Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Runaway Bride is a 1999 film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Maggie (Julia Roberts) has left so many prospective husbands at the altar that she has gained notoriety as "the Runaway Bride," and a reporter, Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is assigned to write a story about her. He tracks her down to a small town in Maryland where she's spending time with her family and preparing to give marriage another try. However, the more time she spends with Ike, the more second thoughts she has about her fiancé Bob.

In the midst of the wedding rehearsal, Bob tries to help Maggie deal with her wedding anxieties by walking her down the aisle with Ike standing in as the groom. After Bob gets her to the altar, Ike and Maggie share a passionate kiss and admit their feelings for one another, to Bob's chagrin. As a result, he punches Ike in the face before storming out of the church. Soon after, Ike proposes that he and Maggie get married since the wedding is already set to take place. But on the day of the wedding, Maggie gets cold feet, and leaves Ike standing at the altar. Ike chases after her but she hitches a ride on a FedEx truck and gets away.

Later, we see Ike living in New York and Maggie trying to discover herself, trying different types of eggs, and putting her lighting designs up for sale in New York. She shows up unexpectedly at Ike's apartment one night where he finds her making friends with his cat, Italics. Maggie then explains that she had been running because every other guy she was engaged to was only engaged to the idea she had created for them rather than the real her, but with Ike she ran because, even though he truly understood her, she didn't understand herself. She "turns in" her running shoes just before proposing to Ike. The two are married in a private ceremony outside, on a hill, avoiding the big ceremonies that Maggie notes she never actually liked.

It's time for me to hang up my metaphorical running shoes. It's time to stop running and confront myself, and truly understand myself. 

For a long time now I've been running from certain things in my life because I was afraid. I was afraid of judgement, I was afraid of getting into trouble, I was afraid of admitting things to myself.

When you run from something, you don't pay much attention to where you are going. You just know that you want to get as far away as fast as you can. You fall in mud, scrape yourself up, you're clumsy and leave tracks behind so that whatever is following you will eventually catch up with you. 

In Mormon 5:8 it states: "All things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops.”

Past choices in my life have surfaced today in a way that I would describe as my own personal Calvary. It's been very much a "Friday."

I don't know what lies ahead of me, but I do know that I must be an adult. I'm not proud of my actions. I'm embarrassed and ashamed to say the least. I've spent a large part of today ugly crying. My head hurts so bad. BUT, I must accept the consequences of my actions with my head held high. 

Paul taught that “godly sorrow” is required if true repentance is to take place (2 Corinthians 7:10).

President Ezra Taft Benson said“It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and contrite spirit’ (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.”

I honestly don't know why I'm writing this publicly on my blog. More than anything I guess I want people to know that I'm not perfect, I'm human, and I struggle with so many things. I hope that someone is able to glean something from this and it is able to help them. 

"My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me. It has only strengthened me." - Steve Maraboli

To anyone out there experiencing their own struggles and demons, I can testify to you that my Sunday morning will come, and so will yours.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Emma's Story

My older sister Michelle has always been a great example to me. She’s extremely talented at the piano. Growing up, we would not agree on anything but somehow we could always raise a white flag of peace and sit down at the piano together; she would play, and I would sing. She attended school at BYU - Idaho. She served in the Montana Billings Mission. She married a return missionary and was sealed in the Bountiful Utah Temple.

Michelle was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was a teenager, so she and her husband Dan decided to have their children as quickly as possible. She became pregnant shortly after she was married and 9 months later my beautiful, precocious niece Madison was born. Less than a year later, Michelle became pregnant with her second child.

The time came for the 5-month checkup. Michelle and Dan were so excited! They were going to find out the sex of their little baby and be able to finalize a name. The check up came. The baby was a girl. Her name was Emma. But the check up brought things that were not expected...

Emma had a heart condition. Her heart had formed with only two valves causing pressure to build up which in turn caused it to swell till it was three times the size it was supposed to be. The enlarged heart had left no room for her lungs to develop.

The doctors urged Michelle to abort her baby, citing the dangers to both mother and child. They warned Michelle of not only the physical trauma, but the emotional trauma as well. There was almost no chance of Emma making it full term, and even if she did, no one could promise that she would be born alive.

