Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We Are Not Done Being Painted

Humility is something I have been working on for a long time. I think it is something that everyone strives towards during the course of their whole lives. To me, being humble means that I rely on the Lord and trust in Him rather than myself. It means that I refrain from judging others because I know that I am no better than they are and that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father traveling on this "metaphorical pathway" of life together.

Recently I've been working on not passing judgements about a few certain people in my life. I have been praying that God will help me be humble and to love them more. One night while praying about this, it occurred to me that one way I can become humble and love them more is to serve them. I'm really excited thinking about ways to do that.

Today, though, I had a really cool burst of knowledge. It was kind of like a ray from heaven shone down into my brain to illuminate my mind a little more than it had been before. I was sitting on the bus talking to my talented friend. She was bringing home a painting to work on for her painting class. It was obviously incomplete and difficult to make out the subject of the painting. However, I could tell that soon it would become a painting of an elephant. This friend of mine was mourning the fact that nobody could tell what her painting was of, and how they thought it was a bird instead of an elephant. I found myself saying, "That doesn't matter. It's not fair for them to judge it if it's not finished". That was when my epiphany happened. All of the sudden I saw that we, as human being on earth, are each a painting. We may not look like majestic "elephants" yet. Some people may not be able to see what we're trying to become or how all the pieces will come together to make us into masterpieces. But it's okay because it's not fair to judge something that isn't done. We are not "done" yet. We are still in the long process towards perfection, which goal will not happen until the Celestial Kingdom. Therefore, it doesn't even make sense to judge others because they are not done yet either.

This really helped me. I'm so grateful for this insight that the Lord granted me. I'm glad I was in tune with the Spirit so that the Lord could answer my prayers about humility in this unexpected, yet very cool way.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Receiving Answers to Prayers

I am so grateful for you, my diligent readers. When I get busy and have obvious difficulty keeping up my posts, I always seem to get feedback from you guys about my blog and that you love it. I appreciate that feedback more than you know. Sometimes your kind words are really what help me keep going! Of course I love, love, love blogging, but it's so difficult to stay on top of it sometimes! So, thank you. And, of course, thank you for reading my blog. Because of my sometimes-erratic posting habits, I don't know if I will ever obtain the amount of readership I would hope to have, but I love that you are my faithful readers. Gracias. Danke. Grazie. Merci. Thank you.

It seems as though posting about receiving answers to prayers is a common theme for me. But that's okay. Keeping with that theme, I have something really cool to tell you guys about! I've been learning something awesome!

Last week I had this really important singing test in AP Music Theory. (Basically we're given ten excerpts to prepare, then he chooses two random ones, give us a starting note, then we sing the whole thing for him.) He didn't give us much warning about the test, and I was really worrying about it. I worked as hard as I could on the excerpts when I had the time, but I was super busy with four-hour long Nutcracker rehearsals every night. The night before the test I spent two hours practicing the excerpts, but the next morning I still wasn't super confident that I would do well on the test. I said a prayer that the outcome of my test would match the effort I put into it. I was calm the rest of the morning and totally aced my test.

The same thing happened about a month ago at my first speech meet. I had spent hours, and hours writing, memorizing, and preparing my speech. But I was so nervous that I was going to have a memory lapse when I was presenting it in front of the judges. So, I prayed that the outcome of my meet would match the level of effort I put into preparation. That day I came in first place in the Novice category, and second place in Varsity. I felt so blessed.

Next time you need help from the Lord for something big that you've been working for, try asking Him to bless you with an outcome that matches the effort you put into it. I have been learning that it is important to be specific in our prayers. Often there are blessings set aside for us that God more than wants to grant to us, but our receiving them is conditional on if we ask for them or not. Of course, God's ways are higher than our ways, and if He doesn't answer our prayers the way we expect, that's okay. His plan for us is better than any plan we have for us. But He does love to make us happy and grant us blessings we want. So try it. See what happens!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Overcome Trials

I totally had something in mind about which I wanted to post, but I felt prompted to take today's post in a different direction. First, though, I want to pose two questions to you. What do you do when you have challenges and problems? and How does Heavenly Father help you through your challenges and problems? Think about these for a minute. Ponder. Search deep within your soul. Haha.

What did you find? Some things you like? Answers you didn't like? More questions?

I am going to answer these questions for you. As I have traveled down the metaphorical road that is life, I have come across many trials, as have you, I'm sure. I want to share how I deal with them. One can never have enough tactics to fight hardships.

When I have challenges and problems, I sometimes turn to my friends first. However, this doesn't usually prove very fruitful. As much as they love us, and as helpful as they can be, our friends are mere mortals. And while I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't let our friends help us through difficulty, I am suggesting that Heavenly Father is the best person to turn to. He, in His perfection and infinite love, cannot fail us. Turning to the Lord in the face of adversity, however, requires faith. We must trust that He will answer us, and that He will provide a way for us to understand His answer. This used to be very hard for me. I knew without a doubt that God would answer my prayers, but I didn't have faith that I would be able to comprehend or recognize the answers when they came. These doubts were from Satan. He doesn't want us to be close to our Heavenly Father. He doesn't want us to have the powerful help that God can grant us. Once I realized that because God loves us and is perfect, I knew He would provide a way for me to recognize and understand the answers He gives to my prayers.

