Monday, March 28, 2016

One Year

It's been trying. Scary. Tearful. Blessed. I've had promises fulfilled. Hope restored. I've met my sisters. It's been difficult, but I've been strengthened..

Today, I am amazed. Baffled. Confused. Shocked.


I cannot believe that it has been one entire year since I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It seems like yesterday. SO much has happened in this first year of my life as a latter-day saint, that it seems like I haven't had time to breathe. I pick my head up, and it's been a year! What??

A lot has been going on, socially, mentally, emotionally. It has been a trying time. When I wrote about my baptism last spring, I said "He is a foundation 'whereon if men are built they cannot fall' (Helaman 5:12)." And I still believe that is true. I have built upon His rock for the last twelve months, and this has been the only way I could stand, keeping my head high, knowing that the battle is the Lord's (2 Chronicles 20:15).


I haven't always been filled with confidence, though. I haven't always proudly worn the name of Christ on my heart or in my actions. I haven't fully lived up to my covenant in the past year. There have been many times is didn't trust God, many times I doubted, many times I wanted to give up, many times I didn't "always remember [Christ] and times I didn't "keep His commandments" (D&C 20). THIS is why I am so grateful that the Atonement is infinite. The day of my baptism wasn't the one and only day of forgiveness for me. I get to repent and take the sacrament and be cleansed as many times as I need to. When I'm sincere and I'm trying, He will always forgive. When I fall, He will stand me up, dust me off, and say "Go on! Try again!"
"After learning to crawl and then stand, [our grandson] was ready to try walking. During his first few attempts, he fell, cried, and gave a look that said, “I will never—ever—try that again! I’m simply going to keep crawling.” When he stumbled and fell, his loving parents did not feel that he was hopeless or that he would never walk. Instead they held out their arms while calling to him, and with his eyes on them, he tried again to move toward their loving embrace. Loving parents are always ready with outstretched arms to welcome even our smallest step in the right direction. They know that our willingness to try and try again will lead to progress and success." 
(Your Next Step, Randall K. Bennett).

As long as we are willing to keep trying, He is willing to keep forgiving and keep helping us. This is a lesson I have been trying to learn over and over and over again this year. Just as earthly parents don't lose hope or give up on children learning to walk, our Savior and Heavenly Parents will never lose hope or give up on us. Heavenly Father looks at us and reminds us, "I'm always in your corner." He is ALWAYS there for us. He longs to help us.

Since I was baptized, I have faced many trials. But I have faced them, rather than running away. One of the biggest blessings the gospel has given me is the strength and hope to go on.

Heavenly Father has blessed me so much this year. He has taught me so much, gospel knowledge in the scriptures, and spiritual knowledge and assurances that come from Him in prayer. We are growing together, Heavenly Father and me. I'm learning more about Him and what He asks of me every day. I am so grateful that He chose me, that He called me out of darkness and despair into His marvelous light. I still have a lot to learn, and I'm grateful that our Father is a patient tutor. I want to be just like Him one day.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

Friday, March 25, 2016

186th Annual General Conference

General Conference is fast approaching! I cannot believe it's already been six months since our last General Conference in October.

I really really love watching Conference, perhaps especially because I'm a convert to the Church. One of the things that drew me to the Church was a living Prophet and apostles. I'd always wondered why the Bible ended, why the Old Testament had prophets, but we didn't have any now. I was delighted to hear about the Prophet Joseph Smith and our current prophet, President Monson, and to pray and receive from God knowledge that we truly do have a prophet on the earth! What a blessing it is to have a prophet to guide and teach us, to ensure correct doctrine, and to share comfort and counsel from the Lord.

I know that the sermons given during General Conference are inspired by the Spirit of the Lord. I have had so many questions answered, while watching Conference and while reading old conference talks. I absolutely love that we have new scripture, new guidance and knowledge from the Lord, as well as reminders of what we already know, every six months. This is truly and wonderful and magnificent blessing.

April 2016 General Conference will begin this Saturday (March 26) with the General Women's Meeting. How beautiful it is to gather with the women of the Church all around the world and hear from the strong women leaders of the Church. It's a very special and holy time that I really look forward to.

The bulk of General Conference will occur the following weekend, April 2 and 3, with morning and afternoon general sessions, and the priesthood session Saturday evening. You can watch it in a variety of places; visit lds.org or talk to your local leaders for more information about times and viewing options.

In case you haven't caught this yet, I firmly believe it is a wonderful blessing to be able to learn at the feet of our prophet and apostles! Through their experiences and counsel, we can grow closer to Christ. By praying to have the Holy Ghost teach us during General Conference, I know that we can receive personalized answers to the questions and struggles we are facing right now. Often these personal answers come to me "between the lines" - they're not in the words of the sermons, but in the workings of the Spirit as I listen.

