Friday, December 25, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 25

Merry Christmas! Thanks for sticking with these posts for this whole week! I really am glad.

My posts all week have had something to do with Christmas, namely the religious aspect of it (which in my mind is the only aspect of Christmas we should have). Today, on Christmas Day, I've decided to tie it all together. I already told the story of Christ's birth yesterday, but that's not the most important thing Christ did.

Sure, being born is totally necessary to do anything, but I want to talk about the thing that set Christ apart for all other mortal men. The life he lived.

The whole idea of Christmas is to celebrate to birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The incredible gift that was given to us two thousand years ago, was from Heavenly Father to all of us.

As Jesus grew up, he was very aware of his mission on earth. When he was twelve years old, he was in the temple, teaching and talking with very intelligent men. When Mary and Joseph found him, he said to them, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

We know that Christ lived a life perfectly. He was completely without sin, and was therefore able to perform his Atonement for all of us. The sacrifice that allowed all of us to repent of our sins and overcome death. The only means by which we would be able to return to our Father in Heaven.

Had he not been born, he would not have lived that sinless life. Had he not been born, he would not have suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. Had he not been born, he would not have risen again on the third day, and we would all be trapped in our sins.

As this Christmas day closes, consider for a moment the Atonement. Read about it, ponder it, use it. Look to the Light of the world, and remember what he did.

I know that Christ suffered for our sins. Such a gift could never be matched by anyone. He lives today, and he will come again to reign.

Thanks for listening to my thoughts.


#ASaviorisBorn - December 23

I love Christmas music. It has a powerful effect on people, and puts us at peace. I come from a very musical family. Myself, I can play three instruments, the piano, the ukulele, and the saxophone. Much of my family also plays the piano, guitar, or ukulele. Many of my siblings enjoy singing.

We get this love for musical from our parents. Both my parents grew up around music. While my dad just loved singing, my mom learned plenty of instruments. She can play the piano, violin, and she sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a time.

I also grew up hearing and learning music, and I especially loved around Christmas. I loved the hymns sang at church. The music on the radio. The Christmas songs my mom would turn on in the living room.

In the trenches of World War One in 1914, fighting between British and German troops continued into the winter. In the darkness of that Christmas morning, a song was being sang. The Germans were singing Stille Nacht. Soon, the British joined the singing with Silent Night, the English translation of the carol. They continued to exchange Christmas carols in their own language.

The soldiers exited the trenches, and greeted each other, wishing a Merry Christmas to one another. A truce was made for that single day. Fighting stopped for Christmas, while the young men enjoyed each other's company, and played soccer.

It seemed that day that the angels who appeared to the shepherd really did bring "peace, and good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).

Music has the power to end a war. Even just for a day, the fighting stopped, and a bunch of homesick young boys celebrated the birth of our Savior.

The angels who heralded the birth of Christ were the first to sing praises to God on Christmas. I can imagine those shepherds with their flocks. Seeing a multitude of heavenly host, and hearing them sing and praise God. Did they join in the songs?

"As the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger" (Luke 2:15-16).

I realized that words are not enough to capture the power of music. I picked a few of my favorite covers of Christmas songs by some LDS artists. After you listen to them, I urge you to go with haste to see the baby Jesus. Or in this case, think of Him. Think of how he came to earth to save us from our sins. Think of how much he has done for you.

The Piano Guys-
Carol of the Bells
We Three Kings
Angels We Have Heard On High

Lexi Walker-
The First Noel

Lindsey Sterling-
Silent Night
What Child is This?

Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 24

It's Christmas Eve. The night when children (and I) refuse to sleep. The night when Santa comes and delivers presents to every child. When the whole world is just at rest. It's as if the earth itself knows that Christmas will come tomorrow.

Every year, either with my family or on my own, I read the story of Christ birth this night. I've decided to allow you all to hear the story of the birth of Christ, as I tell you for day five of my #ASaviorisBorn posts.

"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in the womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

"He shall be great, and shall be call the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

"Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

"And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God...For with God nothing shall be impossible.

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

"But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed...And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem:...To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

"And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

"When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

"And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet...

"And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

"When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the stay, which they saw in the easy, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

I'll be having my last Christmas thought tomorrow. Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 22

My favorite part of Christmas decorating is hanging lights. I can look past the awful knots in the box, and how 90% of the bulbs are out, and see the beauty of the lights. I love driving around my town and seeing the lights other people have set up. Last year I came across a house that has synced their lights to the radio.

However my favorite display of lights would be those at temple square.

The thousands of little lights are just so beautiful and with the temple there as well, it makes you feel at peace. Even though it's difficult for me to go there for a date because of Christmas plans, I still love going and seeing the lights.

As I've said, lights are my favorite part of Christmas decorations, and just make you feel like its really Christmastime.

The first light of Christmas was the new star in the sky when Christ was born. The light was so brilliant, that it was as if there was no night at all. This star is how the wise men found the baby Jesus. But this star played a bigger part in the believers of Christ among the Nephites. It saved them from the wicked men who wanted to kill them. But more about that story on a later day.

The idea of Light is well associated with Jesus Christ, as well as all throughout the scriptures. The very first thing that was created is light (Gen 1:3). Joseph Smith's account of his First Vision tells how he "saw a pillar of light exactly over [his] head, above the brightness of the sun" (JSH 1:16). The Light of Christ resides in all things, and knowledge and light is typically used synonymously within the scriptures.

Jesus calls himself the Light. "I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" (3 Nephi 9:18).

A friend of mine once used an analogy of a lamp being turned on in an empty dark room. When the lamp was off, nothing could be seen. No light entered into the room. However, when the lamp is turned on, suddenly the entire room become visible. You see everything that's in the room.

As it is with Christ. Without Christ, we don't see anything. We can't see what we need to see. However, if we invite Christ into our lives (turn on the Light) we can see all.

But perhaps the most interesting, is the same title Christ uses for himself, he uses for us. "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).

Christ uses his faithful servants to shine His light unto the world. Not only is He the light, but we are the light. We need to shine the light to all the world.

