18 December 2014

Luke 2: The Christmas Story

I remember as a little girl I loved using my mom's scriptures. I didn't have my own set at this time and I always felt special holding hers. I would flip through the pages and look at all of the things she highlighted. One chapter that always stood out to me was Luke 2. This chapter was the most marked in her Bible with the words "Christmas story" written on the side. I'm no master scriptorian, but I've always remembered this chapter. I'm grateful for my mom's love of Christmas and her love of the Savior. This time of year is a special one; let us remember why we celebrate it!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

06 December 2014

That's Christmas to Me

Christmas happens every year, we all know this. Trees with lights, tinsel all around, fireplaces blazing (unless you're from Florida), and so much more make up the holiday season. But these past few weeks I've really been thinking about this holiday season and what makes it important. Is it all about the packages and bows the perfect gift? There is a greater meaning to Christmas I think we've all overlooked at one time in our lives because we get caught up in the spirit buying and receiving for Christmas.

Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Although this day wasn't the actual day He was born, it is the day we celebrate the wonderful Gift that a loving Heavenly Father sent to us. I remember one tradition my family does every year. On Christmas Eve a cake would be brought. We'd eat dinner, play games, and just be with family. Then, when the clock struck midnight we would gather around this manger themed cake and sing "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus. Cheesy? Yes. But, we always knew why we were celebrating Christmas. I hold those memories dear, grateful for this tradition that focused my thoughts to my Savior.

Are you keeping Christ in Christmas? This Christmas season I challenge you to bring Christ back into Christmas. Remember that He is the wonderful Gift that we've been given and that because He was born we can live again. We can have second chances and we can have someone always on our side, no matter what. To me, that's the best gift there could ever be.

28 October 2014

Pillars of Salt

I have reached a time in my mission that has caused me to reflect a lot. Nine months. Half way. I feel like it's maybe been six months...maybe. Nine months seemed so far away and now it's come and passing. Time, it's weird like that.

Reflecting means looking back, remembering what we've done and where we've come from. I think that it's important and even healthy to do this often. We need to know where we've come from to have a better idea of where we are going. But there's danger in reflecting. It's called reliving. Reliving the past, good and bad. I've noticed that a lot of people want to relive the "glory days," want to go back in time to a moment that is far past. I've also noticed people who carry their past mistakes with them, like a bag full of rocks. It drags them down and breaks their backs. Why do we do this? Why do we like to live in the past?

Let's take a look at the story of Lot's wife. Lot and his family lived in the wicked city of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities became wickeder and wickeder and were going to be destroyed by God because they did everything they could to go against him. God told Lot to leave the city, that it was going to be destroyed and He left them on strict instruction, "look not behind thee" (Genesis 19:17). As Lot and his family fled the city something happened, Lot's wife looked back. A pillar of salt she became. Even though God had told her not to look back, she did it. Why? Why did she look back? I don't think that she simply looked back, I think she desired to go back. She didn't even give attention to the thought that the future could be so much better, so much more than the past she was leaving behind. She was too attached to the past and placed no confidence in the future.

Do we do this? Do we look back to relive our pasts instead of moving forward and living in the here and now and having hope for the future? Elder Jeffery R. Holland said:
"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future."
Let me restate that. "Faith is always pointed toward the future." Christ's Atonement covered the past mistakes we made so that we wouldn't have to carry around a bag of rocks with us. He wants to take them from us, we just have to let Him. We can't have faith in Him if we're continuing to look back and relive instead of reflect. We need to give our rocks to Him and let Him keep them. Don't try to take them back! Let Christ heal you and I promise that as we look forward and learn from our past and not live in it, we will be able to find more joy in our lives.

Every day is a new year, a new start. Nine months of my mission are done and gone. I can't change them, but I can learn from them and I can move forward. I can become better because of them. I don't become by changing my past, I become by shaping my future. So, in the words of a very popular Disney song, "let it go." Keep your eyes toward the future, towards your dreams and hopes, and trust that God will transform your life "today, tomorrow, and forever" (Jeffery R. Holland). Choose to not look back, choose to not let pillars of salt fill your life.

