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.

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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