Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Toilet Paper on the Counter

Inspiration that struck me while I was...well I'll let you figure that out. Toilet paper. Instead of replacing the roll on the holder, have you ever just placed it on the counter? After some introspection, I discovered two main reasons for this behavior. Number one, I am just "too busy" at the moment, and number two, I feel that I have sufficiently satisfied my duty to the person that follows if I just stick the roll on the counter rather than putting it properly in the holder.

On a six-ply level- How easy is it for us to live our lives this way? Filling our lives with everyday to the point that we are "too busy" that it is all we can do to just satisfy our duty to the next guy. Lately, my toilet paper's been on the counter, and there it will remain as a reminder for me to take a step back, laugh, and count my blessings. Take a step back because heaven's perspective is always better than your own. Laugh because its time to cut yourself some slack, and count your blessings because they are given with love and in abundance.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Heroes: My Older Brothers

There are some events in life that are so significant, you use them to measure time. There is the time before the event, and then the time after the event. One such event happened in my family four years ago. It was a usual beautiful summer day in my hometown, I was at work delivering pizzas and as I was just about to leave to take a delivery, my uncle comes into the restaurant and pulls me aside. He says, "Alex, you need to go to Grandpa's and Grandma's as soon as you can, you're mom sent me find you. Nathan's been killed." My world seemed to stop at that moment. 
Nathan Winder

When my brother Nathan was about two years old, my parents adopted him from a Korean orphanage. He became a citizen of the United States soon after that and following graduation from high school, he joined the army and served his adopted country with all of his heart. In January 2007, soon after finishing medic school, Nathan was deployed to Iraq.

I don't know a lot about the politics of the Middle East, and I am terrible at keeping up with the current events of what goes on over there, but I do know that my brother believed in what he did there. I know that he cared for the people that he worked with, both those that served a long side him, and those they worked to help. Soldiers have always been special to me, simply because they are willing to sacrifice so much, and a lot of times, it is for people they don't even know.

As I think about the tragic death of my brother, it helps me, in some small way, comprehend the atonement of the Savior. Jesus Christ is our older brother. Though we may not know him personally, he knows us, and loves us. He gave his precious life for our freedom, not the freedom that our soldiers have fought and died for, but a greater freedom from death and sin. Because of the Savior, I know that I will be able to see my brother again.  In Alma 7:11-13 it says

11. And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

 As Alma, I have a testimony that these things are true. Jesus Christ lives, and he has done all of this for us. He has suffered everything we could ever feel, and he is there to help (or succor) us with our own suffering. I have felt His love for me several times, and never more than when I felt the ache of Nathan's death. I am grateful for the ultimate sacrifice of my brother, that those in Iraq may have the chance at freedom, and also for his service to this country.

We celebrate the freedom we are blessed with each year on the Fourth of July, because of these men and women that have given their blood for our freedom and our rights. It's my hope that it's not just once a year that we remember and celebrate the freedom that Jesus Christ has given us, that we will use the atonement and not let His sacrifice and suffering for us go to waste.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How's the adjustment?

Home from the mission.

Got off the plane- cried.
Was introduced to my new soon-to-be-sister-in-law aka, my best friend
Joined the army
Got a nano
Grew a mustache
Rejoiced in my jeans
Wore cowboy boots to my talk in church
Shunned movies
Played the guitar
Met Mitt Romney

Ok so I made some of those things up. It has been so cool to catch up with everyone. My mission has truly shaped me so you should check out some of the older posts to see what I did as a missionary.

So I think I'll keep this blog going..and try to keep it somewhat spiritually oriented. Any suggestions? Anything you'd like to hear about?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sculptors of Life

“Sculptors of life are we, with our uncarved souls before us. Everyone of us is carving a soul.”
-President David O. McKay

Here are just a few experiences that have shaped me.
I guess I'll claim 'em ;)
My family
Dad taking time for me-shooting hoops, reading to us at night when i was really little. Mom calling us together for family prayer. Brian picking me up from a curb after I'd bombed a test and taking me to ice cream. Kevin, growing nasty mustaches. Yearly birthday letters from my Grandparents wishing me happy birthday and sharing their testimony of the Savior. Working in Grandma and Grandpa Stubbs yard. Yeah, wasn't a fan of that one at the time but it taught me a lot :)

Coolest girls I know
Good Friends
The kind that make you laugh at yourself. The ones who challenge you to be more than you are but accept you where you're at.
Snowmobile. 4 feet of snow. Me and my brothers. Stuck.
Making mistakes, overcoming grief, standing up when everyone else is sitting down, pulling out of stagnation. Giving it to Jesus Christ and applying the gospel teachings to my life. There always seems someone to turn to when I'm at a low. One time, my mission president's wife just called me up out of the blue and asked how I was doing. Little did she know, I had been praying all morning for an angel.

