Friday, February 21, 2014

Get Back Up

I'll admit, I'm not much of a sporty person. #noeyehandcoordination #almostfailed6thgradePE

Even as uncoordinated as I am, the Olympics never fail to draw me in like a bee to the honey. There is something so pure about the channeled talent and athleticism displayed each season that never ceases to amaze my clumsy soul.

Asking me to choose a favorite Olympic event is almost like asking me to choose a favorite ice cream flavor. I just can't. They're all too good. However, I can never seem to get enough of the figure skating. Its combinations of music, dancing, and sheer drama create a delicious blend of creative grace that is simply irresistible. To think that entire careers hinge on single performances! With each skater, I find myself barely breathing, hoping and praying they will land their jumps and nail their spins. But as I'm sure you know, this can't always be the case.

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I'm sure I cannot even begin to comprehend the physical, mental, and emotional pain these athletes must have felt as their dreams seemed to come crashing down on the ice beneath their feet. Just one mistake, one fraction of a point, one wrong move could be the difference between gold and going home empty handed. But do you know what shocked me?

No matter how hard the fall or how disappointed they were, each one got back up every. single. time.

I think that's a pretty awesome metaphor for life. 

Just like the figure skaters had everything on the line as they glided across Olympic ice, each of us has a great deal at stake as we embark on this mortal journey. This life is a test, and the choices we make are integral to our salvation. 

In the same way that each movement the skater's made impacted their score, our choices determine our destiny. From small choices to large decisions, the way we choose to use our agency is paramount. Every day we must choose whether or not we will stay on the Lord's side of the line. Thankfully, just like the skaters were trained and taught, we are armed with the gift of the Holy Ghost and the teachings of the gospel to help us "land our jumps" so to speak, and to live in a way that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.

But the journey was never intended to be easy. 

There are times that we will fall. Times that we will stumble. Times that despite our very best efforts, we just won't measure up. 

That's why we have a coach.

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Our Savior, Jesus Christ is with us every step of the way. He will catch us when we fall. He will give us strength to be strong. He is the hope that gives us a reason to get back up and try again.

The figure skaters in the Olympics only got one chance to show the judges what they were made of. If they fell, they fell, and that was that. Thankfully, because of the atonement of Christ, every mistake we make can be erased. If we turn to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and repent of our sins, our slate can be wiped clean. Our figurative score can be made perfect once more. Through His saving grace, even when we fall, we can be made whole.

In the Olympics, there is only one gold medal winner. But in life, because our Heavenly Father loves each of His children, everyone has equal opportunity earn a better prize than a gold medal will ever be. Every one of us can return to live with God someday; but we can't do it alone. To put it in sport's terms, we need our coach. We need our Savior. With Him by our side, we can always try again. 

 ♥ Sarah

Monday, February 17, 2014

Music Monday: How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation has always been one of my favorite hymns. I love its ballad-like melody and its strong, encouraging message. However, in Sunday School yesterday, I thought about it differently. So, of course, I had to share. ;)

For the opening of the day's lesson, our teacher had us look in the hymn book and find our favorite song. Then, we were to look up the scripture references at the bottom of the page. I am ashamed I have never really done this before. There are some great verses hidden in there!

As I read the lyrics of the song, the third verse seemed to call my name.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

Often times when we go through trials, it can be super hard to see the point of all the suffering and pain we are feeling. Worst of all, it can seem like we are enduring the pain alone.

I love this song because it reminds us that our Savior, Jesus Christ is with us every single step of the way. If he calls us to wade through deep waters, he doesn't just wave goodbye and wish us luck. He guides us, directs us, catches us when we fall, and keeps us afloat. Though the journey is hard, His grace has the power to sanctify our deepest distresses and turn them into our richest blessings. How cool is that?

Now for the scripture reference I talked about earlier:

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When we build on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, we are never alone. Even when waters are deep and fires are blazing, the Lord is with us. As we turn to Him, we will find strength to endure.

So keep wading through those waters. Keep fighting those fires. With the Savior's help, you're going to make it. 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sweet Finds: Eyes Like Mine by Julie Wright

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I love me a good book to take my mind of homework every now and then, and Eyes Like Mine by Julie Wright did not disappoint.

This story follows two amazing women with very different lifestyles who defy spheres of time to change each other's lives.

