Monday, March 30, 2015

General Conference -Women's Session


Have you seen this video put out by the Church?

"As you prepare for General Conference, I invite you to ponder questions you need to have answered." - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

Have you written down and are you pondering on the questions you would like answered during the sessions of General Conference?  I have.

"I promise you in [Jesus] name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father's voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence." - Elder Robert D. Hales

Last Saturday night was the first session of General Conference.  All three of my girls and I attended this session with my mom and my sister.  (I know my baby is technically not old enough to attend (you're suppose to be 8), but all the girls were going and she was feeling left out so we invited her along.) If you missed it, you can watch the session HERE

The Spirit was strong as truth was testimfied about the sacredness and importance of the family.  It was mentioned several times that The Family:  A Proclamation to the World is 20 years old this month.  In her talk, Sister Bonnie Oscarson said:
“The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front . . .Little did we realize then (20 years ago when the Proclamation was read over the pulpit by President Gordon B. Hinckley), how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators."

She called on the women of the Church to be defenders of the family and to use The Family:  A Proclamation to the Worlds as “our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world.”

Boldly Stand Up for the Family.  
Be proud to be a Homemaker.  
Elevate the divine roles of mothers and fathers.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority

I typed this post once, saved it, and then went back to add a graphic and it was gone - no where to be found.  So I had to retype it.  If this talk has many errors or doesn't make sense - you'll know why.  Happy Reading :)
by Elder Richard G. Scott

"Despite all of the negative challenges we have in life, we must take time to actively exercise our faith.  Such exercise invites the positive, faith-filled power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ into our lives.
"Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ and exercise faith in His Atonement.  When these tools become fundamental habits, they provide the easiest way to find peace in the challenges of mortality.  Today I have chosen to discuss four of these tools.  As I speak, consider evaluating your personal use of each tool; then seek the guidance of the Lord to determine how you could make better use of each one of them."

There is a wonderful woman, Carleen Tanner, who teaches parenting classes in Idaho.  She teaches a class with a theme very similar to this talk-  Elder Scott calls them tools, she calls them table legs.  Without all 4 legs, you would have one wobbly table.  In her most recent classes, Sister Tanner mentions Elder Scott's talk.  You can find the notes from this particular class HERE.  
She suggests that as we read this talk, we "take a piece of paper, fold the paper in half, and at the top of the first column write “To-do”; and at the top of the second column write “Blessings”.  As you read each section of this talk, write down everything that is a ‘to-do’" and also the 'blessings that come when we apply and use these tools in our lives.

So that is exactly what I have done.  (There are many many more to-do's and promised blessings that have been given, I have only listed the things mentioned in this talk including the footnotes.)

-THE TOOLS-

1. PRAYER
-TO-DO's -
 - Converse with your Father in Heaven often.
-Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him.
- Tell Him everything that concerns you.  
He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life.
-Safeguard your children by arming them morning and night with the power of family prayer.
-Protect your children from daily worldly influences by fortifying them with the powerful blessings that result from family prayer.
-Family prayer should be a nonnegotiable priority in your daily life.

-BLESSINGS-
-You heart will fill with peace, buoyant peace.
-That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles.
-It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective.

2. SCRIPTURE STUDY
-TO-DO's -
-Study the word of God in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.
-(In order) to know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them.
-Make them an integral part of everyday life.
-If you want your children to recognize, understand, and act on the promptings of the Spirit, you must study the scriptures with them.  (Family Scripture Study)
-Don't yield to Satan's lie that you don't have time to study the scriptures.
-Take time to study them.
Feasting upon the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media.
-Reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God.

-BLESSINGS-
(Most are listed in  the Footnotes- not all are listed)
-(We will have)whisperings from the Spirit to our souls.
-(We will get) Answers to our questions.
-We learn of the blessings which come through keeping God's commandments.
-We gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and Their love for us.
-When combined with prayer, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
-Our burdens will be made lighter.
-There will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord
-A strengthened resolve to walk in obedience to His commandments
-A stronger testimony of the the living reality of the Son of God
-Reverence in our homes will increase
-Mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow.
-The spirit of contention will depart
-Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom
-Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents
-Righteousness will increase.
Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
-Peace will prevail in your life.  . . You will find peace in the turmoil around you and strength to resist temptations.
-You will develop strong faith in the grace of God and know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all will be made right according to God's timing.

