Tag: LDS church

Should I Change My Blog Name?

This year marked my 10 year anniversary with this blog Smilingldsgirl. If you are new to the blog you might not understand this name but it is Smiling and girl combined with an acronym LDS which stands for Latter-day Saints or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which I am a member. This name came about when I set up an email after my mission- a happy and religious time of my life and I felt fortunate it was available.

Recently the prophet of our church Russel M Nelson put out a statement regarding the name of the church and abbreviations like LDS and the nickname Mormon. He said:

“The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months”

It will be interesting to see how far they go with this new direction (and slightly ironic as it was released on http://www.mormonnewsroom.org). If they change the name of the choir that will be very shocking but other than that it isn’t entirely new. The church has been encouraging clergy and reporters to use the correct name for years. All the while using the shortened varieties in missionary efforts and more casual outreach. It now seems like there is going to be a push to be accurate in even those areas and it will be interesting to see how far they take it.

So some have asked me whether I am going to change the name of my blog/twitter handle? I’ve given the matter some thought and for the moment I am not going to. However, I am going to try to use Latter-day Saints or the full title The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my prose and whenever I speak of the Church in videos. I feel this is living the spirit of the law rather than making my name an unwieldy length.

If the Church gets rid of similar handles like Mormon.org, Mormonnewsroom.org, the Mormon youtube channel, LDS Philanthropies ect and especially if they change the name of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir than I may reassess this decision. But for now I feel this is the right decision for my blog.

Let me know what you think of this emphasis on the full name by the Church and what you would do if faced with a similar situation?

Thanks!

Meet-the-Mormons

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.

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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Double Temple Days

So the last two days have been pretty awesome.  Yesterday I spent pretty much the entire day at my sweet cousin Danielle’s wedding.  We have gotten to know each other pretty well in the last 2 years and she really is a wonderful person.  When I moved she helped me the whole day including unpacking my entire kitchen.  One day she drove all the way from Provo just to bring me soup hearing I was sick.  She just has a heart of gold and I’m really glad we are friends.  I’m so grateful to call all of my cousins friends.

The ceremony was also very moving.  The officiant talked about the importance of staying connected as a couple and how the temple helps us to form eternal bonds with our loved ones.  I definitely believe that is true, even with friendships. The bond we build isn’t just for now but for eternity.  So grateful for that knowledge.

cousin
Danielle and Cory married for time and all eternity. I hope I can have that happiness someday. So happy for them.
wedding1
the wedding was so well done. Every detail from the flags on the ceiling, to the delicious food, to the photo booth was great and very vintage.
pie table
highlight for me was the pie table. Put that away for my wedding!
boquet
I caught the gorgeous bouquet.

So that was yesterday and then today I went with my dear friend Melissa to the temple for a session.  It had been a while since I went because for various reasons I got emotional last time and it was a taxing experience.  Its funny because when I worked at the temple I used to see people crying and think ‘what’s the big deal?’ and then I was one of those people. Life has a way of teaching you certain lessons that are hard, but we must never lose hope.

Anyway, I was waiting to feel emotionally strong enough to go again but I knew with Melissa’s support I’d be fine (she really is the best).  So we went and to our surprise there was a new temple video.  It was so neat.  It made me feel the spirit even more and you know what no crying!

Here’s what the deseret news says about it:

Beginning this week, a new temple film is being shown in several LDS temples.

“The new temple film is the first update in more than 20 years,” said church spokeswoman Ruth Todd. “There have been no changes to the script. English-language copies of the new film are being sent to temples over the next few weeks and will subsequently be translated into other languages.”

Mormon temple worship occurs in 141 dedicated temples around the world. It differs from regular weekly worship services that are held in thousands of local church buildings called meetinghouses. Temple worship is reserved for active church members whom local ecclesiastical leaders have recommended for their faithfulness to LDS doctrines and teachings, whereas weekly services are open to people of all ages and faiths.

Out of reverence for what Latter-day Saints consider the sacred nature of temple worship, Mormons are admonished to be circumspect about discussing the details of temple instruction.

I was moved and felt again that I am a part of the true church of Christ with His powerful covenants to lead and guide me.  I’m beyond grateful for that.  I know that if I make correct choices, repent of my sins, and keep my covenants I can make it back to Heavenly Father again and be able to serve Him forever.  This weekend reaffirmed that 100%.  I love my faith and I’m so grateful for the temple.

