Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Spiritual Lives

One thing I have noticed is that there are examples in the scriptures and examples from our leaders of nearly every emotion or situation we will face in our lives.  One such thing I have been pondering is our spiritual conversion.  When we become truly spiritually converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ there is an internal change.  That internal changes becomes the driving force behind our desires and in turn our choices.  Our spirituality becomes paramount, so much so that we can become like the people in the book of Alma:

"Ammon and his brethren teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to a people who were “a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people.”  Many of the people were converted and chose to leave behind their sinful behavior. So complete was their conversion that they buried their weapons and covenanted with the Lord that they would never use them again.  Later, many of their unconverted brethren came upon them and began to slay them. The now-faithful people chose to succumb to the sword rather than risk their spiritual lives by taking up arms. Their righteous example helped even more people to be converted and to lay down their weapons of rebellion." (Personal Strength through the Atonement - Richard G. Scott, Conference October 2013)

The people were so fully spiritually converted they would rather face death than risk their spiritual lives.  How does one become so fully converted that we become like the Lord and, "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance"? (D&C 1:31)  I believe that when we lead our lives in a principle driven manner and we consistently make decisions and choices based on what is right - and not based on opportunity or relativism, we become spiritually converted.  We must stand as a witness at all times and in all things.

In today's increasingly wicked world, we need to raise our own personal standards so that we may avoid the sorrow that comes with sin.  It isn't a matter of avoiding sin, we need to raise our personal expectations and follow the higher example the Savior set for us and learn to shun temptation.  Because if we don't, then we allow temptation "to linger longer than it should, and then the temptation gets stronger and our ability to withstand it gets weaker." Satan wants to tempt us when we are weak.  "He will pick away at them (our weakest points) in the hope that we will succumb."

"We should never put ourselves at risk by courting temptation.  The road to temptation is clearly signpoisted, and we ignore the signs at our peril... As we shun temptation and choose the better way, we will feel the loving arm of the Lord bearing us up, and His Spirit will fill our hearts with peace and joy." (Shunning Temptation: A Key to Receiving Revelation, Elder Ian Ardern, Ensign February 2014)

When we are truly spiritually converted and learn to shun sin, we will be blessed with the ability to be receptive to the promptings of the spirit because our heart is changed.  "When you are able to do this, his whisperings to you will be loud and clear. The Prophet Joseph Smith, after five months of extreme suffering in the dungeon of Liberty Jail, experienced it, and he said, “When the heart is sufficiently contrite, then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers, My son, peace be unto thy soul.” (The Voice is Still Small, Graham W. Doxey, Conference October 1991)

I know that when we stop listening to the world we can more clearly hear the voice of the Holy Ghost and our spiritual and temporal lives are strengthened and blessed because of it's constant companionship.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Resolutions

Another year and it's time for a few resolutions:

Regular Reflection
  A set time of weekly reflection and self-assessment.  I'd like to see how things worked for the week in various aspects of my life and my boy's lives.  I've been reading The Secret to Happy Families by Bruce Feiler and one of his suggestions for a smooth running family is a weekly meeting to see what worked and what didn't that week.  It almost seems like scaling down a yearly resolution into a weekly resolution.  I think this resolution my be the most challenging for me.
Study
  I got back into the habit of reading, now I'd like to develop my study skills more. This applies mostly to the scriptures/conference talks/church material, which I find more difficult to study than things for school.
Practice Gratitude
  Life's a whole lot better when you're grateful, and I have so much to be grateful for!  I chose a scripture this year that reflects my feelings about gratitude: Alma 26:11 "...my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."  I am working on keeping a daily gratitude journal because of this talk by Elder Eyring:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/o-remember-remember?lang=eng

I specifically liked this portion of his talk (italics added):
...Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
...My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies.
Enjoy
 Last year felt pretty serious, lots of reflection and work on things, and I would like to enjoy things more this year.  Enjoy the moment, enjoy time with my kids, enjoy work... it's a good all encompassing word - Enjoy.

