Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Price is Already Paid

I have a confession to make.

Though I'm a teenager and with such youth is supposed to come almost magical technological abilities, I am really quite clueless sometimes when it comes to the realm of computers. This fact was made manifest about two years ago.

I was working on some design projects in Photoshop when I decided I was in desperate need of a new script font. Remember when Scriptina was all the rage? From the moment I saw first saw it, I knew we would be friends. I soon fell head over heels in love with the giant loopy letter h's and the gorgeous calligraphic lines that connected each elegant character.

See what I mean? Isn't it gorgeous? Image Source

Knowing that having this font in my possession was imperative to my life's success [okay, so maybe not imperative, but it seemed pretty urgent at the time...], I immediately started doing some research. I looked at a few websites and soon realized something: fonts cost money. Money I did not wish or have to spend in my early teenage years. Enter some random free font website with a url something along the lines of [I'm still not sure if that sounds reputable or fishy....]

It seemed like the angels sung as I found the download package of my dreams-- not one, but two fonts for zero dollars and zero cents? Count. Me. In. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you're aware not everything on the internet is safe. Thus, one should always be careful when downloading files. I knew I should find a more reliable website and run a security scan on the file before I saved it on my computer, but I was busy. I wanted the font and I wanted it right then.

As you can probably guess by now, I downloaded it.

At first, everything seemed fine. Apparently the rules of internet security did not apply to my invincible computer. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and all was right in the world until about a week later.

As fate would have it, the fonts did not come alone. Turns out my version of Scriptina loved partying with viruses and invited them to come along to the fiesta in my hard drive. Over the next few days, my computer started to get very glitchy. My Word documents saved wrong, I couldn't open some of my computer programs, and Internet Explorer was even slower than normal.

Now let's rewind for a few seconds. Knowing of my technological issues, when my computer was purchased my Grandpa also bought me a crazy warranty from Geek Squad at Best Buy that basically covered any repair job under the sun for free. I knew I could just take the laptop in there and they would fix it, but I was scared. I felt like an idiot for not being more careful online. I was too busy to get to the store. I was embarrassed to talk to the salesperson. I was too attached to my laptop--virus and all to part with it for a few days. And the list of my excuses could take up the rest of this post, but I will spare you the pain. [You're welcome.]

I kept putting off taking my laptop in for a clean-up for a couple weeks. I figured It would magically fix itself, or maybe If I had the enthusiasm of this meme character I would some how figure out a way to get it working again all on my own.

Image Source
Finally my computer wouldn't even turn on. I knew I needed help. Red-faced and humiliated, I went to the store and confessed my error to the computer technician. To my surprise, she didn't laugh at me. She didn't gawk at my stupidity. She didn't yell at me for not running a security scan. She was kind and understanding. Before I knew it, my laptop was fixed and good as new.

As I've thought about this experience more, I realized that sometimes we use the atonement like I used my laptop warranty plan.

When we sin and mess up, rather than repenting and applying Christ's mercy to our lives, sometimes we put it off. Be it shame, guilt, business, pride, or whatever else-- sometimes we let things get in the way of making things right with the ultimate repair technician-- our Savior Jesus Christ.

From the very minute I bought my computer, the warranty plan for it was already in place. Even with this great benefit, I didn't use it when I needed it most. Rather than going to get it fixed right away, I painstakingly dealt with a glitchy computer and ran it 'til it died.

Let us not do this with our souls.

There is no need for us to wallow in our shame, guilt, and pain. The price for our sins has already been paid by our loving and merciful brother, Jesus Christ. We need not be afraid to come unto Him. No matter how big our problem, He will help us fix it. Best of all, his repair jobs are even more complete than any computer tuneup will ever be.

From Alma 11:44 we read:

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame...

I love that phrase, "restored to its perfect frame". Just like my laptop ran smoothly again once I finally allowed the store to repair it, the atonement can heal our hearts and make all things new once more, if we let it.

To quote Elder Holland:

Our Savior suffered for each one of us. He knows our pain, sorrow, heartache, guilt, shame, and desperation better than anyone else because He's been there. He's felt it. He carried that pain so we wouldn't have to.

Don't treat the atonement like I treated my laptop warranty plan. There is no need to wait for repentance. The price for our debts has already been paid. Let us come unto Him and be made whole.

Happy Easter!


