Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Humility of a Horse

I have been studying on humility my entire mission, as it is an attribute I know I lack. Yet, every time I come close to feeling like I understand humility I recognize a new facet to it that I didn't see before and the study continues.

Recently though, I was thinking about attributes of a horse: strong, intelligent, powerful. Yet, the best horse is one that will submit to it's master. What really makes a good horse is humility.

English author John Ruskin once wrote, "the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean, by humility, doubt of his own power. … [But really] great men … have a curious … feeling that … greatness is not in them, but through them. … And they see something Divine … in every other man … , and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful." (To Walk Humbly with Thy God

When discussing the attribute of humility with a friend, she pointed out that "humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself." When we degrade ourselves it is more a form of pride than humility.

On further study I also discovered the tie between faith and humility. Faith is knowing that God has a plan for us, while humility is submitting to that plan. Likewise, we can have hope that God's plan will be for our good.

The attribute of humility is an attribute of power. Just as a horse is more powerful as it yields to it's master. Bishop Edgley once said "Humbly submitting our will to the Father brings us the empowerment of God—the power of humility. It is the power to meet life’s adversities, the power of peace, the power of hope, the power of a heart throbbing with a love for and testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, even the power of redemption."(The Empowerment of Humility)

Humility is power and I invite you to work towards being humble; it's something we each must work at everyday. Then, once you realize you have obtained it, strive again to get it back.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Graph of Progress

Sometimes I get discouraged with the mistakes I make. I know that it's part of learning and that through the Savior's atonement I can overcome it, but I'd just been making so much progress! I've realized though, that with progression comes set backs.

Even Nephi, a prophet, encountered such setbacks. He recognized the joy he felt from the spirit, so much that he says his "soul delighteth in the things of the Lord." (2 Nephi 4:16) But his "heart exclaimeth...because of the temptations and the sins that do so easily beset [him]." (2 Nephi 4:17-18)

A prophet even recognizes that as much as he loves the spirit and the Lord, he sometimes falters and has to work to once again progress and have the spirit with him. He cries out "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul." (2 Nephi 4:28)

So when we make a mistake, we can't give up or get disheartened. The key is to pick ourselves back up, with a new determination to serve God and be worthy of His Spirit. Making our peaks a little higher than our last peak, and then when we falter, not falling as far as we did before. That will be the key to our progression in returning to live with our Father in Heaven.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memorized Scripture

I've heard before the secret to developing a photographic memory: memorize a scripture a day for a year. I tried it for a while, choosing short verses at random, but was disappointed when nothing was sticking, and decided to call it quits.

Elder Richard G. Scott, in the October 2011 conference, taught that "Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change." (The Power of Scripture)

I've reflected on this statement again and again, and contemplated memorizing scriptures once more. I even memorized one or two here and there. Then recently the discussion of developing a photographic memory came up again. This time the friend I was speaking with shared an example of a man who chose a chapter and worked on full chapters rather than random verses.

I was again filled with the desire to memorize God's word. Today I memorized the 20th verse from 2 Nephi 4. As I've been memorizing this chapter I have indeed found a friend. New insights pop out to me every time I recite the verses. I get excited each day to "forge a new friendship" and receive more inspiration.

With more than half the chapter memorized I look forward to starting in on another. Whether or not I have a photographic memory in a year no longer matters as much as the depth of what I am learning each day. I now have a life long friend in the scriptures.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Never Forgotten

When I was young my family went on a trip to the zoo. I was so excited to see all the animals. I was especially excited when we came to the small habitat for the polar bears. I pressed myself up against the chain link fence and stretched my neck to get a better view of the bears.

The bears weren't doing anything too exciting, just wandering around their small surroundings, and we were all soon ready to pass on to the next exhibit of animals. Everyone began to walk away, and as I turned to follow I realized my jacket zipper was stuck on the fence! I tugged and pulled, but that jacket was determined to stay right where it was.

