Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Write It Down

As the new year approaches, I would venture to say that we all become more reflective. We look back on the past year and wonder if it met our expectations; did we improve or did we plateau?

Sometimes as journal can help us see how much we've grown. I used to be ridiculously good at keeping a journal, in fact, I had a couple years where I wrote every day. Then, I fell out of that habit---and I wish I hadn't. I did take the chance to write the occasional entry, but I missed so many of the little moments; moments that I now try desperately to remember.

I look back at the past 20 months of my life (since my son's birth) and wish I wrote more down. He's growing up so fast and I want to remember as much as I can. I know that this blog, and our personal ones, have helped, but I have restricted my entries because I fear to say too much. Prophets have even counseled us to keep a history, President Spencer W. Kimball said:
Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal. It should be an enlightening one and should bring great blessings and happiness to the families. If there is anyone here who isn’t doing so, will you repent today and change—change your life? (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 117; or Ensign, May 1979, p. 84).
So, with the new year, I'm taking the chance to start over again. I hope to start small. Here are my journal keeping goals:
  1. Each day I blog, I'll write in my personal journal. (so that means I should at least have Wednesdays covered).
  2. Catch up in the kids' baby books.
  3. Print out the previous years' blog posts. I was using a software to accomplish this, but I think I'm just going to copy, paste, make a cover with my scrapbooking software, print it at kinkos' and laminate (cheaper in the long run---that way I can make one for Greg and I, and one each for the kids---to take when they're not kids).
  4. Over the next couple of days, I'm going to make a family planner/journal for 2010 (check the link). I definitely think this sister was inspired to post about her planner and then link back to the sister who made the FREE template. After I make it, I must keep it up to date.
I hope I've inspired each of you to do a little here and a little there to always keep those special (and not so special) moments with you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping a Testimony

During FHE tonight we came across this quote from the 1st presidency message in the new Ensign:
"Testimony isn't something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary."

This quote stood out to me today because it reminded me that we have to do something everyday to keep our testimony strong. I think I knew of this before and that was why I wanted to start this blog. That way I could have an uplifting thing to read everyday that someone I know had written. And I would also have a chance to inspire other people.

Reading this blog has helped me to keep my testimony strong and vibrant and has allowed me to continue growing and striving towards my intended celestial destination. Everyday we make choices that can bring us closer or take us further away from it. What have you done recently to keep yours strong and vibrant?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Put God First

I feel completely behind in my life right now (probably because I have been so busy getting ready for Christmas and now I am out of town). I apologize for missing last week's post. Congratulations to Ashley and Nate on the pregnancy! My husband and I are also expecting our first baby, a boy due May 18th!

I just want to share a simple yet profound thought with everyone. I have been witnessing people around me that are having difficulties with their marriage. It is extremely hard for me to see the sadness that these people are experiencing. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful marriage. I love being married to my best friend and I am so grateful for the wonderful person he is! I often wish that I could fix the marriages around me that do not seem to be going well. I know how good it can be so I guess I want everyone to have that in their life. The most important aspect of a marriage is that you must put God first, your spouse next, and yourself last. If you do this then you will reap the benefits of a happy, healthy, and successful marriage!

I will be the first to admit that I make many mistakes in my own marriage. And being a natural "woman" I am often more selfish than I ought to be. Thankfully I have a wonderful, patient, and loving husband who overlooks many of my more selfish moments (hopefully I do the same for him). My challenge to all of you readers is to do something thoughtful and selfless for your spouse every single day this week. That would add up to 7 selfless acts! Next week I'll check up on you and see how you did, as well as report on how I did. Good luck!

Two Hearts

There's a Cheri Call song called "Gifts" that has become one of my favorites to listen to during the holiday season. The link will take you to the lyrics and a version you can listen to for yourself, but the part I especially like is the third verse:

I told Him it was broken, but it was all that I had
And He said that it was just what He wanted
And somehow I believed what He said
And it wasn’t gold or Frankincense like they gave Him from the start
It was just my heart; it was just my heart

I think it's a special thing to be reminded that all we can give is ourselves to our Savior. After all, that's what he gave us and THAT was and is the greatest gift of all time.

I've got a secret for all of you. Nate and I learned about a month ago that we are pregnant with our first baby due in July. On Christmas morning, I woke up for the first time and as I was laying in bed I swear I could feel my baby's heartbeat just slightly after mine. I don't know if that's possible, but that was the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received. And I thought of Mary holding her little baby and touching His hands, the hands that would one day be pierced with nails, and smoothing His face, the face that another Mary would see as the resurrected Lord, and I felt grateful for life and sacrifice and what that all means. I wish you all a Happy New Year with a new start in each of your lives and an opportunity for me to prepare to greet a brand new life into my own.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Reason for the Season

I have been typing away for a while at this computer, and cannot get my thoughts to make sense in the written form, so though I would like to expound much more, I cannot. My thoughts have been regarding Mary the mother of Jesus. After each miracle she experienced or witnessed she held the experience close and pondered it in her heart. Every time I read that it floors me. And this is where I can't make any sense except in my own mind.

So, I would like to share with you instead something a dear friend of mine taught me last night. Malinda (my friend) was getting ready to teach her Gospel Principles class when she came across the question "what does repentance mean to you?" and she began thinking of that. Really, what did it mean to her.

I am not going to go into her experience much (if you would like to read it, go here) but I am going to share her scriptural thought. When the angels appeared the night the Savior was born
they declared they brought good tidings of great joy. She said that the glad tidings is the Gospel of Jesus Christ... the Good News. And the gospel is the Atonement of Christ. It's the fact that we can return to live with Him and our Father. And the Great Joy is Repentance. Because it is only through repentance that we can become clean. What a wonderful thought. A few years back I had the epiphany that the only reason we do celebrate Christmas is because of the Atonement. Without it, nothing would matter. There would be no reason for this season. How grateful I am for that.

And now, I leave you with a wonderful Christmas video Tricia emailed me. We thought that everyone would enjoy it. Merry Christmas and I hope the Spirit of Christ was with you all day, and can continue to be with you throughout your lives.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Light Unto All

The church has a page all about Christmas; I wish I would have found it earlier in the month, but at least I can potentially use some of the ideas in the next few days and the upcoming years.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Real Gift of Christmas

I'm posting this video because I thought it went really well with my topic from last week.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Families

One aspect of the belonging to this church that I feel especially fond of is the focus on families, and eternal families. Now that I am a mother this has taken on a whole new meaning. This gospel isn't a race to the finish, or all about trying to outshine the next person. It is about having a family and finding our way back to our Heavenly Father's presence together.

I am especially thankful for the Family Proclamation that was given when I was in my youth so that I could grow up with it and now cherish each part of it as I endeavor to raise a celestially bound family. I want to share a part of it today and hope that we can each reflect on it with a stronger faith and testimony of the principles taught within it. I pulled an excerpt out for reflection but feel free to click the above link and read the entire thing.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

I pray that we will always hold true to these values and be a good example of them to our family and friends. What blessings have you noticed in your life as a result of holding true to these values?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What An AWESOME Week!!!

I have really loved the posts this week. They have truly reflected everything that has touched my Spirit this week. I'll try to keep my thoughts short so you can get back to the Christmas season.

