Friday, July 31, 2009

Knowledge, We Seek After These Things

I just got back from Girl's Camp, and what a wonderful time it was! There are so many things that I learned both from other people, and in my heart from the Spirit. I wish I could share everything I learned right now, but that would be a bit of an overload of information, so one of the things that hit me most was a 10 minute class on Knowledge.

I got to the class a little late, and as I walked up the teacher was sharing a scripture found in 2 Nephi 32:7

And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the aunbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the bstiffneckedness of men; for they will cnot search dknowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in eplainness, even as plain as word can be.

What a wonderful thing knowledge is! How we should seek after it! How we should find ways to learn something new every day! I know this is nothing new for you all, but I hope that it helps you look at your life, see the areas where you may be stagnant and try to improve there, constantly learning and growing, for that very purpose we are here on the earth! In the June Ensign was a talk given by Elder Douglas L. Callister. He spoke of becoming more refined. To take an exert directly from his talk he said:

"President Brigham Young (1801–77) said, “We are trying to be the image of those who live in heaven; we are trying to pat[t]ern after them, to look like them, to walk and talk like them.”1 I would like to peek behind the veil that temporarily separates us from our heavenly home and paint a word picture of the virtuous, lovely, and refined circumstances that exist there. I will speak of the language, literature, music, and art of heaven, as well as the immaculate appearance of heavenly beings, for I believe that in heaven we will find each of these in pure and perfected form."

We have such an amazing blessing to live in this time and age. We have so much technology and information at our fingertips, and how sad it is that we do not optimize that blessing. In the talk given at Girl's Camp she spoke of many different types of knowledge. The temporal as well as the spiritual. She challenged us to learn something new every day. Find ways to challenge ourselves whether it be in scripture study, learning a new craft (not necessarily a craft as in the cute things we put around our houses or scrapbook) or skill, or even opening up an old text book and reading something we had forgotten. As we thirst and search for knowledge Heavenly Father will be pleased with our efforts and He will bless us with an abundance of information and understanding. We just need to be constantly seeking out new things. I have re-dedicated myself to learning something new every day, and I hope you all will find joy in that as well.

Remember;
If there is anything
hvirtuous, ilovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gospel Priorities & Our Homes

I got this as a Family Gem a few days ago and kept it in my inbox in case I felt like posting it today. I kept thinking about this quote during this time and knew I was supposed to post it. Read it

“Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some ‘home improvement’—hopefully not an ‘extreme home makeover.’ ” “Whether our living space is large or small, humble or extravagant, there is a place for each of these gospel priorities in each of our homes.”

Gary E. Stevenson, “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples,” Ensign, May 2009, 102

Now, take a minute to pick one or two things to work on in your own home. Kudos, if you don't need to work on any--- as for my family we are trying to get into the habit of turning the TV off more, especially right before our toddler goes to bed so we can read a scripture story or two then say a family prayer. I notice on the nights we do our routine, my husband and I tend to go to bed shortly after our son, rather than a hour and a half to two hours later.

I'd venture to guess that if we work on making the gospel a priority in our home, then the spirit will never leave us, even when we have to step out into the world.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Love today, or you'll have a lot of boring yesterdays



It seems like everyone has been posting lately about the Lord's timetable and being patient, etc. So today I wanted to talk about enjoying what we have right now, TODAY.

If you haven't yet watched the clip above, do so now. Its only a minute and a half.

Next, think about how the Lord has touched your life recently and then later, write it in a comment (after reading the post).

For me, the Lord has touched my life in so many ways. Some of which I didn't expect, and some that I thought I never would have at one point or another. Today is my 2 year anniversary of being married to Nick. I think that having him in my life has made such a huge difference! For a time I thought that I would never find a guy who would be decent enough and want to marry me!

Now we are expecting our first baby, after trying for sometime. What a blessing that is- every time I feel his little kicks and nudges I feel so thankful for the Lord's hand in my life.

We have had trials and struggles that we have had to overcome, but through all of it we are stronger and more capable. So I can't help but be thankful for those as well.

Sometimes the monotony of everyday life can be discouraging to us, and make things seem less exciting than we want them to be. But I think that overcoming the monotony means to rethink our day. One way to do this is by doing what Elder Eyring suggested above- looking for the Lord's hand in our life. Another thing that can be done is realizing fully that each day is full of opportunity for amazing and enriching experiences. We just have to choose to make them happen. I hope that this blog has provided the opportunity for each of you to feel like you can enrich the lives of others and yourself.

