Sunday, October 26, 2014

God Is Not Idle

There are a lot of things I don't know. I don't know the rules of football. I don't know how to play the violin. I don't know how to do a cartwheel. But even with the many, many things I don't know, there is one thing that I know for certain! I know it without a doubt, and I know it is always right. More than anything in this world, I know that there is a God, and that He loves me!

Many things in my life testify to me on a daily basis that God is looking out for me. A few weeks ago, I was in a spiritual rut. I wasn't reading my scriptures that much, and I was saying my personal prayers even less. I didn't feel like I was getting anything from scripture study and prayer, so I didn't even try to read and pray. It was an endless cycle that I was caught in. Then Sunday rolled around, and I was starting to feel a little guilty because I didn't care about my personal scripture study and prayer. At church, I worried about how I didn't care. I worried that because I didn't seem to care, maybe I would fall away from the gospel. I really, really didn't want that to happen. So instead, I made a decision. It wasn't specific or huge, I simply decided that I would change. It began slowly, and even now I am still trying to do better, but the main thing I realized I needed to work on in order to turn things around was putting in a conscious effort to read my scriptures.

From that day, many little things that the Lord has done to bless my life have stood out to me like rescue flares. One thing really stood out to me that Thursday, after a few friends and I had done some family history work and found names to take to the temple. We were at the temple Thursday night to be baptized by proxy for those family names, but there were so many people that there was a three-hour wait. The baptistry closed at eight o'clock, but we were there until ten o'clock before we even got to do the baptisms and confirmations. I feel especially blessed not only to have been able to do that, but also that the many things left in my day to do didn't come to mind until after we left the temple. In my personal opinion, there are few things worse than a stressful visit to the temple. It wasn't until I got home and was talking to my mom that I realized all the things that should have gotten done that day, but hadn't. Though the built-up stress was not a positive thing, I still know that God was blessing me because I didn't feel that stress until I had finished the ordinances and was reflecting on my day.

The next day, that stress was still there. For all my thinking and justifying, I knew that the stress was the result of some procrastination I had done earlier in the week. I found myself pleading with the Lord that work would be canceled that day. I didn't know what else I could do, and there was no way I could get everything I needed to done if I still had to go to work. I prayed and prayed, and by lunchtime I got a text at school. It was my employer, telling me that work was going slow that day and that I could choose whether or not I was going to go in to work. I immediately texted back, saying that I would take the day off and thanked my Heavenly Father for answering my prayer.

This last week was the end of my first school term. It was hectic, trying to keep all my grades up and making sure I got everything turned in on time. I was happy to know that I was getting the grades I wanted. But as I examined each grade to see the individual assignment grades, I noticed that a fair amount of extra credit had been given to me for an assignment I didn't do. It was in my hardest class, and I looked at the exact percentage I had sadly, knowing that the next day it would probably go down if I told my teacher about the error. In a second of hesitation, I tried to justify keeping the extra credit points. Maybe they were for another assignment and had just gotten entered in under the wrong one. But I knew that it wasn't honest to keep the points, and so the next day I told my teacher. She took the points away after confirming my fears that it would likely take my grade down below where I wanted it to be. However, after taking away the extra points, my grade was still just barely above in the right range. I know that even though I risked sacrificing my perfect grade to be honest, I was blessed for that honesty.

Photo found on Pinterest.

I KNOW that God does not sit idly, watching my life take place. He is there for me, and loves me, and wants me to succeed. I am overwhelmed with His love. Without Him, I would be lost in this crazy life. So many things don't go as planned. There are so many questions without answers. But through everything, Heavenly Father is always there, and He will help us if we let Him.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

He is Mindful of Us All.

Everyone has, at some point in their life, felt insecure. They've struggled with self-doubt. They've felt alone. We've all over-thought situations. We've questioned ourselves. We've wondered how "good" we really are. If we'll ever amount to anything really wonderful.

Three weeks ago, I was camping with the young women in my stake. Sister Elaine S. Dalton, the former General Young Women's President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, came to talk to us on our last night there. She shared many things, all relating back to the fact that we might not always know what is in store for us, but the Lord does. She used to think she was a skinny little nobody, just as many of us have felt. But as she has lived a worthy life, she has come to better understand her divine potential.

Now, I'm not exactly sure what everyone else got out of Sister Dalton's talk that night a few weeks ago, because I was way more focused on something she said at the beginning of her talk. She began by talking about her patriarchal blessing. Before camp, I'd received an interview to get my patriarchal blessing, but I was worried that maybe I wasn't prepared yet. I'd been praying to Heavenly Father to help me be worthy, but I wasn't sure that I was. I'd been thinking about getting my patriarchal blessing for a long time, but now that I'd actually scheduled it, I was having second thoughts. As soon as Sister Dalton mentioned her patriarchal blessing, I knew. I KNEW that I was worthy. The Holy Ghost testified to me that I was. For the rest of the talk she shared, I was thinking of that spiritual confirmation from God that I was prepared. And that brought me indescribable joy!

