Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Transforming Power of God's Love

"We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.
The means of this refinement is our Christlike love. There is no pain it cannot soften, no bitterness it cannot remove, no hatred it cannot alter. The Greek playwright Sophocles wrote: “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”15
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Great Commandment," October 2007

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rewards: What is it That I Really Want?

Harvest Time in France, James T. Harwood

When I was doing my student teaching in a 7th grade classroom at a local junior high school, I decided that when I had my own classroom one day, one of the first things I wanted to do was write the word "earn" on the board and discuss what that word means.

When you look up the word these days through a simple google search, the first definition is "obtain money" either through labor or even as a prize or an event that requires no work.

That isn't the definition I want to talk about. The definition I am interested in is the one that is tied to the Old English word esne, which means "laborer." Connected to that root word is this definition for earn: gain or incur deservedly for one's behavior or achievements.

I would change the word "achievements" to "work."

In a classroom setting, I believe this concept is important because I think grades should be earned. Not necessarily by how many answers you get right on a piece of paper--but by the work and time you are willing to give to understanding something or someone, by participating in class and discussions, and by steady improvement throughout the year. Basically, to earn in the classroom and in life is to sincerely try. That's what I think, anyway. Hard to measure on paper? Yes.

I like this illustration from the life of Neal A. Maxwell:

"Elder Neal A. Maxwell received a very low grade on a high school English essay he wrote. He went to Miss Mason and said, “This is not fair. This is good work. I deserve a higher grade.”
She said, “Sorry, but I grade students by potential. You are capable of much better work.”
Elder Maxwell has often stated, “She made the difference in my life.” Why? Because he wanted to meet her expectations. He wanted to be the best he could, and because of that he has continued to be one of the most verbal and clear-thinking people in the Church." Hugh Pinnock
So in life, what is it we are trying to earn? What are the rewards? Prestige? Money? Friends? Praise? Power?

Those always sound good.

That's why it is so hard to train myself to remember the things that I really should be trying to earn and which should be taking the most of my time and effort: Family. Trust. The Spirit of God . Peace of mind and conscience. [I hesitate to put love and forgiveness on this list--because I feel like those are gifts...not something we necessarily we "earn."]

I believe that these things are earned by following the pattern that God set through prophets of old (as recorded in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon), that Jesus Christ said and set during his life on earth (as recorded in the New Testament). And that He continues to teach us the same principles through His prophets and through the Spirit today. Just like earning prestige and money and friends and praise requires work and effort, these things require energy and purposeful planning and striving. And the benefits of family, trust, the Spirit, and peace of mind are far more lasting and permanent and joy-giving than the benefits of any of those other things.

"The battle between good and evil is not new. But today a much higher percentage of people mistakenly concludes that there is not a moral, righteous standard to which all people should adhere."

"Lucifer has created a counterfeit or illusion of happiness that is inconsistent with righteousness and will mislead us if we are not vigilant. Many of our problems today occur because the secular world has been pursuing an incorrect definition of happiness."

"The Lord God is indeed a sun and shield and will give grace and glory. No good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11). My prayer is that you may reap the rewards of righteousness as you faithfully follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Quentin L. Cook, Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness


Who gets tired of trying/working at least 10 times a day....maybe more. baby steps.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ironing Clothes and Cleaning up Messes

For the longest time, I had this aversion to ironing. I avoided ironing anything at all costs. By the time I got the ironing board and iron out and ironed the shirt or skirt or whatever wrinkled piece of clothing I wanted to wear, I was usually so frustrated that I would just throw the piece of clothing back in the laundry and vow to get it out of the dryer as soon as the cycle was done next time, to avoid it wrinkling. I tend to be really slow at doing things like ironing and chopping vegetables. So it took a lot of time. And I always ended up making more wrinkles with the iron than I eliminated. Is it just me or do other people have this problem? So my go-to method throughout high school, college, and the first few years of married life was to spray the wrinkled piece of clothing with a spray bottle and shake it out and let it hang dry. Or put the piece of clothing in the bathroom while I took a really warm shower and let the steam work its magic.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because about a month ago, I started ironing my husband's work clothes and anything else that was wrinkled. I realized awhile back, that I wanted to go out of my way a little bit more to make life better for my family. (I am a little lazy and am trying to improve in little ways.) And for my husband, the thought that came to mind was to iron his work clothes. What does this do for him? Really not a whole lot from a temporal point of view. I hope it makes him look and feel a little sharper and smarter and happier as he goes to work each day-- but it probably doesn't do that to a huge degree. (I mean, let's be honest, the most frustrating thing about ironing is that you know as soon as you put the clothes on and sit down, everything is going to get all creased and wrinkled again.) So, what's the point, eh?

The point is not that the clothes are wrinkled again by the end of the day. The point is that he starts his day as his biggest, brightest self. And I got to contribute to that in some small way. He knows it. I know it. And that feels rather fine.

It is kind of how I feel at the end of the day when I am doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen and living room for the umpteemth time, full well-knowing that in 12 hours the dishes will be dirty again and toys will once again reign triumphant all over the floor. The point isn't that it will all get dirty again. The reason I clean up at the end of the day is so that I can start fresh the next day. I can wake up to order. Order is so beautiful. So, so beautiful. Things flourish in order. And I feel like I am giving all of us our best chance for sanity and joy if we start the day with things clean and in their proper place. (Granted, sometimes cleaning at the end of the day just means putting things in piles out of the way so I don't have to see them when I get up in the morning.)

