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?

The Word of Wisdom: Promises and Blessings – 2/2 (Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21)

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

See part one here.

So – we continue to learn about the blessings of the Word of Wisdom. I really love these blessings. They motivate me to be better at really keeping the Word of Wisdom.

Strength to Endure
Often, when thinking of the phrase, “run and not be weary, and…walk and not faint,” I think of what this means, physically. I think of running a marathon.

I ran a marathon several years ago. It was a really interesting experience. It required discipline. It was humbling. It was difficult. In running and training for the marathon, I loved the idea of having discipline. For once in my life, I felt like I had discipline! I could say no to bad foods. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to run. While none of this was easy, I felt like having discipline was like wearing a badge of honor.

I’m not as physically disciplined these days. And I miss that feeling of confidence. Not only that, but I can see how physical discipline effects me spiritually.

I know that the blessing for keeping the Word of Wisdom is more than physical. Keeping the word of wisdom helps us to endure both physically and emotionally/spiritually. I love this promise! We have been told that in order to receive eternal life, we need to endure. And in the word of wisdom, we are blessed with being able to endure! It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

And one last scripture while we’re on this topic –

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

There are many ways to wait upon the Lord, and I guess I get the feeling that we shouldn’t underestimate the connection between our bodies and Spirits. When we keep the word of wisdom, when we keep our personal temples holy and pure, then we are blessed with renewed strength, we will run and not be weary and walk and not faint. We will be given the ability to endure.

Protection and Life
The Lord has always preserved His people. In this verse, there is a reference to when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of those who were covenant Israel (See Exodus 12:23, 29). The Lord preserves His people through commandments and covenants. Of course, the Lord loves us. But the children of Israel weren’t automatically saved from the plague of death brought on by the Destroying Angel. They had to do as the Lord had instructed, and apply the blood of a lamb to their doorframe. When the Destroying Angel saw this token, he “passed over” the home. The children of Israel were literally saved from Destruction.

Keeping the word of wisdom can also keep us from being physically destroyed before our time. This is kind of obvious. When we keep the word of wisdom, we avoid contracting preventable diseases or other problems. The Word of Wisdom keeps us healthy.

But I kind of wonder if there is more to this promise than avoiding life-threatening disease – especially when you consider we will all die anyway.

The Lord’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt was not only physical, but symbolic of the deliverance that Christ can offer to all of us. We can all, through keeping the commandments and making covenants with God, be blessed with the ability to overcome the world. This blessing results in our inheritance of an eternal “promised land” – heaven.

Keeping the Word of Wisdom will also help us to receive this blessing. When we keep the Word of wisdom, we’re blessed with physical health and strength, we’re blessed with knowledge, we’re blessed with the ability to endure. These are the ingredients we need in order to inherit eternal life. Truly, if we keep the word of wisdom, the destroying angel will pass over us.

Even though I’m not always the best at keeping the word of wisdom – I don’t always eat the most healthy things. Sometimes, I don’t treat my body like the temple that it is. I can see how the word of wisdom helps us to develop discipline. It helps us to understand our physical relationship with the Lord. I am grateful for the word of wisdom.

What are some of the blessings and promises of the Word of Wisdom you are grateful for? What have you learned as you’ve studied and pondered the Word of Wisdom?

Heavenly Father REALLY Loves Us (D&C 41:1)

A few years ago, I had a bishop who gave our ward a “name” – the Delightful Downingtown Ward. He then focused on this scripture, and brought it up time and time again:

“Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me;…” – Doctrine and Covenants 41:1

Have you really thought what this means?

Sometimes, I think of the following scripture:

“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” – Doctrine and Covenants 82:10

I have a tendency to misread this scripture and think – sure…the Lord blesses me, but that’s because He has to.”

The thing is, though, I know that He doesn’t. I know that – in and of myself – I don’t qualify for a single blessing I have received. Sure…Here the Lord says that when we do what He says, then He is bound to keep His part of the covenant, but that’s the thing:

We can’t even make our covenants without the Savior. We are baptized in His name. Even our prayers are done in His name. We need Him to be our mediator. So, without Christ, even if we did what the Lord said, we’d have no promise…because we cannot qualify on our own merits. We need the Savior.

The Lord said,

“Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—

Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” – Doctrine and Covenants 45:3

Christ is the one speaking to the Father in our behalf. He is the only one capable of doing so. And he does it out of His love for our Heavenly Father and for us.

