Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Truth of Christmas

I love this special time of year. I love this season because I am able to walk around munchin' on candy canes and NOT look like a weirdo, hot chocolate is in high demand, Christmas tunes are being sung, Christmas lights are up, good times are being had! But there is something much more. The Grinch went through a big change when he saw that Christmas came even after he tried to steal it. He said, "It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...means a little bit more". Wise words Mr. Grinch!

The Grinch!


BUT what is it that makes this season so special? People tend to get caught up in the commercialism and hype of the season and they soon lose sight of the "reason for the season". Sure, we give and receive gifts around Christmastime. We also listen to inspiring music, watch good family-oriented movies, and have good food! But the special spirit that is felt is not a product of these things! The Grinch is right when he said that it must mean a little bit more.

It is the Spirit of Christ. Jesus Christ was born into the world so that He could live perfectly while setting up His Church, suffer our individual pains, sins, and infirmities to save us from spiritual death, and then die and be resurrected to save us from physical death. This is called the Atonement and it is the ultimate sign of His love.

At Christmastime we recognize His birth to commemorate all that He did for us. Without the Atonement His birth would have been just another baby coming into the world. But he fulfilled prophecies in the way that He lived and He made it possible for us to return to Him. This year, let us celebrate the birth and life of our only true King, Jesus Christ.

Birth of Christ by Carl Heinrich Bloch

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church that I represent as a full-time missionary, has produced and released Bible Videos that depict scenes directly from the bible. These videos are simply beautiful and they are completely true to the truth of the bible. Below I have posted a few of these videos because they teach about the birth of Christ in a way that that has touched me. As a full-time missionary I am away from my family and am unable to participate in some of the traditions that I would normally take part in if I was at home (like watching The Grinch!). At times, it is hard to even realize that it's almost Christmas. I am so grateful for these videos because they have helped me to recognize and capture the true spirit of Christmas. I know that they will do the same for you.

 

Don't you feel the Spirit of Christmas? These videos bring the scriptures to life. Let us let them live in us. Share the Spirit of Christmas with your friends, neighbors, families, and strangers. You will be happier and you will be helping someone else too. That is the spirit of Christmas. I know that my Savior lives and I know that He loves you and me. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunset in July...in December

A little while back I wrote a blog called, "Christmas in July" where I tried to help everyone to always remember Christ. No matter what time of year it is!

NOW...it is that special time of year. Christmas spirit is in the air and happiness is all around! I love it.

Christmas is meant to bring our minds to the birth of Christ and help us be happy. Satan doesn't want this at all! He will do all he can to bring us down and he often twists things that are great to tear us apart. There are so many people who are away from home, don't have friends and family around, or don't have family at all. It can be a big burden financially, spiritually, and emotionally. If we go about the season with the wrong attitude then we can get caught up in sadness and depression. Also, the cold winter weather can be a bit draining as well. This can be the best or the worst time of year.

I feel that sometimes, we just need to be reminded of the happiness and contentment of summer. One of my favorite bands is 311 and they have a song that helps me remember just that! It's called "Sunset in July" and it says:
January, February, March into May. Here's June with a tune just to brighten my day. Sunsetting in July I'm gonna fade 'em away 'cause time is sliding, time is sliding on hear what I say. If you believe that, believe that. Back-up, back-up you need that, need that. Space and time and time and space is my way. I'm forever in existence I'm forever okay.
When we recognize that we are "forever in existence" and that "time is sliding on" we can "slide" into contentment and just smile our problems away.

A Montana sunset...in July!
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Recognize the happiness in the air and hold onto it. Always remember that we are never alone. Ever. We just need to reach to the Lord who said, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you (John 14:18). Christmas is a great time to come closer tot he Lord. 'Tis the season!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Faith in Perfection

Faith is everything. When sharing one's beliefs something that is often said is, "I have faith in..." or "I believe..." or "I know..." and then they add whatever they feel strongly about at that time. I know that I have faith in family, friends, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, modern-day prophets, priesthood blessings, the Holy Ghost, and a ton of other things! But the one thing that has been pressing on my mind lately is the unparalleled importance of faith in Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything. Without Him I wouldn't have a family that is full of love. Without Him there would be no Bible or Book of Mormon. Without Him there would be no priesthood or the need to restore it to the earth. Without Christ there would be nothing of importance for the Holy Ghost to bear witness of. Christ is all that I hold dear. There is nothing or no one that even comes close to the love and reverence that I have in Him.

Jesus Christ

I have been taught these things since I was a little boy. I have always believed in Christ and I have always known that He is important. Recently, I was looking something up in the Bible Dictionary (found in the back of the LDS Edition of the King James Version of the Bible) and I came across the definition of Faith. I have always been told that faith is to believe in something even though you can't see it  but what I found in the definition shows that there is more to it than that. This definition explains faith in a way that has made me think and think and think. Here is a portion of that definition of faith:
Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Hebrews 11:1; Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Romans 10:14-17) . Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith. (See my blog: God Lives.)


Many people will say that they have faith in Christ because He suffered and died for all men and performed many miracles. While this is definitely true it is important to note that He was only able to do these things because He is perfect. He is perfect in every single way. I'll try to explain the importance of Christ being perfect by using an analogy.

Say that there is an up and coming basketball star that every professional team wants on their team. This guy is better than  Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Karl Malone, and Shaquille O'Neal all put together. He is a perfect player. He is the perfect passer, rebounder, scorer, screener, defender, team player, etc. There are a lot of great basketball players in the world. There is not a single perfect one out there. No not one. What does it mean to be perfect? Well, to be perfect (from a basketball perspective) you can't have a single turn-over, miss a single block-out, miss a single shot, screen, or defensive assignment. You also need to be perfectly humble. (Man...I want this guy on my team!) He would teach and encourage his teammates to give it all that they have and then when they fell short due to their own imperfections he would step in and give the team the push that they need and they would win every game. In a sense, he would help each individual be more exact and as a whole the team would be perfect.

