David and I spoke in Sacrament meeting last week. Since I've only done one other talk that my dad didn't write for me (there was a 10 year gap between the last talk I gave before the one I had in my singles ward), I was crazy nervous. The whole week leading up to it, I felt a ton of anxiety. Then as I gave the talk, I don't think my voice stopped trembling so it's hard to say whether or not the members could understand it, much less get anything out of it. But I sure did. It was definitely a spiritually uplifting thing to prepare a talk. I feel like I need to put it here to have a record of it and to remind me of what I spoke about and hopefully do as I preach. So here it is...
brother and sisters. I am very excited to speak to you today in regards to a
subject that I myself am rediscovering every day and hope to learn to keep in
my heart always. When Dave and I were asked to speak, for some reason, I
strongly felt the need to choose my own topic. I think it’s because when I
watch conference, I hear the General Authority talk about how they were
inspired and the spirit helped them to choose what they should address the
members about. Not that I’m a general authority or anything, but I guess I just
wanted to pray and let the spirit guide and see where it took me. But I found
myself struggling to find the topic because I kept on wanting to narrow it down
to something specific. The funny thing is, the more I kept trying to whittle it
down, the more I was feeling to draw back and be broader. I kept fighting it
until I realized that that was exactly what inspiration is. So here goes.
I want to
speak about our Heavenly Father’s love for us. Let’s just take a moment to try
to let that sink in. Forget about all the bad things that have happened over
the past week or even this morning when you contemplated whether or not you
were even going to church and just try to understand this one thing: Heavenly
Father loves us so darn much. Despite all of our humanly imperfections, He
loves us in a way that we will never completely grasp. He sees us as a complete
picture of flaws and goodness and not just where we are in our progress, but
more importantly, what we have the potential to become. When I think of this,
it doesn’t really matter how crummy things are going because I feel happy just
knowing that there is nothing I can do in this life that can make Him love me less.
This doesn’t make me feel like I can just get a pass on making bad choices, but
just helps me to remember that no matter what happens, He’ll never turn his
back on me or leave me alone.
Father shows us His love in countless ways each and every day. I know that for
me, I can very easily get caught up in the day to day so that I forget about
all those ways and end up focusing on all the things that are going wrong. I
think I even start to make a list of all the ways God shows me that he hates me
because he would have to in order to allow L.A. traffic to interfere with my
daily life. I think that in order for us
to remember how much He really does love us, we need to bring it back simple
existence is proof of Heavenly Father’s love. He gave us life so that we can
have this earthly experience to have the opportunity to choose to follow Him
and someday return Him and be exalted as He is. To live life on Earth, he gave
us our physical bodies. With that, He gave us the ability to touch, to smell,
to taste, to hear, and to see, and while all of these senses can definitely
give us unpleasant experiences, they can also bring us great joy and happiness.
Another big way Heavenly Father shows us His love is by giving us our families.
The special relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters,
and husband and wives are all meant to give us the care and support we need and
also allows us to have a little taste of what God feels towards each one of us.
Understandably though, not every person is born with all the ideal physical
capabilities or even the ideal family situation. Life can still be pretty
unfair to even those who seem to “have everything.” This is why our individual
earthly experiences and what we make of it determines the happiness we’ll feel
and where we’ll go after this life over.
Father loves us but He does not want to make us love Him back. Instead, He
wants us to show Him. By giving us free agency, we can choose whether or not to
show our love for Him. We may practice our agency to make wise or not-so-wise choices
that can lead to good or bad consequences, and then it is up to us to either
learn and grow from these experiences or repeat and regress. Life is a constant
cycle of stumbling, getting back up and continuing on and we are always in a
“work in progress” state. The point is to just keep on trying and learning each
day. Another way to grow is through enduring trials. As a part of our probation
on earth, being tested and tried helps us to reach our full potential by being
able to overcome hardships through the guidance and companionship of God. There
are many times in my life that I know that the only way I can make it through a
difficult situation is by trusting and having faith in Him.
When I was
in 9th grade, my father bought a business that moved my family to a
different state. I was scared and angry at him for making me leave my friends
and home to live in a strange place and start all over. I remember him asking
me to have faith that everything will be okay and to trust that this was the
right thing to do. When we got to our new house, within minutes, the whole
neighborhood was there to help us move in and when I went to our new ward for
the first time, as soon as Sacrament meeting was over, three very sweet young
women approached me and swept me away to Sunday school. These same three girls
took me to school the next day and made sure that I never felt lost or alone.
To this day I will never forget the feeling of relief and happiness they gave
me by becoming my instant friends and making me feel so welcomed and loved. After
just a few short days, I felt completely happy and comfortable in our new home.
