Monday, January 23, 2012

For my Friends.....

I have spoken with several of my dear friends lately and I have noticed something.  Many of them are feeling overwhelmed with something going on in their lives.  I felt the above photo may work to express some of those feelings.  This is our golf course, in town.  Every winter, it floods.  You can see the flag to the right.  And if you have amazing eyes, you can see the ducks swimming on the left, or at least one.  There was a whole group, but I couldn't get the group and the flag.  But yes, that little white speck on the photo is a duck!!  (As are the two in the middle, I think.......)  This is an early winter flood photo.  If I took one today, the water may be up close to the flag.  We joke that you could kayak in the golf course from tee to tee, use scuba or snorkeling gear and play golf.  But back to the issue at hand.

I had a temple recommend interview with my stake president last week.  My recommend expired at the end of January.  In my interview, he asked me two questions that aren't typical.  He first asked if I was having meaningful personal prayer, regularly.  I could answer that I was having personal prayer regularly.  Was it meaningful???!!  Well, I could probably work more on that.  I have those immediate, oh please help me now, prayers.  And I say them as I am exhausted and falling asleep.  I decided that I did need to focus a little more on the sincerity and content.  The second question was am I reading my scriptures regularly.  I am reading regularly, not always in my canonized scriptures, but Ensign, or conference or something.  But as I talked with him, I realized that there have been times in my life where I have definitely felt more in tune or that I was receiving more personal revelation than I currently am.  Now as a side note, my life is always a little crazy and needs adjustment after I have a baby.  It takes me about six months to get back into the swing of life.

Well, my baby is six months old.  I determined after the interview that I needed to do better and to be more diligent in the personal prayers and scripture study department.

This weekend we had stake conference where I had the opportunity to listen to my stake president speak.  He then taught this analogy (he played professional baseball for a while):

His main point was illustrated with a baseball story about a Nolan Ryan fast ball (go figure!).  A Nolan Ryan fast ball has been clocked at 104 m/hr.  That ball travels 60 feet 6 inches in 0.4 seconds.  People have done studies to see how fast people can make decisions, like picking up their glasses off of the podium.  Those studies show that decision implementation takes 0.5 seconds.  So the question then becomes, how can a player at the plate decide whether to swing or duck at a Nolan Ryan fast ball.  The answer is that the players' sub-conscious takes over.  The decision to swing or not is so automatic that it is done in the subconscious.  He then taught us that in matters of gospel decision making, or moral choices, we should have thought them through enough that the decisions are already made.  There shouldn't be a question of whether or not we are going to make a right or a wrong choice.  We should be living the gospel so completely that decisions have already been made and we are free to act properly quickly.  Time making the decision may cause too much opportunity for sin.  I thought that was interesting.

Then he talked about the scripture in 2nd Nephi 28: Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: aEat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
 And there shall also be many which shall say: aEat, drink, and be bmerry; nevertheless, fear God—he will cjustify in committing a little dsin; yea, elie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a fpit for thy neighbor; there is gno harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.


and

14 They wear astiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and bwhoredoms, they have all cgone astray save it be a dfew, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are eled, that in many instances they do ferr because they are taught by the precepts of men.

and

 20 For behold, at that day shall he (Satan) arage in the bhearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
 21 And others will he apacify, and lull them away into carnal bsecurity, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the cdevil dcheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
 22 And behold, others he aflattereth away, and telleth them there is no bhell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful cchains, from whence there is no deliverance.
 23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be ajudged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a blake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
 24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at aease in Zion!
 25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!


He told us that as the humble followers of Christ, we are in danger of being lulled away if we are not diligent in our commitment to the basics.  We must not think that we are spiritual enough that we do not need to read our scriptures today, or to say our prayers, or that our family is strong enough that we do not need to have FHE, etc....

So my dear friends............  
If you are feeling overwhelmed, make sure the basics are happening and happening well.  Let the rest of the world take a back seat.  We all have times where life is crazy and difficult.  Those times are more manageable if we are being diligent in the spiritual basics.  That may mean the laundry doesn't get done, the homework doesn't get done, practice doesn't happen, or we cancel a meeting, don't volunteer, or just stop answering the phone, or turn off the computer.  When life is too busy for the spiritual basics, life is too busy.  Cut stuff out, focus and start rebuilding as you have strength and energy. 