So, what does Whitney do when she faces challenges and problems? She prays. She prays and prays and prays and prays. Often these are tearful prayers, seeking relief from negativity and frustration. After she is sure her prayers were with real intent and heartfelt, Whitney reads the scriptures. Just as praying is how we talk to God, the scriptures are how He answers us. Often, I find answers to my prayers within the scriptures. This happens when I pay close attention to the words I am reading, and apply them to whatever I'm struggling with. This takes work, and practice. I'm not always super great at it, but the Lord blesses us for our effort. I have found so many answers to prayers through reading the scriptures after praying about a specific problem.

Heavenly Father helps me through my challenges and problems through the Holy Ghost. Time and time again my prayers have been answered through this member of the Godhead. The Spirit answers my prayers in many ways including: warm feelings of love, promptings, specific thoughts and conclusions coming to my head, or a literal voice in my head telling me something. Every person feels the influence of the Holy Ghost in different ways. These are just some of the ways I feel it. One must practice and develop a knowledge of how the Spirit communicates with them. No two people are exactly alike in this regard. For example, here's a time when Heavenly Father helped me through something recently:

I have a friend who I love very, very much. He is one of the people I love most. He is like an older brother to me. This friend (let's call him Leo) has been super stressed out and upset for a long time. He has more on his plate than he can handle right now. Leo is worried about college applications, AP classes, college auditions for violin, his family, his work, etc. For as long as I can remember, Leo has shared feelings with me about not being happy and feeling like he is missing something in his life. I have been trying to share the gospel with him. I have invited him to meet with the missionaries, come to church, and more. He's not against it, but hasn't shown enthusiasm for the church. Many-a-night I would cry, and pray, and cry, and pray that the Lord would soften his heart. I fasted for him numerous times. I did ALL I could to share the gospel with this person I love so dearly. I want for Leo to have the happiness I have. One night when I was particularly upset about him and was praying about it, the thought came to my mind that Leo is God's son. Heavenly Father loves Leo just as much as He loves me, and that He will take care of Leo. I felt that I should trust that the Lord will let him partake in the gospel when the time is right, and that I can't take it upon myself to be solely responsible for that. With this thought came a simple feeling of peace and my worries left me. The thoughts, assurance, and peace were from the Holy Ghost.

I know that the Lord loves us and wants us to be happy. Just as He will take care of Leo, He will take care of each of us. He wants us to come to Him with our sadness, struggles, hardships, and also our joys and triumphs. I testify that He will answer your prayers.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Create the Moment

Hello again! Recognize me? Maybe not, because I haven't posted in about a month. Oops. Sorry about that. Instead of boring you with my excuses about being busy, I'll just get to my post. :D

Sometimes we pray for missionary opportunities. That is good. No, that is great. It's golden. The Lord blesses us with opportunities to share the gospel when we pray in faith to receive them, with a plan of action to act upon those moments when they arise. But do you know what else we can do? Instead of waiting for missionary opportunities to knock at our door, we can create them! Woah! Crazy, right? As obvious as that sounds, it didn't even occur to me until several weeks ago.

The missionaries came over to our house and taught a fabulous lesson. Afterwards they asked me if I wanted a pamphlet about the restoration to give to one of my friends. I accepted, and thought that I'd put it in my backpack for when someone I met asked about the church. Then, the name of a girl at my school came into my mind. Let's call her Jenny. Jenny and I didn't talk often, but she had expressed interest in the church in the past. When her name came into my mind, I realized it was a prompting to give her the pamphlet. So I texted her to ask if I could meet her before school because I had something I wanted to give her. We met the next morning and she graciously accepted the pamphlet and agreed to come to church with me in the future. A week later she told me that she had read the pamphlet and found it very informative.

This was cool for me to realize that I could be in charge of sharing the gospel more in my life. I learned that I didn't have to wait and could be even more proactive about sharing the gospel with those around me. I encourage all of you to try to create a missionary moment this week. It doesn't have to be forced, awkward, or weird. Pray for inspiration. Just see what happens! You'll love it!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Morning Missionary

Last week, my Driver's Ed instructor told us a story about a time when he'd had a prompting from the Holy Ghost to go home instead of continuing to hang out with his friends, when he was in high school, which ended up letting him avoid a serious car accident that night. When telling us the story he said, "I just had this feeling, telling me to go home. I didn't know why. It was only 8:00. But the feeling kept coming, so despite the protests of my friends, I left. To this day, I still haven't figured out what that feeling was."

Cue secret agent missionary senses tingling. Of course I knew he had felt the Holy Ghost, and I really wanted to tell him about it, but I didn't know how. He was my driver ed instructor. I hardly knew him. So I put it off. The class is only two weeks, with the last day being today. But I kept thinking about it. Throughout the course, this instructor made more comments which totally made me want to share the gospel with him, such as his views about coffee and addictive substances. But I didn't know how, so I let it be.

Wednesday morning I woke up three hours before I had to, and I couldn't get back to sleep, no matter what I tried. Normally it's hard for me to get out of bed at the mandatory time, so this was unusual. So I just laid in bed and tried to doze. I thought I could maybe go work on finding information about the Holy Ghost to give to my teacher, but I dismissed the thought easily.

Yesterday morning, I woke up an hour and a half early. This time though, I had the distinct prompting that I needed to find some information for my teacher. So, I rolled out of bed and looked through the church's information online about the Holy Ghost, but couldn't seem to find any that seemed exactly right to give to my instructor. So I called it quits for the morning, deciding I'd ask my parents about it later, which never really happened yesterday. As I went to sleep last night, I pondered whether I'd be able to, or whether I should give anything to my teacher. As I was falling asleep, I listened to a talk by President Monson- it was about missionary work, and seemed directly aimed at me. (Here it is. This is a stellar talk. I love it so much.)