I love you all!!

-Trish

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In My Experience...

I apologize for the delay, I was AWOL from a computer this weekend and I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one that got caught up in the Pioneer Day hoopla. But this does give me the opportunity to share a bit of insight I gained in the Relief Society meeting I visited today. The woman who was teaching shared the story from Elder Ballard's talk where he didn't listen to his father about a car that Ford wanted him to sell in his dealership called "The Edsel." His dad told him not to do it, but Elder Ballard decided to ignore the advice and was the first and last Edsel dealer in Utah because it failed miserably.

That led me to ponder what in my experience have I learned that would be valuable to others and the most important thing is that the Lord has His time frame and it may be different than yours. You do not need to feel that your prayers are not being answered if they are not answered as quickly as you feel they should be. Experiences like that are only meant to make you stronger.

The best example I have of this is my family. From the time I was 5 years old, I attended church by myself. I lived for this gospel. I learned that families can be together forever and I wanted that for my inactive family. So when I learned about prayer, I prayed about it every night. When I learned about fasting, I fasted about it. When I learned about the temple I went every opportunity I could to show the Lord how bad I wanted my family to be sealed. And even though I'm still not sealed to them, I have watched ALL of them come back to church. I've watched a wayward brother serve a mission and have his family sealed in the temple. My sister was sealed to her husband while I was on my mission, and both of my parents have received their endowments and been able to attend all of their childrens' sealings which I didn't think was going to be possible when I was 14 and decided that I was getting married in the temple with or without them. And even though my parents aren't sealed to each other, yet, it's sometimes so close I can reach out and grab it. But all of this has taken a very slow course over a twenty year span. And I admit, I lose hope. But I don't lose faith because the Lord does have his time frame, and there is a reason why I need to wait. But in the meantime, my own eternal family is beginning and I know the importance of preserving it because I've been fighting for one for so long.

Have a patient week, everyone.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Worth of Souls

Forgive me. My day is Thursday, and I'm well aware today is Saturday. Sorry!

Our home teachers came over last week, and we discussed President Monson's talk in the latest Enisgn. He used this wonderful analogy (he is so good at them!) about sugar beets, and how if they bounced out of the truck, the farmer would stop and pick up every single one. He likened this to all of us; to our Heavenly Father, we are just as valuable as the next person.

Our home teacher went on to tell us about a seminar he once attended. In this seminar, they explained the importance of seeing people as people instead of as objects. They went on to say if people did so, there would be less violence and more patience.

I thought about this and how true this is. I began to look back to all the jobs I've had. When there was a conflict at work, (a customer tipped me badly, someone was rude to me, or that kid just won't settle down!) things DID run smoother when I tried to remember these people are people with emotions, feelings, and bad days, just like me.

I then thought about my husband and family, and all the conflicts we've had over the years. I thought about the times I lashed out at them, and the times they lashed out on me. They might have been resolved much less painfully had we both remembered we are all people.

I then thought about my Heavenly Father, and all the times I've probably disappointed or saddened Him. He has never forgotten me, he has never forgotten my worth, and he has always seen me as a person with feelings, thoughts, and fears. What an example to have!

As the school year starts again, I am preparing myself physically and mentally. I am buying all the neccessary supplies, I'm rearranging the desks and chairs, and I'm planning out the curriculum. This lesson, I believe has helped me prepare spiritually. I will strive to see these kids as sons and daughters of God, who are just as valuable and worthy as anyone else.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Armor of God and the Atonement

Oops, I forgot that today is Friday.

Since I remembered, I have been going through my thoughts trying to come up with something Pioneer Day related and am basically drawing a blank on that. However, I would like to share something I learned recently.

I had the beautiful opportunity to go to the Special Needs Mutual and learn from them. While there a man was speaking and said "We were given two ears and one mouth. Probably so we could listen more and talk less."

As I pondered over this, I realized that when I pray I sometimes get caught up with doing all the talking and really, I can learn a lot more from my Father than He can learn from me. So I shut my mouth that night during my prayers and had one of the best conversations with Him I have ever had! After, I lay down to sleep, but my mind was ablaze. I learned a lot just from quiet reflection. I was taught about the Atonement and the power of the Armor of God.