With love,
Your Sister in Zion

Friday, January 20, 2012

A few frantic, Friday fragments



Basketball

This is basketball season at our house!  As the boys got older (Slim participated in almost every sport available!), it became increasingly difficult to maintain a year-round sports schedule with a large family, piano, scouts, church calling, school, extra music performances for choir, orchestra, or band, etc, etc, etc....  One day I determined that we had had enough busyness.  I dropped piano and declared that one sport per person per year would be all that we could manage.  To tell the truth, it was all that I could manage.  Everyone took it pretty well.  Over the next few weeks, we talked about what each child would like to do.  Every single one of them chose basketball, which was fine with me because I lettered in basketball in high school two years.  I love the sport.  March Madness is a holiday at our house.  Basketball is great!  The only problem is that if everyone is playing, basketball season is CRAZY at our house!  Most seasons we have three people playing, which means three different practice schedules and three different games on Saturday.  Luckily we are all only playing community ball, which is WAY less time and stress than a school team.  Let the chaos begin!



Logic Problems

The last few weeks, I have introduced my younger set of children to logic problems.  They are totally fun!!  I first started them when I was in the third grade.  They are just fun games that help make you think, kind of deductive reasoning.  We have found a totally great website that puts out two new puzzles every day and you can download them and print them for free!!

Stake Conference

Stake Conference is this weekend for us.  Need I say more??  I love our stake conferences!  The adult session on Saturday evening, of course, is my favorite.  I always feel so spiritually fed.  And I love the break from the typical Sunday routine.  I cannot wait to hear what our leaders have prepared!

 College and FAFSAs

I spent the morning yesterday finishing off the FAFSA applications for my college students who will be attending this fall!  Slim will be coming home from his mission and attending Southern Virginia University.  And Scuff is waiting to hear from the colleges he has applied to.  We will find out more in February.  But either way, we are so very grateful our boys want to get an education!!  Hooray!


My baby in a sweater

This great sweater was made by Drew's co-worker! It is so cute and she chose GREAT colors!!  Today our 15 year old came up to him and said, hey, baby, do you like your sweater???  I like your sweater!!  I thought it was so cute.  Thanks Barret!

Five Things for Friday, Heather style

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Faith vs. Fear


I have a couple of things that I know I am supposed to be doing but I have been procrastinating...........for years!  They are things that I think I can do but I am afraid----  Afraid of what is a good question.  Afraid of failure, afraid of success (the responsibilities and opportunities that come with it), afraid of judgement (from the unknown and from people I know and love), and probably another sack full of reasons.  Fear, doesn't come from the Lord: 2nd Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear....

Faith is the knowing things will be OK in spite of the fear.  Faith is understanding God's plan and wisdom is greater than mine and that regardless of the outcome, acting in faith will always bring me closer to where God wants me to be.  So why do I wait??

Yesterday, I was having this conversation with a friend.  We were discussing some of her issues and why she wasn't acting.......what was holding her back.  She asked out loud why she is waiting.  I told her it was fear....fear of all the things I mentioned above.  I realized that's why I was not acting too.  I had become paralyzed in those things because of my fear.  I am not afraid in other places.......but I am in those places.

As I left her house, I determined fear was not going to be the motivating factor any longer.  I set some specific goals.  I came home and poured my heart out to my Father in Heaven.  I plead for his help in those areas.  I will be working on my goals and making modifications if necessary so I can be successful.  I feel amazing and my heart is singing!  (Just like when I watch the movie Enchanted........  but that is a post for another day :-)!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peace and Hope amidst Adversity and Trial.

This has been a very emotional week for me.  Instead of numbering them, I will walk you through day by day.

Monday:  Two phone calls from two girlfriends whom I love dearly.  One is struggling with a new life growing inside her and the reaction her parents are going to have to the news.  We talk for an hour, especially about her relationship with her father.  The other has received a calling that is overwhelming to her and wants counsel and advice.  We talk for an hour.  It was so very fun to talk to my dear friends, both of whom no longer live close.  But we are sisters still and our hearts are knit together.

Tuesday:  My anniversary.  Drew and I have been married for twenty-two years!!  I never could imagine having a relationship that has lasted that long. We talk about eternity and I am working on building it, but the application of doing so is often overwhelming.  We work on it daily.  I am so very grateful for all that the prophets have said about marriage and for the example of those around me who have been married longer and are happy.  I love my sweetheart!  He is amazing.  The more I learn about him, the more amazing he is.  Thanks for putting up with me, Honey!  I'm sure it is not easy.

