Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trust in the Rock

A few weeks ago I was in sacrament randomly searching my scriptures. I do this a lot. I wasn't looking for anything specifically really, but I came across this scripture:

"The God of my rock, in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence." 2nd Samuel 22:3

I've been thinking about this scripture a lot since discovering it (or rediscovering it since I've read the bible numerous times...yes cover to cover) and am amazed how just how true it has been for me. Especially the "thou savest me from violence" part. Then I started to take a good look at the word refuge.

Refuge, according to webster.com is : shelter or protection from danger or distress, a place that provides shelter or protection, something to which one has recourse in difficulty

The definition of the word got me thinking any further. Aren't the arms of the Lord a shelter or protection from danger or distress...certainly they can be at least right? Do we not find shelter and protection in the Plan of Salvation? This last definition though...that's what I've found the most interesting..."something to wish one has recourse in difficulty." Recourse means a source of help or strength, a turning to someone or something for help or protection. I never honestly thought about Heavenly Father being a recourse in difficulty. I know I often turn to him in difficulty but sometimes I think it's more of a long-winded rant rather than a complete trust in him to provide the help and protection I seek or am in need of.

I have had a case of the doldrums for a very long time now and, as I struggle to come out of it, I am learning how essential it is that we trust Heavenly Father to be the very things he tells us he is and will be...even our refuge.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Latter-day Prophets and Apostles

It occurred to me recently that not only can I NOT name all 15 of the previous Latter-day Prophets, I also could not name all 12 Apostles or tell you much of anything about them. Sure I know who President Monson and his two counselors are, I mean Monson is my all time fave GA. And I recognize a few others like Bednar, Perry, Oaks, Ballard, Scott, and Nelson but I think it's important I be able to name all 15 past prophets by sight and it'd be helpful to know a little bit about them too. For instance, did you know that Heber J. Grant was President of the Church longer than anyone else in history EXCEPT for Brigham Young? And, did you know that David O. McKay spent more than 60 years of his life as a GA? Yeah I didn't either till I started making the pieces for a game to be played during this week's FHE. The game is easy...click here to download it. You can play it a variety of ways....match the picture, to the name, to the "who am I". Match the picture to the name. Match the Name to the "who am I". Match the picture to the "who am I." You could even play "around the world" with the "who am I" or picture pieces. I laminated mine and altered a cricut cartridge box to store them it. It worked beautifully. I'll post a picture of my container later. Enjoy the game.

Answer Key: Please click here for the answer key. Sarah pointed out it could also be used as a study guide.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Because He knows and He is ALWAYS there

As many of you know from my FB status messages, the last couple of days have been extremely trying for me. My FIRST Darling Daughter, oldest of the Clan, is making very poor use of her agency. It's so heartbreaking as her parent to have to sit idly by and watch her make mistakes that will set her ship sailing on the most tumultous of waters. Mistakes that I KNOW she knows better than to make. I mean I raised her, I know how she was raised, I know the values that have been instilled in her, the morals I've inspired her to have, etc and yet she makes CONSTANT and DELIBERATE choices that wind up getting her the very opposite of what she claims to want the most. No amount of counsel, guidance, love, support, encouragement, faith, or even prayer has managed to re-direct her path at present. For the better part of these past two days I've just cried and cried but in 2 Nephi it says "for it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things." Notice the word ALL. There must be opposition in all things...sometimes though I wish we could get by without so much opposition. Am I the only one who often wishes there only had to be opposition in SOME things?!?!? I realize that if I didn't have so much drama with my oldest, I may not appreciate the lack of it with my youngest three; however that is honestly little comfort.

Last night as I was chatting (and crying) to or with a neighbor, I had an ah-ha moment. The clue bird landed and I finally got it...

Heavenly Father must feel the same heartache, pain, agony, and sorrow when WE, His children, transgress. When He looks down and sees us making choices He KNOWS we know better than. When He sees us DO things He KNOWS we know we ought not be doing. I know first hand how difficult it is to cast out a child. I can't imagine the heartache He must have experienced in having to cast Lucifer out...not just for a brief period of time, but forever. Lucifer, despite his evil nature and goals, is nonetheless, still our Father's child as well.

