Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grateful For...

Sometimes on Thanksgiving, the thing I am most thankful for is the first Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry, Merry Christmas.

Who can't imagine what it would be like to have a baby in a stable...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving: The Five Fs

We will be going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and typically before we start the Thanksgiving Dinner we go around the table three times and each say one thing we're grateful for on each pass. Mine vary, of course, but on that particular day sometimes I think of the Fs in my life: Faith, Family, Friends, Football, and Food. (I think F has too much of a negative connotation, by the way. It's a very valuable letter.) I could go into detail about each one of these things and how they improve my life, but I won't; I will confine it to the first two, Faith and Family.

One definition of faith is "a system of religious belief." By this definition, I feel like the system of religious belief to which I ascribe is firmly fixed on Jesus Christ. My own personal system of religious belief is not as firmly fixed. I try my best to center my system of religious belief on Jesus Christ, and I am not perfect at it. Or even very good at it. But I try, and when I learn that I am off base, I make an effort to correct myself so that I am more centered on Jesus Christ. I can safely say that I know that all good things in my life have come because of Jesus Christ and my belief in Him as my Savior and Redeemer. And that all future good things will come from that same source.

One of the good things in my life, if not the best, is my family. Quick story: once when I was in middle school I was complaining to a teacher about something not being "fair." She responded that life isn't fair, to which I responded "I know, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?" (I was quoting a classic work, Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes.) She then said something very profound: "It was unfair in your favor when you were born into the family that you were." She was right. My family is my biggest blessing, and one that it's easiest to be grateful for, because of my frequent interactions with them. When the preceding conversation took place, my family was my parents and siblings. Now it includes my in-laws (see previous post for how I feel about them); and my wife, Elin (see her post about gratitude and thanksgiving); and little girl Evelyn. Soon there will be another in that group. These people are perhaps the greatest evidence of God's love for me, individually. They inspire me to be better and help me to be more centered on Christ. Which, in turn, leads to more good things in my life.

--Who is in actuality grateful for friends, football, and food, too. They just would have made the post overlong.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"More Holiness Give Me" and Relationships...

Today during our church service, an 85-year old man (who still has a spectacular voice) sang a hymn called "More Holiness Give Me." (You can listen to a beautiful rendition of it here.--although I wish you could have heard the 85-year old man sing it...) The words of the song struck me to my core because I have felt especially flat these last couple weeks. I want to feel that "more" that the song describes. I want to feel that urgency.

I have realized more and more this last year that I am not investing enough in my relationship with God-- and that my faith in and relationship with Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, is directly related to what I am willing to invest in the relationship. I don't know why this hasn't occurred to me before now. As is true in other relationships, we have to open ourselves up and talk to the other person, we have to be willing to be quiet and listen to the other person, we have to be willing to help, we have to prove ourselves trustworthy, we have to admit when we are wrong and say we are sorry and be willing to make amends for the relationship to be strong and rewarding and mutually beneficial. And then time and experiences with those people is what then links me to them even more.

Those are the kinds of things I try to do in my family and with my friends (and don't always do very successfully...) because it is obvious that the people that I care most about and who care most about me are people who have put time and effort and care into knowing me--and they are people who have been in my life, doing these things for an extended period of time.

Sometimes I forget that. I forget that these are the things that it takes to build a relationship. And for some reason, sometimes I think that I don't have to do those kinds of things to have a relationship with God. It is like I assume He will just take care of things for me and He loves me and understands me perfectly, and that is enough. I convince myself that I love and understand Him "enough" and don't put much work into my side of the relationship. But how does that make sense?

In what is referred to as the Intercessory prayer (John 17:3), the Savior, Jesus Christ, prays to the Father in our behalf--all of us. One of the things He says is:

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." 

He doesn't say that eternal life (which we believe is life with God- life after death where we get to be with our families and keep progressing and becoming more and more like Him) is God knowing and loving us (which He always does)--eternal life is us coming to know God and His Son, Jesus Christ. And coming to know anything or anyone requires effort, work, and time.

