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