Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family Reunion- Day 1

Over the weekend, we (along with my sister and my brother and their families) visited my parents up at Heber Valley Camp (HVC), where they are currently serving an LDS mission.
We had a blast!
The first thing we did was harness everyone up for the GIANT SWING. 
Yep, I said Giant Swing!!!
 After getting hooked up to a cable, and after a pep-talk from Grandma,
 you sit back, hold on tight to a lift-rope, and allow 4-5 people to hoist you up.
 I'm not sure how high, but I'm guessing 15 feet or so.  I just know that it was really high.
 Then you let go of the rope
and fly!
 Even kids can do it.  For the little littles (even my one and a half year old nephew), two missionaries push them back and forth a few times.  I secretly think this is their favorite.  All the missionaries had so much fun playing with these little kids as they swung them back and forth.  It was really cute to watch.
For older kids, like this one here, they only raise them half to three-quarters of the way up before letting them go. 
 Then it was off to the lake.
 Half the fam canoed
 the other half chose to paddle boat. 
 My oldest had to work so Clint and he drove up later that night, just in time for our time on the lake.  This just might be one of the last "vacations" my family takes all together (waahhh), so I was glad everyone could make it.
It's so much fun to get together with family and laugh
 and visit
and play together.
We ended the night by roasting marshmallows around the campfire and playing Big Booty.

Monday, July 21, 2014

He knows the Way

Yesterday in General Conference Club, I mentioned that I've been reading a fictional series by Chad Daybell.  The 5-book series is called Standing in Holy Places.  In this series, the author takes scriptures and prophesies about the last days and uses them to create the plot for these books which follow three fictional families.  I should let you know that (a lot like my blog) these books are not the most well-written, there are some plot and editing mistakes, but the message of the books makes up for that. 

The Message:  Follow the Prophet.  
In this day and age, evil is all around us.  Satan is trying his best to win souls over to his side.  If we follow the Prophet, we won't get caught up in Satan’s plans.  In these books, the author shows us how easy it is for even “active” members of the church to get sucked into Satan’s cunning plans and turn away from the teachings of Church Leaders.  On the other-hand, he also shows us what great blessings can come from following the prophet- after-all "He knows the way".

President Ezra Taft Benson declared that “our [very] salvation hangs on” following the prophet, and that is exactly what these books teach.  Reading these books has placed in me an even stronger desire to follow the prophet with exactness, even if it's hard or inconvenient

May I echo the words of  Kevin R. Duncan when he said:
 "We can choose to follow the prophet, or we can look to the arm of flesh. May we have the wisdom to trust in and follow the counsel of the living prophets and apostles. . .I testify that they are called of God. I also testify that there is no safer way to approach life, find answers to our problems, gain peace and happiness in this world, and protect our very salvation than by obeying their words."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Obedience- "If ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments" and Obedience through Our Faithfulness

One of the distinct themes of April's General Conference was Obedience.  
Elder Hales and also Elder Perry focused their talks on this theme, which is what we'll be discussing in our club meeting today.

Talk #1:
"If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments"
by Elder Robert D. Hales

Obedience Shows Love
"Because our Savior was obedient, He atoned for our sins, making possible our resurrection and preparing the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father, who knew we would make mistakes as we learned obedience in mortality.  When we obey, we accept His sacrifice."

"When we are baptized, we enter into a covenant with God that we will be obedient unto the end of our lives.  Each Sunday we renew that baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament and witnessing that we are willing to keep the commandments.  We seek forgiveness for any thoughts, feelings, or actions that are not in harmony with Heavenly Father's will.  As we repent by turning away from disobedience and by beginning to obey again, we show our love for Him."

Types of obedience:

Natural Man's Obedience - disobediently rejecting God's law in favor of our wisdom or our desires or even popularity.

Selective Obedience - claiming to love God and honor God while picking and choosing which of His commandments and teachings will be followed.