3. FAMILY HOME EVENING
-TO-DO's -
 - Do not make your family home evening an afterthought of a busy day (plan accordingly for it)
-Decide that Monday night your family will be together in the home for the evening.
-Do not let employment demands, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family.
-The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested.
-The gospel should be taught both formally and informally.
-Make it a meaningful experience for each member of the family.
-Family home evening should be a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning, and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other and more important, to have a marvelous time together!

-BLESSINGS-
-Stress taken away
-Directions given for our lives
-Protection added to our homes

4. TEMPLE ATTENDANCE
-TO-DO's -
(Again See Footnotes)
 - If you don't have a temple recommend, qualify to get one
-When you have a recommend, use it often.
-Schedule a regular time to be in the temple.  Don't let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.
-Be a temple-attending people
-Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow
-Keep a picture of the temple in your home that your children may see it.
-Teach (your children) about the purposes of the house of the Lord.
-Have (your children )plan from their earliest years to go there and remain worthy of that blessings
-Look to the temple of the Lord as the greatest symbol of your membership
-While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning.
-Seek Him there.

-BLESSINGS-
-Come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
-More blessings will come from providing your own family names in the temple.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"These four tools are fundamental habits for securing your life in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Remember our Savior is the Prince of Peace.  Peace in this mortal life comes from His atoning sacrifice.  When we are consistently praying morning and night, studying our scriptures daily, having weekly family home evening, and attending the temple regularly, we are actively responding to His invitation to 'come unto Him'.  The more we develop these habits, the more anxious is Satan to harm us but the less is his ability to do so."
"I'm not suggesting that all of life's struggles will disappear as you do these things.  We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing.  Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges.  I testify as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face. . . "

Friday, March 27, 2015

If Tomorrow Never Comes-

This morning in the paper I ran across an obituary for a young man about my oldest sons age.  He died in a car accident.  Then it hit me:  
 We never really know when our last time with those we love will be. 
  I took a moment to reflect on my last moments spent with my children and husband.  What did I say to them?  What was my mannerism?   Was I kind and happy and smiling?   Did I take the time to hug and kiss them? Did I tell them how much I love them and how proud I am of them? 
 This really hit home to me.
 From this moment on, I am going to consciously try my best to do these things - to make every moment with my loved ones count.  
 I never know when it may be my last, and I don't want any regrets.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stay in the Boat and Hold On!

by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Isn't the analogy Elder Ballard uses in this talk is awesome?  He uses four safety instructions given before a white water rafting trip and applies them to life.

Rule Number ONE:
"Stay in the boat!"
When trials come, or the strong rapids of life come at us (see what I did there?), sometimes we are tempted to abandon ship.  We feel like we aren't worthy to pray, or that Heavenly Father has deserted us.  We feel like everyone at Church is judging us or our family and it would just be better if we didn't go.  This is leaving the boat.

In Elder Ballard's talk he quotes President Brigham Young who referred to the Church as the 'Old Ship Zion'.  Quoting President Young, Elder Ballard said:

"We are in the midst of the ocean.  A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard.  'I am not going to stay here', says one; 'I don't believe this is the 'Ship Zion'.  "But we are in the midst of the ocean.'  'I don't care, I am not going to stay here.'  Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard.  Will he not be drowned?  Yes.  So with those who leave this Church. . . "

We can also be tempted to leave the boat when things are calm and life is going well.  Again quoting President Young:

"It is in calm weather, when the old ship of Zion is sailing with a gentle breeze, [and] when all is quiet on deck, that some of the brethren want to go out in the whaling boats to have. . . a swim, and some get drowned, other drifted away, and others again get back to the ship.  Let us stick to the old ship and she will carry us [safely] into the harbor; you need not be concerned."

Sometimes in life when things are going really well, and the blessings seem to be flowing, we get distracted, and casual.  Maybe we let our daily prayers go a little, or we slack off on our Church attendance some.  This is leaving the boat.

Elder Ballard tells us how to stay on the boat.  He says:
"Here is how.  We need to experience a continuing conversion by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our faithfulness to His gospel throughout our lives - not just once but regularly."

In other words, we need to keep doing those primary answer things that will continue to strengthen our testimony - daily prayer, scripture study, church and temple attendance, etc.

Rule Number TWO:
"Always wear a life jacket!"

Rule Number THREE:
"Hold on with BOTH hands!"

"The words of the Lord are found in the scriptures and the teachings of the apostles and prophets.  They provide us counsel and direction that, when followed, will act like a spiritual life jacket and will help us know how to hold on with both hands. . . In searching the scriptures and the words of past and current apostles and prophets, we should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ."

