Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pillars of Eternity

This week my lesson was on The Creation! It was a wonderful lesson and while studying and preparing for it I found an article by Bruce R. McConkie titled "Christ and the Creation." This article is really amazing and I wanted to share an excerpt that I found particularly enlightening.

God himself, the Father of us all, established a plan of salvation whereby his spirit children might progress and become like him. It is the gospel of God, the plan of Eternal Elohim, the system that saves and exalts, and it consists of three things. These three are the very pillars of eternity itself. They are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.

Before we can even begin to understand the temporal creation of all things, we must know how these three eternal truths—the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement—are inseparably woven together. No one of them stands alone; each of them ties into the other two; and without a knowledge of all of them, it is not possible to know the truth about any one of them.

Salvation is in Christ and comes because of his atoning sacrifice. The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart of revealed religion. It ransoms men from the temporal and spiritual death brought into the world by the Fall of Adam. All men will be resurrected because our blessed Lord himself died and rose again, becoming thus the first fruits of them that slept.

And further: Christ died to save sinners. He took upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. Eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God, is available because of what Christ did in Gethsemane and at Golgotha. He is both the resurrection and the life. Immortality and eternal life are the children of the Atonement. There is no language or power of expression given to man which can set forth the glory and wonder and infinite import of the ransoming power of the great Redeemer.

But, remember, the Atonement came because of the Fall. Christ paid the ransom for Adam’s transgression. If there had been no Fall, there would be no Atonement with its consequent immortality and eternal life. Thus, just as surely as salvation comes because of the Atonement, so also salvation comes because of the Fall.

Mortality and procreation and death all had their beginnings with the Fall. The tests and trials of a mortal probation began when our first parents were cast out of their Edenic home. “Because that Adam fell, we are,” Enoch said, “and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe.” (Moses 6:48.) One of the most profound doctrinal declarations ever made fell from the lips of mother Eve. She said: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Moses 5:11.)

Remember also that the Fall was made possible because an infinite Creator made the earth and man and all forms of life in such a state that they could fall. This fall involved a change of status. All things were so created that they could fall or change, and thus was introduced the kind of existence needed to put into operation all of the terms of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation.

I encourage you all to read this talk. I never realized how important it is for us to study and understand the accounts of the creation. In studying about the creation I have gained a further witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that our Heavenly Father loves us immensely.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Earthly Father


My dad turned 55 on Tuesday. You don't know him, but if you did, you'd love him. He's a great big polynesian guy that loves to laugh and dance and give to others. But the biggest thing he's given me is the knowledge that repentance is real.

My father's family was one of the first to be baptized into the LDS church back in the island of Fiji. However, by the time I was born, dad didn't want much to do with the church. He had made so many bad choices and he felt out of place all of the time. He was a grouchy and tired man without direction while I was growing up. And yet, it's almost funny to look back ten years ago and think that it's the same dad I have today.

When I was about seventeen, my cousin, Heather, got married in the temple. My brother, who had not been active for several years, decided that he was going to get married in the temple, too, and that his first step was going on a mission. He was wary of telling my dad because of how much animosity my dad had shown to the church before. My dad responded by telling him that he would pay for him to go. After that, my dad started going back to church. He had a lot of repenting, but he had such a determination to do it. I remember the day he passed the sacrament for the first time. He was all smiles and tears. Before long, they ordained him to the office of priest and the first time he blessed the sacrament is still a day that people in my home ward remember. At the part where he talked about the blood of the Son which was given for us, he just broke down in tears and the rest of the congregation started crying also. After this, my mother started going back to church and their marriage went from the brink of divorce to one that others envy.

And here we are, 8 years later, and the family I have now is completely different than the one I had back then. You wouldn't ever know that my family was inactive, except for when my dad shares his testimony about his experience and his gratitude for Jesus Christ in making his new life possible. I know that the Atonement didn't take away the past, but it made it so that it didn't matter anymore. My father is a new and improved father and my family is a new and improved family. And anytime someone has told me that they are too far off the path to come back, I tell them with tears in my eyes that I know for a fact that no one is so lost that God cannot find them and guide them back.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Isn't It About Time?

Forgive me for merely posting a video again. I have had one of the hardest weeks ever and have not had a chance to prepare anything. Enjoy, and hopefully I will have something poignant to say next week.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Book I have grown to Love

I opened up my Book of Mormon this morning for the first time in quite a while, and it always amazes me just how good it feels to open that book- how refreshing it feels to know you are about to read God's words, and that He may even speak to you personally in His own way through that book.
I am so thankful for all of the prophets who contributed their writings, and for Mormon's dedication in prayerfully compiling all of it for us, and choosing just the right stories out of so many years of writings.
I am thankful for Joseph Smith's dedication under so much of a refiner's fire to keep that book safe, and to translate it for us to read. It is amazing how much sacrifice went into that book that just sits around our house, so often unappreciated. That we have several copies lying around, untouched, after all the work that went into that very first publication. I have gained a love for that book so many times in my life when I have consistently read from it's pages, and that love and desire to open it up is always in the back of my mind. It is so comforting to have our Heavenly Father's complete gospel in front of us, and to find answers to whatever we are struggling with. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that it has come to us by the good will of God and humble men who were willing to do His will. And I am so thankful for all of those who sacrificed so I could have it on my nightstand, ready to open up the windows of heaven whenever I read.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jumper Cables

A few months ago I tore {an article} out of the {Mormon Times}; I knew I wanted to share it with you marvelous ladies, but I didn't know when. Now I do.

