Sunday, August 30, 2015

Three Habits for Better Blog Posts

Elder Jose A. Teixeira does not know I have a blog, nor did he know when he gave his talk, Seeking the Lord, that I would have had a good deal of trouble writing decent blog posts. But inspired as he was, he gave me three pieces of advice that I believe will help me write better blog posts.
Habit Number 1: Visit the Church’s Official Websites for Resources
Often, when I don't know what to blog about, I search around Facebook, looking for inspirational picture quotes. More recently, however, I've been reading and listening to General Conference talks and blogging thoughts inspired by those talks, and I believe that my blog posts have improved as a result.
Habit Number 2: Subscribe to the Church’s Official Social Networks
 When I do check Facebook, I'm about as likely to find political messages, interesting news stories, and mildly amusing jokes and videos as I am to find anything inspiring or uplifting. By subscribing to people and organizations that post good, inspiring, uplifting messages, I'll invite the Spirit into my life more frequently, even while I'm just enjoying and sharing trivial amusement.
Habit Number 3: Make Time to Set Aside Your Mobile Devices
 My "mobile device" is a cell phone that isn't "smart," but I'm sure that that's not what Elder Teixeira was talking about. Given that much of the time I spend online (when I'm not blogging or doing homework) is just spent on entertainment, I can definitely reduce the amount of time I spend online. If I did, I'd have more time to spend actually enriching myself by reading books, doing chores, and playing the piano. Doing this will help me be a more balanced person, which will help me write better blog posts.

In our age, we frequently hear General Authorities counsel us on how we can use technology better, which, in some cases, means using it less. I know that if we use technology in appropriate ways and amounts, it can be a real blessing in our lives and help us feel the Spirit more and grow closer to God, which is probably what God meant for us to do with technology all along.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The "Children's" Songbook

Rosemary M. Wixom is the Primary General President, so it's no surprise that her April 2015 General Conference talk, Returning to Faith, involves a copy of the Children's Songbook. That book, which contains the songs Mormon children learn in Primary, also contains, within those songs, the most precious truths of the Gospel, expressed so simply that even children can learn them and begin to gain a testimony of them. But despite it's name, the Children's Songbook is good for more than just children. The songs in that book can instruct and inspire anyone who wants to gain or regain a testimony of the core principles of the Gospel. No matter what your age is, listening to those songs and paying attention to their lyrics is a good way to invite the Spirit to strengthen your testimony. I might do that myself later today.

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Awkward Prompting

In his April 2015 Sunday Morning Session General Conference talk, Blessings of the Temple, President Thomas S. Monson told the story of a young man named Landon. In the story, Landon had just attended the temple, and while sitting in the Celestial Room, he felt impressed to strike up a conversation with another young man in the room, who appeared to be praying. This was an uncomfortable prompting to follow for a number of reasons. First, talking to a stranger is often awkward enough, even without other factors contributing to the awkwardness. Second, the temple is a quiet place, and the Celestial Room especially so; it's not a great place for holding conversations, unless you're conversing with God. And third, it's not usually polite or appropriate to interrupt someone when they're having a conversation with someone else, especially when the being they're conversing with is God. Considering all the reasons for Landon not to go talk to the other young man, I'm almost surprised that he did, but that conversation turned out to be exactly what the other man needed. In fact, it proved to be the answer to his prayer.

There may betimes in our lives when we feel prompted to do things that are outside of the social norm. We may feel prompted to do things that are awkward or embarrassing or that "just aren't done." In those moments, our wills are being tested. Will we then have the courage to follow a prompting, even when it's something we wouldn't normally do, even when we have no idea why God wants us to do it? Landon did, and it ended up helping a young man who had been struggling with a personal challenge. Being the answer to someone else's prayer is a terrific feeling. It's certainly worth the risk of feeling socially awkward.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The New Plan Is The Old Plan

I keep telling myself that I need to blog earlier, and it keeps not happening. I'm sorry. Part of my trouble is that I never know what to blog about, but at Institute today, I committed to watching one General Conference talk per day. Hopefully, I can kill two birds with one stone, preferably in the morning. It's too late for today, but I can start tomorrow.

It's funny. Watching a General Conference talk and blogging about it before noon had been my plan since I first started blogging. The standards of my blogging have slipped dramatically since then. Maybe it's time to reinstate them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Staying Up

One thing I don't like about my blog is that my obligation to blog tends to keep me up at night. We've been counseled to go to bed early and rise early, and I really do want to adopt that kind of sleep pattern, but I've made a sacred promise to blog every day, so I can't go to bed until I blog about something. And if I don't have anything on my mind that I want to blog about, I end up staying up late, trying to think of something to blog about, and have the time, the blog post ends up being really lame.

I think I should rethink my blogging. Either I need to do more to come up with blogworthy ideas during the day, or I need to release myself from the commitment to blog every day, because forcing me to stay up late every night is obviously not what God had in mind when He had me commit to blogging every day. But on the subject of "staying up"...

The other day, at school, I ran into a classmate from a previous semester. He asked me if I knew how to get a hold of our previous teacher, and, as a staggering coincidence, I was just about to gain that information. I asked my former classmate to meet me at a given time and place, and there and then I'd be able to give him the information he sought.

The meet-up point was in the hallway on the second story of the building we were in, and the meet-up time was 1:20, and hour and a half after our first conversation took place. This was also the location of our previous conversation, so I thought that the meet-up point was going to be pretty convenient for my former classmate.

Apparently, I was wrong. The agreed-upon time came, and my former classmate wasn't there. I waited ten minutes, but my classmate still hadn't come. I wanted to go about my business, but I felt impressed to stay up there in that second-story hallway anyway. As it turned out, my former classmate never came. However, as I was waiting, I saw a person in a wheelchair who was asking for directions to a particular classroom. Offering to help the person, I learned that the classroom they were looking for was in another building, whose location I knew well.

I led the wheelchair-bound stranger to the elevator (which I had only just then learned where it was), and took them to the desired building, and then to the desired room. If I had felt a little bit badly about having not been able to help my former classmate, I felt a little better after having been able to help someone else, and that was made possible by having follow the impression to keep waiting up in the second-story hallway.

The moral of the story is that God knows where you're needed and what He wants you to do for Him. If you follow the Spirit's promptings and look for opportunities to help, He'll give you some. His plans may not always include what you had in mind, but they'll always work out to something good.

And right now, "something good" is being able to go to bed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tailored Opportunities

I opened my copy of The Children's Book of Virtues and it opened up to a story of a knight who went out in search of "work that only a knight could do," and he found it. Now, that may have been because the plot conveniently placed a knightly task in his path, but if you pay close enough attention, that happens in real life, too. If we make ourselves available to following the promptings of the spirit, He can lead us to opportunities that match our abilities. God knows what our talents are, and if we let Him, He can put us into positions where we can use them for good. "Convenient circumstances" aren't only found in fairy tales; They're also found by those who trust in God's ability to lead us where we're needed.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Not to Use a Book

When President Monson, then just Brother Monson, was given a copy of the Missionary Handbook, he used it to help keep his clothes properly folded and wrinkle-free, but I have no room to talk. I currently own a copy of The Children's Book of Virtues, but the last time I used it, it wasn't to read it and learn from it. I used it to prop up a laptop so the laptop wouldn't overheat. Obviously, being physical objects of convenient size and shape is not the primary function of a book. Books are made to be read so we can learn from them (or at least be entertained by them, in the case of some less informative books). Perhaps I should follow the example that Brother Monson eventually set and read the book instead of just using it the way I'd use a block of wood.