Friday, December 4, 2015

Walking after the Holy Order of God

I had the opportunity this week to study the Book of Mormon for my religion class and discover what it means to walk after the Holy Order of God and what is required of us to be found blameless before him. We can look to Christ and learn from his perfect example. I am so thankful for his life, example and sacrifice for each of us.

In the book of Alma, Chapter 7, verse 22 Alma speaks to "awaken us to a sense of our duty before God that we might walk blameless before him, that we might walk after the holy order of God..." In verse 23 we find that the Holy Order of God is to be humble, be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things you stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. Then in Verse 24 he adds: And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.

In order to understand better what is required of us, I looked through other resources online and in the scriptures to find good definitions of each requirement. Here are some of the things that I learned:

Be Humble: I love how president Uchtdorf defines "humble" and the perfect example, the Savior, in this quote: “The greatest, most capable, most accomplished man who ever walked this earth was also the most humble. He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to ‘tell no man’ what He had done [see Luke8:56]. When someone called Him ‘good,’ He quickly deflected the compliment, insisting that only God is truly good [see Mark 10:17–18]. Clearly the praise of the world meant nothing to Him. … We would do well to follow the example of our Master.” If we can be humble like our Savior we will give glory to God and be blameless before Him.

Submissive - Submitting fully to the Lord and His purposes for us. If we can submit our will to His, we will be able to accomplish his purposes for us and be found blameless before Him.

Gentle - Mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender. If we are gentle and do not react harshly or treating others unkindly, we will be found blameless before God.

Easy to be entreated - "I believe “easy to be entreated” is about how we hear the Lord’s word and how we follow the pleadings of the Holy Spirit. Alma’s hopes were that the people of Gideon would have minds and hearts open to the messages sent to them by a loving Heavenly Father, who is anxious to reveal truth, direction, comfort, solace, and assurance to His children. Alma wanted the people to qualify for, receive, and act on revelation." ~ Sandra Rogers, IVP, BYU. If we are easy to be entreated we will not be blamed for not hearing the word of the lord and following the promptings of the spirit.

Patient - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something … even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!” If we can learn patience and how to endure well until the end we will fall blameless before God.

Long suffering - The ability to endure in giving love, even when we may feel alone, hurt, or frustrated. If we learn to have love and patience for others and to not reacting to or return unkindness we might experience from others we will be blameless before God.

Temperate - Being temperate is to use moderation in all things or to exercise self-control. I love this quote from Kent D. Watson from his Ensign article "Being temperate in all things:" "Tempered glass, like tempered steel, undergoes a well-controlled heating process which increases strength. Thus, when tempered glass is under stress, it will not easily break into jagged shards that can injure. Likewise, a temperate soul—one who is humble and full of love—is also a person of increased spiritual strength.With increased spiritual strength, we are able to develop self-mastery and to live with moderation. We learn to control, or temper, our anger, vanity, and pride. With increased spiritual strength, we can protect ourselves from the dangerous excesses and destructive addictions of today’s world. If we can be temperate and exercising control and mastery over ourselves we will be blameless before God.

Diligent - having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties. If we put in our best effort continually to do the most important things, we will be blameless before God. I love this Ensign Article, "More diligent and concerned at Home" by David A. Bedar.

Grateful - "As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to “thank theLord [our] God in all things,”1 to “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,”2 and to “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.”3 Why does God command us to be grateful?All of His commandments are given to make blessings available to us. Commandments are opportunities to exercise our agency and to receive blessings. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that choosing to develop a spirit of gratitude will bring us true joy and great happiness...Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, away of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be. ~ President Uchtdorf, Grateful in any circumstances. If we are grateful and thank the Lord for our blessings we will be blameless before Him.

Faithful - The Apostle Paul taught that “faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Alma made a similar statement: “If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith. We show our hope for something that we cannot yet see. If we can have faith and be believing we will be blameless before God.

Hopeful - When we have hope, we trust God's promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). If we trust God and his promises and do works of righteousness we will be blameless before God.

Full of Charity - Charity is long suffering and is kind. One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others,”said President Ezra Taft Benson. “He is considerate of others’ feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others’ weaknesses and faults [and] is extended to all—to the aged and the young, to animals, to those low of station as well as the high.” (In General Conference, October 1986.) If we are full of charity, or the pure love of Christ, we will be blamesless before Him. We can pray to understand others and have charity. Knowing how much I rely on the Savior myself helps me to have charity for others.