In it, {Jerry Johnston}, gives suggestions of how we should improve our Spirituality. He talks about how in every other area of self-improvement, such as learning a new skill, we focus on what we can do to make ourselves better; we spend time practicing inwardly. However, spirituality is different; the best way to draw closer to Heavenly Father is to look outwardly and serve each other. He continues (emphasis added):
Just as flowing water is cleaner and brighter than standing water, when the Spirit moves through us into the lives of others, it cleanses and brightens us as it passes through. When we try to well it up inside of us, the Spirit stagnates. It grows stale. We become like the Pharisees -- obsessed with our own worthiness and spiritual well-being. Don't hoard the Spirit like electricity in a car battery.
Be the jumper cables. Let it pass through you.
When you bless the lives of others, you will get unseen benefits.
Worry about others. Let God worry about you.
I think this is why it is 'easy' for so many of us to enjoy every aspect of motherhood. It's not about us; it's about them (including our husbands). I've noticed the difference between the days when I try to live this principle and the days I don't. When I put my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and friend first, I somehow have more time for myself. I'm able to recharge and start all over again.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, just like in everything, was the best example of this principle. He was, and forever will be, the most spiritually in-tuned person to live on this earth. He looked to serve and teach others first every day. Other than his last prayer in Gethsemane, did he ever think of himself first? And even then, he immediately followed his request with 'thy will be done.'

Even though our focus is on others, we become better wives, sisters, friends and mothers. We become what we've been all along: a daughter of God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Selflessness

It's been a tough week at my house (and it's only Tuesday!)-- my daughter has been teething (molars) and it has drained nearly all my patience. This Family Gem came to me at a perfect time:
“Just as Jesus used a child in His mortal ministry as an example for the people of the pure love they must and could have to be like Him, He has offered us the family as an example of an ideal setting in which we can learn how to love as He loves.“That is because the greatest joys and the greatest sorrows we experience are in family relationships. The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is.”

--Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 70-71
Being a parent, especially a mother, means a lot of lessons in putting others first. That's a hard one sometimes, but Elder Eyring said (and it's true, by the way) that "the greatest joys... we experience are in family relationships."

Sometimes it's hard to remember that when nobody in my house has slept through the night and we're all grouchy and temperamental. But because we serve each other, and put each other first, we do have a lot of joy and love in this house.

Just not a lot of sleep. :-)

God is love

Sorry for not posting yesterday. It was a "rain cloud over my head" type day. Last night Nick and I read from the Ensign for FHE and talked about how much God really wants to communicate with us. In the article we read it said that He won't let us go too far the wrong way without sending us the message that what we are doing is wrong. He wants to answer our prayers whenever he can but when we don't pray, it means a lot that he still wants us to stay close to him.

I'm grateful for the knowledge that I have of God. I'm grateful to know that I can turn to him in prayer and he will communicate with me. I'm grateful that he has sent me warning signals throughout my life when I was about to go the wrong way. I know that God loves each one of us and wants us to make the correct choices and learn to love the same way he does.

I love you all and hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prayer

My husband and I watched this message while we ate breakfast this morning. It was very touching and uplifting and I have been on a personal prayer kick for the past month! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Self Reliance: It's Not Just Food Storage!!!

My visiting teachers came over on Wednesday and were sharing a message about self-reliance and their personal experiences with it. One of my visiting teachers shared a very poignant experience. Her first husband died suddenly not very long into their life together. They had one daughter and no savings because they were young and hadn't expected anything like this to happen. She had a wonderful ward that helped her financially, but also visited and brought her meals. She told me about how grateful she was for the emotional support because she was so spiritually and emotionally drained. One of the best things she has ever done was to go to the bishop of that ward a few months later and pay back every penny that they gave her plus a little more so that they could continue to help others like they helped her.

The whole of our visit was spent talking about how nice it is to be able to take care of ourselves because it allows us to take care of others, especially spiritually. We see it throughout the scriptures where the prophets repented for themselves and their weaknesses and then were able to feed their people the Word of God. As we live up to the spiritual goals we set for ourselves this year, let's hope it leads to the desire to help others reach that same place in their lives.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Broken

I saw some words to a song the other day which has been on my mind ever since.

