Monday, June 29, 2009

Covenants for All Members: It's Time for a Review

A while back I read over Elder Christofferson's conference talk, The Power of Covenants. What a powerful message. Among many things it got me thinking that I may not actually know, by heart, all of the covenants I have made and I realized that it can be pretty hard to keep a promise when I am not exactly sure what promises I have made. It was a wake up call.

I then remembered that there was some type of list of covenants in the Eternal Marriage Manual and so I headed there for a refresher course and came across this quote that again assured me that this search was a necessary one:

Elder Ballard said, “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort” (Ensign, May 1987, 14).

Elder Ballard is very clear here that we must review the covenants we make so that we can have balance and so that we can repent and change. And I really liked his last line where he says that we need to have good planning and a diliberate, valiant effort. It made me realize that the making and keeping of covenants isn't as simple as I may have made it out to be. I need to review, plan, and valiantly act. And the real kicker I discovered was that I need to know.

So here is a list of the covenants and promises that all members of the church make and should try to keep (later posts will focus on temple covenants and priesthood covenants):

Baptism -

We covenant to:

• Come into the fold of God.
• Take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.
• Stand as a witness for Jesus Christ.
• Always keep the commandments.
• Bear one another’s burdens.
• Manifest a determination to serve God unto the end.
• Manifest by works that we have repented of our sins.
• Prepare to receive the Holy Ghost for the complete remission of sins.

Blessings Promised:

1. We qualify for membership in Christ’s Church.
2. If we are worthy, the Lord promises to:
• Pour out His Spirit upon us.
• Redeem us from our sins.
• Raise us up in the First Resurrection.
• Give us eternal life.

See 2 Nephi 31:17–21; Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37; Articles of Faith 1:4.

Gift of the Holy Ghost –

Covenants we make with God:

In order to qualify for the gift of the Holy Ghost we must fulfill the covenants of baptism, continue in humility and faith, and otherwise be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost (see Articles of Faith 1:4).

Blessings Promised:

1. We are confirmed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2. We receive the right or privilege to enjoy the continual companionship of the Holy Ghost. We can receive inspiration, divine manifestations, spiritual gifts, and direction from the Holy Ghost continually. We also receive blessings by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as the Holy Ghost bears witness of Jesus Christ and of divine truths, provides spiritual guidance and warnings, and enables us to discern right and wrong.
3. We are sanctified or cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost and are born of God as we continue faithfully. Through this baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, individual hearts and desires are cleansed
and spirits are made pure. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is the culmination of the process of repentance and baptism (see 2 Nephi 31:13, 17; 3 Nephi 27:20).
4. We know the gift of the Holy Ghost is the key to all of the spiritual gifts found in the Church, including the gifts of prophecy and revelation, healing, speaking in tongues, and translating and interpreting tongues.

Sacrament -

We Covenant to:

• Renew our baptismal covenants.
• Recommit to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. Partaking of the sacrament is a time for personal introspection, repentance, and rededication.

Blessings Promised:

1. The Lord forgives sins we repent of.
2. The Lord promises that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.

See 3 Nephi 18:28–29; Moroni 4–5; D&C 20:75–79; 27:2; 46:4.
Let us come to know and review the covenants we have made. Let us plan well and delibaretly act on the covenants we have made. Let us remember the blessing and power that our covenants can bring.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Good Men in Our Lives

President Hinckley said, “How much more beautiful would be the world and the society in which we live if every father looked upon his children as the most precious of his assets, if he led them by the power of his example in kindness and love, and if in times of stress he blessed them by the authority of the holy priesthood...”

I have been blessed to be surrounded by these types of men, by these types of Fathers. My Dad and my husband are both incredible men. They are great examples. They honor their priesthood. They love their children.

I was reminded today that we all to often pull men down or don't see them as the wonderful people they are. This happened as I read a post that stated, "Just like Satan wants men to see all women in the wrong way, he also wants us women to see men as something less than they were meant to be.”

But isn't that statement so true? I think that Satan does get us in that way. He makes us forget who these men are. Don't we forget all to often the sacrifices they make and the many roles they fulfill so well? The men in our lives do so much. They work so hard. They balance countless duties. They lead and guide our families along. They are amazing.

