Thursday, December 29, 2011

Redemption and Repentance

(find the talks here – Redemption – and here – The Divine Gift of Repentance)
“The choice to repent is a choice
to burn bridges in every direction
[having determined] to follow forever only one way,
the one path that leads to eternal life.”
-Professor Noel Reynolds

I have a strong testimony of the principle of repentance and the gift of the atonement. I am not sure when I gained that testimony – I am sure it came gradually over the years as I grew up. I am also sure that the strength of that testimony is helped by the strength of my testimony that God loves all of His children. When you know that God loves His children, it is easy to understand that He would give them a way to get back to live with Him. A loving God would not shun us at the first hint of sin.

As strong as my testimony of repentance has been, I think that my understanding as been somewhat superficial. This quote from Elder D. Todd Christofferson struck me, “Attempts to create a list of specific steps of repentance may be helpful to some, but it may also lead to a mechanical,check-off-the-boxes approach with no real feeling or change.” I want to be sure that I am not approaching repentance with “no real feeling or change.” I want to change. That is the glory of repentance.

I can remember when the first spark of real understanding of the atonement happened for me. When I was a young woman, a young man in our ward bore his testimony one Fast Sunday about the atonement. He talked about how it is the atonement that allows us to do better each day. He didn’t talk about repenting from grievous sins, he was talking about the “little” things – learning and growing each day. That has always been the foundation of my testimony of the atonement – it is the power by which we progress each day. When I get impatient with my children, it is the atonement that allows me to try again the next day (or the next minute!) and erases all the mistakes I make as I learn how to be a mother.

That’s a pretty comforting knowledge – that my mistakes are not lasting. If I partake of the atonement each day – even in each minute of each day – my mistakes can be washed away!

Having this “daily repentance” understanding of the atonement has probably been the foundation of my understanding of repentance.

The underlying principle in repentance is change. Elder Christofferson said, “Perhaps as much as praying for mercy, we should pray for time and opportunity to work and strive and overcome.” How often do we pray for forgiveness without praying for the strength and opportunity to change and do things differently?
The ability we have to repent comes from the plan of redemption. Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr said, “‘To redeem’ is to buy or to buy back…if we repent, we can be forgiven of our sins, the price having been paid by our Redeemer.” This redemption is provided, whether or not we partake of it. As President Packer said, “There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent.”

Ironically, the most beautiful part of the atonement to me is that there is nothing we can do to repay the Savior. Elder Curtis said, “[T]he plan of redemption calls for our best efforts to fully repent and do the will of God.”

His statement reminded me of a BYU Devotional by Brad Wilcox, in which Brother Wilcox compared the atonement to a parent paying for piano lessons for their child.

Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.
Elder Curtis quoted the hymn Savior, Redeemer of My Soul and I loved the line “Never can I repay thee, Lord, But I can love thee.

How true! I hope that I can do my best to love the Lord and to repent daily of my weaknesses, making them strengths through His infinite atonement.

How do you partake of the atonement? What are your feelings about the plan of redemption? Are you sometimes discouraged when you have to repent over and over again? Do you recognize the growth that you have made in your repentance journey? What is the meaning of the atonement and repentance for you personally?

Find more insight on this talk over at

Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Enduring Trials

I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. I was inspired by Elder Richard G Scott's talk at October General Conference when he talked about how at the end of each year his wife could be found quietly finishing the Book of Mormon again.

When I heard that I decided that I would follow her example and read the Book of Mormon every year. I think January would be a fine time to start each year, and the Christmas season will be a good time to finish up each year, so I am trying to finish the rest of the Book of Mormon by the end of this year. I am close! Finishing up Helaman.

And today I read this verse, which reminded me of the trials that I have been talking about recently - the suffering that has been caused by the actions of others. Mormon describes how some of the members of the Church at this time became prideful, and persecuted the humble. And then he talks about how the humble people reacted...