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The temple Melissa and I went to- Jordan River Temple

Thoughts on Mothers Day Part 2

So each week I have to send out an email to the sisters in my ward updating them on the events of the week and leave them with a spiritual thought to encourage them throughout the week.  Usually I try to get this out on Wednesday but we had an activity Thursday and I had the writing conference yesterday so I hadn’t gotten it out and it was Saturday.  (They are used to me being late on this.  Sigh…)

Now many of you read my recent post on Mothers Day and how the day challenges me.  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/05/06/why-mothers-day-is-hard/ .

With those thoughts still swimming in my mind, I was tasked with saying something inspiring to women on Mothers Day.  This was quite the dilemma.    I hope you have all gotten the impression from this blog that I am not a disingenuous person and I am not about to put pen to paper on anything that is false or preaching doctrine I don’t believe or struggle with.

If I’ve learned anything in my life it is that honesty is the only thing that matters and the sharing of true experience is always more impactful than the privatizing of who we are and what life has taught us.  Sharing my heart with all of you through this blog and my friendships is my gift to the world.

Giving our heart is the only thing we really have to give.

So what should I write? What will be an authentic expression of my views of Mothers Day and mothering while also being helpful to others?  How can I write what I feel? Interesting question for a girl at a writing conference…

Here’s what I came up with. I’m immensely proud of it. I rarely can think of a moment when I have as effectively put my heart on the page:

“So Sunday is Mothers Day.  Please come and help us celebrate womanhood.  To be frank, sometimes Mothers Day can be a bit of a downer.  I’m not only unmarried but I’ve struggled to relate to the often ‘ooey goey’ version of womanhood that seems to be presented as the ideal at church particularly on Mothers Day.

I know I am not alone in feeling this way.  In fact, this week we were talking as a presidency about how pretty much everyone we know walks away from Mothers Day feeling inadequate, guilty or at least frustrated.  There are women in my life who refuse to attend church on Sunday because they are so wracked with guilt over their own perceived failures as women in Christ.

How can we fix this problem? I know Heavenly Father wants His daughters to be happy but does he accept our efforts when the standard seems to be so high and our output less than we wish it was?  Here’s something to think about:

“See that ye look to God and live.” The ultimate source of empowerment and lasting acceptance is our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They know us. They love us. They do not accept us because of our title or position (or I’d add marital, familial status). They do not look at our status. They look into our hearts. They accept us for who we are and what we are striving to become. Seeking and receiving acceptance from Them will always lift and encourage us.” (Elder Erich W.  Kopischke April 2013 Conf, http://www.lds.org/general-conference/print/2013/04/being-accepted-of-the-lord?lang=eng)

So, tomorrow on Mothers Day let’s try to remember that the Lord accepts us for the women we are striving to become.  He knows our hearts.  He loves us.  We are His daughters.  Perhaps we can turn Mothers Day into a day of sharing and fulfillment instead of lost expectations and thwarted dreams? I’m going to try and I hope you will all join me.”

So how did I do?  Thoughts?

Utah Dump Fire

Just thought I would update all of you non-Utahans on the scary turn of events that happened for many Utah residents just 20 or so minutes from my apartment.  Thursday morning the fire was sparked by two target shooters and quickly spread to a current 6,023 acres burned.  Authorities believe the fire was started when a bullet hit a rock setting off a spark.

We’ve had such a dry year and the high temperatures and winds made the ground ripe for a blaze.  There are actually 4 fires in the state of Utah right now but the other 3 are located in less populous regions. The estimates on people and homes evacuated have run the gambit but most of them say around 2,300 homes and in Utah that’s a lot of people!  Mia Love says over a 1/3rd of her city Saratoga Springs is evacuated.

As I watched the reporting yesterday one of the FEMA reps said the response of evacuees in Utah was much more organized and orderly than in Colorado and other areas that have recently been affected by fire.  I have to give some of that credit to my church that regularly focuses on emergency preparedness, having a years supply of food and a 72 hour kit ready to go. For us it isn’t just a good idea but doctrine to live by.

For more information on emergency preparedness go to:

http://www.providentliving.org/

http://www.lds.org/family/family-well-being/emergency-preparedness?lang=eng

Also at the LDS Distribution Store you can purchase food storage at very reasonable prices.

