Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preparing for Conference

The last couple times the end of March and September came around, I have tried, and sometimes failed, to re-read all the conference talks. I know I should spend more of the six months in between studying and pondering the messages, but at least I'm trying. :)

I felt impressed to share something from one of the talks I re-read this past week. In Elder Steven R. Snow's talk, Get On with Our Lives, he gave four things we can do to be prepared for the changes which come as we progress through life:
  1. Follow the Prophets
  2. Keep an Eternal Perspective
  3. Have Faith
  4. Be of Good Cheer
Sounds easy, right? If it were so easy, I highly doubt most of our mortal lives would be 'enduring to the end.' All four are fantastic, however I want to focus on following the prophets. This upcoming weekend, we have a marvelous opportunity to sit and listen to messengers of the Lord; messages which are meant for us... right now.

I encourage us all to do things this weekend to keep us focused on the messages. Pray, take notes, play games meant for primary kids.... do something to allow the Spirit to speak to you! (This includes watching/listening to Saturday's sessions and encouraging our men to go to Priesthood).

We should not think of General Conference as a 'break from church,' if anything it is a spiritual feast. I hope we all have the chance to fully partake of and enjoy the feast!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avoiding Degrading Media Influences

I recently got called to be the Mia Maid adviser in our ward, and last week I taught a lesson about "Avoiding Degrading Media Influences." We talked about how media can be helpful or harmful, depending on how it is used. We also talked about how to tell the difference between the two.

We also discussed how we may not notice the effects of degrading influences all at once. We can let ourselves be weakened spiritually bit by bit, day by day, week by week until we are blinded to reality, numbed to the Spirit of the Lord, and engulfed in evil influences that lead to sin.

I likened this process to dying an egg. If you put an egg in colored water and pull it out right away, it will be only slightly tinged-- to some, it will still look perfectly white! But repeatedly dipping the egg will allow the stain to become darker and darker.

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said:
“The fact that a book is old does not necessarily make it of value. The fact that an author wrote one good work does not necessarily mean that all his books are worthy of your time. Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other people’s garbage. It is harder to purge the mind of rotten reading than to purge the body of rotten food, and it is more damaging to the soul.”
I really like this analogy of comparing bad media to garbage. But I also shared the following story with the girls and it brought home the point even more:

Some teenagers approached their father and asked for permission to see a PG-13 movie. The father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see this particular movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex--they never really showed it. The language was pretty good--the Lord's name was only used in vain three times in the whole movie.

The teens did admit there was a scene where a building and a bunch of people were blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn't too bad. And, even if there were a few minor things, the special effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed.

However, even with all the justifications the teens made for the rating, the father still wouldn't give in. He didn't even give his children a satisfactory explanation for saying, "No." He just said, "No!"

A little later on that evening the father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had baked. He explained that he'd taken the family's favorite recipe and added a little something new. The children asked what it was.

The father calmly replied that he had added dog poop. However, he quickly assured them, it was only a little bit. All other ingredients were gourmet quality and he had taken great care to bake the brownies at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.

Even with their father's promise that the brownies were of almost perfect quality, the teens would not take any. The father acted surprised. After all, it was only one small part that was causing them to be so stubborn. He was certain they would hardly notice it. Still the teens held firm and would not try the brownies.

The father then told his children how the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Our minds are leading us into believing that just a little bit of evil won't matter. But, the truth is even a little bit of poop makes the difference between a great treat and something disgusting and totally unacceptable.

The father went on to explain that even though the movie industry would have us believe that most of today's movies are acceptable fare for adults and youth, they are not.

Now, when this father's children want to see something that is of questionable material, the father merely asks them if they would like some of his special dog poop brownies. That closes the subject.

[Emphasis added; this story was found at MormonShare.com]

Wise media choices are important for everyone, not just teenagers. The lesson states, "We may sometimes feel that degrading media does not affect us personally as much as it influences others around us. Actually, we may not notice its negative effects until it becomes very difficult to remove them."

I encourage you all to take extra care this week-- pay attention to your media consumption and don't let in any media garbage (or dog poop)!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Favorite Scripture!

