that accusations and trials were going to start when I made this decision but I knew that everything which came my way would be worth the joy and happiness I would have in God. At first she had no problem with the Mormon church or Mormon friends but when I had made the decision to join, her opinion changed. She came home one night with about 2 inches of internet printed documents about how horrible the Mormon church was and man I started questioning my decision. I had to take a minute to pause and look at the source. I was speaking to her calm and through my knowledge of prayer and fasting while she was cussing at me, which I knew was not of God. She wouldn’t stop with the accusations and urged me to sit down and speak to a pastor about my decision. Oddly enough through everything I found myself at constant peace. I would call Elder Beynon and Trevor and my friend Weston for reassurance and finally that night Elder Beynon said, “Nicole we were talking about it today and we realized that no power on earth or hell is going to stop you from being baptized.”

Not having a job right now has given me the opportunity to spend so much time in the word and studying and learning the way I should be living and how He will use me for His will. I love the Bishop and just everyone there and I just keep saying, why didn't I do this sooner, but I realized last night while watching Emma Smith the movie, that revelation comes when we are READY to ask. I don't think I was ready before this. I think I finally got to the point where I gave 100% of me to God- that step of selling everything and just saying God I am yours to do with me as you please, it was then that I realized that there was something more out there that I needed, and that something more was the Book of Mormon.

I am sooo incredibly excited I can't even express it. When I listened to Jeffrey R. Holland give his talk the other night I just got chills, I mean I could just feel the spirit when he talks and I just know everything is true and I just want everyone to feel this joy and happiness. I am more than grateful for the missionaries, they are not just people who entered my life by chance but they are friends I will never forget and will always value and appreciate what they did for me.

I didn't have any money but I wanted to make them something because I was soo grateful. Meet Elder Matthew Lowry Beynon

Elder Rigel Henry

Day of Baptism

After Baptism

The first Mormon I proposed to when I was 5

And last but not least my friend that brought me to church

My world... my thoughts

I can't apologize if you don't like what you read I can only apologize that you stumbled on my page.