Sunday, November 30, 2014

{INSPIRING WOMEN} Staci Anderson

This is the story of one of my best friends. She IS the definition of inspiring. We have been through a lot together, from crazy college days to broken relationships. I could not love this girl more and I can honestly say I don't know where I would be without her. She is absolutely amazing and deserves the most wonderful life. I hope you all read her story with an open heart and learn from her trials. She didn't let things drag her down, instead she rose up from her trials and became the woman she is today.
Meet Staci...

Hello! My name is Staci and I am ordinary. If there is any strength, beauty or love in my life it comes from The Church of Jesus of Latter Day Saints and today I would like to share my testimony of trials with you.

Growing up I knew very little, if not nothing about religion.

July 2004 I was fourteen years old and it was the summer before my freshmen year of high school. My dad had become ill and had been kind of in a funk for a few months. We thought it was just part of growing older and he seemed like he had the flu. Well, one day my sisters and I decided to go to the movies and my mom went over to help my grandma to do some housework. My dad stayed at home to rest.

When we came home my sisters and I went to our rooms as normal teenage girls might do and my mom stayed upstairs to check on our dad. Moments later we heard my mom scream. This scream/cry was the sound of pure pain and terror. My sisters and I ran upstairs and we met my mother in the kitchen. She was in total and complete shock. She kept saying things like, ‘He can’t be dead.’ And ‘you can’t leave me like this.’ while calling my brother. My sisters and I kept pleading with her to call 911 but because of the shock she had no idea we were there. I felt so helpless and confused. We finally got 911 on the phone and I followed my mother to her bedroom where my father was. I paused in the hallway before entering the room. I didn’t want to go in there. I didn’t want to see my father lifeless but I would go if I were needed. I cried out ‘mom do you need me. Mom how can I help.’ She was still so in shock my words were lost in the chaos. At this point I turned around and there was my little sister. Standing there watching me looking so afraid and at me for comfort. The feeling came over me to pray. At this point in my life I had a small seed of the power of prayer (we don’t have time for that back story). But I thought if there is a God we would need him now. I grabbed my little sister ‘come on Chanel, we are going to pray.’ We walked into the laundry room where I closed the door and we knelt down to pray. The prayer went something like this…

“God, please don’t let our father be dead.” At this point we didn’t know that he was dead. I had hoped that maybe he had choked or was in a coma, anything but dead. But as soon as the words left my mouth I just knew he was. There was no longer a question or doubt. My prayer then changed too “God, please don’t let this destroy my family, please let us be closer as a family.” The words were broken but I sincerely sought help from a higher power. As the words left my mouth I felt something I had never felt before. The room became peaceful and calm and I felt the love of a father in heaven. It was so strong and powerful. This was not an earthly fathers love and it was not a God that was unaware of his children. This was a God, a Father that knew me by name and was aware of excruciating pain and loss I was about to experience in life. That prayer that was easily two minutes long froze time in my life and would forever change it.

Fast forward to this year. This year has been one of the most challenging and heart breaking years of my life. This September I filed for divorce. I don’t want to go into much detail about this part of my life but it easily shattered my heart and flipped my life upside down. I was easily the definition of a ‘hot mess.’ I cried on my way to work, then I would hold it together during the day, and as soon as I would get in my car I would cry the whole forty-five minute drive home. I was extremely sad, but I don’t remember feeling angry. Through my grieving process I remember thinking, ‘I should be more upset. I should be angry and bitter.’ Mostly I was sad that Satan had won the battle, that he had successfully destroyed my eternal marriage. But, at times my heart was strangely full of gratitude, peace and comfort. I was so thankful for a job that I find so fulfilling, family and friends that were there to pick me up when I fell, and the fact that we didn’t have any kids.

I remember one day leaving the temple overwhelmed with emotion thinking, ‘Heavenly Father, I don’t deserve the love and peace you have brought my heart. I don’t deserve you carrying me through this pain. How can I ever thank you? How will I ever repay you?’ I received my answer in a one word thought, ‘obedience.’ I am thankful for that experience. It has changed how I view going to church, how I talk to people, and how I read my scriptures. It is no longer a chore to make it on time to nine o’clock church, it is now a way I can show Heavenly Father how thankful I am for Him.

My friends, trials will come and they will go, and I know if it wasn’t for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I would be angry, bitter, alone and sad. God does not give us trials we cannot not overcome. If you are going through a trial in your life do not give up hope. Find strength in God because he is aware of you and loves you.

“Out of the refiner’s fire can come a glorious deliverance. It can be a noble and lasting rebirth. The price to become acquainted with God will have been paid. There can come a sacred peace. There will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources. A comfortable cloak of righteousness will be drawn around us to protect us and to keep us warm spiritually. Self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted.” –James E. Faust

This is her "model" pose ;)

Staci, Thank you so much for being so willing to share you story on my blog. I know you have helped so many people who just might be in the same situation you are. You have taught me so much about trials, the gospel, our Heavenly Father, love, and friendship. Love you little bear :)