Not Forgotten

So I originally started this blog as an effort to show how God is an instrument in our daily lives and yet I have failed miserably because I haven’t ever written about my daily life. In fact I haven’t written anything since last July and I feel terrible for not writing more often and as I’m currently in a low point on the rollercoaster that I like to refer to as life, I figured it was time to acknowledge many of the people and many of the things that I will never forget though I may not interact with them much-which led me to my long forgotten blog that has lain dormant for some time.

It baffles me how I seem to be so much more creative and in the mood to do express that creativity in moments of sadness and melancholy. I never have understood why this happens but I know that it’s not a new phenomenon-I have written poetry, drawn, come up with plotlines etc while being morose. It’s as though my mind is restless and nothing can really help until I’ve expressed it in some forms. It’s like Edgar Allen Poe or Vincent Van Gogh seemed to be haunted by the same phenomenon. Not that I in any way compare to their genius but they were often driven by the same desire-or so I’m told. They expressed themselves and as a result of that, they will not be forgotten.

Many times in my life, I have expressed the desire to not be forgotten, to not be looked over or be a background character and yet as I move, my friends move, or life changes happen, I find myself forgotten over and over again. Then I read the scriptures. And even though I know that I am far less than perfect, and I sometimes hurt those around me, God is still there for me and He has not forgotten me-even when I cry in my petty weakness “are you there? do you care? do I matter to YOU?” And unbelievably, God answers my questions over and over again “Yes I am here. Read John 3:16 and that’s how much I care about you. ‘For can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee…Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; they walls are continually before me.’ 1 Nephi 21:15-16 or Isaiah 49:15-16. 

What does that mean? It means that God cares, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ so that we won’t ever have to be alone. We can find peace and comfort and joy to our weary and restless souls. I like His plan.

Father’s hugs

So I’ve been pondering this whole life thing, as of late, and the end of my mission was really the beginning of the rest of my life and everything that the mission has helped me create in myself. I loved my mission with all of my heart. There is something so special about constantly testifying of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I will always remember it fondly. Of course I look back and try my best to see all of the good but it’s not hard by any means to see the rough times either. I remember talking with one of my companions when everything was so hard and we just wanted to have a fathers hug. I know there have been times in my life where I’ve been needing something and just wanting relief and I’ve turned to my father and have found that comfort and I know there were times on my mission where I really just wanted a hug from my Dad. He was only 1700 miles away.

Now that I’m home and I have access to my Dad, it really hasn’t been the easiest transition back into ‘normal life’ I feel like my life as a missionary was normal and something that I could do forever though I’m happy to see my family and to hug all of them again. Though it’s been wonderful seeing my family and re-entering society as a normal person (which I don’t think I will ever actually fully fit that description by any means), I’ve felt lost. I know that I control my future at this point and it’s a scary prospect and there are times that I just want to break down and cry. In those moments, that’s when I feel the love of my Father-my Heavenly Father. He knows how I am feeling and He knows how I can overcome this sense of loss. Now all I have to do is my part, I have to continually turn to Him and His words, in the scriptures, and I will once again feel that peace and I have.

In those moments where I feel the weakest, I can reach for my Father and be comforted. Just as I once longed for a hug from my Dad, I now long for a hug from my Father and to feel of that continuous peace and reassurance. Luckily, it’s something I can look for, seek after, and find on a daily basis. I just have to reach for Him and He’s there. If I do my part, if I work on my part of my personal relationship with my Father in Heaven, with His Son Jesus Christ, I will feel the peace of the Holy Ghost in my life. Just like Christ promises in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Oh what marvelous comfort and what marvelous joy which can be found in the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They invite all men and women everywhere to repent and to taste of such peace.

Getting to The End

So you know that feeling once you’ve finished a really good movie and you see the short little phrase, the end? You feel a little bit sad, but you’re glad that everything turned out the way that you wanted it to. Then you think about it for a time, how the story developed, things that you liked and things that you didn’t. Then you think, all good things must come to an end. Well I’m approaching the end of my service as a full time representative for the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s had the most amazing high points, and its had some extreme lows and now that I’m getting to the end, I keep reviewing how. How did I get to this point. How am I different as a result of it. How will my life change because of it. How did I make it. All of these questions that I have.

Since reviewing it though, I’ve been able to recognize many of the things that I’ve learned and they will forever change my life. I want to share this with you.

