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!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gospel Message Day 249

Atonement - Enabling Power, Part 5

There have been a lot of tears this morning:

*For the life and testimony of a man of God whom I will miss seeing and hearing in this life.

I had the great blessing to meet him when I was a child, and again about 18 months ago. I treasure every opportunity I have had to shake the hand of a servant of God, who knows without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ. There is a power unlike any other I have felt anywhere on earth when I am in the presence of a apostle and prophet of our Savior. I am grateful for all of Christ's apostles who have served in this last dispensation. But I have a special love for each of the men who have been prophets and apostles in my lifetime. Voices I have listened to throughout my life and counsel I try to apply and heed. Elder Perry was an apostle for almost a decade before I entered in this world. Like those who have gone on before--Elder Ashton, Elder Wirthlin, Elder Maxwell, Elder Haight, President Benson, President Hunter, President Faust, President Hinckley--I am sad to lose a great example of faith and testimony and service. But his work is not done, and ours is not either. Another man will be called of God to be the next Apostle. And the work of God's kingdom will continue to boldly move forward in truth and righteousness.

*For the truth of the Gospel.

I've been watching Church History and Seminary videos. And over and over again I am washed over with the Spirit, testifying again and again that it is true. I have no greater testimony, no stronger knowledge in my being than that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

*For the strength and example of Emma Smith.

I have always admired her. This was the first time I've seen this particular clip and song, and I thought it was beautifully apropos and succinct of the amazing woman Emma Smith was and is.

*For Hilary Weeks' song "Just Let Me Cry" (of course)

To have "One of my cry songs" come on my iPod as I got ready for Church. Things have been rough the last few weeks (and perhaps building over the last few months) because of an extreme amount of stress and some frustration as well. Yet I know I've had tougher times. And listening to this song, which helped pull me through one of those tougher times, was another reminder and testimony that the Savior's Atonement is real. There is strength in those tears, because when I'm crying I am calling out for the Savior at the same time, to have the power of His Atonement lift me and strengthen me to help me get through the trial--no matter how great or small, how long or short.

He is always there. He has always lifted me before, He is lifting me now, and He will lift me in the future.

5/31/15 11:20pm Update! I made a very quick (in ~3 hours) music video. Been wanting to make one of this song for a few years. Usually I share the amazing Dallyn Vail Bayles' version. But I thought I'd give you a different albeit exceedingly flawed version with pictures of the Savior that hold special meaning for me.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gospel Message Day 248

Atonement - Enabling Power, Part 4

In researching this topic to remind myself of what it is, what it can do, etc., I came across something that I don't think I've ever connected in my brain before. Enabling power is grace. The fabulous True to the Faith manual states:
The word grace, as used in the scriptures, refers primarily to the divine help and strength we receive through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter taught that we should “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

A regular dictionary defines the religious aspect of grace as

a :  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b :  a virtue coming from God
c :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

a) correlates that we are receiving divine help. I often feel that I do not merit the Atonement's power in my life. But my Savior loves me. He loves each of us. And the Atonement was made for all. 

What I also love from the quote I found, it refers to the scripture about growing in grace. I think on that and I get two things from that. 

1) When we use grace, or the Atonement's enabling power, we are enabling ourselves to grow more in every aspect of life, especially to grow more like Christ. 

2) The enabling power itself can grow in our lives. It isn't just one level or size of power to access. The more we use it, the greater, the stronger, and the deeper it affects our lives and our efforts to live righteously and work toward returning to Heavenly Father.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Gospel Message Day 247

Atonement - Enabling Power, Part 3

I feel like I should give an example of when I have seen the Atonement's enabling power in my life. And I know that there are numerous examples. But I'm really trying to think of one that more obviously shows a power used, which was not of my own making. Before I ever started this blog, I went through one of the hardest trials of my life: I removed a spiritual wedge that I had had for 17 years. I held myself guilty and viewed myself as so low and awful for a very long time; this ordeal had very negatively affected my self-esteem over the years and at the time that I was removing the wedge, life couldn't have been more difficult with so many other things being thrown at me. At one point, one of my friends told me that I was a walking zombie. I was there. I was going though the motions I needed to in order to take care of the responsibilities I had. But my soul was in pain, and it just couldn't make it. Not on my own. I visited with my bishop, and his counsel was my first step in reaching out to my Savior. In feeling that power lift me out of that dark abyss of feeling lost, abandoned, confused, ashamed, and drowning. I had so many wonderful friends reaching out to me. I knew I was not alone. I knew they loved me. Their listening ears were very helpful. But that could only go so far. Their love, kindness, and friendship was not enough. That was not what could pull me through. Only Christ's Atonement has the power to help me forgive myself and begin healing.

