Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You Are Loved.

It is a mystery why we fall in love. It is a mystery how it happens. It is a mystery when it comes. It is a mystery why some loves grow, and it is a mystery why some loves fail. You can analyze this mystery and look for reasons and causes, but you will never do any more than take the life out of the experience.

Love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and commonalities that two people share. And just as life itself is a gift that comes and goes in its time, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways.

You need to treat what love brings you with kindness. If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn’t choose to rest in the other person’s heart.

If you find someone else in love with you toward whom you feel no love, feel honored that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage; do not cause pain. How you deal with love is how love will deal with you, and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are very different.

If you fall in love with another who falls in love with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and there is a meaning. You will know it in time, but time itself will choose the moment.

Remember this and keep it in your heart. You don’t choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it to you. Give it to others who seem poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in any way you can.

Love has its own time, its own season, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it or reason it into staying. If it chooses to leave your heart or the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and nothing you should do. Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life. If you keep your heart open, it will surely come again.

- Kent Nerbern

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heavy Heart.

I write this post with a heavy heart but know that it is only temporary. Let me take you back to this weekend. I had a Catholic baptism that I shot for my friend on Saturday and afterwards headed home to Orange County. Mom had mentioned she had this prayer box that she made right next to her bed and that if I had any prayer requests, I should put them in there. On Sunday morning I was getting ready for church while she was already at her church and just felt the urge to open the box and read her prayers that were already in there. It wasn't with surprise that I read her prayer request, in fact, I knew that would be just what was in there. Nonetheless, it was sad to actually read it. I suppose sometimes you wish that your expectations or assumptions would be wrong. Enclosed was a note that read the following:


I contemplated how I would address this, what I would say, would I not say anything at all? It weighed heavy on my heart however to say something, to address it with an honest heart and with love. I asked my friend Cait, what I should say, that I was having a hard time putting everything to words and she said, just be honest. That was great advice and I was able to write a very beautiful letter that expressed how I felt and what the church means to me:

I have been thinking a lot lately about things you have said and things that you feel regarding me and my choice to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I want you to know that I am writing this email with love and it is not my intent to upset you or make you mad. I know that it bothers you, weighs heavy on your heart, but you have never told me why you feel the way that you do. You have mentioned that you feel that I have been brainwashed but I my question again is what would make you think that or give you that impression? I am not trying to be rude or condescending, I honestly want to know if you feel I have changed as a person or as your daughter? Do I act different towards you? I ask these questions because something is making you feel so strongly against me and my decision and if it is based on real evidence and knowledge of how I am acting or treating you, I want to know. If it based on something you have read or seen against the church, then I want to tell you that it's not fair to believe those things if you have witnessed for yourself that I am a good person, that I treat my family with love and respect and that although you may not understand the church, that from the times you have been there, you have seen and heard us sing about and talk about the Savior. It makes me sad because from the beginning you have told me that I was going to push you away or that I would find a new family within the church, because you have read things that pertain to that, but I honestly feel that because you have that mindset, you are the one that pushes me away because you are expecting me to be like all of the things you have read. I don't want another family, I love you and everyone else in my family.

You have said before that we have different Gods, that couldn't be further from the truth. I believe in the same true and living God that created this earth, that sent his only begotten son to establish a church, call 12 apostles, walk amongst us, and die for our sins. Mormonism may be foreign to you and I completely respect that. You may not believe that there is a current prophet on the earth today, or believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but even so, even if what I believed was wrong, that prophet on the earth today only testifies of Heavenly Father. He doesn't tell us to do crazy religious ceremonies or worship other beings. I guess my request is that you respect my choice to be a member of this church as I respect and love you for not being one. I love you more than anything and I know that you want my best interest but I promise you, no one is brainwashing me, these are my true feelings and although I can tell you until I am blue in the face, why I believe the things I believe, I can only lead by example. I remember writing you a letter the day I was baptized with that same message, that I could tell you, but you would have to see to know. I don't feel that any of your assumptions about the church or about how I am going to act or not act are true. We can both argue back and forth about it but we really have to look at what we know from experience, not what another person tells us to believe. I am not sure what you have read or saw, but I do know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that my Savior died for my sins and that I live each day as a witness of his love. My decision to go through the temple recently was of my own choice, no one coerced or made me do that. Contrary to whatever anyone has said, the temple is about the Savior, about Adam and Eve, there is nothing inside the temple about Joseph Smith, I do not worship Joseph Smith, I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I do respect and honor Joseph Smith as a prophet for what he has done, but I do not worship him.

