"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
While attending Brigham Young University, I studied in Jerusalem with approximately 170 students during the fall of 1998. As the Christmas season approached, we began to focus our studies and field trips around the birth of the Savior.
The Savior has brought the gift of joy to our cold and dreary world. He has promised to stand watch through the long, dark night, despite the terrors and hardships this life can bring. He knows us, His sheep. He is our Shepherd.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!" The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven andthink of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world." Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall.
One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" The first tree said. The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!" The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me." He muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, with treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river; instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful." she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler feel asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Recently, Elder Uchdorf spoke on this topic of lights at Christmas. He mentioned that our Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate this time of year, is the "Light of the world." In the Doctrine and Covenants we read "And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God." Now when I look at the christmas lights I am reminded of my Savior whose humble birth, perfect life, and incredible sacrifice make it possible for me to find my way through mortality and return to live with my family forever in the presence of my Heavenly Father. I'm very grateful for his sacrifice on our behalf. I'm grateful for this time of year that helps us to remember Him, to turn our thoughts to Him, and to become more like him. I know as we strive to become more like him the light within us will grow stronger and brighter as well.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ has the divine power to lift you to great heights from what appears at times to be an unbearable burden or weakness. The Lord knows your circumstances and your challenges. He said to Paul and to all of us, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ And like Paul we can answer: ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9)” (“Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2007, 19).
I had once assumed that Ether 12: 27 meant that the more we work at something, the better we will get at it, until it is no longer a weakness for us, but a strength. And that's part of it. But the other part, the part I was missing was the role of the Savior. We all have our weaknesses, but only with the help of the Savior can we overcome them. Through our weaknesses, Christ makes up the rest and fills in the holes that would potentially keep us from exaltation. We are perfected through him. What a great opportunity it is for us to learn and to draw closer to the Savior through our struggles and imperfections!
At this time of year and in these difficult times it seems so hard sometimes to remain positive and have a good attitude about the future. But our knowledge of a Savior and His Atonement are reason to rejoice and remember "there is hope smiling brightly before us."
I Don’t Know Why I Did It
I don’t know why I did it
For someone such as he.
He’d surely get a lickin’
Had I only let things be.
A younger brother needs to know
That rules must be obeyed;
That chores must be completed
Before the games are played.
But father was so busy
Keeping up the Inn
To know where Jake was going,
Nor care where Jake had been.
There were so many people
I had my work to do,
I don’t know why I did it—
He should be working too.
But then I felt a prompting
Something deep within,
To look inside the stable
Behind our crowded Inn.
I tried to just ignore it,
To push the thought away.
If Jacob wasn’t working,
It’d be his price to pay.
The feeling was still nagging,
I could think of nothing more.
So pulling on my woolen wrap
I slipped out the back door.
It was as I suspected,
The chores weren’t getting done.
All the troughs were empty
While Jake was having fun.
I don’t know why I did it—
I should have turned him in,
But then I started feeling
That prompting once again.
I should have been unhappy
To do the extra chore,
Since my brother Jacob,
I did the favor for.
But something came upon me
The room was filled with awe.
The feeling was intensified
When I touched the straw.
I filled the manger to the top
And my heart burned within
What was it with this simple straw
That let this feeling in?
When the job was finished,
I paused to say a prayer,
To thank my Heavenly Father
For sending me out there.
That night my father sat us down
To tell us he was proud
Of how we did our chores that day
And managed the big crowd.
He said he had to turn away
A mother large with child,
But offered her and Joseph
The stable for a while.
I saw my little brother
A tear was welling up.
I knew what he was thinking
His chores were never done.
I don’t know why I did it,
But I pulled Jacob near,
And told him that I loved him
And that he needn’t fear.
The stars shone extra bright that night;
I found it hard to rest,
Jacob must have felt the same
For he crept into my bed.
He snuggled up real close to me
And closed his little lids.