Michelle refused to abort Emma and miraculously carried her to full term (though not without her fair share of emergency room visits, including one with a blood clot). Emma entered this world on January 18, 2011. She spent 3 sacred days with her family and then on January 21, her earthly mission was complete and she returned home to her Father in Heaven.

This is Easter morning. This is the Lord’s day, when we celebrate the greatest victory of all time, the victory over death.

Those who hated Jesus thought they had put an end to Him forever when the cruel spikes pierced His quivering flesh and the cross was raised on Calvary. But this was the Son of God, with whose power they did not reckon. Through His death came the resurrection and the assurance of eternal life. None of us can fully understand the pain He bore as He prayed in Gethsemane and subsequently hung in ignominy between two thieves while those who looked at Him taunted Him and said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Matt. 27:42; Mark 15:31).

With sorrow unspeakable those who loved Him placed His wounded, lifeless body in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Gone was hope from the lives of His Apostles, whom He had loved and taught. He to whom they had looked as Lord and Master had been crucified and His body laid in a sealed tomb. He had taught them of His eventual death and Resurrection, but they had not understood. Now they were forlorn and dejected.They must have wept and wondered as the great stone was rolled to seal the burial place.

The Jewish Sabbath passed. Then came a new day, a day that ever after was to be the Lord’s day. In their sorrow Mary Magdalene and the other women came to the tomb. The stone was no longer in place. Curiously they looked inside. To their astonishment the tomb was empty.

Distraught and fearful, Mary ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved. She cried, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2).

They came running, and their fears were confirmed. Disconsolate, they looked and then “went away again unto their own home” (John 20:10).

“But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

“And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

“And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master."

In her motivational talk When Life Gets Hard, Meg Johnson says: 

“The only way you can know how awesome it feels to laugh so hard you’re not making any nose, is if you have sobbed so hard that you’re not making any noise. There is no other way.”

I’d like to continue the story of Emma with a passage from Michelle's blog:

“We took Madison in for her two-year-old check-up. The doctor told us it was time to give up her “bobbie”(pacifier). I’ve known that for a while but I haven’t had the heart to do it. Madison was not this attached to it last year, but with everything that has happened with school and Emma dying, her bobbie has become something she is so attached to. She has never slept a night without it.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I knew this was not going to happen unless I forced myself to do it. I hid all of Madison's bobbies and then took one and cut the end off. I had thought of the binky fairy but Madison is too smart for that, plus she has more toys than most Toys R Us stores, so buying a toy for giving it up would not work.

Madison asked for her binky and I showed her that it was “broken”. She promptly carried it into Dan who was getting ready for school and said “Daddy, who broke it?” Dan knew it was me and trying hard not to laugh said, “ask your Mom who broke it.”

She asked me all day but she never cried. We chose not to do a nap in hopes that she would fall asleep out of exhaustion. Dan was gone to his internship and it was bedtime. We did our usual brush teeth, PJ's, read stories, sing primary songs, prayer routine and then I left the room. I heard some noise and came in to find Madison searching her room for her “bobbie”. I was not prepared for what happened next. She came out of her room tears rolling down her face and said, “Mom I am just so sad.”She climbed onto my lap and cried. It was more than I could handle, but I knew that sometime in her life this would happen again and the bobbie needed to go for her good. It killed me though to watch her so sad. I got her to stop crying by singing Primary songs and soon she was asleep. She slept 12 hours through the night without a bobbie for the first time in her life. To say I was “proud” of her does not cover it.

Fast forward to this morning; today is my heart ultrasound for this baby boy just to make sure everything is ok. Of course my mind goes right back to Emma. There have been many times when I have cried and asked our loving Heavenly Father why? Times when I have known what was coming and have said, “Heavenly Father I am just so sad.” I think I’ve felt at times that a there was no way a loving Heavenly Father could let all of this happen. But I realized this morning that just as I wanted to run in and give the bobbie back to Madison, I could not do it. It was for her growth, for her good and it had to happen, I realized for my own little family’s growth, for our good he could not take away Emma dying. I also realized that as a loving parent when we cry over these trials that have to happen I imagine it is hard for a Heavenly Father to watch that as well, so that is why he gave us a Savior and the Holy Ghost to comfort us.