After she was done talking, I waited behind a ton of girls to be able to talk to Sister Dalton. I told her how she had answered my prayers. She just hugged me, looked in in the eyes, and said, "My dear, you are worthy!" I will never forget that. My doubt was squashed and I felt the undeniable love of God for me. I was left with no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father knew where I was, knew the question I was facing, and knew how to reach me.

I believe that Heavenly Father has many ways for us to get the message He wants us to receive. Sister Dalton was an answer to my prayers that night. Heavenly Father knew exactly how to tell me what I needed to know. It was not at all how I expected to learn it, but I understood that it was for me. Each one of us is different. But He takes the time to think of us and answer our prayers. Sometimes we need to remember that the Lord has His own timetable, that nothing is according to our plans, but to His. We also need to remember that He often times answers our prayers in the ways we least expect. But we need never doubt that He will answer our prayers. He will, He always will. Just as the people in our lives who love us would not simply ignore us if we sincerely and righteously asked for something, neither will God. Because He loves us unconditionally, and He knows us better than anyone else.

This situation puts me in mind of my favorite verse of scripture, found in Alma chapter 26 verse 37. It reads,

Now, my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

You are wonderful! Never, ever doubt it. As long as God loves you, you have infinite worth. And guess what? God loves you forever, without fail, unconditionally, no matter what, and with the purest love. He is so, so mindful of you. If you will put your faith in Him, you will do wonderful things.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Holy Place

On Friday I went to seminary class, and we talked about the Restoration. Our seminary teacher brought up the Sacred Grove, and asked us all to think about it. He brought up the fact that the Sacred Grove was the place where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ showed themselves to Joseph Smith during the first vision. He then told us all to think of a place where we can feel the Holy Ghost, where we go when we want to be alone with God. My first thought was my bedroom, but my room is often messy, and that doesn't allow myself to focus very well.

So when I thought of my holy place, my "personal Sacred Grove," I thought of all the times I had been to the mountains, and just had time to sit and think. Whenever I do that, my thoughts wander to God and the gospel. The mountains are my holy place.

That day in seminary, we read Moroni chapter 10 of the Book of Mormon, and Moroni's promise found in verses 4 and 5. The promise challenges us to, after we read the scriptures, pray to God and ask if the things they say are true. My seminary teacher challenged my class to go to our holy place and pray. I was immediately sad, not knowing the next time I would be able to travel to the mountains and have a moment to just sit and think.

What I'd forgotten was that I was going to youth conference later that day, almost as soon as I got home from school. I quickly packed up all of the things I would need for this overnight trip, then ran over to our church meeting house and loaded my bags into the trailer waiting for us. We drove up the canyon, and I realized that I was being brought to my holy place after all.

During those two days and one night I was at youth conference with all my ward friends around me, I had a blast. We played hard, danced, hiked, and just had a stellar time. But when I had a minute to myself, I could feel God's love for me. I knew He cared about me individually, and that He wanted the best for me. It made me want to do better than I was doing.

That's what God's love does: it fills us with the knowledge of how much He cares, and makes us want to do better. Those days during youth conference, I didn't do Moroni's challenge. I didn't need to. Heavenly Father had already borne witness to me that the Book of Mormon was true. The reason I feel so blessed for having ended up in my sacred place after all is because it still strengthened my testimony. I'm so glad that I was able to go to my holy place and know that God was watching over me, helping me along, and blessing my life. I love Heavenly Father, and know that He is looking out for me always. He has my best interest at heart, and will always love me, no matter what. And that's the part of my testimony that was strengthened in my holy place.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honor Your Hero

Today is Mother's Day in America. Whenever I think about Mother's Day, there's just so much I want to say! I'm not sure where to begin. So I guess I'll start with my mother.

My mom is funny. My mom is hard working. She's always there for me. She's compassionate. She's loving. She listens, and she cares. The house isn't always clean, and sometimes the day is so busy we just have mac n' cheese for dinner, but it's OK. Because we never are left doubting that my mom is trying her best to be there for us. She has priorities, and she knows that sometimes certain things have to be sacrificed in order to bring about better things. I love her so much more than she will ever know.

Most of all, my mom is the biggest example in my life. She has such a strong testimony of the gospel! I've learned so much because of her. She's my go-to person, and my very best friend.

In Alma chapter 56 verses 47 and 48, it says:

47. ...Yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

I love those verses! They are so true. Nobody will ever have an influence over our lives as much as our mothers will.

