Thursday, October 12, 2017

Acceptance

I've recently joined a little online community of mom's who are working on goals - it's called the Everyday Joi Community - I found it through Holly Rigsby who I found years ago through a exercise program she has. Anyway, on facebook I saw she was inviting people to participate in a "Courage Challenge" so I signed up. She's been teaching us about the triple A formula - AAA: being Aware of our life, Accepting our life, and then taking Action to improve our life. She said very often we hurry from aware to action and skip over acceptance. That is what I've been doing and she's been helping us make sure we don't skip acceptance. But I haven't really been able to get into my head how I'm supposed to accept. Well last night I had a breakthrough I think and I typed this up on my blog on that community, thought I'd share it here too, since it was a conference talk that helped it click in my head and I pull in a few other gospel truths too. I hope I really do get it now and that I know how to make it work in my life! Be kind to others, be kind to ourselves.
Here's my post I just finished typing and sharing:


ACCEPTANCE - Insights and Breakthrough 


So I’ve been having a hard time getting “acceptance” into my head, but I think I finally had a breakthrough last night! I’m probably going to ramble here but I’m going to try my best to get all my thoughts out before the little ones wake up from nap time.  So – as Holly said in a recent periscope that “priorities” had a negative connotation to her because people would use it negatively, as in “Well you just don’t have your priorities straight…” I think I’ve been the same with with acceptance. It had a negative connotation of “Well you just have to accept it…” giving feelings of resentment, resistance, and reluctance – ironically the exact opposite of Acceptance! So I’ve been thinking about acceptance and this is where I had a breakthrough last night – I was reading a story from one of my church’s leaders where he was a mission president and one of his young missionaries wanted to go home. The president, not really listening with ACCEPTANCE, just told him “We can fix this!” (aka jumping right to ACTION, right?) He told the missionary to forget himself and go to work focusing on others and to call him in a week. The missionary called a week later and still wanted to go home. Again the mission pres told him to work harder and call him in a week. The next week it was the same. But at that meeting, in a moment of clarity, the mission president felt he should dig deeper and he ask him “What is hard for you?” The missionary replied  “President, I can’t read….” The mission president realized the ACTION he was taking was not what was needed cause he was not truly AWARE nor had he ACKNOWLEDGED this missionaries feelings or true concerns. Quoting from the talk “The wise counsel which I thought was so important for him to hear was not at all relevant to his needs. What he needed most was for me to look beyond my hasty assessment and allow the Spirit to help me understand what was really on this elder’s mind. He needed me to see him correctly and offer a reason to hope. Instead, I acted like a giant demolition wrecking ball.”
Again this made ACCEPTANCE click for me. This mission president, thinking he was AWARE of the situation, gave him an ACTION to take that he was sure would fix it, but he wasn’t really aware nor had he accepted how this missionary was really feeling. Instead of just jumping from what we THINK we are aware of and then straight to ACTION, we’re got to ask and dig and make sure we know it and then love ourselves or others in the situation we are in. For those who know the Men are from Mars Women are from Venus books – this is exactly the thing that makes men and women collide sometimes – the Men put on their “fix it” hats and want to take action, where women mostly just need/want to be understood and accepted! So, with the help from this talk, my aha is that acceptance is NOT negative (and I don’t know that I even really realized I was thinking of it negatively) but to be truly AWARE is positive and ACCEPTANCE is positive and embracing and now I’m going to insert LOVE there with acceptance, accept with love. 
So, moving this over to my own season and focus right now – Getting my house in order. I was telling myself “Yes, I am AWARE that my home is a mess and I am not organized!” I didn’t really know how to accept that or what acceptance looked like, but I was still ready again to jump to action, and I would have had not Holly repeatedly and aboslutely forbidden it. So, I couldn’t just jump and find a set of household rules on the internet or a homemaking cleaning schedule on pintrest. I had to figure out how to accept my house. So last night I thought about this missionary story and what my real concern might be… I think instead of it just being a neutral HOUSE that I’m wrestling with, it’s more my family and really MYSELF! The No show audit helped me realize I was blaming others. I’m going to stop blaming them even when it’s just in my thoughts. I made a goal this week to keep MY room clean and MY bathroom counter clear and I’m 48 hours into it and THEY ARE BOTH STILL CLEAN! That is a small miracle ladies, WIN! And wow, already “unstuck” in one area!! Cause usually I blame others for their messy room and mine too …. “Well you kids don’t have an excuse! Of course my room is messy cause all you guys come in my room and mess it up.” But now I’m become awake and aware that I have power, I have choice, I can do what it takes to keep my area clean, and it feels good! And I’m looking around the house now and see that the kids do help quite a bit, but I was usually looking for where they didn’t help and noticing where we were all lacking. Some of the quotes shared this week have helped me, “Eat like you love yourself, Move like you love yourself, Think like you love yourself, and ACT like you LOVE YOURSELF!” See, it comes back to LOVE!! I’m going to clean like I love this home (and I do!) and like I love my family (Cause I do!!) I have noticed for a long time that I’m not as affectionate, kind, or loving as I’d hope a mother would be, probably cause I’m always telling or thinking of how busy I am and how much there is to do. No more.  I’m ready to accept and love myself and accept and love my life, and I do love it. I have just been focusing on the wrong thing and that’s kept me stuck. Like that mission president thinking the missionary just needed to work harder, but that was focusing on the wrong thing. Once they focused on the right thing, the missionary was able to take the correct steps to get help and hope and get him unstuck from his situation and hopeless frustrated attitude. He learned how to read and stayed and served the rest of his mission. This talk that helped me was one I listened to last night called “Lord Wilt Thou Cause That My Eyes May Be Opened
