Monday, August 31, 2009

Lord, is it I?

Nick and I have been doing better at our scripture study. We currently are reading the New Testament, and just finished reading the book of Matthew. The last time I read the New Testament was when I was in the MTC, and I read it all in a couple of weeks. This time it was nice to read just one chapter a night and ponder on it a bit longer than before.

After reading about the betrayal of Peter and of Judas, I was thinking "Who then is really safe and can know that they won't betray Christ?" After reading the passages I was thinking that Peter wasn't even aware that he was denying Christ when he did. But how could he not know? Judas obviously knew what he was doing, but then felt really bad about it afterward.

Today it is not likely to happen the same as back then. No one is going to come up and ask us if we are one of Christ's disciples. But we do make that statement in different ways. For example, how we speak, how we dress, how we spend our time on the Sabbath day, and whether or not we do what we have covenanted to do-it all speaks volumes about whether or not we are one of the disciples of Christ.

We probably don't realize that by the little things we do and how we choose to live, we are making a bold statement about whose side we are on. It is only too easy to fall into a path that is much like Peter, who said he would never deny Christ but then did just that, moments later.

So next time temptation is in front of you to do contrary to what you know is right, just think of Peter who knew not that he would deny Christ before the cock crowed thrice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Developing our Talents

My lesson today in Sunday School was on Developing our Talents. Sometimes I have wondered what our talents are for and I found this quote while preparing my lesson.

"The Lord has said that we shall be tested and tried to prove if we will do all things that he shall command. We are striving for perfection. The Lord has given us the admonition: 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' (Matt. 5:48) Life offers us many challenges that make this achievement difficult. How will we meet these challenges? God has granted to each of us gifts, talents, and abilities, with the hope and expectation that we will increase and use them - not for selfish purposes, but for the benefit of others."

I love this quote because it tells us that we can become perfect by developing our talents and sharing them with others. Heber J. Grant's motto was this: "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased." I am going to try to make this my motto as well. Our talents are so important. By seeking them out, developing them, and sharing them with others our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our Savior will grow. We will become disciplined and have more self-control.

I encourage us all to take the time to seek out a new talent this week. The best way to do this is to first pray for guidance and then try something new. Once you discover one of your talents take the time to develop it and then don't forget to share it. Remember this: Practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect!

Okay, so those were a lot of random thoughts all jumbled together. I hope that they make a little bit of sense! Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, August 28, 2009

And in the end, what will we remember?

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by men, or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more than what happened in congresses?"
~Neal A. Maxwell

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Power of Service

This week, I've been in a terrible mood. I'm tired, cranky, and I need a break! I work with these kids all day long, and sometimes it feels like they may looking at me, but are not really listening. Fortunately, I don't take my horrible mood out on my students. Unfortunately, I do save all that awfulness for my husband. T has some major patience, and I'm sure with the pregnancy AND this job, it's being tested. When I get home, I just want to collapse on the couch, not think about anything, and bascially be alone(those kids have no sense of personal space).

Today, I came home in particularly sour mood. I not only wanted to be alone, but I wanted to be rude to T as well. T being confused (as he usually has been these past month since I've been pregnant) took me by the hand to our bedroom and we had a nice long talk. It made me feel a little better, but I was feeling pretty crummy.

I started to think about things from his point of view. He just wants to make me happy, and no matter what he does, he always the bad guy. I began to feel sorry for him, and embarrassed for my own behavior. It was then I decided he deserved something nice. So, I made him dinner. I just wanted to show him how much I love and appreciate him.

After we ate, I feel literally a hundred times better! It was like someone had lifted a weight from my shoulders. It was then I started to realize the power of service in our lives. I have been taught all my life to serve those around you selflessly. I had also learned the phrase, 'if you are feeling depressed, serve someone'. I knew this was all true, and I had seen this principle played out my life before, but I really needed the reminder.

In the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee; Chapter 14 it says: "Happiness comes from unselfish service. And happy homes are only those where there is a daily striving to make sacrifices for each other’s happiness." Today, the Lord certainly revealed this principle to me! I've decided I'm going to do something nice for T everyday, no matter how small. It will make everything in mine (and hopefully his) life better!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Priesthood & Women

On Sunday, my brother received the Melchizedek Priesthood; and we were lucky enough to be there. I had a my own 'tender mercy' of the week as I witnessed my brother make a sacred oath and covenant with God in order to perform in His name on the earth. How amazing is that; if every worthy male lives up to their end of the covenant, they have the power to act in the name of God. As if he were on the earth today. As I sat there thinking about the priesthood holders' role; I wanted to be reminded of my role.

As LDS women, we seem to be bombarded with attacks having to do with the patriarchal order (the word sometimes used is domination) of the church. Questions are posed: Why don't women hold the priesthood? Shouldn't they be treated equally and given the chance to do so? Why are women encouraged to stay home? And, my personal favorite, aren't you wasting your life?

I found two articles written on the subject, one is by Elder Dallin H. Oaks called Priesthood Authority in the Family & Church; the other is A Women's Perspective on the Priesthood by Patricia T. Holland (FYI: wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland). They are both great reads, but I want to focus on Sister Holland's.

Sister Holland answers the first two questions by reminding us how we are all spiritually equally but it is our roles and responsibilities that make us different; and the difference does not exist just between men and women, but also each individual. She then says it is up to up to "live worthily enough to know step by step what the Lord’s will is regarding us," and that we do this through being "close to the Spirit through prayer, study, and righteous living," and personal revelation---our own liahona. The Lord expects this of all His children. Our mortal roles and obligations are different which means we each have different tools and talents to fulfill them; this principle is true regarding priesthood holders and women alike.