Fighting feelings of hopelessness and confusion after her parent's recent divorce, Liz King is struggling to keep her head above water. With no friends or family to turn to, she feels she is facing her heavy burdens all alone.

Meanwhile, Constance, Liz's fifth great-grandmother, is facing danger at every corner as she crosses the plains to join the saints in the Salt Lake Valley. With the recent disappearance of her husband, Constance feels she cannot take one more step towards Zion, even though her baby daughter is depending on her.

At the pivotal moment of their distress, these women's lives are miraculously brought together as they embark on a journey to change their futures. With lessons learned and bonds formed that outlast generations and time constraints, will Constance return to her pioneer home, or will she be staying in present-day Utah forever?

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I have to stop typing now so I don't spoil the plot for you. You can grab the book for Kindle at Amazon for only $2.99, here.

I loved this book. When I read the description online I was really worried it would be cheesy and cliche, but it wasn't. It was a beautiful story about the ties that hold our families together and how each one of us can turn to God for strength in adversity. I highly recommend it. [And I may or may not have cried at the end...;) ]

What good books have you read lately? I'm always up for a great read!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Very Best Valentine

Happy {Almost} Valentine's Day!

I wish I had a better reason for being so randomly absent these days, but honestly I have come home from school and fallen asleep pretty much ever single day this week. #ithinkschoolisslowlykillingme #onlyonemoresemester

Aside from my apparent sleep deprivation, during the short periods of time I have actually been awake past 6:00 pm, I have been doing some thinking... I saw this quote on Pinterest last year, and I've been wanting to do a post on it ever since.

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Valentine's is a cool holiday because it focuses on love and kindness towards others, but I especially love how this ties it into the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father gave us the greatest valentine ever by sending His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to be our example, friend, and savior. Christ felt all of our pains and heartaches and offers us a matchless gift of everlasting love. 

As I'm sure you're aware, Valentines are usually a two-way tradition.  [Unless you're me and eat all the chocolate yourself :P]  So then I started to wonder, since God gave me the best valentine ever, if I could send one to Him, what would I say? There is so much to thank Him for-- His kindness, His forgiveness, His loyalty, His love. How could I put it into words? And then once I did, how could I give it to Him?

The answer came quietly, but was dear to me just the same. My life. I want to live in such a way that my life is one giant valentine of appreciation and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I want to be an instrument in their hands for good. I want to serve them. I want to show them my love by keeping their commandments. (See John 14:15)

Will I be His  valentine? I sure hope so. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Mark Twain, President Monson, and Roar by Katy Perry

You know those foods that sound like really weird combos but end up actually going great together? Just like bacon and a cupcake or french fries and a milk shake prove to be fabulous flavor combinations, somehow quotes from Mark Twain, President Monson, and Katy Perry ended up mushing together to teach me a great lesson about courage. It makes sense in my head. Let's see how it translates to paper...err... I mean a blog post. ;)

I have loved Roar by Katy Perry since I first heard it. [But as you now know, I'm a sucker for song covers, so I included Tyler Ward and Two World's take on the tune in this post.] 

The ballad of bravery just drew me in. I think we can all relate to the lyrics in the first verse.

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

Those words are so true. If we don't stand for anything, it's a whole lot easier to fall for whatever temptations come our way.

Cue Mark Twain:

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As Twain so elegantly states, courage really is the foundation of integrity. In order to live righteously, it is imperative that we decide what our standards are and then stick to them, no matter what. 

However, I'd like to point out that courage doesn't always roar as Katy Perry says. Sometimes I think we get stuck thinking that in order to show true courage we have to be faced with death or severe danger. Yes, sometimes there are Abinidi and Joan of Arc experiences. But sometimes dedication to one's beliefs is manifested in more quiet, but just as powerful ways. In the words of President Monson:

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Often times it's through those simple things we do as disciples of Jesus Christ that we can roar the loudest. Take for example helping a friend, reading the scriptures, sticking up for someone being bullied, refusing to gossip, talking to the girl who sits alone at lunch, sharing the gospel, helping a sibling, loving and honoring your parents.... you getting my groove?

The bottom line is, as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ our entire life becomes an awesome roaring example of "standing as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places".

To quote the song again:

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.

My friends, we've got something even cooler than the eye of a tiger. As we dance through the fire of adversity, we are armed with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let's let our lights shine for all to see!

Hear me roar!

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