Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Who Will You Be?

Hello, it's been a while. Life is crazy. I should be doing homework right now. Or I should be practicing the piano. But I feel like it's important for me to write this blog post, because last week I realized something I've never realized before. I've been taught it my whole life, but it didn't mean anything to me until I was sitting on a train looking at everyone's shoes. I learned something I can't quite put in words. I can try to describe it by saying that it doesn't matter what you wear or what language you speak or how many pictures you post to Instagram in a day, but that doesn't quite cut it. I learned that life is so much more than how I am perceived.

Last week I was in Paris. Before my trip I was stressing. I was about to visit the fashion capital of the world! I'm the sort of person who hardly ever does her hair before school, let alone put on makeup or find matching socks. But that's not to say I'm not self-conscious about the way I look, and many days I would look at myself in the hall mirror and think, "If only I had woken up a few minutes earlier today I could have put on mascara," or, "I wish I'd done my laundry last week, then I wouldn't have to wear this weird t-shirt." I know they're shallow thoughts, but they are the thoughts I had.

So as I packed for Paris, I was extremely careful to pack my nicest travel-safe clothes. I even went shopping a week or so before I left just to be sure I wouldn't be embarrassed by what I was going to wear around France. And once I was in France I almost didn't want to talk when I was in public. I didn't want people to hear my American accent and criticize me for being a tourist.

Then one day towards the end of my visit I was sitting on the metro and looking at the ground. I liked to see what cool new shoe brands people wore in Paris. But this time as I was looking at everyone's shoes I did not see a single name brand shoe that stood out. I'm sure there were Nikes and Stan Smiths and other kinds of shoes, but from where I was sitting I didn't see any really nice shoes.

I remember thinking, "People aren't afraid to wear shoes like that in Paris?"

I didn't think that thought in a derogatory way. There was absolutely nothing wrong with their shoes. But I knew that if I had worn shoes like that, I would have been self-conscious. And then I looked at my own walking shoes, which were nothing special, and saw the dust from the street. We all wore different brands, and some shoes were newer than others, but our shoes were all the same. Our shoes all walked the same metro steps and were now sitting in the same metro car going wherever we needed to go. An no matter what our shoes looked like, they would get us there.

I realized that if people didn't worry too much about what their shoes looked like in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, then I best better not get worked up about what clothes I was wearing here, in my little city in America. I'm sure there are people who really do care a crazy amount about what they look like in Paris. I did see some pretty chic looking people while I was there. But my experience on the metro taught me that it really doesn't matter how closely you follow the fads. What matters more is the quality of person you choose to be.

And let me tell you, I've been happier since I've been home. Yes my trip was phenomenal but I've never loved where I live more. You can get worked up about all the bad that's in the world and loose sight of what's important. Don't do that! Don't loose sight of the things that are right in front of you, filling you with experience and making life beautiful. Don't get carried away thinking about how much better things would be if you lived a different culture. Things wouldn't be better. They'd be different, but you'd still have trials just the same as you do here. So the least you can do is let go a little, step back, breathe deep, and decide to be the best you can be in the situation you've been given.

You don't need to look the best. You don't need to be the most fit. You don't need to have the coolest friends. You just need to take life by the hand and realize you're beautiful the way you are. I still don't feel that I've accurately explained what I learned on that train. It's not just clothes. It's everything. Stop stressing about school and work and friends, just smile and do your best. It's easier said than done, but you'll be a lot happier if you can look at things with perspective. What your circumstance is right now will not be your whole life, but your attitude and decisions right now will determine where your life goes. So be happy. Stop caring about what others think. Decide who you will be, and then BE.

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.

Photo Credit:galenawardyw.blogspot.com
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.