I don’t know why I did it—
But I’m so glad I did.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
What are some ways that you teach others (children/neighbors) about the Savior's birth?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
One of the speakers taught about how he had seen the direct blessings of tithing, fast offerings, and other donations. In our church, we are taught that 10% of our increase should be given as tithing and that once a month as we fast we should give the money that would have gone to food as fast a offering. When possible, we are encouraged to give more that the basic amount because of the need for fast offerings to assist those that need help. Other donations can be made to various programs the church offers.
The brother that spoke told of how fast offerings of the members of his congregations had once helped their family get food in their cupboards during a time when money was scarce. Seeing this sacrifice from his neighbors made him profoundly appreciate the Lord's system to care for those that are in need.
However, the story that made me feel even more grateful for the things that I have been given and the ways that I can help others was one from his mission in Russia. During his time in Siberia he had the opportunity to translate for two senior humanitarian missionaries. One day they visited an orphanage and what he saw was truly appalling: children who didn't have beds, clothes, or enough food. Twenty to thirty babies in a room who were silent because they knew that their cries could not be answered because of extremely limited staff (the orphanage director tearfully explained that new babies would cry straight for almost 3 days until they realized that no regular help would be coming). The young missionary was overwhelmed, but the seasoned missionaries calmly made a list and left for the day. Because of the humanitarian funds of the church, all three missionaries were able to return to that orphanage with the desperately needed supplies. He described how this sweet couple were treated as celebrities because of their generous help, and this was all possible because faithful people from all over the world donate funds to church programs.
I know that Heavenly Father has given us a way that we can help others with the resources that we have. Through paying our tithing, fast offerings, and donating to other programs when possible, we can not only learn to appreciate how everything comes from the Lord, but we can demonstrate that we are willing to strengthen our neighbors - even if that neighbor might be thousands of miles away.
Monday, November 24, 2008
"I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father - as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others - God will encircle you in the arms of His love. Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment. As spirit daughters (and sons) of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage."
What were your favorite quotes/talks from this past Conference? Has anything been particularly meaningful or helpful to you?
For President Uchdorf's full talk, click here.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
In our congregation, we were recently given a short list of scriptures that are a great starting point for anyone who would like to come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of this book for themselves. By focusing on these short, key sections, the book can become much more manageable and immediately relevant. I encourage any who have questions that need to be answered, to turn to the Book of Mormon for guidance and examples that can truly change lives. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who prepared a way for this book to be available to us today. Please take the opportunity to explore this book and learn more of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Some suggested passages to begin study with are:
1 Nephi 11:27, 31, 33
2 Nephi 2:25
2 Nephi 9:14-15, 21-23, 28-29
2 Nephi 29:3, 8
2 Nephi 31:5, 17
2 Nephi 32:9
2 Nephi 33:10-11
Mosiah 3:5, 8, 17, 19
Alma 30:43, 44, 49, 52, 60
Alma 32:17, 18, 21, 26, 27
3 Nephi 11:8, 10, 22-26, 33-34
3 Nephi 15:21-24
3 Nephi 18:15-21
3 Nephi 27:19-22
3 Nephi 29:6-7
Mormon 9:7, 17, 19, 21
If you would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon, please visit http://www.mormon.org/.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Sadly, however, Spoto discounts any literal visions or voices as described by Joan. He explains that she could only describe them the way she did because she did not have the language to tell what “really” happened.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do believe that God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, literally appeared to Joseph Smith, which began the modern-day restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Additionally, Spoto goes into great lengths to explain how Joan could still be a virgin at age 19. His historical explanation is good, and should make sense to a modern reader. I was saddened, though, that this was something that had to be explained! Our society has become so promiscuous that we hardly know virtue anymore. The Chuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches us to live chaste lives – abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after. It really does make life so much simpler!
I am so glad that we believe in a literal existence of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and that our Father continues to speak to His children. I am also grateful for chastity and virtue and that I was taught them at a young age.
