Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dating and Marriage

On your mission, you taught about the plan of salvation. How family relationships can last much longer than this life, but for eternity. This is possible through the sealing power of the priesthood which is only available in holy Temples that now dot the earth. We are so blessed to know that marriage and relationships endure longer than "to death do us part". 

Families are very important to our Father in Heaven. If they were not important, why would God command Adam and Eve to multiply and and replenish the earth? (Genesis 1:28) God could have created more people like He created Adam and Eve, but he wanted them to have the opportunity to be parents and to learn and gain by experience Christlike attributes like sacrifice for another, unity, love, and other attributes. Heavenly Father has given us direction to what we should strive for our families to be like in a document called "The Family: a Proclamation to the World" given to the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley and the quorum of the twelve Apostles in 1995. In this proclamation, we learn the importance of families and the best way to have a happy stable family; something that is impossible to gain by ourselves without divine help. 

There is a quote that I learned growing up that says "We are not put on earth to see through each other, but to see each other through". This can be put into action in a family that is striving to return to God together without leaving member behind.

But how do we get our own eternal family? I believe that Elder Robert D. Hales explained this the best in his talk "Meeting the Challenges of Today's World". "The track that leads to marriage passes through the terrain called dating! Dating is the opportunity for lengthy conversations. When you date, learn everything you can about each other. Get to know each other’s families when possible. Are your goals compatible? Do you share the same feelings about the commandments, the Savior, the priesthood, the temple, parenting, callings in the Church, and serving others? Have you observed one another under stress, responding to success and failure, resisting anger, and dealing with setbacks? Does the person you are dating tear others down or build them up? Is his or her attitude and language and conduct what you would like to live with every day?"

A few years ago, I was given a book by my parents called "Martina the Beautiful Cockroach" by Carmen Agra Deedy. It is a cute story from a Cuban folktale about a Cockroach who is meeting suitors. Her grandma told her to have all of her suitors take a test; the hot coffee test. When Martina spills give the coffee test by spilling hot coffee on the shoes of her suitor, she gets a glimpse at who they are really like. There is a lot to learn from this coffee test. When you date, don't just see the person you are dating in sunny circumstances. See how they act on their rainy and stormy days as well. It may save you from heartache later.

Elder Hales continues with: "That said, none of us marry perfection; we marry potential. The right marriage is not only about what I want; it’s also about what she—who’s going to be my companion—wants and needs me to be…Your responsibility now is to be worthy of the person you want to marry. If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person. If you are that person and you are not married, be patient. Wait upon the Lord. I testify that the Lord knows your desires and loves you for your faithful devotion to Him. He has a plan for you, whether it be in this life or the next. Listen to His Spirit. “Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.” In this life or the next, His promises will be fulfilled. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” "

The road to perfection is not easy. Often times on the road back to Heavenly Father, we trip and fall off the path. When this happens we get covered in mud, grass, and sometimes even a little blood. But we can always get back onto that road with the help of our friend and elder brother, Jesus Christ. He is always there to help us get cleaned up and to start on our journey again. We are never disqualified from happiness if we use Christ's atonement to repent and become clean again. We must remember that as we search for someone else to share our journey with on the road back home to God.

I want to invite you to pick one of the qualities that you want your future spouse to have. It could be anything. Now I invite you to develop that quality in yourself. If you already think you have it down, perfect it. We always have room for improvement. You may not see how your life will play out and how you will find your happily ever after with your eternal companion, but I promise that you will find happiness with the Lord's help. All you have to do is to do your best to look for and to be the person that you want to spend eternity with.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Managing Your Time

I am probably the worst person in the world to write about this topic. Ask anyone who knows me! Managing time wisely has been a life long struggle for me. However, I am always trying to get better and improve in this area! :)
Even though you may not be a missionary now, using your time wisely is still vital. My mission was promised, like many others, that if we mastered chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel we would be more successful people. Who doesn't want to be a successful person? So how do you apply chapter 8, How Do I Use Time Wisely, to you life? Some of it applies to organization in the mission field and the area book but you can use much of this chapter in your life.

First off, do you plan your day? Or do you just make it up as you go? I can say that I have done both since I have been back from the mission and what I have found is that when I have a plan I am far more productive with my time. How you plan is up to you. Personally I use a paper planner because I remember things better when I write them down. In addition I have a calendar app on my phone that I use for school assignments and big events. I have other friends who only use planners on their phone or other devices. My advice is to try a few things out. Find what you like to use to plan. Do you like to have hours of the day to fill out, just some space to list to do items, or both? But whatever you do, don't stop using a planner!! I say this for a few reasons. Using a planner helps you to be able to accomplish what is expected of you, track your goals, and be accountable for your time.

1. Accomplishing what is expected of You
What is expected of you? At work? At school? At Church activities and callings? In your community? The list goes on and on! Life after the mission is often busier than it was on the mission. Personally I think the reason for this is because now you have to balance your time between all of your activities and requirements. On the mission, this was pretty much already done for you. (You were a missionary and you served the Lord full time.) Now you need to learn to balance all of these expectations. The Lord expects us to accomplish great things. Reflect on the Parable of the Talents, or Christ telling us to keep his commandments, or even Christ's commandment to "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). Planning is a tool to help you accomplish what is expected of you each day, month, year and lifetime.

2. Tracking your Goals
Are you following what you learned in PMG about making goals that are measurable? (Refer to PMG page 146 for help and a great reminder in setting goals.) And, how are you suppose to accomplish your goals if you don't plan for how to accomplish them! Elder M. Russell Ballard said, "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life" (PMG 146). Each one of us has so much potential! In addition the the many many talents and gifts that we have the opportunity to develop in this life, we are sons and daughters to a God and we have the ability to become like Him. Goals can shape who we are and what our future is. Remember that "goal setting and planning are acts of faith" (PMG 146).

3. Being Accountable
"The principle of accountability is fundamental in God's eternal plan. We will all stand before the Lord at the last judgement and give an accounting for what we have done with the opportunities He has given us" (PMG 150). Take a moment and think about all of the opportunities that Heavenly Father has given you today at work, home, school, or anywhere else. It can be really overwhelming to think about. However, I promise that if you apply planning to your life it will become less overwhelming because you will know how you will use those opportunities. To help you to become in the habit of being accountable, find people you trust and be accountable to them, or find ways to be accountable to yourself. President Thomas S. Monson said, "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates" (PMG 150). I know that this principle is true because I have seen it work miracles in my own life. If you become accountable for you measurable goals, I know that you also will see miracles of improvement.
You will not become a perfect planner over night because this is not an easy thing to master! In addition, you do not need to become like a robot only doing what is in your plan, but like when you were a missionary, plan with the spirit and follow the spirit. And do all that you can to accomplish your goals.

I know that God gave us our time here on earth for the purpose to become like Him. This time is valuable and we shouldn't waste it. Brother Marvin J. Ashton said, "To live more fully each hour and to glean the most from each day is wisdom. How unwise we are to waste our todays when they determine the significance of our tomorrows. We should wisely live a day at a time because that is all we have" (The Time Is Now). I challenge you to improve the planning of your life. I know that if you do this, God will bless you with the increased ability to accomplish more than you ever thought was possible especially if you let Him lead you.