Who else just burst into song?
I hope we can look to the Christmas lights and think of Him. Whether they be the thousands of lights at the temple, or if they just be the one string hanging humbly on your Christmas tree, look at them, and remember Christ. Remember that He is the Light. As are you.

Wait up for my next thought tomorrow!


If you missed the first two days of my #ASaviorisBorn posts check them out! Here's the links!

Monday, December 21, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 21

It was no mystery that Christ would be born. His coming had been prophesied since to beginning to the world. In the time of Adam and Eve, Adam was commanded to offer a sacrifice to God. After many days of this, and angel appeared to Adam. He asked him "Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This think is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth" (Moses 5:6-7).

Another prophet who prophesied of Christ was Nephi. "And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

"And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?

"And I said unto him: A virgin. most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

"...And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh" (1 Nephi 11: 13-15, 18). Nephi also had revelation of when Christ would come. "And behold he cometh, according to the words of the angel, in six hundred years for the time my father left Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 19:8). King Benjamin later receives revelation concerning the mother of Christ. "And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary" (Mosiah 3:8).

The most prominent prophey of Christ's birth in the Book of Mormon is that of Samuel the Lamanite. A prophetic MC Hammer.

Can't touch this.
Samuel stood on the wall, and told the wicked Nephites about Jesus. "And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.

"And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.

"Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.

"And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you" (Helaman 14:2-5).

The most well-known prophesy of Christ is by the prophet Isaiah.

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa 7:14). "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (9:6).

These prophesies were fulfilled. Christ was born to Mary in Bethlehem. He was celebrated with angelic choirs, and a bright new star appeared, leading all those to him, who knew the words of the prophets.

Christ was given to us to give us everlasting life. He is Wonderful. A Counsellor. The Prince of Peace. He gave his life out of pure love for all of us.

May our thoughts be always on Him.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 20

When you see this man's face, you just think, Christmas. You've known who it is since you were a little child. Since your first Christmas on this earth, you've known about Santa Claus. The great man who delivers gifts to every child on Christmas is a legend. His red coat, his team of reindeer, and his home in the North Pole are known by nearly every child who celebrates Christmas.

But Santa Claus has many similarities to our Savior. Whether intentional or not, Santa is a symbol of Christ. First, there's his looks.

Red Coat and White Beard

When Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the newly dedicated Kirtland Temple, they recorded the experience in D&C 110. "His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters" (D&C 110:3).

Joseph Smith also received revelation concerning the Second coming of Christ. "And the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat" (D&C 133:48).

Coming in the Night

Christ used many parables to help his disciples watch for his coming. Of these is the parable of the ten virgins. Ten virgins were waiting for the bridegroom to come, but he was taking longer than they'd expected. "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (Matthew 25:6).  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thes 5:2).

While Santa is not quite a thief (just the opposite actually), he will come in the night, when we don't expect him. And many of us will be asleep when he comes.

Naughty or Nice

Somehow, Santa knows how each person has been behaving the whole year.

And because he makes a list, and checks it twice, he can tell who is naughty and deserves coal or who is nice and deserves a puppy.

When we are judged for our sins, Christ will be our judge. "His lord said unto his, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:21).

It's also worth mentioning the the naughty get coal, and hell is portrayed with fire and brimstone. When I have kids, I will personally see to it that they understand the connection.

Comes with Gifts

When Christ was born, the wise men brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This is the reason we give gifts on Christmas. However, we were also given a gift from Him. Last year, the LDS church put out this video.

When God sent his only Begotten Son to us, to save us from our sins, and our pains, and our sadness, he gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in his should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Christ atoning sacrifice for us was a gift given to us 2,000 years ago. When we see that jolly big man, and his bowl full of jelly, we should be reminded of Christ. How we celebrate his birth. How he came into the world, and how he lived and died for us.

Watch tomorrow for my next thought.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

#ASaviorisBorn - December 19

Can I just say, I love Christmas? It's the best time of year. Putting up the tree, singing Christmas carols, seeing the beautiful lights. But it's easy to get caught up in the fun and commotion of this Christmas season, and forget the first part of the word. Christ.

Needless to say, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Our Savior. Everything about the season points to him, and shows us the way to return to our Father in Heaven. The LDS Church has put out this amazing video called A Savior Is Born, and it is just beautifully.

Through these last few days before Christmas, I plan to post daily. Each day I'll be writing about a different aspect of the Christmas season, and providing my insight in how it relates to Christmas. I'll be using the cool little hashtag the church has been using, #ASaviorisBorn. So here's the church's video to hold you up until tomorrow. I hope you consider my thoughts a little bit.

- Nathaniel

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The New Church Policy

So I've noticed that this is becoming a really big deal. As most people may have heard, the LDS church recently announced a policy adding same-sex marriage as a definition of apostasy. In addition, leaders had clarified that children being raised in same-sex marriage may not receive a blessing as a baby, and cannot be baptized until they are 18.

Sadly, I'm seeing mostly one reaction, and it's not good. People are, for lack of a better word, flipping out about this. Honestly, I can see where they're coming from. Yes, the church has recently begun to reach out much more to those members with same-sex attraction, and encourage them to stay faithful.

However, I don't agree with the arguments against it. It was unexpected, and morally, it feels wrong. Honestly, there was a slight second when I began to have doubts about this change.

I began to think about it more. I have constantly stood up to bear my testimony and said "I know the church is true," and "I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God." Not only that, but every six months, I raise my right hand to sustain those general authorities. To claim that they are wrong would make me a liar.

Let's talk apostasy for a minute. Ever since the beginning of time, God has given commandments to his children. But we have rebellious phases where we don't listen to God, and reject his prophets and the gospel of Christ.

That's called a widespread apostasy, and the last one just ended in the last couple hundred years. But there's also personal apostasy, where a person rejects the teachings of the church. Apostasy is the reason why people get excommunicated. When a church that loves everyone so much that it sends teenage boys halfway across the world to talk to you and give you a book decides that they literally stop communicating with you, you done something wrong.

People are defined as apostate (to name a few) when they teach contrary to the teaching of the church or (I guess now) enter into a same-sex marriage. Wait, those are pretty much the same thing right there.

The Church has never claimed to be for same-sex marriage. In fact, they've been pretty clearly against it for quite some time. The fact that they're changing the policy to account for those in same-sex relationships isn't surprising.