Wednesday:  One of the above friends finds out that her pregnancy is not viable.  She is pregnant, but there is no baby.  We talk for an hour.  I cry for her.  She texts me later to let me know that a mutual friend delivered her twins yesterday at only 23 weeks gestation.  She and the babies, of course, are in the hospital.  I cry for her and add their family to my prayers.  I learn one of my kids is struggling financially and needs help.

Thursday:  I follow a couple of blogs which I decide to update on.  One is Hope for Allisa.  I find out Allisa passed away January 6, 2012.  I cry for the family.  I read Mason's Journal and find out that they are having a very emotional week also.  At the end of a long day of driving people and taking care of business, I learn that my friend with the twins, lost one of them this morning.  I cry most of the evening for my friend and her family.

Friday:  Today is a new day.  I do not know what it will hold.  Through all of the above trials and tears, I read of, hear of, and we talk of the hope that we have in our lives because of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We all believe in the resurrection, His and ours.  We KNOW we will see our loved ones again.  We just don't know exactly when that day will be.  We know and understand that our Savior descended below all things and because of that, we know He is perfectly capable and willing to succor us, comfort us, and help us through our trials, stress, and even heartache.  Peace is there, along with the sadness.  We know we will emotionally be OK.  We know in our deepest sorrows, He is there, with open arms, to hold us and wipe our tears.  My prayers are with you all.

Heather's five things Friday

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Priesthood

OK, Maybe it is just because I am the mother of so many boys...........

I LOVED this video:
The first things I read when I get my General Conference Issue of the Ensign are the talks from the Priesthood session.  It is because I want to know what the prophets want my young men to know and do.  It gives me focus for the next six months as to what to help my youth work on.

I have this sign hanging in our family room:
When there is too much complaining about what we are asking, I remind them who they are and what is expected of them.  I remind them that I am not asking that of them, the Lord is.  I remind them that they made promises before they came to earth about the things they would do while they are here.  And I remind them that others are counting on them.........their future children and grandchildren, their future spouse, those they will teach the gospel to while they are serving their missions.............and then I ask them what they are going to say to those people if they choose not to do what they have promised.  I love my boys!!!  And I LOVE being their mother.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gift of Prophecy #2

Number 6: Lucifer seeks to overpower our testimony.

Luke 22:31 (JST)  "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired you that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat."

When I first read this verse, I wondered what 'sifting the children of the kingdom as wheat' meant.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks in his address in April of 2009, says it "means to make us common like all those around us."

Elder McConkie quotes the same verse and says, " In essence and thought content, Jesus is saying, 'Peter (my words: we could all insert our names here) Satan wants you in his harvest.  He wants to harvest your soul and bring you into his garner, where he will have you to be his disciple"....

There are other scriptures that validate this, but the point is, the Adversary will continue relentlessly to try to overpower our testimony.  Maybe that is by telling us that knowledge is enough and we do not need to change our behavior or put into practice our beliefs.  Maybe he will use the persuasion of the world to try and convince us that what we once knew could not be so or doesn't matter.  It really doesn't matter how he does it.  We have to make a concerted effort on a daily basis to enrich our testimony.  Otherwise, we may find ourselves in a place where Lucifer is successful in overpowering our testimony.

(Smiley during family prayers one night)
 
 
Number 7:  Others are praying for us.

Luke 22:32
32 But I have aprayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art bconverted, cstrengthen thy brethren.

When we feel discouraged in our ability to strengthen our testimony, we need to remember that the Savior prays for us.  He prayed for Peter.  He has prayed for others.  I have heard the prophets testify that they keep us in their prayers.  Our posterity and our ancestors are probably praying for us and so our those around us who know we need their strength.  We are not alone.

