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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why Driving in the Rain is Like Life

Hello again. I'm back from my unannounced blog hiatus. It was a needed break, but now I'm back to business. :)


I have found that the Lord uses our circumstances and the situations around us to teach us principles of the gospel. He did this for me last night.

It was a dark night, periodically lit by streaks of lightening in the sky. Sheets of torrential rain slammed down to the earth. My dad and I were making the hour and a half journey home from where we were, and I was driving- interstate driving. I have a long tradition of being terrified of driving, but even though my dad offered to take the wheel, I chose to drive because I knew he was tired. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could drive in the dark on the interstate in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was really nervewracking at times, even though I kept to around 55 mph. Other cars sped past and around me, spraying water in their midst. Our window shield wipers needed new blades, which made my vision of the road blurry. It was extremely difficult to see my lane lines, or anything else. My dad offered a prayer for our safety.

The Holy Ghost helped me realize that this experience was a lot like our mortal existence. During this time I wasn't terrified like I normally would be because I knew my dad was right there next to me. I knew he could take the wheel if I couldn't handle it anymore. The same is true in our lives. Heavenly Father lets us do hard things, but He never gives us challenges we're not able to stand.
My vision in this weather was extremely limited. Everything around me was black from the night and very blurry from the downpour. There was no way I could see where the road was going or what was on either side of me. The only way I stayed safe was by following my lane lines. Sometimes they were fairly lit up with the little glowy block things, but other times I had to reeeeeally strain my eyes to see the thin painted stripes. This symbolizes our need to follow Christ and His commandments. My lane lines were my only guide; had I chosen not to follow them I would've tumbled off the side of the highway or slammed into another car. Likewise, we are assured that when we follow Christ, we will be led safely through the torrential darkness of the world.
Occasionally there were points during our drive where I could literally see nothing because of the amount of rain, but then I'd briefly drive underneath a bridge. The lack of rain cleared my vision and gave me brief reprieve from the difficulty outside. To me, this represented the times in life when I've done all I can do and feel stretched to my capacity. It is in these moments that the Lord wraps me in His arms through the comfort of the Holy Ghost and lets me clearly see His love for me and my eternal potential.

In the end we reached our home in safety. I have a testimony that as we follow the Savior and rely on Heavenly Father that we will reach our destination- eternal life with God and our families- safely and joyously. I know that they love us and desire nothing less than our absolute happiness. It's up to us to utilize the abundant resources and blessings they've given us to accomplish this.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Driving Blessings

I am currently learning to drive. While this is something most teenagers enjoy, it terrifies me. Especially when I have certain drivers ed instructors. But we won't go into that. This process of learning to drive has been so scary. Every time I get on the road I'm super nervous and uptight, which doesn't help my driving at all. So naturally I prayed about it. But then, a few weeks ago, I had a really terrible experience driving with my instructor. I left the lesson crying. It was lame. So the night before my next drive, I asked my dad for a priesthood blessing. I really needed comfort and extra assurance. I recieved a beautiful blessing of comfort and peace. I truly felt God's love for me and my testimony of priesthood blessings grew a hundredfold. I was promised that my mind would be clear so that I would be able to learn to drive well, among other things. The next day my drive went wonderfully. I had a different instructor who was very good at teaching me in a way that was gentle and clear to understand. I truly felt the Lord's love for me while I was driving. It was such a blessing.

Then yesterday I had another drive. I had another completely different instructor. To make a long story short, the drive was almost as terrible and nerve wracking  as the one I mentioned first. But I could still feel the hand of the Lord calming me and guiding me. Even though I was still uptight and nervous, I wasn't terrified. And there were several points of time in that hour when I felt Heavenly Father directly speaking words of comfort to my mind. It was incredible. I feel so loved and blessed. 

Sometimes, I feel like God has way more blessings set aside for us than we actually recieve because some of them are dependent upon us asking for them, and sometimes we forget to do that. As I Iearned, Heavenly Father was more than willing and happy to bless me with comfort, the assurance assurance of safety and feeling His love for me, but I had to exercise the faith to ask for a priesthood blessing. I'm so grateful for our gracious, loving Father. I love the blessings He grants me and I love all that He is teaching me. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Need God When Life Is Sunny

"We need God just as much on sunny days as we do when it's raining." I'm not sure where I heard this quote, who said it, or if I even wrote it correctly, but I feel like it applies to my life in a big way. Like many, I am so very good at calling upon the Lord when I am in the midst of great trials or turbulent time of tumult. Some of the most sacred times of my life have also been the most difficult ones because they're the ones when I was closest to my God. After all, I needed Him then more than ever.

Or did I?

Actually, I need God with me in my life all the times, equally. There are no times when I need Him more or less, rather times  that need of Heavenly Father is less or more apparent to my imperfect eyes. For instance, when life is all fine and dandy, sometimes my scripture study grows lax and my prayers less intense. However, the moment something goes wrong, I'm quick to my knees. I think this pattern is typical in many people.

So guess what? It is super, super awesome that we pray when we need help!! Woohoo!!! Yeah! That's great! But we can take it to the next level! When life is peachy, have deep, meaningful conversations with Heavenly Father. He loves us so much and wants to hear from us! Talk to Him. Let Him know about how your day went, your triumphs, your mistakes, plans for tomorrow. When we pray like this we become closer to Heavenly Father and Satan has less power over us because we have the Holy Ghost more abundantly in our lives.