But the thing that I felt a little uncomfortable with was the policy of children in these marriages. On the surface, yeah, it seems a little unfair that the children can't receive baby blessings or be baptized. But looking into it, I noticed that it is in no way punishing the children.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World reads, "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness...Husbands and wives-mothers and fathers-will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations." The parents of these children are going against what the church teaches. They are engaging in a union that is contrary to the will of the Lord. The children however are not, and therefore, don't need to be punished in any way.

To clarify, in the long run, the parents are going to be accountable for making a decision that prevents their children from living in a righteous family.

And the church won't prevent these children from even going near the church. They are more than welcome to come to church, mutual, seminary; they are even able to become baptized after they turn 18 and serve missions. The policy also only applies to same-sex marriages. If someone has same-sex attraction, or even if they've committed homosexual acts, they are not necessarily apostate. They are still welcome to come to church. They can have callings, and serve in the church.

In the end, I support the new policy. It's not done out of hate, it's done out of love. God still loves those who fall away, and wants them to come back.

Now keep in mind that what I wrote isn't church doctrine. It's just my thoughts.


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Grace of God

I know I haven't posted in a while, but honestly, it's been the last thing on my mind.

You see, cross country's been drawing to a close, and I've been with this program for four years. Not once have I gone to the state meet. Coach only takes the top 7 runners and an alternate, along with four-year seniors. However, for whatever reason, I only ran for a few weeks my freshman year, so technically, I wasn't a four-year senior.

Since I wanted my last year to be the one I went to state, I worked hard. I set goals, I ran my guts out. I did everything I needed to do to get to state. At one meet I placed 17th and got a medal. At Regionals I ran Varsity.

However this Monday, Coach told us who was on the state team, and despite running good times, despite working so hard, I ended up as the 9th runner on my team, just below the alternate.

That was it. I had given it my all and it wasn't enough. I wasn't good enough. My best just wasn't where it needed to be. All these other boys got where they were on natural talent. I didn't have that, and there was no more I could give to become where I needed to be.

And if this whole ordeal wasn't bad enough, at the same time, I had been fighting something for some time. I'd rather not get into that, but it was similar. Something personal that no matter how much I tried, no matter how much I worked, it wasn't enough. I would never be good enough to reach my goal. I would never be truly happy.

Now this is a terrible story, until you realize where I am right now. At a hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming. The city the state cross country meet will be held.

You see, after Coach announced who will be running at state, and talking to the JV runners who didn't make it, I figured that was it. Until Coach asked me to stay a little longer.

I thought that he'd talk to me about how much I had worked. About how the other boy had just worked harder. But that wasn't it.

He said I was so close to being a four-year senior. I was only a few weeks off. He couldn't justify leaving me home because of a few weeks, and decided to take me anyway.

As I ran that day for the workout, I found it hard to control my emotions. I feel unworthy of it. I mean, I hadn't made it. I didn't work hard enough to deserve it. But I would be going.

I felt something tell me that it was the same with that thing I had been fighting. I had tried my best, and that was enough.

The grace of God is an amazing thing. I've felt that for the first time this week, a true understanding of it. It is by grace we are saved after all we can do, and I am so grateful for that.

Would I like to run? Sure, if two of our runners go out, I will. But I'm glad I'm here. I glad that I was lucky enough to go. Emotions have been rampant recently. I can think of only one time I've had more on my mind, and that was for good reason.

I am so grateful that God was merciful enough to let me come to state, as well as help me through my trials. I love God for everything He's done for me, and I can feel his love. The kind of love that a father has for his son.

I might have to keep running after high school so I can keep learning things about life. But hey, that's just a thought.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

7 Steps For Conference

Conference is coming up guys! I think this is going to be a pretty interesting one. There hasn't been a conference with this many vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve for over one hundred years.

But we'll always have good talks at conference. The reason we have conference is so we can hear the Lord's will for us in our time. There's so many good things to hear at conference that it's almost impossible to get every single message in there. But we don't need every one.

The Lord has a message for each of us every single conference. And I want to help you guys get the most out of conference. Because after all, this ain't my first pony ride. The last few conferences I've had questions. They've all been answered.

Odds are, you've heard to go into conference with a question. And that's just one parts of this process I'll give you to get the most out of conference.

1) Find out what you need.
This is the whole, find a question, thing. How are you going to find what you need, if you have no idea what you're looking for?

You need to look at your life. What do you need? What are you struggling with? What do you need to do better? Pinpoint exactly what you need. And if necessary, find a few. I for one, will find a few things that I need. Because I need them. I might as well look for them.

2) Pray
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Matthew 7:7). You can't assume you'll get the answer you need if you don't ask for it.

Put your need into the form of a question, and ask God for the answer.

Now keep in mind, asking for inspiration is almost never a casual things. You always have to have faith. If you just say the prayer, than you might get something out of it. But not the most. No. You have to have faith that'll you'll find your answer.

You have to look for it. You have to want it. You have to ask for it. God will never withhold a message from you. He will always tell you what you need to know, if you simply ask.

3) Ponder it out in you mind.
This is one step I'm afraid many people who are searching for an answer neglect. And the thing is, this is honestly when a lot of the inspiration comes. God will take this moment of pondering to help you ask the right question.

If it's not the question you should be asking him, odds are, he'll put it out of your mind somehow, so you ask a different, more worthy question.

But anyway, pondering is important. As I've said, from experience, pondering is where most inspiration comes. God may not give you all the information you need in this time. But he'll give you enough, so you'll get the rest at conference.

Use the time between your prayer, and 10 am on Saturday to read the scriptures and previous conference talks. Or even just think.

4) Watch it.
Super obvious step. People watch conference in their own way. Hopefully you know what works for you. I for one take notes on my laptop. This helps me pick out the important stuff, instead of just hearing all the context.

If I hear a quotable quote, I write it down. If I hear something that hits me hard, I write it down. But of course, if you have a way of watching conference that works better for you, by all means. Do it.

5) Ponder it (again).
This is where you will receive inspiration. Either here or while you watch it. Think about the messages you heard. Try to make sense of them. Look at your notes. What stood out to you the most? How can that help you? How could it answer your question.

