Saturday, February 17, 2018

Come Listen to a Prophet's Voice - and Hear the Word of God

It's been just over a month since President Russell M. Nelson was set apart as the 17th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Hopefully most of you were able to watch his first message to Church members on January 16th, and then the press conference just after that. They were awesome!!

Before that day, I had still been feeling sad about the loss of President Thomas S. Monson and his incredible example. He is the prophet I can remember for most of my life. His life and legacy had a huge effect on me and so many others.

Last spring, I was deep in the New Testament, trying to finish it before the end of the school year to fulfill my seminary credits. I still read the Book of Mormon sometimes, maybe once or twice a week, but I figured that between my seminary reading and family scripture study, I was getting plenty of the scriptures in my life already. I didn't have time to be reading the Book of Mormon, too!

But I had been wondering for awhile if I needed to start reading the Book of Mormon more often. Then President Monson gave his talk. I resolved right then and there that I would read it every day. And I saw the blessings he promised appearing in my life!

After that experience, I determined to always follow the prophet - no matter who he is - because I know he does speak for God. As I listened to our new prophet speak to us on January 16th, I was filled with excitement for this new chapter in the Church's history. I felt the Spirit testifying that President Russell M. Nelson is the prophet that Heavenly Father has chosen and prepared for this time. His life story and experiences are markedly different from President Monson's, but both of their paths were directed by the Lord, and both were willing to serve the Lord where and when they were needed most.

So while I will miss President Monson, I know that President Nelson is the one the Lord has chosen as His prophet today, and his words will be the ones that Heavenly Father wants me to hear and obey. I am so grateful that the Lord cares about His children enough to send the gospel of Jesus Christ and to have a living prophet on the earth to whom we can turn for guidance and truth!

How have you gained assurance that the Lord calls His prophets and speaks through them? When have you seen God's blessings from following the prophet?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Am I Good Enough?

I had a different post in mind for today, and went to the youth website to find a resource I wanted to link to, but then I saw this video and clicked on it:

This is taken from a general conference talk by Elder Cornish in October 2016. I remember watching that talk and thinking how awesome and comforting it was. The teachings in that talk inspire me and remind me that as long as I am really trying, I'm doing enough! If I keep the commandments, and really desire to repent and change when I fall short, then that's enough. The Lord will make up the difference! That is what Jesus Christ does for us!

The Lord wants us to return home to Him, and He has made it as simple as possible - without taking away our agency. It is our responsibility to choose to do better, but as soon as we do that, the Lord will help us in that choice! Try it this week, and see if there is a difference in your answer to the question "Am I good enough? Will I make it?" Because if you really truly do your best, the answer will be yes.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

You are always worthy to connect with God!

Can I just say that the Church blog is so incredible? There is always a post to inspire and uplift me, whether it be written by a young stay-at-home mom or the President of the Quorum of the Twelve!

Today I want to share a really neat post by a sister named Celeste Davis, titled "The Biggest Barrier to Our Connection with God". Celeste talks about how we often don't feel worthy to repent or even pray because we've messed up 'too many times'. But she reminds us of the story of the prodigal son, who went into the world and messed up for years before returning to his father. He expected that his father would be angry with him and that he would need to repay the debts he had incurred. He believed he would never be seen the same in his father's eyes after what he had done. But you all know the story - "But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:21). This surprises the young man - but it should not surprise us, because we know that in this parable the loving father is a representation of an infinitely loving Father. In Sister Davis's words, "You are a child of God. You can’t ever become more child of God by your merits, and you can't ever become less child of God by your imperfections." What an awesome reminder!

All right, I'll stop spoiling it now and let you just read the post here!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Happy Happy Birthday, Eliza Dear! is not only vital in helping to complete the work of salvation for the dead, but is also a wonderful destination if you are looking to learn more about your ancestors. How they lived, what they enjoyed, their family photos, the ways in which they served the Lord - you can find all these and more on FamilySearch.

One feature shows the occupations of your ancestors in the year 1880, as recorded in the census from that year. I was casually browsing through that today when a name caught my eye. Or rather, the age, since it was so close to my own. Eliza Mauretta Thurston, age 14, occupation: at home. I clicked on her name, eager to learn more about Eliza's life and what kinds of things she had going on at my age.

The first thing I saw about her was that her birthday was January 14th!!! Happy birthday to my great-great-great-grandmother! :) I would like to pay her a small tribute and say thank-you for her example. I read her brief life story, as told by her daughter-in-law, and was amazed at what I learned. Eliza worked hard as a teenager and was frugal with the money she earned. At 18, she became the second wife to her older sister's husband at a time when polygamists were being hunted down and arrested by government officials. Immediately after her wedding, she became a refugee, moving from place to place. She lived on a ranch, in a granary, and several other less-than-ideal places in order to support and protect not only herself, but her husband. She sacrificed many things along the way, but never complained, for she knew she was doing what the Lord had asked. She was resourceful and persevering. From the time she was young, she dedicated most of her time to serving others - parents, neighbors, family, anyone. If there was someone who needed help, Eliza was there!

I am grateful for the examples of Eliza and others who went before me - who sacrificed for the Lord and the gospel and never lost faith. I am also grateful for the wonderful technology that enables us to learn these stories and find our kindred dead who need their ordinances done! I hope you will take advantage of these tools! There are so many incredible blessings promised to us when we are engaged in this work - read more here or here.