With that being said, some people don't have a strong mother figure in their family. Or perhaps their mother is gone a lot of the time, so that motherly influence comes from somewhere else. This last general conference, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a talk entitled, "I Have Given You an Example." In his talk, he shard how two of the biggest influences in his life were his grandmother and wife, not his mother.

My mom is my hero. She's such an example to me! Whether you have a mother or a grandmother, an aunt or a sister, or even a neighbor who is your example, let them know how much you appreciate them. So today, honor whoever your hero is. Mother's Day is the day to celebrate those who guide you and lift you up.

Some people might have circumstances where they don't feel like they have a motherly figure in their life. They might feel completely alone. But always remember that we have the Savior, Jesus Christ. His love is unconditional, and he knows our infinite worth. So if you don't feel like you can turn to someone around you, turn to Jesus and thank Him for all He has done for you. Jesus is also my hero. He is so selfless and has the purest love. I know that the ultimate goal I could ever have would be to become like Him.

I am so thankful for my life. I am so blessed, and I recognize that. Sure, I have hard times, and things don't always go my way, but I know that the Lord's way is so much better than my way. I trust Him completely, and know that He has a wonderful plan in store for me and each of His beloved sons and daughters here on earth. He knows who I am, and He knows who each of us is. He will never leave us alone. God is also my hero.

Today remember your heroes. They are always there for you, and want you to know how much they love you. So show them your love in return! Because they will never ever leave you alone. They will help you and teach you and lift you up. They will encourage you to become your best self. Remember that. Never forget that. Every person is loved more than they can comprehend.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

And Always Remember Him

Tomorrow is Easter. We live in a world where Easter has evolved from a Christian holiday to a holiday of Easter bunnies and egg hunts. We need to remember the symbolism that bunnies and eggs bring to the holiday, not the games they present to the holiday. Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The eggs and the bunnies represent new life; just as through Christ, each of us can be resurrected and have a "new life."

In Seminary we were recently studying in 3 Nephi chapter 18 of the Book of Mormon. In verse 7, the word "remember" is used twice, and "remembrance" is used once. Christ is ministering unto the Nephites and telling them of the ordinance of the sacrament. The sacrament symbolizes the blood and body of Christ. We are told in the sacrament prayers (Doctrine & Covenants 20: 77,79) that if we always remember Him, and take upon us His name, we will have His spirit to be with us.

I was asked a while ago whether I knew what the most important word in the English language was. Aafter talking to a friend, we decided that it was probably the word "no," just because there is so much in our day and age that we have to say "no" to. But after a discussion, we came to realized that "remember" is one of the most important words.

History is recorded so that we can remember the past and learn from it. Planners are used in school to help us remember assignments. Alarms are set so that we can remember important events. Notes are kept so that we can remember our grocery lists. Our lives revolve around remembering the various tasks we have to complete. How fitting that "remember" should be the most important word.

Helaman 5:12 reads,

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yes, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build the cannot fall.

We are told, using that most important word, to remember our Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, the son of God. We are not told once, but twice. And in that chapter alone, the word "remember" is used 15 times. Of all things to remember, Christ is the most important. It is through Him and Him alone that we can be saved.


There is a new short video that was made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints called "Because of Him." It is my new favorite movie, even though it's only slightly longer than two minutes. Every time I watch it, I get chills and can feel the Spirit so strong. It illustrates how Christ lived and died for us, then was resurrected on the third day. It shows how it is because of Him we have what we do in this life. The hashtag #BecauseofHim is being used on facebook, twitter, Google+, pretty much everywhere. I challenge you to use #BecauseofHim in a post, a tweet, something today or tomorrow, followed by a blessing Christ has brought into your life. I testify that there is nothing we have, no blessing given to us, that is not because of Him. He has given us everything. We owe our lives to our older brother, Jesus. He atoned for each and every one of our sins and shortcomings. Our pains and our afflictions. If He could do that and remember each one of us, we can remember Him.

A girl in my seminary class said this,

"Sometimes you'll slip up, and you'll fall, but He'll always be there to catch you."

Nothing is more true! There is a story of  rock climber, Alan Czenkusch, who was climbing belay with a friend. He slipped and fell, yanking out the three mechanical supports that were holding him up. Because he was belaying, he was attached to his friend by a rope. His friend was able to stop Czenkusch's fall by hugging the rock wall tight enough, and that saved Czenkusch's life. In an interview he said, "Don saved my life. How do you respond to a guy like that? Give him a used climbing rope for a Christmas present? No, you remember him. You always remember him."

