Tuesday, December 05, 2017

scripture journal

12-3-17 Alma 22 is all about Lamoni’s father’s conversion. In his words, I found a 4 step process to true conversion and discipleship...
1. “I will believe” (vs 7 & 11) first step is always choosing to believe and have faith.
2. “What shall I do?” (vs 15) true faith is always followed by action (and humility is a must)
3. “I will give up all...that I may receive this joy” sacrifice and 
4. “I will give away all my sins to know thee” this leads to baptism and a remission of sins. 

12-4-17 Alma 27:27 And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.
Wow! These are words to live by!!! I can’t think of a better compliment than the description in this verse of the people of Ammon. I want it to one day be said of me.... “she was distinguished for her zeal towards God, and also towards men; for she was perfectly honest and upright in all things; and she was firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.” #headstonegoals 😂

12-5-17 Alma 30 is all about Korihor. This chapter alone is such a witness that the BofM was written for us. The teachings of Korihor run rampant in our day!! I love studying this chapter. But my fav part is verse 20 bc it tells us that of all the Nephites who fell captive to Korihor’s teachings, the people of Ammon did not...”behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites...”
Why were they more wise? We learn previously that they were strict in obedience to the commandments and they firmly kept their covenants. On Sunday, during a testimony, a Sister was talking about how as mothers we are given power as we keep our covenants. KK (who I didn’t even think was listening) whispered in my ear, “mom, do you keep your covenants?”. I responded, “yes” and she said “oh good”. It was so cute!!! How grateful I am that I can say yes. Covenant keeping will protect us from being deceived.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

scripture journal entries from September-December

Emily Freeman (an excellent LDS author) is my friend's adult institute teacher in Lehi. She is sending me the emailed notes from her class and I'm loving them!!!! Just had to share one really cool thing....

Categories of the BOM:
Small plates – Establishment of Lehi’s colony
Mosiah – Setting up of government and freedom of religion
Alma – War chapters and great missionary period
Helaman – Great wars, fall of government, tribes
3 Nephi – Christ comes
4 Nephi – 200 years of peace
Mormon / Ether – Gross wickedness
Moroni – Final Destruction
Our day… comparable things:
Small plates – Establishment of Lehi’s colony – Columbus came to America
Mosiah – Setting up of government and freedom of religion – Free government, freedom of religion, gospel restored
Alma – War chapters and great missionary period – Missionary period, before missionaries are called home, people are seeking money, power, etc.
Helaman – Great wars, fall of government, tribes -  Events surrounding 2nd coming
Did you know that the Book of Mormon refers to Christ (specifically with his name...not including pronouns) every 1.7 versus. 

I have decided to read the BofM again. My goal is to read it 20 times before I'm 30. So I have 3 years left and need to read it 6 more times. 

Today I listened to the following podcast and it gave me chills, tears, and excitement to read the BofM again. 

1 Nephi 1:6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much;

Ok, I may be off here, but I had a cool thought come to me as I read this. Interestingly, many Old Testament prophets had experiences with fire and dramatic things to testify of God. In our day, why do we not have burning bushes or pillars of fire on a rock (besides the fact that we are not a prophet)? 

I wonder if it is bc in our day of dramatics and loud commotion, the thing that would be more of a contrast to us, would be the feeling of peace in our hearts and mind. To me, the feeling of peace is like a fire within my heart as it warms my soul and brings me reassurance and conviction in a way that nothing else could. Maybe the Lord knew that in the latter days, the feeling of peace (from the "rock" of our salvation) would be our "pillar of fire" in the noisy world we live in. 
1 Nephi 6:3-4… I desire the room that I may write of the things of God. For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.

The following notes are from Emily Freeman....
We hear that phrase a lot… when it is a common phrase, we pass over it without thinking about it. Nephi is trying to tell us something about God.
What did each know about God?
The God of Abraham
• Absolute trust
• God provides
• God of Covenant keeping
• God of promises
The God of Isaac
• Mighty to save
• Provides the Ram in the thicket
• Deliverance
• God of Miracles
The God of Jacob
• Karma
• Sometimes Jacob did things God’s way, and sometimes his own way
o If he could have just stayed within God’s plan, he would have been ok
o God did not give up on Jacob… he gave Jacob as many chances as it took
• God of second chances… and third chances… and as many chances as we need
So Nephi’s intent is to persuade men to come unto the God that is a covenant keeper, a God of Miracles and a second chances God. Nephi is testifying that God will meet you in YOUR story, whatever it is. His capacity will be whatever you need in that place.
That is the theme of today’s discussion… God is who you need Him to be.
1 Nephi 4:6And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

Sometimes I feel like I get way too focused on checking off items on my daily to do list instead of being led by the Spirit. I need to be better at praying each morning for inspiration on how to spend my time that day. As a mom, there are a million things to do each day, but am I neglecting the things which are "most needful"? 
1 Nephi 10:17 I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might SEE, and HEAR, and KNOW of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

Nephi wants to see, hear, and know by the power of the HG that what his father taught was true. I wonder if this is why Nephi had the same vision for himself...it is exactly what he desired. He wanted to see and hear what His father did, not just know in his heart it was true. His righteous desire was given to him. I have often heard that we need to be more specific in our prayers and tell the Lord our righteous desires. Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.
...because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God--because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