God has given us the tools to come to know Him. To develop a real relationship with Him. He has spoken throughout the ages and His words have been recorded by prophets in what we now refer to as scriptures. He has spoken truth and love to the hearts of men and women throughout the ages through the Spirit and their words are recorded in inspired literature, journals, and speeches. He speaks now to His prophet, President Monson, and He will speak now to us through the Spirit. He and the Savior have promised this over and over and over again.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:"  Matthew 7:7, 3 Nephi 27:29

This is the promise--but I have to do my part by investing in the relationship. By asking and seeking and studying and trying to know Him more and more.

One last thought that I found applied specifically to me:

"True, the Lord has said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (D&C 4:7.) But He also declared, “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.” (D&C 9:7.)
It is evident that He intends that we do our part. But what, specifically, are we to do? No one would expect to receive a result from physical law without obeying it. Spiritual law is the same. As much as we want help, we must expect to follow the spiritual law that controls that help. Spiritual law is not mysterious. It is something that we can understand. The scriptures define it in significant detail." Elder Richard G. Scott, "Obtaining Help From the Lord" 
This week, my challenge to myself is to put the amount of time and effort into coming to know my Heavenly Father and the Savior that will enable me to feel and understand their strength and help and love--that will enable me to be more holy. 
Who is simultaneously still trying to work on being grateful in every circumstance. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Prayer, Scriptures, and Service

Last night I saw a quote from a talk given by President Henry B. Eyring, a prophet and apostle who is in the First Presidency of the Church. The quote was striking to me because it is something that I have been thinking about lately in regards to my own actions:

We can and must go often and carefully to the word of God. If we become casual in our study of the scriptures, we will become casual in our prayers.
We may not cease to pray, but our prayers will become more repetitive, more mechanical, lacking real intent. Our hearts cannot be drawn out to a God we do not know, and the scriptures and the words of living prophets help us know Him. As we know Him better, we love Him more.
At times I feel like my prayers don't make it past the ceiling of my apartment, like they just bounce back to me. I've wondered why that is, and I think a lot of it has to do with the above quote. And there are other times when I feel like my prayers are not "lacking real intent" but still don't seem effective. What then? Another quote from the same talk:
We must also serve Him to love Him. Joseph Smith did that, finally surrendering life itself in His service. Joseph prayed with the intent to obey. That obedience always includes service to others. Service in God’s work allows us to feel a part of what He feels and come to know Him.
“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” As our love for Him increases, so will our desire to approach the Father in prayer.
Serving Him can be done in a variety of ways, but a succinct explanation is simply obeying His commandments. So when I find that my prayers are stuck in the same room as me, I know where to look for a solution to that problem: scripture study and service. And this time of year is great for both, as the holidays are here and thoughts are turned more to Christ.
--Who is so thankful that Thanksgiving is nearly here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God's Happiness and Creation

"Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.
This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?
This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.” 1
Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children” 2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” 3
Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."
"Happiness, Your Heritage," President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I spent much of last weekend making Christmas stockings. (One of our daughters went out to her storage closet the other day and discovered that everything they had stored there—including their Christmas decorations--had been ruined by a leak in the apartment above them.) Part of me felt a little guilty for spending so much time on them when there were other “more important” things waiting to be done. At the same time, I loved what I was doing —finding a pattern, matching fabrics, choosing decorative stitches, thinking of ways to make them unique while keeping a unified theme, and, finally, putting them together.

There is something satisfying, fulfilling, and joyful about the process of creating. I love this beautiful insight into our innate desire to create by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

(who is heading to the kitchen to try a new recipe for pumpkin gnocchi)

Monday, November 17, 2014


In a weekly family email, my Mom shared a quote from Elder Orson Pratt, an apostle in the early days of the Church:

We may take up the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants [Doctrine and Covenants], and commit them to memory—at least the subject matter therein, and we may suppose that we understand the doctrine of salvation, and conclude from our diligent study that we have become altogether acquainted with the prophecies and revelations; and yet, after all these things, without the gift of revelation directly to ourselves, or the gift of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to rest upon us as speakers and hearers, we cannot expect to be materially benefited.

