Friday, October 21, 2011

Mark 14:38

Jesus has just administered the sacrament to the 12 and is now headed into the Garden of Gethsemane with His best friends -- Peter, James, and John.  He says He has to go into the Garden alone, but asks them to wait up for Him nearby.

Jesus knelt by an olive tree and humbly checked with The Father if this is what really needs to happen.  Heavenly Father's answer was yes, and the process of transferring all the sins and pain of the world to Christ began.

After an hour of torture, Jesus goes to check on His friends and finds them all asleep.  He tells them:

"Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.  The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."

I love that He says "the spirit truly is ready" and it is only us that is a changing variable.  Every time we are ready also, to clean up our lives and follow the Savior, the Spirit is there waiting.

Have you ever seen the movie Serendipity?  I swear it is the most frustrating movie on the planet.  Two people who are in love are searching for one another, and literally come within feet of each other several times, but don't seem to meet up face to face until the end.

This is probably how Heavenly Father is frustrated (except much much worse) that the Spirit is always within feet of us, but we continually pass it and continue on with our lives in confusion and sadness.

So now we know for sure WHAT we are looking for and also WHERE it is!  The next step is meeting up with the Spirit and changing our lives.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mark 14:18-19

Jesus and His disciples have just sat down to enjoy their passover feast, when Jesus annouces:

"Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me."

And this is how the disciples respond:

"they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him, one by one, Is it I?  and another said, Is it I?"

You will notice that their question was not, "how can I help you?" and their sorrow was because they might be betrayers -- not that Christ was being betrayed.  Their response is totally self-centered.

Often in our everyday conversations, we become "me monsters."  This is the need to "one-up" whoever you are talking to by telling a story yourself that is greater than their story.  Now don't get me wrong, conversations have to go back and forth.  It is appropriate to relate to people's experiences by sharing your own.  However, there is a line.

Are we truly listening to our friend, or do we already have another story in mind and are just waiting for them to shut their mouth so we can tell it?

Here is an exercise to try.  When someone is telling a story or an experience, instead of responding with your own story, respond to their story first with questions that keep the attention back on them.  See how long you can keep the spotlight on your friend.  You'll be surprised that they will do the same for you next time you have an experience to share.

Jesus' disciples were so focused on themselves here, that they could not even hear and process that their dearest friend was about to get betrayed.  They turned the conversation to themselves instead of reaching out to Jesus at this extremely difficult time.

We need to be less selfish and more fixed on making others feel happy and appreciated

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mark 14:11

Judas has just been sitting with the Savior and decided he had had enough and wanted to make a profit by turning Jesus into the authorities.

"And when [the chief priests] heard it they were glad, and promised to give [Judas] money.  And [Judas} sought how me might conveniently betray [Jesus]"

Wow.  When I read that sentence it sounded disgusting.  Judas didn't just want to come out and yell where Jesus was, or fess up to Jesus and say he was selling Him out.  No, he wanted to be a coward and to be sneaky.

Although this sentence sounds preposterous, is it really so far from our own experience?  How many of us seek to conveniently betray Jesus?

Isn't it interesting how we try to cover up our sins from others around us?  "Timmy!  Did you break this vase??"  "No mom!  of course not!  I was in my room all along!"  Even though Timmy's mom may be fooled, God is NEVER fooled, He sees all.

How can we be more aware of God's presence and stop attempting to conveniently betray Jesus?  Have you ever heard the saying, that goes something like "The integrity of a man is based upon what he does when no one else is watching"? This is a perfect idea, because we should be doing good things because we want to and are genuinely good people, not because we have an audience.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ see all and know all.  Don't start thinking that in an instance where you did bad and did not get caught that is did not matter.  It does matter.  We should fear God much more than any police, friends, or mothers.

Let us decide today and do our best everyday to not conveniently betray Jesus

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father" -- Elder Neal A. Maxwell

This talk is all about refining ourselves in order to make our wills the same as the will of our Father in Heaven.  Elder Maxwell warns:

"Many of us thus have sufficient faith to avoid the major sins of commission, but not enough faith to sacrifice our distracting obsessions or to focus on our omissions."