She then poses the question about our own rights (as women) through relating a story from Elder Oaks {the woman who was not a member of the church}:

[Elder] Oaks as a young law professor was closely associated with Justice Lewis M. Powell, now of the Supreme Court of the United States. Justice Powell’s daughter was herself a recent graduate of a fine law school, following which she began a very successful law practice and a marriage almost simultaneously. Some time thereafter she had her first child. In paying a courtesy call as a family friend, President Oaks was pleasantly surprised to find this young mother at home with her child full time. When asked of this decision the young woman replied, “Oh, I may go back to the law sometime but not now. For me the issue was simple. Anyone could take care of my clients, but only I can be the mother of this child.” What an incisive answer to an issue she says was simple! And it does seem to have been simple because she approached it, not in terms of rights, but first and foremost in terms of responsibilities. I think the issue would not have been so simple if her attitude had been, “It’s my career,” or “It’s my life.” But her concern was for her obligations. When considered that way, the issue and the answer were simple.

We all have rights and the freedom to pursue them. That much the Lord has promised us. I believe then, that the crucial point we need to come to as Latter-day Saint women is not to allow ourselves to feel forced into righteous choices, but to come to them of our own free and anxious will. Some of the pain and frustration and depression we hear about comes from feeling compelled or forced to make certain choices. We should seek diligently and prayerfully the light that would quicken our hearts and minds to truly desire the outcomes we make in righteous decisions. Our prayers ought to be to see as God sees, to adjust our minds so we may see things from an eternal perspective. If we listen too often to the voices of the world, we will become confused and tainted. We must anchor ourselves in the spirit and that requires daily vigilance."

The Lord loves us all and wants us to succeed and be happy with our mortal endeavors. He knows our true potential. Women are not under men because of the Priesthood; women are equal to and enhanced because of the Priesthood and the worthy Priesthood holders in their lives. We help these men live up to the oath and covenant they have made with God through supporting them and making our own righteous, unselfish choices.

We should not feel ashamed or like we're wasting away because of the righteous choices we make; if our choices are truly made in righteousness, then we have the tools to enhance our lives and make the situation better. I encourage each of us to pray to find our personal liahona, and if you've already found it, pray to keep it in your heart. If we fulfill our roles and responsibilities, the Lord will fulfill His side of the covenants we've made.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Get to Work

On Sunday, my brother gave his homecoming talk in Sacrament. It was a wonderful look at faith and works. He talked about how important it is to have faith, but as we know, faith alone will not save you. Faith without works is dead. It is great to have faith, but even more so to have faith and get to work!

In his talk, my brother shared this quote by Pres. Hinc
kley:
"Your faith will perform miracles-- especially when you get your hands and feet involved."
He also gave a similar analogy-- He said that faith can move
mountains, but how much faster will that happen if you grab a shovel and get to digging?


I really like this idea. Through our faith, God can perform many miracles and answer many prayers. But that's only if we, His instruments, are willing to work! Faith is worthless if we are
sitting on the couch every day or being selfish by keeping to ourselves. We must go out and serve others, share our light, and get to work as God's hands.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Until they learn obedience"

Yesterday Nick and I taught our 10 year old primary class about the extermination order from church history. Since I am sure you are already familiar with the story, I will only share my insights here in this post.

But before I go into that, I wanted to briefly state how great I think my class members are. I'm a little nervous for the kids that come in to our class next year. I'm not sure if they will be as smart and amazing as these kids are. For example, one of my class members (I overheard) telling a friend how she had received a special painting of Christ as a reward for finishing reading the Book of Mormon for the 4th time. Keep in mind that this little girl has only had her tenth birthday this year. I think the first time I read the Book of Mormon on my own was when I was 14, because of Seminary. So I was impressed by that. But also these kids know the gospel so well. When they get up and bear their testimonies, it is not some trite repetitious thing. They are actually speaking from the heart. I don't think I can bear to move out of this ward anytime soon just because of them. They amaze me in little ways every week, and I feel like I'm learning more from teaching them sometimes than they are learning from me.

Anyway, onto the thought about our lesson...

In the back of each lesson are questions that the teacher(s) are supposed to ask class members after they have taught the lesson. Occasionally I read some of the questions and realize that even though we just taught the lesson, I don't know the answer to the question. They don't always put the answer to the question right in the book, so apparently you are supposed to be paying attention to what you are teaching. (I thought I had been doing a good job of that.)

Anyway, so the question that stumped me this time was "Why did the early church members have to suffer through all that persecution, and eventually get exterminated from Missouri?"

At first thought my impression was because of the wickedness of the non church members. But that didn't seem to be the right answer. So I had them look up the scripture reference in D&C 105 to be sure.

Long story short, it was because of their (members) lack of obedience.

So, how can we learn from this? Obviously it is our lack of obedience that causes us to suffer. If we are keeping the commandments then what else can God do but bless us for doing so? And not just that, but oftentimes it is a direct natural result of keeping the commandments that we are spared any problems. For example if we are building up a food storage then we will be prepared for any famine or financial trouble that might happen to us. God gives us commandments because He loves us and wants us to be happy. Let us trust in Him and show it dutifully by choosing the better part everyday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The House of the Lord

Church today was one big message of "GO TO THE TEMPLE." In Relief Society our lesson was from Elder David A. Bednar's talk from this past conference. It is called "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing." I encourage you all to take the time this week to read it and ponder it!

The temple is the most important part of being a member of the LDS faith. There is so much work to be done and there is simply not enough time, or people, to do it. I often think of the people on the other side of the veil who are patiently waiting for their work to be done. Many of them have been waiting for hundreds, even thousands, of years. If I were them I would be going crazy with anticipation for my work to be done. Thinking of this makes me want to go to the temple every day. Sometimes I wish that I lived closer to the temple so that I could go there every day, but first I need to make the time in my life to drive 45 minutes every week to partake in temple worship.

In Elder Bednar's talk he discusses the blessings we receive from worshiping in the temple. "I have come to understand better the protection available through our temple covenants and what it means to make an acceptable offering of temple worship. There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple." Our teacher today added to this quote by saying, "If you pass through the temple, then the temple will pass through you." We need to go to the temple. We need to get there early with enough time to change and sit in the chapel for a short period of time to connect with our Heavenly Father. We need to be alert throughout our service there. Then we need to go home and do something with the promptings we received from the Spirit. Going to the temple is not just a chore or an obligation, it is a blessing and it will only be a blessing if we make it one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Holding On

First off, I LOVE this new layout!!!

