Sunday Spirituality: Peace

So, it’s not the most flattering video, but I made it almost three years ago.  I enjoy singing, and sometimes imagine I do alright.  Really, it’s a talent I hope to develop rather than bury…so even if it’s terrible, at least it’s still there.

I love this song.  Even when I feel totally alone, I know I can turn to my Savior for comfort, for grace.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).

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Sunday Spirituality: Wrestling in Prayer (Revised)

A thought occurred to me that maybe a lot of heartache and trial could be avoided when we take the time to commune with the Lord through prayer. Enos talks about wrestling with the Lord in prayer and received a remission of his sins. What does that really mean to me? Enos prayed MANY hours before he received his answers. Is it only a matter of time before we receive the answers we seek? Or is it a matter of the state of our mind, and heart? How often do I pray until my prayer becomes a conversation, and my mind and heart become enlightened by revelation? Usually this happens when I am anxious about something or am struggling for an answer. But what if my prayers were always full of anxiety that I might be always open to receive revelation? How much more would I be prepared to learn if I always had the capacity to receive it?

My favorite definition of prayer is in the Bible Dictionary:

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

Heavenly Father is just waiting for us to ask Him for what we need.  I believe that when we open our hearts in prayer, the Spirit gives us the words to pray and prepares our hearts to receive the answers.

Sunday Spirituality: General Conference

It’s General Conference weekend!  A great time to be spiritually fed by the Prophet and Apostles of Jesus Christ.  President Thomas S. Monson is the current Prophet of the Lord to the world.  If you haven’t had a chance to listen to what he and the other General Authorities have to say yet, click the link in the widget on the side bar or the link below and watch it: Sunday 10am MDT and 2pm MDT.
http://broadcast.lds.org/widget/come-listen/index.html

Media: His Grace is Sufficient

His Grace Is Sufficient
Wilcox, Brad  July 12, 2011

Wow!  What an amazing talk given at the BYU Devotional last month.  Check it out at THIS LINK where you can listen to it, download it, view it, buy it, whatever you wish.  It is fantastic!

I have always struggled with how to explain what I understand about the Atonement and how it is important that we DO OUR PART while still acknowledging the Savior’s sacrifice as a necessary/essential part of our salvation.  This talk explains it very well! In high school, I was bombarded by people who would interrogate me about my faith and why I would take part in the ordinances and rites of my church.  They told me that even baptism is a form of work and demonstrates some lack of faith in Christ, or it is an act of defiance/denial of Christ’s grace.  On the contrary, it is a demonstration of my increased faith and the covenants I make bind me to Christ as my advocate and Redeemer.  I wish I understood this more back then.  I have since learned A LOT more and have come to understand the infinite power of the Atonement in my life and what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

“Even so afaith, if it hath not bworks, is dead, being alone.Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my afaith by my bworks” (James 2:17-18).  “Wherefore by their afruits ye shall know them.Not every one that asaith unto me, bLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that cdoeth the dwill of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:20-21).

“Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it?  Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does  the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No.  Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s  incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for  practice, practice, practice.”

“I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.” I say, “no, we are not  earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”  They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?” I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, com-
pletely, thankfully—yes!” Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are  not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “a life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” as my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” “The miracle of the atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change.”

 

Overcoming Adversity – What is the purpose of trials?

I’d like you to meet my friend Paul.  When he was ten years old he was paralyzed in a car accident.  Our parents were friends growing up so we heard about the situation immediately.  It was one of the few times I’d seen my older brother cry.  Paul is one of his very best friends.  Our family gathered in the living room and knelt down to say a prayer in behalf of their family.  I was very young and didn’t really understand the repercussions of Paul’s injuries.  I remember being chided by my parents when I made a silly comment when we visited him in the hospital.  Still, one of my fondest memories of Paul is my first youth conference when we did the pioneer trek: three days, and nearly twenty-five miles.  It was intense for everyone, but I remember that Paul did not have any hesitation about joining the rest of us on the trek and was a champion throughout the entire experience.  Today, Paul is an Olympian, a husband and father, an engineer, and has organized a foundation to help others.  Here is his story:

In the current Ensign there is an article that reminds us, “Challenges have always been part of mortality and God’s plan for our growth. Through the power of the Atonement, we can still “be of good cheer” (Be of Good Cheer: Choosing Happiness By Camille Fronk Olson).