This past week was FINALS WEEK. On top of that, I was majorly sick and I missed the final review before the test and was feeling really down about it. There is an awesome girl in my class named Annie that was my angel this week. She actually tracked me down through the school e-mail system to send me her notes from the review, which made the whole thing much much easier than it would have been otherwise. She earns a place in my "Incredible People Pile."

I love this time of year but not because I think everyone is nicer but because I notice it more. I am more geared to recognize the service I receive. I once attended a Midnight Mass with one of my friends and the priest said in his homily a line a will never forget," Every year we hear the Christmas story and it's always the same, but hopefully something has changed within us in the last year that makes the story mean something different."

Merry Christmas Season Everyone!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spirit of Christ



It is so easy to get lost in the symbolism and forget the symbol. I pray our hearts will be open so we can enjoy the spirit of Christ this season and all year round.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Angels Among Us

I truly believe there are angels surrounding us every day. I mean the angels who are living, AND the ones who don't currently have bodies. I can feel it. They are so interested in our lives, and in helping us. I just wanted to share because I'm so thankful for their help, and for the living angels in my life who have been blessing me.

Heavenly Father sure does put people in our path that are prepared and willing to help us. I am so amazed at the ways He's been blessing me even when I haven't spoken to him in ages... He doesn't care- he still sends people to bless my life when I don't deserve it!!

My sister-in-law came over like 3 times last week just to visit and help clean my house and play with Isaac. She has no idea that every time she called me I was on the verge of a breakdown, and I truly feel the angels were guiding her.

He has also given me a visiting teaching companion who has been praying to be the kind of friend I need, and that prayer has been answered. She has become an instant friend, and has already helped me in more ways than I can express. It is just so great that the people who will listen to the promtings of the spirit can be tools in God's hands in lifting up those who are lost and wounded.

I'm so amazed that Heavenly Father is doing all these things for me when I've felt like a total failure to him. He never gives up on us. He utilizes all the willing spirits he can gather up to come and bless our lives. I have felt these angels seen and unseen in my life, and I am so thankful for the evidence of His great love.

I only hope to be the kind of willing spirit he can use to answer the prayers of others.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Four Ways

Recently in Mormon Times, Orson Scott Card referenced a sacrament talk given in his ward. Since it was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the brother giving the closing talk was assigned gratitude. He told the congregation to take each of the four days remaining before Thanksgiving to think about different ways you've been blessed.

I know it's Christmas and not Thanksgiving anymore, but I tend to feel gratitude just as much during this month as I did the last. To quote Card: "there's no expiration date on gratitude." Recognizing what we are grateful for can also help us be more willing to serve others and become truly like our Savior; which is one of the reasons for Christmas--to remind us to be more like Him. So, take a few minutes over the next few days and ponder how you've been blessed in the following ways:
  1. How Heavenly Father, Christ, and Holy Ghost have blessed your life: This could be a whole post and/or blog within itself. I wouldn't be the woman I am today with the love of my Heavenly Father, example of my Elder Brother, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
  2. How members of your family have blessed your life: My Dad provided, presided and protected our family. No matter what decision he (and my mom) made, he did it for the good of the family. He honors his priesthood and sets a good example for everyone around him. He'll be the last to tell you this because he'll think he didn't do well at all---he's incredibly humble. And because he did this I looked for those qualities in a husband and I was lucky enough to find it in Greg.
  3. How your friends have impacted your life: When I look back at the decisions I've made, I've been able to see who my true friends are; they are the people who always stick by you, no matter what, to help you see just how loved you are---even if they don't like your choice. I've been blessed to have those kind of friends become my family.
  4. How other church members and leaders have blessed you: Other church members help us strengthen our own testimonies; if that wasn't true we wouldn't have this blog, auxiliary programs or callings. We provide each other service, love and support. We help each other through the highs and the lows of mortality because we know what we're striving for.
I hope, through my little thoughts, that I help someone as much as ya'll have helped me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come From A Store"

I was reading a talk (with the same title as above) by Jeffrey R. Holland, and he pointed out something that I had never thought of before:

Joseph and Mary were poor.

I mean, it makes sense-- the woman gave birth in a stable, but I never really thought about it.
Elder Holland elaborates: I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not “there was no room in the inn” but specifically that “there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7; italics added.) We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could talk in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of influence or means, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.
The wise men came later, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. By the time they arrived, the Baby Jesus is described as "a young child" and Joseph and Mary were living in a house (see Matthew 2:11).

The gifts we give today to our loved ones are symbols of the gifts given to the Christ-child by the wise men. Elder Holland suggests that perhaps we use the wise men as examples to separate the gift-giving from the true reason for the season-- celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Elder Holland adds:

As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized...

I do not feel—or mean this to sound—like a modern-day Scrooge. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were humbly given and appreciatively received, and so they should be, every year and always. As my wife and children can testify, no one gets more giddy about the giving and receiving of presents than I do.

But for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion—the Babe of Bethlehem—will we know why “tis the season to be jolly” and why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.

May we each remember the humble scene of the nativity on the night of Christ's birth. Plain and simple, yet full of love. I pray that each of our Christmas celebrations may be the same.

Whoops

Sorry everyone, I totally spaced posting yesterday. But in my defense I slept until about 10 and then hurried to get ready and leave for the day- an outing with my mom and baby. Then at night we met up with Nick to eat and go to the Riverwalk. So we didn't get home until about 10 last night. And I was totally pooped. But I'll just post a scripture I like so that I can still be slightly on top of things this week.

Ether 12:27
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

So I want to know what this scripture means to you. How does it touch your life at this time? What can you gain from applying the principles in it?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Release the Secret Weapon!

Hi everyone,

This is Josh in for Meagan for husby week. So whenever I see Meagan working on or reading this blog, the title always makes me think of Fievel Goes West (you know, the one about there being no cats in America and the streets being paved with cheese...). Anyway, in the pivotal moment of that movie, the mice shout "release the secret weapon!" and finally get the cats.

I thought I'd blog about a secret weapon I was reading about in my scripture study this morning. It was quoted in President Eyring's jolly December article "Home for Christmas." In it, he mentions many worthwhile things, one of which is D&C 50:23-25 which speaks of the light of Christ. I'll quote it in its entirety

23. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness
24. 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 the perfect day.
25. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you.

The thing that caught my eye in particular was the word chase. As in, we chase the darkness away. It's not that the darkness eventually goes away, or that we can wait and hide until somebody else releases a secret weapon for us. We indeed do have a secret weapon that we can use to not only defend ourselves from the bad, but to actively chase it out of our lives and homes. In terms of the "armor of God" scripture in Ephesians, the sword we have to hand is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17).

