I like to end my day by taking out my computer and going on the http://www.mormonchannel.org website. I’ll usually watch 2 or 3 Mormon Messages or videos from the ‘I’m a Mormon” campaign before closing my lap top, offering a prayer and going to sleep. I find that, regardless of the kind of day I’ve had, I immediately feel calmer, more peaceful, inspired and motivated to “try a little harder to be a little better”.

try a little harder to be a little better

Today as I was brushing my teeth and washing my face I kept thinking about how I’d missed my morning scripture study and hadn’t yet been spiritually nourished by the word of God today. My thoughts lingered over different passages in the Scriptures that I could possibly read before going to sleep, but for some reason, none of the passages that crossed my mind struck me as being what I needed to study.

When I finally got in bed, I decided to find a video to watch and I came across this one:

I watched it a few times and found my attention being drawn to the blessings being promised.

As I pondered the significance of these blessings, a quote was brought to my remembrance. It was something President Gordon B. Hinckley had said during a general conference address many years ago. I remember reading this talk in an Ensign magazine when I was a teenager and how, even after all these years, his words still resonate within my memory. This is what he said;

      “Brothers and sisters, without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord.  There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”

Wow. What amazing promises.

Regardless of where in life’s journey you are, or what your spiritual state may be, who among us can say that they wouldn’t benefit from or want an added measure of the spirit of the Lord?Who out there can say that they don’t need a greater resolution to walk obediently to the commandments of god? Or a greater testimony of Jesus Christ? Certainly not me. These are things that I need and deeply desire to have, especially now with the things I am struggling to overcome, the upcoming decisions I’ll soon have to make and the life changes that lie on the horizon.

I, for one, can’t afford NOT to have these promised blessings in my life. What about you?

In regards to studying the Book of Mormon, President Benson said the following:

“There is a power in the book [of mormon] which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of [it.] You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’, and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”

And that’s when it hit me! I realized that even though I had been diligent about reading the scriptures every day (for the most part), it had been a while since I’d undertaken a serious study of the Book of Mormon.

It was like one of those aha! moments and I immediately knew this is what had been missing from my life these past months. I can’t tell you how much I desire to be more spiritually in-tune with my Father in Heaven… so tonight I have decided to accept the same challenge that so many youth across the world have probably already accepted and carried out!

I accept the invitation to read the Book of Mormon every day for at least 20 minutes and to write my thoughts in a journal. I can’t wait to see these promised blessings being fulfilled in my life, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with you (whoever you are). I will share some of my thoughts and insights on this blog every night and I hope my experiences will be for the benefit of my brothers and sisters, that perhaps I too may inspire hungry souls like mine to accept this invitation and reap the blessings God wants to give us.

Family, Spiritual, Winter 09 vacation: Mexico

Feliz Navidad.Merry Christmas

My Christmas started pretty early. Early as in, the night before kind of early. Around 11 at night I decided to begin the preparations for the turkey I was going to prepare for our Christmas dinner. Needless to say, I think I forgot just how LONG it takes to get that turkey ready. I ended up going to bed around 2 am, only to wake up a few around later to begin getting everything ready.

My Mom, her Mother-in-law, and I spent most of the morning and afternoon in the kitchen cooking. I fixed the turkey and stuffing, my mom made the bacalao and papas al horno, and her mother-in-law, Caro, made the traditional Christmas apple salad. Everything turned out great, and even though everyone liked the turkey, I was a little disappointed. I felt like it was a lot tastier last time I made it, when I was in California. So I guess I was hoping it would improve this year and be even better than last time, but I was wrong.

Christmas was… interesting. Not really what I expected. I had been on cloud 9 the whole week. My mom is trying to come back to church and we had some pretty awesome talks throughout the week. We even had an amazing FHE that monday. I was so happy, everything seemed to be looking up and my heart was filled with hope of possibilities. I was already starting to imagine baptisms and temple trips.

Then, my mom dropped a big bucket of cold water on me. As we were chopping onion that morning she decides we somehow get into a conversation that began with my mom being worried I would never find a suitable LDS husband (she asked why I wouldn’t consider marrying outside the church) and someway it turned into a conversation about Joseph Smith and polygamy. Definitely not the type of conversation you want to get into while making sure your turkey doesn’t burn in the oven.

