Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ Talk

I gave this talk a few Sundays ago, my husband is the Ward Executive Secretary and he couldn't get anyone to say yes for this talk (Memorial Day Weekend, you get the picture) anyway so I said I would do it for him.

This talk is based on the conference talk “Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” By Elder Robert D. Hales.

Elder Hales says, “A disciple is one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon him or her the name of the Savior and follow Him. A disciple strives to become as He is by keeping His commandments in mortality, much the same as an apprentice seeks to become like his or her master.
Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only ‘follower.’ But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.  Listen to the Apostle Peter’s invitation to become a disciple of the Savior:  ‘Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.’  As you can see, weaving the spiritual tapestry of personal discipleship requires more than a single thread.”

I read this and thought, “oh, perfect, here is a list to follow, I love lists and checking them off, then I read on and Elder Hales said this:

“The attributes of the Savior, as we perceive them, are not a script to be followed or list to be checked off. They are interwoven characteristics, added one to another, which develop in us in interactive ways. In other words, we cannot obtain one Christlike characteristic without also obtaining and influencing others. As one characteristic becomes strong, so do many more.”

Well, so much for my list to check off, and how did he know that is exactly where my thoughts would go?  This all reminded me of a book Sister Simmons recently lent me called “Better Than You Think You Are” by Ardeth G. Kapp.  In the book she talks a lot about notes, notes of encouragement and also, she says, “The Lord sends us precious notes to teach us the things we need to know to value ourselves as God values us.”  I believe and have experienced it in my own life, that He sends us these notes to help us with whatever Christlike attribute we need to work on at that particular time in our lives.  In Peter’s quote he lists attributes that lead from one to the next one, line upon line, precept upon precept and as Elder Hales says, we create our own tapestry.  One person may begin with knowledge, another faith and yet another may begin with kindness.  Little by little we begin our own tapestry as one may begin with a different color, we each begin with a different attribute, so no wonder there isn’t a checklist, our tapestry would look just like the next person’s.

In an April 2011 General Conference talk entitled, “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye To Be” by Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, he said:

“Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this Friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature—my character, or who I am….  Christlike to be’s cannot be seen, but they are the motivating force behind what we do, which can be seen.

So where do you begin or what attribute is the one you should be working on in your own life, it might be the one you struggle with the most or it might be the one that is easiest, only you can answer that for yourself, or as Sister Kapp said, watch for the notes from God to guide you.  Elder Hales does touch a little on each attribute and I will follow suit and do the same.

FAITH -- As for faith, Elder Hales says, “We measure our faith by what it leads us to do—by our obedience.”  I love this quote from Sister Kapp’s book:

“Remember the story in the Bible of Christ feeding the five thousand?  His disciples asked a lad to give up his food--some fish and barley loaves--to feed the multitude.  How do you think the lad felt about that?  ‘You want my small lunch to feed five thousand people?’  But Christ took the fishes and loaves and blessed them and there were several baskets left over.  There was ‘enough and to spare.’  The miracle started when the boy gave all he had.  When we give all we have there is ‘enough and to spare.’  We come with enough, and if we do our very best the Lord will make up the difference.”

I think that story fits so many of the Christlike attributes, the lad had faith, he was obedient, it fits kindness, charity and godliness.

VIRTUE -- In regards to virtue, I love what Elder Hales says, “By our virtuous living, we make the journey from ‘I believe’ to the glorious destination of ‘I know.’”  In her Ensign article, “A Virtuous Life--Step By Step,” Mary N. Cook, 1st Counselor in the Young Women’s General Presidency said:

“For many of you, the day you were blessed was a first step on your journey of a virtuous life. Your choice to be baptized, confirmed, and given the gift of the Holy Ghost and your efforts to worthily partake of the sacrament and renew your baptismal covenant each week are critical forward steps in living a life of virtue.  Your next step on this journey is to prepare yourself to be worthy to enter the temple, where you will make additional sacred covenants and receive sacred temple ordinances, including that of celestial marriage. This will require you to be virtuous….  What will help you to press forward and continually hold fast to the iron rod? Center your life on the Savior and develop daily habits of righteous living.”

