Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jesus Christ, My Foundation




This is a belated post. I wrote this April 20, 2014.
It is Easter Sunday and I am thinking about Jesus this morning in a brief quiet moment before the kids get up. At the Umbrell house we do the Easter basket thing on Saturday and the kids have always known that it is their parents that hide the baskets and all the goodies and eggs. Grammy and Grandpa joined us last night to watch the hunt. This little family tradition helps us focus only on the Savior on Easter Sunday. My kids have never believed in the Easter Bunny. To some, we might seem like terrible, un-child like, rude parents for never letting our kids believe in the Easter Bunny. I see nothing wrong with this child belief, it just wasn't for us. When my kids were really little but big enough to start to believe, I just couldn't put the two together-Bunny and Christ's resurrection. Even when I thought about Spring and renewal and re-birth, I just couldn't see where the Bunny fit. :) So, that is how our Saturday celebration came to be. My knowledge that Jesus Christ lives, runs very deep. It is the core of who I am. I gained this knowledge young when I was a child, through a particular incident in my life. I'm grateful to have lived most of my life with this deep strong foundation. My testimony seems to go in ups and downs in strength, but my foundation never changes. My knowledge of Christ is the one thing that is ever constant in my life. There are many scriptures that talk of Christ, I have come to know that the scriptures are the true Word of God. In them I have learned about Christ and His doctrine. This scripture is one of my favorites because I feel like I am living proof of the truthfulness of this scripture.
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)
I have weathered some storms in life, and I'm sure there will be more to come, but this scripture helps me stay positive. My foundation keeps me from straying too far off the path. My foundation is a light amidst any darkness I am feeling. My foundation keeps me constantly in touch with Heavenly Father. My foundation keeps me less weighed down with burdens. My foundation keep me free. My foundation is Christ. I know He lives. Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cushion of Complacency


Articulation and the correct conveying of an idea is a skill that can be developed beyond the years of elementary learning. I enjoy practicing this skill. I know I could use the addition of some professional learning and critiquing but for my current situation(busy mother of four and wife of a golfer) I will have to be satisfied with the mere practice I receive writing on this blog.
There is a gentleman in my neighborhood that claims he is somewhat of a linguist. I don't know if he makes this claim with professional education and training or if, like me, he is a hobbyist. Either way he has made me more aware of the words I use in order to convey a meaning.
I live in a heavy populated area of Mormons. I recognize this as a blessing and as a cushion for complacency if I do not keep myself aware. (Side note:(permission to skip granted) I was going to say "this is a blessing and a curse" but thinking back to that idea of correctly conveying meaning, it's not really a curse. Could be to some, but to me, not truly a "forever your face is green" like from a witch's spell or a "my life is doomed always" sort of a curse) Getting back to my point, there are certain phrases that are commonly used among Mormons, one of which is "the Church is true".
Thinking more upon this phrase and the meaning it may convey to others who practice a different religion, I have come to like it less and less. This is where the "cushion of complacency" takes part, or rather where I want to make sure it doesn't take part. To sum up a Mormon's belief with the phrase "the Church is true" is a grossly inadequate statement which alienates all other religious people of different faiths. If one of these members of another faith were to join me the first Sunday of every month they would hear this repeated over and over again. What would they gain? Would they leave with a greater understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ as was upon the earth when He walked the earth? No.
This may seem like a heartless Mormon woman rant, it is not. I love the people I attend church with, and this is not the only way that many of them sum up their belief. They often add more(sometimes more than necessary) upon this phrase than I am giving credit to right now. I also know that church attendance is for imperfect people, such as myself and everyone else, to grow and learn and become something good and pure enough to return to our loving Father in Heaven.
This rant is not about changing other people. It is about what I have learned and why I want to be more aware of the words I speak. Especially now that so much emphasis is being place on Mormon members being missionaries.
I do not want to become complacent. Actually, let me rephrase. I want to be complacent(who doesn't want to be lazy at times) but I do not want to give offense to God by being complacent. "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men." (Acts 24:16)
When I am aware of my offenses to God then I can become aware of my offenses to others. I then have the desire to repent and be forgiven. When I feel the sweet feelings of forgiveness I feel good inside. I feel love from God and then I want to share that love, I don't want to offend others. I want others to know God and feel of His love towards all of his children. A loving Father in Heaven gave His Son Jesus Christ to all humankind to be a vessel in order to return to live with God forever. His life and His teachings are found in the Holy Scriptures.
What I claim and wish to convey is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is an organized religion that practices the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as was upon the earth when He walked the earth. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the true gospel as was sent forth from a loving Father in Heaven years and years ago, to be a guide and a compass leading us back to Him. Jesus Christ died for all of us and indeed lives again. How do I know these things to be true? Simply put, I asked God.
The beauty of being human is the ability and innate desire for progression. All of what I have spoken of today can be dissected and added upon to form a number of sermons, but hopefully after reading this little sermon/rant today you will have a little bit better understanding of the meaning when a Mormon says "the Church is true". If you want to know more come join us in learning. We are not perfect, we will make mistakes and cause offense, but we are trying and learning to follow Jesus Christ.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Truth


"All learning leads to nothing unless it is centered on finding the roots of truth, which cannot be received without first becoming honest.
The only way to find truth is through uncompromising self-education toward self-honesty to see the original “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential in contrast to the influence from the other part of me, “the flesh,” with its selfish desires and foolishness. Only in that state of pure honesty are we able to see truth in its complete dimension."
"Elder Enzio F. Busche" (author of "Yearning For The Living God" a fabulous life story and an excellent read!)

