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Archive for the ‘My faith in my life’ Category

Memories of Memorial Day

I’ve been thinking about Memorial Day recently.  I’m the daughter of a Battle of the Bulge survivor/veteran, and the mother of a member of the US armed forces, a veteran of multiple deployments to the Middle East.  Several of my high school classmates left this life in the jungles of Vietnam, while others returned home.  I understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and the original reason for these holidays.  That said…

As a child, Memorial Day included remembering family members who have died, too.  With the cemetery close to our home, it was just a walk to “visit” Grandma and Grandpa, and, in time, Uncle Walt.  In more recent years, uncles and aunts have joined them, as has my sweet sister, Marilyn.

Memorial Day four years ago is especially memorable to me, and to some of my family, who were there with us.  The story of that day was written by my daughter, Jenn, shortly after Marilyn passed away two months later.

It was Memorial Day 2013; and Matthew and I were going to meet family members at Elysian Gardens Cemetery to place flowers on the headstones. For once, the weather cooperated and was sunny with just the right amount of wind. Matthew was initially more excited about seeing his Great-Grandma, PoPo (Wayne), and Marilyn.

As Marilyn was having a hard time with the side effects of chemotherapy, she wisely chose to stay in the car. With the car parked in the shade and the two front windows down, it provided a great place for her to see everything going on in comfort. I went over and stayed by the car with her, talking about anything and everything, watching all that was going on.

Everywhere you looked, headstones had been decorated with flowers, teddy bears, flags, and pinwheels. Remember I mentioned that there was just the right amount of wind? Well, all those pinwheels were happily turning in breeze, displaying quite a rainbow of colors. Being a typical four year old, Matthew couldn’t contain himself, he just had to stop all those pinwheels! He would stop one of them and go to stop all the others; only to race back to the original because it was turning again. Back and forth he ran yelling, “Stop turning! No, stop it!” and other things. Marilyn begin to laugh and not a small laugh either. This was laughter that I had not heard from her for many months; and hearing it made me laugh. We laughed until we were breathless and had tears in our eyes, which only served to make us laugh more.

Poor Matthew, he never did get all those pinwheels to stop turning, but what he did accomplish was something so much greater. For a brief moment in time, Marilyn was completely free of all her worries and cares, setting aside the physical and mental problems.

He gave me something too. He gave me the perfect memory of Marilyn to keep in my heart and his, the sound of her laughter that was as joyful as those pinwheels turning in the breeze. 

And so it is, that pinwheels spin in my front yard, as well as in cemeteries around the country this weekend.

 

While Monday may be the day set apart for remembering those who gave their lives in the service of our country, it is also a day I remember those who have gone before me, who await my arrival, someday, in the presence of the Father, where all tears and sorrows have passed, and joy is found.

Christmas Lessons

Christmas

Lessons of Christmas Day

For four millennia, from the days of Father Adam, prophets declared to the world that there would be born a Savior, the Son of God.  They said:

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel…

 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace…

And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God…

The virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.  And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms…

For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God…

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee…   (more…)

Not just about the birth of a babe…

temple square nativity

On this Christmas Eve, as I awoke, I thought of the glorious events being celebrated this week throughout the world.  I thought of the events of this night in the New World, and realized we celebrate something far greater than the mere birth of a babe.  The events leading up to His birth began eons ago, as measured by man.  Each of us existed as spirits, in the presence of the Father. But, without a physical body and a mortal experience, in which we could prove our willingness to keep the commandments of God, we could progress no further.  Each had to prove obedience to His laws and ordinances, without the memories of the premortal life, its teachings and experiences.

Elder Russell M. Nelsen said of the events critical to our eternal progression, “The entire Creation was planned by God.  A council in heaven was once convened in which we participated.  There our Heavenly Father announced His divine plan…The purpose of the plan is to provide opportunity for the spirit children of God to progress toward an eternal exaltation…

This season, I celebrate the creation of the planet on which I live, the sun, moon, and stars, the flowers that bloom, and the animals that inhabit the sea, land, and air.  I celebrate my life, and that of all others who have lived, live now, and yet will be born into mortality.

 The organization of matter proceeded as planned, and Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden.  Although commanded to be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, this was impossible while in the Garden.  Father Lehi explained to his children, “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the same state in the garden of Eden.  And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.  And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”  (2 Nephi 2:22-23)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it.  Not the Latter-day Saints!  Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.  Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,” because God had decreed it.  Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least.”  Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin…This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin…for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!”

“This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”  It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law.  Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong.  Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited.  Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin – inherently wrong – but a transgression – wrong because it was formally prohibited.”

This season, I celebrate the courage of Mother Eve and the wisdom of Father Adam, in making possible my eternal progression, and that of all mankind,  through their transgression.