Spiritually Mature Obedience/The Savior's Obedience - motivated by true love for Heavenly Father and His Son.  This type of obedience "requires self-mastery, and brings confidence, eternal happiness, and a sense of fulfillment to us and, by example, to those around us; and it always includes a deep personal commitment to sustain priesthood leaders and follow their teachings and counsel."

I am currently reading a fictional series about the last days.  In these books, those who follow the prophet were spared and kept safe.  Those who chose to disobey because it was inconvenient, unfortunately, were not.

In a recent post by blogger Stephanie Nielson.  She talks about the importance of being obedient and following the prophet and to not compromise or justify our wrong choices.  She says, 
"It takes courage not compromise for God's approval."

"To rationalize disobedience does not change spiritual law or its consequences but leads to confusion, instability, wandering in strange paths, being lost, and grief.  As disciples of Christ, we have a sacred obligation to uphold His laws and commandments and the covenants which we take upon ourselves."

Obedience = Strength
"Obedience makes us stronger, capable of faithfully enduring tests and trials in the future."

Talk #2:
Obedience through Our Faithfulness
by Elder L. Tom Perry

Elder Perry used an analogy of horses to teach about Obedience.  He taught:
 "An obedient horse which is part of a well-trained team of horses needs little more than a gentle tug from the driver to do exactly what he wants it to do. This gentle tug is equivalent to the still, small voice with which the Lord speaks to us. Out of respect for our agency, it is never a strong, forceful tug."

The Spirit will always prompt us when we are veering off course. 

"Always be ready to receive that gentle tug of the Spirit. . .We must be sensitive to our spiritual bits.  Even with the slightest tug from the Master, we must be willing to completely alter our course.  To succeed in life, we must teach our spirit and body to work together in obedience to God's commandments."

Elder Perry also taught that 
obedience equals strength.  

"Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak and passive.  It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers in heaven."

We must have "an absolute faith in the driver of the team".  We must have believe that God knows what is best for us and has given us commandments to follow to help us become our best.

"I promise you that the blessings of eternal life are available to everyone who is faithful and obedient."


Next Week's Talk:
by Randall L. Ridd

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spiritual First-Aid Kit

Marie K. Hafen, in her recent Women's Conference address, talked about a friend who shared a story with her out of her "Spiritual First-Aid Kit".  I love the idea of a Spiritual First-Aid Kit.  Stories, quotes, poems, scriptures, etc that you collect to read and remember when life gets hard, when you're spiritually not feeling well, when you're heart has been hurt, when you need a band-aid for your spirit.  It can be anything that inspires you or makes you feel good.

Clint's grandpa had one of these.  He loved to collect inspirational stories and then copy them and send them in letters, birthday cards, Christmas letters, etc to his children and grandchildren.  He always seemed to know just what we needed to hear when we needed to hear it. I too hope to be able to carry on this legacy with my children and grandchildren.

I've just started to gather "supplies" into my Spiritual First-Aid Kit, but let me give you some examples from it:

"Some of the most heart-wrenching, discouraging events in our lives—from which we long to be set free—are actually designed to prepare us with the very skills and understanding [God] needs us to have. As we draw closer to the Lord and put our total trust in Him, in His power, and in His timing, we can leave our fires of affliction more pure, more refined, and with more skills and understanding.” –Wendy W. Nelson

“He will guide you in what to do. He will open doors, remove roadblocks, and help you overcome obstacles" —Neil L. Andersen

"Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Moms and dads can do everything right and yet have children who stray. But even in such painful hours it will be comforting for you to know that your children knew of your abiding faith in Christ, in his true church...It will be comforting then for you to know that if your children choose to leave the straight and narrow way, they leave it very conscious that their parents were firmly in it." Elder Jeffry R. Holland, April 2003 Wayward children

Can one righteous young woman change the world? The answer is a resounding “yes!” You have the Holy Ghost as your guide, and He “will show unto you all things… [you] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5). It is the daily, consistent things you do that will strengthen you to be a leader and an example – daily prayer, daily scripture study, daily obedience, daily service to others. - Elaine S. Dalton

Severe Mercy
 (from Sister Hafen's friend's Spiritual First-Aid Kit)

