Light And Beauty

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)

The other day while my friend and I were driving, we past this tree that was absolutely beautiful! We both found it quite odd that we had passed this tree numerous times and never noticed it before. I commented that it must have been the way the afternoon light was hitting it that made it look that way. We both agreed. I wish I would have been able to take a picture of this tree! As I pondered on the beauty of this tree and the reasons why it was so beautiful at this moment, it made me realize the importance of light. It was the light that made us be able to see this tree in its real beauty. This made me think about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each one of us brings a light to this earth, because we are filled with the light of Christ. “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,”the Savior said. By using the Light of Christ to discern and choose what is right, we can be led to an even greater light: the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Elder Robert D. Hales). As we grow spiritually and fill ourselves with the knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be filled with eve more light and knowledge. That light that is within us with be seen outwardly. It will be beautiful to others. This light must be renewed constantly though. It doesn’t stay with us if we are doing things contrary to what God would have us do. That light that will generate outward wont be as bright and beautiful. Just as we wouldn’t have been able to seen the beauty of the tree without the light, we too cannot see as clearly the beauty within ourselves and the world around us if we do not fill ourselves with this light. As the Savior said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:15-16). Just as that beautiful tree brought a smile to my face, you never know who you will impact when you let your let shine!

Spiked Towards Your Face

Sometimes life comes at you fast. I know in my own life there are situations that come out of nowhere that could be harmful if not thoroughly thought through. I would like to relate this to the game of volleyball, and pretty much any sport. I was a hitter and a digger in volleyball, and to anyone that has played before you know that in this sport balls can come flying at you pretty fast. They will get spiked towards your face many times. You have to be prepared to react quickly and accurately. In order to be able to do this, it takes practice. It is really hard to get lined up for a spike and do the correct foot movements if you have never done it before. It is also very hard to pass the ball in the right direction if you are not positioned correctly for a dig. There are so many aspects to these movements. They can be learned but it takes diligent practice. Such practice makes a player able to react quickly. I know when I was playing, if I already knew how I would move and react to different situations then I didn’t really have to think in through in the game, my body would just react for me.

This can be the same with our own decision making in life, and particularly with the decision to say no to peer pressure. Peer pressure is ever present at every age. We often times can be placed in situations where we have to make hard decisions, and quickly. If we have already made up our mind on these situations then we won’t have to even think about what to say but we will react in the way that we practiced. You can make the resolve at a young age to obey the commandments of God, so when the time comes that you are tempted to break the word of wisdom, for example, you will have already made up your mind and you can stick to it. Life is going to come at you fast, “…sometimes you’ll have to think fast. However, it’s better to think first than to think fast. If you already know what you’re going to do, you’re in great shape. If not, your indecision could turn into tragedy.” (John Bytheway)

When the ball of peer pressure gets spiked towardds your face you will be able to react in the right way because you already thought through how to react. You can find direction and strength from your coach of life, Jesus Christ, to know the right decisions to be made in life. I know the God loves us and He wants us to succeed in the game of life, and through prayer and scripture study we can find strength when we are faced with peer pressure and hard decisions.

Tennis and Becoming Like Christ

“Living a Christlike life is like Tennis- it starts at love and begins when you serve”

I started playing tennis in 9th grade. I instantly fell in love with the sport. I was very blessed to have a really great coach who knew how to motivate us to work really hard. He would see my weakness and show me how to overcome them and make them strengths. There were days though that I would get discouraged. I was a beginner, so this meant I needed to learn the basics of the game. We would sometimes do exercises that, at the time, didn’t make any sense to me why we were doing them. But I trusted my coach and I had faith in him that he knew what was best for me as his student. It took great diligence and hard work to learn how to play. Over time I started to improve. It became exciting to see the progress that I had made. I looked forward to practice every single day. When it was match day I could barely stand to sit in class because I wanted it to be time to play already. There were days that were really hard but for the most part it was a great joy to me. The season seemed to fly by! Before I knew it, the season was over. Summer was a lot of fun and also went really fast. At the beginning of the next school year I played on the volleyball team. Although I loved this sport as well I just couldn’t wait to play tennis in the spring time.