6) Pray for thanks.
How could you forget this? God commands us to "receive all things in a thankful state". You just received an answer to your prayer! How can you not thank the source?

Simply thanking God for what you've received will bless you, and if you don't thank Him, He pretty much told you for nothing.

7) Use and apply the messages.
What a load of good conference does you if you skip this one. This is why you needed to hear that message! You have to act now. Otherwise these men just spent months planning a talk that you needed to hear, and they essentially wasted time with you.

When Lehi's family studied the scriptures, they "applied the scriptures unto themselves". Conference is scripture. It is the word of God directly to us. If we are to apply the scriptures, it seems very important that we apply conference talks (in some cases more important than the standard works).

I can promise you that if you do these things, you will get the most you can out of General Conference. If you have a question, ask it now, than do what you need to do to receive an answer.

The great part, is that this need not only apply to conference. It could apply to church. To firesides. Even to your daily scripture study.

If you really want inspiration from God, you can receive it. If you need to know something, God is simply waiting for you to ask for it. He will give it you.

But hey, whatever works. It's just a thought.


Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Okay to Be Picky

Today is September 7. One year ago, today, something big happened. I'd much rather not get into the details, but something happened this day that changed my life for the better.

And there is no conceivable way that that was even possible without a certain friend I had. Well, she was a little more than a friend at that time.

Anyway, I don't want to talk about how my life was before, or how this person changed that, because it's honestly really difficult to talk about. I know what happened, she knows what happened, and God knows what happened. Nobody else needs to know.

That's not my point. My point is why this person was in my life in the first place. That all gets down to friends.

I'm going to jump back to the 8th grade for a moment. To understand why all this happened to me, you gotta understand my past situation with my friends.

You ever had a toxic friend? One that does nothing to lift you up? One that doesn't care whether you do good or bad (sometimes encouraging the bad)? I had one like that.

He wasn't exactly a bad person, but the things he did influenced me to do the same. That wasn't a good thing. Eventually, I realized the bad influence he was to me, and dropped him from my life.

For a while, I was alone. I had nobody. But there was a group that kind of took me in. That accepted me. Not only were they nice to me, but they were friends to me. I never forgot any one of them (I'm even going to homecoming with one of them, but that's beside the point).

This group was the one that people generally identified as the Mormons. They wore their standards proudly, and loved the church. When high school came, I started to get a different group, and looked for people who lived their standards.

That's where this specific girl comes in. She clearly loved the church. Still does I hope. She even forced me to wait until she turned 16 before I could ask her out. Not that I wouldn't have waited anyway.

But after that, she constantly lifted me up. She and all the friends I had spent the time carefully picking did. They all wanted me to improve.

They all wanted me to succeed in life. To go on a mission. To get married in the temple. To achieve celestial glory. And even though many of these people have unfortunately moved on with their lives, including this girl I've said so much about, I still have those goals in mind. They will always be my friends. I try to be that friend now. The one who lifts others up, and inspires them to do well.

It's okay to be a little picky about your friends. The people you associate with will guide your life more than you can ever imagine. They'll either keep you on the straight and narrow, or lead you to the great and spacious building. I'm glad I was picky with my friends.

I love who I am. I love who I've become. I love how far I've come from who I once was. I love all the people who helped me get to this point.

So I just wanna say to all those friends, thank you so much. Thank you for everything you did for me. For helping me grow. For inspiring me to serve God. I promise (rather I pinky promise), that I will never let you guys and gals down. Love ya!

You don't have to listen to me though. It's just a thought.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

It's a Good Day to Be a Mormon

On Friday, I had my first cross country meet of the season. Both our boys and girls teams took first in the meet. Then, we got back in town, and went to the first home football game of the season.

We also won that.

Later (as probably most of you have seen), I posted on Facebook about how "it's a good day to be a Red Devil".

I was legitimately proud of how our football team did. It really was a good day to be a Red Devil.

But everyday, it's a good day to be a Mormon.

We are part of a great church, 15 million strong. With 148 temples, and 85,000 missionaries, we've come a long way from the 6 people at that first church meeting after the Restoration.

We have the fullness of the gospel, and we have knowledge of the truth. We have not just one, but two testamants of Jesus Christ. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon are true. We also have the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Modern Prophets, Church magazines like the Ensign and NewEra, Teachings of Church Presidents, Preach My Gospel. And so much more that we can learn of Christ from. And not to mention that these are available in a little plastic box that fits in our pockets.

We have seminary, Sunday school, mutual, stake and general conferences, firesides all to give us time to be with like-minded people, who agree with us that Christ lives and he love us all.

And those are just things that the church has put out. Church members are always out there. People like Lindsey Sterling and Al Fox and Studio C, all help spread the gospel with their uplifting talents, and entertain us too.

Then there's our personal victories. I for one am glad that I woke up this morning and read my scriptures. Not only that, but I got something out of it. I prayed. I went to my stake conference today. Not to mention the daily battles I win against the devil. The victories we have against Satan far outweigh the losses. Next time you beat Satan, smile. Tell yourself that you did good. Because you did.

This is the same Lucifer that convinced one third of the host of heaven to follow him. Who has influenced the worst people imaginable. He's influenced murders, rapists, and countless others. He's put into play drugs and pornography. Alcohol, tobacco. The same Satan is responsible for all the evil in the world.

And you just beat him.

The person who was telling Hitler what to do next, you just beat him in a battle. Can you honestly tell me that that doesn't make you feel powerful?

It makes me feel powerful, that's for sure.

My cross country coach has a lot of little things he always says. One of them is celebrate your successes.

We need to forget the failures we have. You said a word you shouldn't have. You keep putting off talking to that girl about the gospel. Maybe you relapsed into an addiction even. So what? What did you do right today? I bet you anything that the list of things you did right today, is far longer than what you did wrong (so long as you recognize that you did wrong).

Be proud of who you are. You're a child of God. You're a winner. You're magnificent! You're absolutely stellar!

God lives, and he loves us.

But don't listen to my thoughts. Have your own.

Peace out.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Life Sucks? Good!