This morning, I woke up an hour and a half early once more. I complained in my head, knowing I needed sleep, but the thought came to me that this is my last day of Driver Ed, and last opportunity to share the gospel with my teacher. I really argued the prompting this time, for about ten minutes, almost to the point where I didn't get out of bed. But I eventually did. I didn't know what I would find for my teacher, if anything, but decided that if it was the Lord's will that He would take care of things. Plus, I pray all the time for opportunities for missionary work and to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I didn't want to miss this. Once I got on the computer, I found the exact information to give my teacher, a precious pearl from the "Gospel Topics" section of the church's website. I coupled that with a couple paragraphs of my own, and voila! I felt inspired as I wrote to explain the information to my instructor, and shared a personal experience with the Holy Ghost. I am so excited to give it to him.

I know the Holy Ghost leads us. He lead me to be a missionary this week. I am so grateful for the missionary opportunities I'm given, and so very glad I didn't let this one slip through my fingers. Each time I follow promptings, I show Heavenly Father that he can depend on me to help build His kingdom on the earth.

If you have read through to the end of this post, congratulations. You get a prize of my gratitude and appreciation for reading my words, plus you're probably an awesome, patient person, which will do you favors later in life.

You have ninja missionary skills. Have you found them?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Doubt Not. God Makes Priceless People.

It has been about two weeks since I posted last, which frankly, is unacceptable. So, I apologize! Life has been so hectic around here! It's fall break. Need I say more. :D

I would say that I am a very confident person. I'm definitely not perfect in that regard, but I do well. I know that I'm a daughter of God. I let that knowledge govern how I feel about myself. And I let it create confidence within me. But no person is perfect. Doubts creep into even the sturdiest soul on occasion.

Like a few nights ago. It was bad. It started out with me talking to one of my best friends. There's this really popular, good-looking guy in our school who really likes her, and she like him as well. I'm happy for them, but it just so happens that I had a huge crush on him in seventh grade. I'm not jealous, or anything, but I began reflecting on it. I wondered, "Why don't attractive, popular, older guys ever like me?" "Why do really popular people seem to not like talking to me ever?" "I'm a really cool person, what's wrong with this picture?" "I must not be beautiful enough." "I'm probably super boring." These negative thoughts seemingly came from nowhere, but each one came faster and with more force than the one before. Soon, I was sobbing. Deep down I knew that none of it was true, but I couldn't dispel the sudden self-doubt I was feeling on the surface. I knew I'm a daughter of God, and I knew that I'm beautiful. But I was so tossed about in the tempest of my negative thoughts that I felt like I could not securely grip and cling to those truths to keep me afloat. I prayed. And I cried. Prayed. Cried. Simultaneously. I read the Book of Mormon. And cried and prayed some more. I really felt like I needed to talk to someone, but I didn't know who. After a while, though, I decided to talk to my friend, Allison (name changed). She's one of my closest friends. We're in the same ward and go to the same school. Allison has a beautiful testimony of the gospel, and she is so good at applying it to her life. I knew that she would have comfort and insight for me.

I was not disappointed. After texting her to tell her how I felt she wrote me the longest text I've ever received. Here's a little bit of what she said. This stuff is golden, kids. It really is.

"Envy, which is often mistaken as jealousy, is a cruel trick on our minds. Do we actually care about worldly popularity? No. And you recognize that. Yet your mind has this control over you that makes you think that you care. This is all Satan [trying to mess you up]."

"No matter how you feel at the moment, there is Christ. Imagine how he felt! He was awesome! Seriously the coolest person ever! I mean, He was king of all nations, yet most of everyone hated Him. He knows what it's like to be left out and to see others prefer fakes over Him. Find comfort in the atonement."

"Society is fake and we all compare ourselves to something that isn't real. We admire what isn't there. We search for something that is lost. Comparison is the thief of joy. Never compare. You are better than this."

I love Allison. I immediately felt better after talking to her. I am so blessed to have her, and other friend like her, in my life. This isn't the first time that Allison has really helped me feel confident in myself when I've needed it. She has always been there for me, and always will be there for me. I'm so grateful to have her as a friend. And I'm so very, very grateful, more than I can fathom the words to describe, for my Father in Heaven. He is my Father. He created my soul. I am His creation. Next time you're down on yourself think about this- Would God create something ugly, bad, or inferior? The answer is an emphatic NO! Each of us is priceless. The greatest sacrifice in the history of mankind and beyond was made for each of us individually- the atonement of God's perfect Son, and our brother, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for their love and the relationship I have with them.

This is kind of a lame-quality photo, but this is a painting I did of me hugging my Savior. It was my 10-hour Personal Progress project for Faith. This really embodies the relationship I have with Christ. He always comforts me, and I'm grateful beyond words for Him and His sacrifice and love for me. In the painting, Christ is supporting me. He does this for me very literally.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

One Simple Trick to Instant Happiness

Breaking news! I have unearthed an instant remedy to any sadness, bad mood, or fear! (I feel like an internet ad. Ya know the ones where they say, "Five tips to a flat belly" or "Get rich fast! Try this old trick!" haha) But really, it works. Every time. Here's what went down.

So, today I was in a bad mood. I was scared, upset, sad, etc. It was just one of those days when my thoughts kept spiraling down and I was emotionally raw. I wanted to make that go away. Then, I remembered something I read in this month's New Era. The article is called the Facebook Project (or something like that). Basically, this girl would pick out five people from her friends list on facebook and send them a message telling them what she liked about them and that they are awesome. I loved that idea! So, I gave it a try.

