Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring is Here....and so is ten hours of conference!

In less than an hour, I will be watching the first session of our church's biannual conference. The first session is specifically for women--all girl's 8 years old and up. Next Saturday evening there is a session specifically for the men. The other 4 sessions next Saturday and Sunday are for everybody.

Why do I watch almost 10 hours of people talking twice a year? Because the people who speak are inspired. I relate to their words and experiences and what they say is full of truth. And the music is beautiful.

I think I have already posted this video, but here is a short clip of one of the messages shared at conference last October.


To watch the General Women's Session that starts at 7:00 pm central time, click here.

-Elin
Who is ready for spring.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ears to Hear


Recently my sister shared a scripture with me that has given me a lot to think about. Just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Savior recognizes that the time for His atonement and the crucifixion is drawing close.  In the presence of Andrew, Philip and others, Jesus prays to His Father, saying:

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

28 Father, glorify thy name. 

And then, this beautiful response:

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

In answer to His Beloved Son’s fervent prayer, Heavenly Father lovingly, vocally, responded. And this is what strikes me as so significant. Look at how the people who stood near the Savior reacted:

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. (John 12:27-29 King James Version, KJV)

They were all there together—physically. Yet, spiritually, they had very different experiences. The Savior heard His Father. Some heard what they thought were angels. Still others heard only thunder.

I find myself wondering what I would have heard. Would I have had “ears to hear,” as the scriptures so often ask? And, more important, do I have ears to hear now? Do I hear the words of my loving Heavenly Father when I pray for His guidance? Do I hear His words as I read the scriptures? Or are His words too often the muddled rumble of thunder in my ears?

I want to have ears to hear.

-Marilyn

Who is looking forward to listening to, and hearing, His living prophets in the next few weeks. (Click here for more information.)


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

He Thinks In Secret



Sometimes I don't know what I am going to write about, so I ask Elin. She said, "Write about that poem you always recite." I don't always recite it, but it is the only poem I have memorized at this point. And I am not sure it is a poem, exactly. Oh well. It comes from James Allen's book, "As a Man Thinketh," which is based on the scripture Proverbs 23:7:

Mind is the master power that moulds and makes;
and Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
the tools of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills.
He thinks in secret, it comes to pass;
Environment is but his looking glass.

(As that was from memory it might have a mistake or two. Also, I am not sure of the structure and punctuation. I just put what seemed right to me.)

This poem, or whatever, basically means that our thoughts shape our lives and world. The penultimate line is my favorite. While I don't believe in any kind of mind-reading, I do believe that our secrets become known because eventually they turn in to actions. A scripture from the Book of Mormon supports this idea:

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

We have to watch ourselves, thoughts, words, and deeds. Thoughts eventually become words, which eventually become deeds. If I find that my actions aren't what I want them to be, then I need to go back to the source. It is tempting to say that I can't control my thoughts, but that isn't true. It may be that  thoughts jump into my head upon seeing or hearing something, but I can choose to move on from them immediately. God has blessed us with that ability.

Forrest
--Who is thinking about an extended weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ponder the Path of Thy Feet




"Ponder the path of thy feet" (Proverbs 4:26). 

Do you ever have moments when everything feels surreal? And you wonder how you ever came to be where you are. And for a small moment, you feel like the you from 15 years ago, and as you look at your life it just amazes you (in a good way or bad way or both). I have those moments from time to time and they are a bit jarring for me. Sometimes it is in a loud or quiet moment at home and I look at my husband and think "I can't believe I am married...and have been married for almost a third of my life....and it just feels funny." Or I look at my children and think "when did this happen? Are these kids really mine?" Like I am looking at everything with fresh eyes. Or the other day, my friend (who is 5 or 6 six years younger than me) emailed me a picture of us she took when we were out together and I looked at myself and thought "Who is that? I look so old!"

These moments don't occur very often, but when they do, they usually lead to some reflection about where I am in my life and what I am becoming. This life is a tricky one. It is so easy to get caught up in all the everyday things that have to happen. You know what I mean: meals, sleep, school, diapers, work, cleaning ourselves, the house, the yard, the cars. And so hard sometimes to remember why we are really here and who we can become, even while doing all the necessary, everyday things.

We are reading the New Testament for our Sunday School study this year, and the phrase that keeps getting caught in my brain is this: come, follow me (Luke 18:22, John 21:22, Matthew 16:24, Numbers 32:11, Omni 1:26, Moroni 10:32).

The video I posted at the beginning of this post gave me new insight into the story of the rich young ruler who "comes" to Christ and asks Him what he needs to do to have eternal life.  The young man had faith enough in the Savior to come to Him. The fact that He sought Jesus out shows that he believed He had answers. But after the young man affirms that he has kept the commandments throughout his life, and is then counselled to sell what he has and follow Jesus, he cannot make the commitment. So he turns around and goes his way, and Christ and His disciples (those who follow Him physically and are attempting to follow spiritually) go another way. 