I love that part, “daily habits of righteous living!”  As some of you may know, I love to organize and help other people organize and one of my number one tips in organization is a daily clutter commitment otherwise all that lovely work we did will go down the drain if you don’t consistently put forth some time each day.  If we don’t consistently put forth righteous living every day, all that lovely effort you put in towards a virtuous life will slowly go down the drain.

KNOWLEDGE -- I love this quote by President Marion G. Romney about knowledge:

“Since knowledge is an ‘acquaintance with, or clear perception of, facts;’ and wisdom is ‘the capacity of judging soundly and dealing broadly with facts; especially in their practical’ application ‘to life and conduct,’ it follows that wisdom is a product of, and is dependent upon knowledge.  The Book of Mormon specifically relates God’s wisdom to his knowledge. Speaking of God’s plan for the salvation of men, Lehi says: ‘All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.’ (2 Ne. 2:24.) Thus, as God’s perfect wisdom is a product of His knowledge of all things, so man’s wisdom is dependent upon his knowledge. But since man does not know all things, it is possible, as already indicated, for him to be knowledgeable about many things and still be short on wisdom.’”

Sister Kapp says, “We must take time to study the test if we are to prepare to pass the test.  When we ponder the scriptures, it helps to have specific questions in mind, looking for specific answers.  Then many, many scriptures will become ours in answer to our prayers and our earnest inquiry.”

TEMPERANCE -- I love what Elder Hales has to say in regards to temperance, he says:

“As temperate disciples, we live the gospel in a balanced and steady way. We do not ‘run faster than [we have] strength.’ Day by day we move forward, undeterred by the refining challenges of mortality.  Being temperate in this way, we develop patience and trust in the Lord. We are able to rely on His design for our lives, even though we cannot see it with our own natural eyes. Therefore, we can ‘be still and know that [He is] God.’ When faced with the storms of tribulation, we ask, ‘What wouldst Thou have me learn from this experience?’ With His plan and purposes in our hearts, we move forward not only enduring all things but also enduring them patiently and well.”

PATIENCE -- Boy have I struggled with patience during my life.  When I was younger, I wanted to know exactly where I was going and when.  Recently, I have been working with the difference between being feeling out of control of my life and over controlling things in my life, what I should do and when, in what order, and so on.  I was pondering all of these things when I was reading Sister Kapp’s book and she pointed out the scripture in Alma 37:36-37 which says:

“36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good ; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up in the last day.”
I knew then what my answer was, to not be so impatient with how my day should go, but be more concerned that in each step I counsel with the Lord which I have been doing and what a blessing this has been for me.

GODLINESS -- Elder Hales says, “From temperance to patience and from patience to godliness, our natures change. We gain the brotherly kindness that is a hallmark of all true disciples. Like the Good Samaritan, we cross the road to minister to whoever is in need, even if they are not within the circle of our friends.”

KINDNESS -- In his Ensign article, “Becoming Men and Women of God,” Elder Craig A. Cardon talks about each of the attributes that Peter lays out, he said:  “To give these attributes greater contextual meaning, have you ever attempted to associate an individual with each attribute? Thinking about an individual who struggled with the vicissitudes of life but managed to develop a divine attribute in his or her life provides a powerful example that may assist us in our efforts to do the same. Consider the following examples…”  He goes on to list examples, I would like to share his example for kindness, he says, “For brotherly kindness, there could be no greater example than Nephi, whose older brothers bound him ‘with cords, for they sought to take away [his] life.’ Through his exercise of faith, the cords were loosed from his hands and feet. His brothers eventually became ‘sorrowful, because of their wickedness.’ Evidencing great brotherly kindness, Nephi simply records, ‘I did frankly forgive them’ (see 1 Nephi 7:16–21).”

CHARITY -- Lastly, we have Charity, the Bible Dictionary defines it as this:  “Charity is ‘the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ.’”  President Monson said in his Women’s Conference address in October of 2010, “True charity is love in action....  Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others....  In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.”  

I also believe it is important to be charitable with ourselves, in her book Sister Kapp repeatedly says how we are better than we think we are, I particularly liked it when she said, “We are not good judges of ourselves as we reach for goals that may actually belong to another season of our lives.”