And guess what? It's pretty much instant happiness. I picked out some people on my chat bar and just told them what I thought about them. It was simple, but felt so good! I did this a few days ago, as well. Both days, the result was the same. Lots of these people messaged me back telling me that those words were just what they needed to hear, and that I had totally made their night. The cool thing is, though, it didn't only make those peoples' nights, but mine as well!

I'm going to keep doing this! It makes me feel so great! And I know it's a way I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands to let His children know that they are loved!

So, give it a try! You'll love what happens!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Changing My Life

Bit by bit, recently, I've been realizing that God has a different plan for my life than I have for my life. At age ten, I knew exactly how I wanted the rest of my life to be. I had it down to a tee. In the years since then, I've moved bits and pieces of the elements of my plan around, but it has essentially stayed the same.

Over the past little while though, everything I knew to be in my future has been knocked over like bowling pins. My most cherished talent was ripped from my grasp before my very eyes, and thrown in the air- only to fall and shatter at my feet. Music. After visiting a new doctor I learned that it would be nearly impossible for me to put in the hours of practice I would need on my instrument to compete at a collegiate and professional level. I left that appointment not feeling too different about anything- still believing that I was an invincible musician. However, after a few days I began to realize the implications. I talked to my music teachers and coaches about my options. They didn't show much emotion and it seemed like they didn't really want to talk with me about it. Then, in orchestra class, my teacher gave a little lecture about music colleges, and it hit me that I'd never be going to my dream school. It sunk in to me that I'd never be able to compete. My predicament became real. This love I have, the goals I'd longed for all day, everyday- gone. The  days and nights spent in a beautiful place between reality and heaven, where I was myself in the music. The tears shed from the joy of music emanating from me, and tears of frustration from not playing well or not being able to play at all. The hours repeating etudes, scales, and solos. The competitions. Being part of prestigious orchestras. My quartet. All crumbling.

But through this whole process (which really has lasted years), I've grown so much closer to my Savior. Especially in these last few weeks. Over these days, I have really learned humility. After my realization, I knew I had to put my life in Heavenly Father's hands. It occurred to me that God has a plan for my life, and being the perfect being that He is, it is much better than any plan I could create for myself. I realized that what happens will happen whether I like it or not, and that I can either be upset about it, or just go with the flow. Heavenly Father loves me and will help me deal with any trials He gives me. This really taught me humility.

Once I understood all of this, I was able to let go, and trust in the Lord- mostly. However, I still had this need to know where my life was going. I wanted to know the plan. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to know what to do with my life instead of music. And it really frustrated me, because I didn't know. I was afraid because I couldn't understand my future. The beautiful future which I'd worked hard for was an empty slate, and that scared me. I was annoyed and worried because I'd given my future to the Lord, but didn't know what to do with myself.

After a while, it occurred to me that just like Heavenly Father has a plan for my life which is better than any plan I could conceive, I don't have to know or understand that plan. I only have to walk in faith. This realization humbled me further, and I was able to relax.

A few days later, my seminary teacher was talking about the same thing. He told us a story about a friend whose life plan didn't work out, and he had to trust in the Lord. My teacher related this to a staircase. He said, "It's like the Lord asks you to walk up a flight of stairs and tells you He has wonderful things in store for you at the top. But it's dark and you can't see the steps. He shines a light on the first stair and asks you to take a step even though you can't see the rest of the staircase." I loved this analogy. It's perfect, and exactly what I had been dealing with.

Since I've humbled myself and begun to have more faith and trust in Heavenly Father, I've been blessed more than I can really realize. After I gave my life to the Lord, I began to have TONS of missionary opportunities! In one week I gave away a Book of Mormon, two For Strength of Youth pamphlets, and a Personal Progress book. I made four or five new friends, to each of whom I shared the gospel in some way or another. And, I successfully invited some friends to some church activities. It was amazing, and definitely not a coincidence!

I also began to learn about my future. Little by little. Line upon line. Precept on precept. Since that time, I have been closer to the Spirit, which has entitled me to more personal revelation. I was comforted. The Holy Ghost taught me things about life, and about myself. I studied my patriarchal blessing and received comfort and knowledge. And, during conference today, I received even more guidance for my life. I've gained so much understanding. Though each bit has been small, I have been receiving so much revelation and knowledge about life, trials, God's plan for me, humility, and the Holy Ghost. I've felt and understood with much more clarity the love Christ and Heavenly Father have for me.

Truly, the Lord loveth His children. He does watch over us and love us. Our trials bring us closer to Him if we let them. There is no way I can possibly express how much love I have felt and how much I have grown through all of this. It's miraculous. It really is. I have seen so many small, personal miracles through it all. I am closer to my Father than I ever have been during my earthly life. It is so beautiful.

If you are going through trials, which we all do, please take this from me- Heavenly Father loves you. This hardship is a blessing for you, because you can emerge from it a stronger, wiser person. Think of how much joy that will bring you and your Father in Heaven. Strive to have the Spirit with you. That is key. Look for opportunities of growth. Pour out your heart to your loving Father. He wants to hear it all. Humble yourself.