LeBron James

Karl Malone: The Mailman
  
Do we really believe Christ when He said, "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever things that is expedient in me" (Moroni 7:33). The promise that He gives in this verse is extremely powerful. He is saying that anything is possible through Him (because of His perfections).

When we are suffering heartache Christ's perfect empathy will soothe us. When we are down-trodden Christ will lift us. When we are confused Christ will speak peace to us. When we want to know the truth Christ will let us know. However, He only will do these things if we show faith. We must pray for, strive for, and hope for His influence in our lives. With Him nothing is out of reach. It is written that "his hand is stretched out still" (Isaiah 10:4). All we need to do is grab it.


The Cristus

Saturday, October 29, 2011

God Lives

There are many people who wonder...Does God really exist? Does He really have a hand in my life? I know for myself that He does. I know this because of heartfelt prayer, study, and searching and He has manifested the truth and validity of Himself to me time and time again.

The only way to truly know if He is there is to read of Him and pray to Him. I have done this and each time that I do my faith in Him grows. This is the ONLY way that we can build a strong enough foundation to have a lasting testimony of our God. Once we have showed and proved our faith in Him through following His commandments, He allows us to witness or experience something miraculous.


In my life, these miracles have been blessings from God reminding me that He IS there and He is all powerful. These experiences were and are designed to strengthen faith in Him. These experiences do not define faith, rather, they REfine it, making it stronger and more steadfast.

Such an experience occurred the other day to some of the great people that my companion and I go see. Let's say that their names are Zak and Sara. They were watching a comedian on Zak's Smartphone and some of the comedian's jokes began to be a little sacrilegious. They then got much worse. Zak and Sara got more and more uncomfortable the worse the jokes got. At the start of another terrible joke the comedian said, "Ya know what? I don't think that God exists." Just before he could deliver the punchline the phone shut off! It had been completely charged and there was nothing "wrong" with the phone at all. God doesn't exist? I beg to differ. He knows all things and His hand is in all things.

Zak and Sara already had faith in God and what He can do but through this experience He let them know of His limitless reach. "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" (Ether 12:6). Faith precedes the miracle. But when that miracle comes, you better pay attention!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Will Try to Fix You

I know that I can't solve everyone's problems. Throughout my life I have been the type of person who does all he can to help someone who is feeling down, in a fight, confused, depressed, lost, etc. Helping others helps me! BUT I have not always been successful. It is not up to me to "save everyone".

I have had many experiences where I try my best to help my own situation or to better the situation of someone else and then fall short. It's frustrating and disappointing and at times it has brought me down. Don't be like me and allow it to damage you.

"Fix You" by Coldplay is one of my favorite songs and it talks about trying to help those in need.

x&y album cover (which features "Fix You")
When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you



Coldplay
We must do all that we can to try to help others. But that does not mean that we are expected to save everyone around us. Ronald Reagan said, "We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone." What a true statement. I know, from experience, that it can get depressing trying to save everyone. We cannot do it alone.

However, with the help of Jesus Christ all things are possible. "And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me" (Moroni 10:23). Do you think that it is expedient in Christ to help others get out of depression? Of course it is! But we must recognize that we need His help in order to help and save those in need (including ourselves!).

I know that as we do our absolute best to "try to fix" the problems of a friend, loved one, or even ourselves Jesus Christ will step in and take care of the rest. Once we have given it our all, He will fill in the gaps. The power of His grace covers all pain, suffering, and despair. He desperately wants to help. In order to access His strength all we need to do is do our part and "try". When we do we, and those who we share it with, are "encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Nephi 1:15). Here in this perfect and infinite gospel of Christ we become and stay happy. Here, Christ will "fix" us and those we love. Let Him.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

In Repair

I am a changed person because of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has helped me so many times in my life that I cannot even comprehend it. His love for me blows my mind. He is infinitely patient, caring, merciful, and powerful. Yet...He cares about you and me. This life meant to be hard. It is through Christ that we can overcome any of it. He wants us to endure our trials, grab His outstretched hand, and follow Him.

When we are striving to do what is right we are never going to be able to stop growing and becoming more.  This life is meant for us to suffer challenges while accessing the help of Christ to learn. Then the process begins again. In the words of John Mayer, we are always going to be 'in repair'.



However, Satan wants us to feel like we aren't making any progress, like we are wasting our time, and that we are failures. Satan exerts his greatest efforts to tear us down when we are working our hardest to do what is right. He is afraid that we will succeed, become stronger, and join Jesus Christ in the fight for right.

When we are going through the process of repentance on the road to Forgiveness we experience change and growth. Christ is shaping us to be better. In many cases these changes for good might feel awkward, out-of-place, strange, and foreign. We feel these feelings because we are becoming more and are getting stronger! Satan will step in at this pivotal point in our process of "putting off the natural man" (Mosiah 3:19) and will try to twist things. He will do all that he can to make us believe that these good (though foreign at first) feelings of growth are feelings of guilt and shame thus leading us to believe that we are inadequate or unworthy of blessings. Do not let him do that! He is the father of all lies and will do all that he can to trick,  and "lull [us] away into carnal security" in attempts to "leadeth [us] away carefully down to hell" (2 Nephi 28:21).

As we trust in Christ and lean on Him we will receive the help that we need. Not all of our problems will be solved in an instant. We will grow little by little and will be strengthened each day as we hearken to the teachings of Christ. Do not fall prey to Satan's lies to give us feelings of inadequacy. Christ's love for you and me is endless. We may not be perfect but when we look to He who is perfect, we will receive strength.