And when we are converted ourselves (testimony and conversion are different---but that is a different post altogether), we have a responsibility to help others become converted.  That all begins with testimony

What kinds of things do you do to strengthen your testimony?  Do you have an experience where you have been strengthened through prayer, yours or another person?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gift of Prophecy

Number 1:  Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets.....(Numbers 11:29)

In Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites are wandering in the wilderness and are tired of eating manna.  They are whining and dissatisfied because the Lord is giving them their daily bread, literally!!!  It is different than they are comfortable with.  They would rather go back to Egypt and bondage because there, they would at least have melons, fish, onion, and garlic instead of traveling in the wilderness eating manna on their road to freedom.  They are complaining to Moses daily, all 600,000 footmen.  (Elder D. Todd Christofferson says there were well over a million people.)  Moses asks the Lord for help.  He tells Moses to choose 70 elders of the people and bring them to the tabernacle, where He will put His spirit upon them that they might help bear the burden of the people.  Most of the men go to the tabernacle.  Two of the 70 remain in the camp.  The Spirit comes upon the men and they begin to prophesy.  Eldad and Medad in the camp begin prophesying too.  Someone comes to report the prophesying in the camp and Joshua requests that Moses put a stop to the prophesying, to which Moses says, "Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord's people were prophets........."

Why would Moses wish that all the Lord's people had the spirit of prophecy?  Revelations 19:10--- ".....for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."  First, if they had the spirit of prophecy, if they had a testimony of WHO was asking them to complete this journey, they probably wouldn't be whining about manna.  They may not know how long the journey or the difficulty of it.  They may get a little tired of manna, but their willingness to endure hardship for the cause may greater.

How often do we complain about what we are asked to do, by the Bishop, or in our personal trials?  Can we see where the Lord is taking us, what character traits He is trying to build within us?  Do we know WHO is asking us to complete the journey and make the change??

Number 2:  A testimony of Jesus Christ is built on the rock of personal revelation.

Matthew 16: 15-18
13 ¶When Jesus came into the coasts of C├Žsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, aElias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
 15 He saith unto them, But whom say aye that I am?
 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the aChrist, the bSon of the cliving God.
 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon aBar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not brevealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this arock I will build my bchurch; and the gates of chell shall not dprevail against it.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie in Doctrines of the Restoration, Edited and compiled by Mark McConkie, p.115
"And how could it be otherwise?   There is no other foundation upon which the Lord could build His church and kingdom.  The things of God are known only by the power of his Spirit.  God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown.  No man can know Jesus is the Lord, by by the Holy Ghost.
"Revelation: pure, perfect, personal revelation----this is the rock.
"Revelation that Jesus is the Christ.............The divine sonship of our Lord...........God is his father.........the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy."

Number 3:  We 'prove' spiritual truth through testimony.

A testimony of Jesus Christ, or other things in the spiritual realm, are gained only through a witness of the Holy Ghost.

Think about that a minute.  How do you know the spiritual truths you KNOW?  It is because you have received a witness from the Holy Ghost.  He has spoken to your soul and you know it deep down.  When we share the gospel with others, it is the Spirit that will witness that truth to their soul.  That happens when we share our testimony.  In order to share the gospel in a meaningful way that changes the other person, we have to allow the Spirit the opportunity to witness to them, which we do by sharing our testimony.

Elder McConkie again, "The way that Peter and the ancients proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore that the gospel which he taught was the plan of salvation, was to establish that he rose from the dead.  And the way you prove that a man rises from the dead, because it is in the spiritual realm, is to bear witness by the power of the Spirit of knowledge that is personal and real and literal to you.  Peter could have gone into a congregation and said, 'I know that Jesus is the Lord because Isaiah said this and this with reference to him.  Or the other prophets said this.....'  But the great crowning thing that Peter could do was to stand before the people and say, 'I know he was the Son of God.  I stood in the upper room.  I recognized him..........He is the man who ministered among us for more than three years.  I  felt the nail marks in his hand and in his feet.  I thrust my hand into the spear wound in his side.  I saw him eat food........He said his body was flesh and bone...........I know.............I am his witness!"  p. 124

Number 4:  Application

How then, does this information apply to us?  First and foremost, we must examine our testimony of Jesus Christ.  Do we know Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God?  Do we know He lived a perfect life?  Do we know He atoned for us?  Do we know He rose from the grave?  Do we know what the scriptures and the prophets teach about Him??  Do we believe their words?  Do we have a personal witness born of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and Redeemer?? 

If we do, then what are we doing about it??!

Number 5:  A testimony alone, has not the power to save us.