Of course, at the time I was told about the move and feelings of anxiety and
fright overwhelmed me, I had no idea what great blessings were in store. We
tend to only see what’s right in front of us and only Heavenly Father is
capable to seeing the end result. I could’ve saved myself a lot of crying and
worrying if I could’ve just trusted Him from the start. A couple of my favorite
scriptures that come to mind when I am needing a little more faith in times or
trial are Isaiah:55 8-9.
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I think that
during tough times, we often want or even expect Heavenly Father to spare us
the difficulty and remove it from us and when he doesn’t, we become bitter and
resentful. But why would He if he can see clearly how the trial will benefit us
and help us become the people we are meant to be? I’m certain that as we
suffer, he and suffers with us, but would he still rob us of a chance to grow
and learn if it meant that we can be prematurely relieved of our pain? No I
don’t believe he would. He loves us too much. In a talk by Elder Richard G.
Scott called “The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing,”
given us the capacity to exercise faith, that we may find peace, joy, and
purpose in life. However, to employ its power, faith must be founded on
something. There is no more solid foundation than in the love Heavenly Father
has for you, faith in His plan of happiness, and faith in the capacity and
willingness of Jesus Christ to fulfill all of His promises.”
during this life, we find ourselves feeling lost and confused. Our mortal
existence was never meant to be easy or else there would be no point in us
being here in the first place. But it was never intended for us to wander
aimlessly or without guidance. In fact, our loving Heavenly Father gave us
everything we need to make it through any situation and return home safely. Whether
we choose to use the help is up to us. I am a big fan of obscure analogies so
when I think about this concept, I think of a literal classroom. We are
obviously the pupils and since life is a test, we are there to take an exam. I
think of our prophets as the teachers. They have taught us what we need to know
and have painstakingly tried to instill the lessons in our hearts. They have
given us most of the answers but often we’ve either daydreamed through the
teachings or have gotten distracted and ignored them all together. I know that
I personally have many times taken for granted that we have living prophets to
guide us in this day and age when we need it so much. I have slept many times
through conference and am definitely guilty of moments of thinking that I am
smarter than the inspired men who communicate with God. I end up learning the hard way and come to
find that the things they preach are true and there to aid us. In a First
Presidency Message, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Because Heavenly Father
loves His children, He has not left them to walk through this mortal life
without direction and guidance. That is why He pleads so earnestly with us
through His prophets. Just as we want what is best for our loved ones, Heavenly
Father wants what is best for us.”
the best teachers that we can have, God has also given us the best materials to
study and learn from. In my classroom analogy, those vital materials are of
course the scriptures. I am embarrassed to say that am I twenty five years old
and just a few short years ago I started using the scriptures more regularly.
But what a difference it has made. So many answers to questions, examples of
how to lead a righteous life, and personal messages lie in the pages of the
scriptures and we truly cheat ourselves when we don’t take advantage of it. It’s
like taking an open book test and refusing to use the thing that will give us
the answers we need. Heavenly Father has literally given us books with the
answers and we could always use it more often. As we read the scriptures, we
can find simple truths and promises that are so clear that confusion can
instantly dissipate. I remember during a trying time in my life, I heard
someone read the words from D&C 82:10 and even though I have read it
before, it took on a whole new meaning at that time. It says, “I, the Lord, am
bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no
promise.” Scriptures like that bring us back to the knowledge that if we just
do what Heavenly Father has commanded us to do, we will be blessed.
Back to my
analogy. Here we are sitting in a classroom, having been taught be amazing
teachers, been given textbooks with all the answers and Heavenly Father goes
one step further to help us. He gives us tutors to sit with us and guide us to
through the exam. They can point us to the answers we seek, or even whisper
them in our ears. The tutor is obviously the Holy Ghost. How blessed are we
that as long as we live righteously, we are promised a constant companion by
our side to guide us through life.
When I was
in high school, I began dating a boy that would be my boyfriend for years. He
was a non member who was never very interested in the gospel. I’m sure that I
could have tried harder but at that time, I let my inhibitions control and I
failed to share it with him the way that I should have. Around the time that we
had been dating for about three years, the Sacramento Temple was built. At that
point I had put church low on my priority list and had gotten comfortable
living without the spirit in my life. One morning, my mother come into my room
and reminded me that the temple dedication was coming up and asked me to come
to it. Suddenly, a feeling swept over me like I had never felt it. At that very
moment, I knew that the temple was so important to me and that I couldn’t live
a life that didn’t include it. I also knew in my heart that the relationship I
had with my boyfriend wouldn’t lead to a temple marriage or life of church
activity. I’m not telling this story to make judgments on non members or even
to discourage having relationships with people who is not LDS. That is a very
personal decision and Heavenly Father has a different plan for each of us. I am
telling this story to remind myself of a time that the spirit testified to me
strongly and I followed the promptings. I ended the relationship which was one
of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and began to transform my life. The
gospel is now the most important thing in my life and I now enjoy a temple
marriage. We were even married in the Sacramento Temple.
