Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Who you choose to be.

You are who you choose to be.
- Hogarth Hughes

  In the movie "The Iron Giant" a small boy named Hogarth Hughes teaches a giant robot an important life lesson. The giant robot was built to be a weapon, but what Hogarth taught him was that it didn't matter what he was made to be, all that mattered was what he chose to be. The robot chose not to be a gun but a hero, and his choice saved lives instead of taking them. This something that's always stuck with me. How do my choices effect those around me? Who am I choosing to be?

We stand at the crossroads, 
each minute, 
each hour, 
each day, 
making choices.

We choose 
the thoughts 
we allow ourselves to think, 
the passions 
we allow ourselves to feel, 
and the actions 
we allow ourselves to perform.
- Benjamin Franklin

  The world today is under the impression that other people can decide who you are. They seem to think that peer pressure and social norms are what governs our choices, but they couldn't be more wrong. God gave us the gift of agency While some of our choices are effected by others, they are never made by others. The only power the world has over us is that which we give to them. 

  Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2:27)

  Who do you choose to be? Despite our circumstances we can always choose to be hero, even though it's hard sometimes. The Iron Giant's choice to save others cost him his life, but he saves thousands of other people who built a statue in his name. Using our agency to follow God's commandments shows Him that we love him, and are willing to listen to Him. It might not be the easy way, but God's way will give us happiness in this world and eternal life in the next.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, Means A Little Bit More

How the Grinch returned Christmas

 A Grinch blog during Christmas time? Predictable? Perhaps. Applicable? Absolutely! The Grinch is my favorite Christmas story, because it truly helps us to understand the meaning of Christmas. To quote Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "Perhaps the Grinch’s story is so memorable because, if we are honest, we may be able to relate to him. Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season? Who hasn't felt overwhelmed by the packed calendars, the stress of finding gifts, the pressure of planning meals and events?". During this stressful time of the year we, like the Grinch, too easily forget why we are celebrating.

   The Grinch who hated Christmas had stolen all the presents in Whoville in an attempt to stop Christmas, and this is where we find him. At the top of Mt. Crumpet he waits for the sleeping who's to wake up and find their Christmas gone, and return to their homes full of shattered dreams. Or so the Grinch thought... The following is taken from his own account:

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low, then it started to grow.

But this sound wasn't sad!
Why, this sound sounded glad!

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing without any presents at all!

He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling. "How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"

He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!

  The Grinch had a change of heart, and spent that Christmas returning the things he had taken and serving others. He found the real meaning of Christmas, and real happiness with it. I pray that we, like the Grinch, can realize that Christmas can't be bought in a store. That Christmas for us means a little bit more. That we can give meaningful things, like our time and service. I promise that as we emulate the Savior who's birth we celebrate, our hearts will be filled with His spirit and His love.

Merry Christmas! I sure do love ya!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

There's so much to be thankful for

  Anyone who says there aren't songs for Thanksgiving doesn't listen to Josh Groban. Josh Groban sings a song called Thankful, it's a wonderful song with a powerful message. 

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

  This is a wonderful world we live in, there is beauty all around us, but how often do we see that? If your reading this then you are on a computer, on the internet, what a blessing that is! We focus on ourselves so much that we miss all the little miracles around us. You are loved by your Father in Heaven, you have a Savior who suffered for not only your sins but your pain and sorrow! We have given the gift of repentance so that we can come closer to our God in this life, we have the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us. If there was ever a time on this earth that God has blessed his children it is now.

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!” - Joseph F. Smith

  Be that grateful and loving soul, and spread it around. Do something for someone else this Thanksgiving. Give everyone a reason to be as happy as we are. Truly we are blessed far more than we deserve, and those blessing don't begin in November and they don't end in December. I'll end the same way I began, with Josh Groban. Take it away Josh.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


 Find out what it means to me
- Aretha Franklin

  Actually, to me respect means a lot. The world today doesn't encourage us to stand up for our morals, especially in our appearance. This is terrible. We live to a standard, and we should look like it.

 "Servants of the Lord have always counseled us to dress appropriately to show respect for our Heavenly Father and for ourselves. The way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act. Dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you."
- President Thomas S. Monson

  I read a story recently about Muhammad Ali and how he reacted when one his daughters was wearing some less than appropriate clothes. He handles it like the champ he is, here is the story as told by one of his daughters: 

  “When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged as many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day. My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, 'Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.' He looked at me with serious eyes. 'Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.'”

