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, 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 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.

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 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 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!