Pondering further of how proud I was of Madison this morning, I imagine that someday when we are all done going through everything we are supposed to go through and “We do it!” how pleased our Heavenly Father will be with us. That is why the scripture says, “well done thou good and faithful servant”

I absolutely love this post by my sister. She has been living her life the way she should. She’s keeping her covenants, obeying the commandments, and being an incredible mother. One could easily beg the question, “Why did Michelle have these trials? What did she do wrong?”

President James E. Faust said:

“To find happiness and joy, no matter what comes, we must make our stand unequivocally with the Lord.”

We do not make our stand with the Lord based on what our present circumstances are. Like President Faust said, our stance with the lord should be unequivocal. Life is hard. Unfair things happen. We do bad on a test. We get in a car accident. We suffer from an incurable disease. A marriage fails. A loved one goes wayward. A relationship dissolves. A child dies. The list is endless and that’s okay. Do you know? Because the atonement, the miraculous and incredible atonement is infinite and endless! The Savior suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross at Golgotha so that we could overcome death. Our pains, our sorrows, our afflictions of both spiritual death and physical death can and will be overcome by the atonement if we allow it to. I know that Michelle was supposed to experience what she did with Emma. I know that she can and will be healed from that experience through the atonement. I also know that because of the atonement, she will see Emma again some day.

Elder Joseph B. Worthlin said:

“Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”


Tuesday, April 8, 2014


grief [greef]

1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
2. a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

Grief is a complex human emotion. Grief I have found usually occurs because of an unexpected loss or event in one's life. A lot of times when one of these life changing events happens, most people in your life are aware of it because it tends to be a big thing. Friends and family console you. They send you notes, give you hugs, and then they move on. The problem is... you don't.

I can't blame people for moving on. Unless they have directly experienced what I have (which they have no way of doing that), they can in no way understand how deeply my heartache runs. They move forward with their lives as I try to cope. At times I feel like I have a handle on everything and then all it takes is a simple trigger... a name, a car, a song, and I break down and feel this ache that won't go away.

"When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear me but they’re really not listening. They’re hearing what they want to hear, they’re not really listening to what I’m telling them." - Britney Spears

According to WebMD:

"Grief is your emotional reaction to a significant loss. The words sorrow and heartache are often used to describe feelings of grief. Whether you lose a beloved person, animal, place, or object, or a valued way of life (such as your job, marriage, or good health), some level of grief will naturally follow.

Grieving is a personal experience. Depending on who you are and the nature of your loss, your process of grieving will be different from another person's experience. There is no "normal and expected" period of time for grieving. Some people adjust to a new life within several weeks or months. Others take a year or more, particularly when their daily life has been radically changed or their loss was traumatic and unexpected.

A wide range of feelings and symptoms are common during grieving. While you are feeling shock, numbness, sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, or fear, you may also find moments of relief, peace, or happiness. And although grieving is not simply sadness, "the blues," or depression, you may become depressed or overly anxious during the grieving process.

The stress of grief and grieving can take a physical toll on your body. Sleeplessness is common, as is a weakened immune system over time. If you have a chronic illness, grieving can make your condition worse."

My family had two dogs prior to my mission; Bennie and Scrap. Bennie died of old age and left Scrap behind. Scrap had never known life without Bennie. We adopted Scrap when he was a puppy and Bennie was still alive. Bennie became Scrap’s security blanket. In reaction to Bennie’s passing, Scrap stopped eating. He couldn't sleep at night without Bennie's toy. He no longer chewed bones (they used to chew them together). He became more aggressive towards strangers and anxiety ridden all the time. We spoke to our vet who told us that dogs often grieve for months or even years because they feel things so deeply.

This past year my family adopted another dog named Meka. Scrap initially wasn't fond of this new intruder. But as time passed, Scrap began to chew bones again; he calmed down, and gained back his appetite. It's gotten to the point that they have to be with each other at all times or they both will get really upset. Scrap healed, he was able to move on.

In the May 1995 Ensign, Merrill J. Bateman, Presiding Bishop in the Church at the time gave a talk entitled The Power to Heal from Within:

"The prophet Alma also spoke of Christ’s healing power as he taught the Gideonites. Referring to Christ, Alma stated that he would go forth “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. … And he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:11–12). Whatever the source of pain, Jesus understands and can heal the spirit as well as the body."