This morning as I learned about the ancient Israelite tabernacle, the clothing of the high priest, the manora, and the veil of the tabernacle, I was blown away by all of the similarities to the temple today. Obviously the ordinances of ancient Israel have been restored and appear differently now that Christ has spilt his blood and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, but still, I am shocked at how much the Old Testament practices are similar to what we do in the temple today. But I shouldn't be shocked. Some of the plain and precious truths of the gospel and the temple are in the Bible, but unfortunately many are gone. How THANKFUL I am for a restoration, for the BofM, and for living prophets. I love to find these gems in the Bible that witness of the truths we hold so dear.
1Nephi 14:14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

I LOVE this verse so much!!! It fills me with strength, gratitude, and desire. After listening to women's conference, I felt so much more strength within me. I'm so excited for the power and conviction to continue to flow through me this weekend during conference.
1 Nephi 11:20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

I learned something so cool this morning (from the podcast I'll link at the bottom). When the angel told Nephi that the child was the Lamb of God, Nephi knew exactly what and who he was talking about, and so would any good Jew. You see, these Jews knew that the unblemished lamb was used for sacrifices. By the angel referring to the child as the Lamb, Nephi would instantly know that this was what all of the sacrifices and lambs were pointing towards, this moment where the love of God would shed itself abroad in the hearts of all men (through the atonement) and become the most desirable above all things. 
1 Nephi 15:15 (with a little addition by me) And then at that day [of General Conference] will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation? Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine? Yea, will they not come unto the true fold of God?
2 Nephi 3:6 For Joseph truly testified, saying: A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be A CHOICE SEER unto the fruit of my loins.

Over the last year, I have really taken it upon myself to study and learn more about JS. This morning as I read this verse, I realized how deeply I have come to believe that JS was truly a choice seer. I have come to love this humble, courageous, loyal and faithful man. But it’s not just his strengths that endear him to me, it is bc of his human frailties and weaknesses that make him real to me. The Lord used this humble, knowledge-seeking, believing boy to accomplish the greatest work of our dispensation. The words from my 4th great grandma Jane bring me even greater conviction....”In the year 1840, the children and I traveled to Nauvoo and saw and heard the Prophet JS and I can testify that he truly was a Prophet of God.”
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

Nephi’s psalm is so incredibly beautiful. I find my own pleadings, of feeling frustrated with “the sins that so easily beset me”, much the same. The above verse, the last one in his psalm, really stood out to me and was exactly what I needed today.
2 Ne 8:9-10 Art thou not he that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

Who hath cut Rahab and wounded the dragon? What does this mean? Reynolds and Sjodahl clarified that Rahab represents Egypt (Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 290) and Ezek. 29:3 refers to Pharaoh as 'the great dragon.'
Therefore, we may paraphrase this passage as follows: "Art thou not he (the Great Jehovah) who hath cut off Egypt, and wounded Pharaoh? Art thou not he who hath dried the red sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the red sea a way for the ransomed children of Israel to pass over?"
This famous scriptural event is symbolic in many ways. The Egyptian armies were the most powerful military force on the face of the earth at the time that Moses confronted them. Still, the power of the Lord was strong enough to destroy them and save his people. This event will be repeated in the redemption of Zion and Jerusalem. In that day, the power of the Lord will rest with the saints to such a degree that 'it shall be said among the wicked; Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.' (DC 45:70) Similarly, Jerusalem will be saved from the fiercest army ever assembled in the history of the world (Rev. 9:16), and a careful review of the plagues listed in Revelation shows a striking similarity to the plagues of Egypt (compare Ex. 7-9 to Rev. 8-9). Therefore, when we think of the triumph of the children of Israel over the power of Pharaoh, we should see the latter-day symbolism. The power of the Lord was wielded on behalf his people then, and that same power will be wielded again in just as dramatic a fashion.
53 And behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel.

The word “condescension” has really stood out to me lately in my studying. I looked up the word in the dictionary (aka google 😜) and it says “voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior.”

I was so touched by all the stories I heard of people in Las Vegas waiting 7 plus hours in line to donate blood. These people considered there life as equally as impt as a stranger...such a beautiful thought. But then I started thinking how Christ is the ultimate blood donor. He gave all of His blood to save each of us from death and hell. His condescension was an act of grace,humility and love bc He, the greatest of us all, considered our potential for eternal life as equally impt as His own. 
2 Nephi 10:3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ--for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name--should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him--

I had no idea how significant this verse is! This is the first time in history that a prophet recorded in scripture the title of Christ.

“The Book of Mormon alone provides over 100 names and titles for Christ (Easton 60-61) However, the name 'Christ' does not appear until Jacob's sermon to the Nephites in 2 Nephi 10:3.
"....Jacob had seen the Savior as a youth and on a later occasion reaffirmed his experience of receiving the ministering of angels (2 Nephi 2:3-4; Jacob 7:5; compare Moroni 7:22).  The language of this manifestation uses the future designation of the term Christ for covenant Israel.”