If you aren't sure how to get started on family history work, or maybe need a little more motivation, check out Learning A Legacy! My cousin Lily is passionate about family history and about helping others work on theirs. She loves the stories of her ancestors and is an expert on the many different types of technology that are available to help us in our search for our family gone before. Happy searching!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Until We Meet Again...

See the source image
President Thomas S. Monson
We love and miss you!
As many of you have heard by now, President Monson passed away a few days ago. He left us an incredible legacy of love, kindness, service, and going to the rescue. He challenged us to read the Book of Mormon every day. He reminded us to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong. He asked us to be more kind and charitable - more like the Savior. He taught us the importance of listening to the Spirit. In his lifetime of service to the Lord - including the last 54 years as a General Authority! - he made a difference in the lives of others around the world, both on a general level and on a personal level. He was truly beloved.

One of my very favorite stories about President Monson was told by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Oct. 2014 General Conference:

"In that regard, I pay a personal tribute to President Thomas Spencer Monson. I have been blessed by an association with this man for 47 years now, and the image of him I will cherish until I die is of him flying home from then–economically devastated East Germany in his house slippers because he had given away not only his second suit and his extra shirts but the very shoes from off his feet. 'How beautiful upon the mountains [and shuffling through an airline terminal] are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.'20 More than any man I know, President Monson has 'done all he could' for the widow and the fatherless, the poor and the oppressed."
Though we will miss President Monson and his gentle way and wonderful example, he is now reunited with his wife, Frances, whom he has been missing for the past four and a half years. (He paid a lovely tribute to her in this October 2013 conference talk.) 
A few Several of my favorite quotes from President Monson:
"Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith."
"So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment. We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails."
"The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as the lessons may be."
"The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it."
"Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."
"If you want to give a light to others, you have to glow yourself."
"May we show increased kindness to one another, and may we always be found doing the work of the Lord."
"Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change."
"A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder."
"What is most important almost always involves the people around us."
"Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
"One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."
"Our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives."
"Stick to a task till it sticks to you. Beginners are many; finishers few."
"May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong." 
"There is no need for you to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide - even obedience."
"Decisions determine destiny."
"Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier."
"Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone. Dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known."
"Of this be sure: you do not find the happy life. You make it."
"Fill your mind with truth. Fill your heart with love. Fill your life with service."
"Prayer is the passport to peace."
"Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other."
Please share in the comments your favorite story, quote, or memory of President Monson. :)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Spirit of Christmas

I have been unusually grumpy this Christmas season!

Yes, a strange sentence to begin a Christmas blog post with! But it's important!! Thursday especially I was just in a sour mood for no identifiable reason (a teenager thing, I guess!). Anyway, that evening my mom was running an errand and I begged her to let me tag along to get my Christmas shopping done (since I only had four days to get it all done! Procrastination is a bad habit of mine...).

My brother and I wandered the aisles of Walmart, searching for gifts for family and friends. We laughed and consulted with each other about what would be the best thing for ______? Who would enjoy _____? We came home and shooed our little sisters upstairs, frantically wrapping, labeling, and placing presents under the tree. Then we ventured online to buy the rest of our gift lists.

By the time I had everyone taken care of, I was smiling and cheerful - feeling happier than I had in a week!! I realized it was because I was giving, thinking of others more than myself. "It's the Christmas spirit," I thought. "It's a real thing!!!"

But then I remembered this quote from President Monson:

"Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. We feel more kindly one to another. We reach out in love to help those less fortunate. Our hearts are softened. . .To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ." (2013 First Presidency Christmas Devotional)
That makes complete sense to me. Remember Moroni 7:12-12, "Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God. . .But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." The Christmas spirit seems to fit that bill! It "inviteth and enticeth to do good", and it inspires us to focus on the Savior! Yes, I think a more fitting name is "the Spirit of Christ"!
Merry Christmas!!!

When have you recognized the influence of the Spirit of Christ in your life? 
If you're looking for a way to feel the Spirit of Christ this Christmas, check out some of the experiences in Good Works - it's all about becoming more selfless and giving of yourself to others. I especially love #3 - coming up with your own ideas for service and then doing them!!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Gift of Good Friends

It's the Christmas season and we're all running around in an excited frenzy making sure we have gifts for everyone on our list, as well as making our own list of gifts we want to receive. Gifts are a big part of Christmas! But we tend to overlook some of the most important and greatest gifts. A good Sabbath activity might be to sit down and take some time to make a list of YOUR greatest gifts. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Jesus Christ!
Your family
This beautiful world
The gospel
The Holy Ghost
Good friends

This last one is one of my greatest gifts! And in fact, it is really a gift to myself. I choose who my friends are (learn more about this while doing experiments in Choice and Accountability) and that choice makes a huge difference in my life and the paths I take. 

Several of my friends and I have a group chat in which we share uplifting quotes, talks, scriptures, and insights with each other. We discuss gospel principles and some things we might be struggling with. We help answer each other's questions and share ideas. I love having friends who are committed to living the gospel and gaining their own testimonies!

The friends I have now aren't just those I meet at church or work or other places. You can find great friends in your own family! Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and most importantly, parents and siblings, make the best friends! Their testimonies strengthen mine and their examples help me choose the right, and I think that is a wonderful gift!!

For the Strength of Youth: Friends
Personal Progress: Choice and Accountability

How have good friends helped you make good choices or strengthen your testimony??
Don't forget to #LightTheWorld and share Christ's love this Christmas season!!