Sunday, August 25, 2013

Personal Peace (Utah Farewell)

North of Jerusalem, about eighty miles or so, lies the Sea of Galilee. It is a freshwater inland lake a little over twelve miles long and seven miles wide. It was to this lake and the neighboring Galilean hills that Jesus returned so often during his public ministry.

On one journey to Galilee, the Savior taught the multitudes crowded near the water’s edge. Following his discourse, the Savior invited his disciples to join him on a boat, and they set out together for the other side of the lake.

The Sea of Galilee is about 680 feet below sea level. This altitude, or lack thereof, contributes to the lake becoming really hot. The hills surrounding the water, however, rise up to considerable heights. The cold air rushing down from the hills meets the warm air rising from the lake in such a way that sudden and temporarily violent storms can occur on the surface of that inland sea. It was just such a storm that Jesus and his disciples found as they crossed the lake that evening.

The account written by the apostle Mark reads:

And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?(Mark 4:36-38) 

I learned something very important from Elder Paul V. Johnson,

 "When we face stormy seas and high winds, we may be tempted to ask, 'Carest thou not that we perish?' We know that the Savior has power to calm our storms, but sometimes He calms our souls instead."

After I decided to go on a mission and received my call, I began having feelings of inadequacy, homesickness, and an overall temptation to not accept the call to serve. It seemed like there was just one thing after another getting in the way. It felt like Satan was directly thwarting my efforts to remain positive. With the support of my family and friends, the desire to serve the Lord stayed with me and I was able to identify that the feelings of doubt I was experiencing were messages from Satan.

I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and I know that he wants me to be happy. I have found personal peace in knowing that the Lord will protect me from the world and from Satan’s temptations, and guide me in my trials as I live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is no news that we all experience trials. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are taught that our trials can help refine and prepare us to return to our Heavenly home. Unfortunately, we often forget this and like I did so recently, we fall victim to the discouraging words of the devil.

Few, if any, blessings from God are more valuable to our spiritual health than the reward of peace within. In modern-day revelation the Savior said,

“But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” (D&C 59:23)

We know from Alma that, “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 32:34)

“There is only one thing that can bring peace into the world. It is the adoption of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rightly understood, obeyed and practiced by rulers and people alike. It is being preached in power to all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples of the world, by the Latter-day Saints, and the day is not far distant when its message of salvation shall sink deep into the hearts of the common people, who, in sincerity and earnestness, when the time comes, will not only surely register their judgment against a false Christianity, but against war and the makers of war as crimes against the human race. For years it has been held that peace comes only by preparation for war; the present conflict should prove that peace comes only by preparing for peace, through training the people in righteousness and justice, and selecting rulers who respect the righteous will of the people.”

In a talk entitled The Path to Peace, President Monson suggests three important ideas that inspire personal peace. Search inward, reach outward, and look heavenward.

First, search inward.

Elder Richard L. Evans observed: “To find peace—the peace within, the peace that passeth understanding—men must live in honesty, honoring each other, honoring obligations, working willingly, loving and cherishing loved ones, serving and considering others, with patience, with virtue, with faith and forbearance, with the assurance that life is for learning, for serving, for repenting, and improving. And God be thanked for the blessed principle of repenting and improving, which is a way that is open to us all.” Truly peace will reign triumphant when we improve ourselves after the pattern taught by the Lord.

Second, reach outward.

Membership in the Church calls forth a determination to serve. Service, to be acceptable to the Savior, must come from willing minds, ready hands, and pledged hearts.

This reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures, and a scripture that helped me regain the courage to serve a mission. “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work.” (D&C 4:3) 

Because, like the prophet has said,

“Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion. In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, “You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless. You haven’t time to be concerned for others.” Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord. In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise: “Be not weary in well-doing. … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” 

 Sometimes I feel small; I feel like a child who just barely turned 19 (which is true), I feel unprepared for the mission ahead of me, but I find peace and comfort in knowing that if I give the Lord my heart and willing mind, he can accomplish miracles through me.

         Third, look Heavenward.