Abounding in good works - Having eyes to see and ears to hear the needs of others all around us and then going to work and acting upon these impressions to bring about much good on the Earth will make a difference in the lives of others. If we can learn to see the needs of others around us and keeping our covenants to serve one another, mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort, we will be blameless before God.

Knowing that we will all fall short of perfection in walking in the Holy Order of God or in His ways, I am thankful for the mercy and the love of the Savior; For his atoning sacrifice for all of us that allow us to repent, change, and become better throughout our lives.

10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pray Always

I really enjoyed Listening to Elder Bednar's talk recently entitled "Pray Always." It changed the way I thought about some aspects of prayer and was enlightening! First, President Bednar talked about how during the creation of the world, everything was created spiritually before it was created physically. “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth” (Moses 3:4–5).

When we start our day off with a prayer we are creating the day spiritually first. We are taking the time to start the day off with the Lord and seek his blessings and inspiration to help us through the day and asking for the strength and the blessings that we stand in need of. I love how President Bednar worded this:

"There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

• Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most. • Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.

• Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.

• Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.

• Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day."

We then keep a prayer in our hearts throughout the day for continued assistance and guidance. “Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord” (Alma 37:36). As we do this we will be able to recognize the hand of the Lord and his influence, strength and guidance. As we recognize these blessings, we can thank Him for his help "even as we recognize it."

At the close of each day we finish the day with a prayer. I cannot say this better than Elder Bednar and so I wanted to share his words here as well: "At the end of our day, we kneel again and report back to our Father. We review the events of the day and express heartfelt thanks for the blessings and the help we received. We repent and, with the assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, identify ways we can do and become better tomorrow. Thus our evening prayer builds upon and is a continuation of our morning prayer. And our evening prayer also is a preparation for meaningful morning prayer.

Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:36; 3 Nephi 18:15, 18; D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children."

I love these thoughts and have realized that I can do more to "pray always" and to connect my morning and evening prayers. I very much want to obtain the best blessings that the Lord has in store for me and my family. As I do this, I know I will be able to receive them. I love the example of Enos in the Book of Mormon and how he would go to the Lord in Mighty Prayer and would pray with all of his heart.

Chapter 1, verse 4: "And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my maker, and cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all day long I did cry unto him; yea, and when the night came, I did still raise up my voice that it reached the heavens.

Verse 12: And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desired, because of thy faith."

What a powerful promise and what a beautiful blessing and strength Prayer is in our lives!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Disciples of Christ

I've been thinking quite a bit about being a "Disciple of Christ" and it has been discussed this week in my Online Book of Mormon class as well. A "Disciple" is a student and follower of Christ. We can be His disciples as we study His life and His words in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and pattern our lives after His. Furthermore, We can listen to the words of a living Prophet and Apostles, keep the commandments and the covenants we have made, and reconcile our lives to His will through His Atonement. In the April 1987 Ensign article "Overcome...even as I overcame," Neal A. Maxwell states that "If we are really His disciples, we will be able to absorb the darts of the Adversary." He continues by saying that being true disciples will take both of our hands. We will need to loft the shield of Faith in one hand and hold firmly to the words of God with the other hand. If we are to know His will and submit our will to His, we need to seek His will and guidance through prayer continually. We must make time in our lives for spiritual things. As Elder Maxwell said: "Don't let the light of truth get lost in daily living." As we strive to be His Disciples and be like him, "Line upon line and precept upon precept we will come to have the mind of Christ." I know that I am the happiest in my life when my life is patterned after the Savior's. I feel peace, hope and strength in my life as I use His Atonement to be forgiven of my sins and my shortcomings, draw closer to him, and become better. I feel great Joy in my life as I am able to serve, love and lift others as Jesus Christ would. I am so grateful for His restored Gospel on the Earth today and for the many ways it blesses my Life. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He lives today. Our Elder Brother Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven love us with an infinite and unconditional love. As we are disciple of Christ, We can share their love with everyone around us.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

For a school assignment I have to write a blog or a talk on something that I have learned this week in my studies. This is a fun assignment. I loved and chose to blog about Elder Bednar's talk on the Tender Mercies of the Lord. Tender mercies are "very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts we receive from, because of, and through Jesus Christ." "But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." Even though I think I already knew this, I never really thought about how We can invite and also better recognize the Tender Mercies of the Lord in our lives through our own faithfulness, obedience, and humility. When we are faithful, obedient and humble, we are blessed. We are the ones that determine if we are chosen. We become chosen as we use our agency to choose God. I am so thankful for all of the ways Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ manifest their love for us and provide ways for us to receive needed blessings. They even put us under covenant (a 2 way promise) when we are baptized to serve and lift each other. Not only do we learn to become like them (God and Jesus Christ) when we serve and lift others but We are lifted and blessed ourselves. It is beautiful! I hope we can all recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives and know how much we are known and loved by our Father in Heaven and Elder Brother Jesus Christ! To read the entire article from President Bednar click here. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Moving Forward in Faith