I would like to share with all of you a short insight into the part of the Book of Mormon titled "Lehi's Dream" located in Chapter 8 of First Nephi:

19 And I beheld a
of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

Knowing that the tree is the love of God, the rod of iron is the word of God, and the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, it all seems so simple, right? Hold on to the rod, to be delivered through temptation and find the tree. Why were there so many that lost their way? But picturing it firsthand makes it all so relevant. I think of those people in a strange place, so desperate for direction. They find hope in the iron rod and start to follow it, but then there is a thick fog, so thick that no light can be seen. In Nephi's version of the dream he describes thunder, lightning, earthquakes, and all sorts of "tumultuous noises." And all they have is a rod that leads to somewhere they're not sure of. What if there's another rod? Or a shortcut that they're missing out on? It's been hours, they're tired, they're frightened, and sometimes it is just so hard to hold on.

When it comes down to it, the difference between those that made it to the tree and those that didn't was diligence. In "Preach My Gospel" it describes diligence as a "steady, consistent, earnest, and energetic effort in doing the Lord's work. The Lord expects you to work diligently--persistently with great effort and care." Diligence is REPEATED faith. It's holding on to the rod, even when you're too tired to hold on to it anymore. We're not always going to be perfect in following all of the commandments, but the rod will always be there to bring us back. When it comes down to it, it's not when you get to the end of the path that matters, it's just the getting there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tender Mercies

I just want to talk a little about the tender mercies we receive every day. I know this is a topic that is much discussed, but it has been on my mind nearly all week. I have tried to make it a habit to notice when the Lord's hand plays a part in my life. I noticed it quite a bit yesterday and would like to share the seemingly small incidences which strengthened my testimony.

I had a baby appointment and had scheduled it to be right during my son's nap time so he could get his nap, not stress out a sitter (he is a momma's boy) and everyone would be happy. To make things go even smoother I enlisted my mother to be the sitter, which she happily agreed to. Late Wednesday night she called me to inform me that she couldn't make it. I was a little worried but not too much since there is an abundance of Young Women in my ward who all adore my son, and it would have been right during his nap time. No sweat, right? Wrong. The Young Women were all busy, and calling them an hour and a half before the appointment started wasn't the best way to get results. I then called all the sisters in the ward that I could think of who I knew would be around. No one was around.

After I was about to asphyxiate due to my stress level, my mother called and we figured out a way she could come... if I could get my appointment changed for later that day. I said a silent prayer as I dialed the office, and what luck! There was only one opening- at the exact time I needed! Tender Mercy!

As I drove to the appointment I was hot and tired. That is nothing new, but it didn't put me in the best mood. Remembering a time earlier when I had gone to my appointment and gotten the ideal parking spot, I again said a prayer that I could get a good spot to park so as I wouldn't have to walk very far in the hot sun. Guess what. I was only 5 stalls away from the front door. Tender Mercy!

These experiences along with many many others have fortified my testimony that Heavenly Father is always with us. He wants us to be happy. He cares about even our smallest desires. I know that the more we look for His hand in our lives, the more we will see it. The more we thank Him for blessing us so richly, the more we will see the many ways he has and continues to bless us. He is a loving father who wants us to be happy, and wants the best for us.

I would like to invite you all to take time today and find the tender mercies in your lives. Find the ways that He has guided or influenced your life in any way. I know that as we all do this our testimonies and love for our Father in Heaven will be strengthened and we will find the strength we need in the areas in our lives where we are struggling.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Empowerment of Humility

Today was quite the rushed day at school! I had bus duty in the morning, so I didn't really have time to prepare for the upcoming day. The day was already off to a slow start, and there were TONS of things I needed to do to start any lesson, and the kids were getting restless. I was not in too happy a mood. We were about ready to practice their multiplication facts when the door opened.

A man walked in, holding a giant box. He handed me the box, and simply said, "Oscar". Oscar is of one of my kids, so I presumed it was for Oscar and the man was his dad or guardian and he simply didn't speak English. Upon further examination of the box, I noticed a post-it attached to it. It read: To: Mrs. Isom From: Oscar.

I looked at Oscar and said, "Is this for me?" This sweet little boy simply nodded. The box was full of school supplies! Last week, I had sent a 'wish list' out to all the parents. My list was very simple. It was about 10 items or so, and all of them cost less than a dollar at Wal-Mart. Our school community is so impoverished, and I'd be lucky to get anything at all. It had already been a week, and no one and brought in anything from the list, which didn't surprise me. So, when Oscar's dad came in with that both of supplies, I was blown away.

The kids were so excited, too! They wanted me to show them every item in the box, and after every item, there was a resounding, "Whoa!" coming from the class. They were so grateful, they wanted to give Oscar a round of applause for bringing it in. Now, keep in mind, I'm sure all the supplies didn't cost no more than $10 altogether, but the way they wanted to show their gratitude(we're making thank-you cards tomorrow for Oscar's family), it was truly humbling.

It made me think of humility, and how my kids are an example to me of being grateful for everything I have been given. I looked up on the LDS website, and searched the word 'humility', and came up with this amazing talk by Richard C. Edgley in the November 2003 issue of the Liahona.

In it he says, "Humility and gratitude are truly the twin characteristics of happiness. In the kingdom of God, greatness begins with humility and submissiveness."

I thought about this quote a lot. I think sometimes, we as human beings think, "If I only bought this, than I would be happy." We, as members of the church are brought up to believe real happiness comes from love, family, Jesus Christ, and the relationships we build here on Earth. I have never thought humility brought happiness, and now I find myself suddenly jealous of my students. They have learned humility at such a young age, and that will help them throughout their whole lives, and in some ways, they will be happier. I love how anyone can teach you something, even if your job is to teach them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Five Thoughts on Marriage

Our FIFTH wedding anniversary is Friday. I know, anniversaries come and go, but it's really hard to believe how fast five years has gone. Also, when I got my haircut today, the stylist asked why and so I started to tell her about Gweg and I. She mentioned how she loved that we got married so fast and my response was 'well, when you someone you want to spend forever with you want it to start right way.' I knew then I what I would write about.

The last five years has been the hardest and best of my life. Gweg is my other half and I feel like I become a better person each day because of his influence. Sure, there are days where I could hit him over the head with a 'sensitivity stick.'

