“My Non-Imaginary Friend” -Elder Jarom Barney

10268612_10152420759143137_8142145964213330862_n
I Wish Oh How I Wish,
My Imaginary Friend Were Real.
A Friend That I Could Talk To,
And Sit Down With At A Meal.
A Friend I Could Converse With,
A Friend That Could See,
A Friend That I Could Talk To,
About The Real Me.
In Sunshine In The Summer,
In Winter When It Snows,
We’d Discuss The Things About Me,
That Nobody Else Knows.
A Friend That Wouldn’t Judge,
A Friend Who Could See,
What Is Going On,
What It’s Like Being Me.
I Don’t Mean To Complain,
In Fact You Should Know,
I Do Have A Friend Like This,
A Friend Whose Being Glows.
His Name Is Christ Our Savior,
Imaginary He Is Not,
For He Is That Courageous Man,
Who Hung Upon A Cross.
He Loves Us More Than Any,
And Knows What It Is To Be,
Suffering Alone,
Just Like You And Me.
So When You Feel Afraid,
When You Feel Alone,
Remember Christ Our Savior,
For Your Sins He Did Atone.
He Knows What We Go Through,
Every Single Day.
He Lived Our Lives In Our Shoes,
And With His Blood He Did Pay.
In That Lonely Day,
And In That Lonely Night,
Remember You Do Have A Friend,
Who Will Help With All His Might.
I Wish Oh How I Wish,
I Could Live All The While,
In Such A Pleasing Manner,
To Make Christ My Brother Smile.
-Jarom J Barney

 

The New Epidemic: Scriptural Dystrophy

scriptures-book-1173784-wallpaper

I’ve reached the conclusion that people today really don’t get how important consistent scripture study is. Today in my studies, I was reading in Preach My Gospel  about this very topic, and in the “Scripture Study” I was led through a really fun “Aha!!” Moment, or two or ten! Here is what I learned:

In 2 Timothy 3:14 we are taught that we need to, “…continue thou in the things which thou has learned and hast been assured of…” which to me said, “No matter where you are in your current religious practices, or even the lack thereof, your current level of faith or belief in God, just start with what you do know, and be ready to move forward from there.”
In the Book of Mormon, 2nd Nephi 29:3 it says:
“3 And because my words shall hiss forth–many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
Continuing in verses 6-9 it say:
“6… A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
What I learned today and wanted to share with each of you is that we need to stop limiting ourselves. We came to this earth to gain knowledge and understanding, experience and wisdom. We can’t do that if we are too busy nay-saying and defaming others beliefs. We won’t be able to stand before the Lord and say “I gave it my best” when in reality, we didn’t even exert a tenth of our energy in trying to better understand each other’s values and beliefs, and therefore the Word of God.
Scriptures are powerful. I think fear of the unknown is intimidating way to many people and they are convincing themselves that they “have enough” or “it can’t possibly be true”. With the acquisition of knowledge comes power, and with power comes great responsibility (my favorite quote from Spider-Man). In a society that is quite phobic of responsibility and accountability, it makes logical sense that there is an epidemic of “Scriptural Dystrophy”. Our spiritual muscles are atrophying. Our connection to our God is weakening, and look at what’s happening to the world because of it? Can we afford not to read the scriptures? No. Can we afford not to pray? No. Can we afford to skip church? No.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is so important to pick our battles, but we can’t lose this one.  The consequences are far too significant! We can’t be afraid of the the blessings (or the trials) that come from righteous living. It’s all a part of Heavenly Fathers game plan, remember? We came here to learn, to prove to God we would follow Him always. Let’s keep studying the game plan (aka the Scriptures) and talking to the coach (our dear Heavenly Father, via prayer) to help us through these tricky plays of life. It is possible to study the scriptures every day. It is possible to make it to church on Sunday. It is possible to remember to pray each day. I know these small and simple righteous actions make an eternally significant impact. Take the advice of the prophet Alma 32: 26-30 and let the seed of faith and testimony in God that you do have continue to grow. Nourish it with the proper care, and let God work miracles in your life every day.
I testify God lives. He loves each of us. The scriptures are here to reinforce that truth. Don’t lose such an important battle to the adversary. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
jesusblesseschildren

jesusblesseschildrenI was at the library one day, and I couldn’t help but be a bit distracted by the annoyed, curt, and rude way a mother was speaking to her children.  That got me thinking…. How can we expect our youth to be respectful if the adults around them do not speak to them (or each other) respectfully? It’s not going to happen.  God has proved that theory already.  He never speaks in a condescending, negative, sarcastic tone to any of us.  He always speaks with respectful words, and dignity.  Let’s all take a page out of His book, and do the same.  And remember, Christ took time out of His daily doings just to interact with the children.  They are a precious gift and should be treated as such.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:14)

