Monday, February 15, 2016

they must put something in the water here

Before I start, I'd just like to point out that I have done my hair every day of my mission thus far (oops, except today). Ten points to Gryffindor. 

I have NO IDEA how I am going to summarize this week. I should probably start out by mentioning that I can read my emails every day on my iPad! So everyone who has emailed me this week - I saw them soon after you sent them! So that has been super fun. Thank you to everyone who sent me nice, encouraging words. 

It is sooooo nice having iPads. Turns out there are WAY more resources on the Gospel Library app than I ever knew. Like church art and pretty much every church video and so much more. There are also a bunch of other apps we are authorized to use. So that has been way nice. Especially because we have been able to use Mormon Messages when teaching. 

My classroom is on the fifth floor, and we can't use the elevators, so basically I don't know why I still have to go to gym time. I probably walk up and down those stairs AT LEAST three times a day. That is fifteen flights. Come on, you're going to make me exercise for an hour too? We usually just play volleyball as a zone, though, so it's not too bad. 

Sunday was the most uplifting day. They hold a Mission Conference every Fast Sunday with everyone at the MTC, and then also a Sunday night devotional with everyone. I think the most powerful thing I've gotten to be a part of at the MTC is singing with hundreds and hundreds of other missionaries. We sang "I Believe in Christ" and "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." It made me wonder what Christ feels when hundreds of His missionaries sing about how they believe in Him and how He is their king. I get goosebumps right now just typing it. It was so, so, SO cool. 

We watched a Bible Video at mission conference where Jesus tells his disciples that he will make them fishers of men. They do such a good job with the music in those videos! Super powerful. 

On Sunday night, we watched a talk called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. It was a talk he gave at the MTC, and I don't know if it's available on the internet. But if it is, WATCH IT. IT WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER WATCHED. At the MTC, they give you a handful of options of things to watch on Sunday nights, but we are going to go to that one again on Sunday. If you can't find it, he quotes Elder Maxwell when he said, "There would have been no atoning sacrifice without the character of Christ." Then he talked about Jesus's character and how he always turned OUT when you and I would turn IN. Even in his moments of greatest anguish, he was serving others. When he knew he would die, he prayed for peace to be with others. When he had just been betrayed, he healed the guard's ear. When he was on the cross, he prayed for the thieves and worried about his mother. 
Elder Bednar emphasized that this mission is not about us. It is Jesus Christ's work, and I am just lucky enough to be a part of it. I will only find myself and my own conversion if I am not looking for it and am choosing to turn out. 
Mini sermon over. It was just SO good. 

That has been a big theme at the MTC. That my mission is not mine. It is Christ's, and I have to devote myself to Him and the work. On Tuesday, Elder Dube of the seventy was here (remember him? He has an accent and looks like Kid President in fifty years??). He talked about the same thing. It was really good. 

We joined the choir for Tuesday night, and for all of my friends that are coming to the MTC in the future, you should do that! The director was hilarious. He was telling us about how Stephen Hawking is credited as basically being the smartest man in the world, but he doesn't believe in God. He was all, "you guys are smarter than Stephen Hawking!! Isn't that awesome?" Haha. 

While we were in gym time this week, a girl playing basketball hit the fire alarm with the ball on accident, so we all had to stop playing and evacuate for a while. It was pretty much the highlight of my week. Down with exercise. 
Oh wait, also the highlight of my week was when they had Chick fil A at the cafeteria. There have been a lot of highlights. 

Sister G and I have gotten to know each other really well. She is way more funny and sarcastic than I realized at first. So I have really enjoyed that. She also knows more "Holes" quotes than me. Score. 

