Tag: Book of Mormon

General Conference, Easter and Complacency

This is more a post for my Mormon readers.  Thanks.

What a marvelous weekend I just experienced.  It’s not that often when LDS General Conference and Easter line up but it happened this year.  This adds a special spirit to the  meeting beyond what is normally felt.  A special focus on Christ and his teachings that I was very moved by.

It was a low key Easter/Conference weekend for me. I had to get some work done for projects this week.  (Very stressful week at work because my supervisor is quitting on Thursday!).

But I started out the day making waffles and having a yummy brunch all to myself.

brunchMy cousin  Danielle and her husband Cory then came over for dinner Sunday night which was a lot of fun.  They are two of my favorite people and I love spending time with them.  I made split pea soup out of ham I had served last time they had come to visit.   This is the soup before it was cooked.  I added real peas this time for the first time and it was very yummy and healthy for an Easter dinner.

split pea soup

I had hardly any candy this Easter which I guess was a good thing but felt a little strange.  We did have brownies with dinner but no Easter baskets or treats this year (I’m 34 so I suppose that should be expected).  In a way it kind of reminds me of my recent Christmas where I was alone and had a low key, kind of ordinary day.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit sad because I’d love to have a partner to share things with but it’s just not what God has seen for me at this time.

Anyway, at least I got to see my cousins which was great and hear from my church’s prophet President Monson and apostles for 2 days.

conference tweetingI also tweeted during conference as I have done for several years.  I tried to keep it a little smaller than in previous years but I enjoyed reading others insights into talks and formulating my own.  Tweeting helps me because it involves multiple senses than if I was simply listening to the talks.

It was an immensely gratifying conference and I feel inspired to improve. One of the big themes of conference which struck me is to avoid complacency in gospel living.  To be anxiously engaged in good causes and increasing your testimony of light and truth.

This talk by my Mother’s cousin Kevin W Pearson was very moving.  Stay close to the tree:

I also loved Elder Nielson where he shared the story of his sister who left the church and for many years was disaffected but came back.  It was moving on many levels.

President Eyring spoke on fasting and reminded me to try harder to live that principle. It’s a principle that I have never had a great testimony of so I know I need to work on it.

Elder Holland told a moving story about 2 brothers rock climbing and how they were able to rescue each other.  He brought home powerfully our need to reach out to those around us and offer love, support and rescue.

Finally we got to hear from the prophet.

There were some dissenters at the sustaining on Sunday which I found extremely distasteful.  These people don’t seem to understand the church they are a part of.  This is not a democracy but a church led by revelation from God. They had their moment in the sun and got their interviews with media I am sure so good for them but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely rude and disrespectful.

Anyway, I do believe President Monson is a prophet just like Moses and Abraham were prophets who spoke for God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and His great Easter gift for all of us.  That He alone as the Son of God could suffer and die and free us from sin and death.  I know because I have felt the holy witness reaffirm it to me again and again.  It has given me everything in my life and even on those lonely afternoons when I wish I could be surrounded by a family of my own I know that Jesus loves me and has given me His truths. For that I am so grateful.

On a totally random note I went to see Furious 7 on Saturday and the review came out pretty good.  Check it out.

Did any of you get to listen to Conference?  I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.

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Small Things

For my non-religious readers this is one more faith-based post. I promise I will give it a break for the next few. Thanks for bearing with me. I posted some great things to my movie blog if you want to check that out including a review of George Lucas’ new animated movie Strange Magic. http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com/

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the small things in life.  God really does ask us to do a lot of small things.  Let’s think of the 10 Commandments.  I would say there are 3  to some non-believers seem kind of small. 1. Shall Not Take Lord’s  Name n Vain. 2. Must Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, 3. Honor thy Father and Mother.

I mean there are despots and dictators all over the place, would God really care whether I say Oh my G…. as you so often hear on the shows?  What about going for groceries on Sunday?  Surely with human trafficking and child rape God would not care about such a small thing? What if my parents are jerks why does he care if I honor or dishonor them?

All fair questions and I’m not sure I know.  I have thought about this a lot and wondered why I obey these small things (or try too at least)?  I am almost hesitant to talk about this because it might give the impression that I am perfectly obedient.  Of course I am not.  I know particularly with entertainment I am perhaps too lenient.  I own that. But it is in my heart to be obedient and to feel God’s spirit as an active force in my life.  I know when I am obedient I feel it stronger.  I cannot deny it.

