Tuesday, December 7, 2010
When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites in the America’s after his resurrection, he called twelve disciples to direct the work of the kingdom in that part of the world. After calling those twelve, Jesus began toteach the multitude. He hadn’t gone very far, however, when he again, “looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen” and gave them this advice in 3 Nephi 13:31-33. I have been thinking a little bit about these disciples and what thoughts must have been going through their minds as they were given these new responsibilities and what comfort this bit of advice must have given them. This scripture has also brought me comfort and perspective many times as I have sought balance with the different demands oflife, while striving to become a disciple of Christ.
We live in a very busy world. There are constantly many different things vying for our attention. How do we, then, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness while having faith that all these other things shall be added unto us? A few years ago when my oldest 2 sons were ages 1 and 3 and my husband had a busy calling, I often felt like I was the only one who was too busy to cope. I wondered how I could accomplish all that I felt I needed to, especially when it seemed like my husband was never home. Then, one day, in a conversation with a friend, she casually started talking about her husband’sbusy schedule. He worked late hours at his job and was attending school. My friend wasn’t complaining, she seemed to understand that everyone was busy and that we all did the best that we could. In talkingwith this friend I realized that I had been so caught up in my schedule that I had neglected my commitment to bear one another’s burden’s. My lack of focus had caused me to lose power in organizing my time and in searching for the peace and joy that I craved. When we are weighed down with responsibilities we tend to turn inward, focusing only on ourselves and forgetting the needs ofthose around us. We develop a condition that Elder Dallin H. Oaks refers to as an “excessive pre-occupation with self”. The cure for this condition is simple service, not in deed only, but also in attitude. As we come to understand that others struggle with busy lives as well, we learn to RSVP a no-thank-you to our self appointed pity parties and, putting our shoulder to the wheel, we begin to look for ways that we can organize our efforts and make the most of our time. We learn that serving others and striving to seek first the kingdom of God is about what the Lord wants for us, and not following our list of to-do’sbut the Lord’s list for us. Then we can truly feel the joy that is associated with becoming a disciple of Christ.
So we’ve discovered that we’re not alone in our busy state and that new thought gives uscourage and hope that we can balance our schedule successfully as others have before us. What’s the first step? What’s the key to feeling satisfaction that we’ve organized our lives in such a way that ourHeavenly Father knows that we seek first his righteousness? I’ve determined that the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit is the key. I remember, a few years ago, taking a walk in my neighborhood and walking by the home of one of my friends and thinking about her and wondering how things were going for her. This friend of mine is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and I found myself thinking that I was failing in my responsibilities as her friend and an example to her of a memberof our church. Almost immediately, upon thinking about her, I had new thoughts like: “How can I fulfill my duty toward her, when I have sisters that I visit teach that could use more care and love than I am giving them?” I started to think of not only my duties as a visiting teacher but my responsibilities in my other callings and responsibilities toward family and other friends, my home and my community! As you can see, I quickly became overwhelmed! It’s amazing how your mind can take one simple thought ofdoing more and run away with it! In our regional conference just three months ago, Sister Julie B. Beck taught us that “The ability to qualify for, receive and act on personal revelation is the single mostimportant ability that can be acquired in this life.” When we have the spirit as our daily companion these overwhelming thoughts that sometimes come can quickly be put into perspective as we re-examine our lives and do a quick mental check to see if we are following the Lord’s plan for us. When wefollow the Lords plan things that are most important seem to fall into place more easily. We feel peaceat the end of each day, knowing that, although we may not have accomplished everything on our list, wehave done our best with the Holy Spirit as our guide, and are therefore entitled to the love and approval of our Heavenly Father.
In order to have the Spirit with us constantly, Sis Beck suggests prioritizing our tasks into threecategories: essential’s, necessary’s and nice-to-do’s. She explained that she is amazed when she put’s the essentials first, how many necessary’s and nice to do’s she is able to accomplish. Remember thepromise? “…all these things shall be added unto you.” Sis. Beck also explained that when our priorities are out of order we lose power!