As we do, we find it comforting and satisfying to communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer, that path to spiritual power—even a passport to peace. We are reminded of His beloved Son, the Prince of Peace, that pioneer who literally showed the way for others to follow. His divine plan can save us from the Babylons of sin, complacency, and error. His example points the way.

Personal peace comes through the adoption of the gospel of Jesus Christ rightly understood, obeyed, and practiced—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, and our own righteousness, sincere repentance, and diligent service.

When the Savior was faced with temptation, He shunned it. When offered the world, He declined it. When asked for His life, He gave it. We can all try a little harder every day to be more like the Savior and we can witness the blessings of personal peace in our own lives.

“Peace is more than a lofty ideal. It is a practical principle that, with conscious effort, can become a normal part of our lives as we deal with matters both large and small…” Joseph B. Wirthlin counseled, “My brothers and sisters, we can be at peace if we “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.” (D&C 121:45) The power is in us as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. He and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, have provided the way for us to be at peace. We can enjoy that peace of God which passeth human understanding. (Philip. 4:7) We can enjoy it personally, within our families, in our communities, in our nations, and in our world if we will do the things that produce it. This peace leads to happiness.”

 While I anticipate hard, stressful, disheartening days on my mission, while I expect to often worry about my family, I know that Christ is and has always been a true and present Savior in my life. I know that serving the Lord will always, always lead to peace and comfort in our hearts and minds.

"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21)

I feel the peace that comes from Christ. I have a testimony of the divine call of missionaries and I know that Christ says, send I you, Sister Mohler. He has sent me to these people, bearing his love, and I have found a personal peace in knowing that he will help me serve them.

We will face stormy seas and high winds, we may be tempted to ask, “Carest thou not that we perish?” But remember this,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Called To The Work

My last post was about talents and missionary work. I suppose it's time to put my money where my mouth is...

One typical, below zero, day in Logan I was waiting for the bus and to distract myself from the looming frostbite potential #vegasgirl, I called my mom. I told her of a cool piano arrangement of two Primary songs I had listened to on YouTube. At the end of the conversation we decided it would be a fun project to create and record a less traditional album of church songs. While, yes it was fun, it was also a TON OF WORK. I had no idea what I was in for. I wanted to use the album as a missionary tool, but the project lacked motivation. I picked out some songs I thought I'd try and laid them aside.

When I made the decision to go on a mission, I made it a goal to pay for at least half of my full-time mission on my own. Then, I had some sort of epiphany; I had found my motivation. I wanted to show people what I was going to be doing on this mission, what I'd be testifying of, and hopefully interest people in the gospel. I decided I would sell the album to accomplish both of my goals #twobirdsonestone.

In addition to working on the album, I have held 3 back to back jobs. Yeah, I'm really not letting this goal go haha #stubborn. I have spent many, many, hours in the studio, often second guessing the investment, and even more often trying to throw it all away. Having completed the album, I feel so accomplished! It is not perfect by any means, but I have worked hard and seen the results of my labors! 

I couldn't have done any of it without the full support of my parents, one of my best friends, duet partner, guitarist, extraordinaire Erik Dalton, my pianist Taylor Griffin, Tim Moes at WhySound Recording, and Carly Campbell Photography.

The bottom line: I am selling an album of favorite hymns and Primary songs to share my testimony of Christ and to help finance my full-time LDS mission. I would love for you to have a copy, to share it with your family, your friends, your neighbors, and anyone who would love to hear a message of Christ and missionary work. Thank you! (: 

To Purchase: Visit the "Music" tab above.

I chose to title the album "Called To The Work" as quoted from D&C 4:3.

"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"

This scripture is significant to me because as I've said before, I didn't think I wanted to serve a mission. I received a prompting that I couldn't refuse and I have a desire to serve God. I have been called to the work and I can't wait to start!

This is the artwork from the inside of the CD case. I chose to include a quote from President Eyring:

"Whatever our age, capacity, church calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of souls until he comes again."

This quote is significant to me because I truly believe that every member can be a missionary in his or her own capacity. I hope that this album can be used as a tool to share the gospel. Members, young and old, leaders, and full-time missionaries, we are as one
 called to the work.

