Sunday, November 30, 2014
Saturday, November 29, 2014
The topics I draw are all very daunting. To start this one off, I think it would be easiest to quote our 2nd Article of Faith about accountability:
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression.
The dictionary definition of accountability is
The quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions
Teachings of Jesus, Part 4
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Truly, it is that simple. If we love one another (including ourselves), then we will treat each other the way our Savior wants us to treat each other. Our thoughts and actions and words will be kind. To love each other is the fundamental teaching of our Redeemer.
A song to share that comes to mind with this aspect of the topic:
Friday, November 28, 2014
Teachings of Christ, Day 3
And along those lines, a good teacher has to be entertaining to a degree. Not saying that they have to always make the student(s) laugh and such. But the teaching style can't be dry and boring. A good teacher knows their students and uses all the ways (audio, video, object lessons, stories, etc.) to reach those students. Not all teachers are able to employ all of the techniques. Usually one excels at a few.
In our day, President Thomas S. Monson (our prophet) uses stories. The majority are from real examples. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2nd counselor in the First Presidency) often gives analogies to airplanes. It is something he knows and uses because many of us can understand the analogies he makes. They use what works for them and what they know will reach us.
The Savior did that, too. He taught in parables. He taught in forthright words. He taught by example. He used what they knew and built on that. We read of his teachings in the New Testament. However, by the things he says and does in the others works of scripture (Old Testament, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine & Covenants), we see even more of those teachings. For those who are not comfortable teaching, or who could always improve on it (and that would be all of us), we simply have to follow His example of how He taught.
I think the most crucial part of the Savior's way of teaching is that it includes using the gift of the Holy Ghost. And so must ours be. Doctrine & Covenants 42:14 reads:
And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Teachings of Christ, Day 2
"And we talk of Christ,
we rejoice in Christ,
we preach of Christ,
we prophesy of Christ,
and we write according to our prophecies,
that our children may know
to what source
they may look for a remission of their sins."
I rejoice in my Savior--in His life, His teachings, and His love.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Teachings of Christ
To begin, I suppose it makes sense to explain that the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is Jesus Christ. I am a member of His church which is established on His teachings. So it is wise for me to know, study, and live my Savior's teachings.
The best source to know what Christ's teachings are: the scriptures! And one can't just read. One must immerse. Bishop Davies said this in last year's April General Conference:
While reading the scriptures is good, reading by itself is insufficient to capture the full breadth and depth of the Savior’s teachings. Searching, pondering, and applying the words of Christ as taught in the scriptures will bring wisdom and knowledge beyond our mortal understanding. This will strengthen our commitment and provide the spiritual reserves to do our best in all situations.
So well said. And as a starter for this topic, I shall include some songs. Of course. This first one was sung at the same Conference when the quoted talk was given:
The stories of Jesus show us how He lived. How He taught. How He loved. No better way to know what the Savior taught than by studying His life. Which brings me to the other song. If we know His teachings, and want to live them, the best way is to be like Him.
Monday, November 24, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 8
And I have learned that truth: a family is forever.
To lay it all out on the table, I don't know how all of that is affected by divorce. My dad is the only one on his side who has not been divorced. Makes doing my family history a very interesting task! I don't know how it works or doesn't, what happens to eternal bonds when a divorce takes place--especially a temple divorce. I can't imagine the agony that families affected by divorce must endure. I will never forget what my mother told me how my (divorced) uncle reacted when his children sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" at a funeral.
All I know is that I can only do my best in striving to make and keep the temple covenants Heavenly Father wants me to make. The unexpected, unplanned paths that are now opening to mid-single me were not ones I prepared for. Or ever thought would be a part of my life. But they are. And while I don't know what all will be involved if that path becomes the road in my life, I do know the Lord wants my happiness. And the happiness of the best friend I marry, and all that will be involved in that marriage. I trust that He will make sure all works together for our good if we live righteously and do our best and our all in relation to what He has asked us to do. It's not up for me to know how. Just to trust and love Him, as well as those who become a part of my life.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 7
I have yet to be sealed to my best friend, but I very much look forward to that day. Still, my parents were sealed to each other almost 41 years ago. I was born within that covenant, and thus I am eternally sealed to them and to my 7 siblings. Five of my siblings have been sealed to their spouses, so I am sealed to those in-laws and to the resulting 22 Niephews as well. On my mother's side, I am sealed to my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and more for many generations back.
