Saturday, May 24, 2014

Last Post (until summer!!!)

Alright I'm gonna make this quick because I need to get back to studying.

Summer is three weeks away for me. Some people are already off. Okay--that's not fair. But I will get through these last few weeks. These last few tests. These last hours of squeezing my brain to get the last drop of intelligence out of it. Yep, this summer is going to be really fun.

How do you stay motivated through the end?!

Endurance. Endurance is about keeping the end goal in mind, but not forgetting to have joy in the journey. Summer is coming, but I can enjoy time spent with family or the little victories of getting a good test grade.

Okay now I gotta get back to endurance. See you in three weeks!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ten things I have learned from Seminary!

Seminary is over. I'm really sad. I loved reading the Book of Mormon. Next year is church history/D+C, then Old Testament, and in my senior year I get to study the New Testament!!!! That will be a great way to end high school.

But I'm sad to be done with the Book of Mormon. Sure, I read and (try to) study it every night, but there is nothing quite like starting every morning being immersed in it's pages. I get to start the day off feeling the Holy Ghost, and I never want to trade that for extra sleep.

Well, I've learned a lot from seminary this year, about myself and others, and God's plan for his children. Here's some things I've learned:

1. "Early to rise" without "early to bed" makes a girl angry and sick in the head.

I love nine I clock! If you go to bed much later, I guarantee you will fall asleep in math class. If you are going to seminary, make sure you go to bed early so that you can be happy all day! ;)

2. Daylight Savings saves me

Or atleast in the fall when we move the clocks backward. Because you get tired earlier, it feels like you wake up later, and the sun is actually shining when I look out my window!!!

3. Myth: waking up early makes kids grumpy
Fact: waking up early to read the scriptures and feel the Spirit keeps you happy the whole day!

Starting off the day with seminary gets you focused on what's truly important. It makes it easier to deal kindly with annoyances, be kind to those who are not-so-nice, and keep a clear head through disappointments.

4. Taking notes will actually make it easier to recieve instruction

Somebody somewhere said something (if any of you people know what I'm talking about, could you help me find it) about how as we record spiritual promptings it makes it easier to recieve further revelation. It is true! (Ooh actually I wrote that quote down in my seminary journal, I'll try to find it)

5. Inspiration can come through a variety of sources

One time, this guy in class whom I didn't know very well (I thought he was annoying and uncaring about anything spiritual) bore his testimony. It made me cry. I really felt the Spirit bearing witness that, yes, I could keep going (I was going through the difficulty of the move and I needed Heavenly Father's help. Well, answers to prayers can come from the most unlikely of places).

6. Obedience brings blessings

Consistent obedience is hard. Going to seminary everyday, reading the scriptures everyday, praying everyday, trying to follow Jesus Christ's hard. It's hard because, while there are some amazing times when something touches you or you feel on fire like nothing can get in your way, it doesn't always happen. I'll admit, not every morning going to seminary made me feel like I was floating on clouds the rest of the day. Sometimes I was unhappy because I could've used that hour doing homework. But those times when you do feel the Spirit, when you feel Christ's love and strength, when you have that knowledge-- it's those times that make it worth it. Trust in His promises--blessings will come.

7. Invitations are not too scary

Well, actually they scare me to death. But we had an invite-a-friend-to-seminary week. Scariest thing ever. Who in their right mind would go to some church at 6 am to read a book they've never heard of?! But I prayed about inviting someone, and felt like it was the right thing to do. And guess what? My first invitation--rejected. Second--rejected. Eighth--maybe. After following up with #8 she finally said yes!!! But what this taught me is that I shouldn't be afraid of rejection because it doesn't kill you, those friends don't leave you, and it feels great when someone says yes! Don't be afraid of inviting!

8. Teenagers are surprisingly insightful

Surprisingly is the key. Kids can be stupid, but we are feeling this hastening of the work and we are doing whatever it takes to come closer to Christ.

9. Conducting music is great!

Throughout the year, I served as seminary president for a couple months. Let me tell you, that was rough. So when I was released, I did everything I could to help the new president. That usually meant leading the music. And I found that I love it!!