In November just at the close of volleyball season I was in a terrible car accident. This accident caused a break in my back and it severely hurt my pelvis. I also suffered from extreme migraines for months because of it. Some days I could barely walk. When tennis season came back around I was not able to play because of my injuries. This was very devastating to me. I had come so far the previous year and I just couldn’t believe this was happening. It was really hard to see my tennis friends play and progress when I was not able to do so. I was not able to play the following year either. Senior year rolled around and the moment came for me to know whether or not I would be able to play. To my great happiness I passed the physical and before I knew it I was back on the court! I know the only reason I was able to get back to playing was because of hard work. I had to go to physical therapy and chiropractors. When I felt well enough I would go and practice tennis with my friends in hopes that my muscles and body would heal. The hard work paid off. Although at times playing was very painful and took great diligence, I was able to do what I loved once again and this made me happy. One of the hardest things for me to relearn was the serve. This skill is so essential though. It is one of the greatest skills to increase your score. I would spend hours practicing my serve.

I’m still not perfect at tennis but I have truly come along way. I would like to relate this to our progress in becoming like Jesus Christ. It takes great effort and diligence on our part. Just like I had to have faith in my coach and trust him, we too must have faith in God that we can improve and become like Him. Sometimes we will have great setbacks but with diligence and hard work we can make it through these setbacks. We won’t be perfect but we can improve every single day. Just like it takes a great serve to increase our score, we too need to serve those around us to improve our weakness and make them strengths. There are many things that CANNOT be learned without the help of our Coach, or Jesus Christ. Just like I couldn’t truly learn the sport of tennis without my coach’s teachings, we cannot become who we need to be without the Savior’s help. We need His help to develop faith, hope, charity, love, etc. We have to grow in love of God and all men. Every game starts with love and so does our path on becoming like Jesus Christ. I know that with loving service we can become more Christlike every single day.

“The scriptures describe a number of Christlike attributes we need to develop during the course of our lives. They include knowledge and humility, charity and love, obedience and diligence, faith and hope. These personal character qualities stand independent of the organizational status of our Church unit, our economic circumstances, our family situation, culture, race, or language. Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They cannot be developed without His help. The one help we all need is given to us freely through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. Christlike attributes come into our lives as we exercise our agency righteously. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action. When we have faith in Christ, we trust the Lord enough to follow His commandments—even when we do not completely understand the reasons for them. In seeking to become more like the Savior, we need to reevaluate our lives regularly and rely, through the path of true repentance, upon the merits of Jesus Christ and the blessings of His Atonement.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The Green Monster

In the world that we live in today, it is all about being better and being ahead of each other. We are constantly bombarded with sources telling us that you need to be and do more than the person next to you. I have found in my own life and the lives of others, we too often get jealous or angry when others succeed. This should not be the case! We are all in this race of life together and we all want to make it to the same finish line together. But sadly, along the way we run into the Green Monster. When he creeps into our lives it is because we don’t understand who we each are. We also don’t understand out Heavenly Father’s love for us.  As Elder Holland states, “It has been said that envy is the one sin to which no one readily confesses, but just how widespread that tendency can be is suggested in the old Danish proverb, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.” The parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales laments it because it is so far-reaching—it can resent anything, including any virtue and talent, and it can be offended by everything, including every goodness and joy.As others seem to grow larger in our sight, we think we must therefore be smaller. So, unfortunately, we occasionally act that way.” These actions cause us to further feel as this man does when he said, “In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a [divine] love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised,” he says, “it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn’t happen to me.” Do you ever find yourself thinking like this? I know I do. So then, how do we overcome this tendency? We can swiftly come back to our Heavenly Father. Elder Holland helps us know how to do this, he says, “We should do so with as much haste and humility as we can summon. Along the way we can count our many blessings and we can applaud the accomplishments of others. Best of all, we can serve others, the finest exercise for the heart ever prescribed. But finally these will not be enough. When we are lost, we can “come to ourselves,” but we may not always be able to “find ourselves,” and, worlds without end, we cannot “save ourselves.” Only the Father and His Only Begotten Son can do that. Salvation is in Them only. So we pray that They will help us, that They will “come out” to meet and embrace us and bring us into the feast They have prepared.”

I know that we are all equal in our Heavenly Father’s site and He loves us because of who we are, His sons and daughters. There is no one that is worth more or less than someone else. We should all try our hardest to be the best that we can be and encourage all those around us to do the same. We all want to inherit eternal life, so we should all be helping each other do this. I know that God loves all of us the same and that we are all gems to him. It is my hope that we will run away from the Green Monster and not let him in!