James teaches us that action (works) must accompany our faith.  James 2:14-21 (JST)
14  What profit is it, my brethren, for a man to say he hath faith, and hath not works? can faith save him?
15  Yea, a man may say, I will show thee I have faith without works; but I say, Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
16  For if a brother or sister be naked and destitute, and one of you say, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding he give not those things which are needful to the body; what profit is your faith unto such?
17  Even so faith, if it have not works is dead, being alone.
18  Therefore wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead and cannot save you?
19  Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble; thou hast made thyself like unto them, not being justified.
20  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
21  Seest thou how works wrought with his faith, and by works was faith made perfect?
(Picks up with verse 23)

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham abelieved God, and it was imputed unto him for brighteousness: and he was called the cFriend of God.
 24 Ye see then how that by aworks a man is bjustified, and not by faith only.
 25 Likewise also was not aRahab the harlot bjustified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
 26 For as the body without the aspirit is bdead, so faith without cworks is dead also.

We cannot only have a testimony that Jesus is the Christ.....as James says, even the devils know Jesus is the Christ.  The question then is, what are we doing with our testimony of Jesus Christ?? 

This topic obviously continues.  But the post is getting too long.........so I will continue it later.  Just know that I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I know he is my Redeemer.  I recognize without his gift of the atonement and resurrection, I could not return to live with my Father in Heaven.  Because of this knowledge, I try to live my life in a way that reflects His gospel.  I am not perfect, nor would I claim to be.  But I try over and over to change my life and the way I behave so that others know I have a testimony of who Jesus is and what he did. 

Check out Heather's five favorite posts of 2011!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Little Whisperings

So a few weeks ago, I received this phone call from one of the children's teachers, "Carin, this is Ms........I'm calling because your son is having an allergic reaction and cannot breathe.  I think you should come and pick him up.  Can you do that?"  I was in the middle of transporting another child to his school in the opposite direction.  Having two other children with allergies that cause their respiratory system to shut down, I promptly turned the car around and we went to go and retrieve my little one.

When I arrived, he was waiting in the office.  I could tell by his face and his countenance, that he was not having trouble breathing.  He appeared fine.  Still I did not feel like I should leave him at school.  (This is always a judgement call.  Some of the children need to be taught to handle difficult situations and not to 'flee' the scene by having their mother remove them.  Others need to be removed for emotional and psychological 'fluffing'.  I always have to listen to my intuition in this situation.)  He hemmed and hawed.  He knew I could tell that breathing was not the issue.  I tried to talk to him but wasn't really getting anything out of him.  I assured him that I would be taking him out of school.  He relaxed.

We got into the car and continued the journey to drop his brother off.  After he and I were alone in the car (except for the baby) I began my questions again.  What happened?  When did you have trouble breathing?  Why does your teacher think that you couldn't breath?  What was going on in the classroom when she called me?  What was happening before she called me?  I couldn't seem to assess what the trigger point was or how the issue came about.  "Keep going...." was the thought I kept having.  So I would ask questions a different way, get a little more information.  Still no answers.  "Keep going....."  More questions, a little more information, no answers.  "Keep going...."  This went on for 15 minutes.  At which point, I decided to play the 'ultimate' card.

"Sweetheart, I am going to tell you something that I told your older brother (the one he happens to worship, by the way...).  You have a mother who listens to the Holy Ghost [some of you call it your conscious, intuition, gut feelings].  The Spirit [another term we Latter-day Saints use] is telling me that there is something else you need to tell me about." 

Big sigh.  'Maybe that is because our teacher yelled at the class today.' 

"How did you feel about that?"

'I didn't like it and it scared me.'

"Oh.  Why did she yell?  Were the children just being too noisy?  How did you respond to the teacher yelling at the class?"

'Yes.  They were being loud.  She yelled and I started to cry.'

Knowing my little son.............."Oh.  So when she yelled at the class, you got scared and your eyes started to tear up and got kind of red.  Your teacher noticed and asked you what was wrong......"

'And I told her I was having an allergic reaction.........'

"Oh I see.  You can always tell me about things going on at school.  You can always be honest about what is bothering you.  You don't have to remain there if you are scared or uncomfortable about certain things.  We can talk about it."  And then I took him to get a little treat (this particular child feels loved when he gets to go and do something different than the norm.  It is his LOVE language.)

The end of the story is that I also spoke to his teacher------not about yelling.  I simply let her know what had really happened and how our little one had reacted so she can recognize how sensitive he is to behavior in the classroom.  And should it happen again, she is more aware.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chocolate Cake

So, Smiley, have you been eating the chocolate cake????

Nope!!!  Not me!

Maybe one day he'll figure out that we parents have WAYS of knowing things............but today he is oblivious to that fact.  Have a great day!