We cannot allow ourselves to be like John Mayer in his amazing song, "In Repair". He says,
Stood on the corner for a while
To wait for the wind to blow down on me
Hoping it takes with it my old ways
And brings some brand new luck upon me
Oh it's taking so long I could be wrong, I could be ready
Oh but if I take my heart's advice
I should assume it's still unsteady
I am in repair, I am in repair

Satan would love to have this kind of hold on all of us. Don't let it happen! Trust in God instead of feeling that we "could be ready" but are "still unsteady". We are always going to be "in repair" but don't make it an excuse and take a backseat to change and repentance. Embrace the love of Jesus Christ.

I absolutely love my Savior, Jesus Christ and I know that anything is possible with His divine help. Let Him repair you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Living Prophet

A prophet is a man chosen by God to as voice for God to tell the people what God's will is. Throughout the Old Testament there is a cycle, beginning with Adam, of God calling a prophet, the people prospering as they follow that prophet (such a period of time is referred to as a dispensation), and then the people rejecting the prophet and falling away from God (such a period of time is referred to as an apostasy). There are many dispensations throughout throughout the Old Testament led by prophets such as: Adam, Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, and Ezekiel. They all held what is called the Priesthood; which God has given to worthy men to act in His name. They all held a sacred responsibility to lead God's children to Him and to prepare the way for Christ to come to the earth.

After Christ's Crucifixion His Apostles continued the work of the ministry. However, they too were rejected and killed. The world then entered another cycle of apostasy and we were in this state until God called Joseph Smith Jr. to be His prophet in the early 1800s. (For more on this please look at my post Lockout.)

After Joseph Smith was killed, Brigham Young was called to be the president and prophet of the Lord's Church. After Brigham Young passed away, John Taylor succeeded him. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today.  The following is a picture of the modern-day prophets that God has chosen:


Latter-day Prophets
Every first weekend in the months of April and October we have the great opportunity to hear the words of a living prophet. His name is President Thomas S. Monson. It is amazing that we have a prophet on the earth today. He is God's servant called to guide and direct us in the craziness of today's society. Here are some of his words from this past General Conference in early October of 2011:

We must be vigilant in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual. It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards, refusing in the process to surrender that which we desire most: eternal life in the kingdom of God. The storms will still beat at our doors from time to time, for they are an inescapable part of our existence in mortality. We, however, will be far better equipped to deal with them, to learn from them, and to overcome them if we have the gospel at our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts. The prophet Isaiah declared, “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
What great words! Isn't it amazing to have a prophet alive on the earth today? HERE are many more of his words. I assure you that they are the words of God.


President Thomas S. Monson

I know that God loves us so much. He lives. He sends living prophets to lead living people in His living church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is comprised of apostles and prophets just like the church in Christ's time. HERE are their words from this past conference.

The First Presidency

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
It is a blessing beyond imagination that we have these prophets on the earth today. We are truly in the dispensation of the "fullness of times" (Ephesians 1:10).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Time and Eternity

People who know me know that I absolutely love my Family. People who know my family know that they are the bomb (seriously...best family ever). I've got two top-notch parents and two amazing brothers and three fantastic sisters (plus all of their stellar spouses). There's about a four year gap between the first four and my brother and me. I'm the youngest of the family. My brother, Brett, and I are only two years apart and we are super close. Best friends. We've played basketball together, had life-changing experiences together (see my post: A Refining Experience), gotten Slurpees together, listened to tunes together, played pool together, and everything in between. What can I say...he's a good egg. I'm way close with every single one of my siblings but Brett and I have simply been through a lot together.

This past Saturday my brother, Brett, was married to a gem of a lady, Robyn, in the Spokane Washington Temple. My whole family was gathered together to celebrate the great event...except for me. I was here, in Dillon, Montana as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I am as happy as can be! Why am I so happy if I missed out on the wedding of a life-time? Because I know that I am where I need to be.

RobynBig. Happy. Huzzah!

Spokane Washington Temple

It has always been a desire of mine to attend Brett's wedding and when I first came on my mission a fear of mine was...what if Brett gets married while I am away? I really wanted to be there! But as I have served the Lord I have come closer to Him. I have been able to develop more faith and understanding in the way that He does things. We need to remember when the Lord said, "For my 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" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Christ knows that timing is everything and let me tell ya...he's got it down to a "T". But sometimes...we think that we know more than He does. No good! True faith in God is to trust in Him AND His timing. When we allow our will to align with His, miracles happen.

It is God's will that Brett and Robyn are sealed for time and eternity and on September 24th, 2011 that happened. I know that he and his wife are now married forever. Not just until death. Their marriage is eternal. In a holy house of the Lord (the Spokane Washington Temple), they made an eternal convenant (or promise) with God. That is so happy and good! Eternal marriage means everything to the Lord. "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Here is a great video about eternal marriage and the blessings from it.



This is why I am as happy as can be even though I just missed out on my brother's wedding. I know that the wedding happened in the time that it needed to happen. I also know that I have my own obligations to attend to here in Dillon. I am needed here. My family is needed there. But the beauty of it all is that God is everywhere and He is looking out for each and every one of us. He takes care of everything in His own way and in His own time. I would have loved to be at the wedding...but I don't want to be anywhere but right here, right now.

God is eternal and He has it all figured out. I know that I am where He needs me to be and I know that Brett and Robyn Lee are where they need to be. And we are happy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lockout


The National Basketball Association is currently in lockout mode. Millionaires are fighting with billionaires. Lame! This means that the league is at odds and all things are at a hault for...who knows how long! Things need to be settled before any moves can be made and before any games can be played. Those who are fans of the NBA will have to wait for the conflicts to be resolved before there is any action. The offseason is always an exciting time for teams to pick up new players, hire new coaches, etc. Now that things are at a stand-still there are many questions that arise. Some questions that I have are: Will the Mavericks compete like they did last year? Will Jimmer Fredette play like he did at BYU? Will Greg Oden hurt his knees so badly that he'll be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life (THAT is unlikely but chances are that he'll get hurt to some degree)? Will LeBron and the Heat put it together and play to the caliber that their roster shows? Will the Jazz trade one of their big men to get a more reliable guard? Yikes! The questions are endless.

