Thursday, September 1, 2016

Friendship

Image result for friendship

Being a mother of teenagers, I am introduced to many things that I otherwise may not have found interesting, or on my own. One of which is music. My playlist is getting quite diverse since my daughter has learned that I have a weakness for good music. All she needs say is "Mom, I found this song, you should listen to it...and then buy it." She has learned that if the message is good, I generally don't hesitate to click the 'buy' button. Yesterday she introduced me to one such song.(see link below) 
I don't know the artist's reasoning and vision behind the lyrics, but I felt that it was singing about love, hope, and helping one another through the battles of life. In short, it sings of friendship.
Since I am limited in my talent abilities to sing, or create through works of art when I am inspired, I will take the feelings I felt while listening and try to convey those ideas into words.

Joseph Smith gave us a glimpse of his measure of friendship when he said, “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to myself”(HC 6:549). The Savior said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”(John 15:13).

When Robert Louis Stevenson was asked the secret of his radiant, useful life, he responded simply, “I had a friend.”1
Friendship plays a very important role in each of our lives. A friend lifts the heavy heart, says the encouraging word, and assists in supplying our daily needs. Elder Richard G. Scott says, “Be a true friend. This kind of enduring friendship is like asphalt that fills the potholes of life and makes the journey smoother and more pleasant.” 2 
Parents provide a foundation for who we will become. A loving God and Savior make it possible for us to realize our earthly, and eternal potential. Next to those profoundly influential personages is that of the influence of friendship. 
Friendship touches almost every aspect of our lives. It affects our work, our parenting, our community service, our church service, our family relationships. No wonder we counsel our youth to choose their friends wisely. Friends have a profound affect on who they become as they learn and grow throughout their life. 
Thinking back, my husband was first my friend long before he became my eternal companion. Perhaps it was a friend that first introduced you to your spouse. Perhaps it is a friend that helps keep you married to your spouse. Siblings are just siblings until a friendship is built between them. Think about what it is you want to find at the heart of each meaningful relationship: a friend, someone who will stand by you and be there for you when the need arises.
Friendship definitely plays an intricate part as we travel along this mortal journey. I have known many great, wonderful people and family relations that I feel privileged to call friends. They have helped shape me into who I am today. What is it then that makes friendship special, meaningful, and influential? 
A friend gives the hope that “the best is yet to come” in whatever that may be, even if it means waiting until the eternities to receive it. That hope is an anchor to the soul and will touch our lives with light. Hope and light are a motivating force for good. In short, friendship make us feel good, even if only for a brief moment. When we feel good, then we do good. So, open your heart. Love those that come into your circle of influence, small or large, and help bring light and hope into this world.






 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Stepping Into the Light


In the chapters of Ether, after having read and recorded great things that the Brother of Jared experienced, it would seem that Moroni was moved by the Spirit. He is taught and commanded of the Lord to write what he learns for the benefit of our day. In chapter 4 he pauses in his narrative account to teach us a little about faith in Jesus Christ and the veil of unbelief that hinders our learning from the Father. Verse 11 we are given a promise, "he who believes the word of the Lord, him will [the Lord] visit with manifestations of [His] Spirit."
In the short video above, Elder Bednar speaks of the light of revelation. I like the imagery we are given as he explains the different ways we may receive revelation. As we pray to the Father, and come unto Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we will not be held back from receiving the revelation we need to progress and move forward along our path of life.


A photograph of a sunset at the beach, combined with a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “With Christ, darkness cannot succeed.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fine Tuning a Listening Ear

  



The last chapter of 3 Nephi begins with the word hearken. In fact, several times throughout these last chapters of 3 Nephi, the people of our day are given warnings and told to hearken. Throughout the Book of Mormon we are called to attention with such words as hearken, listen, give heed, and behold. When we come across one of these words, it is wise to slow the pace and pay attention. Bishop H. David Burton spoke of hearkening to the word of the Lord in General Conference: "Perhaps the greatest obstacle to our ability to hearken courageously to the word of the Lord involves our egos, vain ambitions, and pride. It seems that the proud find it burdensome to hear and accept the instruction of God. We are told in Proverbs that “pride goeth before destruction” (Prov. 16:18)." 

