Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Light In Their Eyes

I was sitting at work one day, second day on the job, and I was bored out of my mind. I’ve been back in the United States for not even two weeks, and I’m listening to a presentation about some software that isn’t applicable because we’re not allowed to use the software. At the end of the first day I wondered why I even accepted the job, how on earth this could be benefitting me, and just how long I would last.

So as I’m lost in thought about my dislike for this job, our trainer starts to divide us into groups. I’m with two guys who had introduced themselves briefly the day before, I remember that one is an ex-Marine and the other has worked at bars most of his life. I don’t know how to even begin a conversation that would include both of them, especially stuck in my own self pity of a wretched job. But then the bartender turned to me and asked, “So how was Portugal?”

The introductions the day before had been about 30 seconds. Everyone in our class introduced themselves with a set of 10 questions that our trainer gave us. I briefly talked about Portugal- what else do I remember about my recent life that’s worth explaining?- but it was very brief, and I was not expecting anyone to remember. But when the bartender asked, the ex-Marine, Greg, perked up and was very curious too. I remembered then that he also introduced himself explaining that he liked Gospel music, and I’d been very curious about the confidence he had to specifically include that detail. We started to talk about travel, I asked where either of them would really like to visit, and Greg started to talk about a mission trip his church would be taking to Guatemala in a few months for which he was very excited and very anxious. We talked about what it means to be a missionary, what kind of things they will do and what kinds of things I did. He asked about the name of the church, had only heard it in passing, and he and the bartender admitted that I was the first member of the church they’d ever met. I asked them if they’d ever read, or even heard of, the Book of Mormon. Neither had, and both willingly accepted a copy. I started to explain to Greg more about the Book of Mormon, but we were being dismissed from our groups and moving on to a new project. Greg said, “You know, before you even introduced yourself or talked to me, I thought there was something different about you. Your… manner, your… I don’t know how to explain it. Your way of being? Something was different. And then you got up and explained that you were a missionary, and I though, ‘Ah, that’s why.’”

I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. I’ve been home so little time but already felt so far from what it is to be a missionary. I thought that glow stayed in the stake president’s office at the exit interview. Normal life had started again, and the rush of adjusting left me feeling a little bit lost. And on top of that, I was in a rotten mood because of how much I hated my job. The one at which I had just been given an opportunity to share with someone else what it most precious to me.

I had some serious repenting to do : )

This brief interaction had a huge impact on me. I thought of a favorite scripture that I used many times in Portugal, which we find in Luke 11: 34.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”

I grew to love this scripture because in the search for people with whom we could share our message, we could see in their faces the yearning to find something more, something better, and it truly was the look in their eyes. I really never thought about what it meant for our eyes, as missionaries. Of course people can tell who we are long before we talk to them, I always assumed it was the mantle of our calling, and that we just “glowed” in general. But it was much more than that.

In Isaiah 60:3, we learn,

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

People will be drawn to that light! That light, which we learn in Luke is manifest to the world through our eyes, will be the means of people seeking the truth and finding it. We have to work hard to maintain that light. Moroni teaches us that we were all born with the light of Christ, but just like a candle, the light has to be maintained or it will go out.

The Lord teaches us, through His instructions to Nephi, what we need to do to maintain that light.

And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.” (1 Nephi 17: 13)

How do we cultivate that light? We obey the commandments and recognize the Lord in our lives. He shows us His light so that we may emulate it, thereby having opportunities to be the light on a hill for those around us. That light that He shows us teaches us what we must do in every instance, every situation, even when we think the light is not there. I had no idea what I would say to either of these men when we had opportunity to talk. I was perhaps willing, but it took a minute for me to recognize the Lord trying to help me because of my grumbling attitude. In this is the mercy of the Lord- He just wants to love us and help us, even when we have selfish, or less than will of the Lord-seeking attitudes.

“ And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:67)

In Luke 11, we learn our potential. In verse 67 we learn more about the potential and the promise, “that body…comprehendeth all things.” And in the following verse, we learn what it is that we need to do.

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.”

What a wonderful promise! In this verse are so many of the glorious truths of the gospel- namely that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants our happiness more than we do. The Lord will guide us in everything He needs us to do! I know with certainty that this is a promise He constantly fulfills. The Lord wants us to have that light and joy in our lives, and He needs to bless us so that through us He may bless others.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Light in Their Eyes

There are, in my ward in Boise, two people who were recently baptized. They were introduced to the Church by caring friends in California and sought out the Church when they moved up to Boise to go to school. If you were to walk in to church on Sunday or in to any Church function at which they are present and glance across the crowd, you would have much difficulty figuring out who they were since they integrated with the members of the Church here in Boise so well. If you were then to ask me to point them out, I would point across the room and say, “See the dark haired guy and the blond girl that just radiate? That’s them.” Indeed, in talking to them, you would never guess that they, in fact, weren’t baptized members of the Church. Even before they were baptized, Claire and Ian were always shining, and they always radiated light and a contagious, genuine happiness.

