Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Dear Family & Friends,

What a crazy year 2013 has turned out to be! Here are some of the highlights:

We took our second (of hopefully many more) Disney Cruise for 8 days in the Caribbean. We visited Disney’s island, Castaway Cay and spent a full day in Disney World and also stopped in Key West. We had a marvelous time and can’t wait to do it all over again.

Dave continues to serve in the Bishopbric (3 years now). He seems to do it all, work, church, yard work, and even some home-improvement projects. In what little spare time he manages to carve out, he enjoys college football and his new favorite TV show: Fast N’ Loud. 

Eden and Jennie took a fun trip to Dallas, Texas with Eden’s choir, MCO. They performed two different shows and got over 10 standing ovations. 

A huge happening in 2013 was Teya’s baptism. She got to be baptized ON her 8th birthday. It was wonderful and we had lots of family and friends to celebrate her decision. 

Josh has a new hobby: Drums. He just scored an electronic drum set at a garage sale. We all know when Josh is awake each day. Drums, drums, drums.
We had some other fun family trips: going with our good friends to Lake Havasu to try out our boat there. It was absolutely wonderful. We also took a long trip up to Utah to go to a high school reunion, a mission reunion, and several get-togethers with family and friends. 

Jennie turned 40 in October and celebrated by completing 40 fun goals, having several parties and going on a 4-day trip with her college friends to Newport Beach. 

A week after turning 40, Jennie went to her doctor and found out she probably has a tumor in her pituitary gland (in the brain area). An MRI a few weeks later confirmed it and it has been a whirlwind of doctors and tests since then. She has one of the best neurosurgeons in the country signed on to perform the surgery, which is on Dec. 18th. Modern advancements allow them to go in through her nose, so no head shaving required. 90% of these types of tumors are benign, so we aren’t worried about cancer. Her diagnosis is officially called Acromegaly, if you want to look it up. (Abraham Lincoln had this, so she’s in good company!). We could sure use the power of your prayers and faith.

Christmas is a time to turn outwards and think of others, of family, friends and faith. Because that is what the Savior did. He lived a life outwards -- where everything He did was to serve His father and us. We are so grateful for His example and for every one of you. 

Love, The Blasers

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Gift of Knowledge

I was able to speak on Sunday about the gifts of the Spirit. I chose the gift of knowledge, and hopefully spoke about it in a new way.

One of my favorite Book of Mormon stories is that of Ammon. After he miraculously defended the king’s sheep against dozens of men, the King naturally wondered at his power. Ammon proceeded to teach King Lamoni all about the gospel and his heart was touched and he believed. In fact, so great was his belief, that King Lamoni was overcome and fell to the earth as if he were dead. 

For two days, the scriptures tell us, his wife, mourned over him. I can only imagine her anguish, her questioning, her sorrow. Her husband appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be dead. In fact, they were on the way to take his body to the sepulcher and bury him, when she, out of desperation, sent her servants to see if Ammon could help, if he could provide any new insight, any hope. He came, and this is what happened. 

“Now, Ammon knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God. Therefore, he saw the king, and he knew that he was not dead.” (Alma 19:6-7)
Much to the relief of the queen, he told her that her husband was not dead, but that he would rise the next day. He knew this would happen. How did he KNOW?  I’ll get back to that in a moment.
In the New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, we can read of a list of the gifts of the spirit, gifts from Heaven that we are given ‘for the benefit of the children of God’ (D&C 46:26). In each of these accounts, it lists separately the gift of wisdom, and the gift of knowledge. I’ve always felt these two gifts were very similar in nature, having to do with education, study, and learning. But as I pondered them, a new idea began to form. In order to explain this, please allow me to get a little grammatical. 
In the English language, the verb, ‘to know’ has several meanings. I can say “I know Algebra” and “I know my daughter Eden” and you intrinsically understand a difference in way I know Algebra from the way I know my daughter. In most other languages, however, different verbs are used for these two situations.  In Spanish, for example, the verb ‘saber’ means, to know something intellectually, as in, I know algebra, whereas, the verb ‘conocer’ means to know something on a deeper, more personal level, to know from experience, as in I know my daughter from having personal experience with her. 
So, I wondered which kind of ‘knowledge’ the gifts of the spirit was referring to, the intellectual study, or the kind of knowledge that you gain from experience. Out of simple curiosity, I looked up these scriptures in Spanish. The gift of wisdom, the first gift talked about, uses the noun ‘sabiduria’ which comes from the first type of knowing “saber”-- the intellectual type. The gift of knowledge is referred to as ‘conocimiento’ or the noun version of ‘conocer’ which is the type of knowledge that comes from personal experience. I found that both interesting and insightful that the gift of wisdom is all about education and learning, but that the gift of knowledge might not have as much to do with education and study as I previously thought, but more from what we learn from our personal experiences. It is about this gift of the spirit, the gift of knowledge that I want to talk about today. 
Now, back to Ammon. How did he know that King Lamoni was going to be okay?  From years of medical studies? Did he take his pulse, check his pupil dilation? No, his knowledge was not of the intellectual type, but from personal experience. Recall that not too long before his mission to the Lamanites, he had seen an angel with his brothers and his friend Alma. He saw Alma fall down and lie seemingly dead for two days and two nights. No doubt he had sat by his friend’s side as he went through the same transformation that was happening to King Lamoni. Ammon recognized what was going on and was able to share his knowledge with the queen. What a gift! He knew King Lamoni was not dead.  He could tell the queen, ‘Your husband isn’t dead. He’s going to wake up tomorrow. And when he does, he’ll be a better man. He’ll treat you more like a queen than he ever has before. He will be a better father. A man of God.’ Ammon had been blessed with the gift of knowledge, and he shared it with the person who needed it most.
Within weeks of moving to Arizona, I began to suffer from horrible panic attacks. They were scary and entirely new to me. My family, on both sides, were incredible helps, taking turns to watch my kids and keep me distracted from my new reality. The reality that I had a mental disorder. No one in my family had panic disorder, or new anyone who did. I was the ‘special’ one. I felt completely broken. Less than. Even, crazy. I put on a mask every time I went to church or had any interaction with friends. What was I going to say? “Hi, I’m new to the ward. My name is Jennie Blaser. Oh, and I’m crazy.”