I think it's the Light of Christ and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Every child of God has the light of Christ and receives more and more light as they act on that light. The sword gets sharper and sharper. And the Gift of the Holy Ghost is like a whole new model of sword: more powerful, longer lasting, stainless etc. etc. all the better for chasing the darkness out of our lives. I think there's also significance in the second part of that Ephesians verse "which is the word of God". To me, that sounds like it's not just the Spirit, but it's the Spirit and the knowledge it teaches us applied in our lives.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost is truly a gift. Wilford Woodruff said this:

"Now, if you have the Holy Ghost with you—and every one ought to have—I can say unto you that there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing, there is no greater testimony given to any man on earth. You may have the administration of angels; you may see many miracles; you may see many wonders in the earth; but I claim that the gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man. It is by this power that we have performed that which we have. It is this that sustains us through all the persecutions, trials and tribulations that come upon us." (Deseret Weekly, April 6, 1889, 451, emphasis added by Josh)

So, in conclusion, appreciate that gift, that secret weapon. Use it. Take it out and polish it. We should put it to work on the offensive in our lives and chase down and squish our weaknesses, lingering sins, guilty pleasures, and I-wish-that-I...'s. There really is no greater gift we can receive in this life. If we really use it and relish it to its fullest potential, I know the light will grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day, as promised.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving

My wife just told me that it's hubby night on the blog and handed me the computer. Wow I thought, what a great opportunity to share my experiences with people I barely know. I then asked my wife to tell me what I should write about and the helpful advice she gave was "something spiritual". With a topic that specific, how could I go wrong? I guess a big test of faith in my life somewhat recently has been moving to Salt Lake.
I grew up in a small town, Mendon, just outside of Logan. It's a tight-knit community and everyone knows everyone else. I was raised by loving and sheltering parents. The only significant amount of time I've spent away from Mendon was to serve a mission to Philadelphia (which was an eye opener, and no doubt). I give this history to give perspective on my somewhat recent activity.
I met a beautiful woman, who seemed to like me in return. We dated until I realized she really did like me, then I proposed and we got married.
Thus we are eventually led to my real story. Right before we were married I moved from my small town to West Jordan. The initial hardship was (and is) driving. It's way different here than in a small town. Then there was adjusting to a new home and meeting our funny neighbors. It wasn't until later that I found myself feeling somewhat depressed. I had left everything and everyone familiar for a city where I knew nothing and no-one. I had gained something far more valuable in return but there was definitely something lacking.
I found that I had to lean more and more on prayer to help me feel something familiar. I still feel alone sometimes, cut off from the familiar. I still feel like an alien sometimes. But the Spirit of the Lord always makes me feel lat home anywhere.
One day, I was alone in our apartment, I was feeling particularly out of place. I had no job, and no friends other than my wife. I was feeling so bad that I finally fell on my knees and asked for something to make me feel better. I knelt there for a couple of minutes, nothing happened. So I got up and started doing some dishes. A few minutes in I felt suddenly like I was at home. The same feel that was always around me growing up, and on the mission. It wasn't a huge spiritual moment full of tears and heartfelt repentance. It was just a comforting, loving feeling. Very subtle and still. The feeling lasted for several hours afterward, only leaving right before I went to bed.
Whenever I hold my wonderful, caring, loving, doting wife I get that same feeling. Like everything is ok. She is my home. My incredible Father in Heaven has given me a great gift. The gift of a home I can take with me anywhere. Sometimes I still feel lonely but whenever I hug my wife or even think about her, everything feels ok.
Two sister in-laws are pregnant right now so I've been thinking about babies. I wonder if babies feel that way. They just left all that was familiar, a family they had known for millenia, personal relationship with the Father. They come to this new, scary, and sometimes mean world. Our Father in Heaven provides earthly parents to help us remember that feeling, and eventually our awesome spouses. He loves us so much, he always wants us to have some way to feel his love.
Well that's my spiritual thought. I'm not a talented writer, which is probably apparent. But I do have a testimony of God and His son Jesus Christ. He has been so good to me. I am so grateful for the comfort of the Spirit and the gospel in my life.
Signed by yours truly,
Nate G.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mt. Vesuvius and Christmas Cheer

It's husband week! And so, like with all things, I am going to help my husband out by writting this for him. He's super busy, donchaknow. So I step in and help where he needs the help. Besides, I am not sure discussing the reason Mt. Vesuvius erupted (one of the most wicked cities in the world) would be a good topic for this blog. A little too technical nd a litttle too much speculation. And that was our big gospel topic for this week. Interesting, but nothing founded in docterine, so I will spare you all.

With Christmas fast approaching I have struggled with the Cheer we are all supposed to have. Life has been crazy busy, and I have had too many stresses to really get into the mood. I once heard the "fake it 'till you make it" advice and so have been trying that, but it isn't quite working.

Then today I stumbled across this wise counsel from our beloved prophet:

“In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service. ‘It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men.’ Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Then each Christmas will be the best Christmas ever.” — Thomas S. Monson

From reading that I learned I need to stop fretting over my stressors and get out and serve. As I serve others the joy that fills my heart will be better than any other and I can joyfully say "This is the best Christmas ever!"

I would invite you to do the same. Try it and see if it isn't true. You will be amazed!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Keep an Eternal Perspective

by Greg Hansen

“Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption” (Alma 12:32).

When I was on my mission I had the opportunity to teach a less-active's non-member husband. We went through the lessons week by week struggling to find them at home [they were a Navy family] and trying to get the lessons done before they were deployed. The day before they were deployed we caught them at home and gave them the lesson about the plan of salvation. The husband made a comment at the end of the lesson like 'now I know why you are bugging me all the time about the choices I make and why I should be baptized'. It occurs to me as we are leaving that if we had just known 4 months earlier that he did not have an eternal perspective, he might have joined the church before he was deployed.

If we can keep an eternal perspective it makes many if not all of the decisions and experiences of this life seem manageable. And keeping an eternal perspective can help us weed out the unimportant matters to focus on the matters with eternal weight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Expressing Love to Our Spouses

My husband is not a writer, so... yeah, you're stuck with me again.

But my message has a lot to do with "Hubby Week"-- the idea of expressing love to our spouses.

This was one of the Family Gems this week:
"We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love.

"Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do."

I think that last sentence is the crux of the matter: we don't always do what we know we should. But when it comes to our spouses, we must.

Luckily, there is a simple way to overcome this problem! Spencer W. Kimball said it himself, "Do it." Just do it.

JUST.

DO.

IT.

Right now.

Go tell your spouse you love them.

I love my husband more than anything and am constantly telling him so, but sometimes just saying it isn't enough. Demonstrating your love through service, kindness and respect is also important.

Enjoy the rest of Hubby Week!

P.S. There is a blog I follow called "The Generous Wife." She gives great tips and ideas on how to express love for your husband. Even if you don't think you need help in this area, I recommend it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hubby Week

I decided that since I'm all postpartumed up that I would let Nick write my post for today. And I don't know how many of your husbands like to write or would want to participate in hubby week but just ask them and see what they say. It could be fun! I look forward to reading it all!

Now without further ado, here are the wondrous literary stylings of my dear love, Nick.

Thank you, my dear. So then, my fellow readers, let us be off on a short journey of awakening!

My first thought: I am a father. Wow. That is so cool to be able to say that. I'd like to share a familiar thought or two that take on a new ring with my perspective as a dad.

My second thought: I may ramble a bit, I'm still quite tired. :)

A Father's point of view:

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I certainly hope to have another child or two (Trish isn't so certain at the moment - ha ha), but even so, I can't quite imagine the heart-wrenching choice Father had to make. He has many, many children. He has only one that we know of who lived a perfect life.

I cannot imagine ever allowing Parker to come to any harm, I couldn't sit idly by if I could do something about it. But what if Parker had brothers and sisters that would be hurt if I didn't allow it? That is not a fun choice to have to make. Yes, I understand that his sacrifice helped an almost infinite number of souls, but he had to suffer SO much. I don't think I could ask that of anyone, much less my son, much less my perfect son.

It is comforting to know that Father loves us so much he would let Jesus sacrifice himself to give us the choice to be with them and like them.