My dad's side is a little different. Some have joined the Church, and some have not. To my knowledge, the Gospel was not introduced to dad's side until he and his brother were in high school. They joined the Church as well as their (step)grandfather (same ancestor whose grave visitation I mentioned a week ago). I have had a lot of work cut out for me in researching these family members and seeing if their temple work has been done. I want to be sure to get their work done for them, so they are able to choose if they want to accept those ordinances. I want to extend the possibility of forever families to all that I can.
This Primary song has always been one that I love.
Of course, over the last few years the 2nd verse has been a bit difficult to sing. My sister and I joked recently that they should write a 3rd verse for those of us in the unexpected, unplanned, unwanted mid-single part of life. But the sentiment is still there--I am still preparing "most carefully so I can marry in God's temple for eternity," even if they aren't quite my early years any more. :-)
After the Gospel (or maybe as part of it), my family is my everything. I know no greater joy than to know that I belong to my family forever.
With such an ordinance that brings such happiness, I don't think it is any wonder that I love to perform this ordinance for the deceased. Bringing other families together for eternity--no joy matches that! And it reminds me of my eternal connections while bringing more hope and anticipation for when my turn will come to marry my best friend for eternity.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 6
In general terms, an endowment is a gift. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormon Church), however, frequently use the word in connection with their temples, which they consider to be literal Houses of the Lord. In this context an Endowment is a course of teaching, ordinances (sacred rituals), and covenants (mutual promises between the individual and God) received in a Mormon temple by worthy and prepared adult members.
I received my endowment on January 4, 2002. It is a very fond memory for me, especially as I had immediate and extended family present (as well as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland!). I honestly had no clue what was going on, but I felt completely at peace at it all came about. I knew that I would slowly come to understand things each time I returned to make these ordinances as proxy for the dead.
We all hear the same words in the teachings of the Endowment, and we all make the same covenants. But the Endowment is very personal. The thoughts we receive are from the Spirit, and are considered the personal part. They are sacred. They give us guidance and more. I have come to know that there is always something I can learn each time I attend the temple, as long as I have prepared myself and Give my attention to what the Lord wants to teach me. It is a marvelous blessing to have such direct, personal revelation in the House of my Lord.
Temple Ordinances, Part 5
The next temple ordinances to talk of are what members generally refer to as "Initiatories." And the best explanation I would be the following (originally found here):
I very much love the initiatory ordinances. I love symbolism, and these ordinances have that. But I especially love the blessings promised. I loved to hear them the first few years I was able to perform these ordinances for the dead. But 8 years ago, I had the very wonderful blessing of being called as a temple ordinance worker. As such, I helped to administer these ordinances among the female temple patrons who were doing work either for themselves or for the dead. I memorized the words to all the initiatory ordinances (among other ordinances) and then knew the words better than I had before. Those promised blessings became embedded in my mind, my heart, and my soul. Because of this, those ordinances are more able to give me unspeakable comfort, hope, and direction.
Friday, November 21, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 4
"Just as our Redeemer gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all men, and in so doing became our Savior, even so we, in a small measure, when we engage in proxy work in the temple, become as saviors to those on the other side."
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Day 3
Where I grew up, we did not have temples nearby. Our closest temple was 8+ hours away (depending on who was driving). Traveling there included going through some very windy roads in mountains, not safe to cross during at least half of the year. (Trust me--I remember traveling that pass twice. Once as a teen, another as an adult. Both times were horrendous and quite frightening.) It meant a great deal whenever we managed a trip to go.