Elder Ballard also tells us that prayer, fasting, and avoiding distractions will also help to keep us safe as well as help us to hold on with both hands.

"In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to . . . give ourselves 'to much prayer, and fasting (Alma 17:3)'.  It seems that these things which are not easily measured are of great importance.  Stay focused on these simple things, and avoid becoming distracted."

Elder Ballard reminds us to keep our focus on the fundamental principles and not on the 'appendages'.  "Satan tempts us to become distracted from the simple and clear message of the restored gospel.  Those so distracted often give up partaking of the sacrament because they have become focused, even preoccupied, with less important practices or teachings. . . The important questions focus on what matters most - Heavenly Father's plan and the Savior's Atonement.  Our search should lead us to become kind, gentle, loving, forgiving, patient, and dedicated disciples."

"Others may focus on the questions and doubts they experience.  Of course, having questions and experiencing doubts are not incongruent with dedicated discipleship. . . Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding."

Along with the analogy of the rules, Elder Ballard also makes an analogy to
EXPERIENCE RIVER GUIDES

The job of a river guide is to keep you safe, to protect you from harm, and to guide and lead you through the river.  A river guide is someone who has been trained and who has had a lot of experience rafting through the rapids.

"The experienced river guides today can be likened to the Church's apostles and prophets and inspired local priesthood and auxiliary leaders.  They help us arrive safely to our final destination"

If we follow and obey our guides - prophets, apostles, bishops, stake presidents - we will be kept safe.  They know what treacherous rapids and rigid rocks are coming up and they'll help us to steer away from them but we have to listen and obey the directions they give us.

Another great talk about staying in the boat was given by Elder Russell M. Nelson in April 1997, entitled Endure and Be Lifted Up.  You can read that talk HERE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Perfection-

Yesterday was a crazy day!  Things did not go as I had planned, but last night as I reflected on the day, I was proud of all the things I accomplished even though everything didn't go as perfectly as I had envisioned it.  

Here was my vision:

I'd wake up 
have my personal devotional
eat a healthy breakfast
have morning devotional with the older kids before they head out the door to school
exercise
get dressed in something other than sweats
do my hair
put on makeup
clean the house

By this time it would be time to:

 wake the little girls for school
feed them breakfast
do their hair
make sure they match and they've brushed their teeth
have morning devotional before getting in the car and 
dropping the girls off at school
Come home, blog a fabulous unforgettable blog post
have my meditation time
make strawberry jam and homemade bread
deliver gorgeous loaves of bread and hot jam to the neighbors
mop the floors and clean the stove-top
pick up #6 from Kindergarten
have lunch
Spend the afternoon playing and reading with her
Make cookies just in time to pull them out of the oven right as the older kids are walking in the door from school.
Pick up #5 from school
Get homework done
Take #5 to her piano lessons
Library field trip with the kids
make a gourmet dinner right on time (6:00 is dinner time for us)
eat dinner
clean the kitchen
have a spiritual well-planned fhe
pj's & teeth brushed
family prayers
story time
and finally bedtime

That was how I envisioned my day.
BUT It really went like this:

Woke up, still tired.  Fell back asleep.
Woke up again
Forced myself to get out of bed.
morning devotional and breakfast
morning devotional with kids that ran extra long and was not what I was envisioning nor do I think any of it made sense.
late out the door -boys almost missed the bus
exercise
By this time I'm late waking the little girls up for school
scramble to get them fed, dressed and out the door.  Teeth were not brushed, but they did match and their hair was at least brushed.
Came home
meditation time
wrote a crappy blog post
got dressed - no makeup but I did put on jeans and a t-shirt
but hair in a ponytail
cleaned the kitchen and it looked so good!
time to pick up #6
Head to the store for bread since we're out and I didn't get any made
lunch of leftovers for me, cinnamon toast and cucumbers for her
start on the bread - I decide to try a new bread recipe (bad idea)
It takes forever! and my bread loaves came out flatter than they did going into the oven!  (FAIL!)
I wash dishes and start on the cookies
Fresh warm gooey cookies are coming out of the oven right as my older kids walk through the door - (WIN!)
Pick up #5
Start on jam (not homework)
Drop #5 off to her piano lesson
Run to the library (by myself) where I spent too much time-
Now I was late picking #5 up from her lesson, luckily Clint was right there and called to say he would pick her up.  (Blessing)
Make and finish another batch of jam
Start on dinner (which took way longer than it should have to make) while trying to clean the kitchen and do homework with the girls (not a good idea)
Now half the kitchen is clean, some homework is finished, and only half of our gourmet dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, Campbell's Tomato soup, and salad is prepared- by this time it's 6:20
#4 needs a book from the library and Clint is busy
I quickly run him to the library before it closes (my second trip in two hours)
We make it.  He finds his book, we head home
Where I Finished dinner
We didn't sit down to eat dinner (which is now cold) until after 7:00
This ends up working out well because my oldest just happened to come home from work right then for his lunch break and we were able to eat dinner together with the entire family.  (miracle)
Finally after cleaning the kitchen we sit down to an unorganized last minute Family Night.