I also found the following info to be very significant about the last four words in the verse, “and they shall crucify him”

"Such knowledge could only be had by revelation.  The fulfillment of the prophecy required not only that the Jews reject and kill their Messiah but also that he die by crucifixion.  The prophecy was the more remarkable because crucifixion was unknown to Hebrew law.  The Mosaic code prescribed the penalty of death in four forms:  stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 266)
2 Nephi 25:13....Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. 

I love Nephi’s words here about Christ...”for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.” ❤️❤️❤️
2 Nephi 31:3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

Wow, I definitely know this to be true! Yesterday, I was helping KK learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. As I watched her struggling to keep her balance and falling off over and over again, the Spirit clearly and directly taught me and gave me light, understanding, and charity for something I am really struggling with right now. I am SO thankful that our Heavenly Father knows us so well that He knows exactly how and when to teach us. It is parenting perfection!! :)
2Nephi 31:20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

I LOVE Nephi’s closing words in chapters 31-33, especially the above verse! Sometimes the only thing that keeps me pressing forward is hope. Hope in a better tomorrow and hope in the Healer. 

I had a pretty amazing experience today reading Jacob 5. I know that the Lord of the vineyard has heard my prayers and knows that it is time for our family to move to another spot in his vineyard. (Cory has accepted a job offer in Branson, MIssouri.)

I was so grateful to find the Lord’s reassurances and comfort as I read a particular verse tonight in this chapter. How grateful I am for the scriptures and how often I find myself hearing the voice of the Lord speaking directly to me as I read the words of those “speaking from the dust”.
Jacob 6:7 For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?

Even if I read the scriptures everyday, what good does it do me if I’m not changing my behavior and acting according to what I read and learn? I have always loved the following quote, “The key is to not get through the scriptures, but instead to let the scriptures get through you.” 
The very first verse in Enos tells us a lot about Jacob and what kind of father he was. He was a father who taught and encouraged his son, but just like Jacob saw in his own family growing up, children have their agency. I wonder if Jacob was still alive when Enos had his “wrestle” experience. There is no better parenting reward than to see your children use their agency in choosing righteousness. I love that it was Jacob’s words that changed his heart and brought him to his knees. Obviously all those words and teachings had made a place in Enos’ heart, even if they hadn’t immediately changed his mind or behavior. This gives me so much hope!! 

What does “nurture and admonition of the Lord” mean? I did some research. 😀 This phrase is actually found in the book of Ephesians as well. “Nurture” (Greek paideia) is the same as “chastening” in Hebrews 12:5,7, and “instruction” in II Timothy 3:16. It has particular reference to child-training, carried out with both firmness and gentleness as needed in each particular case. “Admonition” (Greek nouthesia) means literally “putting in mind”; thus “admonition of the Lord” implies teaching the Lord’s ways through His Word. 
And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest.

In a world where people break promises without even blinking an eye, there is so much comfort and peace in knowing that the Lord will never break His. 
Words of Mormon 1:7 And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

My prayer as a mother...that He will work in me to do according to his will for my family.  How grateful I am for a HF that knows all things and knows exactly what his [and my] children need. 
5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief. 

I love the phrase “have his commandments always before our eyes”!! As good as we may be or as strong as we think we are....we are not. Without the commandments and the word of God being always before our eyes, we too, will dwindle into unbelief. 
Mosiah 3:19 has got to be one of the best scriptures we have to teach us who we are supposed to become and how we do it. Putting of the natural man and becoming a saint is the journey of a lifetime and is a choice we make each day, even each moment. 

Last night I was really upset. I was hurt and filled with anger. But as I sat there consumed with my natural man prideful self, I prayed for help. Gradually a feeling of peace settled over me like a warm blanket. My heart softened and the Spirit broke through my pride and told me exactly what I needed to hear. It was such an incredible experience. Without the atonement, there would be no saints. How grateful I am for the Lord’s mercy and miraculous ability to turn sinners to saints.
Mosiah 4:10 ...if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

It’s really that simple.
Mosiah 4:17 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I WILL STAY MY HAND, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just--

At our stake conference the other week, a speaker quoted the following scripture. I had never heard it, but instantly fell in love with it. It is the antonym to the above scripture. 

Deuteronomy 15:8 But thou shalt OPEN THINE HAND WIDE unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 

Every so often, in times where I feel torn in whether to open my hand wide or to stay my hand, I 
have the exact same line that comes to me. It is like the Spirit’s go-to line for me to know that I need to open my hand wide and soften my heart. The line is simply this, “Because I have been given much I too must give.” How grateful I am for a Savior who all too often opens his hand wide and pours out blessings sufficient for my needs and wants.
17 Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers.
18 And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers; and we did go forth in his might; yea, we did go forth against the Lamanites, and in one day and a night we did slay three thousand and forty-three; we did slay them even until we had driven them out of our land. 

These two verses are wonderful and teach us that the Lord will strengthen us in our battles and deliver us as well. BUT.....I noticed something new as I read it this time. It’s found in verse 16 and I think it is super impt! 

16. And it came to pass that I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle.

If we want the Lord’s strength and deliverance, first, we must arm ourselves and our families with all sorts of armor. The armor of prayer, scriptures, temple, fhe, etc.... Our armor is what protects us from the deadly blows of the adversary and may even be essential to the Lord blessing us with strength and deliverance.
In Mosiah 10, it is very interesting to me the description of the Lamanites....

“Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;”

This morning, I was teaching one of my favorite Chinese students about passive voice vs active voice. Interestingly, all of the above sentences (from Mosiah 10:12) are in passive voice. The Lamanites were not agents acting, but rather, they saw themselves as victims that were wronged, agents acted upon. They had a victim mentality. I sometimes find myself with this same mentality. It is such a huge problem in our society today. My girls hate the fact that whenever the Taylor Swift song “Look What You Made Me Do” comes on, I change the words to “look what I choose to do”.  I think this is so impt to teach to my girls. 

Pres. Uchtdorf’s recent talk spoke about this very thing...

“The first sister saw herself as a victim--as someone who was acted upon. It seemed like one thing after another kept happening to her that made her miserable. With this approach to life, she was giving others control over how she felt and behaved.”
Mosiah 11:25 And except they REPENT IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions; and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me.

What does this phrase even mean? I did some research....

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“A coarse, dark cloth made of hair of camels and goats and used anciently for making sacks and bags was called sackcloth. It was also used for making the rough garments worn by mourners, and so it became fixed in the prophetic mind as a symbol for sorrow and mourning. It was the custom for mourners, garbed in sackcloth, either to sprinkle ashes upon themselves or to sit in piles of ashes, thereby showing their joy had perished or been destroyed. (Gen. 37:34; Esther 4:1–3; Isa. 61:3; Jer. 6:26.)

“The use of sackcloth and ashes anciently was also a token of humility and penitence. When righteous persons used the covering of sackcloth and the sprinkling of ashes to aid them in attaining the spiritual strength to commune with Deity, their usage was always accompanied by fasting and prayer. Daniel, for instance, prefaced the record of one of his great petitions to the throne of grace with this explanation: ‘I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.’ (Dan. 9:3–4; Isa. 58:5; 1 Kings 21:17–29.)
Mosiah 17:4 But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days DID WRITE ALL THE WORDS WHICH ABINADI HAD SPOKEN. 

I have read the story of Alma, the only believing priest of King Noah, a hundred times but I have never had these words stand out to me like they did today. Probably bc of the BYU devotional I listened to this morning on the impt. of record keeping in our life. 

So instead of just texting you what I learned, I took action. I got out my dusty journal and recorded my most recent spiritual experience. I challenge you to do the same (and if you need more motivation listen to this...http://www.byui.edu/radio/brother-shawn-johansen-teaches-about-the-value-of-spiritual-records)
Mosiah 20:8 8 And now Limhi had discovered them from the tower, even all their preparations for war did he discover;

How grateful I am for a living prophet who is our watchman on the tower.  I loved how in our regional broadcast today, Elder Christoferson spoke about how to honor a prophet who is silent right now due to poor health. He said to study his recent teachings and focus on following his latest counsel....which is to study the Book of Mormon. Pres Monson, just as Limhi, has seen the “preparations for war” that are being made and coming. He also knows exactly how we can protect and shield ourselves and our families.
Mosiah 18:26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.

I love the thought that as we labor in our callings and assignments, we too, can receive the grace of God...which will strengthen us and give us knowledge and power.  

FYI... listened to a great podcast today....did you know that the Greek translation of the word comfort (in reference  to the role of the Holy Ghost) means to strengthen.  I thought that was very interesting.
Love that reminder Emma!!!! 

Mosiah 23:23 For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.

Just for fun, here’s a catchy way to remember this verse....
Mosiah 23:23...the Lord can set us free. ❤️
Alma 24:15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

This is EXACTLY what I️ needed to read this morning. The weight of all that I️ need to do over the next 6 wks to get ready to move(and especially with Cory being in Branson already) feels so heavy to me. I️ need to pray not only for strength each day but also that I️ can do it all cheerfully and with patience.....hmmm...those are the 2 things I️ am lacking right now.
“...for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.”

When you think about it,really it all comes down to these two principles of the gospel...faith and repentance. Both things require trust, humility, and action. 
Mosiah 26:30 Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.

Thank goodness!!!! Most often the things I repent of are repeated offenses. I am SO grateful to know that I can be forgiven again and again. Yet, why is it so hard to forgive others for the same offenses again and again?! How far from perfect is my ability to forgive and love as Christ does. 
Mosiah 26:39 “...being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.”

When I was visiting my grandparents in Utah, I went on a walk with my grandpa. He was telling me about how my great grandma was so youthful, happy and energetic, even in her later years. I asked him what her secret was.  He thought for a minute and then said, “gratitude.” I have really thought a lot about this. Gratitude really can change a lot.....a perspective, a relationship, an environment....but most of all, it can change a person. 
Alma 27:26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Becoming a new creature is not an easy thing. :) For me, it requires a lot of repentance and humility. Yesterday, I️ had to fight the natural man within me who really wanted to be offended and hurt by a friend, but I️ knew that this new creature I️ am trying to create had to choose not to be offended. It was/is hard to not give into the emotions that are easy but just cause us pain and heartache. Fighting the old creature/natural man is truly the battle of a lifetime.
36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

I love these versus about Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. It makes me wonder if I am being an instrument in the hands of God by “publishing peace and good tidings of good.”