A couple of cool random things - 
-- I somehow totally don't even mind praying in public anymore! I have always been willing to say prayers in church meetings and stuff, but I also sort of dreaded being called on and felt like I didn't know what to say when I was in front of everyone. But now I totally don't care, and I feel like all my prayers turn out well. 
-- Jenny Oaks Baker spoke on Sunday night! She brought her four kids, and they played violin, piano, cello, and guitar while she played on her violin. THEY ARE PRODIGIES. Like, the kid on the guitar was 9, and the girl on the cello was 11, and the girl on the piano was 12. And they were so amazing. What have I accomplished with my life. Nothing. 
-- One of our branch counselors is a professional guitarist. He does a lot of work for church videos, I think. Anyways, he has this longish (on top) hair that is always swooped, and he wears sunglasses on the top of his head. He totally looks like a rocker. And he has 35 different colors of watches, and they always match his tie. And his wife is super conservative and is the one who was lecturing the elders on getting haircuts. Go figure.
-- One of our zone leaders (Elder D) is like the actual human version of the energizer bunny. He is always bouncing around and smiling, and at one point he randomly came into our classroom and gave us this motivational speech where he was like, "With God on our side, WE CANNOT FAIL!! ISN'T THAT AWESOME!!!!" So now whenever we see him, we are like, "Elder D! I CAN'T FAIL!!" Someone told him if he doesn't become a motivational speaker one day, they will have lost faith in humanity. It's hard to explain over email, but everything he says is just so smiley and motivational. "IT'S GREAT TO BE ALIVE, ELDERS AND SISTERS!!!" Haha he is going to Provo. They will love him. 

One cool thing that happened this week while we were teaching Brooke, who is actually one of our teachers: We had asked her to be baptized in a prior lesson, and she said she would maybe like to, but she didn't understand how baptism/the gospel could really bless her life enough. The next morning, one of our other teachers shared in class three ways she feels like the gospel can bless our lives every day: it cleanses us from sin, heals our hearts, and enables/empowers us to do things we never thought we could do. I suggested to Sister G that we use it in our lesson with Brooke. She shared it in the lesson, and later Sister S (the one who was playing Brooke) said that she was almost crying and felt like it was really inspired and she really needed to hear it. Turns out Brooke is her inactive sister in real life, so she was hoping to hear something that could help her.
I wish I could recognize more when the Spirit is working through me or working in a lesson, but it's also a cool thought that I might be so used to the Spirit that I don't always notice it. I just have to look harder, I guess, because I like noticing it! 

Our other investigator is Doris. She comes into the MTC to be taught, and may or may not be a member in real life. They don't tell us. She likes to ask a lot of random, irrelevant questions. It's hard to get her focused and keep things simple, because she likes to philosophize. But I feel like we have made some progress. 

I hope this wasn't too long and boring. I wanted to be sure to end with the fact that I am SO happy all the time. Like, all. the. time. They must put some sort of happy powder in the water that makes it so everyone just feels really pumped up to be a missionary all the time. I am already dreading taking off my name tag and being released one day. It actually makes me feel kind of sick. We had an in-field orientation yesterday with all the missionaries who are leaving next week, and we learned about contacting and working with members and stuff. But we watched this video that showed how the church has grown over time. It just flipped through the years on the bottom and little dots would appear on a world map of where all the stakes and temples were created/built. It was so cool how at first things moved sort of slowly and were based in Utah and the U.S., but then all the stakes started spreading out, and they were spreading SO FAST. I feel so honored to be a part of this work, and I just already love it so much. 
My roommates are the best, my district is the best, the gospel is the best, Jesus is the best, being a missionary is the best, and I just feel so excited and overjoyed all the time! 

I am leaving for New York on MONDAY, and I am so excited! 


Love, Sister Barton 

PS: I already miss Cafe Rio. I'm totally going through withdrawals. 
our district

Monday, February 8, 2016

the mtc makes you bipolar!!

Helloooo my wonderful friends and family!!!

I made a pretty long list in my notebook over the last couple days of things I needed to write home about, but now I am realizing that they are all kind of random events and might be hard to tie together. Haha so here goes!