Yes, temple work is about doing work for those that have passed, but how awesome is that? No one is forced to believe or accept the Savior but we know that to enter heaven we must be baptized by the correct authority through immersion. People on this earth that die without having the opportunity to accept the gospel or know Jesus Christ should not and are not lost causes. We don't just die and that is that. In heaven we continue to learn and grow. If baptism by immersion is required in order to enter heaven, how can a dead person be baptized without a body? That is what temple work is about, we do the work for those on the other side. Sure that may seem odd or different but that doesn't mean we are a cult or doing anything wrong. We spend numerous hours, dedicating time to help others.

You may not know this but for a while, after I joined the church, I struggled with things. I guess I thought being obedient, reading, praying, obeying the commandments, meant I would have all these great blessings, I would get married and have kids and when that didn't happen, I was sad. I tend to forget that things happen on God's terms and just because they don't happen when we want, doesn't mean we stop following or obeying our Heavenly Father. Well, I stopped reading my scriptures, which is the same bible that you read, you can look at my scriptures and compare them to yours. Yes, Joseph Smith has interpretations of scriptures but they are not within the actual text, they are in another place in the back of the scriptures. I stopped praying and I was in a really sad state, and was not doing things I should have been doing. It took stumbling for me to realize how confident I am about my membership in the church and how grateful I am for the fullness of the gospel. I forgot my worth as a daughter of God and tried to fix my unhappiness with instant gratification. That may not make sense to you but it's all within the bible how we are expected to live our lives. Sadly, most everyone chooses to only take bits and pieces of scripture that they want to apply to their life and obey and disregard everything else. It may seem weird, or abnormal, but that is not the life I want to live.

I am sorry that you feel so strongly against the church. I know you have claimed there is no evidence but I am not sure what type of evidence you are searching for. Every time that I ask you to tell me what you disapprove of or why you are against the church, I don't feel like there is ever a straight answer. I am not mad or upset, I just want to know why you feel the way you do and there may not be an answer to that. I do respect you and know that you love me but I ask the same from you. I am still your daughter, I am still Nicole Priest. Sure, I have grown spiritually and my understanding of my Heavenly Father and Savior has grown, but what is the harm in that? You know me, you know I am a strong person, you know I wouldn't just do something or be someone that I do not fully believe in. I obey the commandments, I read the scriptures, I pray to my Heavenly Father, the same Heavenly Father that you pray to, this is something you really need to understand. You can believe the things that you read, I can't force you otherwise, but I really do ask that you just take a moment and ponder me and who I am and what I am telling you I believe. I would have no reason to lie or tell you something that wasn't true.

I love you and I hope you see and understand that and don't take this email to be rude or mean or me trying to impose my beliefs on you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Endowed :)

Saturday was my BIG day, that I was honored and grateful to receive my endowments and go through the temple.  I felt like it was my wedding day, a day that I had planned for quite some time and then finally it was here.  I picked up Cait on Friday night from LAX and we stopped by a party and then headed home for our exciting Saturday.  We decided we were going to have an awesome breakfast so we walked to this amazing little spot called Square One.
Yummy french toast! Second to Sara Beth's in New York.  The interesting part of breakfast was that the patio stares right at the Scientology building.  We were able to have some fun people watching time and get to know, what we felt, a great deal about their wardrobe and religion.  Not going to lie, it was quite odd.  We walked back to the house, went thrift store shopping, bought some cute dresses, headed back home and got ready for the temple.  Halfway through getting ready I looked at Cait and asked her what time it was, she responded, "Time to go." I grabbed my makeup bag, shoes, and purse and we left only to arrive at the temple at exactly 12:00.  I realized I didn't have my camera so Cait, the doll that she is, went home and grabbed it for me while I headed inside to meet Sister Beckstead, my favorite and honored escort.  I don't think I ever stopped smiling from entering the temple to leaving that night. It was a very emotional (happy emotional) day for me. Brother Castleton said to me at the end, "There is nothing greater than how big your smile is right now." I am not going to talk about what happened in the temple because it is sacred and personal but I can tell you that the feelings I felt within those walls were so peaceful.  I could feel the immense love of my Heavenly Father and although it will take a lifetime to understand, things began to click. I couldn't have been more blessed with the people that were there to support me.