I had to speak last Sunday on moving forward in faith. When I heard the topic I immediately thought about when we moved out to the county in New Hill. It is much much darker out here at night than in the big town of Apex and on our land there is about a 30 yard walk from where I used to park the van to the house. (I park closer now because out in the country it is ok if you park your car on your lawn.) :)

So, coming from the van to the house at night was an adventure with three children. Even with the porch light on 30 yards away, it is not enough to see where you are walking in the country dark. So I would often hold my youngest, Liam, and have a child clinging to each arm or each leg as we walked over the uneven ground. I don't blame them, it was dark and there were new noises.

My sweet husband to help the situation installed 2 motion lights on each of the front corners of our shed that we walk past to get to the house. After installing the motion lights we would still have to walk a few feet before the light would come on and then we would walk further and the second light would turn on lighting the path that curves to the house. I hardly ever walk to the house now without thinking about faith because that is exactly how faith works. Sometimes we feel like we are walking in the dark, but if we continue to walk, the light will come on and as we continue to have faith and walk and we can receive more light and that faith and light leads us to our heavenly home.

If we waited in the dark for the light to come on, we would be waiting forever. Action is required on our part, we must move forward in faith.

“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” (2 Nephi 31:18–20).

I love the verb “press” in “press forward.” It reminds us that it will not always be easy. We might struggle and have to put forth great effort to move forward. Surely there will be obstacles in each of our paths.

Having a “brightness of hope” is an important part of the scripture. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.

We might be going through extremely difficult things that try our faith, We be experiencing grief or health issues, we might be afraid of the unknown and in need of reassurance or be feeling remorse for something we have done. We might experience questions or doubts. These are all a normal part of Earth Life but despite all of these things we CAN move forward in Faith because we CAN TRUST our Father in Heaven in HIS Gospel, In HIS Love for us, in HIS plan for us and in HIS promises.

Concerning questions and doubts, Elder Uchtodorf said in the October 2013 general conference: “It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”1

So how do we go about honestly doubting our doubts? How do we anchor our faith on the solid rock of revelation and not on the sandy soil of shifting human understanding and allow ourselves to move forward?

In the article from last Month’s Ensign that I really enjoyed called: The Answer to All the Hard Questions, R. VAL JOHNSON discusses 5 helpful Principles:

Principle 1: God Knows Infinitely More Than We Do. When faced with questions—whether personal, social, or doctrinal—we can rely on the fact that the Creator of the universe knows far more than we do. If He has addressed a topic (and sometimes He hasn’t), we can trust that His views are clearer than ours.

“For 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” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Principle 2: God Shares Some of His Knowledge. God shares with us as much of what He knows as we are ready to receive and He is ready to deliver. We just need to prepare ourselves to receive it, then seek it. The scriptures answer many questions. One of the great pleasures of this life is being taught by the Holy Ghost as He uses the scriptures to reveal “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30) in response to our diligent study.

We are also blessed to have living prophets and apostles to teach us under the inspiration of heaven. We need not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” We can trust that their collective guidance will help us “all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” (See Ephesians 4:11–15.)

Principle 3: We Can Trust in God’s Love. God loves us far more than we can imagine. We are His children, and He wants us to return to His presence as mature, glorified beings capable of becoming like Him (see Moses 1:39). All the counsel He gives us is given with the deepest of love to bless us eternally. We can trust in that love completely.

An experience I had that is special to me where I was able to feel the Love of God for me personally happened in the Temple: I was 21 I had graduated from what was then Rick’s college and I was working at a grocery store trying to save money and trying to figure out what to do next I should do next with my life. I was feeling pretty down, pretty confused about some decisions that felt really big to me. Should I go back out west to school, should I continue to date so and so, should I start filling out mission papers…

I had a close friend invite me to drive up to the DC temple and I went. They had already been through the temple and received their endowments but I had not. While they were in a session, I was kindly allowed to do some confirmations. I went into the women’s dressing room to change into white clothing. I was completely alone in there. I remember that it was so very very quiet. I walked through the dressing area and into a stall and closed the door. I remember putting my things down and feeling pretty low one moment and then out of nowhere, came a feeling of complete love and warmth that I could feel from the top of my head to my toes and it surrounded me. It was truly like a blanket and it was so powerful that I said thank you out loud. I will never forget that The Temple is literally the House of God or the Love of God that I felt there. I did not receive a specific answer then but I knew that it was going to be ok. That experience helps me to remember that no matter what difficulties we may have to endure, we can trust in God’s love for us and his plan for us.