My family soon disappeared around the corner and I stood there, attached to the fence, and cried. My family had left me and I would never see them again, I just knew it! I continued to tug at my jacket, but the zipper wouldn't yield.

After about 5 minutes, my family came back by the polar bear exhibit, only too see me sobbing uncontrollably, still yanking at my stubborn jacket. My mother came and helped me unlatch myself, and wiped away my tears, assuring me I was not forgotten.

The Lord once asked a penetrating question: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" Then teaches us profoundly that "yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."(Isaiah 49:15-16)

Although mothers have busy moments where they may lose sight of a child, the Lord is always there with us. He was with me as I cried, stuck on the fence at the zoo, and that unyielding wall was "before [Him]" too. I know that He is with us. He can not forget us, nor will He ever. Our challenges are engraved on His hands.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

...With Hymns of Praise

I have always loved music, but since I've been on my mission I have had an increase of love for the hymns.

The prophets have said that "The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord...Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end."

Elder Oaks once said, and I agree, that "the singing of hymns is one of the best ways to put ourselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord."

As my companion and I have been working, any time that we find we don't know what to do, or are distracted, we stop and sing a hymn. I've noticed what a strong impact a simple hymn can be. By singing hymns I have felt the spirit more than I would on an average day. I've been directed when I am confused. I have felt the Lord's love.

I testify that hymns bring the spirit. If you're ever feeling down, confused, or upset, stop and sing a hymn and I know that the Holy Ghost will touch your heart and bring feelings of hope, peace, and guidance. 

Read more about the power of hymns.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

...With Puzzles

I've recently learned to love puzzles! I helped a woman finish one recently and it was fun to sit back and admire how well all the pieces fit together. I looked at all the little pieces that had given me trouble and chuckled to myself. After it was all done it made sense, yet some of those pieces were so challenging and didn't seem to fit anywhere!

The more I thought about those pieces the more I remembered the pieces of my life that don't seem to fit -- challenges that arise and trials I don't know why I went through.

We each can understand once we get to algebra why the basic 2+2 was an important thing to learn, and that concept applies with every lesson we learn. We get through trials and, later in life, realize just how important that particular challenge we had years ago prepared us for where we're at.

In essence we put together those puzzle pieces. But it's hard to see the full perspective with just one little piece. The Lord is able to see the whole image, put together, and knows what pieces to hand us.

We too can gain a glimpse of where and how the puzzle fits together as we turn to the scriptures. The Lord has given us the tools. He's given us the image on the box to look at for guidance. We can also pray and ask for the added guidance. Then someday we'll be able to lean back and say, "aw, so that's how that piece fits in..."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

...With An Easter Message

I want all who look at this blog to know that I know my Savior, Jesus Christ lives! I know He knows and loves me. I know that He suffered for me that I can return to live with my Father in Heaven. Because of Christ's suffering I can find relief everyday. He has felt all my pain and joy. He suffered so that I might not suffer alone. He knows my trials, my weaknesses, my illnesses; He also knows my strengths, my talents, and the things that bring me joy.

I love Jesus Christ and will forever be grateful for His atoning love! What has Jesus Christ done for you?

...With The Risen Christ

Thursday, March 22, 2012

...With Psalms of David

I was reflecting on what I based my blog off of. Read this Psalm and enjoy the beauty of it's message:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: 
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

...With Tablets

The other day I was doing a study of 2 Nephi 14 (Isaiah 3). I read about how as the world approaches the time that Christ will return to the earth the "daughters of Zion," or the woman of God, will be "haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go..." (Isaiah 3:16)

Then, as I continued to read, Isaiah talks of all the accessories and riches that woman will flaunt which the Lord will take away from them. I tried to imagine what each one was and reflect on my own use of jewelry and accessories. Then I came to one particular object that surprised me: "the tablets" (Isaiah 3:20)

The tablets. I could only think of one thing: the actual tablets we see so many people using today. I thought of how great of a tool it is, but yet, how excessive use could ruin our relationships, our opportunities, our very lives. Are we "mincing" as we go? Walking with "wanton eyes," tablet always in hand?