The state of being a disciple Elder Hales mentions in the beginning of his talk is what we are all aiming for and again, from Brother Robbins talk, he says:

“To be, or not to be” is actually a very good question. The Savior posed the question in a far more profound way, making it a vital doctrinal question for each of us: “What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27; emphasis added). The first-person present tense of the verb be is I Am. He invites us to take upon us His name and His nature.  To become as He is, we must also do the things He did: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do’ (3 Nephi 27:21; emphasis added).  To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray, for example, and prayer in turn strengthens one’s faith.

So maybe we shouldn’t be checking off each item as we add them to our tapestry, but in order for our tapestry to be complete and wonderful and like our Savior’s own, we need to have each of these attributes written upon our own hearts.  In closing I would like to quote Elder Hales one final time:

“Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, we cannot be a ‘part-time disciple’! We cannot be a disciple on just one point of doctrine or another. …  As we earnestly strive to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, these characteristics will be interwoven, added upon, and interactively strengthened in us. There will be no disparity between the kindness we show our enemies and the kindness we bestow on our friends. We will be as honest when no one is looking as when others are watching. We will be as devoted to God in the public square as we are in our private closet.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Believe In Personal Revelation

This past week we had a Relief Society Activity and our theme was Believe In Personal Revelation.  I'm the Activity Coordinator and I have an awesome Committee.  One of the committee members came up with this amazing idea of using the Wizard of Oz as way to create the activity.  We started in the Relief Society Room, where I got caught in the "tornado."  This is the welcoming I gave:

Welcome to Kansas!  In the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum describes Kansas as being "in shades of gray".  Kansas was dreary and dull, uninteresting and without variety.

Elder David A. Bednar said, “I invite you to consider two experiences most of us have had with light.  The first experience occurred as we entered a dark room and turned on a light switch. Remember how in an instant a bright flood of illumination filled the room and caused the darkness to disappear. What previously had been unseen and uncertain became clear and recognizable. This experience was characterized by immediate and intense recognition of light.  The second experience took place as we watched night turn into morning. Do you recall the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon? In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun did not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light increased, and the darkness of night was replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light.”

In the movie, going from black and white to color signals a change in tone, pace, and content.  Elder Bednar goes on to say, “A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once.  The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God ‘line upon line, precept upon precept.’”

Back to the movie, Oz was exciting, colorful and engaging, it invites the audience to share in Dorothy's delight at being somewhere so much more interesting than Kansas.  Elder Bednar promises us that, “[if we] will ‘walk in the light of the Lord’ we will receive the ‘spirit of revelation . . . , [sometimes] immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, [and] enlighten your understanding….”  I invite you to Believe in Personal Revelation, to delight in something so much more interesting than our life here on earth can be, I invite you to move to the gym, our “Oz” for the evening where we hope you will find personal revelation to be exciting, colorful and even engaging as we share with each other what we learn.

We then followed the "yellow brick road" to the gym and I gave a talk as the scarecrow and here it is:

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, Scarecrow sings, “If I only had a brain.”  He could do things like … wile away the hours, confer with flowers, consult with the rain, unravel any riddle, tell why the ocean's near the shore.  He could think of things he had never thought of before, and, of course, he could sit and think some more.

One day years ago when my parents were here for a visit, I walked by the den and my dad was just sitting there seemingly staring at nothing.  I told him he could turn on the tv, but he said no he was enjoying just sitting there and thinking.  I have often pondered that moment and wondered if I took enough time to just think.  President Boyd K. Packer said:

“Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil.  But that is not all. To one who thought that revelation would flow without effort, the Lord said:  ‘You have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.  But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.’”

In the book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” Scarecrow asks the Wizard, “Can't you give me brains?"  The Wizard replies, "You don't need them. You are learning something every day. A baby has brains, but it doesn't know much. Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge, and the longer you are on earth the more experience you are sure to get.”

As we grow and progress in the Gospel, we learn more and more.  Our experiences add to our knowledge.  In 2 Nephi 28:30 it says, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”

In order to not be a nuffin' with a head all full of stuffin', we can do as Elder Robert D. Hales said, “We prepare to receive personal revelation as the prophets do, by studying the scriptures, fasting, praying, and building faith….”