It is a great thing to not be doing the bad things of the world.  But it is a greater thing to also be doing good things.  It is difficult, sometimes, to serve others; maybe even difficult to identify someone to serve, for as Elder Maxwell says:

"The hands which hang down and most need to be lifted up belong to those too discouraged even to reach out anymore."

So how DO we find them?  Here is another question: who is omnipotent and know everyone's needs?  Heavenly Father of course.  And how does Heavenly Father communicate with us here on the earth?  Through the Spirit.  I believe this "resource" of ours is too infrequently tapped, which is odd because it is the best "resource" we have by far.

Just like when you are looking into busying a red Jeep , you see red Jeeps everywhere -- when you pray for service opportunities, you see those in need everywhere.  But the other part, the IMPORTANT part, is not just seeing others needs, but meeting them.

This desire to serve others, and to be like Christ in every way, is called consecration.  Elder Maxwell says:

"consecration is not resignation or a mindless caving in.  Rather, it is a deliberate expanding outward, making us more honest when we sing, 'More used would I be.'  Consecration, likewise, is not shoulder-shrugging acceptance, but, instead, shoulder-squaring to better bear the yoke."

To be consecrated should be the goal of us all.  To perfectly align our wills to God's would result in pure joy and happiness.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mark 14:3-9

Jesus and His disciples are having dinner at Simon's house, when a young lady comes in with an alabaster box filled with spikenard (a kind of precious oil) and pours the spikenard over the Savior's head.

When the disciples saw this, they were verbally upset, saying that the oil could have been sold and that money used to help the poor.  Jesus, however, did not take that stance.  He loved her for having done this great service unto Him.  He told them that she was dressing His body in preparation for burial.  That made me think about all the uses for and the significance of oil.

The Bible Dictionary talks about anointing.  it says:

"Anciently anointing was done for reasons both secular and sacred.  It is a sign of hospitality...and of routine personal grooming...The maimed or sick were anointed with wine, oil, and/or ointment as medicine.  The sick were also anointed with oil as part of the sacred procedure in healing of the sick by faith and the laying on of hands."

For those of you who may not know, healing is still invoked by the anointing of oil and the laying on of hands.  I have seen this healing occur many times. One such instance I will never forget.

Several years ago, my cousin's wedding reception was held on a Saturday night.  My parents had come in town for the occasion.  Everything was going swell until *WHAM*, at 2am Monday morning, Mom, Dad, Kelly, and Ryan all began to vomit violently at the same time.  This throwing-up and diarrhea went on and on through the night and into the morning without slowing down.  We had no idea where this sickness came from and why it only infected half of us.

Early in the afternoon, Brett came to the hotel with some crackers and Gatoraide.  Dad asked if Brett would give them all blessings.  So, he used holy anointing oil, consecrated for the healing of the sick and afflicted, and blessed them all to be healed.  It was so humbling to see son bless father when Dad could not do it himself.

Immediately afterwards, the throwing-up stopped.  No one threw up at all after they were blessed.  And their strength started to return.

Later, we got a phone call from many family members who were at the wedding who all got the same sickness at the same time.  Turns out it was the Wedding Cake  that was food poisoned!  Everyone who took even one bite of the cake became violently ill for hours.

I know that this young lady at Simon's house did not hold the priesthood and was not "healing" Jesus.  But this kind act did heal His spirit, in feeling loved and appreciated before taking the long hard road to Calvary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mark 13:35-37

This is one of my favorite verses of scripture, mostly because it is so powerfully stated.  It says:

"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when then master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning.

"Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

"And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."

I believe that when the Second Coming hits, that many people are going to be stunned, and yell and scream at God for not warning them well enough.  However, I completely disagree.  These verses alone give us such wonderful instruction on how to be protected in that great and also dreadful day.

See, God and Jesus Christ have been instructing us all along.  They have given us the scriptures as a guidebook in order to survive this life and make it back to them.

I am reading a novel right now about a video game creator that died and had left an incredible fortune ($250,000,000,000).  However, since he didn't have anyone specific to give it to, he hid clues within his video games on how to find where all his money was.  He also published his journals, which were thousands of pages with information that could help one find the fortune.  A craze struck and everyone across the world began to read his journals incessantly and studied every aspect of his life in hopes of shedding some light as to where his fortune could be found.