Because of cost, our stake (geographical boundary that contains an average of 8 congregations or wards within it) was only able to hire a coach bus twice a year and load it with teens from each ward in the stake. It was very rare for you to go more than once a year on a bus temple trip because seating was so limited. I'm not sure of the exact reasons, but just after I was eligible to go to the temple, they stopped the bus trips. I worried that meant my chances to go would be even less, but they actually increased. Now ward members worked together to try to get as many of the youth who wanted to attend the temple to be able to go both times in the year. I was blessed to be able to go twice as much more, and I'm grateful for all the sacrifices my ward members made to help us youth go to the temple more.
The temple trips as a family were the best. Temples are all about family. We create eternal links to ancestors and descendants--dead, living, and yet to live. So traveling in a car for 16+ hours together, plus being together in the temple serving others is a great way to increase and strengthen the eternal bonds we have as a family.
I especially loved seeing my siblings perform these ordinances. I looked up to my siblings more than I did with any one else. I admired them and adored them. They were part of the bus temple trip experiences. I listened to each of their stories enraptured. There were the funny 2am restaurant experiences, but there were also the spiritual ones. I spent my childhood and teen years watching each sibling gain experiences and privileges (going to dances, going on dates, attending the temple, etc.) as they got older, which had me all the more excited and looking forward to when I was able to have those for myself. They helped me gain a testimony of temples before I was ever able to enter one.
As a teen whose emotions were medically more roller coaster than the typical teen, having a place to go where I could find peace inside and out meant a lot. The temple was the only place that provided that for me. I was serving. I was at peace. I was with family and friends. And I knew I was loved. To have that available during my formative years, I don't think it is any wonder why I still love temples so much. Temples are a solid, foundational part of my testimony of the Gospel.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 3
The sad thing is that some times I get a sense that we as members take this ordinance for granted. For ourselves, we are often given a blessing with the confirmation. I don't remember anything my father said in mine; I was 8. But in the temple, it is just the confirmation. It takes maybe 30 seconds to complete this ordinance. It goes by quickly. We know the words, but we don't often think of them. And I think we gloss over just how magnificent this ordinance is.
We receive some amazing gifts in this life: a physical body; a chance to grow in all aspects; agency; repentance and forgiveness; prayer; the ability to love and laugh; best and most importantly, the Atonement. I think 'the privilege...to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost' is a gift that ranks right up among these. (Quote found here.) So, even though the ordinance in the temple goes by so quickly, and you can perform this vicariously for 5 people in so many minutes or less, it would behoove us to 1) give thought to what these deceased people are receiving, 2) remember this same gift that we have received for ourselves, 3) show gratitude for what the Lord has so graciously given.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Temple Ordinances, Part 2
Baptisms for the dead take place within our temples. This practice gives those who have died the chance and opportunity to have this ordinance performed for them by proxy, and they are able to choose whether they want to accept that ordinance work or not. When our youth reach the age of 12, they are able to enter the temple if they pass a worthiness interview. They are able to perform baptisms and confirmations for the dead, but not the other ordinances until they receive the temple endowment for themselves.
I have many special, sweet, and sacred memories of the times I was able to perform baptisms for the dead in the temple as a youth. I am grateful that I still get to do so on occasion as an adult. It is a beautiful ordinance. I love the symbolism. And there is an unmistakeable joy knowing that the first step to salvation has just been made available for another child of God.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. With each of these ordinances, we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord.
All of the saving ordinances can be performed in the temple, and indeed are performed there. The ordinances of temple endowment and the marriage sealing are done for for the living as well as for the deceased in the temple. The other saving ordinances are performed for the living within our regular church buildings, but they are performed for the deceased in temples.
I've spent my lifetime reverencing and loving temples and the ordinance work that we do therein. I look forward to talking a bit more in-depth about each ordinance in the next few days.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
I Know He Lives
I know God lives as does His Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. And I know that They love me.
This simple and beautiful song states more of the fundamental basics of my testimony, particularly as related to my Redeemer.
And I must share the version sung by a family choir at General Conference--the Spirit is so strong when I hear them sing this.