I encourage you to prepare for General Conference in whatever way you see most fit, including prayer, scripture study, fasting, writing down your questions, and anything else you feel prompted to do. When we are ready and willing to learn, the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon us and bestow great treasures of knowledge. I pray that this can be your experience next weekend.

video



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hallelujah

Source: Google Images

Easter. Spring. For as long as I can remember, this time of year has been my favorite. Maybe it's just because my birthday is this time of year - spring is the first thing I knew. Maybe it's Easter eggs and bright colors and cute chicks. Maybe it's the gentle warm breezes that pull us out of a crisp winter. Maybe it's new life and sunshine and redemption and hope and promises.

As a kid, I liked spring. Maybe it was bright colors, or pretty flowers, or buying a new Easter dress. Even when I was in the traps of my eating disorder and bound by heavy depression, I still liked spring.

But when I came back to life, Easter and spring gained a new significance.

Though I began treatment in the fall, I embraced recovery in the spring. 
A year later, I was introduced to the gospel in the spring. 
Another year later, I was baptized, in the spring.


When I found the gospel, I was in the midst of a pretty bad relapse with my addiction and depression. I can remember one afternoon, sitting on the floor in my room, crying and desolate and desperate to just feel okay again. And I thought about the things I'd just head about Jesus Christ and realized - it would be okay. It's wasn't at the time, but it would be. And would be okay. The gospel gave me permission to hope, something I hadn't done for a long time.

And that's what Easter is all about, to me. Hope. Redemption. Easter means that life can come out of the ashes. It means that like a phoenix, it doesn't matter how crushed our lives are, how much it looks like it's the end. Because of Christ, it doesn't need to be the end. Because of Him, we can ALL find new life.

Hallelujah.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Leah & Rachel and the Principle of Compensation

For almost a year now, I've had the goal of working my way through the Bible. It's been always slow and not so steady.

Just a few days ago, I was reading in Genesis. I read about Jacob and his marriage. Jacob really wanted to marry Rachel, but Rachel's father gave Jacob the older sister on the wedding day, as it was not proper for the younger sister to be married first (Genesis 29:26). Jacob wasn't very happy, but he eventually was able to marry Rachel as well. And [Jacob] loved also Rachel more than Leah" (Genesis 29:30).

"And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren" (Genesis 29:31).

"And Leah conceived, and bare a son . . . for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction . . . And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also . . . And she conceived again, and bare a son . . . And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:32-35, emphasis added).

Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son.  

Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son.

"Understand the principle of compensation. The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude" (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come What May and Love It," October 2008).

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss."

"All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ" (Preach My Gospel). 

Leah was faithful. Leah loved the Lord. Leah was in a marriage where her husband didn't love her - actually, the scripture says he hated her. Rough, huh? So, "The Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb." God blessed Leah with sons.

But! The Lord also caused Rachel to be barren. God made Rachel barren so Leah could feel something special that Rachel didn't have. Rachel had the love of her husband, Leah was able to bear children. Leah got something special. If Rachel had also borne sons, Leah's sons wouldn't be a special blessing. 

So let's look at Rachel now. While Leah was experiencing her blessings of compensation, Rachel is still here with no sons (bad news in that society). Rachel must have been pretty bummed - maybe angry. "When Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister" (Genesis 30:1). Maybe Rachel wondered why she couldn't have any sons, when her sister was bearing many sons. When we read this story in the scriptures, it's short to us - seconds or a minute to read. But Leah had four sons. If her sons were born back-to-back, that's still a matter of five to six years that Rachel is watching and wondering why she can't have any children. That must have been hard.

But as I already said, this was Leah's compensation for being faithful - Leah's husband hated her, so God gave unto Leah to bear sons.

During these years when Leah was bearing sons and Rachel wasn't, Rachel may have wondered what she had done wrong, why this curse had some upon her (reminder: a prevailing belief at the time was that all affliction was the result of sin or God's disfavor). Rachel may have wracked her brain trying to figure it out. She probably poured her little heart out to Heavenly Father asking why she could not give sons to the husband she loved. 

Rachel's barrenness was in no way a result of anything she did. Rachel suffered this loss, as God blessed Leah, as Leah experienced the Principle of Compensation.

However, this isn't the end. "God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son" (Genesis 30:22-23). After Leah had been compensated - after she got a special blessing that her sister did not have - God remembered Rachel and opened her womb. Rachel bore sons.

Rachel, too, was blessed by this principle of compensation. The son Rachel FINALLY bore? She named him Joseph. 

Joseph, who would be hated by his brothers but loved by his father. Joseph, who would be sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph, who would become ruler of Potiphar's house, and be an example of righteousness when he fled from the temptations of Potiphar's wife. Joseph, who would interpret dreams and warn Egypt of a famine. THAT Joseph.

Because of the Atonement and the merciful Principle of Compensation - we will be repaid for all unjust harm that comes our way. Just like Leah. Just like Rachel.

(Source)

Leah suffered, so God blessed her.

Rachel suffered, so God blessed her.

I suffer, so God will bless me. 

You suffer, so God will bless you.