Christ saved our lives. We need to always remember him. Know that as we climb up our spiritual rock walls in life, we climb in belay with the Lord. If we fall and our supports come out, He will spread his arms and catch us. How can we thank Jesus Christ? We always remember him.

This Easter, know that the holiday reaches beyond the fluffy rabbits and colored eggs. Know that it is a celebration of our older brother, Jesus Christ, the one who saved our lives.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Good Shepherd

Today I watched a short video called "Jesus Declares the Parable of the Lost Sheep." It is taken from that parable in Luke 15:2-7 of the Bible. When reading the parable in the scriptures I understood it, but it was the video that put it into perspective for me.

In the video, you see a shepherd watching over his enormous flock of sheep, only to realize that one is missing. He immediately turns and goes to find that missing sheep. You see him walk to all sorts of different places; he doesn't just look around where he is already and then give up. Then you see the shepherd find the sheep, and reach out for it with care and love.

The first thing that stands out to me is that the shepherd realizes that his sheep is missing. It is so amazing to me that one missing sheep among one hundred would be missed. But just the same, that sheep's absence is noticed. And without hesitation, the shepherd turns to go find it.

The second thing that really stands out to me is how far that shepherd is willing to travel to find his one missing sheep. He cares about it so much that he walks all over the place! He doesn't give up at the first hill he encounters, but he climbs that hill and keep going. He simply does not give up.

Third, the way he reaches out to the sheep with such love is really remarkable. It shows how he really was worried and cares so much about that sheep. I personally would have probably been like, well it's just one sheep. I have 99 more. Does it really matter?

But it matters. Jesus proceeds to compare each of us to that one lost sheep, a comparison that I'm sure we've all heard before. But the truth of it really rang true to me today. Christ is our Good Shepherd, always looking out for us. It doesn't matter how insignificant we think we are, He will always notice when we fall away. He will always reach out to us with love, inviting us to come back to Him. Because to Him, we are not insignificant. We are each so special and unique, and he loves us unconditionally.

This is a picture that I keep on my nightstand.
Every time I look at it, I am reminded of Jesus' love and how
He is always watching out for me.
He arm is constantly outstretched, we just have to turn to it. He is there through the Atonement. The Atonement is a gift. Just like any other gift, it was given to be used, not just looked at from a distance. Jesus is our older brother, and just like any other older brother or sister that we have, He loves us and wants to watch over us and protect us.

Sometimes it may be easy to feel like once we've made a mistake, we can't turn to the Atonement. We might feel lost or ruined. How could we be worth to pray to God for forgiveness? But there is never a time when we need to turn to Him more than then. His love is constant and unshaken, no matter what we do. He sees us for us, not our mistakes. If we repent, He will always forgive.

Remember that no matter where we go, what we do, how far we fall away, there is a Good Shepherd searching for us and continually inviting us to turn around. He is mindful of us always. And we can never go so far that we can not turn around.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Be Still

Today at church, my young women's group was talking about trials. Trials are something that everyone encounters in their lives, no matter who they are. We can't avoid them, they are there to test our faith and make us stronger. As some of the young women in my class shared trials that they went through or were still going through, I thought about a couple recent trials that I have gone through.

Photo Cred:
My first trial began a year ago when my grandma passed away. It was really hard. While I was still a very positive person, I did have some down days where I missed her terribly. No matter what, I will miss her for the rest of my life. But because of the Plan of Happiness, I know that I will see her again some day, and that is a huge comfort to me. Just last month, my grandpa passed away, and that was even harder for me. I'd come to know my grandpa better than I ever had over this last year, so I felt a huge loss when he passed on. But they are together again, and that makes me happy. That knowledge, and the knowledge that I will see them again is what is bringing me through this trial.

My other trial is something that I wouldn't have even considered a trial a few months ago. A few of my friends are struggling with doubts or self worth, and me watching them go through that is my biggest trial right now. The part that makes it so hard is that I don't always know what I can do for them. I can see what they need, but I can't always just sand up and help them out. I want to tell them that I love them and everything will be OK, but I know that that's something I can't make them believe. They have to choose to accept that on their own. But I know that as I pray fervently and do all that I can, they will be helped and this trial will pass.

No trial lasts for ever. There is a life after this one, and if we live this life we have here on earth to our full potential, we will be blessed in the life to come. Not a single soul ever lived their life without trial. The ultimate example of this is Jesus Christ. He was perfect, and His trials were bigger than we can ever imagine. If He, a perfect man, had to go through all that He did, we certainly have to go through trials too.

But be patient and know that you are never alone. Jesus understands exactly where you are and what you are going through because He took upon Himself all the pains and afflictions of the world. That covers sin, that covers sadness, that covers every single little thing any of us will ever have to face. That covers the scrapes on your hands when you fell off your first bicycle. That covers the hurt you felt when you got in a fight with your best friend. Nothing is unnoticed by the Atonement of Christ. Not one thing.