“In the world, where there are often voices of pessimism and negative feelings, the voice of gladness is welcome indeed. Some seem to live with doubt, fear of the future, and sorrow for the past. If it is our nature to criticize or demean, we can cause the voices of gladness to be silenced. We need those who bring gladness into our lives. We need those who give encouragement and reflect optimism.” -marvin j Ashton36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

I love these versus about Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. It makes me wonder if I am being an instrument in the hands of God by “publishing peace and good tidings of good.”

“In the world, where there are often voices of pessimism and negative feelings, the voice of gladness is welcome indeed. Some seem to live with doubt, fear of the future, and sorrow for the past. If it is our nature to criticize or demean, we can cause the voices of gladness to be silenced. We need those who bring gladness into our lives. We need those who give encouragement and reflect optimism.” -marvin j Ashton36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

I love these versus about Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah. It makes me wonder if I am being an instrument in the hands of God by “publishing peace and good tidings of good.”

“In the world, where there are often voices of pessimism and negative feelings, the voice of gladness is welcome indeed. Some seem to live with doubt, fear of the future, and sorrow for the past. If it is our nature to criticize or demean, we can cause the voices of gladness to be silenced. We need those who bring gladness into our lives. We need those who give encouragement and reflect optimism.” -marvin j Ashton

Mosiah 29:19 19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.
We would all remain in bondage if it were not for our all-wise and merciful Creator. This morning as I was running, I came across the following quote on a podcast I listen to and fell in love with it.... 
“A cathedral without windows, a face without eyes, a field without flowers, an alphabet without vowels, a continent without rivers, a night without stars, and the sky without sun....These would not be so sad as a soul without Christ.”James L Gordon

Alma 2:19 And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were slain of the Amlicites twelve thousand five hundred thirty and two souls; and there were slain of the Nephites six thousand five hundred sixty and two souls.
Two things I get from this verse....
1. Is it just me or does anyone else find it crazy and funny (in a strange way) that they count the exact number of their dead? It’s not just thousands or around 6000 slain Nephites, it’s 6,562.  I feel so sorry for the guy who had that job! 😂 2. I love how it is not 6,562 dead men or 12,532 slain.... it is “12,532 and 6,562 souls” In using the word “souls”, I realize why we have these exact numbers...bc the Lord cares about each and every one...not just a large group of slain Nephites and Amlicites, but each and every one of those 19,094 souls plus billions more, including you and me. I’m not sure how it’s even possible, but I know it is bc I have witnessed his love and tender mercies in my own life in very personal ways and sacred moments.

Alma 2:30 And it came to pass that Alma, being a man of God, BEING EXERCISED WITH MUCH FAITH, cried, saying....
LOVE the phrase “being exercised with much faith”. While my daughter is in seminary, I park my car and go running on the streets near the church. This morning I ran past a lady who was running with a weighted bag on her shoulders.  I was so impressed! What a great way to become a stronger runner. I thought about her as I read this verse today. As we go through trials and hard experiences in life, it is like a weight on our shoulders...heavy and uncomfortable, but in the end it is those very experiences/added weight that make us stronger as we exercise our faith and build our spiritual muscles.

Alma 4:19 And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty...
There is NOTHING that “stirs me up in remembrance of my duty” like the word of God through scripture and living prophets.

Alma 5:55 Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?
This verse reminds me of the latest Mormon message I watched (and cried) with my girls this morning. 

Alma 7:12 “...that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
Sunday evening, I went into my closet in tears as I prayed for help in surviving one more month of single parenting. I was so tired and sick of fighting children and I needed some comfort and strength. Later that night, the miracles of today began. My home teacher texted inviting us to dinner tonight. Then my good friend told me she wanted to take my little girls to the park today. This morning, she picked them up and kept them all day. Kate and Cloey were super helpful at home today, we ate a delicious dinner at our home teachers, and as if that wasn’t enough...my sweet neighbor/good friend brought over travel bags filled with fun surprises for each of us as we travel to Branson tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I know that the Lord’s hand was involved in each of these unforgettable acts of service. How grateful I am for friends who are instruments in God’s hands, the Lord’s mercy, miracles, and His ability to succor each of us in our moments of weakness, fear, and discouragement.

Alma 7:23 “...always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.”
The older I get, the more I am realizing that gratitude is the answer to almost any problem and the solution in almost any circumstance. 

I’ve been reading one of my fav stories in the BofM, Alma and Amulek. In oct 2016 Pres uchtdorf gave a great talk called “Learning from Alma and Amulek”. He spoke about a man who was like a modern day Amulek. The link below gives the back story to this amazing man and his incredible journey as a member to a very vocal anti-Mormon and then back to the church. It’s an amazing story!!!!

Alma 12:31 “...and becoming as gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves IN A sTATE TO ACT or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good--“
Satan is working so hard to get us out of a state to act. Instead, he wants us in a state to be acted upon. He wants us to surrender our agency to addictions that control us and emotions and behavior that are determined by others. I am trying to make sure in my own life that I am not letting things or people take away my agency and ability to be in control; which means being intentional about my choices and responsible for my emotions and reactions.

Alma 15:6 6 And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?
This was the first thing that Alma said to the repentant Zeezrom. He didn’t say anything about all the grief he had given them or about all the people he had deceived or how he had publicly tried to make them look like fools. He just asked him if he had faith in Christ enough to save him and heal him...which he did. 