The talk that I pulled the Jeffery R. Holland quotes from is entitled "Remember Lot's Wife" and can be found here

09 September 2014

The Puzzle

Allow me to write about this little analogy I've been taking to heart this week. I've been feeling like this mission of mine is this super big puzzle that I'm taking forever to figure out. I just want to see the picture, but I don't have the box in front of me. Just the pieces, and not all of them. Some are missing and I have to go out and find them. Frustrating, right? Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up and say I'm finished, I'm done. But then I remember why I'm doing the puzzle, why I chose to begin in the first place.

These past few weeks have been hard. I feel like I've reached the end of my rope multiple times. I think I've even fallen off of my rope. There are nights where I throw myself on my bed because I don't want to do anymore. I feel like I've been holding the last straw for days now and I'm tired of it. This little puzzle of mine is unsolvable and I've done everything in my power to try and figure it out. I've searched for the pieces and have tried to get others to see the beauty in my puzzle. But the pieces are still missing and I feel like people only see the unfinished product, not the progress.

Then I was reminded of something. I know the person who has the picture. I know who has the missing pieces and who sees the beauty of my puzzle in progress. My loving Heavenly Father. In fact, He's helping me piece together a bigger, better puzzle. The puzzle isn't just my mission, it's my life. He's giving me the pieces that I need to work on right now. He knows what pieces I need and what order I need them in. He sees the worth and potential my puzzle has.

I know I talk a lot about potential and change, but I fully and completely believe in both. We have a Heavenly Father who loves us and sees all of the good in us, even when we can't see it ourselves. I know without a doubt that He does, because there are days when I feel worthless. I give up on myself because I just don't see the point. That's when He encourages me to keep pushing, keep crawling, keep going. He tells me it's okay that I don't see the potential, because He does. He sees it so much that He helps me through all of my trials and all of my weaknesses to get closer and closer to it. This is a puzzle He wants me to finish, and with His help I know I can. I know that each of our lives is a puzzle, one where we feel like a dog ate some of the pieces and the box was thrown in the garbage so there's just no hope. But there is hope, because no dog ate the pieces and the box is in the hands of a loving Father. Your puzzle will be solved, He will give you the pieces you need when you need them. We can't solve this puzzle alone, but with Him we can.

12 August 2014

Steps in the Dark

"You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you." 
Harold B. Lee
I'm the kind of person who likes to always know where they're going, what they're doing, and what's going to happen next. That's what brings me comfort. But, that's a lack of faith on my part. I constantly pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him about what His plan is for me. My prayer usually sounds something like "Heavenly Father, I want to know what the plan is. Please tell me, I just need to know and I'm not very good at not knowing." What a total lack of faith on my part! Sometimes, we have to take those few steps in the darkness to have the light appear.
Coming out on my mission was definitely a few steps in the dark, but once I made the decision to serve the Lord lighted my way. Now I'm in Vancouver on my mission and suddenly I feel like I'm facing a dark path. But wait, I already took a few steps in the dark. I already had faith.
Faith is an everyday thing. It's not something we do once or every so often. It's something we need to have every day. Is it hard? You bet. Is it worth it? Completely. Each day we have to take those few steps in the dark. When we do, our loving Heavenly Father will light the pathway before us. It is by taking these few steps in the dark that we are able to grow and use our ability to choose. It is after the trial of our faith that the blessings will come (Ether 12:6).
This week I'm going to try my best to take those steps in the dark and allow the Lord to light my way, not tell Him what I think the way should be. I know that as I exercise my faith in Him, He will help me to see the way I need to go.
"Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." Ether 12:6