I also loved the quote last night shared here by I can’t remember who, but I wrote it out and it’s on our fridge by our treasure map – “Sometimes on particularly rough days, I like to remind myself that my track record for geting through hard days is 100%, and that’s really good!” That quote also helped me get acceptance into my mind – love myself, love my life, I will make it through this! I have made it through everything else so far, 100% and that is pretty good.
Two more stories – Stephanie Nielsen is a Mormon blogger who was burned in a plane crash years ago. She has a book called “Heaven is Here”. In that book she wrote about as she was waking up from her coma, she knew she had been hurt and severly burned but would not look in the mirror. She did not want to look in the mirror and did not wanting to be aware of or accept what she looked like now with her scarred face. It took her a long time to be brave enough to look in the mirror. But finally she had to accept herself and she said “This is not going away” and it was still so hard to not miss her old body and pre-plane crash face, but she took that first step and looked at her new face. She has learned to accept that this is her new life, and it is different from the life she had, but it is good, very good. Short youtube of her story here
And last one – If any of your know the Piano Guys, I’ve been listening to their song “It’s Gonna Be Okay” today, and I think that it is a perfect song to listen to when we are practicing ACCEPTANCE, especially the line: No matter what you’ve been through, HERE YOU ARE. No matter if you think you’re falling apart, it’s gonna be okay. Like Stephanie – her scars were not going away, this is where she is at, and it’s a new life and it’s a good life, It’s going to be okay. We need to accept it with love, it will be okay! Ironically, that piano guys song came out last year one month before the daughter of one of the guys in the group, Jon Shcmidt, went missing while hiking. They did eventually find and recover her body, she fell off a cliff and they found her body, but they accepted it with faith in God’s plan for them and that he was aware. I’ll just share this post from my family blog that I wrote a year ago before they found her or knew for sure what happened – I wrote it admiring their faith and that they could still say “it’s gonna be okay” now in the face of a trial like that. Acceptance can be hard but we can live, we must life and go on and life is okay and we can even still love life and find joy in it. In this life or in the next, our heart aches will heal, WE WILL SEE OUR LOVED ONES AGAIN, I know we will! All things will be made right. (Another great General Conference talk from April that helped me so much – God Shall Wipe Away All Tears)
Final note for this dumping of my thoughts… I’m grateful for a comment Holly made yesterday that it’s okay if our thoughts or posts are jumbled – the important thing is to show up and share. With that comment in my head I”m hoping to make the time to share a bit more over these next 5 weeks. And for those that read what I post, just a heads up that usually when I share there will be lots of thoughts and quotes from my faith (like there are in this post!) cause that is usually where I go first to look for answers. I especially love LDS General Conference. We have it two times a year, about 12 hours of talks given by our leaders in the spring and fall every year. I love General Conference because they give real life examples and help us see through those stories how we can apply the principles of the gospel to our lives. (This one about MIRACLES is SOOOO GOOD!) The teachings of the scriptures relate to our lives today even if they are from two thousand years or 5000 ago, they can be applied to our circumstances! So, forgive me if I insert spiritual things too much, I’ll try not to be overbearing though! But praying and reading scriptures are something I focus on daily and I have a little weekly check list where I check off my prayers and reading of scriptures, cause those things do get me in the right mindset and I also believe that God will help me find the answers I need when I ask him for help. This challenge is an answer to those prayers and I know it will help me better apply principles of the gospel that I believe in that I’ve been falling short at, like loving and accepting myself and others. For me, faith isn’t just praying and hoping, it is working. Mormons are sometimes accused that we think our works will save us, but while we do know that it is by grace that we are saved, we also know that “Faith without works is dead” – James 2:20.  Like Holly said (Tues Periscope shoulder shake I think) that we can’t just pray to lose weight, we’ve got to get up and DO SOMETHING. Our whole life is our chance to prove and DO what we say we believe in, whatever it is that’s important to us. In a scripture study group yesterday we talked about Abraham offering Isaac – God maybe knew what Abraham would do, and Abraham probably knew he would obey anything God told him to do, but still he had to PROVE it and DO it and he was ready and going to do sacrifice Isaac until an angel came and stopped him. We need to be ready to DO what God or our instincts or the universe tell us. This is the only mortal life we have! This is the time for us to live and do and prepare for what’s next! Alma 34:32. Ok! there’s my soap box, I’m really excited that I think I finally understand acceptance and now I hope I can learn to ACCEPT (a happy and good thing!) in more areas of my life and I’ll stop resisting the problems I see and I'll learn to accept them and they won’t persist or keep me stuck anymore, hooray!​



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Fast and Testimony Meeting

As always, we had a wonderful meeting at church today and it nourished my soul. I really love to fast with the world wide church on fast Sunday and love the spirit of testimony meeting. So here are a few of the testimonies in our ward that I was able to hear (through interruptions from children!) and that touched me.

Brother Ensign has shared before that he was in a bank once when it got robbed. He was the only patron there at the time and was more concerned with his briefcase at his feet than about taking mental notes about anything the thief was doing. When the police came, they kept him for questioning and Bro Ensign wasn't very much help. After the cop was done with him, he told him "You're a bad witness!" and Bro Ensign joked that he said some not very nice things back at him. But he's thought about that accusation and wanted to get up and share his witness of Christ. He said he probably doesn't do it enough. And although he might not have been a good witness in that moment at the bank, he's determined to be a good witness in the world for Christ so that when he stands before the Savior, the Savior won't have to chastise him like the police man did.