A Brother's point of view:


John 15:13-14 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

One of my greatest blessings in this life has been the family I was born into. We spend time together when we can, call, email, and just genuinely care. It is nice to know that no matter what I do I have friends; Trish and I hope to create that same trust and friendship within our own family.

It is with that same gratitude that I strive to be worthy to be called a friend and brother to Jesus. Our perfect eldest brother already died for us. He still helps us in our moments of need. He Lives, and he loves us right now, and knows how we're doing right now. We just need trust him and reach out to grab his hand so he can pull us up out of the waves life sometimes throws at us. We grab his hand by doing what he commands us to do.

Babies are smart

There is a quaint little acronym you may have heard before - Keep It Simple, 'Silly.' (most people substitute out silly for some other word...)

I have woken up the past few mornings and looked into my son's eyes and seen only bright-eyed curiosity and innocence. No suspicious glances, no sarcastic joking, no gossiping about how someone else messed up or did this or that. Just a happy little guy enjoying what he has (except for when he has an empty belly or a dirty diaper).

Keep it simple, my friends. Trust in God like my little baby trusts me. You can sleep and know someone cares and is watching over you, you can look around and there will always be something beautiful if you care see it. And you can live with them that love you for as long as forever lasts.

Keep it simple. Work hard, play hard, learn. Go to church, read the word of God so you can know how to improve your life, apply what you learned. Stop and smell the roses (if they are not readily available go to the grocery store and buy some), stop and play with a child (mine likes attention), stop and tell someone how much you care about them, stop and thank God for all you have. It's simply amazing how much we have to be thankful for. Keep it simple.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Gift for Christ

Today I want to share a family tradition from my husband's family. Each year at Christmas they have what is called the "Jesus Stocking." Every person sits down and writes a Christmas letter to Christ, including a gift that they will give to Christ that year for Christmas. Then everyone puts their letter into the stocking on Christmas Eve. It is very similar to a New Year's Resolution, except it is something that we are going to do for Christ through out the next year.

At the Christmas season we shop and search for the perfect gift for our family members, our friends, and our neighbors, but we never stop to think about giving a gift to our Savior. The whole reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Christ. It is important to remember that we are celebrating the birth of the Savior of the World. Without His perfect life and His sacrifice we would have no need to celebrate His birth. What better gift could be given than to serve one another and follow in Christ's footsteps?

So this year I want you all to sit down and think of a gift that you can give to the Savior. After all, we give gifts to those we love and we love Christ! It can be a random act of kindness for a stranger. It can be inviting someone to church. It can be reading more about the Savior's life while he was on the Earth. It can be anything you think a disciple of Christ might do. I know that if you do this you will feel the true spirit of Christmas.

PS: Check out the First Presidency Christmas Devotional that aired tonight. Here's the link.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Agreed

Better late than never right?
I've been thinking a lot about trials lately, and how kind Heavenly Father is in helping to prepare us for them. My greatest experience in this area was when I lost my first child, and I wanted to share some of the things I learned after going through that devastating loss.
First, I believe that everything we pass through is a unique mission and opportunity that was prepared for us before we came. I strongly feel that our challenges were presented to us in our premortal life, and that we agreed to and possibly volunteered for those things which would be difficult to go through. After J and I arrived at the hospital thinking we were going to bring home our brand new little girl, and they found there was no heart beat...I was overcome with a remembrance that this had been in the plan all along. In deed, I could literally remember my little Elizabeth asking me if I would offer to be her mother and help create her little body, even if she would not be able to stay, and I would not be able to raise her in this life. Knowing that I had volunteered to make this sacrifice for her was my greatest source of comfort in the following days of grief.
Second, I learned that Heavenly Father is there in our times of ease and prosperity, gently preparing us for what lies ahead. Just a few days before Elizabeth was born, J and I went to temple sqaure to watch the Joseph Smith movie in the Legacy theatre. I remember being overwhelmed with how many trials Joseph and Emma had to go through, and as we walked out of that movie I gazed up at the temple and wondered, "Why is my life so EASY??" I know that Heavenly Father was helping prepare me for my greatest trial so far. That night as we were driving home, I heard a little question being asked in my head, and turned to ask J. "If we lost this baby, would we still use the name we picked out?" We both agreed that of course we would use her name, and quickly changed the subject. I know that Elizabeth was there with us, and that she wanted to make sure she was going to keep her pioneer grandmother's name.
Third, I know that death is an amazing window of opportunity for families to come closer together, and for us to share our testimonies with everyone around us. When something so devastating happens, everyone around us is more softened and sensitive- and we have a great opportunity to get into their hearts with our words. The day we got home from the hospital without our little girl, we had several visitors. I felt so bouyed up by the spirits on the other side, that I was pouring out comfort and testimony of Heavenly Father's plan to everyone who came into our home. They were all so surprised that they had come to comfort us, but on the contrary, we were comforting them. I could feel the result of all the prayers being raised up in our behalf, and the strength of the spirits in our home was overwhelming.
Looking back, I am so amazingly thankful Heavenly Father trusted me with that great opportunity to be an instrument in his hands in creating a body for one of his perfect children. I am thankful that I'm able to use that experience to bear testimony of His awareness and love. He is very aware of what we are going through, and will go through- and we knew about it too. We just need to hold on to that, and know that we were chosen for our certain tasks before we ever came.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Days

One of the traditions my husband and I do in our family is read a scripture and Christmas story each day of December leading up to Christmas. Since our kids are young, we do it as our couple scripture study; this also allows us to expand on the story or scripture. Yesterday this was our scripture:
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the aLord bOmnipotent who creigneth, who was, and is from all deternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a etabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty fmiracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the gblind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

And he shall cast out adevils, or the bevil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

And lo, he shall asuffer btemptations, and pain of body, chunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can dsuffer, except it be unto death; for behold, eblood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his fanguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

And he shall be called aJesus bChrist, the cSon of God, the dFather of heaven and earth, the eCreator of all things from the beginning; and his fmother shall be called Mary.
Mosiah 3: 5-8

My thought is simple today: Amidst the hussle and bussle of this time of year, take a step back to remember why we celebrate, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Don't take Christ out of Christmas and He will envelope your whole season making it much more memorable.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Traditions

"Uplifting traditions play a significant role in leading us toward the things of the Spirit. Those that promote love for Deity and unity in families and among people are especially important."
(Cultivate Righteous Traditions by Elder Hallstrom of the 70)

Because we are now getting more focused on the Christmas season, I have decided to talk about traditions today. I took some classes at BYU while I was there and learned the importance of families doing traditions together and how they can really cement a family unit as well as give each family member a sense of identity within the family.

I think it is important to talk about now since we are just starting our families and will be starting traditions together that our kids will grow up with and learn to count on and look forward to.

When I was growing up we have had several traditions that we did throughout the years. I always looked forward to the family parties we had where I could see my cousins and enjoy the activities that were planned. We would sometimes do the dutch tradition where we put our shoes under the Christmas tree before bed and hope to find something special inside them in the morning if we had been good. We'd make treats or presents for the neighbors and then sing them a Christmas carol when we went over to deliver them. There were a lot of fun things we did, but my favorite was the nativity FHE.

During this FHE, we would get out the nativity box that had all the characters of the nativity wrapped up in newspaper and cloths. Each of us kids took turns unwrapping each character and telling what their story was. We always were jealous of whoever got to unwrap the baby Jesus. After we unwrapped each one, we would set them up on display for the rest of the Christmas season.