Since our goal is to know the mind and will of our Heavenly Father through the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, than our list of essential’s would include: prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance. If we live in families, especially with children at home than our goal as parents should include sharing that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost with our children and teachingthem to recognize the influence of God’s spirit. So our list would grow and include FHE, family prayer and family scripture study. Given the state of our world I’m sure you have all had experiences in whichyou felt the influence of Satan in your home and family. A few years ago my husband and I had an experience like this and I felt that our goal of an eternal family and life with God and our Savior was being threatened. No longer was family scripture study and family prayer considered simply, a good idea; it became essential. Without doing all in our power to seek first the kingdom of God how can we and those for whom we have stewardship have “hope for a better world, even a place at the right handof God”? (Ether 12:4)
While preparing for this talk, an article in this month’s Ensign caught my eye. It’s titled “All things in wisdom and order” by Elder John C. Taggart of the Seventy. He says: “To persist or persevere means to remain on the path. Those who do so find, to their delight, that the journey brings moments of surprising joy and great blessings, even as the way grows rocky or steep.” Brothers and Sisters, I testify that this is true because as we seek first the kingdom of God our natures change. We are able to eliminate the non-essentials not because we have to, but because we want to. Suddenly who’s getting kicked off our favorite reality show isn’t quite as important as spending a few more minutes in the scriptures or taking one more trip to the temple. I testify that God lives and that he loves us. His is the great plan of happiness. He knows of the joy that awaits us, but also of the joy and peace available today, in this life, if we choose to follow him in all things. This is made possible through the Atonementof our Savior Jesus Christ. I know he lives. I know that he stands at the head of this church and that he will come again. I pray that we may prepare ourselves for that day, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In RS, it was pointed out that when Lazarus died, Martha was actually very faithful and believing. She'd probably just been caught at a bad moment when Jesus reprimanded her. We talked about how we can't judge others without knowing the full story, just like if we forget how faithful Martha was at Lazarus' death.
It also made me think, though, how when we have the opportunities for something special like General Conference, or listening to Jesus in Martha's case, we should take them. I know Conference is over, but we can still apply the principle to choose the better part in all areas of our lives.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We are sowing, daily sowing countless seeds of good and ill,
Scattered on the level lowland, cast upon the windy hill;
Seeds that sink in rich, brown furrows, soft with heaven's gracious rain;
Seeds that rest upon the surface of the dry unyielding plain.
Seeds that lie unchanged, unquickened, lifeless on the teeming mold;
Seeds that live and grow and flourish when the sower's hand is cold.
By a whisper sow we blessings; by a breath we scatter strife.
In our words and thoughts and actions lie the seeds of death and life.
Thou who knowest all our weakness, leave us not to sow alone!
Bid thine angels guard the furrows where the precious grain is sown,
Till the fields are crown'd with glory, filled with mellow, ripened ears,
Filled with fruit of life eternal from the seed we sowed in tears.
D&C 6:33-36 ~ "Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. Therefore fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are build upon my rock, they cannot prevail...Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."
Monday, September 27, 2010
Isn't that how it is with our Heavenly Father? He's trying so hard to talk to us, but we are surrounded by noise and distractions, and we just can't hear him.
I'm sure someone else has posted a similar experience on here, but it's always a nice reminder to stop and listen!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I really wanted to feel better about my situation and began fasting and praying about it. The day I fasted, I opened up the August 2010 Ensign magazine and found several articles that applied to my problem!
A week or so later an older woman who I'd seen previously at a meeting came by with cookies! I've never had a real personal relationship with her, but something prompted her to reach out to me! The kids and I later took her a thank you card and ended up having a lovely visit.
Then, I shared some of my concerns with another friend. The next day, that friend called and said she was concerned about me. Her compassion brought me peace and reminded me of what a wonderful friend she is.
A day or two later, I was on the phone with another friend. We've had some miscommunications in the past and she felt she was supposed to call to make sure all was resolved. Wow. What a good example of courage. I did not harbor ill feelings for our miscommunications, but felt her call really validated our friendship.