#4 taught us about the Atonement
He showed us the VIDEO Because of Him


As I watched this video (and cried- I dare you to watch this video and not get teary) I realized that it doesn't matter how smoothly my day goes or how much I accomplish.  It's not about being perfect.   It's about trying and giving it my best, and letting Christ make up the difference.
My family didn't care that the floor wasn't mopped, that their teeth didn't get brushed before school or that their dinner consisted of cold grilled cheese sandwiches.  They won't remember any of that.  But they will remember the way I made them feel loved, the way they feel when we spend time eating and laughing together as a family, and the way the Spirit feels as we discuss the gospel and bear our testimonies with each other.  That is PERFECTION.  That is a perfect day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekends News

It was the end of a school term which equals a 4-day weekend.
Clint took time off. This is what we did:
 Tiny lost another tooth.  This will make three so far, but her other front tooth is loose and she's hoping to lose it really soon.  (She's been working hard and saving all her money to buy a Dog Trainer Barbie complete with pooping dog and a pooper-scooper - yay!)
 We ushered in Spring (Friday Mar 20) with free flavored ice's (which is so finely shaved it's almost snow) from Rita's.  (Love the Photo Bomb)
( With a family this size -If it's free, we're there!)
 (You have to eat very carefully when you have a lose tooth- true story)
 The weather this weekend was perfect - sunny blue skies and temps in the 70's.
We spent a lot of time outside.  My girls (big and little) spent hours outside with the sidewalk chalk.  In fact, I don't think there's an inch of driveway that has not been colored on.
On  Saturday, while the big kids were away (- #1 at work, #2 with friends and baby-sitting, and #3 & #4 were at an all-day BSA Pow-Wow), the little girls had friends over.  They begged to set up a kool-aid stand.
(Too bad all the Kool-aid mysteriously disappeared.)  Clint talked them into making a box of brownies and giving them away to the neighborhood kids for free.
(I love that their sign says homemade when clearly they came from a box mix, but hey!  I guess they made them from home so that counts???)  They had just as much fun giving these brownies away as they did selling Kool-aid last year.  I guess it's not really the money their into.  It's having something to do and setting up shop that they think is fun. 

Yesterday at Church I head the BEST TALK- seriously.  It was taken from a BYU devotional given by Elder F. Enzio Busche given May 14, 1996.  The BYU Speeches link no longer works, but I found it on Youtube - not the original broadcast but a recorded segment of his talk that someone added their own slides to.  It's incredible.  Take the time to listen to it!

I'll post the text from the video here:

