Hope for the Best and Expect the Worst…

I’ve heard it said over and over again, “Hope for the best and expect the worst.” I understand the concept behind the adage. But I think that I’m less and less of a believer of it.

Today, in sacrament meeting, we sang the following:

“When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliverance is nigh.
We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness,
We’ve proved Him in days that are past.” – We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

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There is hope smiling brightly before us.

***

About four years ago, Homey and I started our own business. Starting your own business is not for the faint of heart. Both Homey and I, when we started it, knew that it would push us right to the very edge – past anything we have ever experienced. Simultaneously, we knew that we could trust God, and that we would be fine. There would definitely be times when things didn’t feel fine, but we could trust that we were okay.

This thought came the exact instant I told Homey, “it’s time to quit your job and be serious about the business.” Both my own spirit and the Comforter were aligned on this – I knew this instinctually, in my gut, in my Spirit and because of the Spirit – we needed to devote more time to the business. I knew that we needed to take the risk, have Homey quit his job, and focus our efforts 100% on the business. I knew, the Spirit gave me a deep impression that now was our chance – and that if we didn’t take it, there might not be another “right time for it.”

We went to the temple, we referred to our patriarchal blessings. And we knew that this was not only something we wanted to do, but perhaps a part of the work we should perform in this life. It would enable us to be the kind of people God sees in us, and it would enable us to do the work that He would expect of us.

And, thank goodness for the Comforter – even while Homey was still employed with a very secure job that gave us a very secure lifestyle – I knew that we would be pushed right to our limit. And I also felt overwhelming comfort, “You’ll be pushed to your limit, but you will be delivered. You know the pattern – the Lord delivers when your back is at the wall.”

(But He doesn’t deliver us before our backs are to the wall).

***

That was four years ago. Since then, Homey and I have been working, working, working. We have lived off of savings. We have sold our house. We have moved to Hawai’i, to the mainland – the intermountain west, and then to the East Coast. We have sold nearly all of our belongings (everything we own fits in a small portion of my in-law’s basement – for a family of six!). We own no couches, bookshelves, or dishes. We have had an amazing ride. We have been blessed by the Lord.

And we have been stretched.

At one point along the ride, a well-meaning individual said, “Well, you know – you have to hope for the best, but expect the worst.”

I smiled, and was grateful for the concern. I nodded my head, but I didn’t agree. And the idea has been ruminating in the back of my head for months.

***

In First Nephi, within the first chapters of the Book of Mormon, we read Nephi’s courageous declaration:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” – 1 Nephi 3:7

Hope for the best, and expect the worst? Not really. Nephi didn’t “hope” that he would obtain the plates. No, he was committed to obtaining the plates. He tried once and twice – lost his entire family’s inheritance, and nearly lost his life. Then he finally entered into the gates of Jerusalem – armed only with the Spirit and with no plan at all. Perhaps the chain of events didn’t happen as he had expected, but his primary expectation and his hope were aligned – He would obtain the plates. No plan B. No other option. That was that. He would obtain the plates or die trying.

Now, maybe you’re wondering, “Well, Nephi was commanded.” Let’s look at another example.

***

We have a record – in the Book of Ether – of a group of people that originated from Babel, during the time that the Lord confused their languages. One family – Jared’s family and his brothers – prayed to the Lord that they would be able to communicate with each other. So, Jared had his brother – who was highly favored of the Lord – pray to spare their family.

And the Lord did.

Then, Jared asked his brother the following:

“And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.”  – Ether 1:38.

So – Jared’s brother decides to ask God to drive them out of the land – and perhaps to a promised land. The Lord has compassion. He gives Jared’s brother some instructions, then makes the following promise:

“…And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth.

And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And thereshall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.” – Ether 1:42-43

Unlike Nephi and his family, Jared and his brethren were not commanded to flee Babel. They had a righteous desire, they asked the Lord, and the Lord granted accordingly (Ask and ye shall receive…). They would have to do a lot of work, they would travel across the entire world – from Babel to the Americas. But the Lord would grant them according to their prayers.