So, to go along with my lovely-dovey mood, I wanted to share five thoughts on love from Gordon B. Hinckley's Stand A Little Taller. I read this for a year when I first got it and just looking through it for these thoughts, made me want to read it again--- if you have it take the chance to do it again!

Onto the thoughts {I add the bold to emphasize why I picked each quote. Take what you want out of this post. I do not ask for anyone to give us the perfect marriage award; I just want all of us to think about why we married our husbands and what makes that relationship so special. The quotes just add things to think about}:

"God has brought us together as families to bring to pass His eternal purposes. We are part of this plan in this marriage relationship. Let us love and respect and honor one another. We can do it, and we will be better for it."

"Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people---that can can bridge chasms of bitterness."

"True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion."

"Our Father in Heaven, who loves His children, desires for them that which will bring them happiness now and in the eternities to come, and there is no greater happiness than is found in the most meaningful of all human relationships---the companionships of husband and wife and parents and children."

"There is a bond of affection that exists between husbands and wives which makes us know that there is nothing more precious that that companionship which becomes possible only in the house of the Lord. What a wonderful thing it is to be married for time and all eternity. What a precious and marvelous and wonderful thing that is."

I'm grateful to have my Gweg for eternity---I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Be a Friend

My younger brother got home from his mission last week. He served in Frankfurt, Germany-- the land of our ancestors, and he very obviously grew (spiritually and physically).

He described the work in Germany as difficult because of the lack of support from members. The Germans are a very private, NOT very outgoing, stay-in-my-comfort-zone sort. My brother said that if they were going to bring an investigator to church, they'd have to call like 20 people the night before to give them a heads-up and ask them just to say hi to the investigator. And on Sunday, still no one would.

This shocked me! How sad for these new investigators! To not feel welcome or meet a potential friend! It can be a culture-shock for people to come into a brand-new church, why wouldn't anyone want that culture to appear friendly and inviting?

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47).
I will be the first to admit that I am not a great member missionary. I have never given a Book of Mormon to my mail carrier, I don't bear my testimony to the grocery checker. I really don't interact closely with anyone who is not a member of our Church. My friends are members, my daughter is too young to make her own friends, I don't work, and I don't even know my neighbors. Even if I did, I'm not a brave person in that way.

But this aspect of member-missionary work-- nurturing new converts, being a friend-- that is something I can do! And it is an important way to support the full-time missionaries in your area.

Pres. Hinckley also taught:
  • “Every convert needs three things:

  • “1. A friend in the Church to whom he can constantly turn, who will walk beside him, who will answer his questions, who will understand his problems.

  • “2. An assignment. Activity is the genius of this Church. It is the process by which we grow. Faith and love for the Lord are like the muscle of my arm. If I use them, they grow stronger. If I put them in a sling, they become weaker. Every convert deserves a responsibility. …

  • “3. Every convert must be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is imperative that he or she become affiliated with a priesthood quorum or the Relief Society, the Young Women, the Young Men, the Sunday School, or the Primary. He or she must be encouraged to come to sacrament meeting” (Ensign, May 1999, 108).

I may not hand out a lot of pass-along cards, but I say hello and introduce myself to every investigator the missionaries bring to church. I also ask them about themselves, how they found the missionaries, etc. I'm not trying to be their BFF, but I try so hard to be a friendly face and make them feel important by letting them know that I noticed them and am interested in their story.

The next step? Keep doing it! Say hi again the next time they come to church, and the next and the next and the next...

Another way to support the full-time missionaries? Feed them! A home-cooked meal is always appreciated and they can help you in your own missionary efforts.

Whatever they may be. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gems from Stake Conference

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!

This past weekend we had Stake Conference. I wanted to get a lot out of it, but being forced to sit back in the gym made it harder for me to pay attention. However I did take a few notes on things said that I thought were worth repeating. So I'll apologize now if this post gets to be just a jumble of thoughts.

1. "Don't be grumpy, that doesn't attract people."
This thought was given during a talk about missionary work. What a difference it can make if we are cheerful on a daily basis instead of being grumpy and negative? No one is going to care what you think if you are constantly radiating a negative vibe. Therefore, perk up and shine forth!

2. "We are not the light, Christ is the light. Our job is to reflect His light that is given to us into dark places."
I liked this thought, but don't have anything clever to say to expound upon it.

3. "Have a greater concern about our own ability to give love than to receive it. That makes us more lovable."
It is funny how these things work. (Forget yourself and find yourself mentality.) But that is how it works. Sometimes we might be afraid of what will happen to ourselves if we think too much about other people's welfare, but that is when we truly find ourselves.

4. "Have family M.U.S.T. time."
Instead of family scripture reading time, think about "mutually understanding scriptures together". When I was growing up, it was all about racing through the scriptures and getting to the end by a certain point. But if you focus on the journey instead of the destination you might be surprised when you find more hidden gems along the way.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"Be of Good Cheer"

Happy Birthday to Tricia!!!

Today in Sacrament meeting one of the speakers spoke on President Monson's talk from April Conference of this year, "Be of Good Cheer." I really felt like he was speaking to me. I have been blessed with so much, yet sometimes I focus on the things that I do not have. I get down on myself when I experience trials and I often forget to be of good cheer. I love this quote from President Monson's talk:

"None of us makes it through life without problems and challenges - and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told, 'Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.'"

President Monson then proceeds to ask this question: How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? This is my question to all of you. How do you find joy in your lives amidst the day to day trials and challenges? Joy is essential and in my opinion we can either choose to have joy in our lives, or we can choose to have misery. I vote for choosing joy, but I am definitely still working out the details. I would love to hear your suggestions. If you want to read the full talk then click here. It's definitely inspiring!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Sabbath is Holy

Happy Birthday Tricia!!!!! I heart you!!!!!

My new husband, Nate, moved to Salt Lake from Logan after we got married since my job has better pay, benefits, and free tuition at Salt Lake Community College. But since that time he has been diligently applying and interviewing for jobs, with no success. My dad works for some hotels in the Salt Lake area and has been referring Nate for any open positions and finally Nate was contacted on Tuesday to come train as a shuttle driver for one of these hotels. We were both extremely excited since we discovered our budget for the rest of the month is....well...insufficient.