This is such a beautiful example to me of how we should treat those who come back to the church or who are going through the repentance process. It is not our place to judge or be offended by their choices, rather we should forgive and lovingly help them seek Christ’s healing powers. 

Alma 17:13 “...they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest;...”

As I drove into Wylie last night after being in Branson for Thanksgiving. It was so sad to think that we only have 3 weeks left here. I have loved Wylie, bc of all the people I have grown to love so much. Saying goodbye to people you love and wondering when or if you’ll see them again is the WORST!!! But as I read this verse today, I was filled with  comfort and peace. Someday, at the end of our “harvest”, we will all see one another again. What a day that will be and how grateful I am to know that such a day will come.  

Alma 18:10 10 Now when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them.

What a great example of what it means to have integrity! I have really been working hard to teach my children about integrity and trying to point out examples of it in their own life. 

Also, I love how Ammon did not go to the king and seek praise for all the arms he had cut off.  He didn’t need the praise of man. Integrity, honor, and obedience were much more impt to him. Seeking praise is such a natural man desire and feeds our ego but obedience and humility feed our soul.
Alma 19:29 “And it came to pass that she went and took the queen by the hand, that perhaps she might raise her from the ground...”

This is the second time in the last week that I have read about somebody who takes somebody by the hand in order to raise them up. Alma took Zeezrom by the hand and raised him up through love and forgiveness and Abish took the queen by the hand in order to raise her from the ground and stand by her side as a newly converted witness of Jesus Christ. 

Both Abish and Alma offered their hands and friendship at a crucial time. It makes me wonder if I am offering my hand to those around me who may need to be lifted, strengthened, or supported in their times of need. Obviously the Lord knows how much we need each other and through his divine planning we may be the very person the Lord has placed in someone’s path to offer our hand of friendship, support, love, or forgiveness.

scripture journal entries

The conversion of King Lamoni and his father is one of my favorite parts of the BofM. What is very cool to me is that these amazing stories of conversion were all because of LOVE. 
Ammon’s LOVE for the Lord led him to be a man of integrity and caused King Lamoni to ask questions. The Queen’s LOVE for her husband led her to her own conversion. Ammon’s LOVE for his brothers led him to journey to Middoni to free his brothers. King Lamoni’s LOVE for Ammon (and the Lord) caused him to courageously offer to help free Ammon’s brothers and to boldly stand up to his father/king of the land. It was Ammon’s LOVE for King Lamoni that caused King Lamoni’s father to spare their lives. It was Ammon and King Lamoni’s LOVE for the Lord that caused King Lamoni’s father to want to know more and ultimately lead to his conversion and many others. 