The biggest, strongest personal experience lesson I have had about the Atonement came from this experience. It actually helped to solidify my testimony of the Atonement, which--ever since--I have known is the greatest blessing in my life.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gospel Message Day 246

Atonement - Enabling Power, Part 2

The Conference talk I was reading today was one that hit home when I first heard it, and did so again today. Elder Pearson gives us 6 principles to consider with Lehi's dream (from the Book of Mormon). All of them are principles that I am always working on in my life, so I like how he used them in reference to the dream. I also love his 3-time repetition of "every day" in regards to searing the Book of Mormon as well as the words of living prophets. I like repetition. I need it. So I enjoy it when our Church leaders use it--it stands out, it is catchy, and it certainly stays in the memory better!

One of the principles was "Press Forward with Faith." And in that section, Elder Pearson said, "without the strengthening and enabling power of the Atonement, it's impossible to stay on the path and endure." I'd not thought of that before, but it makes complete sense and I whole-heartedly agree. This life is tough. I know that quite well. I've had many difficult times in life, some that have lasted years. These last few weeks have been rough, true, but I've had worse. And very likely there is worse somewhere ahead.

But it does not matter how difficult or how long the trial. What matters is that I always rely on my Redeemer and the enabling power of His Atonement which will help me endure whatever comes at me in life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gospel Message Day 245

Atonement - Enabling Power

Figured it was time I went back to drawing topics. The first one I drew was "Birth of Christ." Pretty sure I covered that back in December with my countdown. So I drew a second slip. I always love to talk about the Atonement, and this subtopic of that can be gone in to a lot deeper than one (including me) typically do.

We often look and talk of the Atonement in relation of how it helps us in our pains and afflictions and trials. Using the Atonement to help us with that is part of the enabling power of it. But there is more to it. In a fabulous Conference talk by Elder David Bednar, there is one sentence that I feel sums it up well:
"[T]he enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity."

"We could never recognize." That hints at "after all we can do," which puts me in mind of the scriptures Matthew 5:48 and 3 Nephi 12:48.

In Matthew, the King James version says: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." There are a couple of footnotes to consider. The first is that there is a translation from when Joseph Smith was going through the Bible. It states, "Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect. even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." So, this is a commandment. The other footnote shows that the Greek meaning for perfect is "complete, finished, fully developed." We have a lifetime to reach that, and yet, as an Institute teacher once pointed out, this will never be possible. Not on our own. We have to have the Savior's help to pull us the rest of the way, but only after we have done everything we can possibly do. We're not going to get a free ride for doing nothing.

Also, in the scripture from 3 Nephi: "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." That same Institute teacher pointed out that Jesus does not refer to himself as perfect until after His resurrection. The scripture in Matthew was delivered when He was still living on Earth. The scripture in 3 Nephi took place one the American continent, after he was resurrected. This is a crucial fact, because the Savior Himself was not perfect until after He was resurrected. Which means we can stop getting hung up over our perfection in this life, because it just isn't going to happen. Our growth and goal for perfection does not end at death. It will continue from what we've done in this life on into the next.

The Savior was able to reach the perfection that our Father wants us to achieve. And you can bet that He wants to help us reach that perfection. He has the power to help us achieve it. If only we do everything on our part that we can and then reach out to Him to access that enabling power. And this reaching out for that power? It isn't a one-time deal. It is a constant process throughout our lives in all that we do.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gospel Message Day 244

Gratitude in All Things

I'm sure I've already mentioned the importance of a Gospel-living follower of Christ to be grateful. I'm sure I have. But  then, maybe I haven't but I think I have because this blog has been huge about being grateful and finding the positive in anything.

So, I thought it would be a good thing right now to Pollyanna my most recent trial.

I can be glad and grateful and thus joyful because

*it was the fence, which was vinyl and not wood
*it was not the brick house
*it was not done in any malice toward me specifically
*it is taking time to clean, but it is coming off SO much more easily than I would have expected
*it have given me time to have thoughts to myself as I clean
*it reminded me of how much I am loved and watched over by those here and those beyond
*the rain has held off both times I've been cleaning the fence (and started right after I've finished for the day)
*the police are only two blocks away
*so many people care when they hear and offer their concern and condolences
*it happened on a weekend that I was able to start taking care of it immediately
*this has helped me see in a new light all the other trials and stresses I'm dealing with, and thus help me re-adjust how I'm handling them and attitude and courage I am facing them with
*I remember that my home is dedicated and I trust in the protection that a Priesthood holder pronounced upon me and my home

Monday, May 25, 2015

Gospel Message Day 243

Father Knows Best

Today, in an experience where my easily embarrassed, occasionally shy, definitely introverted self would have rather gone under the radar in dealing with a problem as I typically do--alone--Heavenly Father, of course, knew better. This was not something I should do on my own. Plus, having others there to help made dealing with it actually enjoyable instead of simply another thing I had to take care of. I am grateful that Heavenly Father always knows best, and that sometimes He has to momentarily take matters out of my hands to make sure that what is best for me actually happens in spite of what I was intending or trying to do.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Gospel Message Day 242

The Steadiness of the Atonement

I lost it in front of my choir today. We're practicing "My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee" to sing in June. And even if they're still just learning it, the power in the music and in those words is still there. And while it may be one of my favorite songs and my go-to during difficult times and have listened to it hundreds of time, this song never fails to strike straight to my core and touch my spirit as if it was the first time I heard these comforting, reassuring words.