"What we desperately need today on all fronts - in our homes and communities, in schoolrooms and boardrooms, and certainly throughout society at large - are leaders, men and women who are willing to stand for something. We need people who are honest; who are willing to stand up for decency, truth, integrity, morality, and law and order; who respond to their consciences even when it is unpopular to do so - perhaps especially when it is
unpopular to do so.
None of us will become perfect in a day or a month or a year. We will not accomplish it in a lifetime, but we can begin now, starting with our more obvious weaknesses and gradually converting them to strengths as we go forward with our lives. This quest may be a long one; in fact, it will be lifelong. It may be fraught with many mistakes, with falling down and getting back up again. And it will take much effort. But we must not sell ourselves short. We must make a little extra effort. We would be wise to kneel before our God in supplication. He will help us. He will bless us. He will comfort and sustain us. He will help us to do more, and be more, than we can ever accomplish or become on our own.
No nation can rise above the strength of its homes or the virtue of its people. The time has come for good people everywhere to demonstrate that they stand for something - something that is virtuous and clean and worthwhile. To that end, may we move forward with faith in the Almighty, and with a determination to live virtuous lives and to return to our society the element of goodness on which it was founded."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I love to look at the temples of the church, but yesterday only one thing kept my attention: the thousands of rock pieces that make up the massive walls. I can scarcely imagine the monumental task given to the pioneers to complete such a huge and ornate building when they were still settling in this relatively new area. However, each piece of rock was carefully chiseled by hand and placed in the right spot. Piece by piece they were able to finish what many probably thought was impossible. Their work will stand as a symbol of dedication to the Lord because they were willing to haul, shape, and place each piece of limestone.
When my life is finished I want to have accomplished a few things, the most important being that I want to be able to see that I have lived a life of faith and done the best that I can with what I had available. With hopefully years to come before this day, this goal often seems monumental. How can I do my best when I'm exhausted from a teething toddler or when I can't seem to garner enough patience to deal with a three-year-old's logic? Despite my many limitations during this phase of my life, I know that if I just do what I can each day, piece by piece, I will be lifted up by others and the Lord so that things will work out. And when the time comes, I will hopefully be able to look back and see a life that is made up of tiny pieces of goodness and hard work that has been shaped into something magnificent.
"And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father." Ether 12:37
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It is a wonderful thought by President Henry B. Eyring. He quoted it in a talk several years ago (I am not positive who the author really is because it is attributed to many people), and I am sure that many have heard it before.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
"After God ended his work of creation on this earth, he blessed and sanctified his day of rest—the seventh day (see Gen. 2:2–3). When he reiterated the day’s importance through Moses on Mount Sinai, he told the people of Israel: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). That word remember is important. Most of us need daily reminders, such as prayer and scripture study, to keep the Lord and his work in our hearts, but we also need one whole day out of seven to refocus our attention and our hearts on him completely—to rest from worldly things that may too easily work their way to the top of our priority list." (D. Kelly Ogden, “Remember the Sabbath Day,” Ensign, Apr 1994, 46)
I went to high school in Belgium. It was a pretty small high school - my graduating class was only 29. My senior year, me and a good friend who is also LDS (we were the only mormons in our grade) were awarded the honor of being valedictorian and salutatorian. I remember one of my good friends called to congratulate me and in our conversation she stated how impressed she was that me and my LDS friend received that distinction, especially when we didn't do any studying on Sunday and even went to Seminary one evening a week. She told me that she always did a lot of studying on Saturday and Sunday and definitely every evening during the week. For some reason, that conversation has always stuck with me and I'm grateful that I never studied on Sunday.
Of course there are exceptions. Some times we are required to work on Sundays and there can be other reasons -- for example when I lived in Jordan, our Sabbath day was on Friday since we lived in a predominantly muslim country. However, I testify that we need to remember to keep the Sabbath Day holy. One day a week, we should devote more time and energy to renewing our spirits and worshiping our Heavenly Father. I know I have been blessed my keeping this commandment and I am so grateful for His wisdom in giving us the Sabbath day to help us on our journey through life and ultimately back to Him.
