Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Safety & Peace

Just a quick thought I had a couple weeks ago. At the beginning of {First Nephi Chapter 17}, Nephi explains the journey in the wilderness is taking a toll. They had "many afflictions." But, within their afflictions they were blessed. Nephi gives the reason in verse 3:
And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and astrengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did bprovide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness. {emphasis added}
Heavenly Father knows and loves each and every one of us. Right here in this verse, it says what we need to do to face our challenges: Keep the Commandments. If we keep the commandments, then the Lord with bless us to keep moving forward. Just like the {primary} {song} says:

Keep the commandments; keep the commandments!
In this there is safety; in this there is peace.
He will send blessings;
Words of a prophet:
Keep the commandments.
In this there is safety and peace.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The FHE post

For FHE tonight, Nick and I are writing a post together. We found the recent conference talks online. And we decided to listen to Elder Christofferson speak because we like him. (We like all of them, but we like him a lot because we know him on a more personal basis.)
His talk centered around the scriptures and the story of William Tindale and all of the efforts made hundreds of years ago in the publishing of the Bible. Also he spoke of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and how in times past people who had a Bible in their house were considered very lucky or privileged. They were hard to come by. And William Tindale was executed for translating the Bible into English.
Hearing this talk made me feel a bit ashamed for not being more thankful for my scriptures and not reading them and cherishing them more often. Also during the talk I thought about how we can be like prophets of old in our writings and have something to pass onto our future generations. We may or may not have many of the writings of our ancestors but our progeny will sure have much from us! How blessed we are to live in this day and age where all of this is possible to us. Not only can our writings be much more easily kept and organized for our future generations but also for the current generation. How fast doth information flow these days with the internet and so much technology!

From my (Nick's) point of view... this was a most excellent and invigorating piece of elocution. I think the main point that struck home to me was that we are all so familiar with so many stories from the scriptures - ranging from the Old Testament prophets like Moses, through New Testament and Book of Mormon prophets like Peter, Nephi, or later Joseph Smith.
Then I got thinking about how much we would really know today about God without the scriptures... basically nothing. Or rather, we would possibly know the theory and principles of the gospel through inspiration in our time, but we wouldn't be able to put them into context as easily as we can today. It is so much easier to think about Faith when you've read about the example of a seed growing into a tree, and it is so much more simple to talk about what kind of man Jesus was when you can read about his teachings and miracles.
So I guess I'm just echoing Trish's thoughts - stop taking what you know for granted and go back and learn more. The more you read these revelations the more you open your mind and heart to receive other revelation that is on a much more personal level.

Wow that was a fun activity! Do you and your spouse (if you are married) study the scriptures together? It is also fun writing spiritual blog posts together about the scriptures! Try it sometime!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More about God's Message


To add on to Tricia's thoughts, today in Primary we had a special lesson on the Book of Mormon. Our Primary president is a pretty awesome lady and she was telling us about a goal she had to read the Book of Mormon before her youngest son's birthday and she had been lagging behind a bit so the few days before she was reading up to 50 pages a night. She gave this great analogy about how she feels when she keeps up with her scripture reading.

"Think of it as like a faucet. When I'm doing okay with my scripture reading it's like the handle is turned a little bit so there's a little stream of the spirit coming into my life. When I'm doing really well with my scripture reading, though, the handle gets turned all the way and I feel the Spirit begin to fill my life."

I loved her testimony and I know exactly how that feels. I know what Tricia says is true also, it's in those times when we're doing really well that we can see that God is answering all our questions through his inspired words. I can't remember who said this in General Conference a few years ago, but I remember it so clearly. "When you want to talk to God, get on your knees and pray. When you want him to talk to you, open your scriptures."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

God's message to me


The other night I was feeling particularly drowsy. I couldn't keep my eyes opened or my focus on anything. So to be short and quick, my husband flipped the scriptures open and read this:
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall areap also sparingly; and he which bsoweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

  7 Every man according as he apurposeth in his heart, so let him give; not bgrudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a ccheerful dgiver.
I imagine this type of scripture having a varied reaction depending on the receiver of the message. I don't imagine that what I got from the message is something that my husband might have gotten from it. And another interesting insight from this was that, this one short message stuck in my drowsy mind longer than when he reads an entire chapter to me and I am lying next to him mostly awake. (Usually I am participating in this, just not when I'm nursing my son.)