Principle 4: We Need to Seek Spiritual Affirmations. Of affirmations from the spirit. If so much of the world’s wisdom seems contrary to God’s, we should not be surprised. After all, by divine design, we live in a fallen world where we are cut off from the presence and mind of God. Such a condition can make understanding the things of God difficult, “for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. …

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14).

If we are to understand the things of God, we can’t depend on human wisdom alone to do the job. We need access to the Spirit of God “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. … which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12–13).

When we are baptized and confirmed members of Christ’s Church, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that gift, we can learn from the Spirit and receive His comforting confirmations of truth. Receiving such spiritual affirmations dispels doubt more surely than the most convincing logic, and it is available to all who seek truth through sincere prayer, diligent study, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

I’d like to add that remembering what we do know and the spiritual experience that we have had can also help us to move forward in faith when we experience difficult times. The last principle

Principle 5: We May Need to Wait Upon the Lord. Sometimes we come up blank as we struggle to understand the trials and questions we have. Despite our best efforts, understanding escapes us. The heavens seem closed. That’s when our trust in God enables us to have the patience to wait upon Him. Not all questions will be answered immediately or even in this life. Not all trials will ease before body and spirit separate. But if we love God above all else, if we trust in His love for us, we will be able to endure in faith until that day dawns when the veil lifts and all becomes clear.

In Psalms 37 we are given a promise “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

I know that as we learn to trust in our Heavenly Father’s love, great wisdom and plan for our lives, and as we seek to increase our faith and know his truths through the Holy Ghost through sincere prayer, diligent study and by obedience to the commandments that when trials come our way we will have the strength to press forward with faith and face our hardships with courage and a brightness of hope.

I love Our Father in Heaven's plan for us even though it is often difficult. I know He loves us and that the things we experience in this life are for our learning and growth and also allow us to help others. I trust that his plan for me is to help me become all that I can and I know I am a better woman because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in my life. I know that this is His restored Gospel on the Earth, That Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration and that we are led by a prophet today.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches

What a couple of years y'all. I have been a terrible blogger. There has been just too much going on to keep up but I'm going to try do better for posterity. In the last 2 years we sold our home in Apex, bought a piece of land in New Hill (south of Apex)to build a modular home on, moved into an apartment in Morrisville for a few months in the interim, then put a double wide on the land and moved into it while getting ready and still waiting to build a modular house. We've been in the double wide about a year and, while of course we wish we had a little more room, we are making the best of it and the kids amazingly still have their own rooms. There are a lot of pro's and con's to country livin' that I think posterity will get a kick out of.

Having a neighbor with a saw mill in their yard:

Getting used to walking in the country dark.

There are no neighborhood ordinances or letters saying you need to mow your grass more often and have less weeds. We can have all the weeds we like here. ;)

There are all kinds of interesting critters. Some I can honestly say I have never seen before! We have especially loved the baby deer that have come through this year.

Hello Turkey Buzzards/Vultures:

Blue Tailed Skinks

Marbled Salamanders

Rosy Maple Moth

Orb Weaver/Writing Spider

Other Spider that was larger than my hand that I was too scared to take a picture of.

Other Cute Critters :)

We also had an incident where we left a window cracked on the van and a squirrel was trapped inside the van. We were going to the van to drive to school and the kids were screaming that something was in the van and then we saw the squirrel frantically running back and forth on the dash. Thank Heavens for Automatic side door openers, lol!! It crashed off into the woods leaving us with a funny story to tell.

The Drive to New Hill is breathtaking because you are up higher and can see more sky. Best. clouds. ever. Seriously so very beautiful.

The Drive to New Hill also has the awesome baptist church bill board with new weekly quotes.

We always get to read Which bands are going to play at Bones place and that they also sell fat back and hoop cheese.

As soon as we hit the gravel road on the circle neighborhood we live on the windows go down and the kids hang out the windows and car surf once or twice around. Nice after school tradition while the weather is nice. Nice place to go for a walk. :)

Our teeny Tiny post office where the employee takes a 2 hour lunch break from 12-2.

