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…


Oh Deer


Quilty fun


Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.


T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)


There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.


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.


Creativity is pretty. And joyful.




Take a breath and look around!


If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂


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?


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?


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


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 and Thanksgiving 2013 – Opposition, Misery, and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

I originally wrote this scripture study program two years ago as a part of class that I taught on studying the scriptures. I haven’t ever gone back and re-studied any of my scripture study series. (I like making new ones!) But I have been feeling a little down and out lately. Sometimes Joy feels elusive, and I don’t like that! I’ve always been a happy person, and I still feel that I’m essentially happy–that I’m just having a tough go of it right now.

So…I figured it would be the perfect time to re-visit the concepts of joy and thanksgiving. It’s the perfect time of year for it. Above all, I like life more when I’m happier and when I’m more grateful. And I also know enough to know that happiness is a choice. I’m excited to study these scriptures again and remember what I can do to continue on in this life joyful and grateful.

The Connections taught by Lehi: Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy

In 2 Nephi 2:13 and 23 Lehi teaches his son Jacob a few connections between Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy. There are multiple levels of connections here.

First Level Connections

The first level of connections are the concepts that are directly related through cause and effect.
Righteousness→Joy – When we choose righteousness, we will also choose joy. Joy is the result of righteousness. There is no other way around this. It is important to remember that joy is not the same as pleasure. Joy is deep. It is abiding. It is what will help to get us through dark times. It is meaningful and fulfilling.

Sin→Misery When we choose sin, we choose misery. There is no other way around it. The important thing to know is why. Misery is a result of sin; it is NOT an emotion we feel because Heavenly Father is a dictatorial God. We learn in Alma that the nature of God is the nature of happiness. (See Alma 41:11.) If we want to experience happiness, then we need to adopt God’s nature as well. That’s just how it is.

Each of these connections are the first level connections. They are obviously related. They are progressive in nature. It is easy to see their relationship and why they have this relationship.

Second Level Connections

The “second level” connections are opposing in nature. They are connected to one another because they oppose one another. (Think of heads and tails of a coin, or the north and south ends of a pole). Even though these forces oppose one another, they are still inseparable.

Sin and Righteousness – Both sin and righteousness are also related. They are opposing forces. Both sin and righteousness are choices we make. We can’t not make a choice. We all must choose. We choose either to follow Christ and be righteous, or we choose to sin. You can’t say, “I refuse to choose.” Even a refusal to choose is a choice (and often a sin because following Christ implies an active and conscientious decision).

Misery and Joy
This connection can be looked at in two different ways.
One–as a result of choice – Both Misery and Joy are results of our choices and are related because they are the results of either sin or righteousness. When we choose sin, we choose misery. When we choose righteousness, we choose joy.

When others choose sin, they choose misery, and sometimes the misery that they choose not only effects them, but spreads to others involved, too. Sometimes we must endure misery because of the bad choices made by others.

Two–as a part of mortal life – Not only are misery and joy results of our choices, but they are also simply a part of mortal life. Because Adam fell, we have gained knowledge. We have gained the ability to perceive all of our emotions. We are not freed from these experiences. It is a part of living here on earth.

We learn in 2 Nephi 2:25:

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” – 2 Nephi 2:25.

Because Adam fell, we exist. And we exist in the state that He has brought us into: the fallen, natural world. Yet, we aren’t here to be subjected only to misery. We are here to experience joy.

The thing is, both misery and joy are connected – like two sides of a coin. So, if we want to pick up the “joy” coin, then we also pick up the “misery” coin. You can’t choose to only pick up the “heads” side of a coin. It seems like it would be nice, but it’s not possible.

So, there are times in this life when we go through Misery–not because we have sinned, not even because others have sinned, but because enduring misery is a part of receiving a fulness of joy.

What do these connections mean for you and me?

I love understanding the connections between misery and joy because it helps me to be able to endure difficulty.

Recently I have been going through a kind of depression. I’m fairly certain that it has been caused by fluctuating hormones (I had a hysterectomy a little over a year ago) plus other little “issues” that I hadn’t really resolved in my life. No matter the cause, the fact is, I have been more prone to feeling “down in the dumps” lately.

This is not really who I am. I feel like I’ve always been a very happy person. Even though I’ve been a little depressed lately, I still feel like I’m a happy person, overall. But I, like everyone else, still struggle. I don’t like struggling, but there’s a way to endure: knowledge, perspective, and gratitude.

