Category Archives: Belief in Christ

Change & Scary Hard Things

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Today my thankfulness focused on this knowledge, that nothing remains the same; we are living today as well as dying. Our ego buries that last fact far away from our consciousness but it’s truth. Having that knowledge has encouraged me to live my life and not wait for my life to happen.  The knowledge that I am in control of each thought and action, each act and reaction to the data and information I daily encounter has helped me choose to live in this moment, I try to live ‘in the now’, I try to live in change, live through change, grow from change, and sometimes I actually look forward to the next change.

The knowledge that today I have a day to live … that I am able to choose, that I can do something important or something smaller, I can grow from whatever happens in this day. I am grateful for that knowledge that I can change and I need not dread tomorrow or things which I have no control over.

Such knowledge has increased my faith in the future: “for faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

I have knowledge that I can rely upon those things that I don’t know, but I do know it is true that through faith in Jesus Christ I can do anything ( like all those hard things and scary things I might never have tried. Those things which changed me the most and for the better). That’s the greatest knowledge I have and for which I am overwhelmingly grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful for “The Ability to Love”

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My very loved and well used trekkers … walk, walk, walk

Today’s gratitude question For what abilities am I grateful? I had actually been thinking something like this the other day while Sweetie and I were walking. Sweetie had a Major accident about 2 months ago and tore his quad off of his knee … after surgery and 6 weeks in a brace he is able to walk with me again. How grateful for being ambulatory I am; heel to toe, right foot, left foot moving forward however slowly or limpingly.

Finger exercise … lesson in patience

I am grateful to know how to use a keyboard, I was going to say ‘type’ which is what I learned to do in 8th grade on a heavy Underwood typewriter. Pounding keys with an eraser at hand for my many ‘typos’. It was only in high school that correction tape was allowed (or maybe invented ? ). So the ability to use a keyboard to capture my thoughts, with almost instant error correction, is an ability for which I am grateful.

But, for this ability I am deeply, truly, profoundly grateful … the ability to love. To feel love. To give love. To accept love. To share love. To recognize love in all of its aspects. Those thoughts to reach out to the stranger, neighbor, or friend, the thought of wonder for a beautiful sunset, a hug when it is the least expected, or a personal message when reading the scriptures that fills my heart and lets me realize that God knows exactly what I need, and when I need it; the perfect love from our perfect Father in Heaven.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Feed my Body & my Soul

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This morning began in earnest the planning and divvying up of food assignments for Thanksgiving. Spread it out over 15 people and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you’re hosting (not me, I’m just showing up with my stuffing and pies). I’m so grateful for the traditions of Thanksgiving; the food is “just like this” and if it isn’t well the fam has No Problem letting the offender know they’ve breached protocol trying something new. (The finger is pointed directly at me folks – message sent — message received).

I am grateful for the tradition and time we take at Thanksgiving to be aware of all of our temporal blessings. When food and each other and all the blessings we receive from God are the only thing we have to concentrate on. Blessings beyond measure.

Mary at the open tomb of our resurrected Lord & Savior Jesus Christ

Then the other side of my For what holiday am I most grateful is Easter. The celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His supernal gift of forgiveness and eternal life. He lived, he died for us, and was resurrected the third day, and He Lives! Easter represents the greatest of spiritual blessings that turn our hearts toward eternity and away from the world. Gifts and blessings to our spirits to fill us with hope and faith and turn our hearts to Him.

For what holiday(s) am I most grateful?  Thanksgiving & Easter; they feed my body and feed my soul.

Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.
(Chorus from Count Your Blessings

 

 

Grateful for Bread

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Fresh from the oven

I am grateful for BREAD in all of its forms … homemade and baked fresh hot from the oven, bagels boiled, baked and then toasted slathered with cream cheese, english muffins topped with a fresh poached egg and hollandaise sauce, hot rolls and butter on our Sunday dinner table, and hot from the oil scones or fry bread. Bread, it’s my comfort food, my go-to when I need a little nosh. A single slice of bread with peanut butter & jam, or with butter dusted with cinnamon-sugar or wrapped around a hotdog as a bun.  I am very grateful I’m not gluten-sensitive or intolerant  and I’m very sorry for those who have such challenges.