First I learned that the MTC is really good at distracting sad missionaries. Like, I am all crying and sad about saying goodbye to my family, but then I have this super peppy host (I mean, you guys met her) who takes me into this building, and next thing I know a lady is pinning a nametag on me, and I'm like "OOOOOOOOOOH" and was super stoked and fine. 
I mean seriously, I get stoked every time I look down and see that nametag. My precious (<gollum voice). 

So far I am pretty much always in class or eating or at some sort of devotional. My teacher on the first day asked us if it was okay if we stood to sing the hymn. Ummmmm..... YEAH. YEAH, THAT WOULD BE OKAY (if you didn't know this, I totally wish we stood for every hymn. I've got a little bit of Baptist in me). Anyways, our whole zone sung A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief together, and that was the first time I really felt the Spirit strongly at the MTC. It took all of like thirty minutes or something to have a good spiritual experience, haha. 

Almost all of the missionaries in my district and zone are going to the California Santa Rosa mission. A few are going to the Provo mission, and me, my companion, and one other sister are going to New York. I was thinking that that was a sort of random group, but then I learned that the Santa Rosa and NYNYS missions are the two missions where they pilot a lot of new stuff. So they are often clumped together in the MTC, and my teacher said that she has pretty much only taught missionaries going to our missions, haha. 
But something cool about that is that we are the only missionaries at the MTC with iPads right now. Nineteen kids total out of I don't know how many missionaries! Obviously a lot more missionaries will have them in the field... they just don't have them at the MTC. We just got them this morning, so we haven't really trained much with them yet. 

My companion is Sister G from Sacramento. She is really soft spoken, so I was a little worried about us getting to know each other (I'm not exactly the loudest person either), but it has been fine. She has been very, very homesick, so I'm trying to figure out how to help her get through that. I have also been homesick, but the fact that she is struggling a lot more helps me to power through it so I can try to be the strong one. 

A couple funny things from the first day - 
--There is an Elder in my district who was telling me all about how he watched Kung Fu Panda in the car on the way to the MTC because it is "spiritual and about light and dark and stuff," so it's totally fine to watch even after you are set apart. Haha okay. Also, he is from "Saint George City." He always says it like that. I should start saying, "Hello, Elder, I'm Sister Barton from Centerville City."
-- There are these exercise classes that they have for sisters (like yoga, aerobics, etc.) that at first sounded kind of nice, because they are led by a teacher and hello, I have no idea how to work out by myself. But then I found out that they are held from 6-6:30 am, and you still have to do additional exercise during your scheduled gym time. Um no. Yeah, totally not getting up to do extra exercise. Anyways, we were sitting in a meeting afterwards, and Sister G said something about how she wanted to go to those classes, but I thought she said that she DIDN'T want to go, so I was like, "ME NEITHER." But then I realized what she was saying. Haha awkward. I told her I would go if she wanted, but we haven't gone yet. 
-- My first mission miracle. Are ya ready for this? On the first night, they served chicken cordon bleu (<is that how you spell it?), and it WASN'T disgusting. And that is pretty much the most disgusting meal ever, so that was a true miracle. I actually liked it!!

One of my favorite moments from the first day was when we sang "Bring the World His Truth," but instead of singing "we will be the Lord's missionaries" at the end, we sang, "now we are the Lord's missionaries." It was really powerful. There are totally not enough verses in that song. 

We group-taught some investigators. Which means that there is an investigator up front, and a big group of us pass around the microphone to whomever wants to say something. The investigators are actors, but they are all portraying a story of someone that they know or taught, so the stories and characters are authentic. It was sort of neat and sort of annoying, because it was cool to teach people, but also I didn't always agree with what people were saying. For example, one man showed us a picture of his baby son that died twenty years ago, and he was worried that his son was in limbo because he was never baptized. Two or three missionaries in a row starting teaching him about baptisms for the dead and how his son could be baptized by proxy, and I'm sitting there like, "hello, he was three days old and that's not even our doctrine!" But I was too nervous to chime in at first, and then another sister stood up and was like, "actually, your son is perfect and in heaven," so it was fine after that. 

