Sunday, January 11, 2009

The TALK


Nick and I were asked to speak in Church today of Conversion.
When I think about that it would be 10 days long. How do I condense that into 15 minutes??? Pretty difficult for me. It is so precious to me , and there is so much too it! I didn't want to leave things out, but I didn't want to run so long either. There is so much to say but I went with about a tenth of it! Maybe just an outline without all the details!
I WAS nervous, but I was very glad to be able to share it too! I thought it went well. I hardly cried at all! That is HUGE for me.
Nick's talk was really great. Even though he was raised in the Church, he has a really great story, I left him with only about ten minutes! I am sorry babe. He hit points that were unforgettable I must say!
For all of you who were wanting more of the story. Here was my talk from today...

We Are Nick and Natalie Sorensen,
We are so excited about being in this wonderful ward with all of you great people. We cannot wait to get to know you all better.
As for now, Here is OUR STORY in the briefest way possible…

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Natalie. She was a spunky blonde with big brown eyes and a zest for life. She lived with her family in Lubbock, Texas and had one brother, Matt. At twelve, Natalie could never have known the plans that fate had in store for her, nor could she have known that Matt’s best friend Adam would be a stepping stone to the path that would lead her to eternal happiness. Adam's Dad and Stepmom lived in Kansas.

Soon, Natalie would first lay eyes on Nick.

Nick grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had just graduated from High School and had decided to go play baseball in Liberal, Kansas. He happened to know a family that lived there, and became fast friends with them, staying in their home. They had 3 kids, one of them named Adam.

Adam’s dad took Nick with him on a trip to Lubbock. He met a twelve-year-old girl whose name was Natalie--she thought Nick was amazing… and the crush started there, but she was young, and time flew by as she had fun with friends.

Nick visited again, 2 years later. Natalie thought he was the cutest boy she had ever seen, and he made her laugh. Someday, I am going to marry a boy just like Nick… she thought.

Years passed, and Nick visited Lubbock again. This time Natalie was 18.

They became great friends, and were very comfortable with each other. He was a lot older, but the chemistry was there. Natalie played it cool, but whom was she kidding? She was head over heels!

But life was too busy for them both. Nick’s career took him to Florida, while Natalie started her career in hair.

Three years passed… and thanks to Natalie’s mom (and a little help from the Man upstairs), the two were brought together again.

This time… they saw each other differently. This time, their hearts were open to each other. But it wasn’t easy. Nick was living in Utah, and Natalie had opened her own salon in Lubbock.

But miles didn’t matter. Not anymore. They just made it work, traveling to see each other, and having a blast doing it.

They both spent a lot of time at the airport. But on May 16th, the Dallas airport would become special. Natalie flew in, fully expecting to see her friend pick her up to take her home.

What she saw was Nick… dressed in her favorite blue shirt. Her eyes filled with tears as he bent down on one knee and asked for her to be his eternal companion.

Our wedding celebration took place on September 30, 2008 in Cancun Mexico.

As for me, my journey into the church came by way of Nick being a part of my life. As he was careful not to push upon me his beliefs, I was eager to know how he was raised, and what he believed. I thought there has to be something to this. He is the most amazing guy I have known. He kept very high standards, while enjoying America’s favorite past time. I didn’t know anyone like him. It really struck me.

The first time I was in Salt Lake after we began dating, we went to an ice cream shop. As we were walking back out to the car, a missionary stopped us. He said, “Are you guys members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?” Nick quickly spoke up, “Yes, I am, and she is just here visiting me.” He responded kindly “Well, I hope you enjoy your visit here, I will leave you with these. Good Night.” I immediately got in the car and started laughing. We had driven all around in the valley earlier that day, and I had seen an LDS church about every couple of blocks it seemed like. I was humored by the fact that they would actually send out missionaries, it seemed everyone was a member or there wouldn’t be so many churches! Nick responded, “Yea they have missionaries all over. “

As soon as I was not around Nick the next day, I pulled those 3 pamphlets he gave me out of my purse. I could not wait to begin reading them. I read them about three times each. I agreed with some of the statements, having grown up Southern Baptist. Although some thoughts like Apostasy, had me more puzzled. I had a close relationship with my Heavenly Father, and I knew Jesus Christ was my savior without a doubt. I had been raised to CHOOSE THE RIGHT, but we had used the acronym WWJD for What Would Jesus Do? I remember thinking that in my head many times in making a decision. After sitting there and thinking about all that I read I thought to myself when Nick gets back I am going to ask him some of these questions, and see if he believes this Plan of Salvation like I read about. As he arrived I began bombarding him with questions. To my surprise he answered them direct and brief very much in line with what I had read.