Talents and Missionary Work

Last week I was really struggling with feelings of inferiority. I kept letting in evil little thoughts that said things like, "you'll never be a good enough missionary, there's so much you can't do, you should just give up, you're going to miss out on everything, no one wants to hear what you have to say anyway." 


If you are not familiar with the Parable of the Talents, or if you need a refresher, here is an overview as told by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Seventy: 

"Jesus told the story of a master who gave each of his three servants a sum of money. The amounts were set according to each servant’s previously demonstrated capabilities. The man then left for a long time. When he returned, he asked each of these servants to report what he had done with the money.

The first two servants revealed they had doubled his investment. 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,' was the master’s reply.

The third servant then came trembling before his master. He had already heard what the others had reported and knew that he could not give a similar report. 'I was afraid,' the servant said, 'and went and hid thy talent in the earth.' The master was upset. 'Thou wicked and slothful servant,' he said. Then he commanded, 'Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.' 

The Savior then gave the interpretation of the parable: Those who obtain other talents receive more talents in abundance. But those who do not obtain other talents shall lose even the talents they had initially."

(see Matt. 25:21-28)

Admittedly, most days I hide the talents my master has given me. I am often afraid that if I were to share them and they are not warmly accepted by every. single. person. in the whole world, I would be a failure. Dishonor! Dishonor on your whole family! Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow, dis... (name that movie) There will always be someone better at whatever I try to do. Might as well just pretend I don't have any talents and hope Heavenly Father doesn't notice, right?

Ha! WRONG! This is exactly what Satan wants you to think, and you should probably reconsider your strategies. This is war!    

First of all, "Every one of us has been blessed with many marvelous capabilities, and one of the great objectives of our journey through mortality is to improve upon them." And don't you forget it.

Elder Rasband discusses 3 principles that have helped me apply this parable of Jesus. They coincide ever so perfectly with missionary work, that's what I think! I call it The 3 Step Program to Becoming a More Confident Missionary...or something like that.

ONE: "Seek earnestly to discover the talents the Lord has given you." What a great first step! Identify some of your strengths. If you are having trouble doing this, think of things you like to do. If you really like to do it, you might have a talent for it (: Also, ask close friends, family members, and ward leaders to help you determine where your strengths lie. Many times others can see in us what we find difficult to see in ourselves. Study the scriptures and your Patriarchal blessing; ponder and pray for insight and inspiration. Don't rule out small and simple things! 

TWO: "Use your talents to build up the kingdom of God." I can't think of a better way to use them! We all have many opportunities to help others identify their talents. I am so grateful for the many people who have helped me identify, strengthen, and add to my talents. Successes in lives of those we lift as they pursue their own talents can bring us great joy (: Not to mention, focusing on serving the Savior can guide us toward making better decisions in our daily lives, and well as support strong missionary work. When we teach with the loving Spirit of God, we can better cater to the needs of each individual investigator and bring cherished souls unto Christ. This perspective prepares us to do whatever the Lord may ask of us at any time, (including serve a mission when you didn't even know you wanted Or when the Lord sends you one big trial of a companion, etc.) I also have a testimony that when we use our talents to build up the kingdom of God, we receive the courage to share them and strength to help them grow. I have definitely experienced this recently in my own life. President Gordon B. Hinckley exemplifies this important attitude: “My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from his hand and mind.” Love him! 

THREE: "Acknowledge God’s hand in your success." If you're not doing this already, slap yourself. Now fix it. Like Elder Rasband, I am thankful for the knowledge Heavenly Father has given us. We are His children and we are to magnify and multiply our talents to our fullest potential. If we will work hard and do our best, using our talents to bless others and build the kingdom of God, we will be brought back into His presence and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” 

You are good enough. You can do it. 

When we acknowledge, develop, and multiply our talents, we are more capable of using them to serve the Lord, especially as we serve full-time missions. You will never know the lives you can touch, until you reach. 

Parables of Jesus: The Parable of the Talents BY ELDER RONALD A. RASBAND Of the Seventy

Questions, comments, concerns? Share below! (: