Monday, April 8, 2013

New Feelings

I wanted to share my learning experience with all of you.  This was written on my personal blog about a month ago:

As I was at my OBGYN appointment two weeks ago,  I started to feel a little nervous.  Such is always the case when I have to get my blood drawn.  This was the glucose test.  I tried to eat minimal carbohydrates and sugar since the night before which threw off my comfort because I was trying so hard to pass that glucose test.  I was also a little nervous to see what would happen during the ultrasound.  We had a second ultrasound to see how her heart was doing.  There is nothing wrong with her heart as far as we can see, but seeing the little white spot bouncing around in her heart during the last ultrasound made me more inclined to want to check it out and they were more than willing.  She has an intracardiac echogenic focus.  They say quite a few babies have it, but some of those babies have down syndrome. I am not really worried.  Down syndrome doesn't run in our family and the white spot alone isn't the best indicator that she will have it.  Even if she does have down syndrome, Eric and I will still be thrilled to have her as our child. I was still nervous to see the ultrasound in case something else came up though.  I was also feeling a little frustrated because I was having one of those days where I felt really uncomfortable.  I have on and off days, and that day was definitely an off day.  While I was trying to relax and gear up for the poke, I went into the bathroom and looked at my belly in the mirror.  I had a life changing moment.  I spoke to her, like I tend to do at times.  Don't worry, I was pretty quiet. I said, *sigh* "I hate doing all these things baby, but I am doing them for you. I will gladly do them even if I hate them since it is the only way to get you here." Then I thought to myself, "If the only way to get you here was to go through this entire experience all over again, I would do it." I knew I loved her, but I didn't realize how much until that moment.

Eric and I talked about this later.  We noticed that we loved our baby at the moment we knew that she existed.  In a lot of relationships, love has to take it's time to grow.  But with this child it has been effortless.  Things may change as she is growing and will do things that drive us crazy, but what I hear from other parents is that you still love them no matter what they do.  This reminded us of both the Savior and our Heavenly Father.  Heavenly Father has loved us just for existing.  We haven't been able to do nearly as much for Him as he has done for us, yet he still keeps on giving and loving.  The Savior went through so much pain and suffering for each and every one of us because of his love for each of us individually.  I can imagine him saying something similar to what I told my baby girl, "If I needed to go through all that suffering again to get you to return to me, I would." I don't have multiple kids yet, but I can see a better glimpse as to how Heavenly Father can love each of us individually and want so much for each and every one of us.  It was easy for me to comprehend that he loved us collectively and wanted all of us to return to him, but it was difficult for me to understand it on a more individual basis.  I knew He loved me individually but it was hard for me to understand that He had such a strong love for all of his children and has a personal relationship with all the countless billions of us.  I can see how my parents keep a good relationship with all of us, but there are only four of us kids!  I guess the idea of loving so many people so deeply is still mind-blowing to me, but I can better imagine what it is like.  The same goes for the atonement.  I understood it as a collective event because Jesus Christ loves us all collectively.  I knew He loved me as an individual but it was a little hard for me to comprehend that He died for me individually when there were so many of us he was suffering and dying for.  After I had those feelings of being willing to suffer for just one of my children, I can better understand that He suffered for each of us on an individual basis as well.

How wonderful it is to have the gospel and experience little hints of how much love comes from our Savior and our Heavenly Parents.  I love this baby girl and Eric more than anything in this world and I am so blessed to have them.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wisdom

"The wisdom of the world is most valuable when it humbly bows to the wisdom of God."

I recently read an article from this month's Ensign. It is called "Reverence for God is the Beginning of Wisdom," by Elder Neil L Andersen.  Click HERE for the link to the full article. Below is a summary tied into my own experiences.