So, there I was trying to conduct the song. My eyes were filled with tears. I couldn't see the words or the music. I couldn't look up into the faces of my choir members. It was embarrassing, but it was a needed moment of comfort and healing. I know there will be many more to come. Because as the character John Newton said in the film Amazing Grace: "God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms. Drip. Drip. Drip." And I think that accessing the Atonement some times works the same way. One drop at a time. But even though the gentle drizzle seems small, it is not. It is slow. It is steady. But it is extremely strong and powerful.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gospel Message Day 241

Personal Reflections

This week has been building and building in frustration, anxiety, and hurt. And it is a week that comes after weeks, rather months of the same frustration and hurt. And I've come to the conclusion that I am tired of being hurt by guys who are either selfish, ignorant, or clueless. (And yes, there is a difference between the last two.) I feel like that is what I'm consistently encountering in my attempts to be social. I know it is part of the experience to meet people like this, and a good sign I'm learning a lot from my dating coach that I'm recognizing these things and moving beyond them rather than sticking around, holding out for them, and wasting time.

Now, I am not one who believes that marriage will be the end-all, solve-all-problems kind of thing. Far from it. Merging two personalities into a marriage (and one for eternity no less) is not an easy thing. There will be frustration, anxiety, and hurt. But I know it will be different. Because I will have married my best friend, with eternity in sight. The covenants I make within the temple to my Heavenly Father and to my husband would give me conviction to keep them and to work through whatever life and we ourselves throw at us. Plus, by then, I will be dealing with only one man's personality, quirks, habits, idiosyncrasies, etc. I won't be constantly thrown for a loop by first one and then another and then yet another man's unpredictable, unexplainable, likely unintentionally painful actions. I think dealing with my best friend's additions to a marriage will be so much better than what I have to deal with now. Especially considering how much he is going to have to deal with from me! I already love that man for willingly and patiently taking me on as his eternal companion. Bless him, and bless our road in finding each other. The pain is frustrating and awful at times, but it will definitely be worth it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gospel Message Day 240

Millennium, Part 3

Quoting from the scripture yesterday, I saw more in the section that describes more about how the Millennium will be. I liked it, so I'm going to include the rest of the scripture today:

And in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face.
 27 And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him.
 28 And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man.
 29 And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.
 30 In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;
 31 And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.
 32 Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—
 33 Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—
 34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.
 35 And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory.
 36 Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.
 37 Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.
 38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.
 39 When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;
 40 They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.
 41 Behold, here is wisdom concerning the children of Zion, even many, but not all; they were found transgressors, therefore they must needs be chastened—
 42 He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted.
In other words, the Millennium will be peace on earth with the righteous being as close to their Savior as they can while in this life.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gospel Message Day 239

Millennium, Part 2

So, yesterday's definition from "True to the Faith" really sums up Millennium well! I'm not sure how else to talk about it in my own words. If I were to explain it, it would sound pretty much the same. A time of 1,000 years that will be filled with peace yet work on our part for that "one last time" to share the Gospel. The Millennium will come after Christ has come to Earth the second time. There is the part that there is no death during that time. That those whose time is over on Earth will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. That's a phrase I always enjoyed as a child, as well as the one that came from it: being twinkled. :-) The part about the twinkling comes from Doctrine & Covenants 101:29-31:

And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.
In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;
And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious.
No sorrow because there is no death. Being someone who has always taken hard the death of others especially loved ones, I like the idea of no death. I can handle a twinkle. A twinkle sounds painless and has much more hope. Plus, by that point, I believe my faith in my Savior and the blessings He has promised us after this life will be even stronger because I will have seen Him again by that point. It's not that I fear death. It's that I miss those who have left me behind. But having those promises more firmly in mind will help me remember that I will get to be with them again--and how joyful it will all be!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gospel Message Day 238


Wow. Finally going back to drawing topics and I get this one? Not really sure where to began. And this could definitely be a 2 or 3 day topic. So to help me get started, I'm going to use the definition from "True to the Faith:"

A millennium is a period of 1,000 years. When we speak of “the Millennium,” we refer to the 1,000 years following the Savior's Second Coming (see Revelation 20:4D&C 29:11). During the Millennium, “Christ will reign personally upon the earth” (Articles of Faith 1:10).