22 July 2014

Six Months Better

Today I've officially been a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six months. Let me tell you, it's been a crazy, wonderful six months.
As a missionary I put things like work, school, family, and relationships on hold for eighteen months. You may be wondering, why would I do such a thing? Why would I leave behind a wonderful job, all of my friends at home and school, my family, and everything to go out for eighteen months and do nothing but serve and preach the gospel? I'll tell you why. Because it's true. Because it's Christ's gospel and He has asked me to serve. Because I know that there is no other way that we can fully be happy unless we follow Christ's gospel. And let me tell you, I've never been happier doing anything in my life!
Everyday I go out and talk to people. All kinds of people. I'm meeting people that I would have never met before if I had not gone on a mission. I hear people's stories of faith and trials and joys and hardships. They tell me of how they've found Christ in their lives and I've shared many tender moments with them. As I talk to each person I feel our Heavenly Father's love for them. I'm able to love people I only talk to for a few minutes and catch a glimpse of what God sees in them. It's incredible.
There are days when I miss my old life (or at least I think I do). I'll hear people talking about the latest movie or singing to a new song or raving about a new book, and sometimes I wish that I could join with them and watch that movie or sing that song or read that book. But then I remember my purpose. Not just as a missionary, but as a Daughter of God. My purpose is to help others feel the love He has for them just as I feel it. I remember not only why I came out in the first place, but also why I choose to continue to serve.
I just want to share my testimony with you. The one I've been able to grow out here on a mission. It's not perfect, but it's mine. I know that Christ did live and die for us. I can feel it. I can feel His presence in my life and His comfort. He is helping me to make my weak things become strong. I get to see Him working on me everyday. I know that God does answer our prayers. I've never known it more then I do now. I've tried it, I've asked Him if He does. And He answered me in His own way, in His own time. I know, without a doubt, He hears every word, every complaint, that I tell Him. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ's gospel on this Earth. How? He asked questions and God answered Him. Just like I ask questions and God answers me. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet in these latter days and restore not only His gospel, but His priesthood power on Earth. As I've read the Book of Mormon I've been able to gain this knowledge. I read it with an open heart, just looking for answers, looking for peace, looking for comfort, looking for direction. I've received all of these things and more as I've done so. Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us because we are His children. He wants nothing more then for us to return to Him and He's willing to do whatever it takes to get us there. Satan is real, but so is Christ. And Christ is stronger and can help us to win the war we're fighting against the adversary.
I plead with you, read the Book of Mormon. Test it out. Give it a go. We can never have too much knowledge. I promise you that if you start to read the book with an open and sincere heart that God will let you know that it's true.
I love what my mission is helping me become. It's allowing God to shape me into all I'm meant to be, and for that I am grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

03 July 2014

Why Weaknesses?

That's a question I ask myself all of the time. But improving is part of life, right? And sometimes we want to know what we can improve, so we ask others. Because no one likes to admit to faults and weaknesses. So I did just that, I asked Heavenly Father what I can do to become a better missionary. Here's how he answered. This is a scripture found in the Book of Mormon. I'm just going to break it down and tell you what I've learned.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness."
First we have to come to Him and ask. We have to be willing to see that we're not perfect. I knelt down in prayer and asked, "Heavenly Father, what am I doing wrong? Why aren't I as happy as I know I can be? What do I need to change?"
He definitely gave me my answer. In a loving way He pointed out what I could be better that. He showed me what I'm not perfect at. It was really hard to hear, even though it was done lovingly. I didn't expect to be so angry with my answer, but I was. My flaws were being pointed out and I didn't like it. I then asked "Why am I given this weakness? Why me? Can't someone else have this? I don't want it."
"I give unto men weakness that they may be humble."
I was definitely humbled. Because I'm not perfect and I had to have God show me those imperfections. That was super hard. But the more I prayed, the more my anger subsided. He gave me these weaknesses so that I would not only be humble, but so I would turn to Him in faith to become a better person.
"And my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me."
I'm learning more and more about how Christ's Atonement applies in my life. I'm coming to realize that it's not just to make up for grievous sins (though it does do that). His Atonement also makes up for my imperfections. Because in that Garden there was a moment where He felt everything single thing I would feel in life. He felt it and He overcame it. He knows the perfect solution to my weaknesses because He's gone through them and found that solution for me. He's found that solution for all of us. All He asks that we do to receive it is to "humble [ourselves] before [Him]." We need to come to Christ and let Him know that we can't do it alone, that we need Him. That's when He can help us, when our hearts are open to hearing Him.