The words of the hymn "Be Still, My Soul" come to mind:

"Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side. With patience bear thy cross of grief and pain...Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

"Be still, my soul: the hour is hast'ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored...

"Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past..."

God is there, and He loves us, and He will be beside us every step of our journey through this mortal life. Jesus' atonement is real, and it is available to everyone. I know that when our burdens seem impossible to bear, all we need to do is turn to the Lord and He will give us strength. He will never, ever give us anything that we can not overcome.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Doctrine and Covenants 101:16; Psalms 46:10

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Testimony

Tonight, I just want to share my testimony. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church. I know that God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and short-comings so that we can repent and be forgiven. I know that the Atonement isn't just for our sins, but also for our sadness and sorrows. The scriptures state that Christ took upon himself all the pains of the world, not just all the mistakes. So if we ever think that there is nobody who understands us when we feel hurt or alone, Jesus understands because he felt your hurt and loneliness before you ever did.

I also know that Christ died for us and was resurrected so we could live with God again. I know that death IS NOT THE END. There is always going to be a feeling of loss when a loved one passes away, and they will always be missed, but there is also joy in the knowledge that we will get to see them again. I know that God has a plan for us, and knows us each individually. His love is infinite and unconditional. It is there for us all, but it is up to us to come unto Him and feel of His love.

I love this gospel, and I love my life, and I thank God daily for how blessed I am. Nothing is ever perfect, nor will it ever be in this life. But as we do our part to be the best we can be, God will make up the difference. We can be perfected in Christ in the life to come! And these things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I'd also like to share this quote by Elder Richard G. Scott:

"Simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings...Stay on the Lord's side, and you will win every time."

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

He Hears Us

Today was the day I performed last-minute to accompany my friend! I came home from school and practiced until my fingers couldn't find the notes, then I took a break, then practiced again and again. Let me tell you, I was pretty darn nervous. I didn't see how on earth I would be able to play the song well enough! I didn't care about it for my sake, but I sure didn't want to make my friend sound bad.

It was down to a half and hour before I had to leave, and I decided I wouldn't touch the piano again until I got there. I was warmed up enough, and I was to the point where I was only playing mistakes. If I sat down and started memorizing those mistakes, my performance would be horrible. So I waited, rather anxiously, for time to pass.

Then it was the moment when we were walking into the judging room. Luckily the piano was turned so the judge couldn't see me when I sat down, and that made me feel like nobody was there. But I must have said five prayers in two minutes, simply asking Heavenly Father to bless my performance that it would be all it needed to be. The judge wasn't assessing me, something I am very grateful about, but if I didn't play well, the song would sound awful.

I took a deep breath and said a final prayer as the song began. After that, my fingers found the keys. It was far from a perfect performance, but whenever a note was wrong, usually it was harmony that sounded just fine with whatever my friend was playing. I didn't mess up badly on the spots where I usually had to slow down extremely as I practiced. It really was a miracle.

The thing is, I'd done everything I could possibly do to prepare that song in just over twenty-four hours. I literally don't think I could have done anything more that would have helped. Heavenly Father knew that, and so when I prayed, sincerely asking for His help, He gave it.

Sometimes I know it's easy to feel as though God hasn't heard our prayers. Maybe we say something specific, and things don't play out the way we'd hoped they would. I've come to see, however, that God absolutely hears and answers us when we pray to Him. And actually, it is almost never in the way that we plan the answers to come. Things might go wrong for a time, but it's always because it'll make something else go right. This I know with all my heart.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Be Prepared

I stayed after school today to practice for a Shakespeare scene a few of my friends and I are doing together. As we were meeting in the room where the practice would be, another one of my friends came in. She was talking about how nervous she was because the next day, she was preforming in a solo/ensemble organization, and she didn't have a pianist to accompany her.

She asked if any of us knew someone who could play, and I told her that I could. She showed me the song, and it was easy enough I figured I could learn it well enough in the amount of time there was.

Photo Credit:
The rest of my day was crazy. It had started out as a mellow day, nothing much going on, and then escalated into a frenzy of getting where I needed to be and practicing my new piano song in my spare time. Wow!

First of all, I'm very thankful that I am on top of my school work. Yes, I have homework, and I will always have homework. I'm to the point in school where you're never really completely done with all your homework. But, even though I missed a few days of school recently, I haven't fallen behind. I've been able to catch up quickly and keep up with the pace my teachers set.

Secondly, I'm thankful that I am able to play the piano piece. Even a few months ago, the thought of having one day to prepare and preform would have been unthinkable. I wouldn't have dared volunteer myself to be a last-second accompanist! But because I've practice my piano well over the last few months, I felt comfortable accepting the piano piece.