I relate this to these verses because Heavenly Father has a GREAT fortune waiting for us that is much greater than two hundred and fifty billion dollars.  And he has left us with detailed instructions, in the scriptures, about how to get it.  So why are we not pouring over these words??

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mark 13:10-11

Jesus is sitting on the mount of Olives with His disciples when Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him about when His second coming would occur.  Jesus began to tell them some of the signs.  One of which is:

"The gospel must first be published among all nations.

"But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."

I have often pondered about how the gospel will be spread to the WHOLE earth before the Savior comes.  Sometimes I imagine fireworks and a loud speaker from heaven.  Or maybe a huge movie screen.  But, ya know what?  I don't think it will be like that.  I think if may be what we are doing already -- sending out missionaries

One of "my" converts was Annica.  She has such a beautiful testimony and knowledge of the truth.  One day while we were at a picnic, me and my companion Sister Dietrich gave Annica little cards we had written on to stick in her first copy of the Book of Mormon.  I said "your grandchildren will look at that look and read these cards and say 'wow!  This was grandma's first Book of Mormon!'" Then Annica said "Wow!  My grandkids are going to be Mormons!  That is fantastic!"

Now that I am reading these verses in Mark, I imagine that this rapid spreading can mostly occur generationally.  From Annica down to her grandchildren, hordes of people will know the gospel.  Each convert and member is like a pebble thrown into a lake.  We may think the pebble is small, but the ripples off the pebble continue outward far beyond its original size.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"A Little Heaven on Earth" -- Elder Robert D. Hales

I thought this talk was absolutely fabulous. It comes from the September 2011 edition of the Ensign. Here Elder Hales discusses so many things about marriage, and I want to write about all of them! So here we go!

First, he writes what we can get from marriage, which is "happiness in this life and exaltation in the next." That sure does sound like the goal of every human being!

Everyone chooses their own path, with their goal always to find happiness. The prophets of God have relayed this message from Heaven that abstinence before marriage, eternal marriage, and fidelity after marriage is the way to find it! That is a promise we can trust in.

Next, he talks about choosing the right spouse. He says to "measure the spiritual level of your potential future companions" because if you marry outside the church, you will be "placing yourself in a position where you will find someday that you may have to choose between that individual and the church."

On my mission, I was shocked to discover that my mission president was paring up companionships with two strong Elders and then two weak Elders. Me, in all my wisdom, thought it would be much wiser to put a strong Elder with a weak Elder to help him out. But, President Morgan said that a weak Elder is much more likely to pull down a strong Elder than a strong Elder to pull up and weak Elder. Whereas, in a companionship of two weak Elders, one must step up to be a leader.

This translates perfectly into marriage. A strong spouse cannot marry a weak spouse in hopes to bring them up. It does work sometimes, yes, but the fail rate of both is much higher than the success rate of both.

Having the same goals is essential. Elder Hales says:

"When you are choosing your companion, make sure both of you have a desire for a celestial marriage relationship, a desire to have a companion for eternity, a desire to have a family for eternity, and a desire to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father."

As I have talked about before, desire is not merely a "wish", it is a word that denotes wanting something so much that all our actions lead to gaining it. So just saying or thinking that you wish for these things is not the same as working towards them.

Temple marriage is essential for a couple who desires to be together throughout eternity. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:15 it says:

"Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world."

Many people who are married outside the temple still believe their marriage will exist in the afterlife. But this does not make sense. A marriage is a legal union that is given with legal documentation. Another legal document is a loan you receive. Does anyone argue that a person will have to pay back a monetary debt to a bank after they have died? Of course not! All legal documents become null and void to a dead person.

However, an Elder Hales says: "there is no one between the Lord and the sealer when he performs the sealing ordinance."

A temple marriage is not an earthly ceremony, it is an eternal ceremony.

An eternity is so so much longer than this tiny mortal existence. We need to make the right decisions in this life so we can be eternally happy in the life to come.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mark 11:23-24

The twelve apostles just witnessed that Jesus said unto a fig tree, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever," and then the tree withered away and died. This of course greatly astonished them because what Jesus said to an inanimate object actually came to pass! So Jesus taught:

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Danny was telling me a story yesterday about an investigator he met in Armenia. He and his companion were stopped on the street by a young woman who had been taught by previous missionaries and desired to be taught again. She said she wanted to meet later and described the shop and the street where they could meet.

