Goal Setting

Claire Pincock in the hometown of her grandfather

After a lot of prayer and fasting, I was told not to serve a mission.

Accepting the answer “no” was extremely difficult, but at the same time God told me that there were reasons why, and that I would know what they were in due time. Let me tell you the reasons why I’m so grateful I listened.

**Editor’s Note: This article was written by Claire Pincock and has been published in full by her request. 

God Still Used Me As an Instrument to Bless His Children
Pretty soon after I would have left on my mission, I met a boy with serious depression. While he had had people to support him, at that point he felt very alone because he was tired of hurting his friends. Four months into my “mission”, I was able to calm him down twice from suicidal thoughts. Throughout our relationship I helped to show him God’s love for him. I helped to show him that he was worth love and life and that he deserved happiness. God put me in his life, and I was an instrument in His hands to bring my friend happiness.

I Still Learned A Lot About Myself
I dated a lot while on my “mission”. I moved into a very social single’s ward and went on more dates than I can count. Most of them were just casual, fun, friendly double dates. I learned so much about the difference between what I thought I needed and wanted in a man and what I actually needed and wanted. I also learned my strengths in relationships. I learned not only who is good for me, but who I am good for. This has been instrumental in my life.

I Married My Best Friend
Because I didn’t get to serve, I diligently wrote a lot of my friends who did. I told them that I wanted to have the mission experience through them. I developed wonderful relationships with them and got to know who they were very personally. I would email one of my friends back and forth when he was online until his mission disallowed that. A year into my “mission”, that friend came home. I was so ecstatic. I couldn’t get to my hometown until nearly 10 at night, but we talked until 2 in the morning. He was just as ecstatic as I was. Because of that night and more dating experiences shortly after, I realized that this man, who had been my friend my whole life, was exactly who I was looking for. We were engaged before I would have gotten home.


Claire and Seth on their wedding day
Claire and Seth on their wedding day

I Learned a Foreign Language Anyway 
There were many other wonderful advantages from listening to God’s plan for me. I found a major I love, and I have had irreplaceable experiences in my classes and doing research in my field. I went on a study abroad and learned my grandpa’s native language. I got to see the house he was born in and learn more about his culture. I got really into family history and have taken countless names to the temple with my friends and family. I developed a really close relationship with my mom as we would do this work together. I wouldn’t trade that year-and-a-half for anything.

Claire on her study abroad in Copenhagen
Claire on her study abroad in Copenhagen

I Felt Misunderstood and It Wasn’t Easy

It hasn’t always been easy. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to all of my friends. I was sad to watch them go and a bit jealous that I didn’t get to. I’ve been in a room filled with just RMs and me, and it can be difficult while everyone shares in their wonderful experiences. I’ve been rejected by boys who want an RM. I’ve been looked down on by my leaders for not serving (very rarely, and not intentionally, but it’s happened). I’ve been asked countless times why I’m not on my mission. I’ve even had people question my answer. I’ve been told that God would never say no to a mission, so maybe I’m interpreting Him incorrectly. I’ve been told that I know less about the gospel because I didn’t serve a mission. People don’t mean to hurt. They don’t really understand that fight that I went through. They don’t understand how badly I wanted to go, and they don’t understand why these things could be hurtful. It’s always been clear to me that the church does not see us as second-class members, but people aren’t perfect, and sometimes you might be treated that way.

Luckily, there have also been a countless number of people who respect my decision and respected me for it. There have been so many people who see the reality of my spirit and my love of this church despite not serving. I’m actually grateful for those dating rejections because even if I had served a mission, that isn’t the kind of person I needed to marry. My husband looks up to me as I look up to him. He respects my spiritual insights despite the fact that he had I name badge and I never did. I’m also so grateful for my friends and family who did serve, especially my fellow sisters. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve learned to set aside my pride and rejoice at every call my friends receive. I rejoice in their service and in their joy, just as I hope that they rejoice in mine even though it’s different.

God Knew I Didn’t Need a Mission. I Needed to Stay Home, and That’s Okay
Six months after I would have gotten home, I’m so glad I didn’t serve. God had a much more beautiful plan for me. I didn’t need a mission. I needed to stay home, and that’s okay. Every member needs to pray and find out for themselves. While I would have been serving, I’ve almost finished my education, I went through the temple for this first time, I got married to the love of my life, and I’ve done so many other wonderful things I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Most Importantly, I Listened to God
So, if you’re a guy or girl who came home early or couldn’t serve, if you got the answer no and listened, or even God told you it was your choice and you chose no, as long as you are listening to God’s plan for you, you will be happier than if you had followed the plan which you made for yourself. Even if it’s nothing like His plan for me (if it doesn’t include dating or marriage or an education), you will be happier than if you hadn’t have listened.

lost 40 pounds with word of wisdom
image from ldsliving.com

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jenny. And I’m a choco-holic. I come from a very long line of Mormon choco-holics. What can I say? It’s in my blood. Ever since I was about 12 years old, I was overweight. Fatty food was always a vice for me. And I never really enjoyed exercise. Put those two facts together, and you’ve got a recipe for bad health.