 I really related to this topic.  The introduction starts out saying that we are in a world of information overload via online resources and social networking.  Because of all this information overload, we need to be sure to seek for wisdom, "wisdom to sort through and discern how to apply what we are learning."  This makes me think of all the different opinions floating around the internet, claiming to be common knowledge. I ask myself when I see those meme photos about something political or famous and wonder to myself if it is true, and where I can actually find the truth on the subject.  The rest of the article is split into three parts:

The Blessings of Wisdom
There is the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God.  The wisdom of the world can be positive or negative.  The negative was described as "partial truth, mixed with intelligence and manipulation." He briefly mentioned the story of Amlici from The Book of Mormon and how he tried to bring people farther and farther from the church with his wisdom of the world.  I don't mean to offend, but I am seeing this all over the place today.  People who were once my friends in the gospel are now my friends who like to play devil's advocate when it comes to religion in general.  They say it is because they have educated themselves and that others should do the same.  I am assuming they think I am uneducated because I choose to stay a member of the church rather than only relying on the wisdom of the world.  This can be taken in a political perspective as well.  One side chooses to only educate their self based on biased opinion from one political party and claims that the other party is unethical or ridiculous and that they need to, here comes the phrase again, "educate yourself." There is so much hate in the world because of these "educated" opinions.

He continues on the more positive side of the wisdom of the world.  He mentions different scenarios where a person learns about science, or how to be an educator, and they can bring some good to the world.  I have learned from this part of the wisdom of the world through education, experience, books, etc. I do enjoy reading a good book and taking away something good from it, something that will change my perspective, something that will make me want to change for the better.  I like to learn from my own experience as well as the experience of others.  Let's try and focus more on the positive wisdom of the world over the negative.  It is much more uplifting.

He then discusses the Wisdom of God. He reminds us that we may not always come to a perfect understanding and that God's ways are higher than ours, but we can still seek for that wisdom through prayer and reading the scriptures.  He mentions, "Seeking for the wisdom of God is always accompanied by obedience to the commandments," and that it will come step by step if we honestly seek it.  I'm sure all of us have experienced this.  Revelation and enlightenment only come when we are doing these things.

Wisdom and Tithing
"When there is conflict between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, we must yield our will to the wisdom of God." 

He shared a story about a young college student who only had enough money to pay tithing, or pay her university.  There were tests coming up that she could only take if she payed the university first.  She chose to trust in the Lord, pay her tithing, and then she was blessed by her employer offering to pay for her education.  He later mentions other sacrifices people made: a member in China made significant sacrifices to join the church; two of his daughters have master's degrees and chose to be stay-at-home moms; his friend from South America chose to leave his job when he found that they were being dishonest with taxes. 

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that sometimes it can be very hard to make those sacrifices, even if we know that it comes from the wisdom of God.  My husband and I recently found out that if we would have saved our money instead of paying tithing and fast offerings last year, we could have paid off my student loans and had a little left over to add to our savings account toward a down payment on a house.  It stings every time we write the check, but we have been blessed with what we need for now and know that we will be blessed in the future as we trust in the wisdom of God. 

He finishes this section with a quote from Joseph Smith, saying that there are many wise people in the world, but that a lot are too wise to be taught so they will die in their ignorance and will find their mistake in the resurrection.   I hope to be wise, but not too wise to be taught.

Wisdom and Finances
 He talks about how we are in the society where our wants are becoming confused with our needs.  I see that so many people will go into debt to buy something that isn't necessary. A toy? a computer? a new car when they already have one that functions?  This is causing so many people to get deeper and deeper in debt, and what might also be contributing to the downward spiral in the economy. Remember learning about the "Roaring 20's" in history class?  So many people were buying and buying without saving.  Eventually those people had to deal with the great depression.  I hope we don't have to deal with the same.

He shared a quote by Thomas S. Monson saying, "...I urge you to live within your means.  One cannot spend more than one earns and remain solvent..." God has told us through multiple prophets and apostles to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and live within our means.  The opposite is happening in the world around us.  I am trying to follow the counsel and live within my means no matter how hard it may be some months. My husband and I have been trying to remind ourselves of what is a luxury vs. a necessity whenever we go shopping.  It is so hard to turn down the good deals sometimes, but then we remind ourselves that we don't really need it.  I usually end up feeling much better about not buying the item, even if it was a good deal.  God truly knows best.