And don't forget- God didn't send you to earth to fail, but to succeed marvelously. If you need a booster for your day remember this- the prophets and apostles are praying for you. As are your leaders. God sends angels, both immortal and mortal, to watch over us.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Power of YOUth

I guess I'm pretty sheltered. But I'm okay with that. I wouldn't have to be sheltered if I didn't want to. I could do things behind my parents backs, and lots of it they might never find out. But I love my innocence.
Sometimes I see things inadvertently which cause me to realize a little more just how steep a downward slope our world is traveling. I just saw a 30-second commercial which totally flabbergasted me. It was an ad for a clothing store (I won't name names here), and it showed a guy and a girl, each in their underwear, standing in a room together with lots of clothes at their feet. They proceeded to put on and take off lots of different outfits, whilst flirting with each other. I won't go into any other details, but the advertisement made me really sad. What was even worse were all of the comments underneath the ad. There were a few people who criticized the ad, and there were myriads of grumblers criticizing those people. It was really heartbreaking to see how many people agreed with and defended the ad.

The Lord knew this time of the world would be difficult. He sent us here for that very reason. You all have heard that we were saved for this time, that we are some of the most valiant. Don't take that for granted! Heavenly Father trusts us to do His work. How special is that?

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9.)

We are all brothers and sisters- precious sons and daughters of God. We can acquire strength by calling down the power of heaven. It's simple, and powerful. Pray. Read your scriptures. Do the things you know are right! The Lord will bless you. I know you know this. I know you live this. Today, take it a step further. Do something you didn't think you could do. Rely upon the Lord for help. We can be instrumental in bringing forth the kingdom of God. There is so much power in us, youth. Let's exercise it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

You're An Angel

There's this guy in a few of my classes, let's call him Brandon, who is quite the interesting character. On the outside, he seems really rough. On any given day, Brandon can be seen wearing sweats or dark, baggy jeans with an over-sized t-shirt, and shoes which look at least two sizes too big. He always has a pair of of beats around his neck.

In Spanish, we earn pesos for participating, and for each ten we earn, we receive extra credit. Last week on a peso-turn-in-day, Brandon was lamenting the fact that he only had eight pesos, and that his friend Sean would have given him two more if Sean had been at school that day. Having seventeen pesos myself, I gave him two. He seemed shocked and amazed that someone would want to show kindness to him. The rest of the day, he thanked me over and over, and told everyone around him how nice I was. Over the next couple days Brandon let me go ahead of him in line, always smiled and said hi to me, and thanked me more.

Fast forward to today. I was talking to my friend about why I keep the standards of the church (such as not dating til 16, etc.), and Brandon, who was sitting on the other side of her heard our conversation. It was kind of funny though, because he only heard half of it at first. I was telling my friend about how I don't do drugs and alcohol and Brandon's face went into shock, "You do drugs and alcohol?" The incredulity in his voice was funny, and it made me feel great that he couldn't imagine me doing such things. I informed him that I definitely do not do drugs and alcohol and that he only heard half of the conversation. He seemed relieved. Later my friend and I were talking about chastity, and I said something to the effect of, "Yeah, I definitely don't want to become pregnant in high school!". Again, Brandon's head snapped around and his face was one of shock. "You're... you're.." he stammered. I replied, "No, I'm definitely not pregnant, nor will I be until after I'm married."What happened next is what surprised me the most. His face lit up and he said, "I respect that. I respect that a lot. Good for you!" and he gave me a high five. How sweet is that? But it gets better.

Towards the end of the Spanish period, Brandon was singing/rapping (I think) under his breath to some music he was listening to. In the process of which, he cussed a few times. Immediately, his head snapped up and he had a look on his face as though he'd just run over his mother's cat. He said, "Oh snap! Oh my goodness! I am so, so sorry! You did not just hear what I said! I should not have said those things around you! You're too innocent. You're an angel. You're an angel. I am so sorry!" I thanked him for his respect and thoughtfulness. I had never even asked him to not swear around me. He just knew not to instinctively. How cool is that?

If only the world had more Brandons. At first glance, I didn't know if he was someone I could be friends with, but now I see that he is just so awesome. I know that he notices my example- knowledge which I feel blessed to have. I am so grateful for the cool experiences that Heavenly Father lets us have in our lives!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Brave Act

I did something pretty cool today. I'm proud of myself, because I stepped out of my comfort zone a little.

There's a girl who sits in front of me on the bus. She sits by herself and keeps to herself. She's silent. Today I decided that I would talk to her. I didn't want her to feel lonely or awkward sitting there. I asked her her name, found out she's a freshman, asked her how she's liking high school, what she likes to do, etc. This girl (let's call her Cynthia) gave short, shy answers, but we soon had a conversation going. After a while, the conversation died and we turned away from each other.

So I sat there, just thinking about the things a Whitney ponders, when I felt like she would love the Book of Mormon. I realized I had one in my backpack that I could give to her. But, I had just met her. I had no idea what her religious background was, what her parents would think, what she would think. I kept turning the idea over in my mind. I couldn't decide if this was a prompting from the Holy Ghost to give her a Book of Mormon, or if it was my crazy love of missionary work taking over my brain. I decided to pray about it and ask if I should give her the book. I searched my soul. I'm pretty sure the Holy Ghost was ever-so-gently prodding me to give it to her, but I wasn't positive. Then, I remembered something which an EFY counselor had told me, "Even if you aren't sure if something you feel is a prompting or not, if it's a good thing, act on it. Everything good comes from God". So, I grabbed the Book of Mormon from my backpack and started a conversation which went something like this:

Me: Hey, have you ever heard of a book called the Book of Mormon?
Cynthia: No. Is it cool?
Me: Yes. It's very cool. It's the coolest book in the world.
Cynthia: Oh yeah? What's it about?
Me: It's the religious text of the LDS, or Mormon, church. Mormons read this along with the Bible. They're Christians.
Cynthia: Oh. That's cool.
Me: Yeah, it is. I'm actually Mormon. (Pulling out BOM) Here's the book. I just felt like I needed to give it to you. I don't know why. I just felt like I should.
Cynthia: (Receiving book) Oh. Don't you need this?
Me: Oh, I have one!
Cynthia: Well, thank you.
Me: You're welcome. It talks about Jesus Christ, just like the Bible does.
Cynthia: Thank you.
Me: Yeah, no problem. I just felt like I needed to give it to you. Hey, here's my stop. Let's hang out sometime, okay?
Cynthia: Sure!

