His Wink

The past few weeks have been a perfection to me. School is still demanding and my schedule equally so, but I have noticed the sun is shining brighter. It is all because of one word: joy. Joy is a conscious choice and I am learning to chose it, every single day.

I recently finished reading, “A Heart like His” by Virginia H. Pearce, and MY GOODNESS it has changed me. It is a beautiful novel about Virginia’s quest to be more vulnerable, open, and to love like God does. The book has motivated me to do just that, to let my guard down and experience life in the way it was intended and that has been the cause of my so-called “perfection”. I am currently filming a special project (details to come!), practicing yoga with goats, riding bikes, loving the people in my life, and SO MUCH MORE. The more I immerse myself in new things and adventures, the more I consciously see the Lord’s hand in my life. It is in those sacred moments where the only thing my eyes can clearly see is love, where I see God. He is just winking at me, reminding me to enjoy every second of the journey.

As I was reading through my scriptures, I stumbled upon a verse in Jacob. Tears filled my eyes as I understood and really felt Jacob and Joseph experienced. It is in the little details and big moments that we come to know our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jacob 1:6 And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.

There is something so powerful in choosing joy and putting aside all else. In the end, nothing else will matter. Do your best, treat yourself well, and look for God. He is right there just waiting for you to know Him.

 

-c

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Open your eyes

I had an exceptionally great weekend: I went to a wedding, my best friend came into town, and I managed to finish 2 midterms and 2 papers all before Friday afternoon. It was just a really, really good weekend.

I found myself singing a little louder in the shower, dancing a little more as I walked, and opening my eyes to how beautiful life around me is.

And it was ALL because I learned something that really changed my perspective on how to live.

the teacher said the following:

“Faith is more than a desire or a belief. Faith is complete confidence in God, that He knows whats best.”

I hit my perfectionist self right in the heart. The entire week I had spent trying to do everything I could to make everything perfect: studying A LOT, trying to look like I slept more than 4 hours, being happy, and all that… things just don’t go as planned. Tests don’t go as planned, hair looks messy, and naps are more common than I’d like to admit.

BUT thats the beautiful part of God’s plan. He knows that things won’t go MY WAY and frankly, thats the last thing He wants for me because He knows what I need and He isn’t afraid to disappoint me for a moment to help me be happy in the long-run.

My mind was running on this idea and I happened to read Alma 48:17:

“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”

THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL PROMISE. If we develop our faith, and truly place our confidence in the Lord, and stop worrying about when things don’t go our way, we can have the spiritual strength that Moroni had. And…Moroni was pretty great… “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever…” just saying.

That gave me the hope and motivation that I so desperately needed to move forward and stop caring so much.

I could also say that this weekend I procrastinated an assignment, I cut several people off in my car (on accident–sorry Braxton!), made a few dumb comments, ate way too much food, and didn’t get half the stuff I wanted done. I could easily dwell on all of those things and justify this weekend as a flop, but I trust him, so it was a dysfunctionally perfect weekend that God knew would make all the difference.

We get credit for trying, and that’s all God wants us to do.

So, trust Him and put your confidence in Him.

Let’s see what good we can do.

Permutations and Combinations

I remember sitting in a math class in middle school and learning about permutations and combinations. Remember this?

“If something can be chosen, or can happen, or be done, in m different ways, and, after that has happened, something else can be chosen in n different ways, then the number of ways of choosing both of them is m · n.” (TheMathPage)

As the number of things (letters) increases, their permutations grow astronomically.  For example, if twelve different things are permuted, then the number of their permutations is 479,001,600. (TheMathPage)

Ironically, what I had once ruled out to be tedious busy work, has been the formula that have been occupying the whiteboard of my mind.

Choosing between this major, that minor, this boy, that internship, just to name a few. Mixing the order, the things, and the timing have been punched into my calculator enough to callus my fingertips. Decisions can be overwhelming, especially for an over-thinker like me.

My prayers have been a lot of:

“Father, I like this but I also like this. I want them both. I can only choose one, huh? but I just like them, oh and also this.”

or

“Father, I don’t want to pick anything.”

and my personal favorite

“Wait, so I have to choose…I’m confused”

I was overanalyzing a situation just yesterday when I had the strongest impression to stop and study my scriptures. So, in the HBLL, I closed my textbooks and my computer and opened my Book of Mormon right where I left off.

Jacob 4

 10 Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.

