Saturday, October 22, 2011

Here it is: the talk I gave during the adult session of Stake Conference on Saturday night.

It's a little different from the original. One of my friends has suggested that I bring only jot notes when I speak that way the Spirit could really be felt. Yes, I did follow his advice...but I was too nervous to even look down at the notes, so I babbled. Down below is my talk, slightly tweaked from what I originally had to suit what I basically said.

...And in case you're wondering, I bawled my eyes out. You'd think that after crying while practicing it multiple times would dry me up. Nope. I cried earlier than I intended. In fact, I started to tear during the opening hymn, so I didn't stand a chance.

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Good evening brothers and sisters,

For those of you who don't know me I'm Ariana Limas. I'm in the Don Mills ward. I'm a 3rd year English major at York University and next year I'm going to start a minor in music. I'm currently the primary pianist, ward bulletin co-ordinator, and VP of Communications in the Institute of Religion Council.

When Pres. Moore told me the topic was on gratitude, right away, I knew I had to talk about perspective. I feel so strongly that perspective is such an essential factor to how we express our gratitude. As I was preparing I came up with a few points of how we can keep that perspective; the first: being thankful and happy for the little things we have.

Another fact about me: I love Veggietales. I grew up watching them and they’re basically vegetables with faces. They rein act Bible stories or teach certain morals. One of my favourite stories growing up was of Madame Blueberry, the very blue berry. She would sing and cry about how she was so blue because her things weren't good enough. She would complain and covet the things her neighbours had because she thought they were better than hers. At one point of the movie she bounces by a little girl and her parents who look very poor and they're celebrating her birthday with one slice of apple pie. And then little girl sings the following:
I thank God for this day, for the sun in the skyFor my mom and my dad, For my piece of apple pie, For our home on the ground, For His love that's all around; That's why I say thanks everyday. Because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have That's an easy way to start. For the love that He shares Cause He listens to my prayers; That's why I say thanks everyday.

Sis. Bonnie D. Parkin, former General Primary President, says this about gratitude which I thought was very interesting,
Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. Gratitude is our sweet acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in our lives; it is an expression of our faith.
It takes a certain perspective to be able to thankful for the little things that a lot of us take for granted daily. This little girl was grateful for even just the sun that was shining that day. One thing that really touches me about this song was that she's grateful for God's love and the fact that she recognizes that he does share that love because he listens to her prayers.

As members of the church we know that there is a Father in Heaven who loves each and every one of us and that we're his children. But there's a difference between knowing because we were told that He loves us and knowing because we can actually feel that love from our Heavenly Father. But what happens when trials and tribulations start to come? Do we continue to say I know Heavenly Father loves me or do we ask Him why we are given these trials?

There's this LDS author, John Bytheway, and I’m in love with him. He's amazing because after listening to him you feel the need to change. He always gives a certain perspective of the gospel that makes you want to live it better. He has this book called How to Be Totally Miserable and it basically gives you step-by-step instructions on what you have to do in your life to make you a miserable person, but the actual purpose is to do the opposite of what you’re told so you can be happier.

One of his steps to becoming miserable is to Think About Your Problems: 
In order to be miserable, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time thinking about your problems. Sure, there are lots of much more interesting things to think about, like your plans, your goals, your dreams—and, like the song says, when you are worried and you can’t sleep, you might even count your blessing instead of sheep. But that will only lead to excitement, anticipation, and gratitude. The happiest people think their thoughts according to a plan, and in order to be miserable, you’ve got to have a plan too—plan to ignore all your wonderful opportunities and ponder only your problems. People eventually become what they think about, so to be miserable, think about your problems, your failures, and your disappointments until you become nothing but a lumbering blob of depression with legs.
He says that the happiest people think their thoughts according to a plan. As members of the church we are fortunate to have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, or also known as the Plan of Happiness. Knowing that God has given a plan to make us happy is something to be extremely grateful for. Going back to perspective, it takes a whole lot of faith and trust in Heavenly Father to know that the trials and tribulations we experience in life are things He knows that will benefit us later on. This brings me to my second point: keeping an eternal perspective and seeking out what the Lord has planned for us.  

Sometime in my life, I was going through something that didn't turn out exactly how I expected it would. It was very upsetting so I was praying and asking Heavenly Father to show me the next step I should take because I didn't want to regret later on that I took one path when I should've taken another. I was so desperate for an answer that I was constantly praying and doing really deep scripture study and paying attention to General Conference to find an answer. I'm always taught that I should do my scripture study and go to General Conference with a question in mind, and I'm terrible because I've never really felt the need to, but it was definitely something in my sub-conscious mind that I knew I needed to learn how to do and this was my moment to learn it. When I'm looking back at this experience now, even though I didn't get what I wanted at that moment, I got something out of it that's going to bless me for the rest of my life. And that's something I am so grateful for. Heavenly Father knows what I need and He's able to provide to me. I may have had to go through something difficult to learn it but it's all worth it in the end. Because putting my trust in Heavenly Father and recognizing the promptings of the Spirit and acknowledging personal revelation is something I'm going to need to know how to do for the more difficult things in life.