If this continued confusion would be rampant and things would get hostile. Some people would try their best to keep the NBA going but they wouldn't quite understand everything and things would be changed. Some people would try to reform the league or start their own. Before ya know it, there would be a ton of different leagues all claiming to be the original one or the best one but they all would be a little bit off. Something (a miracle or, dare I say, a restoration) would have to happen to bring it back! Then we all could enjoy the pleasures of the real NBA that Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and Julius Erving enjoyed!

John Stockton: Short shorts and laser passes. Now THAT'S a basketball player.

This situation of the NBA lockout is strikingly similar to a huge event known as the great apostasy. Jesus Christ ministered on the earth at Jerusalem for 3 years. During this time many heeded His famous call, "Follow me" (Matthew 4:19)and became disciples (followers). He chose twelve to be Apostles (special witnesses), and He gave them (Peter, James, John, etc.) what is called the Priesthood authority. The Priesthood is God's power given to men to perform things in His name like baptism (Matthew 3:11, 13-17), giving blessings to the sick and afflicted (Acts 3:2-9), preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament (Matthew 26:26-29), etc. Christ's earthly ministry ended at His Crucifixion but His work continued through His Apostles and disciples.

The Apostles spread out and did missionary work (what much of the New Testament is about) but they were rejected, kicked out of cities, and killed. This solidified the "falling away" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) from the truth of the Gospel. The prophet Amos of the Old Testament prophesies of this great apostasy as well. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12). There was a famine of truth!

For a very long time, the world was in "lockout" of the fulness of the Gospel of Christ. His Church was changed, distorted, and divided. That is why there are now SO many churches that scatter the earth. People have been wandering the land, looking for truth but have only been able to find a portion of it.

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I am called to proclaim the truth of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His church has been restored to the earth through a prophet named Joseph Smith Jr. At the age of 14 in the year of 1820 Joseph Smith was confused. He knew that the churches that he was attending were not the same church that Christ established with prophets and apostles. He knew that there should be "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). As he was studying in the Bible he came across a scripture in the book of James that states, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Joseph lacked wisdom and he knew that if he asked of God, he would receive an answer. Joseph took these words to heart and he heeded the counsel that he received.

Joseph went out into a grove of trees outside his home in Palmyra, New York and he knelt in prayer to offer up his heart to God. He received an answer. He has recorded his experience as such:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other - This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him!
The following is a video about the Restoration of the Gospel. It has clips from a film called, "The Restoration" and it contatins words of one of our living apostles (yep, just like Peter, James and John) named L. Tom Perry.



I know that the world was once like the NBA currently is...in "lockout". But through the love of God a prophet was called to the earth once again to restore the truth in its fullness. God has provided us with the Book of Mormon so we can know that Christ loves us and called Joseph Smith to be the prophet of the restoration. He also has appointed a prophet for us in our day named Thomas S. Monson. I plead with you to heed his words for they are the words of God. We will never go astray if we follow the word of God. We will never have a "lockout" again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Everything Grey?

Guster is one of my favorite bands. They are a bit of an unknown band  and I like them a ton (if you are a fan of them then I am a fan of you). They were formed in 1991 (the year of my birth...odd) in Boston, Massachusetts. Lately, I have been thinking about one of their songs called, "What You Wish For". The following is the very beginning of the song:

Woke up today to everything grey
And all that I saw just kept goin' on and on
Sweep all the pieces under the bed
Close all the curtains and cover my head
And what you wish for won't come true
Guster.

I love this song for a lot of reasons.  Guster is just good all the way around. But one thing that I feel from this song is how badly I want to help this guy out! The singer of this song JUST woke up and he hasn't even given the day a chance yet. He is feeling so down in the dumps for some reason and he needs someone or something to get him out of his depression. He feels the urge to close the curtains, crawl into bed, and escape from the dull, grey world.

All of us have felt a little blue at times. I know, from experience, that the best way to fight these depressing feelings is to think positively. Many people think that they have nothing to be positive about. We must do our absolute best to help those who are low. It is our responsibility to help others. A wise man once said, "If you have nothing left, fool everyone with a smile." Smiling goes a loooooong way. If I am ever feeling low and someone gives me smile or helps me smile I feel instant happiness. It is so great!

But unless this happy moment is nourished it will flee away. A short smile lasts only a short while. What is to be done?

There are so many amazing groups and causes out in the world that give aid to those who suffer from famine, genocide, and poverty. They provide food, water, and protection to those in need. Some of these problems that I have just mentioned are far away from us and through donations we can assist these groups and causes. But there are so many people in our communities, towns, and homes who suffer from lack of hope and happiness. It is in the hands of friends AND strangers to help these souls in need. We, as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God must do our part to strengthen and nourish those around us. Especially those of us who are filled with hope.

In the 1994 General Conference address entitled, "Brightness of Hope", Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,
Being blessed with hope, let us, as disciples, reach out to all who, for whatever reason, have “moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). Let us reach to lift hands which hang hopelessly down.

We can do this. We can help those in need. As I said earlier, a simple smile goes a long way. But that is only one of the many things that we can do. As I have served the Lord as a missionary I have been able to see the great effects of smiling and waving. It is pleasant, kind, and extremely easy to do. The effects of a simple smile only last a short while (that rhymed...unintentional). One other thing that I have seen produce true miracles is simple conversation. First, ask someone how he or she is doing. Then (this part is extremely important) listen to what they have to say! Truly listen to how they feel. As you do this you will see a brighter light in their eyes and you will realize how much they mean to you and how much you mean to them. Because of this simple (yet deeply meaningful) experience a friendship has begun to grow. And from this lasting friendship comes lasting happiness. More smiling and waving, too. The cycle will then repeat itself. One soul will save another, and another, and another...