Additional Information

The Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace on the earth. The Lord has revealed that “in that day the enmity of man, and the enmity of beasts, yea, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease” (D&C 101:26; see also Isaiah 11:6-9). Satan will be “bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men” (D&C 45:55; see also Revelation 20:1-3).
During the Millennium, all people on the earth will be good and just, but many will not have received the fulness of the gospel. Consequently, members of the Church will participate in missionary work.
Members of the Church will also participate in temple work during the Millennium. The Saints will continue to build temples and receive ordinances in behalf of their kindred dead. Guided by revelation, they will prepare records of their ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Complete righteousness and peace will continue until the end of the 1,000 years, when Satan “shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.” The armies of Satan will fight against the hosts of heaven, who will be led by Michael, or Adam. Satan and his followers will be defeated and cast out forever. (See D&C 88:111-115.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gospel Message Day 237

Gospel Insight from Personal Reading

I finally have started reading May's book for my Relief Society book group: Out of the Killing Fields, Into the Light. I knew the littlest bit about the terrible things in Cambodia in the 70s from one of my favorite movies as a child, "The Girl Who Spelled Freedom." Some years later (high school? college?) I read a book (title escapes me right now) and got a slightly bigger idea of what it was like for a Cambodian refugee adjusting to life in America. I'm only a few stories in to this book, and I am seeing that, yet again, I knew so little about this part of world history and that there was such awful, tragic goings on. What these people endured. What they saw. How miraculous it was that there were survivors. But then, in this book, to see that some found the truth of the Gospel and the light of Christ. And how the Gospel has changed their lives, most especially in knowing how to use it to help them deal with difficult things that still come to them in life.

Today, one of the passages I read really resonated with me: "At times it has been hard to forgive those who treated me so poorly throughout my life. But it has been the Atonement of Christ that has helped me let go of the pain and the resentment and replaced them with love and forgiveness. They did a lot worse to Christ than anyone ever did to me, and he was able to forgive. So somehow I have to learn to forgive as well."

This quote had me pause to think on not just the times I have been wronged by others (or myself), but also of the trials I've had in life. No matter what difficulty I will ever go through in this life, it will never compare to what my Redeemer went through. And if He could face all of that with courage, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and love, then I can do my best to do the same. Even better, this same Man who made it through life with such good traits and qualities has the ability to help me have them as well. His offer is always there and it is up to me if I will accept that help. Plus, accepting that help is not a one-time action, but constant throughout my life. And that is my intention.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gospel Message Day 236

Current Gospel Thought

I am so full of confusion. For so many things. On so many levels. The confusion brings frustration. And heartache. And a lot of sorrow. And I feel like giving up. But a follower of Christ does not give up, because how can they ever fail with the Savior at their side promising joy and success along the way?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gospel Message Day 235

The Lord in the Details and the Inspirations

So many roads cross when the Lord is making the map. Today had a whole slew of those roads!

*The Relief Society lesson was on the Book of Mormon, and coming home the radio played the Seminary song "For Our Day."

*I had picked today's music for Sacrament meeting almost two months ago. We decided to move the Priesthood number to Father's Day, so this morning I picked a song that might be related to the restoration of the Gospel/restoration of the Priesthood (being a couple days after the anniversary of that event). What I didn't realize until I got to Church was that two other songs I'd picked were all from that section of the hymnbook as well. It was a very Gospel grateful day. :-)

*The General Conference quote on our program was from Elder Bednar's talk about hushing our fears. On the radio, on my way to my service project, the Conference Moment was the same talk. And it completely relates to something I am personally going through, and thoughts I was having in Sunday School. (The next bullet point.)

*Sunday School's lesson dealt with the rich young man not wanting to give up his all in order to inherit the kingdom of God. My Institute teacher always teaches us to find the deeper application. And it came to me as we discussed in class. This totally applies to marriage. No, I am not marriage obsessed, but dating is currently a huge part of my life because I know it's what the Lord wants me to be working on.

And it got me to thinking how the not wanting to give up something for what is better and more of what God wants for us applies to all of us in the dating world. I've been watching how so many (and I'm not trying to push any fault off of me) keep holding on to things that get in the way of their dating successfully. Those things can include unrealistic and/or overly picky ideals they have about a future spouse, habits/interests that occupy more of their time and attention than is good, or the preferred desire to have their "freedom" and be allowed to just run around and "have fun" and not commit to any one. If we could just let go of these things, we would open our lives up to so many great, blessed opportunities that Heavenly Father longs to give us.

But I also want to point out that there is and should be something more important than that dating world. In class I was reminded that even though I need (sometimes force myself) to keep dating in my life, it is not where my first and foremost focus should be. That focus is still coming unto Christ. In my prayers, and scripture study, and Gospel study, and missionary opportunities. If I work on coming unto Christ first, and keep myself open to the dating stuff, and hush my fears related to it all, then all will come together as the Lord wants for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Gospel Message Day 234

Daily Scripture Reflection: Emergency Preparedness

In the last 2 days, I've been reading in 3 Nephi the story where the righteous people gather themselves and their substance together as their defense against the wicked Gadianton robbers.

