Haven’t you ever had a dream?

This is Rapunzel from the Movie Tangled. You may or may not have seen it, I know I have since coming home from my mission. It’s cute, sometimes its funny and sometimes it’s sad. Overall, I like it. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Rapunzel is stolen as a baby and raised as the wicked Gothel’s daughter, who is never to leave her tower in order to protect her hair from ‘evil people’ that would use and abuse and cut Rapunzel’s hair. However, every year on Rapunzel’s birthday, lights fill the sky-they’re not stars though, and Rapunzel feels as though they are meant for her and she wishes with all of her heart to see them. One day, a thief discovers Rapunzel’s tower in his effort to escape and Rapunzel enlists his help in making her dream come true. Flynn Ryder, Rapunzel’s escort, is a wanted man and so he gets caught and in an effort to save him, Rapunzel screams “Haven’t you ever had a dream?” And she shares her dream, and those who were initially going to give Flynn over to the authorities change their mind. It’s really a delightful movie, one that I wanted to focus on because we all have hopes, and dreams.

We all have the desire to see something or experience something. Eventually, Rapunzel learns that once her dreams come true, she needs to find another dream and she does. I know I’ve done that.  I pretty much had my life planned out until I graduated from high school, once I made it to that point, I was like “now what?” and I had to f ind another dream, create another goal, and move on with my life. Most of my dreams have been tangible, graduating from high school, college, working regularly so I’m out of debt, finishing my mission, going to Europe, finishing my degree, living happily, and so many more! All of these are tangible, and as I reach for them, I can get them. I’ve learned though, that the dreams I have now, the ones that have come to replace the ‘dream come true’s are not as tangible as these are. What I want most, is to be with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again, I want my family to be together forever, something that can only happen through following the Savior. I dream of being with them again! This is a dream that will turn into a reality if I do my part. I can’t just have faith in Christ, I need to act on such faith in following Christ. I love the book of John in the Bible, he quotes Christ as saying “If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15. If we truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will do and become what He would want us to be.

If we don’t yet fully know if keeping the commandments will bring us happiness, we’re challenged to try it out and see if it will change our lives for the better in turning us to God. “If any man will do his (God’s) will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (Christ)” John 7:17. I’ve done that for myself and I’ve never been happier in my life. Following Christ has not only brought me great peace and happiness, it’s given me a dream that is only possible through the Savior, Jesus Christ. I can’t get a better dream than that and neither can you!

 

Thank You

Do you ever just have those days when everything is good. Not that everything goes right or that the world is a perfect place but you have a positive few of everything that is going on in the world? That is how I woke up this morning. I woke up rejoicing in my God, in my world, and the miracles that each of us experiences on a daily basis. For example, a few weeks ago I was playing tag with my younger brother, 9, and my younger sister, 11, on a playground. It was pretty fun except for telling me how woefully out of shape I am. Well we’re running up stairs and sliding things and all manner of goodness when I tried sliding down something similar to this piece of quipment. Sliding down it was painful and I knew immediately that it was going to bruise pretty badly. Guess what? I was right for once. It bruised and it bruised badly. People would see it and say “man it looks like somebody beat you, what happened?” So it was painful at first but I was fine the next day, it was a little tender.

Two weeks later, I’m happy to report that the horrible disgusting bruise is almost completely healed. Now for one who bruises easily and the bruises last forever, I’m thrilled that it’s healing so quickly! I woke up this morning, just astonished at how well it looks and how it’s getting to be so much better. Which lead me to rejoice in my Heavenly Father who was wise enough to make our bodies with the ability and the capacity to heal themselves especially when we do stupid things. I am so grateful that all things denote that there is a God, He is real and HE LOVES US! I am so grateful for this. Whenever I’ve had a moment of reflection today, this thought has crossed my mind and believe you me, it has been one of the best days in a while.

I am so grateful that although this life is not perfect, we can find joy and peace in the good things that God has given us. I’m grateful for His love. I’m grateful for His Son, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself so that we might overcome all of the trials and the sicknesses that we may have. I know that our bodies are far from perfection and we suffer as a result. When we hurt, they don’t always heal the way we want them to but I certainly am grateful that Jesus Christ made it possible that we all may have a perfect body some day. I’m grateful for the hope that comes as a result of having the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and I am especially grateful for a God that loves us enough to give us more than one witness that Christ came for everybody on this Earth. Thank you Heavenly Father!!!

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.

Testify of Christ

One thing that has always stuck out to me on my mission is the fact that so many people have a testimony and a witness of Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to that have a wonderful witness that Jesus Christ is their personal Savior and Redeemer. It’s something that I’ve found so much glory and so much hope in. People believe in Jesus Christ. That is something that I love, I’m so grateful for the goodness of people. People are much better than I tend to give them credit for, which I’m grateful to be wrong.

After receiving that witness of Christ, it is our obligation and our duty to share our happiness and the joy that we’ve found in the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ. My companions and I were reading out of the Book of Mormon with someone the other day and we were reading in the book of Alma about a prophet named Alma who is calling the people to repentance, to change, to turn back to God. He then shares his testimony of Jesus Christ and how he came to know it for himself. This is approximately 83 years before the coming of Christ. “…I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.”  After that, Alma states what his calling is. “And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.” (Alma 5:48-49

Now there are many forms of preaching and teaching about Jesus Christ that take place. St. Francis of Assissi said “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words” I’ve been preaching the gospel with words and with authority for the past 18 months, which isn’t very long. I’ve been held to a high standard all of my life though. I haven’t always lived up to this standard but through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been healed of many of my hurts and overcome many of my mistakes and that’s why the message of repentance is so vital. Christ can and hals helped me in my times of trial and in my times of grief and I’m so grateful.

I’ve been using words to spread the gospel for a long time now, I’m excited to begin preaching the gospel through my example and my words. It’s a wonderful thing.

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!