I know that we need to be prepared, even if we don't know what we are prepared for. When I chose to quickly make up my homework, I didn't know I'd need the time later on to practice a song. And when I chose to be diligent in my piano practicing months ago, I didn't know that it would pay off so soon. It's important to feel "ready," no matter what. Today, I woke up feeling like life was going to be perfect and peaceful. It wasn't peaceful, and not even close to perfect, but because I felt that "readiness," I was able to take on this challenge and do well.

Christ was always prepared. You never hear a story of the Savior scrambling to finish something before He had to do something else. He was always ready to help those who needed His help.

I have a testimony that this gospel is true. And I know that as we strive to become more Christlike, it really does pay off and we will feel better for it. To come unto Christ is to live in a lifestyle that is desirable above all others.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An "Amazing Experience"

Today I was sitting in one of my classes when the teacher announced that we would be taking a quiz on the material we'd recently learned. She also announced that it would be a partner quiz, and that made me just a bit nervous. I've always struggled talking to people I don't know very well, especially asking them if they want to be my partner on an assignment. I don't have a lot of people I know very well in that class, and those I do know aren't super close. My closest friend in that class is my own cousin.

Everyone I already knew in that class was already paired up with somebody else. Before I knew it, I found myself in the situation I dread: having to not only ask someone I don't know to be my partner, but also face it if they already have one. But just as I was getting ready to stand up and ask around, a girl from the back of the classroom walked up to my teacher. Her best friend wasn't in the class that day, and she bluntly told the teacher, "What do I do? I'm a loner."

I didn't leave the teacher time to react. I leaned back in my chair so this girl could see me and said, "I'm a loner, too! Why don't we be partners?" Part of me was like, what the heck did you just do??? But the other part of me was like, yes! Good job!

This girl I was partnered with was not LDS. We didn't have much in common. I like to read and sing, she likes to skate. But she was quiet and nice; something I wouldn't have known about her if I hadn't been in the situation I was in.

As we were sitting there working on the quiz, I felt like that was what I was supposed to do, and where I was supposed to be right then. It's kind of like Ammon from my last blog post. He had to be an example to those around him before he could teach them. I felt that the best thing I could possibly do was just be a friend to this girl who found herself temporarily alone.

As I was thinking about this, I found this quote:

"Everyone you know could be blessed in some way by your ministering. The Lord is counting on you to reach out to them." ~David L. Beck

I love that so much! Even though I was not preaching the gospel to this girl, I was ministering to her. I was being a friend when she thought she'd have to be alone for the test. I was talking to her as I would someone I already knew.

This may not be considered an "amazing experience" when you think, the girl didn't ask me questions about my faith. Or, the girl isn't now my best friend. That didn't happen, but it didn't need to. When I consider this, I think it is absolutely an amazing experience. I could tell that the girl noticed something about me. Maybe it was just simply that I was smiling and reassuring her about the test. Maybe it was that I trusted her enough to ask questions, even though I hardly knew her. I'm not sure what it was, but that feeling is there. And I can only hope that maybe, she'll think back on that experience and remember that I was trying to be her friend.

I know that God often works in ways that we don't recognize at first. I would never have thought that my not having a quiz partner would lead to a missionary experience. And I wouldn't have even recognized that experience as a missionary experience at first. But I know that God is watching over all of His children. Just that experience testified of that to me! He was watching over me, making sure that I could still have a partner. He was watching over her, giving her a partner. And for both of us, it turned out to be the partner we needed to be working with at the time. I know it's important to be in tune with the Spirit. Because if we aren't we won't be open to inspiration from God. We can be instruments in His hands if we are righteously living the gospel.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Be Thou An Example

1 Timothy 4:12 states "be thou an example of the believers."

Last night as I was reading the Book of Mormon, I was in Alma 17. It is the story about Ammon when he went to the Land of Ishmael. King Lamoni was pleased with him and wanted Ammon to marry one of his daughters. Ammon said he would not, but that he would be the king's servant.

Ammon goes to take the king's flocks to get water. The flocks are scattered and the other servants become dejected, but Ammon takes courage and sees an opportunity to be an example. Verses 27 through 30 are some of my favorites of the whole chapter:

27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.

28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.

29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.

30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.

My favorite part of these verses is how Ammon optimistic. It would have been really easy for him to be sorrowful just like his fellow servants and fear the king. But instead, he saw an opportunity and took it. Not only that, but I love the end of verse 30: "those whom he termed to be his brethren." To me, that is the true spirit of being an example. Being an example isn't just showing people "how its done," so to speak. I'ts really caring about the people and wanting them to follow the example you are setting because you love them.