I have a very dear friend in my life–Spunky. We became friends when we were teenagers. She is the most vivacious, fun, and life-loving person I have ever known. She has always embraced life with everything she has. Her love of life can be exhausting at times, but it is also contagious, and you are always having a good time when you’re with her. These qualities attracted me to her as a youth. I still look up to her example now.

Spunky would have her fair share of hard days, don’t get me wrong. She was diagnosed bi-polar as a teenager. This was like 20 years ago–long before being bi-polar was popular and/or acceptable. My point is, Spunky wasn’t vivacious because she was ignorant or unaware of hard days. She had her fair share of really difficult times in life.

Yet, even during her trying, depressing times, she would admit, “Life sucks, but I love it.” She didn’t mean this in a sarcastic tone. She honestly meant that even though she wasn’t happy with life at the moment, she still loved it. She didn’t love life in spite of it sucking or despite it sucking. Instead, she had learned to embrace the sucky days, too. They were a reminder that she was alive, that she had a life. She was grateful for the core of her own life–even if it meant she had a bad day or two. She seemed to understand that the ups and downs are equally valuable; that they are inseparably connected; that they are all good because they amount to this gift called life.

I also love life. Sometimes I forget that I love life, and I let the doldrums or the trials of life get to me. Sometimes I get sad enough to forget the blessing it is to be sad and am tempted to think What is there to like about life when life is like this? Yet even misery is a blessing because it is connected to joy.

It can be hard to remember that our trials will bring us joy–especially as we are enduring them. Some of the trials that we endure don’t seem to have a silver lining. Sometimes it is hard to understand how we will grow from a trial. Sometimes it is hard to have faith and put mind over matter during these times of intense suffering.

To get through the most difficult times, I think that we have to come to understand the connections that Lehi teaches. We must learn from our past experiences–where we suffered then felt joy. We need to trust that the pattern we have experienced in life will repeat itself, and that we will feel happy as we faithfully follow Christ. Not only must we learn from our past experiences, but we need to remember what we have learned–read journals, post inspirational quotes around the house, frame pictures taken of accomplishments that you have completed after a time of trial and suffering (Graduation, marathon, brand new baby). Keeping these thoughts in the forefronts of our minds will help us to trust God and in His perspective–that though we experience exquisite misery we will at one point experience exquisite joy. (See Alma 36:20-21.)

What impresses you about these connections? What do they teach you about joy and thanksgiving? What do you do to choose joy and thanksgiving in your life?

Check out more thoughts on the connections between Righteousness, Joy, Sin, and Misery here.

Strengthening our Relationships with Christ

How to receive a manifestation of the Savior.

How to receive a manifestation of the Savior.

I came across this scripture the other day…

“And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” – 2 Nephi 26:12-13

It stood out to me because I want to know Christ.

It may seem strange because I have a testimony of the gospel and have even been blogging about it for years. I have even recorded my testimony of the Savior (note: more than once). And I will say right now, that I do have a testimony that we have a Savior. I know this because I have felt His power in my life. I have read the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and I have felt peace when studying and praying about the scriptures. I know this because I have learned about Him in Church and at the temple, and have also felt the peace and confirmation that comes from such practices. I have felt His forgiveness, and have witnessed miracles in my life. I know that my Savior lives and that He loves me.


I feel like there is still so much more to know. I feel infantile in my testimony of the Savior, and not in a good-child-like-infantile way. But with a recognition that I can come to know Him more. That I can develop a better relationship with Him. That my prayers can be more heartfelt. That His presence could be felt stronger in my life. As I’ve had more witnesses of the Savior, of His love for me, of His role in my life as the Advocate and Redeemer, I’ve also seen how often I come up short. I get frustrated with myself that I give in to my weaknesses so much–instead of turning to Him for support. I feel like Nephi who said:

“O wretched [wo]man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” – 2 Nephi 4:17-18

I can see that as my testimony in the Savior has matured, His expectations from me have also grown. As I’ve gained more knowledge, I have more power to do more good; and the Lord expects me to do it. I want to do it. And the thing is, I usually do. It’s not like I’m having struggles with the things that I’ve learned in the past.

The Lord is teaching me to be a better person – better than I was yesterday; last week; or last year. Now, I’m learning spiritual algebra, rather than spiritual arithmetic.

Sometimes, as I go through these periods of my life – where I feel distanced from the Savior, a flash of doubt runs through my mind. Do I even know Christ at all? Is this true? Am I crazy? What happened to my testimony? I think that this happens to all of us.

