12 October 2011

Snap Back to Reality

I love this talk from Elder Bednar. This whole virtual world has been a huge deal for the past decade, but I've noticed that since I have been in Tennessee, there is an even more emphasis on having the "hip, up-to-date, new" devices in the technology world. I loved that Elder Bednar talked about using these great devices to "build the church." I don't wanna say too much about this video, because the two questions that Elder Bednar proposed are thought provoking enough....

I aslo liked this article that was linked to this video: https://lds.org/youth/article/getting-real?lang=eng

I hope that all of us can "Get Real," see things as they really are, and to snap back to REAL reality. I love the scripture in Jacob 4:13, "Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old." I hope all of us can put away the worldly things and focus on the voice of the Spirit; for the things that He speaks, things as they really are, are things of eternal value.

I Stand All Amazed....at snapping back to reality, with the Spirit.

04 October 2011

Pep Talk Anyone?

So, I loved General Conference. Just sayin. How lucky we are to have the opportunity to hear from living prophets and apostles. All the talks that were given were outstanding. This past conference has been one of my favorites. Probably because back at home I would just pass out on the floor, but that is besides the point. Haha I remember my Mama would yell at me when President Hinckley would get up to speak. "Brennan! Wake up! The Prophet is speaking." So, in a daze, half asleep, I would listen to President Hinckley. I love that man. I know that he is engaged in a fantastic work on the other side. So, like I said, I loved all the talks that were given, but if I had to narrow down my top ones they would be, Elder Christofferson's talk on repentance, Elder Callister's talk on the Book of Mormon, Sister Dalton's talk on how to raise a daughter, and then Elder Holland's talk that he gave in the Priesthood session on needing more missionaries. I also hear that President Uchtdorf's talk in the Relief Society General Meeting on "Forget Me Not" was way good too. So, I would encourage anyone to re-watch those talks I listed, but I want to post Elder Holland's talk. He is such a fiery speaker! I love how bold and up front he is. Can you imagine him as one of your life coaches? Haha well, that is exactly what he is! I hope you get the same chills that I did as I heard him speak.

I Stand All Amazed...at living, modern-day Prophets.

30 September 2011

Our Apartment

So, this was our apartment a few days ago....

Elder Dye had noticed on Monday that the floor in his closet was wet. We thought that was weird and just ignored it. Well Tuesday came around and water spots began to appear thru the carpet. There was at least a half an inch of water in his closet. We called the front office and they sent the maintenance man in to check it out. He thought it was the drain pipe from the dishwasher, so he replaced the valve, cut out the padding under the carpet where it was wet, and placed a fan...side note...the side of that blue fan says "Air Mover" so I guess that is the professional name for the industrial fan haha...un-side note...on the dry part of the carpet to dry things out. We woke up Wednesday morning to more water on the carpet than before and we hadn't used the dishwasher...the "Air Mover" had been running all night, bless it's heart, and things got worse. We called the apartment office again and they sent out another maintenance guy who found the problem...We have a pipe behind our shower that is leaking and it escalated this past week to where it flooded us. It seemed to be just a small leak that got larger and larger over time, and finally it gave way and flooded us. So, they turned off our water and when we got home for the night on Wednesday, there was a note on the counter that said that they turned off the water to our apartment and we were allowed to use Apartment #1802 for shower and bathroom use. We are in Apartment #902....#1802 is on the other side of the complex. So for the past couple days, we only use the restroom when we really, really have to and have been trekking back and forth across the apartment complex with our shower supplies every morning. As of today, they have a plumbing crew that is there and they are gonna have to cut a hole thru our shower to get to the pipe. The office told us to just move our living things over to #1802 for a few days until it gets fixed. So away we went in moving our bedding, some tables for studying, and some of our food with bowls and spoons, across the complex. I love being a missionary! It must've been pretty funny seeing two Mormon missionaries carrying a few mattresses across the complex this afternoon...In light of all this, we have had an incredible week and we are both stoked for General Conference tomorrow! Also, we received a call from the Assistants, and we will be getting another companion! He is a Visa-waiter who was temporarily re-assigned to our mission. He will be going to Brazil once he gets his Visa. We are pretty excited to have this new Elder with us; in the greatest mission in the world! So, how does our apartment flooding pertain to the gospel? If we let even a tiny little sin slowly creep into our lives, just like that leak behind the shower that slowly dripped away, and drip us down to complacency and justification, sooner or later we will give way and commit sins that we never saw coming. This is satan's doctrine and this foolish doctrine is taught among the prophecies of the many false churches to rise up in these the last days. "And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God-he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God." (2 Nephi 28:8) Yes, that was kinda on a whim, but bear with me here, ok? Let us all keep ourselves in check thru daily repentance and no justify even the smallest degree of sin.
I Stand All Amazed...at always keeping ourselves in check thru living the Gospel. (And also at the plumbers here in good ole Tennessee.)