Well, when Nate went to fill out paperwork for the position, he was informed that he would be working EVERY Sunday until he got enough seniority to be able to pick his schedule. We had talked about this before when he began to get disappointed about not finding a job and I expressed to Nate that I believed very strongly that working Sundays would disqualify us for a lot of the blessings we were currently receiving, but it would be his decision. When he called to tell me that he turned down the job, I knew he was depressed, but I have never, ever been more proud of him for exercising his faith in something I knew to be true.

The only reason I have such a strong testimony in the Sabbath was because I once had a job where I volunteered to work some Sundays in order to be a "team player" in a department where I was the only member of the LDS church, and I got punished for it. I ended up working every Sunday, getting the worst duties, and I never had time during the week to do my homework and had the worst grades I have ever gotten in a semester.

I understand there are jobs where Sunday work is necessary, as my mother is a nurse and has often had to take that shift, but the Sabbath is more than just the Lord's Day. Back in the time of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath was on Saturday, but after His death, the apostles moved the Sabbath to Sunday to emphasize the Resurrection. The Sabbath is more than just a day of rest, it is a day of reverence in remembrance of that victory over all that is temporal. It is a day in which we rise from the troubles and turmoils of the rest of week and feel the presence of something eternal.

"Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

I testify to you that the Resurrection is not a fable. We have the personal testimonies of those who saw Him. Thousands in the Old and New Worlds witnessed the risen Savior. They felt the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. They shed tears of unrestrained joy as they embraced Him.

After the Resurrection, the disciples became renewed. They traveled throughout the world proclaiming the glorious news of the gospel.

Had they chosen, they could have disappeared and returned to their former lives and occupations. In time, their association with Him would have been forgotten.

They could have denied the divinity of Christ. Yet they did not. In the face of danger, ridicule, and threat of death, they entered palaces, temples, and synagogues boldly proclaiming Jesus the Christ, the resurrected Son of the living God.

Many of them offered as a final testimony their own precious lives. They died as martyrs, the testimony of the risen Christ on their lips as they perished.

The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?" --Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Sunday Will Come,” Ensign, Nov 2006

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Long Learning

I suppose I should introduce myself as well. I can be a lemming in this case, it's alright.

I am Amy Grondahl (Tricia put down that I am Amy H, but not really, it is Amy G). I am 5'7" with dark brown curly hair, bright changing eyes, and a shy dimple when I smile. I like anything that has to do with the mountains, dancing, reading, lots and lots of music, laughter, my hubby (who generally equates laughter) and nearly two year old son, long walks on the beach and ice cream.

I have been married for two and a half years and along with half of the rest of the population, I am expecting a great bundle of joy to join our family in a few short months. I have the wonderful blessing to stay home with my son every day and learn from him. I love reading the scriptures and learning more about the gospel... which leads me to my topic today.

I went visiting teaching this morning. I loved the message. For those of you who haven't read it yet, let me just fill you in, and for those who have read it, just humor me and my epiphany.

The message was about lifelong education and learning. We all know that education is essential, and that we should get a good education. We know that "just in case something happens and we have to rely on it to support our families." but the message really gave some wonderful insight as to why, and even expanded a bit on it. It said

“Your talents will expand as you study and learn. You will be able to better assist your families in their learning, and you will have peace of mind in knowing that you have prepared yourself for the eventualities that you may encounter in life”

I love that by continual learning my talents can expand. I don't claim to be a very talented person, and would love for the chance and opportunity to have my few talents expand, as would I love to discover new talents. Being able to be prepared for the future also would really give me much comfort. There are so many things that are up in the air right now. It would be the most wonderful blessing in the world to always be prepared.

President Eyering said

“We will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time. … But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. …

“… And since what we will need to know is hard to discern, we need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. It also means that we cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark” (“Education for Real Life,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 18, 19).

My little brother is currently looking for a profession. He is in school and frustrated with what he should go into, knowing that it will affect the rest of his life. I love that we are told we can have the help of heaven to know what we need to study.

I am a huge time waster. I love to read books for entertainment. I have a hard time reading books for knowledge sake when I could be reading fairy tales. That is just how I am. I obviously have need to repent. I need to focus more on things that will help me in life.

It seems a lot of times we as women have a lot of demands placed upon our shoulders. We listen too much to what the world says about who we should be, and what we should do. We have the wonderful blessing of inquisitive minds. For those of us with children we can learn a lot from watching their curiosity. Everything fascinates them, and they are wanting to learn everything they can. If we do that, we can have an advantage in the life to come.

“My dear sisters, don’t ever sell yourself short as a woman or as a mother. … Do not let the world define, denigrate, or limit your feelings of lifelong learning and the values of motherhood in the home—both here mortally and in the eternal learning and benefits you give to your children and to your companion.

“Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human mind, body, and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation. Lifelong learning is invigorating mentally and is a great defense against aging, depression, and self-doubt” (“The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” in Brigham Young University 2008–2009 Speeches [2009], 2, 8–9).

After reading that I had a realization. I have never heard of one of the bretheren with the common complaints of old age. They are very alert and attentive and mentally active up to the last. No alzheimers or dementia for them. If we constantly study and seek after learning, we too can have those blessings.
As I was reading through the message I learned something. I learned that when we put the spiritual aspect of learning first (studying the scriptures, prayer, listening to our leaders and studying their words) our secular learning comes much easier for us.

I realy needed to learn this, and I hope it helped someone else. A life long learning is very important to our eternal salvation and the more we learn here, the better off we will be in the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Atonement Sundae

Here's the part where I introduce myself, just like everyone else. My name is Jackie Isom, and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My husband and I actually met on our mission in San Antonio Texas, and once we got home, were married shortly after. In our case, when you know, you know. I am currently teaching 5th grade, and T is working on getting his nursing certificate. We like to think of ourselves as still in our newlywed phase, but I'm thinking things might change just a little bit; we're having a baby who's due in January. You'd think since I served my mission in San Antonio, Texas, I'd know Tricia that way. In reality, we're cousins! Every time my family would travel to Utah, I'd spent a lot of time at Trish's house because my brothers and sister were around the same age as her siblings. We even went to EFY together; that was a very special summer memory for me. Tricia and I have a very large extended family, but I have always felt she was one of the closest cousins I had! I feel like her and I have a lot in common. It's just lucky coincidence she nows lives in my old mission!