Mouth-watering Fry Bread … where is the honey?

My life would be sad indeed without bread for my body, but most sad without the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, our Savior. How grateful I am for my testimony witnessed by the Holy Spirit

“I am the bread of life”

that He is the source of all spiritual nourishment and as we turn to and come unto him he saves us. He is the Bread of Life.

 

“It’s Simple, but it’s Not Easy”

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I have a friend who is an internationally known body builder and health trainer. I once told him I was ready to get in shape, I was ready to lose some weight, and I asked him for some advice.  He said I can tell you what to do, “it’s simple, but it’s not easy”.

Simple: Eat less, exercise correctly.  Easy? No. It was tough to eat less, it was hard to do exercises that worked my body correctly. Though I tried to stay strong and focused I sabotaged myself. I made cookies, one cookie wouldn’t make a difference.  Then, one cookie became 3 and then it was even harder to go back to simple and finally I lost sight of my goals, and then just stopped following his advice, because it wasn’t easy.

I’ve thought about what he said quite often “It’s simple, but it’s not easy”. Many important and life changing things are simple. But not very easy. Why?  Because Easy doesn’t strengthen us, easy doesn’t encourage us, easy doesn’t build character … expecting something great while the way to get it is easy is one of Satan’s more well used and popular tools of deception.

God gives us straight-forward, seemingly simple, commandments; Love the Lord your God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength and the other is like unto it, Love your neighbor as yourself.

In our most fundamental doctrine we’ve been given the knowledge that we are children of a living God. The scriptures teach us this in many ways:

So, I asked myself some questions … Do I believe I am a child of God? Do I act like I am a child of God? Do I treat everyone with kindness and compassion knowing they are children of God? Do I reach out to my neighbors without a goal to convert them? Am I afraid to reach out to my neighbor because I think they might try and convert me? Am I welcoming and loving to everyone I meet?

I thought, yes? That Yes has an attached question mark. Then I thought about the word all. We are all God’s children. Well, then I thought … What about the people around the corner with 27 old cars out front that I criticize every time I drive by? What about that screaming child kicking the back of my seat in the airplane? What about people who have different political opinions? How about those people that just rub me the wrong way? How about people that … well you get the idea.  I didn’t like my answers … they weren’t a solid yes! My answers were  ‘well’, ‘kinda’, ‘sorta I do’, ‘maybe’, ‘sometimes’ …

How do we forget this fundamental doctrine? Because it’s a simple truth. We know we are children of God, but it’s not easy to remember and act upon when we aren’t focused on it, because the natural man sees with the eyes not the heart.

Satan works very hard to keep us separate. He works to keep us focused inward on ME and to forget WE.  Looking around on social media, listening to the news, even conversations within our own families we can see he’s been very successful in creating an environment of Us versus Them.

I want to focus on 3 ways or ‘weapons’ that Satan is using to blind us and stop us from seeing & treating God’s children as our brothers and sisters.  Then I will share with you the Secret, Not-so-Secret weapon God has given us to defeat Satan in this on-going war.

The first weapon Satan is using is Contention.  This is so blatant that the Lord gave us specific scriptural warning to beware:

“He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me [saith the Lord], but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another”.[v]

Contention stops us from seeing everyone as a child of God by separating us into groups so we comfortably live our life in our own bubbles; contention breaks our personal peace and causes us to harden our hearts and blind our eyes to everyone not like us. Who look differently, live differently, believe differently.

President Russel M. Nelson taught us how to combat contention[vi]

He says, “…show compassionate concern for others. Control the tongue, the pen, and the keyboard. Whenever tempted to dispute, remember this proverb: “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.” (Prov. 11:12; see also Prov. 17:28.)

He goes on to say: Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philip. 2:3.)

But the ultimate step lies beyond beginning control of expression. Personal peace is reached when one, in humble submissiveness, truly loves God.”