I have been consistently, almost daily, reading the Book of Mormon for over a year now. I took part of a Relief Society challenge and read the entire Book of Mormon last fall, then I began the book again when I started school in January. I have found Christ through these words. I have found love. I have found an added measure of strength that comes from a higher power. As I read the word of the Lord, I feel pride dissipate and a humble desire to follow and emulate Christ take place of that pride. I feel the fine tuning of my eyes to see, my ears to hear, and my heart to feel. 

If you want to be an instrument in God's hands to rescue and lift others, may I suggest a two step process for developing a listening ear: humbly turn to God by reading the words of scripture given to His prophets both anciently and in our day; then make the sacrament a priority. As you humbly forsake sins, through the partaking of the sacrament, the power of the atonement is given an opening to work within you, teaching, guiding, strengthening you to do all that you have been asked to do. I give you my witness that as you forsake sins and consistently read and hearken to the word of the Lord, Christ will be there right beside you and you will be able to walk and progress in life, even during the times when your path is darkest and you feel the heaviest of burdens upon your shoulders. I have felt this power at work within myself and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn to hearken.

Note: See comment for additional confirming quote. Link to full devotional here

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"If we acknowledge Him now, He will lovingly acknowledge and gladly admit us then!”


 

I have come to the part in the Book of Mormon where a reversal of roles has taken place. Those people(the Lamanites) that had once been taught, now become the teachers. Many of the Nephites had become prideful and ignored their own prophets, so the Lord sent a Lamanite prophet, Samuel, to warn them to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. The Nephites didn't like what Samuel had to tell them. A miracle was brought about as Samuel was divinely protected from the arrows of the angry Nephites. In thinking about these chapters I am amazed at how a righteous people, in a matter of a few short years, had come to a wicked state as to seek the death of a servant and prophet of the Lord. How can we protect ourselves from falling prey to the destruction that comes when we are stuck in the pride cycle as described in the chapters of Helaman? One of Samuel's purposes of teaching the Nephites was to remind them of the coming of Christ. Why would teaching about the Savior, Jesus Christ, be of such worth as to risk the consequences of facing an angry mob? Samuel knew of the spiritual protection that comes from such knowledge.

President James E. Faust discussed the value of knowing that one day we will stand before the Savior to account for our lives: “I recall a study some years ago that was made to determine what influences keep young people moving on the straight and narrow track. Of course there were several critical influences. All were important. They included the influence of parents, priesthood advisers, Young Women advisers, Scoutmasters, and peer association. But I was surprised to find that one golden thread of singular importance ran through this study. It was the belief that one day each of us would have to account for our actions to the Lord. Many believed that ‘the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name’. [2 Nephi 9:41]
Those who had an eternal perspective had an extra amount of spiritual strength and resolve. Feeling a personal accountability to the Savior for our actions and stewardships and responding to it provide a profound spiritual protection” (“Who Do You Think You Are?” New Era, Mar. 2001, 6–7). 

I have felt this truth confirmed in my own life. Keeping Christ in the forefront of my life, as my foundation in life, has kept me safe from the arrows of the adversary that threaten all of us. I know we will be safe as we allow the Savior to rescue each of us, all we need do is learn of Him and remember Him.
 



