Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sabbath Day ~ My Day of Spiritual Renewal

The Sabbath Day is my day of renewal.  I come heavy with the woes of the world and find myself filled by the time I leave.  It is the best day of the week. 

Living in the world I am dragged down by the weight of things I cannot myself change.  So, I am faced with trials and have a mind that worries constantly.  I know, I am not supposed to worry or fear.  D&C 6:36 says:  " Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."  But my mind will not let me rest.  I worry constantly about one thing or another.

In Seminary tonight, we studied Exodus 14 where Moses leads the Children of Israel from Egypt.  I marvel at how patient God was with Pharaoh.  He sent plague after plague and Pharaoh would call Moses and Aaron in and say, "intreat the Lord your God that he may take away" this or that plague.  Moses would ask and the Lord would take it away.  Time after time until the 10th plague.  In this instance it was too late to take it away, all the firstborn of Egypt was dead. 

The 10th plague or the passover is a type or symbol of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The Children of Israel were instructed to take a lamb without blemish and eat it that night.  Take the blood and put it on the side and top of the door.  The angel of death would see this and pass over that household, the household of the believers.  So, in essence, the blood of the lamb saved them from death.  It did for them something they could not do for themselves.  Jesus did this for us.  His blood, that he freely gave, saves the believers from eternal death.  He paid that price for us, because we could not pay it.  He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, in a remarkable act of arrogance, Pharaoh decided to pursue Moses and the Children of Israel.  I don't know, maybe he felt he had nothing else to lose.  Egypt had been destroyed and the jaws of death were gaping wide.  Yet he still tried to show his power.  Egypt pursued.

The Children of Israel were camped next to the sea and saw the Egyptians arrive and they were very afraid.  They chided Moses saying, "...hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?...Is this not the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians.  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness."  Exodus 14:11-12.

Moses' answer thrills me to my soul:  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever."  Exodus 14:13

Or, as Psalms 46:10 reminds us:  "Be still, and know that I am God"

And like the Chris Tomlin song Our God says:

"And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
What could stand against."

Then the Lord used Moses as an instrument in his hands to save the Children of Israel.  He parted the sea.  The people walked across on dry land with the water as a wall on their right and left.  The Egyptians who tried to follow them were not so lucky.  It says that "Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore" Exodus 14:30.

My mind reels at Pharaoh and the Egyptians persistence.  They had witnessed ten terrible plagues that destroyed Egypt because of Pharaoh's refusal to release the Children of Israel, the last being death of all firstborn Egyptians with the Israelites' firstborns left alive.  Then they pursued them, even into the sea...even to their deaths. forward to today.  Are you facing trials?  Persecutions?  Do things seem out of control or beyond help.  Stop right there.  Drop to your knees and seek the Lord.  He is bigger than anything that faces you right now.  And...he promises not to put on us more than we can bare.  1 Corinthians 10:13:

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
So whatever you face in life right now at this moment, there is hope.  And you only need to reach out to the Lord to receive it.  It might not be what you expected, because God knows our paths and where he wants us to go.  Sometimes the answer is no or not now.  But He loves us and wants the best for us.  So who can be against us if He is for us.

Also, know you are not alone.  No  matter how much you may feel that way.  The Lord uses people like Moses to do His work.  They are instruments in God's hands.  Sometimes they are prophets, like Pres. Thomas S. Monson and sometimes they are ordinary people like you and me.

So, rise above your troubles and reach out to another and help.  You will find joy in the service.  There is always someone who is in a worse spot than yourself if you will just look.   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

George Albert Smith's Personal Creed ~ Forgiveness

From the first time I opened the book, I was so impressed with George Albert Smith.  The book I am referring to is the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith

At the age of 34 years old, George Albert Smith made a list of resolutions that he called his “personal creed”—11 ideals that he committed to live by:
“I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor.
“I would visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed.
“I would teach the truth to the understanding and blessing of all mankind.
“I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and a happy life.
“I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals but rather love them into doing the thing that is right.
“I would live with the masses and help to solve their problems that their earth life may be happy.
“I would avoid the publicity of high positions and discourage the flattery of thoughtless friends.
“I would not knowingly wound the feelings of any, not even one who may have wronged me, but would seek to do him good and make him my friend.
“I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father.
“I would not be an enemy to any living soul.
“Knowing that the Redeemer of mankind has offered to the world the only plan that will fully develop us and make us really happy here and hereafter, I feel it not only a duty but also a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth.”

This is a creed that if we all lived by, we would end all the world's woes.  As one of my personal goals for the year, I am going to try to live by this creed. 

I know that is a big step and hard to do, because, honestly, there are people who have hurt me, badly.  I can't even look them in the face.  How do I apply this creed to them?

There others who despite my best efforts, continue to be unkind and just down right mean people.  It's like, I have run out of cheeks to turn, and still getting slapped.  This is the person who has cheated, lied and mistreated your parents and all you want to do is seek revenge.  But your parents keep forgiving and the bad feelings keep piling up?  How do I apply this creed to them?  How do I deal with it?  It's one thing to do it to me, but to your family?  That's hard.