Anyways…back to the earlier point – the Lord is not bound to bless us on our merits alone. He is bound to keep His covenant with us – because we have joined with Christ. Christ is the one who perfects us and enables us to covenant with God.

God knew that this would be the case, which is why He offered His Only Son.

“¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Heavenly Father wants to bless us. He gave us His Son so that He would be able to bless us with His best blessings. As the scripture in D&C 41:1 teaches, he delights in blessing us with the greatest of His blessings.

Time and time again, my bishop would tell me this. I was single then, working, getting through a divorce, and putting my life back together. My bishop, always with a smile, reminded me that Heavenly Father delighted in blessing me with His greatest blessings.

Doesn't he look like a great bishop?!

I trusted what he said even though the blessings were so afar off, I couldn’t even imagine them, and eventually, the Lord did bless me.

The Lord blessed me despite my weakness and sins. He blessed me above and beyond my best effort. I know that this was because of my faith in the Savior. And I know it was because Heavenly Father loves me. It is because He loves blessing us.

In Doctrine & Covenants 59, we read

“And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man;…” – Doctrine and Covenants 59:20

It truly pleases God to bless us. He finds delight in it.

I don’t know about you, but when I really think about how much He loves blessing me, and all that He has done so that He can bless me, I am overwhelmed by His love. I feel happy. I feel grateful. I feel reverence for Him. I want to show Him more love through keeping the commandments and sharing the gospel.

I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us, and I know that He delights in blessing us with His greatest blessings. I know that Heavenly Father loves blessing us so much, He provides ways for us to receive His blessings – through the Savior’s atonement and through sacred covenants. I know that if we will just trust Him and do as He teaches us to do – even when life is difficult, then He will bless us – usually in a way better than we could have imagined for ourselves.

How have you felt the Lord’s love through blessings? Have you struggled with this? What do you do to feel the Lord’s love in your life?

Gratitude Challenge (2)

This month, in the First Presidency Message, we are taught about the choice to be grateful.

Following the message was a challenge…list 100 things that you’re grateful for. Here’s my next list of things…

Write ten material blessings you are grateful for.

  1. A home – It is so fun living in a house. Two years ago we had the chance to build and move into our home. I had never lived anywhere but apartments before. I actually loved living in apartments (Maintenance men!) But it has been great to live in a beautiful home with a beautiful view. The kids don’t have to worry about being super quiet, and they can play outside.
  2. A Vehicle – Where I live, we can’t do anything without vehicles. Two years ago (shortly after we bought our house), we also bought a car. We had another car that had consistent problems with the transmission. It was in the shop every two months for about a year – with the same problem. We decided to give up and get another car. This vehicle has been reliable, and it is big enough for our kids. It is a nice ride, and I’m grateful that we don’t have to worry so much.
  3. My computer – probably sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I’m grateful that I have it. I like writing. I like writing in my journal. A computer makes all of this much easier for me (I can type much faster than I can write). I do a lot on my computer – from managing my home, to skyping my dad and brothers. I’m grateful for modern technology.
  4. Nativity Sets – I like collecting Nativities. Each year, Santa brings our family a nativity set (or similar). He drops it off about a week before Christmas with a letter – reminding everyone the true meaning of Christmas.
  5. Our Hammock – We got a hammock last year. I love sitting on it. Oddly enough, It is hard to take the time to sit around and relax on the hammock. It always feels like some kind of guilty-pleasure, like I ought to do more work. I shouldn’t just be sitting there. Yet, my hammock reminds me why I live here in Arkie-land. It is also great to hang out on the hammock with my little children – appreciating our blessings like this world. It is good, every once in a while, to just rest and appreciate life.
  6. A Ceramic Bird and Nest – made by my children! A few years ago, my daughter made a little ceramic bird’s nest with eggs. The next year, my second daughter made a ceramic blue-bird. I love having these little “things” that my children have made. I love having little hints of them around the house – even when they are at school.
  7. Shells from my honeymoon – When Homey and I were married, we went on a honeymoon. It was kind of extended – as we knew that we already had two kids, and wouldn’t have much time on our own other than the honeymoon. Every morning, we woke up early, and combed the beaches for shells. We found sand dollars, scallop shells, and even a conch shell. I have a few of these really nice shells in my bathroom (next to the Bird and nest) to remind me of that time.
  8. My Scripture Pens – I’m probably more possessive over my scripture pens and marking pencil than anything else. I understand the aptitude children have for destroying things, so I have to take special care of these pens!
  9. Asics Running Shoes – I love my sneakers! They make my feet happy. Sometimes, I have a lot of foot pain, but my Asics are the best.
  10. A few items of jewelry – my wedding ring, a little ring my kids got me. A ring that has a symbol of the Godhead (celtic symbol) that I got from my dad. It is Irish, and makes me think of my Irish roots.
  11. Perfume – I like smelling good.
  12. Okay, I’m already at eleven, and I can think of other things: couches, Piano, my scriptures, dishwasher…Once you get started it is hard to stop!