It would push them right to their limits, but they didn’t have to worry because it would work.

Hope for the best and expect the worst??? NO! Plan B? Plan C? NOOOO! There is one plan! It is to do what God will have us do! There is one expectation – that the Lord’s will will come to pass, and that his promises are sure, that hope isn’t some silly thing that kids do, but that it will anchor our faith by giving us vision.

***

Imagine that you are walking along the iron rod, toward the tree of life. Do you say, “Well, I’m hoping that I will make it to the tree of life, but I don’t expect it. In fact, I expect that I will wander off on a strange road and get lost – the worst possible outcome.” Do you say, “I’ll hope for the best, but expect the worst,” as if you are an agent to be acted upon, rather than an agent to act – empowered by the infinite grace of God???

***

I will admit that many, many times in my life I have said, “I won’t get my hopes up.” There is a glimmer of an opportunity, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I don’t want to be disappointed, so I kind of ignore them. Of course, I’m sure you can guess because I expected the worst, I received the worst.

And I’m learning that hope – it isn’t some kind of silly thing. True hope is a facet of faith. It will make an anchor for us so that we succeed. Hope will help us put one foot in front of the other. Hope will give us the vision to find opportunities when our backs are against the wall and every resource appears to be exhausted. Hope gives us the courage to walk into a dark city at night, on an errand from the Lord, with nothing but the Spirit to guide and protect us. Hope gives us the audacity to go to the Lord and ask him for the blessings that He is willing to grant us but can’t until we ask for them.

Hope is how we cheerfully submit to all of the will of God – enduring anything that is thrown before us, knowing that our expectations – deliverance and success – are sure because He Is Sure.

 

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Light the World Day Three

I know – I haven’t written for Days One or Two of Light the World…but better late than never, right?

Light the World is a fun Advent Calendar with scriptures and ideas that promote service during this time of year when we think of the Savior’s birth.

Today’s prompt:

“Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath Day,” (Matthew 12:12

God designed the Sabbath Day as a day of rest, but that doesn’t mean that we should be idle on this day. Instead, we should use our time and talents to bless others.”

***

I have been in a little bit of a rut with my scripture study for the past few weeks, so this morning I decided that it would be good for me to study the scriptures used for the #lighttheworld campaign. The scripture listed for today was only a part of the verse. The entire verse of Matthew 12:12 reads:

“How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” – Matthew 12:12

So the context of this scripture is that the Pharisees ask the Savior if it is lawful for him to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.

Christ isn’t intimidated by the posturing of the Pharisees. We read what the Savior said next:

“And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.” – Matthew 12:11-13

So – I often think about the gospel in terms of those who don’t have any faith – and how they might perceive what the Savior teaches. And he asks the question, How much then is a man better than a sheep?

It’s an interesting question in a way. There are some people who might not think that people are any better than sheep – other than maybe we can reason and we are intellectual. Maybe some people would be offended that the Savior would imply that humans are better than sheep.

And, if we believed only in evolution, without any creator or God, then what is the answer to this question?  If we are trying to explain what the Savior is teaching to those who don’t have faith, what is it that we say?

Well…the Savior’s question is valid when we remember the truth of the matter. We can’t look only at evolution because there is more to the creation of this world that chance and evolution. There IS a Creator! This is crucial to remember, too.

We have a Creator, and He is our Father. The Savior, Himself, assisted in this creation. We are children of God. This is why humans – men and women – are important! This is why the Savior responds with his example of saving a sheep and then compares it with serving a person.

We are children of God!

What a thing to believe and know. Do we understand what this means? I am a child of God. You are a child of God. We are all brothers and sisters of a loving God. When we remember this fact, then we are more prone to act as the Savior did – reaching out to serve those who are in need.

***

By the way – the sheep in this story is pulled out of the pit. This isn’t an “either or” situation. On Sabbath days, sheep are pulled out of pits. On Sabbath Days, people are healed. The Sabbath is a day of rest from our labors – to give us the opportunity to commune with our God through worship, connect with others in our families and community, and to give Christlike service to others.