And, when I read the scripture in 2 Nephi: “He manifesteth Himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost;…, I realized my answer.

I do know Christ

I do know the Savior, and I don’t need to doubt my testimony – even for a second. Even if I don’t feel as close to Him as I would like, it isn’t because I don’t have a testimony. On the contrary, I realize it is because my testimony is growing, and that the Holy Ghost is helping me to see how it can continue to grow. We can’t stay in the same place. I can make improvements to my life–improvements that I wasn’t ready to make last week, a year ago, or five years ago. I can follow the same pattern that I’ve followed in the past:

  • I can believe in Christ – It is somewhat easy for me to do this now. I can base my belief on the witnesses I’ve had of him in the past. I don’t have to believe in someone completely foreign. I can keep believing in Christ: in His Atonement; in His love for me; in His desire that I come unto Him and know Him. I can keep expressing this belief in Christ through prayer, scripture study, temple attendance. I can also keep showing this belief in Christ by trusting Him when I go through times of personal refinement–that these times are to help me to get to know Him better.
  • I can seek the Holy Ghost – The manifestations of the Savior come to us through the Power of the Holy Ghost. When I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means I have access and companionship with the Holy Ghost and His power at all times (as long as I lived worthy of it). The Holy Ghost will help me to see what I need to do in order to change so I can have more of His spirit with me, which, in turn, will help me to feel closer to the Savior.


I kind of think that we all go through these kinds of tests in life. We receive witness of the Savior, then the Lord tests our witness. As our testimonies and faith is tested, it continues to grow. When we feel our connection to the Savior diminishing, and it isn’t because we have sinned or grown relaxed in the gospel, perhaps it might be because we are being taught new ways that we can change and grow. The Lord wants us to be even closer to Him, and this is done through “pruning” and “refinement”–both concepts that connote growth through a difficult (sometimes painful) process.

If we are going through these stages of refinement, we don’t need to doubt our past testimony. Instead, we need to be like Nephi, who was able to overcome his feeings of self-doubt by remembering his past experiences with the Savior. (See 2 Nephi 4:19-25.) We can draw strength from our past expressions of faith and testimony, and trust that as we seek the Spirit, then Christ will manifest Himself unto us.

Have you experienced times like these? What do you do to strengthen your relationship with the Savior? What have you done to receive a witness of Christ?

If you are still coming to know Christ, you can learn more about The Savior here.

The Doctrine of Christ

Click here for today’s assignment.

First of all, I have to say – I love the doctrine of Christ. I find it super exciting. This is where things really start to come together. We have studied our pre-mortal existence, the fall, and mortality. We have studied the need for the atonement, and the atonement. With the Doctrine of Christ, we learn how to apply the power of atonement to our lives. This is where everything comes together.

The Example

At the meridian of time, Christ came to the earth, and gave us an example. When he began his mortal ministry, he went to John the Baptist, and was baptized.

Nephi points out that Christ was holy, yet was baptized. He then asks:

“And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” – 2 Nephi 31:5

Christ was holy, yet was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Of course we need to do the same.

Christ, himself, taught Nicodemus:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5

Jesus taught us, through His example, that baptism is necessary in order to enter into the kingdom of God.

Baptism – an essential part of the Doctrine of Christ. (click picture for source)

The Doctrine


  • We have to understand that we are fallen people. Christ wasn’t fallen, so He could covenant with God directly. We covenant with God in Christ’s name, and he enables us to overcome with fall.
  • If we want to be able to dwell with God again, then we need to be purified and Holy. Following the steps in the doctrine of Christ will help us, through Christ’s atonement, to be made pure and Holy.

The Steps

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:13

  1. Have Faith in Christ – follow Him, genuinely. In following Christ, we recognize that he knows where he’s going, and we want to go there, too. When we follow Christ, we believe Him. Another aspect of following Christ is doing what He has taught us to do – keep the commandments and covenant with God.
  2. Repent – Repentance seems to be a natural result of genuine faith in Christ. When we exercise our faith in Christ, when we keep His commandments, and experience His love, we are also made aware of our imperfections. It isn’t because God is some kind of guilt-tripper. It is because as we increase in our faith in Christ, we realize that we can be even closer to Him and feel more of His love when we repent and change our lives.
  3. Take upon the name of Christ – through baptism – I love this! We are able to become united with Christ when we are baptized. Can you really understand the scope of this blessing?

