Thursday, March 10, 2011

Footprints in the Sand

    One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
    When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that at times of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that these were the lowest and saddest times in his life.


    This bothered him and he asked the Lord, "You said that once I decided to follow You, You'd walk with me all the way. But during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. Why, when I needed You most, did You leave me?" The Lord replied, "My son, I love you and would never leave you. During those times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I was carrying you."

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Seven Dwarfs

How to Draw The Seven Dwarfs from Snow White

I love the classic Disney tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is a tale of a run-away princess that stumbles upon a little cottage filled with seven dwarfs. The dwarfs have names very much describing their personalities and attitudes. You have Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy, and Dopey. Each have their own positives and negatives about themselves and they all have something we can learn from them about ourselves.

What about the Seven Dwarfs of the Gospel? Could there be seven dwarfs of the gospel? Could they somehow connect to Snow White's seven dwarfs?

First, we have Doc; the older, wiser leader of this clan of dwarfs. Likewise he relates to the Christlike attribute and dwarf of the gospel Knowledge. The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15) The more knowledge we have the better we are able to make decisions. The more TRUE knowlege we have the stronger our testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ becomes. We must remember the plea issued to us in the Book of Mormon, "O be wise; what can I say more?" (Jacob 6:12)

Happy-snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs-6497352-300-300.jpgHave you ever noticed that there is a lot of unfortunate stuff that happens in this story and that the dwarfs have to do a lot of things that don't seem like a whole lot of fun? Have you ever noticed that despite that this dwarf is always happy and cheerful through the whole story? I think that's a good lesson for us. A lot of times our Heavenly Father asks us to do things that don't sound like a whole lot of fun. He might even ask us to do things that don't make a whole lot of sense at the time. Our job through all of it is to be obedient. Not just obedient but cheerfully obedient. Conveniently enough, as we are obedient to the laws of the gospel, happiness follows. "Conditions of great happiness coming from righteous living."

This shy and always embarrassed character was a little bit harder to connect to church. I was thinking of something along the lines of "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," but that didn't really seem right. What kept coming back to me over and over again is the quality of virtue. Virtue is a quality that is dropping further and further from society. Our Savior was perfectly virtuous in all of his thoughts and actions. In today's world you cannot even see a commercial without being bombarded with lude, suggestive and nearing pornographic adds and shows. Wouldn't it be nice if we were this, "Bashful" and it was as offensive to us as it would be to this dwarf...and to our Saviour. "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." (Article of Faith 13)

Ahhhhh-chooo! This poor guy can't even get a sentence out without having to let a sneeze go. Having a situation such as that requires the next of the Seven Dwarfs of the Gospel; Patience. Jesus Christ was the ultimate example of patience. He endured everything and endured it well. From the taunting of the Pharisees to the crucifixion of the Romans he took everything that came his way and never lost his patience. We don't have to go through any of that, nor do we have to outlast endless sneezes. Couldn't we practice a little more patience with our fellow man. In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19)
I hate the yawns. I also hate being tired. This dwarf is always tired, no matter when or where he just wants to curl up and take a nap. It sounds like the perfect dwarf to talk about diligence. There are many times in this life where we will be tired. Sometimes we will be physically tired, others mentally tired, emotionally tired, spiritually tired but we still need to keep on trucking. We are still expected to live a certain way. Fatigue is no reason to become lax in the way we do things. Remember the exhortation from the scriptures, "Be not weary in well doing". As we fight through the fatigue we will actually find a physical renewal that comes from obedience to the Lord. I promise. I have seen it.

 Oddly enough I would have to say that Grumpy is my favorite of the Seven Dwarfs. The question is, "What does Grumpy have to do with the gospel?" Jesus Christ wasn't grumpy or grouchy. Grumpy is our example of what not to be. He was always irritated and knew that he was always right. We need to show the opposite traits of what Grumpy embodies. We need to be cheerful and humble. Willing to do what we need to do as it comes and as our Lord sees fit.

 You have to love Dopey, if for no other reason than that he loves everybody and doesn't know any better. That is my final of the Seven Dwarfs of the Gospel. Love is so crucially important. Jesus Christ had perfect love for all of us. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) That is exactly what Christ did for us. He layed down his life that others may live. We should love those around us and most importantly our Savior if for no other reason than that He loves us.
"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19) If only we could be a little more like Dopey. Love everyone because we don't know any better.

I can promise you that as we strive to associate with the, "Seven Dwarfs of the Gospel" that we will be happier in our lives and will see the blessings of the Lord flow freely.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Question of the Day: Eeyore or Tigger.