Nine-year-old Agnes Caldwell had been wading through the wind-driven snow with the rest of 
the Willie Handcart Company for what must have felt like an eternity when relief wagons 
appeared on the trail ahead of them. Before the storm hit, Agnes had been taking each mile of the 
autumn trail in stride, even the one that had been strewn with rattlesnakes. For that mile, she and 
her friend Mary held hands and jumped again and again over the snakes until they were out of 
danger, mercifully unharmed. But after days of dragging her nearly frozen feet through the 
deepening snow, she wasn't skipping anymore. And she was literally starving. The death toll in 
her company was rising with every passing night. Yet of the arrival of the relief party, all Agnes 
records in her understated history is, “It certainly was a relief.” And then she describes her own 
rescue, and this is the point today: “The infirm and the aged were allowed to ride, all able-bodied 
continued to walk. When the wagons started out, a number of us children decided to see how 
long we could keep up with the wagons, in hopes of being asked to ride. One by one they all fell 
out, until I was the last one remaining, so determined was I that I should get a ride. After what 
seemed the longest run I [had] ever made before or since, the driver, [Brother] Kimball, called to 
me, ‘Say, sissy, would you like a ride?’ I answered in my very best manner, ‘Yes sir.’ 
“At this he reached over, [took] my hand, [then clucked] to his horses [which also made] me run 
[even faster] with legs that seemed to [be able to] run no farther. On we went [for what] seemed 
miles. [I thought at that moment] he was the meanest man that had ever lived or that I had ever 
heard of, and other things that would not be a credit coming from one so young. Just at what 
seemed the breaking point, he stopped. Taking a blanket, he wrapped me up and lay me in the 
bottom of the wagon, warm and comfortable. Here I had time to change my mind, as I surely did, 
knowing full well by doing this he saved me from freezing [to death].” 
Can you see why our friend calls this story “Severe Mercy”? “I thought he was the meanest man 
that ever lived”? Sitting here in our climate-controlled comfort, put yourself in Agnes’ 
“shoes.” If I had been Agnes, I would have expected a little compassion from this “angel of 
mercy.” Couldn't one look into my frostbitten face or at my bony, rag-wrapped hand have 
entitled me to a crumb of kindness? But no. This man took Agnes by that little hand and instead 
of swinging her up into his lap, in an act of tender mercy, he signaled his team to go faster, 
forcing her into a stronger, faster run, which increased her circulation. His severe mercy saved 
her life.

What's in your Spiritual First-Aid Kit? 
 I'd love for you to share either in a comment below or in an email (clintandrachael{at}gmail.com).

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Someone's Having a Birthday!

 Today my 3rd baby turns 15!
He has always been an easy-going, fun-loving guy.
Oh my cuteness!
Believe it or not, this guy was my biggest baby weighing in at 7 lbs. 9 oz. and 22 inches long.
His hair use to be blonde, but over the years it's turned dark.
I love this kids smile!  He's always making people laugh.  He was voted class clown in Kindergarten (in a good way).
He's always had a natural athletic ability.  He can play any sport for the first time like a pro. 
Over night this LITTLE boy turned into a BIG boy and no matter what I threaten him with, he will not stop growing up (literally - He's 5' 10" and getting taller every time I blink.)
Happy Birthday, Bud.  Your Mama sure loves you.  When you get back from EFY we'll celebrate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Be True

I'm so grateful for the opportunity my children had last weekend of attending Youth Conference.
#2 and #3 went. (The age limit was 14-18)
The theme was Be True

Be True to the Strength of You-
"You must discover who you are and who you can become to accomplish your divine mission. . .Each of you must find out for yourselves your relationship with God and to 'Be True' to your foreordained missions."