I'm ready for another week!!!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
There are times I am so often frustrated by my children, and wonder what it is I am not teaching, or how I ought to better approach them. But then I realize that I learn from them -- every day. I learn how to be a better mother from my children. I can't think of a greater truth -- and a straighter way to salvation -- than to 'be as a little child'
“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” Matt. 18: 1-5
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Yesterday during the Saturday session of General Conference, President Monson announced plans to build five new temples. Two of those temples mentioned are to be built in areas that Erick and I have lived: Kansas City and Philadelphia. I was so happy that I began crying.
I know that faithful members of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in those areas have had to make huge sacrifices in order to attend the temple many hours away. I am so thankful for such blessings from the Lord.
Erick and I were married in the Bountiful temple, and I know that because of that, our family can be together forever. With a husband in the military, it brings me such peace to know that God loves his children and has a plan for us. If Erick's life is cut short, heaven forbid, I know that it will not be the end of our existence together; we will still be married, and we will be together again.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
"What do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? Contrast that kind of knowledge with “I know it is cold outside” or “I know I love my wife.” These are three different kinds of knowledge, each learned in a different way. Knowledge of outside temperature can be verified by scientific proof. Knowledge that we love our spouse is personal and subjective. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.
While there are some “evidences” for gospel truths (for example, see Psalm 19:1; Helaman 8:24), scientific methods will not yield spiritual knowledge. This is what Jesus taught in response to Simon Peter’s testimony that He was the Christ: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). The Apostle Paul explained this. In a letter to the Corinthian Saints, he said, “The things of God knoweth no man, but [by]
the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11; see also John 14:17). In contrast, we know the things of man by the ways of man, but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The Book of Mormon teaches that God will manifest the truth of spiritual things unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:4–5). In modern revelation God promises us that we will receive “knowledge” by His telling us in our mind and in our heart “by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 8:1–2).
One of the greatest things about our Heavenly Father’s plan for His children is that each of us can know the truth of that plan for ourselves. That revealed knowledge does not come from books, from scientific proof, or from intellectual pondering. As with the Apostle Peter, we can receive that knowledge directly from our Heavenly
Father through the witness of the Holy Ghost.
When we know spiritual truths by spiritual means, we can be just as sure of that knowledge as scholars and scientists are of the different kinds of knowledge they have acquired by different methods."
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sam is almost 3 years old and is speeched delayed. About 80% of the time I have no idea what he wants. But one thing I do know, is that Sammy loves Thomas the Train. He loves everything about them! His favorite Thomas toys are the little take-along trains. They are just the right size to fit in his little hands. Yesterday, I let Sammy choose two of his trains to take with us to visit a few of our neighbors. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Sammy to lose his trains on the playground. I was a little upset, because those toys aren't cheap, and after about an hour of combing the playground we only found one train.
It was getting dark and I had given up. I put the boys (I have a 16 mo. old too) in the wagon to walk home, and Sammy started to whimper a little for his lost train. I was halfway to our apartment when I stopped and thought, "It won't hurt to take one last look." Before I turned around, I paused and thought, "I guess a little prayer won't hurt either." So I went and stood by Sam and bowed my head (only after checking around to make sure no one was watching) and I said a quick prayer in behalf of my little son who has no voice for himself. It went something like this: "Father in Heaven, I know that this may seem very petty and trivial, but Sammy lost his little train. I know it isn't a big deal to us, but it means a lot to him. Please, Father, help us find his little train, and bless Sammy for his perfect faith. Amen."
We started back to the playground. Then to my utter amazement, when we got to the gate, there was his little train, sitting there as if waiting just for us! Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as I realized that finding Sammy's train wasn't a trivial thing to pray for after all. Why? Because it mattered to Sam, and if it matters to him, then it mattered to the Lord.