    What material possessions are you grateful for?

The Choice to Be Grateful

So…have you read the First Presidency Message by Elder Eyring for December yet? If not, it is good.

Yesterday, we had talks on gratitude in our sacrament meeting, and one of the speakers brought up this talk. I felt prompted to go home and read it.

Anyways…This is the time of year where we actually think about being grateful. That is really great. Thanksgiving is a nice day…Then, Black Friday comes, and it seems like we start worrying about Christmas presents and $$$. Does this happen to you? The feeling of abundance and gratitude takes a backseat to the “stress of the holidays”.

To me, it feels ridiculous.

I’m glad that we were reminded to be grateful – even after Thanksgiving.

So – to prolong the spirit of thanksgiving and to develop an attitude of gratitude, I’m going to list things I’m grateful for – periodically throughout the month. (Who knows, maybe even longer). This is based on the application for the youth in The Choice to be Grateful message by Elder Eyring.

Ten Physical Abilities I am Grateful for

  • Having Children – I know that not everyone enjoys this opportunity in their lives – for various reasons. I have had four children. My pregnancies became progressively more difficult, but each time I was able to deliver a happy, healthy child. Three beautiful girls and one scrumptious boy. It is amazing to think that I brought them into this world.
  • Running – Okay, so I’m not the best runner these days. I really struggle with running even three miles. But that is primarily caused by reason number one…However, I can still run, and I know that with time, weight loss, and training, then I will be able to run again. It sounds crazy, as running is pretty simple, but I feel like taking a simple run is one of the best ways we can appreciate our physical health.
  • Painting – Again, I’m not some kind of virtuoso or master at painting, but I like it. I love creating – especially something pretty and colorful. It is a nice way to express myself. Here is something I’ve painted recently… This painting also goes with my next point…
  • Laughing I love laughing. I love laughing at just about everything on earth. It may not seem obvious in this blog, but I have a strong sense of humor, and laughing is just about as important to me as the gospel is. I’m grateful that the Lord has blessed me with a sense of humor and the ability to tell a joke.
  • The ability to see – I had 20/20 vision until I had my first daughter – at like age 23. After that, I needed to wear glasses. My second child caused my eyesight to really deteriorate, although nothing too serious. I just need to wear glasses/contacts most of the time. Anyways. After I got glasses the first time, I was amazed at how clear the world was around me.

    My husband is super-duper blind. Well, not legally, but it has dawned on me that if he had lived at Christ’s time, then he probably would have been one of the blind people begging for help from others. He can’t see a thing without glasses.

  • The ability to hear – I love music. There are some noises I’m not fond of, but I realize that if I couldn’t hear the sounds I hated, then I wouldn’t be able to hear the sounds I love.
  • The ability to play the piano – Playing the piano is challenging, interesting, beautiful, and fun. I love the spirit that music brings into the home. One of my favorite things about playing the piano is thinking as I play. I am able to think about anything while I play the piano. Playing the piano is extremely therapeutic for me – almost as much as physical exercise.
  • The ability to taste – It is nice to be able to taste interesting foods. Sometimes, I get a little carried away by my appetites. Although, even as I write this, I realize how, when I’m controlling my appetite, everything tastes better. When I’m being a glutton, it seems like nothing tastes good enough.

    As an Italian, I have inherited a strong sense of taste. I love garlic, olives, chocolate, cheese. I love good food. I am grateful that my husband also loves good food.

