Thursday, November 17, 2011

Share the Love!

I have a fun situation in my singles ward where the girl that I visit teach is my visiting teacher... So what we've been doing for the last few months is have a foursome get-together with me, my teaching companion, my teachee/teacher, and her teaching companion, and we all discuss the lesson together and learn about each other's lives. I love it! 

Tonight, my teaching companion told a story about when one of her roommates was a missionary. This missionary's companion would say before going to bed, "Sister Smith, I love you" and explain one nice thing about her that she noticed in particular that day. That set up a great system of support and appreciation that has evidently continued past the mission and into college life. My partner suggested that we end each of our meetings with something similar, where we give meaningful, personal compliments to each other and remind each other that we are loved. I really like the idea, and agree that it's a great habit to establish. 

I really appreciated the compliment I got tonight. My teaching partner noticed that when I'm in a conversation with someone, I'm a great active listener, and validate the speaker really well. She said, "It's like your little heart is right there with them!" She also said that if I were to be a missionary, I'll "just knock it out of the park" and that even if I don't end up serving a mission, "my kids will be all-stars" anyway (she especially had missionaries on the mind tonight). It made me laugh, but you know, it's always nice to hear when you're doing something that people appreciate. So share the love! :) Let people know you care, express gratitude, and act like you love people. Charity - the pure love of God - never faileth.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two Witnesses, One Voice

I was reflecting this past Monday on how much I've learned in my Isaiah class this semester. For years I've appreciated the imagery in Isaiah's writings, but only had a shallow, basic understanding of the holistic themes and meaning of individual verses. This semester I've taken a class where we go chapter by chapter and verse by verse becoming acquainted with Isaiah's context, messages, style, audience, etc. It's been fantastic.

Monday we covered Isaiah 49-52. When I got home from class I read from 2 Nephi 28-29. While I read, I felt the Holy Spirit confirm to me that both sources - the Bible and the Book of Mormon - are true witnesses of Jesus Christ. Here's a selection from 2 Nephi 29:
Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. 
And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word, ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. 
I'm so glad to have multiple sources that share the same messages of Christ, that bring me closer to Him, and that confirm the other's truth. I can't express how much I appreciate the words of past and modern prophets. They offered their lives--not only through martyrdom, but their day-to-day lives as well--as a sacrifice to God; I am blessed every day by the results of their obedience and desires for greater knowledge and understanding. I can't wait until I can thank them in person.

On that note, I got the General Conference edition of the Ensign in the mail this week (yay for modern-day prophets!). After I finish my term paper (due Wed), I need to reread all the talks that were given last month!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another Week in Review - Miracles

Just a few notes from this week:

In his email this week, my missionary brother strongly recommended the power of specific prayers, and I ended up testing it rather successfully. My workplace has been stepping up the security significantly over the past months, and I lost my IDs early in the week. So after searching in multiple places, I prayed one night before I went to sleep, "Heavenly Father, could you help me find my tags by noon tomorrow? I need them to take a test and to get into work. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." The next morning, I found them within 20 minutes of waking up. I think it takes a bit more faith to ask for specific prayers, but God is more than up to our test; it's often been tempting for me to think "I'm sure Heavenly Father can do it, I'm just not sure if He will do it...", but for me, I feel like I developed better faith when I asked for slightly different things with the faithful expectation that the promise will be fulfilled. I want to try the power of more-specific prayers again and again, and see what happens to and within me.

Saturday night at work, I discovered that one of my coworkers was the missionary companion to one of my best friends from freshman year (in college), which resulted in much happiness and joy in hearing the dated information about how he's doing, to the point where I was skipping and singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" on the way home from work, gushing to our mutual friends, and (after my coworker friended me on facebook) finding all sorts of pictures of my missionary friend that incited laughter and nearly a few tears. He and I were super close, and I've only gotten 1-2 letters from him in the past year, so finding someone else who knows the joy of his more recent acquaintance made me really happy.

I got to hold the newborn again :) My friend and I didn't stay as long as we did for our first visit earlier in the week, but it was still great to hold the baby, to rock him when he got fussy, and to enjoy conversing with his parents and their friends. It's kind of amazing how attached we get to comparatively unresponsive infants. They are little miracles.

Speaking of miracles, I felt a strong sense of divine guidance as I was studying for and taking a test this week. It was really last-minute preparation, but I was able to study the right topics and recall things when I was in the testing center. Probably nothing really big, but it meant a lot to me.

Also, I went to the temple on Saturday afternoon (SO crowded on the weekend!), and enjoyed the peace and recognized some things I need to work on. One of them is more consistent temple attendance - I loved the feelings I had and the learning I experienced this summer when I made it 4 weeks in a row, with thoughtful preparation in the scriptures beforehand, and I want to get that feeling back. It's going to take persistence and sacrifice that I need to be willing to give, so I need to get myself up to the challenge and make it happen. The results will be great :)

I've got a lot of blessings, and that's a very humbling thing to realize. Sometimes it's actually prompted me to shrink with fears of inadequacy, that with such great blessings, a lot is expected out of me. And it's true, but those expectations are in the Lord's timetable (something I can actually be grateful for). And hey, the amazing, miraculous thing is that I can do it - it's possible! I can do amazing things today and years into the future as I exercise faith (faith and trust are the opposite of fear and distrust, if you think about it) and trust in my God to support me! My capabilities are maximized when I give my abilities to the Lord, and He will not let me fall. All of my personal life experience proves to me that I can trust Him with my life, and that I can never be as happy on my own as I am when I'm in harmony with God. On the micro- and macro-scales, God is a God of miracles.

From Mormon 9, in the Book of Mormon:
And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues...
Do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.
But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are... 
And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.