Friday, November 14, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 9
In the Little Things, Part 8
We went back to the cemetery the next morning and asked for help at the office. Within minutes we found my great-grandparents' grave. I have spent this entire trip reliving memories of this sweet couple. I knew I was going to be heading to the area that they lived for so many years--even specifically brought the butterscotch quilt with me to keep their memories close. And as I hadn't really had my chance to say good-bye, I was really hoping for a chance to visit their grave. So I am very emotionally grateful we were able to find it. I feel that I have already put it best in an entry I wrote around the time of their deaths. So I'm going to put it here. I'll link to it as well, but my guess is that the few readers who make it to this post would actually go to read that one there. So I'm putting it here for easy access.
October 20, 2008
[today's entry from my online journal]:
So in the last couple of days, I have mourned my loss for Granddad, not his death. I mourned the one grandfather I had known who not only had complete control of his faculties but also was firm in the faith of Christ. As a young teenager I made the effort to form a stronger relationship with this grandparent. I treasure the letters that we wrote to each other--the only grandparent that I was able to establish such a relationship with.
I mourned the "If Only's" and "Why Didn't I's" in the last two days, remembering how I had told myself to write just one more letter before his passing, as I had not written in so many years. I had longed to visit, but could never find the time off or the financial means. Last year's attempt was thwarted by something, and I suppose deep down--though I did not want to admit it--I knew it had been my last chance. Still, hearing on Saturday that he was gone hurt me to know I would never again see him in this life. I would never be able to introduce him to the man who would marry me. He would never hold any of my children. I could never tell him how much it meant to me throughout my life to have him as one of the few members of the Church on my father's side of the family. What a marvelous and amazing example he had always been to me. How much his smile is embedded into the happiest recesses of my soul.
But, somehow, I do believe he knows.
As I thought on these things, I did not think it would hurt to pray for her to pass on, to go where loved ones were waiting and finally be free from the years of pain and inability to serve others. Our Heavenly Father is a kind and loving Father. He does not let His children suffer needlessly. I suppose I wasn't the only one thinking these things. I know for a fact that Mom was also praying for the same thing I was. And Heavenly Father listened. Grandma Thomas joined Granddad this morning.
Her death is not as much of a shock to me as his was. It is a peaceful relief, considering all the worry and concern I've felt for her in the last 7 or 8 years. And it seems right that Granddad be the first to go. He was the one who was baptized first. And set the example for so many, many years which Grandma eventually followed. And though I had such a good relationship with Granddad, that does not mean there was not one with Grandma. Those two were inseparable. Even in death, apparently. Whatever I told Granddad, he passed on to Grandma. The reason she did not write is because she had trouble doing so in her advanced years. But Granddad always conveyed her actions and sentiments. The only disconnect comes from the fact that Grandma started "going" around the years that I was old enough to form more meaningful relationships with adults.
That does not mean I do not have my fair share of memories with her, or things that I will always attribute to her. Joseph's gray eyes come from her. My niece E.'s beautiful red hair had its contribution through her maternal side from Grandma Thomas. My much loved and treasured curly hair is a blessing from Heavenly Father through the genes from Grandma Thomas. My old, tattered "Butterscotch Quilt" was a present from Grandma the time K. and I spent a few days with them at their CA home because for some reason I fell in love with it. My beautiful afghan I believe was mostly her workmanship.
Though not a shock, I am still mourning. Again it is my loss, and not her death. It is calm happiness thinking on my memories of her, and gratitude to and for her that cause the tears I cannot help shed even as I write these few words to her honor. I love them both. I am sorry I was not able to introduce them to their 4th generation of posterity through me. But I know someday on the other side I will have my chance to do so. To know and have a solid testimony about temple sealings and eternal families is one of the most comforting and happy things this life can bring. And I assure you, it certainly is with me.
I love you both, Grandma and Granddad Thomas! Your legacy of love and faith and devotion and strength will live on. Memories of you shall endure. Your long, worthy, wonderful lives will be shared with your continuing posterity.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 7
Sad thing is, though, I'm heading back home tomorrow. I miss home, but I am always missing family. I'm so grateful that my family is eternal because one day, beyond the veil, I will no longer always be missing them.