We watched a video on the second day that featured some people talking about how they feel when they feel the Spirit. It was really, really good. A sister who was in the meeting commented after the video was over and said that she was a convert and had always been confused when the missionaries told her that she could feel the Spirit, but once she felt it, she knew it was real and something that just can't be explained. It was a super good meeting. 

To quickly explain the subject of this email about the MTC making you bipolar, it TOTALLY does. When I very first got here, I was happy, but throughout the day I started to get really discouraged and sad. Everything is just overwhelming, and it's difficult to imagine doing this for eighteen months. There is just so much structure and so many rules, and so much GOAL SETTING, and I hate goals so much. So much. And I just missed home and felt really sad. At the end of the day, I asked my companion and the girls in my room, "do you feel like you've sort of been halfway about to cry all day?" And they were like, YEAH, so I know it's not that unusual. Just hard to adjust. Yesterday was better, but I still felt sad off and on all day. The Spirit is very strong here, and there are a lot of opportunities to feel the Spirit extra powerfully, so that always makes me happy, but then I sink back to feeling discouraged. But today feels WAY better. 

That leads me to my favorite MTC experience thus far! As much as I have felt like it's been hard to adjust, Sister G has really been struggling. She has never lived away from home before. So last night, she asked for a blessing. One of our branch counselors and two of the Elders in our district gathered together to perform the blessing, and none of them could find any oil, but I had some!!! (Thank you, boys in my BYU elders quorum, for giving the sisters consecrated oil.) I felt really, really good that I was prepared and had that in my bag. The Elder who was supposed to do the anointing had never done it before, so I also got to watch the branch counselor teach him, which I really enjoyed. The Spirit was very strong there. 

Random day 2 experience -- a different branch counselor's wife was talking to us, and she had this accent that was pretty strong, and I thought she would be from England or Wales or something... turns out she is from Maine! She was like, "sorry if you can't understand my accent... I'm from Maine." People from Maine have accents?!?! Who knew. 

We went to the temple today, and that was so great. I actually really like the rental dresses. Weird. But they are so comfy. 

As much as it has been hard to adjust, the MTC is getting better! I am doing well and feel the Spirit a lot. My heart swells with pride every time someone talks about our special callings to represent the Savior. I am excited to get into a more regular schedule next week, and I can't wait to get to New York! We fly out the fifteenth. Super short MTC stay! 

Sorry this letter was so long, but I know that some of you want all the details! 

xoxoxoxoxo I love you all so much and miss you. 

Love, Sister Barton 

P.S. We room with two other sisters, and I really, really like them. One of them, Sister T, already served a two transfer mission to test if she could handle a full mission, so she is like a total veteran. We are always like, "Sister T, do I have to shower at the same time as my companion?" or, "Sister T, what do we do for companion study?" We ask her questions all the time. She is a real pro. 

P.P.S. Seeing nametags in all sorts of languages in the cafeteria is super fun. But I also sort of feel sick for them, because some languages look really hard.. I asked one girl what language her nametag was in, and she said "Hungarian." Gross. 

XOXOXOXOXOXO I will send pictures in a separate email. 
Me and my companion! We aren't standing super close together, but that's because I wanted you to be able to see my nametag ;) 

Obligatory pictures with the huge map.

Selfie game strong at the MTC!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Called to Serve

October 13th was the big day! My mission call FINALLY came in the mail! (Seriously, it took forever!)

I was called to serve in the New York New York South mission. I am speaking English, and I will be leaving February 3rd.

I am SO excited to serve the Lord as one of His missionaries. I know the Gospel is true, and I just love it so much! I am so grateful for the Savior's Atonement and the trust He is willing to place in me as I serve as a missionary.
His grace is real, His mercy never ends, and His love never fails. YOU are SO important to Him.