Growing up with these traditions always made me feel closer to my family. I wanted to stay home more often during the Christmas season since there was always something fun to do. I have a testimony of the power of family traditions and that they can bring a family closer together. I would love to hear in a comment what your family has done during the holiday season to make it extra special.

Please comment! :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Don't Know What Words to Say...

My husband and I have received a new calling to teach the 9 and 10 year olds in our ward. They are such awesome kids!! I can't believe how smart they are, albeit rambunctious. I've gotten to know them pretty well and some of their stories have really broken my heart, especially how many of them have gone through or are going through their parents' divorce. Last week, at the end of class, we asked for volunteers to say the closing prayer and one of the boys said, "I would but I don't know what words to say." And I realized that he had never been taught how to pray. And it broke my heart. And so, today, we are teaching our class how to pray (in English AND Spanish, wahoo!) and I thought of some points about prayer I would like to share with this blog that have really helped me.

A woman named Mary Jane Woodger wrote an article in the New Era a few years ago called, "What I Have Learned About Mighty Prayer." It's suggestions can be used to teach a Family Home Evening. I put the main points from the article on a post-it note and stuck it on the wall next to my bed where I would see it every night before I prayed.
  1. Prepare for prayer
  2. Remember that God loves you
  3. Express sincere gratitude
  4. Pray fervently
  5. Pray in specifics
  6. Pray aloud
There have been times when just be preparing myself for prayer I have been brought to tears over how much God loved me and all the things I had to be grateful for.

If you have a copy of Preach My Gospel, before you kneel down for prayer, review pages 94-95. It gives some amazing pointers of how to get the most out of prayer. In my mission we had to review these pages every night while saying the end-of-the-day-companion prayer. It sometimes took forever to go through all of it, but I know that those were the most complete and helpful prayers I have ever prayed. Of course, it's geared towards missionaries, but it can be easily modified to fit anyone's prayers.

And lastly, the final part of prayer is receiving the answers to the questions we have asked. I have heard counsel stating that remaining on our knees and allowing the Spirit to speak to us through thoughts and impressions will often be the way we get those answers, or, my favorite GenCon quote, "We speak to the Lord in prayer, he speaks to us through the scriptures." As far as interpreting those answers, I recommend a talk by Richard G. Scott titled "Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer." It goes over the ways we receive answers and what we can do to follow them. In closing, I want to leave with a quote from the talk:

"It is vitally important to recognize that the Lord also responds a third way to prayer by withholding an answer when the prayer is offered. Why would He do that?

He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:

When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.

When He answers no, it is to prevent error.

When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.

Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Relief Society

One of the things I am most grateful for is the Relief Society organization. I love being able to meet together with women that are, have been, or will be in my similar situation. Women who believe and know what I do and use that knowledge to live their lives. I learn and grow each time I participate in anything RS related. I get the same feeling from this blog as well.

Anyway, I started thinking about RS because the Church website is at it again. They have revamped the RS home page (click here) to explain more about RS, what we do at each meeting, and how we can be better members of Relief Society.

I love this sisterhood. I mainly what to remind us all how important RS is for the church and us as individuals. First off, remember the church was not complete without the organization of the RS. We can serve like no one else can because we are the ultimate nurturers. Second, no matter what your calling is in the church you are always a member of Relief Society. Heavenly Father knows how important his daughters are and provides His support through Relief Society and other sisters.

I encourage us all to explore the new site to help us better understand at least one aspect of Relief Society. I'm grateful to be a woman, daughter of God and Relief Society member---and I hope to be better each day at all of these! :) Happy early Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

In the spirit of...

As I lay awake waiting for sleep to accompany me, I realized that I was feeling quite thankful about many things and wanted to acknowledge everything. It seems like I always have my best ideas when I am trying to fall asleep too. But then I can never remember them in the morning. So I'm making an exception.

I first want to say how thankful I am for this blog and how much it has helped me. Sometimes helping others makes me more happy than anything else in the world. (Okay, actually when is that not the case, right?) I hope you other authors feel the same way, like contributing on here has a special way of giving back to you. I also get a lot from reading the posts daily and then trying to find something uplifting to say in response to them.

Next I want to briefly state how thankful I am for my husband. For a long time I didn't think there was someone like him out there. I thought no one would ever understand me and that I'd feel alone forever. And then magically he showed up and was everything I ever needed or wanted. No he isn't totally perfect, but he's darn near close to it so I can't complain in the least. One thing that has been hard for me with the end of this pregnancy is that I can't cuddle up close to him like usual because my belly is so huge and it makes me feel nauseous whenever I lean over. It will be nice to have that back.

Finally I want to express gratitude about personal growth. I've been in many situations in my life where I felt like I didn't know how to handle things. But when I've been able to just keep at it, then I really grow. Living down here in TX and being away from family has definitely been one of those things. I've grown in ways that were absolutely impossible had I not made the move. And I've met some amazing people from living down here that have totally changed my perspective on life. I'm thankful for these kind of situations that challenge our thinking and encourage each of us to grow. I think having a baby will be the next on that list.

For you authors, if you don't already have something you want to post about then feel free to continue the theme of gratitude. Tell us about how this blog has helped your spirituality and dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And feel free to talk about anything else you are feeling particularly thankful for.

Love ya'll!

-Trish

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

Today I chose to teach my Sunday School class on President Monson's talk called, "An Attitude of Gratitude." Of course it was in preparation for Thanksgiving this week. It definitely made me realize how ungrateful I really am. I think that everyone should read this talk. It has great ways for us to show gratitude to our parents, friends, country, teachers, and Savior. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and especially enjoyed discussing ways that we can show gratitude to others.

My challenge to each of us is to sit down each day and make 2 lists. The first one is for all of the things that we are grateful for. The second list is for all of the ways that we can show gratitude towards people in our lives. Start the list tomorrow! Then add to it each day! I know that this exercise will help me recognize more fully the blessings that I have in my life that Heavenly Father has given me.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Button Down

My family has been having kind of a scary week this week. On Monday, my grandma fell and broker her...nose (you thought I was going to say hip, didn't you). She's okay and was quipping and being her funny sarcastic self the whole time. Nevertheless, I've been going to her house a lot more this week just in case she and grandpa have needed anything. Yesterday I went to borrow some buttons for a primary lesson I have today, and sure enough they were in the tin in the second drawer to the left of the sewing machine. The same buttons and the same tin that has been there since I was born. We also found every picture that my siblings or cousins have ever drawn for her. I showed my husband the bow and ribbon drawer where my grandma has kept every cute bow or ribbon from every present she's ever received. It brought back a real sense of security to see all these things that my sister and I used to look through when we were little.

In my spiritual life, my grandma has been my spiritual confidante. Having grown up as the only active member in my home, my grandma was the one I turned to with gospel questions and with whom I shared my deepest spiritual experiences while I was growing up. My grandma's just one example of something that I seem to be constantly seeking: stability. It's the number one thing I love about the gospel. It never changes, but we change as we live it. It's like how the scriptures say that there is only one path, we all stray from it or we go more slowly along it then others, but it's always in the same direction, towards God. In the book, Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard it says, "As we commit ourselves to [Jesus Christ]--spiritually, physically, emotionally--He blesses our lives with loving direction. Every decision we make from that time on is affected...Our actions become more disciplined, our relationships become more righteous; even our language becomes more pure as we live a life that is centered on Jesus Christ and His teachings."