One of my new friends was the YW president and was socially, spiritually, and mentally all together. We would get our kids in their strollers every morning and go for walks. After weeks of this, I decided to tell her about my health issues, hoping that she liked me by now enough to not run kicking and screaming away. After I explained what I was going through, I hesitated, waiting for her reaction. She stopped the stroller and turned to me and said, “I know exactly how you feel. I have panic disorder too.” 

Words fail me when I try to explain the affect of her words “I know exactly how you feel”. If I close my eyes, I can still see the swings moving in the distance, feel the sun stroking my back and hear the muffled shouts of children playing at the elementary school. I remember it so well, because it was the first time I felt hope in my situation. I had been burrowed down in a pit, lost inside a tunnel, and suddenly, there was a ladder. A light. She knew what I was going through, because she had been through it too. And she was standing as an example that I could get better. Hope. And, though nothing had changed physically, the neurons in my brain were still misfiring, everything was different. Such simple words, “I know how you feel”. But, what a gift!  What a gift her knowledge was for me that day in the park. The hope her knowledge gave me will forever be a gift I treasure. I knew I would be okay. 

Since that time, I have, unfortunately (simply because I would never wish a panic attack on my worst enemy), had the privilege of sharing my knowledge and coping skills with at least 1/2 a dozen people, who are suffering from panic attacks. I look at the knowledge that I now have as a gift, not one to be ashamed of, but one to share with those who need it. Because in the scriptures we read that the gifts of the spirit are given ‘that all may be profited thereby’ (D&C 46:12). So, we are to share this knowledge with those that need it most. How do we know who needs it and how to share it? Well, simply put, it is a gift of the Spirit. Let the Spirit be your guide.

I believe that we all have this gift of knowledge to one degree or another. We have all had certain trials and experiences that have taught us valuable lessons and blessed us with knowledge.  

Does anyone out there know what it feels like to be bullied, or teased, or even worse, ignored? Do you know what it’s like to feel invisible? I guarantee that there are youth and even adults in this audience who feel that way now. Who could use your knowledge. Who need the slice of hope your knowing can provide with the simple phrase, “I know how you feel. You are not alone.” 
Do you know the heartache of loneliness or disappointment when life has not turned out the way you thought it would. Could you impart of that knowledge and by so doing give the hope of a brighter tomorrow and the lifting of a lonely burden today. 
Do you know the crushing heartbreak of loss that makes your insides feel like they are on a perpetual roller coaster? Imagine the comforting hug and whispered words of someone who can honestly say, “I know how you feel.”
You have this gift. And we need you. Yes. You. I wish I could be like Richard G. Scott in his General Conference talks where he looks straight into the camera and his eyes pierce into your soul. If I could, I would look each of you in the eyes and say, “Yes, YOU have this gift. You have knowledge that the Spirit has given because of the trials, challenges, and opportunities you’ve had in life. You’ve learned things. And we need YOU. We need the knowledge that you’ve gained. We need to hear those comforting and healing words, “I know how you feel.” And know we are not alone in our sufferings. 
Many years ago, long before I was born, my family was called to serve a mission in the remote Island Kingdom of Tonga. So my parents and their five children, all daughters, moved 1/2 way across the world. Part way through their 3 year mission, my mom gave birth to a baby boy. The people all rejoiced, saying my parents needed to come all the way to Tonga to get a boy. I can only imagine their joy was great to have a son. Now, please do not misunderstand me. My parents love their daughters, all 9 of us! But, I’m sure they were glad to have a baby boy. Everything seemed fine. For a while. But after a few days, my brother became sick. He couldn’t keep down anything and was slowly, but surely starving to death.  Soon, the local saints took over the housework and care of my five oldest sisters to allow my parents to spend what little time remained with my brother. 
At one point, my mother had slipped out of the bedroom, I’m sure to help one of my sisters, and my dad was alone with my brother, whose sunken eyes and sallow skin showed he didn’t have much time left. My brother was too weak to cry, or make any noise. My dad had been carefully trying for a long time to get a tiny dropper of water down his throat. Then, my brother threw that up. I can only imagine the grief of my father. I’m sure he wept the tears that my brother could not cry. In anguish, he cried up to Heaven, “But you don’t understand; I don’t want to lose him. He’s my son. My only son.”  As soon as those words left my father’s mind, he felt his whole world trembling and quaking, as if everything was slipping from his grasp. In the midst of this turmoil, there came a quiet, unexplainable peace that seemed to fill the immensity of space. Then, he seemed to hear a voice, coming from the very depths of eternity, full of the most tender compassion imaginable, saying, “I know. I know.”
I could continue the story of how two entire nations united in faith and prayer for my brother and were promised a miracle, and how a phone call from a newly called apostle, Elder Thomas S. Monson came just at the right time to help. And how my brother was flown to Primary Children’s hospital and is now living in Mesa with his wife and 6 beautiful children, but that is a story for another day. 
Heavenly Father knew what it was like to lose His only Son. Because He did. No miraculous phone call came. No nations united in prayer and fasting. He sent His Son. For us. Alma, even the same Alma that slept under the power of God for two days and two nights which taught Ammon to know what King Lamoni was going through, said these words of his Savior, our Savior Jesus Christ:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; 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. (Alma 7:11-12)
Not according to His Divinity, for surely He is divine and could know our sufferings through His omniscient, divine power, but He suffered according to the flesh, meaning, He experienced it personally, humanly, that He may know how to best help us and that He may say “I know how you feel. Together, we can carry this burden.”
We can look at the knowledge we have gained from the hard times in our lives as burdens, locking it up and suppressing the pain, or we can turn to the Lord, and realize it is a gift of the Spirit, and we can use that knowledge to help those who are struggling. By so doing, we can draw closer to the Savior and become more like Him who truly does know how we are feeling. This I know, from personal experience.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The 40 Facebook Posts

My niece Maddy, who is currently serving a mission in the Alps of Austria and Germany asked if I would send her all 40 of my posts. So, here they are for anyone else who might want to read them. (And for my parents, who aren't on Facebook)….