I wonder if the real reason he asks us to do all these small things is because most of the great joys of life are found in the quiet small moments? Sure we all have the big moments of weddings, graduations, births but I find those times are often a blur of stress and busyness.

When I think about the happiest times it is a conversation with a friend, a moment of clarity in prayer or a swim in the ocean.  Perhaps the more we learn to trust God in all these little rules the more we grow to understand his little blessings?

I also think God’s goal is to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’.  His goal is to create Saints where the world would tell us it is good enough to just avoid doing ‘bad things’.   That’s why He asks us to wear one set of earrings or not date till we are 16 or not drink coffee.  He wants us to follow Him as best as we can because that will make us happy.  It’s just an eternal law that certain actions create happiness and others create sadness.

A lot of us need the examples of small and simple things to give us confidence for the gut wrenching times when maybe He feels a little bit further away. I know for me if I had not developed a pattern of obedience I wouldn’t have made it through some of the tough moments of my life.  So, in the end I’m grateful for the rules even if others may see them as limiting.

I think a lot of it has to do with faith.  Do we have faith to live a law that we may not completely understand?  Do we have faith to do something when there seems to be no reward?  Do we have faith when it may even seem we are punished for following God’s law? If we can say yes even occasionally for small things that is powerful and it builds until it is a ‘sure foundation…whereon if men build they cannot fall”.

I believe faith also allows us to create an individual relationship with God.  When the laws of God allow for multiple interpretations and lifestyles that frees us to go to Him and find out for ourselves how He wants us to live.  The big things there is less movement on but the small things give us the chance for a personal connection with deity which perhaps makes them the most important rules of all?  I could have a definition of the Sabbath, which I have prayed about and feel good about but it will be different than my neighbors.  That’s a good and powerful thing. It makes a strong relationship with Our Heavenly Father when forgiveness and comfort is required. We’ve been to Him on the small things so we know how to do it for the big.

What do you guys think? Why does God ask us to do these small things like keep a clean mouth, pay a full tithe, keep the Sabbath day, fast once a month etc?  I think there is just something about it that makes us strong.

One of my favorite stories from Jesus’ ministry is Mary breaking open the oil and washing the feet of Jesus. It was a small act of love but she was truly anointing a King. That’s pretty big in reality.  Would love your thoughts.

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Kind of a rambling post but would love to hear your thoughts.

Meet the Mormons: A Member’s Review

Meet-the-MormonsSo I just got back from the theater viewing a movie about my faith, Meet the Mormons.  This film tells the story of 6 ordinary members from all around the world.  This is not a piece on the Osmonds or the Romneys.  Just 6 families.

Currently Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at 0% with nearly every critic calling it a ‘PR stunt’.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say they were partly right but all documentaries are in a way.  Almost all I have seen have a strong conviction one way or another, especially movies about current times.

For example, last year’s Blackfish has a 98% on rotten tomatoes and that movie makes almost no attempt to be fair.  It tells its perspective and it tells it very well.  I found it gripping.  The same could be said for Michael Moore documentaries and even the recent Ken Burns miniseries on the Roosevelt’s was very slow to criticize and quick to praise the former presidents

Not every movie has to be everything to everyone.  There is a place for movies that share a certain type of story, a certain type of message and if you don’t like said message then the movie isn’t for you. Take a look at my post called ‘Consider the Audience’ that talks about this issue.

As I was watching, I kept thinking ‘what if this was a series and we had Meet the Catholics, or Meet the Muslims, or Meet the Jehovah’s Witnesses’, would I enjoy it as much?  Maybe not as much as my own faith finally getting some love (been a rough couple of years) but I’d still enjoy it.  I’d love to hear about the lives of 6 honest, hard working Catholics, Muslims or Methodists.

I think most people are smart enough, even most children, to know when something is giving one side of an argument.  My favorite bit was about the Candy Bombers in WWII and all they did for post-war Germany.  I’d heard his story before but it is a great example of living close to the spirit so you can get those moments of clarity when you need them.

Plus, something tells me these critics would have no problem praising a movie with 6 ex-mormons sharing their heroic stories of leaving the cult of Mormonism…Groan.

People may also say it is ‘unrealistic’ that there aren’t really people this good and wholesome.  ‘Nobody’s perfect’.  Yes, nobody’s perfect but there are a lot of people actively striving to be good people.

If you went to any ward in the church you could find 6 men and women like the one’s shown in the movie.  My ward there is an amazing woman who is a full time ER doctor, has 7 kids and sings in the tabernacle choir.  Another woman is a domestic abuse survivor turned attorney.  There are so many examples everywhere in the church and I enjoyed seeing 6 new one’s in the movies.