I know that when life gets too crazy, the gospel can bring us down level ground again. We can always go to God with our insecurities and he will secure us to His knowledge that we are His children and we are loved no matter what.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thankful

I know I post a lot of videos, or refer to a lot of other blogs. Sorry about that. But I have to post this! I have to! In honor of Thanksgiving (I surely love that holiday) I think it is important to stop and think of all the things I am thankful for. Here is what some random people on the streets of New York are thankful for:


I am most thankful for the creation of life, and most importantly, for the atonement.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Everything's Gonna Be Okay

I'm sorry I missed last Thursday! I've been trying to think of what I should write about, and keep thinking that nothing is good enough. The very thing I wanted to write about was that the idea of perfection is sometimes a daunting requirement of us that hinders our progress, and here I am thinking my posts won't ever be good enough so I shouldn't write anything at all!
It is the same with feeling like we have to be perfect spiritually. Thinking that we have to BE perfect ourselves is so overwhelming, it often brings about a hopeless feeling that we will never make it, and we can never be close enough, so we might as well not try.
I learned a very valuable lesson about what it means to be perfect just a few months ago after attending Education Week at BYU. It was an amazingly spiritual week full of renewed dedication to be better, but very daunting at the same time to know that I will make mistakes, and I will always fall short, no matter how much I want to do better. One evening, after a day full of classes, I went back to where I was staying and just started praying where I could be alone.
I had waited after one of the speakers talks to tell him thank you, and he said some words to me that I felt were coming straight from Heavenly Father just for me. At that moment I realized God was using a good man to get through to me. I knew that God loved me, and I could feel it coming from this man because of his worthiness to have the spirit with him.
And I wondered how amazing it would be if I could have that same spirit in me, that I might share God's love with others... that he might work through me to reach out to others. I finally understood in that moment what it means to be "ONE" with Him. As I met with that speaker, he represented the Savior himself, because he was able to get himself out of the way and let the Savior speak through him. I wanted to remove myself so that others might see the Savior instead of me. That they might see His acts, His mercy, that He might dwell IN me, that I do only His will and not mine, that He lives vicariously through me.
When I think of President Monson, and how many times he has listened to the spirit telling him to bless the life of ONE person, I truly feel that the Savior is working vicariously through the Prophet. That He is doing exactly what Christ would do if He were on the earth, and if ALL of us would let Christ work through us, there would be so many of Him and His work would be done.
I realized that if I could just give myself up completely that He might take my place, that he might replace me, that I could lose myself and find Him in me, and that we together would be ONE, and the Father ONE in us because I have given up myself that others might look at me and see the Savior instead. That they would see His light in my eyes, feel his love in my arms, hear his words from my mouth. And that's what He means when he wants us to be ONE with Him. That we let Him INSIDE us, and we get ourselves out of the way.
And if I can get myself out of the way- my sinful, flawed self, and replace it with Him, THEN can I be perfect because I am one with Christ, and He is inside me, and I've given up all of the flawed and imperfect me.
So I don't have to be perfect by myself. I just have to get myself out of the way and let Him In- His spirit to be inside me, and we can together be perfect because He is taking my place.
I hope this makes sense because I tried to type an entire night of inspiration into one little page. But it was amazing to me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Matters Most

I know I touched on this last week and earlier in the month, but I can't help it. I feel very grateful for what I've been blessed with and so I went searching on the church website and found the new Gratitude page. It's full of links and videos talking about this principle and one of the videos is this short message from President Monson, take a look and then take the challenge to examine what matters most to you! (I promise my posts will be more in depth once I get used to the lack of sleep) :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Procrastinators Anonymous Meeting Has Been Postponed

It's 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday night, and guess who just remembered to blog?

Me.

(That wasn't very hard to guess, was it?)

Well, here it goes. I found a lovely little thought on (yup, you guessed it) procrastination.

A quick thought from Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy:

"Procrastination may seem the easy way, as it momentarily removes the effort required to accomplish something of value. Ironically, in time, procrastination produces a heavy burden laced with guilt and a hollow lack of satisfaction. Temporal and, even more importantly, spiritual goals will not be achieved by procrastination.

Now is the time to exercise our faith. Now is the time to commit to righteousness. Now is the time to do whatever is required to resolve our undesired circumstances. Now is the time to reconcile with God through the merciful process of change afforded us by the Redeemer of mankind."

I think that it couldn't be more clearly stated-- if we want to reach our goals, we have to get up and get to work! Nothing will ever be accomplished if we keep procrastinating, both in the temporal and spiritual sense.

Now is the time! Do whatever it is you've been meaning to do. Now is the time, not later.

As for me, now is the time... for bed. :-)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Missionary bloggin'

Yesterday our Sunday School lesson was about missionary work, more specifically "Every member a missionary". With the wide spread fear and panic that I feel society is currently embracing, sometimes being a missionary seems hard to me. People in my neighborhood won't even answer their door without first asking who I am. When I substitute teach elementary school kids, each child has to be individually signed off and accounted for at the end of the day.

Most people feel more secure at their computers than they do in social situations. I was watching "The View" for a few minutes today and Whoopi was reading a letter someone had sent about people growing up from the 30s to the 70s. The writer had said that back then they ate whatever they wanted without fear, went wherever they wanted as kids for as long as they wanted, and didn't have all the safety contraptions that we have now (carseats, seat belts, etc). The writer wasn't trying to bash on our current level of safety and security but was merely pointing out that growing up like that has produced more daring and inventive people, also people who aren't afraid to talk to strangers or play with kids that are a different age.

The show had some pretty interesting conversations about this topic. It made me contemplate the challenges we face when trying to share the gospel with others. The challenges I mostly thought of were basically what I've already shared plus the obvious things that would probably bore you if I mentioned. But I think that sometimes having a challenge brings new opportunities. Since many people are so comfortable at their computers these days, we have the opportunity to share our love of the gospel online.

I know I've already written about how the Ensign has being running articles about missionary blogging so I won't go into that again. Instead this time I wanted to find some other LDS blogs and link them so that everyone can see that a lot of people are doing this. After you have checked them out, let me know if you want me to link any of them on the sidebar. (Or if you know of any other amazing LDS blogs that give spiritual nourishment!)


LDS listings: lists of other LDS blogs and sites






Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Need to Love God!

I have been reading the recent Ensign with all of the conference talks and I just had to comment on President Uchtdorf's talk titled "The Love of God." My favorite thing that he said was the following:

"God the Eternal Father did not give that first great commandment because He needs us to love Him. His power and glory are not diminished should we disregard, deny, or even defile His name. His influence and dominion extend through time and space independent of our acceptance, approval, or admiration. No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God! For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become."

This really made me think. Do I have enough love for God? And if I do am I doing my best to show that love? His entire talk was wonderful and I highly recommend you all read it and take a few minutes to ponder about ways that you can show more love for God.

How Can I Be?





I enjoyed this song and thought you guys would enjoy it, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Don't Quite Have It All Together?

This has been an incredible week. I have had a lot of learning, and have so many different topics I would like to share! But, I tend to be a little long winded, so I am going to post only one of the many, and leave my thoughts with it.

A while back I found a blog called Diapers and Divinity. A wonderfully inspired and insightful woman writes about being a mother, and how even the mundane things have a spiritual side to them. She always makes me happy and makes me think (She also hosts a General Conference Book Club every Monday, if you want to check that out).

