Monday, July 30, 2012

GCBC Week 18: “Special Lessons” & “Having the Vision to Do”

I have been sick lately – the “good” kind of sick, thankfully – but hard nonetheless. I try not to complain too much because I know countless women who would gladly take my place for the opportunity to bear a child – and I am grateful for the opportunity that I have. But that doesn’t make the discomfort go away.

So GCBC is late (again!) but at least it’s here. And these are some great talks!

Special Lessons – by Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I really enjoyed reading Elder Rasband's talk. We have had a few discussions with a close friend about why God allows suffering – and why He intervenes in some cases and not others. Why are some people healed while others are required to suffer throughout their mortal lives? Why are some people spared from the earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, while others’ lives are spared? Our friend sees this as either an indicator that God is either not omnipotent, or not compassionate. I see it as an indicator that God knows us intimately, individually, and He knows exactly what we need in this life to thrive spiritually, and He does His best to give those things to us.

This reminds me of a song by Laura Story called “Blessings” in which she sings,

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your blessings in disguise?

Elder Rasband seems to think so. He said, “Trusting in God’s will is central to our mortality. With faith in Him, we draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few.”

Suffering and trials in this life allow us to keep our baptismal covenants. If you don’t remember them, let me refresh your memory:

as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (Mosiah 18:8-9)

Our sufferings and trials allow us to keep those covenants. If no one had any burdens, if no one mourned, if no one needed comforting, how could we keep those covenants?

Having the Vision to Do – By Elder O. Vincente Haleck

This quote in particular stuck out to be from Elder Haleck’s talk

We experience hard things in our lives that can sometimes diminish our vision and faith to do the things we should. We become so busy that we often feel overwhelmed and unable to do any more. While each of us is different, I humbly submit that we must focus our vision on the Savior and His teachings. What did He see in Peter, James, and John and the other Apostles that prompted Him to act to invite them to follow Him? Like His vision of them, the Savior has a great vision of who we can become. It will take the same faith and courage the first Apostles had in order for us to refocus on the things that matter most in bringing lasting happiness and great joy.

How did these talks inspire you?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Multiply and Replenish the Earth

Do you remember Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk from October 2011 General Conference? I do. It hit me hard and was actually kind of a thorn in my side for a little while. During October 2008, I was pregnant with our second child, and our first was about 18 months old. I always imagined that we would just have kids one after another, but when October 2011 rolled around, and our second daughter was two and a half I couldn’t help but feel like we had missed something somewhere.

I believe in having children. I believe that is is a personal decision, to be made between a husband, his wife, and the Lord, but I believe in having children – and I don’t believe in postponing childbearing or ending childbearing for selfish reasons. I believe in having faith in following the commandments of God, and one of those commandments I believe in is bearing children.

“THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

Bearing children is not something we do because we worked hard enough and because we got a good enough job and we have a nice house and we’ll be able to give our children all of the worldly comforts of this life. Bearing children is something we do to raise children to the Lord. It’s not about raising geniuses, raising star football players, raising world class musicians, or anything of the sort. Bearing children is about teaching our spirit HPIM1734brothers and sisters how to believe, have faith, and act so that they can return to live with Heavenly Father some day. How we do that, how they do that is an extremely personal matter, and I believe our Father will help us in that monumental responsibility. Parenting – bearing and raising children – is a sacrifice we make. A sacrifice we covenanted to make. We sacrifice worldly things for the opportunity to bring souls back to Heavenly Father. I’ve written before about the Mission-Motherhood Parallel – just as our young adult brothers and sisters sacrifice up to two years of their lives to bring souls back to Heavenly Father, our job as parents is to do the same thing – the sacrifice is longer, the work is harder, but the payoff is the same – souls are brought to Heavenly Father.

Back to my General Conference thorn (Elder Andersen’s talk). During General Conference I write down directives – things that the General Authorities specifically instruct us to do, and more personally, things I feel prompted to do by the Spirit. After Conference I go through my notes and make a list of those “directives”. This year I put a star next to each directive for each time it appeared in my notes. After “go to the temple” (which had about 5 stars) and “read my patriarchal blessing” and “study the Daughters in My Kingdom manual”, the only other thing I felt multiple times was “have more babies”.

Prior to General Conference I had mentioned having more children (in passing) to my husband. He seemed uncomfortable with the thought – his words, “I feel like I would be ungrateful if I wanted to have more kids, since Heavenly Father has already blessed me with these two perfect children.”