All of a sudden, I realized that her calling me, as well as the other examples above, were witnesses that Heavenly Father loves me and knows me by name. He is concerned about my troubles, sorrows, and insecurities and wants me to work them out. He prompts people to step into my life right when I need it.
I was so grateful for that witness.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I have to admit that lately I have been feeling this way about a few things: When did my little girl get old enough to go to kindergartern? When did my baby decide she should try to walk? Did we really live in our last home two years? Looking back makes me realize just how fast my life moves by. During difficult times I sometimes feel like time stands still, but then in retrospect even the trials often appear like small blinks in my timeline (not that they're insignificant, it's just amazing how quickly they appear to go by in my memories). This is something I need to remember - that hard times do not last forever and that in the story of my life they will hopefully be only small moments.
Elder Perry had a beautiful talk a few conferences ago and he began it by saying, "Those of us who have been around a while...have recognized certain patterns in life’s test. There are cycles of good and bad times, ups and downs, periods of joy and sadness, and times of plenty as well as scarcity. When our lives turn in an unanticipated and undesirable direction, sometimes we experience stress and anxiety. One of the challenges of this mortal experience is to not allow the stresses and strains of life to get the better of us—to endure the varied seasons of life while remaining positive, even optimistic. Perhaps when difficulties and challenges strike, we should have these hopeful words of Robert Browning etched in our minds: “The best is yet to be” (“Rabbi Ben Ezra,” in Charles W. Eliot, ed., The Harvard Classics, 50 vols. [1909–10], 42:1103). We can’t predict all the struggles and storms in life, not even the ones just around the next corner, but as persons of faith and hope, we know beyond the shadow of any doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and the best is yet to come."
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
When she was solely nursing, my little one was startled during one feeding session and then decided that she would not nurse for four days unless I could be sneaky while she was asleep. I watched her getting more and more hungry and dehydrated until she finally gave in and began nursing again. Since then we have had other nursing strikes that haven't been quite as long, but have certainly been just as frustrating. Now that she has branched out into solid foods, we have had similar battles and it amazes me the will power a nine-month-old can muster.
I know that my baby needs nourishment to thrive and it is positively exasperating when she does not comply with this understanding. I know that our Father in Heaven probably does not get frustrated the same way that I do in situations like these. But, how do you think He feels when I am not complying with His plan for me - one in which He knows what will be best for me? Just like my baby needs to eat, we need to spiritually taste of the goodness of the gospel and comply with its' teachings to grow closer to our Father in Heaven. I am grateful that I have a patient Heavenly Father who understands my limitations and will help me progress despite my stubbornness and I am also grateful that one day my little baby will be a teenager who will devour all the food I bring into our home.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
But, once the Primary leaders started the meeting I could sense my little one's anxiety leaving. The sweet music leader got up and sang the "Hello" song to her and she was excited that she got a special moment to be welcomed. Then, when they began singing the songs they have been working on for the year, she turned to me with the hugest smile and said, "I know this song! We have been learning it too!" She then proceeded to sing with the group the sweetest song, which is a new one the children are learning this year.
Having never before heard this piece, I began listening to the words and was overcome with gratitude for a number of things. First of all, I felt grateful for our inspired church leaders who have standardized lessons so that no matter where we move, or visit, we will be able to stay in step with what others all over the world are learning at the same time. Secondly, I was grateful for all of the people who dedicate their time to teaching in our church and specifically those who have been teaching my children. And, thirdly, I felt grateful for the beautiful things that we are taught each week when we attend our meetings. To give you a glimpse of the beautiful messages that our children are taught, here are the lyrics from the song that my daughter's new Primary sung that day:
I Know My Savior Loves Me
by Tami Jeppson Creamer & Derena Bell
A long time ago in a beautiful place, children were gathered ‘round Jesus
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love.
Each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on his knee,
Yet Jesus is real to me.
I know he lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.
Now I am here in a beautiful place,
Learning the teachings of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way,
Lighting my path ev’ry day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior’s love,
I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way,
Home to my Father above.