So that was that. I have no idea what will come of this, if anything. I hope she has questions, though. I hope she's curious about it, read it, and finds mormon.org. I hope she'll ask me her questions. But who knows? Maybe I only planted a seed. And that's okay. That's beautiful, too. Seeds grow into beautiful, useful things. One thing is for sure, though. Heavenly Father knows He can count on me more. I hope to have more opportunities like this. I feel so very blessed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life's Good

I love life. I seriously love living. Even though it's hard, mortality is pretty awesome. These are some reasons why my life is so good

1. Music Puns

Today in math class I decided to come up with as many music puns as I could. (We were just checking the homework, don't worry about any losses in educational matter for Whitney.) That seriously made me so happy!

2. The Nutcracker

I'm in the pit orchestra for this (even though I'm not allowed to play, due to injury), and it's amazing! I can't wait for the performance. It's so wonderful to be playing something I've loved my whole life.

3. Spanish

I seriously love Spanish. I love love love hearing it and feeling the words dance around on my tongue. I also enjoy using it in conversation with other Spanish speakers. I've been working quite hard on my Spanish and it's coming along quite nicely. There is so much satisfaction in that.

4. Being a Daughter of God

I love going to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I love knowing that He loves me infinitely and is in charge of my life. I love that He is always with me (D&C 84:88). I love that I am so special and important to Him. I love that He guides me through and helps me conquer all of my trials.

5. Autumn

I simply adore the fall. It smells and feels and looks so good! It makes me so very, very happy! I love everything that happens in fall. I love the holidays, the promise of Christmas around the corner, the pumpkin bread, sweaters, and having the windows open. Aaaaaaand, I LOVE General Conference!

What has the Lord blessed you with? What are you grateful for? This week, really treasure those things which you love. Think about your blessings more than your problems. You'll be amazed at what happens!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Happens Will Happen

I have been just so happy lately. Life isn't going perfectly, for no one's life does, but I'm learning to be happy despite the trials. I think I've known how to do this to some extent for a while, but it's sinking in even more now.
I'm one who is very Type A, perfectionist. I like to always know what's going on, how things will happen, I plan far into the future, and feel the need to be in control all the time. These traits, like any traits, affect me positively and negatively. I've found that one way to learn happiness in life is to not let traits like these affect us negatively, and instead focus on the positive.
As I have been injured for the past while, it has been hard. Two years ago it was really hard on me emotionally. I was scared and frustrated because I didn't know how my injuries would affect my future as a violist. It was in this time that I began to rely on the Lord. But it has taken years.
Lately my injuries have progressed and increased. I haven't been able to find answers from doctors, or I've had to wait for what seemed would be enlightening appointments, only to be told to wait more and go to different doctors. The hardest part in all of this has been the fear and frustration from not knowing the future now. If you think about it, that's really what fear is- unrest from the lack of knowledge of the future.
We are taught in the gospel that fear and faith cannot exist in the same place, much like darkness and light cannot coexist. A few weeks ago as I received more bad news, I stepped back for a moment. I realized that I could make the decision to either be afraid, or have faith. It occurred to me that God is in control of everything. He won't give me anything I can't handle. And there's really no point in worrying because what happens will happen whether I worry about it or not. And when things happen, Heavenly Father will help me through them.
This totally changed my whole outlook on life. I have been so much happier ever since! It's the best feeling ever! I'm so grateful for my loving Heavenly Father who knows me and is in charge of everything.

"There's really no point in worrying because what happens will happen whether I worry about it or not."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Small and Simple Example- Great Impact

Lately I've been just a little discouraged because I have felt like I'm not being the example I can be. Especially these past two weeks. I haven't been doing anything wrong to be a bad example, and I've been doing lots of good things, but I just felt a little un-brilliant and uninspiring. I had to keep telling myself, though, that all the little things we do add up. The little choices which make up who we are are noticed by those around us. I reminded myself of the scripture, "...behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." (Alma 37:6)

Then, I decided to try to notice the little things I did everyday to help others, be righteous, and set a good example in general. Some of these things included:
  • Being patient and loving to those who might annoy me
  • Setting and working toward personal goals
  • Being optimistic about trials and helping others be optimistic about theirs
  • Paying attention and loving to learn in church meetings
  • Giving advice to those who come to me with problems
  • Being polite and kind to everyone
  • Dressing modestly, using good language, keeping the dating standards, keeping the sabbath day holy
These are all small things which I don't ever think twice about over the course of my day, but I realized that their combined effect is really powerful. I bet you all do these things, too! People do notice that we are different, and they think it's awesome! They are drawn to our lights! We just don't always realize it because we can't read minds.

However, there are those awesome occasions when those affected by our awesome examples tell us about it. It's so cool when that happens! That happened to me on Sunday.