There are so many good things in life! Think of all the goodness of the reality of life we miss as we spend countless hours facebooking, twittering, or cutting ropes! Or as some of the other verses mention, obsessing over our "crisping pins" or our many "suits of apparel." (Isaiah 3:22) I hope we can each reflect on what we value and remember to be keeping the greatest commandment of putting God first.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

...With Happiness

Do you want to be happy? Of course you do! And I found the secret equation for happiness! Are you ready to be happy?

Family + Commandments + Scriptures + Temples + Work + Priesthood = Happiness

How do I know this? And where is the proof? Take a look in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:

1. Family. Nephi's older brothers don't really like him. In fact, they want to kill him. So what does Nephi do? He "flees into the wilderness" (verse 5) and the first thing he says he takes with him is his family (see v. 6). 

2. Keep the Commandments. Nephi tells of the first thing his family does as they settle in the wilderness: "...we did observe to keep the judgements, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things..." (v. 10)

3. Study the Scriptures.  Another thing Nephi mentions bringing as he fled into the wilderness were the "plates of brass" (v. 12), or their current scriptures. Nephi and his family read and prayed about this record often. 

4. Temple Attendance. Once Nephi and his family settled down what was the first thing he speaks of building? Temples! "...after the manner of the temple of Solomon..." (v. 16) they built and worshiped in temples.

5. Work. Work fixes that which doesn't work anymore. Nephi taught his people that they needed to "labor with their hands" (v. 17) or to learn to work for themselves. A valuable trait we all need to learn.

6. Priesthood and Following the Prophet. The last thing Nephi mentions doing is ordaining his younger brothers to "be priests and teachers" (v. 26) so that the people would have the blessings of the priesthood to lead and direct them.

So how does this equal happiness? After describing the pattern that Nephi and his people live, he tells us of their standard of living. He says "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." (v. 27) If we follow this pattern, set by a prophet of God, we too will find that we are living "after the manner of happiness." Now go be happy! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

...With Chastity

I've often heard the phrase, "when you play with fire you get burned." It wasn't until recently I realized how deep that phrase cane be. We need to keep fire safely contained.

A fireplace is much like the home, or the legal bonds of marriage. Inside the fireplace we can enjoy, safely, the warmth of the fire and the heat it gives off. However, if we were to try to start a fire in the middle of the living room the results would be disastrous!

In the same way physical intimacy needs to be kept within the legal bounds of marriage. When a man and woman take the power of procreation outside the laws of God they risk serious consequences and heartache. Like the fireplace, if a couple waits for marriage they can enjoy the safety and warmth of the intimacy, avoiding the disasters of tampering with a God given power.

Jesus said, "That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) We must not only keep ourselves chaste physically, but stay clean in our thoughts as well.

Great blessings and happiness await those who don't tamper with the power of procreation, but wait until the sacred order of marriage to "build their fire." Watch as six teenagers of all faiths explain why they choose to be pure:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

...With Valentine's

I know it's late, but I thought this was cool:
For God do loved the world
        That he gave
             His only
                 That whosoever
        Believeth in Him
           Should not perish
        But have everlasting life. 
                              John 3:16

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

...With Waiting

I came across a scripture the other day that I've read many times before but never truly noticed. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi prays for understanding to know for himself about what his father taught. He is given a vision of God's plan; part of the vision includes seeing his brothers rebellion and the distruction of his own descendents.

After his vision Nephi came across his brothers whom he'd just had a vision concerning. His brothers addressed Nephi, "disputing one with another concerning the things which [their] father had spoken." (1 Nephi 15:2) Despairing over his brother's pride, Nephi declaires, "I was overcome because of mine afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall." (1 Nephi 15:5)

What I had never noticed before was that after seeing his brother's attitudes, Nephi waits. He states, "after I had received strength I spake unto my brethren." (1 Nephi 15:6; emphasis added)

Rather than trying to speak to, and help his brothers while he was "overcome" with emotion, he waited until his emotions had been soothed and he'd gained strength of mind.