"For if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
We come to Him, knowing that He knows the answers. We come to Him knowing that we cannot do it alone. And we come to Him with the faith that He has overcome our weaknesses before so that we wouldn't have to do it alone. When we do that He is able to stand with us and strengthen us. He speaks with us through spiritual promptings and guides us through overcoming our weakness. He's already cleared that path, we just have to follow. And when we do follow, we'll see our weakness become stronger and stronger until suddenly it's not a weakness. We're able to strengthen the weak spots in our armor because of Him.

It doesn't just end at one weakness though. Through Christ, we can be made complete. He can help us make all of our weaknesses stronger. As soon as I feel like, "yes, I'm done. I did it. I made that weak thing strong and now I'm good," my Heavenly Father lovingly points out another weakness. But He also gives me the comfort that I can do this and that He's proud of what I'm becoming. Overcoming weaknesses can feel like the burden that never goes away. But I also believe that it's one of the burdens in life that will bring us the closest to understanding Christ and all that His Atonement covers. We all have weaknesses, whether we want to or not. We're not perfect. But I know that it's possible to learn from those weaknesses and become the change that we want to. We can do hard things with Christ.

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

24 June 2014

Comfort from the Scriptures

Sometimes I just need comfort. I need to read a scripture that applies to me and makes me feel better. I need to allow God to speak to me through His word. So, here's a list of some of my favorite scriptures found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants. God wants to speak to us, and one way He does so is through His word.

Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. Alma 26:27 (Book of Mormon)

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 (New Testament)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (New Testament)

And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. Doctrine and Covenants 10:69

Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Doctrine and Covenants 6:34

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (New Testament)

Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. Alma 32:21 (Book of Mormon)

And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up. Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27 (Book of Mormon)

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and learn not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (Old Testament)

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. 2 Nephi 2:11 (Book of Mormon)

Countless times the scriptures have brought me comfort and hope during my trials and difficult times. I know that they are true, that they are words written by prophets of God. His gospel is real, He is real. He lives, and I'm so grateful for that knowledge.

14 May 2014

Book of Mormon Challenge: What I Learned in Five Chapters

President Taylor, my mission President, has challenged each missionary to read the entire Book of Mormon this transfer (a transfer being six weeks long). Here's an entry from my scripture journal that I've been keeping. I kind of got really excited and went crazy. I didn't realize you could gain so much by just reading the scriptures and applying them into your life!

Personal Study on 5 May 2014
Alma 18-22
The sons of Mosiah were awesome missionaries! First, let me start off with Ammon. He began teaching King Lamoni by serving him. It was after seeing how faithful and powerful Ammon was that he then listened to Ammon teach the gospel. So, teaching lesson
1. We can show our love and soften people's hearts through service.
2. Teach people where their understanding is at! Ammon does a fantastic job of this in Alma 18:24-40.
3. Whe we follow the promptings of the Lord we will be blessed.
After teaching Lamoni, Ammon was invited to go with Lamoni to visit his father. But Ammon followed the prompting of the Lord and decided to go free his imprisioned brothers instead. Lamoni decided to go along and they end up running into Lamoni's dad on the way there. Ammon then plants a gospel seed with Lamoni's father by telling him that all he desires is for his brothers to be free and for Lamoni to retain his kingdom and have the freedom to make decisions for himself (Alma 20:24). Lamoni's dad was seriously impressed and began to wonder what made Ammon such a righteous man. Thus, gospel seed planted.
4. Planting seeds is just as important as teaching.
If Ammon hadn't planted the seed with Lamoni's father, then Lamoni's father would not have received the gospel when Aaron taught him. We can't always fully convert everyone to the gospel. But we can plant seeds and be an instrument in the Lord's hands in preparing them for the gospel when they are ready to accept it.
5. The scriptures are the sickle in the work of salvation.
Both Ammon and Aaron teach using the scriptures. (Alma 22:13)
6. Our converts can bring many to Christ.
Just look at Lamoni and his father. After they were converted they talked to their people and brought many to believe in the gospel by the testimonies they shared. Our experiences, stories, and testimonies are powerful. We need to make sure we feel the excitement and fire of the gospel so that we can share it with all.
7. Teach at a basic level. The basics are powerful.