An eleven year old girl in our ward came up to me after church and told me that she had noticed me taking notes in Sacrament meeting for several weeks. She decided that she wanted to take notes, too. I was told that her mom bought her a special notebook for it, and that she was going to hang up her notes on her locker. I was so touched and humbled by her acknowledgement of how my actions affected her. Taking notes is a simple thing I do for myself, but because I wanted to bless my own life, it blessed her's too!

So really, we're not the only ones affected by keeping the commandments and our awesome acts of righteousness. Those around us are watching, and the things we do have a ripple effect. Don't be discouraged if no one comes up to you and tells you that you're inspiring them! Just because no one tells you doesn't mean it's not happening! So what will you do with your good example? Who will your ripple touch? You may never know in this life, but just think about all the people you could be inspiring! It's exciting, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tender Blessings Because He Loves Us

Lately I have been struck by how the Lord brings to pass His work with timing and ways we don't understand, and by small and simple means. Of course one hears this all the time, but it's hard to really understand until one has experienced it.

For several years I have been dealing with injuries caused by my viola-playing. It's been off and on. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that there has been not only a lot of pain, but a lot of heartache, confusion, fear, and frustration. Heartache from not being allowed to do what I love. Confusion and fear of not knowing how long-term injuries will affect my future viola career. And, frustration of not being able to participate in the orchestras, ensembles, pit orchestras, etc. Of course I have learned so incredibly much from this. More than I could even write in a book, probably. I've definitely grown a hundred-fold times closer to my wonderful Father in Heaven. Within the past few days, though, I have seen how merciful Heavenly Father is after the trial of our faith and how he answers prayers in different ways than we expect- and the outcome is always better for us, whether we realize it, or not.

This week has been a time of realizing it. Here's the story (in a nutshell, as I have been practicing how to keep things more concise and not ramble).

I have been to several doctors over the past few years. Some have been more helpful than others, but I haven't yet found a doctor with enough background in treating musicians to know how to diagnose and treat me. So after searching for doctors in vain, I did what all people do when looking for a doctor- emailed the symphony orchestra of my city. Professionals. Reeeeally awesome, famous professionals. After a week of not seeing a response, however, I began to lose hope. Maybe they were too busy. Maybe they never got my email. Maybe they don't care. But yesterday I got this email:

Dear Whitney,

I am very sorry to hear of your playing injury.  As a fellow musician, I know how frustrating and difficult to diagnose these types of problems can be.  

I will send your request onto the rest of the musicians to see if we can put you in touch with someone who may be able to help you.  The orchestra is currently on hiatus, but returns to work next week.  Once everyone is back I will do my best to gather any referrals I can and forward them to you.  Music is an important part of our lives, and it sounds like it is a big part of yours, so let's get you back onstage!

Thanks for you message and someone will be in touch soon.

My Name is Confidential Because This is Being Posted on the Internet

After I read this emails just came streaming in from musicians in the symphony. They were all very concerned for me. They gave me all the suggestions each of them could. They were all very genuinely concerned for me and wished me the best. One musician is even going to meet with me and personally help me. And I'm still getting more emails. I'm acquiring a wealth of knowledge of good doctors to go to, and other things to help me.

But it gets better! The musician who originally emailed me offered me a tour of the concert hall and to introduce me to the musicians and let me talk with them backstage after some of their concerts! How amazing is that? I feel so blessed! 

This was a way Heavenly Father showed His love for me. He answered my prayers through the small service of many people. And, I'm being blessed beyond what I could have imagined! How great is the goodness of our God. He loves His children. 

This is me and my viola, Sebastian. Yes. I named him. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

True Confidence

Lately I've been noticing strange fluctuations in confidence levels within myself. I think this something that all teenagers face- all people, really. Since the new school year started, I have been  beginning to really search for my niche. I think I've always kind of known where that is, but it's just a little bit different now. I think I used to define myself by my friends or the activities I enjoy. Now though, since I don't see my best friends very often in the day and I keep being plunged into seas of new people, my definition of myself sort of faded. In it's place a new self-image is currently forming. I'm learning to be confident in me. Not my hobbies, talents, or friends, but me. It's an interesting thing. And it has been difficult. But difficult in unexpected ways. For example, I have felt loneliness at times. In the past, I was always surrounded by friends and never was truly acquainted with that feeling. But as we are progressing through high school, my friends and I have fewer and fewer classes together. Though I have always been one to reach out and meet new people, my self-confidence has been tested as I have been surrounded by many new people. Though it has been difficult, and I've made some mistakes, I'm pleased to say that I have made new friends, and reestablished old friendships through it all.
Anyhow, I find all of this very interesting. In terms of our progression, Heavenly Father isn't only worried about the outcome, but also the process. I have found this to be very true. It is so fascinating for me to ponder this past month and see how I've struggled and grown from that. I'm humbled, and also very excited about the growth the future will bring, even if it is challenging. I'm very excited about the true self-confidence I am building. It's so cool!

Teenagers talk about how having the Holy Ghost with them helps them have true confidence.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Learn to Love it

Life is hard. Very hard. Good thing we have a loving Heavenly Father always watching over us! I've felt Him especially watching over me lately.