The Wizard of Oz tells Scarecrow, “They have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.”  So he gives him an “honorary degree of ThD” which is a “Doctor of Thinkology.”  And, Scarecrow says, “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy! Rapture! I got a brain!”

I know all of you already have a brain so you can “dance and be merry, your life will be a ding-a-derry,” but I also dub you all Doctors of Thinkology.  And, like my dad, I hope you will all take the time to study, ponder and think as you look for your own personal revelations.

After that we had a talk from the "tin man" on having the heart to seek our own personal revelation and after that we had a talk from our "lion" about having courage.  I wish I had their talks to share, they were wonderful!

We finished off doing some scripture journaling and this is the handout they all received:

“I like to think of my scriptures as a workbook.”  -Julie B. Beck

Read the following scriptures, pray about what each one means to you, ask Heavenly Father what was important and how to express it in your notes/art.  Write your notes or create your art in your own scriptures or journal you brought today, take one of the extra copies of the Book of Mormon on the tables and use that (this is yours to take home) and/or practice on the Book of Mormon wide margins copies provided.

Alma 17:3, Alma 5:46 & Ether 4:7

“I think the important thing is to make it meaningful to you and something that makes your heart happy and brings you closer to Heavenly Father.”  -Kayla Armstrong

IDEAS:  Color coding, add pictures and stickers, make notes in the margins, have a separate journaling book, have the Book of Mormon wide margin file copied onto heavier paper and spiral bound at a copy store, use washi tape to add note cards and memos into your scriptures, sponge around specific words, create or print scripture coloring pages, the ideas or endless!

SUPPLIES:  Black Fine Tip Pen (Papermate Inkjoy, Pigma Micron .005, Copic Marker 0.1), colored pencils (Crayola, Prisma Scholar), stickers, glitter glue, washi tape, ink pads and sprays, gessos, paints, stamps, watercolors, sponges, note cards, post-it notes, templates, markers, etc.

REFERENCES:Scripture Study for Early Readers: with printable pages to add to a large print Book of Mormon:
  • Wide Margin Book of Mormon PDF File:  http://www.bradjackman.com/wide-margin-edition-all-standard-works/
  • Illustrated Faith (combining faith & art) products by DaySpring
  • #bofmjournaling (over 600 ideas on Instagram posted so far)
  • Everything I researched is on my “My Faith-Study” Pinterest board (Renae Creates...)

Mighty Warrior Bible Page STSG 2: Scripture Journal - I love the way she journals her scripture study: 2016-Scripture-Hero-Journal: I love scripture journals and this lady has a bunch of neat ideas for studying the scriptures! I would definitely check out her site if you have the time.: Using a cheap blue book of mormon to cut out pages and do a larger doodle for- LOVE this idea!: Bible Journaling by @bekahblankenship: LDS Scripture Study Techniques but good for any religion. I am not lds but there are ideas here we can all use.: I am a huge fan of all of the Bible Journaling going on all over Pinterest. I love the idea of adding artwork to the sacred scriptures to s...: Scripture Color Coding Chart!❤️This one uses the Pentel PH158..."For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them..." 2 Nephi 4:15☀️: Triple the Scraps: {SCRLLC14} Scripture Lesson #19, Something in the Water by Patter Cross:

I had all kinds of supplies on the tables for them to use in getting creative with their scripture study.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sacred Things

I was reading the article "Sacred Things" by C. Gary Allred on Sunday.  He talked about how he was listening to General Conference and decided to play some games on his computer at the same time.  He said, "Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy was speaking about how we should hold some things sacred. I heard him say: 'Sacred means worthy of veneration and respect. By designating something as sacred, the Lord signals that it is of higher value and priority than other things.'"  He goes on to talk about how he continued playing his game and listening and agreeing with everything Elder Pieper was saying.

Then Elder Pieper said, "The sacred cannot be selectively surrendered. Those who choose to abandon even one sacred thing will have their minds darkened (see D&C 84:54), and unless they repent, the light they have shall be taken from them (see D&C 1:33).”  Then the author said his computer crashed and when he had it back on he listened to the rest of Elder Pieper's talk but this time without playing his game, he gave the talk his undivided attention.