After conference I wrote about Elder Andersen’s talk, and I mentioned that the choice to have babies is not just between husband and the Lord, or the wife and the Lord – it’s a three way decision. That means that just because I felt like we needed to have more babies did not mean that we would have more babies right away. My husband had to feel the same way.


I prayed about having more babies, and I felt an urgency that was hard to ignore. I was hesitant to discuss my feelings with my husband, so I kept the feelings to myself, praying fervently that my husband would eventually feel the urgency that I felt. Weeks passed. Months passed. I couldn’t shake that feeling that we needed to have babies, but every time I mentioned having more kids I got the same response from my husband. Finally, he said, “Well, let me think about it for a while.” (for him that means “let me pray about it” – though he won’t always admit it). More weeks went by, and finally, he told me he was ready – he felt like we should have more kids.

I was so excited. Finally!

But there was one problem. He was gone every few weeks for a week or two at a time, and his timing was impeccable (in the bad way). Those few months were really hard for me, as each opportunity passed for me to get pregnant, and there was no way. When he was home for a few weeks at one point I had an emotional breakdown. Sobbing into his arms I said, “All I want is a house full of children!” 100_1544When we were dating and engaged and newlywed, my husband used to say we were going to have a hundred children (and he wasn’t exaggerating!). He and I both had plans to foster, adopt, and birth our own children – a hundred of them – as many as we had room for – and we feel like we have room for as many as need a home.

I am a fertile woman, and the past few years since my daughter was about one I have felt guilty for not having more children. This might sound strange, but it was really hard for me to be physically able to bear children and not actually be able to get pregnant for reasons other than physical ability (or even temporal preparedness).

Often, we have endless compassion for women who want to have children but struggle with infertility. We understand that it’s not their choice not to have children. But what about women who would have dozens of children but can’t for other reasons (whatever those reasons may be)? Do we have as much compassion for women like me, who are completely fertile and in a great (temporal) position to have children (healthy, husband has a good job, great health insurance, roomy home to fill with children) but can’t for reasons other than infertility? I’ll tell you – before I had this experience I wouldn’t have had as much compassion for someone like me.

Elder Anderson said,

“We go forward in faith—realizing the decision of how many children to have and when to have them is between a husband and wife and the Lord. We should not judge one another on this matter.” (emphasis added)

I’ve been learning that the experiences in my life have been teaching me how to have compassion for people who I would have judged. Maybe I’m not as compassionate as I thought I am.

And now, if you haven’t already figured it out, I’m writing this post because we’re expecting baby #3! That’s why I’ve been a little MIA lately – morning sickness and fatigue have overcome me, and because I have been wanting this for so long, so I waited a little longer than normal to tell anyone besides close family and friends (I’m one of those tell-everyone-as-soon-as-the-test-is-positive people). I felt like keeping it to myself for a little while this time, enjoying the blessing that it is, and spending lots of time in prayer and thanksgiving for the patience and compassion I was taught in waiting for this.

Have you had to wait for something that you desperately wanted, but was out of your control? Have you had to experience waiting for children – whether because of infertility or any other reason that was beyond your control? Have you found yourself judging others because of what you may have thought was their choice, but you later discovered was out of their control?

Monday, July 23, 2012

GCBC Week 17: “Thanks Be to God”

Thanks Be to GodElder Russell M. Nelson

And discuss.

(can you tell I’m still not feeling well…?)

Monday, July 16, 2012

GCBC Week 16: The Merciful Obtain Mercy

Sorry GCBC is so late this week. I have been sick as a dog. Not strep again, thank goodness, but enough that it’s hard to sit and do one thing.

I know you’ve all been waiting for this talk. It was probably one of the most popular talks from General Conference (it seems like President Uchtdorf is pretty good at giving talks in General Conference – his usually tend to be keepers).

In fact, Middle-aged Mormon Man wrote a great blog post about President Uchtdorf’s talk that is definitely a must read if you are going to read President Uchtdorf’s talk. It’s titlted “Uchtdorf’s Hammer”. You won’t regret reading it. In fact, you should probably read it even before you comment on GCBC this week. It’s that good, it might actually change your perspective about President Uchtdorf’s talk.

The Merciful Obtain Mercy – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

While I really enjoyed this entire talk, the one phrase that knocked the wind out of me, so to speak, was this – “Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?” I really liked this definition of gossip from Google, “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people.” I think the big part for me is the “unconstrained” conversation.