What a loving Father in Heaven! How blessed that we are to know that no matter what, he will be there for us, to help us, comfort us, and heal us, when we need him. Thanks to my little son, with his perfect faith, I know my Father in Heaven a little bit more. If it matter's to us, it matters to Him.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
President Hinckley wrote that we should, "celebrate and treat children as our most priceless treasures ... If our children are really our greatest treasures, it stands to reason that they deserve our greatest attention (Standing for Something, 152)." I know that I often fall short of this ideal, but I truly hope that at the end of my lifetime I will be able to look back and see that I dedicated myself as much as I could to what matters the most.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Fast forward a few weeks after that. We were driving through Georgia on our move to Florida and it began to rain. We were on the freeway going 75mph and although the rain didn't seem like much I felt like it was starting to puddle a little on the road and I had the thought to slow down which I shared with my husband. As I began to slow down a car passed us on our left. Within seconds this car hydroplaned, began spinning circles in the middle of the highway, and hit the left side rail. The trunk flew open and the car jumped several feet into the air landing down hard on the road. Had I not slowed, this car would have spun right into our car. My husband called 911. I was in shock. It was the worst accident I have ever seen and we were seconds from being involved and seriously hurt. The thought of my two children in the back seat getting hurt brought me to tears and we had to take the next exit so that my husband could drive and I could stop shaking and crying. I then remembered the prayer we had so simply given hours earlier "Heavenly Father, we are thankful for all we have and for the safety we have had so far on our trip. Please bless us with safety again as we drive today." It went something like that at least. I KNEW without a doubt that God had answered our prayers.
If I had to pick, I would much rather have the prayer of safety answered than my silly broken camera. No matter what the outcome, I believe that we must show our faith by praying to God continually. I believe there is reason behind how our Heavenly Father answers our prayers. Whether or not we "see" an answer to our prayers, I know he hears us when we pray to Him because we are his children and he loves us. I hope to have the same magnitude of faith someday as the prophet Nephi did when he said--
Monday, September 15, 2008
If I follow the plan of happiness, I will have the opportunity to be with my husband and children for eternity. I have the opportunity to learn all the beautiful things this world has to offer, and then take them with me to the eternities. And the most incredible part of all of this? The plan itself is joyful. Not just the end result -- living it brings peace in a contentious world, serenity in a rapidly declining society, health an a tumultuous environment, and joy to all those who hear and embrace it. So therein lies my priorities -- or lack thereof. I have been blessed to know the way to find happiness, and I feel a responsibility to share that knowledge. When my little brother was preparing for his mission recently, he and I found an old CD I had from an Especially For Youth outing I went on when I was younger.
"I've never been the kind to testify
I don't have the words his truth deserves
But it's a simple thing he asks
A worthy heart and willing hands
He says if I'll make the choice
He'll help me find my voice" (Kenneth Cope)
How often has a variation of this verse been in my mind? I never have been the kind to testify -- because I don't have the words (or the courage) His truth deserves. But the rest of the verse is where I hope to focus -- it's a simple thing He asks ...
My priorities are constantly being realigned to keep myself on the track I want to be on -- but I have been blessed to know the simple truths in this world -- who I am, where I came from, and how to get to where I want to be -- and so many others don't have this same knowledge. So I hope to, once again, refocus my priorities and work on finding my voice, so that I can show my gratitude to my Father, and share His message. We may not all be called to the field, but we are all called to the work, and although I am nervous about the prospect, I genuinely look forward to heeding that call.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Our church leaders continually teach about the importance and divinity of womanhood. In our last General Conference, many references were made of the irreplaceable role of women, including an entire talk entitled "Daughters of God" (given by M. Russell Ballard), which encouraged women to reach towards their full potentials. Leaders have also given a great deal of counsel to women to obtain as much education as they can, which will in turn strengthen them and their family members. In our church, women have many possibilities to teach, lead, and serve. The women's organization of the church (the Relief Society) is the largest women's organization in the world and has almost limitless opportunities to teach and serve many around the globe. In addition to the countless ways women forward the work of the church, men are taught to revere and honor the women in their lives.