I just love that message, that Sacred Things need our full and undivided attention, we cannot listen, read, study, pray, etc. half-heartedly or with our minds on other things, we need to give those sacred things the respect and priority they deserve.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Computer

My last computer was really limping along, I had pretty much quit doing everything on that I could do on my tablet and using it as little as possible.  So when I got this new computer for Christmas from my husband I was super excited.  Now sitting here working at it makes me so happy, definitely a new happy space for me!  What is a happy space for you right now?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Receive Answers in the House of the Lord

I love coming across little nuggets as I do my reading on Sundays before church, I love this one that I came across a few months ago:

"I believe that the busy person … can solve … problems better and more quickly in the house of the Lord than anywhere else,” said Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872–1952) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “At the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple will come … , as a revelation, the solution [to] the problems that vex [our lives].”

I've been wanting to create a more consistent routine of going to the temple, like Temple Tuesday with some friends and a temple night with my husband.  At the temple we find that peace, that openness to the Spirit and Elder Widtsoe said it so perfectly! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Change Everything!

When I woke up in the morning a few days ago, I was thinking about how things were going in my life and in my home and I thought, change everything!  I made list after list of things to do, reorganize and look at differently.  I've always been one for if it isn't working, change it, and boy have I been feeling like things weren't working.  So, change everything I shall (well, expect my family, they are pretty awesome)!  What would you want to change?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Grateful for Fast Sunday

I have been really sick the last few days with a sinus infection and just moving my eyes caused bouts of severe dizziness and nausea.  I would be exhausted just walking to the bathroom and back so I haven't been moving much and the result, I can just feel the food sitting in my stomach.  Believe me I haven't been eating much either, but there it sits anyway.  How can someone be so hungry and so nauseous at the same time?  It seems like such an oxymoron, well welcome to the life of someone with Gastroparesis!  This morning I woke up feeling slightly better sinus infection wise (on my 3rd round of antibiotics for this never ending sinus infection) but so much worse Gastroparesis wise!  Then I remembered that it is Fast Day for church and I thought that it is the perfect day to fast!  Plus I feel up to moving more so maybe between the two I can start getting my stomach back on track.  Besides gratitude always pays off!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Line Upon Line

When I was a kid I was totally addicted to the Saturday’s Warrior music, I would listen to my cassette tape (yes, I’m dating myself lol) over and over again.  One of my girls gave me the new Saturday’s Warrior movie for Christmas, at first I was thrown off by the new songs and missing some of the other songs, but I now appreciate them all.  Anyway, I was listening to the Saturday’s Warrior CD (yes, I’ve upgraded) on the way to church and belting out “Line Upon Line” with the singers and just feeling good.  Then in Sunday School we were divided into groups for discussions and my group was given the scripture:  Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 - “For he will ​​​give​ unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will ​​​try​ you and prove you herewith.”  Of course, I had to start singing and a friend joined in with me.  Our group leader even tried to get us to sing it when it came our turn to present our discussion, yeah, that didn’t happen (even my friend who sings on stage wasn’t about to do it haha).  

In the lesson manual they had this great quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“Sometimes you may struggle with a problem and not get an answer. What could be wrong? It may be that you are not doing anything wrong. It may be that you have not done the right things long enough. Remember, you cannot force spiritual things. Sometimes we are confused simply because we won’t take no for an answer. …  Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them.  The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (D&C 98:12).  Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 29–30; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 21).
My favorite part was to put the question in the back of your mind and go about your life, but consistently ponder and pray about them.  I have had something on my mind for awhile now and a little thought popped into my head Sunday morning and then this lesson about line upon line made me realize that I needed to make this question a little more a part of my thoughts and daily prayer.  I have also started taking just 10 minutes in the morning to do a little studying on this thought and I’m learning so much, line upon line!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Give Up, Change It Up

Ok, so my be fit goal isn’t going as well as planned, admit it, you aren’t surprised lol!  So I decided to change things up a bit, I bought a calendar and I have it hanging on the back of my bathroom door so I can write down all my stats like weight, calories for the day, calories remaining and, for my husband, my sleep (he just worries about it with my depression).  I also put an alarm on my phone at the end of my work day to remind me to go for a walk on my treadmill.  So, we will see how it goes.  I guess the moral of the story is, don’t just give up, change it up, if things aren’t working the way they are, try something different, just keep trying!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Your Mind Has Been On The Things Of The Earth

I went to church last Sunday with a prayer in my heart asking my Heavenly Father for answers.  I was feeling very much like I was not in control of my life.  When I got to church I was being reminded of how much time and effort I have been putting into my work life getting it organized and working it, but I wasn’t putting any effort into organizing and doing my my spiritual life.  I said another prayer, asking Heavenly Father that if this really was the answer that I would hear it again during the day’s talks or lessons.