And it came to pass in the seventeenth year, in the latter end of the year, the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the placewhich had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies.
 23 And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful, yea, to the line which was between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation.
 24 And there were a great many thousand people who were called Nephites, who did gather themselves together in this land. Now Lachoneus did cause that they should gather themselves together in the land southward, because of the great curse which was upon the land northward.
 25 And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle.
They are together in this situation for about 9 years. They probably were not able to farm as much in that gathered situation, which means most of their substance was what they had stored. And they not only lived on that storage for those 9 years, but they didn't even use it all. 
And now it came to pass that the people of the Nephites did all return to their own lands in the twenty and sixth year, every man, with his family, his flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle, and all things whatsoever did belong unto them.
 And it came to pass that they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward.
Every time I hear/read this story, I think of how we are urged by our leaders to be prepared for emergencies. This preparedness includes finances as well as food storage and other substances that would help us to subsist in whatever situation may arise that forces us to need to rely on them. I think being prepared like this is definitely a Gospel topic. But I believe that spiritual preparedness is just as much (if not more) important as being prepared every other way.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gospel Message Day 233

Another Mother Post

That's what happens when your mother's birthday always falls in the week following Mother's Day. We have a whole week of being reminded to step back and reflect an how amazing Mother of Me is. I don't need just the week to remind me. For I remember on my own when I go to work. When I sing. When I hear/sing "I Stand All Amazed." When I play the piano. When I read. When I hear my mother's laugh come out of me. When I think of Nauvoo. When I hear a story from Church History. When someone talks about Seminary. When I see a stuffed toy sheep. When someone talks about their hearing aids. When I put my contacts in. When I take the effort to dress well. When I study the scriptures. When I live the Gospel.

Every day I find something in my life that reminds me of the amazing mother I shall have for eternity. I don't deserve her. And she certainly didn't deserve the hell (yes, hell) that I put her through as when I was a child and even worse when I was a teenager. But I told you my mother is amazing. She loved me in spite of it. She somehow held on to patience. She didn't leave me, abandon me, forsake me, or anything--even though countless times I'm sure I deserved that.

One of the greatest ways I have been able to come to know my Savior is because my mother has done her best to be a type of Him, and to give Christlike love to me. And I think she succeeds pretty well at that.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gospel Message Day 232

God-given talents

So, I'm not near to my Gospel topic slips, thus I'm winging the topic right now. Today I thought I'd blog on something a little different but I still think is Gospel related. I'm currently at my state's annual library conference. I love attending things like this because it is a great way to re-charge from all that drains me at work and reminds me why I became a librarian in the first place. Today as I was listening and participating, I was reminded not just of where/how I could improve, but of some of the strengths and talents that I began my library career with. They have improved and been strengthened with time, and I have found many ways to use them. Most especially, I have been able to better serve people because of those strengths and talents.

I am a believer that Heavenly Father has blessed us with our strengths and talents, and that with His help we can improve upon them. I believe they are like spiritual gifts, and that we are better able to help, support, and serve others because of those talents. So I am especially grateful that early on in my life, the Lord inspired me to see a possible career path that would allow me to use some of my talents and skills at a great capacity which almost daily lets me help others. There are two "jobs" I would rather have, but they are not available to me at this time. Thus, I'm really glad that the next best option for me was one that truly makes me so happy and fulfilled.

Heavenly Father knows His children. He knows what will make us happy. What will bring us joy. And what will help us help others as well. Never more do I see this than in my job, and in our opportunities as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gospel Message Day 231

Personal Reflection on Today's Gospel Study

I know. It's early in the day for me to be blogging here. But work and hours of driving will keep me from having personal internet access until tomorrow. So hereth I blog in the earlieth morning of hours.

I read the Nephite Christmas story in my daily Book of Mormon reading today. I know I blogged a bit about it during our Christmas Scripture Advent messages in December, and how it is one of my favorite pieces of of the Christmas story throughout all of scripture.

The Savior reassured a faithful servant of God: "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand" (3 Nephi 1:13). And this is still His message today. His second coming is at hand. It is coming. We see the signs of it every day. The Lord is coming again, and just as it did before, it will "fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets." We have had prophets for centuries foretell of Christ coming to earth again, including Isaiah and John the Revelator, but also by the Savior Himself.

For those who are keeping His commandments and striving to live righteously, this Second Coming is always a reason for us to lift up our head and be of good cheer. The world is full of scary, frightening, despicable things. So many of mankind are sowing wickedness everywhere. Thus we see wickedness and destruction are now being reaped, and not just by mankind. Nature's destructive forces are also lending a hand. It is part of the prophecy, and part of the Lord's promise that if the wicked do not repent, punishment ensues. It is punishment for their benefit if only they will grasp that what they're doing is wrong and they are again being offered a chance to believe in Christ, repent, and be made whole.