Other little things today: I started a new book that has hooked my interest. Always love that feeling!
We went grave hunting today. Didn't find the graves we were looking for, but as I walked among the graves I was reminded--as I always am in cemeteries--that every one has a story. And the people buried there all had lives, and loved ones, and ancestries, and descendants, and laughs, and tears, and everything! Such a respect for life in a place of buried dead. Interesting that.
Had some amazing food not just today, but my whole trip here. And so nice that I haven't had to plan my own meals, or do my own shopping for a few days. My sister can cook! :-) And I've loved enjoying the yummy benefits from that.
The bishopric visited the family, and we had a lot of fun during that visit. Reminded me of all the times growing up when we had people come visit us. Definite fun times.
Lots of happiness. Such a good thing that even though the vacation is winding down, the happiness will not be forgotten, nor will it end. Much more to come!
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 6
Every day I am grateful that I am able to do things. In my lifetime, I have had friends and family members who have had varying amounts and kinds of physical disabilities. One of the most debilitating was my dear friend Melinda, whom I've probably blogged about before. She was a friend back in VA. She suffered from Locked-In Syndrome. Her mind was fully functioning, but she was basically paralyzed from the neck down. Over the 3 years I knew her, I saw her regain a few mobile functions--flexing her fingers on occasion. Moving her head really well. The biggest achievement I ever saw was lifting her leg at the knees. It was huge! Things like that make me grateful every day that I can move myself in my sleep (and I move a lot!). That I can sit up. That I can walk, run, dance. I can brush my own teeth. I can fix my own hair. Knowing Melinda, I learned a great deal about not taking the little things for granted.
I am a reasonably healthy person. Though I have some physical ailments, they are nothing compared to Melinda's, or what my cousin suffered before he passed on, or what so many others have to go through. In honor of them, and for the joy for myself, and to make as much use of the abilities my Father has given me--I do what ever I can. Whether it is running my 5K races, or doing high intensity interval training workouts, or working out my upper body and abs, or stretching, or dancing, or just standing because I can...I just do.
Monday, November 10, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 5
But what about the time until then? I picked a career that would work with my children should I need to return to employment after they were born. However, it has proven to be a small amount of balm in my singlehood as I've been able to be a minuscule part of so many children's lives. To have a chance in teaching them, and providing fun opportunities, and helping them find sources of knowledge and entertainment. I've learned a lot about child development, education, and parenting that I never would have guessed I could have learned.
Right now, I get to experience one step above that. Because I love the kids I work with, but it is not the same as how I love my Niephews. It means the world to see the love in their eyes for me--even with the very young ones. Today I spent quite a long time with my 20-month old niece. LOTS of repetition in words and actions. :-) Bubble blowing. Playing on the swings. She "spoke" so much to me, and came running to me a few times. She was fine that I was the one who got her from her nap today. She let me hold her, and she snuggled with me. I had the chance to love and dote on an adorable cutie who loved me back. That's what I get with each of my 22 Niephews (of all ages) when ever I'm able to be with them. It is a sweet joy that I get to experience here and there until I get to do so forever with my own child(ren). But happy times--I'll still get to keep the wonderful relationships with my Niephews. It's a bonus! And I'm so grateful I don't have to wait on those relationships. I have them now. And with this vacation, I've been able to enjoy the relationships one-on-one. That's not a little thing. It's huge.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 4
As a freshman at Brigham Young University, I tried to fill my studies with music however possible. I began with a music minor, but soon dropped it because I didn't have time for it plus my major and the two other minors I was looking into. It would be two years before I made it into an audition choir, but until then I joined University Chorale. I also took Music Appreciation. One of our assignments that semester was to watch the filmed concert A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns. I know I loved it, and was so excited to hear these amazing choirs--and to see my then choir director singing among them! But my most lasting impression was when I heard and saw this performance:
This was the first time I had ever heard this song. There are so many things to love about Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, at least for me.