10. I love the Book of Mormon!

I have prayed many times asking God if this book is true. And I know that if anyone else does the same they can know for themselves. Read it, study it, and then pray. That's what I did. But it took a lot of patience. Now I can say that the Book of Mormon is my favorite book, because when I read it I know I am coming closer to my Heavenly Father. It really is an amazing thing and I am sad to stop spending time with it every morning.

I've learned a lot from my first year in seminary and I hope next year is as good. I've learned to never give up, trust Heaenly Father, and be patient because when you search ye shall find.

<3 Eliza

Monday, May 5, 2014

Faith is like a little seed

Image source

Faith is often compared to a little seed.

First a little story.

Once there was a girl named...uh, let's call her Grace. I've always liked the name Grace.  Grace is born into a faithful family with lots of older brothers and sisters who are wonderful examples. Her parents love her, and have raised her in the church. She has always been active, raises her hand in Sunday School, and has never dated anyone. 

On the outside, she is a perfect Mormon-mold. But even though her life looks pretty perfect on the outside, she has some troubles on the inside. Her older brother always makes fun of her for her being the only non-special person in their family. Her younger sister, whom she was so close with, died of cancer.  She has had some unpleasant friendships over the years, and maybe she has had a sip of coffee once or twice. But no matter what she is going through, what mistakes she has made, she knows that if she could keep her testimony strong, she would be able to get through everything with God's help. 

The problem is, she isn't even sure God exists. And the paradox of all the lessons in church come down to one thing: how can Grace expect God to answer her prayers when she doesn't even believe? How would she be able to recognize the Holy Ghost testifying to her if she doesn't know what it feels like? Why would she deserve to have a testimony anyway?

Satan has put doubts in her mind. No matter what Grace does, they don't seem to be going away. 

But wait! Didn't I just say faith is like a little seed?!

When you plant a seed, you don't actually know if it will sprout, if it is a good seed. You have to have that smallest bit of desire to have a tree, enough to say "ya know, I'll see if this seed, this little seed, is the one! Today I will find out if this tree will give me good fruit!"

Alma 32:21 "And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

The problem is,  (scanning memory for my favorite fruit...) a peach doesn't grow in one day. You have to keep nourishing it, feeding it, just in case that slight possibility of THIS SEED being the RIGHT SEED is true. 

When we plant the seed of faith, or begin to try out what God says and see if it works, we are taking the first step.  

Alma 32:27 "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can NO MORE THAN DESIRE to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. "

Even if you feel like you have zero faith whatsoever, but you still want to believe (whether it be about Heavenly Father, or the church, or you are praying about the Book of Mormon, etc) follow that desire, try it out. By experiencing it for yourself you will find out if it is true. 

So if the missionaries told Grace to read the Book of Mormon, and then pray if it was true, and then they PROMISED her that the Holy Ghost would answer, then what should Grace do? Well, she still doesn't know if The Book of Mormon or Bible is true, so why should she listen to these people anyways? Well, if she tries it out, then she will be able to find out if it is true. If it is not true, no harm done. 

If, while she's reading, it tells her to ____________ (fill in the blank with follow the prophet, or honor parents, or love people) then she should try it out. She should act on it to see if it is true and good, if it makes her life better. 

As it grows and a person feels the Holy Ghost, the small seed of faith will grow a little. Finally, after a lot of work and in the Lord's time, she will be able to taste the fruit of the tree. She will have a full knowledge that these things are true. 

Now, know that these things take time. But take it from someone who has been through it, GOD WILL ANSWER. I know because I have tried it. I have planted this seed of faith in my heart and then studied and studied and prayed and worked and tried and finally was able to say "Yes. I have felt the Spirit testify to me that these things are true"

I know that Heavenly Father loves us and will answer our prayers. 

<3. Eliza

P.S. See some other awesome testimony posts here:

Marie-Rose at Hope Always and Pray Constantly

Whitney at The Life of a Mormon Teen

Whitney at  Sprinkles on My Icecream