The confirmation came in the first talk, and every talk and lesson throughout the day.  I came home very sure of the message my Heavenly Father wanted me to have!

Our youth speaker gave a wonderful testimony of how if you ask, you will receive answers and why not ask all the time, after every sunday school lesson and so on.  Our next speaker talked about bringing the light of Christ into your home and also asking “what lack I yet” or in other words, what is keeping me from progressing.  Our final speaker reminded us of how important it is to do those daily spiritual activities to stay strong and keep the Spirit with you.

In Sunday School, when the scripture Doctrine & Covenants 30:2 was read:  “But your mind has been on the things of the earth more than on the things of me, your Maker, . . .” I knew He was talking to me, that is exactly how I have been lately.  The lesson manual quoted Elder Neal A. Maxell saying, “ Divine guidance is so crucial . . . that we need to go out of our way to put ourselves in a situation in which such special help can be given.  President David O. McKay spoke of how the morning hours, before we are cluttered with the cares of day, are especially conducive to inspiration.  Others have felt that solitude and reading the scriptures can create an atmosphere conducive to the Spirit and can be developed.  After all, to read the words of Christ already before us is a good thing to do before asking for more.”

Then in our last meeting of the day, Relief Society, I was reminded about how the Lord wants us to feel joy in the every day.

When I got home from church, I couldn’t stop, I felt how powerful all of these messages were to me in that moment so I continued my research.  I found an article entitled “Make the Exercise of Your Faith Your First Priority” by Elder Richard G. Scott.  His suggestions were: 1) prayer (make your morning prayer a preview of your day and your nightly prayer a review of your day with your Heavenly Father); 2) scripture study (he said it is more important than sleep, school, work, etc.); 3) Family Home Evening; and 4) Temple Attendance.

I also came across the idea of doing Daily Devotionals where you gather together to share uplifting messages, read scriptures, listen to music and participate in discussions.  I love this idea so much I want to implement it with my family in our family Facebook group since my kids are grown and living their own lives, but I would still like us to connect spiritually.

Wow, what a great day of talks, lessons, study and messages, I was truly spiritually fed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Purposeful Challenges

Don't you just love that title?!  I love to go to church really early and sit and read from my church magazine and enjoy the spirit that is in the chapel until the meeting starts.  This past Sunday, I came across this quote and Purposeful Challenges was the title of the quote:

"I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, 'Was that all
that was required?' . . .  What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life?"  Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, "Worth of Our Promised Blessings," Ensign, Nov. 215, 11.

Doesn't it just give you chills?!  My favorite part is that  pains in this life we just barely a drop in the bucket compared to the reward, so wonderful!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Breathe. You're Going to Be Okay.

I have to tell you, I was really struggling this morning.  I came down into my studio not knowing what I was going to do and how I was going to get motivated.  There are many times I come in here, lay my head down on my desk and wonder how I'm going to get moving.  Then I'll notice something out of place and move it and then before I know it my day is done and I got so much done.  Today I was trying to write something in particular and I had no idea what I was going to write so, as my daughter says, to Pinterest!  When I opened up Pinterest, this is the very first thing I saw and it was exactly what I needed to hear so I wanted to share it with all of you!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Be Happy at Church

Isn't this bag so pretty!  My dear friend LoriAnn made it for me to use for my church bag and so that I can remember Stacey every time I use it, she is so thoughtful!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Be Fit

I know it is so cliche to make a be fit New Years resolution, but it is something that I really want to do.  My friend, Heather, and I have been encouraging each other on our weight loss for a long time now and I am down 17 lbs. from where I started, but lately both of us keep going up and down, so I thought an added measure of accountability would be helpful.  So be watching for my Be Fit Progress updates, because I'm going to do this!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Broken Things To Mend

This was a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago:

I was given the talk, Broken Things To Mend by Jeffrey R. Holland as the basis of my talk.  When I finished reading this talk, there was only one thing that clearly stood out in my mind, and that was the word “broken.”  It stuck out to me because I have experienced broken in many personal ways.  I have seen broken dishes.  I've seen a child break her arm in a gymnastics class.  I have experienced a broken heart from broken relationships.  I have felt the intense emotional pain of a broken heart from the death of a loved one.  I have experienced a broken heart through the repentance process.  As a child I watched my broken mother and as an adult I have personally experienced being broken.