Miraculous.

As I have seen and experienced this my heart has grown immensely. I have a greater appreciation for those individuals in my life who have been there for me. I also have grown closer to my Savior than I ever would have in any other way. I owe my life to my friends and family have have influenced me to serve a mission because with the experience that I have had as a representative of Christ I have come to know Him more intimately and personally. This is priceless!


Christ's Image, by Heinrich Hoffman

Such experience is priceless because it is something that is timeless and limitless. I can apply the simply beautiful lessons of smiling, waving, and conversing as often as I can throughout my entire existence. I plan on it and I hope that you do too.

Now I would like to go back to "What You Wish For" by Guster. The singer must have hope in order to survive his depression. Without hope even all of these smiles, waves, and conversations aren't going to get anywhere. What must we instill in these individuals? Hope. "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41). The surest thing to have hope for is Jesus Christ. He is our Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. Whatever trial we have faced He has been there and He has overcome because of the miracle of the Atonement. He is our King. His love for us is infinite. When we trust in Him all things are enjoyable and we will be confident that all things will work together for our good. "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward feasting upon the word of Christ and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement 2 Nephi 31:20). The Lord promises us that when we do our best and help others we will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again.

The Savior has entrusted us to help and strengthen others through our faith and our kindness. I trust that with these blessings at our fingertips no day has to be a grey day. What we wish for (a perfect hope for eternal life) WILL come true.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Fresh Start

So Fresh...Prince.

Many of you have probably seen the TV show, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air".  I love it! It is Will Smith at his finest (I don't care if he won an Oscar for "Ali"...this is his finest work!). It is all about a respectable and well-established family from California who take in a somewhat troubled young man named Will (Will Smith) to teach him how to be accountable and such. He gets into all sorts of crazy antics with Carlton, Jazzy Jeff, G (the family's butler, Geoffery), Uncle Phil, and many others. Good morals are taught and laughs are had by all. The show is all about a "fresh" guy getting a "fresh" start. Doesn't that sound nice?

We all need a "fresh" start like Will at times! God knows this and that is why he sent His Son to take care of us. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and one of His divine purposes is to give us a clean start. He does this through forgiving and cleansing us of our sins, giving us peace, comforting us when we are down, etc. He has made this possible through the Atonement. His Atonement is broken down into three distinct parts/events and it is beautifully described in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 7. 1) He "[went] forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind...he [took] upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people" (Alma 7:11) while in the Garden of Gethsemane. 2) "And [took] upon him death" (Alma 7:12) as He died for us on the cross. 3) He "[loosed] the bands of death which bind his people" (Alma 7:12) and rose again on the third day thus, making it possible for all of us to be resurrected as well.

The Atonement is infinite, beautiful, perfect, and sometimes overwhelming. I often ask questions like these: How was Christ able to do so much for everyone? Why did Christ go through all of that pain and suffering for someone as insignificant as myself? Even though I do not know everything, I know enough. I know that  our Heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine. His love for you and me is indescribable and incomprehensible. It is through this love that we are able to have lasting joy, relief, and peace. I know that He sent His Only Begotten Son to show this divine love to us. "Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (1 John 4:7-9). Through the love of Christ we can receive a fresh start.

I promise you that as you honor God and His commandments and you repent you will be able to obtain Forgiveness. You will feel this love. No matter what we have done in our lives we are able to make it right and return to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's loving arms which is a feeling of undeniable warmth, comfort, peace, and truth (Galatians 5:22-23). Just like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, we all can get a "fresh" start.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Much To Handle

I'd like to tell you a little story. The way I'd like to tell this is to start with the end and then go back and tell it from the beginning. Here I go.

So there I was...chasing down my planner, mormon.org cards, my water bottle, and my extra clothes. It's safe to say that I looked like a genuine goon.

Now, back to the beginning...a couple-three weeks ago my companion, Elder Landbeck, and I had just finished doing some service and we needed to get back into our missionary clothes before going out and doing some more teaching. (I have always been in a bad habit of trying to carry too many things - I HATE taking two or three trips.) I was gathering my things from the car and grabbed a little bit too much for me to handle in one trip. Uh-oh! No good! Can you guess what happened? Well, let me tell you:
  1. I dropped my water bottle.
  2. I bent down to pick up my water bottle and about 20 mormon.org cards spewed out of my shirt pocket.
  3. I frantically tried to pick up the cards and in the process I dropped my planner.
  4. I managed to pick up some of the cards but in my crazy state I dropped some clothes I was holding and then I kicked my planner further along the pavement (At this point I was still trying to hold onto all of my things).
  5. I FINALLY put the stuff down that I was carrying and then chased down the things that I had dropped and then...success. Everything was picked up.

Put something down!

What can we all learn from this? (Other than the fact that I really need to stop trying to carry so many things in from the car, up and down stairs, etc.) Have you ever caught yourself being so overwhelmed that you are on the verge of a meltdown? Do you ever find that you have too much to handle? In today's society we are all encouraged (and sometimes even expected) to take part in every club, team, group, and activity that is offered as well as taking part in school, going to work, studying scriptures, being active at church, etc. After all is said and done...well that's just it. Your day is done! There is no time to relax! No good. God does not want us to over work ourselves to the point of craziness. A king in the Book of Mormon said, "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order" (Mosiah 4:27). We need to slow down, take a breather, and do all things in wisdom and order. Why? So that we can find success in what is most important.

But that brings up another question that is extremely significant. What is most important? As I said earlier, it is very easy to get caught up in all of the clubs, teams, movies, etc. that are all around us. These things are often "good things" but we always need to prioritize our actions. We need to put what's best first. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles gave an amazing talk about such a topic simply titled, "Good, Better, Best". In it he says:
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.
Dallin H. Oaks.


I truthfully could not have said it better myself. With this mentality and attitude we can be assured that our decisions will bring us closer to Christ. In turn, we will not find ourselves aligned with the world's expectations rather than the Lord's.