Never doubt it.

I'm probably not going to have my letters posted on here, since I'm not really sure people stop by my blog anymore (my fault, I know). If that's not true and I should consider having my mom post them, let me know.

Thank you for all the kind words and love over the time I've had this blog. I know I haven't been posting lately (sorry!), but please know that I am grateful for you. This blog really made a significant impact on my teenage years.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

it was more.

One of my favorite quotes from General Conference (here!) was Bishop Caussé's quote, "Is the gospel still wonderful to you?"

Such a powerful question to ponder, especially considering the fact that he spoke on Easter sunday. As much as we remind ourselves and others that "Easter is about Christ," do we really feel it? Do we really take time to fully appreciate the Savior's infinite Atonement and what it means for us?

The answer is NO - no one truly appreciates it enough. You see, as I've pondered the Savior's life a little more than usual these last few days, I've come to more fully understand that no one could possibly appreciate the Atonement, the Resurrection, or the Savior's life and ministry as a whole enough because we simply can't. We literally can't because we don't have a wide enough perspective.

The Atonement was everything to mankind. Everything. Think of the best thing that has ever happened to you in your life. Think of the one thing that brings you the most joy. It's a part of your life because of Christ. You couldn't even be here reading this without Christ.

The Atonement was a perfect gift. It was infinite sacrifice. It was the purest manifestation of love the world has ever seen. And somehow, it was more.

The Savior's Resurrection was nothing short of miraculous. It epitomized the words wonderful and marvelous. It is the reason bereaved individuals everywhere can continue to live with hope. And somehow, it was also more.

Friends, the gospel truly is wonderful. And the gospel is more than just the scriptures, sacrament meeting, and temple attendance. It encompasses more than the restoration story, it is more than the ten commandments. It is more than any words I or anyone else could ever put down on paper. It's more than your mind could ever conceive.

The word "wonderful" doesn't even begin to describe the gospel. But because all we have are our words, as humble as they may be, descriptors like "wonderful," "marvelous," "breathtaking," and "amazing" will simply have to do.

But I hope you know that the gospel is more. The Atonement was more. It was the most important event to ever happen in the history of all the earth, and yet, somehow, it was still more.

Thank you, Jesus, for who you are and for what you did. And for what you are still doing. I am so grateful.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

I'm Better With HIM

Hello, friends!!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, considering I haven't blogged since before then (yikes, sorry).

Anyways, I wanted to share this music video since it is the CUTEST thing I have ever seen! I can't stop listening to this song!

I love, love, love this video and the message that accompanies it.

Everyone goes through periods of time where they feel discouraged or unworthy. Sometimes we feel like we aren't worth anything or like our efforts aren't enough.

We do sometimes feel broken, empty, and lonely. But it is okay, because Jesus Christ knows that and He is constantly waiting for you to turn to Him so He can heal you, fill you up, and be your friend.

I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world! Everything that we do when we are actively practicing our religion points to Him. Everything!

He is the all-powerful King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is graceful and merciful and unchanging. He is mighty to save. He is loving and compassionate and feels so deeply for every one of us.

I am so, so grateful for His presence in my life. I can definitely notice the times when I am close to Him and the times when I am more distant. Let me tell you, it is so much better to choose Christ! Choose to learn of Him and follow Him and think of Him. Always.

I so very humbled and filled with love and praise whenever I think of the beautiful gift of redemption and peace that He has offered me. I will worship Him always because He "floods me with mercies in the morning and drowns me with grace in the night" (here). 

Thank you, Lord, for making me a better and more complete person. Thank you for offering peace and renewal when I ask for it.

And thank you, readers for sticking with me and supporting me even when I am inconsistent with posting. It is so hard to find the words to express adequate praise and gratitude to the Lord, but I hope that He knows - and that you know - that I love Him.