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Helaman's Stripling Warriors: A Lesson on Fatherhood

 


I am currently enrolled in a Book of Mormon class through BYU-I. We have reached the chapters of war found in Alma. I am usually inclined to rush through these chapters to get to what I previously believed to be, the more important or applicable accounts and teachings. Being forced to give these chapters of war greater thought and consideration, I found numerous applicable lessons and counsel that I had previously missed. With such great examples as Captain Moroni, Pahoran, Helaman and his young soldiers we can learn ways to stay safe and secure in our own personal battles against the powers of evil.
I would like to focus my writings today on the lesson taught in Alma 53. This is where we read of the people of Ammon who, back in Alma chapter 24, covenanted to never use weapons again to shed the blood of men. As war rages all around them, they have thus far been under the protection of the Nephites. Watching these good men labor on their behalf to keep them safe caused the men of Ammon to be moved with compassion, and they desired to take up arms again to help defend their country alongside the Nephites. Having knowledge of the testimony and faith it took for these men to bury their weapons of war, Helaman encouraged them to stay true to their oath and covenant with God. A plan was then devised to send their sons in their stead to stand with the Nephites, and defend their country. And so the story of Helaman and his stripling warriors is born.
Many are familiar with the account of these young men and their powerful faith and testimony in God. Many know that these young men give tribute to their mothers for this knowledge and faith. While I love this account and what it teaches in regards to motherhood, as I read the account this time around I found another view of this story that is equally inspiring, that of Fatherhood.
These brave, humble men put their trust in God and gave their sons to fight for the cause of liberty. These same humble men loved their wives and encouraged them to seek their own testimony of God, and to teach it to their children. These great men kept the covenants they had made with God and by doing so aided in securing God's protection over their young sons. Tenderness fills my heart as I think of the vital part these fathers played in the protection of their families and their country through their personal righteousness and diligence to God.
Fathers, you are so important. As stated above, the calling of fatherhood is sacred. You can be a shield of protection to your families as you remain true to the covenants you have made.
I am grateful for such a father in my life. I am grateful for such a father in the life of my children. I am grateful to God for the many father figures throughout my life that have inspired me for good and, through their personal righteousness, have aided in securing a portion of heaven's protection from life's many storms.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2016 Goal in Progress: Replacing Complaining with Meekness

 



 As mentioned before here, I have gone back to school. Diving back into education has been very rewarding. I absolutely love taking religious courses alongside secular courses. Last semester, as part of my religion class, I had to choose a Christlike attribute and consciously work on making that attribute part of who I am. In other words, I had to become something. This is my becoming story of meekness, but it is only the beginning of my journey. Elder Neal A. Maxwell has taught: “Meekness is one of those attributes acquired only by experience, some of it painful, for it is developed “according to the flesh.” (Alma 7:11-12) It is not an attribute achieved overnight, nor is it certified to in only one exam—but, rather, “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21, 68-69)"
I have learned much, and rejoice in the many experiences I have had. I know that even though the first semester has come to a close, and a new one has begun, this was only “one exam” and my journey will continue if I allow it.

Meekness is described with words like humble, patient, docile, submissive, teachable, gentle and kind, strong and serene. With these words in mind, I began to look for examples of people who seem to posses these qualities. Prophets and apostles, both modern and ancient, seem to learn and grow in meekness as their discipleship deepens throughout their ministry. Moses was described as meek “above all the men on the face of the earth”.(Numbers 12:3) I looked to the stories of Jesus, for he was the ultimate example of meekness.

In striving for meekness, the first sign of difference that I recognized in myself was a sense of freedom. After breaking the mentioned habit of the uttered or un-uttered complaint, I experienced an immediate increase in peace and happiness. I was freed from certain expectations of mind that were limiting me in life. I immediately became more teachable and was richly rewarded for my efforts with some great study sessions taught by the Spirit. Once opening my heart, I experienced a brief period of intense pain and grief from the loss of my father and other subsequent hardships that have come since then, but I realized that by closing off my heart in order not to feel the hurt I was closing off my heart to the Lord and his healing, love and teaching. While I had experienced a small portion of the atonement working to heal, I wasn’t quite fully using this gift. I allowed the grief to work through me and received a couple of tender mercies that further proved the Lord’s awareness of me and my personal sufferings. By turning to the Savior, more fully though prayer, I demonstrated my desire to be meek and was rewarded for those efforts. Through these experiences I learned that meekness rests on trust in the Lord.