So here we have the tow opposite ends of the spectrum in the Winnie the Pooh stories.

First, we have Eeyore; the ever-present pessimist who seems to have the attitude, "Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could". No matter what, something is always bad for Eeyore. Nobody loves him, nothing goes right, his house constantly gets knocked over, he always loses his tail. Everything is always bad and nothing is ever good. On the other hand we have Tigger; the energetic, bouncy, happy Tigger. Tigger seems to look at the world as bright and sunshiny. He finds the silver lining in even the darkest clouds. There is something good about every situation with this one-of-a-kind "T-I-double Ga-errr". He always joyfully exclaims that, "the greatest thing about Tiggers is I'm the only one!".

Let us hope that is not the case.

So...which are we? Are we Eeyore? Does everything seem to work against us? Or are we Tigger? No matter what happens we are the ones to handle it?

God did not create us or put us into situations so that we will be miserable all of the time. "Men are that they might have joy," is what God has in mind. (2 Nephi 2:25) We need to become a little more like Tigger and find those silver linings. I promise they are there.

I promise that as we begin to try to FIND the good in every situation we will become more like Tigger; bouncy and happy. Doesn't that sound like a better way to live?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who's Honest John?

I have always loved the movie Pinocchio. One of the most interesting and appealing things about it is not only the entertainment aspect but also the many lessons that we can learn from it.

Pinocchio and Jiminy - Friendly Fun We start with Pinocchio, a puppet brought to life, who wants so desperately to be a real boy. He starts down the right path. He's got his conscience Jimminy Cricket, he's got his books and he's off to school. He's on his way to becoming a real boy!

Was Pinocchio was being 'groomed' by his cartoon pals? As he skips down the path with his trusty conscience, joyfully heading to school, he meets Honest John, a fox who distracts him from his goal. He convinces him that an actor's life would be so much better than going to school. Despite contrary suggestion and guidance from his conscience he decided to pursue this life as an actor.

Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy - boy, cage, cartoon, Disney, Fairy, movie, puppet, wandAs the story progresses we see that an actor's life is not all it's cracked up to be. He ends up trapped in a cage with no choice, whatsoever, of what he can do. He remembers his friend Jimminy Cricket who always told him to just, "give a little whistle". Well, Jimminy comes back to him and manages to get the fairy that brought Pinocchio to life to get them out of this jam. Pinocchio goes home with the determination that he will go to school now.

Pinocchio, and the donkeyIt happens again. Pinocchio is off to school when good ol' Honest John comes along and convinces him that he doesn't wanna go to school. He wants to go to Pleasure Island where all the real fun is. Pinocchio veers off the path again and makes the journey to Pleasure Island, which is not very pleasurable at all. They think that they are free and having a good time, smoking, drinking and playing pool when they suddenly realize that they are turning into donkeys.

Pinocchio realizes once again that he has made a mistake and he needs Jimminy Cricket, as Jimminy tries to help him they end up being swallowed by Monstro, a giant whale. As they manage to escape
 the whale Pinocchio has finally learned his lesson, goes to school and becomes a real boy.

Now what in the world does all this have to do with us?

We really are not that different from Pinocchio. We become distracted from the goals with the greatest prizes by things that seems better at the moment. As we strive towards our own goals and ambitions we have our own "Honest Johns" that come along and distract us down a path that turns out to not be as amazing as was hoped. Much like Pinocchio, as we ignore our conscience and follow these "Honest Johns" we find ourselves separated from the guidance of the Holy Ghost and our conscience.

So who are the Honest Johns out there? All the things that distract us from our destiny to live with our Heavenly Father. Riches. Alcohol. Drugs. Recreation on the Sabbath day. I promise you that all these things are just gilded treasures. Worthless things made to look like they are greater than what we currently have, or can receive without them.

