Friday, January 28, 2011


Not to diminish the importance of my last post... but

Peanut-butter-honey-banana sandwiches are so yummy!
Bollywood music is pretty good too. And not much can beat the thrill of dancing with someone who dances well - AND being able to keep up with him (likely due to his lead); it's pretty great.

Nor can much beat the feelings that come from humble, sincere scripture study with the Holy Spirit.

All good things come from God and direct us to Him, so I'll keep dancing, enjoying delicious food and fantastic music, and reading my scriptures :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hope and Happiness

"Nothing righteous is ever hopeless."

I wrote this is my journal today while I was reading from the Book of Mormon. It's so simple, and yet... it's true. Sometimes it's so easy to believe that doing the right thing is hopeless, but that is contradictory to the nature of hope and "doing right".

The Book of Mormon testifies that hope is possible because of Christ. Ether 12:4 is a good example of this, and Moroni 7:40-43 illustrates that you cannot have faith without hope (and vice versa). Hope is almost the very essence of the gospel - these scriptures references (especially if you read the surrounding text) show how being a true Christian automatically entails being hopeful.

We know that God is stronger than Satan. We know that good will overcome evil. We know that God is a just God, and that we will be recompensed for every hurt we endure in this life. We know that God, our Heavenly Father, loves His children, and will do everything He can to make us happier (short of making our decisions for us). Because of these and so many more things, how can we not have hope? If our faith is faltering in any of these things that we may know, we can ask God for a knowledge of them, and when we put forth a little effort (direction to Oliver Cowdery in the Doctrine and Covenants), He will give it to us!

Men are that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25), and joy is the opposite of despair. We learn in Moroni 10:22 that  "if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair". And I've seen for myself that that is true; when I have despairing feelings, it's because I have no hope, and it's not fun. At all... It's so simple and so true, and I've seen it multiple times in my life. Good things come from God (found in the book of Alma), and good things lead us to rejoice.

So, come unto God! Who doesn't want to be happy? It's simple and true, and you can test it for yourself. Doing the things that bring you closer to God will bring you an increased measure of peace and happiness. If you try it and it doesn't work, then you can continue on your merry way. I know though, that it will work. You  are welcome to as much peace and happiness as you are willing to pay for, and the price is just a willing heart and mind. The more of yourself you are willing to give to Christ, the more you will feel the fruits of His discipleship, which are peace, joy, hope and love.

"Nothing righteous is ever hopeless." So friend, take hope in doing right: God is God, and righteousness will prevail. Don't fear and don't despair - keep moving forward and put your trust in God. He will deliver.

A Quick Update

I've got a "secret" that I'm only keeping mildly contained this week, because it's got me so excited. Basically, a texting conversation with my mom (via my sister) rekindled a lifelong interest of mine, and now things are in the works... I have an interview on Friday, and hopefully after that I'll know if it's going to happen! And if it doesn't work out for this time... then hopefully I can find out what to work on, and maybe another opportunity will come later.

On another note, trying to keep up with life has been an interesting conundrum. Once I start pulling some things together and making improvements, I notice other big problems that have to be solved as well; it feels like trying to grasp at straws, and never being able to pick up more without letting the others fall. This week I started feeling more productive and disciplined in my schoolwork, but I've been terrible at getting to bed on time. This makes it incredibly hard to get to my first class on time, even if I have an increased desire to go. I guess this is where I need to make sure I'm putting the most important things first, like reading my scriptures earlier in the day instead of leaving it for right before bed. I need to act on the faith that if I put God first, the rest will fall into place.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just A Happy Spot

I'm so glad that Heavenly Father is in control :) He's perfectly capable, perfectly loving, and perfectly willing to make things work out the best way possible.

It's so amazing what He can and does do. He can change hearts: He's changed my heart in major and minor ways over the years, and I am so grateful to Him for that.
     God has softened my heart, opened my understanding, taken away pain, supported me from moment to moment, and given me such joy that I want to both bow my head and cry with thanks and reverence and jump and shout for joy at the same time.