Anyway I believe that the scriptures are full of a lot of great principles that God has taught his children throughout history. Then he prompts us to open up our scriptures and read and often times we find something that is exactly what we need. The message is clear to us. Because God knows us, and how we will interpret what we are told, or what we read and he thus works with us. This has happened to me one other specific time that I can remember. It was a time of a great struggle in my life, and as I lay weeping in sorrow and in Satan's grasp the spirit whispered to me to open my scriptures. I obeyed and found a clear and precise set of instructions to get me out of my hole. It was amazing.

The scripture above wasn't meant to get me "out of a hole" again this time. This time there was a different purpose. To me it was more of a "keep up your good work" kind of feeling. You see, I sometimes feel like I'm a bit overbearing; at the same time I know that I can't help myself. It is just who I am.

Smile. God sees you. He loves who you are.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Before the Call

I found out today that my youngest brother had his mission papers sent in last night. I'm so very excited for him, the experiences he'll have, and the lives he'll touch. I know he'll be amazing. I'm grateful to call him my brother and for him to be an example for my kids, especially my little boy.

My son is only a toddler, but it is important for me (and my husband) not to forget that he's two going on 19. As his parents, we have a divine responsibility to teach him NOW to have the DESIRE to love the Lord and serve Him. Not if he'll serve a mission, but when. Elder Bednar, in {Becoming a Missionary}, said:

My dear young brethren {and sisters}, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission. Please notice that in my answer I emphasized becoming rather than going. Let me explain what I mean.

In our customary Church vocabulary, we often speak of going to church, going to the temple, and going on a mission. Let me be so bold as to suggest that our rather routine emphasis on going misses the mark.

The issue is not going to church; rather, the issue is worshipping and renewing covenants as we attend church. The issue is not going to or through the temple; rather, the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The issue is not going on a mission; rather, the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. It is possible for a young man to go on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the Church needs.

My earnest hope for each of you young men is that you will not simply go on a mission—but that you will become missionaries long before you submit your mission papers, long before you receive a call to serve, long before you are set apart by your stake president, and long before you enter the MTC.

A future missionary needs to have good examples set before him. I'm so grateful for my husband, father, and brothers---who have set an example for my little boy. Because of their examples I'll be able to have teaching moments with my children. We can write to their Uncle, learn about what he's teaching to others, and become more like Jesus.

Even though I didn't serve a mission I hope I can be the example they need. I hope I'm up to the challenge, to show my children just how amazing this gospel is. I hope they see the light in my eyes when I talk about my Savior, the temple, and having the chance to be with our family forever.

Like everything in this life worth having, it will not be easy. In December 1979, a man working for the Ensign related what parents can do before a mission call. He talked about sitting at the dinner table with his parents while he refused to eat his cauliflower. At one point in the dinner, his mom mentioned this, "missionaries eat everything on their plate whether they like it or not because that’s the polite thing to do. When you’re a missionary, somebody will eventually serve you something you won’t like. If you don’t eat it, you’ll hurt their feelings. So you might as well get into the habit now of eating everything on your plate.” Eventually, he ate his food, and it wasn't that bad.

I want to be that kind of Mom. I want to have the ability to teach gospel principles of kindness and sacrifice---then allow my children to make the choice for themselves. Further in the article, he gives suggestions on how parents can help children prepare for missions. Frankly, there's a lot and it's all good, so go read it! He ends with this:
If preparing sons for missions sounds like a big job, it’s because it is. But the challenge is not beyond reach—and the blessings are truly great, both in the home and in the lives of those involved. Rewards don’t come without effort, though, so parents should start preparing their sons now, no matter how young they are. My present concern is teaching my two-year-old son to like cauliflower. The next step will be the scriptures!
It's a noble work to spread the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our children were, and will be, born in the church for a reason; they are MEANT to become missionaries. They are meant to gain a testimony and proclaim its truths to the world. We are here to show them the first step and be their examples.