Hey. Have a seat. Want me to get you some lemonade? Cookies? Let's talk for a while.

So I understand you've had a rough time. What's that? You don't want to talk about it? Oh that's alright. I understand. I have no idea what you could be going through. It could be the death of a loved one, it could be struggling with an addiction, it could even be as simple as not feeling like you worth it. Or heck, maybe you've just have a rough day.

But whatever happened, I don't need to know. I just know that you have doubts about whether or not you can make it through this.

Well, I've have times like that. Yeah. Really.

I've struggled with things too. Most of them, I'd rather not discuss right now. But back in middle school, I felt really lonely. I didn't feel like I had any real friends. I mean, I was incorrect, but the feelings were real, and I would cry. It's true.

But it got better. I made friends. I got more confidence. I even convinced a few girls that I'm worth going on dates with (It's up to them if I was right).

There were a few months in there that I was about as happy as I could be. My life just was going so well. Because of this, when my life crashed again (crashed isn't the right word here...maybe slowed down?), I was ready. Because I had learned that if things get bad, that only means things are about to get better.

I learned this simple truth in the scriptures. Did you expect me not to bring these things up? Ha! Oh Jeeves! Could you bring me my quad? Thank you.

Now, let's take a look shall we? Ah! Here it is! Doctrine and Covenants. Section 122, verse 7. "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

It's right there. The word of God saying that it's for the best that you're going through this. And think of what Joseph Smith was going through when he received this revelation. Liberty Jail. Ripped from his family. Small quarters. Filth that guards called food that was often poisoned.

Yes, even that experience was for Joseph's good.

And yes, things did get better for the Prophet. He eventually returned to his family, which was likely a wonderful day in his life. Now, Joseph is with Emma for all eternity. The church he was called to restore is 15 million strong, and still growing.

Now let's look at one more person who was called to go through a hard time. Can you guess who it is?

That's right! (Or not) It's our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was called to go through the ultimate hard time. Think of all the pain, all the trials, all the sins you've had. Now imagine those all at once. Now one more, imagine all of that times billions of people. For everyone who ever has, or ever will exist.

But just like it passed for me, and for Jospeh Smith, it passed for Christ. And he gained experience. "That he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people" (Alma 7:12). Now, he's helping us through it. And he's helping you through it.

This will pass, as all things do. Don't be discouraged. Don't cry out that God is not there. That's wrong in every way! God is always there! His love is your strength!

Keep moving. Keep fighting. You deserve to smile again. You deserve peace. And you will recieve it.

If right now, you're looking at your life, and you're saying that your life sucks, good! That only means that it's about to get better.

You're almost there. You're so close to joy. A little bit longer. You can do it! You have the greatest cheering section in the universe on your side. They all want you to beat this. And you can.

Keep that thought in mind.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

An Open Letter to You-Know-Who-You-Are

Dear, You-Know-Exactly-Who-You-Are-And-Don't-Deny-It

So the Stake Dance last night sure was fun wasn't it? Of course, you'll just have to take my word for it. After all, you weren't there.

See, other people I invited to come had excuse along the lines of "I'm out of town." "My leg's broken and a dance wouldn't be fun for me." I can understand that.

There were several people though who I invited that did come. And who did have fun.

But you. When I invited you, you said, "I don't want to." I mean, I appreciate honesty and all, but I can't seem to wrap my mind around why you wouldn't want to go to the dance.

Here is this setting where you are not only allowed, but encouraged to get to know the attractive young ladies around you. Where you have a chance to show off your dance moves.

Where you can impress people. Yeah, I did it. I wore a tie. With a casual shirt. It looked nice (as I was told). While you were probably watching a movie in a plain shirt and pair of Cheeto-stained shorts, I was in the middle of a dance battle (at least I think he was challenging me).

While you were trying to come up with a half decent reason why you shouldn't go (which, by the way, failed), I was building friendships.

And don't try to tell me that you wouldn't have fun, because that would be your own fault.

In my experience, fun and happiness is a choice. If you go somewhere, dedicated to have fun, you'll have fun.

However, if you have this paradigm that you won't have fun, than guess what, you won't have fun. It's as simple as that.

I think too often we refuse to do the things that we probably should do because we don't think it'll be worth it. And not just in life, but in the Gospel as well.

I think too often we have this view of how things should go, but that view ends up being completely wrong. However, the actual way things should go is full of happiness. But if you stay stuck with your own ideas and expectations, you'll never see the things that are actually going pretty well. Maybe even better than before.

For example, if you are prompted to do a certain thing, say, invite someone to church, you may hesitate. "But they won't want to go. They're not like that." But we know that "great shall be your with him in the Kingdom of my Father" (D&C 18:16).

All that you do, if done correctly, will be worth. Every experience you have in this life will be an opportunity to grow.

Even if that is something as simple as going to a Stake Dance. Because at least you'll build friendships.

So don't refuse an experience because you can't immediately see happiness or enjoyment. Have the experience and look for that. Or better yet, create the enjoyment.

I mean, at the Dance, I was partying it up. I looked good, felt good. I hope I helped a lot of people enjoy it. I tried to create an enjoyable setting for others.

But you stayed home, so just take my word for it.



P.S. That just a thought.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

11 Things All Mormon Youth Love

In case you couldn't tell, I am in fact LDS, and I am a youth. What that means for ya'll non-members out there is that I am between the ages of 12 and 18 (17 and a half actually).

We do a lot in our groups. We go to mutual (which is a planned activity once every week), we love seminary (pretty much it's church in school), and we love the LDS church.

Naturally, there's a few things that we all have in common. So I've compiled (made up, same thing), a list of 11 things that all Mormon Youth love. If you're Mormon and Youth yourself, see how many of these apply to you.

These are my opinions. This is my list. I've exaggerated these so much. You're no less Mormon if these don't apply to you. Thank you and tonight.

1) We love Disney.

We've all been there, right?

Maybe it's the magic. Maybe it's the music. Or maybe it's the fact that we have claimed Frozen and Anna would totally be the coolest Mormon girl in the world and nothing you can say can make it otherwise. We don't know the reason, but we all love Disney movies.