Let us remember how great the men in our lives truly are. Let us express to them tomorrow and everyday how much we love and appreciate them.

I loved both of these videos put out on Mormon Messages. They are both great reminders of the good men that surround us:

A Father Indeed

Let Us Be Men

Happy Father's Day!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Apostles, Prophets, Temples, and Gospel Art Matching Game Fun

I am not positive if these matching games are new or not but I just discovered them on The Friend's site. My little boy loves them. There is a different song playing in the background of each game and it is a great way to learn about a few gospel centered things.

Also from a previous post: "I never realized what great resources were online on the Friend page. You can color online while listening to a nice song, play games like putting puzzles together of gospel art, listen to or read stories from the Friend, and much more. Check it out!"

I hope you all enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Understanding and Explaining "Why?"

I posted this about a month ago but I found it saved as a draft and no longer on the blog so I thought I'd try once again, so enjoy!

"It isn't always easy to give a 'why' for everything. But we owe it to you of the coming generation to do more than just say, 'Don't'" -President Boyd K. Packer

I recently purchased a new book that strays so perfectly away from the method of saying "Don't" and instead uses modern apostles, stories, and statistics to explain "Why". It is titled, "Why?: Powerful Answers and Practical Reasons for Living LDS Standards" (you can read a excerpts from the book here). The message and idea behind the book is powerful and essential. It is particularly written for the youth of the Church but boy does it have a wonderful message for all of us. This book answers why we do the things we do and why asking why and knowing why is so important.

Even if you don't rush out and buy this book I hope that we will all begin to ask and come to understand why we do the things we do...this is important:

Elder David A. Bednar explains this importance:
"It concerns me as I see young people in our Church who know all the correct things they should do and do not have a clue as to why...Do we understand why? If we do not understand the why, then the power available to us through the doctrine of Christ will not be evident in our lives."

Last night for scripture study my husband shared a scripture found in Joseph Smith - History 1:20, I'll share a portion of that scripture here:

"He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” I then said to my mother, “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith learned so much at such a young age and that because he simply went to ask, not particularly to ask why, but to ask a question of the Lord. I love his words when he says, "I have learned for myself..."

Those words were very noticeable as my husband read and I determined then that if we can help our children truly learn for themselves at a young age,at an early enough age that Satan cannot take hold of them, they will stand tall in this wicked world. So if we can help our children gain testimonies of there very own when they are young they will know why we do the things we do, they will learn for themselves.

It is our job as parents and teachers to help our children learn for themselves what they should do and why they should do it.

Sister Julie B. Beck shares her thoughts on this:
" I think we underestimate youth. They’re in a searching age—it’s the “why” age. There’s a reason for that: the Lord wants them to get their own testimonies. It’s leaders’ and parents’ job to give them the doctrinal “whys” and to back up standards by teaching about the reasons for them."

As I have been thinking about all of this a statement well known by parents came to mind, "Because I said so." When we know why a boundary or standard or commandment as been given we are more likely to obey. We are more likely to understand and not have to ask "why?" again and again and not have to be reprimanded again and again.

Elder Richard G. Scott once said,
"All too often in the world, a teacher's relation to a student is one of giving counsel explanation of the reasons why there are commandments, rules, and standards."

As Elder Scott said all too often we don't explain why and as Elder Packer said "...we owe it to you of the coming generation to do more than just say, 'Don't'"

Let us strive to understand why we do the things we do. Let us all strive to say more than "Don't" or "Because I said so." to our children. Let us learn why and explain why. Let us help our children learn for themselves so that they have the foundation and know the reasons why they have the standards and commandments they do.

As we do these things we will be creating something beautiful:
"Of all the creations of the Almighty there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter (son) of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so." -President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Holiness Give Me...

On Sunday we sang the Hymn, "More Holiness Give Me", and it was one of my favorite parts of the meeting. I have heard this song many times but for some reason this time every phrase, every thought seemed to portray a need for greater desire, personal action, and complete diligence. I mentioned this to my husband and found that he had experienced the very same thing as I did during this sacrament meeting hymn. One thing that he said during our discussion was that the Hymn is like a sermon and it really is. Each line could be turned into a sermon in and of itself. What a powerful hymn.