Post #1/40 What we Believe: As part of my 40 goals 'til I turn 40, i'm going to be sharing 40 beliefs of my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, over the next 11 weeks. I welcome any and all questions. Starting off with a basic one. We believe in God (we call Him Heavenly Father often, we believe He is the father of our spirits). We believe in Jesus Christ, as God's son -- physically and spiritually. We believe in the Holy Ghost. We believe that all three (God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost) are separate members of the Godhead. God and Jesus have bodies, the Holy Ghost is a spirit. They are three separate individuals.

Post #2/40 What we Believe: We believe in the Bible, the Old and the New Testament. We spend years studying them in our classes at church. We mainly use the King James Version, as we believe that is the most correct translation. We also believe in the Book of Mormon, as ANOTHER testament of Christ. The Old and the New testament being the OTHER testaments of Christ. They add to each other, complement each other and all together give us a more complete understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If anyone wants a free copy of any of these books, I'd be more than willing to send you one. NO STRINGS ATTACHED.

Post #3/40 What we Believe: Where did we come from? My next several posts will deal with what we refer to in the church as The Plan of Salvation or The Plan of Happiness. First, where did we come from? We believe that we lived in Heaven with Heavenly Father (God) as His spirit children. We learned about His plan, which included us leaving Heaven and coming to Earth to receive a body. When we heard about the plan, we were overjoyed, despite understanding that this life would be difficult.

Post #4/40 What we believe: What is the purpose of life? Wow. This one is a big one! After we left Heaven, we came here and received our earthly bodies. This is one of the purposes .. to get a body. But that's not all. Part of the Plan was to test us to see what we did with those bodies. We are here to learn how to make the right choices with our bodies and our minds that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. But, life isn't just about being tested (and being tested isn't always a negative). We also believe that we are here to have JOY. The experiences we have in this life, (the good and the bad), if we choose to learn from them, will all teach us how to become who God wants us to become.

Post #5/40: What we believe. No posts about the Plan of Salvation would be complete without talking about free agency. That is just a fancy way of saying that we believe that our freedom to choose is the most valuable gift we have here on earth. We believe that we even exercised this right to choose in Heaven before we came to earth. We CHOSE to follow Heavenly Father's plan, to get a body and to be able to always chose what we wanted to do. That is one reason why we live the lifestyles we do in the church. It is not a restrictive lifestyle, as some people might think. It is actually the opposite. By not choosing things that would eventually control or even impede our freedom to choose, we wake up each day unentangled from things of the world, and free to choose once again how we want to live our lives. We believe in a God that loves us SO much that He will never force us to do anything, but allows us to choose. Then He can bless us as we have choose Him and His ways.

Post #6/40 What we believe: The Plan of Salvation has three major acts. The first act being that we lived in Heaven before we were born. The second act is our lives here on earth. The third act is where we go when we die. As Mormons, we believe we continue to exist. Our spirits leave our physical bodies and go to a place we call the Spirit World, where we can be with other loved ones who have passed on and continue to learn and progress. Eventually, we will then be resurrected (reunited with our physical bodies). Death is just a step in the wonderful Plan of Salvation. It is most certainly a painful step when loved ones leave us too soon. But the hope of knowing they are in the Spirit World, learning, loving, and watching and waiting for us brings peace to an otherwise broken heart.

Post #7/40 What we Believe: Are Mormons Christian? Yes. In fact, the actual name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We firmly believe that this is the Lord's Church on the earth. And so, naturally, it should be called The Church of Jesus Christ. And it is. We believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. We worship Him. We have faith in Him. We rely on His atonement. We strive to be more like Him. We believe He will come again. The 'Latter-day Saints" part of our name is simply to distinguish us from The Church of Jesus Christ that existed in Jerusalem when Christ lived and organized it there among his followers. Today, we are simply lots closer to His second coming, and thus, are in the latter (or last) days.

Post #8/40 What we believe: We believe in personal responsibility. In a world edging closer everyday over the edge of Entitlement, we believe we are accountable for our choices, our thoughts, and our actions. One of our 'Articles of Faith' states: "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression." Fancy words, but it basically means we can't pass the blame onto anyone else for our own wrong choices.

Post #9/40 What we believe: The gospel (or good news) of Jesus Christ is the foundation on which all our beliefs rest. Essentially, it is summed up in this: We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. Heavenly Father (God) wants ALL MANKIND (which includes all womankind as well, to be PC) to return and live with him. But, only sinless, perfect people can dwell with God. So, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and mistakes. This way, God can exercise the greatest amount of mercy to us (by allowing the sufferings of His Son to pay the debt of our sin and imperfection) while demanding the littlest amount of justice from us (our willingness to be obedient to the laws of ordinances (commandments, and to repent when we fail to do so). We believe this. We believe in second chances, in redemption, in being saved through the gift of Jesus Christ. Simultaneously, we must be obedient, and repent when we are not obedient.

Post #10/40 What we Believe: In 1820, during the height of religious revivalism in upstate New York, a young boy named Joseph Smith was confused about religion. He read in the Bible, James 1:5 which said to ask God for wisdom. He believed the Bible, and did accordingly. In earnest prayer, coupled with immense faith, he prayed to know which church he should join. In answer, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. They told him the true church was no longer on the earth and that through him, Jesus Christ would restore His true church again. I have learned for myself that this happened. We encourage every one, member or not, to read about Joseph Smith, and pray about what happened. It's not just a fictional story. And when you know for yourself that it happened, it will change your life.

Post #11/40 What we believe: Do you have a Mormon friend? Next time you see them, ask them what their 'calling' is right now? We do not have a professional clergy in our church. Our bishops, children's teachers, and youth leaders are all volunteers. We are all 'called' to certain positions, by inspiration of the Holy Ghost through the local leaders (who are called to their positions by inspiration from regional leaders, etc). Active members of the Church have had dozens of 'callings' over their lifetimes. We don't get paid for the countless hours of service, teaching, training that we provide to each other. Well, we don't get paid $. We do get paid spiritually with blessing from Heaven. I've taught little kids how to sing songs; taught relationship courses on marriage and parenting; taught teachers how to teach; taught youth about the scriptures, just to name a few! For my member friends, what has been your favorite 'calling'?