In the armor of God our feet are shod with Preparation, loins girt about with Truth, breastplate of Righteousness, Helmet of Salvation, Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit. My thoughts mainly went to the helmet of Salvation. I had to give a talk in sacrament meeting when I was a youth, and I really didn't have much to say. I thought on that topic for a little bit, and this is what I learned.

Salvation breaks down to the word: Save. Who saves us? The Savior. How? Through the Atonement. Why is it the Helmet of Salvation? Because we need to keep our thoughts focused on the Atonement in order to be saved. We need to control our thoughts so they are always good and clean and uplifting so we can take part in the Atonement. Obviously we aren't perfect and need all facets of the Atonement, especially including repentance. I would go as far as to say that Repentance should be a part of the Armor of God. Maybe it is the "healing potion" or the "medic's bag" or something along those lines. Regardless of what it is, without repentance we have fallen down into a hole and we can't climb back out. Basically we need to keep our thoughts clean because all actions are born with a thought. If the thoughts reflect on the Atonement, then so will our actions.

I learned that our feet are shod with preparation, because preparation will take us places. If we have the appropriate foot wear, we can get a lot more accomplished than if we don't.

If our hearts are focused on righteousness like a breastplate we are less likely to do something wrong.

If we have the shield of faith, it wont matter what anyone else says, their negative words will be deflected because we have that strong faith.

With the sword of the Spirit we can cut evil asunder. The Spirit can pierce the heart like nothing else can.

The only one I don't really understand is loins girt about with truth. That is something I am going to have to study and learn more of. If any of you have insight on that I would love to hear it.

So basically I gained a better comprehension of the importance of the Armor of God, and I appreciate how it really is armor in a way that I have never understood before. I hope I can always listen more and talk less when it comes to communicating with our Heavenly Father... or any one for that matter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trusting in the Lord

In the last year, the church set up a 'Mormon Messages' channel on You-Tube. If you haven't had the chance to check it out, do! This week, I've been thinking a lot about the Lord's purpose for us. Our lesson this upcoming Sunday is about Zion's Camp. Originally, these men believed they were marching to Missouri to avenge this misplaced saints and take back the land that was rightfully theirs. The Lord was with them the whole way, but because of the Saints' lack of understanding the Law of Consecration, Zion's redemption was to be in 'a little season' (see D&C 105).

Some of the members of Zion's camp, and the Saints they were coming to help, were upset about this revelation; why did they have to suffer when they were trying to live righteously? They did not understand that the Lord had a different timetable for them. His true purpose of Zion's Camp was to test and strengthen the faith of the Church's future leaders. Nine of the twelve original apostles and all of the members of the seventy marched on Zion's Camp. That is no concidence.

I guess my point is that the Lord's timetable is the one we should be looking for. We may think we're ready, or not ready, for something to happen but the Lord has purposes behind when certain events come to pass. A lot of families can relate to the family in this video; myself---to a certain degree---included. When it's the hardest for us to do, we need to step back and say what am I learning from this trial? The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves; he knows what we need as this moment to learn and grow. We just need to trust in Him and everything will work out for our benefit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Build up, tear down

I just wanted to start off by saying that I really appreciate everyone who contributes to this blog. It is so nice to have something inspiring to read everyday, and know the person who wrote it! So thanks for all you do, I know it is a stretch sometimes trying to come up with something to say.

Anyway, I was reading several articles today but none of them stood out to me as particularly amazing- no red sparks anyhow. But I found this poem in a folder of old things and thought it was worth posting. You may have already heard it but I think the message is always good for a repeat.

I passed one day through a lonely town,

And saw a man tearing a building down.

With a hoe heave hoe, and a husky yell,

They swung a beam and a side wall fell.

I asked the foreman"are these men skilled,"

"The kind you'd hire if you had to build?"

"Oh no," He chuckled, "No indeed"

"The common laborer is all I need"

"Well I can destroy in a day or two"

"What builders have taken weeks to do"

I thought to myself as I went on my way,

Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care?

Strengthening lives by rule and square?

Shaping my peers to a well made plan,

Helping them do the best they can?

Or am I the one who walks around,

content with the labor of tearing down?