The more we talked, the more my heart sank as I realized my mom didn’t have a testimony on some of the most basic beliefs of our faith. I didn’t understand how that could be. I tried to explain that it was impossible to have a testimony about the truthfulness of the BOM and not have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. She even told me she was doing “research” but in all the wrong places. I explained that the internet was not a reliable source of knowledge on the topic, she couldn’t base her decisions on the findings and wisdom of man… the only one who could answer her questions was her heavenly father through the power of the holy ghost.

The conversation ended with an awkward silence and she said, “well now you know what my doubts are”. I wasnt sure what to say. I wanted to somehow transfer all the knowledge I have inside me, somehow express into words how deep my testimony runs, tell her that it IS true! But as soon as those thoughts ran through my head, I realized that it wouldn’t make a difference. Everything is based on faith, and I can’t give her that. She needs to develop it on her own. And with so much doubt, where does faith fit in?

A few minutes later my dad called me. I quickly ran to my room and explained to him what had happened. I was all of a sudden overcome with a sense of not being able to do anything. I felt like I was in over my head. Like all the cards were stacked against me. There was so much to do. Not just with my mom, but with my brothers and with her husband. SO many changes to be made, so many hearts to be softened. How could I make a difference? I saw all my hopes of an eternal family quickly vanishing and I felt so helpless.

And then a new thought came to me, “where was MY faith?”.

My dad tried his best to comfort me. It helped some. He gave me some good ideas on how to explain certain things to my mom, on how to deal with certain situations, but all I felt like doing was crying. After I hung up with my dad, I layed there on my bed. Just thinking. Pondering things. Processing.

I thought back to when my dad and I had first came into contact with the church. From the second I heard the gospel, I knew it was true. I never doubted the words I heard, the things I read, or the things I felt. I have fallen short many times in my life, I have made countless mistakes, but I have never,ever doubted my faith. I have always known these things to be true. Why? Why does it come easy to some, but is so hard for others.

The moment that followed was the moment that changed my Christmas for the better. That transformed it into one of the most meaningful Christmases ever.

I don’t think I have ever been so thankful for my testimony, as I was at that moment.

On the floor below me stood a family who did not have a testimony. They were  struggling to find one. Fighting to acquire one. Below me stood people who did not know. People who did not believe when they first heard, the way I had.

My heart could not help but be overflowed with thankfulness. What a blessing I had been given to recognize the truthfulness of the gospel when I first heard it. And as hard as it seemed at that moment, to imagine a day when my family could one day say they knew too, it was a worthy endeavor.

My savior Jesus Christ remained in my thoughts the rest of the day. I thought about his mission, what he had come to do. I wondered if he had ever felt the sort of despair I had felt earlier that day. I think there were moments he did, but he pushed forward out of love. Love for his family. For all his brothers and sisters. He knew we would not all come back to the presence of our heavenly father, but he was willing to sacrifice his life so that there would be a way for those willing to try.

That evening was pretty awesome. The missionaries came over and we talked about many wonderful things pertaining to our saviour Jesus Christ. it was so nice to have these two young men in our house, I didn’t feel so alone. There were others who also wanted my family to be an eternal family. We laughed and talked about all sorts of things. The missionaries took turns speaking to their families and we got to see the huge smiles on their faces and the joy they felt from serving a mission.

We ate a wonderful meal and no one choked on my turkey, thanks goodness ;) After stuffing ourselves until we could eat no more, we sat around the table and enjoyed a very long conversation. We talked about all sorts of things, including soccer, lucha libre, banda, the trials of being a missionary, christmas movies, favorite temples, and how marvelous family truly is. And of course there were lots and lots of jokes.

Around midnight, we opened presents. Or rather, everyone but me opened presents. Even the missionaries! But not me. Being there was present enough, but even so. I felt great. I was happy not to have gotten anything. I bought my mom some nice, fancy lotions and anti-aging beauty products and she felt kind of bad, she said, honey, you shouldnt have gotten me this, You should have used this money to buy yourself something instead. And all I could do was smile. I could have, but why? Giving felt so much nicer, but what really made me smile was when I responded by saying, “mom, I already have everything I want. I don’t need anything else.”

And the truth is, I really don’t. I’ve got it all.