Unlike people who feel like they don't share their testimony enough, I probably share mine too often. Corey teases me and calls me "Testimony Tiff", and says he can tell when I've got "the look" and am going to get up. It's true, I probably am too eager to get up to share the feelings in my heart. But I just love the Gospel and the things that the Lord teaches me. But it was easier for me to stay seated today because Corey shared his testimony. (Socially I'd say you usually shouldn't have two people from the same family get up, ha) So Corey started by saying that when we were in Brazil, even before the member of the bishopric was done, people were headed up and would fill the stand. You had about 1 minute to get up or you'd have to wait for next month! He mentioned how it was nice to not have that pressure and to have the spirit be able to work on you a little bit first. So, I'll try to retell it in my own words. First he mentioned how someone who is very dear and important to him is struggling with their testimony. He shared that when we struggle with questions and doubts, we might become frustrated and give up when the answers don't come quickly, easily, or without work on our part (sometimes more work than we would like! As Corey and I are feeling with his business especially this past week). Once as a family we watched the Christian movie "Facing the Giants". It's a story about a football team and coach that are down on their luck. They're loosing games, the coach is having a hard time in his marriage cause his wife can't get pregnant and he drives a lousy car. The team decides to pray for help to win and serve Christ. Then things start to happen - they start winning games, and at the end of the movie, the wife has a baby, the coach has a nice new red truck, and he's got lots of trophies in the case behind him. Sweet! That looks like it is pretty easy! From Corey's experience, though, life and the struggles it give us are more like the movie 17 Miracles. There is a lot of pain, stretching, and suffering involved. Some people turn back. Some people die on the trail. Some people make it to the valley, but they endured unimaginable hunger and cold. There were the occasional miracles though. One miracle that Corey referred to was of the apple pie. It occurred when a mother, Mary Ann Mellor, who among the current trials of the trek, had also given birth to conjoined twins before they left England and lost them. She was weak and still recovering from that. Eventually she could not carry on any more and let the party move on without her as she sad down and cried.
Her older daughters worried the wolves would come. Her 16 year old daughter, Louisa, stayed with her to help. Louisa knelt and prayed. After her prayer, she miraculously found a warm apple pie in front of her there on the trail in the middle of nowhere.
She accepted it as an answer to her prayer and took it back and gave it to her mother.
They ate it and wept and rejoiced, knowing the Lord was aware of them.
Then they stood up to carry on. At other times when that mother felt to give up and turn back, she would remember the apple pie, and it gave her strength to continue. Like that mother and many of the other pioneers and people everywhere in the world today, we will have great challenges! We are here to be tested and gain an experience to prepare us for eternity! We must not loose sight of that goal. We must remember the apple pie miracles as we face our doubts and trials. Corey ended with his testimony that he knows the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true, and that he "wants it to be true and looks for ways that it is true" - he looks for the apple pies and will focus on them instead of the struggle of the journey.

One other testimony that I took some notes on, Brother Dummer - he said he wants to be a defender of the truth in social media, he wants to be a good witness in his testimony, referring to Bro Ensigns words. He's been researching his family history and there is one great grandfather that they don't know anything about other than where he lived and that he died of heat stroke. We need to share our witness! "What will our posterity know about us? Will they know what we believe and what we stand for?"

I'm grateful for the internet and this blog and that I can share my testimony and witness with those who might come across my words. I was able to go to the temple twice this weekend when Corey was gone in California. I went on Friday night for "date night" cause the kids kick me out of the house even when Corey is out of town! I did an endowment session at the Draper temple. The endowment is presented in film format, and the church released 3 new endowment films a few years ago. My favorite one was shown on Friday night, (the one with the bald devil). I love Adam in that one. After he has left the garden, he just looks so weary. He's prayed for help and guidance, but instead of an answer from God, Satan comes and tries to influence him. So does prayer even work? Adam continues to pray and believe, even though God appears to be silent. Adam prays and waits. Sometimes we just need to keep praying and waiting. We've been doing that with Movie M0uth for over 10 years now, and who knows maybe we'll have to do it for even more years. But we will press forward with faith. A friend Michelle texted me this weekend, and shared how Elder Christofferson said "challenges are at times an indication of the Lord's trust in you." We all know the Lord is aware of the details in our lives. We, like Adam, may be weary, but remember what we know. God lives, he loves us, we are his children, and if we have eyes to see we will recognize the many miracles around us despite the challenges that we also face.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Spiritual Totality

I just read this today from facebook, I think I'm going to use some of it tomorrow for a sacrament talk about Zion - I loved the comparison between the difference a partial and total eclipse and the difference between partial and total commitment to Christ. From Rob Eaton
I had read all the hype, and I had a hard time imagining there was any way a total solar eclipse could live up to so much promotion and praise. One account was so effusive that even my young nephew dismissed it by saying, “It had too many superlatives.” Surely nothing could be that good.

If I had not lived plop in the middle of the zone of totality in Rexburg, Idaho, I don’t know that I would have traveled far to see it. When I mentioned it to my brother a month ago, remarkably enough, he hadn’t even heard about it yet. But before I could even say anything about it, he said, “It seems like every eclipse that comes along is supposed to be the only time in the next 57 years you’ll be able to see something like it.” He hadn’t been that impressed with what he’d seen in the past, so he wasn’t interested in driving a couple of hours north to reach the zone of totality for this eclipse.

