I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan. I'll follow him in faith. I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll honor his name. I'll do what is right; I'll follow his light. His truth I will proclaim.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gospel Message Day 6

Faith, Part 5

So, today's message may be an odd take about the spiritual aspect of Faith. But for me a huge part of my spiritual faith is having faith in myself. Merriam-Webster states faith as "a strong belief or trust in someone or something." I have a strong testimony in knowing who you are. I have spent a lifetime getting to know my changeable, growing self. And I plan on doing so for the rest of my life. I feel it is important that as I know more of who I am, I need to believe in all the many aspects of me. I need to believe in me believing what I believe. Does that make sense?

But it's more than that. If I didn't believe in myself, then I wouldn't have much joy or direction or confidence in anything. I would flounder in life. I would have beliefs, but I don't think I would be as committed to them. The "difficult" thing for me is to know what the starting point is in this circle: because of my faith in myself, I have a stronger faith in my religious beliefs (especially my Savior); but it is because of my spiritual faiths that I have been able to build and strengthen faith in myself.

I have faith that I am a child of God.
I have faith that I am of infinite worth.
I have faith that I am beautiful in my Heavenly Father's eyes.
I have faith that I am smart, talented, (mostly) organized, loyal, loving.

I have faith that I am loved.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gospel Message Day 5

Faith, Part 4

I suppose I have established that I have faith, and I have specified a few things that I have faith in. It would probably be a nice idea if I explain a bit more on what faith is, as far as spiritual things are concerned. I like the definition from the Bible Dictionary in the LDS Standard Works:


Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1;Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10:14–17). Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.
Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4:4–7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.
All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.
Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include (1) an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Heb. 11:4); (2) a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and (3) an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that He gives to His saints. Jesus pointed out some obstacles to faith in John 5:44 and12:39–42 (see also James 1:6–8).
I know--what does that mean in my own words? Faith is powerful. I have to work to obtain as well as build and strengthen my faith, whether that is through my own obedience and righteousness or from seeing others' live their lives that way as well. Faith works hand in hand with hope. It is a sustaining power and pulls me through the journey of life. In essence, I think the best way for me to sum it up: Faith is my lifeline to my Savior and the instrument to get me through this life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gospel Message Day 4

Faith, Part 3

We (the Sterling Singers) had another one of our choirsides tonight. I love the songs we sing. They each touch my soul in different ways. They help me feel the Spirit testify of truths that I have faith in, and in turn give me a chance to share that increasing testimony with others.

One of the songs that has particularly touched me is "Be Still." Based on a scripture I have always loved (Psalm 46:10 and Doctrine & Covenants 101:16), the lyrics are perfect and set to such beautiful music.

Be still and know that I am God. 
Be still and know that I am with you. 
Be still and know that I will comfort you 
When you come to Me in your hour of need. 
Be still and know that I am God. 
Be still and know that I am here for you; 
And I will wipe your tears; 
You will be renewed.  
Come unto me, my child, be still, 
And know that I will give you rest. 
I am present in your pain 
And I always will remain 
Your Comforter and Friend. 
Peace I leave with you; 
My peace I give unto you. Peace. 
Be still and know that I am God. 
Be still. Be still.   

To hear the arrangement, go here.

I absolutely love the line "I am present in your pain/And I always will remain/Your Comforter and Friend." I have the firmest faith in that. Anyone who has steadily read this irregularly written blog knows that. 

It puts me in mind of the other "Be Still" song that I have loved for many years. It is by Hilary Weeks, and it has been played on my iPod during many a trial.

Another day.
I'll try again.
But can you tell me
Will the hurting ever end?

I've been taught
And I believe,
But it's been awhile
Since I've been on my knees.

But I need you by my side;
I don't have the strength
To make it on my own.
And Lord, do you hear my prayer?
How soon will you answer me?

I know you're weary.
I know you've had all you can bear.
And now you ask of me on bended knee;
I promise I'll be there.

I've watched you struggle,
Yet I can see how much you've grown.
Child, could you feel my power in your darkest hour?
You were not alone.

Be still and know that I am God.
I'm by your side,
Whom shall you fear?
I'll give you strength, my child,
I am here.
Be still and know that I am God
And there's no prayer
That I don't hear.
Lift up your head,
My child.
I am here.
(Great music video of this here.)

My life, like so many others', has not been easy. Every one has their own trials; I have had mine. I have been the victim of abuse (more than one kind). I have had to pack up my life and start over again in new places multiple times. I have been abandoned, neglected, and/or forgotten by friends--usually because of the aforementioned moves. I have known what it is to love with my entire being, only to not have that love returned. I have had to deal with illnesses that will affect me for the rest of my life. I have lived many years with 2 of my 3 greatest desires being unfulfilled. 

But I have faith. Faith that the Lord will keep His promise to me that one day, my desires will be fulfilled. I hold on to that faith, which builds the hope and fuels me to act however I need to to help bring about the fulfillment of those desires. I hold on to faith that one day, in the next life, I will be healed of my infirmities. I have faith that where ever I go I will find friends and I will be happy with new experiences and surroundings. I had faith when I relied on the Atonement of my Savior and allowed its healing and strengthening power enable me to face, cope, and eventually move on from the pain of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. I still have faith in that enabling power and rely on it every day of my life for the smaller trials that I constantly deal with. 