Post #12/40 What we believe: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men;" This is just a portion of what we know as the 13th article of faith. I love all those words and phrases. Imagine if everyone lived that simple sentence, especially that last phrase,'doing good to all men'. We believe in compassion. In caring. It is part of the covenant we make when we are baptized into this Church. We promise to comfort, mourn with, and help strengthen those around us. But, our compassion is not limited to members of our church. If you are ever in need of help, temporally, emotionally, spiritually, find a member of the church and talk to them.We will help. We believe in doing good to ALL men.

Post #13/40 What we believe: We believe that we can live with our families FOREVER. That's right! It's not just until death do we part, but we are together for time and for all eternity. Our family relationships are the most important ones in our lives. Knowing they are eternal, we strive to be constantly improving those relationships. Knowing this also lessens the sting of death, as it is only a temporary separation. Families are Forever. What wonderful truth!

Post #14/40 What we believe: We believe in sharing. Not just possessions, but in sharing something infinitely more important: salvation. You've probably seen those Mormon Missionaries riding their bikes around your town, or walking up and down a street. Maybe they've even knocked on your door. Today, my nephew spoke in church, as he is preparing to leave next week for two years to go be a missionary in Bolivia. He's been preparing, spiritually, emotionally, and financially for this mission for most of his life. Our missionaries go and serve of their own will, and pay their entire way. Yep, when you see them sweating, riding bikes in 100 + degree weather, know that they chose to do that, and are paying for the privilege of being a missionary. Why? Because we believe in sharing. Next time they knock on your door. Let them in, give them a drink of cold water, and ask them why. They'll be happy to answer, in whatever language you speak.

Post #15/40 What we believe: We believe that we must be baptized. We are not baptized as infants. We must be at least 8 years old, as that is an accountable age, where we are old enough to choose and be responsible for our choices. We believe in baptism by immersion, which means we are completely covered in water and then figuratively reborn as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ. And, we also believe that the baptism must be performed by someone with the proper authority. When all these conditions are met, and we are baptized, we have taken the first step back to our Heavenly Father. My youngest was baptized earlier this year on her eighth birthday. Here is a picture.

Post #16/40 What we Believe: After we are baptized by immersion, we receive what we refer to as "the gift of the Holy Ghost". In a nutshell, this means that we have the gift of having the CONSTANT companionship of the third member of the Godhead, (the Holy Ghost) to help us throughout our lives as long as we are living worthy of its influence. This is one of the most amazing, unique, and priceless gifts we could ever receive. Having the gift of the Holy Ghost in my life ranks right at the top. It has helped me make all of the big, life-changing (and many of the small) decisions in my life. It has comforted me beyond words when nothing else could. It has protected me from danger I didn't know was there. It has witnessed to my mind and soul the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What an immeasurable gift!

Post #17/40 What we believe: We pay tithing. This is not unique to Mormons. Not even to Christians! For our church, we pay 10% of our gross earnings (not net) to the Church. This money is used to build those beautiful temples you see everywhere, other church buildings, and to help fund other church-related endeavors. We pay tithing from the time we earn even the smallest amount of money. I remember walking up to the bishop in my ward at age 6 and handing him an envelope contains mere coins as my offering. We believe in the literal fulfilling of the promised blessing of obeying this law, as stated in Malachi 3:10 that the Lord will "open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." My life is a witness to the truthfulness of that promise.

Post #18/40 What we believe: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. Ironically, members of our church were persecuted, killed, and even officially 'exterminated' early on in the 1800s. That is one of the reasons the early members made the long trek to Utah, when it was just a territory far away from mobs. But, like the constitution of the United States, we truly believe in freedom of religion. We believe everyone is free to choose how or even if to worship. I'm so grateful for this freedom.

Post #19/40 What we believe: Charity never faileth. That phrase comes from the New Testament and is the motto for the largest and oldest women's organization in the world. And I'm a member of it! All female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when they turn 18, become a member of the Relief Society. That's a funny-sounding name, but it literally is true. We provide relief to the world, one hug, one clean kitchen, one baked casserole at a time. Tonight is our annual broadcast where the leaders of Relief Society as well as living prophets will speak, inspire, and edify us. Here is a link to watch it online, or go turn on BYUtv (if you have cable or satellite, you have it), and watch it. I promise you will be uplifted and better for doing so.

Post #20/40: What we believe: Family Home Evening. Across the world, Mormons set Monday night aside as Family Home Evening. What is that? It's simply a time to be together as family without the usual distractions of every day life. We normally sing a song together, start and end with prayer. We have a lesson. We play a game. We eat treats. Tonight, my husband taught about personal revelation and living prophets and how we all need to get our own answers to prayers about what we are taught. He challenged all of us to pray about what we hear from our living prophets this weekend during General Conference to know that it is true and of God. Then, we piled in the car and had Blizzards. Some weeks are much less structured. We all (kids included take turns teaching lessons. Sometimes its not even on Mondays. But, the point is, we have a Family Home Evening. Time together. It is time well spent.

Post #21/40 (Half-way there, much-more than half-way to my b-day, thus, more frequent posts) What we believe: I am a child of God. And He (God) has sent me here. He has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear. My parents lead me, guided me, walked beside me, and helped me to find the way. They taught me all that I needed to do to return to live with Heavenly Father someday. Now, as a parent, my creed is also to lead my kids, guide my kids, walk beside them, help them find their way, and to teach them all that they must do to live with Heavenly Father again someday. This belief is taught perfectly in a children's song we learn to sing. One thing my parent's didn't teach me is how to link up a cool version of that song to this post. Maybe one of my friends knows how to?

Post #22/40 What we believe: Priesthood power. We believe that through the prophet Joseph Smith, the power to act in God's name was restored on the earth. This power, called the priesthood, blesses us in many ways. This morning, my father-in-law and my husband gave me a priesthood blessing before I had a minor surgery. In the blessing, I was promised that I would be calm. These blessings are dependent on our individual faith in Jesus Christ. Today I have felt pain, grogginess, gratitude, hunger, (my kids had to cut my food up for me), and discomfort. But overall, today I felt calm. How grateful I am for priesthood power.