With man in a fallen state, subject to death, the only way back to the Father was through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son.   Elder Nelsen said,  “The plan required the Creation, and that in turn required both the Fall and the Atonement.  These are the three fundamental components of the plan.  The creation of a paradisiacal planet came from God. Mortality and death came into the world through the Fall of Adam.  Immortality and the possibility of eternal life were provided by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  The Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement were planned long before the actual work of the Creation began.”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, said, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

As part of the plan, my Elder Brother, Jehovah, volunteered to be the Redeemer, to atone for my sins through His suffering in the Garden, and to make possible the reuniting of my body and spirit, one day separated by death, that I may be able to return to the presence of the Father, and continue my eternal progression.

And so, He came to earth as an infant, born to his mortal mother, Mary, son of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh.  That birth we celebrate this holiday season.  The birth was celebrated by Nephi and the believers when “the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:  Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophet.  Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son – of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh.  And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.”  (3 Nephi  1:13-14)

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,  which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  (Luke 2:6-14)

This season, I celebrate the birth of a babe, born in lowly circumstances, yet born a King, in a future day, to rule and reign forever upon the earth.

 Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, spoke of the life of this babe, saying, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”  (Hebrews 5:8-9)

Throughout His life, He learned about the mortal experience, so He could understand and comfort our trials.  Alma said He would live “…suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities…the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance.”  (Alma 7:11-13)

This season, I celebrate a child, growing to manhood under the care and teaching of His mother and her faithful husband, guardian of the Son of God.  I celebrate my Savior’s ministry among His brothers and sisters, His love, compassion, and care for all He met, in the most humble of circumstances.

After three years of earthly ministry, He traveled to Jerusalem, knowing He would be crucified there.  Celebrating the Passover meal with His apostles in the upper room, He gave them the Sacrament, providing a reminder of the sacrifice He soon would make.  Then, heavy with the weight of the suffering that was coming upon Him, He lead his apostles to Gethsemane, and went farther alone,  praying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)

Of this time in the Garden, Christ said, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I’ Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink – Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”  (D&C 19:16 – 19)

Of these events, President Joseph F. Smith said,  “…I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.  And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality; And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name.  All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.  They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.  Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fullness of joy.  While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful…And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell.  Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name. ..For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage…”  (D&C 138:11-18, 23-24, 50)

“And while they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arrive in your hearts?  Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself:  handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.   (Luke 24:36-39)

This season, I celebrate  the Atonement and resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In a future day, not far off, as the prophets tell us, will come the great and glorious day when He returns to earth.

“…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  (Acts 1:11)

“…then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory;”  (JS-Matthew 1:36)

“…saying to all people, both in heaven and in earth, and that are under the earth – for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, while they hear the sound of the trump, saying, Fear God, and give glory to him who sitteth upon the throne, forever and ever; for the hour of his judgment is come.  (D&C88:104)

“Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him.  Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God…”  (Mosiah 27:31)

This season, I celebrate the future day, when Jesus Christ shall again stand upon the earth, taking His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  And on that day, I, too, shall rejoice!

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It’s not just about the birth of a babe…but far more.

Let there be no question where I stand…

temple with family (Seattle Temple, Bellevue, Washington)

The family is central to God’s plan for His children.  On September 23, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley, in his message at the General Relief Society Meeting, read The Family, A Proclamation to the World.  In that proclamation are these words:

 

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.  Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.  In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners…We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”  (emphasis added)

 

I do not need to be ordained to the priesthood to enjoy the blessings of the priesthood, because my husband has that role and responsibility.  Priesthood used as God commands does not belittle me, or make me a “second class citizen.”  Indeed, it lifts me up.  No man or woman may receive the greatest blessings from the Father alone.  Exaltation requires the joint efforts of both man and woman.  The blessings available for me and for my husband are the same.  Only the requirements and responsibilities along the way are different, as defined in the Proclamation.

 

Early this year, I was asked by a young mother about the question of ordaining women.  She wanted to know how a woman could feel the need to receive the priesthood.  I, too, had had that question.  I studied the scriptures, went to the temple, and read about both sides of the question.  As I read, I received a greater understanding of my role as a woman, and a testimony that I can do everything in this life the Father wants me to do without being ordained to the priesthood.   Indeed, to aspire to the priesthood would be to counsel my God.  His plan is perfect.

 

In her book, Women and the Priesthood, Sheri Dew said:

 

“There are four key truths related to women and priesthood that are crucial for both men and women to understand.

  1.  The Father’s plan and the Savior’s Church are designed to qualify all of us – both men and women – for exaltation.
  2. Priesthood keys are the manner through which the Lord authorizes and disperses His power and authority throughout the Church for both men and women.
  3. In the temple, both men and women are “endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power.”  (M. Russell Ballard, “Let Us Think Straight,” BYU Campus Education Week devotional address, 20 August 2013; see also D&C 109:15)
  4. Neither a man nor a woman may receive the highest ordinances of the priesthood or be exalted alone. “

 

I am not a second class member of the Church.  I pray, teach, expound scripture, and serve in a presidency of women leading the children of the Church.  I am entitled to seek and receive revelation within the realm of my stewardship, just as the Prophet receives revelation for the entire Church – which is his stewardship.  Without me, my husband cannot receive all the blessings available within the Church, nor can I without him.  We are equal partners, with different, but equally vital, responsibilities. Women are at the center of His plan for His children.  No individual has been born on this earth, except through a woman.