  • The ability to smell – My mom can’t smell anything. Sometimes, this seems like it would be kind of nice (like when changing poopy diapers). But I’m glad that I can smell. For example, I don’t know if there is anything better than the smell of violets in the springtime.
    I love the way that my kids’ hair smells (when they aren’t gross and sweaty).
    I love the way that my husband smells.
    I love smelling good. I love perfume.
    And all of these good things wouldn’t smell nearly as great without smelling some of the stinky things.
  • I am grateful for the ability to feel – Is there anything more calming than a tender touch? Is there anything more hallowing than experiencing pain. I’m grateful that I can feel. I’ve been able to feel really good – which is ideal. I have also endured what I consider to be horrible pain (Kidney stones! Ovarian Cysts bursting!). As much as that pain hurts, I have learned to be grateful – at least I can feel. At least I’m alive. It seems tempting to think that it would be great to go through this life without feeling pain, but I wouldn’t give it up if that meant I would feel nothing at all.

There is so much to be grateful for. And I’m realizing, that as I count my blessings, I need to count them fully – that many of the blessings I have experienced have come with challenges. Although the challenges have been difficult, I can see how they have brought richness to my life.

What physical abilities are you grateful for?

Joy and Thanksgiving: Compare/Contrast Those who keep the Commandments

In today’s Joy and Thanksgiving assignment, we are comparing and contrasting two groups of people described by King Benjamin. This is kind of a long scripture block…just so you know.

“And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—

I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.

Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand, I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” – Mosiah 2:41

Here is how I mark scriptures that compare and contrast.

When we compare and contrast, we look for what the items being compared have in common and how they differ. Usually, we can learn something from this comparison!

Commonalities between the groups

  • They both had been taught the things of the gospel.
  • They both had known the things of the gospel.
  • They both make choices based on what they have been taught and what they know.
  • They both experience consequences based on their decisions.

Differences between the groups
The First Group

  • The first group chooses to sin. As a result, they withdraw themselves from the spirit of God.
  • The Lord can no longer guide, bless, or prosper them.
  • Come out in open rebellion against God – listing to obey the evil Spirit. – This is open rebellion because they knew better.
  • An enemy to righteousness.
  • Is an unholy temple, so the Lord will not dwell with them.
  • If they die before repenting, then they die an enemy to God.
  • Bound by justice, and because they refused to repent, cannot receive mercy.
  • No Lord, No Righteousness, No Mercy → guilt, pain, anguish, fire.

When I think about this first group, I realize that King Benjamin doesn’t tell us these things to “scare us into righteousness.” These verses aren’t a manipulation. They are the facts. When someone refuses to keep the commandments and come unto Christ, then he cuts himself off from the atonement of Christ. He cuts himself off from the Spirit and the happiness of God. It is what it is – simple.

The Second Group

  • Keep the commandments.
  • Blessed and Happy
  • Blessed in all things: both temporal and spiritual
  • Received into Heaven
  • Dwell with God in a never-ending state of happiness.
  • Keep the commandments → Never ending happiness

As I write this, I keep getting impressed by the fact that a part of keeping the commandments is repenting. We aren’t expected to be sinless. We are expected to keep the commandments. Because this is the expectation, then we are allowed room to sin – as long as we repent.

If we refuse to keep the commandments, then we refuse to repent.

I don’t mean this to be an excuse for sinning and breaking the commandments. We need to do our best. However, we’re human, so we will sin. Also, if we could perfectly keep the commandments, then there would be no need for Christ. Which is ridiculous. We need to keep the commandments – which means we need to repent. Which implies, that the Lord knows that we’ll sin, he just wants us to change it when we do.

Then, when we repent, we are blessed. We are blessed through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We are received into Heaven, thanks to His infinite Mercy, and we are able to dwell with God in a state of Never-ending happiness.

It’s a really good deal for us.

***
For tomorrow’s assignment, click here.

Blessings of the Book of Mormon

Today is the first day (of 31) where I will be posting about the Book of Mormon. It will be a lot of work. I’ve done a lot of consideration in this goal for myself. I have four children, two of whom are young (a toddler and an infant) and they are a lot of work. But I feel compelled to participate in the Book of Mormon Forum because I love the Book of Mormon. I know it is true. I am always looking for ways to increase my testimony. I also hope I can help others to find ways to increase their testimonies.

So I want to begin today with a small testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. I have felt the power of the Book of Mormon in my life. President Hinckley (formerly the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) taught that as we study the Book of Mormon, “there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.” (See “Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon”). As I’ve studied the Book of Mormon, I have experienced an added measure of the Spirit. I have become more resolved to keep the commandments, and I’ve had a stronger testimony in the reality of My Savior, Jesus Christ.