He then directed us to Heed carefully this scripture:

“There was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”

A second tool Satan is using is Pride

I never thought of myself as prideful. But I was so excited when I bought the next best car to my dream car which is a 1963 corvette … my new car was a nice little silver blue Z3 … it looked like the old ‘vette. So, one day I’m driving down the road, feeling all, this is cool, when I realized I wasn’t feeling this is cool, it was I’m cool. I was comparing my car with those around me. It was like a punch in the stomach.  I was like the Nephites!

Most of The Book of Mormon is seeing the rise of pride in the Nephites. We read about their Pride in their wealth, pride in their clothing, pride in their homes, and pride in their own strength… The pride which was their downfall.

First I tried to talk myself out of that thought, I’m not prideful! But after that day almost every time I got in my little car I remembered that feeling and those thoughts. Finally, the ultimate reason I sold my car was because of those feelings.  I’m not saying driving a nice car makes a person prideful, but I was prideful when I drove that car. After that moment of knowing; I saw many other places I had let pride in; like being at work and thinking I can do this better, more efficiently than anyone here in this meeting … why do I have to listen to what they have to say?

The Guide to the Scriptures describes this hurtful Pride as:

A lack or absence of humility or teachableness.

It goes on to say: Pride sets people in opposition to each other and to God. A proud person sets himself above those around him and follows his own will rather than God’s will.  Conceit, envy, hardheartedness, and haughtiness are also typical of a proud person.

In the New Testament, James (2:2) teaches us how pride separates us from one another and how to combat that pride within ourselves.

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, though shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Mormon also teaches us to combat pride through yielding our hearts unto God:

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God”.[vii]

And another tool Satan is using to blind us from seeing and treating one another as brothers and sisters is Unrighteous Judgement.

President Thomas S. Monson in his 2010 General Conference talk Charity Never Faileth, told this story:

 “A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.

“‘That laundry’s not clean!’ Lisa exclaimed. ‘Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!’

“John looked on but remained silent.

“Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.

“A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, ‘Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.’

“John replied, ‘Well, dear, I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”

Although we are warned about judging un-righteously we do need to judge daily about many things and people.

From True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference we learn:

“Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments…

Judgement is an important use of your agency and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards”.

Elder Lynn Robbins in his Oct 2016 General Conference talk The Righteous Judge taught us to follow Christ’s example of righteous judgement.

“In His mortal life, Jesus Christ was a loving judge, uncommonly wise and patient. He is known in the scriptures as “the righteous judge”, and His counsel to us is to also “judge righteous judgment” and to “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good … [and] to judge righteously”.[viii]

Heavenly Father commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He has given us the best tool or weapon to combat Contention, combat Pride, and combat Unrighteous Judgement. Really, it’s the tool to combat all that Satan throws at us.

It is God’s love. This is the Secret, not-Secret weapon God has given us to defeat Satan.

  • We see he told us the weapon to use against contention is to “Fill our heart with God’s love”,
  • the weapon against pride is to “pray and fast and yield our heart to God”, and
  • then, to combat unrighteous judgement rely upon Him and “trust in the spirit”.

My family is a microcosm of the world … as its grown it has become truly diverse in every way. Even though they are adults with children of their own I have struggled, and do struggle with their choices; I struggle as to how to reconcile my beliefs and theirs, my lifestyle with theirs, my viewpoints and theirs.

At one point I gave in to anger, judgement, & frustration. I was angry with them, I was fearful for them, I often was ashamed of them.  I would feel guilt, shame & more frustration. It was overwhelming and heart-breaking. I could hardly be with some of them, or even talk to them. There was little or no love in my heart or between us in our family.

On my knees praying for help, praying for forgiveness, asking for guidance … begging for God to help me understand them, and begging to know what I could do, what I should do … The Lord answered my prayer so profoundly that I am not the same.

He told me that it is not my job to judge them. He told me that he knows them, He knows their paths, he knows their plan, and He knows what they need.  They are His, as am I. My job is only to Love them.