I was also impressed with how quickly the Red Cross, community businesses like Walmart and the Home Depot, The State of Utah and organizations from many churches gathered together to take care of evacuees and firefighters.  I hope I can find a way to help out. The American Red Cross is a particularly amazing organization.  Seemingly instantly they had a shelter set up with donations and food.  It’s comforting to know that if the worst happens your community is ready to support you and get you through it. I love living in Utah.

There were even organizations that quickly came to provide refuge for pets (which are not allowed in Red Cross Shelters).  An animal sanctuary of exotic animals was a great concern but all the animals are safe.

It was also great to see the calm of the evacuees.  I was impressed that so many interviewed weren’t anxious about their possessions but grateful for safety and hopeful that things would be ok. I’m sure they put a brave face before the cameras but still it was impressive.

Anyway, last I read about 30% of the fire was contained but winds were kicking up dust and making it more difficult.  The smoke is palatable.  I live in Draper about 30 minutes away and it is difficult to go outside for any time period.  My friend was hiking up Bell Canyon and had ash fall on her. Same thing happened to friends swimming in the Great Salt Lake. A guy on the news yesterday said he could see the smoke in Park City and some reported smoke as far away as Evanston, WY!

I am not really a gun person but I generally support those who want to own a gun to have that right.  That said common sense and reasonable regulations are appropriate.  Just as a snowboarder is not allowed to go out in avalanche conditions because of the danger to himself and the natural disaster he could cause, gun enthusiasts should be required to follow sensible rules to keep themselves and all around them safe from fire.  This is the 19th fire this year in Utah from gun related spark!  People around here freak out at any kind of gun regulation but why not go somewhere else that isn’t so dry and susceptible to fire?  Is that asking too much?

Anyway, hopefully homes and lives will continue to be protected from the fire.  My thoughts and prayers are with the evacuees and with the brave men and women who are fighting the beast of a fire.

All of these photos are from the Daily Herald.

Could see this smoke as I was driving home from Orem yesterday. Quite dramatic!

You can see how hazy and smokey everything is

I Am a Cheesy Mormon

My whole life I’ve heard things like “I love the Mormon church but hate the Mormon culture”.  What they are referring to is the cultural traditions in Utah that many times are equally popular in other places.  For example, the cliche of green jello, funeral potatoes, scrapbooking and the Osmonds.

I don’t know if it is because of the ‘Mormon Moment’ but lately I feel like anything remotely connected with the church automatically becomes lame and uncool in certain people’s eyes. For example, the recent City Creek Shopping Center is looked down on by some purely because of the church’s involvement. If it was any other investor they wouldn’t give it a second thought. Another example- Mitt Romney mentions Etch-a-sketch and all of the sudden that is lame.

Its very annoying because sometimes I just want to be a cheesy Mormon and not care. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t want to have to defend everything I do or view.   I like the culture and religion.  Not everything but more often than not I like it.  I’m done defending myself and my culture.  If you don’t like it, don’t live here.  There are plenty of other places to live.

I also do not believe there is anything more educated about being critical of one’s culture.  In fact, it is equally easy to be heedlessly critical as it is to ignorantly follow.  Most of these things do not matter in regards to faith or intellect but add a nuanced value to the quality of your life. They actually can make you a more interesting and colorful person.

So here goes- I love living in Utah, blogging, temple work, Utah symphony and opera, family home evenings, tabernacle choir, crockpots, book clubs, pinterest, acapella music, funeral potatoes, food storage, Hawaii, Polynesian Cultural Center, Brandon Flowers, journals, stay-at-home Moms, Gladys Knight, sherbet punch, service projects, frozen yogurt, eternal marriage, most Mormon authors, family history, pioneers, big families, republicans, homeschooling, Hallmark movies, David Archuleta, live theater, watching dancing like the BYU Ballroom dance, BYU Volleyball (pretty much anything associated with BYU I like),  Jimmer, general authorities, volunteering, CTR rings, Church History sites, Utah Olympics, Mitt Romney, firesides, General Conference, missionaries, and all versions of BYU.

I get excited when I stay at a Marriott hotel and see a Book of Mormon.  I smile and wave whenever I see a missionary.  I get excited when I see a Mormon has done well in business or any other field. I like that Mormon’s help each other move and are quick to bring a meal to a friend.

Some people are just critical of anything because its associated with Utah or the Church. I think that is lame. Oh well!

I am a cheesy Mormon- Deal with it!

(Btw, this is my 400th blog post.  Pretty amazing!)