Monday, April 14, 2014

He Never Changes

Today I was watching the first Hobbit movie and it hit me: I am a Bilbo Baggins of sorts. Not always in the courageous selfless sort of way, but in the reluctant to accept change sort of way. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, please allow me to explain.

Image Source
Bilbo is a humble hobbit who lives in a lovely home that has been in his family for generations. He has worked tirelessly to gain respect in his town and revels in the comforts of his simple life. One day, Gandalf, a wise wizard, comes to see Bilbo and invites him to participate in a grand adventure that will save an entire kingdom-- the chance of a life time. But what does Bilbo do? He turns it down. Why? Because he loves his china plates, doily table coverings, puffy recliner, and stocked pantry too dearly to give up, even if his participation in the mission is crucial to the success of a desperate, homeless people.

So there you have it folks. Call me Sarah Baggins, because there are a whole lot of times when I'd rather sit happily on my comfy couch and eat ice cream from the carton while hiding from the world rather than face my fears and serve God as He would have me do.

I've come to realize that at the root of this hobbit  habit [haha see what I did there?] lives an intense dislike for change. Not all change-- sometimes change is good. For example, I highly recommend changing fire alarm batteries, baby diapers, and band-aids. I'll admit, change is central to progression and growth. Without it, we'd still be stuck in the dark ages. Even with it's perks, sometimes change just stinks, and let's face it: this world is full of it. 

There are not many things we can count on in this life. Ice cream melts [*gasp* the horror!], lockers jam [wait, what was my combo again?], Internet Explorer freezes [wait, this if frequent enough it might not count as change...more like consistency...], and sometimes spaghetti drops on your favorite shirt [why did I have to outgrow my baby bib?]. In all seriousness, there are big changes in our lives, too. Job changes, family changes, emotional trials, natural disasters, fear, anxiety, health problems,  and the list could go on and on.

But in the midst of all this chaos, there is one thing that never changes. 

God is always there. 

His love is unconditional. 

No matter what, He will always be there for each and every one of us. All we have to do is come unto Him.

I love this quote from Sister Jean A. Stevens in the April 2014 General Conference:

How comforting it is to know that no matter how scary the future might seem, we are never truly alone. God is always there, and His love is always in reach.

A favorite song of mine is You're Not Alone" by Meredith Andrews. I especially like the chorus where God answers the plea of His distressed child.

You're not alone for I am here
Let me wipe away your every tear.
My love, I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
And I'm the One who's loved you all your life.

I've discovered that the stability of God's love is the key for getting through the trials of this trying world. Yes, all around each one of us lies a constant whirlwind of change and unknown resolutions, but God's love will give us strength to make it through. 

In a place where everything changes, He doesn't. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday General Conference Re-Cap

General Conference was just what I needed today. The messages of hope and perseverance were so timely. I'm so thankful that we have a living prophet and that we are able to hear the words of our Heavenly Father through Him. The comfort and peace the gospel brings cannot be compared to any other feeling in the world. Even though I'm super sad conference is over, I'm so glad that we don't have to let these feelings of joy associated with the spirit go away. As we live in harmony with the principles we have been taught, we can have the Holy Ghost with us every single day and continue to bask in the light of our Heavenly Father's love.

May we remember and apply what we have learned this weekend.

Happy Sunday!

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to watch General Conference or missed a session or something, you can stream it for free here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday General Conference Re-Cap

Once again I am amazed.

Amazed at the gospel's purity and power.

Amazed at the lessons that have been taught.

Amazed at the strength of our members.

But most of all, I am thankful.

Thankful for the gospel and the blessing it is in my life.

Thankful for the peace and the answers that General Conference provides.

Thankful for a knowledge and understanding of my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

Thankful for living prophets.

Thankful for General Conference. Yes, all five sessions. All ten hours. Every minute. Every word.

[Even if it is hard to sit still sometimes. ;)]

With that, here are a few of my favorite quotes from today's sessions:

I have found this to be so true. We might not always be blessed in the ways we want, but when we do what is right we are always blessed in the ways that are best.

When we make Jesus Christ the center of our lives and our families, everything will be okay in the end.

I love the way that Elder Nelson phrased this admonition. It's not enough to just have faith. We need to continue to act on and develop it, serve others, and let our lights shine. 

I can't wait to hear more tomorrow. 

Happy General Conference!
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