Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Day 23 of My gift to Jesus:
I am grateful to have experienced and learned through the giving of this gift. I feel like I was more of the receiver from having done so. I saw things in a different light through this process. I looked at complete strangers with a Christlike love that did not come from me. It influenced all my interactions as I kept Christ at the forefront of my mind. A few days were missed, I regret to say, but even at the end of those missed days I still recounted the moments when something could have been said and resolved to do better the next day. For the most part, it became easier to talk of Him. Some promptings at times remained challenging. I hope as I continue to talk and testify of Christ more often, I will be a light to those that come within my circle of influence.
Christ lives, He is my anchor in this world of tumult. He is my sure foundation.
Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 2-An Unexpected View

I learned something from yesterday's experience. As I went through my day, naturally each person I encountered became a possibility for testifying to. Each interaction seemed to have more meaning to it as I prayed silently to know if they were the right person for the day. An unexpected softening of my heart was felt with each interaction and a new love was felt for that individual. I believe this new love was Christ's love, or as called in the scriptures, charity-the pure love of Christ. "...if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity." (Moroni 7:44) I learned that Charity in conjunction with the listening to Holy Spirit is essential in following this personal challenge.
When the Spirit whispered which individual it was to be that I should testify to the nerves were still there, but the words to speak came a little easier. For a short moment, I viewed this individual as Christ viewed them. I saw them serving and doing works that Christ would do and so I told them and I expressed my gratitude for being part of that individual's life. It was short, it was uplifting to both of us, and it felt a little more natural than the day before.
Day 3....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 1-Definitely out of my Comfort Zone!!!!

My gift to Jesus, definitely a personal challenge. Day one, I woke and prayed to know when and who to testify to. Heavenly Father knows me well and prompted me to tell a friend. He was giving me baby steps to help me succeed in my endeavor.
My first thought was "why this friend, they already know about Jesus Christ?" As I continued to converse with this friend it was clear I was not to leave without saying something, so I did. I blundered through and did a terrible job! My heart was going to beat right out of my chest! My friend was kind and received the message as intended though and gave me a hug. Then we proceeded to converse about other things for quite some time and in the end my friend thanked me and was grateful for the opportunity to talk about some things that were personally challenging to them.
I left happy and uplifted by the conversation, a little chagrined for the nerves and the blundering, but extremely grateful to Heavenly Father for letting me be an instrument in helping someone else.
This is definitely going to be challenging, however the rewards are wonderful to experience! I hope it will get easier and I hope and can do better at controlling my nerves so that my words are less hindered. I think it will. I've realized I definitely need to speak of Him more and really live my testimony. It is easy for me to do so at church and in my home with my kids. My circle of people to reach everyday is not very big. Relying on guidance from the Holy Spirit will be essential.
On to Day 2.........(self talk) "I can do this"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Gift to Jesus

This is my family. They are growing up way too fast for my liking. We have a tradition every year, on the first Monday of December we talk about the gift from our Heavenly Father of our Savior that came to earth as a baby that special night so long ago. We decide what each of us can do for the month as a gift to Jesus. Then we write it down and place it in a box and it becomes the first present under our tree every year and it is the last one left when all the giving has been done.

Through the years I have enjoyed listening to my kids choose what they want to give. Some choose simple things that can easily be accomplished, like giving a hug everyday. Some like to choose a gift that is more challenging, such as reading the scriptures on their own. We are not perfect in our accomplishment of each gift every year, but with diligence I hope to encourage faith in Jesus and a love for Him that will lift and sustain them as they grow and encounter challenges.
For my gift this year I have chosen to testify of Jesus Christ to someone everyday. To be completely honest, I am somewhat nervous about this gift. I like my comfort zone, very much, and I can't help but wonder if I will be prompted by the Spirit to testify at a time when it will require me to step out of that comfort zone. But I love my Savior more than my comfort zone. So I will press forward, seeking the Spirit as I do so, and hopefully through this process I will increase my understanding and love of who it is we celebrate at this time of year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Sure Foundation