You may simply contribute that happiness to their naturally optimistic personalities. Indeed, I did not know them before they gained testimonies of Jesus Christ and of His gospel of peace and hope and therefore I do not know what their personalities were like then. However, no matter their optimistic natures before they were introduced to the Church, I am confident that the light that shines from them is the light of the knowledge of the restored gospel and of a burning testimony of Jesus Christ and His great atoning sacrifice. These two friends have sacrificed much and gone through many trials in order to be baptized, including a general rejection by their own families. But they know the Church is true and they know that the key to true happiness is a life following Christ. And that knowledge and testimony sustains them and gives them happiness and a hope of a better future.

President James E. Faust (1920-2007), apostle and counselor to the prophet, once told a story of a friend who also noticed a light in the eyes of those members of the Church with whom he had come in contact. President Faust said:

“What was that light in their eyes which was so obvious to our friend? The Lord Himself gives the answer: ‘And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings.’1 Where did that light come from? Again the Lord gives the answer: ‘I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’2 The Lord is the true light, ‘and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.’3 This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes.”4

We grow and develop that light as we embrace the things of God. As we strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ, we become converted to His gospel and the Spirit lives within us stronger and more frequently. We put off the natural man and become saints though His Atonement, allowing that light to shine unrestricted.5 The Lord said, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until that perfect day.”6 Jesus commanded us to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up--that which ye have seen me do.”7 As we cultivate that light and strive to be examples of the believers, His light will shine through us for the blessing of all those around us.

Remember the words of the Savior, “I am the light and the life of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”8 That promise is for all who desire to live in the light of His love.


1. Doctrine and Covenants 88:11; emphasis added.
2. Doctrine and covenants 93:2.
3. Doctrine and Covenants 84:46.
4. President James E. Faust, “The Light in Their Eyes,” Ensign, Nov 2005.
5. See Mosiah 3:194:1-35:1-5.
6. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.
7. 3 Nephi 18:24.
8. John 8:12.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stand in Holy Places

How blessed are we to have a living prophet on the earth today to lead us and to guide us through the storms of life! How blessed are we to hear from our prophet regularly, and to know God's will through him. President Thomas S. Monson (b. 1927) is the Lord's prophet. I love hearing his words and his stories; he sets a powerful example with his ability and willingness to receive and heed the promptings of the Spirit.

President Monson
In the October General Conference, President Monson spoke about the importance of prayer to our Father in Heaven and following inspiration from Him in an address entitled, "Stand in Holy Places." "Communication with our Father in Heaven--," taught President Monson, "including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us--is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life."

President Monson spoke of the rapidly-evolving moral compass of society and about how, "behaviors which once were considered inappropriate and immoral are now not only tolerated but also viewed by ever so many as acceptable." He continued, "Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed they will not change."

The reason that we are not to conform to the teachings of society but cling to the teachings of Jesus Christ is so that we will be better equipped to deal with the storms of life, to learn from them, and to overcome them. By striving to have the gospel of Jesus Christ at our core and the love of the Savior in our hearts, we can effectively deal with all the challenges we face. The constancy of the Lord is, "something on which we can hold fast and be safe, lest we be swept away into uncharted waters." When we live in the world and not of the world, we stay clean and worthy of the influence of the Holy Spirit that we may receive strength from the Lord. "There is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments."

I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. I know from personal experience that only when I am striving to do what the Lord asks am I able to recognize and have the strength to heed His promptings. He is the way, the truth, and the light and the source of the greatest happiness and joy.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let Your Light So Shine

We, each of us, carry with us the light of Christ. The way we, as Latter-day Saints, live our lives give us the wonderful blessing of carrying the Holy Ghost, the testifier of the Lord, with us everywhere we go. The “light in our eyes” is not merely a product of being a member of the Church but of following the standards that we are given. Keeping the spirit with us takes obedience and constant reminders of truth. Studying scriptures and other spiritually uplifting works and activities will keep that light fresh and easy to see and share.

We as members of the church should be doing all we can to “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father which is in heaven (Mathew 5:16).” This includes things such as following the promptings of the spirit, serving those in need, keeping the Savior in the forefront of our minds, being good examples and doing all we can to be like Christ. 