If we find that we have fallen prey to over scheduling and over working we need to drop what we're doing, re-evaluate, prioritize, and then go and do what's best. If we try to do too much then we will slip up, make more mistakes, and find ourselves in a hole that is very difficult to get out of. If I had put down some of the things that I was trying to carry from the car instead of trying to do everything at once then I probably wouldn't have ended up looking like such a goon! One thing that I can promise you is that if I had only taken what I could handle from the beginning then I NEVER would have had to scramble for my things and I definitely would not have looked like such a goon.

So, we need to ask ourselves if what we are about to do qualifies as good, better, or best. Never settle for less than the best. You will find yourself with too much to handle. And you'll look like a goon (and no one wants that).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who is That?

McRob. McBob. These are the nicknames that I have given to one of my favorite basketball players. Josh McRoberts. He is a stud and a half. One thing that I love about him is that not too many people know about him or follow him. But does this mean that he isn't talented or doesn't have promise? Of course not! Now, I will tell you a little bit more about him.

Ferocious.
He played high school ball in Indiana and then went on to start at power forward for Duke University for two seasons. He declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft and fell to the Portland Trail Blazers with the 37th pick. He was up and down during the first years of his NBA career as he fought for playing time. He was traded back to his home state to play for the Indiana Pacers in 2008. Since the trade he seems to have found his niche on the Pacers. He still struggles with consistency but he has flashes of brilliance. Here's some evidence of his "awesomeness".




Now that you have seen a little bit of his talent and excitement...do you want to learn more about him? Go to or watch one of his games? "Like" him (like I have!) on facebook? See what I mean? Just because something (in this case - a basketball player) isn't well-known does not mean that it isn't valuable.

I will now tell you a story that explains how this same principle applies to something much more serious and much more valuable. The story is told in its fullness in the movie, "The Book of Mormon: How Rare a Possession!" and is also summarized in the book, "Our Search For Happiness". I will quote from the latter:

"Vincenzo di Francesca, an Italian minister of religion, was walking down a New York City street toward his church when he saw a book without a cover in a barrel full of ashes. He picked up the book, turned the pages, and saw for the first time the names of Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, and Moroni. He felt impressed to read the book even though he did not know its name or origin, and to pray about its truthfulness. As he did, he said that 'a feeling of gladness, as of finding something precious and extraordinary, bore consolation to my soul and left me with a joy that human language cannot find words to describe.' He began teaching the principles in the book to the members of his church. His church leaders disciplined him for doing so and even directed him to burn the book, something he refused to do.

"He later returned to Italy, where in 1930 he learned that the book was published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He wrote a letter to the Church in Utah that was forwarded to President [Heber J.] Grant. President Grant sent him a copy of the Book of Mormon in Italian and gave his name to the president of the European mission. The diffuculties of wartime prevented Vincenzo from being baptized for many years, but he was finally able to become a member of the Church on 18 January 1951, the first person baptized on the island of Sicily. Five years later he was endowed in the Swiss Temple."

Francesca did not know what the book was but he felt prompted to read it. When he did his eyes and heart was opened to the truthfulness of the book and to the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He saw the light that comes from its truth-filled pages.

There are many people who do not want to read the Book of Mormon for a variety of reasons. Some believe it is unneccesary. Some believe that it "replaces" the Bible. Some believe that the Bible contains all of God's word. All of these are false perceptions. The Lord Jesus said, "Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible...Know ye not that there are more nations that one?...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" (2 Nephi 29:6-8).

The Lord loves all of His children. Therefore, He speaks to more than one nation. That's what the Book of Mormon is! A record of God's children and their relations with Him. When speaking about the Book of Mormon, President Gordon B. Hinckley said (in an article entitled "The Power of the Book of Mormon"), "It is a record of ancient America. It is the scripture of the New World, as certainly as the Bible is the scripture of the Old. Each speaks of the other. Each carries with it the spirit of inspiration, the power to convince and to convert. Together they become two witnesses, hand in hand, that Jesus is the Christ, the resurrected and living Son of the living God."

I know that the Book of Mormon is true because I have read it and I have tested it. I have prayed to God to know if it is true and I was filled with warming assurance. I feel the love of God each time that I read its pages and it brings me nearer to Him. Because of the Book of Mormon I have a stronger relationship with my friends, family, and the Lord.

I love the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true because I have read and prayed about it. It has brought me great happiness and I know that it will do the same to you. I invite everyone to read the Book of Mormon. Give it a chance. Just like I gave Josh McRoberts a chance and was not disappointed (he is so fun to watch!) if you read the Book of Mormon you will be enlightened and you will definitely not be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sick and Tired

.....so sleeeeepy.....

Oh man. I am tired all the time. I am tired as I write these words! I can;t oahsdlkghj kdj le  lskdj...oh whoops. I fell asleep. Now, back to what I was saying...I can't even begin to describe my perpetual sleepiness. Missionary work is the hardest and most strenuous thing that I have ever done. But it also has been the most rewarding. If I was not truly on the Lord's errand then I would not be able to do what I do. Speaking of which...this is what I do:
  • 6:30 AM - 7:00 AM: Work out (and sometimes nearly die from running).
  • 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM: Eat breakfast and get ready for the day.
  • 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Personal study (Scriptures, Preach My Gospel, the Ensign, etc.).
  • 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM: Companionship study (Scriptures, practice teaching, etc.).
  • 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM: (Usually) Online work.
  • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Proselyte (knock on doors, scheduled lessons with people, etc.).
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Lunch.
  • 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Proselyte.
  • 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Dinner.
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM: Proselyte.
  • 9:00 PM - 9:30 PM: Plan for the following day.
  • 9:30 PM - 10:30 PM: Do paper work, write in my journal, prepare for bed.
  • 10:30 PM: Crash in my bed and sleep.
This is a regular missionaries' schedule (except for when I was in Poplar - I did a little bit of taking care of rez dogz). We try to do all sorts of service for people whenever we get the chance and the times may be a little bit different for meals and such but...this really is what I do. Every day. It is physically and mentally draining.  But it is worth it. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love what I do.

