Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas






Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart...
It is Christmas morning. No remaining details to be attended to. All is silent. The soft light from the Christmas tree casts a warm glow over all that it touches, including the picture that hangs over my fireplace of Mary and her precious child. I love this picture. How many times have I kissed my babes and many other babes in such a way(oh sweet pangs of time gone by, sniffle, sniffle).
I often think of Mary at this time of year. I try to imagine what she must have been like, her goodness, her depth of heart. Greeting a newborn into this earthly world always carries with it a portion of heavenly satisfaction. How great must have been Mary's joy to hold the precious infant Jesus! To know that He was partly hers and partly Heaven's gift to the world. I am filled with gratitude for such a woman as Mary. Through her goodness and the goodness of a loving Heavenly Father, I am blessed with a Savior, a brother, a friend, a guide on this earthly journey.
Just as Mary claims the Son of God as hers, we too can claim this heavenly gift of Jesus. For He truly is mine and He truly is yours. Through the Savior's purity and sacrifice we are saved. He has claimed us as His own. "...but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them." (Moses 1:35) Do I hold my relationship with Jesus as close and tenderly as Mary holds her baby?
There is always more that I can do in this regard. I will always be in debt for the gift of the Son of God. These are not the details I wish to express tonight. Tonight, when all is calm, I felt moved like Mary to claim Jesus as my own. To declare that He was indeed born, He did indeed die for us, and He did indeed rise again. I do know and love the baby, the boy, the man Jesus. In all the business of the season the underlying meaning of this holiday will always remain close to my heart and like Mary, I will keep them there with a renewed commitment to pondering the truths, the meaning, and the direction given from Heaven.
Merry Christmas

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Proper Pruning






Well look at that! Six months have gone by and I have not written a thing on this blog. I feel like this barren tree. The mists of my life swirling all around me and not a word of it recorded or written down. I have been suppressing that little nagging voice in a few areas and it is time to listen. For me, nothing helps that little nagging voice speak louder than listening to General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I feel the Holy Ghost directing me personally as I listen to a living Prophet and living Apostles of Jesus Christ.
Allow me to relate my experience from attending this magnificent meeting to that of an orchard, or rather, a single tree in that orchard.
Would a hopeful and enthusiastic owner of an orchard leave his trees to grow at will, without any thought or effort placed in preparing them to meet the demands of pending elements? No, a wise owner of an orchard knows that without training and pruning, fruit trees will not develop proper shape and form. Properly trained and pruned trees will yield high quality fruit much earlier in their lives and live significantly longer. A primary objective of training and pruning is to develop a strong tree framework that will support fruit production. Improperly trained fruit trees generally have very upright branch angles, which result in serious limb breakage under a heavy fruit load. This significantly reduces the productivity of the tree and may greatly reduce tree life. Another goal of annual training and pruning is to remove dead, diseased, or broken limbs. Proper tree training opens up the tree canopy to maximize light penetration. Light penetration is essential for flower bud development and optimal fruit set, flavor, and quality. (How did I learn so much about pruning? I lived in peach tree city of Perry for 6 years! Just kidding, the Internet is so helpful)
In the end, it is the Lord that is the owner of the orchard and it was clear to me, through the Holy Ghost, which branches of my tree need pruning so that I may be a fruitful disciple of Christ, a more faithful servant, properly shaped and strengthened. Pruning the diseased or dead branches means getting rid of the habits, sins and activities that stunt my growth. In doing so, I will feel the light of The Lord helping and encouraging my growth and progress.
I have more to say concerning my thoughts and feelings throughout the sessions of conference, but I am tired and they will have to wait to be developed. This time I will be back before 6 months.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Come and Listen






This weekend is the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We will hear from the mouthpiece of the Lord for all the world in our day. I add my witness to the many that have witnessed and will yet witness that this man, President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. Come and listen to Prophet's voice.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spiritual Anesthesia





Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments allows Satan to deceive us, and we forget the light and truth we have previously learned. President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency described this dangerous condition: “One of the effects of disobeying God, seems to be, the creation of just enough spiritual anesthetic to block any sensation as the ties to God are being cut. Not only [does] the testimony of the truth slowly erode, but even the memories of what it was like to be in the light [begin] to seem . . . like a delusion” (“A Life Founded in Light and Truth,” Brigham Young University 2000–2001 Speeches [2001], 81).
It is always good to be aware, even when it is painful, of the areas in our life that need adjusting.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Continued Thought

So, in conjunction with the previous post, I read this scripture:
2 Nephi 1:20
Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.
I posed the question below "What think ye if Christ?"
This is just a passing thought, I do not claim it to be right, but if Christ is far from my thoughts could it be because I have not followed commandments and therefore have been cut off from His presence. Would that not make it easier to go about my doings without a second thought given to Him who saves? How then is it all the more important for me to be as in verse 21 "determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that [I] may not come down into captivity".
It makes sense why the prophets and apostles teach daily prayer, daily scripture study. The more often we are reminded of the Savior, the closer He will be in our thoughts.
I don't know if that thought makes any sense. It seems a bit jumbled in words. Sometimes it is hard to take a thought and put it into words.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The World Shall Judge Him to Be a Thing of Naught

1 Nephi 19:7–9




I know I have mentioned the book The Hiding Place in a previous post, but reading these scriptures from the Book of Mormon have brought it to mind once again. I was impressed with the family of Miss Ten Boom and their regard for a loving Heavenly Father. Not only did they fear God and desire to act in a manner that would be pleasing to Him, the description that was given of the people they associated with also loved God and His Son. In reading this I mentioned to my Hubby that we no longer live in a God fearing society. Gone are the days when the majority see their wrong actions as something that might bring the wrath of heaven down upon them. If the question was posed today "What think ye of Christ?" (Matt 22:42) would the answer be "I really don't think of Him at all."
Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said "Comparatively, brothers and sisters, it matters very little what people think of us, but it matters very much what we think of Him."
My days are busy with the daily tasks of caring for and worrying about a family. There are several enticing "things" of the world that also draw my attention (I have a slight addiction to Amazon, Apple products, Tiny Yorkies and good deals on ksl.com). My point is, I could do more to think of Him whose name I take upon myself every Sunday.
I am full of mistakes in life, but I make no mistake in saying that through Jesus Christ we can overcome the muddles of this mortal life. Through Him worlds were created (D&C 14:9) and miracles wrought, and through Him I can be transformed into the human being He sees me capable of being. A great article from a BYU devotional talks of Christ’s Grace being sufficient to transform us:
"Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice."
This was an analogy I could relate very well to. Not only did I gain understanding from this analogy but some of my daily guilt of not measuring up to perfection was swept away. Perfect I am not, but practicing I can do!
I love Christ, I know He lives! I know He will help me along the way.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Solidifying of a Testimony




I am playing the song "Praise to the Man" today at a baptism. I chose this song because all over the world primary children learned this hymn and sang it with power in their primary programs several months ago. My children love this hymn and sing it with gusto.
Several years ago at a child's baptism, my own testimony of the boy Joseph's experience in the Sacred Grove was solidified. To know that Joseph Smith was chosen by God to restore His gospel is fundamental in the building of a testimony. I hope that through song my testimony of this man will bring the spirit into the meeting to be felt by the children who have chosen to be baptized today.
Through all the persecution and ridicule that Joseph Smith received while on this earth, he remained true to his call from the Heavens. Today I echo the words of the hymn written in his honor and give "praise to the man that communed with Jehovah"!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fried Eggs