Broken clouds give rain
Broken soil grows grain
Broken bread feeds man for one more day
Broken storms yield light
Break of day heals night
Broken pride turns blindness into sight
Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
Could it be that God loves broken things?
~ Kenneth Cope

I have been thinking about that last line ever since. Whether it is all true or not (I believe He would prefer we didn't break due to pride in the first place) I do believe that through being broken we can draw much closer to Him. Through pain and despair comes understanding and strength and peace. These words helped me through a very difficult week. I hope they can help you too.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Compensated for Every Tear

I am truly amazed at the resiliency of the human spirit. It is unbelievable how much pain one person can endure and still survive it somehow- that our bodies don't explode under all the pressure of it is truly miraculous.

I have heard the quote "you're stronger than you think you are", and this week I gained a personal testimony that it is true for every one of us. We really can deal with ANYTHING in this life, and still Christ endured more. And he didn't break under the pressure of it. His strength gives us the power to overcome our hardships without breaking too.

Every time I think I've reached my limit of what I can bear, I realize that I really am strong enough to bear whatever things I encounter in life, because God doesn't give us more than we can bear. If it WAS more than I could bear, what would I expect to happen to anyway? Even if I passed out from the stress, I would still be normal again eventually and will have passed through it.

I just feel so empowered by the Savior's atonement for me, and the knowledge that there really isn't anything I CAN'T bear with Him. Because everything "comes to pass" and eventually, I have passed through it, and I'm okay again.

I love the scriptures Joseph Smith wrote during his stay in Liberty jail under those awful circumstances. He offers up a pleading prayer to Heavenly Father, asking him "Where art thou??" And Heavenly Father's response is so kind and gentle, and reassuring. "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou enure it well, God shall exalt thee on high." Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8

I felt this the other night when my heart was heavy with some of the devastating news I've been dealing with for the past little while- I felt the Savior's reassurance that He understands, and that He is anxious to wipe away my tears and gather me into His arms when this life of pain and hardship is over.

If you haven't read "Come What May and Love it"- it was the last conference talk given by Elder Wirthlin before he died, Nov 2008 Ensign, and I highly suggest reading it again. My favorite quote from that talk is: "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."

And that concept that we will be blessed even for enduring hard things is beautiful to me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nephi's Psalm

Last week, as I was studying my scriptures I came to the point in 2 Nephi known as Nephi's Psalm. This was right after Lehi passed away and, as always, Laman and Lemuel's behavior causes Nephi to reflect on theirs, and his, fate. If you haven't read it lately, here it is, if not skip down (2 Nephi 15-35).

15 And upon athese I bwrite the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul cdelighteth in the scriptures, and my heart dpondereth them, and writeth them for the elearning and the profit of my children.
16 Behold, my asoul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my bheart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O bwretched man that I am! Yea, my heart csorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily abeset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have atrusted.
20 My God hath been my asupport; he hath led me through mine bafflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his alove, even unto the bconsuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine aenemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me aknowledge by bvisions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty aprayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been acarried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath avisited men in so much bmercy, cwhy should my dheart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I ayield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to btemptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my cpeace and afflict my soul? Why am I dangry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer adroop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the benemy of my soul.
29 Do not aanger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my aheart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the brock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou aredeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of bsin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my aheart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may bwalk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy arighteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine benemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give aliberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I bask cnot amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the drock of my erighteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
I absolutely love these verses. Nephi was willing to express the deepest feelings of his soul to the Lord and to us. He knew the plates would be translated in our day, so why would he put some of his truest feelings for us to read?

For me, it's nice to remember that Nephi was human. Usually, we depict Nephi, and other Book of Mormon (and Latter-day) prophets as these superhuman men who do nothing but choose the right. When the reality is that they do sometimes make mistakes, but they always return back to the Lord.

In his psalm, Nephi shows us how he struggled with feelings of inadequacy, anger and jealously, just like I do. But did he dwell on these feelings? No--He prayed. Verses 30-35 are a beautiful prayer in which Nephi proclaims his faith and trust in the Lord. Nephi knew and understood that even though times may get tough, the Lord is always on our side, as long as we are on his.

What else sticks out about Nephi's Psalm?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Friends

My post title seems stunningly inadequate, and for that, I apologize. I really want to talk about the people in our lives who influence and teach us.

I firmly believe that specific people are brought into our lives-- at specific times in our lives-- for a reason. There are moments in your life when there is one particular person who is specially equipped to help you, to teach you, to inspire you, to comfort you, to give you direction.

When my husband and I were praying about where he should go to grad school, we prayed to know where we should go and where we could do the most good. A long story made short, we received "a lightning bolt answer" that we should go to St. Louis. We even felt pretty strongly about which apartment complex we should live in. As a result, we ended up in a ward that we love. (Somehow, the word 'love' doesn't seem strong enough to describe my feelings about this ward. I tear up just thinking about having to leave in a year.)