    I was talking with my sister today – about worthiness, the temple, prayer, etc. And I realized, none of us are worthy. None of us are worthy to go to the temple, take the sacrament, or even pray – ON OUR OWN. We pray – in the name of Christ. We bless and partake of the sacrament in the name of Christ. When we take on His name, then everything we do – as we approach the Lord – can be with the intercessory power that the Savior offers. So – am I worthy to go to the temple? When it comes to Catania, I’d have to say no. But, I’m faithful, I’m repentant, I have taken on Christ’s name, and I know that His grace makes up for my lack of worthiness. We aren’t in this alone. We can have Christ as a partner when we take on His name and live worthy of His atoning power in our lives.

  4. Receive the Holy Ghost – When we are baptized, we are purified. Then, when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are sanctified. This is how the doctrine of Christ makes us Holy.

    I’m totally flabbergasted by the gift of the Holy Ghost. That hasn’t always been the case. When I was a little kid, I remember that we would learn about the Gift of the Holy Ghost in primary. Often, the teacher would bring in a little present – wrapped up and empty. How I longed to open that present – and find a toy or candy. Yet it was always empty: symbolizing the gift of the Holy Ghost. I understand the object lesson, but I always kind of wished it had a toy in there instead. I didn’t understand the Gift that was being offered.

    Yet, as I have gotten older, and have felt the power and blessing it is to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in my life, I am so grateful that God chose this way to bless us (rather than toys or candy bars!).

    Think of the love God has for us. 1) We are His children, and are blessed with a divine nature. (See Romans 8:16). 2. We can take on the name of Christ – and be connected to the Godhead in this way. 3. We are literally blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost – who is a constant companion to those who live worthy of the blessing. Heavenly Father doesn’t intend for us to be alone on our mortal journey. Even though we are cut off from Heavenly father, the atonement and doctrine of Christ enables us to endure our mortal probation with divine help.

  5. Endure to the End – Nephi teaches:

    “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 31:19-20

    After we have completed the previous four steps, we don’t have it made. We still have to endure the tests of this life. The key is given here in 2 Nephi 31:20 –

    • Faith – steadfastness in Christ
    • Hope – perfect brightness of hope
    • Charity – love of God and of all men

    Through these efforts, we will be able to make it back to our Heavenly Father. His purposes (See Moses 1:39.) will be fulfilled, and we will rejoice forever with God.

The plan of salvation is pretty awesome.

What did you learn as you studied the Doctrine of Christ? What do you find particularly comforting about this doctrine?

Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.

The Need for an Atonement – Scripture Chain

Click here for today’s assignment.

Yesterday, we learned about what happened at the Fall of Adam and Eve. Today we will look at a scripture chain that is an extension of the theme of the Fall – especially how it resulted in our need for an atonement.

Romans 5:12

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” – Romans 5:12

  • By Adam, sin entered into the world. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that he committed a sin we must all pay for. “We believe that men will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression,” (See Articles of Faith 1:2). Instead, Paul teaches us that because of Adam, we are born into mortality – and are people who are capable of sinning. When Adam was in the garden, he was innocent. Now, we aren’t. This is how, by one man sin entered into the world.
  • Sin results in spiritual death.

Alma 42:9-10

“Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.

Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature,…” – Alma 42:9-10

  • The soul is eternal. (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:29, 33.)
  • Even though the soul can never die, we keep hearing about how the fall brought on death. Alma clarifies that spiritual death means that we are cut off from the presence of the Lord.
  • Temporal death, physical death, is also a result of the fall.
  • Our natures became carnal, sensual, and devilish. In the scriptures, fallen man is often referred to as “natural man.”

Alma 41:11

“And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. – Alma 41:11

  • I love this scripture!
  • When we are in our “natural” (fallen) state, we cannot be truly happy. This may not seem/sound true. In some ways, I think that our notion of happiness (or at least the world’s notion of happiness) may often be too connected with pleasure or chasing the appetite of the natural man. Of course, seeking to satiate our sensual appetites seems to be impossible. Often, this kind of unchecked passion leads us to bitterness and captivity (ie: addiction, disease, etc.)
  • The nature of God = the nature of Happiness.
  • As we learned earlier, the natural man is cut off from God. If we persist in our natural/fallen tendencies, then we cannot be happy because we are cut off from the nature of happiness.

2 Nephi 9:8-10

“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.