I think that is how life is, how we are. It doesn't do much for ourselves if we stop trying or stop admitting mistakes or bad habits just because we are going to mess up again at some point anyway. Or it is just too hard or too annoying to have to start over again and again and again. There came a point in my life, where I realized that I had to start owning who I was--the person I was becoming. And that meant I had to take a good long look at myself and start trying to iron out the "wrinkles" and clean out the "garbage" in me. The hateful thoughts and actions, the idle time, the selfishness. Every night. And isn't it glorious that when we do this we can wake up in the morning our best and brightest selves? When it happens, it feels really great. All this because the Savior set a perfect example; and He not only laid it out in perfect words, He lived what He taught perfectly. And I know that because of Him, little by little, the wrinkles and garbage can be removed from me permanently and that gives me hope and makes me feel very, very loved. It is why I try.

"The Lord will always keep His promise: “I will lead you along.”6 The only question is, will we let ourselves be led? Will we hear His voice and the voice of His servants?
I testify that if you are there for the Lord, He will be there for you.7 If you love Him and keep His commandments, you will have His Spirit to be with you and guide you. “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good. … By this shall you know, all things … pertaining unto things of righteousness.”8  Elder Robert D. Hales, "Meeting the Challenges of  Today's World "
I am going to be honest: I want to listen to Christmas music right now. I know, it isn't even Halloween yet...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Gospel of Christ, Full and Complete

I love that phrase: The Gospel of Christ, Full and Complete.

That is what we claim to offer as a Church, because we believe this is Christ's living church on the earth. That He continues to guide and direct the people of this world through a prophet today--just as He guided and directed them through prophets in ancient times. Just as He guided and directed the people of His day as He walked and taught and served and healed.

Yesterday and today, I listened to the prophet, President Monson and each of the Twelve Apostles as well as the leaders of the women and children's and other organizations of our Church teach about what they have learned through their own experiences, the experiences of others, through the Holy Ghost, and through their study and application of scripture (which are words Jesus Christ speaking through past prophets). Their stories and messages are simple but powerful. I felt the truth of what they said. And the music--Oh the music. Take a moment and watch or listen to one or two or all of the 6 sessions of the conference here. At the very least, you can take a look or listen to what President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet today said to the church and to all the world. Simple truths--but I think they make all the difference in who we are and what we can be as individuals and as society as a whole. These are the truths that would lift us as human beings and make the world a better place if we lived them more fully. If I lived them more fully.

And if you like short and to the point, here is a really nice 60-second video explanation of the what and why of prophets.

I took a walk with my family today and it was glorious to be outside in such beautiful moderate temperatures. Autumn=bliss

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Girl Power! Literally

If you have a moment to spare tonight, please check out the women's conference starting in just a few minutes. These women always have some wonderful things to say about life, friendship, family, and what it means to be daughters of a Heavenly Father.

If you can't watch it tonight, it is available to watch online after this evening as well.

Here is one of my favorite parts from the last conference:


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Listening to Lindsey Stirling

I wanted to post this video I watched today because this is my mom's favorite hymn: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"- and because Lindsey Stirling is playing the violin part. I actually lived almost next door to Lindsey for a couple years when we were both going to BYU and she played the violin and danced at a talent show we had while we there. I think she plugged her violin into an amp, and then played that violin like I had never heard it played before while she danced around. It was crazy amazing and she, by far, stole the show.

And I love that despite the fame and attention she has earned, she is willing to be here, in places like these, playing songs like this. I am glad I knew her then and I am glad I get to continue to be blessed by who she is and what she believes through her music.

You can watch the whole interview with Lindsey here.

who is more than a little jealous that Lindsey got to meet Josh Groban....

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How To Save Your Life

My sister-in-law shared this video recently and it gnawed at my insides. Do you know what I mean? When you see or read or hear something that in your gut you know was meant for you--because you recognize something in yourself that shouldn't be there--something that needs to change. But it will require  work. And doing things that make you uncomfortable. And giving up your time, as busy as you already are.

Well, that was me while I watched this video. And I've noticed that when God is trying to send me a message, it is usually one that begins to reoccur often. I don't know if He has been sending those messages my way repeatedly for the past 30 years and I am just now seeing them, or if He is watching me and says to Himself "You're ready for this now Elin. Here it is."

So first it was this video. Then it was a conversation with a friend. Then a couple of opportunities to serve presented themselves--opportunities that were difficult and inconvenient. Then I got to know a woman who gives all of her time and life and self to take care of her handicapped daughter.

Then my mom shared this article with me.

It wasn't a wake-up call. It was an avalanche. But the message for me is crystal clear: Try to take every opportunity  to help and serve that is placed in your path. Stop rationalizing. Stop making excuses. Opportunities to serve are opportunities to grow and be lifted above and beyond your own capacities. God doesn't need us to serve each other. He is perfectly capable of taking care of every one of us. He is the one who knows of every sparrow that falls and "clothes the lilies of the field." He allows us to serve each other because of what it does for us. Letting us take care of each other is, I suppose, often how He takes care of us.

 "24 aThen said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him bdeny himself, and take up hisccross, and dfollow eme.
 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will alose his life for my sake shall bfind it." Matthew 16:24-25

I want to be like these people who so selflessly and wondrously give of themselves--and seem so much fuller and more whole because of it. Jesus Christ exemplified this perfectly. So I'm working on letting go of the things that don't really matter and trusting that His way is the only one that really does matter.

Who is feeling the Autumn in the air! And who has 2 more lengthy article for you to read on the above topic if you aren't all tuckered out yet: this and this