That is all…. Love, Sister Yates

 

Living on the Atonement, One Day at a Time

Jesus-with-child-lds-scriptures

christatonementWe often hear the counsel to “rely on the atonement”, to “use the atonement”, to “trust the atonement”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always know how to do those things exactly. Lately however, I’ve been focusing more on my relationship with Jesus Christ and I have received some insight that’s been really helpful to my personal reliance on Him, and figuring out the one thing that makes Him so vital to all of us, which is the Atoning sacrifice He made for each and every one of us.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

We need to get past “using and abusing” the atonement, which none of us consciously do, but think of all the times we say “oh I screwed up (a bit too much on the side of “premeditated sin”) but it’s ok because of the atonement!” That’s not how the atonement is meant to work. It’s not a cushion to justify all of our mistakes. It’s there to help us recover and rebuild and move on after we sincerely and truly repent. What I feel we need to learn to do is to “live on the atonement”.

If we view the atonement of Jesus Christ as the source of our strength, ability and character, I believe we will become true disciples of the Master.  Will we be perfect? No. But we will be
closer to Christ, and therefore that much closer to perfection, which means (in the Greek translation) “whole and complete; finished”. So how do we live on the atonement? I’m not an expert, or anyone of any professional status so definitely don’t take this as anything more than the humble, outspoken testimony of a missionary, but I feel the way we come to “live on the atonement” is to remember a few basic essentials:

#1- Remember who you’re living for. This time on earth is a gift from God. It is a time for us to help God accomplish His purposes and in the process (because God is this good!) become who He needs us to be.scarlet-white

#2- Don’t deprive God of opportunities to work miracles in your day to day experiences. Miracles have not ceased, nor will they so long as we have faith and give them the chance to happen for us.

#3- Be as Christlike as you can. This may seem obvious, but it’s probably the hardest. Keeping the atonement in the forefront of our minds will help us be the true, Christlike disciples we all want to be.

#4- Be positive. Negativity is a poison that is administered by the Adversary. When we let the light of positivity burn out Satan seeps in, and digs and digs and digs, and picks and picks and picks until we find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless pit that we feel we will never overcome. Positivity, faith, and diligent effort to live on the atonement will keep us out of these pockets of darkness and misery.

#5- Sincerely repent. Don’t just repent daily because you’re supposed to. Stop telling God “I’m sorry…” And then going out and doing the same thing you just “repented” of. Be sincere with God, and everyone. Be real.

In Alma 26:12 we read:

“Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things…”

Truly living an Atonement and therefore Christ centered life allows us to blossom into the disciples we all need to be. That’s really the essence of why we are here, persevering to the end of this “miracle mile” adventure. We are here to become acquainted with Christ that we might be able to work with Him to accomplish all of Gods purposes so we can return, fully prepared to be with God and all of our loved ones for the rest of eternity. How blessed are we? What a truly marvelous
gift!

Jesus-with-child-lds-scripturesIt is my testimony that it is possible, no matter where you are at this time in your life, no matter how you currently feel towards God or the Savior, no matter where you’re at in your testimony, career, relationships, life, etc…. you have every chance and opportunity to become the very best you can be. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who your parents are, what you’ve been through, or what you’re going through. Jesus Christ has already been there, done that, and He overcame it and now look where He is? The whole purpose of all He went through was to show that it’s possible for us to achieve the same; exaltation and eternal life. I know Christ lives. I know the atonement is real. I know we can become all God wants us to become. I know living on the atonement, and truly striving to follow Him is the key to happiness and success.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Home Stretch

time

finishlinestartline

You know when you’re running, and the end is so close, but you’re so tired you just aren’t quite sure how you’re going to finish strong? So it can be with missionary work. But! I’m here to tell you that no matter the outcome of the first 3, 6, or 9 months, or even the first year, you can still have a great finish!