This is a great pattern for us to follow. Before trying to approach others about sensative subjects we should take Nephi's example of waiting, calming down, and contemplating. As we do so our minds will be open and will be able to more lovingly work with others.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

...With Worry

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers..." Psalm 37:1

I tend to worry too much. So I thought I'd blog on something for me and all the other worry warts out there.

Jospeh B. Worthlin said, "When we worry about the future, we create unhappiness in the present. Righteous concern may lead us to take appropriate action, but worrying about things we cannot control can paralyze and demoralize us.

Instead of worrying, focus on doing all that you can, and then leave the worrying to your Heavenly Father. If your heart is right with Him, He will take care of the worry and the fear. We must learn to 'fret not.'"

Nothing good comes out of worry. I think of times in my life where I get worked up with worry and before long am nauseous, unable to do much. Usually I find that whatever I am worrying about works itself out or wasn't as bad as I thought.

J. Spencer Kinard explained that "someone has mathematically calculated that forty percent of our worries will never materialize; thirty percent deal with old decisions that cannot be changed; twelve percent focus on criticism that is mostly untrue; ten percent deal with our health, which only worsens when we worry; and only eight percent are legitimate. The point we would make is that life does have real problems that may be met head-on when we eliminate useless and senseless worry." 

But how do we deal with worry? We turn to the Lord. Show our trust through earnest prayer and scripture study. In Psalm 37 David teaches that to actively pray we need to stop worrying and put our faith in God. Fear, or worry, can't exsist in the same realm as faith.

I once had a friend who knew how much I worried. When he saw me worrying over something he would stop me and remind me, "Why is this important? What is more important? What will worrying do to fix this?" That self reflection has made so much difference in my life.

So before you worry, stop for a moment and ask yourself the same thing. Turn to the Lord, let him take your worries from you, and put your full faith in Him, who died for every care and worry.

Friday, January 20, 2012

...With Miracles

God is still a God of miracles. I've seen that this is especially true in the last week. I'd like to share with you some incredible miracles I've encountered recently.

Miracle #1

A young girl I know has nearly 5 acres of property that she owns, full of rubble and garbage. Knowing how much work lay ahead of her we offered to help. She was happy to take us up on that offer and away we went, piling stacks of wood, scrap metal, and old, rusty cans. After dumping a large load of plastic from the wheelbarrow I took a firm step back and felt a poke. Looking down I was surprized to see a three inch, rusty nail sticking out of my shoe. I pulled the nail out and then took my shoe off to examine my foot. Nothing. It didn't make sense. I stepped straight on the nail with all my weight and it didn't even puncture the skin. It was a miracle.

Miracle #2
For the last several weeks I've been at war with a cold. I've lost every battle. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get rid of it. However, I had been asked to sing in church on an upcoming Sunday. Thinking I'd of course be over my cold by then, I agreed. Time went by too quickly, as it tends to like doing, and the day of my solo came. Now to the coughing stage of war I could only take short breathes without having a coughing fit. I didn't know how I'd be able to sing, but I was committed. Praying I went up to the pulpit, and sang. No problems. After sitting back down my cough resumed. I'd been healed long enough to sing. Another miracle.

Miracle #3
A day of snow. Endless snow. In fact it snowed a foot within 24 hours. It didn't stop! As we were getting home we saw our neighbors out shoveling it while their kids played. We spent some time with them and their kids and about an hour later finally picked up our backpacks to go inside. Wanting to lock the truck, I reached in my pocket for the keys. Gone. We looked, retraced our steps. Searched the areas we'd been, but it had snowed so much if the keys had fallen out of my pocket they were gone for sure. We prayed and searched again. Nothing. Our only set of keys. I was sure I was a goner. The keys don't belong to us. We called another set of missionaries and asked for them to pray as well. Then again, we looked. Suddenly I saw what I thought was a leaf sitting on the snow where we'd been standing and searching. Walking over to it hopefully, I shouted in exitement as I found our heavy set of keys sitting gently on the freshly fallen snow. Another miracle.