I know he lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him. I know that my Savior loves me.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
PS- to read Elder Oaks' full talk, click on his name to be re-directed to it.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
It is primarily on the inhabitants of the building that I would like to focus. One thing to note about them is that “their manner of dress [is] exceedingly fine”, and another is that it seems that their only activity consists of “mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27).
Those people could certainly see the tree, and noted its exceeding beauty. I wonder if their exceedingly fine manner of dress was not an attempt to imitate that beauty. I believe that happens far too much in the world today. Making things look nice on the outside is no doubt easier than fighting their way across the river and through the mist of darkness while clinging to an unfashionable iron rod (all of which require some serious faith and repentance), but in the end the nice clothes will not make one happy, as will the fruit of the tree.
Now that the excitement of the new clothes has faded the inhabitants have to find something else to do. For all its greatness and spaciousness there does not seem to be a lot of diversions in the building, so the people turn to mocking those partaking of the fruit from the tree. From this we can learn some things. The diversions the world has to offer will not satisfy for long and sometimes the mocking and pride of the world is nothing more than jealousy at what those partaking of the fruit have. It is like the kid who did not study and fails the test calling the kid who worked hard and did well a nerd. Of course the taunt is nothing more than jealousy.
Based on this I would hope for two things for all of us. First, that we, like the Lord, would not worry too much about outward perfection, but would worry about perfecting our hearts (See 1 Samuel 16:7). Second, that we would not heed the mocking attitudes that we encounter from the world in general and sometimes from those much closer too us, but would rather let them know that there is no need to be jealous for there is no shortage of fruit and the tree is open to all.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Yesterday, my little boy asked me if he could wear a sweatshirt instead of a jacket to school. I knew perfectly well that it is about sweatshirt season, but forgot to tell him that. All he had to do was ask.
I'm not saying our Heavenly Father is forgetful or anything, but the experience gave me a little insight on why we do need to ask sometimes.
Monday, March 1, 2010
One day I was working myself into another frenzy when the thought quietly crept into my head, "be still and know that I am God" (D&C 101:16). I realized that I had been believing that I could plan my way and foresee every dip in the road. This reminder that I need to trust in the Lord has brought me the peace for which I longed. I still don't know what we will be doing after graduation. I still don't know how long economic troubles will plague our nation. I still don't know why people are suffering from natural disasters. But, I do know that I am not in charge and the Lord has a path for each of us. I hope that we can all feel peace and guidance of our Heavenly Father in our lives.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Today, I took my little girl to the allergist for her peanut allergy. The doctor suggested we test her for the typical childhood allergies. After they did the scratch test (they make little scratches on their arms and expose them to allergens to see what they are allergic to,) the nurse came in to check her arms. Her mouth dropped open and she immediately demanded if I have given my child the MMR vaccine. With no logical explanation as to why I didn't, I told her it just didn't feel right. She told me that my listening to my mother's intuition I had probably saved my child's life. She is extremely allergic to eggs and the MMR is an egg-based vaccine.
I know that it had nothing to do with mother's intuition and everything to do with the fact that God was watching out for me and my little girl. I am so grateful that the feelings were persistent even though I tried to shake them off and that in the end everything turned out OK. I have been reminded today that God is watching out for all of us and that he communicates to us through the spirit.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I have always wanted to accomplish great things in my life. I was the kid with a goal list reaching across the continents. When my little Sofie was born a little over a year ago, I decided to stay home. It was great and I loved it. We lived with my parents for awhile why my husband was on the job search so there was always something to do, always someone to be around. Then we moved 2,000 miles away.
In the last few months of my life and the first time of doing the mom thing on my own, I have felt worthless, like I was accomplishing nothing I wanted to in my life. After listening to Sofie scream for the 5th or 6th day all day in a row, a couple of weeks ago, I was done. I told my husband that I was going to seek out a studio and go back to work full time as a photographer. He suggested I pray about it. I didn't have to.
I know with my whole heart that at home is where the Lord wants me to be. That spending time with Sofie is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. Family is the most important thing in the whole world. I get to have Sofie forever, which I am grateful for, but she won't be a child for ever and I need to focus on her so I don't miss it.