1 Peter 3: 15 says, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." I have my answer: I have faith in my Savior 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Gospel Message Day 3

Faith - Part 2

Today I was looking through my diary from 9th grade, trying to find a written account for an experience I'm sharing in Sunday School tomorrow (the teacher asked). My first thought: I am so embarrassed by my self then. Actually, I'm embarrassed by my self up until I was probably 21. And I have had quite a few moments since that still make me cringe. But reading those entries? Wow. Forever Cringing. That's the subtitle to all my teen diaries. Mostly because I was on overly emotional, over-reactive, sentimental hopeless romantic. I still am in some ways, but I'm really trying to cure myself of some of that!

However, I'm still impressed at times with where my testimony was at the age of 14. And how I exercised Faith. The story I'm going to share may seem trivial to adults, but to a 14-year old, this was life. I ran track. I was the only 2-miler in 8th grade. Eventually others joined in 9th grade. They were much faster than me, but my coach always gave me 1 of the 2 slots in the races at our track meets. It was an honorary position because of all the efforts I made. I had proved myself to my coach by then, but it had taken over a year. At the beginning of 9th grade track season, we hadn't convinced enough girls to run the 2-mile. And one of our earliest meets, my coach needed me to run. We lost points if no one ran. So even if (and when) I placed last at each race, our school still got the points for participation.

But we had a conflict that day. Our choir was taking a trip to the state capital, where part of our itinerary included singing in the capitol building. Hearing the sound in the rotunda was going to be fabulous! The schedule had us returning between 4:30 and 5. But to run the 2-mile--which was always either the very first or very last event--I had to be at the meet at 4:30. I had to choose. Singing was and still is one of the biggest parts of my life. I did not want to give up this once in a lifetime opportunity. But my coach needed me and trusted me. I told her I would not go on the trip.

But I felt terrible after doing so.

The next evening, I decided that I would much rather go with the choir. There would be at least 7 more meets that season, but this trip would never happen again. It seemed an easy choice, but I had promised my coach! We'd had shaky ground when she first started coaching me the previous year. I didn't want to disappoint her or bring back the shaky ground. I prayed for help. I believe I have always had a strong faith that my Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, even my unspoken ones. He has answered because He knows the desires of my heart. So in faith, I turned this matter over to prayer, praying that all would work out with the decision I had made. I wrote a letter of apology and sent it with a track team member to deliver to the coach, and went on the trip.

I quote from my diary:
"Prayers are answered! (I knew that, but now, I have more faith.) I was so worried about Track the whole Char. trip. I felt bad and got scared she'd kick me off the team. 'El Grillo' in the Rotunda (and maybe shaking Gov. Underwood's hand) made the trip worthwhile. I felt good about my decision, but still upset about Track. Well, I got to Mutual & Summer & Nicole told me that the Meet... was cancelled! I was so happy. My prayer had been answered and all things taken care of. I felt He thought it was too unimportant a matter. But I decided to go and the Meet was cancelled (from cold). It works. My lesson--Patience, don't be doubtful, always have FAITH!" -April 9, 1997

I think faith, in its simplest form as we often see it in a child or teenager, is probably one of its strongest forms. Now, I'm not saying that because I prayed an entire Meet was cancelled. Perhaps that was the case, but likely not. The Lord does not ignore others' desires and hopes to participate in order to answer another's prayer. When I prayed, it was that things would be OK, and that my coach would understand. The feeling good about the decision, I believe, is because He knew what was to happen the next day. He knew that I need not fear about my choice. That things were going to come about in such a way that all would be well. If the Meet had still gone on, then I believe my prayer would have been answered in some way that the coach would understand and accept my decision.

But something else that I can see I gained from this experience? My faith grew immeasurably that nothing is too unimportant for our Heavenly Father. He cares about each of our desires, no matter how trivial they may seem. He knows what they mean to us. 

And all of that was re-affirmed for the umpteenth time tonight at our General Women's Meeting with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk. 

I needed to hear that reassurance of Heavenly Father's love right now. And have faith that He knew that.
Even though I have faith in His love for us and His desire for everyone's happiness, my faith was strengthened with yet another witness that He knows me personally, and He loves me now and always. No matter what.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Gospel Message Day 2

Today's random pick (because, yes, I will be picking these by drawing from a dog. He's a really cute dog. See him in the background here:
(That's me on the left in case you didn't know or remember what I look like...after a long day at work.)

So today is 

I picked a HUGE one. I think for the huge ones I might break them down over the course of a few days. Because there is so much that can be said. And I don't want to cheat you out of awesome stuff that can be said. :-)

I guess to get it started, I'll quote  one of my favorite songs on faith. (I have quite a few.)

I will not doubt, I will not fear;
God's love and strength are always near.
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility.
His Spirit guides; His love assures
That fear departs when faith endures.