The second sign of difference that I noticed in myself was a new awareness of the attitude of entitlement I had been carrying. I realized that the grief I felt seemed so heavy that a sense of entitlement began to creep into my expectations from God the Father. I already had one very hard thing to deal with; I shouldn't have to deal with anything else of any difficulty. This sense of entitlement made me somewhat bitter, and therefore my responses to everything were somewhat bitter. Recognizing this enabled me to repent and once again turn my heart to the Lord for cleansing and healing. I learned that the weaknesses of the natural man never really leave. Instead, I felt like my "meekness muscles" were simply getting stronger; another sign of the atonement at work in me. This new enabling strength helped me to act on weaknesses rather than be acted upon by my emotions.

The third thing I learned about meekness is difficult for me. I have trouble being firm or taking a stand when necessary and feeling OK about it. In answer to my questioning I was reminded of the story of Jesus when he cleared the temple and overturned the tables. Poetically explained in Jesus the Christ: “The incident of Christ’s forcible clearing of the temple is a contradiction of the traditional conception of Him as of One so gentle and unassertive in demeanor as to appear unmanly. Gentle He was, and patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. His mood was adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself; tender words of encouragement or burning expletives of righteous indignation issued with equal fluency from His lips. His nature was no poetic conception of cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions and passions essential to manhood and manliness. He, who often wept with compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous anger of a God. But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or strongly they surged, He was ever master.”
This account made the man Jesus, which walked the earth, come alive inside my head. It gave him greater depth of character, and my admiration and love for him deepened because of it. I know, as I continue to strive for meekness, the Holy Ghost will guide my actions and I will be given strength to stand firm when necessary, and the ability to speak up, without mercilessly speaking down to others.

The fourth and final point of learning that I discovered is, since turning fully to the Savior, I have experienced a lightening of my burdens. He has kept His promise found in Mathew: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mathew 12: 28-29) I have experienced this for myself and my joy is full. Have my problems, trials, and heartaches been removed? No. They have been made light through Jesus Christ. The power of the atonement is real and brings a sense of calm within, even amidst the storms of life.

Spencer W. Kimball described the depths that we must sometimes go to find such stillness: "There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties."
Meekness is that place of stillness where the voice of God can be heard. Meekness is that quiet strength, which resonates the portion of divinity that is within each of us. Meekness is humble gratitude for the path I have been given, and a willing servitude as I continue to walk that journey. How grateful I am for the opportunity to develop, in greater measure, the attribute of meekness.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Swimming in Habits

Uintah, Utah


I live in the little town of Uintah, which is bordered on the south and west by the Weber River. A few years ago we experienced higher temperatures in the spring which resulted in a spring melt in the mountains, causing high run off to the rivers. Our little portion of the Weber River became a fast flowing, large river in a hurry. Several homes were threatened as flooding became a problem. One man explained to me that the river was trying to flow its old course that it had hollowed out many, many years before when the town had fewer homes. The memory of this event came to mind as I was reading in the book "The Power of Habit". It states that "water is the most apt analogy for how a habit works. Water hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before." Like a river flows unconsciously the course that it has set for itself, so do we, as we mindlessly follow our habits that have been ingrained in our brains day after day. To help illustrate the unconsciousness of some of our habits the story is told of two young fish swimming along who happen to meet an older fish. The older fish says 'Morning boys. How's the water this fine day?' The "boys" do not answer and swim by with a mere glance at the older fish. After some time one of them looks over at the other and asks 'What the heck is water?'

