Monday, February 27, 2012

Knowledge of What's Right

Hey Everybody! I am pleased to inform you that you are about to read the FIRST EVER GUEST POST on The Life of a Mormon Teen. Yep, that's right. You officially are about to be a pioneer of guest post-dom on this blog. Don't you feel special? ;) I would like to thank Becca of My Soul Delighteth for this fabulous post! It's awesome and every one of you should read it because of it's sheer awesomeness! Becca did a marvelous job ob this post! So, here it is! Enjoy!

My dad, who taught me that I am the Daughter of a King, with my mom

When Whitney asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I was delighted, but at the same time, a little nervous. I have never associated well with teens (even when I was one!) and so I am not sure really how to approach them. So I am writing this post with a lot of humility and a prayer in my heart that I will be able to say the right things.
Whitney asked me to write about what I wish I had known when I was a teenager.
I wish I had known that I already knew what was right.
Teens get a lot of flack these days from the media, from their parents, from society in general – you are confused, trying to find yourself, stubborn, disrespectful, disorganized, lazy.

Sisters - and daughters of God
There is a whole list full of negative things to say about teenagers. Society’s expectations of teenagers are pretty low.
But you know what is right. I am sure that most of you teenagers already know, deep inside, what is right, what is true, and what is good. That’s because Heavenly Father planted a seed of divinity in you. You chose what is right in the pre-existence, and all of you have the light of Christ within you – and if you have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and you are worthy, then you have him as your constant companion.
As adults, I think we are afraid to trust your ability to follow the prompting of the Holy Ghost. And it’s probably because we made a lot of mistakes when we were learning how to follow the Holy Ghost and we’re afraid you will make the same mistakes.
So I am telling you now – I trust you. Heavenly Father trusts you. He knows that you know what is right, and that you are courageous enough to do it.

One of my many amazing YW leaders
Growing up, I was blessed to have great parents, leaders, and teachers who truly recognized my divine nature, and verbally acknowledged that divinity daily.

My amazing mother who showed
me that God loves me
They trusted me to make my own decisions based on the promptings of the Spirit, and they told me that they knew that I could. Not every teen is blessed with those great parents and leaders, and so if you aren’t – if you are surrounded by adults who don’t recognize your divine nature or belittle you or doubt you, I want you to know that Heavenly Father is loves you and recognizes your divinity. He trusts you. He believes in you.
You will feel Heavenly Father’s love for you as you pray and as you read the Book of Mormon. Read it every day. Read it cover to cover multiple times in your life.

my senior year of high school
At October General Conference in 2011, Elder Richard G. Scott said,
“[T]hose who consistently read the Book of Mormon are blessed with an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a greater resolve to obey His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the divinity of the Son of God.”
Make the right choices. You know what is right. It might be hard to choose the right when expectations are so low. But remember that Heavenly Father has high expectations for you. He knows that you have the potential for exaltation embedded in your very nature.
He wants you to choose the right.
He knows you can do it. And that is what matters.

This post was brought to you by:

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Choice is Yours: A Guide to Decision Making

Making choices is one of the hardest things we have to do. It's so difficult, and often stressful. There are so many choices, and so many ways we can use our time. And it seems like there is so much pressure put on us to choose the right decisions. We face such a variety of choices everyday. There could be so many ways to categorize the choices we have to make, but I'm going to categorize our choices into three categories:

Unimportant Decisions
Life-Altering Decisions
Momentous Decisions

Unimportant decisions are the most common. What shoes you will wear, what font you choose to type your paper in, drinking juice or water with lunch..... you get the point. These choices either impact nothing at all, or have such a small ripple that nothing happens. In most cases, these decisions don't matter.

Life-Altering Decisions are just that: life-altering.  These include the college you go to, the career you pursue, choosing chastity, gaining a testimony, going to the temple regularly, etc. These are either one-time decisions like getting married, or many long term decisions like attending the temple. Life-Altering Decisions are planned for ahead of time and are focused on when decision making is discussed.

Momentous Decisions are the choices that people don't often think about. These include how you manage your time during a given day, your attitude for the day, or how you choose to dress that day. Notice how all of these choices are daily choices. Will you choose a modest outfit today? Will you read the scriptures? Momentous Decisions are vastly important, hence the name momentous. However, they are made in a second, and only seem to affect a moment. But, the ripple effect of momentous decisions reaches much farther than anyone could ever know. For example: If you choose not to exercise today, you know it will be harder to choose to workout tomorrow. Not only will it be harder, but you may feel more sluggish that day, be in a worse mood, etc. 

