Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I currently am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a representative of Jesus Christ I have seen blessings in my life and in the lives of others that come from strict obedience to God's commandments. I have learned and gained so much. I would not trade these experiences for anything in the world.  The amount of time that I have (2 years) to serve Lord is precious and short. Therefore it requires whole-hearted dedication and a pure desire to serve God and serve His children. Because of this great circumstance I am unable to visit or see my family and friends during the 2 year duration. I am able to call my family twice a year. I am able to email and write them once a week. I am able to write my friends as well. As you can guess...I miss my family and friends a TON. But I know that we are being blessed because of this sacrifice. The people that I teach the Restored Gospel to are being blessed. I am being blessed. My family is being blessed. My friends are being blessed. Blessings all around! It is worth it.

In tough times we must hearken to the counsel found in the great hymn, "Count Your Blessings". Can you guess what we must do? We need to count our blessings! There is a fantastic quote that is up in the home of one of my best friends, Elder Daniel Houston (currently is serving a full-time mission in the Colorado Denver South Mission). It states: There is always always always something to be grateful for. I love that quote. It is so true! Even when times are incredibly hard and nothing seems to be going right...there is always something to be grateful for. Here are three examples for you. One pop-cultural. One personal.  One scriptural.
Luke Skywalker literally holding on for dear life with one hand
  1. Pop-Cultural - People who know me know that I deeply love the Star Wars saga. I cannot help myself. It is simply a dynamite series that I can watch over and over. Those of you who are familiar with Star Wars will remember that at the end of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Luke Skywalker is in a light-saber duel with Darth Vader. Luke gets his hand cut off by Vader's blaring red light-saber. No good huh? WELL, Luke stayed positive and kept trying with his other hand. Others were counting on him. He didn't give up and let Darth Vader kill him! He kept holding on for dear life (literally) and he was able to survive. After that epic duel with Lord Vader, Luke was then able to get a robotic hand that looked and acted just like his real one. Huzzah! Everything worked out for Luke (and the galaxy!) because he kept holding on. He was grateful for his hand that he still had and he made the most of it.
  2. Personal -  Just recently I was going through a tough time. I continued to work hard and do the best that I could as I served the people in my area. Because of obedience I was given a blessing from God. It did not come in the way that I expected it to but it came nonetheless. As I mentioned earlier...missionaries get to communicate with family and friends on a very limited basis. Therefore...missionaries love to get mail. So, on Monday April 18th, 2011 my brother, Brett Lee, sent me an email telling me that he had JUST sent off a package for me in the mail. This made me so happy! The package that I received a few days later was amazing. It was heartfelt and full of love. It was just what I needed. Also, I got an Easter package from my mom and dad. I also got some top-notch letters from some very good friends from back home that brightened my day (you know who you are!). To those who were a part of this series of awesome mail...thank you thank you thank you! I am so grateful for these simple but powerful blessings.
  3. Scriptural -  In the Book of Moroni (contained within the Book of Mormon) there are absolutely awful things happening. Terrible sins are being committed by previously righteous people. There are only a few "good" people left and they are spread apart. It is a truly diabolical and dark setting. Anyone would have the urge to be depressed. Even in the midst of all of this evil, a father (Mormon) and a son (Moroni) are able to build each other up through a series of letters (or "epistles") with pure testimony and perfect hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They teach and brighten each other through their prayers and their kind words. "My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever" (Moroni 9: 25). Hope. That is what keeps us together in times of darkness. Mormon was able to remind his son, Moroni, of the perfect hope contained in Jesus Christ. There is always something to be grateful for.

President Thomas S. Monson

There are times when we are in a slump and things aren't going well for us. Stuff happens! Life isn't exactly fair. But God does expect us to do the best with the situations that we have been given. President Thomas S. Monson gave a talk called, "The Divine Gift of Gratitude" (check it out...it's pretty much amazing). Within it he states, "We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude". I love that. To be positive and happy we must have an attitude gratitude. President Monson also said, "My brothers and sisters, to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."

I know within my heart that as we are strictly obedient to God's commandments we will receive blessings. I know that as we are grateful for what we have been given we will lift ourselves and those around us and God will be even more pleased with us. I hope that we all may fill our hearts with "an attitude of gratitude" as we realized that there is always always always something to be grateful for.

    Monday, April 11, 2011


    Those who know me know how much I love and care about my family. They mean everything to me. My parents are wonderul examples and my brothers and sisters are my best friends. I have learned so many things from them. As I look to the examples that my family members set I am given a guiding light which if I follow I will be led to goodness, happiness, and peace.

    My Mom and Dad (Dave and DeAnn) with my niece Scarlett

    Amazing brothers and sisters (L to R: Alicia, Scott, Laurel, me, Michelle, Brett)
    I know that families make up the most important social unit that we are given by God. He places us in families so that we can learn (to love, to be kind, to be patient, etc.), grow (physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.), and to become more like Him. Our loving Heavenly Father has provided our families with scriptures that we can study together and learn from with each other. There is a story in the Book of Mormon that describes what we must do to succeed in this life and feel the love of God. This story is referred to as "Lehi's Dream" or "Lehi's Vision" and is found in the eighth chapter of the first book of Nephi. Within this dream or vision Lehi (a prophet and father) finds a rod of iron (representation of the Word of God - scriptures) that leads directly to a tree with fruit (representation of the love of God) above the whiteness and pureness of anything that we can imagine. When one eats of this fruit one becomes happy. Lehi partakes of the fruit and immediately desires that his family partakes of it also. The account is written from Lehi's perspective and it states, "And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit. And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also...I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go...I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit. And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also" (1 Nephi 8: 12-16). The full text can be found here.

