Saturday, January 14

Alma 31

What a great chapter. Wanna know why I think so? Well, it's because the chapter heading itself is beautiful And when there is a beautiful chapter heading, all you can do is brace yourself for the verses that will ensue, because they are always the most eloquent and powerful chapters.
For example, Alma 31.
Chapter Heading :

Alma heads a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites—The Zoramites deny Christ, believe in a false concept of election, and worship with set prayers—The missionaries are filled with the Holy SpiritTheir afflictions are swallowed up in the joy of Christ. About 74 B.C.

Beautiful isn't it?
I am crazy about the imagery here. The thought that our pains and afflictions are literally absolved through the atonement. That they are "swallowed up" not in misery and guilt but in "the joy of Christ." 
And the rest of the chapter is simply stuffed full of more power phrases throughout. Here are some of my favorites. I love Alma. 

 31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people.
 35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. 
38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.

Thursday, January 5

Good, Better, Best, and Bestest.

Once upon a time my parents created a joint Facebook account. 
(They are really hip, potentially even more so than their 18 year old daughter)
Yesterday my mum informed me that she deleted their account, because it wasn't necessary. It was a distraction and an epic time waster. Everything she said was merely echoing thoughts I have had for quite some time, but I have never taken the 20 seconds of courage to cut out the superfluous in my life. Well today, I am taking a step in the right direction. No, I will not be deleting Facebook. As much as I would like to, I just love people too much! So many of my friends live in other states, even other countries, and Facebook is the only medium through which we keep in touch. But I am taking the advice of Elder Oaks as well as the example of my parents to heart. I intend to sprinkle my time with little doses of good things, like the fabulous Facebook and the beautiful Pinterest. But as Elder Oaks says,  

"We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families."  
And that is exactly what I plan to do. I am going to cut back on the "good" and quadruple the "better" and "best" in my life. So many of the good and fun things that I spend so much time on won't bring me closer to my Heavenly Father, and if I want to be a true instrument in His hands, I am going to have to cut back on the wasted time and consecrate my life to the Lord. So there it is friends. I have pressed "publish" and sent my commitment to be better out into the vast world that is the internet. 
Which means I am holding myself accountable to all of you. 
You are all my witnesses. 

Tuesday, January 3

new beginnings.

I am a sucker for anything vintage. I like old things, old-looking things, and even old people. More often than not I would take old over new. 'Old' to me represents things that are comfortable, lived-in, and unchanging. However, today I am choosing to embrace the new. I am not a huge fan of change, but I am working every day to be more accepting of it. So many new things are entering my life. A new year, a new semester, new goals, new classes, new friends, new perspectives, new decisions, new information, new opportunities, new responsibilities, new everything!
The talk that I have been studying over and over again to help me on this journey of becoming a better person and embracing change is entitled "The Best is Yet to Be" by Elder Jeffrey Holland. If you have a moment, please read it. It offers an eloquent perspective on change and the role that faith plays in the process of accepting and even loving the inevitable changes in our lives.
He opens this talk with the following statement,

The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been. I don’t want to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but I do want to talk about the past and the future, with an eye toward any time of transition and change in our lives—and those moments come virtually every day.
-Elder Holland

I love this.
As we head into 2012, I would hope that we are doing so with much excitement about the treasures the Lord has in store for us, and that we recognize this new year as the true blessing it is. The blessing of a fresh start and opportunity to be better instruments in the Lord's hands.
Part with 2011 with gratitude for lessons learned, and welcome 2012 with a gracious and hopeful heart.
Cheers to the new year!

Monday, December 19

Gratitude and Happiness

"So to be happy and to avoid misery, we must have a grateful heart. We have seen in our lives the connection between gratitude and happiness. All of us would like to feel gratitude, yet it is not easy to be consistently grateful in all things in the trials of life. Sickness, disappointment, and the loss of people we love come at times in our lives. Our sorrows can make it hard to see our blessings and to appreciate the blessings God has in store for us in the future.

"We must ask in prayer that God, by the power of the Holy Ghost, will help us see our blessings clearly even in the midst of our trials. He can help us by the power of the Spirit to recognize and be grateful for blessings we take for granted. What has helped me the most is to ask God in prayer, “Wouldst Thou please direct me to someone I can help for Thee?” It is in helping God bless others that I have seen my own blessings more closely."

-President Eyring

love this.

Saturday, December 17

The Prophet's voice

President Hinckley is so dear.
I simply adore him, and miss him terribly.

This story is one of my favorites of all time.

Between this beautiful story and hearing President Hinckley's voice again - I sob every time. 

Wednesday, December 14

Alma 29:16

I love this so much.

 16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.

You know how I feel about imagery and word painting. And this verse, this little short verse, has some of the most beautiful imagery I have found yet in the Book of Mormon. Have you ever been so happy that your soul was carried away, even to the separation of it from the body?
I have.
That feeling of elatedness (yes, that is a real word), of pure joy and bliss? It's real. And it comes from living the Gospel. Life can't be blissful all the time, it's true. Trials are a necessary part of this mortal experience. But the moments of bliss are there. Look for those beautiful times when life is simply good; when a miracle or a blessing enters your life, and trust me, those stormy clouds of trials will part (if even just for a second) and you will feel the warmth of God's love for you break through the darkness.

Monday, December 12

Our Relationship with Divinity

I was doing some intense, *hardcore studying today when I came across this quote in one of my Book of Mormon PowerPoints - a quote that I had missed in class.

“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away.  If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (Spencer W. Kimball, Missionary Gospel Study, 3). 

Our relationship with divinity should never be casual. Let us always strive to lessen the gap between heaven and earth, between our spiritual selves and our mortal selves. How de we accomplish this? By immersing ourselves in the scriptures. We must "drink deeply and often from its pages," as President Eyring says. Then divinity will not seem so far away.
Divine deliverance can be a part of our daily lives if we but tighten the gap between heaven and earth.

*I love that "hardcore studying" in this case refers to reading the scriptures intently and feeling the Spirit in bucket loads. What a joyous University.