* Quotes taken from a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland titled, “The Other Prodigal Son”.

Be Still

“Be Still My Soul”

 Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

 Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

This beautiful hymn is one of my favorites. It has so much significance and meaning to it. It makes me think of the Psalm 47:10 which reads, “Be still and know that I am God”. Too often in life we are going about doing this and that and we forget to take a minute and be still. There are so many crazy things happening in the world and we need to take that time to ponder on our Heavenly Father’s great Plan of Happiness. He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins and suffer everything that we have or will suffer. As the song says, “the Lord is on thy side” I know that God is on our side, but we need to pay attention to Him. He really will take away the pains and sorrows that are inevitable in this life! I have felt it myself! If we will just put our lives in the hands of our great creator, listen to His words, and keep His commandments, we WILL be happy. I am not speaking of temporary pleasures, but true and eternal happiness. Like it says in Mosiah 2:41,

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

We really don’t need to fear, because the Lord truly is on our side. It takes patience and diligence, but He will deliver us from our sorrows! We have agency or the ability to choose. Whenever we use this to step towards God, we are given more freedom. It is my hope that we can all let Him guide our future. As we do so, our souls will be still and at peace.

We’re All VIP’s

 

“We cannot gauge the worth of another soul anymore than we can measure the span of the universe. Every person we meet is a VIP to our Heavenly Father. once we understan that, we can begin to understand how we should treat our fellow men.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

There is so much hatred in the world today. This is true not only towards other people but towards ourselves as well. If we truly understood just who we all are, sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we would be much more compassionate towards all. This, however, is not an easy task. We have sources everywhere bombarding us with messages that we are not good enough and that people have to be a certain way just to gain acceptance. Although the world would like to tell us otherwise, we are all VIP’s to our Heavenly Father. We don’t need to have the best clothes or the greatest gadgets to gain access to him, we just need to love him and follow his commandments. I know that we are all so important to our Heavenly Father. We can’t even fathom the worth of each soul to him. We are all his children and he wants us all to treat each other and ourselves with respect and love.

Why Did I come Here Again?…

Have you ever asked yourself questions like; “Where did I come from?” “What’s my purpose here?” And, “What happens when I die?” If so, then I think you will relate to what I am about to share with you.

This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I walked into my room to get something, but right when I walked in my room I could no longer remember what I went in there for. Have u ever done that before? I am sure you have! As I stood there in my room very perplexed and wanting to know what I needed, I looked around my room for clues that perhaps my brain would be jogged and remember. Then all of a sudden it hit me and I remembered my purpose for going to my room. As I was pondering on this instance it came to my attention that this is a lot like our life on earth. Before we came here we lived with our Heavenly Father and we knew exactly why we needed to come to the earth. Then we actually came here and could no longer remember our purpose for being here. But, just like I was able to remember the reason for going into my room, we too can all remember our purpose for coming to this earth. It won’t always be as easy and clear though.  It will take clues from our Heavenly Father. These so called clues come from his holy word found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He also will lead us to our purpose through the words of a modern day prophet.

As we continually and consistently study these words and live by them our memory will slowly start to come back and by the power of the Holy Ghost we can remember our purpose for coming to the earth. Just like I couldn’t continue getting ready without this item that I needed from my room, “It’s hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed or why. God’s plan gives us the answers to life’s most basic questions…Your life didn’t begin at birth and it won’t end at death. Before you came to earth, your spirit lived with Heavenly Father who created you. You knew Him, and He knew and loved you. It was a happy time during which you were taught God’s plan of happiness and the path to true joy. But just as most of us leave our home and parents when we grow up, God knew you needed to do the same. He knew you couldn’t progress unless you left for a while. So he allowed you to come to earth to experience the joy—as well as pain—of a physical body.”(Mormon.org). This is our purpose for coming down here on earth, but like I said we don’t always remember that. “One thing that makes this life so hard sometimes is that we’re out of God’s physical presence. Not only that, but we can’t remember our pre-earth life which means we have to operate by faith rather than sight. God didn’t say it would be easy, but He promised His spirit would be there when we needed Him. Even though it feels like it sometimes, we’re not alone in our journey.” (Mormon.org). I know that we lived with our Heavenly Father before this life and I know that we can all return to live with him as we try to remember and answer those questions that we all have. To know more about Heavenly Father’s plan for us please go to Mormon.org :)

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