I had a really rough time last night. You know, the ones where you cry really hard, use up way too much kleenex, and end up with a headache. Not fun. I was upset about typical teenage problems. Friends, how my peers view me, school, etc.  (The joys of being a teen, right?) I prayed about it and talked to my parents about it. Then I got a blessing of comfort from my dad. But in the back of my mind the whole time I had the feeling that I needed to read the Book of Mormon. I hadn't had my daily scripture study yet. Usually I read the scriptures on my ipod (since my scriptures are at seminary), but I don't really like to read them from my ipod because they're difficult to mark that way. I decided I really wanted to dive into the scriptures. So after my blessing, I ran and grabbed a new Book of Mormon off the shelf and a dozen colored pens and highlighters. I read three chapters, and just went to town highlighting and underlining meaningful phrases and verses, and writing in the margins. I decided that this would be my copy of the Book of Mormon for seriously marking up. The chapters I read yesterday were the most meaningful I've read in a long time. Not only did I get more out of them because I was actively studying, but Heavenly Father knew exactly what I needed to read to help me feel better and led me to those chapters.
After reading those amazing chapters, and truly feeling Heavenly Father speak to me through the scriptures, I felt so much better. Love, peace, and a feeling of home surrounded me. God answered my prayers through the scriptures. The concerns and questions I had were answered in the verses I read. How wonderful it is when that happens.
And it can happen everyday when we make our scripture study active. I'm guilty of passive scripture study sometimes. Life is busy, but we can't let that get in the way of our conduit of power, for that's what the scriptures are.
Instead of viewing scripture study as long, or boring, we can learn to love it. Learn to love the Book of Mormon. Learn to love it. Begin to look forward to your scripture study. Read with clear questions to be answered in mind. Learn to love it. The scriptures, and the Book of Mormon, will bring so many blessings into our lives. The more we invest in them, the more we'll get out of them. They are our truest source of power.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Don't Pass It On

One of the downsides high school is that it's full of drama. Ewwww. Drama. Everyone has to deal with at least a little bit of it in high school, whether it's their fault, or not. Some are good at evading it, but others seem to gravitate towards it. What's the deal?

Even though the school year is young, there is already a lot of drama happening in my circles- things which don't directly have to deal with me, yet affect me. Much more than I ever noticed last year, or the year before. But the thing which bothers me the most, and what really makes high school drama dramatic, is the gossip which accompanies it. Even some of my church friends gossip. It's really not cool. Even if the things you say about someone are true, if it's someone's personal matters, or unkind, it's still gossip.

The For Strength of Youth says, "Speak kindly and positively about others. Choose not to insult others or put them down, even in joking. Avoid gossip of any kind, and avoid speaking in anger. When you are tempted to say harsh or hurtful things, leave them unsaid.

Talking badly about others does not make you cooler. It just creates enemies for yourself in the end. Jesus commanded us to love all men. How is that possible if one isn't on speaking terms with another because of something which had been said?

I can truthfully say that there is no one in this world that I dislike. I hate no one. It is a wonderful blessing. This is because I make it a priority to only say kind things to and about others. I promise it's possible. :)

This is what inspired me to make a personal commitment to avoid gossip. What do you think of it?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Whitney, Whitney Blog Swap!

Just as I promised, here's a guest post by the lovely author, Whitney Reid! Be sure to check out her blog, because it's pretty awesome, but also because I wrote a post for it! Check it out!

Hi! I assume most of you don’t know me because I live states away from Whitney. Whitney and I have become friends through blogging and through the fact that we are both named Whitney! For those of you who don't know me, my name is Whitney Reid from feelmysunlight.blogspot.com. I am a little Utah girl and I spend most of my time in the gym either tumbling or coaching. While I love love love the time I spend with my team, I love the time I spend with the Lord even more. I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and am a little obsessed with this lovely church. When I grow up I want to be a graphic designer, but my true dream is work for EFY as a counselor and a speaker. I have a dream to be a motivational speaker one day. Until then I hope to reach people from the words of my blog. I want to do this because I have a piece of something so great that I want everyone to hold for themselves. This is my testimony.

In my sport of tumbling, as well as most other sports, there is an element of risk. Every time I step onto that mat there is a chance that I will not walk off of it. This is a chance we all take because the reward is so great. There is a risk with everything we do with our lives. Getting out of bed and going to school poses so many threats that if we focused on them we would never leave our bedrooms, nevertheless, we still climb out of bed day in and day out. 

I have learned something with tumbling. I have learned that too often people put there all into the sport, and then before they know it, it is all taken from them with a single fall. It is amazing how quickly dreams can be ruined when your biggest dreams are things pertaining to the ways of the world.
Now I’m not saying we should all quit trying to make it far in whatever we do, but I do believe there is something greater that we could aim for.

Enos 27 says,
“And I soon go to the place of my rest,                
              which is with my redeemer;
     for I know that in him I shall rest.                
           And I rejoice in the day when my                   
                  mortal shall put on immortality,
and shall stand before him;                             
                    then shall I see his face with pleasure,          
and he will say unto me: Come unto me,                
         ye blessed,
            there is a place prepared for you
 in the mansions of my father. Amen.”          

This is my goal. And I believe that this should be everyone’s dream.  Because glory and fame of the world is short lasting and insignificant compared to what we could gain if we are faithful to our father in heaven.

President Spencer W. Kimball said,

“If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold, he possesses approximately one 20-billionth of all the gold that is presented in the earth’s thin crust alone. This is an amount so small in proportion as to be inconceivable to the mind of man. But there is more to this: The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33); and when [we keep the commandments, we] received a promise from the Lord of ‘All that my Father hath’ (D&C 84:38)”

 I love this quote because to me it shows that no matter what happens to us in this life, if we endure it well, we will receive far greater than anything we could have imagined. That is my goal.

Whitney Reid,