Sunday, December 27, 2015

Well, Now I Have a Calling

Last Sunday, I accepted my first calling. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, all positions are assigned by revelation from the Lord, from the prophet and apostles down to Sunday School teachers and those who care for Church meetinghouses.

At church last week, my Bishop pulled me aside to extend to me a calling, to ask me to serve in our congregation. I had thought this was coming soon, but had no idea where I would be asked to serve. I was nervous, but having predicted a calling, I had prayed about it beforehand and decided that I would accept whatever the Bishop asked.

And then it came:

Primary teacher.

My jaw dropped to the floor. What a huge responsibility, I thought, shaping these little minds and possibly, depending on age, preparing them to make the decision to be baptized. Wow! I wrote in my journal, "I know that as I do my part to prepare, the Lord will magnify my efforts and make it enough. I'm not enough, but He is."

This week, I've had a bit of a struggle with my testimony. I continued to read the scriptures, though, especially the Book of Mormon and was daily reminded that I could not deny its truthfulness. I know that Book of Mormon is a true record, scripture sealed up to the Lord and delivered to us "in due time." The peace and understanding I experience when I read that cannot be replicated or explained any other way.

One afternoon, I opened the Church homepage. One of the stories near the top (here) was announcing the Primary theme for 2016, when I'll be teaching: "I Know the Scriptures are True." And I thought, wow. How amazing. That's the only thing I know right now, but I know it with all my heart. I can teach that.

By yesterday evening, my worries and concerns had resurfaced. I was unsure of my abilities, and thought that maybe I shouldn't have accepted the calling. I arrived to church early this morning to try to talk to a member of the bishopric about it before my calling would be presented to the congregation. I thought I might back out. I did not, and was sustained by the congregation during sacrament meeting. It was pretty scary.

I spent sacrament meeting trying to rapidly assemble my testimony and get back on my feet. A great friend, and one of my former missionaries, was a precious help to me, just like she was all those months ago. I wrote, "I'm keeping my anchor in the scriptures. I know the scriptures are true, without a doubt." I kept coming back to that, over and over. I knew that. I know that. She reminded me, "That's where it all starts. And I know that will lead to knowledge that the church is true. I don't know how or when, but I promise it will."

Because I only joined the church a year ago, I'd only ever been to Primary once. The bishop told me I could attend Primary before I began teaching to observe and learn how it works a little bit. So today, I attended Sharing Time, the hour with all the children combined, rather than in their separate classrooms. Since it's the last week of the month, the music leader did a fun countdown of the kids' favorite Primary songs. That was so, so wonderful. Leaving Primary, I was again confident that this would be a good thing.

After church, a member of the bishopric found me a gave me a special blessing to begin my calling. This, also, was a great relief and reminder to me. I felt confident in m abilities and God's trust in me to perform this service. This is the Lord's work, and I'm grateful that He trusts me to be a small part of it.

Well, here goes! Primary it is!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

When You Don't Meet Your Own Expectations

I intended to do this cool advent study. I meant to lean about hope and peace and joy and love. For the week of "love," my brother and sister were out of school, so we hung out. And I was TIRED from learning so much in the previous three weeks. I didn't study Love.

I also meant to celebrate Christmas majestically, compiling and reading the story of Christ's birth, from all the scriptures. Starting with prophecies from Isaiah (and here) and Micah and Hezekiah and Nephi and Alma and Samuel the Lamanite. Going forward to the Annunciation to Mary and Joseph's dream, to the sign given in 3 Nephi, and the wonderful journey to Bethlehem and the birth and the angel choir in Luke.

It would be so beautiful, I knew, to read it all together.

But that didn't happen.

I'm not sure exactly why.

Things haven't been bad. Maybe that's why, because things have been so gloriously peaceful and calm for a few days. Maybe I just missed my old fashioned hot chocolate and Book of Mormon, no additions or explanations. The purity. the simplicity. "For behold, my soul delighteth in plainness" (2 Nephi 25:4).

Either way, I thought about Love last week. I thought about my family. I thought about the gifts I'd purchased, hoping they'd like what I'd chosen. I thanked my Father for the gift of His Son. "For God so loved the world."

