Choose Your Own Adventure with the Lord

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Sarah Gunnell Bellini
Assistant Professor, Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science


As a young girl, I loved visiting my Grandma Hansen’s first grade classroom. She let me “write” messages on the white board to her students and reported back to me their responses. I also spent time watching my mother love and teach her students in special education. My grandmother and mother instilled in me a quest to learn, teach, and value education. My senior year of high school I wrote three goals: graduate from college, get married in the temple, and run a marathon. If Nephi had spoken directly to me then it would have gone something like this. “And now Sarah, after you have gotten on this path, I would ask if all is done? ‘Behold I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him…wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ…and endure to the end.’” The Lord was and is more concerned about developing my faith than a college degree, marriage certificate, or marathon medal. He increased my endurance in faith as I pressed forward toward each goal.


When I applied for the coordinated program in dietetics at Utah State University (USU), Heavenly Father knew 15 years later I would apply for a position at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP) where my roommate, not from USU but University of Idaho would be on the search and screen committee. Therefore, I was accepted to the coordinated program in dietetics at University of Idaho and put on the wait list at USU.


I had reached my goal of graduating from college and said if the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree presented itself I would do it—and it did. Nedra Christensen from USU needed a graduate student and a former classmate recommended me. I researched nutrition and cystic fibrosis which led to a job as a clinical dietitian at Primary Children’s Hospital. Once again Nedra Christensen needed a student for a grant and asked me. I continued to work full time and started my PhD.


The Lord increased my capacity and ability beyond anything I could imagine. It is only through His help I was able to work full time in a demanding position, complete my PhD, and do my church callings. For reasons that can only be explained by promptings of the Holy Ghost, I applied for a tenure-track teaching position at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and accepted the offer when I was at the point of finishing my dissertation. I felt like Lehi leaving his land of inheritance and going to the wilderness away from family, friends, and the mountains, yet I knew only the Lord could have come up with this plan. It did not make sense financially or socially to go to Wisconsin, but faith is not a perfect knowledge and I went.


Every experience and person I have met has prepared me for the next chapter in my book of life. As soon as I announced to UWSP I would not be returning because I was getting married, a position I had been qualified for opened at BYU. Within one month I finished the semester at UWSP, interviewed at BYU, moved across the country, and got married. The Lord is the author and finisher of our faith and has written a much more exciting book of my life than I would have on my own.

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