Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Want To Understand

In conversations about the temple, particularly first temple experiences, at least one person mentions how awkward or strange they found their first temple experience to be.

I have been thinking about this as I have been studying the temple covenants and rituals in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. As I read the words of the scriptures my mind turned back to my first temple experience. I didn't understand everything - I still don't - but I remember having a fierce testimony of the importance of the temple before I even went for the first time. I knew that whatever was going to happen in the temple was going to be what needed to happen, and that I would certainly learn things - which is what I always expected I would do in the temple - learn new things.

So I think that there are two keys to a good first temple experience:

1.) A strong foundational testimony of the importance of the temple


2.) A strong desire to learn something new every day, an open mind, an attitude that if something seems strange it's probably because you don't understand it completely.

What do you think are the important aspects of preparing for a good first experience in the temple?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Heard It All Before

I have posted before about inoculation - the idea of exposing members of the church to all of the possibly critical positions people might hold toward the church, and all of the less - appealing aspects of church history. There has been much discussion about whether or not it should be the church's responsibility to inoculate it's members again such question - raising topics.

On a slightly related note, I was reading in Alma 30 tonight about Korihor and as I read his arguments against God and Christ and the gospel I couldn't help thinking, "These are all of the same anti-religon arguments you hear today!"

And then the thought struck me. This isn't the only place in scripture where debates between believers and doubters is recorded. If we have studied the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, we will be so familiar with this line of doubt and questioning that we will simply be able to wave our hands at those who would tear down our faith and simply say, "Pooh,  pooh - been there, done that, got the tshirt."

The best inoculation we can give our children is probably a love of the gospel and of the Book of Mormon and a deep understanding of those two things rather than a superficial familiarity with them. If we can help our children develop a deep love for and understanding of the Book of Mormon, all the naysayers in the world won't be able to sway our children from their testimony of the true and living gospel.

What real-life events has the Book of Mormon prepared you for? How do you feel the Book of Mormon has strengthened your testimony such that it cannot be shaken and you are not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Didn't Have Time to Get Anything Done

When teacher in-service started a few weeks ago I felt a sudden panic. I had so much to do, and so little time. Between six kids and a husband working grave shift, I felt like there weren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. I started teaching school and every day I felt like I was just barely keeping my head above water.

One day, maybe during the second week of school, I was driving home from work, exhausted. I was feeling as if I didn't have enough prep time to get ready for each day, plus grade papers and get my classroom put together (which I hadn't finished doing before school started). I caught myself thinking, "I spend so much time teaching, I just don't have any time to get anything done!"

I couldn't help myself, I started laughing. All alone in my car on the way home from work I dissolved into side-splitting laughter.

I don't have time to get anything done because I am teaching all day... 

That got me thinking about all the things that we put on a "to do" list. What truly important things can we put on a to do list?

You might think that you can put important things on a to do list, like "read scriptures" and "pray". Maybe you could put those on a to do list and check them off.

But what about things like, "Love your children." "Teach your children." Can you ever check those off of a to do list?

At the end of a day full of teaching, what could I put on my "done" list? To me it feels like I did the same thing over and over again all day - I have six classes of seventh graders. But when I really ponder what I am doing each day, and I think back to the interactions I have had with individual students that day, I realize the impact that I am having on each of my students and suddenly it feels less repetitive. Sure, I might feel like a broken record, but to each of my students, sitting in my class is a brand new experience every day - I am creating a learning experience for each student, each day.

No longer am I going to feel like I couldn't get anything done because I was teaching. Teaching is the most important thing that I got "done" that day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Intentional About Everything

You would probably never peg me as an "overprotective" mom. I don't keep my kids in a bubble, and I don't keep them out of trees or off the roofs of chicken coops.

But when it comes to my home, I am like a lioness at the gate. I am very particular about what does and does not come in my home. Don't get me wrong, my kids know about drugs, alcohol, child abuse, sex, and all sorts of other "worldly" things. I'm not raising them to be prudes, but believe you me I am protecting those innocent souls as much as I possibly can. Those things they know about because I intentionally taught my children about those things (in most situations before they learned about them elsewhere, but occasionally because they had learned about them somewhere else).

I have been thinking a lot lately about my tendency to be fiercely protective of the sanctity of my home. It might seem overboard to some people, but when you know Satan as intimately as I do, you know that he cannot be trusted. Not even a fraction of an inch. When the purity of my family is at stake, I take no chances.

President Julie B. Beck said it best:
We know that we are involved in God’s work every day, and that changes everything. It changes the way we think. It changes our decisions. It changes the way we dress. It changes the way we talk. It changes the way we live. We have the responsibility and the challenge from the prophet to believe deeply and actively in the family. We will need to do that in order to preserve our families. That means we have to be intentional about everything we do. Our life is not just happenstance. We know where we are going and what we have to do. 
It is my goal to be intentional about everything I do, especially motherhood. I leave nothing to chance.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Where Two or Three are Gathered

A few weeks ago my 12 year old step daughter said to my husband and me, "What if I like my mom's church more than our church?"