Post #23/40: what we believe. We believe that a prophet of God lives today. Want to hear what he has to say? He'll be speaking to the world live tomorrow about 9:10 a.m. Arizona time (10:10 a.m. MST) and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (3:30 pm MST). I guarantee a good story or two and words and counsel that will uplift your soul.

Post #24/40 What we believe: We believe the Heavens are still open. We are in the middle of our semi-annual General Conference, where, for two days, living prophets and leaders instruct over 15 million of us on what God would have us hear. These messages are as varied as are the trials and struggles going on in our lives. What are your struggles? For my members, which talk has addressed your struggles and trials? For my non-member friends, what struggles are you going through? If you want me to, I will find a specific talk from today or tomorrow and send you the link and you can see what Heaven has to say to you, personally, about your trials and your life.

Post #25/40 What we believe: We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth. Let me expound on some of the fancier words. We believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized the same way that Jesus Christ organized His church when He lived in Jerusalem (the Primitive Church). He had prophets and apostles. So do we. He organized the members, and called pastors (bishops), teachers, evangelists (Patriarchs) to lead the church. Today, we have the same. This IS Christ's church AGAIN on the earth.

Post #26/40 What we Believe: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." This is taken from a Proclamation that living prophets gave to us almost 20 years ago. Both the family I grew up in and the family I'm now raising are witnesses to this truth. We are happier when we follow these guidelines.

Post #27/40 What we believe: The Word of Wisdom: what is this? It's the nickname the Mormons have given to their code of health conduct. You might know we don't drink alcohol or smoke. That is because our prophet received a revelation over 150 years ago that we shouldn't. But it also includes many other health guidelines, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables. In a nutshell: no coffee, tea, alcohol, no smoking, drugs, and eat all foods in moderation. But this revelation comes with tremendous promises! (Next post)

Post #28/40 what we believe: We believe that God wants to bless us. Lots. One commandment He has given is The Word of Wisdom (see my last post). When we obey this, we are promised health, wisdom, great treasures of knowledge and the ability to pace ourselves throughout life. This is more than a health code. It is a way of life that comes with promised blessings from heaven. I'll take it!

Post #29/40: What we believe. We believe in chastity. Mormons are known for their extremely high moral standards and I see that as a compliment. We believe that we are not to have any sexual relations before marriage and then complete fidelity after marriage. We are promised strong marriages, protection (both spiritually and emotionally, and from disease), confidence, true happiness, and improved ability to make good decisions. Wow! Imagine a world where everyone lived that law of chastity and enjoyed all those blessings.

Post #30/40 What we believe: We believe in Prayer. We don't have memorized prayers. We pray individually every morning and night. I pray with my husband every morning and night. I also pray with my family every morning and night. We also pray over our food (this is called a blessing). We are also commanded to always have a prayer in our hearts. I often send prayers up to Heaven throughout the day, while I'm driving, working, studying, etc. Prayer is a real connection between Heavenly Father and us. That connection is possible through Jesus Christ. It is in His name that we pray to the Father. Heavenly Father longs to hear from us and to check in with Him and ask for His help and hand in our every day lives. I KNOW He hears my prayers, no matter how simple or mundane my requests. I am so grateful for prayer.

Post #31/40 What we believe: Last week, I spent a few days in the 'happiest place on earth" (Disneyland). We stood in lines and more lines, but we did have fun. Today, I spent several hours in my personal 'happiest place on earth': the temple. This is literally The House of the Lord here on earth. There, we can feel peace and the spirit of TRUE happiness that comes from connecting with heaven. In the temple, we learn of our potential and make sacred covenants that will allow us to be together with our families forever. True happiness can be found in the temple. And, no lines!

Post#32/40 What we believe: Fasting. What is this? One the first Sunday of each month, we go without food or drink (yep, no water) for two meals. (so, about 24 hours). Normally breakfast and lunch on Sunday, but no hard rule here. We start this time with a prayer and a purpose. We dedicate this 'sacrifice' to the Lord for something we desire, either for ourselves, or for someone we care about who is struggling. We end this process with a prayer again, humbly asking the Lord to accept our fast. This is a way we can show Heavenly Father that we are able to master our natural appetites and that we know there are things more important than our most simply and human needs. It can be an incredibly spiritual experience and many, many, many miracles have resulted in my life from fasting and prayers.

Post #33/40 What we believe: We believe in testimony. That's a fancy four syllable word, but in our church, it's a commonly used one. Along with our special fasting on the first Sunday of each month, that week's 'sermon' is not planned. We are all invited to share our testimonies with the rest of the congregations. (Think open mic) From the tiniest children who are just learning to say complete sentences, to the oldest members with a lifetime of wisdom, we are edified and uplifted by each other's words. No one is forced to share. The spirit directs. We share what we believe. We share what we know to be true. We witness to each other principles of the gospel that are impacting us at that season in our lives. We testify of the reality of Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost in our lives. These meetings are always beautiful and directed by the Spirit.

Post #34/40 What we believe: Scripture study. I already referenced that we believe in both The Bible and The Book of Mormon as scripture. We are also encouraged to study them, individually AND as a family every day. Yep. Every day. Our teenagers actually use one of their precious electives every year in high school to study scriptures in a class called Seminary (if they live where there are enough members of the church). If they don't, they get to get up bright and early (i.e. before 5:30 a.m.) and attend an early-morning seminary class. For three years in high school, I took a taxi to the train station, then took the train and then walked 1/3 a mile just to get to my seminary class before a full day of school. (Note: you do NOT have to be a member to go to seminary. If you want your children to learn scriptures in school, ask a mormon about it!) Yes, we believe the scriptures are to be studied. To be understood. Applied. Lived. And read, over and over. What's your favorite scripture?

Post #35/40 What we believe: We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth. We truly believe in a real connection between earth and Heaven. God is a real part of our existence here: an essential part. He has and will bless us, individually, through His spirit in so many ways. As a missionary, I was able to communicate within months in a difficult language and teach people all about the gospel, because Heavenly Father blessed me. We believe in prophets that testify and prophecy of the future and help to prepare us for that future. I personally have had the Spirit of God reveal to me what to say to help my children. I've had my eyes open to understand my role in life. That was a vision to me. To see without the mortal shackles, even for just a few moments. I've been healed to functionality from horrible illnesses and I've been able to understand what others are saying through the help of the Spirit. So, yes. I believe God is helping me and is actively involved in my life here on earth.