Every single missionary has experienced this feeling of exhaustion. Not one of us can avoid it. But as long as we are doing our best and are magnifying our callings then God will take care of us. He won't take away our pains or tiredness but He will strengthen us through it all.  I have a firm belief that as long as I am obedient and do my best to live up to the expectations of being a missionary then God will provide the way and means for me to be successful. BUT just because I am a missionary does not mean that I am perfect. I make mistakes every single day of my life. It is through this that I become the most drained. When I fall short of what I know I can be I feel guilt. Guilt leads to stress which leads to frustration and anger. When I feel any of these negative things then the Holy Ghost - which God has sent to protect, support, comfort, and strengthen His children - departs from me. "And they saw that they had become weak...and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples-" (Helaman 4:24). When I remove myself from God He then is unable to provide me with the Holy Ghost for help. This is the same for all of us! We need to do our best to qualify for His divine support.

A man named Nephi in the Book of Mormon was really struggling one day. His brothers were mocking him and were speaking ill of their father who had just passed away. Nephi was beginning to feel down in the dumps, so to speak. He then was reminded of the sins that he has committed in his life and he was beginning to beat himself up. This is something that Satan tries to do to all of us. He will remind us of our past and try to make us feel guilty for the sins which we have already been forgiven. He tries to give us terrible feelings to make us feel sick. Nephi recognized this and then he exclaimed, "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul" (2 Nephi 4:28). What powerful words! We need to wake up and get out of the misery that accompanies sin. We need not let our thoughts linger on past transgressions. We need not droop in transgression that we are currently in. Wake up! We can proclaim with the band, Taking Back Sunday, in their song, "You Know How I Do" and say:

So sick, so sick of being tired.
And oh so tired of being sick.

Why do we allow ourselves to stay in the mud of doubt, depression, and danger? Take the advice of Nephi: "Awake, my soul!" Proclaim with Taking Back Sunday that you are sick of being tired and tired of being sick. Repent. Change. Correct. Be happy. Be free.

Some people may describe missionary work as a great sacrifice but in all honesty it is an amazing (and sometimes overwhelming) privilege. I know that as I do my duty as a representative of Jesus Christ with all of my heart, God will provide me with the ability, strength, and health that I need. But I need to do my part. I need to qualify for His holy help by providing His work with all of the drive, zeal, and obedience that He needs.

Are you sick and tired? Wake up and allow Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost to direct you in all that you do. I promise that you will have joy. My greatest happiness has come when I have worked my hardest on the Lord's behalf.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Be Happy

No one wants to be sad, depressed, or distraught. I have a strong belief that everyone has a desire to be happy. It is in our nature to do things that make us smile, laugh, and simply feel good.

The scriptures tell us time and time again that the purpose of life is to be happy. "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). God sent us to this earth to take part of this great Plan of Salvation to savor the good things in life, make the most of it, and have joy. I know many people that do a very good job of this. I have friends that are always smiling and always have a good aura and countenance. They are the kinds of people that I want to be around because their goodness is contagious! One person that I do not know personally sticks out in my head for being especially good at this. In fact...he is a character in a movie by Tim Burton. I am talking about Pee-Wee Herman. Now that dude is happy. Here's a picture of him from the movie, Pee Wee's Big Adventure. He's as happy as can be!

A bit on the happy side? Yes!

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get down in the dumps. We don't want that. Contrast the first picture of Pee Wee being happy to this distraught clip of him after he loses his bike. Scary!




Yikes. Do we ever get like this? I know that I sure have (maybe not to this scale...but let's just roll with it). But I have learned a very simple way to combat fear, depression, sadness, and anger. SMILE.

I promise that a day like this...


...can/will turn into a day like this...


...if we only smile.

Being happy is something that we all strive for in one way or another. It is something that is a bit of a struggle to achieve for some people out there. It also is something that can slip away from us if we allow ourselves to (like Pee-Wee Herman when he lost his bike!). We may obtain and retain our happiness through multiple ways. Notice that the ways that I mention do not include being a successful money-maker, being popular, getting lots of attention, etc. Those are things that "the world" would like us to believe. But it is through simple kindness and smiles that will help us be happy. Also, being happy often results in being liked, wanted, and successful! By smiling we are able to physically show those around us the light and fire that is within us. What if you don't feel like you have a light or a fire within you? Answer: Smile anyway. By simply smiling you will open the doorway to happiness. Your mood will change and you will be amazed with how your day (and the day of those around you) will go.

Being kind is extremely important. Sister Mary N. Cook of the Young Women General Presidency gave a talk not very long ago to the young women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her talk is titled, "Remember This: Kindness Begins With Me". It is a great talk about finding happiness through obedience, kindness, and smiles. She says:

"We can follow the example of the good Samaritan and 'change the world' of just one person by being benevolent. I would like to invite each of you to do at least one Samaritan-like act this coming week. It may require that you reach beyond your usual friends or overcome your shyness. You may courageously choose to serve someone who doesn’t treat you well. I promise that if you will extend yourself beyond what is easy to do, you will feel so good inside that kindness will start to become a part of your everyday life. You’ll see that benevolence can bring joy and unity to your home, your class, your ward, and your school. 'Remember this: kindness begins with me.'"

What a profound statement and challege. I extend the same challenge to all of you! Go outside of your comfort-zone and show kindness to someone else. This is charity. This pure love of Christ never faileth (1 Corinthians 13:8). I promise that as you become more selfless you will see a great abundance of blessings in your life and you will be happy.