Father loves us so much that he couldn’t let us take the test without everything
we need. He provides us with prophets, scriptures, and the Holy Ghost. So
basically its open book test for a class is taught by the smartest teachers,
with tutors telling us all the answers. We have no excuses to fail since He has
given us all the tools to be successful.
major tool God has given us to be successful and without there is no success is
the Atonement. After the Fall of Adam, we became subject to opposition and
temptation. As we use our agency, we can make decisions that do not align with
God’s plan. When we use the Atonement, we are able to right the wrongs and wipe
away sins that pulled us away from the spirit. Through repentance, we are able
to be clean again. Heavenly Father provided us a way to have this through his
only begotten son.
teacher this world had and will ever know is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the most powerful way God shows His love to us, His children. He sent
his son to be to atone for our sins so that we may someday be resurrected and
live forever in His presence. His plan could not have been fulfilled without
the sacrifice Christ made by suffering in Gethsemane and dying on the cross.
But as significant as his death was to us, his life and ministry is also
equally important. His life stands as the perfect example of service and
obedience and if we try to follow him and do as he did, we can be the happiest
that we can possibly be. I think that the scripture that encompasses this the
best is John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
Atonement is key to having everlasting life. In order to continue to grow and
be free from sin, we need to be able to repent. Repentance can often be linked
to negative things like suffering, guilt and shame. Even though it is necessary
to feel those things to truly repent, repentance is also meant to bring us
peace, happiness and hope. One of my earliest memories of repentance is a time
when I was in elementary school when my family and I lived in Okinawa, Japan.
The school that I went to split the classes up between an early schedule and a
late schedule. The late scheduled half of the class stayed after school each
day and thoroughly cleaned the classroom and would alternate with the early
half. It was a day that I had to stay and help my class clean and I that
particular day, I was not interested in cleaning at all. I found a corner
behind some cabinets and hid there while my classmates did what they were
supposed to do. I found a crayon and began drawing on the white cabinet door.
When it was time to go home, my teacher discovered my artwork and calmly asked
the children who did in. I was so nervous and scared that I didn’t dare admit
it. She then said that if the person who did it told the truth, they would not
get in trouble. At the time, I saw it as a trap and not as a lesson the teacher
wanted to teach about honesty. As I was walking out the door, I almost told her
that it was me but I chicken out and ran passed her. I remember how awful I
felt that I hadn’t told the truth. When I got home, I found a place to be alone
and prayed for forgiveness. As soon as I sincerely asked to be forgiven, I felt
a warm feeling and felt some of the guilt lift. That experience helped me as I
grew older to go to Heavenly Father to repent so that I may be set free from my
wrong doings and be happy again. We can find much comfort in D&C 58:42
which reads: Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and
I, the Lord, remember them no more.
Atonement not only allows us to repent, but also saves us from physical death. Christ’s
sacrifice to us gave us a way to be resurrected and live forever. Resurrection
provides us a way to live after death, with the knowledge we gained from life,
and with the family members that we love. Heavenly Father created us so that we
can become like Him and live for eternity.
We are all
so very loved. From creation to resurrection, Heavenly Father has provided us
with ways that we can be guided to the fullness of joy that he has in store for
us. I have strong testimony that God
knows each one of us individually and wants nothing but the best for us. He
wants to see us accomplish our goals, overcome trials, and serve one another.
He wants us to be happy because He loves us. He’s given us life, assistance
through prophets, scriptures, and the Holy Ghost, and the Atonement to give us
a safe passage home. Through life’s hardships we can learn to trust Him, endure
faithfully, and lean on Him for comfort. We are so lucky to have the gospel in
our lives and to be able to enjoy its rich blessings. I hope that we can all
come to know the great love our Creator has for us feel it always.
I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus
Most days I feel like my life is somewhere between average and boring. Its probably is more exciting than I give it credit for, but its just hard to remember when life's routines take over and the day to day is forgettable.
Well this last Wednesday was a little out of the ordinary and most definitely not boring...
First off, our dear friends Matt and Meredith Nickle flew here to LA and we were graced with their lovely faces. The reason for the trip is actually pretty cool. Matt and a few of his friends made a video of them drumming (more like smacking) on a big guy's belly. Since all of them are talented drummers, the video was both highly entertaining and very funny. Turns out Jimmy Kimmel had the same opinion and they were asked to come to LA and perform it on stage in a bit called "Can They Do It Live?" Naturally we wanted to take the opportunity to tag along and we did! Backstage passes to the greenroom for VIP treatment and lots of free food.
If you didn't tune into Jimmy Kimmel LIVE on Wednesday, February 20th, then you missed out! The guys did a great job and were even featured in several parts throughout the show. The only thing that could have made the night better would be meeting the man himself but even without experiencing that, I'd say the night was pretty dang exciting and not at all average or boring.