I don't know how much good we have done in our ward, but I do know how much good the ward has done us. The Lord has put these people in our lives-- in a specific time in our lives-- for us to learn from, be counseled by and receive help from our ward.

A specific example: I began to have some serious problems with my joints right after my daughter was born. That same month, I got a new visiting teacher, the Stake President's wife. Well, the Stake President just happens to be a rheumatologist!

Coincidence? I don't believe so.

I KNOW that the Lord knows me and knows what I need. Better yet, he knows who can help me and leads them to me when I need them.

I guess this all boils down to the fact that God is in charge. And I just wanted you to know that I know that's true.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Virtue



I just wanted to reiterate how important virtue is. But I thought these ladies said it better than I could. Hope you all enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winning the War

Today my thoughts have significantly turned to winning the war against Satan. In my Sunday School class today I taught about Jesus Christ, our Chosen Leader and Savior. In this lesson it asks "how is the war in heaven still continuing today?" My answer is we are still battling over agency. Satan is still trying to take away our agency by tempting us to sin and become addicted to things that will limit our choices. The real question now is: How can we win the war? Well here is a list of tools that we have on our side to help us defeat Satan (keep in mind that Satan does not have full access to these things):

Scriptures
Prayer
Commandments
Temples
Sacrament Meeting
Sunday School
Relief Society
Other Church Members
Family Members
Friends
Seminary
Institute
Missionary Work
Jesus Christ
The Atonement
Repentance

This is just the beginning of a very long list of tools we have to help us win the war. What stood out to me is that these things are manageable, even easy things to do daily. And they immediately bring us strength. When we follow any commandment we are immediately blessed. Someone in my class also made the comment that the war is entirely uneven to our advantage. We have a one up on Satan because we have a body and he does not. We also have the Spirit of God to guide us and he does not. Plus we have this long list of "weapons" that he does not. So how hard should it really be for us to win the war? Not very hard at all! Go out and kick Satan's butt! I sure feel confident enough to do it! I hope you do too!

Friday, January 15, 2010

God Has Given Me...

Um...I don't even know where to begin after reading those last two posts...

Monday we received some very bad news. As my husband put it, "our little angel was not meant to come to earth at this time." It's been very hard to start out the week as a soon-to-be mama and to end it as a woman who had a miscarriage.

But I am so grateful for the lists of awesome things that God has done for my husband and I that I shared with you last week. Although I am filled with all kinds of anger and sadness right now, I still know that God is fighting for me. Nate and I have such great family, friends and workplaces that have been supportive and understanding at such an awful time. And although my prayers have been mostly tears this week, God has seen each and every one of them and is providing a way to wipe them all away.

If there were anyone who would know the pain of losing a loved one, it would be our loving Heavenly Father. He so loved the world He gave the world His Only Begotten Son that we might have eternal lives. He suffered loss so that in the eternities, we would never have to fully suffer it ourselves. I understand that sacrifice know more than ever now and I am eternally grateful for it.

Lest We Forget

Motherhood. Most of the authors of this blog are young/new mothers trying to figure it all out. As we progress down the road with our families, it can be discouraging or lonely. It is so easy to forget the blessings and joys when one is sleep deprived and dealing with a fussy child. As I have been dealing with my own inadequacies as of late, I came across a quote by Neal A. Maxwell. He said:

"We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby’s first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child’s first day at school which bespeaks a special selflessness. Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms.”

Just a little reminder as to why we sacrifice so much so willingly. Just in case you forget for even a moment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Back to the Basics

I'm so excited about the basic gospel principles being taught this year in Relief Society. Our lesson on Sunday was about coming to know the nature of God, and I think that is probably the most important thing we can accomplish here on this earth, by establishing a relationship with Him.

They talked about how we establish relationships with people around us by talking to them, asking them questions, and listening. If we just went and jabbered about ourself to someone every day, we really wouldn't get to know them, would we? So the way we get to know God is to get on our knees and talk to Him, and then to listen. I think rather than just sitting there waiting for Him to say something immidiately after we pray, we can listen to His voice throughout the day by making time to ponder. That means turning off the radio in the car so we can just think about Him, or making a quiet time to ponder and study the words He's given us.

When we truly make an effort to know Him, I know He will respond and draw closer to us in a way we never could have imagined. He wants to know us, and for us to know Him, because once we understand His intentions for us, I think everything in life will make more sense. And we will feel His guidance and help every day because we know how badly He just wants us to succeed.

One of my favorite scriptures is Doctrine and Covenants section 76 about the three degrees of glory. That whole section just blows me away, because it shows that God intends to give everyone some measure of glory, as much as he can possibly give us with how willing we are to live for it- and the amazing blessings of the celestial kingdom for those who keep their temple covenants are just astounding to me. And He WANTS to give it to us- that was His whole purpose in sending us here. So He will do everything He possibly can to help us keep those covenants, and is sending angels to help us every day.