Let's try and seek out the wisdom of God by: 
  1. Focusing on the positive side of the wisdom of the world
  2. Doing all the things necessary that will help us obtain more of the wisdom of God
  3. Make sacrifices when necessary
"I promise you that the Lord's blessings will attend you as you seek for wisdom--the wisdom of God."




Monday, October 10, 2011

The Stick of Joseph

During the month of October, Jocelyn at {We Talk of Christ} has encouraged, set up, inspired other spiritual bloggers to write about the {Book of Mormon}. Her inspiration came from the {Ensign's} special issue all about the Book of Mormon. Today she is hosting a linky party for anyone who wants to testify of the Book of Mormon.

Honestly, I have many excuses as to why I haven't posted yet this month, but none of them matter... okay, my family matters. However, I absolutely had to take a moment today to add my testimony of the Book of Mormon.

I tried to think of a one moment where the Book of Mormon absolutely changed my life, the problem is... there isn't just ONE moment. The Book of Mormon changes EVERY moment of life. Each time I open its pages, I am strengthened, uplifted, taught, or humbled. Each time I find myself growing closer to my Savior, even Jesus Christ, of whom this very book testifies. And, it's not just the Book of Mormon, the Bible does the same. The Book of Mormon works hand-in-hand with the Holy Bible to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Growing up in the church, I never had a problem with excepting the Book of Mormon as truth, especially after I prayed, as Moroni {suggests}. However, many people outside of the church have difficulty believing the Book of Mormon to be true, especially with the scripture in {Revelation}. However, both the Bible & Book of Mormon testify to the Book of Mormon's authenticity. First in the Bible, {Ezekiel 37}:
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one astick, and bwrite upon it, For cJudah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and dwrite upon it, For eJoseph, the fstick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become aone in thine hand.
18 ¶And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us awhat thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of aJoseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

The Stick of Judah is the Bible and the Stick of Joseph is the BOOK OF MORMON. They work together to help us understand deeper the gospel of Jesus Christ. The kicker comes in the Book of Mormon, {2 Nephi 29}--read the whole chapter, if you get a chance:

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A aBible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 Know ye not that there are more anations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the bisles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the cearth beneath; and I bring forth my dword unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the atestimony of btwo nations is a cwitness unto you that I am God, that I remember one dnation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two enations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the asame yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my bwords according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one cword ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my dwork is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. (emphasis added).

This is why the Book of Mormon is true. God is the same, yesterday, today & forever, so why would the heavens be closed to us now? Why would He stop talking to His children? The scripture in Revelation doesn't mean there is no other scripture, it just means the actual Book of Revelation is done. The Holy Bible, as we know it, wasn't written in chronological order, so does that mean all the letters Paul wrote before his death aren't scripture? NO because God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He loves ALL of children and wants to see us again.

It breaks my heart when this is the reason people don't believe in the Book of Mormon. We are LOVED & ADORED by our Father in Heaven. He doesn't want us to be alone, He wants us to follow his council so He, and His Son, Jesus Christ, can lift us when we can't stand. The Book of Mormon validates the principles taught in the Bible because it adds a further witness to the divine truth of God & Jesus Christ.

I will forever testify that the heavens are not closed. The Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It works with the Bible to lead us to the way of Eternal Life & Salvation. If we but open our hearts, the promises within are waiting.