Lots of people overlook momentous decisions everyday. I know I do all the time. One of the hardest things we must learn to do in this life is to balance our time and choices. 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk in a 2007 General Conference about making decisions. He focused on "Good, Better, Best". This talk is very helpful when trying to learn how to determine what decisions to make. He says:

"We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives."

 "As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all."

I know that we will be blessed in our lives when we learn how to choose wisely when making all kinds of decisions. While there is sometimes, a lot of pressure, we also have many resources to help us. But most of all, I know that Heavenly Father will guide us when we make choices. And I know that no matter what we choose, He loves us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Inspiration For Teens: Jenny Phillips

So, here is the long-awaited interview with Jenny Phillips! For any of you who do not know, Jenny is a Mormon singer/ songwriter who sings music primarily for teens. Her music is amazingly inspirational. It makes you want to become a better person. " [Jenny is] one of the  highest-selling LDS music artists of all time." ( from Jenny's Bio on her website).

I really love her music because it really lifts me up when I am having hard times, and inspires me to become more like the Savior.
So without further ado, here's how Jenny answered the questions I asked:

Q. In high school, what did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? Why? Did you ever change your mind?
A. I always wanted to be a mom. I also wanted to be a singer. But it didn't stop there. I also wanted to be a fiction writer a non-fiction writer, a film maker, a documentary movie maker, and at one point a professional gymnast.
Q. What inspired you to become a singer?
A. My mom gave me some inspirational music when I was 6 years old. I could feel the power in the music so strongly at that age, and I wanted to create that same feeling by singing and writing.
Q. Why do you sing the kind of music that you sing?
A. I write and sing religious/inspirational music because that is what comes out of me when I sit at the piano to write! It is what is in my heart. It is also my way of trying to strengthen others and share my testimony.
Q. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
A. Every song is different. Usually it is from something that I read or hear that really strikes me; something that I feel strongly about wanting to share; or a principle that I have been learning about in my own life.
Q. What do you wish that you knew as a teenager that you know now?
A. I mainly wish that I knew that friends and popularity in high school are so temporary.
Q. If you could go back and live your teenage life again, what would you do different, if anything?
A. If I could go back and live my life as a teen again, I think I would be more grateful. to my parents and my family especially. I would spend more time with them, listen to them, and serve them more.

Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A. I consider my music more of a mission than a job. The most rewarding aspect is having the opportunity to help inspire others to be better and happier.
Q. Has being an inspirational singer given you opportunities you thought you'd never get?
A. Definitely. I'm amazed at the doors the Lord has opened for me. I don't feel more talented than other singer/songwriters, and I know that it is the Lord who has blessed me with these opportunities.
Q. Has singing motivational songs about the gospel given you more opportunities to be a member missionary?
A. I have loved the opportunity to do missionary work through my music for both members of others faiths and less active members of my own faith. I feel such gratitude for the blessings the gospel has given me, and I want to share that with others.