That said, it does feel like a visitor centers piece because it was.  Still, a well done piece and I enjoyed learning about these 6 people.  It’s comforting to know there are people who are striving to do the right thing and lead good lives.

I’m so grateful for my Membership in the Mormon church and to be surrounded by good people.

Here is the trailer.  If this looks like something you’d hate than I can pretty much guarantee you will hate it but if it looks at all appealing check it out.  I’m glad I saw it.

Here is the trailer

This perhaps belongs better on BYUTV but if it reaches more people than go for it!

Content Grade A+ Overall Grade B

Spiritual Holes

(This is one of my more LDS related posts but I think any person could find ways to relate to it).

So it’s late and I should probably be asleep but what else is new!  Today was another amazing day.  It started out unpleasantly dealing with Comcast from 7-12 (the whole morning).  Nothing was working and I traipsed up and down all 3 levels trying to get a read from technician on what was wrong.  In truth he was clearly applying a wack-a-mole approach to fixing the problem.  Try one thing, hit down the problem, whack the next one, until hopefully they were all whacked.  Hopefully…

Anyway, they were finally done and I was tired.  An early morning wake up does not have any effect on my go to sleep time.  I wish insomnia worked that way!  I would tell myself I had to wake up early every day!  So, I crashed and woke up about 2 (I never take naps so you know I was really tired to do that). I had missed church and I felt a little bad about that but I know I will be there next week so it’s ok to have a moment of sleep induced truancy.

Fortunately I was not left spiritually adrift for long because my wonderful friends and home teachers came over for a visit.  I think they both might have missed their callings as psychiatrists because they are so pleasant to talk to.  I’m afraid I take up way too much of their time when they come but I enjoy it so much.   We chatted about the Olympics, my fun weekend, my job etc and then they shared a prayer and spiritual thought.

These thoughts remind me of my Grandpa who I love, so you can imagine I love them.  Today’s topic was one I have been contemplating lately- the unanswered prayer, the seemingly unexplained tragedy, the leaps of faith, the almost unforgivable act…the really tough stuff and the stuff that confuses, troubles us, or that we simply do not fully understand.

In an ideal world all of us would have 100% testimonies on all parts of our faith all the time, but unless we are Jesus, that is impossible  There is always going to be something that at least for the moment you struggle with accepting.  Things that don’t make any sense.

I think of those moments as spiritual holes.  It’s just like standing on the edge of a deep pit and if you let yourself take too large a step you will fall.

spiritual holesI don’t know if it was just Indiana but I met a number of people on my mission who struggled to feel the Book of Mormon was true.  They had strong testimonies of the priesthood, restoration, prophets but couldn’t get into scripture.  This could be very troubling.  Others struggled with the priesthood, marriage, judgement, prophets, and even the atonement.  They’ve thought and thought about it and just haven’t been able to take that leap yet.

I’ll be honest and tell you mine.  I’ve never had a great experience with fasting.  I believe in being obedient but it’s a bit of a mystery to me.  If I let it, I could focus on that spiritual hole and my faith would get submerged by it. Instead I hope that it is true, I fast and I remember the things I do know including my relationship with God, love of the temple and testimony of the Book of Mormon.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety I know more than most, a small problem, thought or issue can creep inside and get larger and more troublesome. This can happen with spiritual holes as we allow them to get bigger.  At times they can seem almost overwhelming and all-encompassing.

So what do we do about it? Well to start, focus on what you do know and build on that.  Then try to face your fears and always be obedient.  Most importantly recognize that everyone has testimony holes.  That’s why we need each other so badly.  Where I am weak, you are strong, and vice versa. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t take away the holes?  He knows how badly we need each other. I’ve had friends who have fallen into their spiritual holes, letting them consume their faith, and I miss their testimony strengths..

One of the best talks I have ever heard was in a Sacrament meeting on my mission.  We were visiting a ward so I didn’t know the couple well but they started telling their conversion story.  They were on a military base in Germany when they learned about the gospel and became converted.

Being on base, they didn’t have a car so a member family picked them up for church each Sunday.  One day a little girl asked the new convert why he “smelled funny?”  The truth was, he had started smoking again (very common after baptism to relapse.  It’s ok), and he was very embarrassed.  At first it was laughed off, but the father of the little girl knew hurt had occurred and this was a crucial faith moment, so he acted.