My personal favorite is Hercules, but I also am a fan of Princess and the Frog, the Lion King, and Aladdin. I'm totally gonna have a Disney marathon one of these days.

2) We all play the ukulele.

That's a G chord right there.

I think I'm the only one who ever noticed this, but don't you know a lot of Mormons who can play the uke?

I don't know about you, but I know a lot. I don't know why this would be the case. Maybe it's just a cultural thing. Like Mormons just play the uke. No reason.

Or maybe because the guitar is too overrated for Mormons so we have to shrink them in the dryer. No? Okay, moving on.

3) We all love seminary.
In my school, I can letter in seminary. How neat is that?
Okay, maybe this one doesn't apply to some people in my seminary class last year (maybe it only applies to me), but it's so comforting to have a place to go away from all the cursing and immorality of high school. Seriously, that stuff is gross.

And not to mention a seminary teacher can be your best friend sometimes. Bro Richens, I'm looking at you!

4) We live for Youth Conference and/or EFY.

This was taken after I started a flash mob in front of hundreds of people I didn't know. Yep.
Okay, I need to clear one thing up. I've never been to an EFY. But, I have had Regional Youth Conferences for as long as I can remember. As far as I can tell, those are pretty much the same thing.

Please refrain from slitting my throat for being wrong.

But I just love having the opportunity to dance in front of a bunch of people I don't know, and then meet these people during a slow dance, only to not remember their name in a week (unless it's Cereal Girl).

But the thing is, that selfie right there, isn't just from my last Youth Conference, it's from my last Youth Conference, if I leave for my mission in early June like I want to.

But at least I have the memories. And Cereal Girl's number.

5) We actually enjoy dressing like we're from the 1800's and pulling all our stuff for days without running water or internet access.

And waka waka waka waka waka waka............etc.

Oh yeah! Trek is where it's at! There's just something about it that is so amazing to youth!

I personally love the families we get. I'll always be part of the Frog family. I went deeper into the pioneers with an earlier thought, so you can just go check that out.

6) Mormon Boys love Mormon Girls and vise versa.

That's right. I'm looking at a picture of the Provo City Center Temple.
Mmm-hmm, Modest definitely is hottest. This is something I just had to add. Because there's nothing more attractive to me than a righteous young woman (extra points if she can pull off hipster glasses. Just a preference.)

Mormon boys are just drawn to Mormon girls. Very similar to how moths are drawn to flames.
Nailed the analogy!

7) Missionaries are just plain awesome.
"Do you have a moment to hear about the worst secret cult ever?"

This is one that I didn't really check on to see if other people like it. Want me to stop doing that? Haha, this is my list. I can do whatever I want.

I always get so excited whenever my family feeds the missionaries, and I look up to them. That's gonna be me pretty soon. I can't wait!

8) April and October are the best months in the year!
This guy right here.
Oh yeah, Ya'll know what it is! General Conference! This one isn't even that hard to explain.

Going to church in your pajamas, hearing parables about aviation from a German. Not to mention everything is just so awesome around this time.

#ldsconf is trending, I'm telling my mom that I'll eat breakfast as soon as this session is over, I have to skip back to hear that awesome quote again so I can write it in my notes. Just so cool!

8 1/2) General Authorities are legends.
Well you're not wrong.
Don't you love the General Authorities? They're just so cool. They age so gracefully, they are powerful speakers, and Chuck Norris has nothing on Elder Holland!

9) Anyone wanna binge watch Studio C?
"Maybe surprise and fear?"
Oh my heck, how in the world did I not put this one further up? It's so hilarious. It's by far one of my favorite shows, and it's the main source of all my stolen jokes.

It's literally the best show ever!

I could go all day about the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Scott Sterling, but I'd much rather just watch Studio C.

10) Stake Dances are bigger than Prom.
When you roll up with the squad to the stake dance.
Okay, that statement isn't entirely true. Prom's pretty big. But my point still stands. Stake Dances are the bomb. As I've stated before (see #4), I have no shame making a fool of myself in front of other people. I actually love it.

I love partying with my friends, and swing dancing and the Cupid Shuffle. And if that Meghan Trainor song comes on, I won't be embarrassed to sing along to every single verse absolutely on-key and flawlessly.

I won't.

11) And finally, just plain being Mormon.

This is what we all love about being youth. Just being who we are. Mormon Youth love spending time with each other. We love being a "peculiar people". We love Studio C. We love Trek. We love 1 o' clock church.

We love going to church and mutual. We secretly rejoice when we're asked to give a talk or a lesson. We love group dates, and saying "modest is hottest". We love Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf.

We love our modern day prophets and the Book of Mormon. We love seminary, the uke, Mormon messages, our friends.

We love telling you about our faith, because our faith is everything to us. It's our lives. It's who we are.

"For [we are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16). We love everything about the church, because we know its true. We know that Joseph Smith restored Christ's true church on the earth, and the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ.

We know that Christ suffered for our sins, and that he did it out of love for us. And we love that.

But I don't speak for everyone. That's just my own thought.


Friday, July 31, 2015

It Landed on Tails

So last Sunday was interesting. First, my Sunday School teacher asked who would be there next week. I knew what was coming, but my hand was already up. And yeah, I got the lesson on Sunday.

Not only that, but the first assistant in my priest's quorum is moving, so he was released on Sunday. But guess what he asked me to do before he was released? That's right! Give the lesson in Aaronic priesthood.

Luckily I stayed clear of the bishopric so I don't have to prepare a talk as well.

But anyway, for the Sunday School lesson, Sister Davis gave me an outline, so that's good. But I didn't even get a topic for the Young Men's lesson.

Throughout the week, I was thinking, and eventually I decided on either Missionary Work, or Personal Revelation. Upon praying, I found that either one is good, so I left it up to a coin toss. Heads missionary work, tails personal revelation.

It landed on tails.

I kind of also decided that whatever I'm not giving a lesson on, I'll give a thought about. So here's a thought I have about missions.

I was nine years old when I first remember somebody going on a mission. That was my brother, who was called to Arizona.

I'd like to say that I missed him so much, and that I was so proud of him, but sorry bro, that wasn't the case.

I mean, yeah, I wasn't used to him being gone, but he was going on a mission. I was always taught that that's just what you do. That that's what happens after high school.