Richard Pape, Steven Jones, me, Sister Nielsen, and Sister Kao
Being converted as I help convert others. Just one example, being able to see Steven accept the gospel of Jesus Christ just months prior to his death. He accepted the truth so quickly and happily. His strong and simple faith was a great example to me. I know that I will see Steven again as will his family.

I realize that the greatest gifts in life truly come from family and dear friends. All centering in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this is the way to things that are real and true. Herein lies true and lasting happiness.

"Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others."
-Elder Wirthlin

I know that living the gospel of Jesus Christ allows God to sculpt us into the best we can possibly be-even as He is (Moroni 7:48). Because of Him, life is good. It is beautiful. We can have joy even as we carry great burdens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Here's your sign...

We saved a turtle.  Some might call us hero's, others just good citizens.  I prefer just to be called a
missionary: one sent to do charitable work in a territory or forigen country.  It all happened last week we were driving down a typical country road.  Thanks to Sister Stubbs' sensitive eye we dodge our reptile friend just in time.  These are the country roads mind you so coming to a complete and sudden stop is not considered an unsafe move.  Just the thought of leaving him there with one and a half lanes of road to still cross made us ill.  We found a comfortable box to put him in, made sure his seat belt was secure, and kept a watchful eye out for a safe home.  Turtles do not belong in the middle of the road.  We played the phone a friend card, and with some help from Google I'm sure, they informed us that our little friend, who we lovingly named Gary, belongs in a muddy wet habitat.  Having a slight understanding of what kind of environment we were looking for, and where to find it amidst all the farm land we pressed on.  Not five minutes later we came to a road sign...GARY LN.  Hello red flag, I think we will stop here.  Not twenty feet from the sign was the ideal home for any turtle named Gary.

I admit my missionary nerdiness regurlarly.  Now is no exception.  As I thought about this experience I thought a lot about all the people that I often talk with about signs and answers from God.  Might seem crazy, but I am grateful for the GARY Ln sign because it is hard to say how long we would have been looking for a home for our beloved friend.  He could have died on our watch!  And really we have more important work to do.  I consider it a serious tender mercy from Heavenly Father.  People are constatnly looking for signs and answers to help them better understand what God wants for them.  Too often we are watching for some giant display from the cosmos or a literal sign on the street to tell us what to do.  Although that would be super convenient its not how it works.  Heavenly Father requires faith, and patience to hear the gentle whisperings of the spirit that are sent to give us answers.  I am reminded of a group of peole in the Book of Mormon:

Helaman 16:
13...there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled.
14 And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year scriptures begn to be fulfilled.
15 Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom saying:
16 Some things they may have guessed right, among that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken.
22 And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wroght among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.

Everyday God sends us the answers that we are begging for.  As hard as it may be to admit it we all at times harden our hearts and depend on our own strength when the signs are there.  I testify that if we watch with a sensitive heart we will recognize the answers and the signs from our loving Heavenly Father. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Choose your own Adventure

I love this video because of her personality and testimony! The gospel is for everyone and it helps us take on our individual goals. I know that the gospel helps me be my best self and live the dream!

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to help one of our friends quit smoking. She is so determined, she even let me film her crushing her cigarette! I know that she will succeed and that it is through her faith in Jesus Christ that it will happen. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of her adventure.

Please share how God has helped you live happily!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who's Got Your Back?

Christmas last year was my first Christmas away from home. My parents were going to send me a package and they asked me what I wanted for christmas. I told them to send me Emma (see above with bazooka and utility belt), my teddy bear. You might be thinking 'lame.' I thought so too, but then I met "Blankie," Sister Nielsen's blanket, Sister Patterson's sword (yes she slept with it), Sister Winder's chocolate, Sister Barnes' turtle, and Sister Austin's sock (don't ask).

We all have things that we lean on when we get sad, discouraged, scared, lonely, etc. These things, though of value in their own right, can bring only temporary relief to our trials. God gives us a way to overcome and have lasting peace through the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost is also known as the Comforter John 14:16-17;26 because it is the peace that comes when we cast our burden on the Lord. It is the still small voice that guides us to truth, and leads us to safety when in danger.

He sends us the Holy Ghost or the Spirit to sustain us in our trial. The Spirit tells us there is more to life than what is before our eyes. God has a plan for each of us individually and specifically, He knows our potential and restores our hope through the Comforter.

I have felt the Spirit through feelings of peace, love, and a desire to be more than I am. Recently, I have felt the sadness that comes from the passing of those that are dear to me. Though that grief is necessary, I felt great comfort in taking it to the Lord. I know that the Spirit is real. I felt it as I prayed. I actually feel stronger and have more desire to live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.