*the arrangement, as only Brother Wilberg can do
*the emotion that inevitably comes
Those alone are enough to make me get a little teary-eyed almost every time I hear or sing this song (especially this arrangement). But if you don't get misty from those, how do your eyes stay dry when you see that girl crying as she sings. I believe the tears were freely flowing as my little Freshman self watched that song.
I formed an immediate connection and bond with that song that has lasted all these years.
I have sung a few arrangements of this song in various groups. I get to sing Wilberg's arrangement with my choir, the Sterling Singers. It is a great joy to be able to sing this beautiful piece with such an amazing group of people.
But today, I got to sing a very simple duet of it. With my sister. Music has played a very crucial part of our lives together, our first public duet being when I was ~7 years old. We live apart from each other, but it has become "tradition" that we try to sing together whenever we are able to be together. This was probably the simplest arrangement of a song that we've ever sung, but it was perfect. And that I got to sing Come Thou Fount with her made it even more so.
I do not think it an exaggeration to say that I cannot live without music. How dreary and dull life would be without it! I think I'd start to cry within a couple of days. And then I probably wouldn't stop crying because I wouldn't have music to help me through such a difficult trial! I recently blogged about music because of one of the MSA conference sessions I attended. And I have blogged many times before.
We use music to praise our Heavenly Father, to put ourselves in mind of our Savior, to teach our children Gospel principles. I love that music and the Gospel--two of the most important blessings in my life--are inseparably connected.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
In the Little Things, Part 3
*We went to my niece's Cross Country meet. It reminded me of my Cross Country season, as well as my 3 years in Track, and even my 2 years with Field Hockey. I loved my sports days in school. I loved being with my teammates. I loved the excitement and nervousness of game days--and even practices! I loved the physical challenge it was to myself, and being able to succeed. But I also loved it when my family would come and support me, so I was very happy that I was able be that part today.
*We took what I would call "back roads" where I'm from. It was such a gorgeous drive. Interesting how everything I saw reminded me of places I've lived (like Nauvoo) and places I've visited, but how it was also its own place. I've never seen this part of the country at this time of year, and I certainly don't remember going among the back roads areas whenever I've visited this area before. So I was creating memories for Autumn in this place while remembering different seasons among other states (and countries for that matter).
*I watched the end of a movie with the part of the fam that was from my teenage days. And I remembered what it was like having crushes on some of the movie stars, and loving certain scenes, and quoting from it. But overall, what it was like to watch movies with my original fam. I miss those days. I think one of the main reasons I love to watch movies so much is how it brought so many of us together when I was younger. We rarely watched movies silently. We talked. We laughed. We quoted. We found the similar things we liked and the things we didn't.
You know, there are times when I really miss my childhood. And my teenage years. I miss growing up. I miss being with my family. I miss being a kid with my parents and my siblings around me. But I am blessed with memories that I can re-live, and most of them are happy and good. And I am blessed to still have family around that remind me and help me re-live those memories when I am with them. And all of it is a reminder that overall I have had a very good life, and it still continues good to this day.
In the Little Things, Part 2
*I got to sleep in. I know. I mentioned sleep the day before. But never underestimate the importance of sleep to a girl who suffers from either EB Virus or Chronic Fatigue, who works full time and tries to maintain a social life and attending to church responsibilities, etc. When I'm in a depleted state, I usually need 10-12 hours a night with a nap to help me recover. Eight hours will tide me over, but it is still difficult. So being able to sleep in with no worries, no responsibilities to get to. It is Bliss. (Ha ha ha ha--inside joke.)
*Sitting outside in beautiful weather. Even though we had the longest autumn in Utah. Indian summer was forever and quite surprising. But I still wasn't quite ready for the abrupt change to cold. The weather out here is perfect. Still in the 70s! And leaves still changing. Absolutely gorgeous.
*I had a chance to read--outside. One day I hope to have a backyard fit for relaxing in--complete with covered swing. But if I can't have that for myself right now, at least I get to enjoy the use of another's. It was delightful.