Don't tell me that God doesn't perform miracles. These may seem simple to you, but it's incredible to me. Something I have learned is that the Lord does this everyday. If we would simply look around us we'd see miracles everywhere.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

...With Abundance

This month the prophet of the world, Thomas S. Monson, taught us the ABCs of living abundantly. I'd like to share my own experiences and insight of how we can live "the abundant life" based off his three simple ideas.

A is for Attitude.

President Monson said "We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude."

I once got a temporary job working at a floral shop during Valentine's week. When I was hired so was another woman, who, after the busy week, would stay on and work the closing shift for the store. After the first day we both knew there was a problem. Our boss was a tough New York lady, who didn't mince words. She used harsh language and easily criticised. My coworker and I were having difficulty pleasing her, and finding joy in our work at the same time. Frustrated, my coworker walked out on the job, refusing to come back. Needing the income I stuck it out. I knew something needed to change though. I couldn't change my boss. I could only change my attitude. That job is now one I look back on as one of my favorites. Because I changed how I looked at the situation I eventually became great friends with my boss, and enjoyed day to day work.

B is for Believe

Believe in yourself, believe in others, and believe in eternal principles. There is power in believing and living up to that belief. We need to believe in our abilities and not let others persuade us differently.
I have a beautiful younger sister. About a year ago she heard of a scholarship program: a beauty pageant. She was interested in trying, but lacked the belief that she could succeed. We talked a lot about it. I told her to believe in herself and give it a try. The worst that could happen is for her to not be accepted, but it wouldn't change how beautiful she is, inside and out. The day of auditions came. I helped her do her hair and make up and brought her to the event. We laughed an had a great time. It was a fun experience for both of us. When we left she felt reassured. Whether or not she was accepted, we'd had fun. Soon after I left for my mission, but was excited weeks later when I learned that yes, her belief had payed off. She was in the pageant

C is for Courage

There are many courageous people that I have met in my life. One I remember the most didn't go climb a mountain, or rescue a damsel in distress, she had the courage to change her life. President Monson said in his address " Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, 'I’ll try again tomorrow.'"
A friend of mine had been searching for the truth since she was eleven years old. I was fortunate enough to be around when she found it seven years later. She studied many religions but never found one that seemed right. When she learned that I was Mormon we started talking about my beliefs and before long she was meeting with the LDS missionaries. Kari had the courage to step out of the mold, to join herself to a new religion on her own. She made life changes. I can't even imagine the challenge it must have been. I recently learned how she continues to show her courage: although she faces challenges with the culture that tends to go along with the religion, she gets up again and keeps going. She knows it is true.
"Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve." Kari has shown this courage to me.

It is my hope, as President Monson says, that we may "remember these ABCs as we begin our journey into the new year, cultivating a positive attitude, a belief that we can achieve our goals and resolutions, and the courage to face whatever challenges may come our way. Then the abundant life will be ours"

To read President Thomas S. Monson's Message click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

...With Sunglasses

I have received another challenge to relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to sunglasses. After a lot of careful consideration I came up with this. I hope my analogy appeases the challenger:

Sunglasses are nothing more than tinted glasses. The effect of sunglasses is that our eyes are overshadowed to the light, dimming, and sometimes even changing the colors of what we see around us. Christ has said "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) Satan tries to deceive us. He overshadows our eyes, just like sunglasses, so that we can not see the true light, or the effects of the light. Until we take off the sunglasses, or disregard the temptations of Satan, we won't be able to see the beauty of the light of Christ.
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