In an address given at Brigham Young University, President David O. Mckay said this,
“Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character. This constantly weakening of strengthening of others. He cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can select the qualities he would permit to be radiated. He can cultivate sweetness, calmness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility, and make them vitally active in his character. By these qualities he will constantly affect the world. This radiation to which I refer comes from what a person really is, not from what he pretends to be. Every man by his mere living is radiating sympathy, sorrow, or morbidness, cynicism, or happiness or hope, or any other hundred qualities. Life is a state of radiation and absorption. To exist is to radiate. To exist is to be the recipient of radiation.”(The Mission of Brigham Young University)
I love this quote and it image it creates and also, the responsibility it places on us to make our light worth of radiating. I personally have witnessed the power of the light of Christ. I also have, unfortunately, witnessed the loss of it. Someone to whom I am very close has chosen to lead a life different than that which the church councils. Slowly but surely, year by year, I watched their countenance change from that of a worthy and righteous individual that shined as an example to those around them to instead an uncertain and undirected being that merely floated from one choice to another, having lost influence and even presence. Even certain responsibilities in the family could no longer be handled by them. Eventually, the light was replaced by their decisions and lifestyle and their countenance had truly changed, presenting to me and others a different person completely. A person that I still love deeply, but a different person none the less. I have promised myself that I will strive daily to prevent this from happening in my life and that I will do my best love and support those around me to prevent it from happening to them.

I leave you with this council from Alma, “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?
…I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:16,19) I know that as I look at these questions there are things I can be doing to improve on a daily basis. But, I also know that the Lord will help me if I ask in prayer and humility. I challenge you to gain and cultivate that light for yourselves.

I know the gospel effects every aspect of my life and that, as I walk with my intentions focused toward the Lord, he will be reflected on my countenance.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


When interacting with other people sometimes they will comment about the light that is in the eyes of the Latter-Day Saints. We know that “the Lord is the true light, and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (President Faust, "The Light in Their Eyes" Oct. 2005) People describe it as the light because that is what makes sense to them. It is the influence of the Holy Ghost that others can sense even though they cannot have it with them at all times until they have been confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "The Lord is my light" (Psalms 27:1). As we follow Him, “the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness” becomes even more apparent in our countenance. (Alma 19:6) We cannot be lost as long as we can see the light and are willing to follow it.

The word light has always been a special word and a symbol to me. My name Lucy comes from the Latin word Luz which in Spanish means light. I hope to live up to my name so that I can be a light to others. I was also recently thinking about how I like to take pictures and how the word photography relates to this subject as well. The word photography has Greek origin from the word photo meaning light and graphy meaning writing. Photography is then writing with light. It is capturing something in its pureness and simplicity. To me pictures look the best when there is sufficient amount of light to see the details or to see the sharpness of the subject. It is vital to have light to be able to see the image, just like it is vital to have the Holy Ghost to see what we need to do.

When we have this light in our lives we are happier. I have been told by several people that I am one of the happiest people that they know. I want the light I have to shine, so that it can touch other people and they will want to glow in happiness. The infectious happiness can be theirs if they are willing to put forth the effort to know that Jesus is the Christ. Once they know this, they can have a portion of His light with them at all times, even the Holy Ghost. I know this to be true.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Spiritual Strength

The prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."1 

We came to this earth with the express purpose of being tested and tried by our Father in Heaven. Taught the Lord, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."2 Should we be successful in striving to keep the commandments and "hold out faithful to the end [we] are received into heaven, that thereby [we] may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness"3 together with our families.

But holding out faithful to the end isn't always easy. In fact, rarely is keeping the commandments ever easy. We live in a world of shifting and changing values where men call evil good and good evil.4 The prophet Abinadi taught that as a result of the Fall of Adam, "all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state."5

Taught the prophet Alma, "all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made."6 He continued, "Therefore may God grant unto you, . . . that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you."7 We live in a fallen world and each of us "have sinned and come short of the glory of God."8 We are born natural men and women subject to all manner of temptations and weaknesses. However, we can, by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Ghost, put off the natural man and become saints through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.9 We must exercise faith unto repentance and through the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ all wrongs, inequalities, disappointments, and trials are made right and our sins are forgiven.

Following the pathway to eternal life is simple to understand yet difficult to perform. The way is clear and the guideposts are well-defined, but Satan is very good at creating mists and haze and distractions that entice us to loosen our grip on and eventually leave the iron rod.10

How, then, are we to maintain the proper focus to stand against the adversary and his minions? How can we become strong enough to yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and put off the natural man? The answer lies in spiritual strength. Developing spiritual strength enables us to "continue in the way which is narrow, until [we] shall obtain eternal life."11 Spiritual strength is the key to successfully staying on the strait and narrow path and overcoming our trials and weaknesses.

As we prepare for trials and life in general and pray for the strength to endure all things, we are endowed with power from on high and are blessed with the capacity to do all things. Our spiritual strength grows, as does our capacity to endure hardships and trials. As life gets harder, our ability to endure our trials increases, but only if we are constantly striving to develop and increase our spiritual strength.