View from the "porch":

The wooded drive.

Room to run and play.

We do love it out here. We are looking forward to getting into a more functional space with more cupboards, closets etc. But We are grateful (most of the time) ;) just to have a roof over our heads. :D

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Camo Girl in Florida

Hello from Sunny Florida!! We got here on Sunday...without my luggage.:) We rented a van with my in-laws, packed the night before and early Sunday while loading the van with luggage, allergy friendly groceries, nebulizer (just in case, you never know) for seven people, mine got left behind. I think it may have been because it was in a Tupperware bin as opposed to an actual suitcase because it was more convenient (meaning I couldn't find another suitcase anywhere)and it probably didn't help that it was sitting by the laundry pile that I hadn't managed to get put away before we left. I assumed Greg got it because there were other things that were sitting on top of my "luggage bin" that I saw go in the van. Greg assumed it was more laundry. It isn't uncommon to have a bin of clothes hanging out when you are getting out winter things or pulling out a new size of hand me downs for Liam from Parker. It also didn't help that right when we were loading up to leave, one child was hungry, one needed water, one needed to go to the bathroom and someone else needed a tissue. hee hee. So that is how it happened. I confess it wasn't very funny for about 5 minutes after we arrived and discovered it but what can you do? Go to Walmart is what you can do. We went to Walmart and there were no shorts for sale IN FLORIDA, lol. So We found the next best thing, a pair or clearance camo pants in my size to cut off. HA!! A couple of t-shirts, a toothbrush, pajama pants, a swimsuit, done. We joked that people would see me in the Disney parks and say "there's camo girl again." lol. The hotel we are staying at has a washer and dryer so I do a load of laundry every evening and voila. Ready for tomorrow. :) I also cut off the jeans that I wore on the ride down so I do have one other option. I'm glad it was my luggage and not someone else's and it is quite funny how little you can get by with for a week when you have to!! Camo Girl signing out

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

So it is a bit of an ongoing joke in my family how often I've been asked to speak on the Atonement in Sacrament Meeting. 3 out of the last 5 years. I'm convinced it was because I didn't get it quite right the first 2 times. lol. SOO this time I tried extra hard to say exactly what I was supposed to say. (Also because I had to speak right before the Bishop - no pressure.) I'll let you know if I have to speak on it again next year. ;) Thought I'd share because I am so grateful for the atonement in my life and for the Savior's willing sacrifice for us all. Enjoy!

I am happy to have had a chance to think about the Atonement of Jesus Christ the past couple of weeks. I’d like to start off by sharing a tender, personal glimpse of the Savior’s loving sacrifice for us through a dream that Orson F. Whitney, who served in the quorum of the twelve apostles, had when he was a young missionary. It was a dream so powerful that it changed his life forever:

“One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. … I stood behind a tree in the foreground. … Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed … : ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’ “As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else. “Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour. “Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child. “All at once the circumstance seemed to change. … Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him. “I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’

I love the descriptions he gave of the Savior from this dream: Gentle, tender, kind, meek and lowly as a little child, sweet.

Through his sinless life, his genetic nature as the only begotten of the Father and his willingness to drink the bitter cup of justice, The Savior was able to atone unconditionally for Adam and Eve’s transgression and for Physical death allowing for us all to be resurrected. These unconditional parts of the atonement are free gifts of grace requiring no further action on our parts. He also atoned conditionally for our personal sins. This requires our repentance as the condition of applying mercy. Like the Savior said in Elder Whitney’s dream “That will depend entirely upon ourselves.” If we do not repent we must suffer even as the Lord did to satisfy the demands of justice.

When I was in younger I remember viewing repentance as something that had a definite start and finish but as I have matured, I have realized that it is an ongoing process that truly never ends and that it can be a daily blessing that allows us to become closer to our Heavenly Father, more like him, and strengthen us as a result if we take advantage of it.

I think in the repentance process it is important to remember just how much our Heavenly Father loves us, is on our side, and wants to forgive us. There is a line in my patriarchal blessing that I feel is ok to share because it applies to us all and teaches us about the nature of God. It says “Always remember that the commandments of God are gentle. As you remember this you will have the necessary faith to place your burdens at His feet. This means that our Heavenly Father is just that, the very best kind of father. A gentle father who knows that we will sometimes make mistakes, who waits and longs to forgive, comfort, strengthen and bless his children. I know that our Bishop and his counselors have this same kind of love for the members of our ward.