Consciously or not, it is our habit of thinking and doing that creates the world each of us live and swim in everyday. It is habits that play a central role in our happiness and success in life. One such habit, that will add a greater measure of happiness to life, is that of service."People grow to the way in which they have been exercised, just as a sheet of paper, once creased or folded, tends to fall forever afterwards into the same identical folds." Exercise daily service to others and it will become part of who you are, out of habit.

I am reading in the Book of Mormon and have come to King Benjamin's address to his people. One of the first key elements to this powerful sermon is the teaching of the principle of service. King Benjamin points out to the people all that he has done to serve them. He recounts the many times he has served the people to show how integrated service is in his life. He does this, not to boast of his own goodness, but to be for an example to the people. To teach them of his deep respect and love for God the Father. It states in Mosiah 2:17 "behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." He then goes on to say that even after all he has done, he is still an unprofitable servant. Why? Because he could never repay God for lending him breath and preserving him all his life. But God isn't looking for us to repay him. All He asks of us is that we keep his commandments, and one of those commandments is to serve others.

I could further write on research studies, and further expound on readings both secular and spiritual that show the many benefits of a person giving a portion of their day to service. Instead I will simply close this post with my affirmation of the power of the habit of service. I have felt the joy that comes in serving another. It is real, it can change the world. Even if that world is simply the small river that you are currently swimming in. Cultivate the habit of service. It will bring blessings both here and now, and in the eternal life to come.

Friday, February 12, 2016

"That Which Cannot Satisfy"

 

I have the great privilege of working with a group of young women ages 12-18 in my church. I have grown to love them dearly, and weekly enjoy their exuberant youthful-isms. A few of them have permitted me into their social circles of life as well. Technology is so liberating, I can attend lunchroom socials, fast food gatherings after a sporting event, concerts and bus rides without even going anywhere! It truly is amazing the many places I can go to with just the touch of a screen. 
With this idea in mind, I began to look around at my group of girls. I could only imagine the places and events they attend. Due to my age and station in life, comparatively, I have only been permitted to just a few of these events with just a few of my girls. Still, there is a sense of joy of being accepted, even if by only a few. What fun things we get to do together. 
Click...
Virtual life over. I am back home now cooking and cleaning, taking care of children, running errands. Hmm...virtual life is much more fun, I think I'll go back. Click...

I hope you can see the humor in this story. I am not so UN-grounded in life that my sense of joy is as fleeting as with the click of a button. The point I wish to make with today's post is that many are, as many should be due to their age and lack of experience. As a leader of the precious young women I spoke of, I have noticed an increase in depression for some of our girls. Speaking with others, I am not alone in this awareness. I wonder if this depression stems from difficulty in separating the emotions that come from virtual experiences and the emotions that come with real life experiences. To the young people, they are not separate. Their life realities coincide with their virtual realities. In a time of life where they are just mere babes in learning who they are and what they are capable of, their foundation to build their life on is not yet dry. They are freshly poured, not yet cured with years of experience. Is it any wonder then that so many of them have attached their happiness and joy in life to the simple click of a button.

These ideas and concerns all came to mind this week as I was reading in 2 Nephi chapter nine. In verse 51 we are counseled: "Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
... remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice."

With so much available at the fingertips of our young people... so many friends, so many good ideas, so many fun places to go, so many possible projects, so many funny quotes and humorous images... it does not surprise me that the realities of their life are quite dissatisfying.

Unfortunately, age does not give immunity to these feeling of apathy and lack of life satisfaction. All must be watchful or can fall as prey. The technologies given us are full of so many good things. We must keep our foundations strong and grounded by daily seeking Jesus Christ, feasting upon the word of God, and continually giving thanks by day and by night. This will enable us to have enjoyment of both worlds, virtual and real. Then we can in turn, teach our young people where to look for and experience that which is of great worth, and is satisfying to the soul.



Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Them That Honour Me Will I Honour"

 



 Remember that little pity party I threw myself here? Well, note to self: never murmur, and rejoice in all things....(grateful for another opportunity to learn)

 

“Them That Honour Me Will I Honour”
Stake Conference Jan. 2016


Recently I read the book Man's Search For Meaning, in it Dr. Viktor Frankl points out that life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, nor is it a quest for power, it is a quest for meaning. Having chosen to make his life's work in the field of psychology, Dr. Frankl was able to look deeper at his own experiences as a concentration camp prisoner and at prison life as a whole. Analyzing man and their responses to such terrible suffering, he questioned, under such excruciating circumstances not why so many died, but why anyone survived at all. In the end, he concluded that the survivors all had one common thread in their understanding: they had a tenacious belief that their suffering had meaning.

When I think of the word tenacious, a sense of holding fast to something comes to mind, even when obstacles arise. Further, it is defined as being persistent; having an obstinate determination to accomplish some work or task that has been undertaken. Tenacity would seem then, is a quality worth developing, especially in our youth and young adults. Those without tenacity may strive halfheartedly against an obstacle, only to give up and quit when it becomes too difficult; others may quit before they have even begun because their task seems insurmountable.

Looking at the life of Joseph Smith, we find another example of this tenacious mindset. On one occasion, after multiple trials already endured, the prophet Joseph said to his cousin, George A. Smith: "Never be discouraged. If I were sunk in the lowest pit of Nova Scotia, with the Rocky Mountains piled on me, I would hang on, exercise faith, and keep up good courage, and I would come out on top.” (John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith, an American Prophet, New York: MacMillan Co., 1946, p. 9.) From where we sit today, knowing the end from the beginning, one might question how is dying as a martyr coming "out on top"? The Prophet Joseph Smith understood that his suffering in life had meaning and therefore he courageously and tenaciously went forward, despite many difficulties and despair.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Family is the most important social unit in time and eternity. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, allow them to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life. (Family Guidebook; Organization and Purpose of the Family) With this truth in mind, we might wonder then why much of our own personal suffering, heartaches, and sorrows come from living in a Family. This is not new to our day and time, countless examples have come before us. The scriptures are full of familiar family sufferings. Sibling rivalry, wayward children, complaining spouses, husbands that work long hours, parents that exercise unrighteous dominion. Even our first parents, Adam and Eve, had a moment of disagreement when that great serpent was allowed into the Garden of Eden. These family experiences have been recorded so that we may learn from them; each, in turn, teaching a principle or truth that we can apply in our day now. One such scriptural experience is that of the family of Lehi. With our Sunday School classes teaching the Book of Mormon this year, this account should be fresh on our minds.

Having left the comforts of their home, Lehi's family undertakes a new journey, and as is common amongst traveling families, the parents are forced to endure fighting children right from the get go. Nevertheless, they press forward facing the uncertainty of the road ahead and the ending to which they will travel. As a father, what a difficult and heavy burden Lehi had to carry. I'm sure concern and anxiety for the welfare of his family weighed heavily upon his shoulders. Always merciful and tender in His teaching, the Lord gives Lehi a vision to strengthen him and give direction. I am speaking of the vision of the tree of life.

We learn through Lehi, and his son Nephi that the iron rod in this dream is a representation of the word of God. For our purposes today, we are going to think of the iron rod in terms of the truth and doctrine of the establishment of the family. The account tells of a narrow path surrounded by dangerous obstacles. Those who hold on tightly to the doctrine of the family are mocked and persecuted. Many fall away and are lost to the wide uncertain path, the filthy river, and the great and spacious building. Others grab hold of the truth and press forward. For all of the different travelers, an already difficult journey gets even more difficult when a mist of darkness obscures their vision.
Lehi says, “And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost”. (1 Nephi 8:23)

It is important to note that the "mists of darkness" descended upon all of the travelers, from the disciplined and faithful, to the ungrounded and questioning soul. These mists have the potential power to "blind the eyes, and harden the hearts of the children of men". (1 Nephi 12:17)

Trials and tribulations, or in other words "exceedingly great mists" within the family come in many forms: death, disability, a marriage that is different than expected, no marriage, mental illnesses of many forms, loss of job, loneliness, physical illness, a wayward son or daughter, parents who make mistakes, divorce. The list is endless. Even in the supposed ideal family there are challenges to be faced. No marriage is free of disagreement; no relationship is free from travail of some sort.

