Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Music to His Ears

I love music.  I was introduced into the world of music at a young age.  My parents love music.  In fact, their first date was to the symphony!  My sister and I began learning violin at a young age.  It took a lot of hard work and practice.  As I get older and practice smarter, my musical abilities increase.  I have gained a love for performing. 

I've played in small group settings, as well as large group settings.  I've gone on music tours, including a tour to Italy along with several other violinists, to play in various Cathedrals.  In all these different settings, the feeling is the same; excitement, nervousness, and thrill fill my body.

However, the feeling I have when I play in an LDS Chapel is different.

Whenever asked to play in Church or for a fireside, I feel the weight of a calling.  I'm not just playing violin in a venue, I'm playing for my Father in Heaven.  It is how I bear testimony of Him.  It is how I communicate with Him.

When I play in a dedicated house of God, my heart swells with emotion.

While in Italy, we had the opportunity to do a musical number for a small branch in Rome during the Sacrament Meeting.  Before church started, we tried to communicate with the members, but hardly any of them spoke English.  But though we did not speak the same language, we could feel the spirit teaching each of us the same things.  As time for the musical number came, we performed a duet for "O My Father."
 Each violinist felt the Spirit as we played.  Many in the congregation and on stage cried as we played.  The melody sank into my heart, and gratitude for the Restoration of the Gospel overwhelmed me.

I knew Heavenly Father heard my testimony that day.  I knew He loved me and those members in Italy.  I felt it.  As I have continued to play violin in firesides on my mission, I feel my Father's love for all those around me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Life has opportunities.  Some we expect, some we don't.  I've had an opportunity to live in Nashville for a little over a year.  It wasn't something I anticipated doing, but my experience here has been one of growth. 

One of my first days here, I sat in the car and cried.  I was so far from home, trying to teach a new missionary, knew no one, and felt so alone.  My companion and I turned to prayer.  As we quietly told our Father in Heaven that we felt alone, He prompted us to visit a young man.  The name popped into my head, and I began searching for his address in our lists of people to visit.  When we knocked on his door, we were welcomed in with a smile.  His brother was there and committed to make the covenant of baptism.  It was a beautiful night full of prayer. 

I was grateful my Heavenly Father had shown me where to go when I'd felt so alone in this city.

Photo Courtesy of Jaclyn Sampson

Since that experience, He has done this for me countless times.  Just when I feel lost, He directs me where to go. This has taught me to love everything about the Nashville city: the people, the buildings, the culture, the "Southern Hospitality", the faith of many other Christians... I love Nashville!

As I've worked and served with so many valiant members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have been reminded of the many miracles that occur in each of our lives.  These Nashvillians have altered my views on many things, and drawn me closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am grateful for their example.  I'm grateful for their love.  I'm grateful that when I have felt alone, Heavenly Father blesses me with friends, though I'm far away from my home.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

President "Hal"

President Henry B. Eyring 

Henry B. Eyring (known as "Hal" to friends and family) was born in Princeton, New Jersey on May 31, 1933.  He married Kathleen Johnson in 1962.  From 1971-77 he was the President of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho.  In October of 1992 he was called to serve as a member of the Seventy.  Three years later on April 1, 1995, he was named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He now serves as the First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has served in that position faithfully since February 3, 2008.

Known for his intelligence, not only secularly, but also spiritually, President Eyring has been an example of humility, knowledge, wisdom, and obedience.  He strives to follow spiritual promptings.  I have always looked up to President Eyring and his remarkable ability to serve, regardless of situation, age, strength, health, or task.

"Great teachers have shown me how to prepare to keep the oath and covenant when time and age will make it harder. They have shown and taught me how to discipline myself to work harder than I thought I could while I still have health and strength.

"I can’t be a perfect servant every hour, but I can try to give more effort than I thought I could. With that habit formed early on, I will be prepared for trials later. You and I can be prepared with the strength to keep our oath and covenant through the tests that will surely come as we approach the end of life."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Rock"


Simeon Peter was the son of Jonah a fisherman of Bethsaida and had a brother named Andrew.  He was living in Capernaum with his wife and mother-in-law when he was called by Jesus Christ to be a Disciple and Apostle of our Lord and Savior.  He was given the name Peter by His Redeemer and Friend.  This name means Rock.  Peter was present upon the Holy Mount when the Savior, Moses, and Elias (Elijah) gave Peter the necessary keys to perform the saving ordinances of Salvation.  Though he had mortal weaknesses, Heavenly Father and His Begotten Son chose Peter to lead and guide the Church after Jesus Christ's resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  He learned by faith, and taught the early Christian Saints to do the same.  Through Peter, the gospel was brought to the Gentiles.  It is believed that Peter was martyred in Rome around the year 65 A.D.
In the year 1829 Peter, with James and John, came from heaven and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys thereof upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Most know the story of when Peter denied knowing the Christ. 

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
“And [Peter] said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

“And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me...

“But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.  And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not."

This is Peter's first denial.

“And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not."

This is Peter's second denial.

“And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.

“And Peter said, 'Man, I know not what thou sayest.'"

This is Peter's third denial of the Christ.

 "Immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

I can only imagine how Peter felt.  Jesus Christ, having just suffered the Atonement hours earlier, knew exactly how Peter felt.  He knew the suffering and pain that came along with denying knowing his dearest friend.  He understood, and was thus merciful unto Peter.  Just as Peter had denied the Christ 3 times, he was allowed to declare his love for the Redeemer.