I feel so awful that I have missed my day to post the past two weeks. Last week my computer was down and I have been really sick with the flu this week. Anyway, I figured I would try to post today instead (sorry for two posts in one day). I wanted to share my favorite scripture with everyone.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." John 16:20-22

I love this passage of scriptures because it is such a wonderful reminder that although we may experience trials and sorrows in this life, we will have joy in the eternities if we prove ourselves faithful. Whenever I am struggling or going through something difficult in my life I turn to these scriptures and remember that I will only suffer for a short while and that once the trial is over I will once again have joy (joy that no one can take from me). So the next time you are struggling with something in your own life, turn to these scriptures. I know that they will bring you comfort as they have brought me comfort.

Get Inspired!

Have you received your October Ensign yet? I always get excited when I get the Ensign in the mail. I'm not sure why I suddenly feel this way, since I didn't used to be so excited about it once upon a time. But now when I see it, I have to search it immediately upon arrival.

This month's edition is so exciting to me because it features an article about blogging! The main article is called "Finding and Sharing the Gospel Online". I strongly recommend that everyone read it and rejoice in how inspired it is. There is also a mini article features inside the larger article that is titled, "Be a Blogging Missionary". It has a lot of great suggestions as well.

What I love about sharing the gospel online like this is that it isn't scary for me to do. Anyone can read it and I don't need to confront anyone. It is a great way for me to share my feelings about belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. No one has to feel awkward or uncomfortable from misinterpreted cues that sometimes come from face to face interactions.

The gospel means a lot to me. I could not just get up and walk away from it. Sometimes people in the church let someone easily offend them and they use that as an excuse to not be active anymore. Unfortunately not all people (ward members) are 100% tactful, but that doesn't change the validity and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes a part of our life isn't going how we imagined that it should and we may feel that God is to blame. Instead of taking the role of victim, we need to rise up and move forward with faith and courage. Inside we know that God has a special plan for each of us and we can trust in Him.

I want to encourage all members reading this to make a personal goal to be open with your feelings about the church. Either write it in a blog or mention it to friends and/or associates. Or do both! God loves you and all His children and wants them to know more about Him! I hope this post has been inspiring to you. If so, leave a comment and let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Power, love, and a sound mind

When I went to EFY when I was sixteen it was just after President Hinckley had shared with us the "6 B's". We were each assigned to do a devotional during the week using his quote about one of the "Be"s and find a scripture that went with it. I was given the following quote:

"You who are members of this Church must have a loyalty to it. This is your church. You have as great a responsibility in your sphere of action as I have in my sphere of action. It belongs to you just as it belongs to me. You have embraced its gospel. You have taken upon yourselves a covenant in the waters of baptism. This you have renewed each time you have partaken of the sacrament. These covenants will be added to when you are married in the temple. You cannot hold them lightly. They are too great a thing. This is the very work of God designed to bring about the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters."

When I looked for a scripture on being true, none of them really reflected the meaning that President Hinckley had intended. But when I looked up the word testimony I found a scripture that has strengthened and influenced me more than any other words in my entire life.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God." 1 Timothy 1:7-8

Fear is not from God, it is a sign of wavering faith in Him. Be a partaker of affliction with strength and assurance that God will provide a way. He will make the weak things strong, the unfair things fair, and the sadness into joy again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just Ask

One of my favorite scriptures is Doctrine and Covenants 42:61:
"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things---that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."
This scripture struck me during a time when I was faced with a few life-altering decisions. The only thing He requires of us is to ask. When we ask, we shall receive; not we might receive, but shall. Even in those deepest darkest moments of our own personal agony, we are not alone. We only feel alone when we forget to ask for Him; we need to swallow our pride and get on own knees before the one who gave all. When we ask, He will give. It may not be exactly what we want to know, but it is what we need to know to have happiness and joy.

I hope this makes sense, but I wanted to remind us all--- The Lord is always there for us if we just ask. It brought me comfort then and brings me comfort now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cheerfully

Thanks for the theme this week, Trish!

My favorite scripture (of the moment) is Doctrine & Covenants 123:17, which reads:
"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
I love this scripture because it reminds us to be happy! Not only must we work hard and do our very best, but we must do it with a good attitude. This is so much easier said than done!

Life is stressful and trying at times, but if we can just hang in there and do our very best with a smile on our face-- we will be much better off. There is a quote by Mark Twain that I like that says:
"There is nothing in life that cannot be made worse by complaining."
We should not complain about all the duties and responsibilities we have, but live our lives cheerfully and with joy.