I know it must have been difficult for Him to let His Son go. "He gave His only begotten Son"

Because He loves us so much. He loves us. He loves us. He wants us to live with Him forever. "That whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

I thanked my Father for the Atonement, knowing the pain and restraint it must have taken to watch His Beloved Son, even as He cried out, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matthew 26:39).

I know He loves us. I know He loves me.

"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong."

My studying didn't exactly go as planned, but I still learned. He always teaches us, even when we don't realize it.

So even though I'm late, Merry Christmas, guys.

Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, 
the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world. . . . 
At the going down of the sun there was no darkness . . . There was no darkness when the night came. . . .
There was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Reader Report: A Simple Path

Mother Teresa: A Simple Path

Lucinda Vardey

Publishing Info:
Ballantine Books, 1995

~ ~ ~

I bought this book for about 50 cents earlier this year. And oh, man, was it good. I finished it in only two or three days. So good, so good. The wisdom of this woman is amazing. It is so evident that she spends much time in prayer and tries very hard to know what God wants her to do. This woman takes seriously the counsel given in Matthew 25: "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visitedme: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." She truly sees the face of Christ in ever person she serves.

This book explains what Mother Teresa calls her "simple path." Throughout the book, this path is taught, as its name implies, quite simply and beautiful. Though we sometimes forget, the gospel path really is "so simple a child can grasp it" (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "It Works Wonderfully!"). MOther Teresa reminds us of this through her simple teaching. The path is, as follows:

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service. 
The fruit of service is peace.

~ ~ ~

And, of course, a few lines from the book that I just fell in love with.

  • "It is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. . . . We need to listen to God because it's not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters. Prayer feeds the soul" (p 7).
  • "We've been made for God and our hearts are restless until we rest with HIm" (p 9). 
  • "Without [prayer] . . . we won't reach the fulfillment of our being" (p 10). 
  • "God created us to love and be loved . . . Any negligence in loving can lead someone to say Yes to evil . . . If someone chooses evil, then an obstacle is set up between that person and God, and the burdened person cannot see God clearly at all. That's why we have to avoid any kind of temptation that will destroy us" (p 51). 
  • "The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. . . . The only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. . . . There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God" (p 79).
  • "As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us - you just can't resist Him. I believe there's no such thing as luck in life, it's God's love, it's His" (p 80).
  • "Everyone needs love. All must know that they're wanted and that they are important to God" (p 81). 
  • "Even in the midst of pain and suffering, God loves [you]" (p 89).
  • "Their [the sisters] happiest time is when they pray - they look forward to it, they are eager to pray and to refuel and they are equally eager to come out of that refueling and give away the energy they receive" (p 106). What would our world be like if we all had this attitude?
  • "Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. . . . The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time. . . . Do not worry about why problems exist in the world - just respond to people's needs" (p 114). 
  • "This is the future - this is God's wish for us - to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called" (p 137).
  • "Knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we turn to the Lord. . . . He has the remedy for everything. . . . If we just turn to Him, He will bring us this inner healing, this spiritual healing so we can make our lives more holy and more pleasing to God" (p 172).
  • "We are all meant to return to God - we come from Him and we go back to Him" (p 175). 
  • "We are born to be happy - and we can only find true happiness and peace when we are in love with God: there is joy in loving God, great happiness in loving Him" (p 179). 
~ ~ ~

"Christ's love is always stronger than the evil in the world."
"God's love for us is greater than all the conflicts, which will pass."

"We're not always called to be successful but we're always called to be faithful."

*Ending quotes: p 52, p 60, p 153

Monday, December 14, 2015

Is This Who We've Waited For?

Follow the star to a place unexpected,
Would you believe after all we've projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all,
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in His mother's shawl,
Just a child -
Is this who we've waited for?

How many kings stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts,
    to romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior,
All that we have, whether costly or meek;
Because we believe.
Gold for His honor and frankincense for his pleasure,
And myrrh for the cross He will suffer.
Do you believe,
Is this who we've waited for?

How many kings stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts,
     to romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
"How Many Kings," downhere

"Would you believe after all we've projected a child in a manger? Lowly and small, the weakest of all, unlikeliest hero, wrapped in His mother's shawl, just a child." 
The Old Testament is full of prophecies about this Savior, Messiah, Christ, anointed One, the special person who would come to rescue and deliver the Jews. Grand prophecies, wonderful expectations. But the angels came with songs of a baby, born to a common girl, in the little unknown town of Bethlehem. He was not great. He did not wield political power. He would not overthrow Caesar. 