I don’t fault him. If I were him, I might well have looked at a map and figured, “I’ll just stay here and see 75% of the eclipse and get 75% of the benefits. Why go all that way just to see the sun all the way covered?”

But with solar eclipses, I learned vividly and personally today, there is a world of difference between even 98% of an eclipse and 100%. We watched with interest and amusement during the partial phases of the eclipse, but right up until a few moments before we witnessed the total eclipse, it seemed like not much more than a pleasant astronomical quirk visible only with special protective glasses.

But as the moon began to totally cover the sun and we witnessed the diamond ring and the corona visible only with a total solar eclipse, I was absolutely blown away. I thought I would remain calm, but I couldn’t keep the emotions I felt inside. And neither could most of the people around me. As one writer had predicted, it was as if it touched something deeply primal within us. No photograph or video I’ve seen of this spectacular phenomenon does justice to it. It is simply the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Afterwards, my nephew volunteered to his mother: "Now I know why they used so many superlatives."Despite all the hype, we discovered a total solar eclipse had not been overrated.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, this experience has reminded me of three important lessons. First, heaven is not overhyped; eternal life will be worth every sacrifice we could possible make to partake of it.

In one of my otherwise favorite songs by Train, the singer asks of a friend returning from some kind of cosmic journey, “Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded and that heaven is overrated?” Just as my brother assumed a total eclipse had been oversold, much of the world today has come to believe heaven is not real or that it can’t be all that. They doubt the reality of an eternal existence with God so exquisite that Peter described it as becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). I believe that one day, everyone will be as convinced of the desirability of eternal life with God as those who witnessed the total eclipse today were of its stunning glory.

Second, I was reminded that there is a dramatic difference between the blessings that come from sort of following the gospel of Jesus Christ—being in the zone of partiality—and striving to following Him and His teachings with all our hearts—the zone of totality. One of the reasons my brother and I underestimated how rewarding the total eclipse would be is that we based our estimates on what we’d witnessed in prior partial eclipses. But a total eclipse isn’t just twice as beautiful as an eclipse where the moon covers half the son; it is exponentially better.

And so are the blessings that come from living in the zone of spiritual totality. I’m not talking about a place where we are perfect, and I’m certainly not talking about a condition we achieve through our own efforts alone. But I am referring to a state of mind and heart where we jump in with our whole souls, holding nothing back but relying on Christ to realize our divine potential. The blessings of spiritual coronas and diamond rings come not to those who merely go through the motions and occasional effort it takes to reach the zone of partiality; they come to those who yield their hearts and souls to God in the zone of spiritual totality.

Finally, now that I know what a rare and exquisite experience a total solar eclipse is, I regret terribly the fact that I didn’t try to persuade my brother and his family and all my siblings and children who lived elsewhere to join us. What a terrible waste it was to have a home located in the heart of the zone of totality with only 5 guests. I wish I’d been more like some of our neighbors, who had family members and friends stuffed into every bed and couch and spilling over onto their lawns.

For those of us who have lived the gospel of Jesus Christ enough to know just how exquisite its blessings are, there is a special responsibility to find ways to help others come to understand or even consider the possibility that it will be eternally worth the sacrifice to come to the zone of spiritual totality.

For me, in some small way, glimpsing the silvery brilliance of the corona today felt like a symbolic foreshadowing of what it might be like to dwell eternally in the presence of God—in a place with “no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23). Even more than I will strive to persuade my loved ones and friends to go witness the next total solar eclipse visible in the United States in 2024, I feel inspired to do all I can to help others know that heaven is real and that moving to the zone of spiritual totality is eternally worth it. We cannot use enough superlatives to describe it.

-
An interesting comment on his post was one of a lady who said they experienced 92% coverage, and other than making funny shadows, most people could have been unaware of anything different.
To build Zion, we've got to give 100%!! It's got to be total commitment, all our heart, might, mind and strength!! We need to give all our heart and be of one heart with all to really see the exquisite blessing being offered to us, to build up and be in the latter day Zion - City of God.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Revelation - A Dragon of Disease?

So just a thought as I've been thinking about the recent eclipse and next one in 2024 and the big X that is being put on America... and Revelation 12 and how destruction might come upon the world in the latter days... So I've been thinking of the Dragon in Revelation 12. The dragon wants to devour Zion and the people of Zion - the dragon will try to destroy us and kill us in anyway he can - war, drugs, addictions physical and mental. Speaking of physical addictions - what about the foods we just can't give up? Junk foods and fast foods, all the fat, meat and cheese are culturally acceptable addictions, but they are addictions none the less. What do most Americans die of? We're not dying in battle these days. Could our poor diet that is killing us be thrown into the addictions category? Is that something that the dragon might symbolize? Cue Rip Esselstyn -

So he talks about a 5 headed chronic western disease dragon. Not quite the 7 heads from Revelation 12:3 but I'm sure could figure out two more heads if we tried. What are the 5 heads?:

  • Heart disease
  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • diabetes
  • obesity

This dragon is playing for keeps. This dragon is what's killing most Americans today. The way we are eating is bringing death to almost every household. And it's also one of the ways to die that we can avoid and it is entirely in our own hands. It's time to repent and change for the better! The Lord promises in the Word of Wisdom in D&C 89:21 is that as we keep and do these saying and are obedient to the commandments, that "the destroying angel shall pass [us] by as the children of Israel and not slay [us]." In this remarkable passage, Elder George Q. Cannon warned that future calamities will wake the saints up to the need for better observance of the Word of Wisdom (emphasis mine):

"Our religion impresses upon us the importance of taking care of our bodies. Yet, notwithstanding that which the Lord has done for us in revealing to us the true principles of life, there is a great amount of ignorance even among us upon this important subject. . . . Many of the Saints do not seem to be alive to the importance of those laws which pertain to well-being and preservation of the health and strength of the body. Their old traditions cling to them, and it appears to be difficult for them to shake them off. Yet the day must come when the people of God will be superiors physically and mentally, to every other people upon the face of the earth. Before this day shall come . . . pestilence of various kinds, which we are led to expect through the word of the Lord are yet to break forth, will have their effect in calling the Saints’ attention to those laws of life and health which, to be a strong and vigorous people, we must observe.