If someone asked me today what my favorite eggs are I would say fried eggs. This is what I was thinking about as I did the dishes tonight. (I am aware that I am strange)
After concluding to myself that fried eggs would definitely be my favorite (if by chance someone asked) I then began to question myself as to why they were my favorite. Conclusion: the pan and the spatula are easier to clean.
This strange self conversation led me ask other questions of myself and I came to realize it has been a while since I have gotten to know myself.
Proper attention, over the past 9 years, has been placed on raising our four small children. They are still very time consuming and busy, however, with the school year in session I have been given a two hour window every Thursday with which I can think to myself, pray and study the scriptures without interruption, clean and do laundry, or run errands in a speedy fashion. This little window of time in my week has become a journey in and of its self. I have gotten to know myself a little better, both the good and the bad. What surprised me about this journey was that I have found a friend in myself and I like her(most of the time). Another surprising discovery was the deep longing and desire for the Lord's stamp of approval on the life I am living and the manner in which I am living it. For the most part I knew what areas needed working on, but I wondered if I needed to do more. I wondered what it was that I could not see about myself. The answers to this prayer have been sweet and deeply personal.
There is a loving Heavenly Father that watches over us. I am His child. He will freely give His love if we but ask and and listen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Irritation Often Precedes Instruction"






The title of today's post is a quote from Elder Maxwell. Let's relate the title to losing a tooth and a new one breaking through. This is my six year old's first experience in losing a tooth. (Although as a toddler she almost lost her two top front teeth when her siblings dropped her face first on the tile floor, but that's a story of irritation for another time)
This story of irritation takes place in the wilderness with Lehi and his family. I have come to the part where Nephi's bow of fine steel breaks. An interesting note-the bow was thought to be made with materials that would remain strong. How many times have I taken the time to prepare and find that it is still not enough? Or have taken steps in an endeavor that, in my mind would prevent anything from going wrong? I am generally an optimist and enjoy living in my little rosy bubble. This story is for me because when something goes terribly wrong or something prevents me from accomplishing the task that is so important in my mind, my response could use some work to reach that of Nephi's.
Elder Maxwell continues “Nephi’s broken bow doubtless brought to him some irritation, but not immobilizing bitterness. After all, he was just trying to feed the extended family, so why should he have to contend as well with a broken bow? Yet out of that episode came a great teaching moment."
At times (such as tonight and Family Home Evening) I feel as described above "I'm just trying to teach my children the gospel, why do I have to deal with them fighting when I'm trying to bring the spirit into our home?! Sound familiar? If not, then please tell me what magic spell you are using so that I may apply it on my 4 children.
Now for the great teaching moment. After breaking his bow Nephi didn't dwell on the why's and what if's, he got to work and made a new one out of wood. Then instead of taking over and praying to the Lord himself he went to his father Lehi(who has been murmuring and has lost the spirit for the moment) and asked him to pray and ask where to find food. Nephi's humility, strength and wise confidence in his wavering, superior father opened the way for Lehi to repent and restore his standing with God and regain leadership. The lesson: don't waste energy on the "why me" and also, wise confidence in men builds them. Admittedly, I have thought to know better than someone that has leadership over me. I'm sure in your mind you can think of someone right now that you could probably out do in a particular calling or position. What growth would come if we only did things we were already good at?
Just like the old tooth coming out to make room for the new, the Lord, with His goodness and knowledge of what we really need, will give us experiences that may cause irritation but will ultimately stretch us and make grow a stronger version of ourselves.
Thankfully we have Jesus Christ to lean on through such growing experiences.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Gift

FORGIVENESS


A few things have brought this topic to mind. In the Bible, Jesus Christ taught "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despite fully use you and persecute you". In the beginning of the Book of Mormon, time and time again, Nephi's brothers rebel against him and his father Lehi. They curse and persecute Nephi and time after time again Nephi forgives them "I did frankly forgive them all that they had done". (1 Nephi 7:21)
I just finished the book "The Hiding Place". This is my second time reading, the first when I was a teen. This time I appreciated more, and related deeper to the truths Miss Ten Boom discovered and wrote about in her experience through the holocaust. At one point of her story she comes into contact with one of the guards that treated her and others horribly in the concentration camp. She described the horrible scenes that returned to her memory at the sight of him. He extended his hand and thanked her for her message of joy and redemption through the Lord Jesus. She then described the feelings that passed through her and difficulty in taking his offered hand. She knew she needed to forgive but found not the strength within herself to do it. She then offered a silent plea "Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give Your forgiveness." The moment she took the man's hand, an overwhelming love for him sprang form her heart. Then she writes "And so I discovered that it is not our forgiveness any more than our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself."
I know through Jesus all things are possible. This is how Nephi was able to "frankly forgive" his brothers again and again. "Allow God the be the judge of others' harmful actions. Forgiveness can heal terrible wounds, replacing the poison of contention and hatred with the peace and love that only God can give." (True to the Faith, forgiveness)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Straight and Narrow Path