Alma 34: 18-27:
 "18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
 19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
 20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
 21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
 22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
 23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
 24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
 25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
 26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
 27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you."

I know that God answers our prayers, hears our prayers, and loves our prayers because He is our loving Father. Even though I'm still working on consistently praying with enough fervor when the going is good, I know that God blesses me most abundantly when I continually call upon Him.

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nicaragua

Usually our lives change and we change in small, imperceptible ways every day. Usually. But sometimes we have GIGANTIC, HUGE, INCREDIBLE life-changing experiences that permanently impact the rest of our futures, whether for good or bad. I had an experience like that last week. For good.

I went to Nicaragua.

I WENT TO NICARAGUA!!!! Oh my goodness! It was a dream come true and the coolest thing I've ever done in my life! There are so many things I could say about my thoughts and experiences that I could probably start an entire new blog about it. I think we all know how good I would be at keeping up with that blog though ;) So for now I will share just a little bit.

One of my most favorite things about Nicaragua is how simple life is there. Even though many people are extremely impoverished, they are happy and content with the things they have. They are very grateful and humble when they receive things they need, but they have what they have and are happy with it. I just love that! How many times have I wanted something bigger, something better, something more beautiful? That is a very American mentality. It's not necessarily a wrong mentality, but it was so refreshing to be among people who are so happy with so little. It is an attitude I now am striving to make more present in my life.

Children on the street where we were building a house.


I met a very amazing woman named *Michelle on the trip. She's an American who has been to Nicaragua so many times. She's been there for the past three months, but she is working on traveling the world. She's trilingual and has lived in so many cool places and has done so many amazing things in just a short time (she's only 28), like teaching English to Buddhist Monks. How cool is that? Anyways, I decided early on in my trip that I want to be just like her. She's a great example. I had a wonderful conversation with her about how I can have amazing travel opportunities just like her. In a nutshell, her advice to me was this- Live Simply. Be okay with it and love it. Go with the flow. What amazing advice. I'm not quite sure if I can explain in words what this advice means to me and how I will apply it to my life, but I think it goes along with what I was saying earlier. Just be content with the things you have.

A wonderful girl I got to know. We're being photobombed.
I just love Nicaragua so much. It was everything I expected it to be, and much more. I wish I could go back and live there forever. I showed my family my pictures and told them about my trip for family home evening after I got back. At the end my dad asked me if I could figure out a way to share my testimony in a way that was related to my trip. I knew I could but wasn't sure what I was going to say. But when I opened my mouth to do so, I started crying a lot and couldn't stop. The Spirit was with me so strongly. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it meant, but I know several things for sure. I know that this opportunity was a marvelous gift from God. I believe it was a tithing blessing, because I would not have been able to go if a relative had not paid my way. I am so grateful for that. I also know that Heavenly Father has implanted a deep,firm love and passion within me for all things latin and latin american. I know it is from Him and that He has given this to me because it will be an important part of my future. I don't know why or how or when, but I am perfectly okay with that because I know everything is in the hands of my loving Father. I'm just grateful for these marvelous gifts He has given and continues to give me.

The wonderful couple for whom we built a house. I love them lots!

If I was old enough to adopt a child... She is SO precious!

I made so many new friends! I played with these kids several days around lunchtime.

Construction!

So... I swam in an extinct volcano... No big deal...

Giant cactus. Need I say more?

I am SO in love with the food there! Especially the rice and beans they eat with every meal! (Not pictured)

After singing at a church service.

Fresh bananas off the tree everyday!




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chinks In Your Armor

We had such a fabulous lesson in seminary this morning which had many, many valuable points and take-aways. One thing that really stood out to me was this idea: Satan wants to find and attack me through the chinks in my armor, so I must put on the full armor of God. Then I must continue to fortify my armor where it is weakest. I have never thought about things quite this way before. Maybe you have. It doesn't seem too different from the normal way of thinking. To me, phrase "chinks in your armor" stuck out like a giraffe in a herd of elephants. I began to ask myself, "Where are the chinks in my armor?"

I suppose it only makes sense to define the phrase. "Chinks in armor" means weak points, or places where it's easier for Satan to tempt you. These might be areas where you're not necessarily doing anything wrong, but you're not doing anything right. For example, perhaps you're kind to people, but you never go out of your way to serve them. That would be a victory for Satan because you would not be acting as an instrument of the Lord to further His work. Or maybe you pray when you need guidance, but you don't consistently say your morning and evening prayers. These are what I consider "chinks in armor".

When I pondered the chinks in my armor, I immediately thought of an area in my life where, if not careful, I could have a chink in my armor. As you probably know, I have decided that I will not have a boyfriend in high school. It is something I have prayed about a lot for a long time and I know this is what God knows is best for me. Lately, however, a guy I really like and I have begun to become really close. We've been texting and talking to each other a lot, innocent flirting, etc. Recently I've been contemplating the possibilities of becoming his girlfriend. However, in the back of my mind I know that I've already made a commitment to myself and my God that I will not date steadily in high school. These thoughts are the beginning of a chink in my armor. If I'm not careful, Satan could squeeze in and injure me through temptation and sin.

This lesson was very timely. The Lord does know what we need, always. He loves to bless us with counsel and guidance so that we can be successful in our sojourn here on Earth. This lesson in seminary helped me strengthen my spiritual "armor" by fortifying a chink. I'm so grateful for seminary and my inspired teacher.