He called up the convert and said ‘Look I don’t care if you have to smoke a pack between meetings, we need you with us’.  Instead of feeling ashamed of his testimony hole, the man felt love and acceptance and started coming, eventually kicking the habit completely.  He did not allow a testimony hole to ruin all the good he did have and his family will be forever grateful to that brother who noticed and acted.

Sometimes I feel as a single woman I have to face holes by myself.  Anxiety grows when I am not able to deal with my anger, fear, hurt, and resentment well, and the hole gets bigger and more ostracizing from those wanting to help me.   Fortunately, however, I have always been able to lean on God and remember my convictions on so  may things and become stronger.  I’ve always been amazed at how many people God gave me that love me.

So, please friends if you are feeling like ‘how can I believe when I’m not sure about …..’  remember we need the holes and solid foundation.  Both make you strong.  Even the Savior briefly asked to have the bitter cup removed.  Even He had a hole He felt momentarily was beyond him and that’s when God sent down an angel to give Him strength.  He certainly overcame all for us.

In the end, you have to pick something to guide your life by, and I know I have chosen the right way for me to be happy and feel close to God- holes and all.

There is a great example in Nephi.  He is conversing with angels and later Christ, seeing visions and dreams and yet he says ‘I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things’.   Even faithful Nephi had holes, but he did not let that hold him back or allow him to forget the greatness he did have.  He knew that God loved him and that has power.

I love a talk by Elder Holland called ‘Lord I Would Believe’ where he talks about the man hoping his son can be healed but lacking the faith he says ‘Help thou my unbelief’.  In other words help me with this hole.  Help me to not slip and fall:

“Observation number one regarding this account is that when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: “Lord, I believe.” I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.

Hold fast!  Everyone is needed to help us bridge our testimony holes.  We all need each other so don’t give up.  I’ve known far to many who have.  Don’t.  A relationship with Christ and His happy plan is far too worthwhile.  I know that is true of my self, independent from any other person.

Love you guys.  I love my Heavenly Father, and I really do have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His church being restored to the earth.  So let’s help each other out of our holes.  🙂

Just want to remind the trolls out there if you post unhelpful, unconstructive, attacks on my faith they will not be posted, so don’t waste your time.

Life Changing

Today I went to the gym for the first time in over a month.  Wahoo!  Still feel very congested but am trying my best to push myself without getting sicker.  We’ll see.  Trying to relax after the gym I watched the PBS airing of the recent documentary Salinger about reclusive writer JD Salinger.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a huge Catcher in the Rye fan.  I read it in high school like everyone else and I found Holden to be whiny and annoying.  The style bothered me and the language was too adult for me at the time.  I really don’t get why so many relate to such an aggravating lead character?

Anyway, it was still interesting to learn more about such a famous author- a lot less than complimentary I might add.

But one of the annoying things in the  movie is it has all kinds of actors and pundits talking about what a life changing experience it was for them to read about young Holden’s quest to find himself and save the innocents from the phony and fake.

While the interviews were kind of useless it did make me wonder if there are any such works that I could talk so effusively about?   Did anything change my life in that way? Hmmm.

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Start with Religion

Well, it might sound cheesy but the definite answer is The Book of Mormon.  The first time I read it I was 12 or 13.  My teacher had this book of quotes with funny drawings of animals that I liked and sensing my interest she told me she would buy me one if I read The Book of Mormon (smart teacher), so I read it.

At first I was impressed with the great storytelling and aside from the Isiah chapters which dragged (I was 12!) I was so excited to read these stories of faith, family and especially the coming of Christ.  The next time I read it it was more about the doctrine and how each time I read I wanted to be a better person.  I wanted to be more like Moroni, Nephi and Alma.

Now I’ve read it at least once a year every year since I was 12 and it still changes me.  I still find something new and inspiring most every time I read and I can’t deny how I feel when I read it’s pages.  It’s been a tremendous force for good in my life.

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Les Miserables

So branching off from religion there isn’t a ton of other things that had a big impact on me as a youth but one that comes to mind is Les Miserables. The first time I was exposed to the musical was when I was 13 or 14 when PBS had a 10 year anniversary ‘dream cast’ concert.  I watched it over and over again and had the entire score memorized.  I was that annoying person who is muttering all the words under their breath.

Aside from the lovely ladies and the Thenardiers song (which I could still live without) I loved every song and it all just spoke to me like nothing else I’d ever heard. I then saw the musical on broadway in 1995 and it did not disappoint.  I remember leaving the theater with my choir group my eyes red with tears (still gets me when I see it today)

Reasons I love Les Mis-

idealistic rebellion of youth, redemption, justice, value of friendship, loyalty, honor, nobility in life and death and the realization there is never a lost cause.  I love On My Own, Bring Him Home and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Dreamed a Dream probably the most and I still get a chill up my spine when i hear it.