So basically, LOVE is always the answer. 😍

Friday, November 06, 2015

My Thoughts on Recent Church Policy

I remember as a teenager how I would frequently think, and sometimes say, how unfair my parents were and how differently I planned to do things when I was a parent. One of those things that I thought were so unfair and horrible for my parents to do was to always make me have a job. Not only would they make me work, they would also not let me quit just because I was sick of it, didn't like it anymore, or didn't care for my co-workers. They would listen to me cry and complain and then send me on my way the next day to go do it all again. I really fought my parents over this issue. I had so many friends whose parents didn't make them work, or if they did, they would let them quit their job if they didn't like it anymore. It just wasn't fair. I thought my parents were so unmerciful and unloving. Which is actually quite ironic looking back today. I am now doing the hardest job I could ever imagine. I am raising five little girls who test my patience every single moment. They are often disobedient, ungrateful, messy, and stinky. On top of the children I am raising, I also spend every single day doing the exact same things that I did the day before...endless laundry, dish washing, scrubbing, dusting, picking up, making meals, etc. The other day I was feeling so under appreciated and overwhelmed. Cory was home early and I was starting to fix dinner. As I was cutting some potatoes, watching my children and husband having the time of their life outside, I started crying my eyes out. I decided that I just needed to leave. I'd go to they gym, sit in the hot tub, and just have some alone time. Cory and the girls could figure out something for dinner. I got in the van and drove away. At first it felt good, but as I approached the last street in my neighborhood, I came to a stop. I knew that I needed to go back home. I needed to fix a healthy delicious meal for the people that I loved more than anything in the world. I needed to bath my children, tuck them into bed, and kiss my husband. I turned the van around and went back home. My job isn't easy. In fact, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the thought of just walking away hadn't ever crossed my mind on a really bad day. But, I wouldn't ever do that. And I believe that part of the reason why I wouldn't is because I was taught by a loving mother and father that even when your job is hard, monotonous, tedious, or exhausting, you can cry and complain for a moment, but then you pick yourself up and get busy doing it again the next day. As a 16 year old girl, I did not understand how my parents could be so unmerciful, and yet as a 35 year old mother, I can't even express how grateful I am for parents who knew better than me. Parents who could see how important it was for me to learn what hard work was and what endurance was all about. There are many other examples I could give of things that my parents did or enforced that I thought was absolutely ridiculous. But now as I look back, I can only applaud them and thank them for having the courage to teach, persist, and battle through my immature and selfish understanding of life. They could see what I could not, just as I can see struggles that my own children will face in their future if I do not help them to overcome their individual weaknesses now. The perspective of experience is a powerful one. One that only a parent can understand as they do their best to raise good children in a confusing world. Recently my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has come out and stated new church policy regarding homosexual families. They have stated that children (under 18) cannot be baptized as a member of our church if their parents are homosexual. There are many people, people whom I love and respect, who feel that this policy is unmerciful and unjust. I do not understand all the reasoning behind this policy, but in my limited understanding and perspective, I feel peace because of two things that I know for sure.... 1. The prophet and apostles who lead the church today are men of God. I recently read a comment of someone saying that this new policy is completely inconsistent with the gospel of love. When I think of President Monson, the one word that comes to my mind is charity. He is a man of incredible love. He loves others in a way that I only dream of. As I have studied his life through books and articles, I have been so amazed by his kindness, thoughtfulness, and charity toward ALL men, women, and children. I also know how much each of the brethren who stand beside President Monson show love to all men, women, and children of all faiths, races, and cultures. They stand for love. Just recently Elder Oaks stood in front of the court and fought for the rights of homosexuals in regards to jobs and housing. I also remember a talk given by him called "Protect the Children". These are wise men who are educated in amazing ways (heart surgeons, professors, lawyers, presidents of companies, etc) and who have chosen to lead a life of service and love in proclaiming truth and testifying of Jesus Christ. There are no decisions that are made lightly by these 15 men (12 apostles and members of the First Presidency). In my life I have had the blessing of meeting a handful of these men in person. I don't know how you can look into the eyes of one of these men and not know with your entire being that these are men of God. These are men that I will stand beside, even when I don't completely understand the whys. This is not me following with blind faith, rather it is faith with eyes who have seen the hand of God in my life as I have chosen to be obedient the words of his anointed prophets and apostles. 2. The Lord counsels man in the Bible that God’s ways did not come from man or from this earth. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8–9). Just as a child doesn't understand why their parents would enforce rules that just seem to make no sense or that seem completely unmerciful and unloving, we too, are children to a God who sees all things. His ways are not our ways. In my studying of the Old Testament a couple of years ago, I felt somewhat bothered that the God that I felt I knew, seemed to be different in the Old Testament than he was in the New Testament or the Book of Mormon. The loving merciful God I knew seemed so inconsistent with the one who would create a flood so great that the entire population, save a few, would be destroyed. But then one day in my studying, I came across the following quote, "But says the caviller, is it right that a just God should sweet off so many people? Is that in accordance with mercy? Yes, it was just to those spirits that had not received their bodies, and it was just and merciful too to those people guilty of the iniquity. Why? Because by taking away their earthly existence he prevented them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness." All the sudden I understood. Although this example is different than the recent policy, I feel that at some point I will more fully understand the why of this as well as the why for an entire population to be destroyed in a flood. But for now, knowing what I know about our loving Father, I know that all things will be made right someday. I know that his love for the children who may not have the opportunity to be baptized until a later day because of their parents' choices, are just as loved as any other child in the world, because they are HIS children. His love is perfect. His ways may not be our ways, but his ways are perfectly just and merciful.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Weekend to Remember

This last weekend Andrea, Abby, and Ethan came over and had a slumber party with us. I LOVE when my sister comes to visit. I wish it happened more often, but between her busy school teaching schedule and my schedule, I'll take what I can get. :) After playing games with the kids, feeding them, and getting them ready for bed, we left Abby in charge and went out on the town. I took her to one of my new favorite "almost as good as Cafe Rio" Mexican restaurants and we ate and talked for a couple hours. Then we roamed Target and finished the night with some delicious hot chocolate from QT (why is that gas station hot chocolate is my favorite?). I love spending time with Andrea. She just gets me (which is kindof scary, right Andrea?). Growing up, I remember a lot of fun times with Andrea. We played a lot of Barbies (well actually I think we spent more time "setting up" than actually playing, rode bikes, did yard work together (only because there was no choice in the matter), and made up dances in our backyard to Andrea's Madonna tape. Wow, those were the good times. But then as we got older, the good times turned into a lot of not so good times with us fighting over anything and everything, especially clothes, friends, and boys. By the time Andrea went away to college, I was SO ready for her to be gone. But then, just as it usually does, as time went by and years passed, I realized that my sister was my best friend. I cannot imagine my life without her. My younger sister, Katie, grew up mostly as an only child because in between me and Katie was my brother Kelly, who died as a baby. So there is 8 or 9 years between Katie and I. It wasn't until Katie got married and started having children that I think we really connected, and I'm so glad we did. Katie is an amazing person with so many admirable qualities that I would love to have. My sisters far exceed me in talents and intelligence, but thankfully, they are patient with me and love me anyways. :) After Andrea and I's slumber party, we all got up really early Sunday morning and met my parents, Katie, Jason, and their girls, Jason's family, and Mike, Nancy and Alyssa at Katie and Jason's sacrament meeting to be part of Clara's baby blessing. It was so awesome to have our family fill two pews. The blessing was beautiful and the testimonies born that day were nice, but my favorite part of the whole experience happened while we were singing the closing hymn, I Know that My Redeemer Lives. I have always loved that song but for some reason it hit me differently this time and I had a really hard time controlling my emotions during most of it. I'm not sure what it was, but I think it was a combination of a couple things. As I sang the following lines, I had all sorts of memories and thoughts come to my mind... "He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart." I thought of both of my sisters and some of the trials that they have, or still are, overcoming in their life. I thought of my mom and dad who have experienced their share of heartache, disappointment, and insecurity. I thought of myself and the specific times in my life where I have felt the Lord's love in personal and incredible ways. Ways and means in which my tears were wiped away and comfort and blessings poured upon me and my aching and trembling heart. I know that in my life and in the life of my sisters and parents, we have each, individually and personally, come to know for ourselves that He lives. Which is why I could hardly get out the last verse as I listened and felt of the power and conviction of the voices singing around me. Voices that I have known for a very long time. Voices that are so familiar to me and bring such joy to my heart when I hear them...the voices of my parents, sisters, and husband. And then there are the sweet little voices that are still learning and who have yet to learn, or remember, that he lives. Voices of my nieces, nephews, cousin, and my own children who will hopefully one day sing with their own conviction the words, "He lives! All glory to his name! He lives, my Savior, still the same. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives!". It is no small thing to stand united as a family in worshipping the Lord. It is an experience that I will never forget and that I know will continue to bring strength and joy to my heart for years to come.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Things I learned in 2014...