May you all have a joyful week!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Turning weakness into strength

In order to assist my fellow blog authors in obtaining inspiration for this week, I have decided to dub this week "My Favorite Scripture Week". So choose a scripture you love, write it and tell everyone what is it that stands out to you and helps you.

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

I think there is more to this scripture than originally meets the eye. For example, it is not typical for people to think that God gives them weakness. Most people think that all good things come from God, and all bad things come from Satan (and they label weakness as bad). So this scripture can give us more understanding about that.

I like this scripture because to me it says God knows me so he gave me weakness. He wanted me to turn to him for help. He knew that if I had no weakness that I would not think about relying on him, and I wouldn't develop faith. What is funny is that I have weakness, yet sometimes I am convinced that I am all-amazing. Until I break out of this wave length of thought, I am stuck without His divine help in my life. I have to acknowledge His hand in my life always or I am alone and truly weak. I pray that I will always stay in a place where I will not be without His help.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Making History

I am so excited to share this with EVERYONE!! I'll admit that I'm not at all a great genealogist or that I've even started any family histories, but I've always had the excuse that I didn't know how to get started or there's other family members that are doing it, right?

Well, recently my mother started trying to get my grandparents on video telling their personal histories, but it's really hard to get the stories organized or even to get them telling new stories that we haven't heard. The other day a co-worker and I started talking about this and she told me about an article in the August 2003 Ensign titled "That Happened to You?" It's a great list of questions that are easy to answer and are organized according to phases of a person's life. This co-worker told me that she just e-mails her mother about 5 questions at a time and lets her take her time responding. When the gets the e-mail with the responses, she cuts and pastes it into a document saved on her computer for her mother's personal history. She's even getting stories that her mother never told her before like the time she was 12 and decided to take the family station wagon for a spin around the block and nobody in her family ever knew.

How awesome is that??!! It all sounds so simple. I can't wait to get these questions up to my grandparents' house and start hearing all the family gossip. Even just little things like I've never learned the names of all my grandpa's siblings. I might even start answering the questions for myself while I still remember what my childhood was like. So, I challenge you all to print out the article and start with yourself. In fact, I'd like you all to answer one of the questions right now as a comment to this post.

When did you begin to have a testimony of Jesus Christ? What memories do you have of Church meetings or activities?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hope



This is a very beautiful video. I hope it inspires and uplifts for you as it did for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Organize Yourselves

My husband and I teach the 15-17 year olds in Sunday School. This week, we were discussing the Saints preparing themselves for their trek to Salt Lake (section 136 in D&C contains instructions for them as what they needed to do). One of the verses we talked about struck me:

2) Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God.

Along with reading this section, we were trying to figure out how we could apply it to our own journeys in life. I was struggling with how to relate to it, and my husband said, "Companies then are wards and stakes today." This made me think about the organization of this glorious church.

This brought me back to something my dad told me years ago. I was traveling to Russia to teach English, meeting my teaching group in Moscow, and making several layovers in various countries all by myself beforehand. I was a little nervous because my layovers were quite short, and I wasn't sure I would be able to make all the takeoffs. My dad told me, "If you miss any of your flights, and get stuck in one country, all you have to do is call me. I will locate the nearest bishop in that area, and you will be taken care of until you can get on the next flight."

How lucky are we, as members of the church, to know we will be taken care of no matter where we are in the entire world? I know if I was ever in trouble or in an emergency, there would be someone I could call in my local ward or stake to help me in a moment's notice. I've had those moments from time to time in my life, and I'm sure I'm not alone. It's one more testament, this church is true, and the way it was organized in the very beginning was truly inspired.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Enhancing Your Sabbath

I love getting the Church News! Not only do we know what's happening with the church around the globe, we get brief glimpses of talks the Brethren give as well. Or we get a glimpse into BYU Education Week. In the five years I lived there I never went, and now I feel like I missed a giant opportunity. At least, CN is there to help.

One of the highlighted presenters in the CN was good ol' John Bytheway entitled, "The Best Three Hours of the Week: Getting the Most from Your Sunday Meetings." I have a pretty energetic 16 month old and I have a hard time paying attention on Sunday, so it was nice to have a repremand and ways to improve.