*I am with my Niephews! All 6. Out this direction, anyhow. Some I have known since they were babies. Probably the ones I'm closest to. Others I haven't been able to be around as much as the years have brought distance and busy lives. But it's nice to be among them again. And to share little jokes with them. And see how much they're growing. And get to know their personalities.
*I am with my sister. I've blogged about her before. She is amazingness. And I have been able to talk with her about all kinds of everything, which I've needed of late.
*Having time for my full morning routine--workout and Gospel study. It's been grand not being rushed to finish so I can get to work. And to be able to do strength training--that's my favorite. I love working on muscle.
*Greek food. It is so good.
*My sister has my dream home. Truly. Complete with 2 staircases, and the front staircase having a landing to twirl at. And a pool and trampoline in the yard. And the yard being absolutely brilliant. My dear little Hobbit Hole does not compare. And while I love her, she isn't what I dreamed of as I grew up. Of course, what my sister has meets the needs she has in her life. I don't have those needs. So it would just be greedy and ridiculous to have something like that for myself. My home is exactly what I need in my time of life.
Being here is like living a dream, even if only for a week. But it is a reminder of what I do have, and how blessed I am to have it. I am filled with supreme joy because my Father loves me and has blessed me beyond what I could ever deserve. Happiness and contentment are beautiful things.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
In the Little Things
So far on this trip, I have had a fabulous journey. So little stress. Plenty of time to sleep, which was much needed. Good food to eat. I always enjoy "eating out" on vacation. And it was such a different setting than I'm used to. It added to the ambiance and the fun.
Spectacular scenery to watch go by slowly. I half-woke as the sun was rising. Managed a picture. Was in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours, but I really enjoyed laying there in my seat(s) and staring out the windows. Watching the world go slowly by. Not having to worry about being the driver, or navigating, or anything. It made me very nostalgic for the road trips we had when I was growing up. I loved being in our van full of people, and still be allowed to be alone. To love seeing the world go by without any other care in the world at the time. To soak in the beauty that God has put in this world. To get a chance to see an autumn, especially in a part of the country I haven't seen autumn before.
To also have Time. Time alone to think, renew, relax. That is crucial for me and I don't get it very often. At least, not of late. So that was a huge blessing to have--especially to start out immediately with that!
I met some very nice people during the whole journey. People who were helpful and let me know where and when things were, which was quite nice since this was my first trip by train. People who are open to talking when talking is wanted, or fine with silence when silence is wanted. I had breakfast with a writer, and lunch with a retired librarian and a woman involved with bookstores. The people the Lord put in my path so far in the last 24 hours have just reminded me of the goodness of people, the kindness of them. A reminder that every one has a story. That every one is a child of God.
That's all I have to "report" for now. Because there will be so much more. My main reason for the trip hasn't even entered into it, yet. But she will--very soon. In just a few minutes. And I'm so excited to see one of the people I love the most in this world!
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Charity, Part 4
*We can "become more charitable...by studying the life of Jesus Christ." Some time near the end of high school or early in college, I realized that I had a very great relationship with my Heavenly Father. And while I knew I loved my Savior and I knew facts about his life and mission and all, I felt like I didn't really know my elder Brother. So I started to study more about Him. I don't know if that made me more charitable, but it certainly helped me in coming to know Him better, and appreciate all He has done for me, and love Him even more. I do know that knowing more about Christ and how He lived and why, makes me want to be more like Him--which would inevitably lead to being a more charitable person, filled with the love of Christ,
*"When we have uncharitable feelings, we can pray to have greater charity." I love that we have that resource to turn to. I certainly need it! Especially in my line of work. I have way too many moments when I'm just done with others. Possibly that's due to my introverted nature, or some of my social anxieties. Or even that I deal with customer service on an almost non-stop basis 40 hours a week at work and I'm burned out on patience. Whatever the case may be, I feel terrible that I am not more charitable. So praying for help is a great thing for me to have available. And it makes sense. We are all Heavenly Father's children. He wants us to love and care for each other. So, He will certainly answer our prayers to help us be more loving, kind, patient, and serviceable to His other children.