I know He didn't send us here to condemn us for our failures, because he even gives a glory to those who fail miserably, even though He wanted more than anything to give them everything He has. It all seems so simple when I think of it this way, because Christ took all the complications upon Himself, and reaches out a hand for us to join Him in His perfection. It really is as simple as looking up at that serpant on the cross and being healed. And it just amazes me when I simplify it like that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Begin at Home

I just wanted to share a Family Gem I got last week:
We need to stand tall and be firmly fixed in perpetuating Christ like virtues, even the ‘ity’ virtues, in our everyday lives. Teaching virtuous traits begins in the home with parents who care and set the example. A good parental example encourages emulation; a poor example gives license to the children to disregard the parents’ teachings and even expand the poor example. A hypocritical example destroys credibility.

H. David Burton, “Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 77

This is one of the reasons I stay at home with my kids; anyone can watch them, but only I can be their mother. I just hope, even through all my faults, to be the type of parent that my children what to emulate.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New Year and A New Life

When I was reading the Ensign last week, I really enjoyed the article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called "The Best is Yet to Be."

His talk was timed perfectly for the new year and he admonishes us all not to live in the past, but look forward to the future in faith. Part of that, he says, is being able to forgive and forget.

He said:
"Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.

"You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but then put the rest of it all on the dung heap Paul spoke of to the Philippians. Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. ...

"This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year—and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith, repentance, and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

If you have made mistakes (and we all have) or have been reveling in the "good ol' days" of the past (and we all have), now is the time to look forward with faith.

Forget where you have been and contemplate where you are willing to go. With the Lord on your side, it's bound to be farther and higher than you can imagine.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why go to church?

I'm so glad that we are going back to basics in Relief Society/Priesthood. Yesterday the lesson was wonderful and everyone gave such great comments! During the lesson the instructor asked a question that I didn't get to offer my answer to. Her question was "Why do you come to church each week?" The answers people gave were: being obedient, showing a good example to kids, renew covenants, etc. I wanted to give my answer because it was simple. I wanted to say, "I come to church because I like it." Seriously. I miss it when I don't go. If it means I'm obedient then great! Of course my kids will be more likely to do what is right if I am doing it too. But I just enjoy going to church.

I haven't always enjoyed going to church. Growing up I really did. I liked going to young womens and hearing the lessons, even though I didn't have amazing best friends in my group. I had friends, sure, but they weren't the reason I wanted to go. But when I started going to singles wards, it wasn't super fun. I was kind of shy and felt a bit isolated. That was until I went to the BYU wards. No one seems to get left behind there.

But anyway, I wonder if my answer has to be any deeper than that. It is really the reason why I do most things that I do- because I like to. If I don't like to do something, then why should I do it? When I go to church I get the same type of feeling as when I am in my nice warm bed and very comfortable. It is the same feeling I get when I hug my husband, nurse my son, and snuggle with either of them. Satisfaction.

Hopefully everyone who reads this feels the same way I do about church and likes going. If not for you, then . . . .well. . . . I highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gold Stars

Today I wanted to blog about goal setting. It is that time of year again when we all start to think about our goals and New Year's resolutions. This year I got really organized and for the first time ever I have been sticking to many of my goals. I came up with an idea to put a gold star on my calendar each day I completed 3 of my most important goals. If I don't do all 3 then I don't get a gold star. My calendar sits on my dresser in my bedroom, so I see every morning as I get out of bed and many times through out the day. It has been a wonderful reminder and gives me a lot of incentive to accomplish my goals so that I can have a gold star.

I realize how childish this may sound to all of you, and really I think it's childish myself. But the Lord has taught us that we need to be childlike! My 3 most important goals that I must accomplish each day are: 1. Say my morning prayers, 2. Study my scriptures for 30 minutes every day, and 3. Floss my teeth. For many years I have struggled to remember to say my morning prayers. I rarely have any trouble with my nightly prayers, but for some reason I just couldn't remember my morning prayers. (I think that it is mostly just because I was being lazy.) Since I have come up with my gold star idea I have only missed one morning in 10 days. That is pretty much a record for me. (Please don't judge!)

I highly encourage you all to set yourself some daily spiritual goals that you can work on over the next year. Then find a way to visually motivate yourself to accomplish them each day! Feel free to use my gold star idea if you think putting stickers on a calendar is fun! Good luck with all of your goal setting!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cast Away Not Therefore Your Confidence

It seems to me since the day I got married back in June my husband and I have had one hard thing after another happen to us, and not because of our relationship or our relationships with others, it was just stuff that we had no control over and just felt we had to sail through. My husband wasn't able to find a job that didn't make him work on Sundays, our finances we being stretched thinner and thinner with flat tires and medical bills, our ward seemed to forget we were even there and we went almost four months without a calling, and my job was getting more and more difficult and time consuming so that we weren't even seeing each other in the evenings when I came home.