"Is this who we've waited for?" Is this really the One we've been waiting for? Could it be, just a child? 

He is the King of kings, stepped down from His throne, to be one of us. He's the Lord of lords, who abandoned His home to live among His people. He's the Greatest of greats, who "humbled Himself," and "[had] not where to lay His head" (Philippians 2:8, Matthew 8:20). 

"How many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart?"

"The God of the whole earth [has] been slain for the sins of the world" (3 Nephi 11:14)
"Behold the sufferings and death of Him who did no sin" (D&C 45:4)

"How many fathers gave up their sons for me?"
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, 
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

"Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior, all that we have, whether costly or meek, because we believe." 
Because we believe, bringing our gifts to the infant Savior, in a place unexpected. Gifts of time, gifts or love, gifts of life, gifts of self. "We can, out of faith in Him, give a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We can repent and make sacred covenants with Him. . . . You can give Him the gift of doing for others what He would do for them. . . . Each act of kindness to anyone becomes a kindness to Him . . . With all the kindnesses we give for Him, the greatest we can offer is to point those we love and serve toward Him, the only source of eternal life. The most precious gift I have to give is my witness of the Savior" ("The Gift of a Savior," Pres Eyring, First Presidency Christmas Devotional 2010). 

Is this who we've waited for?

How many kings stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many gods have poured out their hearts,
     to romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Is this who we've waited for?

This is. He is the Creator, Sustainer, Stronghold breaker (Meredith Andrews). He is the one who authors salvation, who paid the price of sin, who extends the arm of mercy, who releases us from the chains of darkness, who publishes peace.

This wet, squirmy infant, "wrapped in His mother's shawl," is the magnificent Savior we have been waiting for. 

This is who we've waited for. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Gospel is Made for Us

The principles and patterns of the gospel are given that we may know peace and a fulness of happiness, in eternity, yes, but also here among the trials and afflictions of this life.

Yesterday was a very hard day for a few reasons.
1) I've been having some difficulty lately with my mental illness, and was told on Wednesday by a new professional that she wouldn't be able to help me.
2) Today I had a 10-page paper due, that yesterday was about halfway done.
3) My supervisor at work is moving ten hours away, with about two weeks' notice (her husband's company is transferring him), so she's training two of us to take her place, while trying to square away moving. On top of that, this week is one of the busiest of the year with a Christmas program this weekend.

So a lot of stressors. I was freaked out all day yesterday.

I have loved my advent study. I have loved filling my life with hope through the words of the prophets.

But yesterday, I needed peace.

So I bypassed my self-imposed rules and meditated on the concept of Week 2 - peace.

These verses came to mind:
"I will not leave you comfortless: 
I will come to you. . . . 
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
 not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

And He did. He calmed my spirit so I could get all of my work done. He restored my soul.

"Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future. In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will “work together for [our] good” as we follow the counsel of God’s prophets. This type of hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges and gives strength to those who feel threatened by enclosing walls of fear, doubt, and despair"
(Pres Uchtdorf, "The Infinite Power of Hope," October 2008)

This life is hard, but His love is bigger.

~ ~ ~

"It's love so undeniable, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable, I can hardly think . . .
You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are . . .
And I'm loved by you, it's who I am."
(Christ Tomlin, "Good Good Father")


Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent: He's Coming

"A Savior is Born,"

An advent is "a coming into place, view, or being; arrival" (source). For Christians, Advent is the time before Christmas, when we remember and prepare our hearts and homes for the birth of Christ. 

I grew up doing Advent calendars counting down to Christmas Day, lightning Advent candles each week, and hearing Advent sermons in church. 

Since my conversion, since being a Christian has started to mean something to me, Christmas has become more of a special and holy time for me. As a preteen/teen, I didn't really care about Christmas, honestly. We decorated and got happy for no reason, we had to spend time together (usually fighting), and more miserable things? Why would I like that? Why would anyone like that?

