Saturday, February 25, 2012

My New Blog!

I just wanted to let you all know that I have a new blog.  Please feel free to check it out!

I may still write in this blog, but for the most part, I will focus my attention on my other blog.  Thank you for reading!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Master Artist

I'm going to be honest here. Some may think that life as a missionary is wonderful and happy all of the time. I mean, how could one not be happy when they are sharing the wonderful message of hope that the Gospel brings?  But truth be told, life is just as difficult as a missionary as it is for a mom, a doctor, a plumber or a college professor.  Of course, whomever is reading this blog could insert their own adjective there.  The fact of the matter is that life is just hard sometimes.  There are good times and there are difficult times.  I know that sometimes I think of how wonderful life would be if I could just have pleasant experiences my whole life.  Why do I need pain? Why do I need opposition?  I often have to remind myself of a scripture in the Book of Mormon that addresses this very same issue.  This is taken from a portion of the Book of Mormon where a father is talking to his son, Sam.  Sam has been relentlessly tormented by his brothers because he wants to do what's right in God's eyes, rather than the worlds eyes.  There are loving words of comfort from his father Lehi, which were undoubtedly inspired by the Holy Ghost, that can answer those deep questions that we all tend to have at one moment or another.

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.  Wherefore all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.  Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.  Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power and the mercy, and the justice of God.  And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin, ye also say there is no righteousness.  And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery.  And if these things are not there is no God.  And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon." (2 Nephi 2:11-13. Pg. 58)

Therefore, it is a NORMAL and expected part of life to experience opposition and trials, for it is the only way we can experience and cherish the joys of life. The question, then, isn't why me?  Instead, it should be, what now?  How can I find joy in this struggle I am facing?

"I think... that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result." -Joseph B. Wirthlin

During a most difficult time that I faced this past week, I took a good look at the beautiful scenery around me. For the first time in 3 months, I actually looked at the beauty around me. What a beautiful sight!  How could I have missed the beauty all along? 

The answer was humbling and much needed. I wasn't finding joy in the journey because I was so focused on understanding WHY rather than accepting God's will and trusting that He has my best interest in mind.

I sat in the truck looking at the scenery go by, and feeling like a child who just seems to have to learn the same lesson over and over again. At the realization of my lack of trust and faith, I asked for a fresh start. I asked to understand God's purposes for me. Why am I in Montana?  Why would God need me in a place where there are more cattle than people?

Then I thought of a time when I was watching a painter, Bob Ross, on the television.  He had spent a lot of time painting this beautiful mountain. Then, for a reason I had yet to understand, he painted a dark and ugly mark covering part of his beautiful creation. I was upset because I thought that he had messed up everything.  I could not comprehend how he was going to fix this eye sore.  Despite my lack of understanding, the artist confidently began to add more colors and strokes to the black glob which blocked the mountainside.  Much to my amazement, I found that he was creating a forest. With patience, I began to see beauty unfold.  Instead of an unsightly mess, I beheld a beautiful forest that contrasted the mountain in a way so as to highlight the beauty even more.  I couldn't understand it! What I thought was a mistake, turned out to be a skilled artist who had the whole picture in view- not just a mountain.  With his training, he knew that when things are contrasted, they are even more beautiful. 

This is the very painting that inspired me many years ago

I never expected at that moment, that I had learned a valuable life lesson from this artist. Over time, I have thought back to that moment. What I thought was a simple art lesson turned out to be a profound life lesson. I have come to realize that my life is just like that canvas.  However, the one painting on me is the master artist, even Christ.

 Sometimes we only see a stroke of paint. To us, it may appear out of place or ugly. However, we need to trust the master artist who has a plan to create a beautiful masterpiece. We may complain or think that He is making a mistake. But I know that when we look back at the canvas' of our lives we will see that the dark strokes contrasted the lighter strokes, creating a work of art more beautiful and breathtaking than you ever imagined. God is the master artist. He can only make our lives beautiful if we let Him take the paintbrush. We need to trust Him.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

"The Race," A poem by D.H. Groberg

“Quit!” “Give up, you’re beaten!” they shout at me and plead,
“There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.”
And as I started to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene.
For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; now I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope. Each thought to win the race
Or tie for first, if not that, at least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they sped, as if they were on fire
To win, to be the hero there, was each boy’s desire.
And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought, “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field, across the shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arm flew out to brace,
And ‘mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.
So, down he fell, and with him, hope. He couldn’t win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished he’d disappear somehow.
But, as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win the race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit, that’s all.
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for the fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished he had quit before with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”
But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face.
That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race!”
So, he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last;
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running more. Three strikes, I’m out…why try?”
The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had fled away.
So far behind, so error-prone, a loser all the way.
“I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought, “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But, then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “Get up and take your place.
You weren’t meant for failure here; get up and win the race.”
With borrowed will, “Get up,” it said, “You haven’t lost at all,
For winning is no more than this–to rise each time you fall.”
So up he rose to win once more. And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been.
Still, he gave it all he had, and ran as though to win.
Three times he fallen, stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered the winning runner, as he crossed the line, first place,
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen crossed the finish line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad, he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me you won,” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
“Quit!” “Give up, you’re beaten!” They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says, “Get up and win the race!”
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Safety in His Hands

For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I am will help thee. 

The pictures you see above are of the statue titled, "The Christus" by Bertel Thorvaldsen

If any of you are not aware, I was called to serve a mission in Nauvoo, Illinois. In the Visitors Center in that historic town, there stands a masterpiece: a symbol of the faith of the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and of the many who have ever believed in the Savior; no matter their religion. For 7 months I stood at the feet of this statue at wonder and amazement. The first week that I was serving my mission, I felt very overwhelmed by my inadequacies. I felt very incapable of the great task ahead of me. I felt like a little child who had just been asked the impossible. How was I supposed to answer questions? How was I supposed to talk to strangers? How was I supposed to learn all of the history of the people of Nauvoo? Did I have strong enough faith? What IS faith?
I doubted. I was afraid. I felt as if another should take my place.
I took a deep breath.
I noticed that there was no one around me.
I was alone.
But not alone.
I was standing next to the Savior.

Then, I looked at the beautiful statue I had seen many times before, but yet had not ever really seen. Time seemed to stand still as I stared at the artists' rendition of the Savior. Although I have never seen the Savior before, I knew in that moment that the depiction of Jesus Christ was accurate. 
I knew that I was looking at a reflection of my friend.

In that very moment where I felt like someone else should stand in my place,
and like no one else understood what I was feeling inside.
I looked up and realized something:
There has been another in my place, 
and I was standing at His feet.

In that moment I was filled with an all encompassing love. I thought I understood the love of the Savior, but this deepened that understanding. Not only was His life for our sins, but He lived to help us overcome our fears and weaknesses.
He came to invite us to take His hand and to fear not.

"Look unto the Lord in every thought; doubt not, fear not"
I'm glad I learned a valuable lesson that day. May you know that the Savior has walked in your shoes as well and He wants to help you.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

A place to recognize the Lord's hands in our lives

Hello friends! Welcome to my new blog! I thought for a very long time about what I wanted to name my blog. I thought about all of the events that have made up my life and all of the things that I hold most dear. As the memories of my life quickly flashed through my mind, it was hard to think of just one monumental event that has changed my life. In a lifetime of memories, it is hard for anyone to pick just one event that has changed them. However, in the midst of pondering, I thought of how everything in my life involved the help, love and support of another. I thought of how even simple things would be useless without the help of someone else. Do you remember when you were learning to walk? Well, you needed someone to pick you up after each time you fell, because as a baby you didn't have the control of your muscular movement as you do now. No matter how anti-social we may feel at times, life would be impossible without the help of others. If we didn't have someone supporting us, we would not have survived childhood; or adolescence for that matter (you have to admit, there were some hard times at that age). Everything that I am, I owe in part to the help of those who love and support me.

While thinking about the greatest support in my life, my heart is filled with gratitude for the greatest source of love and support: that love from my Heavenly Father. Then, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I want to name my blog after the most important event that has not only changed my life forever, but an event so wonderful, so amazing and so all encompassing that it has changed the lives of all those who have ever lived or who will ever live. My mind was focused on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Especially at this Christmas season when are minds are brought to focus on gifts, I invite us all to especially remember the greatest gift that a loving parent has ever given to His children.

 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  -John 3:16

This is not a place where I am suggesting that I can explain all of the details of what happened those dreadful days before the Savior's death, or the joy that Mary and the disciples must have felt as they saw their risen Savior, their friend.  I do however, hope that this can be a place where I can share how I have seen God's love in my life and in the lives of others.

May you all cherish the greatest gift that has been given to you personally! 

Merry Christmas!