I tried not to freak out too much. This was coming from a wonderful young woman who, I thought, had a rock solid testimony of the gospel.

So rather than freak out, I asked questions. I asked what she liked about her mom's church, what she felt like there, and some other questions to help me figure out just what she was saying.

We ended up talking for several hours about the gospel, about what it means to be Christian, and about what makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jesus Christ's restored church on the earth.

At some point in the conversation a scripture popped into my mind where the Savior had said (this is the paraphrased version that popped into my head), "Where two or three are gathered in my name, the Spirit will be there." (the actual text is in Matthew 18:20 and says, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.") I shared this scripture with my step daughter, hoping that it would help her see that you can feel the spirit in a lot of different places, not just on Sundays in sacrament meeting, or not just when you are reading the Book of Mormon or listening to General Conference.

This conversation with my daughter got me really thinking about what makes the Church true. I believe that there are many many good Christians and some fantastic churches that do a lot of good in the world. So what does the LDS Church have that is different?

My answer? The priesthood authority of Jesus Christ to act in His name and do what He would do if He were on the earth (and everything that comes through that authority - prophets, apostles, temples, etc).

I am glad my children are asking these kinds of questions and I hope and pray that I can guide them through their soul searching. I worry every day that I will say or do something wrong or miss an opportunity to guide them or influence them.

But then I remember that the atonement is infinite, and I try to remember that no matter what I do, Christ is more powerful than I and His atonement will cover everything I can't do.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Change Your Life

There are a lot of things I don't know yet. And it seems the more I study, the more I realize I don't know. But I am trying to learn and study and grow. For the past several years I have done a lot of gospel studying. Mostly I have been studying about womanhood and what it means to be a woman and what my place and my responsibilities are as a mother.

But then a few weeks ago I was asked to give a talk on Easter Sunday (today) on the atonement. I put a lot of my other studies on hold to do an in depth study of the atonement and what I found was remarkable. My life changed. My attitudes, actions, my ability to receive revelation, everything changed. I was given more strength to do the impossible (and with a full time job, a husband, and six kids twelve and under it seems like every day is impossible!). It took me a while to figure out what had changed, but then I was writing my talk and I realized that studying the atonement of Jesus Christ is the single most important thing that changed my life.

From now on in my study of gospel topics I am looking for the connections to the atonement. What does the atonement teach me about my purpose as a woman?

There is a power that comes from studying the atonement, and I hope that putting the atonement at the center of my other studies will help me better understand those other studies.

(by the way, Elder Callister's book is a fantastic place to start your study of the atonement!)

Do you notice a change in your life when you study the atonement? How does the atonement help you understand other gospel topics that you study?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Patience and Healing

As part of my therapy I am studying the concept of patience. A lot of my anxiety and frustration comes from a lack of patience.

I have always thought of myself as a relatively patient person - people don't easily annoy me, even children's "annoyances" don't usually bother me (you know, kids kicking the back of your seat in the car type annoyances). I patiently endured a lot of adversity in my marriage, hoping and hoping things would get better.

But when it comes to myself - my progression, mistakes I make, and my life goals and plans, I have little patience. I feel like I should work harder and faster and if only I would work a little harder I could progress faster.

Healing from my past experiences has been one of these things. I want the healing, and I want it now. It's not that I want a magic wand to wave and make everything perfect. I just wish that there was a way I could do something to fix things right away.

I have been looking up scriptures about patience and stumbled across this one today:

Okay, okay, I get the point. My pride is what makes me want to fix everything on my own, as fast as possible. Sometimes God wants to teach us something and mold us, and we just have to wait for that healing and change to take place.

I have realized that rather than relying on the atonement to cover my sins, I want to pay for them myself. Who does that?! Wouldn't most people jump at the chance to have someone else suffer for them? I think my problem is that I would rather suffer all at once and have it be done. But that isn't the way repentance works. We don't get to be beat with a few stripes (or even a dozen or a hundred or a thousand) and be forgiven. We can't suffer for our own sins and allow the Savior to heal us with the atonement. It's one or the other.

And allowing the Savior to heal us takes humility. And patience. And I am learning to do that.

Slowly. But I am learning.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Divorce and Family

I love learning about motherhood and the family, and my testimony of eternal families and the importance and benefit of a strong nuclear family unit is one of the reasons divorce was such a hard decision for me.

In October 2013
General Conference, Elder D Todd Christofferson (quickly becoming one of my favorite general authorities - if having favorites is allowed) said,
A woman's moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children.

This would have been lemon juice in a paper cut if it wasn't for the next statement:

Where this ideal does not exist, people strive to duplicate it's benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances.

Yes! I can strive to duplicate the benefits of a traditional family! However, in order to do that, I need to know what the benefits are, and how to duplicate them. So that is my quest as a mother of a blended family - to create the benefits of a traditional family for my non-traditional family.

The most influential doctrine that will make this quest possible is the atonement of Jesus Christ. His eternal and universal atonement can and will cover all the gaps between what should be, and what is.