Q. As a teen, who was your biggest role model?
A. My biggest role model as a teen was my Grandpa Holbrook. He was an amazing man who cared very much about my life. He always made me feel like a million dollars! And he never missed a chance to remind me of who I was and what was important in life. 
 Q. What do you wish that you knew as a teenager that you know now?
A. I mainly wish that I knew that friends and popularity in high school are so temporary.
Q. If you could go back and live your teenage life again, what would you do different, if anything?
A. If I could go back and live my life as a teen again, I think I would be more grateful. to my parents and my family especially. I would spend more time with them, listen to them, and serve them more.
Q. Why did you choose to write music primarily for teens?
A. The teen years are so important, but they are also so confusing and emotional. Teens are deciding and defining who they will be and what their testimonies will be like. So many critical decisions are made during our teenager years. I want to especially reach out to that age group and give them comfort and strength during that critical part of their journey.
Q.  What are some goals which you set as a teen that you have already accomplished?
A. Be worthy to enter the temple. Record and release a CD. Travel the world bearing my testimony. Be a stay at home mom. Get a college degree.
Q. If you were to be in another career field, what would it be?
A. Film.I believe film is incredibly impactful. You take the power of music, and can add the power of images to it! I actually started out in college as a film major, but soon became disappointed with what the film world was like (so much filth and evil), and I switched my major. I would love to make movies that inspire and strengthen--that are beautiful, entertaining, and completely compatible with the spirit. But this is a dream that I am not going to go after anytime soon because I have an even greater dream of being an awesome mom, and I can't do both right now. So being mom wins!!
Q. If you could fly an airplane and write something in the sky, what would it say?
A. Ha, ha. I love questions like this. I would first of all pass out in fear of flying an airplane. But when I came to, I think I would write "Live like you believe."
Q. If you could have dinner with one person from the scriptures, who would you dine with?
A. Wow! I would obviously choose Christ. But if that weren't an option, these would be my top picks: Joseph of Egypt, Ammon, Joseph Smith, Nephi. Man this question made me excited and makes me realize how much I love these disciples that have impacted my life.
Q. What is your favorite color, and why?
A. White. I love the clean and pure feeling of white. I also love clouds which are white. Green and blue are second favorites because I love rolling green hills and blue skies.
Q.What is your favorite food?
A. Watermelon. 
Q. If you could make a masterpiece that would be displayed in the finest art galleries in the world, what would your work of art depict?
A. I have no skills in that area, so this is fun to imagine. I would depict a mother with a child or a baby that showed such a powerful sense of love that women would be reminded of what a blessing children are.
The songs Jenny has written have truly blessed my life. I'm glad that she is able to share her testimony with the world! What a great example she is to us teens!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

He'll Raise You Up

Lately I've been having some really hard times. I've had an injury for the past six months that has been hindering my progress in orchestra. It's been quite awful, actually. I've been in so much pain. I've been to different doctors, but I have an appointment tomorrow that should diagnose my problem.
The last three weeks, I've had a cold/bronchitis thing. We're not really sure what it is. I haven't been able to sleep well, and I've just felt horrible.
Due to lack of sleep, expectations, make-up work from being sick from school, etc., I've been kind of depressed lately. But, I just had this thought keep coming back to my mind, "I should ask for a blessing about my shoulder before the appointment tomorrow." Every time I would blow it off, It would return. Finally, I realized that this thought was a prompting that I needed to get a blessing. So, I asked my dad, and he called the home teacher, who agreed to come over.
Meanwhile, I'm just becoming more and more emotional from a billion different factors, mainly from lack of sleep. I just felt so horrible, and i was just afraid. I sheepishly admit that I wanted to have dad call the home teacher and ask him not to come because I was afraid I would start crying in front of him after/during the blessing. But, I knew I would look more foolish by canceling.
So, our home teacher came over, and I received a priesthood blessing. And I am so glad I did. The words of my blessing were the perfect words to help me feel God's love for me as I'm struggling right now. And I was promised that I would be able to play viola again. What a promise that is. I'm so grateful that I will be able to play again.
I'm so grateful for the priesthood. It has blessed my life in more ways than I could probably ever imagine. I'm so grateful for my Heavenly Father who loves me more than I could ever know, and whose light is visible, even when darkness is closing in on me.

This reminds me of one of my favorite songs, You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban). This song is so inspirational to me because it tells of how Jesus strengthens us when we are weak, and how He catches us when we are falling.


To learn more about the Priesthood, click here.

To learn more about God's love, click here. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

No Ordinary Beings

We all have those times when we doubt ourselves. I have them, you have them. I love this talk by President Uchtodrf. He explains in such powerful words just how powerful and loved we are.He says (at 2:55) "You are no ordinary beings. You are glorious and eternal." How true this is. Here are excerpts from his talk, with beautiful music in the background.

Next time you look into the mirror, I challenge you to look past your hair, clothes, acne, weight, height. Know that all of these imperfections are the mark of mortality. These are not permanent! When you look into the mirror, try to see yourself how your Father in Heaven sees you; He sees the divine beauty, power, and potential you have.

Doctrine and Covenants 18:10"Remember the aworth of bsouls is great in the sight of God"

I know that Heavenly Father loves me. And I can feel my innate beauty and divinity when I pray, adn especially when I'm in the temple. I know that you can too.

This is such a beautiful, inspiring and empowering video. I really hope you watch it!