He said the first thing we need to examine is our attitude toward the Sabbath. Then, he used the acronym of CHURCH to offer improvements:

C: Choose
  • The choice to get more out of Sunday meetings actually begins with Saturday night. Don't stay out (or up) too late.
  • Pray for the speakers/teachers, and give yourself a smaller sermon in your mind about whatever topic they are addressing.
H: Holy Sabbath
  • Ezekiel 20: 20: "And hallow my Sabbaths..."
  • Not participating in activities that run over into the Sabbath
U: Unity
  • D&C 38:27: "I say unto you, be one. And if ye are not one, ye are not mine."
R: Respect
  • When you disrespect your called-and-sustained teacher, leaders or advisers, you disrespect the One who called them. In other words, you disrespect the Lord.
C: Covenant
  • The most important thing we do on Sundays is partaking of the Sacrament
  • Elder Holland has suggested Aaronic Priesthood holders wear white shirts when passing
  • Ponder on the Savior during the actual passing of the sacrament---Brother Bytheway thinks about the video "Lamb of God" and when it shows the empty tomb.
H: Holy Ghost
  • It's your job as a listener and my job as the listener as well as the teacher's job (to be in tune with the Spirit) so that we get something out of our meetings
He concludes by saying by reminding that it is our choice to make it (church meetings) exciting and interesting; but, in the end, we are there to worship the Lord. I hope this list can help us all improve our Sabbath worship.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Influence of a Righteous Woman


Yesterday our home teacher came over and gave us the message for this month. It is by Elder Uchtdorf and is titled, "The Influence of Righteous Women". It is a really wonderful message to read, so make sure you read it! There is a quote from President Grant that says,
"Without the devotion and absolution testimony of the living God in the hearts of our mothers, this Church would die."

The article talks a lot about the little things that we women do, thinking that they are so inconsequential, but we don't seem to know that everything we do makes a big difference. One of Satan's big tactics is to convince us that we don't make a difference to anyone, no matter what we say or do. But really we can prove him wrong by simply putting our creative skills to use, or calling someone to see how they are doing, or any number of things where we reach out to others.

I feel like this message has something for everyone. If you are like me, and struggle to think that anything you do makes a difference to anyone- this message is for you. Or if you are the overachiever who feels like there is so much to be done and that you will never succeed at helping everyone, this message is for you. Or if you have any other misnomers about your special purpose and heritage as a woman in the church, this article is for you!

My home teacher shared a personal observation with us that I want to pass along. He said there were two families he knew who came together when, in one of them the husband went inactive and a bit nuts and the other one had the wife go inactive and a bit nuts. The active husband and the active wife met each other from the two separate families, got married and joined their families together. This brought together many children who were quite different. What he noted, however, was that the active mother's children were very active in the church. But the active father's children were all inactive in the church. He used this story to explain how important a mother's testimony is in the home for her children.

After hearing this story, I thought- yeah true, but the father can make a big difference too. I remember learning about this in my religion classes at BYU. But I guess that was not the point of the message in this month's Ensign. So, therefore let us embrace the divinity within ourselves and seek to reach our true potentials and influence others for the good.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lord's Timing

Have you ever felt like you simply don't understand the Lord's will for you? When trials come into my life I often struggle to understand why. Lately I have begun to realize that we do not always need to know why we are given a specific trial to overcome. All we really need to do is have faith that the Lord knows best and he will guide you to where you need to be (at the right time). This talk by Dallin H. Oaks is excellent and I really encourage you all to read it! It is called, "The Right Thing, at the Right Time."

My favorite quote from this talk is the following:

“Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done.’ ”

The Lord's timing can sometimes be a frustrating thing, especially when your desires are in line with the teachings of the gospel. Since my miscarriage I have been struggling with why we haven't been blessed with a child. The Lord has commanded us to get married and multiply and replenish the earth, so why would the Lord make us wait? The answer is unclear and we may not understand the why until we pass through the veil, but I am finally beginning to understand that there are things I must learn before I will be the best mother I can be. The Lord knows us best, He knows what is best for each of us individually. Try to remember this in your trials. If you do it will be much easier to remain faithful and endure to the end.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Important Lesson on the Atonement

There is a book that I have had recommended to me in almost every Institute class that I've ever been in called "Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson. This book opened my eyes to an understanding of how the Atonement actually works and I wanted to share a part of it with you.