There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that tells us how we should be studying the scriptures:

Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

I think the link between these two statements is in the applicability of the scriptures in my own life. I think I have done pretty well at reading the scriptures (not to the point of having them memorized) and being 'acquainted with the prophecies and revelations,' but I don't think I have always successfully applied the doctrines taught in the scriptures to my own life. And I think that is because I wasn't 'feasting' on the words, and therefore was limiting the ability of the Holy Ghost to testify to the truth of what I was reading. As a result, I wasn't as 'materially benefited' as I could have been, and my spiritual development has been impeded. The principle is applicable to many things we do in life.

Developing a Love for the Scriptures

-Who is grateful for the cool, even chilly, weather

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Prone to Wander

Is it as difficult for you to do things that you know are good for you as it is for me sometimes? I've been thinking about this a lot lately and trying to figure out what it is in us that makes us resist doing healthy, happy, uplifting things even though we know they will makes us healthier, happier, and just better. I know it differs from person to person. Some people love eating vegetables and are happy to shun fatty, sugary, over-processed foods. Some people love running. Some people hate taking out the trash. Some people hate doing dishes. Some people love learning new things, reading educational books. Some people love practicing the piano. Others don't love these things at all.

Me, well there is a lot that I know I should be doing--that I know is good for me. Some of it I may have been born enjoying. Some of it is easier to do now because I've made a habit of it. Some of it, I still have a hard time making myself do it every day, even though I feel so good after I've done it. It is frustrating.

So a few months ago, I made up a motto for myself and this is it: "Do the things you know are good for you, even when you don't feel like doing them." It may seem silly, but I literally say this to myself out loud sometimes when I am staring at a plateful of vegetables or looking at the floor that needs to be vacuumed (that is a weird word) or when I find myself wanting to pass by someone who needs help carrying their groceries in from their car instead of helping them. And I find myself saying this to myself at night when I feel tired and would rather get in bed than say a prayer--or when I would rather pick up a fluffy book before I have read in the scriptures that day.

And this phrase has helped me. I still hate that I resist things that are good for me though. I came across a scripture in Jeremiah the other day that really hit home with me.

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:13

I am a visual learner so I really like the image in this verse--the idea that not only do we too often forget and neglect the "fountain of living waters", Jesus Christ, who knows exactly what is difficult for us--who knows exactly how we feel--who knows exactly how to help and strengthen and heal us--

but in place of Him, the only water that really refreshes, cleanses, and fills, we make for ourselves and our lives, broken cisterns (pits or wells that were used to hold water) that won't even hold the water or the sustenance and joy that we thought they would give us. I feel this sometimes at the end of a day, when I have neglected to do the things that would have brought me true satisfaction and joy and replaced them with whatever sounded good in the moment--fluffy books, idleness, a movie or two.  Those days feel empty to me at their end. It reminds me of these verses in the Book of Mormon:

Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
So, yes, those are my ramblings for the day. Let me just say that I have hope yet that I can be better at doing the things that I know are good for me. And things like taking care of our bodies, helping others, studying the life and teachings and gospel of Jesus Christ, developing a relationship with Heavenly Father--these are the things that fill me up and make me happy. But oh how I am "prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."-which are part of the text from the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Take a listen....

Who is feeling like she needs a taste of Christmas and wishes the rain would magically turn to snow.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reverently and Meekly Now

The music we use in Church meetings, which we refer to as hymns, is a significant and important part of our worship services. The hymn book we use has a preface from the leadership of the Church explaining this importance:

Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.

In addition to blessing us as Church and family members, the hymns can greatly benefit us as individuals. Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action. They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.

One of my favorite hymns is called "Reverently and Meekly Now." I like it for a couple of reasons, one being that the lyrics are from the perspective of Jesus Christ, so it is like listening to the Savior speak to me. I have included all the text below. Another reason I like it is because it is like listening to the Savior tell me what He has done for me. Look at the last line of each verse. It is very personal. If I was speaking directly with Jesus Christ, these are the things He would tell me.

1. Rev'rently and meekly now,
Let thy head most humbly bow.
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.
With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee.

2. In this bread now blest for thee,
Emblem of my body see;
In this water or this wine,
Emblem of my blood divine.
Oh, remember what was done
That the sinner might be won.
On the cross of Calvary
I have suffered death for thee.