"If pestilence should stalk through the land . . . many who are now careless respecting the words of the Lord contained in the Word of Wisdom will be likely to reform their habits and pay attention to the counsels which He there gives. . . . We are promised greater safety than other people are likely to enjoy; but the promises are based on certain conditions, which must be observed . . . why should people in our day expect to enjoy health and an exemption from the visit of the destroyer when he goes forth as he did in Egypt if they do not comply with the conditions which the Lord has prescribed."

- George Q. Cannon, “Topic of the Times,” Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 22 (November 15, 1892): 689–691.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Beginning a Year of General Conference

So I made an ambitious goal for myself. Over the upcoming school year, I am going to try to listen to all General Conference talks since I was born to the present, so that is all General Conferences from April 1976 to April 2018 (since that will be the last one of this upcoming school year). School doesn't start until Monday but I thought I'd give myself a head start, so I listened to two talks on my morning walk today. I didn't start from the beginning, but started to browse through them to see which one spoke to me. I started with "The Still Small Voice" by S. Dilworth Young. I liked how he emphasized how a major part of personal revelation comes through feelings. After sharing 1 Nephi 17:45 he says

I repeat: “He hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (Italics added.) Why did he not say, “Ye are past hearing that ye could not hear his words?” Because the assurance comes through feeling.
And the next talk in order was "You Are Your Greatest Treasure" by John H. Vandenberg. He shared a verse that I just recently read (in bold below) in Elder Maxwell's book -

“Such was, and always will be, the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God they will grow weary in their minds, and faint, for such has been, and always will be, the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God. … For a man to lay down his all … requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God. … Let us here observe,” he continues, “that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” (Lectures on Faith, 6:4, 5, 7.)
I like it when there is a quote I like that I come across several times in different places! I feel like the Lord is emphasizing this message for us. Corey and I need to seek to know God's will and follow it. The most important thing is to be doing the will of God.

Then tonight I listened to the next talk by Elder Maxwell "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King". This whole talk was wonderful. Two parts I'll mention of many, bold emphasis mine:

"I testify that his premortal performance reflected both an astonishing selflessness and a breathtaking commitment to freedom as a condition of our genuine growth. I thank him for combining his long view of our needs with a short step forward to volunteer his services. Never has anyone offered so much to so many in so few words as when Jesus said, “Here am I, send me.” (Abr. 3:27.)"
~ and the second part:

"I testify that he and the Father are serious about stretching our souls in this second estate. I thank him for truly teaching us about our personal possibilities and for divinely demonstrating directions—not just pointing."

God is serious about stretching our souls. Made me think of how stretched Corey is lately with work, and how much the kids and messy house stretch me. We are getting the education we came here to get, (I hope!) We will try to endure it well and not faint. We do thank God for the education we are experiences, though sometimes (like Elder Maxwell said) when these moments come, we are sometimes feel:

"...too taxed to testify or too anguished to appreciate."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Marching Orders from God

I really like Matt Walsh, I love how he writes and I also agree with a lot of what he says. I liked this advice he shared on his facebook page today:

I get emails pretty often from people looking for advice on how to make a living as writers/editorialists/bloggers/opinion-givers. Here's one I received this morning:
"Dear Matt, I just graduated high school and like you I don't feel that college is the right thing for me. I feel called to engage the culture war in the way that you do, with ideas and arguments. How were you able to do this professionally? Do you have any advice? Sorry to bother you."
Now, I generally caution against pursuing this path. You're not going to make a living writing things on the internet unless you have hundreds of thousands of readers. That takes a lot of time to build, and the vast majority of people will never get there, and even if they do, it could go away at basically any time. The internet is a fickle beast.
I decided to go full time into writing shortly after the twins were born and only weeks after I had my first month with more than a few thousand clicks on my website. That was not a wise decision. It happened to work out, but I can't in good conscience recommend that anyone follow in my footsteps. However there are people who are meant to do this, and if you're in that camp, it will probably necessitate taking a huge risk that will seem insane to everyone around you and could very well backfire. I just can't tell any specific person whether they are meant to take that risk or not.
Here's what I will say, though. And this I think is just a general philosophy for finding success in any career or area of life. These are the two things I tell people, especially young people just out of high school, if they for whatever reason come to me for life advice (and maybe the best piece of life advice I could give is don't come to me for life advice):
1) Pray constantly.
We always have to be asking God whether we're walking the path He intends us to walk. And that path could wind and turn and veer in a million directions, so every day we have to come back and ask again. "Am I still going in the right direction, Lord? Am I still doing this right? Is this still where you want me to be? Is this still what you want me to do? Am I doing this how you want me to do it?" I think we're reluctant to ask these questions either because we don't believe they will be answered, or because we're afraid of what the answer might be.
2) Be undeniable.
If we're confident that we've determined our vocation, the next step is to invest ourselves and hone our abilities to the point where they cannot be denied, even by people who want to deny them. I simply don't believe that there are very many people in America who are truly great at something, have the drive and motivation, want to make it their career, and yet are entirely unable to make a living doing it. If you're not making a living doing a certain thing, it's either because you don't want to, you don't have the drive, or you're just not that good at it. For a lot of people it's some combination of the last two. I know that those last two explain all of my many failures in life.
Look at Tim Tebow. The guy wants to be a professional athlete. He gets cut from several football teams, despite that miraculous first season he had with Denver. They shut him out of the NFL anyway, so he says, "OK, I'll try baseball." Now he's in the Mets' farm system and he's batting close to .300. He's an athlete. He wants to play. He won't be denied. It's that simple.
People get denied mostly because they're deniable. Be undeniable and you'll find success. That doesn't mean fame and riches. Just success in doing whatever it is God has called you to do.
So, I'd say to the kid who sent the email, if you want to be a writer and a culture warrior on the public stage, or you want to do anything else, don't listen to me cautioning you against it. I've been cautioned against literally every good and fruitful decision I've ever made. At a certain point, you just have to consult with God, get your marching orders, and be undeniably great at doing whatever He wants you to do. If you approach it that way, maybe ten years from now I'll be coming to you asking for advice on how to reach the lofty heights you've attained. I just hope you'll have something more useful to say than what I've said here. Good luck.