In his talk, Elder Holland said, “I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul.  I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.”

When we think of broken, we think of smashed, shattered, fragmented, crushed, cracked, defeated, beaten and so on.  It sounds so hopeless, but I remember years ago in Relief Society Gayle Wilkinson describing the breaking of a horse as actually showing the horse a better way.  I know when I was broken, it felt so huge, bottomless and dark, but I found out that broken is not permanent, broken is not forever.

Elder Holland’s wife, Patricia, quoted Vance Havner in a speech she gave, he wrote, “It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.  It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”  She goes on to say, “Our Father in Heaven sometimes uses our pain as a megaphone for very significant instruction as he did with Joseph Smith, . . .  And as he did with Peter who, weeping bitterly, returned to greater power and service than ever.”

I thought about a survivor of the the Willie Martin Handcart company who in response to criticism of the company said, “I ask you to stop this criticism.  You are discussing a matter you know nothing about.  Cold historic facts … give no proper interpretation of the questions involved.  Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season?  Yes.  But I was in that company and my wife … too.  We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.

I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other.  I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me.  I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one.  I knew then that the angels of God were there.

Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart?  No.  Neither then nor any minute of my life since.  The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”

In a blog post, “The Gift of Being Broken,” by Ariel Szuch, she wrote, “ Brokenness is a gift.  Why?  Because our brokenness connects us to each other, and our brokenness brings us to Christ.  It is by bringing our broken hearts to Him that we are made whole.  Sharing our brokenness brings meaning to our experiences, and the connection we make with others when we share our stories brings healing.  I read my story to family members, and we wept, our hearts brought together through sharing our grief.  People I didn’t even know reached out to me in person and online and shared how my story had helped them with the grief they were experiencing in their own lives.  And I was grateful to God for the opportunity to see His hand touch others through my broken heart.

Being broken is a gift, because when we are broken, we recognize the need for a Savior to make us whole. There’s a reason that the sacrifice Jesus asks of us is a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’  A broken heart is one that is open to Him, that lets in His grace.  He felt our pains and sorrows first, and by going through a little of what He went through, we feel His power in our lives.”

A broken heart is one that is open to Him, open to him showing us a better way, just like with Gayle’s horses.  So when we are broken, what can we do to heal, what can we do to try and see the better way that our Heavenly Father and Savior are trying to show us?

Elder Holland said, “To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure.  He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:  "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.

In this promise, that introductory phrase,’come unto me,’ is crucial.  It is the key to the peace and rest we seek.  He is saying to us,’Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,’ He says, ‘we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,’ He promises. ‘I will give you answers to your prayers.  I will give you rest to your souls.’  [T]he soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, . . beyond [his] own.’  The Savior reminds us that He has’graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.’,

My favorite part in that quote is when Elder Holland says, “Then, when you walk where I am going we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have.”  It just gives me such a visualization of having a very personal and real conversation with the Savior as you would face to face with a friend.

In his talk “He Healeth the Broken in Heart”, President James E. Faust said, “For many of us, however, spiritual healing takes place not in great arenas of the world but in our sacrament meetings.  It is comforting to worship with, partake of the sacrament with, and be taught in a spirit of humility by neighbors and close friends who love the Lord and try to keep His commandments. . . .  Spiritual healing also comes from bearing and hearing humble testimonies.  A witness given in a spirit of contrition, thankfulness for divine providence, and submission to divine guidance is a powerful remedy to help relieve the anguish and concerns of our hearts.  Recent information seems to confirm that the ultimate spiritual healing comes in the forgetting of self. . . .   The Savior of the world said it very simply: ‘And whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.’  Of all that we might do to find solace, prayer is perhaps the most comforting.  We are instructed to pray to the Father, in the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Ghost.  The very act of praying to God is satisfying to the soul, even though God, in His wisdom, may not give what we ask for.”