It isn’t always easy to see the purpose of our trials, let alone be grateful for or happy about them.  Still, it’s important to have a good attitude and look for ways to improve in spite of trials.  I used to be really good about having “eternal perspective” when it came to trials.  I would tell myself that there is a grander purpose that I will come to understand one day.  That worked really well for me.  I would imagine myself looking back over my life when it is over and thinking, “ah, that’s why” and everything would be ok.

In True to the Faith, we can read about adversity as a part of our existence and why it is important to have a good attitude:

“When some people face adversity, they are like Laman and Lemuel. They complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, you should follow Nephi’s example. Consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?” (See 1 Nephi 16:15–31.)”

Through some of my recent trials, I sometimes catch myself being more like Laman, and less like Nephi.  Why have I had to struggle to complete my college education?  Why have I always had to experience periods of friendlessness and lonliness?  Why has my husband had such a rough time finding employment?  Why did we have to have a car accident in the midst of trial and depression?  Why is it so hard to find direction or to change our course when we are in a difficult situation?  Like the article says, trials and opposition are a part of mortal existence.  Opposition teach us faith, gratitude, and a myriad of virtues which would otherwise be incomprehensible.  There is a part of me that is beginning to understand that in order to be able to seize control of my situation, I need to learn how to and be capable of giving up that control.

“We mistakenly deduce that we must first prove our worth through our obedience and righteousness before the Lord’s sacrifice will cover us or His grace enable us.

“We may come to believe that we can and should trust in our own efforts rather than humbly acknowledge God. This is self-righteousness…

“Such thinking easily leads to justifying wrongdoing because we think we are in control; we think we know better than others, and sin is not a problem for us. If we can just get control over our world—our addictions in all their varieties, our eating disorders and obsession with thinness, our insistence that our house always be immaculate, our fascination with outward evidence of education and success—then we can finally be cheerful.

“Christ declared, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; emphasis added).

I have to give up the idea that perfection is within my reach because it’s just not.  Only through the Atonement can I even come close to being able to accomplish anything.  I don’t always understand why things have to be so difficult, but I can have faith that there is a Plan and a purpose.  The Atonement makes all things possible.  Through my trials, I can be grateful, and I can have faith that everything will work out for my good, and that I am being refined and prepared somehow.  “Thy will, oh Lord, be done.”

Small Ain’t Always Simple

I just wanted to send out an update to tell you about the progress I’ve been making on some of the things I have been working on.  I know I haven’t been very consistent about keeping you posted, but I promise I have been working on a few things here and there.  Some of them have to do with parenting, homemaking, school, church, and my business.  I wouldn’t say I have been busy because I have had quite a bit of down time while I searched for motivation to do anything.  In fact, as I was reading about Harriet Tubman, I really was inspired by how she used the power within herself to accomplish great things!  No one asked her to free her people or to work for the Union Army, nor to turn her house into a home for assisted living.  She felt inside of her that it was the right thing to do and she accomplished great things one mission at a time.

Homemaking:

Here are a few small things I like to do to accomplish more.

1: I fold my grocery bags.  Yup, when I get home from the grocery store, I stop and I fold those plastic bags up so I can tuck them into the bottom of garbage cans, my purse, or bring them out to the car to collect garbage.  It’s really pretty simple, and it’s so much easier than having those giant wods of plastic bags floating around and not knowing what to do with them!

2: I have been working on a system for my laundry.  I start a load in the washer in the morning when I get up, and then I change it over and start a new load before I go to bed.  That way, I’m not using other precious time to work on the laundry, and I basically forget about it.  When I do my chores, I fold the load that I pull out of the dryer in the morning and then it’s done.  Of course, this all works really well in theory, but I’m still working on perfecting it.

3: I recently read the 4-Hour Work Week.  Great book for single 20-, 30-somethings without a family, however, I did glean a few treasures here and there as a homemaker.  The author talks about focus, discipline, and effectiveness vs. efficiency.  In light of these things, I try to get my dishes washed and laundry folded first thing in the morning so the rest of my day is free.  My goal is to not be distracted by the computer expect at designated times.  Being efficient means that there is a place for everything and everything’s in its place.  I love this mantra and I try to live by it.  Being effective, however, means getting rid of 80% of the crap that you only use 20% of the time that you really wouldn’t miss.  The example the author uses is email.  If you sign up for all the cool notifications from all your favorite websites/blogs and then have a nice little filing system to keep them organized, you are being efficient.  But, to be effective with your time and energy, only get what you will use right now, and unsubscribe from the rest.  Stop wasting time!