"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God."
As I have learned to yield my heart into God in my suffering, I have felt this peace and consolation, and even some of this purification. This is the correct pattern to follow when you are suffering because of the actions of others. Humble yourself and turn to Heavenly Father and He will bless you with peace, and He will help you refine your soul.

How do you deal with trials? Do you feel yourself becoming more humble? Or do you become bitter and hardened? Are you able to find "joy and consolation" in the Savior, by turning your heart to God? Do you allow yourself to be purified through your suffering?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fragments - Vol 8

I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year so I can start fresh in January and start on my new habit I want to create of reading the entire Book of Mormon every year.

I have about 15 more days. I hope I can do it!

My family is spending Christmas and new years at my house this year! That means on Christmas morning we will have 9 adults, 5 children under 7, and 4 dogs at our house! It promises to be fun (if a little hairy!!) and I am looking forward to it a LOT!

My sister who lives nearby is coming over on Monday to help deep clean before the company starts arriving.

Papai was playing with our little princess today and things got a little... rough (he pulled her in the laundry basket and it fell over with her in it - she smashed her face against the side/handle of the plastic basket and ended up with a bloody nose. I think it was her first bloody nose ever.

As it didn't end up in an ER visit I am counting our blessings... but at this rate her first ER visit might not be far in the future (V already has the record for earliest and most ER visits... I think he has been to the ER at least 3 times and urgent care at least that many.

I enjoy posting from my phone using this app. I have been posting at night after I read my Book of Mormon and write in my "real" journal. It has been nice.

I turned into a mama bear today when four year old V pushed two year old J into the wall in a mini-fight over the toilet (there are three in this house... no need to fight!) - not sure if I should be happy or sad that my children fight over who gets to go potty...

Thankfully I stopped myself just before I swatted him (gently, but firmly) on his rear end. At the last second my logic overcame "mama bear" mode and I remembered that teaching non-violence with violence is simply not effective. So V and I went into his room and we talked about patience and gentleness and how the Savior didn't push people and how he was kind and gentle, and that when we do something rough, we need to fix it by doing something gentle. He went in the bathroom and gave his sister one of the sweetest hugs. It was fabulous.

Man it was nuts how fast mama bear took over when I hear J's head hit the wall outside the bathroom. And thank goodness the Spirit steps in every now and then to hold me back from yielding to that natural man!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Spirit

There is something different about the Christmas season for me this year - and ironically that is the fact that I don't feel much different at this time of year than I do all year long.

I love the fact that more people are focused on Christ at this time of year, and that He is the topic of conversation more than usual. But for me, this Christmas season came up rather unceremoniously. I have been working on being more Christ-centered in my life and in my thoughts this year - and I think that is why I don't feel like there is much different between this season and the past several months.

Now, don't get me wrong - I love Christmas and the whole season - but the worshipping Christ and thinking about him - well, it just feels like that is what I have been doing all along! Which really makes me happy, because that means that I have had a very Christ-centered year (well, at least the last five or six months).

This is a first for me, though. Usually Christmas catches me by surprise, and I find that I have been craving the Christmas Spirit all year.

So this year, the season is so different - and yet very much the same.

Do you feel different during the Christmas season, or do you feel like this is how you have been living all year? How do you keep your life Christ-centered year round, and not just at Christmas? What do you love most about the Christmas season?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let Us Resist Evil

In Pahoran's epistle to Moroni (which was a humble to response to a scathing epistle Moroni had written to Pahoran) he described to Moroni all the wickedness and rebellion that had been going on in Zarahemla. Tonight I was struck particularly by this verse:

"[L]et us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words... let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom..." - Alma 61:14

This made me think about my own efforts to resist evil. Earlier, Pahoran had said, "we will resist wickedness even unto bloodshed." What am I willing to sacrifice for righteousness? Friends? Prestige? Popularity? My own life?

