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 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.