"In the time of my membership in the Church, I have grown to understand that this is the most important priority in our lives. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will not sin. We will be filled with wisdom, and we will be able to have the fruits to heal the wounds of the afflicted and to build a community of Saints. It is also obvious that without constant efforts, it will be very difficult to always be focused on our most righteous desires. Therefore, I want to share with you a vehicle, an instrument, that I developed some time ago for myself and for my family. It can assist us to reach our focus as we read the suggested vision of true discipleship as a Latter-day Saint. It helps when, from time to time, we ponder and seek identification with the following thoughts:
  • Embrace this day with an enthusiastic welcome, no matter how it looks. The covenant with God to which you are true enables you to become enlightened by him, and nothing is impossible for you.
  • When you are physically sick, tired, or in despair, steer your thoughts away from yourself and direct them, in gratitude and love, toward God.
  • In your life there have to be challenges. They will either bring you closer to God and therefore make you stronger, or they can destroy you. But you make the decision of which road you take.
  • First and foremost, you are a spirit child of God. If you neglect to feed your spirit, you will reap unhappiness. Don't permit anything to detract you from this awareness.
  • You cannot communicate with God unless you have first sacrificed your self-oriented natural man and have brought yourself into the lower levels of meekness, to become acceptable for the Light of Christ.
  • Put all frustrations, hurt feelings, and grumblings into the perspective of your eternal hope. Light will flow into your soul.
  • Pause to ponder the suffering Christ felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the awareness of the depth of gratitude for him, you appreciate every opportunity to show your love for him by diligently serving in his Church.
  • God knows that you are not perfect. As you suffer about your imperfections, he will give you comfort and suggestions of where to improve.
  • God knows better than you what you need. He always attempts to speak to you. Listen, and follow the uncomfortable suggestions that he makes to us--everything will fall into its place.
  • Avoid any fear like your worst enemy, but magnify your fear about the consequences of sin.
  • When you cannot love someone, look into that person's eyes long enough to find the hidden rudiments of the child of God in him.
  • Never judge anyone. When you accept this, you will be freed. In the case of your own children or subordinates, where you have the responsibility to judge, help them to become their own judges.
  • If someone hurts you so much that your feelings seem to choke you, forgive and you will be free again.
  • Avoid at all cost any pessimistic, negative, or criticizing thoughts. If you cannot cut them out, they will do you harm. On the road toward salvation, let questions arise but never doubts. If something is wrong, God will give you clarity but never doubts.
  • Avoid rush and haste and uncontrolled words. Divine light develops in places of peace and quiet. Be aware of that as you enter places of worship.
  • Be not so much concerned about what you do, but do what you do with all your heart, might, and strength. In thoroughness is satisfaction.
  • You want to be good and to do good. That is commendable. But the greatest achievement that can be reached in our lives is to be under the complete influence of the Holy Ghost. Then he will teach us what is really good and necessary to do.
  • The pain of sacrifice lasts only one moment. It is the fear of the pain of sacrifice that makes you hesitate to do it.
  • Be grateful for every opportunity to serve. It helps you more than those you serve.
  • And finally, when you are compelled to give up something or when things that are dear to you are withdrawn from you, know that this is your lesson to be learned right now. But know also that, as you are learning this lesson, God wants to give you something better.
I think at this time it seems appropriate to ask the question "Do I really think it's possible for us, as human beings, to be always, in a complete way, under the influence of the Holy Spirit?" My answer is without hesitation, "No, it is not." It is not given to us to live in this world and to be without sin. Created by God in a spiritual body, but living with a body of flesh and bone in this unexalted and fallen state, we become polluted. We will not always be able to understand and comprehend the sinister plans of the adversary in his fight to destroy us and to make us as miserable as he is. But when we are constantly aware of this fight and we let the Light of Christ help us stand in our responsibilities, we may be able to stay on this narrow path where we will see, with clarity, that we are lost without the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although it is not possible to be perfect as long as we are in this earthly state, we still have to be perfect in keeping the commandments of our covenants. We are assisted in this situation by our living prophets, who suggest to us to have, at least once a year, an interview with our bishop. During this interview we can establish that we are in harmony with the covenants we have made with the living God. When we are in such a way perfected and are eligible to go in his holy house, the temple, we have the promise that Jesus Christ will take upon him the rest and we can rejoice in being cleansed through his redeeming blood every day of our lives. Our soul will sing to the praise of his name, and our hearts will be so full that we cannot be quiet but will share and testify of the reality of this work and the power in it.

Thus, we prepare all the days of our lives, and, as we grow, death loses its sting, hell loses its power, and we look forward to that day with anticipation and joy when he will come in his glory."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ponder the Path of Thy Feet

Keep Scrolling below.  There are two talks today!
by President Thomas S. Monson

President Monson first reminds us of our purpose here on earth.  The first is to gain a body, the second was to gain experience "that could only come through separation from our heavenly parents", and the third reason was to see if we would keep the commandments.

"When we came to earth, we brought with us that great gift from God -- even our agency.  In thousands of ways we are privileged to choose for ourselves.  Here we learn from the hard taskmaster of experience.  We discern between good and evil  We differentiate as to the bitter and the sweet.  We learn that decisions determine destiny."

"[Heavenly Father] did not send us here without direction and guidance.  Rather, He has given us the tools we need, and He will assist us as we seek His help and strive to do all in our power to endure to the end and gain eternal life."

Then President Monson talks about some of the tools we have - scriptures, and prophets, and the most important tool of all - Jesus Christ and His perfect example.

"Of paramount importance, we have been provided with a perfect example to follow -even the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ- and we have been instructed to follow that example."

"As we examine the path Jesus walked, we will see that it took Him through many of the same challenges we ourselves will face in life."

Similarities- Jesus faced that we too face or that we're encouraged to do:

1. "Jesus walked the path of disappointment." - Luke 13:34

"Each of us will walk the path of disappointment, perhaps because of an opportunity lost, a power misused, a loved one's choices, or a choice we ourselves make."