" All the negative aspects of human existence brought about by the Fall, Jesus Christ absorbed into himself. He experienced vicariously in Gethsemane all the private griefs and heartaches, all the physical pains and handicaps, all the emotional burdens and depressions of the human family. He knows the loneliness of those who don't fit in or who aren't handsome or pretty. He knows what it's like to choose up teams and be the last one chosen. He knows the anguish of parents whose children go wrong. He knows the private hell of the abused child or spouse. He knows all these things personally and intimately because he lived them in the Gethsemane experience. Having personally lived a perfect life, he then chose to experience our imperfect lives. In the infinite Gethsemane experience , the meridian of time, the center of eternity, he lived a billion billion lifetimes of sin, pain, disease, and sorrow."

"God uses no magic wand to simply wave bad things into nonexistence. The sins that he remits, he remits by making them his own and suffering them. The pain and heartaches that he relieves, he relieves by suffering them himself. These things can be shared and absorbed, but they cannot be simply wished or waved away. They must be suffered. Thus we owe him not only for our spiritual cleansing from sin, but our physical, mental, and emotional healings as well, for he has borne these infirmities for us also. All that the Fall put wrong, the Savior in his atonement puts right. It is all part of his infinite sacrifice--of his infinite gift."

I cannot imagine what it would be like to feel the pain of even one other person and yet Christ chose to take all of our sorrows and heartaches and unfairness from us by absorbing them all into himself. I'm grateful for a Savior who was not only prepared, but obedient enough to do that so that we might be relieved of our own lifetime of sin and live with our Heavenly Family for eternity.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finding Hope

Today is a day that will always be in our memories. Some people don't like to remember because it causes them sadness. I, on the other hand remember this day and am filled with gratitude, peace, and humility. Our Heavenly Father loves us. We sometimes make poor decisions yet He still supports and blesses us if we but turn to him. I would like to share a video with you called Finding Hope which is about a man who describes his experience at the towers and how he was able to get through that tragedy with the help of his faith in Jesus Christ. It is 8 minutes, but well worth the watch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spiritual Nourishment

I did my visiting teaching today and one quote really stuck out to me and I felt prompted to share it with you wonderful ladies.
Spiritual nourishment is just as important as a balanced diet to keep us strong and healthy. We nourish ourselves spiritually by partaking of the sacrament weekly, reading the scriptures daily, praying daily in personal and family prayer, and performing temple work regularly. Our spiritual strengths are like batteries; they need to be charged and frequently recharged.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Living the gospel is not something we turn on and off. We need to remember the importance of taking care of our spiritual side; if we don't we will slowly become 'out of shape' spiritually. We need to take the time to take care of our spirit and Heavenly Father, through the Holy Ghost, will take care of us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ebb and flow

I apologize for my lack of posting yesterday. I think my brain heard the word "holiday" and went on vacation. I just barely remembered this morning that I was supposed to post yesterday and didn't. So hopefully this will be fabulous enough to make up for my obvious lack of coherency.

Nick and I seem to have an ebb and flow with scripture reading. Right now we are having a flow. We are doing really well together. We read every night before we go to bed. Sometimes one of us isn't feeling well or is very tired. When that happens the other person reads the entire chapter. But usually we take turns reading every night.

I notice the same pattern happen every time the scripture study ebbs. Nick and I don't seem to have the same closeness and loving regard for each other. (Not to say we stop loving, we just aren't as loving.) Somethings get between us and threaten to push us apart. Tears ensue and bring overwhelming feelings of doubt and fear.

On the other hand, when the scripture study is flowing, our relationship is totally different. We are more understanding of each other. We feel more concern for the other person. It feels like we just got married again and back from our honeymoon.

I can personally acknowledge and bear witness that having daily scripture study brings a spirit into a marital relationship that nothing else can take the place of. This spirit binds you together and strengthens a marriage. It makes you happier. It saves a marriage from being torn apart. It strengthens your spirits so that it is easier to deal with challenges or problems that happen and can really try your marriage. No matter how many times you've read the scriptures, always make them a priority.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Debt

My husband is a financial analyst and is very intelligent when it comes to money. Ever since we got married we have used a budget and he has taught me how to save, invest, etc. Now that we are both graduated and in the work force, we are pushing ourselves to pay off our school loans. The prophets have counseled us continually to get out of debt. This is such an important subject, yet millions of people all over the world keep loading the debt up higher and higher. It is such a touchy subject because many people get offended by the counsel to not have debt. I have heard so many people say, "We don't need a budget." My question is, "How do you expect to get out of debt, whether the debt is a mortgage payment, school loans, or consumer debt, if you don't use a budget."