I think once I heard this poem in Sacrament meeting but I was too young and inexperienced to know what it was really talking about. I wasn't able to see the symbolism.

But now I know that it is talking about how we relate to other people. Do we build them up with our words and encouragement or do we tear them down with our doubts and fears?

Sometimes what we need from friends is their faith in us, and their faith in God. What we don't need is hearing how "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong".

It seems like it is human nature to be a "destroyer" more than it is to be a "builder" (when relating to other people, not to objects I mean). One particular day as a substitute teacher sticks out in my mind. I was subbing for a gym teacher in an elementary school. The activity for the day was called "builders and destroyers". There were two teams, and each of them took turns being either builder or destroyer. The builders all had pins (like for bowling) that they were to set up, and keep picking up as needed. The destroyers had to knock them down with their hips. At the end of the game, the coach would count how many pins the builders had kept up.

As I watched, it seemed like the kids more longed to be the "destroyers" than the "builders". I think they were upset when the other team knocked down their pins and were bent on revenge to get the other team back. It kind of goes to show that it is easier (or more natural man-like) to want to tear down than to build up.

The other lesson I learned was, that in the end what mattered was how many pins the builders still had up. The pins knocked down were not counted. I think that in an analogy, that it is true to life as well.

What matters is who we have built up, not who we have knocked down. Also what matters is what we have built (or made) of ourselves. But the funny thing there is- when we labor to build others up, somehow it makes us into a better person as well.

I want to encourage everyone to challenge themselves to be a "builder". Give others the benefit of the doubt, write positive comments, try to see the "good" in any situation. I think the world needs more people who are happy and see the good that is going on and less who point out all the negatives. Make a goal for yourself about how you will accomplish this and then if you have any experiences you want to share, feel free to do so in a comment or on your day.

Happy building!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Patriarchal Blessings

When I was 16 years old I decided that I was ready to receive my patriarchal blessing. I was very excited, but also very nervous. I was told to fast and pray before going to receive it and at the time I prayed for one specific answer to come through my patriarchal blessing. I prayed that my patriarchal blessing would confirm to me that I would have the opportunity to be a mother. When I received my patriarchal blessing my prayers were answered and it was confirmed to me that I would have that opportunity.

Three months ago I had a miscarriage and became very discouraged that I would not be able to have children naturally. Through out these last months I have been praying for comfort and I recently was guided to my patriarchal blessing. I know that my blessing is personal revelation for me, from a loving Heavenly Father who knows my needs and my desires. I know that if I can have faith and continue to do my best in living the gospel of Jesus Christ that I will be blessed.

President Monson said, "Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning. Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers.... Your patriarchal blessing is to you a personal Liahona to chart your course and guide your way."

It has been over two years since I last read my patriarchal blessing. When was the last time that you read yours? I encourage you all to turn to it weekly, if not daily, for guidance and comfort. And if you have not yet received your patriarchal blessing I encourage you to do so. It has brought me much comfort throughout my life and I have seen many things fulfilled within it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Most Basic Principle

Ever since Tricia offered me the opportunity to write on this blog, I have been praying fervently in my heart for something I could share with you wonderful contributors and readers. You all have written such marvelous topics that I felt I could add my reflections to or share some of my experiences as a new wife. But as I sat at this computer I asked myself what the is the one thing I would want everyone in the world to know. And the answer is this:

God is a loving Heavenly Father

Not only does God exist, he is personally linked to us as a father. He is deeply invested in every aspect of our lives. That is why he wants us to talk to him, that is why he wants us to receive His Words to us in the scriptures, and that is why he wants us to have families that we might understand the deep and abiding love he has for us.

As missionaries, this is the first principle we are to teach. I used to think it a little needless because I used to think that everybody knew this, but as I went into the world and started to preach, I began to see this isn't true. And as I grew to know of the significance of this statement, my heart grew sadder at how I and others took it for granted.

If we know God as our Father, we would know not to criticize ourselves, but rather ask God to show us our weaknesses and how to overcome them. We would realize that the mistakes we make our learning experiences and not reasons to become frustrated or give up. If we know that He loves us, we would realize that he lives by rules that are there to make our lives fair in an eternal perspective, even if it doesn't seem to make sense to us now.