27 September 2011

The Beautiful Plan of Salvation

There is so much that I could say about the Plan of Salvation. This is my most favorite discussion to teach people as a missionary. Its amazing for them to see all of their questions that are answered by just one lesson. Their purpose in life, where they came from, and assurance for what will happen after this life. So instead of me ranting and raving about it, I found this video that breaks it down into simple slides.

The only reason that we have a knowledge of this plan in its fullness is because of a modern day prophet. How grateful I am for prophets! The Lord truly does inspire them and give them revelation to help us out because He loves us. The scripture in Amos is true. "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Why would God change the way that He has worked from the beginning of time? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! He doesn't change because He is perfect, and this is His perfect plan! I testify of it. I know this is true. The Spirit has told me and it is very, very evident in the scriptures that this is the plan of our God. You too can know with a surety that it is true. God will tell you when you ask Him. You can find hope in this life. You can find hope thru our perfect Savior Jesus Christ who makes this whole plan possible. Without Him, there is no hope. This world makes it seem that way. We all get caught up in the moment and just live in the now with no thought of the future. That is hopeless. But if you are looking for comfort, take this scripture spoken by Jesus Himself in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." In Him we will find the hope and peace that we are searching for. Yesterday we had our P-day. We had just gotten done playing a few games of basketball...side note...I'm getting old. And places on my body that have never hurt before are starting to hurt. Especially the day after running a few miles and playing a few games of volleyball and basketball. That day is today. Just sayin...un side note...we dropped off another set of missionaries at their apartment and we were headed back into our area to get ready to go out and work for the night. Well, Elder Dye was driving and I decided to make a few phone calls to get ourselves set up for the week ahead. I called this lady named Wanda that has been taught in the past and we have talked to her a few times on her porch. Her son answered the phone and our conversation was one that I wasn't expecting in the slightest.
Him: "Hello"
Me: "Hi, is Wanda there?"
"Um...no, she's not, this is her son. May I ask who's calling?"
"This is Elder Stringam, I'm a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints."
"Well, I had better tell you I guess. Wanda has passed away. There was an accident this weekend and I'm at the funeral home right now, they are getting ready to cremate her body."
I was speechless. Nothing was coming outta my mouth. "Sir, I'm sorry to hear that."
"Its ok, this is life. She is in a better place now."
"She is."
That was the jist of it. Wanda was at her boyfriend's farm this weekend and a tractor fell on her and took her life. We will be attending Wanda's funeral service tonight at the big Baptist church here in town. I am grateful for the peace that comes from knowing this plan. I know that she is being taught the gospel on the other side, and I hope that she too will find hope in this same plan.
I Stand All Amazed...at the great Plan of our Eternal Heavenly Father.

21 September 2011

Salvation is a personal matter; Exaltation is a family concern

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my little brother, Brackin. The kid is a stud. He's good lookin, athletic, has the biggest heart in the world, and loves to help others. I love him! We know that all of us here on earth make up the family of God. God is our Father and we are His children. We are all brothers and sisters here and its pretty cool to stop and think about that every once in a while. When its thought about in that sense, all of us share a brotherly love. For example, I have the coolest friends in the world. We are all very close to each other and we trust each other with a lot of things. I love those guys, my brothers. I would do anything for them. With that being said, I am convinced that the love that I have for my "real" brother surpasses that of my brotherly love that I have for my buddies. Why? I'm trying to figure that out. It seems like those that we spend the most time around are those that we are quick to burn or to treat badly and we end up treating our friends who we are not around most of the time much better. Wouldn't it make sense if those that we love more are treated better than those that we don't love as much? There's a saying in my house that I took for granted growing up and it consists of two words. "Family First." I think about how often I didn't put them first back at home. I love this quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson, "In God's eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter." I hope that all of us can do more to put our families on the forefront of our minds and to make them a priority. I know that this is something that I have learned since being away from my family for a few months. I love them. A lot. They mean the world to me and I can say that they are a priority in my life. I will do more to show that love to them. To my little brother~ You are the man! I love you and respect you with all that I got. You may always be my little brother, {and don't ever forget that!} but I will always look up to you. I always have. You know what you believe and you are not afraid to stand up for it. You know the talents and blessings that God has given you and you are not afraid to share them. {Even if that includes knocking some kids out on the football field :) } You know that you are a noble and valiant son of our Heavenly Father and you are not afraid to share that. Thank you for being fearless. I love you Brackin. Go Get It!
I Stand All Amazed...at the joy that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brings to a family. 