My heart breaks for my daughter on a regular basis. It is extremely painful and difficult to see her choose to be who she is when I know she is capable of so much more. Well wait, maybe I don't KNOW it, I just think it. I think she is capable of much more than she chooses to become and it is difficult to see her suffer after having made some very bad choices; it's difficult to see her cry and scream "I'm mad at you this is all your fault" even though I know that she knows better.

It is difficult for me, and I have just one challenging child. Can you imagine the position of our Heavenly Father...I have no idea what the world population is but I'm CONFIDENT He has quite a few more than just ONE challenging child. How His heart must break for us as we stumble and fall and get ourselves into troubled waters. And yet, no matter how many times we stumble, trip or in some cases jump in the so fast we forget to plug our noses and hit the bottom, HE is STILL here. Never forcing us to come to Him, or even to come around, but always here if and when we choose to do either.

In Hebrews 13:5 we are told that He will NEVER leave us, nor forsake us. Sometimes though, we forsake Him. I feel like my child has forsaken me. I suspect He feels the same emotions I am feeling now when we turn from Him. I pray I can have His strength to be the same constant for my child as He is for us...that I will have the strength to never leave or forsake her. I pray my heart won't break beyond its ability to mend and that in time, my child will turn away from wrongdoing and find calmer waters on which to sail. I pray I can be a source of constant comfort to my child like Heavenly Father is to me so that when she is ready to reach out, she will find my hand there to steady her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How do I prioritize so I can accomplish all that is expected of me?

That was my question today...and then I quieted my soul and went to the scriptures. Here's what I found:

2 Nephi 31:20: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

Notice there is NOTHING in this about priorities really. No magic to do list clearly spelling out what my priorities should or must be...but then I went to the footnotes about the word steadfast and it says to also see commitment, dedication, perseverance, steadfastness, and walking with God in the Topical Guide...ut oh, NOW I get it.

Commitment...the way to prioritize and accomplish all that I need to do is to develop a commitment and dedication to CHRIST. In being committed to Christ I will not have to stand alone and will have everything I need, more even actually, to do what I'm responsible for doing. Remember, that's what grace is and HIS is always sufficient for our needs.

I honestly thought I WAS already committed to Christ but then I decided to look up commit in the dictionary and here's what it says at webster.com: "to put into charge or trust; to obligate or pledge oneself" and I realized that I am not always (though I am getting better) putting Christ in charge all the time. In intent sure of course, but not always in application.

Sometimes I honestly forget Christ...I get so caught up in the mundane necessities of life I forget to read my scriptures and often fall asleep before we can get a family prayer. I'm so busy sometimes just thinking about everything I need and should be doing that I fail to actually DO anything. Can you relate at all? So I again think about this word commit.

I know that I am DEEPLY commited to my kids and would do anything for them but would I do anything for my Lord? Sure the answer we all hope everyone says is yes but really would we, do we? Do we do all the things He wants us to do on a daily basis? For me, I've been in a viscious cycle...I know I SHOULD be doing a, b, c, and x, y, and z but can only manage to get a and y done and so I feel guilty and then that guilt makes it so I don't want to try anymore and that sense of defeat is the very moment Satan is in control. Have you ever felt defeated? Have you ever struggled to do things when deep down you're thinking "what's the point" anyway? I know it's just me that this happens to right?!?!?

I have decided it's time to re-commit to my Lord, to give him back the keys and scoot over and I am trusting that, as I put Him first in my life both in ACTIONS as well as thoughts, He will intercede on my behalf when I feel indequate thereby making me powerful beyond measure. With this realization has come some changes...here's what I've decided to do differently:

1. AM scripture study and personal prayer
2. Establish a PM routine that involves family prayer and bedtime
3. PM journaling and prayer
4. Weekly FHE even if I don't teach it, we have no official program, and it's not on Monday (there will be more on this at my main blog later)
5. Time management and allocation.
6. Taking care of me spiritually (see 1-4) and physically.

I'll let you know how it goes...tune in tomorrow for another quesiton and perhaps answer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How do I find balance?

In a post I created on my main blog regarding TOFW, we were challenged to take one question to the scriptures every day and in them, we'd find the answers. I accepted the challenge and got started on this today. My question is "How do I find balance with all that is expected of me."

The answer I found was in Matthew 25 beginning in verse 15. It's the parable of talents. The word talent in this time is used for money. I'm sure you all know this story...to paraphrase it though, everyone got a different amount of talents, some invested/spent theirs and one hid theirs in the earth...the ones that invested/spent theirs got it back double and the one who hid or buried his got scolded and of course ultimately loses it.