In the pamphlet for the Law of Chastity, there's a simple statement that has made a world of difference in how I view others. "If we were to treat everyone else as a Child of God..."think of how different the world would really be.

My brother and sister-in-law lost a baby this week. It's been an extremely trying time, as I'm sure you can imagine, but as I've watched them go through this I think how much deeper the sadness is for our loving Heavenly Father who knows so much and has infinite power when he loses a child. But then the Spirit spoke to my heart, "He freely gave His Only Begotten Son so that no other child would ever be lost." My brother will have his child again, I will always have my new husband with me, these children of earth that are filled with misunderstanding about their relationship with God will be reclaimed again and it is all possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I know these things to be true because the Spirit is filling me with love and peace as I write it. And I hope that as you grow in your understanding of it, you will also feel the need to share it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Measure of Our Creation

Last year President Uchtdorf gave a talk to the women of the church. Since then it has been on my mind. He spoke of creation and creativity. I am just going to paraphrase some of it for you. He spoke of the many people who claim they have no creative ability (me! I am one of those people) and told us that we as children of God, the most creative being ever, do indeed have creativity, it is inherited from our Father.

"If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination."

But what is the big deal about being creative, right? Why is it so important that we are creating things? President Uchtdorf teaches

"But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fullness of joy.
4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things."

And again, that brings us to people like me, seemingly void of all creative ability. He explained that creativity extends past the pen or paper or musical instrument.

"Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter."

And my favorite quote of all:

"Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.”
6"

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 117–20


D&C 88:119 teaches us to "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a bhouse, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

I believe that part of that organizing ourselves is stretching and growing in ways that are new to us. We should be finding creative outlets and ways to beautify our surroundings and our very lives. One such way is by making our homes beautiful and harmonious.

Not only does creating things improve one's surroundings, it improves one's self. I think these words are very sage advice that we should try to live by for the sanity of ourselves and our families.

"Sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children. Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don't allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it."

M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God," Ensign, May 2008, 110

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scars of Love

A woman told this story in sacrament meeting, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I checked it out, and it is not true. So, I like to think of it as a parable.

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother - in the house was looking out the window - saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.

Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal and, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother's fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn't let go."

The woman speaking likened this story to how we should be as desperate in our attempt to follow the Lord's way. Since hearing this story, I have asked myself questions I pose to the rest of you.

Do I understand the urgency of the time I live in? Do I hold on to my values in the same dire manner? What can I do to be stronger than the alligator griping onto my salvation? How can I create a home where my children can be well equipped with what they need to fight for their own values?

Isn't it funny how all the answers to these questions fall amidst the same answers we hear every week? Isn't it also funny how we still need to hear it as much as possible?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Sacrifice Too Great

I signed up for Church Gems on the website and this came today; at first I thought it would be a cop out sending what I got today, but I'm teaching Church History in primary right now and we spent the last two weeks talking about the Kirtland Temple. I felt impressed to share my feelings on the temple.

Even though this quote is about the Nauvoo Temple, I just want us to think about what they sacrificed so that we can have holy blessings today.

"No effort was spared [in the building of the original Nauvoo Temple]. No sacrifice was too great. Through . . . five years men chiseled stone and laid footings and foundation, walls and ornamentation. Hundreds went to the north, there to live for a time to cut lumber, vast quantities of it, and then bind it together to form rafts which were floated down the river to Nauvoo. Beautiful moldings were cut from that lumber. Pennies were gathered to buy nails. Unimaginable sacrifice was made to procure glass. They were building a temple to God, and it had to be the very best of which they were capable."In the midst of all of this activity, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were killed in Carthage on the 27th of June 1844. . . ."But Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, picked up the reins. Joseph had placed his authority upon the shoulders of the Apostles. Brigham determined to finish the temple, and the work went on. By day and by night they pursued their objective, notwithstanding all of the threats hurled against them by lawless mobs. In 1845 they knew they could not stay in the city they had built from the swamplands of the river. They knew they must leave. It became a time of feverish activity: first, to complete the temple, and secondly, to build wagons and gather supplies to move into the wilderness of the West."