An added measure of the Spirit
I can’t put my finger on this blessing, I can only say that it happens. When I read the Book of Mormon, I feel the Spirit helping me, teaching me, illuminating my path, and edifying me. When I study the Book of Mormon, I find that I’m better able to solve problems, see clearly (discern), and I feel the love and comfort of the Lord. These blessings are gifts of the Spirit and cannot be obtained any other way. The more I feel the Spirit in my life, the more I want it in my life. The Book of Mormon both helps me to have the Spirit and encourages me to be more diligent in having the Spirit in my life.

Additionally, when we read the Book of Mormon with our families, our homes are blessed with an added measure of the Spirit. As a mother, I find that my goal is to create a home not unlike what the Lord provided to the children of Israel:

” 6 And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and a covert from storm and from rain.” – 2 Nephi 14:6

In order to create a respite from the heat of the world, and refuge and covert from the storms of mortality, I need to have the Spirit in the home. Reading the Book of Mormon together as a family is one of the most effective ways to get the Spirit.

A Strengthened Resolution to Keep the Commandments
There are times when life gets a little hard. It can be tough, striving for diligence and discipleship. Sometimes we can find ourselves getting weary. One example I love, from the Book of Mormon, is Nephi – a prophet who lived shortly before the coming of Christ.

The Lord, because of the faith of Nephi, bestowed the sealing power on Nephi. Here was what the Lord had to say about Nephi:

” 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.” – Helaman 10:4-5

I’ve thought about this a lot – Nephi, serving the Lord with unwearyingness…Just reading that word makes me weary! Yet we are commanded to be not weary in well doing. (See Galatians 6:9.) The Lord helps to make this charge possible:

“31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

As I read the Book of Mormon, I have experienced the renewal in strength that He promises. Studying the Book of Mormon gives me a “second wind” and helps me to endure. Enduring is tough! I can’t imagine accomplishing this charge without the strengthening effect of studying the Book of Mormon.

A Stronger Testimony of the Living Reality of the Son of God
Above all, the Book of Mormon strengthens my testimony in Christ. I love how President Hinckley phrased this, too: the living Reality. Sometimes it is easy to think that Jesus is this character. He’s a baby in a manger. He’s a man who suffered. In many ways, he’s larger than life; yet enigmatic.

But the thing is: He is real. He needs to be. Our lives, eternally, depend on Christ’s reality.

The Book of Mormon Strengthens my testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He Lives, and He is Real. We learn about His true nature and mission through the Book of Mormon. We come closer to Him through the pages of this simple book.

The Book of Mormon has helped me to increase the Spirit in my life, encouraged me to be more obedient, and fortified my testimony in Christ. The Book of Mormon has changed my life. In fact, it changes my life every day. I encourage you to continue studying the Book of Mormon if you have one. And if you have never read the Book of Mormon, read it. Pray about it. Experiences the blessings that it will bring into your life.

Fulfilling the Callings of the Lord – Mosiah 13:3

Classically, we think of Nephi when we think of the Lord blessing us to be able to fulfill His commandments. (See 1 Nephi 3:7.) And his faith in the Lord’s power to help him succeed is proven as we read the account of his obtaining the brass plates.

However, I read the following scripture today, and felt it was another suitable testimony of this principle.

“3 Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.
4 But I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me;…”Mosiah 13:3-4

God had commanded Abinadi to give the people, priests and king a message. Even before completing this message, the Priests wanted to force Abinadi to stop by putting him to death. However, Abinadi hadn’t yet fulfilled His calling. The Lord enabled Abinadi to complete his work before being martyred.

So…Things are way better for me. I’m not being threatened with death or martyrdom. However, I feel like there are times when I’m having a difficult time with doing everything that the Lord has commanded me. There are times when I think of the duties I have – and I feel a little overwhelmed. Do any of you ever get that way? I mean, if you’re like me at all, you have a spouse, children, people to visit teach, neighbors, a calling, etc… Sometimes, it feels like it is impossible serve in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

Yet here, in Mosiah, we see the example of Abinadi, who didn’t get overwhelmed with his calling or his circumstances. He stayed strong, and the Lord reinforced Abinadi with the strength that he would need in order to fulfill his duty.