However, when they went to meet here, there were TWO shops on that street that met her description. The two shops were too far apart for the missionaries to divide and conquer. They would have to chose one shop and hope it was the right one.

Danny's companion prayed and said they needed a miracle to know which shop to pick. Right then, an ice cream truck pulled into the other shop, and the company name on the truck was "It's a Miracle!" Both missionaries took it as a sign and went to the other shop.

The girl had chosen that shop, and was later baptized.

Although these missionaries did not move any mountains, their faith caused a miracle to occur right before their eyes. Their desires were righteough, and were thus granted.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mark 10:42-44,52

Jesus has just been talking to His disciples about His soon-to-be death and resurrection, when they cut in to ask Him selfish questions as to whether they can sit on His right and left hand.

So Jesus decides to teach them a true principle:

"Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

"But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."

And then, what I love so much, is that Jesus never tells people to do things He wouldn't do Himself. The next moment they happen upon a blind man, crying out for Jesus of Nazareth to heal him.

Those around Jesus, most likely including the apostles, "charged [the blind man] that he should hold his peace." But Jesus did not tell the man to hold his peace. He said:

"Be of good comfort, rise...Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole."

And the man immediately received his sight.

Service is one of those principles that is essential to not just be discusses, but must be lived! If we preach and teach about serving others in our church classes or talks, and then turn out backs on the blind of the world, we cannot count ourselves in the ranks of Christ -- a man who lives what He preaches.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"An Ensign to the Nations" -- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

In this talk, Jeffrey R. Holland is explaining how all the conference talks are inspired, and that the speakers have the members of the church in mind as they prayerfully select their topics.

He also talks about discipleship. He quotes President Harold B. Lee, who said:

"the gospel is 'to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable]'".

Elder Holland explains that by saying:

"Obviously as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets even more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle of....'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."

See, the act of getting on the good path is not too hard. If may not seem like it, but they Lord does not give us too many commandments. For instance, the requirements to be baptized. A baptismal candidate does need to clean up their life, but we do not expect them to be perfect on their baptismal day. However, as they continue on the path of righteousness, they will expect more of themselves, and the Lord will expect more of them too. For "unto much is given, much is required."

That goal of perfection has the power to "afflict" us, or to uplift us. Eliminating bad behaviors and habits is a tough job, but relishing in the results of living a cleaner life is so much better.

Lastly, this is an amazing point made by Elder Holland:

"in matters of discipleship, the Church is not a fast-food outlet; we can't always have it 'our way'. Some day EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation can only come HIS way."

I add my testimony to his. We are not to shop around and choose a church that meets OUR needs, we have to fulfill what HEAVENLY FATHER needs of us. And because He knows all and loves all, that path will, actually, fill OUR needs, because He wants the best for us.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Miracle of the Atonement" -- Elder C. Scott Grow

I believe that the only reason people sin, is because they cannot understand the eternal consequences of sin. Or, they believe the "reward" of the sin is greater than the punishment in the consequence.

In Doctrine and Covenants 19:15, the Savior says:

"Repent -- repent lest....your sufferings be sore -- how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea how hard to bear you know not."

This warning is so chilling. The only person in the universe that "knows" is Jesus Christ. He suffered all our pains and afflictions and understands the excruciating pain is associated with bearing them.

This is why He is the only one we should listen to! Our friends may say "one drink of alcohol won't matter", but our Bishops, or parents, or prophets teach that one drink WILL matter, and that we need to dispise ALL sin.

I cannot understand all the eternal consequences of sin myself, but I trust the Savior and His words through the scriptures. However, I have so far to go before I am entirely rid of sins and the Savior can help me get there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Looking for Something"

My friend Ali wrote a gospel insight post on her blog off a thought I had, so I thought I would post it here too.

"Tonight while eating dinner with the sister missionaries at the Peterson's,
Ashley shared a thought that I really liked.
So I'm re-sharing it.