Here is what the leaders of the Church have to say about debt:

"Avoid debt...Today everything is seemingly geared toward debt. 'Get your cards, and buy everything on time': you're encouraged to do it. But the truth is that we don't need to do it to live. We wonder what our people will do who have been spending their all and more. If employment and income should reduce, what then? Are you living beyond your means? Do you owe what you cannot pay if times became perilous? Are your shock absorbers in condition to take a shock? Plan and work in a way that will permit you to be happy even as you do without certain things that in times of affluence may have been available to you. Live within your means and not beyond them...Purchase your essentials wisely and carefully. Strive to save a portion of that which you earn. Do not mistake many wants for basic needs."

That's a mouthful. And this is only the beginning of what the Prophets and leaders of the Church have said about debt. We need to make getting out of debt a top priority. My husband and I have been reading this book:


It is wonderful! It is a great guide to getting out of debt, saving, investing, and also has a lot of advice for buying cars, houses, and saving for your kids' college tuition. We have really enjoyed it and found it very helpful as we are working hard to pay of school loans and save for a house (if we can ever afford one here in Northern California).

Anyway, I hope that I haven't offended anyone. Just remember: it's not my advice but a commandment from God, through his prophets here on the Earth.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finding Joy in Womanhood

Before I begin, I really quickly want to say how much I love love love all the citations from the Book of Mormon that have been posted this week. I really have a love and respect for these scriptures and find such joy that you all do too.

I apologize for not posting last week. I didn't exactly forget as much as I had a really hard time last week feeling inspired enough to write something to all of you whom I have grown to know and admire without having it feel contrite. But this week I did want to share some thoughts with you this week.

Ever since I graduated high school I have been offered amazing jobs and opportunities one after another. I work with a lot of really successful and motivated women and have had mentors that have directed me towards a successful future in whatever career I end up in. I find a lot of joy in what I do, but despite all these things I find that the future I most look forward to is being a wife and mother. I never realized all the potential that I have in myself until I saw it through the eyes of my husband.

I know it's hard to be a woman, especially now as I am a wife, full-time student and breadwinner. Unfortunately, I've taken quite a few "poor me" moments within the last couple of months. But when I look back at all I've had to handle, I know more than ever that I have been prepared as a choice daughter of God to be in this situation at this moment for a purpose greater than I truly understand.

Our current general relief society president, Julie B. Beck, has talked quite a bit lately about cherishing our roles as daughters of the divine:

“I have a testimony gained from pondering and studying the scriptures of a plan of happiness given to us by our Father in Heaven. That plan has a part for His daughters. We have the female half to take care of, and if we don’t do our part, no one else is going to do it for us. The half of our Father’s plan that creates life, that nurtures souls, that promotes growth, that influences everything else was given to us. We can’t delegate it. We can’t pass it off to anyone. It’s ours. We can refuse it, we can deny it, but it’s still our part, and we’re accountable for it. There will come a day when we will all remember what we knew before we were born. We will remember that we fought in a great conflict for this privilege. How do we meet this responsibility? We daily put our energies into the work that is uniquely ours to do.”

“Latter-day Saint women must be strong and immovable in their faith. They can and should excel in living and sharing their testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. We do this as we:

“1. Make and keep covenants with Him.

“2. Are worthy and worship in His temples.

“3. Study His doctrine in the scriptures and the words of prophets.

“4. Qualify for, recognize, and follow the Holy Ghost.

“5. Share and defend His gospel.

“6. Participate in sincere personal and family prayer.

“7. Have family home evening.

“8. Live principles of self-reliance and provident living.

“These are essential things which must be done before nonessential things. These are simple, indispensable practices that almost seem mundane. … No one can do these things for us—these are personal practices and habits that set us apart as strong and immovable for that which is correct” (“What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2007, 109–10)

My prayer for all of us is two-fold, one that we can, as women, will take care of ourselves with the love that our Heavenly Father cares for us and, two, that we will have the discernment and patience with ourselves to know what is essential and what is not. Make time to enjoy being a woman.