In church this week, the speaker described this beautiful analogy I had never heard before, and I felt it was something I needed to hear this week. She was talking about relationships compared to making a sundae. She described a servant/master relationship would create the sundae in a way that the servant would put all the scoops of ice cream and toppings on themselves. The servant would basically do all the work, and the master would put the cherry on top and take all the credit for making it. In a friend relationship, the sundae is created together. Both parties build the sundae, doing equal parts of the work.

In our relationship with the Savior, He does ALL the work. He scoops all the ice cream, and creates all the toppings. He even puts toppings on there we've never heard of, and are more glorious than we ever thought possible. Only then does he give us the spoon and asks us to partake.

Sometimes I feel like I'm so alone, so isolated, as we all do at times. During those times, it's important to remember He already did all the work. All I need to do is bask in all the wonderful blessings I've received because of His sacrifice. He's made so many things possible for all of us, and we are asked to do so little in return.

When facing the adversity, we need to remember the delicious gift we've been given by our loving Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eternal Life is the Ultimate Goal

Greg's grandfather is not long for this earth and, as a result, we've been thinking about mortality a lot lately. His grandfather is not a member of the church (in fact, opposes it) and I'm pretty sure he does not believe in life after death. To this end, Greg was able to go to California to see him (and his other dying grandfather) 'one last time.'

I'm really grateful Greg was able to go, however, it makes me so sad that ones we love think that there's an end. The purpose of this life is to make choices in order to have the happiest eternity possible. Mortality is only the beginning of the journey.

President Thomas S. Monson, at a CES Fireside in February 1999, said:
He who conquered death and atoned for the sins of the world, even Jesus Christ, invited each of us to follow His divine example. 'Follow me' became His kind instruction. Come, 'learn of me,' was His personal invitation to the learning that lasts beyond this life and which endures through eternity.

Where money, rather that mortality, dicates one's actions, one is inclined away from God. Turning away from God brings broken covenants, shattered dreams, crushed hopes and wrecked lives. Such a quagmire of quicksand I plead with you to avoid. You are of noble birthright. Eternal life in the kingdom of our Father is your goal.

Such a goal is not achieved in one glorious attempt; rather, it is the result of a lifetime of righteousness, and accumulation of wise choices---even a constancy of purpose.
Death is a temporary sadness of our earth life, but our loved ones lived on. We still need to live and enjoy our journeys. I hope we always remember the true goal which should guide our choices: a joyous eternal life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Blessing

When I was in the MTC I remember having a blessing in which the elder giving me the blessing told me to know who was on "my side". It is sometimes strange when in a blessing you are told something that you haven't talked to anyone about specifically. That was much the case in this blessing. For some reason that memory just crawled back into my consciousness.

I guess at the time I hadn't grown out of the "everyone is against me" mode of thinking. I used to think that unless shown otherwise I generally couldn't trust other people to be on my side, or understand me. It was an unbalanced way to look at life, but one I had used in order to deal with the troubles and challenges I had been facing up to that point. (It is hard to admit this about myself, I promise!)

Sometimes I think that mindset is a great tool for the adversary to use against us, especially to convince us that the one we need to be most upset with is those closest to us. The people that do love and care about us the most. The people that have no mal-intent. If he can convince us that those people aren't on our side and that we are all alone, then surely we will be much easier to lead away.

It is hard when you are on the other side of that situation because you don't know why you are being unjustly dealt with. You might even react with a similar attitude. Double score for satan, right?

What can we do when we find our self in this situation? Pray for help, obviously. Maybe challenge your thinking...is this person really out to get me? Or am I just seeing this the wrong way? Or ask yourself- how does Christ see this person?

I hope and pray that you will all be blessed with the ability to know who is truly "on your side" at all times in your lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Morning Devotionals

I guess it's my turn to introduce myself. I'm Meagan Swenson, Tricia's sister-in-law! I have now known Trish for a little over two years and I have loved getting to know her. She has taught me so many things and I love her outlook on life. I have been married for a little over 2 years and just graduated from college with a BA in Theatre Arts. I can mostly be defined as a dancer, but I am also a wanna be homemaker.

Today I was reading another article in the August Ensign called "Opening the Heavens." The article talks about having a morning devotional time spent in prayer, meditation, and scripture study. The author, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, says that "[i]f you have a devotional every morning, even if only for a few minutes, you will be deeply blessed." I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but I have a really hard time remembering to say my morning prayers. I really liked this article because I know that for me when I wake up, say my prayers, and read my scriptures in the morning my day is more enjoyable and I feel closer to my Heavenly Father throughout the day.

Since reading this article, my goal now is to have a morning devotional every morning. I encourage you all to do the same thing, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Also if you get the chance read this article. It will definitely inspire you to set time aside each morning for seek out spiritual things.

O Lord, Wilt Thou Redeem My Soul?

Before I forget, let me introduce myself. My name is Ashley Sokia/Gordon (I'm still on the fence about changing my name since I was married last month). I was with Hna. Ferrell/Trish the Dish in the MTC before I went to the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission. She had the opportunity to get to know me during, what I consider, one of the hardest and most beneficial experiences I have ever had and I think we've become soul sisters forever because of it.

Speaking of hard, and yet beneficial experiences, I wanted to share with you a short insight into Nephi's Psalm that I think can teach us alot about the principle of repentance.

Nephi's Psalm is found in 2 Nephi 4:16-35. During this time in Nephi's life, he has just lost his father who was his mentor and best friend. On top of that, he now has no way to control his two older brothers who have tried on many occasions to hurt and even kill him. And what does Nephi decide to do? He decides to repent. During the time when his world is falling apart, when it would be so easy to blame others and be angry, he goes to the Lord and asks him to redeem his soul from the temptation to linger longer in sorrow. He goes to the Lord knowing that in his repentance, he will find joy.