So when my other two brothers went on their missions, I was unfazed.

But after my third oldest brother left for Texas, I realized that I was next. The sister in between us didn't seem to have a desire to serve a mission, which is totally fine, but that meant I was my family's next missionary.

I never had a time where I actually didn't plan on go, or wasn't decided. But shortly after my brother left when I was a freshman, that October Conference, I saw President Monson address the church. He welcomed us as he would. He announced new temples, and talked about ones that were recently dedicated. But than he got going on missionaries.

He said this.

I think I was very similar to those young men and young women showed in the audience who were half crying, half laughing and overall shocked.

In my phone, I have the annoucment of the young men's age change marked and labeled, "Awesome!!"

When the missionary age was changed, I was 14 years old. I think when I heard that, I said to myself, "Looks like I've got one less year."

But still, I never got too into preparation. I attended the mission prep classes the stake occasionally held, but I never decided to start perparing.

Until just a few months ago.

Let's just say I had had an awful day. Those of you who are close to me know exactly what this day was (or in the very least can guess), and you know that I was very different than I usually was for several...actually I think I was different for the remainder of the school year.

For the sake of the story, but also because I'd rather not talked about it, I'll say a certain distraction I had was no longer that. And I didn't choose for that to happen.

I'm trying to be subtle, but can you guess what it was?
Also, disclaimer to the person I'm talking about here, if you happen to be reading this, you did what you needed to do. I'm not trying to offend you or anything.

Right after it happened, (like really, mere seconds after) I had a thought. You need to prepare for your mission.

That hit me. This was around in April in my junior year. A year from that time, I could've had my mission call. From there, I decided to prepare for my mission in whatever way I could.

"Yay!" you're saying, "Happy ending for you, right?"

See, missionary work is kind of important. Naturally, it requires a lot. And since it is as important as it is, the devil hates it.

I was working hard, I was learning so much. I was a new man. I was dedicated to serving the Lord! However, guess who came running up and hit my joy over the head with a two by four? Who else?

Sadness because of what happened, and other issues involving friends and something else that I'm definitely not going to talk about, kept popping up and worrying me.

These thoughts that I was weak, and that I wasn't anything special, really slowed me down. Satan really tried to tear me down. And I'll say that he still is. Back then, it was hard. I don't like saying that because it sounds a little...whiny? But I'm going to say with full honesty, that that was the most difficult time in my life. Everything came crashing down, except the essentials.

And let me tell you, it was difficult.

I want to tell you that I'm that hero of this story, and that it'll be smooth sailing until I get that call in the mail, but like I said before, Satan's still fighting back.

Satan doesn't want me going on a mission because he knows I'll be successful out there. He knows that I'll introduce people to the gospel, and in turn will get people baptized, and get them to help build the kingdom. That's the last thing the adversary wants.

That's why he's not going to give up. But don't worry, neither am I.

I guess I have a moral here. And it's one I've been living by recently. If things are bad, and you don't feel like you deserve it, that only means that things are about to get so much better for you.

I kind of strayed from missionary work, so I'll get back to it. I love missionaries. Those elders and sisters you see are dedicating part of their life to the Lord.

This time next year I'll be one of them, and I hope I'll be ready when I get that call.

But that's just a thought.

Thanks for listening,


Friday, July 24, 2015


Woah, what? It's Pioneer Day? Jeez, living outside of Utah really makes you forget doesn't it? But I think this is the perfect day for a thought!

Can I start calling my posts "thoughts"? Okay, cool.

So let's talk pioneers!

So I recently went on a Youth Trek. Four days of living the life of a pioneer. And I loved it. It was my second trek ever, and by far the best. I was ready, and my family was just incredible! As we say in the Frog family, "A family who cheats (I mean improvises) together, stays together."

I went on my first trek when I was thirteen. Back then, I think I was just happy to be there. I liked the pioneer stories, and yeah, I felt the spirit, but I didn't really get into it as much as I wanted.

But this time. My goodness. See, I was the "Big Brother", which really just meant I was the oldest boy in the family they put me in. In my biological family, I'm the sixth child out of seven. So I wasn't used to being an example to others. My younger sister is really it, but I'll probably talk about her more in another thought.

Here though, there were plenty of young boys and girls who looked up to me (both physically and spiritually). I mean, I like to think I'm usually a pretty good kid, but this time it was serious.

But there was a lot more to Trek than just having the chance to teach younger kids valuable lessons. See, I've had a lot of growth recently. Also something I'll talk about later. I've always wanted to go on a mission, but over the course of the last several months, I've dedicated myself to go and to prepare now.

Let me tell you, that wasn't easy. The devil didn't like that so much. But I grew so much closer to the man I need to people through everything. During my first trek, I was not even close to how I should be. I hung out with the wrong crowd, I said some words that aren't in the Holy Ghost's dictionary, and I was overall a naughty kid. I like to think that that was my rebellious phase.

This trek I had been excited for since I heard about it. So like, last year. And I prepared for it. There are some experiences I had on trek that are far to personal to share on my blog, but what I can share is that my testimony concerning the pioneers was strengthened so much through those four days.

There was one day that we did a "Men's Pull". Exactly what it sounds like. The girls left for a bit, and the boys all pulled the handcarts on their own. At first, a few of us were a little bitter. Why is this hill so long? It's so hot? Is that another hill?

Then I heard a group either ahead or behind us. They were singing. I think they were singing "Army of Helaman". Well, I joined in, and more people joined in. Soon, we had nearly every boy in the stake singing as we pulled that heavy handcart up the hill.

I think that excellently captures the pioneer spirit. There's that primary song. "Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked." We did the same. We didn't complain. We sang. When that song was over, we sang a new song, and a new one. We never allowed ourselves to get discouraged, and kept walking and praising our Father in Heaven.

The pioneers did the same. However, it wasn't just a steep hill, or four days. It was months. It was thousands of miles. And they didn't choose to leave. Many of them had to. The Saints had been driven out of nearly every home they had. They'd lost family, or been forced to leave it behind. They'd left their jobs, their land, everything they had. They left, and went to Zion.