I also just like Alma 22:18 (this is king Lamoni's dad talking after Aaron has taught him)
O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.
The part I italicized is my favorite line of the scripture. It made me wonder and think about what I would be willing to give up to truly know God and if I would give up everything. It amazes me how much I can learn from the scriptures each time I read them. They seriously apply to every aspect of my life, and I know they can do the same for you!

30 April 2014

When Life Throws You A Curve Ball

Or rather, when President Taylor throws you a curve ball. Transfer day was today. Transfers are six week periods where we work with our companion in certain areas. After six weeks we can get a new companion or be moved to another area within our mission. On Friday I received a letter saying that I would be transferred to the Portland Heights Ward as an ASL missionary. Basically, I stared at my transfer letter in disbelief. I was not originally called as an ASL missionary. When I went to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) I was trained to teach in English. I haven't used ASL since early December. That may not seem like that long of a time, but it really is. Languages aren't exactly like riding a bike. At least not for me. I've been having to figure out how I'm going to do this. How am I going to teach people in a language I don't normally speak? How am I going to communicate? How am I going to not be a burden to my companion and a waste of a missionary?
Here's what I'm coming to see out here on my mission. With Christ we can do all things. It's as simple as that. That doesn't mean that all things will just come easy to us. It means that as we work hard and with faith, Christ can help us overcome our challenges. He can help us knock those curve balls out of the park. In the Book of Mormon there's a man named Nephi. Nephi has just left Jerusalem with his family to avoid being taken captive. The Lord has just commanded Nephi to build this ship to carry his family out of the land. Now, building ships is not something Nephi has ever done. The amazing thing is, he simply asks the Lord how he can do it. He has so much faith in the Lord that he knows that if the Lord wants it done he will provide a way.
If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?
1 Nephi 17:50-51
Nephi had the faith that all things can be done with the help of our Heavenly Father. I know that if we have that faith in our life, if we ask for the help from our Father in Heaven, we too can do all things. We can do things we didn't even imagine possible. I'm excited for this new adventure. I know that it's going to challenge me and stretch me, but I know that with the Lord on my side I will never fail.

10 April 2014

Can I Make a Difference?

I ask myself this question a lot. Can I make a difference? So many times I've heard "one person can make a difference." But I never think that the "one person" can be me. How can it be? I've never done something truly amazing like start an organization that feeds the homeless or given an inspiring speech that's uplifted so many or changed the world for the greater good of mankind.
I just want to share a story. This story is about one person who made a difference to me, and I'm pretty sure she never knew it. We've all had those hard times in our lives where things aren't going right and life seems so unfair. Where we feel lost and confused and like there's no hope. Those times are hard. It was my sophomore year in high school and I was going through a lot with school and friends and life in general. I stopped going to church, even though I knew that's where I should be. I felt unimportant. But then one of my leaders reached out to me. She talked to me every time I went and looked genuinely happy that I was there. She invited me to parties and activities and when I talked to her I felt like I was important, that she truly did care about what I was saying. For me, she was a role model of what I wanted to be. Her family wasn't perfect, but she seemed to always find the good in situations. Her perseverance and positive attitude were great examples to me. Because she cared enough to reach out to me, my life is different. She made a difference to me.
I just want to tell you (and myself, really) that you CAN make a difference. You can make a difference to one person. Or millions. You can show people by your example how they can be happy. You can uplift someone with your smile. There was a quote on a magnet that my mom got for me. It said, "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world." You have the power to influence people's lives for good or for better, all in how you live your life. I want to try to be like this leader of mine, to uplift others everywhere I go and to brighten their days. I want to be a positive influence. And who knows, your positive influence could lead to another person's decision to change.
"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."