I liked that last paragraph. You have to consult with God. Corey and I have also been cautioned against the good and fruitful decisions of our life, regarding marriage, children, and career... We just have to know that we are on God's errand and that He is directing us. I recently read this quote from page 3 in the book "Meek and Lowly" by Neal A. Maxwell, where he talked about the need for deep developmental commitment:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that 'the situation of the saints' is such that 'unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint."

Corey often says that when he started his business, he wasn't "doing it for the personal growth!" He knows it's been a huge risk and it seems insane. And it's been so hard... he'd probably say that he's had enough growth experiences and he would like to not have to work so hard. But he also has a belief that he's doing what God wants him to do. He is very weary but refuses to faint. He's got to see it though eventhough it's taken a lot longer and been a lot longer than he imagined. The other thing he often says is "I should have gone to medical school... it probably would have been easier!" He is learning about endurance, perseverance, and deep commitment through trials and struggles.
And the same goes for me and raising these beautiful children. It is hard and, yes, it's a lot of kids. Yes, it's very demanding. Yes I have lots of dreams that are on hold right now. But I have an absolute knowledge that this is what God has called me to do, and I glory in this, my joyful burden of discipleship.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Testimony of the Book of Mormon

I love this testimony of the Book of Mormon by Elder Holland given in his October 2009 General Conference talk titled "Safety for the Soul":

"I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”
Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them, “[I] give [my name] unto the world, to witness unto the world that which [I] have seen.” And like them, “[I] lie not, God bearing witness of it.”

I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days. 

My witness echoes that of Nephi, who wrote part of the book in his “last days”: 

“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, … and they teach all men that they should do good. 

“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.”

Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”15—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Enoch Letters

I recently finished reading the book "The Enoch Letters" by Neal A. Maxwell. I borrowed the book on May 17th. That day, in our scripture study group, we had asked "So our job in these latter days is to build up Zion, but HOW do we do it?” That was how I approached this book - looking for things that we could DO to build Zion. I wrote them down in my study journal and last night I finished typing up the notes I had taken so I could share them with my friends in our study group. So here are some things that stood out to me as I read with that in mind - "How do we build Zion?" These are things I would have underlined if it was my book :) All bold, italic and cap emphasis is mine.

_______________________________________________________________

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
to the reader, for his willingness to blow away the chaff while searching for any kernels, To the Lord, “for such kernels as there may be”


INTRODUCTION:
- Thousands of people successfully applied the commandments of God and thereby had great and unparalleled happiness.
- God sets before us both incentives and warnings, it’s just as important to have before us POSITIVE consequences of RIGHTEOUSNESS as well as NEGATIVE consequences of SIN
- Moses 7:61 - My people will I preserve
- Enoch and Zion - unique because of serious and steady application of the teachings of Christ

P. 3 - An unbeliever asks “How can he (Enoch) assume to denounce our way of live and win our support? Does he not know that to get along here he must go along with things as they are?” Lesson: Zion did NOT go along with Babylon’s ways of how it is

P. 6 - Enoch “yet there is a gentleness about him, even a mildness and meekness in his bold denunciations” - reminded me of Pres Kimball.
- Enoch discusses God’s Plan of Salvation - “The most daring and simple explanation of life I have ever heard”, consistent with itself.
- Babylon spends its time trying to tell or hear some now thing (goes viral, then forgotten)


P. 7-8 - He is my God and your God, Enoch not only calls all men his brethren, but actually treats all in that manner.


P. 8 - Enoch - BOLD - must dismiss all teachings (if false) or none (if they are true!) No middle ground/gray area


P. 9 - Enoch at one with ancestors, speaks warmly and personally of them, his heart is much turned to his fathers.


P. 10 - Find fascination, not fault, with prophet’s words
- UNITY - mutual esteem and mutual desires.


P. 11 - You and I are responsible for their present conditions in life…


P. 13 - “We cannot practice one principle of Jesus Christ apart from all his other principles, and have full happiness.”
- All the principles of Jesus need each other.
- Justice is but one of a cluster of concerns prophets/God address


P. 14 - “Their (Enochians) love of God seems to move these people to a greater love of their fellowmen.
- Enoch, a preacher AND A PERFORMER of righteousness


P.15 - Enoch’s claims are so bold and daring that you can’t lay them aside.
- I reflected too much on what I would give up, reflected too little on what I might GIVE to others.