Recently, I was asked "Why have you stayed true to the church?" The church in reference is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After a moments reflection, the answer was clear in my mind. I explained that for me, it wasn't a single event that was overwhelming and powerful in its conversion glory, but rather it was a handful of quiet experiences where a belief was exchanged for a sure knowledge. A knowledge that was pure and came directly from heaven, so clear that it could not be misunderstood. That knowledge then became fused with my heart, a bond and an anchor to the heavens, one in which I could never go against without knowing I would be going against God. I can clearly remember the day and place of each quiet affirmation. Since that time, whenever I begin to slack or become lazy in my outward acts of devotion, it is these sacred moments that I reflect on and that always bring me back to where I need to be. They truly have become a foundation whereupon my faith can be built and rebuilt, time and time again, as I live this mortal journey.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Hug

 Here are some great pictures of Reflective Photography. These are of ...

Good morning! My heart is so full this morning, I feel like giving the whole world a hug. A recent reunion with dearly loved friends has given me cause to think about my life and review how I have progressed individually along with the progression of my little family members that are growing day by day. Throughout my marriage there are a handful of people that have played a significant role in the life of my family. Their influence continues to shine as an example of good and righteous living. How I love each one of these special friends!
As one tiny insignificant person on this earth, I feel my circle of influence is small. But just as one tiny pebble can eventually ripple an entire smooth surface of water, so can one person influence untold numbers. Can I do it alone? No. One will make their mark, then others will carry it forward and so forth and so forth until is covers a great surface. As I reflect on what others have done for me, on what Jesus Christ has done for me, I feel that it is my responsibility to carry forward all the good that has been given to me. In doing so I will help move forward this great work of happiness. Who knows, maybe by doing my small part, I really can give the world a hug.
Embrace Jesus Christ and His teachings and help spread His word. For He has given His life that we might find ours in Him.
I offer up a prayer this day for The Lord to bless you in all of your righteous endeavors!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sitting In Shadows

My last post has left me thinking. I did not want, in any way, to leave the impression that only those going through death and disease are entitled to the right to claim the path of trial and hardship. Quoting from the most recent General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Elder Uchtdorf reminds us of the shadows we all sit in from time to time.
"There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."
Light will come with each tiny act of faith. Our loving Father in Heaven does not want to see us fail. He will bless our efforts as we spread our wings and seek after truth and light. Of this I am sure.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recipe for "Getting out of a Slump"

Note to self:
Eating an entire bag of these, by myself, in a matter of a couple of days, will not pull me out of slump, nor will they make my skirt feel very comfortable around the waistline.
Thank goodness the Easter candy has been removed from my local grocery store shelves. (I cannot admit how many bags of these little bits of malty goodness I ate this season. I'm sure I have poisoned my body in some way)
What does this have to do with anything? Not much, however, as noted above, I have been in a slump and eating chocolate seemed like a good place to start before addressing any real issues :)
My pity party included a list of not so worthy "trials" (FYI, death and disease are among the list of worthy life trials)
Number 1: My kids are growing up way too fast for my "take life at a snails pace" liking and there are no more babies due to join the Umbrell house-sniffle sniffle.
Number 2: My house seems to always be in disarray. Who's bright idea was it to teach the kids to clean, I did a much better job when they used to nap!
Number 3: I am a homebody that lives in the car as a taxi driver and has rounder hips to prove it. Hmmm...
Number 4: Getting kids to "do" anything remotely responsible can be such an a-g-o-n-i-z-i-n-g process. it just me, or has the winter chill stuck around longer this year?
There is one more that has to do with the "men are from Mars and women are from Venus" sort of thing, but I vowed when I got married to never (for lack of a more creative word) "dis" on my hubby. Love you the mostest honey pie!
Not anything too awful really. Overall, I can see, my life is very blessed! So why the slump? Why the restlessness?
Please apply the prescribed meds as directed: Self evaluation, Repentance and heavenly inspired Redirection.
Self evaluation:
Being honest with myself and taking inventory of where I am slacking is different than berating myself for my faults and my failings. True self evaluation is done with the companionship of the Spirit and can be motivating and inspiring. (Matt 7:16-20)
Use of the Atonement does not mean I am a failure. Repenting is like going on a spiritual diet. One that releases the extra weight that drags my spirit down.
In conjunction with the Spirit, redirection of thoughts and actions will bring back the energizing and motivating light of hope for the future and with that hope will come a reconnecting faith in God and in His timing.
There is my homemade recipe for "getting out of a slump". The more in-depth details of this soul healing balm are completely different for each individual and can be as numerous as the amount of mini Robin Eggs I consumed this past Easter season.(which probably considerably added to my slump ;)
Wishing you all a "Happy Healing"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Entitled to Wisdom