Do you ever notice when you're looking to buy something, you see it everywhere?
Say you're looking into buying a red Jeep;
you start to see red Jeeps all over the place.
It's not that there actually are more red Jeeps, you are simply more aware and notice them more easily.

The same is true with the Godhead; our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
When we are looking to invest in a relationship and seek them out,
we become more aware of their existence in our lives.
We see their workings all over the place.
We more easily recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost,
we see the Lord's hand in our everyday life,
and we notice the blessings that come each and every day.

I am so grateful for the Gospel. For the blessing it has been in my life, and the happiness that it brings to so many others. I was able to attend a convert baptism today of a girl only a year younger than me. Even though I don't know her at all, I was so touched by her spirit and glowing countenance. I am so happy for her. I know she has begun a loving relationship with her Heavenly Father, has felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and knows and appreciates the sacrifice that our brother Jesus Christ made for us. I am so excited for the life that is before her, for the outpouring of blessings that will come from her choice to be baptized. This Gospel is true. I know it in my heart. I see the joy and happiness that comes from the knowledge of its truthfulness. I personally feel that joy and happiness every day. I am so grateful for the blessing that this knowledge has been in my life; I would not be who I am today without it."

Friday, August 12, 2011

"What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?" -- Elder Lynn G. Robbins

This entire talk is talking about the difference between doing and being. They both go hand in hand. Elder Robbins says:

"To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not -- a pretender...Be without do really isn't being -- it is self-deception."

I feel a lot of people, including myself sometimes, fall victim to this disharmony between doing and being. Sister Helton, a senior missionary in Winnipeg, declared that true happiness is found when what you say and what you do are the same. And I might add that what you do and who you are are also the same.

Elder Robbins puts out an interesting thought:

"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do's are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can't earn checkmarks with to be's. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature -- my character, or who I am."

Ya know, I think this idea of a "to be" list is a great one. Here are just a few of mine:

1) BE a great friend -- think of other's first

2) BECOME a caring wife and patient mother

3) BE a disciple of Christ

Obviously there is so much more to become, but those were just a few thoughts.

To be is much more difficult than to do; however, to be begins with to do. For instance, Elder Robbins talks about being a good husband. How does he become a good husband? By doing things for his wife and family. His character, his being, causes him to do good things in the home, thus reinforcing his being as a good husband.

This is why to do and to be must be in harmony, because they work together.

I hope that I can do many good things in order to become who I want to be.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"The Lord's Richest Blessings" -- Elder Carl B. Pratt

This talk is a great reference in the study of tithing. So if you or anyone you know has questions about tithing -- direct them to this talk!

Elder Pratt tells us that "we are all indebted to the Lord."

When I was younger, probably in middle school or so, my family took a trip to Alberta, Canada to visit our relatives. While there, we made a stop at the "Real Canadian Wholesale Club" to pick up groceries.

In the check-out line, grandma said I could pick out a candy bar and she would buy it for me. I chose my favorite Canadian candy bar -- a Caramilk. Yummmm. And this was not normal size. It was Real Canadian Wholesale size! I was so excited to dive into it.

Once we got in the car, and I was quickly consuming my treat, my grandma leaned over and asked, "can I please have a piece of your candy bar?"

This question shocked me! COULD she have a piece of MY candy bar?? Well of course!! I said, "grandma, you bought me this bar! It is yours! You can have the whole thing if you want! Just tell me how much you want and I'll give it to you." She replied that she just wanted one square and that would be good. So I willingly have her that square.

This is a parable of tithing. Each day we walk through the "wholesale club" of life and Heavenly Father fills our cart with great things and hands us His credit card to pay. None of the things in the cart are ours. Heavenly Father owns them all because He paid for them.

But then, to check our faith, because Elder Pratt says, "tithing is not a matter of money really: it is a matter of faith -- faith in the Lord", He asks for some in return.

How selfish would I have been to refuse my grandma a piece of my Caramilk? Terribly! And so it is as we refuse to give back to Heavenly Father what is rightfully His.

I have a testimony of tithing because I have seen the blessings in my life. I know that paying a full tithe does indeed open the windows of heaven to pour out a blessing upon us (Malachi 3:10).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten" -- Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Understanding, learning from, and being thankful for hard trials is a tough thing. But Elder Christofferson says:

"Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct."