But in spite of all the darkness and wickedness that abound and surround us in this world, we can be of good cheer. We can lift up our heads. We can walk in confidence. Because the Savior is with us, and He has promised the righteous peace and joy not just at the end of this journey, but during it as well. This goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite quotes of all time has hung on the wall by my bed ever since I first read it 12 years ago:

"you can wake up every day looking forward to new adventures with hope smiling brightly before you because you have a Savior. You are baptized in His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You just need to stay in, pressing forward with a brightness of hope to your heavenly home." -Julie B. Beck

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gospel Message Day 230

Answers Everywhere

I love that my Savior knows me so well. And He knows the desires of my heart that are so often unspoken by me in prayer. I don't want to pester Him with the same things over and over again. And I don't want to be a slothful, unprofitable servant who has to be told what to do in all things. So I try to go out and research, practice, etc. in order to play my part as best as I can. My loving Savior, who knows what is on my mind and troubling my heart, always sends to me just what I need. He puts in my path stories, articles, and quotes that are uplifting, inspiring, and full of teachings I need. He sends along people who are supportive and kind. He enables opportunities. Through the Spirit He sends little suggestions for me to try out my wings just a little more.

The last two years of my dating/social life have been the best so far. Not because I've learned more about how to go about it (which is also through my Savior), but because I have grown closer to my Savior throughout it. I don't really know what, how, where, when things will go as I go along. But I trust my Savior and where He is leading me. I look forward to what more He has in store for me, even if it can be annoying, frustrating, disheartening, and sorrowful. It also brings some fun, humor, knowledge, compassion, and self-reflection. And most importantly, it brings me closer to my Savior.

Gospel Message Day 229

Temple Work for Self

I've already blogged on the topics of Temple Ordinances and Family History (which leads to temple work for the dead), so now I get to talk of temple work for one's self. Even though I kind of already have. In the temple, the ordinances performed are what we call saving ordinances. So when we first enter the temple--not as unendowed, temple-worthy, recommend-holding members, but when we are ready to receive our own endowment, we make the covenants for ourselves first. We take the Savior's hand and together with Him we walk a little closer to our salvation.

I will never forget that day in my life. It was one of the most important of my life. I love and am grateful for all the times I get to perform temple ordinances for those who have already passed on. Especially family members. And for the reminders and spiritual impressions I receive every time I attend the temple. But nothing will ever be like that first time I covenanted with my Father in the House of the Lord.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gospel Message Day 228


We come to the end of another Mother's Day and I have survived. :-) I can see why some moms don't like this day. When kids overly praise and idolize and place them on pedestals. So distant and daunting. I don't want to be on a pedestal. I know I am full of weaknesses and I don't want someone to think I am perfect or better than I am. I can't live up to that right now. I want to work towards perfection, and can only get their with the help of my Savior. But if one has such high, unrealistic expectations of me, they're just going to be disappointed. And I don't like to disappoint anyone.

So we should be careful not to idolize our mothers. They may be angels for having put up with so much from the sometimes hell-ish children. ;-) They are amazing. They give us love we don't always deserve. They taught us, cared for us, guided us, and so much more. They are beyond amazing. But they are still human. And they don't need their stress level raised any more by unrealistic, overzealous, idolizing expectations.

With that being said, I want people to know that when I say my mother is the best in the world, I don't want them to think I'm raising her higher up than she is comfortable. What I'm saying is that a very wise Heavenly Father knew who the best mother would be for me, and He blessed me to have her.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Gospel Message Day 227

Rough Journeys

Some days are just rough. Some times it is weeks. Or longer. For me, it is often an accumulation of many small, rough things that lead to a very rocky road. Those small things by themselves seem silly that they should be causing any trouble. But it you put enough small rocks in the road, that road will be bumpy and difficult to pass. But pass it I will because the Lord has reassured me that there will be smoother spots along the way, and that the rough spots will be worth it, and that the end of the road will be a most glorious and joyful destination. In the mean time, how my spiritual vehicle is doing on that rough road is up to me. Am I giving it the fuel, care, and maintenance it needs? Do I have spiritual spare tires available to use if those rough patches cause a moment of flat tire?

I'm used to this road of mine. I love the smooth patches. I've gotten used to the fact that there are rough patches. Though I'll admit that there are occasions when I cry or complain over those rough patches. Yet I know it's a part of my road and I'll get through.

But today I was reminded of something that is absolutely wonderful about this trip along my journey on this road. I am not alone. I know that Christ is my navigator--holding the map and telling me the directions. But there are others. Brothers and sisters (physically and spiritually) who are with me. And once in a while I remember that they can help. And that help, support, kindness, reassurance, and encouragement along the road--both in the smooth and in the rough places--is one of the best parts about the journey.

Gospel Message Day 226


Tonight I was able to go to a fundraising event that works directly with a personal cause of mine. A cause I have had since my life was changed by the movie "Amazing Grace." 

I knew of slavery in my country's history. I vaguely knew it existed elsewhere. But I rarely thought beyond what I was taught in school and learned from fabulous movies like "Roots" and "Glory." I had no idea about people like Wilberforce who fought so hard against so much opposition in England. The awfulness of people owning other children of God was always sickening and appalling to me. Movies related to them obtaining their freedom as well as years later trying to receive their deserved equality (like "Remember the Titans") have always resonated with me. For I truly believe that God Made Men Equal.