Ammon's story continues. He protects the sheep from those who want to scatter them (verses 34-38), and then returns to water the flocks. Verse 39 simply says, "And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king..."

Ammon's fellow servants tell King Lamoni about how Ammon had so heroically protected the flocks from their contenders. As the king hears the full story, he is astonished and wants to know where Ammon was then. His servants reply, "Behold, he is feeding thy horses" (Alma 18:9).

Ammon went to the Land of Ishmael in order to preach the gospel to the people there. The thing I love about this story is how he begins with simply being a good example. It's as people always say: actions speak louder than words.

I know that as we strive to be examples to those around us, they will notice. We probably won't recognize it when they notice, but they will. I know that God has put us where we are today because we need to be there, to both influence and be influenced by the people in our every day lives. We have things we need to do. Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. We might not know what it is, but He does. I know that as we trust in the Lord, He will bless us and guide us. I know that as we diligently read the scriptures and pray to God, we will have the companionship of the Holy Ghost and be inspired as to what to do and say to those around us. Most of all, I know that Heavenly Father loves me individually, as he loves each and every one of us!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tender Mercies

Last week my Sunday School class was talking about the tender mercies of the Lord. We were asked if we could think of any of these "tender mercies" in our lives; that is, times when we have seen the hand of the Lord working in our lives. These tender mercies don't have to be big things. In fact, more often than not, they are really just the little things that still mean a lot to us. Immediately I thought of two simple tender mercies.

Earlier this month, it was time to register for class changes at my school. The month before, I had already submitted a form to make a class change and had been told I would receive an email when that change was made. Still I hadn't gotten an email and the deadline to make these changes was coming up the very next day. I was really nervous because talking to the school counselors has always made me just a little bit scared, and I didn't want to. So as I was getting ready for bed, a thought came to my mind. I thought that I should pull my schedule up online and check to see if the change had been made. The thought wouldn't leave my mind, so I did. It wasn't just a thought that came because I was thinking about my schedule at the time. No train of thought led up to it. I was simply nervous about my schedule change, and this sudden thought entered my brain. I looked up my schedule and, sure enough, the change had been made.

I know that this prompting was God helping me, because he loves me enough to care about what's important to me. It was a really small thing that I could have easily done on my own. But God knew how much I didn't want to talk to my counselors and go through the stress of finding time to submit another class change, so He prompted me to check my schedule first.

Another tender mercy in my life was when I was called to be the Mia Maids class 2nd Counselor for my ward. At the time I wasn't sure whether I really needed to be in the class presidency. I was being set apart and in the blessing, I was told something that my dad often tells me.I was told that I would put the Lord first in my life, I would be blessed. That really touched my heart and I knew that it was inspiration from God for the member of the bishopric to say that. It testified to me that Heavenly Father knows me individually and is watching over me. And that this was His will for me at that time.

This last week another tender mercy happened to me. I'm sure that there were many, but this one stood out to me. At first I didn't recognize it, but now that I think about it, it definitely was a tender mercy.

My grandpa passed away yesterday. It was really hard for me to learn that because my grandma, his wife, passed away less than a year ago. My grandpa's passing was expected, but it was still rather sudden. I was really surprised and sad, and started crying. My dad and I were going to eye doctor appointments in an hour and a half after they told me, and I obviously couldn't be crying while my eyes were being examined. My parents told me to try to take my mind off of it so I could calm down, and I was inspired to exercise on the elliptical and listen to uplifting music. I found my iPod and started exercising. Within ten minutes, I no longer looked like I had been crying, and my eyes didn't feel like they had been crying either.

That was definitely God looking out for me and sending the Holy Ghost to comfort me. It was such an insignificant desire to look like I hadn't been crying on my part, but Heavenly Father knew it mattered to me. So He helped me by letting me be inspired to know what to do to calm down.

I love my Heavenly Father with all my heart, and I know that He loves me. I know that I am never alone because He is always there for me. Nobody could ever say anything that would make be believe otherwise. Because the Holy Ghost has testified to me of the truth of the gospel, and the truth of God's love for me and for everyone. I am so grateful for that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Is Our Label?

This last Sunday was Fast and Testimony meeting. One of the testimonies shared was about how people see us. The person bearing their testimony asked, "What is our label? How are we known? What is the first word people think when they think of us?" That got me thinking. How do people see me, and what is the first thing that comes to mind when they hear my name?

While it's all fun to be known as "history nerd," or "Janeite;" to be thought of as "talkative" or "fun," what is it that I want to be known by? Because in the long run, no matter how much of a fan of Jane Austen I am, and no matter how "fun" I can be, those things aren't what truly matters in the long run.