I can promise you that if we follow our conscience, follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we qualify ourselves for that companionship more often. The reason most people fail is because they give up what they want most for what they want at the moment. What do you want most?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happily Ever After

Cinderella and Prince Charming

Over the years I have been exposed to many beautiful languages—each of them is fascinating and remarkable; each has its particular charm. But as different as these languages can be, they often have things in common. For example, in most languages there exists a phrase as magical and full of promise as perhaps any in the world. That phrase is “Once upon a time.”
Aren’t those wonderful words to begin a story? “Once upon a time” promises something: a story of adventure and romance, a story of princesses and princes. It may include tales of courage, hope, and everlasting love. In many of these stories, nice overcomes mean and good overcomes evil. But perhaps most of all, I love it when we turn to the last page and our eyes reach the final lines and we see the enchanting words “And they lived happily ever after.”
Isn’t that what we all desire: to be the heroes and heroines of our own stories; to triumph over adversity; to experience life in all its beauty; and, in the end, to live happily ever after?
“You are a beloved child of Heavenly Father, prepared to come to the earth at this particular time for a sacred and glorious purpose.” 1
Those words are true! They are not made up in a fairy tale! Isn’t it remarkable to know that our eternal Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, watches over you, and loves you with an infinite love? In fact, His love for you is so great that He has granted you this earthly life as a precious gift of “once upon a time,” complete with your own true story of adventure, trial, and opportunities for greatness, nobility, courage, and love. And, most glorious of all, He offers you a gift beyond price and comprehension. Heavenly Father offers to you the greatest gift of all—eternal life—and the opportunity and infinite blessing of your own “happily ever after.”
But such a blessing does not come without a price. It is not given simply because you desire it. It comes only through understanding who you are and what you must become in order to be worthy of such a gift.
For a moment, think back about your favorite fairy tale. In that story the main character may be a princess or a peasant; she might be a mermaid or a milkmaid, a ruler or a servant. You will find one thing all have in common: they must overcome adversity.
cinderella scrubbingCinderella has to endure her wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters. She is compelled to suffer long hours of servitude and ridicule.
In “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle becomes a captive to a frightful-looking beast in order to save her father. She sacrifices her home and family, all she holds dear, to spend several months in the beast’s castle. 
In each of these stories, Cinderella and Belle have to experience sadness and trial before they can reach their “happily ever after.” Think about it. Has there ever been a person who did not have to go through his or her own dark valley of temptation, trial, and sorrow?
Sandwiched between their “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity. Why must all experience sadness and tragedy? Why could we not simply live in bliss and peace, each day filled with wonder, joy, and love?
In stories, as in life, adversity teaches us things we cannot learn otherwise. Adversity helps to develop a depth of character that comes in no other way. Our loving Heavenly Father has set us in a world filled with challenges and trials so that we, through opposition, can learn wisdom, become stronger, and experience joy.
You need to know that you will experience your own adversity. None is exempt. You will suffer, be tempted, and make mistakes. You will learn for yourself what every heroine has learned: through overcoming challenges come growth and strength.
It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.
I understand that, at times, some may wonder why they attend Church meetings or why it is so important to read the scriptures regularly or pray to our Heavenly Father daily. Here is my answer: You do these things because they are part of God’s path for you. And that path will take you to your “happily ever after” destination.
“Happily ever after” is not something found only in fairy tales. You can have it! It is available for you! But you must follow your Heavenly Father’s map.
I give you a promise that as you accept and live the values and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, “[you] will be prepared to strengthen home and family,And the day will come when you turn the final pages of your own glorious story; there you will read and experience the fulfillment of those blessed and wonderful words: “And they lived happily ever after.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Disney Magic Kingdom

Disneyland...The Happiest Place on Earth.

I love Disneyland. I can remember the excitement I felt when we drove up. It just creates a spirit of happiness. As you approach you start to hear the cheerful Disney music, you see hedges trimmed in the shapes of Mickey Mouse, Dumbo and Goofy. I can barely contain my feelings of elation. It is a place where you can let your hair down, have fun, be a kid. It doesn't matter. I once watched my father, a grown man with children and grandchildren, SPRINT from the parking garage to the gates of the park. Nobody cared. Everybody else was just as excited.

Ok, ok, I'm sure all of you are thinking, "Elder Davis are you a missionary or a sales rep for Disney?" 

My point I was getting to was that why should those feelings revolve around a park that you visit maybe once in a lifetime? Why can't we have that excitement and happiness all the time?

What if our homes were that way?

Couldn't it happen? What if that's how it was? Every time you come home at the end of the day you were so excited to be there! As you drive up you are just filled to the brim with joy and exhilaration! You know that waiting there for you are the people that you would most want to spend time with...your family.

I promise you that this can be the case. If you focus your life and family around the proper things I can promise you that your home will become your "Happiest Place on Earth". Your family will be closer together. I promise you that no matter what your life is like. Single or married, children or not. If you base your life around the gospel of Jesus Christ your home will become your safe-haven and you will want to go there. Our homes should be our happiest place. Our families are whom we should want to spend our time with. I promise you there is a way.