Where are we to find light and hope when such obscuring mists of darkness surround our families and us personally?

Nephi says “...[there] were multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to [that] rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree,” meaning, the tree of life which he learned is a representation of the love of God. (1 Nephi 8:30; 1 Nephi 11:22)

Viewing this manifestation of God’s love, Nephi goes on to say:
“I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, … [who] went forth ministering unto the people…
“… And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted… and they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God...” (1Nephi 11:28-31)
"...And [whoso] would hold fast unto [the word of God], they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction." (1 Nephi 15:24)

If we hold fast to the doctrine of the family and all other truths we have been given, it will lead us to the tree of life, or the love of God, which is given in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. All truth points to Jesus Christ. He is our safe harbor.

As much as we would like each of our family members to take hold of the word of God, and the doctrine of the family with both hands, we are powerless to make them. We can only take hold ourselves. With that choice we demonstrate our level of trust in God the Father and our trust in the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. The mists of darkness will always work to obscure our vision, and we might suffer deep loss in many forms along the way, but just prior to learning of the tree of life, Nephi teaches us another lesson as he follows God’s commandment to make two separate records.

He says “…I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.”
“…Wherefore these plates are for the more part of the ministry; and the other plates are for the more part of the reign of the kings and the wars and contentions of my people.”
“Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.”
“But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words…” (1 Nephi 9:3-6)

We know from latter day experience that the hand of God was already at work to compensate for the manuscript lost by Martin Harris. In answer to Joseph Smith’s lamenting cries to the Lord regarding the lost pages, the Lord answers him saying “behold, there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel…” (D&C 10:45)
Not only did God work to replace that which was lost, He provided something greater in its place. It is comforting to know that the Lord will compensate for the sorrows of our losses in life. When one door closes He will open another, if we but tenaciously hold fast to the truths we have been given, and come unto Christ trusting in his merits, mercy and grace. Through that demonstration of faith in Him, we can be enabled beyond our own capacity to walk the road we have been given, with all of its surrounding dangers and mists of darkness.

I understand that these are just words which I speak today, that the difficulty comes in the living, but I give you my testimony that so does the power. Look to Christ. Tenaciously hold onto truth. I know He will make up the difference and losses in your life as I have seen Him do in mine. Stated in Samuel the Lord makes this promise “…them that honour me will I honour.” (1Samuel 2:30) Trust in that promise.

Let me leave you with one closing thought from Elder Holland:
“Love. Healing. Help. Hope. This is the power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” That phrase—taken from Moroni’s final lines of testimony, written 1,000 years after Lehi’s vision—is a dying man’s testimony of the only true way.” (Elder Holland 2009 General Conference)

I add my testimony and witness that Jesus Christ is the only true way. God lives. Jesus came to earth to enact the great and atoning sacrifice on our behalf. The power of the atonement is real; it can mend relationships both here and now, and in the eternity. Family relationships perpetuate beyond the grave. I have come to know this in a very personal way.

Adversity, when confronted with faith, courage, and tenacity, can be overcome, for us personally and for our families. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Complaining


http://www.chocolateboxwriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/complain.jpg 



Another 2016 New Year's Resolution for me. Not that I am generally a major complainer in life, I just feel like I have slipped into a bad habit the last year and half. Most of the complaining happens in my head, the rest is heard by my hubby and dearest non-judgmental friends. Since it's the year of the Book of Mormon in Sunday School, let's start there for examples and learning.
(I have touched a little on this subject once before here. Like many aspects of life, we always need a little tune up. The longer I have this little blog, the more I like the fact that I can go back and re-learn what  have already learned. Oh the folly of human nature, we are forgetful students.)