How is that possible? Because of Him! Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Zone Conference (which for those who don’t know, is a meeting where missionaries gather together to hear instruction and training from our mission president, his wife, senior couple missionaries and the assistants) and it was a hugely inspirational day! Throughout my time here, as a mission we have put a certain emphasis on different things (i.e. The Book of Mormon, Teaching Skills, Family History, etc.) to help us be more effective and more converted to the message we are sharing, and now due to that preparation “line upon line” as Isaiah teaches us, we are now focusing solely on Jesus Christ. He’s always been apart of it, because what is the point of the Book of Mormon, Family History, and teaching the Restored Gospel? To com unto Christ. He’s been apart of this whole adventure!
And this is the point of all I’m saying today: a few nights ago as I was talking to my companion (the night before my year mark) she asked me a lot of really inspired questions that led me to realize that I had forgotten a very crucial fact-

Christ, just like God, is in every single detail.

At one point in my mission, I’d hit an interesting wall with my faith in Christ, and it took all this time to figure out what exactly my block was. I’d forgotten how much apart of my life Christ really is. As Zone Conference went on, I could see more and more why, and how Christ always needs to be the center of our everything. It’s not just because of what He did for us. It’s not just because He is the Son of God. It’s because in order to have true happiness, we need to be like Him. He needs to be our walk, and our talk. Whenever we are unhappy, or depressed, or disappointed, we ought to take the time to evaluate “Where is my faith at right now? Is it in Christ, or someone or something else?” I can testify to you, that as we take time to ask ourselves those questions, and then do our part so we can confidently say, “My faith is in Christ, always!” That we will conquer all! Our spirit and power as disciples of Christ will always burn brightly, and we will be able to accomplish His purposes.

In Alma 5:14-16 it says:

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Those questions make me think to myself:
How am I showing that I have faith in Christ?
What more can I do to show my faith?
Why do I follow Him?
Do I believe Him?

I have a lot of work to do, but I’ve been given the enormous blessing of having the next six months to become that disciple, missionary, and daughter of God I’ve always wanted to be, and who I came to be. I am so exceedingly grateful for my mission! Yes, it’s been hard but it has been so worth it! I find joy in this work, and I know who my true source of strength is. I know Jesus Christ lives. I know He is real. I know that the Prophets He has called and lead are good, and inspired men and I sustain them, past, present, and future. I know this church that I belong to and represent is His church and therefore I represent Him. I am so incredibly blessed, and hope each
of you can always “retain in remembrance” (Mosiah 4:11) your Savior.

I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

peacelily-wide

peacelily-wideEven though missionaries are pretty well cut off from the world, it’s not too terribly long before really big news makes it around to us. Hearing about the death of a beloved Actor, hearing about all of the craziness in the middle east, and listening to sirens whirr here there and everywhere all around us (or so it seems) while we got about our day to day can cause the question to come, “Where can I turn for peace?”
That happens to be my all time favorite LDS Hymn. It is so well written. It appeals to me, A- because it sounds beautiful, and B- because the lyrics really touch my heart. My favorite verse is verse 2:

“Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.”

greatestpeepsIn the thick of a trial, as I’ve said many times before, it can be so hard to remember that there is hope. There is peace to be enjoyed, and found. We simply must rely on the Savior more fully. We need to turn to appropriate resources such as prayer, scripture study, church attendance, and wholesome recreation. We need to do our part to find “peace”.

Peace is a beautiful thing. How doesn’t enjoy those moments when you feel perfect contentment and balance; Clear, and pure assurance of what the Lord needs you to do? My question for you to ponder is: Where do you turn for peace? I testify, as a representative and disciple of Jesus Christ that He, our Savior and Redeemer is the only way to find the peace, happiness, and comfort we all seek as we go throughout this life. He is the Prince of Peace, and He wants you to have all that He has. Please be wise (Jacob 6:12) and allow the Master of all to lead you safely through your mile. May God bless you with a peaceful day!
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

10351148_284183385100702_4721997266177795250_n

timeLately my mind has been called to “serious reflection” upon why exactly I choose to continue on in my mission (besides the fact that I only have six months left). It’s full of great things that are going to help me and my family and others I meet progress for the rest of eternity; the benefits far out weigh the costs 100%! But… Satan has a very crafty way of making those blessings seem insignifigant in comparrison to how difficult it can be to serve.