I saw this movie on its opening night--after doing some research on the background of the song it was titled after. I saw it 3 more times in theaters--rare for me (and preordered my DVD copy as soon as it was listed). I took notes throughout the theater viewings. I started to tell everyone about this movie, for it had raised me to awareness, and I began to read more about Wilberforce's life and more about how the movie was made. I learned from a 14-year old boy's book that there was move slavery in our world today than there was back when many were fighting to abolish it. I was horrified that I did not realize such a terrible thing in our world, and that it even existed. I determined then and there that Abolishing Slavery would be one of my personal causes.

But how to go about it? How to raise awareness to others? I continued to read related articles if I came across them. But in all honesty, life was busy with finishing graduate school, and moving on in my career and social life. My cause stayed within because I was busy, and had no idea what to do to work at it.

So a few weeks ago, a friend invited me to a formal fundraiser. He knows I love to dress up and dance. And I love it when things like this can go to good causes. But when I saw that the money was going to Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.)--a group that is working to rescue children from sexual slavery--I immediately bought my ticket. This cause was exactly what I was wanting to help, and now I had a way to learn more about ways I can contribute. The leader of this group spoke to us, and showed us the trailer for the documentary that was made about their group.

I could see that so many in the room had no idea, and I was very grateful that their eyes were now being opened too. Once was blind, but now they were seeing. It's there. It is tragically, disgustingly real--and someone has to help. This is the worst possible thing any one could turn their back on and try to ignore because it is so awful. Many, many people did so in the 1700s and 1800s. Many are continuing to do so today. This cannot be.

God made men equal. And no one should be owned by anyone but their Lord and Savior who bought their souls with His blood. And even then, they are still free to accept or reject that Atonement made for them.

"Men... have become free forever, knowing good from evil: to act for themselves... they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil"2 Nephi 2:26-27
No one should be allowed to take away that freedom from any one. And if we know that it is being done, it is our responsibility to open our eyes, do something, and be the change. 
This applies to those who are in physical slavery throughout the world. But it also applies to those who are spiritually bound. Who do not have the choice of the Gospel until we bring it to them. This. This is why we do missionary work and temple work. To bring those in spiritual bondage the choice of accepting the Savior and His Gospel. It requires work on our part, as well as theirs. Just as the other kind of slavery does.
Please do not turn your back on physical, mental, or spiritual bondage. It is real. Millions suffer from one or more. Please help where and how you can.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gospel Message Day 225

Gifts of the Spirit Part 9

I'd say it's about time we come to a close with this topic. You get the idea with the spiritual gifts I've talked about, and what else is listed in the scriptures. But what I have loved the most over the years of learning about spiritual gifts was this talk by Elder Marvin J. Ashton which I read when I was preparing to teach about this topic years ago. This passage has strongly resonated with me ever since:

Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.
Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.
We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us.
When I first read this, I had never thought of other gifts beyond what was found quoted in the scriptures. Ever since, I have often reflected on what other spiritual gifts I am finding in myself, or seeing in others. I also like to consider what spiritual gifts I would like to have in my life so that I can pray for them and have the Spirit's help in developing them if I am blessed with them.

I love Elder Ashton's closing remarks in the talk, too--the whole reason we are blessed with spiritual gifts:

“And to every man is given a gift” (D&C 46:11). This is true. God help us to recognize, develop, and share our gifts that all may profit thereby is my earnest hope and plea.
God does live. He does bless us with gifts. As we develop and share our God-given gifts and benefit from the gifts of those around us, the world can be a better place and God’s work will move forward at a more rapid pace. 
P.S. "The gift to weep"--definitely a gift of mine, especially with this week. A gift I would love to have: being agreeable. Oh, and not passing judgement. Much work and prayer, but I believe the Lord would love to bless me with those.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gospel Message Day 224

Topic Detour: My Savior, Still There

It's always a bit of a conundrum when (by current preferred choice) one is living alone, and then they are sick. Because there is the relief that no one can see you look as awful as you do. Or hear you in pain. Or be annoyed that you are moving your sick self all around the house.

But then you don't want to be alone. You want someone to take care of you. To sympathize. To love you.

I miss my mother. And my sister. And long for my best friend.

But though none of them are present, I'll be fine. Because even though I was crying out from waves of pain, I somehow started to sing (in gasps) one of my favorite "I'm going through a hard time, Lord" songs, which has always brought me comfort since the Darkest Days of My Life eight years ago. There's no way you can read this blog and not know what the song is.

And as I sang, and thought of how so much seems to be going wrong and falling apart, and started to cry out in an entirely different kind of pain as tears mingled with the singing, I knew even more that I am not alone. That my Savior's kindness still has not departed from me. Nothing--no man, no emotion, no illness, no any thing can hurt me because the Savior has never and will never leave me. Tears of pain began to include tears of gratitude and joy and faith. It was a rather sacred experience.

The Savior's Everlasting Kindness. I have a very firm testimony about that. It is unshakeable. As is my Lord's love for and blessings toward me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Gospel Message Day 223

Gifts of the Spirit, Part 8

Moving on to the next passage of scripture quoted, there is only one gift mentioned here that was not mentioned in the previous scripture: Discerning of spirits.