What are you willing to sacrifice for righteousness sake? Do you resist evil in your life? How do you resist evil? What are some ways you protect your home and your family from the influence of Satan?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 12, 2011

Look Up When You Can’t Sing

(find the talks here – It Is Better to Look Up - and here – The Songs They Could Not Sing)

Elder Quentin L. Cook pointed out that one of the questions General Authorities hear the most is “Why does Heavenly Father allow bad things to happen to good people?”

My husband and I have talked about this principle a lot. It is also spoken about in General Conference pretty frequently. There are three sources of suffering that we may experience in this mortal life.

1.) suffering caused by our own sins/disobedience to God’s commandments
2.) suffering caused by the sins of others/their disobedience to God’s commandments
3.) suffering caused by the mortality and imperfection of this world and our bodies – disease, natural disasters, etc

Elder Quentin L. Cook made a really good point when he said, “Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan.” First of all – of course it is not evidence of an imperfection in Heavenly Father’s plan! His plan is perfect, and His plan and purpose for each of us is beautiful and perfect and will ultimately bless our lives in ways we never thought possible if we will have faith and turn to Him. I think that we are quick to judge both ourselves and others when we encounter adversity. It is easy to think that someone “brought upon themselves” their trials. But remember those three sources of suffering? Only one of them has anything to do with our own choices.

“The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God.” Lately I have been enduring some trials that have been caused by source #2. I have found myself staring at the floor, wondering what is wrong with me and why this his happening to me, and trying to figure out what I did to deserve this (that is, I was thinking that I was enduring these trials because of source #1). Elder Carl B. Cook asked, “Why is it a challenge to consistently look up in our lives? Perhaps we lack the faith that such a simple act can solve our problems.” I did not have the faith that looking up would solve my problems. My problems were being caused by the agency of another person. How could anything I could do change anything? I wasn’t the one making poor choices – I can’t make choices for other people. That was when I read Corine’s post on charity and I realized that even though the suffering was caused by another’s choices, I could choose how to deal with the trial.

Elder Carl B. Cook said, “As I thought of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s power, my heart found the comfort I had sought in vain from the floor of that descending elevator.” Notice that Elder Cook’s problems didn’t go away – but he did find comfort. He went on to say that if we “exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy.” I have really been experiencing a refiner’s fire lately, and as I have been turning to the Lord for strength, and practicing charity, I have been learning that these trials are the Lord’s way of perfecting me and purifying me. For what? Maybe nothing other than to live with Him again someday. But as I look to the Lord for strength in my trials, and as I learn to forgive and love, I am feeling myself grow and develop in ways I didn’t even know I needed to grow.

When Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke about songs that will not be sung, it reminded me of my older brother. My oldest brother passed away a little over a year ago. There were so many songs he didn’t get to sing – and yet, there were so many things he was able to do in his life. Elder Cook pointed out “A unique challenge for those who have lost loved ones is to avoid dwelling on the lost opportunities in this life.” For me, this lost opportunity would be the opportunity to encourage my brother to come back to the Church.

The prophet Joseph Smith said “The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.” The glorious part about loosing my brother is that he is not gone forever. He is in the Spirit world (which is all around us) and he can still learn and progress, and I feel like he may come back to the Church. I know at least that he is with our family – our grandparents and aunts and uncles, and they are looking after him and teaching him and testifying to him.

What did you learn about adversity and trial from these talks? Do you look up when you are feeling discouraged or when trials are in your way? Have you felt like you were in a refiner’s fire? Did you feel yourself growing? Did you see a more perfect version of yourself come out of the fire?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Time to Prepare

(find the talk here)

I remember hearing Elder Ian S. Arden’s talk during General Conference and really loving this phrase, “We must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive.” I couldn’t help but think about all the times I have been “busy” but not productive. It happens more frequently than I would care to admit. Especially when I let myself get sucked into the blogosphere or other social networking sites. As I listened to Elder Arden’s talk again this weekend, and as I read it today, I was reminded of Elder David A. Bednar’s devotional Things as They Really Are that I posted about a while ago. Elder Bednar stressed that life should be experienced through our mortal body, not through digital or virtual worlds.