I came to the determination that no matter what, I will finish my mission because of two things.
#1- I do know the gospel is true. I know Joseph Smith saw God the Father, and Jesus Christ and they restored Christ’s true church to the earth. I know that no matter what scientist and Pastors and Ministers of other churches or random people on the street have to say, the Book of Mormon is true. It’s accomplished for me all that it promises to do- Strengthen my relationship with Christ, my understanding of His doctrine, and it has, and continues to answers to the questions of my soul.
#2- I don’t quit. Once during soccer practice my coach was getting on my case about “over committing” while I was guarding someone. That’s a pretty accurate statement for just about all that I do. If I’m going to do something, I am going to finish it. I may not be the best at it, I may make some really stupid mistakes (happens all the time, actually… #atonement) but I know that’s part of God’s grand plan. Each adventure I embark on during this crazy “mile” of mine is for my eternal growth and progression, as it is for each of you. It’s not going to feel good to quit. It always feels better, regardless of the outcome, to say “I’m glad I did that” rather than “I wish I had”. I wouldn’t trade the knowledge I’ve gained from these experiences for anything. Even when it’s been hard, even when I’ve seriously questioned my testimony, and everything that makes me who I am. But I know truth is truth, and as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “God’s word never ceases.” Therefore, if it was true before, it must still be true. And so far, each time I’ve asked that has always been the case. This quote by President Ezra Taft Benson in Preach My Gospel (pg. 121) is my personal “keystone”:

“I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work- there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”

Since every member is commissioned to be a missionary, I feel this quote applies to “life” as a whole, not just this short “life time” of being a full time missionary. I know that if we put our heart and soul into righteous endeavors, we’re going to be grateful for the experience. Heavenly Father wants us to succeed. He wants us to learn and grow. We can’t do that unless we have trails and opposition. In 1st Nephi 20:10 it says:

“For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

I have come to know and testify that trials are a blessing. Opportunities to grow our testimony, to withstand the storms of Satan, and to show to God and our Savior that we do love them enough to endure to the end is a great blessing to us. It’s vital preparation for things that are to come.

In conclusion, I have one more quote that I found today:

“… For each of us, There are choices to be made, incesasnt and difficult chores to be done, ironies and adversities to be experienced, time to be well spent, talents and gifts to be well employed. Just because we were chose “there and then,” surely does not mean we can be indifferent “here and now.”… those called and prepared must also prove “chosen, and faithful.” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell (“Premoratily, a Glorious Reality” Oct 1985)

Keep working. Don’t give up. “It will all work out.” -Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Tom Keifer
-Tom Keifer

10397107_10152193346632823_6022705930107546811_oI feel we all have a few people in our lives that we feel this ridiculous sense of responsibility for, and I have noticed often times we can let those acquired cares and burdens overwhelm us. I was once having a moment like that about two years ago when my cares and worries and fears about others and the circumstances of life that were swirling around us might as well have been nuclear missiles sent straight from Satan to destory us. It was ridiculous… It was not a pleasant time to say the least, but one of my most favorite people, who I respect very much (my High School English teacher, Mr. Becker), once told me that I reminded him of an air craft carrier: I had all these people in my life that I was supporting and carrying along at this current point in time. I don’t remember the rest of what he said, but since that experience and that analogy, I’ve come to a few conclusions….

Being an “aircraft carrier” for other people who “didn’t even ask for your help” is exhausting. However, I believe before we came to earth, these people did ask for our help. I think a major part of our pre earth life was making promises to people that we would cross paths with them in this life to help them, in either a slight or significant way, back to Heavenly Father. Sometimes these experiences are manifested in a parent-child relationship, or a romantic relationship, or just friend to friend. Since I’ve come on a mission, I’ve noticed several times now that there is a very special connection between missionaries and their “people”; that one (or more) investigator or Less Active that you just click with and you just know you were sent here for them…

At another break down moment in my life, when I knew I was supposed to come and serve, but totally absolutely did NOT want to, I was bemoaning this same conundrum to my mother, about feeling responsible for people I didn’t even know and she said to me, “If you don’t go, the Lord will send someone who will take care of them” and that was alarming because I felt accountable for these people who I knew in my heart were waiting for me, not for some replacement. I have a STRONG opinion and testimony that we each have unique gifts, talents and abilities that only we can share with the world and specific people who need us to bring those talents and gifts into their lives. That’s a major reason why I chose to serve. I knew I had a few people that I needed to carry for a bit so they could get safely back to base (aka Eternal Life with God).

