Monday, December 29, 2014

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 65]

Yesterday we had the traditional combined meeting with the three wards that meet in our church building. For the second and third hours the bishops and their wives answered questions that had been submitted. It was really nice, though one of the answers hit me a little wrong.

The question was, "What is an abundant life and how can I live one?" or something like that.

The answer was, "Get married and have a family, for only then will your life be abundant. So look forward to that time and do all you can so you can have that in your future."

Okay it wasn't exactly that, but ... pretty much.

And I sat there thinking, "But I want to live an abundant life now. Surely there's a way to be happy, full, and complete even before I'm married."

So I went home and looked up "abundant life" on There are actually a number of talks about it! My favorite is by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, given in 2006.

According to Elder Wirthlin,
The abundant life is within our reach if only we will drink deeply of living water, fill our hearts with love, and create of our lives a masterpiece.
These are the characteristics that the happiest people have in common. If we do these things, our lives can transform from ordinary to exciting and full of abundance. (I do love the word abundant. It's round and happy.)

Of course, the problem with these three things--drinking of living water, filling our hearts with love, and creating masterpieces of our lives--is that they are not easy! Actually not sure that's a problem. I kind of think that may be the point. I know that my life only feels abundant when I am working hard at something that matters.

So I guess it's the end of the year. It has just struck me that perhaps I should make some goals for 2015, and that I should put them in these categories Elder Wirthlin has listed. I think that will make me a happier person and more able to bless others' lives.

And who knows. Perhaps my goal to live an abundant life by more deeply living the gospel, selflessly serving others, and doing something remarkable will lead to me living the kind of abundant life I learned about in church on Sunday.

But even if it doesn't, I think I'll be happy.

Monday, December 22, 2014

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 64]

On Sunday my friend and I performed a piano/organ duet of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." We sort of made it up on the spot (well, not the very spot) by printing off the first version we found and arranging it the day before.

There are seven verses to that song, but this version had only five. They were still somewhat obscure. For example, have you ever heard of this?
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav'nly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Maybe you have. But I hadn't! I love the imagery of Him being a Key. He unlocked the gate of heaven to let us in. (Side note: the first thing I thought of when I saw this verse was this blog post, which I guess goes to show that I retain some things from week to week.)

The song is full of different titles for Christ: Emmanuel, rod of Jesse, Dayspring, Key of David, Lord. And to think that they were all wrapped up in that little baby.

This is very much a Second Coming-esque Christmas carol.
O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight 
O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
O bid our sad divisions cease
And be yourself our King of Peace.

But I think it also has meaning for us in our everyday lives. If ever we feel that we are mourning in lonely exile, we can have hope that Emmanuel, that God is with us. The rod of Jesse has freed us from Satan's tyranny and given us victory over the grave.


Monday, December 15, 2014

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 63]

It's no secret that "Silent Night" isn't exactly my favorite Christmas song. Part of it is definitely that no one understands it and we always sing it wrong, and part of it is that I'm not one of those people that never gets tired of singing it at every musical function.

We sang it in our ward Christmas program yesterday. We also sang it at the stake Christmas fireside last night. And we've sung it every week in some meeting or another. And I am so tired of it.

But last night, raising my voice with 250 members of my stake, I decided to have a better attitude. I was worried the stake president was going to ask me to bear my testimony (hazards of him knowing my name) and I didn't want to go up there with nothing to say because the Spirit had left me because I hate a beloved Christmas carol.

So I thought about our Christmas program and the scriptures we'd read. The one that came to mind was Alma 7:10-12.
And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
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.
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.
Around that time we sang the third verse of "Silent Night" and my mind echoed with "Son of God, love's pure light radiant[ly] beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace"

And I thought, He was born to die. He was born to perform the Atonement, and the light of love shone from His face with the promise that His birth was the start. The dawn of a life that would redeem all of us through grace.

It was really nice to gain a new appreciation of this song. And the stake president didn't call on anyone, least of all me, which is good because I was already planning to write a blog post.

Monday, December 8, 2014

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 62]

Last week I mentioned that we celebrated the start of Advent by singing the Messiah, which does have songs about Christ being born, but it also has a lot of songs about Christ's death and resurrection.

It's a sad and happy thing to think of that baby, born to die, so He could live again -- so we all can. But that truly is why we celebrate Christmas.

And though it can be difficult to have hard times during the Christmas season, of all times, this too is symbolic of Christmas.

Elder Holland said (paraphrasing God),
You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It’s of one piece. It’s a single plan…. Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain and privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us. And that baby, my son, my own beloved and Only Begotten Son in the flesh, born ‘away in a manger, [with] no crib for his bed,’ makes all the difference in the world, all the difference in time and eternity, all the difference everywhere, worlds without number, a lot farther than your eye can see. (x)
So when sadness encroaches upon our celebration, may we remember that the joy of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection swallow up all pain.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

and the words, they're everything [09]

Today's WWIS compilation is brought to you by the fact that I think about love and dating all the time, and sometimes the status bot picks up on it. (Which is impressive, because online I try to pretend that it doesn't consume my life. I mean, of course it doesn't.)

What can I say, dating can be rough
'Sparking' was slang for courting back in pioneer times. I'm thinking of bringing it back, because that would be truly hip and cool.
Speaking of colloquialisms, I've been using "digging his chili" instead of "have a crush on him" for a few months now.

At least I know the address of one of my favorite fictional boyfriends, for when real life conspires to keep me from my true love. (Also: undergrads that are thinking of digging my chili, please note last sentence of the status.)
Eating on dates can be a little nerve-wracking, but I've got nothing to worry about. (ha.) Also my habit of bringing needles to most social occasions (especially sports): attractive for my craftiness or alarming because I have weapons to hand?

I asked a guy out a few weeks ago. First time. Guess I do just set myself up now. Someone's gotta do it.

If all else fails, I can always meet someone at the grocery store. In the bread aisle. I'm sure that will be totally romantic and not awkward at all. And can you say romcom-worthy?!

Monday, December 1, 2014

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 61]

Last night some friends and I celebrated the beginning of Advent by singing selections from the Messiah (do I italicize or quote, I don't know). It was a good time.
There's us! If you need help finding me, my roommate is wearing green in the upper left hand corner and I am sitting next to her. She makes it so easy! (I should've worn green too.)

It wasn' most dignified performance, however. We messed up somehow during one of the songs and I had a moment of panic that I would never be able to find out where the line was, and my response was to start laughing like a crazy person. I was laughing too hard to sing. Our song ended and we proceeded into the next piece and I was still laughing.

Remembering it later, I laughed through the entire closing prayer. I can't even remember the last time that happened.

But! Besides those two embarrassing moments, it was a great experience. I've been thinking about our final piece a little bit today. We sounded about this good:

11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Revelation 5:11-13)
I enjoyed singing it but I started to realize that I'm not sure I've ever felt to shout "Praise the Lamb forever" or similar. Why not?? He did this big thing for me! And for everyone! It's a big deal! Also He's God.

Not sure if I need to listen to this music more or change some of my attitudes, but I think I would like to sing that song and really truly mean it.