O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.” – 2 Nephi 9:8-10

  • We can praise God: His mercy and grace. He prepared a way for us to overcome the effects of the fall. Remember: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” (Moses 1:39). God’s purpose – His work – His glory is our immortality and eternal life. A way needed to be prepared for us to escape from the effects of the Fall.
  • If our bodies couldn’t rise again, then our Spirits would have been subject to Satan. – This would frustrate God’s purposes.
  • If our Spirits became subject to Satan, we would have become like Satan – remaining forever in misery. – Again, this foils God’s plan.
  • Heavenly Father, understanding the calamitous effects of the fall, yet the necessity for us to experience mortality and a spiritual separation from him (in order for our progression), made a way possible for us to overcome spiritual and physical death: the atonement.
  • When we consider the terror and bitterness of death, the concept of the atonement becomes a source of hope.

I am a woman who has been affected by the Fall. First of all, my body is imperfect, and I don’t just say that because I don’t have flat abs. I’m sitting here, on my couch, and I have been for 3 1/2 weeks straight – healing from a hysterectomy. I needed to have the hysterectomy because of problems caused by endometriosis. My body gets sick. I’m getting older, and I feel it in my bones. It isn’t something I like to think about: but I know that one day, my body will be laid to rest…I will die.

Additionally, I sin. I’m not as charitable as I should be. I make rash judgments. I get short-tempered with my kids. I think bad thoughts, say things I shouldn’t say, and then even do things that I regret. Obviously, I sin, and these sins, one by one, push me further away from God. I don’t really like thinking about this, either.

The thing is: we have hope in the atonement of Christ. God knew we would need it, and, to perform His purpose, he has provided a Savior that we so desperately need.

As you studied these scriptures, what were some of the things you noticed in a need for an atonement?

Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.

For All the Saints

So – today is “All Saint’s Day.” Traditionally, it is a Catholic holiday – not celebrated by Mormons, but I like thinking about it – and what it represents. – All Saint’s day commemorates those who have seen God

St Stephen

Image Source – Olga’s Gallery

We, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a different definition of what a saint is.

King Benjamin teaches that a saint is what we become when we put off the natural man.

” 19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” – Mosiah 3:19

We learn that we can become a Saint through Christ’s atonement.

Nephi explains how to follow Christ

” 13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:13

– So, we follow the Savior by following Him into the waters of baptism…There, we are cleansed and take upon His name.

Through the baptismal covenant, we, as King Benjamin taught:

  • Become like a child
  • show submission to God’s will and Christ’s power
  • Show meekness by readily admitting we are natural men and need Christ to cleanse us.
  • Show humility by doing as the Lord has instructed and putting off natural instincts.

The baptismal covenant also blesses us with the Holy Ghost, and it is the Holy Ghost that purifies us. We are then able to continue our refinement and ability to become saints and finish obtaining the qualities outlined by King Benjamin:

  • Patience – I know that it is the Gift of the Holy Ghost that has comforted me in times of trial and has helped me to be patient. Whether I need to be patient with afflictions, circumstances, my kids, or even myself – I know that I cannot be patient without the help of the Spirit.
  • Full of Love (or Charity) – It is my opinion that we cannot be charitable without first feeling God’s love for ourselves. We feel God’s love when we covenant with Him and keep His commandments. I don’t know how to describe it, but I have felt God’s love in my life. His love builds my confidence and gives me support. As I feel His love, I’m prompted to share that love with others. I know that Heavenly Father Loves me, and I know that He loves all of His Children.
  • Willing to Submit to all things – It is interesting that submission is listed twice. I think that submission happens over and over again – true discipleship, or becoming a saint, is all about putting our wills on the altar of the Lord – daily. That is hard to do.

I love that we can all be saints. It is a lot to live up to. When I think of the examples of the righteous people I have known; when I think of the prophets of old, I wonder if I am up to the task – to be a saint. Yet, I’m also filled with confidence – If the Lord thinks that I can be a saint, then I know I can. Above all, I know that cannot do anything alone. I know that I can only become a saint through Christ. But I feel pretty excited – knowing that Heavenly Father sees my potential, believes in me, and blesses me so that I can one day be what He sees in me. I just have to follow the pattern taught in the scriptures.

Anyone Can Do It...Even Me!

So…All Saint’s day – a really cool time to remember the saints who have gone before us and how we can become saints through the atonement of Christ.

We Talk of Christ: Your Spiritual Personal History

One common misconception about the Book of Mormon is that it was written by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is actually a collection of testimonies and histories written by ancient prophets. Nephi, one of the ancient prophets who helped author the Book of Mormon, explains:

” 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” – 2 Nephi 25:26

The prophets recorded their testimonies and experiences so that their children would know where to find remission for their sins.

