Many years ago I made the decision to live my life by the Spirit. I know not all the answers will be given to us and we need to figure out a lot on our own, but I always try to remain worthy of the Spirit so I will be ready to receive guidance and direction when it is available. This has been a wonderful decision and it has greatly enhanced the quality of my life. But the thing is, when you prove to God that He can trust you, He'll begin to ask you to do more things that require YOU to trust HIM. And that can be a major test of your faith.
Over the last several months God had asked me to do some really scary things, like remaining at my part-time job even though I have bills to pay and putting unimaginable amounts of time and effort into projects that I'm not even sure will ever succeed. It's scary. I honestly don't know how I'm going to make it--except on faith, which, as I mentioned before, I'm struggling with.
The day I received those promptings and I began this current course, I felt that it was right - so much so that I immediately quit my nearly $1000/week job to go back to working part-time for the Church. And every time I've felt afraid and desperately pleaded to God for guidance, His response has been the same: "Just trust me. I know what I'm doing. Follow my direction with exactness, and when the time is right, I will show you the way."
But last night as I opened my evening prayer, the first thing I said was this: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified of what you're asking me to do. I'm honestly afraid that the sea will not part and I'll end up underwater."
Even though I felt it was right, even though I have had countless witnesses telling me it will be okay, I still have this overwhelming fear. Satan knows that good things are in store for me if I continue on this path, and so he is doing everything he can to get me to quit. He almost succeed a couple times. But despite my fears, I've come too far to turn back now; I'm past the point of no return. I'm either going to end up a broke, miserable, failure, or an incredibly grateful (and humbled) man. The closer I get to God's deadline, the tighter I brace for impact, and the more I hope that it will be a smooth landing.
And it is that hope that I'm holding on to.
This morning I had the most incredible privilege of singing in the choir at a meeting at which Elder M. Russell Ballard presided and spoke (a miracle in and of itself, but a story for another time). After closing his remarks, the choir sang "Redeemer of Israel" - my favorite hymn. As we triumphantly came to the final verse, I openly wept. I just couldn't hold back what I was feeling.
"As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near."
Even though I have fears. Even though I have doubts. Even though I am sometimes utterly terrified of what lies ahead, I know that God loves me. I don't know HOW He loves me, but I know that He does. And that is ultimately what gets me through to another day.
At first I was disappointed (but bear with me, this isn't a negative review!) I was disappointed because I realized that my life was nothing like that of the authors (there are 8 of them). I thought to myself, I've never gone through what they went through. My trials weren't even remotely close to theirs. How was this book supposed to help me with my own unique struggles? I've never moved to another country, I've never played on a football team, my mother has never been to prison, I've never had to deal with paralysis, I've never been rejected by my family. How could I relate to these stories?
And then I realized something.
I've never had to leave my home and travel 8 years in the wilderness while my brothers tried to kill me, and yet I still love and learn from the stories of Nephi. I've never been the only member of the church in my entire city, and yet I love and and learn from the story of Abish. And when the story of Joseph in Egypt was told twice in this book, I realized that I don't have to have these same experiences as they did to learn from them. So do you know what I did? I read the book again. Just sat down and read it all the way through. This time I asked Heavenly Father to help me learn things from these experiences that would help me get through my own. And that's exactly what he did.
I recommend this book to everyone, because there's something in it for everyone. Though we may not have the same trials, we do all have trials, and these eight authors guide us through them in a fun and engaging way. I had heard of some of the authors, such as Al Carraway and Hank Smith, but most of them were new to me. It was fun to get to know them! They are all people who decided to put God first, even when it was hard (or maybe because it was hard). I learned so much from them.
If I were to sum up the message of this book it would be this: trust God, do everything you can to succeed, and never, ever give up.
You can purchase "You've Got This!" here:
Are you preparing to serve a mission? Are you currently serving a mission? Did you just get back from a mission? Are you simply trying to figure out your life's mission? Then this book is for you!