Gordon B. Hinckley, "O That I Were an Angel, and Could Have the Wish of Mine Heart, Ensign," Nov. 2002, 4

We may not have to sacrifice our homes or our lives, but it takes effort and time to make it to the temple. If we do so, we help others that cannot help themselves and we set an example for those around us. In the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, the Lord promises us blessings if we do so:

"And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;

And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work; and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days." ---D&C 109: 22-23

We are armed with the power of God when we come to the temple and walk back out into the world. We have the opportunity and blessing to share these truths to the world, so take time to relearn them. Make a goal to go to the temple more often than you do now and you will draw closer to the Lord and desire to serve Him and His children more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Moral Agency

While I was visiting my family in Utah, I read through the Ensigns at night to help me settle my mind down so I could sleep. Nick wasn't there anymore, so I was a little lonely. And I hadn't brought any books that I felt like reading, so it was just me and the Ensign.

This talk, from the June Ensign of this year stood out to me. I had to read and reread it a few times before I felt like I got the message correct in my mind. And once I did I thought, "What an amazing article!" I'm not just going to post the article here, but highlight what stood out to me and then if you have time to read the entire thing, go for it!

First, I like that an apostle finally cleared things up: "Moral Agency" is a better term for us to use than "Free Agency". The latter term there is kind of a repetitious word- kind of putting "freedom" and "agency" in the same term. But I like that since people today are becoming more and more politically correct, we can come up with better terms to better describe what we are saying. Also, the term "moral agency" gives us a sense of responsibility for the choices we make- rather than the "I can choose whatever I want, so there" attitude that sometimes gets tied up with "free agency". (Just from my experience, not to say everyone meant that.)

Next we learn that there are three things that must be present in order for us to exercise our agency. I will list them, you can read more about them in the article. They are: alternatives from which to choose, knowledge of what the alternatives are, and the freedom to make choices.

I like that the next thing he says is that our agency is not taken away with the lack of ability to remove the consequences of our actions. If agency worked otherwise, then we would not learn from our mistakes. We would not progress because we would have no regrets. So I feel that responsibility for our actions is a crucial part of agency that God, in His wisdom, cannot remove for any purpose.

He then describes the differences between Christ's view of agency and that of Satan's. Elder Christofferson describes it better than I can paraphrase:

"Satan has not ceased his efforts “to destroy the agency of man.” He promotes conduct and choices that limit our freedom to choose by replacing the influence of the Holy Spirit with his own domination (see D&C 29:40; 93:38–39). Yielding to his temptations leads to a narrower and narrower range of choices until none remains and to addictions that leave us powerless to resist. While Satan cannot actually destroy law and truth, he accomplishes the same result in the lives of those who heed him by convincing them that whatever they think is right is right and that there is no ultimate truth—every man is his own god, and there is no sin."

Thus we can tell by the end result of our choices if it led us to less agency- then perhaps it was a bad choice. If it led us to more agency, then it was a good choice. (Generally speaking)

"To the secular world it seems a paradox that greater submission to God yields greater freedom. The world looks at things through Korihor’s lens, considering obedience to God’s laws and ordinances to be “bondage” (Alma 30:24, 27).
"But the Lord’s statement that the truth will make us free has broader significance. “Truth,” He tells us, “is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). Possession of this knowledge of things past, present, and future is a critical element of God’s glory: “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). Does anyone doubt that, as a consequence of possessing all light and truth, God possesses ultimate freedom to be and to do?
"Likewise, as our understanding of gospel doctrine and principles grows, our agency expands. First, we have more choices and can achieve more and receive greater blessings because we have more laws that we can obey. Think of a ladder—each new law or commandment we learn is like one more rung on the ladder that enables us to climb higher. Second, with added understanding we can make more intelligent choices because we see more clearly not only the alternatives but also their potential outcomes. As Professor Daniel H. Ludlow once expressed it, “The extent of our individual … agency … is in direct proportion to the number and kind of laws we know and keep.”

What I have learned from this is that my lack of knowledge will then put me in a position where I will be less free than I would have been if I did not lack the knowledge. For example, my car has a flat right now. We can't get the tire off because it has a locking lug nut. So until I figure out how to fix that, I'm stuck here. My agency is limited. But if I try to venture out and obtain the proper knowledge to solve my situation, then I will be free to make that choice to fix it.