As I returned home from my trip I began my own studies. I bought a few books. Some written my members of the Church, and some were not. I would read parts of them daily. When Nick and I would talk at night, we would usually spend 15 to 30 minutes daily discussing beliefs and scriptures. This really was a learning time for both of us to really search within, and ask ourselves what we exactly thought as an individual.

Many things such as a lay clergy, weekly partaking of the bread, and family nights of study together made my heart swell. I felt immediate peace that those were great things that Christ would want us to do and be a part of.

But at the same time there were many things I really had a hard time making logic. At this point in my life I was only seeking knowledge, not praying and seeking the Lord to show me truths. I would be online for hours at night reading scripture after scripture going back and fourth on different issues being left with frustrations and no answers. It was not making sense. One day I would see it one way, and then I would read another passage that would lead me to believe it in a different way.

I had been tossing around the idea of attending a meeting here in Lubbock. I had got online a couple of times to see where and when I would go. Each week I would be looking forward to it, until Sunday would come, and I would change my mind. Finally I bit the bullet. I attended the fourth Ward November 5, 2007. It was the first Sunday of the month, so of course it was a fast and testimony meeting. As I walked in I saw 5 or 6 people who were clients of mine, and of course welcomed me with open arms. I was still a little nervous, but I was glad that I was there. I “WAS” (past tense) not one to easily cry in public. As for this day prove different. As much as I could try holding it back, I could not. I didn’t even really know why I was crying but I was. I attended a few more Sundays with these same feelings before I met the missionaries. I was feeling the Spirit strongly. I didn’t think that everyone’s beliefs were wrong by any means. I had met some amazing people, and I knew they had a savoir in their lives. I felt they were Christians whether I completely agreed or not.

They came into the salon for haircuts complementary of someone!!! I set up a time I could talk to them, because I wanted to know some facts. Nick was careful not to bring it up too much, or when I would which was a lot, he would answer briefly. He would occasionally follow with if you want to talk about this with someone the missionaries would be great. They are teaching about this all day long everyday and would probably be able to answer all your questions. I had a spiral that I would write them down everyday, and Nick would sometimes have to call his Dad or Brother and get me an answer.

I met up with them at the church building, because my brother was living with me at the time and would have thought I was nuts when he came home to them in my living room. The meeting lasted almost three hours, and it ended because they had to be somewhere for dinner. I had all my questions ready. I had prayed on the way over for the first time. Lord, help, me to have an open heart. I want you to be able to teach me what you would want me to learn. Help me to have discernment and be able to recognize if something is not in alignment with your word or plan for my life. He answered my prayer in a big way. They presented the Plan of Salvation, and it made sense to me. It really seemed to be complete. It answered a lot of my questions. I had peace in my heart. In my mind I was freaking out, because I got an answer I did not ever think I would get.

We met again the next week and the questioning began all over again. I had a whole week to read, search for a glitch, or a tough subject that would stump them. Question after question was answered in a wise manner. I would leave each meeting with a huge smile on my face. I know I wore them out, but I know they loved it. They knew they were teaching, as Christ would have. Never giving up one bit. We continued meeting every week for several months. We would talk for hours. I really looked foreword to it although out the week.

I was to the point that I would answer my own questions. I knew the truth. It all came down to this simple question. Was Joseph Smith truly a prophet of God? I wanted him to be, so that all that I feeling would be valid. But, I also wanted the answer to be no, so I would not have to face my friends, family, and peers that I believed he was. I knew that it would be the hardest thing I have faced in my life. I wanted it to be easy, and I knew it wasn’t going to be.

I had begun reading the Book of Mormon in its entirety. I was reading three hours a day some days. I woke up early to read, and would fall asleep reading. I truly couldn’t put it down. I prayed I would truly recognize in my heart whether or whether not it was indeed GOD’S Word. I had the spirit with me so strongly during that time. I was very joyful through challenges in my life that I would not have normally felt that way. I could feel a change in my heart. I felt I was able to feel even closer to my Heavenly Father had I ever had before. I was following him. It felt so wonderful.