FYI:The New Era had {a special issue} all about missions a few years back and I went looking through it today and found lots of amazing gems. Take some time this week and glance over this issue. I recommend: Missionary Mail, The Five M's of Missionary Work, and Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field. It's a wonderful issue full of insights for anyone---I'm really excited to use the Missionary Mail one! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Screwtape Letters


This week I started reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis! I just want to let you all know that this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is entirely entertaining and I have learned so much about the ways in which Satan tempts us. It has truly opened up my eyes towards temptation. I feel that I am better aware of Satan's tactics and that I can better ward off temptations as they arise.

There are about a hundred quotes that I would love to share and elaborate on from this wonderful book, but today I want to leave you all with this thought:

"To get the man's soul and give him nothing in return - that is what really gladdens Our Father's heart."

Explanation: Screwtape (the senior devil) is saying this to his nephew (a junior devil). Satan is referred to as "Our Father." Satan's goal is to make us miserable like unto himself. When we choose to follow him we are exactly that - miserable. But in the end Satan has nothing to give us. He literally CANNOT give us anything. God can give us EVERYTHING, if we but choose to follow Him.

I am looking forward to finishing this book and hopefully sharing many of the things that I learned from it! You should all really read this book. Check it out at your local library or buy a paperback version for cheap. It is truly insightful!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Need to Talk

First off--- I'm sick right now, so I'm sorry if my ramblings don't come together for efficient understanding...

On March 31st, I accomplished one of my goals this year and finished the {Book of Mormon} in a three month period. It was fantastic. Each time I finish it, I come away a better person. It is the one book, I can read over and over again without being disappointed. This is one of the ways that I know the words in it are true and from God.

So, now I'm back to the story of {Lehi} and his posterity. Lehi's son, {Nephi}, has always been an amazing man in my eyes. What particularly impressed me this time was how he's constantly did one thing before anything--- he prayed. Next time you read his story, notice the pattern. Before he sets out with his brother, before going back to Jersualem the second time, before killing Laban, before talking to his brothers about their conduct or trying to escape from their murderous intentions, before going hunting with his 'new' bow, before believing the words of his father---- he prayed. He opened up a line of communication that is ALWAYS there--- and it's always there for us too. It's a direct line to our Heavenly Father.

After realizing this about Nephi, no less than 24 hours later did I get a 'Church History Gem' with this quote in it:
Since my youth, I have always been impressed by the fact that our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, would answer the heartfelt prayers of a 14-year-old boy who was searching for the truth. Just as He answered Joseph Smith's prayer, our Heavenly Father will answer your prayers in His own time and in His own way.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Growing into the Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 41

I kept being reminded, even when I think I'm all alone---I'm not. If I can't talk to anyone, not even Greg, I know I can talk to Him. And even in those times I can talk to someone, prayer is how I show gratitude to Heavenly Father by recognizing his role in my life.

Prayer is how we learn to communicate with the spirit. It shows Heavenly Father we have a desire to know for ourselves. To know which decision to make, to know the truth of the gospel, to know why we have the challenges we do; prayer helps us gain knowledge. Eternal Knowledge; this knowledge (answer to our prayers) may not be what we expected, but that is for us to deal with because the fact remains that Heavenly Father did and always will answer the prayers of His children.

But all this only comes when we ask---- and how do we ask? Through prayer. When you need to talk, Heavenly Father is always there--- all you need to do is kneel.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Teaching Your Children


I wanted to talk today about General Conference last weekend. It was absolutely wonderful! I am so excited to get our copy of the May Ensign with all of the conference addresses. I have decided that it will become our "Parents Manual." I loved that almost every talk focused on the family and teaching your children in the home. I think that they are obviously trying to tell us something.

The world is changing so much in the way that they view the family, but our church is standing firm! The family is the most important unit in society. Without the family our country is doomed. We need to stand up and speak up for the family! The best way I think we can do this is by starting in our own individual homes. We must teach our children so that together as a family we can be an example to the world. I encourage us all to spend more time IN our home WITH our children and our spouses. Our children need to hear the gospel from us every single day. We must be reading our scriptures and saying our prayers together as families every single day. Family home evening is more than just being together. It is about teaching our children the gospel in a place where they feel safe and in place where they can trust their teachers. We NEED to have family home evening every week.