Here's the rest of the linky party:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7 Deadly Sins

I have been reading a book by Mary Ellen Edmunds called, 
"You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need: The Quest For Contentment"
It has been a great book so far.  It gives you a good place to start on the quest for contentment in this life :)
 

The most recent chapter I read this morning was all about the 7 deadly sins. For each of the deadly sins she listed an antidote that she likes to call a "Heavenly Virtue." I will list them below:

1. Pride vs. Humility
2. Envy vs. Satisfaction
3. Gluttony vs. Abstinence, Moderation
4. Lust vs. Chastity, Purity
5. Anger vs. Patience
6. Greed vs. Generosity
7. Sloth vs. Work

Afterward she shared a Native American legend about an elderly man teaching his grandchildren about life. He said:

"A fight is going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves
One represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The Other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person too."

The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man replied simply, "The one you feed."

I couldn't have said it any better than the Native American Grandpa.  I have seen this in myself and everyone around me.  Some feed the first wolf more while others are striving to feed the second. I fluctuate between the two.  The place where I was able to see this the clearest was while I was on my mission.  

As a missionary, you are with your fellow missionaries a lot more than you would ever spend with some people you have known for your entire life.  You are with some of them 24/7 and you see or hear from others almost half as much as that.  Flaws and quirks become more apparent as time goes by and it can cause tension.  From there, some of the 7 deadly sins start to emanate and your relationships become weak. Others start to try and fill the emptiness by feeding on those deadly sins coming from within themselves, although not intentionally.  It comes from within you at the same time.  From the tension comes gossip, "hidden jabs" (statements with double meanings) and the desire to become more elite than certain missionaries. This causes difficulty for future relationships to grow that are ruined even before they start. Missionaries start to take "sides" even if the one missionary is constantly trying to apologize for misunderstandings.  I was sucked into it in different ways. In some cases I was even the victim, wondering why people were so rude to me even when I hadn't met them before. It was all around me. Even the people who claimed to be the victims themselves would partake in the gossip or belittlement of others.  I look at that experience and wonder why we didn't try to strengthen each other more.  Instead of taking offense, belittling others and then forming sides against people, why didn't we try to help each other see the good in others. We were, after all, trying to reach for the same purpose and bring souls unto Christ.  It's amazing how even when you think you are your most spiritual self, Satan can still get to you. He uses those 7 deadly sins because they are so easy to fall into!  We are only human.

*I have to say that even though I saw plenty of what is in the previous paragraph while on my mission, I would still go back in a heart beat if that was what the Lord wanted me to do. I will never regret going and I love the people I served with, even if there were plenty of misunderstandings.  You fight with the people you love, right?

Mary Ellen Edmunds helped me to see that if we focus on feeding the wolf in side ourselves that has the traits that are similar to the "7 Heavenly Virtues," it will be much easier to tame the bad wolf.  This is going to be a new focus of mine.  Mary said to start with one and focus on obtaining the good trait by working through the atonement, and then the deadly sin will subside.  (more or less)  I hope I can succeed just as I hope you will succeed as you try to "feed" the better "wolf."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pioneer Day

I wrote this on my personal blog and decided to share it with you:

A holiday that we celebrate in my faith is coming up in two days!  We call it Pioneer Day.  It's a day we take to celebrate by remembering our ancestors, and at the same time remember those who sacrificed so much for our faith in the earlier years of the church. This includes those who crossed the oceans to live with and practice their faith with the early saints, those who had to put up with the abuse from the mobs, putting up with death threats toward themselves and their prophet, those who gave up all they had to move to new states and eventually build temples, and crossed the plains between Illinois to Utah for our faith. There is plenty more they had to put up with, but those are just a few.
What a great day to have to remember our family roots, and also the people who sacrificed so much for their faith. The pioneer of my faith in my family is my grandma, but there are plenty of my ancestors and other family members who I have learned from and I am grateful for. Who are your pioneers?
 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm Committed!

First I just have to say how much I LOVE the Ensign. It is such an amazing magazine filled with inspired words from the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My thoughts are driven by an article that I read this morning in the July Ensign titled, "Brother, I'm Committed."