I hope that you never forget that you are not alone, you are not unworthy of Christ's love, and you can always find truth and light if you look for it. I know that Christ will always be there to pick you up when you feel broken. His arms are always outstretched and He's never failed anyone. Ever. We just have to choose to focus on Him more than all of the other crazy things that are always going on in our lives.

Choose Jesus and make this one a great day!
xo, Haley

Saturday, November 29, 2014

But If Not

What is your faith based on?

You might say, "I have faith that God will bless me if I follow the commandments." Or perhaps, "I have faith in good times to come," or, "I have faith that God will deliver me from my troubles."

Well, that sounds great. But what if you don't feel like you are being blessed? What if good times don't come? What if trials and tribulations follow you around your whole life, and no matter how hard you try, you can't be rid of them? 

What then? Is your faith going to disappear the moment your life takes a turn for the worst and you feel like God has stopped blessing you and answering your prayers?

Consider the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They were told that if they would not bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar's idol, they would be thrown in the fire to die. They responded by saying:
17 - If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 - But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3)

What do you think these men based their faith on? Signs, miracles, and God-given perfect lives? Do you think they expected things of God like some people do today (and surely also did back then)? No, I think their faith was based on something higher - trust in God, His plan, and His timing. God would rescue them from the fire, but if not - if that wasn't His will - then they would worship and trust in Him still. 

Friends, life doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes we are asked to endure a very hard trial, and no matter how often or how hard we pray, sometimes things don't get any easier. 

Why? Well, sometimes we are asked to endure trials because they strengthen us. We learn to trust in God and we gain perspective when we experience challenges. That's how it should work, anyways, but some people don't let themselves be strengthened. They choose to give up on God and let go of their faith. 

Will this be you? Are you going to hold on to faith as long as things go your way - but let go as soon as God's will doesn't line up with yours? Or are you willing to trust that God is all-knowing, infinitely loving, and always has a plan? 

He does always have a plan. He is always looking out for you. He is forever waiting for you to stretch out your hand and commit to follow Him no matter what. 

I will choose to follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. 
Because I know that God can take away my sorrow and heartache - but if not;
I know that God can give me a successful and full life - but if not;
I know that God will deliver me from financial woes - but if not;
I know that God will bless me with a healthy body - but if not;

If not, I will trust in Him still. I will not succumb, I will not let go of my faith. Because my faith isn't founded on a perfect life. It isn't founded on the belief that God will always fulfill my wishes. My faith is built on something higher. My faith is in God's will, God's plan, and God's timing, not my own.

Let us all choose to follow the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and have faith in God no matter what He has planned for us.


Monday, November 24, 2014

because I have been given much

Hello all!

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season coming up, I've been thinking about living with gratitude and serving others. I found this video today and I really liked it because it reminded me to hold dear everything God has given me.

I know that I am so blessed and have so much to be grateful for. This video reminded me that I need to be expressing my gratitude more often. I want God to know every day how grateful I am. I don't want to wait until a really hard challenge comes my way before I start praising God and showing thankfulness.

This video also reminded me of a verse I read a couple weeks ago that I really liked:
D&C 42:30 - And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. 

Consecrate means "to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity." So what does it mean to consecrate of your properties for the support of the poor? I liked what the man in this video said - "live simply so other people can simply live." 

What this verse taught me is that I should dedicate everything God has given me to the service of others. I have been blessed so abundantly, and I know that Heavenly Father wants me to use the resources I've been given to improve the lives of others. What an amazing calling - to be able to show your gratitude by dedicating all that you have to the service of others and therefore to the service of God.

I am so grateful for this time of year because the holiday season fills our hearts with the spirit of gratitude, love, and service. Let us be grateful servants all the year round. Decide now to dedicate all that you have to the service of God. 

Have a great Thanksgiving! 

Love, Haley. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

living higher

What does it mean to live higher?

