Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Light

"For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God... search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ."
(Moroni 7:16, 19)

If any of you are like me, you may at times feel like a little black rain cloud is following you around all day, and you can't seem to shake it. You sometimes wonder if you'll ever "see the light" again. It happens to all of us. We have bad days, or bad weeks, or bad months. But it's not a bad life. When I think of this little black rain cloud, I am reminded of the phrase "shadow by day," which refers to the cloud that followed the children of Israel in the wilderness. The cloud was the Lord, and it was His protection and watchful care that got the Israelites through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. I've decided to turn this little black rain cloud into my "shadow by day," and also learn to depend on my "pillar by night." I want to turn all of these hard things over to the Lord, and He will lift the burdens that I carry.

My dad is the bishop of our ward back in Tennessee. He works hard, especially with the youth. He has been studying the concept of light as it occurs in the scriptures, which has inspired this blog post. I love light! Light chases away darkness, and it defeats the blues! It's refreshing to wake up in the morning to light streaming in through the windows. Your body needs light to feel good! Vitamin D and warmth are two important things that come from our biggest and brightest source of light. Just like our bodies need light to feel good, our Spirits need light to feel good too.
Psalms 27:1 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" When we have the light of Christ in us, we have no need to fear, and we can do anything! We know that what we believe is the truth, and we can boldly testify of that. When we are righteous and worthy, the light of Christ is evident in us. "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous." So when we are righteous, we are light, even in the darkest of times.
In Romans, we are exhorted to "put on the armour of light." How cool is that to imagine?! I can just imagine a young person, standing for what he or she believes, and radiating the light of Christ, in the midst of darkness and despair.
So now, my dear brothers and sisters, I issue you the same invitation. Put on the armor of light! Let your light so shine! The Lord has said, "I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation unto the ends of the earth." Be the one that reaches out and helps bring others unto salvation. I know without a doubt that we are God's children, and as we seek out light in the darkness, we will become children of Christ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

For Ye Have Need of PATIENCE!

STOMP STOMP STOMP! I made sure my companion could hear my footsteps as I made my way to the door of the cultural center at the church. I was ready to go, but wasn't patient enough to wait for her to finish gathering her belongings and catch up with me. I sighed loudly, and emphatically pushed the door open, making a loud clanging sound, and stomped into the hallway, as my companion finally caught up with me and followed me down the hallway.  
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. I remember how impatient I was with my companion at the MTC. I had to stretch myself to be patient with this wonderful young sister when she woke up late, etc. Now I'm the one being impatient again, and my current companion is so patient and loving with me as I struggle through some health issues I face. What right have I to be impatient with her?

The apostle Paul wrote, "for ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). I think he's trying to tell me something. I often find myself anxiously awaiting the next exciting thing to happen in my life. When I'm at home, I can't wait to get back to BYU-Idaho, but when I'm at school, I can't wait for the semester to be over so I can go home. Christmas is too far away! When will it be summer? How much longer is this road trip? Why won't this webpage load? When will that boy call me? When will Friday get here? Will this class ever end? Yep, that's me, all the time, 24/7. One thing that I find myself saying often is, "When will this trial ever be over?" In Romans, Paul tells us, "We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope" (Romans 5:3-4). So, what you're telling me is that if I am patient through my trials, I will gain experience, and this experience will give me hope? I guess I can believe that! And why do I have these trying times? Why do I have to endure such horrible trials? Well, James put it this way: "The trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." After this, he tells us that if we lack wisdom, we must ask of God (James 1:3-4).

How do I get over this impatience? (Here's where the irony comes in: "When will I ever be patient?!"). Paul continues, "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith." Faith? Oh, I have plenty of that! But I still have a hard time waiting! I think the first step in becoming patient is found in Mosiah chapter 3, verse 19. It talks about how the natural man is an enemy to God. If you think about it, the natural man is abhorrent; the natural man lies, lusts, errs, hurts, ills, and dies. But, if we "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ," then we can find those virtues that come with putting off the natural man, one of which is becoming patient. First, we must become as a little child. I don't know about you, but I wasn't a patient child, but King Benjamin seems to think that children are patient. I know, he was talking about the innocent nature of children. Anyways, it all comes back to humility. We can't be patient unless we're humble. That's the bottom line. Humility brings patience.
I won't pretend that I'm patient. In fact, the stomping episode I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it happened just an hour ago. We're all imperfect, and we all make mistakes. We won't all be patient at all times, but we can sure try. At the end of it all, all that matters is how hard we tried. Be humble. Be patient.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Mission Prepares You for Motherhood

I am thoroughly convinced that my mission is preparing me to be a mother. In many different ways, I am learning how to be patient, how to teach, how to lead, how to be a homemaker, and many other skills that are necessary to be a mother. It's more than just learning how to make bread and jam on P-days or dealing with difficult companions, or having doors slammed in my face. It's about the spiritual strength I am gaining now as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In October 2007, Sister Julie B. Beck gave a talk titled, "Mothers Who Know." This talk is all about good, strong mothers who raise their children in righteousness. She talks about mothers who know how to keep the commandments and walk uprightly before God, and how the mothers of the stripling warriors knew these important things, and taught them to their sons. There are 3 ways that Sister Beck has mentioned that relate to missionary work and motherhood, which I am taking to heart and applying in my life.

1. Leadership and Planning
In her talk, Sister Beck said,
"Mothers who know are leaders. In equal partnership with their husbands, they lead a great and eternal organization. These mothers plan for the future of their organization. They plan for missions, temple marriages, and education. They plan for prayer, scripture study, and family home evening. Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most." 
A missionary spends several hours a week planning what they will do for the day or for the week. Missionaries set goals and make a plan to fulfill that goal. For example, I struggle daily with falling asleep and waking up on time, yet I've made it a goal to wake up 10 minutes before I need to, and to try to go to bed 10 minutes earlier so that I can get my needed rest. This principle of goal-setting will help me prepare for motherhood.

2. Teaching and Training
Sister Beck has also said,
"Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power."
Children come into this world with a blank slate, and will learn little to nothing without their mothers. As a missionary, I study for an hour by myself and an hour with my companion each morning so that when we are in a lesson, we will have the scriptural knowledge we need to answer the investigators' questions. I am learning now how to incorporate scripture study, prayer, and the singing of hymns into my daily life so that when I am a mother, I can teach my children to do the same things.

3. Standing for Truth and Righteousness
"Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this—women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times. We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the Church to 'stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord.' He has asked us to 'begin in [our] own homes' to teach children the ways of truth. Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families."
I am confident that nothing is more important than being strong and immovable, and standing up for what I believe in. When I am blessed with the joyous gift of motherhood, I cannot and will not give in under pressure. I will stand for what is right, and defend my faith, for the sake of my children and for the sake of my God and my Savior. I will follow the prophet, keep the commandments, and be an example for my children of righteousness and faithfulness. As a missionary, I am doing these things each day.

It is my prayer that all sister missionaries will realize this in their service, and will do everything they can to allow their mission to prepare them for their next mission of motherhood.