1. Finding out who I like to be and why. I’ve found that although I enjoy being sarcastic and kind of a pain. I’ve found that I don’t like that person I become when I am. I like enjoying the world around me and laughing until my stomach hurts. I realize that I like enjoying what is going on and enjoying the good qualities of the people around me. Is it easy for me to be this person? Not at all. Do I like it still? Of course.

2. Learning to be like the Savior and getting over my fear to open my mouth and invite others to come closer to Christ. You know those two things that are taboo to talk about, politics and religion? I definitely had to overcome that fear of meeting people for the first time and talking about Christ.  These spiritual experiences that I’ve had and the truths I hold dear, they’re hard to share and watch people reject.

3. I had no idea if I would be able to handle the pain, the rejecting, and the trials that come from representing Jesus Christ. Like Elder Holland says “I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap expereince. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.” then he continues on and says this, it’s slightly more encouraging than the first one. “When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lieved. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is though Him-the Wa,y the Truth, and the Life.” So I comforted myself with the words of the apostles in my times of trial and hardship.

4. Learning from those around me! There are so many wonderfully strong and talented people on this planet and if we just took the time to get to know one another and learn what others have gone through and how they’ve done it with great faith and strength and trust in the Lord-it astounds me!

5. Having the supreme privilege of seeing God’s children, us, seeing us the way that Heavenly Father sees us. He loves us so much and He wants us to experience joy. Part of that is making mistakes and then having the courage to overcome them, to make changes, and to grow. Heavenly Father is so good and kind and merciful! It’s hart to take that step to trust Him and it’s a daily step but once you’ve made it once, it becomes easier and easier to trust.

These are only a few of the many things that I’ve learned and that I want to share. There is so much that I’ve experienced and learned from and have come to know and I’m so grateful to know that Heavenly Father loves me. That Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I’m grateful that God calls men to be His prophets and that we are blessed to have one on the earth today and I guarantee that if everybody would follow the prophet, the world would be a much more beautiful place. I know the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ because that’s the instrument I used to come to know my Savior. And I say these things in His sacred name, Amen.

Looking to fill the void

So have you ever asked yourself questions and never seem to find answers that satisfy? I know I have. I’ve asked myself, where I came from? why I’m here? is there a purpose to this life? Does God love me? Does He even exist?

I know I’ve asked myself these questions and before I even really gave religion a chance, I figured there was no point and there was no purpose. I figured that I had all the answers and that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to realize that I was still searching for meaning, I was still searching for a purpose and a point. I was actually looking for some kind of value for myself. That’s when I started checking out religions again.

It seems that when we’re searching, it doesn’t matter where we look or what we do, our spirits are never fully satisfied so we keep filling our hearts with junk. We keep trying to fill ourselves up with something but I know for myself, I was never satisfied! It didn’t matter what changes I brought in or what things I tried, I wasn’t satisfied and I kept searching.

Fortunately I started looking for happy people and wanted the happiness that they had. I found some very happy people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I actually started paying attention to what my parents were trying to teach me, what I was supposed to be learning in sunday school and what people had been trying to tell me all along. I decided that this was something that I wanted, I wanted that void, that black hole to be gone, I wanted to be satisfied. I started trying out what it says in the Book of Mormon “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of CHrist, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.” Moroni 10:4-5. We can know the truth of ALL THINGS! That is an awesome promise.

I testify to you, that the void that was in my life is gone. My questions have received answers and my heart and spirit has been satisfied. I know that Jesus Christ is the only way that we can return to be with our Father in Heaven. I know that God loves me and that He loves you and that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to pay the punishment for our sins so that we can be made clean. We don’t have to be weighed down and burdened by our guilt and our shame but we can be forgiven and we can find happiness. We can experience true freedom and then we can take joy in this wonderful world around us. How thankful I am, that God loves us enough to give us gifts so that we can return to be with Him. Thank you, thank you Heavenly Father!

Just around the river bend….

I look once more. For those of you that don’t know, this is from Pocahontas. Ok so how often do you find yourself singing Disney songs? I know I do it still. I’ll get a random urge and the songs just come bursting forth, I always feel badly for those that have to hear me but I love Disney songs and amazingly enough, there are great lessons to be learned in some of them.

This song is especially one that I loved singing as a child. I really wanted to be Pocahontas so badly but knew that I never could. Now that I’m a little bit older I can see the value of what she was contemplating. Often we’re making life changing decisions that will affect us in ways that we can’t even imagine. Sometimes I seem to make those decisions in a snap but other times I hem and haw my way through until I’m forced to make a decision. Sometimes I don’t feel bad when sitting in a restaurant and I don’t make my mind up until the server arrives and is asking me what I want. Other times I can’t do that.