The word "Entitlement" was on my mind in January. Possibly because, as parents, we are trying to rid our children of this ugly attitude which comes from living in an age of bounteous offerings. An article in January's Ensign prompted additional thought and led me to choose this topic as a blog entry. Well, while working through my thoughts and readings my Hubby and I were asked to speak in church. So here is the result of my preparation:
We live in a world of information overload. Not only is information plentiful, it increasingly gets easier and easier to obtain it. In fact, if the information that I am seeking doesn't load as fast as I think it should, then I may tend to get a little frustrated. If you can relate, then maybe I am not the only one who has lost the admiration and awe of this technological informational world and replaced it with more of an expectation instead.
A personal example, one day while finishing up one of my many taxi days as a mom, I received a call from one of my children. The ever present questions were asked: "When are you gonna be home?" and "What's for dinner?" with a "we're starving" thrown in for added emphasis. Not knowing exactly how to answer that second question prompted my response of "I'll pick up a pizza." Now buying pizza is not a frequent occurrence in the Umbrell house, so I wasn't exactly sure where the nearest pizza place was in relation to where I was driving. No problem, I have a "smart phone." Push the microphone button, speak a word or two into my maps app and I should be home in a jiffy to save the day with a pizza in hand. Well, you can probably guess it did not go as expected. I blame the not so smart phone, but my Hubby has seen my map skills in action and he might argue otherwise. Either way, I was not given exactly what was expected and needed at that very moment. It was frustrating. Being a busy mom, aren't I entitled to finding a pizza place in a speedy fashion with as little effort as possible?
This sense of entitlement can infiltrate into our expectations from heaven. Answers to prayers, knowledge and wisdom of God will not come to us by entitlement; we must seek after these things.
"For members of the church, gaining knowledge is not merely a suggestion--it is a commandment. We are to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad. That ye may be prepared in all things.” (D&C 88:79-80) Joseph Smith taught the Saints that knowledge was a necessary part of our mortal journey, for “a man is saved no faster than he [gains] knowledge,” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 4:588) and that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain … in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” (D&C 130:18-19) [President Uchtdorf Oct. 2009]
As we ride the information tidal wave of our day, the question will not be whether or not we have enough information to fulfill this commandment. Rather the question will be, is the knowledge we gain from all this information valuable, truthful, and in accordance with heaven, and does it give us wisdom? I like the quote from T.S. Elliot's writing "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
It seems that the knowledge of God's existence, His Son Jesus Christ and His absolute truths of right and wrong are easily lost in all the information that is being presented worldwide. Truly in this age, what ye seek ye shall find. That is why as members we are counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants to "seek ye diligently [out] of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith." D&C 88:118
Wisdom is defined as knowledge of what is true or right, coupled with just judgement as to action. Or as I like to say "Knowledge used correctly." Elder Neil L. Andersen says that "reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom." In this quote, reverence is the verb, implying action. Reverence for God is an outward manifestation of an inward feeling of deep respect.
"In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of agency—the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not only to be acted upon—especially as we seek to obtain and apply spiritual knowledge." Elder David A. Bednar
Years ago I attended a relief society activity that was held as a weekly class dividing up and teaching the seven Lectures on Faith presented by Joseph Smith to the "school of prophets" held in Kirtland Ohio. This gave me an opportunity to ponder more deeply the topic of faith. I learned that not only was faith a hope or belief in something not seen, it also is "the principle of action in all intelligent beings" (Lectures on Faith L1) Together this hope and this action bring about a spiritual power that can be applied to all good areas of life. I put this faith into action and began a diligent study schedule while my baby(at that time) was napping. I clearly remember the day that my efforts were paid in full with a sweet and tender experience that solidified my testimony as my own. No longer did it ride on the tails of another. No longer did it linger in a hope or belief. My foundation of knowledge had become sure.
