Tag: religion

General Conference and Family

This weekend has been a delight.  On Friday my family (minus Ben and Megan’s families) came into town.  They are here to visit us (Anna and I) and to attend General Conference for our church.  General Conference is a massive meeting where we get to hear from our prophet, apostles and other leaders. I look forward to Conference every 6 months.  It builds me up and inspires. Sometimes I just watch it on TV but with my family in town we made the effort to get tickets.  My family went to Sunday morning, and I went with them to Sunday afternoon.  All of the talks were excellent and encouraged me to be a better person.  One of my favorites was Elder Holland this afternoon.  It was a stirring testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I wish I could show it to all of my investigators/converts on my  mission.  I will post some videos once they are available.  Here is the audio of the talk:

A big theme from the conference I noticed was preaching about the love of God.  With all of the challenges in the economy and around the world it was comforting to hear the prophet and apostles teach about God’s plan for us and His love for us. The music was also wonderful- with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing some of my favorite songs.  Everyone should hear them sing at least once in person.  It is great.

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the time with my family.  We have all been up at our home, the Anna.  It has been fun to go hot tubing, play games like psychiatrist (we can play that for hours), talking and eating together and just having a nice time.  My only regret is that Megan and Ben aren’t here.  That would make it perfect.  At least I get to see Megan next week.  I haven’t been able to work much this week but its ok.  I am doing alright.  We had a fun surprise work-wise on Saturday.  A woman who has stayed at our homes 3 times called and said she needed a place that same hour. Luckily, the Alpine house was available and we got her checked in.  That was $477 we wouldn’t have earned otherwise.  Not too shabby!  I felt like it was a little blessing allowing me to have fun and put work on the back burner just a little bit.  Believe me- it is impossible for me to completely turn off work but I did pretty good this weekend.  It was great!

Here is President Monson’s main address.  I loved the part about his birthday and all the service which had been done.  I wish I had known about it and we could have done something for enrichment.  Oh well!  Next time.

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In God We Trust

About the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin said:

“I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler.”

How quickly we have moved from this foundation of faith to denying God’s influence in almost everything we do- the exact opposite of what Founder’s like Franklin believed.  In my opinion, the further this nation gets from God the harder it will be to invoke His power and influence as we seek to govern.

The article below makes me sad in so many ways….

Atheists sue to keep ‘In God We Trust’ off Capitol Visitor Center

WASHINGTON — A California Republican congressman wants to do a little writing on the walls of Washington’s newest federal building. If Rep. Dan Lungren gets his way, Congress will spend nearly $100,000 to engrave the words “In God We Trust ” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center .

Lungren’s proposal drew only a whimper of opposition last week when the House of Representatives voted 410-8 to approve it. Now, however, Lungren finds himself tussling with a national atheists and agnostics group.

The Wisconsin -based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. sued this week to stop the engraving, accusing Lungren of trying to force his religious beliefs on as many as 15 percent of all U.S. adults. That comprises “atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, none of whom possess a belief in a god,” according to the lawsuit.

“It really is a Judeo-Christian endorsement by our government, and so Lungren is wrong,” said Dan Barker of Madison, Wis. , a co-president of the foundation. “Lungren and others are pro-religious, and they want to actually use the machinery of government to promote their particular private religious views. That is unconstitutional, and that’s what we’re asking the court to decide.”

The Senate has approved a similar plan introduced by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina . The congressional directive orders the Capitol architect to make the changes in the design of the $621 million center, which opened last December.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation , which has 13,500 members, sued in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin . It alleges that Congress is trying to make belief in God synonymous with citizenship and “discouraging nonbelief” among Americans, a contention that Lungren rejects.

Lungren said that the phrase “In God We Trust ” had a long history and was consistent with the beliefs of America’s founding fathers. He also said that the Declaration of Independence referred to rights given by a creator.

Lungren, a former California attorney general, said that while the proposed engravings incorporated religious references, they didn’t violate the Constitution.

“What we’re doing is making a specific historical reference to the beginnings of this republic,” he said. “To ignore this or to forbid this statement or something like it to appear is to distort history. . . . We’re not trying to change history. We’re trying to enshrine history in the Capitol Visitor Center .”

Barker said history was better left to others.

“It’s not the job of our government and our government buildings to do that,” he said. “Historians can point out that many of our founders were indeed religious. But saying ‘In God We Trust’ in the visitors center of the Capitol is not just some historical reference. It’s actually government speaking for all of us Americans.”

Barker said the foundation had been waiting for the right case to challenge “In God We Trust .” He said government actions could be challenged on state-church grounds if they had specific religious agendas. In this case, he said, backers of Lungren’s plan have provided “the smoking guns” by giving specific, overt religious reasons for doing the engraving.

Barker said that atheists regarded the phrase “In God We Trust ” as rude, uncivil and un-American.

“Tens of millions of really good Americans don’t believe in God,” he said. “In fact, there’s many more nonbelievers than there are Jews, and we wouldn’t think of offending Jews on our national monuments. . . . Why is it wrong to offend a Jewish minority but it’s not wrong to offend those of us who serve in the military and sit on juries but we don’t believe in God?”

He said no hearing had been set.

Lungren is confident that a federal judge will allow the engraving to proceed.

“I never thought I’d see the day when someone would sue to stop us putting in the United States Capitol a statement of the national motto and the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said. “Suggesting that the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto is un-American in some way — talk about turning ideas on their heads.”

Happy Easter! He shall reign forever and ever.