Cherry Tomatoes

Beans

Cucumber

4: My garden is blooming!  I mean, it is actually bearing fruit!  It’s funny because I have really been only doing the minimal effort.  A lot of the time I only water it because my daughter asks me to so she can play out on the balcony, or my husband does it because I haven’t thought about it!  The nice thing is that our balcony faces south, south-west, I think, so it is sunny most of the day.  They get plenty of nourishment that way!

5:  I have been working on a quilt.  It is my first quilt, and I used re-purposed fabrics so it’s only so pretty.  Plus, my machine is old and ghetto.  When I lift my foot off the peddle, it keeps going.  It has been a struggle, but I am almost finished!  It’s been difficult finding the time to do it, but I would really like to be able to do a lot more…someday.

Motherhood:

All I have to say about my sweet children is that they make it a joy to be their mom!  My daughter is growing quickly, and she is learning fast!  I love watching her navigate through my husband’s Nook Color to get to the books and apps that she wants!  I can’t believe how much a two-year-old can accomplish these days with technology!  My son is almost nine months old and he is all over the place.  He starts to crawl on his hands and knees for a little bit, and then he plops onto his stomach to do his army crawl!  He is pulling himself up to stand on everything though.  It won’t be long before he is running around with my toddler!

At the Farm

One small thing I have been working on is keeping him on a flexible schedule like the one in The Baby Whisperer book.  I would feed my son when he first wakes up and then put him down to sleep when he’s tired.  I rarely have nursed him to sleep ever.  I had to start from birth.  Now, he is always happy, and going to sleep for him is never a struggle!!  He is awesome!  Most nights he sleeps through the night, but I don’t have a problem when he gets up once.  I quickly feed him and he goes right back to sleep.

School:

Today I had an appointment with my school advisor to map out the remainder of my degree.  She was really amazing.  She went through her college career with children while they were in grade school.  She understands that children are the first priority and was really nice about not making me feel bad about going back to school again.  I still have a long way to go, but she was very encouraging.  I want to get this finished before my kids get too old because I plan to homeschool.  I want to be able to focus on my children’s education without this distraction.  Still, I am SO close!  I can’t give up now.  It’s been a long journey, but the end is in sight!  A friend of mine posted this link earlier that was encouraging.  If only I could be a super hero and save the world! 😀

Business:

I have had this product idea stirring around in my head for a couple of years.  Lately with my husband’s underemployment and difficulty finding a new job, we have been inspired to get things off the ground.  At first I thought we were going to have to create everything from scratch and do all the testing and preparations from home.  When we tried, it was impossible.  With more research lately, I have found that there are much easier ways to do what I had hoped!  I have read 4-hour Work Week, Rework, and How to License Your Million Dollar Idea for more insight and ideas.  I have lately been working with a manufacturer to get a legitimate product created!  We will start the testing process in the next couple of weeks and hopefully have a finished product before Christmas!  I will keep you posted.  You will know when we are making progress!

Church:

I have a new calling – finally!  Well, I have been wanting a calling that will inspire me to be more productive.  I guess the Lord was preserving me for this calling so I could be available to accept it.  I will be teaching the Beehive class in Young Women.  I am excited about this calling because I feel like it is the right one for me right now.  I hope that I will fulfill my role to these young women to the best of my ability.

I think that’s just about everything for now.  I will try to keep you posted on all the little things I am trying to do.  Currently I am reading (actually listening to) Made to Stick and Switch by the same authors.  I am in need of some serious inspiration!  Feels like a lot of thing happening to me are discouraging and I am trying to combat them by being positive and having more self discipline.  Sort of failing, but there is hope on the horizon!

