This blog shares my ongoing study of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my studies draw from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, as well as teachings of LDS Church leaders past and present, many of which are prophets and apostles. This site is not an official representation of Latter-day Saint doctrine and practice. For official sites, please visit or

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Quick Fix to Misery

I don't think anyone will be surprised by what I find to be a quick fix to misery - exercising gratitude.

President Thomas S. Monson taught, "We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues" ("An Attitude of Gratitude," April 1992 General Conference).

President Monson asks us in this talk to exercise gratitude for six things:

1. First, there is gratitude for our mothers.
2. Second, let us reflect gratitude for our fathers.
3. Third, all of us remember with gratitude our teachers.
4. Fourth, let us have gratitude for our friends. 
5. Fifth, may we acknowledge gratitude for our country—the land of our birth.
6. Sixth and finally—even supremely—let us reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Each time I have made a conscious effort to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for I have felt better. There is a real power that comes when we exercise gratitude. It sounds cliche but gratitude journals can be very effective. I remember starting one in a summer in Arizona when I was in graduate school. I was in an area far from my close friends and family and found myself entertaining a lot of negative thought. I decided to begin jotting down three things each day that I was grateful for - my favorite moments of the day. Soon I could not keep myself to only writing three things. I found myself writing 10, 12, or 15, and realized that each day was full of blessings.

Just this last week I began teaching math for the first time in six years. When my AP Statistics students found out it was my first time teaching the subject they said, "well you're doing a good job!" A teacher whose classroom is just behind mine listened in on my class from her room during her prep period and said it sounded like I was doing a great job and that the students were understanding the material. These compliments meant the world to me. How grateful I am for those words of encouragement - just one small thing I am grateful for this week, among many.

Our Father in Heaven loves us and shows us His love all throughout the day by "small and simple things." I have found that if I make a conscious effort to recognize these blessings I can feel of His love on a regular basis, and that is truly our heart's greatest desire.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And [Charity] Is Kind

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind..." (Moroni 7:45).

A person with charity is very kind. Seeing one person being kind to another is beautiful and lifts the spirits of both parties and of anyone observing. I've always enjoyed the Liberty Mutual commercials that show people helping others because they recently observed someone serve someone else. I really think the most beautiful thing in the world is seeing one person helping another.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught that "kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known."

One of the noblest people I have known is my mother. She serves everyone around her almost constantly and finds joy in serving. She is proactively kind - searching for opportunities to help instead of only being kind as the need arises. I'm very grateful for her example.

If we reflect back on our day, we can see that a great many people have been kind to us. It may be as simple as a smile or as great as sacrificing hours of time to help us. We often overlook these many acts of service (at least I do). Each act is another message to us from a loving Heavenly Father, reminding us that He loves us.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And Charity Suffereth Long

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Moroni 7:45)

"And charity suffereth long" means to me that it never quits. Charity tolerates difficult people and circumstances as best it can without throwing in the towel. How? People with charity know that the other person is not living up to their potential and they just might with a little more patience and encouragement. People with charity endure challenges knowing they have every reason to believe in something better to come. They understand that Christ is "an high priest of good things to come," (Heb. 9:11; see also this video), and they believe in Him and what He has promised them if they have faith in Him.

"And charity suffereth long" doesn't mean that when we have charity we accept the poor choices of others. It means quite the opposite. Because we love that individual we refuse to accept nothing but their best. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children." I recently observed this when a fellow teacher had to impose consequences on a student for not making grades. After reminding the student that he had agreed to such potential consequences and explaining that these would prohibit participation in certain extracurricular activities for a time, this teacher made it overwhelmingly clear that she cared very much for him and his academic performance. He understood and will likely get better grades next term and be allowed to participate once again with his friends.

"And charity suffereth long" really means to me that Christ will never give up on me and those I love. His perfect love tolerates me when I'm difficult because He knows I'm not living up to my potential but that I can with a little patience and encouragement.

Additional note - perhaps one of the most important ways "charity suffereth long" is when we are patient with ourselves and forgive and love ourselves in spite of our mistakes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trust in Him

I was reminded yesterday of the importance of trusting in our Heavenly Father. The topic was already on my mind when a sister in church spoke about how she and her husband had been blessed as they followed a series of impressions concerning their home. They thought they needed to sell their home, which they did despite market conditions, and found a home they thought to be perfect for them, but then they felt they should not buy that house, although they had already sold theirs. Feeling some concern, they earnestly began their search anew with only a couple of weeks left in their house. They ended up finding a wonderful home that had just been reduced in price, and consequently fit within their budget. They made an offer, but theirs was one of three. Although theirs was not the highest offer, it was accepted, and they've since made many family memories in that beautiful place.

I was impressed by how willing this couple was to act on impressions of the Holy Ghost - first to sell their home and then to not purchase their first real interest, even though they had already sold their current residence. They understood that the Lord had their best interests at heart because He loves them, and they knew they would be happy if they trusted in their impressions.

Christ said, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." I think one of the best ways to do that is to act on impressions we receive. When we refuse to do so we feel frustrated and afraid. When we obey, we feel peace and joy and qualify for more help from the Holy Ghost.