2.  "Jesus walked the path of temptation." -Matthew 4

"The path of temptaion too will be the path of each.  We read in the 29th section of the Doctrine and Covenants: 'And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves.'"

3.  "Jesus walked the path of pain" -In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross

"Likewise, we shall walk the path of pain.  We, as servants, can expect no more than the Master, who left mortality only after great pain and suffering."

"We will find on our path bitter sorrow, we can also find great happiness."

4.  "We, with Jesus, can walk the path of obedience.

5.  "We, like Jesus, can walk the path of service."

"A glowing searchlight of goodness is the life of Jesus as He ministered among men.  He brought strength to the limbs of the cripple, sight to the eyes of the blind, hearing to the ears of the deaf."

6.  We can walk "the path of prayer."
"He taught us how to pray by giving us the beautiful prayer we know as the Lord's Prayer.  And who can forget the prayer in Gethsemane, "Not thy will, but thine, be done"?"

"Other instructions given to us by the Savior are at our fingertips, found in the holy scriptures.  IN His Sermon on the Mount, He tell us to:

-Be merciful
-Be humble
-Be righteous
-Be pure in heart
-Be peacemakers
-Stand up bravely for our beliefs, even when we are ridiculed and persecuted.
-Let our light shine so that others may see them and may desire to glorify our Father in Heaven.
-Be morally clean in both our thoughts and our actions.
-It is far better to lay up treasures in heaven than on earth."

Through His parables, he teaches us to:
- love and serve our neighbors (Parable of the Good Samaritan)

-improve ourselves and to strive for perfection (Parable of the Talents)

-go to the rescue of those who have left the path and have lost their way (Parable of the Lost Sheep).

"As we look to Jesus as our Exemplar and as we follow in His footsteps, we can return safely to our Heavenly Father to live with Him forever."


"The Savior's example provides the framework for everything we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide.  His path will take us safely home."





The Sacrament and the Atonement

by Elder James J. Hamula

Did you notice that this was the second talk on the sacrament and how important it is.  The first talk was given in the Saturday morning session by Sister Cheyl A. Esplin.  You can find my thoughts on that talk HERE.

Elder Hamula's talk begins with what I think of as The History of the Sacrament.  He gives us some background on how and why and where there sacrament was first instituted.

He says:
"Participation in this new ordinance would signify to all a solemn acceptance of Jesus as the promised Christ and whole-hearted willingness to follow Him and keep His commandments."

He also informs us how special and sacred the sacrament is and could be if we would make it so.

"The ordinance of the sacrament has been called "one of the most holy and sacred ordinances in the Church.  It needs to become more holy and sacred to each of us.  Jesus Christ Himself instituted the ordinance to remind us what He did to redeem us and to teach us how we may avail ourselves of His Redemption and thereby live with God again."

Elder Oaks and Elder Cook also commented on the sacredness and importance of the sacrament:

"The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church." Dallin H. Oaks – October 2008 – “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”
“Sacrament meeting is the most sacred and holy of all the meetings in the Church.” Quentin L. Cook – April 2010 – “We follow Jesus Christ”
(I'm not sure if I've shared this before, but I'll do it again anyway)My Stake Presidency released a letter about the Sacrament and Sacrament meeting.  Let me share with you some of that letter that I think pertains well with this talk.
"When you really think about one of the primary reasons for the “houses” of the Lord (Temples, Meetinghouses), it is to administer the “ordinances” of the gospel. And it is in the ordinances, that the “power of God is manifest” (D&C 84: 20-21). The chapel within our meetinghouses represents an “ordinance room”."
" When we enter the chapel, do we enter in a manner that demonstrates our deepest love, respect, adoration, and reverence for the immense pain, suffering, and sacrifice of our Savior for us? Do we approach this sacred ordinance in the significance it was given by our Father and His Son? Do we really understand the power, purposes, and blessings of this ordinance in our lives – especially as we navigate through the last days? Could we as a stake treat that special hour as one of the most important, reverent, special, and sacred hours of the week to show the Savior how deeply we love and need Him in our lives."
"Are we preparing and looking forward to the Sacrament as the focal point of our worship each week?"
If you're interested, you can read the letter in it's entirety HERE
In the last half of his talk, Elder Hamula gives us an explanation of the purposes of the bread, the water, and the promises mentioned in the Sacrament prayers.

THE BREAD
"In partaking of the bread, we are reminded of our own inevitable personal resurrection, which consists of more than just the restoration of body and spirit.  By the power of the Resurrection, all of us will be restored to the presence of God."