"He is the Gift,", 2014

Last year, released a video entitled "He is the Gift" (above). I attended a Christmas missionary event at my friend's ward (congregation) and watched the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional. I realized just how monumental and significant this event was, this birth. This time of celebration became more important and holy to me. I began to think about what this season means, what the birth of this little guy really shows us. Just like everything Heavenly Father does, it's hope. It's peace. It's joy. It's love. That's what it's all about. 

Traditionally, Advent was celebrated by families or churches with an Advent wreath, holding five candles - four purple and one white. The purple are lit, one each Sunday, for four weeks preceding Christmas. And the final white candle is lit on Christmas Day (or Eve) to signify the birth of Christ. Each candle, and each week of Advent, has a theme. They are, in order: hope, peace, joy, and love. 

The Christmas season has taken a special importance in my heart this year, even more than last year. I'm amazed that Heavenly Father would send His Beloved Son, cold and alone, and watch Him to the point of His tremendous suffering for me. I'm so grateful that my God choose to become human like me - with this not perfect body that aches and gets hungry, with this flesh that's wants unholy things, in this world that is nothing close to His heavenly home. It's amazing, to me, to think of my Savior, the Lord, the King of Kings, a little squirming baby, unable to walk or talk or anything. Cold and crying, because He was human like us. To think of His mother, this young girl who was an amazing servant for God, to accept this calling, to mother our Christ. Being a mother is scary enough, but to mother this one? Unimaginable. 

So this season, in this time of Advent, when we wait for our Christchild, I've decided to embark on a special study pattern, to study what prophets ancient and modern have taught about these four things that Christ brought to our world when He was born - hope, peace, joy, and love. 

Join me? 


"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given . . . and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Friday, November 20, 2015

God is Mindful and Merciful. We Should Be, Too.

A number of ideas have been on my mind and on my heart lately. My heart is broken for the brokenness of our world. Instead of offering advice, instead of offering my words, I will offer the words of God.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:35-40, emphasis added).

"Blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land. Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth" (Alma 26: 36-37, emphasis added). 

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27).

"The Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding" (2 Nephi 31:3, emphasis added). 

"Thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (2 Nephi 28:30, emphasis added). 

"We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true" (Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth," October 2014).

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of thepriesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death. Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men" (D&C 121:41-45, emphasis added).
. . .

"He commanded that their little children should be brought. 
So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, 
and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him. . . .
He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them
and prayed unto the Father for them. 
And when he had done this he wept again; 
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: 
Behold your little ones
(3 Nephi 17:11-12, 21-23).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Reader Report: Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

"Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready there is a coming last battle."

Todd Burpo, with Lynn Vincent

Publishing Info:
Thomas Nelson, 2010

~ ~ ~

When Heaven is for Real the movie was released a few years back, it caught the attention of my grandmother, who read the book and rented the movie. Not being a big reader back then, I didn't read the book, but we did watch the movie. And I thought it was mediocre (I guess I wasn't thinking about the part where this was an actual kid telling about his actual experience, but that's beside the point). 

Flash forward to this summer, when I started reading like crazy again. I've always loved books themselves (even when I wasn't particularly interested in reading them), so combine that with my renewed interest in reading, and the public library's bargain resale shelf - I bought over ten books thi summer. I found Heaven is for Real for 50 cents, and being a bargains shopper and book lover, I had to buy it, and figured I'd read it sometime.

Well, I finally got around to it. And, I still didn't find the story particularly engaging or interesting. I don't know (nor would I like to get involved with debates concerning) whether or not the Burpo's story is true,  whether is was a drug-induced vision, whether the parents embellished, or whether such heavenly trips are even possible for children (we know of a few prophets who have seen heaven, as relayed in scripture - Daniel, John the Revelator, Nephi). That's not my interest.

The main thing that struck me was how sick Colton actually was. That either wasn't emphasized or didn't stick out to me in the movie. Colton was so sick for five days, and on the brink of death for some of those, before the doctors correctly diagnosed him as experiencing a burst appendix. In the book, Todd says the nurses at the hospital were told by the doctor not to give the family hope - that they were operating on Colton, but his death was positively immanent. And he recovered so miraculously, through the prayers of his community. That, to me, was amazing.

