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Monday, May 30, 2011

Don't Get LAX!

I'm not very sporty or athletic (just ask any of the missionaries I played basketball against today), but my second semester of college I found one sport that I like to play as much as I like to watch: lacrosse.  Despite my south Texas upbringing, lacrosse tops my list over football, basketball (for sure--I am horrible at b-ball), or soccer.  It's the fastest sport on two legs!  You get to hit dudes with a stick and wear pads!  And you get to fling balls at people--I mean, goals--at incredible velocities!  What's not to like?  Basically, lacrosse involves a lot of running, passing a fist-sized solid rubber ball to teammates using a pole with a net on the end, body-checking opposing players to try to obtain the ball, and shooting the ball at a net guarded by a goalie.  I won't get into all the rules, but trust me--it's killer!

I played defense and goalie (I wasn't very skilled at shooting or passing, just getting the ball away from people), which was way fun because I was able to do a lot of hitting and blocking.  I quickly learned why we wore pads--getting hit with a metal stick and with a hard ball at 90 mph hurts!  Bad!  If I hadn't worn my protective gear I would've totally gotten killed, no question about it.  Even with pads on I collected a wide variety of bruises, scars, and welts (which actually made me feel pretty hardcore).  With balls flying at you and dudes body checking you left and right you learn to rely on your gear and your pole to not only help protect you, but to help you win too. 

See where I'm going with this?  In the game of life, we aren't guaranteed an easy win--in fact, we're pretty much promised a rough ride.  Whether it's something we cause ourselves, something someone else does to us, or if it's just a consequence of the natural flow of life, we are all banged up and bruised basically every single day, although usually not physically.  Paul put it this way:
For we wrestle [play lacrosse] not against flesh and blood, but...against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness...
Paul then goes on in Ephesians chapter 6 to describe the armor of God which shields us against the attacks of our opposing team, led by the devil himself.  It's interesting to me that the only offensive weapon he mentions is "the Spirit, which is the word of God"--the scriptures and our own knowledge of what is true.  I know that if we trust in the protection God has promised us and learn to use our "lax poles" (aka the sword, aka the Spirit), we will win, no matter the opposition. 

Suit up!
 The Prophet Joseph Smith, who suffered intense opposition and persecution his entire life, said this:
...Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent...
So gear up!  Trust in God!  Start by praying, reading God's word, and keeping His commandments.  And in no time, we'll be kicking back at the Victory Party in our Heavenly Home. 

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Powered by the SON!

Back in the 60s, this cartoon came out called Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.  The main character, a superhero named Birdman, received his powers (flying, shooting light rays from his hands, etc.) from the sun.  The closer he got to the sun or the longer he was exposed to it the stronger he became; if the sun was clouded over or something like that, his powers waned dramatically.  As you can probably guess, the TV show was a big flop and nobody remembers it anymore, but I thought I'd bring it up because it's been nice and sunny around here recently.  That's nice for us as missionaries because we are personally cheerier, we don't have to get our suits all drenched, and there are people out and about with whom we can share the gospel. 
There's also a parallel there for our souls.  The closer we get to the light of the Son (ah, homophones, how I love you so!), the longer we are exposed to Him, the stronger we become.  When we choose to walk away from that light by sinning or by not caring enough, or when we let the problems in our lives cloud things over, we become weaker. 

In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared this:
This is the light of Christ.  As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. 
Stay in the light of the Son!  He will give you power and He will lift you up.  I know that is true.

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Image from:  http://es-es.facebook.com/people/Pablo-Ba%C3%B1ales/1154127682

Friday, May 20, 2011

True Joy

love a good banana split.
Picture this: a nice, long, oval shaped glass bowl. In it is placed a perfectly sliced banana. On top of the banana is laid a scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of strawberry. To add to the sweet bliss of this dessert, streams of chocolate and strawberry syrup are gracefully woven atop the ice cream. What seems like a fairly large dish is practically doubled in size by the whipped cream. To give even more color to it, a generous amount of sprinkles is added to the mix. And, of course, in order for it to be complete, there must be a cherry on top.

Who wouldn't enjoy a dessert such as this? It makes me happy just thinking about it. I really cannot explain the pleasure I get out of eating a banana split similar to the one described above. I love to just lose myself in the glory of eating it. But! the thing with a banana split is, you have to have it all for it to be truly glorious. You can't just go with half a banana and a small scoop of vanilla. That just doesn't cut it! Neither can you have the whole deal and only take a few bites. Why would you stop short with just a little bit of enjoyment?