This is so very true. He is indeed a loving Father. An earthly father can show love for his children by providing for them, but not crippling them by providing too much. A good father allows his children to struggle and experience hardships, so they can deal with that problem, or a myriad like it, on their own the next time it comes around.

Elder Christofferson also points out 3 purposes of chastening:

"1) to persuade us to repent
2) to refine and sanctify us
3) at time to redirect out course in life to what God knows is a better plan."

The last one is interesting to me. Have you ever felt "derailed"? That the path you thought was good suddenly was ripped out from under your feet? I believe this happens to all of us. And the most natural reaction is to be angry at God for the misfortune. Although it seems contrary to reason, we should rather praise God for the blessing He has given us in removing us from a bad place and giving us a chance to start over.

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is when the people of Alma are in bondage to Amulon as their slaves, and are commanded not to pray or they will be put to death.

Those wonderful people did not deserve that trial they were given -- but that is not how trials work. They are given to all to refine and make us stronger.

So they could not pray aloud, but they prayed in their hearts and the Lord could hear their pleas for help and pledged to deliver them from bondage. But in the interim, the Lord promised to make their slave labors light, so they could not even feel the burdens on their backs.

Lo and behold, the Lord did provide them with inspiration and knowledge on how to escape and they went free.

What I glean from this story is:

1) Bad things happen to good people

2) Instead of always saying "help me outta this trial!!" try asking "help relieve my burdens in this trial."

3) The Lord is always mindful of our condition. He never leaves us.

This talk just really helped me to better understand why we have to endure hard times and has hopefully prepared me better for the tough times ahead.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"The Eternal Blessings of Marriage" -- Elder Richard G. Scott

This talk is so fabulous. I could underline every work and comment on every sentence. The world today, including the church, constantly needs to be reminded of the beauty in marriage, especially eternal marriage.

He talks about reaching out to your spouse. He says:

"Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful."

Then he shares how he showed love for his wife; by painting a valentine on the fridge, or taking hole punch holes and writing a message across them, or placing a message inside the glass of the kitchen clock saying, "Jeanene, it is time to tell you I love you."

Each of these gestures is so simple -- so why don't we do them more often? We don't have to be married to write sweet notes. A roommate, ward member, teacher, mother, father, sibling, would ALL appreciate a thoughtful note!

He also spends considerable time talking about those who are not yet married.

"If you are a young man of appropriate age and are not married, don't waste time in idle pursuits. Get on with life and focus on getting married. Don't coast through this period of life. Young men, serve a worthy mission. Then make your highest priority finding a worthy, eternal companion. When you find you are developing an interest in a young woman, show her that you are an exceptional person that she would find interesting to know better. Take her to places that are worthwhile. Show some ingenuity. If you want to have a wonderful wife, you need to have her see you as a wonderful man and prospective husband."

and to the sisters he says:

"my heart weeps for the sisters who haven't had the opportunity to marry. Some of you may feel lonely and unappreciated and cannot see how it will be possible for you to have the blessings of marriage and children or your own family. All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. Eternity is a long time. Have faith in those promises and live to be worthy of them so that in His time the Lord can make them come true in your life. With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy."

When I read these two quotes, I think, "yes, the prophets and apostles are in tune with my generation and my situation" because this is spot on.

I have felt time and time again that maybe I will never get married, because I cannot seem to find the right man at the right time. And this discourages me and gets me wondering what is wrong with me. But I read this and remember that it is the Lord's will that I be married and raise a righteous family, and know He has so much in store for me that I do not yet understand.

But he says that we will receive each promised blessing for which we are worthy. What is the definition for worthy here? I believe, in this instance, that it is more than just keeping the commandments. I believe it is being willing to accept faults in other, to be selfless, to understand and to love someone else. Once these are worked on, then that "worthiness" is there and meaningful relationships can begin to develop.