I think that I forget this. Even though my errand isn’t totally spectacular, I, too, am on an errand from the Lord. And the Lord is counting on me to succeed. If I just allow myself to be filled with His spirit, then He will give me exactly the strength I need to do His work.

I’m grateful for these reminders. I need them every once in a while. I’m grateful to know that the Lord doesn’t give us tasks that are impossible. He doesn’t set us up to fail. He is our biggest “cheerleader.” This is His work, and it will not fail. If I choose to be a part of it, then He will strengthen me so that I can do what is expected of me. He will strengthen me to be able to give a worthy offering.

(sorry this post is so…needy-ish…I just liked learning this today.)

Success

Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.” – D&C 90:24

This is an oft-quoted scripture, but as I was reading it today, I realized something.

In the first part of the scripture, we are told to search (the scriptures/prophecies/ways of the Lord), pray, and have faith. Then, things will work for our good.

Another condition is then given – “If ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant…”.

This advice seems pretty redundant. Isn’t that basically what the Lord told us to do in the first part of the scripture?

However, I think that this last part is the important part. We need to walk uprightly. We need to remember our covenants. In fact, if we have chosen to be baptized, then we covenant to always remember Him. Remembering Christ is the heart of the matter.

And the first part of the scripture, the searching, praying, and believing: those are important. What’s cool is – these are the tools we can use in order to keep our covenants. When we search the scriptures, when we pray, and when we exercise our faith, we are remembering the Savior. It is impossible not to!

So – yeah – I like this scripture. It isn’t a trick. Heavenly Father has laid it out for us. We need to remember Him, we need to remember our covenants. And the commandments he has given us will help us to do that. Best of all, when we do remember Him, we are blessed.

Conversions and Reminders

I was baptized when I was eight. I remember a few details about the day. I had a new white dress. My primary teacher was there. I was baptized and confirmed by two friends of the family (My father is not LDS, but he was present at the baptism and supportive of my decision to be baptized.) I remember feeling happy and clean. It was special.

Of course, since then, I’ve sinned. And I’ve repented. Many, many times.

As the years go on, and I begin to have a better understanding of the atonement, I better appreciate the covenants I’ve made with Heavenly Father.

Today, a young man (probably around 18 years old or so) spoke in sacrament meeting. He was neither eloquent nor bumbling, but he was admittedly nervous. He spoke about his conversion. About a year ago, his family heard and accepted the message of the gospel. As I’m new to the area, I don’t know about their conversion. However, I admit, I’d never guess they were such “new” members. They are active and involved in the ward. They seem to have strong testimonies. And this young man’s testimony and spirit was so strong and impressive. His testimony was simple and genuine. He expressed that his life has completely changed thanks to the gospel. He has an obvious love for it.

The talk and testimony he gave reminded me of an experience from a few years ago. I was able to attend the baptism of a man and his wife. – Brother and Sister Smith* (Sometimes it is a blessing to be able to play the piano – you get to go to a lot of baptisms!)… His family had joined the church when he was younger, but he never joined. Because of this decision, his life had turned out much different than any of his siblings. It was obvious that his life had been rough and course. He had the tan and musculature of a construction-type worker. He had a few tattoos. His teeth were stained from years of coffee and cigarette smoke. Although young, his years seemed to be heavy on him – as they were probably more eventful than they needed to be.

That afternoon, he was baptized by his brother.

As soon as he came up from the water, the brothers held each other in loving embrace. They were crying. I realized that this was the result of years and years of prayers of his family. I could also see how grateful Brother Smith was to his own brother – for baptizing him. It made me recognize the love and gratitude I needed to have to my Brother – Jesus Christ – as He is the one who has made salvation possible. In Brother Smith, I could visibly see how much we all need the atonement.

I’m so grateful for the gospel. In some ways, I guess it has changed my life. Well, maybe changed is the wrong way to say it. The gospel has been a great preventative measure for me. Because I’ve been blessed to know the Lord, he has been my refuge. He has been my guiding life. I have been saved from so much sadness. Even though I haven’t always chosen correctly, I’m grateful for the guidance and love I’ve always received.

And I’m thankful for sacrament meetings, and the tender testimonies shared by new members. The light is so brilliant when they speak. It is invigorating to hear their excitement for this simple yet magnificent gospel. It is a great reminder to be actively thankful for the blessings and covenants I’ve always had. And it is a great motivator to let my light shine so others can participate in the blessings that I’ve enjoyed.

*Name has been changed.

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