When you cross-reference this scripture with the hymn book, the hymn that it links up to is number 98 "I Need Thee Every Hour." It brings tears to my eyes to think of Nephi, in the depths of despair, kneeling in prayer saying, "I need thee, oh, I need thee. Every hour, I need thee! Oh, bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee."

Repentance is real. It is turning to our Savior and asking him to save us from ourselves. Without repentance, we carry our burdens unnecessarily. I testify that it is in daily repentance we can all find peace and rest in our lives.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pay in Faith

This is just going to be a quick post. Nothing major or profound, just a little miracle to me.

I know that when the Lord says he will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon us, he is being very literal. I know that when we pay tithing we are actually paying with faith, and not money. We show our faith by paying, even when it feels as if paying would be cutting off a limb because that money is so necessary to our survival here.


I have had times in my life where I had to decide to pay my tithing or have food. I paid in faith, knowing that Heavenly Father would bless and provide for me. Shortly thereafter I received two big bags of food. I once had to decide between paying tithing or paying for school. I had all the money to the penny in my account for school. Paying my tithing would leave me short. I chose to pay tithing after all. After a bit of go around with the school, it turned out I didn't have to pay any of the money they were demanding from me. Tithing requires faith. When we pay in faith miracles happen. We may be tested and tried, but we will never ever be left alone. When we pay our tithing we are showing the Lord we rely on Him and we trust Him. I know that sometimes it can be hard, but I also know that it is always always worth it and the return is much bigger then the "investment."

source

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ambo & the Law of Tithing

I'm really excited that we are all 'forced' to introduce ourselves now. Since it's Wednesday, I'm up:

Hello, my name is Amber and I'm a Gospel-Addict.

I am also a wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter, sports-freak, clutz, nap-time crafter, theatre-geek, and teacher. I constantly try to do my best and, most of the time, it gets me into trouble (especially in the clutz category).

I grew up in St. Louis (as alluded to in Ash's post) and, when the time came, I ventured to BYU, where I graduated in Elementary Education. Gweg and I have been married for almost five years (CRAZY--and, yes, it's true, he is Ash's cousin).

We have a happy-go-lucky 15-month-old boy named Jared and are expecting a little girl at the end of November (not planned, on our part, at least). I, too, am a SAHM with so much to do and not enough time to do it in. We live in South Texas where Gweg works as an engineer and we don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon (we're building our first house---that's how I met Trish---she's in my ward and told us about a great subdivision to build in).

Whenever I have free time I enjoy cooking, crafting, swimming, yoga, playing Wii, dancing with Jared, and---shocker---the St. Louis Cardinals! I'm currently trying to be better at going to the temple, saying consistent family prayers and having FHE. I love to learn and grow which is why I wanted to join the ranks of this blog!

As Trish mentioned in her testimony post, I bore my testimony on Sunday. Ash can verify that this is nothing new; I'm one of those people that probably bears their testimony too much. I couldn't resist it this time because I felt overwelming gratitude for Heavenly Father's blessings to my family. And, I believe it was because we pay our tithing.

Greg just recently finished grad school and this month we had to start paying his loans back, both undergrad and graduate, in addition to the rest of our monthly bills. We sat down and talked about giving ourselves very small weekly allowance for food and other expenses. Even though we were following our new rules, it didn't seem we were going to make it to the next payday. We were worried, then on Friday we got a $1000 check from a car accident we had in December. Greg and I looked at each other and immediately said a prayer because we knew where this money came from.

Elder Robert D. Hales taught:

"To those who faithfully and honestly live the law of tithing, the Lord promises an abundance of blessings. Some of these blessings are temporal, just as tithes are temporal. But like the outward physical ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, the commandment to pay tithing requires temporal sacrifice, which ultimately yields great spiritual blessings....

Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? Sadly, this is what we do when we fail to pay our tithing. We say no to the very blessings we are seeking and praying to receive. If you are one who has doubted the blessings of tithing, I encourage you to accept the Lord’s invitation to “prove [Him] now herewith.” Pay your tithing. Unlock the windows of heaven. You will be abundantly blessed for your obedience and faithfulness to the Lord’s laws and commandments."


The Lord blesses us when we live the commandments righteously; sometimes in ways we can see, other times in ways we can't. I know I have a lot of things to work on, but I hope that I will always pay my tithing because the Lord has already blessed me because of it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The name is Ashley, but you can call me Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I feel honored to have been invited to contribute here and hope I can share some thoughts that will uplift-- or at least, get you thinking.

Trish (may I call you Trish?) suggested that I use today's post to introduce myself, so... here it goes.

I got here (to this blog, not the world) through Amber (Wednesday), my best friend/cousin-in-law. We met when we were 13, and were nearly inseparable all through high school and college, until she married my cousin after our sophomore year at BYU. Now we're linked for eternity!

Right now, I'm a SAHM to a beautiful, blue-eyed, little girl who will be 1 later this month. While my husband is in chiropractic school, we are living in St. Louis, Missouri, about 20 minutes from where I grew up.

My passions include being a wife & mother, reading, baking and crafting (though I don't pretend to be an expert in any of those things). Other things I love include fireworks, french fries, lemonade, new socks and the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm working on improving (as in, saying) my morning prayers, not complaining, and letting things go (I can be a bit of a perfectionist).

That all being said, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite quotes.
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do what's best for us; we are wondering how painful that will turn out to be."
--C.S. Lewis
Having faith is knowing that God is in control. But there is a part of me (since I'm human and averse to pain), that thinks, "I know God has a plan for me, but what exactly does that plan entail? How many fires am I going to have to walk through?"

I trust in Heavenly Father and follow Him to the best of my ability, but I'm sometimes nervous! There is a caveat in the phrase, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." The path He has set for us is strait (not straight), narrow (see 3 Nephi 14:14), and, I would imagine, winding. Strait, in this case, actually means difficult or stressful. That does not sound like a trail I would choose for myself, yet I did, in the premortal life!

To summarize, God's plan for us as individuals is going to be difficult, stressful, and occasionally painful, but our loving Heavenly Father is in control. How comforting that is. He knows all, including our abilities and what's best for us. He knows that a difficult path will test us and mold us into the people He needs us to be. The people that we want to be!