Since the story wasn't to compelling, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite quotes:
  • "I thought of the times where the scripture says that God answered the prayers, not of the sick or dying, but of the friends of the sick and dying - the paralytic, for example. It was when Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends that He told the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' [Matt 9:6] A that moment, I needed to borrow the strength and faith of some other believers" (p41-42). That's something I've had to be humble enough to do recently. Kind of reminds me of this from Elder Jeffery R. Holland: "If your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine. I know this work is God’s very truth . . . Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe" ("Lord, I Believe," April 2013; emphasis added).
  • "God knows where He puts our children, in each family . . . God can reach anyone, anywhere, at any age" (p 143).
These two quotes tell me 1) God hears our prayers, and the prayers we pray for those we love; and 2) God knows our families, and He put us together. 

"Well, Jesus told me He died on the cross so we could go see His Dad."
(p 111)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Reader Report: Carry on, Warrior

Carry on, Warrior

Glennon Doyle Melton

Publishing Info:
Scribner, 2013

I fell in love with Glennon a few years ago, when I saw her TED talk. So raw, so real, so exactly where I was in my life. And so hopeful. I began following her blog, and, when the book came out, of course I read it right away.

That was a few years back, before I had this blog. Since I just reread the book, love it so much, wanted to tell you guys about it, and haven't been writing often, I decided to write a post about it!

After the scriptures, this book is my favorite book. It's written as a collection of essays, which is really my favorite way to read. Glennon tells us about the "God-shaped hole" in all of us; how she tried to fill it with things that left her feeling emptier; how she gave that all up when she held a pregnancy test in her hand as a young, unwed mother suffering from bulimia, alcoholism, and substance abuse; and how the grace of God pulls her through every day - with many humorous anecdotes sprinkled in there, because Glennon's hilarious. 

Glennon is SO relatable. The reason she gives is this: She believes we all have a piece of God inside us. When she talks about her deep insides, and not just the shells we cover ourselves with, she's talking out of her "God-piece," so to speak. And since all of us are made up of the same amount of God, when she speaks from that part of her, that part of us hears it because it's the same stuff - it's the same divine nature in her and in me and in you. When we tell our truth, we connect. 

I don't know how Glennon came to faith (she doesn't really tell us about that), but I love how she looks at her faith now. She loves God just about more than anyone I know. She loves God fiercely, and since each one of us is made up of the same amount of God, she thinks that means she should love everyone fiercely, so she tries very hard to do that. Glennon believes in love, forgiveness, redemption - because she's sat at God's feet and received all that, and now she tries to give it all away to others. She knows that we're all lost and sad here. She says, "Life isn't hard because you are doing it wrong. Life is just hard."

Glennon used to think that something was wrong with her and that she had to hide. Now, Glennon knows that God made her and loves her, so she can stand on the rooftops and sing, because it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks - God already loves her big big. She knows that she did not come to this earth to find her worth but that she brought it with her. She knows about her divine nature. 

Glennon knows that she's not perfect. She knows that everyone else is not perfect either. So she forgives - forgives herself, forgives others, forgives a lot. Again, she knows that she's loved either way.

And my favorite - Glennon says life is "brutiful" - a combination of beautiful and brutal. Because it's true. It is. Life is brutal, but life is also beautiful. Both/And. Kind of reminds me of Nephi: "It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one" (2 Nephi 2:11).

If you want to laugh, if you want to cry, if you want to know that God loves you, if you want to find hope, if you want to sit down with a girlfriend and say "You know, life's really stinkin' hard," if you want to see the sun shining through another daughter - go to the library and check out Glennon's book. You won't regret it. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Freedom and Agency

"Do what is right; let the consequence follow.
Battle for freedom in spirit and might;
And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.
God will protect you; then do what is right!"
"Do What is Right," LDS Hymnbook

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of freedom, and specifically freedom in Christ. What does this mean?

It's important to understand what Christ brings freedom from. It's sin. Sin is what chains us down and makes us slaves. Satan "is seeking to hurl away [our] souls down to everlasting misery and endless wo" (Helaman 7:16). As one speaker said in our sacrament meeting, "Satan is not your friend."

When we sin, we let the devil into our hearts. And when we sin again, we let him stay, have a drink, put his feet up, and eventually make residence - "he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell" (2 Nephi 28:22). And, he is sticky. He doesn't like to leave. If we let him into our hearts, he won't leave. We can't kick him out. We don't have that power. Then, we have his evil, lying, deceptive voice in our heart, tempting us to do evil constantly.