Three days after Christ was crucified, he appeared unto a few of His disciples.  On one particular day, Peter went fishing with a few of the disciples.  As they cast their nets out, a figure stood on the shore.  From the things said, John the Beloved told Peter it was the Lord.  Peter threw himself into the sea and swam to the shore.  Can you imagine the feeling in Peter's heart as he hurried to the Savior?  The Divine Being who gave him all, whom he had denied in His most perilous hour, stood on the shore, beckoning him to "come and dine." 

After they had eaten, Jesus turned to Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"

Peter declared, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."

"Feed my lambs," replied the Savior.  This was the first time Peter was given the chance to declare his love for his Redeemer after denying Christ thrice.

Jesus again said, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

"Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."

"Feed my sheep."

This is Peter's second redemptive declaration.

"He saith unto him the third time, 'Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?'  Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, 'Lovest thou me?'

"And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

"Jesus saith unto him, 'Feed my sheep.'"

This is Peter's third redemptive declaration.

Jesus is the Christ.  I know that regardless of how many times we slip up or how many wrong turns we take, the Lord always gives us the opportunity to declare our worthiness before Him.  For Peter, his wrong turn was made in the streets of Jerusalem as he denied knowing and walking with the Savior.  It was on the banks of the sea of Tiberias, where Peter was able to declare his unending devotion to the Savior.

If we can but turn to the Lord as Peter did, our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ will always heal our wounds of past transgression.  They can and will build us upon their rock, and teach us how to prevail against further temptation.

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
-Matthew 16:18

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Prophet, Seer and Revelator

This is President Thomas S. Monson.  He has been called of God as the Prophet, Seer and Revelator for the entire world.  He was called by revelation, and sustained by millions of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He is the authorized successor of all the Priesthood Keys on the earth. 

Twice a year, the world has the opportunity to hear him speak, giving us guidance and direction from Heavenly Father.  The prophet is a regular man, just like you and me, who has been given the responsibility to care for the salvation of men's souls here on the earth.  He travels around the world, taking care of affairs of the Lord's Kingdom, authorizing the building of temples, and strengthening the faith of millions. 

President Thomas S. Monson was born on August 21, 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He graduated from the University of Utah in 1948, and later that year married Frances Beverly Johnson.  He also served in the Navy towards the end of World War II.

In the year 1959, at the age of 32, He was called to preside over the Canadian Mission until 1962.  At the young age of 36, Thomas S. Monson was called, sustained, and ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October of 1963.  He was called as Second Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson on November 10, 1985; to President Howard W. Hunter on June 5, 1994; and called as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley on March 12, 1995 until February 3, 2008.

Now, President Thomas S. Monson serves as the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Feel Something

One of the most important things we can ask ourselves after we pray or read the word of God is, "Did I feel something?"  If we haven't, perhaps we need to pray a little more earnestly, or read more intently.

In past months, I felt my personal prayers were brief, and rather well, dead.  I wasn't feeling much when I was praying.  During a meeting, an Elder challenged each of us missionaries to go in a seperate room, where we could pray out loud, and talk to God about concerns we had.  I went into a secluded part of the building, and got down on my knees.  With a pad of paper and pen, I wrote down the thoughts and impressions that came to my heart as I prayed aloud to my Father in Heaven.  It was a sweet and beautiful experience.  Every night since, I have kept a notebook next to my bed, where I can write down the feelings I have before, during and after my prayers.

Doing this has brought me closer to my Father in Heaven.  It was helped me realize that I, Joy Valentine, have real potential.  Potential to become like Heavenly Father.  Potential to grow, develop, learn, and be eternally happy.  This knowledge has bettered my self esteem, and brightened my happy moments.

I know that if we take the time to pray and write down impressions, that each time, we will be able to say, "I feel something."  That something is the Holy Spirit of God.  That Spirit will always testify to us the things we must do to return to our Father in Heaven.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Dear Self..."

A year ago, I was making some big changes in my life.  I was thrilled with the excitement I felt, and the wonderful spirit that was in my heart!  I didn't want to lose the way I felt or the warmness that filled my soul.  I was so happy! 

It was then that I found a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks titled, "The Challenge to Become."  As I rea through the talk, it struck me that I was becoming something.  I was becoming the woman that Heavenly Father wanted me to be.  The thought also came that this pursuit would be a life-long development.  This challenge to become more than I was, became an exciting adventure. 

One morning, I decided to get out a piece of paper and pen, and write myself a letter.  It was a long letter.  I wrote down the desires of my heart and the things that I loved.  I smiled, remembering the wonderful events, people, and things in life that made me so happy. Then I wrote down the hard lessons I learned.  Tears filled my eyes as I remembered past mistakes, regrets, sorrows, trials, and challenges. 
It was in those hard moments that I was able to look back and realize what I had become because of them. 

I then wrote down goals, things I wanted to accomplish, habits I wanted to continue doing, as well as old poor habits I wanted to keep out of my life. 

I signed my letter, sealed it up, and wrote a date on the envelope of when I would allow myself to read my letter.

This letter has become a treasure to me.  Though I cannot recall everything I wrote in it, I do remember the way I felt as I wrote it.  It is a constant reminder to be willing to change, grow and become.  Having that letter within daily sight has motivated me to be a little kinder, a littler happier, a little more repentant, a little more willing, to work just a little harder, and see things a little differently.

I love my Father in Heaven for challenging me to become something great-a daughter in His Kingdom.  I am grateful that He sees such potential in each of us.

I challenge you to read this talk, (It's linked up yo!) write yourself a letter, seal it up, and save it for a rainy day.