Through church leadership and local support, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints truly can strengthen women and help them achieve their best. Despite these teachings do women sometimes feel overwhelmed or inadequate to the tasks placed upon them? Definitely. With many societal pressures on how to be the "perfect" women, this is often the unfortunate case inside and outside of the church. Being a modern woman is especially difficult in a world that devalues the natural roles of mother and nurturer. However, if gospel principles are followed and women accept the best that they can do and not the best their neighbor can do, true happiness can be found in the honorable and unique role of womanhood.
In closing, there are many things that I do find degrading: pornography, society's crumbling view of the importance and sanctity of marriage, how women are often portrayed in the media, the idea that being "just a mom" is not enough, and the perception that if a women is a full-time caregiver she must have no other options available to her. On the other hand, something that I find genuinely ennobling: the church and how it helps me focus my life on the things that truly matter most - specifically, the Lord, my family, and personal growth.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
One summer my father said that he had a big job for me and my brother, Clay, to do. Pointing to a nearby field with a bunch of lambs in it, Dad said that he’d share any money that we made from raising and selling them.
We were excited. There were about 350 lambs, and all we had to do was feed them. However, none of the lambs had mothers. To feed one or two baby lambs is easy, but to feed 350 of them was a real job. We made some long, V-shaped troughs out of boards, then got a tin washtub, ground up some grain, put it into the tub, and added milk to make a thin mash.
When we herded the lambs to the troughs, they just stood there looking at us. We tried pushing their noses down into the milky mash, and we tried wriggling our fingers in the mixture to get them to suck our fingers. Some of them would drink, but most of them ran away.
Many of the lambs were starving to death. The only way that we could be sure they were eating was to pick them up and feed them.
At night the coyotes would sit up on the hill and howl. The next morning we’d see the results of their night’s work, and we’d bury two or three more lambs.
Clay and I soon forgot about becoming rich. All we wanted to do was save our lambs. It really wasn’t too bad until I made a pet of one of the lambs and gave it a name. It was always under my feet, and it knew my voice. I loved that lamb. One morning it didn’t come when I called it. Later that day I found it under the willows by the creek. It was dead. With tears streaming down my face, I picked up my lamb and went to find my father. Looking up at Dad, I said, “Isn’t there someone who can help us feed our lambs?”
After a long moment he said, “Jayne, a long, time ago, Someone Else said almost those same words: ‘Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.’ ” (John 21:15–16.)
Many years later, while pondering Moses 1:39—“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [all mankind]”—I remembered the summer of the lambs, and I sensed how the Savior must feel with so many lambs to feed, so many souls to save. And I knew in my heart that He needed my help.
By Jayne B. Malan First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I am so grateful for a church that has standards for its' members to live by (please see For the Strength of Youth which is a publication given to the youth of our church clearly explaining our standards of living). And, I'm especially grateful for a church that teaches these principles to the children and youth. In a world that is full of terrifying events and trends, it is comforting to know that by teaching, learning, and adhering to gospel standards our children can be more safe in an unpredictable society. I know that programs like Young Women's are inspired and led by a loving Heavenly Father who wants us and our children to succeed in this life.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
C.S. Lewis said in his book, Mere Christianity, "People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
I love this quote. I have used it often in lessons and talks. We have a lot of guidelines as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but these "rules" or guidelines are not designed to make us feel guilty. They are designed as a tool to help us in our search to become a heavenly creature. I personally have a desire to become like my Savior, but for me - it is not because I hope to be saved or that I will earn the stamp of approval by our Father in Heaven, but rather because it feels right. It feels good. It feels like... joy! An indescribably sweeter emotion than just being happy.