I myself have been struggling with grief. I've been giving myself a hard time because I've told myself that I should be past all of this. I should no longer feel pain. I should no longer feel so sad at times. I've come to realize that grief is a real emotion that should be acknowledged. You feel it. It affects you. Everyone copes in his or her own time, and that's okay... because we are all different. It is okay for me to have tears fall that won't stop. It is okay to feel like my heart is being stomped on and crushed into a million pieces. Grief may be in the back of my mind a large majority of the time, but it does not control my life. 

My Savior has gone through what I have. He understands. He can and will heal me. I know this. I testify of it. 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ye Are The Light Of The World

I grew up in the small town of Kennewick, WA. Kennewick has a population of 75,000 and is part of the Tri-Cities metropolitan area of roughly 250,000. For being outside of the Book of Mormon Belt (Idaho-Utah-Arizona), it has a large Mormon population. The population is so big, that all the high schools in the area have release time seminary with actual seminary buildings.

Lacking the many options provided by larger communities, most activities or outings were social events that the majority of the community attended. Football is huge. Every Friday and Saturday night growing up I remember going to the games and cheering on our team with the rest of my family and friends. Games were always a community event, so I would frequently see teachers from school, classmates, and people from my ward.

Living in a small town with a close knit Mormon community, people always tended to be up in each other's businesses. Whenever I was with a girl or group of friends at one of these football games, a member of my ward or community would see and make a comment sometime later to my mother or to me. It wouldn't be "Oh hey I saw David at the football game," it would be more along the lines of wondering who I was with and why was I with them.

A lot of these people I had known since I was in grade school and it bothered me that I couldn't go anywhere or do anything without people making comments or expressing their opinion. I felt my privacy was often invaded, I didn't understand why people were so fascinated by me.

Post high school, Facebook really took off. At 18, I was a rebel without a cause and didn't understand that Facebook was not a place to share every detail of my life and every emotion that I was ever feeling. I specifically remember my friend's mother telling me she always knew what was going on in my day and what emotion I was thinking. (FYI, there is such a thing as over-sharing).

My freshmen year of high school I began seminary. We were required each year of seminary to memorize 25 Scripture Mastery scriptures. Freshmen year we studied the New Testament. The very first scripture I ever learned was Matthew 5: My Light's Alive (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your alight so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

It took me a long time to figure out that I am different. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am one of the noble birthright. Born into this generation purposely in a time of the fullness of the gospel. I have been born into the covenant. I have received both priesthoods. I have been endowed in the temple. I am an example to the world, whether I like it or not.

President Thomas S. Monson once said "I leave with you a code of conduct to guide your footsteps safely through mortality and to the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father. I have divided my code of conduct into four parts:

"You have a heritage; honor it.
You will meet temptation; withstand it.
You know the truth; live it.
You possess a testimony; share it."

What I didn't understand growing up is I was watched by so many people because of who I was. I am an example. I am supposed to a "light" to the world. This world is extremely covered in darkness, light is needed all that much more. 

I may not have generated a ton of likes or comments on my negative or angst-ridden posts when I was 18, but they were seen. People watch whether they say anything or not.

The very first post on my blog received over 300 views in 24 hours. I say this not to brag but to make people aware.

 “Just so you know it's not only Ally you motivated. I have been working out since after Matthew but over the past month watching your posts you inspired me to kick it up a notch. I have lost those last baby pounds.  I wore a skirt to church Dan bought me when we were engaged. Thank you for the inspiration even when I was tired I knew you were doing it so I got up and did it too. You’re awesome!  Love you!” 

“I love your posts so much!”

“For real David Todd Hanna I love everything you post!!! So positive and inspiring, don’t stop, you never know who you could be influencing for the better... like me!” 

"I enjoyed reading your new blog. Keep writing!"

“It is incredible to watch you support and stand up for what you believe in even though you are going through such emotional turmoil. I don't know what I am really saying all together... but you are my hero.” 

It took me till a year after my mission to realize that happiness is a choice and a way of life. People will care more and be uplifted if you are happy, positive, and optimistic. I still have my bad days, but I (usually) don't take to Facebook to rant about them and further spread negativity. I try to exude happiness and laughter whether that be on Facebook or life in general. In uplifts people, it makes me feel better about myself, and it's just a better way to live life. 

The Savior lived his life through meekness, charity, and example. That is something that we should all be doing, something that I am trying to do. 

Remember who you are. Remember the example you set. You are different.