"Exercising agency in a setting that sometimes includes opposition and hardship is what makes life more than a simple multiple-choice test. God is interested in what we are becoming as a result of our choices. He is not satisfied if our exercise of moral agency is simply a robotic effort at keeping some rules. Our Savior wants us to become something, not just do some things. He is endeavoring to make us independently strong—more able to act for ourselves than perhaps those of any prior generation. We must be righteous, even when He withdraws His Spirit, or, as President Brigham Young said, even “in the dark.”"

I just want to testify that moral agency is all about what we are "becoming" in the process of making our choices. Life isn't a checklist, or a course we take that ends with a letter grade. It is about how we change throughout our time here on Earth, how we learn to become more like our Father in Heaven.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Lord's Law of Health

My new calling is teaching the investigator class during Sunday School (or the Gospel Essentials class), so many of my posts will probably stem from my lessons each week. This week the lesson was on the Word of Wisdom. I wanted to share something that I have thought about frequently over the past few years, but has now been confirmed to me through this lesson. The question that I have been thinking about for a long time now is whether or not it is okay for members to drink caffeine. I had personally come to the conclusion that I should not drink caffeine, but I felt like I needed further confirmation that caffeine should be avoided. I know that this is a very controversial subject but I want to quote from the church website (click HERE if you want to read more). "We should avoid all drinks that contain harmful drugs." I have personally felt the effects of living a caffeine free life. In my chosen profession I am constantly surrounded by others who just can't seem to function without their caffeinated beverages (whether they be coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda). I see the addiction that is there and each day I am thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who has given us the word of wisdom to guide us in our choices. I know that my body is healthier and that I have more energy to perform my daily duties. Not to mention I have more money in my pocket because I mostly drink water!

Another quick note on the word of wisdom that I want to share is the promised blessings that we receive when we obey the word of wisdom. In D&C 89 the Lord promises that the destroying angel shall pass us by. Elder Spencer W. Kimball said that in our time this means we will be saved from spiritual death. "For observing the Word of Wisdom the reward is life, not only prolonged mortal life but life eternal." What a great blessing that is and I know that if we obey this commandment to keep our bodies pure and healthy we will gain eternal life and will never know the sadness of heartache of experiencing spiritual death.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Crowded Time = Trial of Faith

Since Trish was nice enough to share one of her favorite quotes, I thought I'd share one of mine. One thing I've always had a problem with is not having enough time to do everything I need/want to do; this was magnified by 1000 during college. I was required for my major (Elementary Education) to take a class to help us connect the spiritual and secular sides of teaching and one of the articles we were required to read was "Education for Real Life," by President Henry B. Eyring. In it he states:

There is another way to look at your problem of crowded time. You can see it as an opportunity to test your faith. The Lord loves you and watches over you. He is all-powerful, and He promised you this: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

That is a true promise. When we put God’s purposes first, He will give us miracles. If we pray to know what He would have us do next, He will multiply the effects of what we do in such a way that time seems to be expanded. He may do it in different ways for each individual, but I know from long experience that He is faithful to His word.

(Bold and Italics Added)

I have been a constant receiver of this blessing. I notice how different my day becomes when I don't put God and His kingdom on my list of priorities. I'm more edgy because I didn't get everything done; sometimes I blame it on my husband or toddler, but the blame lies with me because I didn't start off with the right attitude.

Heavenly Father watches over us in all things and, as long as we serve Him and His children, He will bless us. Those blessings will come because we took the time to look to Him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Charity

Okay so I meant to do an inspirational post yesterday but I was really busy making a dust ruffle so I'm doing it late. But next week I'll do it on Monday.

I just want to share one of my favorite quotes. I have it glued to the inside of one of my sets of scriptures. It is by Marvin K. Ashton, who died in 1994. Everytime I read it, I know have more to work on.

“We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.
“Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. …

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended. … Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other” (“The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 18–19).
Click here to read the full article.

I feel like since I first put this quote in my scriptures, that I have come a long way. I am slowly getting better. But I know I still have a lot of obstacles to overcome, or just I'm still working on this charity thing. That is why I have to read this quote often. I have to remind myself what my goal is, and that I'm on the Lord's side.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Welcome to the blog!

There are a few things we need to decide on:

Such as-
Who is going to blog on what day
If this blog is going to be private to authors, or have added readers, or be public
And who is going to snazz it up- or we could just take turns if ya'll want to

I would like Monday for my post, if that is alright. Let me know what you think.

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