Saturday, December 27, 2014

To Infinity...And Beyond!

"The perfect place to start is exactly where you are now."
Christmas is over and the new year is nearly upon us. The question is, what will you make of 2015?

Every year we leave the past behind us while keeping treasured memories and continue onward. Every year we have the chance to be better. Or, we can be content to stay where we are. I don't know about you, but I want to be constantly improving. That means staying stationary is not an option. And as ever-changing beings, it shouldn't be an option for you, either. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that if you aren't stepping forward, you're sliding backward (think of a treadmill).

So, what will you do to move forward? The best way to start is with a vision. Where do you want to be on December 31, 2015? Then, ask yourself, "What do I need to do during the year to reach that?" It's all in goal-setting. It sounds so cliche, but I've learned that it works. I've heard somewhere that "a goal not written down is only a wish." Fleeting and forgotten in just a few days. So write down your new year's resolutions! And keep them in a place where you will see them often so you will remember to work on them.

The key to all of this, though, isn't in our own effort (though that certainly is an important factor). The key is trusting in our Savior, whose birth we have just celebrated. Only through Him can we make permanent changes in our lives for the better. I've seen it happen in my life this last year. And so, I have a firm witness that change is possible. You don't have to stay where you are. Trust in Him and let Him fill the holes in your abilities (because none of us are perfect). And as you work hard and consistently, the change will come. Slowly at first, because these things don't just happen overnight. But it will come. And you can reach new heights. You can reach infinity, and beyond. Anything is possible with the help of our Savior.

So, I invite you all to act. Set a goal of personal improvement. Make a plan for how you will accomplish it. Ask your Father in Heaven for His help in achieving this goal. Then, work hard and trust Him. Don't ever give up. I know He will help you. But you have to take the first step.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

His Image

"Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received His image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?" (Alma 5:14)

When you look in a mirror, who do you see? A boy or girl, a man or woman. Perhaps you resemble your father or mother more. Or perhaps you look like a sibling or grandparent. Or maybe you look past the physical to what's inside. Maybe you see more of your weaknesses than your strengths. Or maybe you see your strong points. But the big question is, is what you see in the mirror a reflection of who you really are? Who do you want to see when you look in the mirror?

The biggest thing to remember is that the physical features, whether you're skinny or plump, pretty or handsome or unremarkable, doesn't matter at all. It's what's on the inside that matters most. And what's on the inside shows through. It doesn't reflect in the features or body size, but rather the perception others have of you. If you see the positive in yourself, then others see that positive attitude on the outside. And, of course, the opposite is true. So, considering all this, what do you want to see? And how do you make that happen?

The key is change what's on the inside. If you want to see in yourself someone who just seems to glow with happiness, then you must turn inward to turn on the lamp. The way to do that is to remember who you really are. You're not just one person in a million, easily overlooked and unimportant. You are a child of God, the child of a Heavenly King. And once you realize that, you can start working to reflect that divine nature on the outside.

The way to reflect that is through coming unto Christ. He is the only way to truly change in order to reflect His light. And that is how we come to be born of God and receive the "mighty change" of heart. And upon receiving that light, it will shine through you and when you look in the mirror, you will see a true follower of Christ. And others will see it as well and want to know Him because they know you.

Change is possible. Starting right now, especially at the end of another year, you can change. All it takes is a desire, the willingness to work, and trust in the Savior. Then you will be able to answer the question above with a confident, "Yes!" So go change, then change the world!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The First Gift

It's Christmastime! A time for gift-giving, song-singing, tree-decorating, family-gathering, cookie-making. There are a lot of fun traditions and activities that go along with this festive time of year. But, how often do we stop and think about the reason behind all the festivities? What does Christmas really represent? It's hard to remember the why behind this time of year behind all the hustle and bustle of the season. But the why is the most important.

At Christmastime, we don't just celebrate family and presents. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth wasn't like that of any other child. This birth was prophesied by countless ancient prophets for centuries before it happened. It was to be the birth of the Son of God, the prophesied Savior of the world. Christ speaks in his own words of his purpose for coming to the earth, standing before Pilate and the jeering crowd, having suffered for our sins and about to be delivered up to the crucifiers: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" (John 18:37). The apostle John also testifies of the true meaning of Christmas: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

This Christmas season, we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Redeemer and remember the gifts He gave us. Christ gave us the hope of eternal life, an opportunity for forgiveness, a chance for peace amidst trial and affliction. And the Father gave us His Only Begotten Son. So Jesus Christ was the first gift of Christmas, the reason for the season. So, during this Christmas season, remember the very first gift, given out of pure and unconditional love that we might "not perish, but have everlasting life."

Merry Christmas! And don't forget to #sharethegift and allow others to experience the joy that comes with the true meaning of Christmas.