Monday, December 2, 2013

No Other Way

God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way - C. S. Lewis

I have come to understand the statement 'this trial has been a blessing' (something I never - and I mean never - thought I would).  This knowledge came at a heavy price.  These thoughts have been on my mind as of late and I've felt the need to share.  We are not alone in our trials, we all have them, we don't know what form they will take, when they will come, but they will come to each of us.  A trial becomes a blessing because there is no other way to become the person you are supposed to be.  After struggling through the darkness, there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light can fill your life if choose to let it.  I have pondered religious examples of those who knew there was no other way to accomplish the thing that must be done.  No other way than to press forward.

Christ suffered in Gethsemane, but prior to His suffering, He questioned His loving father, essentially asking 'Is there no other way?' But it is paramount to acknowledge, 'Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt'. Christ acknowledged that He would undertake the unimaginable because it was Heavenly Father's will. Matthew 26:39
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: neverthless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

When we must pass through sorrow and trials in this life, it helps to, "Believe in miracles.  I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost.  Hope is never lost.  If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior's own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it an be strong, trusting in happier days ahead."
Jeffrey R. Holland Like a Broken Vessel Conference October 2013

Nephi was instructed to kill Laban in order to obtain the plates of brass.  The Lord delivered Laban into his hands and Nephi struggled doubtfully in his heart and mind, he wavered at the task placed before him.  But, the spirit prompted him again and he realized there was no other way to accomplish what must be done.
1 Nephi 4:10
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man.  And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

Adam and Eve fell that men might be - and they had an eternal vision that there was no other way but to leave the beautiful, tranquil, garden.  Furthermore, they had the eternal vision that through their trials they would have joy.
Moses 5:10-11
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for out transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

Much like Adam and Eve, it is because of this knowledge that I choose to recognize the joy in my life.  I make a conscious choice to focus on the good, to realize that my life is beautiful, hard, messy, fun, dull, exciting, and everything in between - and it is my one and only life.  It is a life full of happy moments.  Choosing to focus on the silver lining, the good, the happy moments, grounds me and warms my soul.  I realize my life is not that hard anymore because I learned that there was no other way to get here.

I know that there was no other way than through my trials for me to become the person the Lord wanted me to be.  To become the daughter, sister, mother, friend, and person He planned for me, it had to be through trials.  We will all face trials, there is no avoiding them, of this I am certain.  Part of the priceless knowledge I have gained is that I KNOW that the measure of my worth comes from my loving Heavenly Father and no one else. I am HIS daughter and He is my father who loves me.  I have infinite worth and I love who I am becoming and who I am yet to become because of Heavenly Father's plan for me.

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become"
- Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unbroken

I finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand just a little while ago.  What an amazing book!  The life of Louis Zamperini is astounding and the author is a wonderful writer.  I read the book in about a week, I couldn't put it down!  Louis was a rebellious teen who turned his life around to become an Olympic runner in the 1930's.  He served in the Army Air Force and was on a search and rescue mission over the Pacific when his plane crashed.  He and two crew members survived the crash and drifted at sea for over 40 days on a life raft - harrowing in and of itself, when they were picked up by a Japanese patrol boat.  He was a POW in the Pacific for 4 years where he was beaten nearly everyday and almost starved... 
He survived.
Spoiler Alert! Don't read anymore if you don't want to know how it ends.






He was haunted by nightmares of his tormentors and turned to drinking to escape.  His wife nearly left him, then he found religion (thanks to his wife) and he was able to forgive and let go.  I loved this book, I highly recommend it.  I am drawn to WWII books especially because of my own grandpa's history, he was a paratrooper in WWII and was haunted for many years by his experiences and also turned to alcohol.  War is such an awful thing and hurts so many people for so many years.
But, Louis' story is one of determination and the desire to never give up.  It sheds light on why some people give up and some overcome.  There are amazing people in this world!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pallet Art

Pallet Art - it's all the rage - but it's also cheap and can be customized, right up my alley.  I have been dreaming of what to make and pinned lots of options to Pinterest.  First, the hunt for a free pallet.  My dad came through and said he'd get one for me... he brought me four... because what if I needed more, right?  Then he helped me rip them apart - more like he did most of the ripping apart and I steadied the pallet on the sawhorses while he took them apart.  I'm lucky that he likes to help me with projects.  My brother stopped by my house on the Saturday that this whole process what going on and raised the obvious question - with skepticism in his voice, "Why not just go buy some wood at the Home Depot?"  Because pallets are free and already look old! Then another evening of sanding the boards (I really did that by myself), screwing them together, and staining it. 