Post #36/40 What we believe: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40). We believe that these two commandments are the greatest ones. If we can learn to LOVE the Lord with all of us and then love all those around us (and us), ALL the other commandments will come naturally. Pick a commandment, any commandment. And see how loving God or loving your neighbors will lead you to keeping that commandment.

Post #37/40 What we believe: Forgiveness. We believe that if we are remorseful of wrongdoing and take all the necessary steps to repent, we will be forgiven through the mercy of the Atonement. However, we have been commanded, even required to forgive everyone else, with no conditions on their repentance. Here is a commonly quoted scripture that sums up this belief: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." All men. That includes ourselves. How often does The Lord use the word 'required'? Not often. I think He takes our forgiving others seriously. As hard as it can be to forgive someone who has hurt us, He will help us. Because it is REQUIRED.

Post #38/40 What we Believe: Obedience. One of the most often quoted scriptures in our church comes from a young man who chooses to be obedient. His father (who also happened to be the prophet) had asked him to return with his brothers on a 3 day journey to Jerusalem to get a set of scriptures from a powerful, mean man. The father said he wasn't asking as a father, but as a prophet. This was his son's faithful reply, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." We believe this. I believe this. If I have been asked of the Lord to do something, then He will help me accomplish that. So, we CAN always be obedient. Sometimes we choose not to, but it is because we are choosing not to, not because we aren't able to. If there is a commandment you are struggling with, simply ask God for help. If He commanded it, He will provide a way for you to obey. Simple as that.

Post #39/40: What we Believe: Love. One of my favorite scriptures teaches the true importance of love in this life. Towards the end of The Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni is leaving some advice to those who are fortunate enough to read his words. He says, "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ;" No matter how obedient, forgiving, righteous, law-abiding, or commandment-adhering we become, if we are lacking in charity, or love for God, for others, and for ourselves, all our best efforts will not be enough. Love matters. It is not all that matters. But it matters first.

Post #40/40 What we believe: The Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is not only what we believe, this is WHY we believe. Because of the Atonement, we will all be resurrected. Because of it, we can all repent and be redeemed from our sins. And, because of the Atonement, we can overcome any struggle, trial, or test placed before us. Its enabling power can heal us, improve us, empower us, and eventually, perfect us. Come unto Christ. The most important invitation any of us will ever receive -- the most vital one to follow -- the only reason I've been posting all these beliefs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Turning 40 on purpose, with purpose.

Sometime towards the beginning of August, apparently after I had actually slept the night before (because I would never have taken this on with my normal amount of sleep), I decided to make and hopefully achieve 40 goals before I turned 40. It was just under 80 days before my birthday. Over the next few days, I came up with this list. I will say that I tweaked it a bit as time went on. I did away with two goals and replaced them with the last two. The two I did away with were to sell 40 things on my etsy shop, which I quickly realized was out of my control; and to watch 40 movies or TV shows, which  1/2 way through I decided I'd rather not!

Here are my 40 goals! All accomplished in the last almost 80 days (except reading the books. That, I went back to the last 12 months):

  1. Write 40 pages of my book 
  2. Do 40 real pushups 
  3. Share 40 beliefs on Facebook
  4. Read 40 books 
  5. Take 40 naps 
  6. Make 40 new facebook friends
  7. Workout 40 times 
  8. Walk/Run 40 miles  
  9. Eat 40 new things
  10. Scrapbook 40 pages 20 
  11. Spend less than $40 at Costco
  12. Write 40 emails/letters to missionaries or friends 
  13. Whistle three notes 
  14. Write a song (I'll do a separate post and include the song there)
  15. Teach a Yoga class 
  16. Get a 40+ point word in Scrabble
  17. Learn three songs on the cello 
  18. Play the piano 40 times 
  19. Play 40 games 
  20. Solve a rubix cube link to 1 min. video here
  21. Do 40 random acts of kindness 
  22. Learn 40 words in French 
  23. Memorize a poem
  24. Have a fabulous roommate reunion 
  25. Teach 40 classrooms about the Constitution and about Thomas and Martha Jefferson
  26. Throw away 40 things from around the house 
  27. Solve 40 puzzles (logic, actual,) 
  28. Spend 40 hours in Temple service
  29. Learn 40 good jokes 
  30. Eat 40 ice cream cones/custard/sundaes (tweaked to include yogurt in any form -- hey! I'm diabetic!)
  31. Do 40 fun things with Dave and or kids
  32. Listen / read 40 General Conference talks.
  33. Make 40 cards.
  34. Get scrapbooks organized
  35. Spend at least $40 on ONE article of clothing (for me)
  36. Make a book of 40 memories for Wendy (my roommate, for our reunion)
  37. Make a book of 40 memories for Kim (my roommate)
  38. Write a book of 40 memories for Julia (my roommate)
  39. Floss for 40 days in a row 
  40. Smile at 40 strangers 
    Practicing the cello

    Proof of my less than $40 Costco receipt

    The first ice cream of many

    glimpse at one of the books for my roommates

    Eating Balboa Bars (something new & ice cream) 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free Studio C poster!!


Hey Studio C fans! My daughter is a huge Studio C fan, so for her birthday, I made her this poster:

After spending several days on this poster, I thought, I bet there are other studio c fans out there that would enjoy this. You can upload it to costco and for $5.99 print it as a poster (16x20) or it goes down to a perfect 8x10 to be printed at home! I wanted to put it up on my etsy store for just a few dollars and donate all the money I earned to help my nephews pay for their LDS missions. They are the ones that told our family about Studio c in the first place! But, BYUtv said I couldn't do that. :( SOOOOOO, I decided to just give it away for FREE.  So, go ahead and download it! (link below) If it doesn't work, just comment with your email and I'm mail it directly to you! Spread the love. IF you feel like donating to my nephew's mission, just click on the paypal donate button below. I promise 100% of the profits will go to him.  Enjoy and laugh!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Five Senses of Motherhood

“Mom!” “I need help with math.” “What’s for dinner?” “Where’s my other shoe?” “Moooooom”. These are the daily, even overlapping sounds of motherhood. It sounds like life. The unstoppable giggling from inside jokes and the sounds of vacuuming with the background noise of piano practicing. Of the laundry machine eking out its final days  of its’ exis... “Mooooom!”. But mainly, it sounds like interruption.