P. 17 - We are pilgrims on this planet (it’s all a test!)
- Enoch teaches of higher ways, prepares for a better world.
- We do not hurry to heaven, or the straight and narrow path requires patience and persistence.


P. 18 - Time will come when every man who will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety - D&C 45:68
- Accept [difficulties, trials, offenses] with good humor, rather than assuming malevolence on part of another, with whom we have made common cause


P. 19 - World feeds on jealousy
- Small puffs of pride can be blown away by the breeze of brotherhood
- left alone, they become dark thunderclouds which drench all round about.
- Listen to each other instead of seeking to display their own learning. More willing to be impressed than they are eager to impress. EACH SEEKS TO DO HIS SHARE that all may be equally yoked together in labor.
- help they offer needy enlarges the soul instead of the greed of him who is helped


P. 20 - Forgiving friends, when friends forgive us, so much easier to forgive ourselves.
- Trials, WHY? Bad conditions can wear away even good men.


P. 21 - When, in the judgement of God, the good can exist side by side with the wicked as do wheat and tares, God will permits it. But when, in his infinite wisdom, He chooses to both prepare and preserve a people, the righteous are withdrawn, and then things become much worse among the reside of people where you remain.


P. 22 - LOVING REGARD, not ordinary esteem… they perceive themselves as carrying out divine purposes, which purposes both preceded their own birth and will persist after their passing
- creates feelings about the PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
- take no note of time, seal these generations to each other.


P. 23 - Pervasive power of community


P. 24 - Some have no thirst for righteousness.
- “the righteous will enjoy the words of eternal life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory. Those who do not actually enjoy the words of eternal life are seldom moved to do the earthly deeds that make eternal life possible.
- so simple, so direct, so easy that many will say it cannot be right.
- The thumb can make a man blind to the sun, but the sun is still there. Blindness brought upon the man by himself, when we draw other things too close, placing them first, we obscure our vision of heaven.


P. 25 - friendship ripens into CHARITY - one heart
- at first still had opinions and ways of living
- Need greater unity in the way we live as well as way we think - one heart!
- sense and urgency but no panic
- just a desire to move swiftly and surely to establish a people.
- Perfection is a direction to be pursued in the process of time: Renounce evil and disengage in wrong doing, then→ engage anxiously in doing much good = MIGHTY CHANGE. Fear of God→ awe/wonder@grace→ shame for past sins and gratitude for light= weep together, ONE HEART


P. 26 - Commerce of Christ - the morals of the marketplace matter and find their way into families
- Babylon - hates mankind, then hates themselves - or - hates themselves, then hates mankind the more
- Listen to words of God and of prophets, prayer, fasting
- Perform labors of community life - but - remember the PURPOSE! (It’s a test of charity, service, love!)


P. 27 - Trials = imagine the heart and affection a man feels when there are so many anxious to administer to his needs.
- accept it in love and wonder, desire to bless others likewise
- Righteous unity = each man does more than he imagined or even wanted to do himself. Example: seeing other pass a breaking point without breaking. Or - going a second mile with a burden they are only required to carry one mile
- We are inspired to do more. = performance is sanctified for welfare of his soul.
- Quiet goodness. Noticing but ignoring the offence (of my teenager!) knowing that the offender (teen) knows better and will do better momentarily. Thus offender (teen) comes more quickly to his senses.
- Babylon would have us defend our wrongs
- Speak the truth in love, it helps us all to listen.


P. 28 - Each finds a way for his/her talents to be so employed
- Builders, gardeners, vineyards…. All being assigned a task
- No idlers!!
- Combine time and talents to learn to truly love neighbors
- Small daily duties well done lead to big differences
- No easy way to rush to righteousness


P. 31 - Lively commerce of common concern


P. 32 - Evil is erotic and erratic - since it must entice so many in such a multitude of ways:
  • “I have the truth, therefore I have all truth”
  • “There is no truth”
  • “All Truths are not equally important”
RESULT of these three attitudes: THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH STOPS
  • “No matter what I do, it is not wrong”
  • “I have done wrong, but it is not serious”
  • “I have done such wrong, there is no hope for me
RESULT: THE SINNING CONTINUES


P. 36 - Not a mystical experience


P. 37 - How/Why believe in anything so simple?
- Looking beyond the mark - missing plain and precious OBVIOUS things
- God does not want the way back to his presence to be complicated
- Intellectual embroidery is an unreliable frill
- TRUTH in gospel is hardy and homely cloth


P. 37-38 “It is not necessary for you to understand the mysteries inside the simple realities of life. The sunshine that causes crops and trees to grow is not something we can explain. Yet we depend on sunshine. The regular coming of the rain that gives us water and that makes our crops grow is a blessing we cannot explain. Yet we accept it. We do not refuse food simply because we cannot explain the seasons or make ourself the seeds we have planted.”


P. 39 - Final change must be in the heart, not the mind.
- Babylon - must work to maintain compliance by it’s citizens
- Zion - efficient, all seek not better but BEST, lss and less structure to see that people do their duty one toward another.
- When inner man is changed, we have less and less need for outer controls - because WE LOVE EACH OTHER!