Text: Naomi W. Randall
Music: Stephen M. Jones
(To hear the tune, you can go here.)

This song is not necessarily what faith is as what it does for me and what I do to strengthen it. With faith, one can never fear. "Inner strength and peace of mind"--I know it has brought me that. Countless times. If I did not have faith that the Lord would help me, see me through things, and make sure that all will be for my good whether immediately or eventually, I don't think I could have made it through the tough times. Or rejoiced as much during the joyful times. Faith can be applied to so many things, spiritual or not. Which is why it is the first principle of the Gospel. The beginning one. 

Faith is needed for belief. For any one to live what ever religion they choose, they must have faith in its precepts, principles, leaders, teachings, and more. For any one to grow plants, you must have faith that the seed, from the work you put into nurturing it, will grow. (Excellent scripture using that analogy here, verse 28-33.) When you drive, you have faith that you will be safe--you'll make smart decisions and other drivers will do the same. You have faith in your family and friends. Faith that the recipe you try will turn out. Faith--in all things. 

And true, sometimes something happens to shake your faith. Maybe even shatter it. But the most important thing is that you hold to your faith of what is true and right. What brings you true joy and peace. If necessary, gain back the faith that may have been lost. Build up your faith so it is stronger. So that a bad driver or a failed recipe or an abusive loved one or a dying plant do not squelch your faith. Shake it maybe. But just a movement in the breeze. That in spite of what may happen in life, your faith stays strong and firm amongst the winds and turmoils and remains rooted in that which brings light and truth and joy. For me, the latter comes most from my faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gospel Meesage Day 1

I figure if I'm going to be blogging about Gospel messages, perhaps I should explain what Gospel means. According to Merriam-Webster, Gospel means:
a often capitalized :  the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation
b capitalized :  one of the first four New Testament books telling of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; also:  a similar apocryphal book
c :  an interpretation of the Christian message gospel
capitalized :  a lection from one of the New Testament Gospels
:  the message or teachings of a religious teacher
:  something accepted or promoted as infallible truth or as a guiding principle or doctrine gospel
5  :  gospel music

But to me, it goes to its more original definition related to the Greek--Good News. I like how I worded it on my Mormon.org profile, because it is how I feel and why I am beginning on this daily Gospel messages challenge:

The Gospel truly is "good news!" It is full of light and truth. It brings happiness beyond understanding, beyond comparison, and beyond measure. Jesus Christ command us to share the Gospel with everyone (Matthew 24:14, Mark 16:15). But those who truly love Jesus Christ and His Gospel cannot help but want to share it. Missions are opportunities for members to go out in the world and share the Gospel in a full-time capacity. However, it is a very true mantra that every member should be a missionary, and a responsibility of ours to be so.
So, really, I'm just sharing 365 days of Good News with you. And that Good News is all related to things concerning my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reflections on Another Year

It is my birthday eve! And as I am wont to do, I have been reflecting on what the last year has been. What it has included. What I have been challenged with and blessed with. If and how I've grown. And much, much more.

This last year has been quite full. The biggest part would probably be in the social area, which before had been the least active and effectual in my entire life. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and the experiences the Lord has blessed me with. I've had to do as Sister Snell counsels: put in a good faith effort. It has not been easy! As far out of my introvert comfort zone as I could possibly get. But she was right--the Lord truly has matched my efforts. I have had many a great time getting to know new people, making more friends, enjoying dances, laughing, conversing, and having fun. My dating life increased by 500%! And I am so happy and feel more beautiful and confident than ever before. That part of life has been great.

I received a new calling. I rather dreaded it at first, because it hadn't proved a very great one when I had it a few years previous. But it has been such a wonderful calling! I love those I serve with. Many have expressed appreciation. And I get to work in a medium that I adore (aka music). It has become something I cherish.

Things at work have been amazing, too. I've really had to stretch in some capacities. I've had successes and joys and a whole lot of fun. A lot of stress, yes. But it is good, positive stress and I don't mind the resulting eye twitching and migraines too much.

And we won't even go into the lessons, experiences, trials, and joys that have come in being a homeowner.

What I feel I could improve on is the spiritual aspect of my life. I mean, I've had some great scripture studies, and wonderful Institute classes. I get to attend Sunday School and Relief Society lessons again. I've been able to substitute a few times in teaching Primary, YM/YW, and Sunday School. But after our recent Stake Conference two weeks ago, I felt I could and should be doing more. At my age, my parents were raising 7 children. (OK, Mom had 6, but I was on my way, so....) They were teaching their children about the Gospel. President Thomas S. Monson was serving as a mission president. Joseph Smith was in Kirtland and Missouri, trying to not only lead a people and teach them of the Gospel, but also to protect them from mobs and persecution. The Savior was in the middle of his ministry. If they could all do this at only 32, surely I can be doing something as well.

Something came to mind, and I am going to try to take on the challenge. Every day during my next year, I plan to blog about a Gospel principle/message/topic. Not sure what may come as I write, but write I will. And we shall see what comes of it all in this next year, which I'm sure is going to be as amazing--probably more so--as this closing year.