A very strange thing occurred to me as I read this passage this morning...let's look at talent as we use the word today. When someone says "oh you are so talented" it usually relates to some skill (or in my case I'm being super sarcastic with my children sometimes too) this person has. For example, some people think I'm very talented when it comes to graphic design.

So thinking of talent THIS way...as a skill, let's visit this same passage. "And unto one he gave five skills, and to another two, and to another one, every man according to his several ability...then he that had received the five skills went and traded with the same, and made them other skills... his lord said unto him well done though good and faithful servant."

And I realized how true this is. Heavenly Father has given each of us different talents and skills. Some of us are very talented, while others of us aren't but I've yet to find anyone devoid of talent. Some of us share or "trade" our talents and learn or receive more, some of us don't. The way to find balance in my life is for me to use my talents...that was the answer. In using my talents to the best of my ability it will allow me to achieve balance. I'm not expected to do it all, I'm simply expected to use what I've got so that when the time comes, my Lord will likewise be able to say "well done though good and faithful servant."

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Favorite Mother

Yesterday was Mothers Day. I'm sure everyone everywhere thought about their mother's and, if they are still living, likely sent cards, gifts, made calls, went to visit and the like. I bet many of flowers were placed on many of graves belong to mothers who have passed away too. I spent my day sick and afflicted so it gave me a LOT of time to think.

I'm not sure why it never occurred to me until now, but I am so profoundly grateful to Mother Mary. What faith she displayed by being the Savior's mother. Can you imagine the gossiping people did about her...can you imagine how angry and frustrated her betrothed was until his angelic visitation cleared the air? I mean SERIOUSLY...what would we think of a woman who was visibly pregnant but claimed she had NOT been with a man....we'd think she was drowning in a river called De Nile right (or maybe that she had been inseminated but still)? I personally think Mary was one of the bravest and noblest mother's in the history of mothers. Hers was the task of raising the Savior of the world...talk about pressure man. David O. McKay said "the noblest calling in the world is motherhood." Surely then, Mary then was one of the most noble mothers of all time.

One of my all time favorite renditions of Mary and Jesus is by Liz Swindle. It appeared in an issue of the Ensign...and I'm putting it here for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

For this cause

"To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." John 18:37

How many times have you heard "lead by example"...I submit to you the ONLY perfect example. May we all strive to bring our lives ever more in tune with HIS will for us.

My Wish

Many times I'm asked how it is I can have the attitude I do about life after having endured so much heartache and tears. Frequently I hear how justified I would be in hating Ex Knight, wishing him dead, or whatever and people are always surprised to learn I wish him nothing but the best. I heard this song a while back and it PERFECTLY explains how I feel and Elder Scott gave a beautiful talk last year on healing from abuse...The full talk can be found here, but below is an excerpt.

"I testify that I know victims of serious abuse who have successfully made the difficult journey to full healing through the power of the Atonement. After her own concerns were resolved by her faith in the healing power of the Atonement, one young woman who had been severely abused by her father requested another interview with me. She returned with an older couple. I could sense that she loved the two very deeply. Her face radiated happiness. She began, “Elder Scott, this is my father. I love him. He’s concerned about some things that happened in my early childhood. They are no longer a problem for me. Could you help him?” What a powerful confirmation of the Savior’s capacity to heal! She no longer suffered from the consequences of abuse, because she had adequate understanding of His Atonement, sufficient faith, and was obedient to His law. As you conscientiously study the Atonement and exercise your faith that Jesus Christ has the power to heal, you can receive the same blessed relief. During your journey of recovery, accept His invitation to let Him share your burden until you have sufficient time and strength to be healed.

To find relief from the consequences of abuse, it is helpful to understand their source. Satan is the author of all of the destructive outcomes of abuse. He has extraordinary capacity to lead an individual into blind alleys where the solution to extremely challenging problems cannot be found. His strategy is to separate the suffering soul from the healing attainable from a compassionate Heavenly Father and a loving Redeemer.

If you have been abused, Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.

Satan uses your abuse to undermine your self-confidence, destroy trust in authority, create fear, and generate feelings of despair. Abuse can damage your ability to form healthy human relationships. You must have faith that all of these negative consequences can be resolved; otherwise they will keep you from full recovery. While these outcomes have powerful influence in your life, they do not define the real you.