That visual image of the young man turning and walking away is poignant to me. It doesn't mean that the rich young ruler was never able to give up his material wealth and follow the Savior. But in that moment, he could not commit. So he walked away from the one person who could show him what it means to reach your true potential--what it means to really love someone--what it means to know yourself and to know God. 

So this week, I am going to try a little harder to "follow Him", even while I walk through the everyday necessities. I can't physically walk beside Him and watch the way He interacts with people and love them and heals them. But I can read about it and try my best to do things the way He would. Doing this, I believe, will help me know myself better and to know my Heavenly Father better.



-elin
Who is going to have a hard time "following Him" while I plan out meals for this week. I actually enjoy cooking...but I hate having to plan out meals and think of new things that are not only tasty but actually healthy...grrrrr...And I hate ironing clothes....


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Some Great Thing

Image result for naaman
 
Here is a quick summary of the story of Naaman in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5:1-14): Naaman was the captain of the Syrian army, enemies to Israel. Pretty powerful guy. He suffered from leprosy, and was therefore slowly decaying. He sought out the prophet Elisha to be healed, and Elisha counseled him to bathe in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was not happy with this counsel, probably for a variety of reasons, and "went away in a rage." A wise servant told him this:
 
My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
 
Naaman humbled himself, washed, and was healed.
 
So many great things to consider in this story, from the goodness of God, the role of prophets, the humility of Naaman, to the confidence of his servant. Read it yourselves and you'll see. 
 
This passage of scripture came up in my church class a few weeks ago, and we discussed application to our own life. As we did so, it occurred to me that I had been neglecting small things while searching out great things in order to help me through a trial. I really related to Naaman.
 
As Naaman's servant suggested, Naaman probably was prepared to do almost anything to rid himself of his leprosy, even some great thing. So why should a simple solution upset him? (At its root is pride, I think, but that isn't what I want to get into.) From my perspective, I can see him having thoughts like these (because I have had similar thoughts myself):
 
I've washed a billion times! Before, during, and after getting leprosy! What difference would washing here, now, make?
My problem is way, way too big to be solved with something so simple.
Professionals (doctors, leeches, healers, whatever they would have been called) have come with better methods than this!
 
And so on. In the end, of course, Naaman did the simple thing and was healed. So what are simple things that I should be doing? Praying, studying scripture, obeying God's prophets, attending church meetings. Why should those things work for overcoming a trial, especially since I did them before and continue to do them during the trial? The most simple answer is because God has asked that I do them. Done in faith and humility, compliance with God's will brings His blessings. That is what healed Naaman. It certainly wasn't seven more baths. He did what God directed him to do, through the voice of a prophet, and received the sought-for blessing.
 
 
video
 
Forrest
--Who bathes at least seven times a week, (almost) always.
 


Monday, March 9, 2015

I Know You Better Than You Know Yourself

First attempt at painting toe nails

My recent posts, despite their irregularity, seem to be focused on parent/child relationships. Here is another one in the same vein. A week or two or more ago I found myself once again in the companionship of Evelyn, our 2.5 year-old. I can't remember now the exact circumstances, but she wanted something. In response to her request (or demand), I told her no, and then proceeded to elaborate on what she would do if I did what she wanted. I'm sure I was very wise about it. And I ended my speech by telling her, "I know you better than you know yourself." She probably hadn't been listening for most of the time, and even if she was she probably didn't understand what I meant by saying I knew her better than she herself did.

I feel like I am right about knowing her better than she knows herself. I have observed her and watched her develop, seen her personality take shape, and witnessed her responses to different situations. Which isn't to say I know her perfectly, because certainly she still surprises me, and frequently, but my position relative to hers enables me to know her better than she knows herself. What do I have going for me? Mostly time, which includes my own experiences, plus a higher capacity to reason and remember. I've been watching her respond to things since the moment she was born, and although she experienced those things, she can't recall them, and can't necessarily apply them, either.

As I made the statement, "I know you better than you know yourself," I couldn't help but think of God, my Heavenly Father, saying the same thing to me. He knows me better than I know myself. What does He have going for Him? A lot of time and experience, plus a higher capacity to reason and remember. He's been watching me respond to things since the moment I was spiritually and physically born, and although I experienced those things, I can't always recall them, and certainly can't (and sometimes won't) apply them, either.

Jeremiah 1:5 is a great example of God's knowledge of me, and each of His children:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.

It's as simple as that. Since being spiritually created, by God, He has known us. I don't know how much time that is on an earthly scale, and it doesn't matter really. It is safe to say that He knows us not only better than we know ourselves, but also perfectly. So when I ask for something and don't get it, or try to determine how things should happen and then they don't, I need to remember that God knows me and knows what is best for me. Because of that He can say things like:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

video