*"We can learn to love ourselves, which means that we understand our true worth as children of our Heavenly Father." To me, this puts me in mind of the quote "you can't lift someone to higher ground if you aren't up there yourself." I have learned in my life that when I do not love myself, I fall to lower ground. I'm of very little to help to any one. I have had to take care of me and learn to love myself. And learning to love myself is not just a one-time-and-I've-got-it-for-good thing. It is a constant process throughout my life. (I thing I referred to the session on self-love from my mid-singles conference a few weeks ago. This ties in perfectly with that.)
*"We can avoid thinking we are better than other people." Yes, I think that's pretty self-explanatory! Straight-forward, too.
I love having lists to work with, so I'm glad I found this one. It will help me as I try to be more charitable, for I know I can always improve in that area.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Charity, Part 3
And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men.
And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.
The background to this scripture is Moroni pausing in his account of the people of Jared, and relating a conversation he had with the Lord. So "thou" in the scripture is the Lord. It is the Lord who laid down his life for the world. For us. He did so because He loves us. And this love is charity.
One would question how are we supposed to have this charity so that we can return to our Heavenly Father? Are we supposed to lay down our lives for others? Yes, but not in the way that our Savior did. We do so symbolically.
We give of ourselves when we serve in our church callings. We give of ourselves when we do home and visiting teaching. We give of ourselves when we share the Gospel. We give of ourselves when we parent our children. We give of ourselves when we try to be the best companion to our spouse that we can be. We give of ourselves when we pay our tithes and fast offerings. We give of ourselves when we listen to someone, give them a hug or a smile, or assist in whatever righteous way their soul and mind may need for peace and comfort.
Those are just a few ways in which we can give of ourselves. But whenever we give of ourselves, we are laying down our lives as the Savior would have us do. And then we are worthy to inherit our place in the kingdom of our Father.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Charity, Part 2
I love that she breaks charity down into those 4 things:
Service - that's what we usually think of with charity. Helping others and such.
Patience - this is where I need the most help, especially as it is needed every moment at my job! I seem to have a store of patience that can get used up pretty fast some days. I was just thinking this morning how does one improve patience? Or grow it? Or add to it? Honestly, the only thing I can think of is asking Heavenly Father for help with that. The Savior can do marvelous things, and I think He would be quite willing to help me be more patient, and have it much more long-lasting.
Compassion - To me, compassion is sincerely caring about and for someone. The sincerity of that caring naturally leads us to want to help someone, take care of them, and help them know and feel that they are loved. Other words that I associate with compassion include kindness, gentleness, love, heartfelt service. It seems pretty obvious why compassion would be a part of charity.
Understanding - This isn't the first thing that comes to mind with charity, but it makes sense. So much harm and sorrow come when misunderstanding occurs. I learned in a communication training that understanding doesn't have to mean agreeing. A person wants others to acknowledge where they are coming from, to accept that that is how/why that person thinks/feels/acts.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
For this new topic, I'll start with a definition. From the scriptures, we get the simplest definition as "Charity is the pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47). While that is clear, I still love the scriptures that elaborate a bit more on it.
Isn't that beautiful? So clear and straightforward--and causes me to want to do all I can to have charity! I think the general thing that I get about charity is that it is pure. Because something or someone pure does not envy. It isn't selfish. It has good, righteous thoughts. It loves things that are true. It has patience no matter what.
We often see charity as a verb, but I also see it as an adjective as well as a noun. Charity has the traits we should want, and is the way we should want to be described. In essence, charity is not just something we do. It is who we are. And we strive to be that way because of and with the aid of our Savior.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Exaltation, Part 4
The Gospel principles manual listed these as some of the things we are to do in life to receive exaltation in the life hereafter:
If one truly loves the Lord, then this list becomes not what we are supposed to do, but what we want to do. And it is what I want to do, and strive to do. I want to live with my Father again. There I will also be with His Son, my Redeemer. And I pray that my loved ones will one day be there with me too.
It's in my head right now, so here is a song I feel to share. Because I want to be fit "for the life above."