*my body can't do quite the things it could do five or ten years ago, but I can still push its limits and be grateful everyday that I can. *disappointments and bad days will always be part of life, but they don't have to define who I am or who someone else is. *People make bad choices, but that doesn't mean they are bad people. *Raising five girls is hard work. Period. *Having regular fun date nights with my husband is necessary for my sanity and marriage. *It doesn't matter how old I am, I still just need a girl friend to shop with, watch girl movies with, cry, vent, laugh cheer, workout, and stuff our face with chocolate and coke zero. *It is important to serve the Lord in my callings, but my family will and must always come first. *Personal daily habits of discipleship and worship are essential to my happiness and endurance. *Personal daily habits of physical exercise are also essential to my happiness and endurance. *Gray hair can always be covered up. *Children grow up way too fast. *The older my oldest gets the more I realize that my role as her mother is not to create her identity for her, but rather, to help her discover and celebrate the identity that is divinely hers and the gifts she was born to share. *I have always wished that I was more organized. I have dreamed and wished for a day when my pantries, shelves, and cupboards would be orderly, alphabetized, and highly functional. That may be a reality for some people, but this year I have learned that for me success in organization means that my time is organized well enough that I make time for all the essentials and still have leftover time to write, play with my kids, talk to a friend, serve, and just savor and enjoy all the moments that pass too quickly. Someday my shelves may be labeled and my towel closet featured in a Home and Garden magazine (or maybe even pinned on Pinterest), but if not, that's okay. As long as I learn to organize my life in order to make time for the things that matter most, then I can deal with the rest. I may continue to cringe when I open my towel closet because it was Makayla's turn to fold and put the towels away, or laugh as I open the silverware drawer because Hailey decided to rearrange everything when she unloaded the dishwasher, but when I lay in bed I will feel peace in knowing that there is a season for everything. :) *Saying "No" is not only okay, but crucial in my life because when I say no to something it is because I need to say yes to something even more important. *The Lord places people in each other's lives at certain times for specific reasons. *Self-discipline is very empowering. Here's to a new year filled with new lessons to learn.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Thoughts on New Year's Eve 2014

This last year has come and gone so quickly. Today, as I have looked back on the past year, I have had a lot of emotions. I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic (something that isn't that abnormal for me over the last couple of years). I started to worry about everything and everyone. I got myself into such an anxious mood that I ended up awake for the next two hours trying to finish reading my Book of Mormon (I am 45 pages from finishing and if I don't finish it will be my first time in a decade to have not read my Book of Mormon all the way through in a year's time). But eventually I fell asleep with a child in one arm and my scriptures in the other. When I woke up this morning, I decided that today I would definitely finish reading the last 45 pages. But, then life happened..children need attention, laundry needs doing, meals need making, etc. I have decided that it's just not going to happen this year...and THAT'S OKAY! Which leads me to all my panic, anxiety, and emotions about this last year. In so many ways I feel like I have failed on so many things. My house isn't that much more organized (a goal I set every year), I still haven't written a book (a goal I've had forever), I still have weight to lose from having six babies, I still struggle every single day to remember to say my morning and night prayers, I'm obviously still struggling to read my scriptures every single day the way that I should, I didn't visit teach like I should have this year (I had way too many drop off letters/gift kind of "visits"), I wasn't a very good friend to a lot of people, I have way to many bad mother moments, I didn't share the gospel as much as I should've, etc, etc... The list could go on and on. But, in my whole pile of endless guilt that I keep accumulating in my mind, I had a couple of other thoughts come to my heart. Thoughts that were not from me, nor from a place of failure, despair, or guilt that regularly consumes my mind. Instead, they came from a place in my heart that is occupied and reserved for divine messages from a loving Heavenly Father. A Father who is trying to teach me about repentance, change, faith, and grace. It is this kind of message that fills me with hope. Hope in tomorrow. Hope in the five beautiful children and amazing husband that I love more than life itself. Hope in friends and family, and most importantly, hope in myself.

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