3. Bid thine heart all strife to cease;
With thy brethren be at peace.
Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be
E'en forgiven now by me.
In the solemn faith of prayer
Cast upon me all thy care,
And my Spirit's grace shall be
Like a fountain unto thee.

4. At the throne I intercede;
For thee ever do I plead.
I have loved thee as thy friend,
With a love that cannot end.
Be obedient, I implore,
Prayerful, watchful evermore,
And be constant unto me,
That thy Savior I may be.

Text: Joseph L. Townsend, 1849-1942
Music: Ebenezer Beesley, 1840-1906

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

Ten Lepers, by James Christensen
"This painting is about gratitude, about recognizing the gifts of the Savior in our lives on a daily basis," Christensen explains. "I think we too often fail to realize the blessings that He gives us and, even in our excitement to take advantage of our good fortune, we forget to acknowledge the source of all good things in our lives."

I have had some glum days recently and have been trying to figure out how to pick myself out of the gloom. I don't even have a reason right now to feel sad! Things are going well. So since we are now officially headed towards the "holiday season," the "most wonderful time of the year", I decided to try to cultivate a little more gratitude in my life and see if that will take the gloom right out of me. As I have been reading and learning about gratitude, two things specifically have stuck out to me. The first is this:

Recognizing blessings from Heavenly Father in our life and then thanking Him for them brings more blessings and miracles into our life.

The prophet, Thomas S. Monson, mentions this principle as he tells the story of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes (Matthew 15:13-28) in this talk.

“And [Jesus] commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
“And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”
Notice that the Savior gave thanks for what they had—and a miracle followed: “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.”
That, to me, is a beautiful thing. The more we recognize and give thanks, the more we find we have to be thankful for in our lives. And the more miracles we see.
The second principle of gratitude that keeps appearing as I study what it really means to "live in thanksgiving daily" (Alma 34:38) is that gratitude makes you glorious. It fills your life and you, yourself, with light and love--and it's contagious. (see D&C 78:19, Alma 26, this, and this)

The best visual example of this idea of gratitude making us glorious is the way George Bailey looks and acts in the last few minutes of the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Sure, he is a bit frenzied in the way he expresses his gratitude--but boy is he full of life and light and just watching him makes me happier.

Whose experiment to live in thanksgiving daily and get out of the gloom began 2 days ago. I have had one glorious day and one not so great day. These things take practice, right?
"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!" President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th Edition

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ramblings About A Kitten

While we have been living in South Carolina, I started volunteering at an animal shelter. I mostly just go clean cat cages. I have been very impressed with the shelter. It is very clean and they treat the animals well. It is run on donations and volunteers. It seems that new animals get brought in every day.

Lately, we have been working with a feral, or wild, kitten. He had climbed up in a truck and gotten stuck. After a couple days the owner of the truck was able to get him out and bring him in. The first time I reached my hand to pet him and hold him he hissed at me, got in the furthest corner of the kennel, and curled up in a tight ball. Kittens cannot be adopted until they are 8 weeks old and this kitten is estimated to be around 6 weeks. We have two weeks to prepare him to be adopted and not to be afraid of people.

The first day with him, Ben spent about three hours with him. He even named him, Lil Badger. Ben took the time to show him where his food was, feed him by hand, wrap him up in a towel and hold him tight. We were told that wrapping him in a towel or blanket while holding him would make him feel more secure. We were also told it might be a while before he stopped hissing and started purring. Near the end of the first day, while Ben was petting him, he began to purr.

The next day we went to pet him and again, he hissed at us. After 20  minutes he wouldn't hiss but would play with us.

The next day, he hissed again but not as much. After I vacuumed it was like starting at the beginning with him. He hid from us and wanted nothing to do with us.

Now, a week later, he trusts us. Occasionally he will hiss when he gets really scared; otherwise, he meows and purrs. He likes to be around us and wants to play constantly. As I'm typing this he is sitting under my chair.