Fullscreen capture 1252011 84135 AM I have to remind myself of that when I feel like my “best friends” are some of the women whose blogs I read. When I sit in Relief Society and feel like I don’t know the sisters very well, I wonder why I have been spending so much time getting to know these bloggers, and so little time getting to know the sisters in my ward (granted, I have been reading the blogs for a few years and I have only been attending this ward for a few months – but still! I need to put in a little more effort on the real-life friendships). Part of my hesitation to get to know new people is because of my pride and my judgmental attitude (which I’m working on). “Electronic games and cyber acquaintances are no lasting substitute for real friends who can give an encouraging hug, who can pray for us and seek after our best interest.”

I have been learning that the “X” button to close a window is my greatest tool. It’s like that old rule about if something inappropriate pops up on your computer, you just turn it off. You can’t hurt your computer more than the images will hurt your soul – so just shut it off. It’s a similar principle. If I can make myself press the “X” button, rather than just minimizing the page while I go read General Conference, then I am less likely to idle away my time on another website. I particularly love to read news articles – which is good, but there is always something more to read on the internet. It’s not like a magazine or a newspaper that you can put down once you’ve read all the articles. It keeps going. Forever and ever.DSCN6209 Elder Arden talks about becoming a “master manager of our time.” This is something that I am continually working on doing – especially as a mother of young children. It’s hard to ever feel like there is enough time in the day to do everything. Almost every night when I go to bed I think, “If only I could have done more.” I can usually be found humming the hymn “I Have Work Enough to Do” – always aware that there is more to be done. I love, though, what Elder Arden said about President Monson, “With all that he does as a prophet of God, he ensures, as the Savior did, that there is still sufficient time to visit the sick, to lift the poor in spirit, and to be a servant of all.” Sometimes I think, “Why can’t I do all that, and still keep my toilets clean!?”

“Time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may,be bought at any store for any price.” This quote reminded me of a trailer I saw for a movie in which time becomes money, and money becomes time. You work for time, and you can spend your time on whatever you want – but you better be careful, because if you run out of time, that’s it – you die. I haven’t seen the movie, but I think it is a good metaphor for time – you can’t buy it, of course, but you can waste it. If time was like money, and once you ran out you died, what would you spend your time on? Would you buy that candy bar? Or would you save it up and travel the world? Or give it to someone with small children?

“With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another.” So one of the most important things we can do as we learn to become “master managers” of our time is to figure out or priorities. What does matter most to us? Once we know what we value the most, we need to learn to match our activities with our priorities.

The theme scripture of our family blog is Alma 34:32 which says, “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God”. I truly believe that is what we are doing in this world, and so my highest priority would be to prepare myself to meet God. That seems pretty simple, but figuring out what I actually need to do to prepare myself (and it changes with every season of life) is the hard part. Right now, a lot of me preparing to meet God is learning to have patience – with myself, with my husband, with my children, with my season of life. The way I prepare to meet God might be different later than it is now.

Elder Arden’s talk at the very least has helped me be aware of the activities with which I choose to fill up my time, making sure they don’t give “the false impression of being busy and productive” but rather are productive. Sometimes I can be very productive without even appearing busy (playing with my children – do we ever say “I’m busy” when we’re playing with our kids?).

If you are having a hard time figuring out what matters most in your life, I would direct you to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk in October 2010 General Conference titled Of Things that Matter Most. It will probably help you. I also wrote about it here on the blog.

How do you make sure that you make the best use of your time? Do you carefully choose your activities to match your priorities? Do you sometimes confuse “productive” with “busy”? How can you make sure you are choosing the “things that matter most”? How are you becoming a “master manager” of your time?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Fragments Vol 7


I have my first dentist appointment in… 2 years(!?) today. With all the moving and travelling we did over the last few years it just never happened. Well, today is the day… the moment of truth. I just hope I don’t have to have much work one… 2

I made yummy orange chicken last night. We have some extra little boys with us this week, and their favorite is orange chicken, and so last time they were with us I learned how to make it, and I promise them I would make it again for them. I’m glad they asked me the first time, because it’s a favorite around here now!