I have many friends who are married and have beautiful families. To them I say -- cherish what you have. Take today to show your spouse how much you love them, and show patience to your children. To all my single friends, I say -- you are wonderful. Keep hanging in there. There is so much to learn and discover in single life that can strengthen a future family. So soak up every second while still being "worthy" of marriage. Some day your prince (or princess) will come!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"The Holy Temple -- A Beacon to the World" -- President Thomas S. Monson

President Monson is such a fabulous story-teller. In this talk, he specifically tells several stories of faithful saints around the world who have sacrificed so much in order to take part in the blessings of the temple.

But then he says:

"Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings."

I have always have relatively easy access to a temple all my life, even if it required driving a few hours. There was only one instance I have of "hardship" to get to the temple.

The spring of 2007, I studied abroad in London, England. Yes, London does have a temple. No, it is not IN London. Our stake was having a temple day, and me and my roommates wanted to attend. First we needed to meet at the church building, which by foot, underground, bus, and more foot would take 2 hours and 4 or 5 transfers. Once at the church, we loaded into rented vans and drove another 2 hours to where the temple is really in the middle of no-where.

The Primary was having an activity on the lawn, and the adults were going in for an endowment session. So, me and my roommates entered the temple with out limited-use recommends to do baptisms for the dead. That was when the Brother at the recommend desk informed us that our stake was not doing baptisms that day, and that another group was using the baptistery and it was completely full.

Our emotions were so mixed. We were mad we didn't make a reservation, and sad we could not go farther into those doors after making such an arduous journey.

Our stake was planning to stay the rest of the evening, and we needed to get back to the city. So we walked in our painful church shoes several miles on country roads to the train station to take us back to London.

It was not nearly what those saints had to endure, but even seeing that remarkable and historic temple up close was worth all the sacrifice. I could feel the spirit of the temple, just like those primary children, by just being near the temple.

I so love the temple. It is a place of worship, of peace, of service, of love, of family. I need to do better in making the Lord's house my second home.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Spirit of Revelation" -- Elder David A. Bednar

This talk is on such an important topic. It is a foundation of out religion that we can receive guidance from God, and do use that counsel to govern out church and our own lives.

The first, and essentially important, step is being able to receive revelation. Elder Bednar tells us that everyone who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost at confirmation, if they are "acting in faith to fulfill the priesthood injunction to 'receive the Holy Ghost'", meaning, they have a "Sincere desire and worthiness [to] invite the spirit of revelation into [their] lives," can and will have guiding personal revelation afforded to them.

But how can we gain this state he is describing? Elder Bednar puts it perfectly:

"Because the Spirit whispers to us gently and delicately, it is easy to understand why we should shun inappropriate media, pornography, and harmful, addictive substances and behaviors. These tools of the adversary can impair and eventually destroy our capacity to recognize and respond to the subtle messages from God delivered by the power of His Spirit. Each of us should consider seriously and ponder prayerfully how we can reject the devil's enticements and righteously 'apply unto it', even the spirit of revelation, in our own personal lives and families."

I was talking to Danny the other day about this topic. He said that while he was on his mission in Armenia, that he would teach The Word of Wisdom and the commandments different than most missionaries. He would tell them that they needed to rid themselves of their bad habits of smoking and drinking in order to qualify for baptism, but he would also tell them that they would eventually need to rid themselves of ALL bad habits in order to become perfected. These may include: sleeping in, over eating, not serving others, hot temperament, laziness, etc. etc. etc.

And he is totally right. As we master ourselves, we can "master" the world around us, because we can in control. If one drinks and drives, they are no longer in control. If on is sober and drives, they are more in control. If one follows ALL traffic laws, they have the most control. And so it is in every aspect of our lives.

This includes personal revelation. The more clutter of all kinds we release from our lives, the more open our channels of revelation can become. We can become closer to Heavenly Father.

I have a testimony of personal revelation. Just like our earthly fathers give us directions, Heavenly Father wants to help us in our lives. I know this is true because I have experienced it myself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The Essence of Discipleship" -- Silvia H. Allred

The root of the work "Disciple" is "Discipline". It denotes one who is disciplined. This talk especially touches on Visiting and Home Teachers, who need to be disciplined in their service to their sisters and families.

When Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society in 1842, he said the purpose of the society was:

"relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes...They will pour oil and wine to the wounded heart of the distressed, they will dry up the tears of the orphan and make the widow's heart to rejoice."