29 March 2014

Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice

Twice a year I and countless others (pretty much everyone in the world) have the opportunity to come together and listen to inspiring and comforting words. Where exactly do we hear these inspiring words? I'm glad you asked. It's called General Conference. Twice a year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a conference that is broadcasted all over the world. The conference consists of four sessions, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, where Apostles of the Lord and other leaders in the church share inspiring messages and insights. They pray long and hard to know what to speak about for this conference and prepare to share their message with all of the world. It's this wonderful opportunity we've been given to listen to people who have been inspired by God (which is a really amazing thing).
Often times when listening to these talks I think "hey, that was totally for me" or "wow, I really needed to hear that." The beauty of General Conference is that it can apply to anyone. Male or female, young or old, member or non-member. Everyone can be inspired by listening to the words spoken at conference. And really, who doesn't like to listen to inspiring words that create good feelings?
I know that God has restored His gospel again on this Earth today and that He calls prophets in our day and age to help guide us. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet who receives revelation from God and I'm grateful for the opportunity that I have to hear him and other Apostles and authorities speak this coming weekend.
So yeah, get ready to be inspired and uplifted by General Conference. Come listen to a prophet's voice. Come and see just how powerful and wonderful God's love is for each and every one of us.
"Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church." Dieter F. Uchtdorf


22 March 2014

Happiness is Now

I have this problem. I like to daydream and constantly imagine what the future is going to be like. Like when I'm running, I like to think about how awesome I'm going to feel after and how much more awesome that chocolate cake is going to taste (so maybe not the best thing to be thinking of). For me, looking to the future is a great source of inspiration. But as I've been going through the past few weeks I've also noticed that it's become a hindrance as well.
I find myself sometimes thinking "I'll be happy when this happens" or "I'll be happy when that happens." I keep waiting and waiting to be happy, not even realizing that I can have happiness right now. Right in this moment.
We can have happiness now.
Who says that we have to wait for it to come? Who says that we can't be happy in the moment? If we keep waiting for the future to bring us happiness it will never come. I've experienced this. As soon as "this" or "that" happen, we find another reason to wait for happiness because surely, we could be a lot happier than we feel.
I'm working on looking at happiness as a choice. It is a choice. There aren't many things we can control in the world. We can't control when the rain is going to stop or when we're going to get a promotion or when a loved one leaves this earth. Things just happen. Life happens. We can't let it pass us by as we wait for some fantasized happiness that exists in the future. We need to choose to be happy right now, in this very moment.
Put a smile on your face. Sing a happy song. Eat a piece of chocolate. Make the future now and enjoy being happy. I know that as we do this our trials will become more bearable. We will be able to recognize the countless blessings that Heavenly Father has given to us and enjoy the small and simple things in life.
"The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

15 March 2014

Changing Change

The only thing in life that's constant is change. I'm sure you've heard that phrase rehearsed a million times and I'm pretty sure you'll hear it a million more. In the words of Marvin J. Ashton, an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "There is nothing so unchanging, so inevitable as change itself." For me, change is usually a negative thing. I have to change something I'm doing because I've been doing it wrong or I have to change it because it's not working. Change can seem like something that has to happen when what we're doing isn't good enough. And that can make us angry! "What do you mean I have to change this? What do you mean what I'm doing isn't good enough?" We can be so set in our ways, so comfortable with the way things are, that we don't even entertain the thought that maybe change is a good thing. I'll be the first to say that I am not always a fan of change. Sometimes I'll fight it and go in with a negative attitude. Why should I have to change what I'm doing? I like things the way that they are and I don't want to change a thing. But once I changed my perspective of change, I began to see it in a new light (ironic, huh?).
Let's do some visualization, shall we? Say that you are a piano player. You've been playing for a few years and you feel pretty good about your musicality. Then one day you go to a concert and listen to a pianist who sounds a million times better than you do. You really, really want to be just as good as them. You want to improve. Makes sense, yeah? So what do you do to improve? You practice more, you learn more technique, you work toward your full potential as a piano player. Note how in this example, not once did I use the word "change." But that's what you're doing, isn't it? You're changing how much you practice, the techniques you use, and the effort you put in because you want to improve. Change is a desire to improve! Change can put us into a growth zone that allows us to improve ourselves and challenge ourselves. Another little saying I've heard is, "there's not comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone." To change is to grow, and in order to grow we need to spend time in the growth zone.
I know, the growth zone sounds like a scary place. I imagine that I'm walking along a forest trail and it's pitch black. I can't see my way and I'm stumbling over branches and falling into holes. It's hard and painful and I just want to turn around and go back to the part of the forest where I know there's light. I mean, who enjoys falling into holes and getting cut up by branches? No one. Now, let's imagine I keep walking down this dark path. It's hard going and I feel like I'm never going to make it to the end. So I stop in my path and turn around, maybe this just isn't worth it. That's when I see what I've accomplished. That's when I see the light that I've brought to this dark forest. The view is beautiful. The journey has been worth it because I've uncovered this beautiful path. Now I want to keep going so I can uncover more of this path. I feel accomplished and I can see what a blessing walking the path has been.
This is what change is. It's walking that hard path because the blessings you receive are far more worth the stumbling that it took. We are living our lives so that we can become better people, so that we can become the very best us that there can be. Are we going to sell ourselves short of our full potential because change is hard? We shouldn't! When we were sent down to this Earth our Heavenly Father knew it was going to be hard for us. We knew it was going to be hard. But that didn't stop us. That didn't dull or diminish our desire to want to be better. The fact that you're in this world today and full of life is proof  that you made the decision to come down to this earth to gain a body and grow to your full potential. It's gonna be hard, but the things that are hardest in life are the things that are most worth it! And if you feel like it's ever too much, that you just can't take another step in the dark forest, there is help. There is someone there who will lift you up, who will begin to light your path so that you can see. That person is Jesus Christ. In Christ, we can do all things. He can light our path and show us where the holes and branches are. Sure, we're still going to fall because that's life and we're all a little clumsy, but with His light we'll also begin to see the beauty in change as we can go through it.
Never let anyone tell you that you can't change. Don't let them rob you of the precious opportunity you have to lighten the forest and find beauty. Embrace the forest that is change and find joy in the journey. Because really, that's what life is all about. Trying a little harder to become a little better and finding the joy in the journey.