Everything they've been through was so humbling for them. Miracles happened out there on the plains, and I know that. I know that they didn't waste their time or effort. They did that so that the Lord could establish his kingdom. So that all of us could have the circumstances we do.

There are many lessons we can learn from these pioneers, and I urge you all learn them.

That's not just a thought. It's the truth.

Happy Pioneer Day!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Garbage Fun!!

Wow! Look at this! I actually made it to post #2! I don't think you people understand how great an accomplishment this is for me. I usually start things and don't finish them for months or even years! (I'm looking at you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

Well, I don't really have much for today except...Garbage Day's tomorrow!

Okay, okay, okay, that's not a thing. But's it's gonna be. I'm gonna start this thing. It's always been a dream of mine to start a thing.

I don't really see a thing called Garbage Day catching on, but hear me out. So here, where I live, garbage day is every Thursday, which is tomorrow. Um...I'll be right back...

Now, there a kind a Garbage Day we should all have. Not a physical garbage day necessarily, but also a mental, spiritual, behavioral, etc. garbage day. See where I'm going with this?

I propose (like an RM two weeks back) that once a week, we should pick something negative in our lives, and throw it out. It could be judging others, it could be your weird obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it could even be your Uncle Frank. Cause let's face it, Frank is such a deadbeat.

"But Sir Nathaniel," I hear you say, because I hear everything you say. "I'm perfect in every way and I have no flaws because I'm perfect. What can I throw out?"

Now first of all, thank you for using my proper title. Secondly, you could begin with throwing out that bullcrap. As pre-crazy Miley Cyrus once said, "Nobody's Perfect".

I'm far from it. So I'm going to begin Garbage Day by throwing out this old bowl of cereal! It's really getting gross. Almost as gross as your Uncle Frank.

"But sir!" I can still hear you say because I have been listening very closely. "You need something real to give up! If this thing is gonna be a thing, you have to start the thing by thinging a thing!"

Well, maybe I need time to think of this. I'm under a lot of pressure, okay?

But won't this thing be the thingiest thing of all the things? It's like New Year's! And Lent! Every week!

Speaking of Lent, I 'Lent' your Uncle Frank twenty bucks once. Guess who still needs twenty bucks?

I don't really feel confident that this thing will ever be a thing.

"But sir!" You whine as you do whenever things don't go your way on the Bachelor. That's right, I know. "If you're going to start a thing, you have to be committed to it! Everything requires dedication, and starting a thing requires dedication!"

And my answer? Oh my gosh, will you just stop arguing with me? Let's get real here. This thing is called "Garbage Day". Can you really imagine that as a trending topic? Something the kids chat about under the slide? Do kids still do that? Maybe if it were a cooler name, than yeah, I'd be more dedicated. But the main reason for this is 1) To fill a whole post about something because I'm consistent, 2) Because I can't think of anything better, and 3) Because how else are we gonna get your Uncle Frank?

But whatever. That's just a thought.

Good night and get out Frank.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Truth of God and Other Interesting Words

Well, I caved. I joined in my family tradition and created a blog. I recently decided to do this to help me piece my ideas together. I finally got around to it, and now I have to write a first post.

So as a 17 year old Mormon, I'm no expert. I've read the Book of Mormon, yes. But I'm nowhere near the level of spirituality that the First Presidency and the Apostles are. Heck, there are people in my small town in Wyoming that are so much more spiritual than me.

But to my credit, I do feel as though my relationship with my Father in Heaven is in a good position right now. I do have what would be called an "unshakable" testimony.

That's one thing I want to make very clear. It seems to be a Christian (specifically Mormon) stereotype that all of them are just blinded by the faith of their parents. That none of them have actually read the Bible (and the Book of Mormon). That if they just ask a few questions, they'll "discover the truth". I cannot adequately address how wrong this assumption is.

While to be perfectly honest, I have not read the Bible cover to cover. That is something I am currently doing. I'm still in the book of Genesis however. I have read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, along with the Doctrine and Covenants.

And the thing is, the questions that people often think Mormons should ask to "wake up", I've asked them. I "know for myself" that the church is true.

I believe that everybody's testimony relies on at least one truth. One thing that is obvious to them, and that they cannot deny. For me, that is the existence of a God who hears and answers prayers.

At first, yes, the existence of God was reliant upon the faith of my mother and father. When I was younger, I wasn't 100% sure. All I knew is that Mom and Dad said that God was real, and Mom and Dad are never wrong.

As I grew up and became a teenager, naturally, I recognized that my parents can be wrong. Going further, I figured that they were always wrong. So with that, I stopped caring about the existence of a Heavenly Being. I think deep down, I still believed, but the way my life was, thinking about God made me feel guilty and alone.

As I grew up more and attended seminary, I found peace in there. I found that the love I felt in my seminary class was unmatched by anything I had ever felt before. Naturally, I wanted more of this.

So I attended seminary regularly. I learned. I read the scriptures, I prayed, I attended church and the temple. And all these acts and all these places gave me the same warm feeling. The same peace from my sinful life.

I began to notice that the one thing that all these had in common, was that they were religious acts and places. I began to know for myself that God was real.

So I began to pray for specific things. Help with certain trials. Blessings for my family and friends. Forgiveness for my sins. And these prayers were answered. Not all at once, but they were answered. I saw that when I prayed, things went well. When I didn't, things went bad.

I recall my freshman year in high school during finals week (or maybe it was midterms). In seminary, Bro had admonished us to pray before each of our tests. And so I did. Well, all but one. My science final.

I got the results back from these tests, and saw how I did. English, I did rather well. I've always been good at that. Math, also well. Then came the science grade. I think it was a C. I passed the class, but I immediately noticed that the one I bombed was the one I didn't ask for help with.

And that's just one example. Let's not even mention the 30-Day Challenge.

I felt God love for me because I saw answers to my prayers. You could argue that it was coincidence or placebo, but I'm going to tell you that it was God. I'm going to tell you that God is the loving Father of all of us. I'm going to tell you that my life has been blessed by, not the idea of, nor things in the name of, but just God.

God lives. That's the basic principle I live by. I base my entire life around the notion that God lives and that he loves me.

But that's just a thought. Happy Sunday.