On Becoming Proud

I forgot to post yesterday, but what I learned during my scripture study was so poignant to me, I would like to share it with you all today.

I began to read my scriptures but for some reason, although it was my favorite chapter, I wasn't getting anything out of it. I decided to do a topical study. I sat for a few moments thinking about what I should study, and I realized I have a serious problem with pride. In order to have more peace in my soul, I need to purge myself of that addiction (yes, I do think pride is an addiction).

I searched in the topical guide, and the first scripture I read was speaking straight to me. I read in 2 Nephi 9:42 which says

"And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches- yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them."

I have been richly blessed with education, wealth (comparatively), knowledge, the gospel... so many things in my life, and I fear they have made me a little proud. It is something that I constantly try to overcome, but let's be honest, pride is a very subtle thing that can creep into all of us. I read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis a while ago and in it the apprentice devil is talking with his uncle about the difficulty of leading away his subject. The apprentice said that his subject was too humble, and wouldn't be tempted by anything to which the uncle replied that his subject need only be aware of his humility, and would then pride would enter his heart. It is such a fine line, and staying on the humble side of things is not the easiest. As I pondered over these things I thought about what I could do to combat pride. I turned to Mosiah 3:19 which tells us how to overcome the natural man

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

Becoming like a little child. Easier said than done, I think. I began talking with my brother on this topic, and he taught me something very interesting. He said he believes the best way (and in his opinion the only way) to overcome pride is to focus on thanks giving. If we are grateful, truly aware and appreciative of all the Lord has done for us, there is no way we can be proud.

I have decided to be more aware of everything, the breeze, my family, the smells... everything, and to thank my Heavenly Father for it all, because I want to rid myself of the natural man, and to become more like a child who has complete and unwavering trust in my Father.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

True Freedom & Enjoyment

Right now, Gweg and I are in the midst of building, and buying, our first home. It's very exciting and very easy to make little decisions into large ones.

When we first realized we wanted to build our home, we only had two choices (to fit the requirement of staying in our ward). One, at the time, seemed like the house of our dreams. It had everything we needed and wanted---there was one problem---it was a little above our price range. We thought we could handle it because it was what we wanted. Our second choice, seemed like the lesser of the two. It had more of what we needed for our family now and not what we thought we would want 5, 10, 15 years down the road---plus it was within our budget.

In our story, we chose number 2. I know the Lord was with us in this choice. Many of things we worried about in the beginning have already resolved themselves. This was the choice we were supposed to make, and I can't help wonder what would have happened if we chose the first option.

It's no wonder that so many people are struggling in the economy right now because of the real estate and monetary decisions they made. A lot of people make finanical decisions based on what the world tells them they need and forget to think about what their family actually needs; we covet way more than we should. In April, Elder Robert D. Hales said:

“Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ (Exodus 20:17). Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually. We give away some of our precious, priceless agency and put ourselves in self-imposed servitude. Money we could have used to care for ourselves and others must now be used to pay our debts.”

“Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,” Ensign, May 2009, 8
What hit me the most about this quote is that when we go into unnecessary debt, we are giving away part of our free agency. The only thing we have that is truly ours to give and we auction it off to the highest bidder. True freedom and enjoyment does not come from trying to keep up with our neighbors or fellow ward members; it comes from making the best with what the Lord has given us---and this will be all we need to provide for our family's true happiness.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Astonished Beyond Measure"

I just started into the book of Helaman in my personal scripture study, and the other day, I was reading toward the end of Chapter 3, where it talks about the righteousness (and resulting prosperity) of the Church. The Church was having such a time of prosperity that tens of thousands of people were being baptized (vs. 24, 26)

I was really struck with verse 25 in particular:
And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.
This brings to mind two things: first, the Nephites recognized that their blessings came from righteousness, and second, that these blessings were so amazing and abundant, that the leaders were "astonished beyond measure!" The blessings were that wonderful.

I often marvel at the small blessings and tender mercies granted unto me by the Lord, but to be astonished beyond measure? I can't imagine what wonderful blessings they received. I hope to see such blessings myself someday as the Church continues to grow in faith and righteousness.

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