In a book I read recently, I encountered this bit of wisdom about our speech –

The Sufis have a “wisdom saying” that our words must pass through three gates: Is it true? If it isn’t, don’t say it. If it is true, it must pass through two more gates before you speak it: Is it necessary to say? and Is it kind? If it is not necessary to say, don’t speak it. If it is necessary, find a way to say it in a kind way. Kind does not mean candy-coating the truth; it means saying what needs to be said in a way that leaves the dignity and worth of all parties in tact.

I think this “wisdom saying” of the Sufis fits perfectly with President Uchtdorf’s talk. In fact, I would say that not only our words must pass through the three gates, but also our throughts.

There is a quote that I was sure came from a General Authority (I first heard it in a Young Women’s class when I was probably 15 or 16). Upon further investigation I cannot seem to find it anywhere on (which doesn’t mean it isn’t on there, or hasn’t been on there at some point – their search engine is definitely lacking), so I am assuming a wonderful YW advisor simply found this quote and thought it would be an appropriate addition to the lesson. It was.

Watch your thoughts, they become your words.
Watch your words, they become your actions.
Watch your actions, they become your habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Now I feel like this has become a tangent, sorry about all that.

What about President Uchtdorf’s talk struck you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

365 Days in my Journal

Last fall I made a goal to write 365 days in a row in my journal (I made it to 69 days). I am an avid journaler, and have been since about 1997 when my Aunt gave me my first real journal ever, with this message inside the front cover:

It reads:
To Rebecca - Writing Journal -
I've learned if you want to be a writer, you need to write everyday or at least every other day.
Happy Writing
Aunt Wilma

When I was a child I dreamed of being a writer. I wrote short stories, children's books, and poetry almost obsessively since I was about 6 or 7. I still remember writing my first "real" story on Word Perfect '95 on an old IBM computer with a blue screen and F keys. Before that I would write stories on our Macintosh that had a program that would read aloud what you had written in this horrible computerized man's voice.

I have since grown out of writing stories (mostly). Although up until probably college I would write the first 15-20 pages of countless stories. Some of them were pretty good. I would also write by hand in my notebooks at school. In high school I continued to write poetry and was even published in my high school's literary magazine, which I helped edit. It wasn't anything amazing, but I really enjoyed creative writing.

Now I mostly write for my blog, and in my journal. I'm not a great writer - I think I just have a lot to say (if you know me in person you know that I will talk your ear off, given the chance). But I believe in writing.

At this point I have begun to ramble, and honestly I am not entirely sure why I starting writing this post in the first place.

I guess to just share with you my love of writing. For some reason I feel uninhibited when I write. I don't feel like I have to put up a facade or pretend I am not really who I am. I don't have to worry (too much) about tact or political correctness. I can just open up and share my thoughts. It's like ultimate access to the real me.

Honestly, that is probably the reason why I don't tell people who actually know me (i.e., my ward, my friends, my family) about my blog. In person I am able to gauge the response I get from others and mold and shift what I say and how I say it, and carefully choose the topics of conversation, so that no one feels threatened, so that no one feels uncomfortable. Unfortunately, that can also end up being kind of boring.

This ended up being a lot more personal than I intended, but I think it feels good to get it out there.

Here is a picture of my four journals:

The red and black journal spans from my first entry in December 1997 (when I received the journal) to June 2004 shortly after my graduation from high school.

The blue fairy/ballerina bunny journal was the next one I wrote in - I received it from a close friend for our high school graduation. I am still not sure why I used it... It was really not my style, as you can tell. I probably used it because I love that particular friend. That one spans from June 2004 to July 1, 2005. The black spiral journal is July 2005 to March 2010 and represents the fullest period of my life so far - that one contains my courtship, engagement, wedding, two pregnancies and births, and about 6 moves. It includes my husband joining the military, months and months of separation due to military training, and a lot of stress and anxiety. In fact, I think the 5 years in that journal were probably some of the most anxious years of my life.

The fat black leather journal on the far right is my current journal. From March 2010 until today, July 2012, and I am about half way through (the pages are pretty thick - probably 4 times as thick as the red and black journal).

My current journal is a journal of healing, a record of finding peace, understanding the refiner's fire, and growing so fast it hurt. I am hoping that the next several years can fill this journal with more peace, with joy, love, and strength.