13 September 2011

Ridding Ourselves of Sin

Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy gave a talk entitled, "The Sting of the Scorpion," and his talk was awesome! One, because its a cool story with a good principle behind it, and two, because this man's accent is EPIC! Here's the link, check it out before you read on....

C'mon, you have to admit that his accent is cool. How true is that story though? How often do we disregard what the Lord says to do and we trudge our own path? How often do we ignore what our parents have told us to do and we just do our own thing? How often do we fall short and get "stung" by the adversary? I do this so much! I remember one time we were out on the boat as a family down at Lake Mead. I had been taught how to kneeboard prior to this trip down to Mead, and I thought that I had figured out the way to do things best. My way. I was taught to put the knee strap on loosely so that I could squirm right outta the board if I wrecked and at first that's what I did. I would wear the strap loose and over time, I got a little cocky and decided that I would tighten the strap so that it fit snugly around my knees. By tightening it, you can cut across the water easier and you have more control, but this should only be done after a lot of practice. After a few runs with the tightened strap I decided that my way was better. I disobeyed my father's counsel and I did things my way. Well, that day at Mead, I got "stung." I was riding the kneeboard with my tightened strap and I caught an edge and I ate it. Hard. I ended up under the water with the kneeboard upside down and my knees were still strapped to the board, so that the only thing above the water was the bottom of the knee board. I was in such a panic that I forgot how to get the strap undone and I thought I was gonna die there. When Dad came back around in the boat, he dove into the water and swam out to me and saved my life. I'm grateful for his sweet Baywatch skills. My Mom likes him for his sweet skills haha. After this talk, I was reminded of this experience of when I rebelled against what my father told me. I was "stung" and paid the price for being disobedient. I know that all of us have disobeyed our Heavenly Father. I also know that there has been a way provided to become clean again; there is help and healing. Our Savior has provided the way for us to be saved, just as I was saved that day by my father. I know of consequences of sin. I know of the guilt and the pain that it brings. I also know of the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is real. He has provided a perfect way for us to return to live with him again. We must do all that we can to completely rid ourselves of sin. We must make the decision now to obey what we have been told. May we all strive to be more obedient and to put on our shoes instead of flip-flops.
I Stand All Amazed...at the saving grace of Christ, our Lord.

08 September 2011

Scars of Life

Mail. Its a beautiful thing. After a long day of sweating, getting laughed at, slammed doors, rejection, unanswered calls, and all the other great things that come with being a missionary, there is nothing better than walking up to the mail box in anticipation. "Is there a letter?! I hope its mine...if Elder Dye gets one today and I don't I'm gonna be mad...he always gets mail...I get a lot of mail too...its probably mine...its probably his...its probably empty...if there's one in there I hope its mine...please!" Those are just a few thoughts to go with the heart pounds and the butterfly jumps within the stomach. Once you finally get to the box, you hurriedly put the key in and twist and.......over half of the time its empty. A box with air in it. I call it, "Air-box." Well, that wasn't the case today right after lunch. I got a letter from my Old Man! Elder Dye checked the mail today and faked like he was gonna rip the letter as he handed it to me. He was a little bitter....haha. The letter was a story called the Scars of Life, and I would like to share it. It was written by Tanay Kumar Das....

Scars of Life

     "Some years ago, on a hot summer day in South Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
     His father, working in the yard, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could.
     Hearing his voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. It was too late. Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached the boy.
     From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator with his fierce grip was very powerful, and the father with his incredible love eliminated all thought of letting go.
     A farmer happened to drive by, and hearing the commotion, grabbed a gun from his truck, raced over, took aim, shot, and killed the alligator.
     Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms were deep scratches where his father's fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved.
     The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked the boy if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with grateful pride, he said to the reporter, 'But look at my arms. I have great scars on them too. I have them because my Dad wouldn't let go.'
     You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars too. No, not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He's been there holding on to you.
     The scriptures teach that God loves you. You are a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril- and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That's when the tug-of-war begins and if you have the scars of His love on your arms, be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.
     You just never know where a person is in his/her life and what they are going through. Never judge another person's scars, because you don't know how they got them."

Yes, I liked this story too.
I Stand All Amazed....at the incredible love of our Heavenly Dad.