My favorite thing that was said in conference was that we can start teaching the gospel to our infants. This was particularly important to me at this time as my husband and I prepare to welcome our first little one into our family. Infants are very aware of what we say and what we teach. We need to start right from the beginning. Even if our babies cannot fully understand everything we teach them we are still creating good habits as a family that will carry with us for many years. If we build good habits while our families are new and growing then we will be able to improve upon them over the years! I encourage you all to make these good habits. Read the scriptures and say prayers with your children, even your infants, every day - starting NOW!

Friday, April 9, 2010

On "Happily Ever After"

At the General Young Women Meeting a few weeks ago, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave an inspiring talk called "Your Happily Ever After."

I felt like this talk slapped me on the forehead and yelled, "Pay attention! This is for you!"

Let me give some background: I read a lot. Like, a lot. (I've read 26 books since January 1st.) Since I've been diagnosed, I've used reading for its escapism-- choosing to run away to a book than deal with reality. And it works, for the most part. I get away, and I don't have to face anything difficult or trying.

This idea of life as a story really grabbed me. Here I was escaping to stories for comfort, and not living out my own. When Pres. Uchtdorf introduced his theme, he said:
...[I]n most languages there exists a phrase as magical and full of promise as perhaps any in the world. That phrase is “Once upon a time.”

Aren’t those wonderful words to begin a story? “Once upon a time” promises something: a story of adventure and romance, a story of princesses and princes. It may include tales of courage, hope, and everlasting love. In many of these stories, nice overcomes mean and good overcomes evil. But perhaps most of all, I love it when we turn to the last page and our eyes reach the final lines and we see the enchanting words “And they lived happily ever after.”

Isn’t that what we all desire: to be the heroes and heroines of our own stories; to triumph over adversity; to experience life in all its beauty; and, in the end, to live happily ever after?

I wrote that last sentiment in my notebook: "Don't we all desire to be the hero or heroine of our own life's story?"

My personal answer is YES! I want to be the heroine! I want to be Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Shirley, Emma Woodhouse, Cinderella, Clary Fray and, of course, Bella Swan. I want to be them all! I want an exciting story that builds, climaxes, and resolves with myself coming out the other end victorious.

But that victory has to be over something. You can't win if you're not even in a fight. Or if you're not even participating. Pres. Uchtdorf explained that all heroines must overcome adversity. We all must experience sadness and trials before achieving our "happily ever after."

But why? Pres. Uchtdorf answers: "The scriptures tell us there must be opposition in all things, for without it we could not discern the sweet from the bitter. Would the marathon runner feel the triumph of finishing the race had she not felt the pain of the hours of pushing against her limits? Would the pianist feel the joy of mastering an intricate sonata without the painstaking hours of practice?"

In addition, adversity teaches us lessons that we could not learn any other way. In this way, we gain wisdom, strength and depth of character that will aid us in victory.

Pres. Uchtdorf counsels:

My dear young sisters, you need to know that you will experience your own adversity. None is exempt. You will suffer, be tempted, and make mistakes. You will learn for yourself what every heroine has learned: through overcoming challenges come growth and strength.

It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.

My life's story will be written about how I behaved when trials came my way. Did I shrink or run away? Did I stay and fight, refusing to be defeated? I'm choosing the latter. It's a tough choice when some days I feel like I'd rather just do nothing, but I'm going to fight and I'm going to overcome. I'm choosing courage over cowardice. And I think Elizabeth Bennet would do the same.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Personal Progress and Duty to God


The period of my life that really solidified my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were the formative years I spent in Young Women's. It is where I first heard a sincere testimony from someone my age; where I learned that women can go on missions,too; where I decided that whether my family could be there or not, I was getting married in the temple. It was the most pivotal and strengthening group that I have ever been a part of.