I have to admit, I’ve always loved this scripture. In the past, I’ve always loved it because of the first half – where it says “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ.” Recently, however, I’ve started to notice the latter portion of the verse: “And we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know…” I have four children, and am in the thick of motherhood. I have a testimony, and one of my greatest concerns is the development of the testimonies of my children. I want them to know Christ and how they can receive a remission of their sins.

Of course, in helping my children to develop their own testimonies, I can point them to the scriptures, and I do. This is accomplished through Family Home Evening, Family Scripture Study, Family Prayer, and church attendance. I love these moments that we spend together, but I’ve been feeling like I want to do something to really share my testimony with them.

So – in the spirit of Family History – and keeping a personal history, I have decided to begin keeping my spiritual personal history.

A quick digression (even though this post seems like it has been a complete digression). I have done a bit of family history work, and while I’ve felt a connection to the ancestors that I’ve done work for, I don’t really know any of them. I don’t have journals or stories. Well, let me take that back. I have one short personal history – of my great-grandmother. In her history, she doesn’t tell much about her testimony or life. She relates a few things – where she was born, the names of her siblings, the name of the store her father owned. Then, she spends a long time telling about the time she had a tapeworm! GROSS! I have always thought that this personal history is kind of funny. Of all the things that she wanted her posterity to know – she related the tapeworm story?!

My tape-wormy great-grandma, (post tape-worm) and her husband (my great-grandpa)

Now, I have to wonder – what kind of legacy am I leaving? What will my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren know about me? (I haven’t had tape-worms, so that’s out…)

I do keep journals. And they are embarrassing. I have at least 4 journals from my teenage years. Every entry mentions a different boy. Or two. (I thought I wasn’t boy-crazy!) As I’ve gotten older, my journals are marginally better, but they are still more about the troubles I have faced.

On another note, when I read Nephi’s words, I feel close to him. I feel like the selections he has included in the scriptures help me to understand a part of his Spiritual Development. I can see why he says that his soul delights in the scriptures – throughout his experiences prior, he has used his knowledge of the scriptures as a source of courage. Nephi’s courage was based on Moses’ courage. We see this development through the record he has kept.

While I don’t claim to be a scripture writer, I have thought that it would be a good idea to keep a Spiritual Personal History. I am making one copy for each of my children. I do not plan on giving these to my children until they are older. (I’m thinking that when they go to the temple they will get it).

So here’s what to do:

  • Determine how you would like to record your spiritual personal history.
    • By hand – I have decided to write my history by hand. I like handwriting. It is just a crazy thing. Although, I admit there are times I wish I was typing it. Typing would be faster.
    • Word Processing – this is a simple and quick (not to mention neat) way to record your personal spiritual history. Plus, there are many websites where you can import your word document and have it printed as a book. If you have a lot of kids this may be the way to go!
  • Begin reading through old journals. – This is where you will start getting your content. I got my first journal when I was eight. I’m looking for entries where I record my testimony or any spiritual experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t record many of these.
  • As you read through your journal, think of how your testimony began to develop at that time. – For example: as a fifteen year-old, my testimony came from spiritual experiences like girls’ camp. Even though I wasn’t a sober-minded 15 year old girl, I did love the way that the Spirit felt. In my spiritual personal history, I explain this – by giving specific examples on how I felt my testimony growing during that period.
    • As you go through this, it is really great to see how our testimonies truly come line upon line.
  • Consider including actual journal entries -in the words that you used at that time in your life. – This will help to show how your testimony developed over time.
  • Consider including your Patriarchal Blessing – and also the events that surrounded your receiving it.
  • This personal history is not meant to be every single spiritual experience you’ve had. Instead, like the Book of Mormon, it is an abridgment of your testimony – how it developed over the years.
  • As you consider what to include, remember Nephi’s words: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” This is what you are doing – writing your testimony so that your children will know what source they out to look to for a remission of their sins. They will read your words and know that you knew.

So, I encourage you to begin your own spiritual personal history! And if you’ve already done so, comment here with a few hints/tips!

For more blog posts about the Book of Mormon, head over to the Book of Mormon Forum.

Increasing Understanding of Christ through the Book of Mormon (Part 4)

This is the final part in a series of blog posts about how the Book of Mormon helps to increase our understanding of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

In the first part we discussed the need for a savior – which is plainly explained in the Book of Mormon. In the second part we learned more of the nature of Christ through the testimonies of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. In the third part we learned the doctrine of Christ – which is very plainly taught in the Book of Mormon. Now, we will talk about – how the Book of Mormon brings us increased hope in Christ – which helps us to endure.

We are taught:

” 16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” – 2 Nephi 31:16

Even after we have covenanted with God – through Christ. Even after we have accepted the gospel, we are not finished! We must endure. We must remain faithful.

This kind of sounds hard, and sometimes even depressing. I mean, I’m no idiot. I know – life is hard. Even Christ taught, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation:But he doesn’t end there. He continues, ,”but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). We can find strength to endure in Christ. We can endure cheerfully. And the Book of Mormon sheds a lot of light on how to do this.

Nephi teaches:

” 20 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

This scripture teaches us that we need to endure faithfully, with hope, and charity. Then it gives us a huge hint: feasting upon the word of Christ.

I love this charge. First of all: I love eating – feasting, especially. Being a spiritual fattie is a super-duper good thing! Second of all, I’ve been blessed by feasting upon the word of Christ. The scriptures will give us the information and examples we need to be able to endure. The scriptures, which is Christ’s word, will help to strengthen our faith in Christ and increase our hope.

The Book of Mormon can help us to remain faithful in Christ – even as we struggle through trials. The stories of the Book of Mormon – the lives of those who authored it – are examples, or object lessons that teach us more about Christ. We can apply these lessons to our own lives which will help us to have a “perfect brightness of hope.” Here are a two examples of stories or prophets from the Book of Mormon that help to increase our hope in the Savior.

In 2 Nephi, Nephi states:

” 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” – 2 Nephi 4:34

This testimony comes from Nephi a little later in his life, and I can see how he is able to give it genuinely. Nephi had trusted in the Lord, and had been delivered every time. Nephi had obtained the brass plates, suffered with hunger in the Wilderness, built a ship and made safe passage to the Promised Land. Even though it took eight years, and there were many difficulties in the way, Nephi trusted the Lord completely, and always was delivered. Often, his deliverance did not come until the final moment – just before destruction – but he was always delivered.

Nephi’s life is one object lesson after another. We learn that trusting in the Lord will help us to endure, and that, eventually we will be delivered.

Alma the Younger
Alma the younger was the son of a prophet, and, at first, he was a bit of a rebel. However, the Lord in His mercy humbles Alma. This experience causes Alma to repent. But Alma doesn’t stop at saying I’m sorry. He lives the rest of his life serving the Lord diligently. He leads his people in battle, serves in the government,preaches the gospel to those who believe, teaches those that are wicked, suffers mocking and reviling, experienced success, Witnessed the martyrdom of recent converts, is put in prison, and is delivered – by God – from prison. He deals with an anti-Christ, and continues preaching the gospel. Throughout his life, he is motivated by a vision –

” 22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.” – Alma 36:22

Even after being a vile sinner, Alma experiences true forgiveness and turns his life over to the Lord. Alma’s life is an example to us – of the power of Christ’s atonement and on how we find our lives when we lose them in the Lord.

When we read these examples, we are filled with hope in our Savior – which fuels our ability to endure. What are some of the stories from the Book of Mormon that help you to endure your life’s struggles?

I want to bear my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is a true book. It was written by true prophets. It is a book that will bring us closer to Christ. Through the Book of Mormon, we can understand our need for a Savior, we learn the nature of Christ, we are taught the doctrine of Christ, and we are taught how to endure with steadfastness in Christ. I encourage you, if you haven’t, to read the Book of Mormon. You can find it online here or you can order a free copy here. Additionally, check out some other great blog posts – from every-day people – over at the Book of Mormon Forum.

Increasing Understanding of Christ through the Book of Mormon (Part 3)

First of all…check out the Testimonies of the Book of Mormon Blog Hop!

So – I love how things work out sometimes. I’ve been working on the Book of Mormon Forum throughout the month of October. I love sharing my testimony of the Book of Mormon – as I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. It has brought me closer to Christ, and continually strengthens my faith in Him and inspires me to be a better disciple. A lot has been going on in the world around us (here in the U.S.) with the various Republican candidates for president. Mitt Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so much is being said about the Mormons. One thing that is being said is that we are not Christian. I actually find this kind of hilarious.

I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior. I have felt His love. I understand my need for a Savior. I have come to know about Him – and His nature – through The Book of Mormon and words of the prophets. This knowledge has motivated me to follow Him.