THE WATER
"Through mortality, every one of us becomes soiled with sin and transgression.  We will have had thoughts, words, and works that will have been less than virtuous.  In short, we will be unclean. . ."

"In partaking of the sacramental water, we are taught how we may be made clean from sin and transgression and thus stand in the presence of God.  By the shedding of His innocent blood, Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice for every sin and transgression.  He then offers to make us clean if we will have faith in Him sufficient to repent. . . "

Remember when you were in primary and the lesson was on baptism.  The teacher would ask, "Who knows what a covenant is?"  And the smart kid would say, "It's a two-way promise".  Then the teacher would bring up the chart with two columns.  In column one would be "what we promise" and in column two would be "what He promises".  Elder Hamula kind of sorta did that in his talk too. 
He broke down the prayers and expounded on what we promise and what Heavenly Father promises.

THE PRAYERS
-our promise-
"Through the sacramental prayers, we express our acceptance of this doctrine of Christ and our commitment to live according to it. . .

1.  "We will 'ALWAYS REMEMBER' His precious Son.  First, we witness our 'willingness' to remember.  Then we witness that we 'do' remember.  In so doing, we are making solemn commitments to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and in His Redemption of us from death and sin.

2. "We further declare that we will 'KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS'  that is a solemn commitment to repent.  If our thoughts, words, or actions have been less than what they should have been in days past, we recommit ourselves to more closely align our lives with His in days to come."

3. "Next, we declare that we 'ARE WILLING TO TAKE UPON [US] THE NAME OF [THE] SON'.  That is a solemn commitment to submit ourselves to His authority and to do His work, which includes receiving for ourselves every saving ordinance and covenant."

-His promise -
"When we commit ourselves to these principles, we are promised in the sacramental prayers that we will 'HAVE HIS SPIRIT TO BE WITH [US]'.  Receiving anew the Spirit is a consummate blessing because the Spirit is the agent who cleanses and purifies us from sin and transgression."

What do you do to make the Sacrament more meaningful and personal to you?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Dress!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love being a mom?  I do, I love it!  I love my relationships with each of my children, and the satisfaction I get from seeing my children grow and make righteous choices.
-Warning: this is another brag post-
My daughter and I have spent several days out shopping for a Prom dress. (Remember THIS?)
It has been so much fun!  In fact, I wanted to play dress-up and try on dresses too, but I reminded myself that I was the almost 40 year-old mother and somehow, I kept myself in check. 
 As #2 picked out dress after dress to try on, it was fun to see her tastes and style preferences.
 Nothing poofy (princess dresses definitely are out), not too much sparkle or bling, something with some color - She was really into teal and coral/salmon (Did you know these are the same color just different names? -I'm talking about coral and salmon not teal and coral- Yep- it's the tomAto - tomato thing.).
What I was most proud of was her choice to dress modestly.  Without me even saying a word, she wanted only a dress with sleeves (the dress she chose is getting a cap sleeve sewn on), a dress that's high in the front and the back, and something not too form fitting.  
She knows that modest is hottest and that makes this mama very happy.


Which one of these dresses is your favorite?
Which one do you think she chose?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Collins' Family Yearbook

Wordless Wednesday:
When #4 tries out for the Yearbook staff you get the following . . . 




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Luck of the Irish-



These little ladies and me (of course) were the only ones wearing green today. 
 I guess everyone else likes getting pinched.
Our St. Patrick's Day tradition is very simple, we have a green dinner which usually consists of Green (thanks to food coloring) Chicken Fettichini Alfredo, Broccoli, a green salad, maybe a rainbow fruit salad ( I know that's not green, but rainbow goes with the St. Patrick's theme), and always a dessert.  This year I'm making Mint Oreo Brownies.  -Man! I love those things.

There's More St. Patrick's Ideas HERE
and HERE

Monday, March 16, 2015

Open the door and let Him in!

I ran across this quote this weekend and wanted to share!  
Happy Monday!

"Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
"Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that. He's not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.
"You know that people who live above a certain latitude and experience very long winter nights can become depressed and even suicidal, because something in our bodies requires whole spectrum light for a certain number of hours a day. Our spiritual requirement for light is just as desperate and as deep as our physical need for light. Jesus is the light of the world. We know that this world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the people who walk in darkness can have a bright companion. We need him, and He is ready to come to us, if we'll open the door and let him."
(Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up, Preface, p. 174)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Eternal Life-to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ

by Elder Robert D. Hales

I just looked at the calendar and realized that in just three short weeks, it will be General Conference weekend again!  I can't wait to hear what words of wisdom will be shared, but first, let's get through last October's talks.