While thinking about the words to this song I came across this wonderful talk by Bishop H. David Burton where he talks about the need for a decrease of the worldly "mores" and a greater focus on developing the "mores" of virtue, "The current conventional wisdom is that more is better and less is usually undesirable. For some, the pursuit to acquire more of this world’s goods and services has become a passion. For others, more of this world’s wealth is necessary just to sustain life or raise living standards to a minimum level. The unbridled desire for more often has tragic consequences.

The meaning of more and less is not always crystal clear. There are times when less is in reality more and times when more can be less. For instance, less pursuit of materialism may enable more family togetherness. More indulgence of children may result in less understanding of life’s important values.

Some aspects of life can be significantly enhanced by the notion that more is better. The sacred hymn “More Holiness Give Me” (Hymns, no. 131) brings to our remembrance the virtues worthy of more of our attention. Jesus Himself described what it requires to be “more, Savior, like thee.” He said, “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Ne. 12:48)."

As you read the words to the Hymn below, what line sticks out to you the most? What area could you use more perfecting in? As I listened and sang along on Sunday so many things seemed worthy of my greater attention.

More holiness give me, more strivings within.
More patience in suffering, more sorrow for sin.
More faith in my Savior, more sense of His care.
More joy in His service, more purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me, more trust in the Lord.
More zeal for His glory, more hope in His Word.
More tears for His sorrows, more pain at His grief.
More meekness in trial, more praise for relief.

More purity give me, more strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains, more longings for home.
More fit for the kingdom, more useful I’d be,
More blessèd and holy, more, Savior, like Thee.

Bishop Burton continues, "The virtues expressed in “More Holiness Give Me” fall into several groups. Some are personal goals, like more holiness give me; more strivings within; more faith, gratitude, and purity; more fit for the kingdom; more purpose in prayer; and more trust in the Lord. Others center on adversity. They include patience in suffering, meekness in trial, praise for relief, strength to overcome, freedom from earth stains, and longing for home. The rest firmly anchor us to our Savior: more sense of His care; more pride in His glory; more hope in His word; more joy in His service; more tears for His sorrows; more pain at His grief; more blessed and holy; and more, Savior, like Thee. More of these virtues is better. Less is not desirable.

I have a new found love for this Hymn and many mini-sermons to take a much deeper look into. It is time to take a closer look at my life and turn some of my "mores" into less and some of my lackings into "mores". Let us strive to give more attention to the virtues so perfectly written in this Hymn.

As you read the Hymn, which line had the greatest impact on you? Would you like to see me write a post on a specific line from this Hymn? If so, which one?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Following a Prompting, 50%

One of our cars has been in and out of the shop for the last week or so. It took them a while to figure out how to fix the problem and thus my little boy and I have been carless off and on for the last little bit. So on Friday when we knew we'd finally have the car I told my little man that we'd be heading to one of this favorite spots, a nearby museum. This was not only a treat because of the lack of having a car for a little while but also because we haven't been there in quite a long time due to the yuckiness of the beginning of pregnancy. He was excited to say the least. He talked about it the whole night before and as soon as he woke up that morning. And so we were off on a fun outing.

Not so. For some reason before we'd even started getting ready for the day I looked for my keys and they were no where to be found. Normally I wouldn't look for them until the moment we were heading out the door and I'd grab them off the counter in the kitchen or my dresser in the bedroom (I really need to find a specific location for them) and we'd be off. But this day from the moment of waking I began the hunt for my keys.

I thought through the day before and where I might have put them and looked in my usual locations with no luck. Then it was on to the hiding spots of our little boy. I searched the couch cushions, behind the couch, in a corner in his playroom, the heating vents and so on and still no sign of my keys. Finally I resorted to calling my husband to see if he might have accidentally taken them to work but his pockets only held his keys. Then it was off to search in the car and eventually to call a sister in the ward whose house I had been to the night before and still nothing.

I was getting frustrated and my little boy was anxious to hit the road. I said a simple prayer asking for help to find my keys and still felt like I had no clue. I decided that maybe I needed to stop focusing on it so much and maybe they'd turn up. Then I had the thought that I should go get ready for the day. This thought came a few times. At this point I was wearing a t-shirt and basketball shorts with smeared make-up left on my face from the day before. It was late and I determined that I really should get ready and even thought maybe I am supposed to get ready because somehow my keys made there way into my bathroom drawers. However, it was late enough that I determined I was going to bag a shower for the day and just do my hair and my make-up to feel half-way human. At this point I didn't even change my clothes, at least I felt a little more put together but still no sign of my keys. So I determined that the thought to get ready was just a thought of my own because the keys were not in my bathroom drawers like I had hoped.