I LOVE the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Picture this: you're in a beautifully white room. You're surrounded by your friends and family, the people you love. Everything is absolutely glorious: you, the people, your surroundings. Everything is peaceful. Everyone is happy. The joy of being in this room is multiplied by the fact the God and Jesus Christ are there as well. The room is filled with ultimate love.

Who wouldn't want to be in a place such as this? The happiness I feel while eating a banana split? Nothing in comparison with the joy I feel by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. It makes me so excited! The fact that my family and I can live with God and Jesus Christ in a perfect, glorious state brings me absolute happiness. Not just temporary happiness, but Eternal happiness. When you can have something as marvelous as that why would you settle for something less? What's a half a banana and a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the entire, decked-out banana split? They just can't compare. Neither can anything on this world compare to the glory of God's kingdom. And when you have something this wonderful, why would you only take a few bites? Why stop short of everlasting life and eternal happiness? 

I definitely cannot explain the immense joy I get out of living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love to just lose myself in it. I know that the gospel brings TRUE JOY. When we live it Fully we can enjoy All the blessings God has in store for us. I do love a good banana split. But I LOVE the gospel of Jesus Christ even more!!!

Much love,

Hermana Haslam


Monday, May 16, 2011

No Rain, No Rainbows!

The clouds have burst here in Santa Rosa (/Sebastopol).  It's raining.  After a month of solid rain in Ukiah I was done with drippy skies, but now after a little break, it was nice to see some moisture again and get to enjoy the sights:


Makes me think of this T-shirt my dad gave me one time after he came back from Hawaii on a business trip.  It had a bunch of really slick Hawaiian catch phrases on it--you know, really "hang loose", flip-flops-on-the-sand, Joe Cool style--the last of which has stuck with me for years:

No Rain, No Rainbows
I've thought about that from time to time, especially when I see rainbows streaming through the gloominess of an ashen, rain-washed sky.  It makes me grateful for the rainbows my Heavenly Father sends my way whenever it seems I can't hold on any longer or when the rains are going to wash me out.  I could go off about all the different "rainbow connections" (right, Kermit?), but I think I'll just leave you one more thought in this little snippet. 

We heard from an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ today, Elder Neil L. Andersen.  He talked a lot about our faith in Christ and how that can help us raise families and deal with the day-to-day.  I loved one thing in particular that he said about or lives here on Earth; he said, "We can't know everything about this life.  That's impossible!  we will never figure out every reason why bad [or good] things happen to us.  We will never have all the answers.  But that's because this is not our Heavenly Home.  We are here, away from our Father in Heaven, being tested and tried to see if we will be faithful, obedient, and true.  And if we have trust in God, no matter the outcomes, no matter the unanswered questions, we will be happy with Him forever in that Heavenly Home." 

I absolutely love that.  It rains a lot in our lives (like a spiritual Seattle!), and sometimes we even forget what the sun looks like.  But I can promise you God will send you rainbows.  He has for me.  Just look for them and you will find the splash of color against the dismal background of your trials.  I know that is true.  No rain, no rainbows!

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Listen Up, Buttercup!

Something I've thought about recently is how much we talk compared to listening.  You've heard it since first grade, but the old saying is true: "God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason--listen twice as much as you talk!"  It's struck me lately how little we listen--to ourselves, to others, and to what God is trying to tell us.


Missionaries talk to all kinds of people every day.  A good missionary knows that his ace in the hole in helping people understand what he's saying is to start by understanding where they are coming from.  It's hard sometimes because people are "so busy" and don't really want to stop and talk, but if you can ask the right question to get them thinking, then listen intently to what the response is, you can get a better picture of how to tailor the gospel message to their needs (*Note: the same can be said about working relationships, conversations with your spouse or kids, friends, or anybody! The point is to listen!).  Conversely, it is very difficult for someone to feel the peace of our message if they are unwilling to listen to what we are saying or, more importantly, what the Holy Ghost (a.k.a. the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, etc.) is trying to tell them. 