I am going to start the 365 day challenge over again today. I was much more sane when I was writing every day. I dare you to join me!

Do you keep a journal? How often do you write? When did you start keeping a journal?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 9, 2012

Nephi and the Law of Moses

I have been intrigued recently by the fact that Nephi and his descendants obeyed the law of Moses, even when it is apparent that they understood the fullness of Christ's gospel.

Nephi's understanding of the plan of salvation is impressive, given that he lived six hundred years before the coming of Christ, and he lived in Jerusalem in a time when the Jews did not even understand the Law of Moses.

And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

It is significant that Nephi said the law of Moses was dead to them because they knew that it was only a type of Christ, a reminder of what was really important.

I believe this is one of the reasons Lehi and his family were led to the promised land. They understood that the law of Moses wasn't the important part of the gospel. The important part was faith in Christ and his atonement and sacrifice.

Nephi understood that the law of Moses would be fulfilled.

Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

Nephi and his brethren took care to teach their children that the law of Moses was only a type of Christ, and a way to be reminded of His coming. It was important to them to teach their children tha the law of Moses is "dead" and that life is found only in and through the Savior, Jesus Christ. They wanted to make sure that when Christ finally came their children would be willing to accept Christ's fulfillment of the law of Moses, rather than harden their hearts toward the Savior, as the Jews in Jerusalem would do when he came.

Why do you think it is significant that Nephi described the law of Moses as being "dead"? Why did they continue living the law of Moses when they knew of the fullness of the gospel?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, July 8, 2012

GCBC Week 15: Willing and Worthy to Serve

My favorite part about reading the talks from the Priesthood session is applying the counsel from that meeting to my own life. There is no reason why these talks can’t benefit me personally. They don’t have to be instruction only to my husband and other Priesthood holders in the Church.

I enjoyed the quotes President Monson shared from past presidents of the Church regarding the Priesthood, and I realized that I should really study their words more.

Willing and Worthy to Serveby President Thomas S. Monson

“when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.”

I slept and dreamt
That life was joy
I awoke and saw
That life was duty
I acted and behold
Duty was joy.

What struck you from President Monson’s talk?

Also – we just passed the half way mark, and I just wanted to see who’s still out there with us! If you’re still following along with us, just give a little shout out in the comments. Just a “Hey, I’m still here!” will work! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teach Me To Walk in the Light–sheet music

I’m the ward choir director in my ward, and I have thought about writing an arrangement for a while, but it never happened – until my husband said to me the other night, “You should arrange music.”

Little did he know just how motivating his encouragement would be. I spent all afternoon Sunday writing this arrangement for Teach Me to Walk in the Light (LDS Hymn no. 304). I let it sit for a few days, and then I revisited it today and tweaked a few things. It’s my first arrangement ever, and I’m not really a composer/arranger, so it’s not amazing, but if you’re looking for an easy children’s chorus/SATB arrangement of Teach Me to Walk in the Light, this might be able to fill your needs.

Feel free to download the music, share this post, or link to the PDF here – please link to this post or the original PDF, rather than downloading the music and uploading it yourself.


(click on the image above to be redirected to the printable PDF)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

GCBC Week 14: Families Under Covenant

We’re finishing up our antibiotics (we’ve all had strep, if you missed that from last week). Except for my 5 year old. He lasted a while without getting any really bad symptoms, but this weekend he started manifesting symptoms, so he’s just starting his while we’re all finishing up. Poor kid.

We’re over half way done with General Conference Book Club! That means that we’re halfway to October General Conference. I have really been enjoying this go around with GCBC. Hosting the book club keeps me more accountable, and so far I have studied all the talks.

As I was studying this talk I thought of the Sanctus Real song, Lead Me. It’s an excellent song about a man who wants to stand up and lead his family, being their support, their strength, and their spiritual leader – and understands that he needs God’s help in that role.

Families Under Covenantby President Henry B. Eyring

There is nothing that has come or will come into your family as important as the sealing blessings. There is nothing more important than honoring the marriage and family covenants you have made or will make in the temples of God.

The way to do that is clear. The Holy Spirit of Promise, through our obedience and sacrifice, must seal our temple covenants in order to be realized in the world to come.

There is a lot in President Eyring’s talk about how to have your marriage and family sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. This is a talk I would like to study with my husband.

How did President Eyring’s talk impact you?

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