That answer to my prayers taught me and helps me remember to treat and love each one in my family circle as a precious son or daughter of God. I don’t always succeed, but God’s love helped me separate their actions from who they are, his children … and love has returned.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that His words apply to everyone I encounter. Heavenly Father wants us to remember that He knows everyone. He knows everyone’s paths, He knows everyone’s plan. We all are His. Our only job is to love one another. Everyone. Not just in church, not just those who like what we like, or do what we do, but everyone.

How has he taught us to love one another? How has he taught us to love our families? Love our neighbors?  The stranger? The refugee? The prisoner? The homeless? The sick?  Those of different religions, colors, creeds, tongues, lands and people?

35 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:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

And he also taught us

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; …

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others?[ix]

God’s not so secret weapon is that we are to love and serve one another. We are to love with God’s love, and we know that God’s love is the pure love of Christ, which pure love is Charity. And we know that God’s Charity Never Faileth.

In the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni gave direction as to how to be filled with Charity …

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; [x]

President John Taylor, the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught the importance of not only believing, but practicing the Savior’s plea to love our neighbor.

Love one another, and work the works of righteousness, and look after the welfare of all, and seek to promote the happiness of all. That is what God is doing.”   

“When you get the Spirit of God, you feel full of kindness, charity, long-suffering, and you are willing all the day long to accord to every man that which you want yourself. You feel disposed all the day long to do unto all men as you would wish them to do unto you.”[xi]

Going back to what my friend told me, “It’s simple, but it’s not easy” … Simple: treat everyone as a son or daughter of God.  Love thy neighbor as thyself. But to remember and do that is often not easy because we are only men and women and are not perfect.  I believe that as we follow Moroni’s guidance to pray with all the energy of [our] heart for the gift of Charity and the guidance of the Holy Ghost and if we follow Nephi’s counsel to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men  we will see everyone as they truly are, we will treat them and serve them as our brothers and sisters; as children of our Father in Heaven  … As God knows and sees us.

May we always remember we are all our Father’s children. May we all desire and pray for the gift of Charity, and may God’s love enable us to overcome Satan whose only desire is to stop us from returning home to live in Celestial glory with our Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ.

I testify that we are, all of us, the sons and daughters of God; our Father in Heaven knows each of our names, each of our needs, and knows our heart’s greatest desires. He loves every one of us with His infinite love, no matter our circumstances, where we were born or live, our trials, our opportunities, or our choices. For the Father offered even his son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life as an example to us.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ, died and atoned for our sins, the sins of everyone, in every place, in every time, in every circumstance.

Hands Across America 1986 — Philadelphia

Hands Across America 1986 – Midwest, USA

 

 

[i] Moses Chapter 1:13

[ii] Psalms 82:6

[iii] Acts 17:29

[iv] Doctrine and Covenants 76:34

[v] 3 Nephi 11:29

[vi] The Canker of Contention, by Elder Russell M. Nelson

[viii] The Righteous Judge, by Elder Lynn G. Robbins

[ix] Matthew 25:35-47

[x] Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ  Moroni 7:48

[xi] Teachings of the Presidents of the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), President John Taylor, Chpt 3 Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt of 2016

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I wasn’t going to put up a Christmas tree … I decorated the house, the mantel and chandeliers, but I wasn’t going to put up the tree. We were going to be gone, in and out, all month. What was the point?

Well, Dang! I missed the smell of pine in the air (and not from a scented candle). The corner where the twinkling lights warmed the winter evenings was dark … I missed it! Then I realized I was missing something else … my Christmas spirit.  I was missing my traditions! The tree … I needed to put up a tree … I needed my tradition of choosing and decorating that tree; watching It’s a Wonderful Life  while adding the lights, bobbles, and glitter to it’s branches and sipping eggnog from a crystal goblet. That tradition sparks my Christmas engine.

img_3963Yesterday, a few weeks later than usual , we stopped at our local Forest Service office and purchased tree hunting tags (10$ each, a bargain anyway you look at it). At home we layered up,  looking a lot like Ralphie’s brother after we pulled on knee-high rubber boots, jackets, snuggy gloves, and hats (beside being winter  and cold … it was snowing).

Up Pole Creek Road we drove, a few white knuckle slides until Sweetie put the truck into 4-wheel drive. Peering through snow crusted windows we searched for the perfect trees, close enough to the road we wouldn’t need a search party to find our way back, but far enough away to meet the 50′ from the road rule.