I've always loved good mission stories. I grew up listening to my dad tell of his adventures in Italy, and then later listened to my brothers-in-law tell of their experiences in Louisiana and Brazil. I myself served in California and have quite a few stories to tell. The thing that's always struck me about mission stories is that people can serve in vastly different places, and yet learn the very same lessons.
In this book, Ben Bernards does a beautiful job at teaching those lessons through stories. From being chased through the jungle by angry tribesmen, to receiving golden name tags, there's a lesson to be learned on every page.
The subtitle of the book, "7 truths for your eternal mission," helped me realize that there's so much more I can be doing. My mission isn't over. While reading I was motivated to be a better missionary, a better friend, and to never stop strengthening my faith. There's so much we can learn from our experiences.
The truths taught in this book are life-changing. I'm confident that anyone that diligently learns from them and applies them will be well on their way back to their Heavenly Father.
I'm grateful Ben reached out and asked me to write this review. I'm going to read "Faith and a Life Jacket" several more times, making sure I mark all the things that I can personally do to better fulfill my eternal mission. Like Ben says, "It won't be easy, but it's so worth it."
You can purchase "Faith and a Life Jacket" here:
And if you like it, share it with a friend! :)
I'm 25 years old and still single. Might as well start digging my lonely grave now, right?
At least that seems to be the attitude here in Utah. But let me tell you something you probably haven't thought of:
Maybe I'm still single for a reason.
John Bytheway once said that "Moroni did some of his greatest work as a single adult." That work included traveling around North America dedicating temple sites, abridging the Book of Ether, and writing 12 chapters of his own. Do you think he would have had time to do those things if he had a wife and family to take care of? Probably not.
Maybe you're still single because God NEEDS you to be single.
I invite you to take a look at your life and see what more you can be doing to serve those around you. Being single gives us so many unique opportunities to help other people. If you're not happy with your relationship status try strengthening your relationship with God. Spend more time studying the scriptures. Spend more time bearing your testimony. Do everything you can to move God's work forward. I promise you that living the gospel more fully will bring you more happiness than changing your relationship status on Facebook.
Remember, Moroni did some of his greatest work as a single adult.
So can you.
Wonderful! Fantastic! Absolutely brilliant!
That is how I would describe Al Carraway's new book "More Than the Tattooed Mormon." Scriptures aside, I have never been more affected by a book than I was with this one. Let me tell you why:
First of all, I want to point out that this book is dedicated to the reader. That means you and me. Right from the start Al decided to make it personal. All throughout the book she reminds us that the book is not about her, it's about us and our relationship with God. She teaches us that life, although difficult, can be absolutely glorious if we put our trust in Him.
Next, this book made me feel incomplete. but not in a bad way. Maybe a better way of saying it is that it made me "hunger and thirst after righteousness." (Matt. 5:6) Reading this book made me realize that my life could be so much better than it currently is. It made me realize that when you put God first, He takes care of your needs and He blesses you more than you could ever imagine.
My third reason is similar to the previous one: it made me crave gospel knowledge. I was raised in the Church and was taught the gospel from a very young age, but this book made me want to start all over and study like I was an investigator. It made me want to give more priority to the simple things like developing my faith and saying more meaningful prayers. It made me want to appreciate the scriptures more and it has motivated me to study them every day. It reminded me that we are never done learning and there is always something more we can do.
My last reason for loving this book is that it gave me a new perspective on life. After reading it I wanted to live the gospel with every bit of my heart. I wanted to trust God more and appreciate the things that He does for me. I wanted to do more to be a light in the lives of those around me, I wanted everyone to see the treasure that I have found, for the gospel truly is a treasure worth sharing.
To me, "More Than the Tattooed Mormon" is more than just a book, it's a tool that God has given me to enrich my life and bring me closer to Him. I'm grateful that Al has heard His call and has chosen to answer with all that she has to offer. She has been a blessing in the lives of millions of people.