These weren't very hard things to bear at first, but I got to a point where I just dreaded facing them everyday and they never really went away. And then around Thanksgiving we got the impression that we needed to start trying to have a baby. I was tempted to ignore it because logically it made no sense, we didn't have the means. But my mom always said, "You're never really ready for a baby no matter how much you plan." In short, Nate and I got pregnant right away. I was scared for a millisecond, but then a peace came over me that we did what we were supposed to and God would make it right.

About a week later, Nate got a job at Salt Lake Community College (where I work and I love it) and so he doesn't have to work weekends and they are flexible with his school schedule. He didn't even have to interview, they just called and asked if he wanted it. That same week, we got paid for some packing and moving work we did back in October out of nowhere, my boss got me some money for all the overtime I put in during our big projects, Nate's stipend for student government is twice as much money as we thought it would be, and my insurance issues were all worked out so that our medical bills were finally paid.

I am so filled with gratitude right now for a loving Father who gave me these trials. I see so many moments where I could have ignored promptings or gave in to temptations that would have made one or several of these blessings disappear. But we have received counsel from the Lord so many times that if we pray about something and we receive revelation we know that it is right, then it will always be right. I KNOW the Lord is fighting for me and will make it all work out.

I'm sorry so many of you are going through trials right now, and I know that they are much harder and more stressful than my own, but I know the Lord is preparing you to receive a blessing that will overshadow those trials in comparison. Have confidence in His Spirit to guide, or at times just to strengthen you, and God will continue working in the background to make it all right again.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Get A Life

Wow, what a long week. Sometimes by the end of the week I am just so tired and so worn out it is hard to be able to focus on the spiritual side of things. It becomes so easy to be bogged down and to find the negative aspect of things rather than keeping an eternal perspective. With that in mind, I found a beautiful quote given by our beloved prophet which if followed is a cure all for whatever ails you. It will lift anyone out of the rut of the weekend and help us all to prepare ourselves to take the sacrament again on Sunday.

"The Savior taught His disciples, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it' (Luke 9:24)."I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives."

Thomas S. Monson, "What Have I Done for Someone Today?" Ensign, Nov. 2009, 85

If we will but lose ourselves in service that pervading gloom will dispel, and we will be much happier. The eternal perspective will be easier to see, and I believe the atonement will be able to work in our lives much better because we stop focusing on ourselves and our own petty problems and loose ourselves in the lives of others, thus making our lives more full.

So get out and serve somebody today! It can be children or husband, but if it is someone so close to you, do it with a smile and with a remembrance of why you are doing it: because you love them and the Savior!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I could say that having Christmas Eve and New Years Eve to write my Thursday post was just too hard, but the truth is that I just plain forget! Every week I remember come Sunday that I never posted on Thursday.
But thank you so much to all the ladies who have shared their thoughts this week. They have meant so much to me.
Tonight I was feeling very overwhelmed with life, and the state of the world, and all my loved ones who are struggling with trials. In fact, I am overwhelmed thinking about all those things very often. And I just feel like giving up. But after I had a good cry, I came in here and pulled up my homepage (which I have changed to the lds website so I have to see it every day!) and just started reading the article on the front page entitled "Hold On a Little Longer."
It is always amazing to me that Heavenly Father can find a way to speak directly to ME even though his apostle is speaking to a huge audience of people. Almost as if I know that God directed him to say those things because I needed it.
I then watched the beautiful Mormon Message entitled "The Infinite Power of Hope" taken from Elder Uchtdorf's talk a few conferences ago. That talk moved me when it was given, and today again it brought me to tears. I also enjoyed the ones called "Lifting Burdens" and "Choose this Day".
It is so refreshing to know that if we will just make the slightest effort to reach our hands out for God, He will always reach back, and pour out His love through any means He can. Today for me it was a simple effort to read an article online and watch those videos. In the deepest darkness of dispair, He always reaches out to me somehow. I can see how I am completely overwhelmed on the days I do not seek Him. It is true that we cannot make it through our adversity without the Savior. We are completely helpless without Him. I think it is that way so we will make the effort to reach out, and to seek for Him, because it is impossible to get through this alone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More than Just Peanut Butter

Meals in our house are always fun. Jared, my son, knows the routine, so when I tell him it's time to make lunch he usually beats me to the kitchen. We decided today was sandwich day so I went to the pantry to get the peanut butter. As soon as I pulled it out, he opened the silverware drawer, grabbed a fork and started pushing me towards his highchair. He saw the peanut butter and knew that was what he wanted AT THAT MOMENT.

When it dawned on him I wasn't going anywhere, he did what any toddler would do: he threw a nasty all-out-screaming-and-crying tantrum. He decided to whine and complain because he wanted just the peanut butter, while I was still pushing forward because I knew the peanut butter was only a small part of the whole sandwich. I was frustrated he was screaming, but I wasn't going to bend my will to his because I knew what would happen in the end. I tried to tell him this in ways he would understand, but he wouldn't listen because he was so focused on the peanut butter. We continued this way until our wills met with me finishing the sandwich; our perspectives were finally in line.