When Christ performed the atonement, He broke those bands. He released us from the shackles from the devil.

When we accept Christ as Savior, when we exercise faith, and repent, feel godly sorrow for those sins, when we know that what we have done doesn't match up to our divine nature and potential - He can cleanse us. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Christ kicks the devil out. He can beat the adversary, because the devil never entered into Christ. Christ, the perfectly righteous man, is the only one qualified to get the devil out.

When that happens, when the devil leaves, we become free again. We are not trapped by the adversary living inside us. We can choose again. We can move forward, choosing to do good.

The freedom that Christ offers us is not freedom to do whatever we want. It's freedom that allows us to "shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and . . . arise" (2 Nephi 1:23). It's the freedom that breaks the grasp of the devil and allows us to "choose liberty and eternal life" (2 Nephi 2:27). When God says, "Ye are free to choose" (2 Nephi 10:23), He means the hold of our sins has been lifted and we are free to run towards Him.

So let's do that. Since our chains are broken, let's run to Him, as fast as we can, choosing righteousness and obedience all the days of our lives.

A prayer in the Methodist hymnal includes this line, which I love: "Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Joyful obedience. Not grudging or spiteful obedience, but joyful obedience. Imagine what would happen if you thought of the "can't" of the gospel as "cans" - when you say "no" to something of the world, you're saying "yes" to letting the Holy Spirit fill your life up more. Don't be upset when you can't do something "fun," be joyful that you're saying "no" to the devil and "yes" to our Eternal Father.

"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."

Friday, November 6, 2015

On Making Mistakes

I believe that God loves us more than we can fathom.
I believe that God always does what's best for us.
I believe that God is very patient with us, because I know I've made a lot of mistakes - but He's given me another chance by waking me up today. He is so patient with us.

Recently, I have been having a lot of trouble with my perfectionism, beating myself up for the smallest things and convincing myself that this one tiny mistake is the end of me. Something that has given me a lot of comfort is a principle that was emphasized to me by the Holy Ghost at my Church meetings last weekend.

That principle which has comforted me is this: Mistakes are not just accounted for by the Atonement, mistakes are not just understood by God, or even just expected. Mistakes are a vital part of the Plan of Happiness.

God did not send us down here grudgingly, saying, "Fall as few times as possible. Get back with as few scars as you can." No. He was not merely aware of the reality that we would fall. I think He excitedly looked toward the day when He could see us fall - and help us back up. He knew that the only way we could go up was by first going down. There can be no growth without mistakes. He wants us to grow, therefore He planned for mistakes. Mistakes are part of the Plan.

Now, I'm not saying that we should use this as an excuse to make as many mistakes as we can during our tenure in mortality. I'm saying that mistakes are allowed and planned - that's why there's and Atonement. So that we have the freedom to try things that don't work. That's why there's an Atonement. We don't have to stress about getting everything right the first time - because we won't. "Perfection doesn't exist on this side of eternity." That's why there's an Atonement. Remember, the Atonement does not just bring us back to pre-fall status - it elevates us. Then, we gain a little more strength to move forward and do better. Maya Angelou said, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." When you know better, do better.

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Live in the freedom that Christ offers. Freedom to try your best, fail, and try again, growing closer to perfection each time. Move up. Move down and up. Move. Don't stay still for fear of falling, because then you'll never be lifted. 

Learn more about how the Atonement can strengthen and empower us to get back up and try again, I suggest Elder Oaks' talk, "Strengthened by the Atonement of Christ." 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Just a Little Bit About Temples

"To members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 
the temple is the most sacred place on earth. It is the house of the Lord."

This picture is from the newly completed Montreal Quebec Temple. Isn't that beautiful? 

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Temples are very special places to Latter-Day Saints. They are difference than our regular meetinghouses, where we worship every Sunday. In temples, we worship more intently, and perform ordinances like marriage and others that will link our families together for eternity. For a brief overview about Latter-Day Saint temples, read here. After you read that, click here to learn even more. 

Right now, we have TEN temples under construction, on four continents. That's so cool. To see where these temples are located and how far along they are, read this story from Mormon Newsroom

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I love to see the temple.
I'm going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I'll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Why is Obedience Important?