Thank you Al.
You can purchase her book here:
Read Al's blog here:
One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is accept God's will when everything inside of you wants the opposite. It's difficult when you try for months to make something happen and then God tells you no; that it's time to stop; that it's time to move on. It feels like my soul has been ripped from inside of me and I'm left empty; wandering without a purpose. I know that God is real and I know that he wants the best for me, but it's so freaking hard to accept! How do you move on? How do you start over? I really really really don't want to do this!....Please don't make me do it!......please......
.....ok.....I'll do it.....
I wrote this poem two weeks before the end of my mission. It is my witness of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
"Whom Shall I Send?"
My head was high, my smile proud
My heart was hard, my laughter loud.
I loved myself, and me alone
My brother lacked, I had a throne.
I saw him lonely, with a frown
To build me up, I tore him down.
I laughed and mocked his lonely stare
The pain I caused I did not care.
The praise of man, my only goal
Caused me to lie, destroyed my soul.
To change my ways, I had no thought
In my own eyes I had a lot.
I spent my life on useless things
I gave my all to worldly dreams.
Then came the day when all was lost
With nothing left I felt the cost.
The pain was great, my soul was racked
I lost my strength, my body slacked.
I fell upon my knees to pray
"Dear God" I said "take me away.
I see my sin, I cannot bear
To stand beneath thy piercing stare.
I never knew such dreadful pain
But this I know: I am to blame.
Take me now and seal my fate
I can't be saved, it is too late."
Then in my mind I saw a tree
With olive leaves, Gethsemane.
I saw a man on bended knee
His head hung low, I heard His plea:
"Thy will be done, not mine" He said
And then He fell, His body bled.
From every pour how great the pain!
I heard His voice, He called my name.
I looked and saw another tree
Up on a hill called Calvary.
I saw Him there up through the fog
The Son of Man, the Son of God.
The King of Kings, a crown of thorns
With nothing more was He adorned.
I looked at Him, He looked at me
And then to God, I heard His plea:
"It is now done, I've paid the cost
That this poor soul will not be lost.
I've done the work thou gavest me
Now take my spirit back to thee."
His head hung down and then He died
With nail-marked hands and wounded side.
Back on my knees I changed my plea:
"How could this all have been for me?
I am not worthy of thy love
Thou art so great, the God above."
And then the voice I heard before:
"I came to earth among the poor.
The broken heart I came to mend
I am He whom God did send.
To show the world He loved it so
I told my Father 'I will go.'"
"Oh Lord my God I know it's true
You really lived and suffered too.
But if the price was really paid
And if you suffered on that day
Why must I still feel such pain?
What victory does my suffering gain?"
Another voice came in reply
My Heavenly Father told me why.
He said "My son, I called you here
To feed my sheep and have no fear.
You had to know what Christ went through
I have a work for you to do.
But pride had filled your foolish heart
And you could not fulfill your part.
Your head was high, your smile proud
Your heart was hard, your laughter loud.
You loved yourself and you alone
Your brother lacked, you had a throne.
You saw him lonely, with a frown
To build yourself, you tore him down.
You laughed and mocked his lonely stare
The pain you caused you did not care.
The praise of man, your only goal
Caused you to lie, destroyed your soul.
To change your ways you had no thought
In your own eyes you had a lot.
You spent your life on useless things
You wasted all on worldly dreams.
You are my servant and my son
There is a battle to be won.
I have some sheep for you to find
They lost their way, got left behind.
They need to know what Christ went through
And so to find them I sent you.
I need your might, your mind, your strength
I need a heart that has been changed.
So one last time I'll ask again
To these lost sheep, whom shall I send?"
"Oh Lord, my God, I love thee so
To find thy sheep, I will go.
I give thee all, my very will
I am so small, I know that still.
But now I know what Christ went through
For Him, O Lord, I'll go and do."
My name is Jordan Michael Anderson. My life's mission is to do as much good as possible.