Wednesday Wonderful Women: Julie B. Beck

Julie B. Beck is the current General Relief Society President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Relief Society is the worldwide women’s organization of the church.  Organized by Joseph Smith March 17, 1842 for “All women in the ward ages 18 and older, as well as women younger than 18 who are married or are single mothers, belong to the Relief Society organization. The purpose of Relief Society is to organize, teach, and inspire women to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life. Members of the Relief Society fulfill this purpose by increasing faith and personal righteousness, strengthening families and homes, and seeking out and helping those in need…The Relief Society organization also provides an individualized support network that gives women the opportunity to care for, strengthen, and teach one another” (lds.org).

Quotes from Sister Beck:

“It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track. We partake of the sacrament week after week to show our faith in His power to change us. We confess our sins and promise to forsake them (see D&C 58:43)” (“Remembering, Repenting, and Changing,” Ensign, May 2007, 111).

“It would be impossible to learn the lessons the scriptures contain by reading them only one time through or studying selected verses in a class. . . . The Lord has told us that our time should ‘be devoted to the studying of the scriptures’ (D&C 26:1) and that ‘the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given. . . for [our] instruction’ (D&C 33:16)” (“My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures,” Ensign, May 2004, 107).

“Just as the Savior invited Mary and Martha of New Testament times to participate in His work, women of this dispensation have an official commission to participate in the Lord’s work. . . . The organization of Relief Society in 1842 mobilized the collective power of the women and their specific assignments to build the Lord’s kingdom, just as the organization of priesthood quorums gave men specific responsibilities. . . .

“Through Relief Society, women have an official role in the Church with great responsibilities, ‘including working in the temple and teaching the gospel’ (Dallin H. Oaks, ‘The Priesthood and the Auxiliaries,’ Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 17). Further, Relief Society is to help women ‘plant and make grow . . . a testimony of [Jesus] Christ and of the Gospel’ (The First Presidency, ‘Memorandum of Suggestions,’ Mar. 29, 1940, 2), ‘strengthen the family and the home’ (Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 17), and ‘attend to all family duties’ (D&C 20:47)” (“Fulfilling the Purpose of Relief Society,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 108–9).

 

Forgive me for just writing a quick highlight about Sister Beck today.  I had an interesting weekend filled with major ups and downs.  Dear friends were in town for a visit.  We toured the city together and had great company and conversation.  Their children were sweethearts and my children loved having them around!  Each time they pulled up next to us or arrived at our home, my daughter shouted with sheer, innocent delight, “friends!!  Friends, mommy!!”  It was so sweet.  They have been good friends of ours since shortly after we were married.  They are a fulfillment of a blessing I was given that I would meet dear friends who would remain our friends throughout our lives.  They are as dear to us as family!

Unfortunately, our visit was tainted by a car accident.  The front end of our car was met by some oncoming traffic while I was driving, and I broke my finger.  Everyone else involved was ok.  The other cars involved were totaled and we have other repercussions and costs as a result as well, even though we were able to drive our car away from the scene.  Some of the repercussions are emotional.  I feel terrible, as anyone would for being involved in a car accident.  I know there are more tragic things than a nonfatal accident, but that doesn’t make it easier.

There is a thought I had the other day as I was contemplating the trials that my husband and I are experiencing.  Some days feel like we are sort of being tested beyond our capacity to handle, and we wonder why when we exist on this earth that we might have joy.  So where is that joy?  Why does it feel so very far out of reach?  Why would the Lord kick us when we’re already down like this?  I struggle to understand when in the midst of my trial there is so little hope.

The truth is (and here is my thought), our joy is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  “[For] he [has gone] forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and btemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he [has taken] upon him adeath, that he may bloose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to csuccor his people according to their infirmities.  Now the Spirit aknoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the bflesh that he might ctake upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:11-13).

Our joy comes through our faith in Christ and in His Atonement in spite of our trials.  Our trials are designed to heighten our understanding of the sacrifice the Savior made, or to stand as His disciples in all times and places.  The trials are the test to see if we are truly His disciples or if we are only offering lip service.  Our trials are designed to refine us and to temper us that we might be prepared to stand in the presence of the Father.

I think I could go on and on about the purpose of our trials.  There are many reasons and many outcomes.  I know it is possible to be grateful for our trials as we learn and grow and develop wisdom and experience.  The important thing is to be grateful for all the little blessings we have, and that we keep doing the things that will bring balance and consistency and faithfulness.

What do you do to maintain balance and consistency from day-to-day?