11 Whatever It Takes

resurrected

On this Easter Sunday I feel grateful for the many blessings in my life. Above all, I am indebted to Jesus Christ for saving my soul from sin and despair. I am an imperfect person but with Christ I can be forgiven and be made whole.  It took a God of the world, a perfect person to atone for mankind’s sin but that is exactly what Jesus did.  In agony He bled from every pore and hung on the cross, so we could be forgiven.  He felt the anguish of every sin, sorrow and moment of grief ever felt by any human ever.   It’s one of those things which is tough to explain but nevertheless  true.  I have experienced moments where I felt alone and confused- where I felt weighed down by my own sins and shortcomings.  In those moments Jesus Christ has testified to my heart that He is real, He does live, and He did die for me.

It is this knowledge that has helped me move  through difficult times to the happy life I currently lead.  I say this knowing others have faced far worse; however, my challenges were still hard for me to experience.  Part of the reason we have been sent here is to be tested and grow strong- how can we do that without some faith-testing opportunities?  Through it all, the Savior has never forgotten me.  I know that He loves me.  I know He listens to my seemingly small problems.  I know these things because I have prayed and gained confirmation for myself that they are true.  I have felt Jesus Christ’s presence as an active force in my life- purifying, comforting and forgiving me each day.

I can’t tell you what comfort it gives me when the world criticizes my life, my appearance, my faith, to know deep down inside that I am loved- and not loved by just anyone but by the God of the Universe, by Jesus Christ.  I feel privileged to have such knowledge but it is by no means limited to me. All men and women can gain a testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ through faith, prayer and repentance.   I hope He knows I will do whatever it takes to follow Him.  I love Him and  on this Easter I say with the angels “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)

Let’s not stand gazing into heaven- let’s get out there and make a difference.  Whether it is speaking out on faith-based issues,  finding a day a month to serve, calling an old friend, doing an extra load of dishes unasked, smiling when we want to complain, and so much more.  I believe He wants us to look at His example and then “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).   None of us can be saved without His sacrifice and resurrection, but we can all be His helpers down here to spread His gospel.  He has asked us to “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).  I hope you feel His love in your life.  Your life does matter.  A high price was paid for it.  Let’s try and give back in any small way we can!  He truly shall reign forever and ever! God bless you and thank you for being my friends and reading my blog.  Happy Easter.  Love, Rachel.

The last few days

It has only been a week or so since I last posted but it has been a very busy time for me. Some highlights are:

– I gave the lesson in the combined priesthood/relief society meeting at church. My ward is large and this was basically a lecture in front of around 200 people! A little scary but exciting as well. I felt the Lord was inspiring me as to what to share. The message was that we as singles can be happy and live a full life. You can also gain a testimony from Heavenly Father that your life matters- no matter your marital status. I talked about 4 key points to a happy gospel centered life:
1. Seek Daily Personal Victories- find little things everyday to be happy about even if it is something small like working out when you don’t feel like it or cooking a good meal when you are tempted to eat out.
2. Live a full life- find things that you have always wanted to do and then set goals to do it. There are few things you can only do when you are married. Living a full life is why I am constantly setting goals, planning trips and taking classes. I am not perfect in this regard but the effort makes me happier.
3. Discover your divine nature and purpose- pray to Heavenly Father and He will tell you of your worth. As Romans says “we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Think about that- we all have the potential to be glorified with Christ. I believe each of has to ask God if He loves us, if we are His children. I also believe He will answer that prayer.
4. Remember “not my will but thine be done”. Jesus Christ set the perfect example of humbling submitting his will to the will of the Father. We all have difficult experiences that seem unfair or unjust. Following the Savior’s example in such instances helps us to find purpose, meaning and to survive happily.

— Anyway, that was my lesson and I felt it went well. It was a nice moment for me to look back at the last few years and to see what I have learned. I could not have given that lesson a year ago, or a year and half ago. You don’t have that many moments of retrospection in life- moments where you can look back and see growth. I was proud of the women I have become while giving that lesson and I realized the many ways I can become better.

— Moving on. The last week has also been a busy week work-wise and in my other activities. I have started cleaning the rental properties and did so 3 times in the last 2 weeks. Yesterday I cleaned for 4 hours and then had to dig my car out of the snow. Needless to say my muscles hurt today! Maybe I should start the cleaning exercise routine? You could do “the scrub the floor”, “the shovel snow” and “the sweep/vacuum”. It seems to be working for me! It is actually quite satisfying to look at messy room, and then work on it and see the clean results. I never thought I would be cleaning houses as part of my job but it certainly beats a desk job. That’s for sure! I will do anything legal to avoid sitting day after day.

–Aside from work I had book club this week, which was great- lots of good discussion on Room with a View. It’s a great book club with a wide variety of participants. I feel priviliged to be a member and to know these girls.
I also had institute (kind of like Sunday School class), voice lessons, my cake decorating class, saw Slumdog Millionaire for the 2nd time (so great!), saw a play at Hale Theater (so great!), met friends for dinner 3 times, and more. Pretty good for just over one week!

–Oh I also went last Friday to see David Archuleta live with my friend Emily Hancock.  It was a lot of fun.  David is a good singer and it made me feel young going to his concert.   I think I was the only non-chaperon there over 20! Still- that didn’t matter.  In fact, it may have made it even more fun.  My only complaint about the concert was the 2 hours we had to wait for it to start (2 opening acts and 45 minutes of set up time!).  As annoyed I was at the wait, it was still a lot of fun.  I just love concerts so much.  There is an energy to a live performance that I love.

Emily and I at the concert!
Emily and I at the concert!

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–I hope you all had great weeks and are happy. Life is good!