  Our bodies are sacred gifts from our loving Heavenly Father. We should follow the council of Aretha Franklin and respect them. You'll find new confidence and assurance in the way you appear if you will simply respect yourself.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Can you feel the love tonight?

  The Lion King is one of the greatest movies of all time. I love it's story, I love it's songs, and I want to be just like Rafiki when I grow up (but that's a blog for another time). The songs are what this blog is about, one song in particular...

Can you feel the love tonight?
The peace the evening brings
The world, for once, in perfect harmony
With all its living things
Can you feel the love tonight?
You needn't look too far
Stealing through the night's uncertainties
Love is where they are 

It's such a good song, and it poses an interesting question. Can you feel the love tonight? Is it where you are?    There have been times where I definitely did not feel the love. But why is that a big deal? 

  "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35) The Savior said it best. He has commanded us to love each other, that should be the thing that defines us as Christians. Love is the center of all the we believe, and love should be where we are.

Where love is, there is no disputation. Where love is, there is no contention. Where love is, there God will be also. -Thomas S. Monson

Friday, November 2, 2012

Form = Power

I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
-Muhammad Ali

  Anyone who has competed in sports knows how important training is. What turns an athlete into a champion is the amount of hard work and dedication they put into their sport. I love boxing, so that's the example I'm going to use today, and then we'll see how that applies to our spirituality. 

  Boxing is all about form. A misconception people have about boxing is that you have to be a big muscular guy to punch someone really hard, however the smaller boxers have some incredible power. But how is that possible? Shouldn't you have to be big to hit hard? NO! It's all about the way you throw your punch, the way you line up your arm and the way you shift your hips and feet. If you punch with perfect form there will be power there no matter how big you are. And how do you learn perfect form? You train hard, every day, until your body knows instinctively how to move the correct way.

  How does this apply to the gospel you ask? There is a form to the gospel! There is a way that we've been asked to live our lives so that we can qualify for the blessings of heaven. You don't have to be the most spiritual person in the world to live up to this standard. It just takes practice, the more you choose to follow Jesus Christ and his teachings the easier it gets. If you follow the commandments and live worthily then you will have spiritual power. You just have to train hard, every day, until your spirit knows instinctively how to choose the correct way. There is a hymn that I love that says it best:

School thy feelings, O my brother; Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother, But let wisdom's voice control.
School thy feelings; there is power In the cool, collected mind.
Passion shatters reason's tower, Makes the clearest vision blind.

As we make choices that bring us closer to God, we become his disciples. The difference between the casual christian and the disciple of Jesus Christ is the amount of hard work and determination they put into following Him. With proper training we can all be celestial champs! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

An Unexpected Journey

It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.
- Bilbo Baggins

  Our life on earth can be a strange one. We sometimes find ourselves in odd places and situations, and it can be hard to keep your feet. If there is one thing you can expect from life, it's the unexpected. What do we do when life's straight paths begin to curve? How do we keep our feet?

  One of my favorite books is The Hobbit. The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins, who is a very successful and comfortable person, who likes nothing more than sitting in his house and eating great food. Bilbo hates adventures, the very thought makes him feel uncomfortable. But one day an adventure falls in his lap, full of danger, mystery, and a whole bunch of dwarves. And to his own surprise Bilbo takes it!

  Sometimes we feel like Bilbo Baggins; We feel comfortable and content with the things we have, and we don't want anything to change.  Though if we never change then we never grow! We don't always find ourselves coming home to 13 dwarves and a wizard eating all your food, but sometimes life throws us an opportunity and we need to take it. Leaving the comfort of our homes, or jobs, or our circle of friends can be hard; but when nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. 

  Bilbo found life-long friends, a pile of gold, and joy in his unexpected journey. Who knows what you'll find on yours! If we can recognize these adventures when they happen, and take advantage of the opportunities God gives us, we will find our own lasting happiness. Who knows! You may even find your own pile of gold, or maybe even find some friends, a long the way.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.
- Thomas S. Monson

Dedicated to Chris "The Degn" Petersen