Isn't that what we expect the atonement to do in our personal lives? Then why not in the lives of our children? Can the atonement help my children experience the benefits of a traditional family, even though the family they are a part of now doesn't meet that ideal?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 3, 2014

An Eventful Year - Revelation and the Lord's Timing

I don't usually post "Year in Review" type blog posts. However, I was reading my New Years' post from 2012 in which I wrote that 2011 and been "the best of times and the worst of times". Perhaps that statement could sum up life in general, because 2013 definitely fits that same description.

I'm sure you have all been missing me, dear readers. And I just want to warn you that this is not me "coming back" really. I hope to be back eventually, and I imagine the summers will be better, but life has thrown me a few curve balls.

In 2013, I had five major life events: birth of a child, starting school, divorce, new job, and remarriage.

Birth of a Child

There are so many thoughts and feeling that are rushing around inside of me about the birth of my second son. His birth was amazing and spiritual and perfect and wonderful and everything I wanted it to be.Heather, from Women in the Scriptures, was my doula - and she was an amazing doula. She will deny it up and down, but I regard Heather as a spiritual giant. I feel like the labor and delivery went so well because she was there, with her faith and her knowledge and her testimony, I could just feel the power of God around me and with me. And if not from Heather, then from what she has taught me about the priesthood and womanhood and motherhood through the past several years, both on her blog and in personal conversations. She is an amazing woman.

Starting School

I felt inspired this year that I should go back to school to finish the few courses I need to qualify for a teaching license. Although I have a bachelor's degree in Math, I don't have a teaching license, and I had been feeling something nagging at me to get my license and teach. Because I was married to a soldier I didn't know how much time I would have in any one place, so I figured that I needed my education to be as portable as possible. So in May I applied to an online university to finish my teacher prep courses. Because of the next major life event, I am so grateful that I listened to the prompting to go back to school and prepare to be a teacher.

Getting a Divorce

This is probably the longest story, and I am not going to tell it all right here, right now (but you can read my emotions about a lot of it in my previous posts about my faith crumbling through adversity and trials). Suffice it to say that when I was scared to death (literally) of leaving my marriage, when I thought it would be better to be dead that divorced, when I argued with Heavenly Father, wondering why He would ask me to do something I knew was against His plan, when my faith seemed to be threadbare, something happened. I got strength from a place I had forgotten about, and somehow, I got out.

And there I was, hurting, broken, but feeling like I had burst out of a dark prison.

I felt like my life had crumbled around me, but God gave me a vision of what my new life could be if I would just cling to Him. And that is what I have been doing.

Starting a New Job

Due to the previous major life event, I needed to get a job so I could provide for my family. I submitted applications for a job on Monday in between filling out divorce papers. I filed for divorce on Tuesday, interviewed for a job on Friday, and was offered the job on Tuesday of the next week. A full time job teaching math at a middle school in a nice neighborhood about 10 minutes from my house. My good friend was looking for a job and is a fantastic mother and I asked and she offered to be our day care practically at the same moment. It was meant to be.

However, my first paycheck wasn't going to come until late September. Because I had started school I had just received some student loan funds. Between the student loans and my amazing ward I was able to make it to September with money to spare. Heavenly Father is watching out for me.

Getting Remarried
This story is probably longer than the divorce story, but I am pretty sure it can be summed up in two principles: receiving and understanding personal revelation (which I wrote about here) and the Lord's timing is not always our timing - which the Stake President mentioned in that blessing.

Did you know that "in due time" doesn't necessarily mean "in a loooong time"? That's what I thought when the Stake President promised me that I would experience the joy of marriage again and followed that promise up with "in due time" which he repeated! I was thinking "so, I'll get married again in a really really really long time. Imagine my surprise when I met my new husband and three days later Heavenly Father informed me that he would be my new husband. Come to find out "in due time" means "at the appropriate time" - which apparently is 3 months after a divorce (for me). Who knew? It didn't take my husband long to receive the same revelation, so then the only question was "when"? We prayed about it and I felt inspired that we should pick a date and take it to Heavenly Father for approval. We looked at my calendar (being a teacher I don't get a lot of time off work) and picked a date mid-January. After a few days I had a nagging feeling that it wasn't soon enough. So we thought "After Christmas would be great". Nope, wrong again. Finally we picked the day before Thanksgiving (which at this point was about a month away). Yep. It felt right. We talked to my bishop, we talked to my parents, we talked to his parents, we told our kids (six of them altogether!), and it happened! So yeah, it all boils down to receiving and understanding revelation and the Lord's timing is not always our timing.

So now you know where I have been for the last 6-12 months. Going through a painful divorce, starting school and a job, and getting remarried to a wonderful man who loves God with all of his heart, might, mind and strength, with me as a close second.

I hope to be able to write more often, but don't hold your breath. Of course, now that I have "come out" and you all know my little secrets, it will be easier for me to write. I always like being open and "real" on my blog, and I feel like I have been lying the past year or so because my marriage was so awful. So, comment on here and tell me you're still reading and I will try to post more often. If no one cares that I was gone I will probably just post whenever it happens (which might not be very often!).

What lessons did you learn last year?

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