Earlier this week Jeffrey and I were joking about who has the harder job; him as provider for our family, or me as the SAHM. In the midst of our banter I said something that actually had me thinking for a while after. I had said "As a woman I have far more demands than you. You just have to be a good provider, be there for me emotionally, and be a good dad for our kids. I have to keep a perfectly clean house, provide healthy yet tasty meals, magnify my calling, be crafty, be slender, be successful, always be happy, teach Keith to read before he is in Kindergarten... and so much more. I will trade you places any day."

And then I realized. We as women really do have too many demands to fulfill. Whether we place them upon ourselves (as I do) or we allow society to place them upon our shoulders, we are far too heavy laden with demands on our time and talents.

Simplify is the key here. But more than that, looking to the Savior. In Stephanie's post she wrote about a few examples in the NT where people go before Christ not quite having it all, but having their best. And it is enough. Go and read her post. It is worth it. It will make you feel good inside, and make you happy, I promise. She is wonderful and you wont regret it.

Hugs!
Amy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Most Important Thing

Sorry I didn't post yesterday, here's my reason why: our daughter Annabelle--I had her Tuesday.

So, here's my thought (emphasis added):

Brethren and sisters, material possessions and honors of the world do not endure. But your union as wife, husband, and family can. The only duration of family life that satisfies the loftiest longings of the human soul is forever. No sacrifice is too great to have the blessings of an eternal marriage. To qualify, one needs only to deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances of the temple. By making and keeping sacred temple covenants, we evidence our love for God, for our companion, and our real regard for our posterity—even those yet unborn. Our family is the focus of our greatest work and joy in this life; so will it be throughout all eternity, when we can ‘inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities … powers, dominions … exaltation and glory’ (D&C 132:19).

Russell M. Nelson, “Set in Order Thy House,” Liahona, Jan. 2002, 82

Make your family your greatest joy and all will fall into place. Love to you all!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wrestling with God Makes Your Soul Stronger

I am so sorry! I wanted to blog on Saturday, but our computer had a virus that was crippling our internet and we had to go get it wiped clean over the weekend. I just couldn't wait until this Saturday to share what I learned.

I'm reading a book we got from our wedding called Living a Covenant Marriage:Practical Advice from Thirteen Experts Who've Walked in Your Shoes which is a compilation of articles by prominent LDS authors with their soundest marriage advice. In it, there was a quote from Boyd K. Packer that says:
"We seem to be developing an epidemic of 'counselitis' which drains spiritual strength from the Church...That, some may assume, is not serious. It is very serious!... We have become very anxious over the amount of couseling that we seem to need in the Church. Our members are becoming dependent...If we are not careful we can lose the power of individual revelation...."
I know we've all either had the friend or have been the friend who has had the hard question in their life and asks everyone's advice about it. I have a friend right now that is struggling to pick a direction for her life. She wants everyone to tell her what school and what program she should enter, she keeps asking what she should do about a boy that she keeps dating and not dating and then dating again, and she wants to know where she should move to and when. I understand how difficult this part of her life must be. But I also know that she already has a lot of the answers she is looking for and I feel so sad that she doesn't trust herself just to follow through with them.

"It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal.

Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out.

There is a great purpose in our struggle in life."


As always, there is sometimes a need for professional and/or medical help. But I learned a long time ago, hard times always come before the good times, and good times will always be followed by bad. But the joy of overcoming makes the journey exciting and intriguing. Enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Eight Copies: Part 4

[This is the 4th and final part in an essay about the many copies of the Book of Mormon I have owned and how they have influenced and mirrored my life.]

My favorite copy of the Book of the Mormon that I own is one I received while working for BYU. Each Christmas, the First Presidency gives Church employees a small gift.

One year, I received a beautiful, leather triple combination. In the letter that came with it, the First Presidency wrote,
“It is our sincere hope that your study of the scriptures will continue to be a source of inspiration, guidance and peace in your life. As you read, your mind will be enlightened, your spirit will be lifted, and there will come into your heart an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to the Lord’s commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
I took this as a personal challenge to read more consistently, study more diligently and ponder more deeply. Every promise made in that letter was realized, and my life was changed yet again.

The final copy of the Book of Mormon that sits on my shelf is new. In it is a pamphlet about the Restoration that missionaries use with new investigators. I got it from the missionaries a few months after moving to St. Louis two years ago. I had intended to give it away to a coworker, but never did. I look at it and feel regretful that I chickened out. I had a treasure to share, and I chose to keep it to myself.

Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy said,
“We need to open our mouths in order to communicate to others the spiritual lifesaving principles found in the Book of Mormon, as well as the importance of reading that wonderful book.”
The best way to find courage to share the Book of Mormon is to read it ourselves—daily. For those among us who are more casual, inconsistent readers, Elder Scott says,
“If you have not yet drunk deeply from this fountain of pure truth, with all of my soul I encourage you to do so now. Don’t let the consistent study of the Book of Mormon be one of the things that you intend to do but never quite accomplish. Begin today.”
I know that if we do not neglect our study of the Book of Mormon, but read consistently, daily-- we will be blessed with both knowledge and inspiration.

Our bishop always promotes the "Five Verses A Day" plan. Read at least five verses (that's it!) every day. Nobody can say they don't have time for five verses! Even when I am dead-dog tired and don't want to read, I can't ever say to myself, "I'm not going to read. Five verses is too much."

As for "How the Book of Mormon Changed My Life"?

I grew up in the Church, learning about the Book of Mormon, so it is true that there has been no dramatic change in my life. No moment when I found the Book of Mormon and went from lost and wandering to found and directed. That is why I had such difficulty finding a place to begin my Sacrament meeting talk.

The Book of Mormon didn’t change my life in a singular moment; the Book of Mormon changes my life a little bit every time I read it—grounding me in the faith, guiding me through this treacherous time that Mormon prophesied of, and always testifying of Jesus Christ, bringing me nearer to Him and our Father in Heaven.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roll up your sleeves

I am writing this on Friday because today I feel inspired. Who knows how I will feel on Monday. I didn't have very many shows to watch on my recorded TV today so I decided to watch live TV. The Wife Swap show was on and I decided to tune in. I've never really gotten into this show before but today I thought it might be interesting.

And it was! The two moms that swapped places were total opposites and very extreme in their ways. One mom was a very hard worker that not only takes care of the entire house and family, but her family also has a dairy farm. They get up early everyday to get the work done before the kids head off to school. (We'll call her Debbie.)

The other mom believes in spoiling her kids and having her husband wait on her hand and foot. Her husband gets up early, cleans the entire house, makes her breakfast in bed, and then goes to work. When he gets home, he does even more housework! He never gets a break! Their daughters are cheerleaders and never have to do any chores. (We'll call her Barbara.)

So it was really interesting seeing these moms switch places for two weeks. The first week the new mom has to follow the rules of the family and the second week she can change rules and the family has to follow what she says.

The first week Debbie is fed breakfast in bed and is told that she normally stays in bed until around 3 pm. Barbara, on the other hand, has to shovel manure and milk cows. They both have a hard time adjusting to this new schedule.

Then the second week Debbie changes some rules and gets the spoiled daughters to learn a good work ethic. They get up early to clean the house so their dad doesn't have to do it all. They work together to clean out and organize the garage. Suddenly the kids realize that they like to work a little, and that they are so much happier. They feel closer to their dad, helping him out this way.