It dawned on me this is how Heavenly Father feels when we forget to focus on the eternal perspective while in this mortal realm. We only remember this earth, so when decisions/situations don't go the way we planned, we tend to complain or wonder why. We are so focused on the peanut butter that we forget about the whole sandwich.

Luckily, as members of the church, we have the chance to realize our full potential beyond this earth, Elder LeGrand Richards said:
God bless[ed] you to realize where you came from and the great privileges that are yours. If the veil were rolled back and you could just see one glimpse of God’s great eternal plan concerning you and who you are, it would not be hard for you to love Him, keep His commandments, and live to be worthy of every blessing that He has had for you since before the foundations of the world were laid (“Patriarchal Blessings,” New Era, Feb. 1977, p. 7).
Heavenly Father gives us the tools to remember our potential; it's up to us to stop focusing on the peanut butter and look forward to feasting in the eternities.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On Personal Growth

I was reading the Ensign this week (the new and improved January issue) and I came across a quote by Neal A. Maxwell that I wanted to make sure no one missed.

He said:
"One's life... cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free....

"Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'...

"Real faith... is required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process."
(Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds," Ensign, May 1991, pp. 88, 90.)

I am personally going through a stressful, sorrowful and painful trial right now in my life. And while I try to be hopeful and remember that "all these things will be for my experience," I am tired of being stressed out and constantly fretful.

This quote really gave me reassurance and a little bit of much needed perspective. Life cannot be faith-filled and stress-free.

With that choice before me, I'll choose faith every time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chastity

The other day I was watching the Rachael Ray show and Julie Andrews was a guest that day. I was excited to hear about what she was up to these days. One of Rachael's questions to her was about a quote she gave to Vanity Fair magazine. In it she was quoted as saying, "Chastity is an overrated virtue." Julie confirmed that this was genuine and that she still felt that way.

I was slightly shocked at this. I mean that- yeah people in Hollywood do not quite share the moral standards that I hold dear. But sometimes you get thinking that when an actor is constantly portraying someone (in their films) with moral fiber that they might actually have some them self. For some reason I always thought that a good girl could pretend to be bad but bad one couldn't pretend to be good. Well I was wrong! But I still want to speak about chastity today because I don't agree with media that it is an overrated virtue.

After searching the scriptures on lds.org for the word "chastity" I was returned with two scriptural references:

  1. 28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the achastity of women. And bwhoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
  2. 9 And notwithstanding this great aabomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after bdepriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is cchastity and dvirtue
In these Book of Mormon scriptures we learn that the Lord God delights in the chastity of women and that the most dear and precious thing we have is our chastity and virtue. There are many other scriptures that contain the word (or its forms) "virtue" which here is used interchangeably.

I am so glad that recently a new value has been added to the young women values of the church- "virtue". Yesterday in Relief Society we were given the pamphlet and asked to also hold to this value and follow the same program that the young women do. It is no wonder that we are needing to emphasize this value in the church today even more than before. There are obviously so many that believe it is not important anymore.

An amazing talk on the subject came from President Benson:

Do not be misled by Satan’s lies. There is no lasting happiness in immorality. There is no joy to be found in breaking the law of chastity. Just the opposite is true. There may be momentary pleasure. For a time it may seem like everything is wonderful. But quickly the relationship will sour. Guilt and shame set in. We become fearful that our sins will be discovered. We must sneak and hide, lie and cheat. Love begins to die. Bitterness, jealousy, anger, and even hate begin to grow. All of these are the natural results of sin and transgression.

On the other hand, when we obey the law of chastity and keep ourselves morally clean, we will experience the blessings of increased love and peace, greater trust and respect for our marital partners, deeper commitment to each other, and therefore a deep and significant sense of joy and happiness.

We must not be misled into thinking these sins are minor or that consequences are not that serious.

I decided to post about this today not because the other authors of this blog need to hear about it. We were all married in the temple and currently enjoy the blessings that come from it. I wanted to post this because so many people don't understand how important this value is. So many people are keeping quiet about it. More people need to speak out and declare the importance of this value. More people should bear their testimony about it. The people living on the earth today need to know there are other people who hold these values dear and teach them to their children. Please if you are reading this and also feel the same about chastity, leave a comment. Tell everyone what this value means to you.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

God is Awesome

Loving this new blog design! Whoever created it totally rocks!

Before I begin my post I wanted to check up on the goal I gave you all last week to do something nice for your spouse every day. I have to confess that I did not follow through this past week because I was in a different state than my husband for most of the week. Therefore I am going to set this goal for myself this week. How did you guys do? If any of you tried this, even for just one day, please leave a comment and tell me what you did for them and how it made your marriage better that day!