 

Life Lately

I haven’t been super consistent at posting lately. But I feel drawn to blogging again. I sat down to write today, wondering what should I write about? There are so many things to say. There are concerns I have. People are losing their faith in God and their love for one another. Our country is in turmoil.

In January, I decided to break away from Facebook. It started to take a bigger portion of my life than it should have. (read: I was addicted to it). I feel like after eliminating Facebook, I probably freed up about 60-90 minutes of my life!

I also have freed up feelings of anger, frustration, and general depression about this world around me. I turned off my phone, got up and started getting out more and tuning into my family more.

Here’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

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Oh Deer
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Quilty fun
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Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.
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T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)
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There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.
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Handmade Pixie Shoes. (The show off the cutest little dirty toes).

I know that life isn’t perfect. And I don’t want to claim that mine is. Am I blessed? Yes! Absolutely!!! Despite my bounteous blessings, this is life, and I’m experiencing my share of trials. However, we can remember this:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Know the Greatness of God

I guess that this is what I mean by wake up, put down the phone, and get outside. I find that one of the quickest ways to feel God’s greatness is to go out for a walk.

Put down the phone, get off the internet (even before you finish reading this post!) and serve someone else. Into instant gratification? Get out and serve someone else. Nothing is more invigorating or electrifying as feeling the love that God has for all of us, and this comes to us as we serve each other.

And I know what you might be thinking! It’s easy for you to say, Choco, You aren’t dealing with _____[fill in the blank]_______ problems. However, I guarantee that anyone reading this can find someone who is happier than they are while having it worse than they do. When I’m feeling frustrated or down, and I don’t want to let God into my heart, I can’t help but remember Viktor Frankl. Who found purpose and stayed positive to his purpose WHILE IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP!

Know the greatness of God.

He Shall Consencrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

As we come to know the greatness of God, trusting Him follows. We realize and remember that He isn’t just some arbitrary God up in heaven finding some kind of entertainment in our suffering.

He is our Father.

” Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:9-11

If you are a parent, then you should be better able to imagine our Heavenly Father – and why He allows us to endure adversity. No he doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He knows what we will see when we get to the other side of suffering.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in this world around us. But maybe there are some pretty great things, too. Maybe we can take a few minutes to know God, trust Him, and then count the ways that He is consecrating all that we are enduring for our gain.

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Creativity is pretty. And joyful.
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🙂
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Take a breath and look around!
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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂

A Day of Rest

It’s probably pretty familiar. The Sabbath Day is appointed for:
1) Sacraments
2) Rest from Labor
3) Paying Devotion to God.

And I wonder – what am I doing that reflects these priorities?

Sacraments
I go to sacrament meeting each week. I wonder, what does “sacraments” even mean? According to dictionary.com – sacraments are visible signs of inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace.

So – in sacrament meeting, we are doing what Christ taught us all to do – when He was in the upper room shortly before his suffering in Gethsemane and death on the cross:

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” – Luke 22:19-20

On Sundays, during our sacrament meetings, we do as Christ instructed. We take bread and water as tokens of His everlasting sacrifice. We remember Him. We covenant with Him to follow Him, and the ordinance of the sacrament is a small token of our commitment to Him.

Rest from Labor
On the Sabbath we rest from our labors. This is tricky, to me. I don’t work on Sundays – as in I don’t go to work. And I try not to do work-related things on Sunday. However, I know that there are some people who must work on the Sabbath.

Even though I don’t work on Sundays, rarely do my Sabbath days feel restful. I am a mom. I have a house to run – even on the Sabbath. I scale back some of my chores, but things still must be done, mouths must be fed, kids must be cared for. You know how it goes.

Additionally, I have a lot of work to do for church. I understand that the Sabbath is a great day to do our church work.

It’s just that sometimes, it doesn’t seem very …restful.

Onto the next subject for a second. But we’ll get back to a day of rest.