In the April 1990 Ensign article titled Beauty for Ashes – Bruce C. Hafen discusses two other ways that the Lord’s atonement or grace blesses us beyond compensating for our sins. The first of these is that that the Atonement can sweeten the bitter. Each of us will taste the bitter ashes of this life. In Moses chapter 6:55 we read that we taste the bitter that we might learn to prize the good. Some examples of bitterness we might experience in life are: Accidents caused by carelessness, forgotten promises, discouragement about the circumstances of our personal lives, self-doubts, ignorance, stresses and troubles, broken hearts, spiritual fatigue, illnesses and the undeserved pain of adversity. We must also lay these burdens at the feet of our Savior. The blessed news of the Gospel is that the Atonement can not only purify all uncleanness but sweeten all the bitterness we taste. It compensates after all we can do for the ignorance or neglect, the sorrows and adversity we experience in this life. I know that is true and I’d like to share an example of this from my own life.

Sorry to those of you who have heard parts of this story before. Before I tell it I have to preface that, looking back, I know that in the grand scheme of things this was a relatively small challenge but it sure didn’t feel very small when I when I was going through it and I feel like the principles I learned from going through it can apply to all of the challenges that we might receive in this life.

When I was a new first time Mom, my first child at 4 months contracted a common childhood virus in the chickenpox family that causes an itchy rash with raised bumps. The pediatrician said it usually ran its course in a year or less and that the bumps usually spread a little and that they often caused scarring similar to the chicken pox when they went away. Well, we soon discovered that our case was not a very typical case. Within a few months the bumps had spread to cover both arms and parts of his trunk and back. The pediatrician made a phone call and got us in quickly to see the best dermatologist at Duke. The Dermatologist was surprised at the number of and the size of the bumps (they were quite frightening to behold) and asked permission to remove one to study it and to take pictures to send to his colleagues across the country to see if they had discovered any new treatments or if they had had any success treating severe cases. He also said that typically, cases like this were only seen on people who had severe immune deficiencies and they tested our son for every immune deficiency imaginable. Nothing showed up. We prayed continually, we pleaded, we fasted, we researched and tried online cures none of which seemed to work. We kept him in long sleeves during the summer to try to prevent him from scratching and spreading it or passing it to another child. I watched as the rash continued to spread and climb up to his neck and chin despite my very best efforts and mourned that it would spread to his cute face. I spent sleepless nights next to him holding his hands to keep him from itching and spreading the rash. On one particular exhausting sleepless night near my ropes end I prayed a short emotional prayer. Why. Why, Heavenly Father? Why won’t this go away? Why does he have to suffer? He is so young and he has so much. I’ll be listening. As I sat in the dark and listened, It was not long before a thought that was not my own clearly came to my mind. I heard. “He knew before he came to earth that he would have to suffer and Jesus Christ descended below it all.” What perspective. It was enough. I was humbled. I knew that Jesus Christ truly did suffer for it all and that he understood. Even though I knew this trial was not going to be taken from us yet, I received strength to continue on and hope that all would be well eventually. I knew that we were not alone. A few weeks later, the dermatologist called and said he had heard from a colleague that had had some success with what was basically an overdose of Calcium. The overdose of Calcium would change the PH of the body allowing the body to recognize that the virus was there and begin fighting it. It began to work. Some of the bumps began to turn an angry red color and then the goo that was on the inside of each bump began to come out. (sorry) The dermatologist told me that My job was to bath him each day, remove the old Band-Aids and clean the pus from the red bumps that were ready and try to remove the core from these bumps, then cover with cream and Band-Aids, then check for new red bumps and keep them covered with Band-Aids. Each new morning we would repeat the process. It was a process that took at least twenty minutes each morning while my husband worked. I needed help. This was a child that I had to throw my leg over to keep him still for a simple diaper change. “I need you Heavenly Father. I can’t do it by myself. Please, help him to be able to lie still, Help him to understand that I am trying to help him." He did help me. I know it. My active son would lie still EVERY TIME and watch the ceiling. Sometimes as long as 30 minutes while I cleaned and wiped and creamed and bandaged. I sometimes wondered what he might see that I could not see. Within 5 weeks of beginning the new medicine, every bump was gone. He was 14 months when the last one disappeared. While the trial was not taken from us right away, he upheld us in the trail, he strengthened me, gave me perspective and hope and he blessed us with what we needed to get through it when I asked for help. I know that He longs to do this for each of us in the trials that we face.