1 Nephi 5- Sariah complains against Lehi(oh dear)
Surprisingly this is not a marriage post, although it could easily be turned into one. This is a gratitude post because that is where my studying took me. In the first few chapters of Nephi, murmuring is clearly one of the lessons we are to learn -not- to do. Ideally we should be as Nephi and Sam, turning our hearts to the Lord and be believing, stoically going forward when the Lord gives a commandment. However, if we read this account and merely view the words as just historical facts, then we miss so much. Let's do a little visualization with Sariah in mind. 
Sariah is a wife, mother, daughter of God. Her husband has just had his life threatened by some very angry people. She wants safety for her family as much as her husband does. They leave their comfortable home, traveling around 14 days into unknown territory and make camp. She listens to her children fight and complain, she has to endure days and days of worry as she sends her children back to that life threatening city they had just left. She has to sleep, and cook, and live in a tent with all of the natural elements that come with the outdoors. If anyone has a right to complain about her current situation it is Sariah. (I must give her credit for silencing her complaints up until this point, surely my husband would have heard about it from me long before now.) She is tired, her body probably hurts in some way from all of the travel and sleeping on the ground. She thinks she has lost all of her children. She has reached the end of her limits as a mother, as a wife, as a child of God. My heart aches for her now as I visualize all that she has gone through. So she complains, poor, tired, grieving Sariah complains. 
It is here that I begin to question, what am I to learn from this? Sariah is experiencing very hard things, what am I to do then when I experience hard things?
There is a footnote on the word 'complain'. Footnote 2a tells me if I want more information to see TG(topical guide) Murmuring. Under 'Murmuring' it says "See also, Disobedience; Disputations; Ingratitude; Rebellion". The word Ingratitude stood out to me which recalled to my memory President Uchtdorf's talk Grateful in Any Circumstance. What on earth did Sariah have left to be grateful for? Her world was falling apart. President Uchtdorf kindly teaches us, when we find ourselves in such difficult situations as Sariah's:
"Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be."   
He further adds "Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God. It requires that we trust God and hope for things we may not see but which are true. By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done. True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will." 

Lesson learned: True gratitude is an act of faith in God and an expression of testimony. I want to be known by my Savior and God as being grateful, in any circumstance, because I love them.



Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Prospects of a New Year


 


The word 'prospects' as a noun suggests to the mind some sort of promising future outlook. It is further clarified in the dictionary as: an apparent probability of advancement, success; something in the view as a source of profit; anticipation; expectation; a looking forward.
I generally look forward to the starting of a new year and its many prospects. Although, having ended the year 2014 in grief, I don't remember being to keen on the start of 2015. (I insert this detail in case any of you readers are feeling the same thing and not really looking forward to a new year. Grief is so very heavy and I am deeply sorry for your loss. I promise, with time, healing takes place and you will once again experience the joy of new beginnings. Give it time.) Having my heart somewhat healing, and recognizing all that I am blessed with, has renewed my enthusiasm for a new year and the many possible resolutions I can make.
Several months ago I began to feel like I had reached a crossroad in life. All my children are in school all day, a life milestone that caused both mourning and joy, so my days are now freer. While being available during the day if my kids should need something, and helping in their school is very important to me, I still felt lacking. I told my hubby we needed to have more babies, when that didn't happen, I decided to take my patriarchal blessing to the temple and study out what the Lord wanted me to do. My hubby and I talked about me possibly going back to school. Over the Christmas break we looked into Pathway. An LDS Church program designed to help people obtain an education online through BYUI. It just so happened that they had a Winter start semester and I could still apply and get on the waiting list. So we went forward. I was accepted into the program and have now begun a long slow road to a bachelors degree. I am excited and overwhelmed at the same time, but I look forward to this 2016 new year's resolution and all of its many prospects!