Lately I have been in a bit of a weird funk. I love attending church meetings and partaking of the Sacrament. I love the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I have been feeling stuck. I have not been progressing the way I know I can over the past couple of weeks. This talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf helped me understand why I was "standing still" in my testimony.

He talks a lot about commitment to our covenants. I have not been nearly as faithful at reading my scriptures and saying my prayers as I know I should be. Often I make excuses as to why I haven't been as good at this lately, but in reality it is simply because I was not committed fully. President Uchtdorf says, "Those who are only sort of committed may expect to only sort of receive the blessings of testimony, joy, and peace. The windows of heaven might only be sort of open to them." This is what I have been feeling lately. Only a small part of the true joy and testimony that can be mine. "Being only sort of committed to the gospel can lead to frustration, unhappiness, and guilt."

This has been my call to remembrance. Starting today I am re-committing to live the gospel to its' fullest. And I am going to follow the counsel of the Lord (through His apostle) to "search the scriptures and earnestly seek the guidance of [my] Father in Heaven,...accept and magnify [my] callings,...attend [church] meetings,...[and] do [my] visiting teaching."

Have any of you ever felt stuck in your progress? I used to think that would never happen to me, but now I know that it can and will happen to anyone who chooses to not fully commit. I know that after praying and studying my scriptures this morning I felt a tremendous amount of peace and joy. Now I just have to keep it up! Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Literature to real life: How the gospel applies to everything!

This is my first time posting, so if there are any other members of this blog who find this post pretty irrelevant to the main purpose of this blog feel free to let me know.

While my husband and I were traveling across the state of Idaho to his extended family reunion, I decided to use those hours to finish my most recent choice of literature to analyze: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly.  In the story it shows how difficult situations can affect the belief system and optimism of a creature.  At one point in the story, the creature created by Frankenstein starts to curse at his creator for the terrible life he has been given. He shouts, after multiple experiences where he tried showing kindness but was left alone in desolation because of being misunderstood, "Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live?" Later, because of experiencing the wonder and awe of one of the most glorious creations-- the earth, The monster felt "emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within..." After those emotions were quickly extinguished by another bad experience, he had decided to take vengeance and control of the life of his creator.

After reading the chapters that contain these narrations, my husband and I had a discussion.  It made us think: How often do we as mortals curse our God for unwanted predicaments?  I do it myself by not being grateful and forgetting to be prayerful at the moment where I am feeling overstressed or overworked.  I have met others who become offended or blame their hardships on God and later say things similar to the effect that they will return to God if He does something miraculous toward them first.  Naturally, we as humans want to blame someone else for our times when we fall short, and take full credit when we are blessed.  But, how can God help us if we aren't doing our part to draw closer to Him?  Those who curse God and become like the monster in the book, by deciding to create a relationship with Him on their own terms, will not progress.  God is constant.  He is the one who knows all things. He even knows us and our needs better than we know ourselves.  Throughout the scriptures Christ is constantly saying, "come." He never says, ok I guess I can change some of our Heavenly Father's laws around to better fit your opinions.  As I was remembering that everything can be in God's hands if we let them, and that God knows everything and has a better understanding than we do, the thought brought me comfort.

After discussing this we came to the subject on how little we know of the after life and how there are so many speculations on what could happen.  This brought us back to the truth that God is constant, He knows what He is doing, and although we don't know everything that will happen in the next life, He has told us what He wants us to know. We were also brought back to the truth that although we may not know the purpose for everything in this life, we need to trust Him and remember to only focus on what He has told us to focus on.  We have been told to trust him by obeying his commandments and continually progressing in this life.  He has told us to focus on what we can do now and to prepare ourselves, but not worry, about the future.

It is amazing how such truth can be portrayed in non-religious literature.  Everything can be tied to the gospel if we look :)

My request is that you, who have read my thoughts, reply by telling me about times when you may have come to "curse" your creator and how later you were able to come back to the Lord.  You don't have to write anything too personal, since we don't really know each other and all.  Just write something that you feel comfortable about.

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