I embarked on my mission as a fairly heavy-set sister missionary. And my three weeks in the MTC only made matters worse (thanks, MTC cafeteria!). But when I arrived on the tiny island of La Réunion, 400 miles off the coast of Madagascar, I quickly found that it would be all too easy to stay overweight. This beautiful French island is inundated with amazing French cuisine and chocolate, Indian food, and all sorts of other fatty goodness.

I’d been there for about 6 months when I was studying the Word of Wisdom to teach to an investigator. And it dawned on me: I didn’t live the Word of Wisdom very well. It was like a lightning bolt had hit me. I didn’t eat the healthiest food, I detested the half-hour between 6:30 and 7 a.m. when I was supposed to be exercising, and simply put—I felt weak.

I honestly felt like I didn’t have the Lord’s blessing to “run and not be weary, and walk and not faint” (which I actually did once—passed right out).

But luckily I had a companion who was completely different from me…

Read the rest at LDS Living.

The Church is starting a new social media campaign: #HisDay. And they want you to share what unique things your family does to celebrate the Lord’s holy day. “Help us remind the world what the Lord’s day is all about,” the new LDS.org site says. “Share the good it brings to your life and the things you do to make it great each week. Make it heartfelt, make it joyful, make your voice heard. The simple things you share will inspire others.”

Read the full article at LDS LIving.

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Image via LDSLiving

For both children and adults alike, Christmas is, and probably always will be, a much bigger and more attractive holiday than Easter. Further, the date of Easter makes it difficult to plan for and get excited about, while Christmas is fixed for western Christians on December 25. The date of Easter, dependent as it is upon a lunar calendar, moves around from year to year, often catching us by surprise. But in his Christmas message in 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley made it clear that Easter really is the more important of the two holidays: “There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The baby Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.”

With this in mind, many Latter-day Saints wonder how they, as individuals and as families, can use Easter and the days leading up to it to better celebrate the Atonement of Jesus Christ—His overcoming sin and death through the Redemption and the Resurrection. Over the years, my family has found that using the ways we celebrate Christmas as a guide can help us make Easter a more meaningful holiday, making it a learning and teaching opportunity as well as a real opportunity to worship together.

1. Decorate.

Christmas decorations and foods, while largely secular in nature, do much to prepare us for the festive and joyous feelings that accompany Christmas. Similarly, we have found that decorating for Easter well in advance, with both fun and religious decorations, helps add to our anticipation of the holiday.

As we do with Christmas decorations such as Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights, we make sure to take time to explain to our children how Christians have come to use these symbols to teach about the coming of the Savior into the world. Likewise, we explain how flowers, eggs, and even spring itself symbolize rebirth and new life. But beyond that, we display pictures around the house that represent the events of the last week of Jesus’ life to remind us of what He did for us. These include pictures of the Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, His praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Empty Tomb. We even have put together a little Easter “crèche,”  which features figurines of Jesus riding a donkey with children waving palm branches for Palm Sunday and a replica of the Garden Tomb, which we open on Easter morning.

Read the full article at LDSLiving.

We don’t know about you, but Brittney and I can’t think of many significant spiritual experiences that weren’t directly related to the scriptures (whether by pondering the words as we go about our day, having a focused study session, or hearing a verse read or expounded in a talk). We’ve come to know for ourselves why Prophets like President Benson have so strongly emphasized that the Book of Mormon, and other scriptures, can change your life.

Dustin and I have also learned, however, that reading a few verses in a “going through the motions” sort of way, isn’t going to change anyone’s life. You’ve got to do more than endure through a chapter if you want to have experiences with the Spirit.

We’ve definitely had our fair share of days when we’ve read just to read. We probably all have. But the difference between those days and the times when we have really feasted on the scriptures is tremendous. Once you have tasted of the inspiration and spiritual experiences that come through true scripture study, you develop a deep hunger to come back again and again.

The tools Britt and I list below have dramatically impacted our scripture study experiences, and we hope they make a difference for you too.

1. The 1828 Dictionary

I don’t think we realize how quickly language changes. Words that meant one thing at the time of the BOM translation have since taken on very different meanings. Lucky for us, Noah Webster completed his famed American dictionary in 1828. By doing so, he preserved in time the meaning of words at about the exact time that Joseph Smith published the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

Using this dictionary (there are apps and websites for it) can help you find little treasures that you may have otherwise completely missed. We want to share just two examples of the impact that the 1828 Dictionary can have.