 

My view, my goal, my purpose is eternal.  What do I get, as a “Mormon” woman?  I get all the blessings promised by my Heavenly Father to those who faithfully complete their mortal probation.  I get everything – everything the Father will give those who qualify to be joint heirs with His Son.

7 Days of Inspiration…

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When I was a teenager, I often accompanied for various individuals and groups as they sang. This particularly included playing the piano for performances in which my parents were involved. My mother often sang in trios, or other groups of women, for church activities. One song I remember very well was My Testimony, by Bettie L. Jones, with flowing music by Muriel C. Ashton. This song has been in my mind every time I have pondered my words for this last “Day of Inspiration.”

I have a testimony, sacred and dear to me.
Something that lies within my soul, one that I cannot see.
When life seems dark and its shadows hide all the brightness of day,
I feel God’s arms around me, leading me on each day.
Trials and tribulations oft have come my way,
But I’ve felt Him near me, and I’ve knelt to pray,..

I know that He lives, He loves me, and desires me to complete this life with honor. He cares about my smallest need as well as my greatest trials. He will never abandon me. I only need to pray to Him. He hears each word, spoken and unspoken. I know He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father, that He came to earth, lived a perfect life, then, offered Himself a willing sacrifice for all mankind. He suffered unfathomable pain in the Garden as He took upon Himself the sins of all mankind, then went to the cross, where He gave up His life. He was buried in the tomb, and rose on the third day, breaking the bands of death. Because of Him, each of us will live again. I know that in these last days, He has restored to the earth the fullness of the Gospel, through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that Thomas S. Monson is His living prophet upon the earth today, and that, with those men called as apostles, he administers the affairs of His kingdom on this earth. I know that as I navigate life in an increasingly wicked world, I can hold to the rod, and, in the end, return triumphant to His presence. In a coming day, He shall return to the earth. He shall cleanse the earth from sin and peace shalll be established, with a righteous Governor. One day, I shall see Him, and kneel at His feet. In that day, I will rejoice.

For more information, click here here, here, and here.

7 Days of Inspiration…

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How Firm a Foundation

 

There is one hymn that comes to my mind often, in a variety of situations.  When I was young and learning to play the piano, I wanted to learn this hymn, because of its martial type beat and, to be honest, I thought some of the words sounded funny.  (More about that later.)  As I started to pay attention to the meaning of the words, I realized this hymn is unique.  I am being reminded of the words my Savior spoke, and what He has done, does now, and will do for me.  I am to lean on Him, to look to Him, and follow Him, and He will not forsake me.  He doesn’t promise me an easy life, but promises that whether in sickness or health, rich or poor, wherever I may be, whatever I fear, when I face deep waters and fiery trials, if I lean on Him, He not only will not,  He cannot desert me and leave me to my foes (temporal or spiritual).  To me, this signifies the covenant relationship I have with Him.    When I uphold my part of that covenant, He is bound by His part of the covenant to sustain me.  As the lighthouse provides promise of and guidance to safety for a sailor in a raging storm, He stands steadfast and immovable, waiting only for me to look to Him.   Often, as I have knelt in prayer, the Spirit has whispered words from this hymn to me.   If you want to read the words from the scriptures containing these promises, go to Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2-5, Isaiah 46:4, and Helaman 5:12.  To hear verses 1, 2, 3, and 7 sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, go here.

How Firm a Foundation

 1. How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

2. In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Text: Attr. to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

 

(And, for those who remember the “old” hymn book, it took me awhile to stop wanting to “you who…” and sing “who unto…,”  but the change is good.)

7 Days of Inspiration…

Today, I want to post about the connection between the Law of Sacrifice in the Old Testament and its foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in performing the atonement for all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.  As a seminary student many years ago, I had a phenomenal Old Testament teacher.  There seemed to be no formal curriculum at that time, and each teacher taught the scriptures as they chose.  I was a senior in high school.  Bro. Rudd took seriously his responsibility to teach us the Gospel.  We didn’t learn just the “scripture stories.”  We learned the doctrine taught in the scriptures.  This was released time in Utah, and we received high school credit for Old and New Testament classes, so this “counted.”  One project required us to use the directions given Moses for building the tabernacle in the wilderness, and draw a detailed scale floor plan of that structure. Then we learned about the tabernacle as it pertains to the temples built today.  He prepared us to enter the temple at some future day.  Each lesson was taught through the lenses of the application in our lives.  I gained a great love for the Old Testament that year.

Fast forward a few decades. The curriculum for Sunday School this year is the Old Testament, but my bishop asked us to read from both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. Currently, I’m reading Isaiah and Alma. The Atonement is a constant topic in both books. I found this message that connects the two books of scripture I am studying. A beautiful explanation of the foreshadowing of His sacrifice in Old Testament times, and the symbolism I should remember as I partake of the sacrament each week.

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Something to remember this Sunday…