Be True to Zion- 
Serve others and build others up

Be True to the Savior-
What distractions are keeping me from coming fully unto Christ?
(They talked a lot about technology, and cell phones)
(Can you spy #3?)
After three days of service projects, speakers, and comradery with their peers, my children came home testimonies strengthened, ready to take on the world!
"And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all-they were men who were TRUE at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.  Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him." -Alma 53:20-21
Speaking of Testimony Builders, this Playdoh playing guy left yesterday for EFY.  He gets to celebrate his birthday there.  Lucky Guy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Open Them, Read Them, Love Them

The past few weeks, I've felt a strong prompting that I need to change the way we do family scripture study.  Our family scripture study (on the nights we'd remember to do it) would goes something like this:
Tired Dad quickly reading a few verses, which to the kids would sound something very similar to Charlie Brown's teacher - And it came to pass wah wah wahh wah wah wah wahhh.  They were understanding nothing, and getting nothing out of it.

As a mother, I pray regularly for God's help in providing spiritual experiences to help build my children's testimonies.  One day, a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany:  I can't sit around and wait for someone else to provide these experiences, I have to do my part too.  I can provide opportunities for spiritual experiences in my home, and one way to do this is through our nightly family scripture reading.  DUH!  

I really want my children to not see the scriptures as boring and undesirable.  I want them to love the scriptures and desire to open them, and read them, and feel the Spirit testify of them.  Every family scripture time can be an opportunity for my children to have a spiritual experience.  I just needed to put in a little more work.

I decided to start with the Book of Mormon.  We are using this schedule here.  It breaks down the Book of Mormon into sections that take about 5 minute or less to read, which is perfect for my family.

I read the assigned reading on my own beforehand.

Coming up with a theme from those verses (sometimes there are multiple ones)
EX:  1 Nephi 1:1-1 Nephi 1:15 - Prayers are answered
1 Nephi 2:16-1Nephi 3:8 - How to gain your own testimony & Importance of following the prophet

Then (through prayer) I plan an activity to go along with what were reading.  My kids do the activity while listening to that day's verses, and the then we talk about the theme and what those verses teach.

Some activities we've done so far are:
Painted fire on rocks (1 Nephi 1:6) to remind us that Lehi's prayers were answered and Heavenly Father answers our prayers too.
 Colored Nephi and his family (Pictures from HERE)
 One night we talked about how it's important to Fully Rely On God (FROG) just like Nephi did while attempting to get the Brass Plates. (1 Nephi 4)
Another night we acted out the story using the pictures we colored.

So far (fingers crossed), this has been exciting and fun for all my kids (surprisingly even my teenagers).  They are listening, and I think they are learning, and by the Grace of God, they are feeling His Spirit and strengthening their testimonies.
Yes, it's a lot of planning and a lot of work, but if it brings my children closer to Christ and instills in them a love for God's Word, it's totally worth it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease

Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease
by Elder David A. Bednar

The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.

"Each of us. . .carries a load.  Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints."

The loads we carry, or the hard things we experience in our lives, are necessary.  They are part of the Plan of Happiness.  "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load." But it's actually the load that provides "traction" in our lives, helping to grow, and reminding us what our ultimate goal is.

We don't have to carry the load alone, we have help- we have a Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ.  In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His.  As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light."

Use the Strengthening Power of the Atonement
"We are not and never need be alone.  We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help.  Through the Savior's Atonement we can receive capacity and "strength beyond [our] own."
"I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone-through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities . . .the Lord desires, through His Atonement, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us- not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us."

The Lord wants to help us.  He is just waiting for us to ask Him.  
He may not take our burdens away, but he will help strengthen us which will make our burdens become lighter, easier to handle.

The Savior Succors His People
Succor- assistance and support in times of hardship or distress

". . .the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities-but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us."
"There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. . .the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. . . He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power."

More about this topic HERE in this month's (July 2014) Ensign

Next Week's Talk:
by Elder Robert D. Hales
by ELDER l. Tom Perry

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Losing My Mind

I think I'm losing my mind:

I can't think,
Form sentences,
or Make any sense,
I know what I want to say, but when I try to say it, my mind goes blank.

Wait, What was I saying? 

I start a sentence and BAM!  right in the middle, I totally forget what I . . .

If anyone finds my mind, can you please return it?  I'm really beginning to miss it.