I've never had to describe this before. Never really heard it taught either. The dictionary defines discernment as "the ability to judge well" and "(in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding." I like that. Judging well. And in this gift, it is of spirits. To me, the spirit is what resides within us. Our soul is our body and spirit combined. When we die, our spirit will wait until the time that it will be reunited with its renewed body.

There was 1/3 of the hosts of heaven who did not choose the Savior's plan. They chose the adversary, and as such did not receive bodies. They have wanted bodies ever since. We see this in the New Testament story when Jesus cast the evil spirits out of the man and they asked to be put in the swine. They would rather have the bodies of pigs than nothing. But the pigs did not want those spirits inside, and killed themselves to get rid of them.

Those spirits do not have to possess someone else's body, but they can be around. So, one with this gift would be able to judge well between the spirits that are around, whether they be good or evil. Breaking it down to define it, this seems like a gift that many righteous who pray for protection and guidance may have. Because it will be a gift that protects them and others. And it is certainly something we need in these days with darkness and evil all around us. I want to keep the good spirits close to me and the evil ones as far away as possible, so this is a gift I would like to have.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Gospel Message Day 222

Gifts of the Spirit, Part 7

Next on the list:

*All kinds of tongues

*Interpretation of languages and divers kinds of tongues

I always thought tongues was another word for languages. That's still how I see it in these scriptures.

I have known people with one or other or both of these gifts. Learning or understanding new languages came naturally to them. I believe my brother is one of them, which is why the field he went into was a very wise one for him to do. He's very good at it and he is able to serve so many with that gift. One of the best things about spiritual gifts that Heavenly Father bestows on us is how much they help us to bless others.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Gospel Message Day 221

Gospel Contemplating

I'm taking a break from the current topic to address something that's been on my mind because it is currently my main trial: Patience! Trust! And pixie dust. Ha ha! Of course, I am kidding. But the first two for sure. And if I have to add a third, it would be faith--in my self.

The main trial is certainly not a difficult one. I mean, I've been through similar ones before, and others were much more painful. This current one is more frustrating because it is me trying to fight how I've been or what I've done in the past. I've had many lessons in the last couple of years and I'm trying to apply what I've learned. So it's new territory for me, and it isn't easy! Especially as I'm constantly second guessing absolutely everything I'm doing.

Throughout all of these trials--in the past and current--I've always kept the Lord involved. Because there is no way I could do this without Him. So while I always try to trust my Savior and have faith in His ways and patience in His timing, I also have to learn to have patience with myself, faith in my efforts, and trust that I am learning, improving, and on the right course. Not easy is an understatement.  And slightly frustrating certainly applies. The only way I know how to move forward in this is 1) trust the Lord more. I've never been wrong there, and He will help me learn what I need to about myself and what I'm doing. This will also increase the patience that I need. 2) Pray, pray, pray. 3) Focus on the spiritual part of my life. It's always the most important part as it is. It's the only thing I have full control over. And it's where I want my main focus to be any way. 4) Continue to remember how much my life is amazingly blessed and wonderful. There is so much to be happy about. So much to celebrate. So I'll continue to sing, dance, laugh, and twirl my way through life. It is the best way.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Gospel Message Day 220

Gifts of the Spirit, Part 6

Here are the next 3 on the list:

*Work Mighty Miracles

*Prophesy concerning all things

*Beholding of angels and ministering spirits

Well, all three seem pretty self-explanatory. I'm trying to think of examples either from my life or in the scriptures or Church History. In scriptures, I would say that Moses certainly worked mighty miracles. All those plagues. And parting the sea. But biggest of all--saving an entire people! I think he was able to accomplish these miracles because of faith and righteousness and obedience. I'm seeing a pattern here! The Lord will accomplish His work no matter what, but He needs His servants on earth to help bring it about. A slothful, whiny, un-dedicated servant is not going to get much done. But a focused, hard-working, faithful, obedient servant can bring about those miracles.

Prophets from all dispensations are given the gift to prophesy--because that is their role!

I think Joseph Smith was blessed with the 3rd gift. During his years of training as he was prepared to translate the Book of Mormon, he was visited by so many angels as part of that tutoring. And these visitations, visions, ministerings, etc continued for the rest of his life.

Gospel Message Day 219

Gifts of the Spirit, Part 5

I may have to do more than one gift a day, or we'll be on this topic for a couple of months! Not that that would be a bad thing. I do love this topic!

Next on the list: gifts of healing by the Spirit.

I've heard of this gift, and I believe in it. But I really liked seeing the movie "Ephraim's Rescue."
In the story based on a real pioneer, Ephraim Hanks had the gift of healing, and I liked seeing that a spiritual gift like that requires great faith. obedience, and worthiness. When one thinks about it, every spiritual gift probably requires that. So, when we seek out spiritual gifts, or seek to improve upon the ones we have already been blessed with, it would be well with us to keep that in mind.