The brother sharing his testimony brought up a thought that I had never realized before. The Church's "logo" is written out "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." But of all those words, Jesus Christ is the biggest and stands out the most. When people look at our church, the first thing they see is the name of our Savior. When people look at me, I want them to "see His name" too.

I want to live the kind of life that Christ would live. I know that I am far from perfect, but I also know that I can repent when I make mistakes, and through the Atonement, I can have help in becoming the best that I can be. According to my diligence and faith, I can become more Christ-like.

While I sure hope that words like "nice" and "bright" and "trustworthy" come to mind when people think of me, I wouldn't want those to be the first words. What I want people to think is, "That is a girl who is striving to be like Christ."

Nothing is easy. Nobody is flawless. But thorough the Atonement and faith, everyone can come unto Christ, and become more Christ-like. I know that God is watching over me, and wants me to succeed. I know that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, for us so that we can return to live with Him some day. I know that God is always there, and that he loves me. I never doubt that He loves me, no matter what I do. And that He is forever willing to listen to me when I call upon Him with faith and diligence. I love my Heavenly Father, and I know that He has such a beautiful plan for me, and for every single one of us.

Photo Credit:

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Resolution

Today I wrote up my New Year's Resolutions. As I did, I secretly doubted whether I would actually be able to carry through with them. As I contemplated that I realized that all of them were very small, simple things that I felt I needed to to, but just wasn't doing them. I knew I wanted to do them, but I really am not good a disciplining myself. I stopped myself right there, and decided that my official resolution would be to work on discipline over my time.

After all, nothing is ever going to get done about my other resolutions if I can't figure out how to buckle down and just DO them. We are always taught that we need to work hard and get things done, but I've found myself saying I'll work hard and get it done...later. Procrastination has kind of become one of my best friends. The problem is I don't like procrastination. And yet I still embrace it. That's kind of ironic.

As I have thought about this, I thought of the life that Christ led. He never procrastinated. He never put things off, He was constantly doing. He knew the importance of getting things done when they needed to be done. And not only that, but He didn't just to it because He had to. He did it with a loving attitude because He wanted to bless others.

It has been said that to some people, love is spelled T-I-M-E. Christ definitely took time to show others how much He cared. His entire life was dedicated to being a selfless example of service. If I'm not even willing to get up and do the homework that will take me five minutes after school, then I'm far from being Christlike. Christ was never ever selfish in any way. He was the perfect example.

So I suppose that my ultimate New Year's Resolution is to "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him." That is the theme for LDS youth this year, so I think that is very fitting. I want to strive to be more Christlike. He gave so much to everyone and took the time to accomplish what needed to be done. You never hear a story about Christ wasting time, because He never did. He knew what was important and what was not, and he never forgot the important things. He served others and forgot Himself.

I love my Savior. I feel so close to Him, and I know that He loves me. I know that he understands everything that I go through. I know that He is the perfect example to follow. Nobody else in the whole entire world could ever get me as far as if I followed in Jesus Christ's footsteps.

Yeah, I need to do my homework. I need to clean my room. I need to discipline myself and do those things, but more importantly I need to come unto Christ and learn to be a selfless person. I know that if I do that and strive to be the best I can become, the other things in my life will be easier and I will never feel alone. I will always feel the nearness of the Savior and know of His love for me.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

God Understands Us

My ward has set up a ward blog, and I have published a personal story on it. It is about a time in my life when I was not especially close to God and I had doubts. It is an experience that is close to my heart. The link is also to the left under "Blog Links."

The rest of the blog is absolutely amazing! Please read the other posts by fabulous church members at . The strength and the faith of the people around me never ceases to amaze me. It lifts me up and makes me want to be a better person.

The post on my ward's blog is about how God has helped me through music. This experience wasn't the only time this has happened. In February, my grandmother passed away and I had a really hard time. She was such a sweet, loving, gentle person and I knew that she was in the caring hands of God, but I still missed her immensely and really struggled putting it behind me. The day after her passing was especially difficult for me. I went to a basketball game for the young women in my ward. When I was playing I was fine, but whenever I was on the sidelines I broke down and started crying. After my young women leaders dropped my off at home, I had the words to "Fix You" by Coldplay get stuck in my mind. So I went to my room and played the song for a little bit. It helped me calm down and I could sense that this was a message Heavenly Father was trying to relay to me by putting the song in my mind.

The way that God reaches out to me reminds me of the scripture in Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5 and 6:

5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I know that God loves us each individually SO MUCH that He takes the time to communicate with us in the way we will receive His messages the best. There is no doubt in my mind the He knows who I am and watches out for me constantly. He will direct my paths, so long as I am faithful and trust in Him with all my heart.

Lyrics to "Fix You" by Coldplay:

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you