Developing Spiritual Strength

In preparation for this study and post, I searched, "spiritual strength" in General Conference addresses on and these are the first 10 results (some similar results omitted):
  • "The very nature of the Redeemer’s Atonement and the purpose of the restored Church are intended to help us receive . . . spiritual strength."
  • "a temperate soul—one who is humble and full of love—is also a person of increased spiritual strength."
  • "As we obey our Heavenly Father’s commandments, our faith increases, we grow in wisdom and spiritual strength, and it becomes easier for us to make right choices."
  • "I repeat, fervent prayer is key to gaining the spiritual strength..."
  • "Righteous character provides the foundation of spiritual strength."
  • "Increased spiritual strength is a gift from God which He can give when we push in His service to our limits. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give."
  • "Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength..."
  • "Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service." 
  • "Through our discipleship, we are able to receive the spiritual strength that we need to deal with the challenges of life."
      • —President James E. Faust, "Discipleship," Ensign, Nov 2006
  • "I am grateful for the spiritual strength and guidance the gift of the Holy Ghost has given me throughout my life."
And one non-General Conference bonus:
  • "As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will . . . gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience.”
Even simply by skimming the results of this search, the way to develop spiritual strength becomes clear: keep the commandments. Pray, make and keep temple covenants, work on developing Christlike attributes, love and serve, seek the guidance and companionship of the Holy Ghost, etc. Spiritual strength is developed in doing spiritual things.


As we strive to develop spiritual strength, we must rely on the Savior, who is the source of all strength.12 The Savior told the early Saints, "as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life."13 The promise of miracles and power to overcome the world and obtain eternal life can be ours too, if we come unto Christ desiring to be perfected in Him.14 President Ezra Taft Benson taught, "By his grace [meaning Jesus Christ] we receive an endowment of blessing and spiritual strength that may eventually lead us to eternal life if we endure to the end."15

The Lord is the source of all spiritual strength. May we strive to develop such strength that we may overcome the trials of life and be happy and gain eternal life with our Father in Heaven and our families.


1. History of the Church, 5:134–35.
4. see Isaiah 5:20
10. see 1 Nephi 8:23
12. For more about the Lord as our strength, try searching "strength" simply in the Old Testament, or even just in The Book of Psalms or Isaiah.
15. "Redemption Through Jesus Christ After All We Can Do," Liahona, Dec 1988

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spiritual Fortitude

As we strive daily to draw closer to the Lord, to become the people we know He can make us, we are met with trials and tribulations that can, if we so choose, teach us to be better or lead to our down fall. Trials, pain and frustrations are part of this mortal life and are something everyone must handle. Fortunately, if we let him, the Lord uses these struggles to teach us to become more like him. Through his atonement we can hand ourselves over to Him and receive His strength.

“He [Christ] is our shield. . . . It is by Him that we remain unto this day; and by Him we shall remain, if it shall be for our glory; and in His Almighty name we are determined to endure tribulation as good soldiers unto the end.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

I often here the phrase, “Why me?” uttered in times of hardships and I have always wondered to myself when I hear that, “Why not me? Why should I be the exception?” Though easier said than done, we must accept the trials we have been given and open our hearts to whatever it is that the Lord wants us to learn. Through listening to the promptings of the spirit we can be strengthened by the Lord to know what we need to do to become what He has in mind.

 In Psalms 138:3 it says, “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” Time and time again this has happened in my life. Then, again in Psalms 18:32, it reads It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”

If we give our lives to Christ we will be strengthened, fortified and will become even greater tools in His hands to further His work. But, how do we go about giving our lives to Christ?

Harold B. Lee said, “The enemies of your own human ‘fortress’ are both physical and spiritual… They may include an unexpected sorrow, a family disgrace, a shock in your finances, the [disloyalty] of a supposed friend, or a secret sin against the laws of God.” When such things happen in our lives, we require “an additional supply from spiritual sources. … And so I beg of you … to live each day so that you might receive from the fountain of light [the] nourishment and strength sufficient to every day’s need. Take time to be holy each day of your lives.” (Decisions for Successful Living (1973))

Taking time to be holy really means investing your time and your heart into the little things. We must have daily scripture study and prayer to continue growing. We should be attending our church meetings, having and going to FHE, doing our home and visiting teaching and doing all that we can to keep the spirit with us and draw closer to the Savior throughout our day.

As C.S. Lewis so eloquently stated, “Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.” (Mere Christianity, p. 226)

We must turn to Christ. Doing so will bring blessings and strength that we cannot comprehend. It is a long process but I shall never forget that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)