I have noticed a common theme among the strong men and women I have met. They all tend to have a tendancy to care for more than what seems reasonable. Their “burdens” in life are not really things of material proportions, but have to do with human relationships, and therefore the things of Eternity. I’ve also noticed, and experienced for myself that we eventually realize we really can’t do this ourselves. It’s usually at this point that true conversion and understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ takes place, and a mighty change of heart and perspective is wrought in us. It’s the accumulation of a much needed piece in our quest to become like our Savior; we have diligence, we have obedience, we have charity, hope and faith… and now (at least for a moment) we have humility. Gaining a testimony of the savior and truly recognizing your own weaknesses, which is hard for a strong person to do, and allowing Christ to be the one who helps you patch the holes of your sinking ship is the best thing you’ll ever do! I find great comfort in knowing perfection as the world requires it is not a requiste of God. We are to be perfect, even as He is, which means we strive to acquire His attributes, walk in His ways, and endure to the end. We strive to help and lift others as best as we can, but ultimately we know He is the one who does all the heavy lifting. We sometimes are allowed to “help” which is a gift to us that we might learn and grow in the process.

In conclusion, I just want to say don’t let yourself get to the point where you feel you are a “sinking ship”. Don’t forget the Master of All can calm the stormy seas of life, and block those pointed missiles from the Advesary. He will keep your ship, and everyone elses afloat. Trust in Him to do so! He always comes through. I can testify that all our experiences, no matter how downright hard and miserable they can get, are truly for our benefit. It’s all necessary for adequate progression so we can truly be prepared to stand before the Lord again someday. Don’t give up. Keep running your “mile”! You have angels from both sides of the veil to help and lift you! And most importantly, you have the Savior to help you… What more do you really need anyways?

Have a blessed day and stay strong!
Love, Sister Yates

happy

This morning I was reading in 2nd Nephi 9 and verses 49, 51-52 really stuck out to me. They say:

49- Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God.

51- Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken dilligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken: and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
52- Behold, my beloeved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice. happy

The part that really struck me today was the last few lines of verse 51, “let your soul delight in fatness.” What I got from it was we all need to have a well rounded, and well balanced life full of happiness, positivity, and inspiration from on High! God didn’t put us here to starve spiritually, phsycially, emotionally, or mentally. May you all be fat and full of the joy and delightful things of life :)
Love always, Sister Yates

Being an “8 Cow” Missionary

A favorite video produced by the church is the timeless classic, “Johnny Lingo”. It’s about a very affluent tradesman from the Islands, who comes to bargain for his bride. In their culture, the groom pays for his bride with cows. Traditionally, for a good wife one would only pay 3-5 cows for one of those “model worthy” type of wives. 1-2 for a “pretty wife”, and perhaps a goat for the “less fortunate looking” people. In this tale, Johnny blows everyone away by paying 8 cows for the girl the village has always ridiculed and called ugly. They call her “Mahana You Ugly” and her father is very verbally abusive, so she and everyone feels that 2 cows, let alone 8 is too much for her. But the moral of the story, and the moral that I want to convey is that we, whether a boy, a girl, a sister or an elder, if you’re a child of God, you are totally worth 8 cows, if not more!

I’ve mentioned this “self esteem” topic a few times, but I seriously am so sick of people getting down on themselves (and others…) for being less than “perfect”. Perfect, in the greek translation, means “complete, or finished”. There’s nothing in there about being flawless, or beautiful, or accomplished in specified ways. It simply means you are awesome! In a nutshell, anyway.

How I feel this relates to “Johnny Lingo” is what Johnny says to Mr. Harris at the end of the video. He wanted Mahana, whom he had loved since their childhood, to know and feel she is an 8 cow woman. He knew there was great power and greater confidence to be had in an individual if they came to the conclusion on their own that they are and “8 cow” kind of person. This applies to each of us. We need to have a positive outlook on ourselves, and others. We need to be conscious of the counsel of the prophet, which is love. Love, in it’s pure form, is a positive, uplifting, happy, joyful, and fulfilling thing. If we are truly living like Christ, then love should be apart of all we do. People should walk away from us feeling better than before they talked to us. We should never let the mean and negative thoughts that Satan tries to put in our heads about others, or ourselves, any chance to cause harm to our confidence, or to others.

In conclusion, I want everyone to know that you are an 8 cow person! You are of infinite worth, and just downright amazing! Think about this: God has already given the ultimate sacrifice far greater than any mere cow. Not even 8 cows will ever measure up to the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If God was willing to give His Only Begotten Son for you, why would you ever entertain the thought that you aren’t amazing? Or talented? Or “cool”? Or whatever it is that you need to feel to feel valued and loved? You are valued. You are loved! Don’t for get that.
I hope you have a beautiful day!
Love Always, Sister Yates