In the midst of my brokenness I prayed for relief, I prayed for it to go away, I prayed to have not ever had to experience what I was going through, I did not yet see why I needed these experiences, I did not understand the Lord’s plan for me.  In my research I found this wonderful story by Carole M. Stephens:

“[T]he Master Healer can comfort and sustain us as we experience painful ‘realities of mortality,’ such as disaster, mental illness, disease, chronic pain, and death.  I have recently become acquainted with a remarkable young woman named Josie who suffers from bipolar disorder.  Here is just a little of her journey toward healing as she shared it with me:

‘The worst of the darkness occurs on what my family and I have deemed ‘floor days.’ It begins with sensory overload and acute sensitivity and resistance to any type of sound, touch, or light.  It is the apex of mental anguish.  There is one day in particular that I will never forget.  It was early in the journey, making the experience especially frightening. I can remember sobbing, tears racing down my face as I gasped for air. But even such intense suffering paled in comparison to the p
ain that followed as I observed panic overwhelm my mother, so desperate to help me.  With my broken mind came her broken heart.  But little did we know that despite the deepening darkness, we were just moments away from experiencing a mighty miracle.  As a long hour continued, my mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.’  Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.  A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body.  Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’ I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’  From the dark abyss of debilitating mental illness, Josie summoned the strength to testify of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.  She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness. And today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer.  She helps others along the way.  And she says,’When the darkness feels unremitting, I rely on the memory of His tender mercies. They serve as a guiding light as I navigate through hard times.’”

It's these moments of tender mercies where we find peace and moments f understanding.  In Elder Holland’s talk “Like a broken Vessel” he said, “In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living . . . in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. 

So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. . . .  Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being.  Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings.  Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost.  Hope is never lost.  If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”

That line, if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, is so powerful.  It reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:17-18 which says, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Isn't it amazing, but if not . . ., if the bitter cup does not pass, if life doesn't get better, if I am not healed from my brokenness, I will still trust and have faith in my Father in Heaven.

Elder Holland goes on to say, “Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.  If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task.  Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can.  If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient.  Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to ‘stand still’ or ‘be still’—and wait.  Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.”

[Our second speaker didn't make it, so I had extra time and the Bishopric encouraged me to keep talking, and I felt inspired to share Taylor's story, I'm not going to do that here, maybe another day.]

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with someone who was feeling very down and and I was reading a section of the book, “The Power” by Rhonda Bryne to her, it says, “There is only one force in life, and that force is love.  You are either feeling good because you are full of love, or you are feeling bad because you are empty of love, but all your feelings are degrees of love.  Think of love as if it were water in a glass, and the glass is your body.  When a glass has only a little water in it, it is empty of water.  You can't change the water level in the glass by waging war on the emptiness and trying to rip out the emptiness.  The emptiness goes by filling the glass with water.  When you have bad feelings, you are empty of love, and so when you put love into yourself, the bad feelings are gone.”

Earlier in the book, the author gives the suggestion to think about everything you love, list them off nonstop in your mind until you feel better.  A week or so later, this same person sent me a text saying she was feeling really down again, and this suggestion popped into my head and I thought I would try it.  So I texted back, I love big belly laughs.  I didn't hear back from her, took so I sent another text, I love bed heads,  then just as I was about to send another one, she sent one back.  We went back and forth for a good 20 minutes of saying nothing but things we loved until she finally said she was feeling better.  It seemed too simple to work, to only express love back and forth, but it did.

In closing I would to quote Elder Holland, “Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up and please don’t yield to fear. I have always been touched that as his son was departing for his mission to England, Brother Bryant S. Hinckley gave young Gordon a farewell embrace and then slipped him a handwritten note with just five words taken from the fifth chapter of Mark: “Be not afraid, only believe.”  If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened.  If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.”

And I would add to that that you can feel loved, not only by those in your lives, but by Jesus Christ, our brother, if you ask, He will tell you, He will show you how much He loves you.  Know that all is not lost, all is not broken, all is not ended, just know that if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong.