Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Love of Others

   Once a week as a missionary I get to email my wonderful family and friends back home and express my love to them. I really look forward to this time in the week because I also get to hear from them. Although I can not write them letters during the week, they can write me. I love receiving these letters throughout the week! They are a little boost of love and care that help me to keep going. I was able to get one such letter a few weeks ago.
   This letter was from a dear friend of mine. We have continued to help each other over the last year through the writing of letters. It is a little tradition between us to put a inspiring, funny, or sentimental quote as the P.S. at the end of every letter. Once I put:

"As gold more brilliant than the first appears,
 May our friendship brighten by the lengthening years."

On the next letter she put:

"God doesn't add another day to your life because you need it,
 He adds another day because somebody out there needs you."

 I love this quote! It hit me hard, especially as a missionary. This applied to me in a large amount of ways.
   I quickly memorized the quote and soon we ran across someone that was struggling. This quote came to my mind as I was trying to comfort them. I recited it to them and there was a pause in the conversation afterward. It was needed at that time for that persons benefit. They cheered up and the lesson continued. I was amazed that I was able to help that individual because someone else was helping me.
   A few nights ago, as I was pondering this quote yet again and these lines came to my mind:

"Find a purpose beyond your own,
 Help those who are struggling and feel alone,
 Seek to help those you see around,
 Help those who feel beaten to the ground,

 In this you see a purpose found,
 Kindness and love without a bound,
 The laughter is felt in the air,
 Peace will follow and life without a care."
   I jumped out of bed and wrote them down. I was inspired by this quote that a dear friend of mine had put and because of that friend a lot of good was brought to pass. I know that God works through small and simple ways! Because God loves us he gives us things that to some may be small, but to you will make all the difference in the world. I know that God is always there, helping us and guiding us. I am so thankful for my friend who has always been there for me. I know that Jesus Christ is my redeemer and my Savior. I testify in a very personal way that Christ died for me, so that I can become. Through Him and His Atonement everyday is a day of growth and a day of becoming.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

When Stuck, Just Listen!!

   I was at a scouting high adventure camp a couple of summers ago. In this particular camp there was a infamous rock face about 100 ft. tall. No one could climb it. I was standing in line to give it a shot. Boy after boy would get strapped in and ready to go, just to come back in a couple minutes scratched, bleeding, and defeated. Not a single one had made it.
   Now it was my turn. I was nervous but up to the challenge. I got all hooked up and ready to go. I checked with the person the was on the other side of the rope to make sure he was ready. My life was in his hands. As  I took a step back to look at where to go, I noticed there were two routes most commonly taken. One was just a strait shot all the way to the top, this was the harder and less traveled one. The other was easier but would take you off to one side. Being that far over was a risk, if you fell, you would swing back to the middle getting battered and bruised in the process. I figured that I could take the easy route and then cross to the middle and reach the top from there.
   I set off. It was easy at first but every foot I went up, I got further from the middle putting myself in greater risk. The only comfort I had was knowing that I was strapped in. I knew that if I fell I would get cut up and would be hurt, but I would still have my life. The person on the other side of the rope would catch me. At least I was praying that he would. I finally got to the point where I wanted to cut across. My arms were burning! There wasn't as many had holds as I had assumed. Fear was seeping in and I couldn't help but begin shaking. I was on a edge about 60 ft. up, trying to hold on for dear life. Now my dad was at the bottom talking me through it. He could see all that I couldn't. He would tell me where to put my hands so that I could make it safety to the center. I really had to trust him. There were some times that I thought I'd know better. As I would go on and not listen, I would find myself in a tricky situation that my dad would have to work me out of it. I did as he directed. Even with his help there were times that I wanted to give up. It isn't worth it I would tell myself. My dad was far below, but I could hear his comforting voice assuring me that I could make it. It was hard but I made it to the center and finished the climb from there with his guidance. None of the other boys had the help from below.
   When I got back to the bottom, my dad hugged me. He told me how proud he was of me and congratulated me on my endurance. I still remember the look in his eyes; so loving and so proud. He was glowing with pride. I felt his love so strong.
   The person that was currently working there said that so many boys would get close and give up, not knowing how close they really were. They couldn't see the end and neither could I. It was only through the help of my dad that I made it.
   In our lives, we can't expect to make it with out our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Just as I had faith that the person on the other end of the rope would catch me, we need to have faith that Jesus can catch us through his Atonement. Heavenly Father is there. Always guiding us and helping us to take the right steps. If we don't trust Him, we can slip and get hurt but we will still have our lives. Jesus will catch us and then we can try again. No matter how many times we slip Jesus will be there to catch us if we fall.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Living a Balanced Life

   When I was a Senior in high school, the cheerleaders convinced me to join cheer. It took them 6 years but they finally got me. It wasn't nearly as easy as I was expecting. After the first day, my legs were so sore from partner stunting, I couldn't even get out of my desk! I loved it! I made some good friends and I learned a lot about myself.
   When I was cheering, I was in a position called the back spot. I held the flyer's ankles and helped to hold her steady. There were two other cheerleaders in the stunt group called bases, each of them would support a foot. We all had to work together in order to keep the flyer up. The bases were the foundation and it was my job to keep the flyer from falling. It took practice but eventually we were all able to find the balance that worked best for us.
   After we learned to keep the balance as a group, we would begin to work on more difficult skills. We would fall time and time again, but we would never give up. Every time the flyer would fall I would catch her (if I wasn't there the flyer would hit the ground and most likely get hurt very bad).  Then we would reset as a group, get better grips, figure out what we did wrong, and throw her back up to try again. If we couldn't get it, we would need to change out one of the bases and try again. Once we got it, we'd move on to a bigger and better skill. Always improving and always becoming better.
   All of us have principles on which we base our lives. The principles can vary widely; family, faith, love, friends, work, etc. These are our bases. Jesus Christ is our back spot. Every time we fall, he is there to catch us, help us figure out what we did wrong and then to get back up.
    The bases in our lives are more important than we could ever know. Most of the time we don't even realize that we are off balance and have the wrong base. Sometimes we don't have the right balance between our bases. It is then that we switch out a base and try again, maybe trading out work for family.We don't always get it on the first try, or the second, or the third. That is the joy of life. We can always improve and be better.
   We all fall. I for one am very happy when I have Christ to catch me. If I didn't have Jesus Christ to catch me, I would get hurt and I might not be able to get up for quite a while. When I fall, He is right there to catch me and tell me what I could do better. In Isa. 41:14 it says, "I will help thee, saith thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" He helps me pick the bases I should be using and then sends me right back up to try again. When I find the right balance, I can move on to bigger and better things in life. I had a balance after high school, so I went on a mission. Missionaries have a balance when they get back from their mission, so they get married. Married couples find a balance and then decide to start a family.
   I am so grateful for the bases that my life is founded on! I know that Christ is there in all of our lives to catch us if we let him. If we don't, we fall hard. That is the difference between someone with Christ and someone without Christ. I invite you to check and see what your bases are and, if necessary, change some of them. If you do you will feel the strength and balance that Christ gives!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Life Made Clear

   I have terrible eyesight! I can't see anything with out the assistance of contacts or glasses. Now of course I can see how many fingers you are holding up, I just can't tell who is holding them up. My eyes have been like this since I was a little boy.  I remember being about 8 years old and sleeping on my trampoline. All of my brothers and sisters were pointing out constilations and saying how butiful the shooting stars were. I really felt like I was missing out. I just couldn't see life as clearly as they could. Up until this point in my life I had never noticed that I see differently than other people. I assumed that everybody saw that way.
    I got glasses my first grade year and from there on, I could see clearly. Life was completly different. There have been instances where I lost my contacts on a vacation and I didn't have my glasses. I have no idea how I did it before. The trip loses some of it's fun. I still get enjoyment from those around me but it isn't the same. I can't enjoy life with out seeing it. (Although there are many truely blind people out there; I have the greatest respect for them.)
   When people are without the influence of Jesus Christ in their lives, there is something missing but they don't realize it. They think that they see life the same way everybody else does. They may be happy, but the peices don't all fit together. When these people see the influence that Jesus Christ has in the lives of others, they realize that they don't see clearly. They, most of the time then make the choice to follow Jesus Christ.
   As we go through our lives, many people don't realize how much they come to rely on Jesus Christ. They don't realize that without Him everything is out of focus. It is when they turn their backs on Jesus Christ that they see all that he has done for them. When I lost my contacts, life was tough to get around. I was always triping over stuff and struggling. This is what happens when Jesus isn't there. We hit trials and struggles and we have no one to help us.  
  We all need to see life a little more clearly. We need to up our perscription. We need to remember all that Jesus Christ has done, still does, and will do for us. All of our eye sights can be improved through reading the scriptures, through going to church, and most importantly through prayer. God wants us to see, but He can only help when want him to.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wrapped Up In Sin

   Back when I was growing up, my summer days were mostly spent in my pond. The pond was located out in front of my house. I would be playing on the raft and then hop on the log near by and engage in a log role competition. As a young child the possibilities of what I was going to do next were endless. Maybe I would go and swing on the rope or swim to the bottom and get some seaweed; piling it up in preparation of a seaweed battle. Canoe vs. raft. Last one standing wins.
   This is what I was doing on one particularly hot summer day. I would swim to the bottom about 10' down and pull out the seaweed, dragging it to the top and throwing it into the canoe. Then repeating the process. I would wrap the seaweed around my arms and torso so that I could carry more.
   On my last dive down I wanted to get as much as possible so I stayed down longer wrapping the seaweed around myself. As I tried to swim to the top I quickly found that I had too much. I couldn't make it. I was all out of breath and started to panic. I was tearing at the seaweed all around me. There was so much and everything was getting darker. With the last of my strength, I pushed as hard as I could off of the muddy bottom of the pond, propelling me upward. As my face broke the surface I took a massive breath. The seaweed pulled me back down. I was able to remove the last of it and make it to the surface again. Needless to say I learned my lesson.
   Looking back it frightens me to know how close I came to drowning. I barely made it. A lot of times in our lives we start to slowly wrap ourselves in sins. If we repent soon enough they won't drown us, but the longer we stay there and wrap ourselves up, the harder it gets to get to the surface.When we reach the surface after what seems to be a last ditch effort, we are cleansed through the Atonement and that burden is taken from us.
   We all need to learn our lessons and make sure that we don't go back, if we do it could be our last dive. Don't get wrapped up in sin! It will drown you! Always stay close to the surface and close to the Savior.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Prayer, The Only Relief

   Going through high school as a senior was no small task for me. I had such a crazy schedule, I was scaring the color right out of my hair. Between cheer, college credit classes, gymnastics, coaching, and home work, I was getting up early and going to bed late. I was falling behind in classes. I had no time to break pattern. Needless to say, I was living a pretty stressed life.
   I could find no relieve. The only time I could feel relaxed was during the late-night ping pong competitions that me and my dad would pursue. Even then I was pushing back the home work and the studies I should've been doing.
   There came a night, about mid-trimester, that I couldn't keep going. I could hardly take it all in. I couldn't sleep; the next days exams were keeping me up. At this point in my life, I would try and read from the Book of Mormon most every night and I would make sure to say my prayers. Due to the extreme schedule I had, those small but ever so important things got put on the back burner.
   I prayed to the Lord to help me. "Just help me Lord," I pleaded. A plea similar to that of Alma while in bondage,"O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ." (Alma 14:26) At the closing of this prayer, I felt that I needed to read from the Book of Mormon. I picked up my Book of Mormon and fanned through the pages, slamming my finger down on a verse. It landed on 2 Nephi 31:20.
   "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
   Never had a verse hit me as hard as this one did at this time. Feeling comforted, I slept well, pondering the verse. From that point on I took the advice given. I tried to have more love towards my friends. I prayed to God, assuring Him of my love. I started to do the little things again. Some call them the primary answers; read your scriptures, say your prayers, and go to church. Granted the last point I never stopped, I did put a renewed interest in learning from church.
   My schedule didn't change. I still woke up early and went to bed late, but for some reason it seemed to get easier. It took me a bit to realize that the Lord was helping me. I am so grateful for the strength of the Lord. We don't need to stress and we don't have worry how we'll get by. The Lord will help if you remember him through prayer.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Key to Overcome Fear

   Gymnastics is a true passion of mine. I deeply and very sincerely love it. Nothing can match the adrenaline pumping through my veins as I am doing a double back-flip over ten feet in the air or swinging around the high bar, gaining speed in preparation for the next skill. I would be considered by some a adrenaline junky. I love the rush.
   It is often said of gymnastics that it requires 90% mental strength and 10% physical strength. I have found this to be extremely true. Especially on the Floor event. This is my best event but when I go into a competition, this is the event I am most worried about. As I am about to get onto this event, my heart starts to race, I have a tough time thinking rationally. I am overcome by fear.
   My family will try and quail my enveloping fear. They tell me that I will do great. This helps a little but in the back of my mind I can't get the fear out. My family, as loving as they are, don't know the difficulty I have and can't fully understand. It is when the coach sits me down and talks with me that I feel like I can do this. He knows the skills; he has done it all before.
   It is then that I head out to preform some of my best routines ever. It is the faith that I have in the words of my coach. As I put my faith in his words, I feel the consuming fear melt away.
   How many of us feel this same fear in the world around us? As the skills in gymnastics get harder, the fear rises. In the world today there are wars and political battles. Neither side willing to submit to the other. Tensions rise, civil wars break out, and lives are lost. It is hard not to feel the dark edges of fear begin to seep into our everyday lives.
   I have found Jesus Christ to be the coach in my life and in all of our lives. As I read from the Book of Mormon and the Bible I feel his words of comfort. He tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 68:6, "be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you"
   He has done it all before. He has worn the same shoes that I am wearing now. It is through His ultimate sacrifice that He understands everything that we go through. He knows my pains, my struggles, my guilt and shame, and my fears. It is when I turn to him in prayer that I can feel his love. I just have to listen to, and put faith in, the Coach.
   He knows me and he knows you. It is through him that we can feel relieved from the fear of this world. When we put faith in Jesus Christ, everything else in this world doesn't matter. The fear doesn't have to torment us anymore. Fear only goes as far as our faith will let it. God has presented a plan. He loves us, He knows us, and He is always with us. We just need to listen to the Coach