My husband and I have had a little cold (congestion and sore throat) the past few days… I hope we don’t pass it on to the kiddos. 4 If you are a mother, you need to read this post (well, the post Stephanie linked to). Seriously. Go read it. You won’t regret it. And you may actually find yourself going about your work today with a lighter heart. Really. It worked for me!5 I’m having a hard time coming up with things today – but maybe that is because I am anxious to get to the darned dentist (see #1) – mostly just to get it over with… wish me luck!

Read more randomness over at Heather’s Friday Five Linkup.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Children are hard - So don’t have any


A friend of mine shared a “funny” video the other day. If you want to watch it without having it spoiled, hurry and click on the link. If you don’t have a desire to watch it, read on.

The video opens with a young father and his son (probably 6 or 7?) at a grocery store. The young son takes some cereal off the shelf and puts it in the cart. The father picks it up and deliberately puts it back, and thus ensues a little “take it out, put it back” war between father and son. Suddenly, after the father puts it back again, the young boy starts throwing a tantrum, screaming, throwing things off the shelves, lying on the floor screaming and hitting the floor, all while the bystanders watch in displeasure and seem to give the young father one of “those” looks (if you’ve ever been in the grocery store with a screaming child, you know what I’m talking about). You notice (or maybe you don’t, but I did) that there are only adults (and most of them older – think 40s+) and none of them have children (of any age) with them. The commercial ends with a close up of the young father’s face and a message at the bottom: “Wear condoms.”

DSCN6092 Now, while the irony of the video might be somewhat funny, I found the message to be in poor taste, and exactly what Elder Neil A. Andersen was illustrating in his talk from General Conference about children and how the world views them as a lower priority than anything. The message I observed in the video was this, “Children are hard work, so make sure you don’t have any.”

DSCN5955 The video is in another language with subtitles (I think French?) and I thought that a commercial like this would probably not fly in the United States. Fortunately we have enough mothers who aggressively defend motherhood (like Rachel Jankovic) in the United States that I think there would be some really negative backlash to a commercial like this being aired in the United States. But in Europe, where families values have eroded so much that some countries are trying to get more men to be teachers so that children will have positive male role models (what happened to fathers?!) I thought this commercial was probably very well received.

I thought the message in the commercial might have been more “don’t have kids if you’re not ready to have kids” if there had been other, well-behaved children in the commercial. But in the commercial you will notice a blatant lack of children. So that leads me to believe that the marketers weren’t just targeting people who might not be emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially prepared to have children. Since the only child in the entire commercial was acting like a monster (while the father simply stands by and “lets” him throw the fit – a conversation for another day) – which even well-behaved children will do sometimes – there was no other conclusion to draw other than that the marketers view all children as trials and burdens which we should protect ourselves from  by wearing condoms (or using another form of birth control – don’t worry, I am not knocking birth control here – there is a time and place for that, too).

I know this sounds a little harsh, and maybe I am off – maybe the marketers really were saying “If you’re not ready to have kids, wait until you are.” What did you think?

PS – I included a few pictures of my two year old during some of her tantrums. (which happen quite frequently… because she is two) so you would know that I don’t think my children are always perfect. I wanted to be fair and include pictures of my four year old, but either he doesn’t throw tantrums as often as she does, or he just makes sure he isn’t throwing tantrums while we are taking pictures. Either way – parenting is hard, children are hard – mine throw tantrums all the time. But it is by far the most important thing we can ever do.

What message did you see in the commercial? Do you think the commercial illustrates, at least somewhat, the lower priority most people in the world give to having and raising successful children? Or do you think it is simply a harmless message?

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