Elder Hales talk was on the importance of gaining a testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 
Why?  In Elder Hales words:

"I testify that when we do what is necessary to know Them and know Their love for one another, we will obtain "the greatest gift of all the the gifts of God--even eternal life."

"Brothers and sisters, I testify that our Heavenly Father wants us to seek this knowledge now.  The words of the prophet Helaman cry from the dust: 'Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation. . . ., a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.'  Indeed, we will not fail.

"That sure foundation is Jesus Christ.  He is 'the rock of Heaven.'  When we build our house upon Him, the rains of the latter days may descend, the floods may come, and the winds may blow, but we will not fall.  We will not fail, for our home and our family will be founded upon Christ.

"I testify that such a home is 'a house of glory.'  There we gather together to pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, His beloved Son.  There we glorify and give gratitude to Them.  There we receive the Holy Ghost and 'the promise which [He gives] unto [us] of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom."

Elder Hales teaches us that we gain our knowledge of the Father and His Son through personal revelation.
"How can this gift be ours?  It comes through a matter of personal revelation. . ."

How do we receive personal revelation?  It is through scripture study and prayer.  As we exercise faith and keep the commandments, the Holy Ghost will testify the truth to us.

1.  Scripture Study
"In this process, seeking for personal revelation is a key.  Nephi invites each of us to 'feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."

2.  Prayer
Elder Hales quotes from Moroni:
"I would exhort you that ye should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)

3.  Holy Ghost will Testify the Truth

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know [with a surety] the truth of all things."  (Moroni 10:5)

"You too can seek our Heavenly Father and 'this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have [testified]'. . .As you seek a personal witness--your personal revelation--you will discover that Heavenly Father has provided a special way for you to know the truth for yourself:  through the third member of the Godhead, a personage of spirit we know as the Holy Ghost."

"My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from the teachings and testimony of my parents, teachers, the scriptures-which I read diligently-and especially the Holy Ghost.  As I exercised faith and obeyed the commandments, the Holy Ghost testified that what I was learning was true.  This is how I came to know for myself."
This sign hangs in my home to remind me to continually seek a relationship with Christ, to make Him the center of my home and my life.

I've always been pretty consistent with personal scripture study,  I have studied several ways over the years- recently I've been following along with BofM365 and NewTestament365 on Instagram.  Each morning I wake up, look to see what verses are assigned for that day, read them, and then read the Instagram comments.  It's like Sunday School class everyday.  I've really learned a lot as others have shared their insights.

Personal prayer has been another story- I've really struggled.  This year one of my goals was to CONNECT (you can read more about that here) to Heavenly Father and His Spirit.  I knew that in order to do this I would have to have a relationship with Him through prayer.  I knew that my prayers needed to be a conversation not just a monologue.  So, first thing I did was set an alarm on my phone.  It goes off everyday at 8:55 am (right after I get home from taking the kids to school, and my house is quiet) to remind me to pray.  When that alarm goes off, I stop what I'm doing and go into my 'prayer closet' to talk with God.  I've found that if I think about (and even write down) what is on my mind.-What I'm thankful for that day and what I'm struggling with or what I have questions about, I'm more focused and I'm able to stop and listen for answers without feeling like I have to rush through my prayer so I don't forget something.
This has really helped me to have true meaningful prayer.  I have begun to feel God's presence and His love for me.  As I've received personal revelation, my testimony has been strengthened, and my relationship with Him has grown.

Elder Hales also points out in his talk an important doctrine- that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate beings. -". . .a Father and a Son - separate, distinct, individual beings who are wholly unified in Their purpose. " He also quotes 17 scriptures that testify this (I'll list them to make it convenient for you):

Moses 4:2
Moses 2:1
Luke 1:32
Luke 2:49
Matthew 3:17
Matthew 6:9-10
John 3:16
John 5:19, see also verse 17
John 17:1, 4
Matthew 26:39
Luke 23:34, 46
D&C 138:51
John 20:17
3 Nephi 11:7
3 Nephi 11:10-11
3 Nephi 11:32
3 Nephi 11:27

"Can we see a pattern in these scriptures that testifies of the Father and the Son as distinct individuals and beings?  How, then, are They one?  Not because They are the same person but because They are unified in purpose, equally dedicated to 'bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.'"

Can you remember the first time you knew there was a God and could feel His love?
What do you do to build your home and family around Christ?