To me, it's about progress. It's about perspective and purpose. It's about getting outside yourself and serving God and your fellow man.

But wait - when I have so much going on in my own life, how can I possibly worry about purpose?! I'm barely able to even keep up on my homework every day!

It can be hard to make time for meaningful service and devotion to God. But here is what I have learned: you will find the time if you look for it. I definitely believe that God will help you make the time you need to serve Him if you are willing to make the effort.

I really admire the fact that this woman spends so much time working on a project that isn't easy - but one that helps so many people. She sacrifices her time and energy working on these dresses not because she gets recognition from man, but because she knows it is the right thing to do and it gives her purpose.

What a wonderful thing it is to live higher, to live for more. 

My very favorite scripture of ALL TIME can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants and this is how it reads:
D&C 25:10 - And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

Friends, there is a better world out there. There is a better world that we should be preparing for. When I die and meet God, I want to be comfortable where He is. I want to live my life in a way that prepares me to dwell with God. It is my belief that I can do that by living a life full of service and purpose. I want to spend my entire life reaching higher and striving to be better than I was yesterday. 

It isn't easy. It takes work. But I know that the more I work hard to improve, the more I serve God's children, the more purposeful my life becomes, the closer I will be to God and the more prepared I will be to stand in His presence. I know that I am already blessed for my efforts now, but how much more will I be blessed when I choose to mold myself into something more, something worthy of a kingdom higher than this one?

My prayer is that we can all strive to carve for ourselves lives of purpose, and it is my sincerest hope that God feels like I am reaching higher. 

Have a great Sunday,

P.S. Totally got a kick out of the "I'm certainly ready to go anytime He wants me."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Standing with Confidence

Today in Sunday School, my teacher asked, "how many of you could stand with true confidence before God?"
We all just sorta sat there, none of us knowing how to answer. All of us were afraid to say, "ooooh!! ME!! Me, I definitely could!"
How could any of us truly feel that way?!

Well, after thinking about it for a second, you know what I think?

I think Christ is more understanding than we could ever imagine. He knows our doubts. He knows our insecurities. He understands how hard life is because He has felt everything we have. He knows pain. He knows fear.

He knows you individually. He knows of your sins. He knows of your sorrow. But most importantly, Christ knows your heart, and He loves you.

He loves you because you try. He loves you because you love Him. Actually, even if you don't try, even if you don't love Him, He loves you anyways. He loves you because you are you. He doesn't need any other reason to love you than that. You can never escape Christ's love. Ever.

How cool is that!?

So many of us feel weighed down by sin.
We feel like we aren't committed enough or we feel that we don't accept Christ enough. We feel like we don't have the Spirit enough, like we don't help enough, like we don't pray enough, or like we don't repent enough.
Or maybe you do repent enough. But maybe you still constantly feel worthless and guilty. You are constantly praying for forgiveness, and yet you aren't willing to accept it when Christ offers it to you.

I feel that sometimes. I feel and do all of these things all the time.

But I shouldn't! And you shouldn't either!

My friends, Christ loves you for you. I love the above video because the woman came to Him a sinner. She came to Him in her imperfections. She came to Him feeling guilty and unworthy. She looked at the ground when He spoke to her, and I'm sure she didn't feel confident.
But what happened? Did Christ yell at her? Denounce her in her wickedness? Did she spontaneously burst into flames? No! "Neither do I condemn thee," He said, "go and sin no more."

Don't let sin weigh you down. Christ performed the Atonement so that you could overcome sin. So let Christ's grace into your life! Utilize the Atonement and accept the love and forgiveness always available to you.
I am not saying that it is okay to sin. Living a righteous life shows Christ that you honor Him and are respectful of Him and want to draw close to Him. The less you sin, the happier you will be, and certainly the more confident you will be.