For whatever reason, we sometimes choose to tune out God's voice in favor of our own, the voices of friends or family, or the voices of the world (e.g. media, Hollywood, advertisements, popular culture, or misinformed rumors).  While it is good to listen to different sources for our information and have an open mind about things, when we discount or discredit the voice of the Lord, we are distancing ourselves from the happiness and security He's got waiting for us.  Period.  We cannot be happy if we tune out God's voice. 

So how does one learn to listen?  How can we tune out the noise and listen to the message of love coming in softly but clearly?  These age-old questions have surprisingly simple answers:
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. ...My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me... (John 10:11&27)
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
I say unto you, I would that ye should...hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.  For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?  (Mosiah 5:12&13)
And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things...And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep... I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 5:57,60,62)
The invitation is clear: Come, follow Him.  Listen to what He's saying.  Repent and be baptized.  If you really listen, all He's asking us is to be happy.  No strings attached, no installation fees, no monthly interest, just an agreement to happiness in this life and the next.

Are you listening?

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Image from :http://blog.analysisuk.com/2009/01/default.aspx

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Angel Mother

It isn't Mothers' Day where my mother is right now (San Antonio, TX), but I have 2 hours left so this is still appropriate.

My stalwart father, me, and my angel mother

One of my favorite quotes on motherhood comes from President Abraham Lincoln:
All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
I couldn't agree more.  As missionaries we get to call home but twice a year--on Christmas and on Mothers' Day.  I had the blessed privilege of getting to talk one-on-one with my angel mother for about 25 minutes this afternoon and the truth of President Lincoln's statement once again rang true.  As we reflected together on the great blessing it is for me to be a missionary, I was reminded of how hard she had worked for me and how many hours she had put into making me who I am today.  All the long hours working on projects assigned months ago but due the next day; countless different extra-curricular activities I wanted to try in which she supported me; advice with different life situations--friends, girls, the gospel, everything! Reading, re-reading, and editing my English papers; listening to me practice my singing and helping me memorize lines, Latin vocab, and rehearsing how I would ask a girl on a date; teaching me from an early age to love Jesus Christ, the scriptures, and to pray; making me laugh and smile when I felt like crying.  I can honestly say I would not be anything close to who or what I am today without her.  She is my greatest ally, my truest friend, my wisest counselor, and I love her so. 

One of the speakers in our church services today quoted a poem that I really loved and felt appli (thank goodness for Google! I was able to find it in 2 seconds!):
God made a wonderful mother;
A mother who never grows old.
He made her smile out of sunshine;
And He molded her heart out of gold.
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars.
In her cheeks, fair roses, you see...
God made a wonderful mother;
And he gave that dear mother to me.
I know we all feel a great love and tenderness for our mothers more than words can express.  I am so very thankful for everything my mother has done for me--more than I probably even know.  I am grateful to my Father in heaven for giving me my mom.  Truly, all that I am or hope to be or do or become is because my angel mother loves me enough to raise me up and encourage me to achieve beyond my wildest imagination.

Why are you grateful for your mom? 

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ch-Ch-Changes!


Yup.  It was time for some Spring cleaning--I revamped the blog.  I hope you like the new layout and new face of what was previously "He Hath Filled Me With His LOVE", now A Christian's Mormon Mission
Turn and face the strange!

It's been a time of change for me as a missionary and as a person.  I've come to a new area (Sebastopol, California), I'm with a new companion (Elder Darion Bevan, who was actually my first companion!), and I've got new responsibilities.  I'm visiting new people, driving to new places, and trying new things.  It's all been a whirlwind affair, but it's been great. 

I really like what Thomas S. Monson, a prophet of God, has said about change.  He sums it up really well:

At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”

Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.
...
Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes. (General Conference, October 2008, emphasis added)

I've thought a lot recently about the changes I've made as a missionary and especially as an individual these last 18 months.  I think about who I was, what got under my skin, what I liked, what my thoughts were back then compared to now and I have to stop and thank God for the help He's given me.  Like he says, the changes have come slowly, almost imperceptibly, but they have come.  I know that there are lots more changes to come in my life, especially when I get tossed back into the "real world" when my time as a missionary is through, but that's OK!  I know that with the changes come the blessings.  Sometimes they're hidden, sometimes they don't come right away, but if we are trying our best and leaving to God the rest, we'll come out alright in the end.

Life changes.  Things change.  People change.  The world changes.  God's love never changes.  And for all the changes that do happen, I'm thankful for that constant. 

Much Love,

Elder Spendlove

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