P. 40 - And we love deeply because we love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength
- Fathers know that their chief duties are to God, Family and to Zion. “They prize their wives and children as eternal possessions to be cultivated more tenderly and diligently than any earthly crop.
- See their Father’s faith in actions of daily life
- Children exceedingly glad to behold faith of fathers


P. 41 - Give no place for evil to tarry - AT ONCE TURN YOUR THOUGHTS TO THINGS OF VIRTUE  - light dispels darkness. Likewise, consider HOW TO SERVE OTHERS - energies turned from pleasing self to fresh considerations that flow from seeking welfare of others.


P. 42 - City of Enoch - not idyllic, undisturbed, tranquil scene where people sit around and talk of truth. There are duties to be done, skills to put in service
- neighbors love neighbors.
- Each mans’ work is his love made manifest for mankind.


P. 43 - Help gladly and quietly without acclaim
- Happy because they give more thought to content of speech than smoothness in their speaking.


P. 44 - Duty turn to Delight
- Happiness → creates energy to do more
- Misery → hold back → despair → scarcity


P. 45 - Powers of Heaven - principles of righteousness cannot be used to gratify PRIDE or AMBITION or to control the children of men.
- Walk and talk with confidence in the presence of the Lord.
- Enoch is  preaching a new hard doctrine of one remaining sacrifice that each of us must be willing to make


P. 48 - So much of mankind’s talents and thoughts are enthralled with things instead of truths
- Commandments not imposed in Zion “We do things out of devotion”
- God gives us 1) Breath 2) Time 3) Increase


P. 49 - Why hard to yield? Why does he not yield quickly?


P. 50 - Remember that “our” possessions aren’t really ours anyway. “It’s easier to give up that which is not ours.”
- Possessions and business - a fun adventure? But such are, unknowingly, turning aside from the great adventure of affording affection in their own family
- sense of eternity lessens anxiety rooted in “time”

P. 51 - Gardeners/builders… no man esteems himself above his neighbor, for each has gifts.
- It’s so much easier to learn both what to do and how to do it, when we first know WHY things must be done at all.
- splendor springs from the work of all our people, each of whom revels in the talents and accomplishments of the other


P. 52 - Each is inclined to glorify God rather than himself, and to thank God first for giving talents that make such beauty possible.


P. 53 - Love even when love is not returned
- Helps us “in the process of learning to love others more deeply to realize who others really are - our eternal brothers and sisters, our friends of the future, our peers of a past beyond the pale of mortal memory.”


P. 54 - Be patient, even if others are impatient with me.
- ABSORB unkind words
- often when I feel wounded it is my pride, not a principle, that is the cause.


P. 55 - ONLY BY BEING INSIDE ZION that we can experience such unity.
- Things that seem unclear become clear
- Things that at first seem obscure become obvious
- You would not criticize a group of people who sought the same high ground in the midst of a flood. You would not see their presence in one place as an unintelligent act, for they came together in order to be saved. So it is here.
- all are humble


P. 58 - ZION - in order for men to partake of the fruits of felicity, they  must plant the seeds there of.
- Do not suppose that a single skill, one attribute, or one tremendous talent could make such a city. Many seemingly small things are combined here which together make a big difference.


P. 59 - Life is not labrynth. Mortality is no Maze if a man possess the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide him.
- Ordinances - both endings and beginnings.


P. 60 - Meetings move us to tears of gratitude.
- divest ourselves of material things = the final measure of a man
- wealth put to effective use in the care of those who have less


P. 61 - People bound together in love and truth, produce more in cooperation, thus more to share!
- All have stronger desire to share than to receive.
- World, wickedness, violence, bloodshed = aliens from God. consumed in sin and wars. Only thought of themselves, of today, of revenge.
- All who will not take up his sword against his neighbor must flee to Zion for safety.


P. 62 - When people can no longer be stirred up to remembrance, their hearts become like shells and then stones.


P. 63 - Physical separation of Enoch’s people necessary,
- Able to withstand the wickedness of the world
- Giants stood afar off in great perplexity
- NO FEAR in ZION
- Liberty in Love
- Diversions among men mirror divisions WITHIN each man.
- Only when the war within each man has first ended can there be real peace!


P. 66 - World more and more wicked, City of Enoch - more and more righteous
- Mountains flee (symbolic of obstacles/trials?)
- rivers of water turned out of their course
- Enoch, great love for fellow men, even those yet to be born


APPENDIX
P. 76 - “There were not enough in the day of Enoch who were willing to sustain that which was right. One part of other had to leave the earth; and the Lord translated Enoch and his city and took them home to himself.” - Wilford Woodruff, JD 11:243


“We are trying to understand the gospel as Enoch understood it and as Christ understood it, and to do BUSINESS as THEY DID IT, living in cooperation and managing our affairs in the same way; but many of us ARE NOT WILLING to be taught in TEMPORAL MATTERS” - Franklin D. Richards, April 1898 Gen Conf


“He (God) gave Enoch a system, known now as the Order of Enoch, or the United Order. It provided that all the citizens of Zion should work together and that whatever was produced should be given into the Lord’s storehouse, and that every man should be given from the common store according to his wants and needs. The people, taught by Enoch, were able to overcome the LOWER FEELINGS and to divide all things with each other, so that all were equal.” - John A. Widtsoe


People of Nephi - 4 Nephi

  • growth , prosperity, city building
  • Fasting, praying, meeting together oft
  • Kept commandments
  • Many miracles
  • No contentions or disputations
  • Every man dealt justly
  • All things in common
  • No rich, poor, bond, or free
  • Peace, prosperity
  • LOVE OF GOD in hearts of the people
  • They were in one
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