I've been thinking a lot lately about trust. Trust and faith. They are necessary for us to feel peace. Faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Trusting that if we rely on the Savior that he will help, guide, and direct us.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced times of having a weak testimony and when my trust is almost nonexistent. Looking back, I realize I would try to comfort myself. I would try to find my own peace. It did not work. Luckily, I realized it didn't work and that I needed to change.

Matthew 11:28 says,
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
The Savior will help us find peace and by relying on the Savior through our struggles, he will give us rest. I know this to be true.  Just as Lil Badger now feels safe and secure with us; we can experience security and safety in the arms of our Savior.

Ry-who's rocking it on xbox

Monday, November 10, 2014

In-laws and the Great Commandment

Me fixing a leaky faucet at the in-laws. Hat and headlight courtesy of father-in-law.

My family and I spent the Halloween weekend at my in-law's home, outside of Dallas. My wife, her sisters, an aunt and Mom were getting together for something they call a "sisters reunion." You might be asking how I fit into that group. Chauffeur.

The common depiction of in-laws in popular media shows relationships I would never want, generally in a home to which I would never want to go. A quick Google search brought me this succinct quote about in-laws from Mark Twain (I don't claim any authenticity), as well as much more that I wouldn't put on this post:

"Adam was the luckiest man; he had no mother-in-law."

I don't know how true that is in real life for the majority of people, but for me it couldn't be further (farther? I never know) from the truth. While occasionally I do get roped into fixing a fence or something like that, I look at my in-laws' home as a sanctuary from all that is bad about this world and as an example for what I want my home to be. My parents-in-law aren't perfect, but I'm not either and they know it and still love me.

What is it that makes their home such a great place? The hot tub. Just kidding, they don't have one. Them, obviously. What is so great about them? The short answer is that they believe and live the same answer that Christ gave to the lawyer who asked what was the great commandment of the law:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

When those commandments are obeyed, any place can be a sanctuary. A hymn sometimes sung in our church meetings is called "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth" and the first verse is as follows: 

 Home can be a heav'n on earth

When we are filled with love,
Bringing happiness and joy,
Rich blessings from above—
Warmth and kindness, charity,
Safety and security—
Making home a part of heaven,
Where we want to be.

--Who also includes his own parents' home in this category

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Loaves and Fishes - When our efforts are somehow multiplied and magnified

Feeding the Five Thousand, by James Tissot
I recently watched this beautiful depiction of the miracle of the loaves and fishes and found a very personal lesson there for me. 

I—like many people, I suspect—often feel inadequate, that I don’t have much to offer. But as I watched this video and reread the parallel accounts in the New Testament of the Savior feeding the multitudes (see Matthew 14:15-20, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-14), I was reminded yet again of His ability to transform our “little” into “enough and to spare.”

In Matthew 14:15-20, we read:

15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

18 He said, Bring them hither to me.

19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

Like the multitudes surrounding the Savior, there are people all around us who are hungry—emotionally, spiritually, physically. Aware of our personal inadequacies, we may be tempted to step back, to “send (them) away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals” (vs. 15). However, one of the important lessons of these verses is that we should bring our “five loaves and two fishes”—our meager “baskets” of time, talents, temporal means, and most of all, our willingness--to the Savior and allow Him to bless them (vs. 19). As we do, and then go forward to serve in faith, these imperfect offerings are magnified into nourishing gifts of love that help others “eat” and be “filled” (vs. 20).

I love the tender way that Elder James E. Faust teaches this principle in this talk from the April 1994 General Conference.

Who loves baking—and eating--bread.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sufficiency

I am a chocoholic, but not just any old chocoholic: I am a very discriminating one. For example, chocolate ice cream? Take it or leave it. Chocolate chip cookies? Take, every time. Chocolate chip cookies are my passion.

Over the years I have gathered several magnificent chocolate chip cookie recipes. Believe me, there are some gems out there. Nevertheless, my CCC receptors are highly sensitized to new ones and I am constantly on the prowl.

Funny thing, however, about chocolate-chip cookies and me: one is never enough. And since they are never found under the “Healthy Food” section of books or blogs, that is not a good thing. Sometimes--OK, frequently--I get a hankering for one, and I make a batch thinking, "I'll be good; I only need one." And one is never sufficient. Ever. I don't know if I've ever eaten ONLY ONE fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie in my life. Ever.

If I could have only one dessert the rest of my life, I would beg it be warm chocolate chip cookies.

One of these is never sufficient.

I would be much healthier (and lighter) if I could convince myself that one cookie is enough. One is sufficient. 

Let’s talk about “sufficient.” To suffice means “to be enough; to be equal to the end proposed.” Now let’s talk about “sufficient” in a much more important arena than chocolate chip cookies.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God sent us to earth without him in order to learn, grow and prove ourselves worthy of returning to his presence. However, even though we are separated from him, God, like every great parent, still wants to be part of our lives, wants to guide and direct and help us as appropriate. He sends all sorts of help our direction: scriptures, prophets, Christ’s original church, saintly people, and personal inspiration, to name a few helps. 

Sometimes in this testing period we sometimes think we need more, and sometimes we’re correct: we need more help, more wisdom, more strength, more resources.  But sometimes, even though we want more, we have, in fact, been given enough.


The “end proposed” by our Heavenly Father is us back with him, tried, tested, improved and worthy. He offers to help us along the way, but sometimes the best thing he can do is help us understand that we have been given sufficient for our needs. 

When we learn that lesson, we have grown and become, in one aspect of our lives, more like him. Which is “the end proposed.”

Who has a two-year supply of chocolate chips in her storage room

Sunday, November 2, 2014

When Jesus Christ Came

The central point in the Book of Mormon is when the resurrected Savior visited the believing people in the Americas (3 Nephi 9-27). For 600 years, prophets of the Book of Mormon saw in visions and prophesied about the circumstances of the birth, life, atonement, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I love what Nephi sees and shares about the life of Christ in 1 Nephi 11.) And then it happened. He came. And we not only have an account of His post-resurrection ministry to his disciples in Jerusalem in the New Testament, we also have an account of His post-resurrection visit and ministry to the people of the Americas in the Book of Mormon.

At the time of Christ's death, the people in the Americas suffered earthquakes and fire and darkness. They were scared and probably felt abandoned and alone. And then, a voice spoke from heaven. The resurrected Christ speaks to them from heaven, Heavenly Father speaks from heaven, and then Christ comes down and ministers to them. He counsels them, teaches them, spends time with their children, institutes the sacrament, heals them, prays for and with them, and calls disciples and organizes His church.

My favorite part of the account, however, is when the Savior first appears to them:

"And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning [. . .]
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come." 3 Nephi 11:9-15
I love this because the first thing the Savior does is tell the people to "Arise and come forth." He permits them to touch his hands and feet and wants them to know that everything He did, everything He taught and suffered, He did for them individually. And He allows them individually to come and feel and see.

President James E. Faust (former member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), penned the following words about this Book of Mormon account and his own testimony of Jesus Christ:

They heard His voice, a voice so mild.
It pierced them through and made their souls to quake.
They saw Him come, a man in white,
The Savior, who had suffered for their sake.
They felt the wounds in hands and side,
And each could testify:
This is the Christ.
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the Healer of our souls,
Who ransomed us with love divine.
I read His words, the words He prayed
While bearing sorrow in Gethsemane.
I feel His love, the price He paid.
How many drops of blood were spilled for me?
With Saints of old in joyful cry
I too can testify:
This is the Christ.
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the Healer of our souls,
Who ransomed us with love divine.

I testify of Jesus Christ, as well. It is hard to explain to someone what His life and atonement and love mean to me personally, because it is something you have to experience to understand or know. But the longer I live, the more I know that He is real and aware of me. In difficult times, when I have cried and reached out to Him for help or just for comfort, I have felt and seen miraculous, inexplicable things. When I struggle with weakness or sin and have asked for help, I have been strengthened in ways I did not believe possible. And when I feel happy, I have felt love for people that is not my own--it is His love and He lets me feel it for myself and for others. I don't feel these things immediately all the time. I am a work in progress. But I know that Jesus Christ is real and His power to help and heal are real. 

Who is so happy to be with her sisters and mother this weekend.