I lean over to grab an errant strand of my daughter’s hair as she retches into the toilet bowl. Motherhood can smell disgusting. Especially in the middle of the night. It smells like Pinesol attempting to cover up whatever indescribable creature of stink is inhabiting the disposal. It smells like clean sheets sitting in a pile for days before they are folded. It smells like elmer’s glue drying on projects and onions sautéing in butter while I frantically decide what dinner will be. 

Motherhood looks like a crushed goldfish cracker, a pair of sunday shoes and a stuffed animal. And that is just in one square foot of floor. It looks like week-old daisies from my husband who truly appreciates my meager efforts. It is the dust glistening in the sun reminding me of a never-finished to-do list. But it is also the perfect face of a sleeping child, tucked away in blankets and sweet dreams.

It tastes like cut-off crusts of sandwiches and apple peels. Of cereal slightly soggy from above-mentioned interruptions. It tastes like Little Caeser’s $5 pizza too often to admit. Twice a year, on Mother’s day and my birthday, it tastes like pancakes drenched in syrup.

Motherhood feels like I am always one nap behind in life. It is the feel of my daughter’s hair entangled in my fingers as I braid it. At times it feels like a chasm of love and concern so deep I think it will break me. But mainly it feels like hugs. Literally and figuratively. A huge, enveloping, completely engulfing bear hug. I’ll take it. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Gifts of the Atonement

This morning, many of us might have woken up to little easter baskets with gifts of candy or clothes or other fun things. I’d like to add three very important gifts to your pile of Easter presents. All three of these gifts come to us courtesy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Which, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said “is the greatest event in human history.”
The first gift is The Resurrection. 
1.The Resurrection: This is not a free gift. In the pre-mortal realm, we fought a war. We sided with our Heavenly Father and His plan, choosing Jesus Christ as our Savior. As a result, we were sent to earth and given a body. Because we chose to follow Him then, we will all be blessed to be resurrected receive an immortal, perfect body. On this Easter morning, how beautiful the words spoken to Mary, “He is Risen.”
The second gift is the gift of Redemption.
2. The Redemption: This is probably the most talked about aspect of the Atonement. God wants all of us to live with Him forever. However, He cannot look upon sin with any allowance. No unclean thing can dwell with God. This is a law of heaven that cannot be undone. This Justice must be fulfilled. Just as true, we have all sinned. And we are probably not done sinning yet. Therefore, none of us could return to live with God. We are unclean. At dinner one night, we were discussing this very idea. 
“Teya, have you ever made a mistake?”
“So, if you want to live with Heavenly Father, what do you have to do now?” 
She thought for just a second, and her face lit up, “Be baptized!” She is 7 1/2 and still has that redeeming event before her. 
“Yes!” I replied, “But, what if you make a mistake after you are baptized?”
“um’. I saw her face start to worry. She looked around the table and I could sense her sweet little mind wondering if she’d be able to live with her family and Heavenly Father after this life or if she were doomed. 
“Because No unclean thing can live with God.” I said. Her worries were deepening. Now, I normally don’t scare my kids about eternal damnation at dinner. Breakfast, maybe... but I really wanted them to understand the concepts of Justice and Mercy. Mercifully, Teya has older siblings who helped out.
“You can repent,” and “Jesus Christ paid for our sins.” Josh and Eden piped in. 
Exactly. There is another law of Heaven that allows for the sacrifice of one who willingly, and without sin of His own, pays the price for the sins and mistakes of others. The Atonement of Jesus Christ paid the price for our mistakes and if we repent and change, we can return to live with Heavenly Father, even if we make mistakes after we are baptized.  
3. Relying on Christ
Elder Bednar said, “Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. We may mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves, through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, with our obviously limited capacities.”
I LOVE THAT! I am guilty of trying to use sheer grit, willpower, and discipline to change my very nature all on my own. Elder Bednar goes on to say, “The gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good. And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good. Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality—from bad to good to better and to change our very nature.”
The change from bad to good is the gift of the redeeming power of the Atonement. The transformation from good to better is the third gift: Relying on the Savior to change our very natures and become saints worthy of eternal life. 
In Ether 12:27 it says, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
I used to think that this scripture simply meant that we were given weaknesses so that we would become humble and seek help from Heaven to turn those weaknesses into strengths. After pondering this scripture and applying it over and over again to the weaknesses and shortcomings in my life, I now understand that that is precisely what it means. 
We are given shortcomings and faults SO THAT WE WILL TURN TO THE LORD. Not so we can see how tough we can be. Not so we can compare our strengths to other’s weaknesses or the more commonly accepted mistake; to compare our weaknesses to other’s strengths. 
We have weak aspects in our nature. All of us do. They do not make us evil. They make us human. Eventually, however, if we want to live with our Heavenly Father, we will need to change those weak aspects. And we do not have the capacity to do it on our own. No matter the amount of sheer grit, willpower, or discipline we apply. Our efforts fall short. We need the power of the Atonement. 
There are days, when I have used up my best efforts even before breakfast! How am I to continue without divine help? My poor family has all too often been the recipient of my unwillingness to access the Atonement’s strengthening power on those days, when Impatience is their after school snack and grumpiness the main course for dinner. 
We all have struggles. I know there are people who we might think have never had so much as a bad hair day. But that is simply not true. Some of our struggles are widely known, plastered all over Facebook for the world to see and sympathize and share. But, the majority of our trials are personal. Private. The tears hidden. The burdens camouflaged with plastered smiles on Sunday morning, to accompany those perfect hair dos. 
Some of these burdens are self-inflicted, but most are simply unfair. 
In The Book of Mormon, we read about the people of Alma. They had left their complacent existence under the wicked King Noah, to follow Alma. They had accepted the gospel and been baptized, covenanting “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that {they} may be in, even until death,” and to “serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon {them}.
Their peaceful new life was short-lived. The Lamanites discovered them, and, with the spiteful vengeance of one of Alma’s former colleagues at the helm, they were brought into essential slavery. They were not allowed to pray to their newfound God. They were forced to labor and carry around actual burdens to add to the spiritual burdens of not being able to worship. 
“And Alma and his people did did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.”
The Lord came to them IN their afflictions, not after they were over. Likewise, He will come to us IN, DURING, WHILE we are struggling. And, we have made the same covenant the people of Alma made. The promise is the same. He will deliver us out of spiritual bondage. That is the future promise of the Atonement. We will all be resurrected and delivered from the bondage of our mortal bodies. If we repent we can eventually lay hold of eternal life and be delivered from spiritual bondage. But, in the next verse comes the here and now of the Atonement. For in the meantime, this is what the Lord promises:
“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage;”
Even WHILE we are suffering. Today. Now. 
“and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”
The Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease. That gift of increased strength is part of the Atonement. He has already fulfilled His part. We simply must ask for help and rely on Him for that strengthening power. 
Today, I can stand as a witness. I have come to the Lord, asking for strength beyond my own capabilities to deal with certain challenges. And He has answered. He has strengthened me. He has come to me IN my afflictions. And He will do the same for you. I’m still working on submitting cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. I’m a work-in-progress.
I love the story of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. He slays the wicked men with stones and swords, he helps convert an entire kingdom of people. Then, later on, when he and his brethren meet back up with their best friend Alma, Ammon starts recounting all the wonderful things that happened to them. His brother Aaron starts to chastise him, saying, “Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.” I have to say, I’ve always agreed with Aaron. Until the last time I read this verse. Because now I agree wholeheartedly with Ammon. 
“But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”
Brothers and Sisters. As to my strength, I am weak. but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things. I will never slay wicked men or convert kingdoms, but I testify that many mighty miracles have been wrought in my life. Brothers and Sisters, WE ARE THE MIGHTIEST MIRACLES. In this life, through the help of our Savior’s Atonement, we can change our very natures and become not just good people, but verifiable saints, worthy to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever. And for that, I will praise His name, even unto apparent boasting, forever. 
Another favorite story of mine is about the brother of Jared. I have often felt that their journey was a parable of our mortal journey and their needed preparations a type or metaphor of the Atonement. They had three major dilemmas facing them for their journey across the ocean: they had no way to get fresh air, they had no light, and they had no way to steer their boats.
The gift of resurrection is like the air. The Lord gave them the solution with little to no effort on their part. Cut a hole in both the top and the bottom of the boats and open one when air is needed. Done.
The gift of redemption is like the light. The Lord didn’t just give them the solution. He required sincere effort on the part of the brother of Jared. Effort that can be likened unto repentance and turning away from sin. 
The Lord asked the Brother of Jared what he should do. He then climbed an exceedingly high mountain, carved out 16 stones and then returned to the Lord and said, “I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.”
In my mind, it is like little Sarah from the story Eden read. “Here is my 61 cents, Lord. I know they are just rocks. But it is the best I could do. Please accept them, my efforts, and make me shine.”
 “And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.”
Finally, they had no way to steer their boats across the entire ocean. They had to rely on the Lord. The Lord realized this and said, “For behold, the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea;  And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.” 
Is there not a type in this? The Lord knows we will have many trials, shortcomings, and hard times during our mortal sojourn. But HE HAS PREPARED US and WANTS TO HELP US MAKE IT THROUGH. 
”And it came to pass that when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them; and they did have light continually.”
When we are underwater, metaphorically speaking, we need to cry unto the Lord, and He will bring us forth, not allowing any monster to break us, and give us light continually.
Several months into my mission, I had an experience that I am still learning from today. We had left our apartment that morning with backpacks full of pamphlets and promise. We had several follow-up appointments and potential new investigators. Then, one by one, everything fell through. No one was home when they said they would be. Or, if they were, they said they were no longer interested in learning more. The fog that had settled in deeply over the night had never dissipated and the air was dense with our defeat. We returned to our tiny apartment and I dropped my backpack, still as heavy as when we had left, onto the floor and crawled onto my duvet-covered straw mattress. All I wanted to do was withdraw, retreat. I had a year left on my mission, and I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the week. 