So our day went on with no luck, no sign, no grand revelation of where my keys might lie. Then my husband arrived home from work and I told him that they were still no where to be found. He immediately started searching and still...nothing.

That night my parents were making a trip up our way to take me out for a belated Birthday dinner (my birthday was right in the midst of pregnancy yuck). So as my husband was searching everywhere I determined that now not only did I need to get my face and hair ready for the day but the rest of me as well. So still with no shower I headed to change my clothes and yes this includes my under garments. And you'll never guess it, sure enough there they were gleaming, shining, bright as could be at the very top of my drawer just waiting to be found. There they were shouting, "If you'd only have gotten completely ready for the day. If you'd only listened to the prompting that came and listened to it 100%."

I smiled and sheepishly said, "Honey, I found them." It was a great lesson to learn that following a prompting 50% only brings you 50% of the way to an answer. Not only did I waste a day searching for my keys but I lost out on an opportunity to follow through on something I had assured my little boy. The moment I found the keys he showed more excitement than me as he jumped up and down ready to go to the museum. My parents were almost there and the opportunity had passed. I felt bad and on Monday we spent a good hour and half at the museum.

I've learned my lesson - next time I will listen to the prompting and get ready 100%. Next time I will be ready to hear and follow a prompting 100%.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Half Way In and Half Way Out: A Conversion Story

I was just sent David Huff's Conversion Story to post on my conversion story blog but thought I'd share it with you here as well. What an inspiring story. If you'd like to read more stories like it head on over to my other blog and even send your story if you'd like. I think there is power in hearing other's conversion stories and their process of gaining a testimony of the Gospel. Enjoy!

"I have been a member all of my life and yet did not have a strong family in the church to follow. All of my life I had been trying to find myself in all of the wrong ways. My mom would bring us to church while my dad smoked and drank. Being half way in and half way out was a real challenge. I wanted to be a good member but for some reason the draw of the worldly things were stronger than the gospel.

I joined the air force to get away from my parents and physical abuse I had grown up with. Only after joining did I realize that I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. After serving a year remote in Greenland I arrived at my new base in Las Vegas. I decided it was time to marry and being somewhat active in the church I married a local young lady. The funny thing is when we were being married I felt that it was not right thing to be doing. After six years of trying and not being happy, my wife asked for a divorce. I knew she was right in asking for it. I had been abusive and very angry, really not knowing why.

During the days following the divorce I realized that I needed to change but I didn’t know how. The one thing I knew I could change was my relationship with Heavenly Father. For the first time I realized that Heavenly Father was giving me a second chance for a better life.

I took it and ran with it. I was sorely tempted by satan to follow him many times but I saw that it was just a façade. I realized that to be happy I had to change. After going to church on Easter Sunday I saw this young lady walking out of church and the spirit told she was the one I could trust. Trust for me was a major issue in my life, being raised in a dysfunctional home it was hard to feel any kind of love or peace without strings attached or always wondering when the bottom would fall out.

Three months after my divorce we were married in the Salt Lake temple. I vowed that I would never be the reason for another divorce and that I would do everything I could to make things right. After being married for 25 years and getting counseling for myself for 5 years I am happy to say that although life has been hard I am happier now than I would ever thought possible. I was able to break the cycle of abuse I received so that my three children would never go through what I had. The spirit has spoken to me many times and as I struggle with life and issues I know that my Heavenly Father will continue to be with me throughout all of my life. My wife was a Godsend to help me through the hardest times of my life. I couldn’t have done it myself. With her patience and unconditional love we have made a life for ourselves centered in the Gospel.

Life is still hard, however the Lord does answer prayers and I know that he knows who I am. I have learned that I do have a father in heaven and even though I don’t always feel him, I know that he is there. One incident that I remember was when I was 12 years old and had just been thrown out of the house. I remember telling Heavenly Father that if this was all there was to life please take me now and let me die and return to him. The spirit of the Lord came to me and said that I was to rise above all of this and that I was better than that. From that time forth when things got real bad I would remember that feeling and press on.