One of the greatest learning experiences I had in Young Women's was earning my Personal Progress award. At the time we had to do four 25-hour projects in different areas. I still remember meeting with Andrea, our personal progress leader, and discussing what values I wanted to focus on, what types of projects would help me to improve in those areas, and setting goals and deadlines. I still use these planning and goal-setting skills today and it is because of those projects that I know how to play at least 10 hymns on the piano for times when the ward is desperate.

That is why I am so glad there was such an emphasis on the youth to complete their Duty to God and Personal Progress. I think the most beneficial knowledge that someone can gain is that spiritual goals are just as important (if not more so) as academic and professional goals. And that there are always spiritual mentors within our families and our wards to help us in times when we struggle. I especially loved the story that one of the mothers told that she has been helping her fourth daughter complete her personal progress and wished she had done the same for her first three daughters. I can only imagine how much more special the daughter's teenage years have been being able to watch her mother grow spiritually alongside herself.

I plan on helping my daughters and sons with these programs because I feel that it gives teenagers an active role in realizing that they are indeed sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father that loves them.




A Good Woman

It's always interesting to take a step back after conference and see if there is a 'theme' to the talks. After the last session, a friend and I seemed to notice the same thing: the divine role of mothers. I haven't had the chance to watch all of the second session on Saturday yet (yay for a DVR or on the Church Website), but there seemed to be a lot of talks focusing on the roles of parents, especially mothers. I look forward to re-reading the messages (available tomorrow on the Church website), but the one which stuck out to me the most when watching was Sister Beck's talk on Saturday morning. I just want to mention three things she said:
A good woman knows all good things cannot be finished: we are not striving to be perfect, just the best we can be. It's okay to let things go. Something I need to remind myself daily.

The single most important skill a mother can have is learning how to understand personal revelation: We don't just receive revelation for ourselves; if we know how to listen to the spirit, he can guide us to be better wives, mothers, and sisters to each other.

When we do our best, we may have disappointments, but we won't be disappointed in ourselves: Things on this earth will never go according to plan because our mortal minds have a hard time grasping the eternal picture. Strive to do your best because i's really all that's asked of us.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to listen to the Lord's messengers on the earth. These are scriptures for our day--- revelation for our time. I just hope and pray that we (including me) all heed their words because they are the words of the Lord.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter All Year Round


The past week leading up to Easter I have been pondering the Savior's life. At Easter time each year we get to re-focus our minds on our Savior and on the knowledge that He lives! I started to think to myself, "Why are we only focusing on the resurrection of Jesus Christ once a year at Easter?"

It is similar to Christmas. We get all jazzed up about the birth of Christ for about 1 month. People turn to service, treat each other more kindly, and emulate the Savior more fully. But once Christmas is over everyone goes back to their daily lives. So it is with Easter. We get excited to think about our Savior and how He died for us and broke the bands of death with His resurrection. But once Easter is over, we return to selfish thoughts and forget to be grateful for His sacrifice and the gift of eternal life which He has prepared for us if we choose to receive Him into our hearts and minds.

My challenge to all of us is that we continue to ponder about our Savior's life, sacrifice, and resurrection. He lives! We must turn our hearts to Him and follow Him in word and deed. We must be examples to those around us of Christlike love. We need to study His attributes and make them our own. Something I find useful to keeping my mind on the Savior is reading "The Living Christ." Print your own copy from the church website and read it AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK. It is a wonderful reminder of our loving Savior who sacrificed His life for each of us.

I know that Christ lives. I know that He is our Savior. I know that if we follow Him we will gain exaltation and eternal life. I anxiously await His return to the Earth so that I may see Him once again. He is our loving brother and is always there when we need Him. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I am ever grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who created such a wonderful plan for us to receive bodies and learn and grow here on the Earth. May we all stay on the path that leads to the presence of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ!

Friday, April 2, 2010

What time is it? Conference time!

Don't forget General Conference is tomorrow and Sunday! If you live in Utah, you can listen to KSL or on local TV. If you don't live in Utah you can catch it online. Also some cable providers have BYU TV and they broadcast it as well. Anyway, take notes and then (for authors) write posts this next week about what inspired you and what thoughts you had. I hope you all have a fabulous Easter and enjoy General Conference!

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