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.

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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.

Life is a treadmill

 Have you ever just looked at a treadmill? Just look at one and notice that the only way to move on it is forward. When you’re on one, it takes work to stay on it. It takes some effort to stay on the thing and sometimes we control the intensity of the work out and sometimes we choose one of the workouts and it will push us. The purpose is to push us to new levels and to help us improve in some aspect of our lives. It just depends on the goals that you have. If you want to lose weight, than you pick a cardio work out, if you want to push yourself to the extreme of how fast you can go, then you do that.

Life is a treadmill. You choose to get on it and once you do, you choose the intensity of the pace that you want, you choose if you want to have an incline or not, if your treadmill gives you that option, and you move forward.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same way. Getting into the gospel of Jesus Christ is like stepping on a treadmill. We’re meant to move forward and be pushed to our limits. Sometimes we choose the pace at which we are going to progress and other times, Heavenly Father pushes us to levels that we never thought we could reach. I think of the examples in the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon, the first prophet’s name is Lehi. He chooses to follow God and when he does that, he sees a vision, is given the revelation to leave Jerusalem and come to ‘the promised land’ on the American continent. I’m sure that when Lehi chose to follow God that he never thought that he would take his family and leave the land that he was raised in. Then he was brought to the American continent and his family became two great nations. They also knew about our Savior Jesus Christ and they also had their times of good and bad and it culminated in Christ coming to visit Lehi’s descendants. I’m sure he never realized how much the Lord would push him but I’m sure glad that Lehi stayed on his treadmill for it has changed my life and so many other lives. It has brought me so much closer to my Heavenly Father with more knowledge of our Savior.

Do you know what your limits are? Are you ready to blow past those limits with God on your side? I know I sure am. I don’t know how strong the Lord wants me to be but I know that He is going to take me places that I never thought possible.