We spotted two little trees not far apart off the side of the road, well, down the hill off the side of the road. Excitedly I stepped from the cab where briefly I was on top of the snow before I abruptly dropped  through to the ground below … up to my knees (and my boots weren’t tall enough either).  Blazing trail Sweetie dropped off the road, carrying the bow saw and even following in his footsteps I was  pushing through thigh-high velvety powder (where were my skis?).

You know of course the rule that a very small tree found outside grows like Alice taking her 2nd pill and fills every available space once it enters the room. After forgetting this rule numerous times we attempt to err on choosing the smaller of small when on the hunt for our Christmas trees … even then we generally lop off branch ends to fit.

With little effort the trees were  down … actually Greg cut and hauled them … I took pictures.  Back up hill we went, Sweetie dragging both trees to keep from tipping over.  I had one thing to do … pull one tree 10 feet up to the road …  I dragged and slogged, and dragged some more grabbing whatever short branches poked above the snow to pull myself forward … near the top I floundered … I slipped, one leg beneath me and if a quickly thrust bow saw handle wasn’t within reach I would have tumbled head over tookus … me and the tree.img_3970

It was a very successful Christmas tree hunt … bagged, tagged and back to the house in under an hour … the snow inside my boots didn’t even have time to melt.

Right now, behind me, one of the trees is looking over my shoulder, wondering how the heck it ended up inside this tiny room when yesterday it was part of time and space .  It must be in shock! But it’ll be happy to know that once it shares our Christmas celebration it will grace our field sheltering quail from predatory birds.

Hey! I just realized I can tradition twice this year! Once in Council, and again in Boise … how can a girl get so lucky? Especially one who loves a good goblet of eggnog!

May your traditions lighten your heart and home with joy and happiness in this Christmas season. The celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Luke 2:1-20) … the greatest gift of all.

Merry Christmas!

Loving it All

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IMG_2305Welcome Monday! … my To-Do list has additions, the fruit trees blooming in the yard smell delicious, the sun is shining, the lawn mower is calling as is the mini roto-tiller and there are about 10 hours today to ‘git ‘er done’. Garden beds are calling and birds are singing and I’m sitting on the couch writing. Much is on my mind and in my heart.

Do you wonder sometimes why there are ups and downs in life? What tips the scales from good to bad in a minute or how we get on the slow slide into the blahs? Yep, life is just like that … it’s meant to test and try us. Yep, life is meant to help us become our best today, tomorrow, and always.  Yep, life is just like that … there is bad that goodness shines brighter in our hearts, sadness so we may know joy, tears so that laughter has meaning, and  …

Many of my life choices have brought me tears and heartache, the choices of others brought devastation that I had no control over … coming out on the other side of such pain, fear, and despair I gained much and can see the good in the horribly bad … I gained strength, courage, forgiveness, hope, optimism, joy, and most importantly love. I learned I can do hard things, but do not have to become hardened. I can forgive as I have been forgiven. I can see the sun shining behind the storm and know that it is always there and I need not fear the darkness.

I’ve learned that nothing can sustain true intensity forever … just as a tornado dissipates, an earthquake shakes only so long, a flood eventually recedes, calm does return. Though often it takes quite a while to clear the debris left behind and after the healing has started … I have learned that after the mess is cleared, the view is infinitely more beautiful … especially if I don’t go searching for the junk the tornado, earthquake, or flood washed away and carry it back into the yard.

Today the sun is shining bright in my life, challenges still come and I expect they will forever.  I have learned the most important thing … that I have never been alone. In the darkest of my nights, the deepest pits of my pain, in the face of my stupidity and fear I was always protected, guided, and loved by Christ my Savior who carried me when I didn’t know him, when I rejected him, when I was wandering in the wilderness. He saved me from myself, he rescued me and gave me life, joy, happiness, faith and hope.

IMG_2303He is the light in darkness. He is who He said he is: The living Son, of the living God.  He knows me, He knows my name, He died for me, He lives for me … and you.  Always.