19 February 2014

The Restored Priesthood

You know how we all have those points in life when we say "This is enough, this is all I can handle?"
Those are the points in life when we usually bump into another trial or hardship and we wonder how things could possibly get worse.
Well, I had one of those moments this past Sunday. My companion and I were doubled-in to a new area. That means we are both new to the area we are assigned to serve. On top of that this is her first time training and my first time in the field. That can add a lot of stress, not knowing the area and being a beginner at something. Though I've been trying my best, I was struggling to keep up with everything that had to be done and with staying positive. There's just so much that needs to be done and I feel like I'm really not qualified to get it all done (that's Satan talking, but that's a topic for another day). It's like I was trying to stack ten more boxes on a box tower that's swaying and about to come tumbling down. I just didn't know how I could add any more to my to-do list and keep my sanity. It was at this point that another box was added to my tower even though I wasn't ready for it to be put there. I got really sick on Sunday. I was weak and throwing up everything I was consuming. I really wanted to go to church so we could meet people in the ward, seeing as we weren't able to do that the week before due to the ice storm. I was so disappointed when I woke up in the morning and emptied out the contents of my stomach into a toilet bowl. I was frustrated. We're told that Heavenly Father knows us, that He is mindful of us. I thought if He was truly mindful of me He wouldn't be giving me this trial, that He would know I couldn't handle it. But I was missing the point and the bigger picture. There are so many lessons I learned from this experience, some I'll go into detail at a later time. One of them was that it's God's plan, not ours. He truly knows us and He knows what we can endure. He believes in us and our strength. Another lesson I learned is that God has given us so much here on earth to bring us peace and comfort through the hard times in our lives.
One thing that He's given us is the power of the Priesthood. This is a power that was restored to the earth when Joseph Smith restored Christ's Gospel. The Priesthood is the power of God. When Christ came down to the earth He used this power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and make miracles happen. Today, the same power exists on the earth. We are able to receive priesthood blessings by those who have the authority to hold the priesthood. God truly is mindful of us. He has sent us the priesthood to bless our lives. This priesthood power has the ability to seal families for eternity in the Temple, give blessings of health to those who are ill, and bless the Sacrament that helps us turn to Christ and remember Him.
I was able to receive a priesthood blessing of health on Sunday. Through that blessing I could feel Heavenly Father's love for me and I was given strength to endure my illness. As I went through the day things did get a little worse, but I was promised in my blessing that Heavenly Father would give me the strength to heal and I had the faith that He would. More hours past and I slowly began to return to health. The healing wasn't instant, but it occurred and I knew my Heavenly Father was mindful of me. I'm so grateful for the Restoration of the gospel on this earth and that through this Restoration the priesthood was also restored. I know that those who are worthy to hold it are a blessing to me and it is a gift and a tool that Heavenly Father has given to us in this day to help us grow in strength and grow closer to Him.