Isn't that a great picture! I wish I could say I have walked where this was taken. Since I am not a photographer or much of a traveler, I get to view such beauty from another thanks to Google.
1 Nephi 8 The vision of the Tree of Life and the iron rod running alongside the straight and narrow path. At times my path in life may be just as beautiful and awe inspiring as the photo above, if I choose to look up from the dusty trail.



Other times the trail I tread is barren, rough in terrain and made increasingly difficult with stumbling blocks along the way.



Then there are the times when the path is darkened and may require entrance into the unknown.
Jesus Christ taught that He is the only path or “the way” that will lead to the Father (see John 14:6). Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy testified of the constant direction the Savior provides:
“Life is full of many intersecting roads and trails. There are so many paths to follow, so many voices calling out ‘lo, here’ or ‘lo, there’ [ Joseph Smith—History 1:5]. There is such a variety and volume of media flooding our personal space, most of it intent on herding us down a path that is broad and traveled by many." In reading this quote I could see in my minds eye a wide, dusty road with many distracted travelers. Elder Snow continues,
“My witness to you is that Jesus Christ continues to mark the path, lead the way, and define every point on our journey. His path is strait and narrow and leads toward ‘light and life and endless day’ [Hymns, no. 195]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2005, 100; or Ensign, Nov. 2005, 96).
I know Jesus Christ lives. He continues to bless lives just as he did when He walked the earth.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

“Ye have choice”

1 Nephi 7:15




Finally Utah is getting some snow this winter! My kids are so excited to play in it. I am content just watching it out the window as it covers the earth.
Today's scripture 1 Nephi 7:15. Laman, Lemuel, their new sweethearts and a few others begin to rebel. They want to return home. Moment of honesty-can you really blame them? With the riches they gathered to persuade Laban it would seem that Lehi's family lived comfortably, for that time period. I like being born in this day and age where living is quite comfortable with its many conveniences. I might have "rebelled"/wanted to go back too. This is where faith and knowledge come in. Nephi had the faith to follow a prophet. This faith was then rewarded with a sure knowledge that the journey they were on was indeed inspired by the Lord.
Laman and those influenced by him were not captives on the journey toward the land of promise. Nephi answered their desire to return to Jerusalem by declaring a fundamental doctrine, “Ye have choice”. I never noticed those three little words in this scripture before. The little "if" before caused me to glide right over them. They spoke differently back then and I kept thinking there was a question in there somewhere.
President Thomas S. Monson stated, “Each of us has the responsibility to choose. You may ask, ‘Are decisions really that important?’ I say to you, decisions determine destiny."
(“Pathways to Perfection,” Ensign, May 2002, 100).
I love President Monson. I know he is God's mouthpiece for this day. Decisions determine destiny. Ye have choice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It must be addressed

