Monday, March 4, 2013

Coming Full Circle

Life is going really well for me right now. It is especially so in contrast to this time last year (See here, here, and especially here). Not everything about my life is perfect, but my life is so amazing! I've been able to see how the Lord comes full circle and delivers the blessings promised for obedience and as a result of several long-lasting hardships I've endured. Nothing is as rewarding as this.

Over the past three or four years, I've been working on a personal goal which I never achieved. This January I rededicated myself to this goal (again) and I'm finally making progress! It's a visible sort of progress that I can see all the time, and it's so incredibly rewarding to know that I'm beginning to conquer something I've been struggling with for so long!

As you can read in the links above, I've had a loooot of back problems over the past year and a half. I was in pain, I could hardly move, I couldn't play my viola, and didn't know if I ever would again (which, if you don't know, viola is my LIFE! I plan to major in it, etc.), I wore a back brace which looked terrible and was extremely uncomfortable... you get the picture. It was hard.But, a year and a half later, I have been extremely blessed! I now am in the highest orchestra in my school, and I'm first chair. Because my back is strong enough I am able to practice a lot, which helps me excel.  I also started a string quartet with some of my friends, and we now play for weddings, parties, and such. And, this year I am a member of the Honor Orchestra of America, which, if you're not a musician, is a big deal. I'm sooooo incredibly excited, and SO grateful to my Heavenly Father who has blessed me to make these things possible.

Most of my life I've battled severe chronic depression. This was especially hard to bear last winter in addition to the other trials I had. It became much worse. But slowly, I have learned how to combat the negative feelings which seem to constantly threaten to make camp in my brain. Through the Lord's help, I am able to feel peaceful, joyful, and optimistic nearly all the time. This is such a relief and beautiful blessing for which I am extremely grateful.

I feel so blessed right now. It's so wonderful to be in a season of my life filled with blessings. There are even more blessings I'm experiencing, but I can't list them all. I love my Heavenly Father, and I know He loves me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Singing for Elder Ballard

Hello wonderful people! So on Friday a very special opportunity presented itself to all the youth who live in my state. Yes, state, not stake. Elder Lansing, from the quorum of the seventy, Bishop Stevenson, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the quorum of the twelve came and gave us a fireside. It was incredible! But, the fireside was even more special for the girls in my ward and me because we were the musical number. We sang for all of the youth in our state, all of the bishops and stake presidents, and our guests.
It was spectacular to look out into the sea of faces of kids my age. These were the faces of righteous, loving youth who loved and value the same ideals as I. When we sang, I felt the Spirit so strongly. Usually, when I feel the Holy Ghost, it's a very still, tender, sweet feeling that makes me cry. This time it was joyful, and exuberant. I looked at all of the beautiful people as I sang to them, and made eye contact with as many as I could. I wanted them to feel the power of the words I sang just as acutely as I was feeling them. I was smiling so much that my face hurt. :D Afterwards, my friends who were in the audience said, "I could tell that you were just feeling it! It was like something was emanating from you." and "You sang like an angel.". Singing for the youth in my state and for Elder Ballard was an incredible experience!
So, after we sang, the three visitors gave an awesome fireside where they were speaking directly to us, youth. Here are my favorite parts of what they said:

Elder Lansing:
  • “Right now the eyes of the Lord are focused on the youth” –Elder Lansing
  • President Monson is the most youth-oriented prophet there's ever been. He's 85. Most people at that age are looking back on their lives, but he is looking forward into the future of the church. President Monson has brought to pass:
    • New For Strength of Youth
    • New Youth Curriculum
    • Missionary Age Change

Bishop Stevenson:

  • Satan tries to make us look at things as they aren't. He tries to confuse us. But we have the proper tools to combat the confusion.
  • We have the Plan of Happiness.
  • We have these formulas:
    • Obedience/Righteousness --> Blessings --> Happiness
    • Disobedience --> Punishment --> Misery
Elder Ballard:

  • "We have experiences in our future we can't even dream of."
  • "Keep the beam of heaven guiding our thoughts and minds."
  • He explained how we can be like Nephi by using this scripture: 1 Nephi 2:16:
    • "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers."
      • 1) Have a great desires to learn about God
      • 2) Pray and sincerely study about Him, develop a relationship with Him
      • 3) He will come unto you
  • We need to kindle the desire
  • "We all have challenges. That's why we're here."

I know that the Lord's servants speak His truth and His gospel and that when we follow their counsel we can't go wrong. I'm so grateful for this opportunity I had.