A second way that the Atonement blesses our lives beyond compensating for our sins is in our quest for divine perfection. While much of this perfection process involves healing from sin and bitterness, the processes involves an additional dimension through which we may acquire a Christ like nature and become even as the Father and Son are. We read in D&C 93:12, that in His own development on Earth, the Savior received the Father’s grace not of the fullness at first, but that he received grace for grace until he received a fullness. This grace was not to compensate for any sins (because he had none) but to empower his personal growth. Though he was the son of God, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and being made perfect became the author of eternal salvation. Just as the Sinless Christ was made perfect through interaction with his Father’s grace, So HIS Atoning grace can move us beyond a remission of sins to the perfection of a divine nature. This Gospel has good news not only for serious transgressions but for all of us who long to be better than we are. I know that I long to be better.

Through the Holy Ghost, the atonement makes possible certain spiritual endowments that actually purify our natures and allow us to be more like our Heavenly Father. Then we will exhibit divine character not because it is the way we think we should act, but because it is the way we are.

One of these spiritual endowments is the Gift of Charity. Charity is not developed by our own power, even though our faithfulness is a qualification to receive it. In Moroni 7:40 we learn that Charity is bestowed upon the true followers of Christ.

It is important that we are patient with ourselves and others as we are all on our own individual paths towards perfection and becoming more Christ-like and more likely than not, we are all doing the very best that we can.

Another Endowment of the Savior’s grace is the gift of HOPE which blesses us with the state of mind necessary to deal with the gap between where we are and where we seek to be. As the remission of our sins makes us lowly of heart and meek enough to receive the Holy Ghost, the comforter fills us with hope, peace and perspective and we will be able to see the light at the end of the Tunnel given by the Savior himself who is the light and life of the world.

I am so grateful for the marvelous gift of the atonement in my life, I know that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten of the Father and our Elder Brother. I know that His atonement is real and I have felt the peace that it brings in my life. I know that life is hard but when we are doing our best as men and as women, Mothers and Fathers in the roles that we are given, that his Atonement will also make up the difference for the things that we are trying to accomplish in our homes and in our lives.

It is my prayer that I and we can all use this gift to the fullest that we may be purified, that the bitterness in our lives can be sweetened, that we might be strengthened as we bear our burdens and that our hearts and minds may be filled with the hope, peace and perspective that it brings and that we may we go forth with more love and charity for ourselves and others in our lives as a result. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Enjoying the snow!

NC got about 3 inches of snow this week and the kids were thrilled. Click here for a video of the fun. :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How is your life?

I had an old friend ask me today "How is your life?" During the second my brain searched for the most correct answer, I thought how difficult it would be to answer that question correctly in the amount of time I had to answer it and to give an accurate picture of how my life is. I said "Fantastic!!" with gusto and then said "just kidding, I don't know." and laughed. "I don't know" was quite an honest answer seeing as sometimes life is just too busy to stop and take my own temperature accurately. As my brain scrolled through different answers I wondered how normal it is to have such varying answers be correct within the course of just one day. One hour. It is normal I decided. I am sticking with normal. Please tell me this is normal people. If you want the overall answer, which seems to be the best, Life is Good. I even own one of the t-shirts. :) If we sit and count our blessings, it would feel so ungrateful to say anything else. I am blessed. I am loved. I have what I need. I know why I am here. I am healthy. I love my family. Life is good.

Sometimes the correct answer is life is difficult. Far too difficult. Terribly Difficult. Difficult enough to make you want to sit and weep for awhile as you think about all of the trials large and small that fall on your shoulders. As you wonder how you are going to keep everyone and everything together. How you are going to turn your awesome but very much children, children into awesome independent adults who feel good about themselves, know why they are here, and that they are loved and blessed. Sometimes wondering, sometimes knowing at the end of each day that you could have done a little better somehow. And then realizing at the end of it all, they will still have their agency. I think it helps to know that life is not supposed to be easy, that we are not supposed to feel qualified for all of this. Who is qualified but the Creator of us all truly? We need Him. Sometimes it helps to think that HE thinks I am qualified or He would not have given me these things. I had a very wise woman tell me once that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of that as well. If I am doing my best, Heavenly Father will help make up the difference. I am not doing this alone. We are never alone as much as sometimes we would like to feel that we are. I know that is true.

Sometimes the correct answer is Life is full of Joy. So full of joy that you wish you had a pause button and could stay in the same time period for awhile. That you could keep your children the same age for a while longer. They do grow up too fast. So full of Joy that you feel the warmth of the sun inside your chest and it makes you so grateful. So very grateful to be here experiencing all of this. Learning all of this.