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And an Experience

The only thing else that I can think of as being life changing was my entire college experience.  It’s honestly impossible for me to pick one moment in college that changed my life.  Something happened in my brain at that time period where things clicked that had never clicked before.

Taking philosophy classes, learning about other cultures, serving the lost boys, working as a teaching assistant, political economy of women, meeting friends, losing family, taking finals, deciding to go on a mission, all of those things and more.  It was the best time in my life.

I loved BYU.  I loved college.  I loved political theory.  I loved reading Kierkegaard, Plato, Aristotle and teaching other people about that.  I made my best friends at that time and I decided that I really believed in this thing called Mormonism and that nothing was going to ever change that.  I kind of wish I had dated more but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.  The best.

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Anyway those are the life changers that come to mind for me.  What about you?  What things really influenced you, made you into the person you are today?

Read the Scriptures

This morning I want to tell my fellow Mormons about something exciting I have discovered.  First a confession- for years I have struggled to find a system of scripture reading that worked for me.

As a single adult I would often get distracted from my intent on reading and forget to do it and when I did remember the results were frequently less than satisfying.  Maybe it’s bad to say but more often than not I felt kind of bored reading the same material week after week and hearing the same commentary track inside my brain, new insight seemingly few and far between.

I tried different study guides and reading systems but nothing seemed to help, so scripture reading became something I do more out of obedience than anything else and that will only get you to remember so far and help you so much.  What to do?

With recent obstacles I had been challenged multiple times to make scripture reading more of a priority.  In particular, my bishop asked me to read the Ensign (our Church magazine) each day but if I struggled to read the scriptures how could I add The Ensign on to it?

Well, I have come upon a solution that will sincerely help me and I hope you as well.  There is a website called http://www.readthescriptures.com and it is a paid service that makes reading the scriptures and other church materials in an organized way easy.    It costs $4.99 a month but I’m very excited about it.  Seems well worth it to me.

Here’s how it works:

You log on to www.readthescriptures.com and make an account.   Then you select ‘Create a Schedule’.  This will take you to the ‘Available Reading Selections’ screen.  You can see below that you have a wide arrange of choices including reading your sunday lessons, church cannon and The Ensign.  Select what you want to read and then it will ask you how frequently and how fast you want to get through the selection.  This will create a reading schedule for you to accomplish your goal.

available readingEach day of your schedule you will receive an email with a link to what you are reading.  email scripturesYou then follow the link and it takes you to the scripture or article on lds.org and you can read or have it read to you.  Then when you are done you log back on to your email and click ‘Complete’.  If for some reason you don’t want to read that section you select ‘Send More’.   After selecting complete you will be taken to this screen where you can get an idea of your progress:

READ THE SCRIPTURESIt’s a simple system but I think it is really going to help me to organize my scripture reading, be reminded and set goals.  They also have journal, highlighting and other services to work with your reading.  The fact is I’m a creature of routine and this website is going to help me make those reoutines.  It’s pretty exciting.

Like I said, clearly you can get all of this information without the service.  You can just read the scriptures in bed at home but I found this way more engaging and helpful.

What do you do to make scripture reading work in your life?

The Book of Mormon: My Testimony

There has been a youtube movement called ‘The Two Minute Book of Mormon Challenge’.  This is a channel set aside for people to bear their testimonies about the Book of Mormon.

Here is the introduction on the channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B36GZ4HLx0

Someone from the site asked me to contribute and I finally was able to put my feelings into words and on to video.  It ended up being 4 minutes but I think you’ll forgive me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjEaTwnYSgE

One time I was driving with my brother and he was debating various points of doctrine with me and I said to him ‘you know when I read that book I just know its true’ and its really as simple as that.  When I read it I know its true.  I don’t need any other witness than that.  I know the covenants it teaches are real.  I know the faith and priesthood has power.  I know there was a dark ages and then truth was restored and it all comes down to my witness of The Book of Mormon.

I repeat my warning I gave of previous religious posts.  I will not post any comments that are disrespectful or unkind (and that goes for youtube too).  Have enough courtesy to understand that people feel differently about these things and maybe listen for something that could strengthen your own faith.

I hope you all have a great Sunday!  And if you have any questions, would like to meet with representatives or receive a copy of The Book of Mormon go to http://mormon.org/eng

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