The greatest thing that brings me true and lasting happiness is obedience to God's commandments. His commandments are not unneccesary rules that tie us down. Rather, they are blessings that set us free from the bonds of Satan. King Benjamin, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, said this, "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual" (Mosiah 2:41). Those that are obedient to God are happy because they are blessed in all things!

It is pretty simple, really! If we want to be happy then we must smile, be kind, and be obedient. Don't let something silly (like getting your bike stolen...Pee-Wee!) get you down. Smile in the face of adversity, be kind to everyone, and be obedient to the commandments of God.

Be happy!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Re-Invention

We are constantly experiencing new things. God placed us on this earth to learn, progress, and grow. Because life is not fair, things get in our way. In order to succeed in this life we must be malleable. We need to learn to adapt, shift, and mold ourselves into the men and women that God has prepared us to be. This does not mean that we should be someone that we are not. In fact, that is the very opposite of what we should do. Life is a refiner's fire (Isaiah 48:10). We need to learn to strengthen ourselves. I am talking about re-invention. It is an intimidating, bold, and scary thing to do. One person that comes to my mind that did a beautiful job of re-inventing himself is Conan O'Brien. Yep. I love the guy. He truly has been through a lot (especially lately). Let's delve into his experiences a bit so that our understanding of this concept of re-invention can be deepened.
Are you with Coco? If not...you should be. Check your head!

Conan O'Brien. Hilarious.

Conan O'Brien. What a guy. He currently hosts a late night talk show simply called, "Conan". Before hosting "Conan" he was the host of the most coveted talk show of all time: "The Tonight Show". He took over for Jay Leno but then after some turmoil, craziness, and then the ultimate mistreating of Conan...Leno took his job back and Conan was in a year long hiatus. "Conan" now airs on TBS and is a smash hit (from what I hear - I have been on my mission for over a  year now). BUT I have been a fan of Conan O'Brien for a long time. He is uniquely funny that I simply cannot get enough of him. Before his first talk show, "Late Nite with Conan O'Brien" (which he hosted for nearly 17 years), Conan was a writer for "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live" (during the REALLY good days of "SNL"). Before that he went to school and graduated from Harvard. In a nutshell...Conan is a stud. I heart him and his quirks!

Conan easily could have given up when we lost his spot as host of "The Tonight Show". It was something that he had worked for his whole life. Something that he dreamed of reaching. Then he reached it! But it was taken away. Let me ask this question: How many of us have experienced something similar to Conan? Granted, we probably haven't experienced anything with this much publicity or at this type of scale. But I truly believe that we all can relate to him to some degree. What are we to do? In a speech given to the 2011 graduating class of Dartmouth, Conan spoke of his time after he left "The Tonight Show". He says some deep, inspirational, motivating, and enlightening things. He said:

"But then something spectacular happened. Fogbound, with no compass, and adrift, I started trying things. I grew a strange, cinnamon beard. I dove into the world of social media. I started tweeting my comedy. I threw together a national tour. I played the guitar. I did stand-up, wore a skin-tight blue leather suit, recorded an album, made a documentary, and frightened my friends and family. Ultimately, I abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path and stature and took a job on basic cable with a network most famous for showing reruns, along with sitcoms created by a tall, black man who dresses like an old, black woman. I did a lot of silly, unconventional, spontaneous and seemingly irrational things and guess what: with the exception of the blue leather suit, it was the most satisfying and fascinating year of my professional life. To this day I still don't understand exactly what happened, but I have never had more fun, been more challenged—and this is important—had more conviction about what I was doing."

"How could this be true? Well, it's simple: There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going. At Harvard, five different guys in my class told me that they would one day be President of the United States. Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs. The other one briefly hosted Blues Clues, before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out. Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course. This happens in every job, but because I have worked in comedy for twenty-five years, I can probably speak best about my own profession."

"Way back in the 1940s there was a very, very funny man named Jack Benny. He was a giant star, easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation. And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny. In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn't. He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction. And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation. David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman. And none of us are. My peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways. But the point is this : It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention."
Wow. Conan is absolutely right. He has experienced that through failure and grief we will (if we handle ourselves correctly) become our best selves. We need to look to those great people and examples around us and do our best to emulate them.  But we need to keep in mind that we will never be that person. We will never have the same effect on others that our idols have had on ourselves.

The beauty of emulation is that it brings about re-invention. We are all individuals. One hundred percent unique. When we strive to emulate the characteristics and attributes of another we will fail on many levels. But I promise you that in other areas we will excel and even exceed the capabilities of that person, thus breaking through our own expectations. When we recognize this we can be certain that we have re-invented ourselves through emulation.

Our Savior and friend.

When living this thing called life we need to ALWAYS look to our King, Jesus Christ. He is our perfect example. (For more on this subject go to Be Thou An Example.) Christ Himself taught that we should follow Him. We need to do all that we can to emulate Him and be the best that we can be. But in our quest to be more like Christ we will trip, slip, and mess up. We are human. We will make mistakes. But that should never stop us from trying to be better and be more Christlike. Just like being removed from "The Tonight Show" never stopped Conan from trying to be successful. Remember, it was because of his lowest moment that he had his greatest triumph.

Christ is the great exemplar. As we try to be more like Him we will have more happy and more fulfilling lives. But as I said before, we will make mistakes. The beauty of emulating Christ is that we can access the atonement, be forgiven and then be given an enabling power to accomplish great things. Through emulation of Christ we work together with Him to re-invent ourselves into the men and women that He would have us be. Christ's greatest triumph was when He suffered all things and was brought below us all so that He could have perfect empathy for us in our afflictions and then be resurrected. "He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6).

When we suffer pains, afflictions, and hard times are we going to choose to suffer longer and say, "Why me?" Or are we going to choose to emulate Christ and be strengthened by Him and be re-invented into our best selves? "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greather than he? (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). The choice is yours. As for me, I'm with Christ. And Coco. I'm with Coco.