Paying Devotion to God
The Sabbath is a day set aside for us to pay devotion to God. Once again, I think that it is helpful to understand what that actually means. Devotion is profound dedication or consecration.

Of course, we should spend every day of our lives devoted to God. But the Sabbath day has been especially consecrated by God, and we should also be sure that this is a sacred day in our lives, too. I won’t get into the many ways that we can or can’t or do or do not show our devotion to God. This isn’t a post of do’s and don’t’s.

I will say, however, I have to change my attitude. Sometimes I go to church, and I might feel a little judgmental about a lesson. Maybe it could have been better. Maybe I disagree with a little something that someone said. If my mind is consecrated to the Lord, then I won’t let little things bother me at church. I will, instead, maintain a worshipful and joyful thought pattern. (To accomplish this, sometimes I turn on my phone and look at pictures of nature! They help me to remember the majesty of God and of some of my sacred experiences.) Whatever keeps my mind turned to God is good, I guess…

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When I have trouble bridling my thoughts, I just take a breath and look at a picture like this.

***

Okay, so sometimes there is still a little bit of a disconnect for me about the Sabbath day – if it is a day of sacraments and devotion to God, then how it is also a day of rest? These other two aspects of the Sabbath can sometimes feel a little bit at odds with resting – going to church for three hours?! Meetings?! Choir practices?! Sometimes my sacraments and devotions make me feel that Sunday isn’t a restful day at all.

Rest…REST! Sounds good, right? When I think of Rest, the first scripture that comes to mind is the invitation we get from the Savior:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29

Hmm…I’m noticing a connection…

I think that I may have misunderstood what “rest” really is.

One
Rest from our Labors – this is the part of “resting” that WE do. We decide that the Sabbath day is consecrated and set apart, so we rest from our worldly labors and concerns and instead focus on our devotion to God.

This is the more obvious understanding of “rest,” and sometimes it may not feel all that “restful” because we are still working hard.

Two
This is the good one!

There is “rest” that we cannot do – that we cannot achieve on our own. There is a “rest” that is only offered to us through Christ.

Rest doesn’t only come when we sit back and put our feet up. That’s nice, for sure, and it is certainly a part of rest, but it isn’t really all there is to it. Rest, in the sense as quoted in Matthew, is a result. Rest is a consequence of us coming unto Christ.

This doesn’t mean being busy. It means being prayerful and contemplative. It means coming unto Him through covenanting with Him. It means serving Him. When we come unto Christ, we will offer up our sacraments and devotion to Him, and as a consequence of such behavior, we will find rest.

So – let the Sabbath Day be a day of rest – by choosing to come unto the Lord and letting Him bless you with His rest. I know that this rest is what will get us through the stress and difficulty of our lives. What a blessing and promise. The Sabbath truly is a day of rest and a delight!

Always Remember Him

I haven’t written in a while, I’m not going to give some kind of recap of life or excuse. Let’s just continue on… 🙂

As I sat in church today, I kept thinking about the covenant we make each week in sacrament meeting: to always remember Him.

And I wondered why, why is it so important to always Remember the Savior?

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Getting outside helps me to remember Him

Now, this line of questioning is not out of doubt or disbelief. It is a way to seek more knowledge and understanding in my life. Why do we always remember Him?

One

We must always remember Christ because we have been commanded to.

Two

I happen to believe that God is not arbitrary and that each commandment serves some kind of real function.

As I pondered this thought – remember the Savior, I realized that we are commanded to always remember Him because it is the way. It is the secret to our success.

In 2 Nephi, we learn:

“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” – 2 Nephi 31:20

After we first covenant with God in the waters of baptism, we aren’t done. We still have a life to live. We still must navigate the test of mortality.

Nephi tells us this. After baptism, all is not done. We must still rely on Christ’s ability to save us.

And we must do a few things: 1) Press forward with a steadfastness of Christ; 2) Have a perfect brightness of hope; 3) Have a love of God and of all men; 4) Press forward; 5) Feast on the words of Christ; 6) Endure to the end.

Then, we will have eternal life.

Now, think back on that promise made each week when partaking of the sacrament – to always remember Him.

In the covenant we make – to always remember God – we are given the help we need in order to do the 6 points needed in order to inherit life. Remembering Christ – ensures our steadfastness in Him; remembering Christ will help us to have a bright hope. Remembering Christ fills our hearts with love for Him and for others. Remembering Christ can help us to have the tenacity we need to push on and press forward in our lives. Remembering Christ will encourage us to feast on His words and stay close to Him. Remembering Christ helps us to endure to the end.

I love the elegance of God’s laws, commandments, and blessings. When we keep our covenants, we are empowered with exactly that which is needed for us to receive the gifts that God wants to give us.

What do you do to always remember Him?

Joy in our Families (Mosiah 19:24)

I will say that the deepest joys I have experienced have been in connection with my family. I can honestly say that I would die for them…

Daily Book of Mormon

I’v been thinking about families a lot lately. I feel like there are designs seeking to destroy the family. Actually, I know that there are. The adversary wants us miserable and captive. He knows that by attacking the family, all of society can be destroyed.

We can read about the joy in families in the scriptures. One example comes in the book of Mosiah. When King Noah’s people were about to be attacked by the Lamanites, King Noah directs the priests and other men in the land to flee into the wilderness. They do, leaving their women and children behind.

Some of the men don’t realize that King Noah had no intention of fighting the Lamanites, and they worry about their wives and children. They end up mutinying against King Noah, and returning to their families.

“And it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they…

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Plutarch and Alma

I came across this quote recently, and I couldn’t help but think of Alma…

Plutarch Knowledge Quote

Before relating this to Alma, I want to just talk about the quote. Plutarch was smart enough to “get stuff.” I mean, a lot of us are that way, right? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about health and fitness. I logically “get” many of the concepts I’ve read about.

Yet – even though we “get something” and may even have knowledge, without application what do we really know?

Not only was Plutarch smart enough to “get something” from the words he read, he was smart enough to realize that the words and knowledge he gained was through experiences.

As for me – even though I had read a few books on the damage and problems that sugar causes the body, I never really got it until I had experimented for myself and saw how eating a diet without much sugar affected me. I really needed this experience in order to give meaning to the concepts that I had learned.

Alma the younger understood the power of experiential knowledge. In fact, he extended an invitation to the poor Zoramites that he taught:

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” – Alma 32:27

Alma taught the people the word of God. And he didn’t expect them to believe him just on face value – just because he said to believe. Instead, Alma asked them to experiment on his words. Alma wanted them to try it out for themselves. Alma invited them to have their own experiences so they could gain their own knowledge and faith.

It is interesting to me that we approach nearly every subject this way – except faith. Do we expect to learn a language just by reading about it? No, we go on a foreign exchange program, we take an immersion class, we go to that country, we start studying on a language learning website, we practice saying words in another language.

If we desire to learn Calculus, do we just buy a textbook and peruse it? Probably not. We go through the exercises. We get a calculator, paper, and pencil, and then try to solve the equations.

Yet, for some reason, so many people think that in order to obtain spiritual knowledge, they will sit in church one time and listen to a sermon and get it. Or maybe they think that in order to gain a testimony, they must read through the Bible once without meditating, pondering, and applying the words.

Then, because they haven’t put any thought or effort into their acquisition of spiritual knowledge, they don’t get any spiritual knowledge. Some may even proclaim faith, spirituality, or the scriptures as a fraud because of their own lack of experience.

I haven’t studied Calculus, but I’m not going to claim that Calculus is a farce.

Yes – going to church and studying the scriptures are important parts of obtaining spiritual knowledge, but the crucial key is to experiment and experience the gospel. Then those experiences will give you the knowledge of the word. They will make the scriptures and church even more meaningful.

How have you “experimented” on the word? How have your experiences helped to shape your testimony? If you haven’t experimented on the word of God, what is holding you back?