The bad news?  In D & C 64:10 it says, "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."  The good news?  The Lord understands our pains and sorrows.  He took all that upon himself in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We just need to come to a point where we can accept it and go on.  However, we need to do it.  Pray, fast, talk with loved ones about it, whatever it takes to work through it. 

A loved one hurt me terribly one time.  Cut me to my core.  I didn't think I would ever forgive.  It was thoughtless, stupid and yes, vindictive.  It caused ill feelings with my husband who had trouble dealing with it.  For a time, I worried that he might stop serving God because of this deed and I was angry.  It had taken my husband 19 years to serve God and a thoughtless, spoiled-brat incident had nearly cost me everything.  I was more than angry, I was hurt beyond belief. 

The next couple of years that followed were torturous.  My husband found himself at a loss to forgive and even made snide comments about the perpetrators.  Every snide remark was an arrow to my heart because it not only put me in the middle, but it drove my husband further and further away from the Lord.  It damaged his spirit.

Despite my pain and being in the middle, I knew I had to move past this.  It was damaging to my spirit.  I forced myself to reach out to this family member.  Reaching out felt like reaching out to a traitor or someone who had stolen my prize.  They however, had no clue at the damage they had done and still don't.  At first it was indescribably hard.  I cried and prayed to my Father in Heaven for help.  I could not do this alone. 

I eventually realized that this person needed me just like anyone else needed me.  They needed my love and support to get through this earthly life.  We are all in this together, so we may as well help one another.  And the realization dawned that no matter how badly they had hurt me and damaged my life, I WANTED good things for them.  I would NEVER have done to them what they had done to me.  I had NO desire for revenge, not even from the beginning.   

It has been two years and my husband has forgiven these family members.  He has performed acts of humble service for them and for that I am SO PROUD. 

Was it easy?  No...there are still times when I just want to shake them and wake them up.  But the most important thing is to love them and try to show them the way.  Am I perfect?  Noooooooo.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Far from perfect.  Make mistakes every day.  Confused and can't seem to make good decisions.  But my heart is in the right place.  I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and I want to be an obedient daughter.  And, even though I don't always like some of them, I do love my brothers and sisters on this Earth.  Then again, some are easier to love.  :D 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Journey Begins?

As I have said before, I don't like making New Year's Resolutions.  They are by their very nature made to be broken.  I, therefore, make goals.  My goal for 2012 is to become spiritually prepared and you are welcome to come along for the journey.
Photo courtesy of
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Yes...I am a Mormon.  I am in my mid 40's and am committed to becoming as close to my Heavenly Father as I can while on this earth.

This year, we are studying the Old Testament with my son who is in Seminary.  For those of you who might not know, youth who are in high school or of high school age, attend classes either at church, a special building or at home that teaches them and prepares them for going out into the world.  This is in addition to high school.  It lasts four years and each year we study a different book of scripture:  Old Testament KJV, New Testament KJV, Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants (Church History).  You can read more about Seminary here.

Our study of the Old Testament has been more than thirty days and has become a habit.  I love reading the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph of Egypt.  I really don't want to stop reading at night, but my son can't focus that long.

We have finished reading Genesis and started on Exodus today.  I have learned so much.  For example, why did God destroy the inhabitants of the Earth in Noah's day?  It wasn't just that everyone was wicked, but everyone being born had no chance to do good because they were being born to wicked parents. 

President John Taylor (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President 1880-1887) helped explain why the Lord decided to destroy all people on earth except the family of Noah. President Taylor suggested that the world was so wicked that children grew up with no choice but to be wicked. At that point where there is no chance to choose righteousness, sending innocent spirits from heaven to earth is no longer just. Consequently, the Lord destroyed all the wicked and began again with the family of Noah to raise up righteous men and women. “By taking away their earthly existence he prevented them from entailing [give as an inheritance] their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them [making them wicked], and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness” (in Journal of Discourses, 19:158–59). If God had not flooded the earth, His great plan could not be fulfilled.  (Old Testament Seminary Manual).

Or another truth discovered:  Was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed only because of sexual sins?  No.  Immorality was just one of the many reasons.  Ezekiel 16:48–50 helps us realize that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were prideful, were unwilling to take care of the poor and needy among them, and were idle.  Wow...these are things that are happening today.  I hear people disparaging those who are on government assistance today, instead of trying to find the truly needy and help them.

Also, Joseph of Egypt's story not only tells us how God brings about the things He wants in our lives through the actions of other people, but it is a great lesson on being prepared.

In addition to studying the Old Testament, I will also be studying the Book of Mormon.  It is what we are studying in Sunday School this year.  So, I will be putting my thoughts on here of that study as well.

In Relief Society, (the women's organization), we will be studying the manuals, George Albert Smith, Teachings of the Prophets Series and Daughters in my Kingdom, a History of Relief Society.  Also, we learn from our current leaders, so once a month, I teach a Teachings of Our Times lesson that is contained in the Ensign.  I will be posting my lessons here once a month.

Don't get overwhelmed, it is a lot of information, but it is all designed so that we women can learn and grow.  We have other programs too, for men, youth and children.  That is for another day.  But for today, my spirit is renewed from going to church and associating with the Saints.  (Don't let that word fool you, we are imperfect human beings just like everyone else.)

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination."  Don Williams, Jr.