    An artist's depiction of Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life
    What I love about this vision is that it clearly shows us the great importance of families and also the great bond that is found within them. Whenever I find something new, exciting, and fun I immediately want to share it with my family. This is especially true with something that is as spiritual and uplifting as the love of God. As described in the Book of Mormon and the other standard works the only way to truly feel the love of God is to obey His commandments and hearken to His words found in the scriptures. When Lehi partook of the fruit and tasted the love of God for himself he immediately thought of his family. He wanted them to feel the love of God in their lives as he had. He searched for them so that he could help them in their path as they held fast to the iron rod. Only when they stuck together and were obedient could they partake of the love of God together.

    The fullness of Christ's gospel found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helps us along the pathway to righteousness and the love of God. In 1995 under the direction of President Gordon B. Hinckley he and the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote something called, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World".

    As I read "The Family" I receive feelings from the Holy Ghost that families can last forever. I know in my heart that these words are from God and that they have been given to us through prophets. His prophets give us direction so that we may have pure happiness in our relationships. I know that as we abide by God's commandments we will have joy in these relationships. As we keep an eternal perspective on things we are blessed with clarity and peace.

    I am excited to have a future family of my own. I do not know what my future wife's name will be. I do not know what she will look like. I do not know how many children we will have. BUT I do know that I plan to be married in a temple of God. I do know that my family will be together forever as long as we follow the commandments and honor our covenants.

    This is why I hold my family so dear to my heart! I trust them and love them. They are good friends as well as blood relatives. This is the way that God wants our family relationships to be. He knows that we have the potential to stay together for all of eternity and that this life is the best time to make these relationships last. Be kind to your parents. Thank them for all that they do! Be an example and be a friend to your siblilngs. Love your spouse and hold your children in high esteem. If you are not married yet (LIKE ME) then prepare yourself (spiritually and emotionally) for marriage.

    Twice a year we have the opportunity to hear from our living Apostles and prophets. Many of them focused on eternal families and marriages. Elder Richard G. Scott gave a touching talk called "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage" that was especially amazing. I advise you to read it and give it thought (as well as all of the other amazing talks!).

    I hope to follow the great examples of my family members and carry their traits into my own fatherhood. I know that it is what God would have me do.

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Be Thou An Example

    One of my favorite scriptures is found in the New Testament in Paul's first epistle to Timothy. It reads, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in fath, in purity" (1 Timothy 3: 12). There are many things that stick out to me from this simple verse but the overwhelming principle taught within is that we must be great examples to others.
    Fathers must be great examples to their sons.
    Before we can be a great example we must humble ourselves and remember our youth. This is the FIRST thing that we must do. Children are perfect and pure. They do no wrong. "Becometh as a child, submissive, meek humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3: 19). Whenever I read scriptures I think about my nieces and nephews and how perfect they are. I love them so much and I see innocence in their eyes and purity in their actions. It is pretty crazy to think that we all were that innocent and pure once. But I know that if we humble ourselves and apply the same innocence and light that we had in our youth then we will be so much better off! We will come closer to our brother Jesus Christ and we will be able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. Our Savior and Redeemer taught, "Whosever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18: 4). Children are fantastic examples. To look up to them is to look up to Heaven.

    My nieces and nephews L to R: Kaiya, Ben, Isabel, Scarlett, Jake, and Sarah. Perfect!
    As I reflect back...I realize how big of an effect certain people have had in my life. In good and bad ways. Some of these people know the effect that they have made on me but many of them probably do not have a clue. This also means that, unbeknownst to me, I have been an example to other people. I hope that I have left a positive impact on others but I know that I have made mistakes in my life as well. BUT it truly is up to us what kind of legacy we want to leave behind.

    I draw much strength from the people in my life. My dad is extremely humble and hardworking. My mother is loving and compassionate. My brothers and sisters are simply hysterical while being wise at the same time. My closest friends (you know who you are!) are loyal and dedicated. Certain church leaders throughout my life are knowledgeable and are full of charity. My mission companions have been diligent and obedient. It is my hope that I can have a portion of the good qualities that these great people have. I thank them for their great examples.
    Awesome brothers and sisters! L to R: Michelle, Alicia, Brett, me, Scott, Laurel

    Now, there is only One person that we can ALWAYS turn to. He is always there for us and He is Our Perfect Example that we lean on and learn from. I am talking about our brother Jesus Christ. Christ's ultimate example was His Father. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5: 19). The qualities and attributes that Christ showed in His life make up the exact template that we should strive to emulate. Of course we will fall short of Jesus Christ's perfect example but He will carry, lift, inspire, direct, and help us every step of the way. We must look to Him in every aspect of our lives. Remember Paul's words to Timothy: "Be thou an example...in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Jesus Christ is the One who inspired Paul to write these words. Let Jesus Christ inspire us to be kind to one another. Let Him direct us to help those in need. Let Him lift us in our times of struggle. Let Him be our ultimate example.

    I know that as we look to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, we will in turn be good examples to those around us. Thus, we all will come closer to Heaven.