What the Book of Mormon teaches us about discipleship – through covenant making – is what today’s post is all about.

I love this quote by Elder Anderson:

” Faith in Jesus Christ, when solidly anchored in our souls, brings true conversion, and in its wake come repentance, honest discipleship, miracles, spiritual gifts, and enduring righteousness. This is an important part of the divine mission of the Book of Mormon.” – Neil L. Anderson, member of the quorum of the twelve apostles

In parts one and two of this (Increasing Understanding of Christ through the Book of Mormon) series, we have learned about Christ – and our need to have faith in Him.

Faith is more than mere believing it is an action word. When we have faith in Christ, we are moved. As Elder Anderson teaches, next comes repentance and honest discipleship. What exactly is honest discipleship? It can be a lot of things, but one way that we become disciples of Christ is through following Him. This is the doctrine of Christ.

We learn in the New Testament that we need to come unto Christ and be baptized. Christ teaches:

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:16

He taught Nicodemus:

” 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5

We know that we need to be baptized. But why? Christ pleads with us:

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

29 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.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

As much as I love the references and truths taught in the New Testament, none of them are as direct as what we learn in the Book of Mormon.

As we read in the Book of Mormon, we understand our need for a Savior. Our faith grows, and a natural result is that we desire to come unto Christ because we know that He is our salvation. We learn how through Christ, we can covenant with Heavenly Father, and overcome the plight of mortality: physical and spiritual death.

Nephi teaches the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31. I encourage you to read it yourself. But for now, here are a few highlights.

  • In order to fulfill all righteousness, Christ, himself was baptized. Christ was holy, yet he needed to covenant with Heavenly Father in order to fulfill all righteousness. Because Christ was holy, he was able to covenant with Heavenly Father directly – he didn’t need a mediator. Nephi also explains:

    ” 7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

    8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.” – 2 Nephi 31:7-8

    Christ was humble and kept every single commandment of God with exactness.

  • The gate into the Kingdom of God is strait and narrow. Remember strait is another word for narrow (think Bering Strait or Strait of Gibraltar). Strait not straight. Because the gate into God’s Kingdom is strait and narrow, this connotes that exactness is required. There are not many ways into God’s kingdom. There is only one way, and it is quite precise. Christ’s own baptism illustrates this precision.
  • Christ commanded us to follow him. – How can we possible follow Him if we refuse to follow Him into the waters of baptism? We must follow Him into the waters of Baptism. We must be willing to covenant with the father.
  • We are commanded to repent and be baptized – in Christ’s name. – So, it is required of us to repent and then be baptized. Interestingly enough, we must be baptized in Christ’s name. It was essential for Him to be baptized – so we can be baptized. Because we are unholy, we cannot covenant directly with Heavenly Father. We need Jesus Christ to be our Mediator. Jesus Christ saves us! Jesus Christ enables us to covenant with Heavenly Father and enter into that strait and narrow gate.
  • When we covenant with God, through Jesus Christ, then Heavenly Father will bless us with the Gift of the Holy Ghost. – Recall Christ’s experience – He was baptized, then the Spirit fell on Him like a dove. We can receive this blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost as well.
  • The Gift of the Holy Ghost will sanctify us. – While baptism cleans us, it is the gift of the Holy Ghost that makes us pure and holy. Then, we are changed beings, and we can speak with “the tongue of angels,” (2 Nephi 31:13). Another example of this is taught to us by Isaiah.
  • We must endure to the end. Nephi teaches:

    ” 14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

    15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

    16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” – 2 Nephi 31:14-16

    Endurance is crucial in our progression. After entering into the gates of God’s Kingdom through baptism, we are not done! Instead, we need to, “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).

  • If we do all of this, then we will receive eternal life.

This is the way it is the only way – the true doctrine of Christ.

We must believe in Him and be His disciples by following Him. Christ also teaches His doctrine, personally, in the Book of Mormon.

I’m so grateful that I understand the need for my Savior. I’m grateful to have an understanding of his nature and attributes. I’m especially grateful that I have had the opportunity to covenant with Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. I know that He is my advocate with Heavenly Father. I know that He pleads my cause. This brings me so much humility and gratitude. I know that on my own, I am nothing, but because of Christ, I am made whole.

I encourage you, if you haven’t read the Book of Mormon, give it a try! Read it. You can find it online here. You can also order a free copy here. If you would like to read other testimonies of the Book of Mormon, check out the Book of Mormon Forum.

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