This past Sunday, out tri-stake had a special Relief Society Fireside put on by Sister Doxey of the Relief Society General Board. She spent considerable time speaking about the Visiting Teaching program. She even asked in open forum if we believed visiting teaching to be outdated.

Of course none of us said the program was outdated in front of Sister Doxey! But it got me wondering. If I don't feel the program is outdated, then why am I not more valiant in my visits and care of my girls?

She then asked us how we could "breathe new life" into Visiting Teaching. What a good question! Sister Allred gives a good suggestion:

"When love becomes the guiding principle in our care for others, our service to them becomes the gospel in action. It is the gospel in its finest moment. It is pure religion."

Grandma Rosenlof and I had a discussion on Sunday about this very topic. She argued -- and I agree -- that love is the bottom line of everything we do in the church. Some people believe it is obedience, that our obedience is the bottom line because we are required to do many things. And it is true, maybe for some people that is their bottom line. At a Zone Conference on my mission, we were taught that there are many motivations for people to do things. The first level is obligation -- because they feel they have to. The second level is fear -- because they are afraid of the consequences of NOT doing the action. The third level is love -- someone decides to do what is right because of their sincere love for the recipient, or for Christ.

Any and all of those motivations are good motivations to do the right thing. It is better to do your visiting teaching as an obligation and a fear to have to call in a 0%, but visiting teaching becomes what it is meant to become when we sincerely love our sisters.

So, love must become the guiding principle. Getting a check mark on the percentage sheet is not motivation enough for me to do my visiting teaching. However, if I consider that my girls may be going through a tough time, and might be praying that I will come by and be their firend and become an answer to their prayer -- THAT is motivation. That is love.

And love does not wait until the last day of the month -- it comes often.

She also talks about Home Teaching:

"Inspired Home Teachers bless lives and provide the blessings of the gospel to every family unit. In addition they lend their strength and talents in other ways, such as helping a family in need of home repairs, [or] in helping a family move."

Last Sunday, our Home Teachers came over and taught us from the First Presidency message in the latest Ensign about Commitment. Even though most every Home Teacher will teach that lesson this month, their lesson seemed tailored to us specifically and really touched my heart.

The very next day we called our Home Teachers to help us carry some heavy equipment into our apartment -- and they so willingly came over to complete the task.

I am grateful for my valiant Home Teachers and want to become a valiant Visiting Teacher.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"The Sanctifying Work of Welfare" -- Bishop H. David Burton

Often, as a "poor, starving college student" I forget about the important work of administering to the poor. The fact is, that everyone can give something.

President Heber J. Grant wanted to stress the importance of welfare, and said they would go so far as to "close the seminaries, shut down missionary work for a period of time, or even close the temples, but they would not let the people go hungry."

This puts things more into perspective for me. I go to institute every week, I served a full-time mission, and I attend the temple once a week. But when was the last time I administered to the poor and needy? That effort, on my part, needs to be more frequent.

Bishop Burton ends his talk with this thought:

"[Serving the poor] is the sacred work the Savior expects from His disciples. It is the work He loved when He walked the earth. It is the work I know we would fine Him doing were He here among us today."

In Christ's time, I believe poverty probably looked a lot like it does today. Probably people begged on the street corners, slept in alleyways, and went hungry each night.

I think we can be quick to assume that administering to the needy was somehow easier for Christ because He is the Savior. But the fact is, we have the opportunity to become saviors to those people who most need our help.

When I was little and we were living in California, seeing people begging to cars at stop lights was a very common sight. Because of the prevalence, the Relief Society sisters came together and made food kits in gallon Ziplock bags including assortments of foods and necessities. Inside was also placed a pass-along card with a picture of Jesus Christ.

One afternoon, as we were stopped at a read light, a man had a sign indicating he was hungry and needed help. My mom had me pass the bag up to her and she handed it to the man through her window.

The man had tears in his eyes. He first thanked us so sincerely, then fell to his knees and thanked God for this miracle. The instance humbled us immediately. I will never forget that man's reaction.

Being ready and willing to help is much of the problem. We must be ready and willing before an opportunity arises to give, or Satan will do his best to steer us into selfishness.