Nephi and Laban
Ok, this part of the Book of Mormon bothers me everytime I come to it. I am a person that shuns violence. I have a deep love for newborns. I cannot resist them, partly because of their smell and partly because I love how I feel holding them. Each life is a gift from God.
So today I tackle this event and hope for additional understanding and light. My studies took me to the Book of Mormon student manual(available at LDS Disribution).
It's important to note that before Nephi reached this point, Laban was given two chances to part with the brass plates without requiring his life. Also, let's not forget the crimes Laban committed against Nephi and his brothers. Laban was a liar and a robber and at least twice sought to murder. These crimes were at that time punishable by death. Ok, but he was King and we all know how kings are when they are evil ones. They usually don't recieve the death punishment unless issued by God.
This is where Nephi comes in. Upon finding Laban passed out drunk, Nephi hears the voice of the Lord. First note, Nephi knows, really knows the voice of the Lord. He hears the command to take Laban's life. He questions(who would not question this?). What justification is there for a righteous man like Nephi to take the life of another? The Lord wanted Lehi and his descendants to have the scriptural record "even if one man should perish" for it to happen. The brass plates blessed Nephi and his descendants. Long after, when translated to the Book of Mormon, the brass plates has blessed and will bless nations. All of this was at stake when Nephi stood over Laban and followed the voice of the Spirit. Did Nephi understand this, I believe he did not know completely the implications of that moment.
Now what have I learned from this added study today? First, do I know(really know) the voice of the Lord? What in my life is too loud that keeps me from hearing it? Second, without knowing the results of my decisions, can I follow through with whatever it is the Lord asks of me? Do I have faith to obey? I know Jesus Christ lives. What am I willing to DO for Him? And how will my choices affect another? I will never be asked to take a life to save nations, but what seemingly small, prompted acts do I shun because I lack faith and courage?
Perhaps this is not anything new and insightful, but from this added study my heart and mind have been more inclined to the God I love because of the pondering. After all, isn't that what daily scripture study is for?
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Have I "murmured" any good in the world today?



Please excuse the iphone pics, I am not a photographer. Merely someone who enjoys writing and has only one fan following(thanks mom). I hope to get better at many things. A picture always adds to any entry. This one seems fitting merely for the fact that my cute 3 year old(complete with her Rudolph nose) looks like she is saying the word 'murmur' right in your face.

By definition, to murmur is a mumbled or private expression of discontent.

I am reading the Book of Mormon, again. Cover to cover. From the beginning there is murmuring. First from Laman and Lemuel then, much to the readers surprise, the good prophet Lehi even murmurs. Insert moment of personal justification, I can still be a good person even though I murmur at times.
So why is this murmuring bad? Elder H. Ross Workman of the Seventy explained that “murmuring consists of three steps, each leading to the next in a descending path to disobedience.” First, when people murmur they begin to question. They question “first in their own minds and then [plant] questions in the minds of others.” Second, those who murmur begin to “rationalize and excuse themselves from doing what they [have] been instructed to do. . . . Thus, they [make] an excuse for disobedience.” Their excuses lead to the third step: “Slothfulness in following the commandment.”
This final step, this slothfulness, stumps progression. No good came when Lehi was murmuring. He did not progress,and neither did those in connection with him.
President Ezra Taft Benson put it most poignantly when he said, ‘When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998; or Ensign, May 1998, 82).
This is one of my favorite quotes. It is written on the inside of my scriptures to remind me to keep striving to be obedient, without complaint, because truly I cannot do any good in the world today with murmuring.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I didn't stand in that line




The thoughts for this post began a while back, but since school started life has been full of PTA, homework, scouts, piano lessons, dance lessons and then the joyful Holiday season thrown in the muddle of everything. This is my shallow excuse for not choosing to drink in the teachings of the scriptures. My daily scripture reading has been more of something to check off the list, or get to tomorrow, or the next day. But with a new year comes new dedication. Truthfully I had thoughts of deleting this blog. My lack of "stick-to-it" has left many things undone and by the wayside along my walk of life. Each individual is blessed with certain gifts and talents. Let's just say that I didn't stand in the "stick-to-it" line in heaven when God was handing out talents. I loved this picture taken by my mother and thought it fit my thoughts this evening. It has my daughter and niece's shoe choice for the day. It was June and the sun was shining and it was snowing. Both were correct in their choice even though the choices were so different from each other. Like the shoes, each individual may choose which talents or gifts he/she will develope and help grow. There are still going to be things I give up on, but after a phone call from my dearest mother(who stumbled onto my blog, and may well be the ONLY person besides me to ever read it) I decided that this was not something I wanted to leave undone on the trail. So here is to 2012 and continuing on! May I learn somethings along the way.