Today I wanted to compare us to the river. Pocahontas loved the adventurous water and kept bringing surprises around each corner. Her father loved the steady moving water-it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t exciting but it was moving. Of course, if we are to be like that water than we need to be continually moving forward and getting to where we need to be. This is how our progression towards God can be. We either move forward very quickly or we move forward steadily but we can always be moving forward.  Sadly, I know I’ve reached points in my life and especially on my mission where I seem stuck, almost like a dam in a river. Dams stop our progression and keep us from going to where we want to go. Now in real life, dams can be quite useful but spiritually, you don’t want to be dammed.

We want to keep moving forward and we want to continue to learn and move closer to our Father in Heaven. We can overcome those spiritual obstacles that keep us from our Father through prayer, through scripture study, through service, through becoming more and more like our Father in Heaven and then we will no longer be damned and we can experience true joy.

Like a river, always looking towards the next bend, being prepared for anything and witht he Lord on our side, we can take on any white water, any tricky bends, any currents, open water, waterfalls, or whatever nature or life throws our way. Don’t get trapped in the idea that you’re stuck forever when you get stuck because you can change, you can have that joy and you can continue to overcome anything and everything.

A Perilous Terrain

So I love dirt roads. I love bumpy dirt roads that it feels like you are surrounded by potholes the size of Montana! It’s fun to drive on them and go slow when you don’t want a jarring experience or to go fast and get an adrenaline rush. It’s an adventure to go off roading and see how much of nature you can conquer and overcome. Nature is fun!

It can also be some perilous terrain. Sometimes you choose what’s coming next and if you are on a certain pathway then sometimes things just get in the way that you have to overcome. Of course, that’s exactly what this life is like. Sometimes we choose the pace that we travel at and at other times, we just have to roll with the punches. Luckily we have a loving Father in Heaven that helps us along our perilous journey without Him. He gave us the plan of salvation or the plan of happiness so that we can know the purpose of this life and how to overcome it through our Savior, Jesus Christ. He’s also given us a lot of tools to get to where we want to go.

So if we’re wanting to offroad or go jeeping. We need the tools to actually do it. We wouldn’t just want our shoes to get over everything that you need to do. You can’t just use shoes to get over lives problems. It’s the same thing with a 10 speed bike. Yes you’ll get to your destination faster but overcoming some of those trials just isn’t going to happen the way that the Lord intends you to do it. Now if you are in a front wheel drive car, it’s still not going to be the same thing as having an all wheel drive vehicle thats is going to help you get to where you want to.

Now we can choose how much we want our Heavenly Father in our life. We choose how much help we are going to accept and if we allow Him to help us. It’s like having that all wheel drive vehicle that will help you overcome any obstacle and help you withstand any climb. If we choose anything less than that or we deceive ourselves, by having a vehicle that’s not fully prepared or we’re not following the plan of salvation or the gospel of Jesus Christ perfectly, it’s like being in a front or back wheel drive car. You’re going to get stuck. The nice thing is, we don’t have to have a lot of money or be perfect or anything like that to upgrade to the vehicle of our choice. To accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, we just have to do what the Lord would have us do. He wants us to follow Christ, to feel of His peace and to overcome all that perilous terrain successfully!

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”                                                                                                  Mark 10:27

Lessons Learned from a Pheasant II

Ok so everything in life has a purpose right? So thinking back on that pheasant, it is one beautiful creature! I love all of the many colors and designs that are on there and it amazes me how pretty it is. Well I also know that that is not it’s only function. Now I don’t know what the purpose of that bird is but it certainly made my day a little bit better. Well I’ve been thinking about how each individual person brings different things to the table. Which, in turn, makes the world a more diverse place and extremely beautiful.

Each of us has different talents and skills and because of that, to make the world go round the way it does, we need to be different and unique and Heavenly Father loves us each the same. We are all given spiritual gifts that help the world become a better place. In the book of Moroni in the Book of Mormon, Moroni echoes the words of prophets in the past when describing a few of the spiritual gifts that are on the Earth, in the past and today. Each of us is given a gift that will help lighten and brighten the world around us and make us better. I know I’ve met plenty of people in my life that have made not only my life better but the world a better place to be in.

It’s amazing to me how each of us has a sphere of influence. Though we may not be able to make a grand difference to the world at learge when we first want to, each of us makes a difference to the people that we surround ourselves with. Each of us can listen and help those who may be hurting. Each of us can help the world become a better place. Horace Mann once said “To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.”  We really can truly make a difference in each person’s life that we touch. We’re meant to. No man is an island and Heavenly Father wants each of us to reach out and help another one of His children. I know He wants us to remember who we are and how we can do good, we can make a difference and we can make the world a better place!

