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.