Barbara decides the second week that the kids are no longer going to be "slave laborers" and that the father has to do all the work himself and make her breakfast in bed. One of the boys in that family broke down when he heard this because he loves to work with his family on the farm. Barbara chalks this up to him being brainwashed his whole life. The father here is a good sport about following her rules for a couple of days but as he hardly gets any sleep with all the work to do, life starts to wear on him. After a few days of these new rules, his sons decide to break the rules and go help him with the cows. (I was getting really teary eyed at this point.)

After the two weeks are up, the couples meet up and discuss how things went. As a result of doing the show, Barbara decides the family needs to do more things together to be closer. The girls help out around the house and their father is no longer the servant of everyone. Debbie and her husband decide that maybe sometimes their sons need a break. Debbie's husband realizes that he is so lucky to have Debbie and knows that she is his soul mate.

I was really touched by this episode. It reminded me of the Family Proclamation:

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on
principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love,
compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities
."

There is something wholesome and wonderful about work. Not just doing your own work, but working together as a family to accomplish a greater goal. For example, when I was growing up we had gardens and a large yard to take care of. On Saturdays during the summer we would work together to tend to them. My daily job was always to water the flowers. I enjoyed doing this because I got to see how what I did made the flowers bloom. I think all children need something like this. There is a natural learning process that occurs when we work together as a family. If you are feeling down, maybe you just need to roll up your sleeves and go to work!

Friday, November 6, 2009

All You Need Is Love

Sorry for not posting last week. I didn't realize it was Friday until it was Saturday. Does that ever happen to you?
I had a whole slew of things I have been pondering lately, but since the horrible tragedy that happened in Ft. Hood, TX yesterday I think my thoughts have been a little more focused on what we do in the name of Religion, and why.

Throughout history there have been so many atrocities committed by people in the name of God. Take the Crusades. Take the history of the Turks. The treatment of the Native Americans. The many cults. And more prominently (at least from what I can see) are the Extremists.

The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, might, mind and strength. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

If you look at the ten commandments, every single one of them breaks down to fit into one of those two categories. If you love God, you will honor Him, keep the Sabbath day holy, have no engraven images etc. If you love your neighbor, you will not kill, steal, covet, etc. So to follow the most basic teachings of Christ, or even God, we are taught that we must love.

During Christ's ministry He taught us to go the extra mile with that love. To do everything with kindness and not to retaliate.

I am slightly confused how people can teach about a loving God. Someone who loves all His children and yet be so casual with human life. They say that they are justified because it is for their religion. They say people of their faith, or people who are not keeping the commandments deserved whatever. I say we are taught to love our enemies. I say true religion is about focusing on yourself, then your family, then your community. I say true religion is all about love.

Funny story (I hope you don't mind me sharing this, Tricia) all through HS people told me Tricia hated me. People told her I hated her. We didn't know each other so we couldn't have possibly hated each other. Since we took piano lessons from the same teacher, we decided to play a duet together. By working together we were able to get to know each other and become friends. Very good friends. Later room mates. Even later still friends. I never hated her. She never hated me (I think :) ) due to lack of understanding and listening to what other people told us rather than what we ourselves knew we missed out on a good couple of years of friendship.

I guess the point of this is just to encourage everyone to be more understanding. In the name of your beliefs and your religions, give an outpouring of love. Most problems arise from misunderstandings and nothing more. Look past the pride that naturally builds up and try to have more love and understanding. That is what this world needs. More love.

I know this sounds silly because I only know most of you through this blog, but I do love you all. I wish you the very best day and weekend, and know that as you go about keeping the two greatest commandments everything else will fall into place and the peace in your heart and surrounding you will amaze you. Go out and give this world some love!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for the invite!
I'm excited to start sharing all these thoughts I have, and to have meaningful conversations with you all. I often wish every conversation could have roots in our purpose here, but we live in a world of much distraction, and I just don't get to do it very often. So I'm excited!

One of the first things I'd like to share with you is my little girl, Elizabeth, who came into our lives on April 27, 2006 and left for heaven the same day. I feel so blessed to have had her influence in my life, and continue to have her watching over me. It's amazing how we can go through something so devastating and realize it has become a great source of spiritual strength. I will have to share that story with you next week, as it may take some time to write it all out! But in the mean time, I made a video for her that I feel has a great message to it, and would be a good start to my spiritual sharing. You can see it at http://www.onetruemedia.com/otm_site/share_view_player?p=153f9d37393215121ec4be
Make sure your volume is turned on because the music is one of the best parts.

Thanks again for this opportunity, and I look forward to reading what you have to share.

New Thursday author

We have a new Thursday author for our blog. The past author is feeling a bit overwhelmed with life and felt like she needed a break. Therefore I want to introduce Bethany as our new Thursday girl.

I first met her when I was working for the post office at the REC site. We were roommates for a short time and have been good friends thereafter. She is currently married to the love of her life, John and has a cute little boy named Isaac. Also she is expecting another baby to come soon. I will let her further introduce herself with however many details she feels comfortable sharing.

Welcome to the blog, Bethany!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Be Grateful

Since it is November and it's the traditional time of year for us all to remember what we're thankful for I wanted to share a scripture about gratitude from the Book of Mormon and then share our November tradition.

Behold, my beloved brethren (and sisters), remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks until his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.
2 Nephi 9:52

I like that scripture because it reminds me to always be grateful for the blessings Heavenly Father has given me. It is links giving thanks to prayer. How can we really let our Father know what we are truly thankful for if we don't tell him?

In our family, each day in November we take a few minutes, usually around dinner time, to write down something, anything we are thankful for. We write them down on feathers which get placed into a styrofoam turkey who resides on our table (click here to see more). On thanksgiving, we'll go through the list and write it down to keep it for years to come. It's fun to see the little (and big) things we are thankful for; it's also nice to remember just how many blessings Heavenly Father has given us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Eight Copies: Part 3

[This is the 3rd part in an essay about the many copies of the Book of Mormon I have owned.]

My next set of scriptures came when I started seminary. This set lived at the church building and were there on the cart to greet every morning at 5:45. They are nearly unrecognizable as scriptures. The bindings are so bent and they are so full of quotes that my triple combination is the same size as a standard Bible. These particular scriptures taught me to diligently study them and to find strength in their pages. Up until this point, I had never been a consistent scripture reader, but at this point in my life I developed the habit of reading the scriptures daily. Building on these daily interactions with the scriptures, I gained my true testimony of the Book of Mormon.

President Ezra Taft Benson declared:
“Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life.”
During my freshman year at BYU, I had the opportunity to focus my scripture study on the Book of Mormon. Naturally, I bought myself a new copy before the class began. I had excellent teachers and was uplifted and inspired during each class session. I was constantly being presented with interpretations and views that were new to me. There was a lesson to be learned in every chapter.

However, the lesson that changed my life the most was that the Book of Mormon was written for our day, for us. In Mormon 8:35, Mormon says:
“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.”
Thinking of the Book of Mormon this way, that it was written specifically for our hazardous times, brings great comfort to me and makes me anxious to seek advice from it. Elder Richard G. Scott said it so plainly:
“The Book of Mormon holds answers for the problems we face in everyday life."
It can't get much more straightforward than that! The Book of Mormon holds the answers. I hope you all may find the answers you seek in its pages.

To be continued...

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