Reading again from D&C 88:118 "And as all have not faith(or action), seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" or by action.
A classic example of learning by faith was set forth in August 2005. Members of the church were given the challenge from the First Presidency to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. In extending the challenge, President Hinckley promised that faithfully observing this simple reading program would bring into our lives and into our homes “an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
I would like to point out that "first, we were not commanded, coerced, or even required to read. Instead, we were invited to exercise our agency and act. President Hinckley, as an inspired teacher, encouraged us to act and not just be acted upon. Each of us had to decide if and how we would respond to the challenge—and if we would endure to the end of the task.
Second, in proffering the invitation to read and to act, President Hinckley was encouraging each of us to seek learning by faith. No new study materials were distributed to members of the Church, and no additional lessons, classes, or programs were created by the Church. Each of us had our copy of the Book of Mormon, and a pathway into our heart opened wider through the exercise of our faith in the Savior as we responded to the First Presidency's challenge. Thus, we were prepared to receive instruction from the only true teacher, the Holy Ghost." (Elder Bednar Feb 2006 Fireside) For by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.(Moroni 5:1)
Searching for truth in a world of information can be related to our family's recent experience of car hunting. There are many different makes and models of cars on the road. Many I have not taken any special notice of, but when we began our own search and we had settled on a particular make we wanted, suddenly I noticed that vehicle everywhere. What made the difference? They were there all along. So it is with absolute truths. They are there all along. The difference is in the effort we put into finding them.
For Adam and Eve receiving truth, information and instruction came from only one source as they walked and talked directly with the Father and His Son. Even after leaving the garden and having a veil placed so that they could not see the Father anymore, they still retained in remembrance knowledge of the existence of God. Adam then passed this knowledge down to his posterity. Generations later, and a very populated earth, has resulted in more than just parents and grandparents having influence on what is being taught.
In this month's Ensign Elder Oaks states "The existence and nature of truth is one of the fundamental questions of mortal life. Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate that He came into the world to “bear witness unto the truth.” That unbeliever(Pilate) responded, “What is truth?” (John 18:37–38)."
I wonder if Pilot's question was posed with genuine desire for truth or if, like often heard in our day, he was saying "what is truth really? To one man it is one thing and to another it is another thing."
In early revelation the Savior declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In modern revelation, He declared, “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24).
In our day, truth is being lost because it does not download at a whim or come from the heavens by speaking a few words with very little effort applied. The only way to know truth is to seek, ask and obey. Then we will come to see that those precious truths were there all along, but they will not come to us by entitlement.
Many are leaving fellowship of the church because a seed of doubt has been planted, and in seeking answers they have only looked for information that will support their decision for disbelief.
If there are seeds of doubt in the heart, I ask that one seek truth from both sides before settling on a decision of disbelief.
Give a loving Father in Heaven the chance to help open an eye of faith and fill the heart with His everlasting love. I have felt this love and not only has it filled a bucket within my heart, it has ignited a flame that will never go out. I know there is a God in Heaven. I know He wants what is best for each individual and I know He will help all who put forth the effort. His love has changed me and has given me an enabling confidence to do good things with my life.
I am thankful for the truths that I have come to know on my own. These include a knowledge that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet. We are not left without guidance in our day, we have living prophets and apostles to relay God's message to His followers. Jesus is the Christ and God is our Father. Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.