I put one foot in front of the other every day with Him guiding me, step by step. There are no promises of ease or comfort, but there are promises of eternal life and a place in His sight. Ultimately, the rewards outweigh the price. And as long as I put my trust and faith in Him who leads me, I know I'll gain mine.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Testimony

Yesterday I bore my testimony. It was the first time in a long time that I even considered it. I guess before I just didn't think I had anything to say. Also, Amber (Wednesday) bore her testimony. I should give her the credit because I didn't get up until after she did. At that point I couldn't resist anymore, I guess.

I usually think through everything I'm going to say before I say it when I bear my testimony. This time I tried to just go up there in the right spirit and let my mouth say what my heart was feeling. I'm not sure if that was the best idea or not. I knew I wanted to testify of the Atonement, not because of some serious sin I have just repented of, but because people rarely talk about it. (Or maybe it just seems that way to me.)

And then, later in my testimony and without thinking, I blurted out "Thank you". I wasn't sure why that phrase came out, so I finished it with "...for being an awesome ward." Then I thought, what I am even saying? I mean I shouldn't need to thank the ward as part of my testimony, should I?

What I guess I'm trying to convey in this post is that my testimony and spirituality have been strengthened lately because of this blog. So, really THANK YOU for your posts. Maybe it has been a while since I've borne testimony and so I was a bit nervous and disjointed. I wanted to get up and share the wonderful spirit I was feeling with others, and I guess this time it didn't matter to me what I said. I just wanted to convey my feelings and some of my thoughts.

I found this great article by Pres. Faust about bearing testimony. Here is a quote from it:

Some of us are naturally reserved and timid about bearing our testimony with words. Perhaps we should not be so timid. The Doctrine and Covenants tells us, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man” (D&C 60:2). When we do bear testimony, we should testify with a spirit of humility. Section 38 of the Doctrine and Covenants reminds us, “And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41).

Perhaps we do not always remember that it is the power of the Spirit that carries our testimony into the hearts of others. Our testimony is our own. It cannot be challenged by someone else. It is personal and real to us. But it is the Holy Spirit that gives a similar witness to another.

Sorry this post comes the day after fast and testimony meeting. Now you have to wait another month before you can bear your testimony. Just come back and read this article again if you find your determination wavering. And definitely check out the linked article above if time allows. It is inspiring for sure!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"A Peculiar People"

My apologies for not posting last week. I left for New York last Sunday and had too many things to finish before leaving. Anyway I would like to reflect upon some experiences that I had while in New York.

In the August Ensign there is an article by President David O. McKay called "Unspotted from the World." In it he talks about how we are a peculiar people. He says, "as the Church of God we must 'dwell apart'." This was reminding me a great deal of what it was like to be with a group of young women (ages 17-26) this past week in New York City. I went there for a dance convention and was the only one in the group that was LDS. Many of the girls, both underaged and legal, spoke a lot about their favorite alcholic beverages and their fake IDs. It was a very awkward situation for me because they sat up late discussing whether rum or vodka was better, and here I was in the corner of the hotel room reading the Book of Mormon. Then on the last night I was there we went to a fancy theatre to see a dance show and everyone was dressed really fancy. I was the only one wearing a dress that had sleeves and went below my knees. Many people were staring at me throughout the evening. I am sure to them they must have thought that I looked so very "peculiar" but to me they were the ones that looked a little "peculiar." I am so grateful for the standards that we have as members of the LDS faith and I encourage you all to be proud of those standards which we have. Although I certainly felt like an outcast, and I knew that people were staring at me, I felt clean and pure inside and I knew that I was setting a good example for others to see what our church teaches.

It may not always be easy to do the right thing, especially when the people closest to you are following the ways of the world, but I can promise you that it is worth it. Remember this:

What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.

Our goal as members of the LDS religion is to set an example for the world. Never let your standards take a backseat because you are nervous about what others may think of you. You don't have to drink with your co-workers to be recognized by your boss. You don't have to wear revealing attire to develop your talents of dancing. You don't have to swear because everyone around you is doing it. Stand up and be "a peculiar people." You will be blessed both now and in the eternities for following the standards and commandments that God has given us!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It Was More Temple Than Prison

"Tonight’s message is that when you have to, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, let me say that even a little stronger: You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced."

I know that I no longer teach Sunday School, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to prepare my own versions of the lessons before I go to church and see what they have in store. If you are reading this before (or even after) you have the lesson titled, "O God, Where Art Thou?" I would suggest reading the talk that Jeffrey R. Holland gave in a CES fireside in September of 2008 titled, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." This is where I found the opening quote that is written above.

I'm not going to go into great detail about the happenings at Liberty Jail or the time surrounding it, but I will say that I believe this period of time to be one of the hardest in Church History as well as the hardest time in the Prophet Joseph Smith's life. But it also led to my favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants (121-123). At the opening of Section 121, Joseph is having what I call a "God is picking on me" moment. It's gotten to the moment where he feels that he and the Saints have suffered enough and they should be seeing some miracles in response to their faithfulness. I'm not trying to trivialize what is being said, I'm personally identifying with it. While moments like this can be interpreted to be prideful or indignant, I like to see them as the end of the humility fuse. God understands our frustrations, He understands everything. So within the walls of Liberty Jail, we see a beautiful transformation in Joseph's understanding of God. He finds spiritual liberty in a physical jail. And isn't that true of life's purpose itself? Instead of chastising Joseph, He speaks to him as any loving Father would. "I am here. This will pass. All will be made right."

It is in times like these, in trials like these in which all of us can truly come to know our Father in Heaven. Where we can feel the constant presence of the Holy Ghost. In our hardest trials we are given the opportunity to come to know our Savior on a deeper level than any other.

"...these revelations “made Liberty jail, for a time, a center of instruction. The eyes of the saints were turned to it as the place whence would come encouragement, counsel—the word of the Lord. It was more temple than prison, so long as the Prophet was there. It was a place of meditation and prayer. … Joseph Smith sought God in this rude prison, and found him” (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:526).

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