I started listing the things that were wrong. Like kindling, my faults caught fire and spread quickly to every aspect of my life. I was a complete failure. The road before me was too steep and unknown. I started mumbling to myself over and over, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”

And then, a single word pressed upon my mind so quietly, I knew it came from the Holy Ghost. “Alone.”

“I can’t do it,” I said, again.


And then, an understanding sigh, as I put the two phrases together.

“I can’t do it alone.”

There are rare moments in life when learning takes place in an unearthly way. Where a principle taught is of such an eternal nature that it can only come directly from the Spirit. Such was this moment. 

What a difference a single word can make! “I can’t do it” implied despair and discouragement, failure and forfeit. As I spoke those words, I was giving in and giving up. However, “I can’t do it alone” represented humility and teachableness. “I can’t do it alone” implied that I could do it with help; that a solution was very possible. And that help, through the Savior and His atonement was there, waiting for me to simply ask for it. So, I did. And, not only did I make it through that week, I went on to enjoy my mission more than I ever thought possible. 

We were never meant to face our challenges alone. That is the third gift of the Atonement. He suffered so that He might be there with us, helping us. Strengthening us. The next time we hear the words, “I can’t do it,” whether from someone else, or from our own mouth or in our own minds, let’s be quick to add ALONE. And ask for the help that is waiting for us. 

This Easter, may we open up all the gifts of the Atonement. So that when we return to our heavenly home, we will recognize the Savior, because he was a part of our daily life. At that final judgment day, before our Heavenly Father, our Savior will be standing as advocate next to each of us. I hope to hear, “She opened the complete gift of my Atonement. She has been resurrected and now has a perfect body. She has repented, sorrowed for her wrongs and applied the redeeming power of my gift. And during her time on earth, she relied on me. She opened ALL of my gift. She let me help her become who she is today.”

And In the words of Enos,  “I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Related Posts with Thumbnails