  • From my childhood (grew up on the same street as me) Brother and Sister Castleton. 
  • From Junior High (but I don't remember him then) Jason Ohlwiler
  • From 2008 when I first joined the church in Mission Viejo, my first bishop and his amazing wife who was my escort; the Beckstead's
  • From Washington, my best friend Cait Hennessey
  • From my days in Anaheim, my roommate Shawn Gleason and her boyfriend!
  • From my current ward; Bishop Tomas
  • ... and my new found good girlfriends in the ward, Karen Sorenson and Caitlin Fitzgibbons.
Although this was my first time, I do know from what others said, my session was very packed! Brother Castleton said, "When it comes to Nicole, she always does it up big!" I did not know the majority of people in that amazing building, but the ones that were there for me, I will cherish and always remember. Now, you can pretend you were there through my pictures!

The Castleton's

Sister Beckstead (I love this picture)

The Beckstead's

Bishop, Me, Sister Beckstead, Cait, and Jason

Karen and Caitlin

My message from Heavenly Father

Celebration at BJs

The new and improved Nicole :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I rarely talk to my dad, horrible I know.  My dad is not one of many words.  In fact, there have been times where I have flown to see him and he just sits there and doesn't know what to do with me.  I love him more than anything, I just don't think he knows how to bond with a girl.  We seem to send text messages every few weeks to say hello and tell each other that we are thinking of one another and make sure everything is ok.  When we do talk on the phone it doesn't last for long... that is of course until tonight. Dad sent me a text about buying a Rosetta stone to learn French.  He thought he would share that with his "world traveler." I started to ask him some questions and like we all should do, he decided to pick up the phone and call rather than have a full blown conversation in text!

It was really nice to have that conversation with my dad, makes me kick myself for not picking the phone up more often.  We tend to be so busy with our lives that it's always a rushed conversation when it happens, not tonight! I learned a lot about my daddy in that 30 minute phone call and he ended with some amazing input telling me that I am not like him of all his kids.  That my brother may look the most like him but that I am fearless and will do anything, that he noticed that about me and that he wanted me to know that. I take that as a compliment.  I love being like my dad.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

But I Want it Now.

Patience has never been a virtue of mine and it is one that I refuse to pray for because I know how Heavenly Father works :)  In all reality however, I am slightly good at waiting and being patient but for now, I can't wait for Saturday and I would say that it is a wonderful thing to be impatient about! I am getting endowed on Saturday.  For those of you in the Blogger world or friends that may not know what this means, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints there are certain ordinances that take place in the temples.  Some of these ordinances include, marriages, baptisms for the dead (as mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:29, washings and anointings (mentioned in the book of Exodus) and the Endowment.  The endowment is an ordinance in which member of the Church are taught about the gospel and make covenants to live more righteous lives.  As we are endowed, we also receive garments, a constant reminder of the covenants that you have made in the temple. I am seriously sooo stoked to go through the temple on Saturday! If that wasn't exciting enough, my best friend in the entire world, Cait, is flying in from Washington to be there for me.

Now that you have that background, I received a call last night from the Stake President's secretary asking if I would give the opening prayer in the chapel within the temple next Thursday, February 16. I feel so honored that they would ask me this.  I am seriously overwhelmed with gratitude for the many blessings of the temple and everything that surrounds it. As I see so many people struggling in the world, it makes me hurt that they either don't have the opportunity to, or reject, the great blessings of the fullness of the gospel. So many people tend to think that Church Members (aka Mormons) are weird, or odd, they can't do this, they can't do that, but really it's not about can's and cant's, it's about obedience and how much we desire to be happy.  Our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with so much, it's like a giant gift just sitting there waiting to be unwrapped, all we have to do is walk over and receive it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pick up your feet!

My work caters lunch every day so on my lunch break, there is no need to actually eat.  Four out of five days in the week, I walk over to the mall to people watch, look at clothes, and get some fresh air.  I walked into H&M to view some things when all the sudden I hear feet, dragging, constantly. I look at this girl and say, "Pick up your fee."  You may think I am kidding, I am not.  She continues.  I couldn't even concentrate or think about the clothes that were right in front of me because she was being so obnoxious.  Who is that lazy that they can't pick up their feet when they walk?! She was so annoying that I actually put the shirt I had in hand down and left the store.

I made my way around the different stores depressed to see there is absolutely NO fashion right now.  We are in that awkward time of year, getting rid of winter clothes and bringing on the joys of summer but what I don't get is why everything has to look the same. Every shirt, every dress, nothing is original anymore.  I decided to live on the edge and venture in to Bloomingdale's, a store I have never been in before because I don't think it's smart to spend more than $50.00 on a shirt. Everything in there, just as ugly as all the other cheaper stores only $300.00. 

I decided to head back to work, a shopping trip has never been so depressing, not even anything I would put on a wishlist.  So depressed I walked right in to Yogurtland, where their menu always has something in style and just right. 

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.