As I came close to the end…
I knew without any doubts that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. That he was chosen by God to restore the one and only TRUE Church to this earth. He was inspired to do the things he did in establishing the early church, and publishing The Book of Mormon. I know that the Priesthood was restored to the earth through his prophet to perform ordinances, which can cleanse your soul and bind this on earth and heaven. I know that God’s plan for our Salvation includes us knowing him before we were born to this earth, and that we are to follow him and serve him until the day that we will return to be with him again. I had been revealed the truth it it’s entirely, and could not deny it being a part of my life. I wanted to continue to walk with my Lord and Savior as the center of my Life. I knew what he was leading me to make a choice that was hard for me on earth, but the blessings in Heaven are abundant. I knew I was to surrender MY pride in this life, caring about what others thought of me, and to be baptized with the proper authority into the Church established by Christ himself. Although I thought about many times what was ahead of me, I stood strong in the knowledge that I had was true and I was being obedient to my heavenly father. Not everyone around me was able to feel that same way I did. It was very hard. I wanted to be able to share all of that with them, but some ears aren’t willing to hear. Some people’s hearts will be hardened. I feel that you pray and ask for the strength you need for God to help you through. I would remind myself of Christ’s life. Was it easy for him, did he have everyone on his side, did everyone cheer on the work of the lord he was doing. Not at all!!! His life was full of being mock, spat, on, and beaten for what he knew was true. I knew nothing that I was going to go through would come even close to what he had experienced. I knew I could tell people the testimony I had in my heart, and stand firm upon that and not waiver. As I look back on the hardest decision I have ever made in my life to this day so far. I have much joy in knowing that I was able to follow a command from my Lord, that at many times I never thought that I could have ever done. I have received an unconceivable amount of blessings in so many different aspects of life. I have joy that only comes from the Lord.

These Scriptures I love…
"If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33)
The Apostle Paul taught that "faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1)
" Then we will feel that the word is good, for it will begin to enlarge our souls and enlighten our understanding. This will strengthen our faith. As we continually nurture the word in our hearts, "with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life." (See Alma 32:26–43.)

Nick’s father baptized me on April 18, 2008. I was able to receive the Holy Ghost and be confirmed as member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on April 19, 2008. It was an amazing time in my life. The whole experience was one I feel very privileged to have received. The Lord is merciful, and will wait on you till you are ready. Then he will pour out so many blessings into your life for being obedient to him. I am thankful for all of those who prayed for me, talked with me, and taught me. I am also incredibly thankful for one of my greatest friends and everything that she did for me and is still doing, Sister Jessica Swensen. I have so much more to learn, and I look forward anxiously toward gaining that knowledge to share with others.
I know that the Savior taught us on earth this truth that applied to my life and all of yours:
“Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. “
3 Nephi 18:20
I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

6 comments:

LOOK WHO'S MARRIED!!!!! said...

Great talk Natalie. I had no idea of your conversion story. Thank you for sharing it with me. We have a similarity. Despite being born a member of the church, I spent a few years being inactive and actually contemplating my membership. It was my husband who facilitated my journey back. Porter has the same patience as Nick. He wouldn't press issues, but he would spend hours answering my questions. I finally got to a point where I could also answer my own and stand on my own two feet.
How lucky we are to have Porter and Nick in our lives.

So, is Nick a baseball player? How cute that you met when he was 12. It was truely meant to be!

Sherine said...

there's nothing more powerful to me than someone's conversion. Thanks for sharing:)

*Haley said...

wow!! what an awesome story. you make me want to be a better person!!!

thanks

The Ashdowns said...

I really enjoyed your talk, Natalie. I had no idea your conversion was so awesome. I'm very grateful that I'm getting to know you better.

Derek, Jill, and Boys said...

Thanks for sharing. Being a member my whole life I love to hear people's conversion story. I am so glad that you and Nick were able to find each other. We have just always wanted him to be happy and I think he finally found exactally what he was looking for and needed in his life. Can't wait to meet you! You sound wonderful!

Ryan and Katie said...

Holy cow....what an amazing story!!! Thanks for sharing!!! Tell Nick to call us the next time you guys are in Utah. We would LOVE to finally meet you!!!

Katie