 13 …for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

He knew. AND He always does.

He is aware of our every decision, worry, desires, and goals. He knew I needed that and He spoke to me and impressed my mind with thoughts that allowed peace to penetrate my heart.

I cross-referenced to Isaiah 55:9 (one of my favorites):

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Work hard. Don’t give up. Stop worrying. Believe in yourself. Serve. Love.

Even though I have 479,001,600+ options, the things that matter most are those 12 words. I think I’ll live by that, and let the Lord counsel with me.

(and you should do. maybe you could help me at it…)

 

that they might have joy

Late nights and early mornings have been the dark circles under my eyes this week. Papers, books, and lots of online quizzes have taken over my mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Today I attended the same PS100 lab twice, just because I was half asleep the first time, I guess you could thank my 4:30am bedtime for that. However, despite the yawns and constant hunger, I have never been happier.

Every single morning of my mission I would, without fail, give myself a pep-talk. The specifics aren’t irrelevant but nonetheless I would close by saying, “today is the best day of my life”. Even on those dark, rainy days I would say it, and I would believe it. I attribute my happiness over those 18 months to that.

So, as I am engulfed in homework assignments and the seemingly monotonous lifestyle of a sophomore college student, I am SO. SO. HAPPY.

Two nights ago, in the depths of madness, I decided to take a break from the Spanish subjunctive tense and Einstein’s law of special relativity. I reached over and grabbed my paperback copy of the Book of Mormon. I opened it to 2 Nephi 2:25

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

The world stopped and I just felt. I felt God’s loving arms encircle me and remind me that everything in this life is meant for my benefit.

God, an all-powerful and perfect being, wants me, a naïve 19-year-old, to have joy.

If that doesn’t inspire you and fill you with peace, I don’t know what else will because that is an incredible truth.

I read that and fell to my knees giving God thanks for the beautiful miracle of education and the blessing of being at BYU.

Since reading that, I have made a conscious effort to DO things that make me HAPPY. I spent two hours with good company doing voice-overs for a BYUSA video, and I loved every millisecond of it. Yesterday, I took an hour of my night to make myself a nice homemade meal—and it was amazing! Today, I went to lunch with one of my best friends.

Are you noticing a pattern?

Happiness lies in the details. It is the product of our love and willingness to trust the Lord.

So, choose to be happy today. God wants you to…

…and you know what they say, anything that God says is a commandment.

Obey the 11th commandment and do things that make you happy. And thank Him in the process.

God is great and His plan for us just proves that.

Enjoy the moment. Love deep. And have Joy.

You have JUST enough time.

Someone has been spreading a really ugly lie that there isn’t enough time in the day to live the way one desires.

i liked that on facebook.

however, this week someone proved my horrible “truth” wrong.

i was on the phone with a dear friend on wednesday and  we were talking about the good, bad, and the ugly, about college life. I found myself wishing I could do more: for others, for classs, and for myself–but yet, there “wasn’t enough time”. Our friendship wasn’t as strong because we didn’t have the time to spend together or to catch up as much as we wanted to. Disappointment filled me and I quickly finished the call because after all, I had a homework assignment due that night.

thursday came and I woke up feeling busy, focused, and yet entirely unanimated. I was cleaning my apartment when i got a facetime call. It was my friend. When I answered I was shocked to see the other side of facetime, it was my door with goodies on the doorstep.

This friend CAME. Drove 12 hours to spend 6 with me. And why? Just because “that’s what friends are for”.

Friends come when you don’t think that you need them (but you certainly do). They come when you are broken and help you put the pieces back together. Friends makes you laugh and remind you that the sour moments of life will soon be mixed with the sweet and you’ll be able to enjoy that nice lemonade like you’ve always imagined life to be.

My study of the scriptures was greatly influenced by this experience. I found myself noticing more and more that Jesus Christ refers to us as His “friends”.

“And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them…” Doctrine and Covenants 84:77

“…whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15

“…I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” 2 Nephi 1:15

These have been in my head all weekend. I can’t help but feel grateful for a God who also happens to be my best friend, and to Him for sending my big brother, Jesus, my other best friend, and to Him for sending me my friends.

and the beauty of it all is that life [God] always gives you  JUST enough time to be that friend to someone else. Do something for someone you love, and really mean it.

you have time.

-C

(dedicated to a friend who taught me how to be one)

 

 

 

Tomorrow Does Not Exist

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Meet Milagros.