For a Christian, Christ is the most important person in our lives. Some branches of Christianity emphasize behavior, obedience to God's commandments, and submission to His will, but other branches deny that God's commandments are of any importance to us. For Latter-Day Saints, commandments are important. But why?

Is it because we think we need to do enough to get into heaven? No.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," (Ephesians 2:8). "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do," (2 Nephi 25:23). 

Is it because we're scared of an angry God? No. 
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). He died to save us while we were still sinning. That proves His love for us. 

So why is obedience so important? Why do we keep God's commandments?

Why do I keep God's commandments?

I keep God's commandments, because when Jesus said "All who believe will have eternal life," He didn't just mean believe that He existed and was God's son, or a prophet, or a teacher - though He was all of those things. 

Believing in Christ means believing what He said

It's believing He said we are loved infinitely, more than we could ever imagine. 
It's believing He said He is preparing a place for us. 
It's believing He said "repent." 
It's believing that repentance means "turning around," a change of heart. 
It's believing that atonement means "harmony," and that Christ's atonement gives us the ability to be in harmony with God. 
It's believing that He said "I love you."

It's believing that Jesus said "If ye love me, keep my commandments." 
It's believing that God gives commandments to us for our benefit. 
It's believing that He said "I love you."

It's believing that He said "Follow me." 
It's believing that His invitation asks us to love like Him and live like Him. 
It's believing that He said "I love you."

It's believing that He came to save us from our sins, not just in our sins. 
It's believing that sin exists. 
It's believing evil exists. 
It's believing that God has given commandments (for without His commandments, there would be no good and no sin). 
It's believing that He said "I love you."

It's believing that we cannot live a perfect life on our own. 
It's believing that He can and did pay the price for our wrongs, so that we can have more chances to choose right. 
It's believing that He said "You are mine."
It's believing that He said "I love you."

It's believing that His commandments help us grow into better people. 
It's believing that He said we are of infinite worth and infinite potential. 
It's believing that He said "I love you."

This is the biblical, Old Testament Jehovah.
This is the biblical, New Testament Jesus of Nazareth.
This is the Book of Mormon Jesus Christ, "who shall come to redeem His people."
This is the Doctrine and Covenants Only Begotten Son, Lord of all.

This is my Savior, my Jesus Christ. This is who I follow. This is the mentor and hero after whom I am trying to model my life.

(All images from Media Library on

Friday, September 25, 2015

Guidance from the Prophet Alma

"Teach them an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.
 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.
 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.
 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up"

Alma 37:32-37

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Prepare for General Conference!

This information was posted on concerning preparing for General Conference. This is a time when our Prophet and Apostles address the whole Church, providing guidance and inspiration for all members. Read their suggestions for preparing! (source)
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September 26 and October 3–4, 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
The general women’s session for sisters ages eight and older will be Saturday, September 26, at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT).
The First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other General Authorities and general officers of the Church will deliver messages of inspiration and guidance in six sessions:
All members of the Church are invited to participate in the 185th Semiannual General Conference of the Church.
The general priesthood session for priesthood holders will be Saturday, October 3, at 6:00 p.m. MDT.
The general sessions for individuals and families will be Saturday and Sunday, October 3 and 4, at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. MDT.
Prepare for Conference
Conference provides an opportunity to receive personal revelation as living prophets give counsel and direction. Asking questions can help youprepare for conference, increasing personal revelation while you watch.
Review what prophets taught at April’s conference regarding members’ common questions. Learning more about General Authorities and general officers can also help you prepare to receive their messages.
Invite Others
Those of other faiths are welcome to participate in general conference. Members are encouraged to invite others in person or using social media.
Live Viewing Options
All sessions will be streamed live on the home page of They are also available via the Church satellite system, radio, television, satellite, and other digital channels. See Viewing Times and Options for more details. For specific times, languages, and rebroadcast information, refer to the Church broadcast schedule
Participate and Share via Social Media
To participate in general conference conversations on Twitter, use #LDSconf, or retweet quotes, videos, and images posted at @LDSchurch. See and use the list of speakers’ recommended hashtags to help extend their messages.
Post-Conference Availability
General conference talks in text, audio, and video formats are provided in multiple channels for studying and sharing after conference.