Through revelations and scripture study I have come to realize that there are many ways to fulfill a mission here on earth. Through genealogy I have seen my ancestors receive the Gospel and know that my mission here on earth was to save my ancestors and break the cycle of abuse I grew up with. I have come to realize that we all have missions to serve and that as we finish one mission the Lord will give his children greater opportunities to grow and learn about him. The trials are hard but I have learned to trust in the Lord and seek him out for strength and wisdom in all things.

I went from being a proud selfish angry person to a loving caring husband and father. I thank God for the patience and love he has shown me throughout my life and I can hardly wait to be with him once again.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Snap Out of It!!!

I've had one of those mornings where I am in a funk. I feel kind of down in the dumps. Emotional. Lonely. You know those days where nothing is really wrong but somehow you feel kinda stinky. Well, that's today.

It reminded me of this picture by Mary Engelbreit and the perfect phrase suggesting that I, "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

I know that I am not the only one who has these kind of days or moments so what do you do when you are in a funk? What are some things you do to Snap Out of It? I am sure we all could glean something from each other's funny, silly, or even spiritual antidotes for a case of funkitis.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Cleaning Frenzy and A Toddler's Lesson For Mommy

Well...our house has been one of chaos and clutter. For a while there it seemed that every where we'd look there was a pile of this and that and a whole lot more. In short, our house was an absolute wreck and well, ummm, completely Disgusting! Basically it was 4 months worth of cleaning that needed to be done (pregnancy yuck can do that to a house :)

So this last week I felt good enough that I became fed up and felt a large amount of motivation and disgusted determination to get things back in order and even better than they were before the joys of pregnancy arrived. Along with my pure motivation of disgust, my Mother-in-law was coming over to watch our little boy last weekend and thus a second motivation to pull it all together.

I was like a robot cleaning from room to room, closet to cupboard, laundry load after load, vacuuming every crevice of our house, and tackling the most putrid refrigerator I'd ever seen.

As all of this took place my two year old was really quite a good boy. He was my little helper on many tasks and actually played solo in his playroom when I asked him to, which is a rare occurrence. The week was exhausting to say the least and my back, hips, and legs ached due to pregnancy. It was a long but very rewarding week.

The putrid refrigerator that I tackled was near the end of our week of cleaning madness. My little boy was loving it. I had him take out all of the condiments from the door shelves and put them on the table. Meanwhile I emptied out the items from rest of the fridge and added them to the table. Then the process of removing and scrubbing drawers and shelves began. I had to hold my breath and plug my nose on several occasions (a pregnant momma's nose can be like a super-sense). I was working hard and my little man seemed content doing whatever it was that he was doing and it was then that I witnessed the happenings...A gallon of milk tipped over chugging out in gulps onto the table consuming every ounce of good food in it's path. I managed to scramble to the table and wisk the remaining milk up just in time to save the third of a gallon that remained. It was a mess. I tried to fetch this food and that..snatching the barely covered produce first and then the rest. The table, the underside of each food item, and the floor were covered in the white wonderfulness of a toddler's mischeivious acts.

I, in that moment, remained calm and collected with not a harsh tone in my voice. I gave my son a hug and asked him to help me clean up. Oh, I wish that my good side would've shone through in that moment but the fatigue of a weeks worth of toiling and the frustration of an added "opportunity" to scrub brought out less than the best in me and I said in a harsh tone, "Go to timeout, now!" I couldn't even bring myself to take him there. He walked away and then walked back again and I again said, "You go to timeout! You can't spill milk!" He left for a few minutes while I tried to gather myself and salvage the milk covered items and then it happened. I was taught. I was taught well. I was taught well by my two year old boy who came in singing in his sweet, sweet voice one of his favorite Hymns.

"Carry On, Carry On, Carry On", he sang loud and clear. I hugged him, apologized, and chuckled at his perfect timing and his perfect message. We then proceded to clean up the milk together and enjoyed watching the milk race up the paper towels. I carried on through the rest of the week and we finished our task.

I will forever remember the lesson of my two year old and try to take it to heart. Now just a few days later after an hour and a half battling with a nap time with no binkie what more can I do but remember the lesson of my two year old that I must, "Carry On!"