Now on to my post for the day. The lesson I taught today was about our Heavenly Father. I asked my class to help me make a list of the attributes of God. We came up with many wonderful things but there was one thing that was said that I absolutely loved. We have a lady in our ward that was just baptized about a month ago. She is the sweetest woman I have ever met and she has truly been an inspiration to me! Her comment on God's attributes today was "God is Awesome."

What a statement! God is awesome! He sure is! It is amazing to think of everything that he has given us, and continues to give us daily. God is in everything. He is constant, loving, merciful, just, forgiving, fatherly, and perfect! We can see Him in the beauties of nature! The goal this week: think of all the attributes of God and choose one that you would like to emulate more abundantly in your life! Remember that our ultimate goal is to become like God, therefore we must first understand His qualities if we want to learn to make them our own.

Plan of Happiness, Plan of Joy

Tomorrow for the first day of teaching a new primary class, I have been preparing a lesson on the Plan of Salvation. I really enjoy lessons that get back to the very basics of doctrine that form the foundations of testimony. Ironically enough, the first scripture in the lesson is Romans 8:16-18, which I remember because a young Hna. Ferrell shared with me in the MTC while I was learning how to teach the Plan of Salvation.

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

At that time Hna. Ferrell shared with me her amazement that we are not only heirs to our Heavenly Father's fortune, but joint-heirs that have the opportunity to inherit all the Christ, our perfect brother, will inherit.

We learn in the Book of Abraham that when we learned of the Plan of Salvation we cheered for joy. Just as we feel joy when we reach major events of our lives, I imagine that we feel a joy equal to that expressed in the scriptures when we reach major milestones of the plan like birth and death. It gives me a great sense of peace to think that when people cross through the veil again they aren't sad and melancholy over all that was left behind, but instead they cheer for joy and all that lies before them in the plan, especially that realization of the promise that through the Atonement of Christ that all that was unfair in their earth lives are made right and all sufferings is made perfect.

I know that God has a plan and a purpose for us and I rejoice in the knowledge we have of it through the restored gospel. It truly is a Plan for Happiness.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feeble Fumblitis


Hi. My name is Amy and I am a Time Waster.

"Hello, Amy."

It was my first meeting at TWA (Time Wasters Anonymous) and I received some very bad news. According to Douglas L. Callister I have been diagnosed with Feeble Fumblitis. According to him it is a mild disease with symptoms which include but are not limited to wasting time, filling my days with the unimportant things, and being slightly lazy thus not getting anything done.

One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the gift of time. Unfortunately and unwittingly I misuse this gift all the time. It is hard for me not to misuse it. I just get caught up in the little things of the time waster persuasion and by the end of the day I can't figure out where the day has gone or why nothing was accomplished.

And at the end of a wasted day I often remember a story about a great time manager and an even greater man Ernest Wilkinson and I feel very foolish and lazy indeed.

I don't remember the particulars of the story much (I heard it about 5 years ago) but I did write down what he said that drives guilt deep into my heart every time I remember it. He said

"Stop every fifteen minutes and write down what you have done the last fifteen minutes. You will soon become so discouraged with writing 'not much' you will soon start accomplishing so much, you will amaze yourself."

What a profound thought! If we just track our minutes the way dieters track their calories think what we could accomplish. If time is one of the greatest gifts God gives us we should treasure every second and use it wisely. I know I don't ever want to waste a gift from God yet sadly, I do. Every day. Realizing that, I have decided I must put a stop to this waste. If it is from God, we will be blessed if we use it wisely, right?

Concerning that thought Brigham Young said

“Time is all the capital stock there is on the earth; … if properly used, it brings that which will add to your comfort, convenience, and satisfaction. Let us consider this, and no longer sit with hands folded, wasting time” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941], p. 214).

So, with these thoughts in my mind I have decided to change my time using habits. My grandmother always said "Waste not want not" and so I am going to try. It seems I don't have enough time now, but if I don't waste any of it, not even 5 minutes I can cut down on my wanting more time habit I have developed. That is the goal, anyway.

So, I am going to take the challenge of learning to manage my time better. I hope to see myself accomplish much more during the days, feel a deeper sense of satisfaction with my day, and even feel a deeper relationship with Heavenly Father. I will report back next week on how I have done, and I would like to invite any of you to join with me in this challenge.

My plan of attack is making a list each night. I will have three columns. The first column will contain 6 things I must accomplish that day. The next column will contain the things I should accomplish, and the final column will hold the things I would like to accomplish- the unimportant and frivolous things. By doing this, I should be able to fit more things into my day, including the fun things and not get burned out.
That is the idea anyway. We will see if I can actually accomplish it.

I would like to hear who will join me in this experiment, and how it goes for each of you. Look for ways you are blessed temporally and spiritually from managing your time. Remember, Brigham Young has promised us that it will add to our comfort, convenience and satisfaction. Lets prove him right!

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