What I'm trying to say is, you will never be perfect. Don't let minor imperfections make you feel worthless and thoroughly unconfident.
Christ loves you for trying. He loves you even if you sin. So make a choice to start feeling confident and proud of your efforts.
Never stop trying to be better, but also don't spend your entire life thinking, "hopefully when I'm 80 I'll get it. I'll be perfect then." Friends, you will feel the same way at eighty as you do now. Learn to love yourself and be proud of your efforts now. 

So could I stand before the Lord in confidence? I think so. Not because I'm perfect, but because I know that He is. I would stand before Him imperfect. I would stand before Him a sinner. But I would stand before Him in love and submission.
I know that He loves me for me and He loves me because I try and I strive hard to be the person He would want me to be.

So I'll keep pressing forward. I'll keep begging for forgiveness. I'll keep trying to be better.
And I'm going to be happy with that. I'm going to choose to live with trust, with gratitude, and with confidence.

Love, Haley

Monday, October 13, 2014

choosing fearlessness

Hey folks!
Can you tell from my lack of posting that I am really getting back into the swing of school?
Joy. (<sarcasm)
General Conference took place last weekend. If you missed it or just want to review some of the talks, click here

I wanted to talk about one of my favorite things said during General Conference last week. 

First, I should probably add that I had some things bothering me that I had prayed about before General Conference. I am a SENIOR now, and it won't be too much longer before I have to leave my family and go away to college. I know that it's for the best and that I will be starting an exciting new chapter in my life, but right now I'm really really dreading it and I feel sad and afraid. I know that a lot of kids feel nothing but excitement to go out on their own, but that is definitely not me. I'm a huge home-body and will be leaving behind not just my home, but my parents and all of my siblings. I know that I can always come home if I need to, but a lot will still change, and I really feel sad about it. 
So, that being said, one of the things I prayed for was that I could somehow feel okay about leaving my home next year. 

I know that God heard my prayer, and I heard something during Elder Lynn G. Robbins's talk that meant a lot to me. He said: 

"The Savior, the only perfect being who ever lived, was the most FEARLESS."

The most fearless. Christ endured so much pain, so much scorn, was tempted, was tried, and yet He was fearless through it all. 

Life isn't always - or even usually - peachy. Most of us are probably constantly worrying about something, whether it is something large or small. 
But fear can be very debilitating. Fear can keep us from Jesus Christ. Even though He has promised that He will carry our burdens, we usually don't let Him! We choose heaviness and fear instead of joy and faith. We choose to feel anxiety instead of feeling liberated through Christ's grace. 

We must remember to let go and let God take care of things. 

I promise - I promise - that He knows what He is doing. I've seen it in my own life, dear friends. I've endured hard things and asked God why I am asked to bear the burdens I am given. But, in time, I always find that everything works out for my good. 
Sometimes I have to remember to keep an eternal perspective. We won't always be blessed for enduring our trials in this life, but I know that with God, everything is one eternal round. 
We are not earthly beings, we are heavenly beings. We came from God's presence, and if we endure well, we will return to God's presence. When you think of it that way, our earthly fears seem like such trivial matters. 

I want to spend my whole life trying to live like the Savior. I am so, SO not perfect, but every day I am trying to develop Christlike attributes. So, after hearing this talk, I've decided that the next attribute that I need to work on is fearlessness. 
Join with me? We all have something we are trying to overcome. I don't know you, reader, but I know that there is something in your life that makes you afraid.

The beautiful thing, though, is that we don't have to be afraid. We can give Christ our burdens and choose to live as He did. Fearless.

So, with that, I will face the next year of my life with my eye single to the glory of God. I will remember Christ in all I do. I will follow His example and I will be fearless. 
I will have courage to move forward, and I am going to choose to feel excited about my future.

We all have bright futures. It doesn't matter what is going on in your life or what has gone on in your life. You can be fearless too, because you have so much going for you. Christ will never leave you comfortless, and He will always help you to have courage.

Here's to fearlessness and absolute trust, 



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