Satan will strive to alienate you from your Father in Heaven with the thought that if He loved you He would have prevented the tragedy. Do not be kept from the very source of true healing by the craftiness of the prince of evil and his wicked lies. Recognize that if you have feelings that you are not loved by your Father in Heaven, you are being manipulated by Satan. Even when it may seem very difficult to pray, kneel and ask Father in Heaven to give you the capacity to trust Him and to feel His love for you. Ask to come to know that His Son can heal you through His merciful Atonement.

It was Satan’s proposal that Father’s children be forced to obey, that there be no moral agency and therefore no personal growth. To preserve moral agency, the Lord does not restrain individuals from improper use of that agency. However, He will punish them for such acts unless there is full repentance. Through the Holy Ghost, He sends warning promptings to the abuser, but often that individual’s degrading appetite is so powerful that it blocks out that spiritual guidance. That is why our Father provided a way to heal the consequences of acts that, through force, misuse of authority, or fear of another, temporarily take away the agency of the abused.

The beginning of healing requires childlike faith in the unalterable fact that Father in Heaven loves you and has supplied a way to heal. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, laid down His life to provide that healing. But there is no magic solution, no simple balm to provide healing, nor is there an easy path to the complete remedy. The cure requires profound faith in Jesus Christ and in His infinite capacity to heal. It is rooted in an understanding of doctrine and a resolute determination to follow it."

Not a single moment of my life passes by without me being very conscientious of the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My testimony has given me strength I didn't realize I had, courage beyond all explanation, and comfort when nothing else works. Because of the healing power of the Atonment, I am able to wish only the best for Ex Knight... this song I heard details my wish for him more poignantly than I'd ever be able to do. Here is the chorus:

My wish for you
Is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ to
I hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

Ex Knight, if you happen to stumble across this blog somehow I want you to know that this is indeed my wish for you...the somebody that loves you is Jesus Christ and he wishes all of this for you and more...even though you don't believe in him, HE believes in you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

He is risen

Easter is my favorite holiday. Not because of fluffy bunnies, dyed hands that match the colored eggs, or even those dreadful marshmallow peeps. Easter is my favorite holiday because it honors an event I am thankful for each and every single second of my life...

The resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. How blessed are we that this event occurred? Because of it we are able to overcome death just as the Savior did. Because of it we have hope and that hope allows us (or should allow us at least) to avoid fearing death. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we know that death is really nothing more than a release from our earthly cares. This is made possible by the love of our Father in Heaven for his children (me and you and you and you and you and yes you over there too) and the willing sacrifice of our elder brother Jesus Christ. Can you even imagine loving someone so much you'd atone for EVERY sin they even THOUGHT about committing, let alone all those they did...can you imagine loving someone so much you would willingly die for them, even those that rejected and crucified you? Each and every single day I am grateful for the Lord's atoning sacrifice.

I have always hated the crucifix...to me it symbolizes the very item that killed my Lord; it symbolizes his death and I know that He lives. Praise God; Jesus LIVES! Check out this video an Elder I know shared on his Facebook site...it's from or by Jeffrey R. Holland, one of my favorite General Authorities and one of the Lord's chosen Apostles of our time.

I bare you my solemn testimony that because the Savior and Redeemer of the world, the promised Messiah JESUS THE CHRIST suffered bled and died, all our burdens can be made light if we will just put our faith in Him. He conquered death so that we might live. Through Him and only him can we can return to our Father in Heaven. May HIS light and love shine in you this Easter and all the days that follow.

Thank you Father for our risen Lord and Redeemer even that of Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Take My Son

Take my Son

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, 'Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man.. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. 'Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.'

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son The auctioneer pounded his gavel. 'We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?'

There was silence.

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, 'We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.' But the auctioneer persisted. 'Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?'

Another voice angrily. 'We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandt's. Get on with the real bids!' But still the auctioneer continued. 'The son! The son! Who'll take the son?'

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. 'I'll give $10 for the painting.' being a poor man, it was all he could afford. 'We have $10, who will bid $20?' 'Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters.''$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?'

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. 'Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!'

A man sitting on the second row shouted, 'Now let's get on with the collection!' The auctioneer laid down his gavel. 'I'm sorry, the auction is over.' 'What about the paintings?'

'I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!'

More than 2,000 years ago, God sent his sone to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: 'The son, the son, who'll take the son?'