Life is beautiful, and it's all because of the Master. Words cannot encompass or describe it - the breadth of His knowledge, understanding, meticulous attention to detail, love, compassion, mercy, justice, creativity and glory - but I'll say what I can, just the same.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God! He is my Savior, my Redeemer and my Friend. He is Jehovah - the Creator of this earth and other creations without number. He is the Beginning and the End, from all eternity to all eternity. He is my Brother, who loves me enough to have suffered for all that I've ever done wrong; He did it so that I could live with Him again, and be happy. I have never in my life found any peace or happiness in doing anything contrary to His teachings and commandments. Happiness comes in daily becoming as Christ is, and anything else will only lead to misery, depression and despair, loneliness, and feeling gross and empty inside. I know, because I've tried both! I've been there! It doesn't take long to see. When I do the things that living prophets, the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit direct, I feel happy, content, whole, loving, peaceful and eager to reach out of myself and make a difference, even in just one person's life. Listening to Christ encourages me to be better, and Satan only whispers discouragement, failure, and lack of self-worth. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13) - that is a promise that has proved true and that will continue to do so.

Today wasn't a particularly amazing day; in fact, there were some times I really wished the day would be over already. But when I put my faith in Christ, I can be patient and endure all things. That is and will always be true, regardless of the circumstances.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm a few weeks into a new semester now. At the moment, I'm in class (with approximately 45 minutes left of a very long class) and feeling quite bored. This is one of the classes I'm not too worried about... Unless it becomes problematic because it's so boring that I want to just skip class. Right now it's a little frustrating because the teacher is going through the slides way too fast to copy any of it down :/

This semester I've got some dances classes that should go pretty well. I'm in 2 classes for my major - this easy one and a much harder one that I'm quite nervous about. I also have a religion class that I'm taking for fun (second half of the New Testament).

I have some issues with school... If I think something's boring, I have very little motivation to do anything with it. Hence, I have a hard time making myself doing hard, tedious, boring or intimidating homework. It's a problem that's been there as long as I can remember, but I was able to get by until college. I've been slowly making improvements each semester, but it's been hard. With the recent 3-day weekend I made some good progress! I went 1) with a friend 2) to the library and found a 3) quiet room with comfy chairs to study, and when I was getting sleepy, I 4) got out a fun (completely unrelated) novel to read a few chapters from before returning to homework. It worked really well! (Minus the slow internet there).

- Having a friend (even though we study in silence) gives me social motivation to study. I like being with people, and I don't like disappointing them.
- The library has resources, and it's harder to be lazy there.
- The particular study room had really good lighting, was very quiet, and the comfortable chairs made a difference. I used to try studying in a cubicle, and it would drive me nuts.
- The fun book satisfies my urge to distractibility by being totally different from and unrelated to my homework. It also has chapters, which give me a clear stopping place, unlike facebook. Reading is thoroughly enjoyable for me, and is enough to perk me up, give me a break, and give me something to look forward to.

Hopefully I can use some of these things I discovered to help me stay more on track this semester and develop good study habits. Sometimes school feels rather hopeless, but these gave me a gleam of optimism when I realized that they work for me. Now I need to put them into consistent practice!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quitting a Goal Seldom Feels so Right

I've often been offered the challenge to say a prayer without asking for anything - to simply offer thanks for all the blessings I've received. I've met that challenge multiple times, and find it very rewarding when done meaningfully. Now, I'm challenging myself to something a little harder: to go for an entire week asking nothing in prayer, and just offering my gratitude to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I don't know if I'll complete the full week or not (it's kind of a big goal - much larger than the single-prayer challenges), but I'm giving it a shot.

Wednesday the 12th:
So far, so good. I made the resolution last night to start today, so last night I asked for all the things I might need in the coming week :) I figure if something really drastic comes up, it'll be ok to break my goal and ask for help (for myself or someone else), but I think the blessings of holding to gratitude-only prayers will be greater. I've got to say, mealtime prayers feel really weird since I can't say "please bless this food, and help it to nourish and strengthen my body", the routine script :P Haha. I also had to catch myself in class when my laptop battery was dying; I almost prayed that it would last me through the last five minutes of class, but instead said I was grateful to have such cool technology available!

Thursday the 13th: 
I was tempted more frequently today to ask for things. The thoughts would start forming, and then instead of articulating them, I would say thanks for something related. I went to a dance that night by myself, expecting to see people I knew; while I did see some people, it took a while to create a niche for myself in the social situation. I wanted to pray for strength to stay optimistic during the drought of partners, but instead I expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn how to dance, for places like that club that uphold virtuous standards in behavior and dress, for technology and music that make it possible, and for the friends that I know I do have. The night turned out pretty well :) I definitely made some new friends and saw some old acquaintances with a smile. While my cha-cha was INCREDIBLY rusty and my west coast swing practically nonexistent, I was blessed with a couple patient and understanding partners that I had fun with and didn't feel too self-conscious around (which is really a miracle in itself - avoiding the defeatingly negative self-conscious feelings). Five days left of this challenge, but I just need to take it one day and one prayer at a time :)

Friday the 14th:
It's getting harder and harder to not ask for relief in my prayers, and more of a temptation to yield to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and despair. Perhaps it's a build-up of the small, incidental situations that tempt me more to break this commitment than a drastic event (I allowed myself the option of stopping thanks-only prayers in case there's a family emergency or something). I've been turning almost constantly to singing hymns and children's songs to give me focus and strength. I'm reminded of the exhortation to "pray always" (found in so many places in the scriptures) to avoid temptation and to not faint. I also remembered the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 25:12, that God "delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." I've been able to find peace and comfort through the hymns of the church, as they have become constant prayers running through my mind and spirit. What a blessing they are. I also realized that expressing thanks and being thankful are related, but not necessarily the same. So far I've mostly been going through the motions and just expressing thanks; internalizing it and being is what will make the difference.

Today's (Friday) been a stressful day. The calmest moment I had was when I listened (inadvertently at first, but then more attentively) to a talk by President Henry B. Eyring in 2008, called "Walk in the Light". It was so nice to feel some peace. With the increased clarity of thought, and I think with the influence of the Holy Spirit, I decided that it would be best to leave this challenge alone. Prayer is so vital, and my attempts to complete this challenge were hindering my prayers more than helping them.

God is aware of all of our needs before we ask for them (Matthew 6:8). It's still important, though, that we do ask anyway. Doing the asking ourselves allows us to take initiative and seek things on our own, and helps us to learn and stretch ourselves. God is our Father in Heaven, and I have learned through others' and through my own experiences that He is anxiously waiting to bless us - sometimes the only condition is that we ask! And when we do, we can experience such an outpouring of love and blessing that it blows our understanding and brings us to our knees in thanks. Being grateful is also super important. We are commanded in the scriptures (D&C 46: 32 and 59:7) to thank God for all that He has given us. When you are grateful for what you have, you're content; trying to to be happy isn't so hard. 

Even though I didn't complete my week-long prayers of thanks challenge, I still learned a lot. And maybe that's what God intended out of the experience. I'm definitely grateful for it, and I appreciate the blessing it is to have open communication with my God as often as I want, for whatever I need. Heavenly Father truly knows how to give good things to him who asks in faith :)

(Something I found ironic in the aftermath of this: my prayers are more thanks-focused than usual, and it feels more natural than forced. Hopefully I can incorporate it more fully into my attitude and make it a regular practice to feel more grateful)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Would You Love Me, If It Won't Hurt You At All?"

I took the title from song lyrics by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, but it relates to the subject of this post.

What do you do when you've given away your heart, and now you need to get it back? I didn't exactly send it with a gift receipt :P Haha.

I'm really not feeling sad right now, I promise. I just realized a couple days ago that while I'm still genuinely interested in meeting guys and getting to know them (people are so interesting and individual!), my heart's not in it like it used to be. I used to wonder about the possible "potential" with pretty much every guy I knew, but that's gone, and it feels very strange (that's never, ever happened before). It feels like my heart's isn't there anymore, because I gave it to someone.
[Maybe feeling this void-of-sorts is God's way of forcing* me to obey my mom's advice: to stop worrying about "dating" and just have fun :) If I'm not evaluating by the "potential meter", maybe I can stop worrying about whether that kind of potential is there or not. (*Note to reader: God doesn't "force" anything on people - he just makes situations highly conducive to particular results)]
I feel pretty chill with where things are at. I definitely have a great best guy friend who's there for me, and while it's perhaps unadvisable to "wait for him" or hold out any hopes (he said so himself), I'm just going to take things one day, one person at a time. God's teaching me about the importance of time and giving me several opportunities to exercise patience with myself. I don't know what's ahead of me, but He does, and He'll prepare the way for my greatest happiness. When I put my faith in Him, He'll make sure that my heart is just where it needs to be. And, He'll take care of the return postage :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Admonition and Condemnation

Emotionally, these two nouns often seem to fit in the same category. Someone tells you that you're doing something wrong, and that can hurt a bit. But, on closer study, these two words (and the actions they represent) are very different.
Admonish: 1 to caution, advise, or counsel against something. 2 to reprove or scold, esp. in a mild or good-willed manner. 3 to urge to duty; remind. (courtesy of
Condemn: 1 to express an unfavorable or adverse judgement on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure. 2 to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment. 3 to give grounds or reason for convicting or censuring. 4 to judge or pronounce to be unfit for service. 5 (some law definition). 6 to force into a specific state or activity. 7 to declare uncurable. (courtesy of
Thus, to admonish is to encourage improvement, and to condemn is to consign to a state of dissatisfaction or worthlessness. In the Book of Mormon, admonishing is ALWAYS used in context of teaching and urging to repentance (which is urging a change). The promise is always extended that if you repent, have a change of heart, and forsake your sins, the Lord will forget your mistakes and offer you a new chance to do it right. That admonition, which leads to repentance, is in no way condemning the sinner, in the sense we just established. In fact, we read in Doctrine and Covenants section 6, verse 35:
Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more.
 The same promise is extended to the woman taken in adultery, found in St John 8:11, conditional on her repentance (also see D&C 42:25 for the same direction given to church leaders).

Condemnation, on the other hand, is a different matter. We can read in Alma 3:19 (in the Book of Mormon) that:
...they [the Amlicites] brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.
 Another example is of the curse and blessing that God leaves on the promised land in the Book of Mormon (the present-day Americas). Over and over again, different Nephite prophets through the centuries wrote
"inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God, ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." 
The people in the land were free to choose which path to take; if they chose not to keep the commandments of God, then they brought upon themselves their own curse and were in fact "cut off from his presence." In each of these instances, the Lord brought forth prophets to first admonish the people and exhort them to repentance, or they would face the consequences of their actions and condemn themselves to physical and spiritual destruction. Sometimes the people repented, and they were delivered from bondage (physical and spiritual) after the trial of their faith; a few times, whole cities, parts of the civilization, and ultimately the whole nation were wiped out because they hardened their hearts and refused to repent.

The point I'd like to make is this: we need to be careful to identify and distinguish between the two, because the meaning is quite different. Admonition can come from many sources, but ultimately, it comes from a loving Heavenly Father who wants to help you make course corrections. Admonition will always lead you to do better, even if it hurts at first to receive the criticism that you're doing something wrong. Oliver Cowdery was instructed in Doctrine and Covenants 6:19 to "admonish [Joseph Smith] in his faults, and also receive admonition of him." Admonition is meant to "build each other up." Condemnation is an end result, comes because of our choices, and is our own responsibility. God has established laws and punishments (read Alma 32 for a more detailed explanation), and we are the governors of our own actions and thus, our ultimate destiny. Heavenly Father always wants us to return to Him, no matter where we are or how far we've wandered. He loves us, and will therefore chasten us until we remember to repent and turn to Him (D&C 95:1-2, Helaman 15:3, D&C 101:5).

It is my prayer that I can be more humble and recognize when I am being admonished so that I can mend my ways and return to Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eyes of Faith

Just a couple thoughts as I'm up late: (Initially I was trying to look up my class schedule, and had some time-consuming computer issues, and since I've mostly been dabbling around and taking care of little things online I've neglected to check on).

Even when you know you're doing the right thing, it can sometimes be hard to fully accept the consequences of your course of action. It can be hard to remind yourself of the new reality; even when you know it's better, you can still linger and wish things were as they were before. I guess that's life though, and why we need faith. We need faith to trust that the right thing is the best thing, and that we really will be happier for doing it.

I guess I'm just trying to grow up, and that takes an investment of time and experience to get the best results. That's an unfortunate side effect of this instantaneous digital age - we can get so many things so quickly that we forget what it means to be willing to wait for something worthwhile. Finding a spouse and raising a family are the most important, fulfilling aspirations I can have in life, but those will both be the sweetest and "most right" when I be patient and wait for the timing to be right. With eyes of faith, I can see when I can't see; I can believe that it will come to pass even when it doesn't seem like I'm making much progress in a single moment. Having that faith is the only way that I can be at peace with myself, so that's what I'm striving for.