15 February 2014

To Serve Another

As I'm sure y'all are well aware, this past Friday was Valentine's Day. This is a dedicated day to show our love for others as well as for our loved ones. Though I like the idea of sharing our love with others, I don't like the idea that it's only limited to one day. We should be sharing the love we have for others every day, in big or small ways. Although chocolates are nice, serving others shows just as much love.
Out here on my mission I get a lot of opportunities to serve others. We are constantly looking for those who need help and serving the people in the ward and community. I absolutely love it. I get to put my personal needs aside to help uplift others; there's no greater feeling. Just imagine how much happier and brighter the world would be if we would just set aside our needs for the needs of others. Not only would this help to make the world a better place, but it can help us to bring more happiness in our own lives. In the book of Mosiah from the Book of Mormon there's a scripture that reads:
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow being ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17
When we put ourselves to the side and forget ourselves in work for others, we can gain a confidence and a happiness that becomes contagious. People will see the light in your eyes as you walk out on the street. As we serve others Heavenly Father can inspire us to become the answers to someone's prayers. He knows us all perfectly and knows what we need. Don't cheat yourself the joy of sharing in the happiness of another through service. Just one small service act a day can help bring more light and happiness into the world, and eliminate the selfish and cruel. I'm going to end my little post on service with a lovely quote from the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley. May your days be wonderful and full of service. I promise you that as you go out there and serve others you will gain so much more joy in your life.
"He who lives only unto himself withers and dies, while he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms in this life and in eternity." Gordon B. Hinckley

20 January 2014

Called to Serve

Here's a little excerpt from my farewell talk, talking about how I decided to serve a mission. I'm so grateful that I made that decision and I'm excited to serve the wonderful people of Washington and Oregon.

I’d like to share an experience I’ve had with prayer and how it has brought me closer to my Father in Heaven and my Savior. A little over a year ago an announcement to lower the age that sister missionaries could serve was made in General Conference. My friends and I were so surprised by this announcement. I was out at BYU living in the freshmen dorms and this was all people were talking about. Tons of girls in my hall said that they would go on a mission. I was excited and I wanted to go too. I was very set on leaving right as I turned nineteen, but the more I thought about it the more it didn’t feel right. I knew I had to make a decision. I kept praying to God to tell me what to do, but it didn’t feel like he was answering. I came to the decision that a mission wasn’t for me and that I would continue going to school. I prayed to God again, telling Him my decision. I said that if this wasn’t the right path for me that He needed to let me know before it was too late to change my mind. A few months past and it came time for apartment shopping. I was going to room with one of my friends from my hall. We looked at a dozen or so apartments and spent hours comparing and talking about where we wanted to live. We were having such a hard time deciding and to me, I felt like I couldn’t live in any of the apartments. Then one weekend in February we went to the temple with my friend Chris who was about to leave on his mission. I felt so much peace in the temple and I enjoyed being there. The next day was Sunday. I was sitting in Sacrament when an idea came into my head. If I stayed for the spring term and another fall semester, I would be able to finish the language I was studying and finish the GE requirements for my major. I would then be able to serve my mission in the winter. I was so excited with this idea. I had never thought of it before. Things began to make sense. My friend who was going to be my roommate talked to me later that day. I didn’t know how to tell her that we couldn’t be roommates because I wanted to go on a mission. Before I could tell her this she told me that she’d love to be my roommate, but couldn’t because she had made the decision that weekend to go on a mission. That weekend we both had our prayers answered. I know that Heavenly Father was there with me, helping me to make my decision. He allowed me to use my agency first, and then gave his council. Heavenly Father always answers our prayers. Maybe it’s not when we want the answer, how we want the answer, or what we want the answer to be, but He will never ignore our prayers.