Read the full article at Happiness Seekers.

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The following is an excerpt from a devotional given by Elder Holland in 2009 at BYU. The address is entitled “The Best Is Yet to Come.

“Look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.”

Perhaps at this beginning of a new year there is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does: “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).

The proviso, of course, is that repentance has to be sincere, but when it is and when honest effort is being made to progress, we are guilty of the greater sin if we keep remembering and recalling and rebashing someone with his or her earlier mistakes—and thatsomeone might be ourselves. We can be so hard on ourselves—often much more so than on others!

Now, like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war and leave them buried (seeAlma 24). Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.

The Best Is Yet to Be

You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but then put the rest of it all on the dung heap Paul spoke of to the Philippians. Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. That is the thing Lot’s wife didn’t get—and neither did Laman and Lemuel and a host of others in the scriptures.

This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year—and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith, repentance, and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

To read the full excerpt on Meridian Magazine, click here. 

via MissionGeek

Have you ever felt like something was impossible to change about yourself? Something so deeply ingrained in you, that you simply could not ever see it going away? Have you ever slipped into thinking that the Atonement was good enough to change everyone else, but that something was just too hard for you?

If you’ve had these feelings, as I’ll admit to having in weaker moments, then this story is for you. As I tell this story, I want you to think about the thing that seems nearly impossible for you to change, because that’s exactly how Elder Riley felt trying to get on a mission. This wasn’t a difficult journey for him, it was nearly impossible.

On a Tuesday afternoon I called a recently returned missionary named Riley Murdock, he sounded calm, converted and hopeful for the future. I asked him to tell me a bit about his story. Riley began by explaining that he spent his formative years quite overweight. At the peak of his size he weight over 460 pounds, (208.6kgs).

Riley turned 18 just as the church was ‘raising the bar’ (qualifying standards) on missionary service. These raised standards included, among other things, tighter regulations on a missionaries weight due to the physical demands of missionary service. However, when Riley submitted his papers he was not aware of these changes, so it was a huge disappointment to have his mission application declined.

To read the full article on Mission Geek, click here

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When I had six months left in my mission, I received a letter that had me select­ my returning airport and return date. That really struck a blow to my heart! Over the past year, I had grown to deeply love the people of the country I served in, and planning to leave them was painful no matter how much I missed my family.

Along with my returning paperwork came a letter from my Mission President reminding me that I should work harder than ever the last six months of my mission. I knew my mission language well, I’d studied the missionary lessons every day, and my skills at finding and teaching would only improve. My Mission President urged me to focus and push to the finish line as I served the Lord with all the skills He’d blessed me with. He helped me realize that my success as a missionary was not measured by the number of people I baptized but by more important things that couldn’t be measured.

I’d like to relate his exact words for you future LDS sister missionaries. If you go into your mission knowing what it took me a whole year to learn, you will be all the more effective as an instrument in the Lord’s hands.

To read the words of the letter on SheTraveled, click here. 


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Lucifer and the Big Fish
(Image via ldsmag.com)

(From: Meridian Magazine; By: Ted Gibbons)

I have noticed that some of the great young people in my ward who come to visit me in my office have returned to their sins. They succeed in setting them aside for a time, but then give in again to the same temptations that brought them to me in the first place. I was trying to help one of them understand how such a thing could happen, and remembered this experience from the years just after my mission.

One day I had driven toward Tony Grove Lake in northern Utah to do some fishing. Some distance from the lake I made a right turn on a dirt road that followed a beautiful mountain stream high into the hills. I slipped from the car in a remote location and crept to the stream to try my luck. In the first hole I hooked a fine trout and dragged it to the bank and into my creel. I then moved downstream for a few yards, found another fine spot, and dropped another worm in a pool near a large boulder.

A huge German Brown darted from the seclusion of the rock and grabbed the bait. For about 5 seconds I enjoyed the thrill hooking a fantastic fish. Then he freed himself and darted back under the stone. I floated worms past that rock for another 30-40 minutes but it was a waste of time and bait. That fish was hunkered down and likely to stay there. The memory of the pain was a stronger incentive than the excitement of the food drifting by. His recollection was real enough for even a fish to exercise discretion.

But there were other holes and other fish, though none as nice as that one. I went my way down the river.

But weeks later, I returned. I suspected (hoped) that the fish had forgotten, and would, in his hunger, act without. The bait meandered by and the fish, moved by instinct rather than intellect, swooped out and inhaled it. I took him home and ate him.

I wonder if Lucifer doesn’t treat repentant people like that. Knowing that repentance will fortify most people against his lures, he goes away for a time to allow people to become complacent in their new lifestyle.

Read more at Meridian Magazine