Lessons Learned from a pheasant

A couple of weeks ago, my companion and I were driving down a road, trying to figure out where we should go next when off to the side, by a fence, we see a pheasant. We stop the car and begin admiring this beautiful creation of God’s. As we are looking at all of the different colors and designs we notice that it only has one leg. At first we thought that it could just be standing on one leg (I don’t know if pheasants normally do that or not). Then the bird begins hopping forward and we knew for sure at that point that it definitely only had one leg.

I’ve given this pheasant a lot of thought and in many ways, we are similar to that pheasant. We all possess qualities that are beautiful on the inside and on the out; on the other hand, we all struggle with trials that can be quite debilitating. These struggles may not be apparent at first glance, or they might be. But I know that our struggles that we have are tailored to what we can handle. I know at times it really doesn’t feel like we can but with the Lord’s help, all things are possible and so is overcoming each of our trials.

Now I know when I have trials, I’m a whiner! If I don’t say anything at all (which is rally rather rare) then I wish and think and hope and pray that other people will notice and take pity, or help me out of anything at all. Thankfully Heavenly Father is kind and doesn’t give me extremely hard trials because He knows that I don’t handle them well at all. What I always seem to forget is that, other people are doing the exact same thing! They are hoping that somebody will notice them and help them out. And because we are all God’s children, that is what He would have us do.

In a recent talk given by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf “Pride and the Priesthood” President Uchtdorf is speaking on overcoming price and he says this about becoming humble. “Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing  ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of seving God and our fellowman.” I love this quote because we can feel powerful in the knowledge that we are children of God and we can continue forward and rely solely on our Father in Heaven as we go about serving God’s children and helping them through the individual trials that they are having.

What President Uchtorf is saying is an echo of what Christ says when in Luke 9:24 it says “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” If we give up our own desires and serve God’s children, our brothers and sisters, we will all be able to realize who each of us is and treat one another accordingly. We can make a difference in this dark and scary world and share the light that we already possess.

Nothing Left Untouched

We were speaking with a family the other day and they brought up that as a family they’ve decided to go to the “Most Magical Place on Earth” otherwise known as Disneyland. The more that we talked about this family’s upcoming trip and how much fun they were going to have, the more I wanted to go their with my family.

Honestly Disneyland and Disney World are great places because it’s a place that you can strengthen your family and have some amazing, good, clean fun with your family. Disney does it right. They work hard to make sure that everybody that goes there has a ‘magical’ experience and they leave wanting to come back. They work so hard to keep it a clean environment where people come to feel welcome and special. I know when I was younger, it’s always fun to go up to the character that you admire and they learn your name and you get to talk to Belle or Cinderella and  everything just makes you feel so wonderful. Well Disney does this for a reason. They want you to have a wonderful experience so when you go home, you can tell all of your friends about it and especially that children leave feeling special. It really is amazing everything that they do.

The woman was saying that Disney doesn’t leave anything untouched. Even the door handles are etched with little Disney characters and they do everything right. Because Disney goes into such great detail-no wonder it can be a hefty price to get in. My missionary mind started moving. If Disney works so hard to make it a great experience for us to go there and want to go back, how much more does our Heavenly Father do to help us get to his kingdom? He gives us many great things to help us along our way. He gives us prophets as is stated in Amos 3:7. Heavenly Father is the same, He’s dependable and so if He’s manifested himself through prophets in the past, He will do it again-and He has.

He also automatically puts us with people that their job is to help us grow and be happy and come closer to Him. It’s called families. Though our families aren’t perfect, it’s a great way to foster growth in the Gospel especially because this world is loosely patterned after that of heaven. So our Heavenly Father gives us Prophets, He gives us families, and He gives us friends. When speaking of God, a previous prophet said “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” Spencer W Kimball “Small Acts of Service”

Heavenly Father leaves nothing untouched and there is a price that we pay in order to “gain admission” into the kingdom of God. We do that by following the example of Jesus Christ. We follow in His foot steps into the waters of baptism, into serving those around us, into helping others gain access to the kingdom of God: by being like Him. When we do gain admission into that kingdom, it will be so much better than meeting a Disney Prince or Princess because we’ll be going up to our Heavenly Father that already knows our name. He already knows how special we are. For that, I am so grateful that God loves us and cares for us and wants us to be happy.