Knowing that Heavenly Father has a plan for us gives us a lot more motivation to endure.
There's a song by Margo Edgeworth and it is called Just a Moment in Eternity and the chorus says:
But this life is only a moment Just a blink of an eye and then it's through. It's a time for us to find out exactly who we are, A chance to discover what is true. When the things of this world begin to tempt me And i struggle to decided my destiny, I will remember this life is just a moment Just a moment in eternity.
He sent us here not because He wanted to, but because we wanted to. We wanted to prove to Heavenly Father that we could come to this earth and endure and make it back to Him someday. All He wants for us is to learn and grow. Heavenly Father already knows the divine potential of each and every one of us, but He has to make something happen so that we can see that divine potential in ourselves. That's why I think perspective is so important because you can take a bad situation and ask why did this happen to me, or you can look at it with an Eternal perspective and say, ok, I needed to go through that to learn something, now what is it that Heavenly Father wants me to learn? He does this all out of love, which brings me to my next point.

Knowing alone that I am a daughter of a Heavenly King is enough for me to know that I can get through whatever life throws at me. Another fact about me: I have a blog. We're always being counselled to write in our journals about life and seeking out our blessings so later on we can reflect and feel gratitude for it. I just want to share with you part of what I wrote to my viewers, which aren't many. But I quote myself when I say this:
Well i recognize that life is crazy. There's a whole lot going on. And like I said, with "church", there comes a lot more, physically, mentally, and spiritually. So the only way to deal with it is for me to share my life with you. And by doing so, share with you how everything I come across in life IS a blessing. Yes, it's hard to recognize situations as blessings, especially when it's a trial of adversity, but I'm here to show you how I recognize the things in life, both big and small, are each a blessing to me. And by recognizing my blessings in life, I hope you too will be able to recognize all the blessing in yours. And by recognizing that, I hope you understand and share the knowledge with me that we are both children of God and that He loves you and has blessed your life with much more that you can think of.  Life is crazy. But life is also beautiful. Learn to love it.I know my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me and with valiant faith, they will help me through everything. Like the hymn says, "I believe in Christ, so come what may!" Life-- bring it on.
There's a cute analogy I really like: Life is kind of like climbing a mountain. There’s a goal we have to reach at the very top but there’s going to be obstacles in the way...there are many rocks to climb over, streams with no bridge, boulders that can’t be would be a lot easier if all that stuff wasn’t in the way, right? But do you think we could climb a mountain if it’s smooth? God gives us these obstacles to help us reach the top. Without them, we’d stay at the bottom. Like life, we won’t be able to reach our highest goal if the way is easy. We wouldn’t learn the things we need to to qualify ourselves to reach our Father in heaven.

I don't know how else to express how important it is to know how much our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of you. Going back to perspective and gratitude, I don't think I could be grateful for the things in my life, both good and bad, without first having that knowledge that Heavenly Father loves me and is watching over me. As I have come to know of His love for me, I willingly put my trust in whatever He has planned. In the last General Relief Society broadcast, I thought President Uchtdorf said in the most beautiful way. He says,
Forget not that the Lord loves you. You are not forgotten. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love. Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time! He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name. God loves you because you are His child. He loves you even though at times you may feel lonely or make mistakes. The love of God and the power of the restored gospel are redemptive and saving. If you will only allow His divine love into your life, it can dress any wound, heal any hurt, and soften any sorrow.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t know what your lives are like, and you don’t know mine. But what I do know is how fortunate we are as Latter-day Saints to have what we have. There is so much to be grateful for and the list can go on forever. We have a prophet on the earth today to guide us, we have temples where we can perform ordinances that allow us to be sealed to our family forever, we have the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we have the fullness of the restored gospel and all the blessings that come from it and it’s such a beautiful thing.

I know without a doubt that I am a child of a Heavenly Father who loves me and loves all His spirit children. When it comes to our lives, the Lord doesn't just role dice and gives us whatever. He knows each and every one of us very well and gives us these challenges according to what He knows best. All we need to do is recognize those blessings and opportunities.

I just want to bear my testimony that I know, without a doubt in my heart, that this gospel is true. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and I’m grateful for his example of unwavering faith when it came to restoring the gospel. I know that my Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us so that we can have that chance to live with Him again someday. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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There you have it! Feel free to let me know what you think. 

- Ariana Rae Limas ♥
live well . laugh hard . love big .

1 comment

  1. Great talk on Gratitude and perspective, Ariana. Thanks for posting it here. It helps me to appreciate the things that I have even more. I had not heard the word perspective in this context before. Now I can understand gratitude better. It is all a matter of perspective.

    We all have the choice to learn good or not so good lessons from the events in ours lives. With the right attitude, perspective and gratitude we can learn the best lessons.

    Good job!!


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