A recent conversation with a friend of another faith has been bothering me. She was telling me how her daughter was being shunned by another friend because she was hanging out with boys before she was 16. Now, knowing human nature and the follies of such nature, I am sure that this friend was not consciously shunning this girl because of an age restriction for dating in the LDS church. Perception of the real problem for both girls(and their mothers) was probably equally misunderstood on both sides. In my limited experience(so take what I say with the understanding that I am most definitely not an expert in human nature or in things of a spiritual nature) there are usually two sides to every problem and somewhere in the middle lies the actual truth to what is going on. What bothered me was my friends perception of what the LDS people place importance on. From her perspective it seemed that the friend and her mother were placing greater importance on the council to not date before 16 than on the value of her daughter, her thoughts and her feelings. She felt that they were being unfair in holding her daughter to a standard of behavior that her daughter has not committed to.
Living in Utah I have come to recognize that having so many members of the LDS church live here has also made it the culture of living here. Quite possibly many of our members may even attend church and perform certain acts because it is culturally proper to do so. This brings me to the point of my picture above.
The LDS church has many parts to it, similar to that of a set of Russian Nesting Dolls. At the heart of the many programs, inspired council, callings to service, and acts of personal dedication, lies the truth upon which this church was founded upon. If someone's focus, knowledge or testimony is primarily on one of the outside layers, then that person's response to problems and trials is dangerously weakened. Depending on what they are facing the end result could be spiritually shattering.
Like Elder Busche stated in the above quote the only way to find truth is to strip away the layers of false perceptions, walls of protection, or favored popular views that hinder our true and honest knowledge of certain truths. When I really try to get down to the bare bones of who I am, I cannot deny in anyway that there is a God in Heaven, and that His son is Jesus the Christ. There are certain truths that are not tangible in the same way that programs and people are but they are truths just the same. When I keep these truths at the heart of my response to my trials and problems, I feel a greater strength than that of my own helping me, guiding me and training me in this school of life.
I truly wish I could say I do this all the time, but since this blog is mostly about the things I learn in life then it becomes obvious this is a new revelation to me. I take hope that I can be a good student and apply what I learn, and I hope that others, who's views and beliefs are different from mine, will see that my intentions and actions are not hollow.


"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).



Sunday, January 12, 2014

Take the Bait (Not a very fancy title, my dad is a fisherman so this is what comes to mind. Love you Pops!)


(Disclaimer: Please excuse any and all photos that have been taken with my phone. I am not a photographer in any way, nor do I have the patience to sit and edit pictures-that is my mother's talent ;)


This was the first year that all of my children stayed home during their Christmas break. Usually they are off to a cousin's or Grandma's, but not this year. It was so nice to all be home together with no piano or ballet or any of the other usual activities that keep me sitting in my car for endless hours. I truly enjoyed every minute. It seems my kids are growing faster all the time and I feel the time I have with them is slipping through my fingers. I am grateful for circumstances that kept us all together this year, right up until the New Year!
Which brings me to my post today. I love New Years! I love the whole Holiday season, from the gratitude that comes from Thanksgiving, to the month of focus on the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, with a closing of it all in celebration of what is to come. I am always a little sad for it all to come to an end. However, just outside the sadness lies the luring sense of motivation and rededication that keeps me looking forward and wanting to make the best of what comes my way. After a little moment of mourning I take hold of the bait and begin to look at what actions I can take to do a little better in spirit, relationships and home. Generally all of what I want to accomplish falls into one of these three categories. (Keep life simple where possible, right?)
In choosing my resolutions I like to look to the most recent General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for direction from the prophets. I feel this is a good way to take the council they give and actually use it for good in my life. Usually one or two messages stand out above the rest and these are the ones I set as a theme for my New Year's resolutions. I figure that my Heavenly Father knows me best, He knows my potential and what He wants me to become, so I turn to Him for direction on what needs correcting in my life. This process has served me well in the past and helps me not to feel down on myself and all the things that I haven't done. Instead He lifts me and encourages me with love. I always feel His love when I am setting any resolution, New Year's or other. This is because God wants us to progress. He has much in store for all of His children. He has much to give. We just need to turn our hearts to Him and the rest will follow.
So take the bait. If it has been placed there by God, it will always lead to good.