So, I am sticking with life is Good. :) If we can keep the big picture perspective, the why of our lives, I think we will make it. We were sent here to succeed after all. I'm going to try to make HIM proud.

I hope that answers the question. ;)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemaker n. One who manages a household, especially as one's main daily activity.

We are friends with a wonderful talented lady named Alia El-Bermani who is an artist that we met when Parker was in her daughter's Kindergarten class. She approached me a couple of years later when I was getting quite large with Liam in my belly with the idea of painting a mother standing in front of a house going up that would be titled "homemaker." I thought it was a beautiful idea and said yes of course!

Side Note: Wouldn't it be interesting to see how our homes looked in the spiritual sense of how we are doing and what we are accomplishing? Maybe that is too scary, lol. Or maybe they would look like castles and we just don't know it because we are too hard on ourselves. The picture of the finished painting is below. (Parker was actually in the pictures she took too but she decided that she wanted to show more of the house in the background. We would have loved it if he was in it too of course but we understand her decision.) I think I look tired in this picture but that is pretty real thing for homemakers isn't it? ;). I really like that it feels real and not just a pretty painting with everyone grinning.

Here is something to strive for: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home. The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family, is of greater value to God and future humanity than other riches. In such a home God can work miracles, and will work miracles. Pure hearts in a pure home are always whispering distance to heaven." ~David O. McKay

The condensed Book of Mormon in 15 verses

We thought this blog article was a really interesting read. Enjoy! G&H

Monday, January 28, 2013

Just enough to go Ice Sleddin'

North Carolina got a dusting this week. More of an icing really, but it made for some good sledding! There is the perfect little sledding hill near the house (unless you make it all the way to the creek ;) Side Note - Remember when we went sledding at Meredith Heather Crenshaw Mckeon and we made it across the street/parking lot?!) Liam on the way home said "I had fun" and then proceeded to tell everyone (one at a time of course) that he loved them. Icing on the cake. Icing on the Icing. ;D Check it out here: For some reason it isn't letting me post the actual link so you'll have to copy and paste...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Warp Speed

Ah, y'all. Life is warp speed right now. I don't even know where the last 4 months went. One of these first days I am going to look through all of my pictures and post some good stuff that happened but tonight i am too tired. I hope everyone is have a great New Year so far. We are moving and shaking literally. Packing, painting, patching, trips to storage, pressure washing, carpet cleaning, carpet stretching, more painting, cleaning until my fingers crack open. Kind of exciting, kind of exhausting. House going on the market in the next week hopefully. We'll be staying in the area. We love it here. Putting a down payment on a piece of land soon and if all goes well, we'll be in an apartment soon while something is getting built. The kids are handling it pretty well now that they understand they get to take their stuff with them. :) If I never move again after all of this that would be lovely. Moving is for the birds but It has been good to purge and get organized. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some pretty cool sales-kids :)

We decided that making a music video to sell fundraiser books for school was much more exciting than going door to door. The song that Greg made up for this video is now one of Liam's favorite songs. I think everyone had a great time making it!

GoPlaySave 2012 from Winters Wonderland on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All about third grade Parker project

Pictures are worth a thousand words as you can see below. This project is all about Parker. We love this guy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Awards Update

I am catching up on posting the awards the children have received recently and some of the Father's Day projects they made. We're proud of you kiddos! At least they made Greg and I the same age even if we are 50. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Moving Memories with Jeff and Greg

Hi everyone! I thought I'd let you know about a new online class taught by Greg and his buddy Jeff at The class covers how to shoot better home videos and how to shoot to edit. Check it out! :D

Thursday, July 19, 2012

First Day of School

It has been a great start to the new school year at the Winters' household. Both Meadow and Parker really like their teachers and they have been really wonderful so far! Meadow had a little bout of homesickness on Day two of Kindergarten so I sent her to school wearing my necklace on day three. It made a big difference for her because she felt like I was near. :) She really loves going to the same school as her big brother. After I picked her up from her first day of school, I asked her what her favorite part of school was and she said "The Cafeteria." That's my girl! :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Fake Beatles

We went to see a Beatles coverband recently at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill. The Band's name was "Abbey Road Live." The show was held in the afternoon and was geared toward kids and families so it was pretty awesome and a great time for all of us. The kids loved dancing around and got to go onstage to sing and play the tamborine. Meadow got to wear one of the fake beatles' sparkly hat. Parker was astounded by the pee trough in the Men's restroom. It was pretty asounding wasn't it Park?!