(English Translation: Miracles)

Milagros is my mom’s aunt. Given the previous language barrier and the international distance, I haven’t had much of a relationship with Milagros. When I was about half way through my mission, Milagros was diagnosed with Leukemia. My mom flew out to be by her side during her first round of chemo and wrote me the most beautiful email about her “Milagro”, Milagros. She shared stories, scriptures, and lots and lots of pictures. Though I had not met her, she instantly became someone I looked up to, someone who inspired me.

So you can imagine how anxious and excited I was when we planned a trip to Florida to celebrate my mom’s birthday with them.

I saw Milagros around 6:30pm and felt attached to her hip every minute after that. This woman not only radiates goodness, but IS goodness. I just listened, soaked up all of her faith, and swam in her energy. She spoke to me like I speak to myself, she just seemed to understand. While we were talking, she said something that changed me:

“Sweetheart, there comes a point in your life when you realize that tomorrow doesn’t exist. We don’t have that certainty, and that isn’t something that should scare us but it is something that needs to carry us and inspire us to finish the work God has for us to do. It gives us just enough time to be kind, to serve, but more important, to give; to give everything, our love, time, and our hearts. God deserves it and so do His children so we need to work, and work now.”

Mind you, this woman has been battling an incredibly difficult battle against cancer. A cancer that has caused so much pain: both physically and emotionally. And she is sitting next to me telling me that life is so beautiful. It brought me to my knees with tears in my eyes, wondering where I lost that perspective. The spirit brought one of my favorite scriptures to mind, one in which we dissected this week in my Book of Mormon class, Alma 7: 11-12.

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Christ suffered so we could not only receive the miracles of repentance and mercy but also so He could know how to succor us, how to help us. Christ has done that for Milagros, He has walked the cruel journey of Leukemia with her and has lifted her higher with every step and she knows it. Her journey has helped her not only feel Christ but know Him, it’s something you can see in her eyes.

It was no coincidence to me that as I studied my scriptures this morning, I fell upon the following verse in 2 Nephi 9:18

18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever

My goal is to “endure the crosses of the world” with Christ by my side, and live today like it’s my last “tomorrow”. And maybe one day I can tell my nieces, nephews, and grandchildren about how I walked with my Savior. Wouldn’t life be so much more different if we all strived to do that? So let’s.

here’s to today. And here’s to never having to live it alone.

Elysium

I heard a song in one of my classes this week that touched some of the deepest crevices of my heart.

Elysium by Bear’s Den. (listen to it, you won’t regret it.)

I was inspired by the story:

“Talking to NPR Music, Marcus said of the video, “’Elysium’ became very personal to me very quickly. It made me think about my younger brothers and their transition from kids to adulthood. I wanted to document the actions and emotions of people at this age… I wanted to freeze the last remnants of youth still left in my brother… Soon after I arrived in Seattle, an armed man walked onto campus and shot four students. One of them died. That weekend, my brother and his friends wanted to finish the video, in honour of Paul (Lee, the victim of the gunman’s attack). The end result is a video that depicts real friends, real teenagers, experiencing something far too real.”

As I listened to this song, a serenity beyond anything of this world filled every fiber of my being. My belief of Elysium is something that has carried me through one of the hardest trials of my life: death. It was just less than a year ago that I unexpectedly lost someone I loved, and as hard as that was for me, knowing that life goes far beyond what this earthly existence provides was the peace in my heart and the thought that helped me sleep every night. So I was brought back to that moment this week by that song, which inspired my scriptural study. My heart connected with following verses from the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

Revelation 21:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new…

2 Nephi 9:

18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

How can one not feel peace while pondering these beautiful promises. We don’t need to wonder “what if” or “I hope there is more” because we know there is. and I love that.

I live for that.

and the truth is, I didn’t really believe that before. I had a “testimony” but I hadn’t experienced anything that would make me doubt that, so when I did, I had a choice to make: cling on desperately to that hope of something better OR wallow in the uncertainty. It was in that desperation that I clung, and I experienced the miracle of conversion. A conversion to the perfect plan of a perfect all-knowing Heavenly Father.

This week “Elysium” was a repeat and this week I smiled and felt happier than I have in a while, all because of God and His unconditional love for us. I know it’s hard and everyone deals with different things, but just try him. Ask God about what you’re struggling with, and I know you’ll know, too.

“…and their joy shall be full forever…”

-c