And feeling this joy makes the choices to be more forgiving, more humble, more selfless, to keep my body clean from substances that cloud my spirit (food, tobacco, pornography, or drink), to serve in the church, etc... this feeling of joy makes all of these choices easy because I can feel them shaping me into a better person than I was before. It's not about what I will get, what consequences I will face, or where I will end up after this life. It’s about the type of creature I am becoming and it just feels right to be FREE of baggage, guilt, hatred, and revenge through the atonement of Jesus Christ.I am weak and I make poor choices every day, but I testify that the perspective I have gained from really understanding the gospel has brought me joy. It has brought me peace. And it has brought me knowledge, confidence, and wisdom. And I think my Father in Heaven would be proud of that.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Theodore Roosevelt said "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged "[Y]ou may make some mistakes. So what? We all make mistakes. The important thing is the growth that will come of activity. . . . Be willing to accept new challenges, and trust that the Lord will help you be equal to them. If you get discouraged, ask for help. But don't give up. As you keep trying you will find that your abilities increase."
We are all going to fall. How grateful I am that the Lord is there to help us get back up. The atonement of Jesus Christ covers our mistakes and our stumbling so long as we look to him, and do what he asks of us. He doesn’t care that we fall every time we take a step, or try to do a double backflip in piked position, what he cares about is that we are striving to better ourselves and to draw nearer to him.
Friday, August 8, 2008
But, how can we change and restart on the right path? A loving Father in Heaven has given us a way that we can forsake our mistakes and begin again. By repenting, or turning away from our shortcomings and drawing closer to God, we can feel whole again and regain peace in our lives. I have personally felt the worry and weight of misdeeds and I have also felt the calm and safe feelings that repentance brings. I am still very far from the person I want to be, but I know that I can always try to do better through the gift of repentance. So many are burdened by past problems, but all can move past the anxiety of the world and grow closer to our Heavenly Father by cleaning our slates and changing our lives for the good.
"Joy shall be in heaven over one ... that repenteth." --Luke 15:7
"Each one of us is commanded to both repent and to call upon God continually throughout life. That pattern allows each day to be an unspoiled page in the book of life, a new, fresh opportunity. We are given the rejuvenating privilege of overcoming mistakes of commission or omission, be they small or profoundly serious. Full repentance results in forgiveness with spiritual renewal." -- Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Path to Peace and Joy,” Ensign, Nov 2000
Monday, August 4, 2008
Evan and I just had our 9th Anniversary and he gave me a booklet of "10 Classic Love Poems" that he wrote. You can guess he had me laughing. I want to share one with you all.
My career will last 45 years which is long enough for me
I could cut it short and do something else, but I don't know what else I could be.
Raising a kid can take a score, or two if they just won't move out
But our kids are good and will want to move out unless they get sick with the gout.
But a marriage is a weird sort of thing, 'cuz if done right it will never end
And so we work and we laugh, and try to do what is right, and on each other we learn to depend.
So we've made it 9 years so far, which is 1 bizzilionth of the way
So we have far to go but I'm not concerned because marriage with you is like play
And so I think we should stick it out, it can only get better from here
Because life together is better than candy, French fries, and a six pack of beer.
I guess you have to know Evan to get his sense of humor, but I am grateful to be married to him and for the good man that he is and is becoming. I look forward to going further than "to death do you part" with him.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
In our usual rushing madness, I was hurrying my family into the Suburban when my six year old son stopped dead in his tracks to look at the beautiful site in this picture (taken from our driveway). He said, "Wow, mom. Look at that. It looks like when Heavenly Father came to visit the earth... Do you think that is Him watching over us?" I stopped and my four year old joined us. Time stood completely still as we just enjoyed the majestic creations that our Father in Heaven has given for us. I am grateful to know that this remarkable earth was indeed created by our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the simple reminder to take the time to give reverence to and enjoy this precious gift that we have. I am also grateful to know that the Heavens are opened; that our Father in Heaven did indeed come to the earth to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. I am grateful to know that I am entitled to receive personal revelation for myself and my family and that our Father in Heaven is watching over us and cares deeply about my trials and successes.