I pulled out my trusty $4 projector (yes that's right, $4 - you'd be amazed at what you can find for sale at the property control department at a University) and then voila! I saw my project finally take shape!! I used the font "Return to Sender" from dafont.com.  I printed the words on a sheet of paper then traced them onto a transparency sheet.
The next step was painting the letters.
 Two eye screws and a wire hung across keeps it secure, I didn't want this thing crashing down on anyone.
(and then once it was on the wall, I kid-tested the sturdy-ness of the hook by throwing things at it to see if it would fall off the wall - because my children would do something like that :)

I already had stain from my floors, paint from my trim
Total cost of the project: about $7 for foam brushes, sandpaper, screws. and small black nails




Total cost of the project: about $7 for foam brushes, sandpaper, screws. and small black nails
I already had stain from my floor and paint from previous projects.  


Monday, April 22, 2013

Mirror, Mirror, (Not) on the Wall

I've wanted to take down the mirrors from this wall for quite a long time, since I first moved into my house in fact.  It seemed like a really big task because the mirrors were so heavy and what if they broke.  But, I looked on youtube and googled how to remove it and was all set to do.  Then my concerned mother (that never ends, even when your kids are grown up) said she'd pay to have them taken down by a glass company, because she worried I'd get hurt trying to DIY it, but it only turned out to be $65. I think well worth the price and it didn't take them much time at all.  In the end, I'm really glad I didn't have to tackle this project myself.  Once they were down, I was able to get to work on sanding and painting, so here's a photo overload.

Here is the room on move-in day
After I ripped up the carpet and refinished the flooring last summer  - still looked bare, but much better
No more mirrors
chipped and sanded all the glue spots off
then painted - one shade darker than the other walls, but the same color as the brick, and there is a little hint of the rug that I've had for months.
A bare room - I've been putting things up, but that's for another post - it doesn't look so bare right now
I found these classic shaped chairs for $75 each on KSL, after a few months of searching for just the right oversized chairs.  I would love to have them recovered or have the time to recover them myself, they aren't bad, just a little too matchy-matchy to the rug for my taste, but I like the shaped and the price was right.  It's coming together.
A wider shot of the whole room.
Progress, I'm making progress.  I just keep on keepin' on, that's really the only way through things.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hello?

Wondering if I'm around?  I just haven't felt the need to say much lately... just thinking things over and pondering them on my own.  My resolutions are coming along, I'm happy to say.  I've read 2 books and I'm half way through my third for the year.  That's not an amazing amount of reading but I'm back in the habit!! I took two garbage bags of stuff to the thrift store this weekend, tidied up the garage and have a few other things to purge.  I've been struggling with creating.  I used to be able to accomplish a project so much faster - I also didn't work full time on top of all the parenting, cooking, cleaning, and errands that I already do, so things take more than a weekend now.  The important thing is that there is progress and I'm moving forward on the projects I have going.  Sometimes I have to remind myself "one step at a time."  I have almost stopped comparing my life now, to my life before I was single and that is a wonderful thing.  Comparing what I used to be able to do, or what I used to have, or the time with my boys that I don't have anymore and thinking that my life was lacking.... that thinking is almost gone.  
One quote that I find very true is:


When I enjoy the moment and don't compare it, analyze it, but just enjoy it, that is when I feel the best.
There are still little pangs of sadness, anger, that may never go away but they are little.  I think time dulls wounds, but even wounds that are healed still leave scars.  


 

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